News Monitor for August 2002
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Tracking current news on genocide
and items related to past and present ethnic, national, racial and religious
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Namibian (Windhoek) 20 Aug 2002 NDF Denies Involvement in Angolan Atrocities By Chrispin Inambao THE Ministry of Defence yesterday denied allegations that members of the Namibia Defence Force (NDF) committed human rights abuses inside Angola. "Claims by the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) that Namibian Defence Force (NDF) members committed atrocities inside Angola are completely misleading and well crafted to suit the NSHR strategy of tarnishing the good name and reputation of the NDF and the Namibian Government," a Ministry statement charged. The statement was issued a week after The Namibian first approached the Ministry for comment over NSHR's claims. Said the Ministry: "Our mission was to conduct hot pursuit operations in southern Angola against Unita bandits who committed crimes in the north-eastern part of our country. Our operations were conducted with a clear mission which prohibited NDF members from being involved in any atrocity against innocent civilians or engage themselves in plundering activities." "Our records do not correspond with alleged cases of rape, execution of innocent civilians and all other alleged atrocities ... therefore the Ministry of Defence strongly condemns those allegations and dismisses them with the contempt they deserve," it added. In its statement, the NSHR accused the NDF and the Angolan armed forces (FAA) of committing summary executions, torture, rape and other brutalities against civilians in the Cuando Cubango province. It quoted villagers and members of the security forces in the Cuando Cubango Province as having said the atrocities and other brutalities were committed between November 1999 and February 2002, although a number of atrocities also took place after April 4 this year when the warring parties in Angola signed a ceasefire. According to the Defence Ministry, many of the places mentioned in the NSHR's claims were beyond the NDF's "area of responsibilities". The statement also said that the NDF had not conducted joint operations with the FAA during hot pursuit operations inside Angola.
Internews (Arusha) NEWS 13 Aug 2002 ICTR/Former Kigali Army Chief Arrested in Angola By Sheenah Kaliisa Arusha Angola government security officers and those from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) yesterday arrested General Augustin Bizimungu, former Rwandan army chief of staff, at a demobilization camp. Bizimungu was among UNITA forces gathered at the demobilization camp. According to a news report by the Associated Press, the Angolan government will hand over Bizimungu to the ICTR. Efforts by 'Internews' to confirm Bizimungu's arrest from ICTR officials failed. "I can only confirm that he is located in Angola but I can't confirm his arrest at this time," an ICTR official said. The ICTR Office of the Prosecutor issued a warrant of arrest for the former army chief in April this year. Bizimungu faces 10 counts of genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide and crimes against humanity, crimes he allegedly committed in Rwanda in 1994. Bizimungu was appointed chief of staff in the Rwandan army on 16 April 1994 and promoted to the rank of major general at the same time. Prior to this appointment, he was commander of military operations in Ruhengeri province. Bizimungu is jointly indicted with General Augustin Ndindiliyimana, former chief of Gendarmerie Nationale (National Police), Major Protais Mpiranya, commander of the presidential guard battalion, Major François-Xavier Nzuwonemeye, commander of the reconnaissance battalion in the Rwandan army and Captain Innocent Sagahutu, second in command in the reconnaissance battalion. Sagahutu and Ndindiliyimana are already in the custody of the ICTR in Arusha. Their trials are yet to begin. The prosecutor alleges that Bizimungu conspired with the four army officers to plan the extermination of the civilian Tutsi population and members of the opposition, so they could remain in power. According to the prosecution, several army officers in the Rwandan army, including Bizimungu, publicly stated before the genocide that the extermination of ethnic Tutsi would be the inevitable consequence of resumption of hostilities between government forces and the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), or the implementation of the Arusha peace accords signed in August 1993. In February 1994, Bizimungu allegedly stated that if the RPF attacked again, he would not want to see any Tutsi alive in his sector of operations. The prosecution claims that as early as 1992, Bizimungu personally supervised the training of 'Interahamwe' militiamen in Ruhengeri Province, in collaboration with local authorities. The Interahamwe was the youth wing of the Movement for the Republic of National Democracy (MRND), the party that led a coalition government during the April-June 1994 genocide that claimed more than 800,000 lives. Bizimungu allegedly distributed weapons to militiamen directly and through his subordinates. If Bizimungu will be transferred to Arusha, the total number of detainees arrested by the tribunal would be 60. Currently, trials are in progress for 22 detainees, 29 others are awaiting trial. Since its inception in 1995, the tribunal has handed down nine judgments -- eight convictions and one acquittal.
Voa News 2 Aug 2002 24 Civilians Killed in Burundi Attacks on Rebels At least 24 civilians have been killed in Burundi following a government offensive against rebels, just north of the capital, Bujumbura. Reports say among the dead are women and children. The attack took place Wednesday, an apparent retaliation against ethnic Hutu rebels who had shelled the capital the day before, killing at least three people. Earlier Thursday, the U.N. Security Council condemned the latest violence and urged the rebels to lay down their arms and join peace talks due to resume in August. More than 200,000 people, mostly civilians, have died since Burundi's civil war between ethnic Tutsis and Hutus began in 1993. Peace talks led to a government power-sharing agreement between Hutus and Tutsis last November. But rebel groups refused to sign a cease-fire, saying the army remains dominated by Tutsis. Talks are set to resume in neighboring Tanzania in August.
Reuters 10 Aug 2002 Burundi talks to begin in Tanzania NAIROBI, Kenya (Reuters) -- Peace talks to tackle the roots of a nine-year civil war in the central African country of Burundi are due to start in Tanzania on Monday, but observers hold out little hope of a breakthrough to end the fighting. Burundi's war, a key strand in a web of conflicts entangling central Africa, pits rebels from the ethnic Hutu majority against the Tutsi-led army, and has killed about 200,000 people. "Everything is on track and the formal cease-fire talks will start on Monday morning as scheduled," Tanzanian Foreign Minister Jakaya Kikwete told Reuters. "Many of the key rebel and government delegations are already in Dar es Salaam," he said. Mediators hope to bring the main rebel groups to the table for three weeks of talks with the government, seeking the elusive prize of a cease-fire deal that satisfies all the factions fighting in the tiny country. But Tanzanian officials say that only one of the two main rebel groups active in Burundi -- the FDD -- has confirmed it will attend, suggesting the talks in Dar es Salaam are likely to serve mainly as a stepping stone to further discussions. "These negotiations are going to be very difficult because they really touch the root causes of the conflict," Francois Grignon, Central Africa Project Director for the International Crisis Group think-tank, told Reuters. "It would be very surprising if after only a month of negotiations you have a comprehensive agreement," he said. Grignon said mediators were hoping to broach key areas such as reforming the ethnic composition of the army and demobilising the rebels -- among the trickiest issues. Burundi's rebels trace their origins to a series of massacres of Hutus since independence in 1962, but the most recent rebellion was triggered by the assassination of Hutu president Melchior Ndadaye by Tutsi extremists in 1993. The ethnic divide in the country of seven million mirrors that of neighbouring Rwanda, where an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and Hutu moderates were butchered in the 1994 genocide. South African diplomats charged with mediating the Burundi talks may draw encouragement from a peace deal signed last month in Pretoria that might eventually help end four years of war between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. But fighting has intensified in Burundi in the past month, and observers warn that any future peace in the Congo could even force Burundian rebels based there back into their own country, pouring more fuel on the conflict. Hopes rose that the FNL rebels -- the other main rebel force active in Burundi alongside the FDD -- might drop their long-standing opposition to talks with the government and attend after the group announced a change of leadership on Thursday. But Kikwete said he could not confirm the FNL would join in, denting hopes of a cease-fire involving all rebel factions. South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma, who is steering Burundi peace efforts, was due in Dar es Salaam on Sunday. Burundi's war has worn on despite the inauguration of a power-sharing government between Hutus and Tutsis last November, set up under an accord mediated by former South African President Nelson Mandela. Rebels reject the new administration.
AP 13 Aug 2002 Congo, Uganda Discuss Troop Pullout EDDY ISANGO KINSHASA, Congo (AP) - Officials from Uganda and neighboring war-ravaged Congo met in the capital of Angola on Tuesday to discuss a withdrawal of Ugandan troops from Congo. The talks come after more than 100 people were killed last week in the northeastern town of Bunia as Ugandan soldiers and tribal fighters captured the town from Congolese rebels. On Monday, Uganda's deputy defense minister, Ruth Nankabirwa, said Uganda was withdrawing hundreds of its troops from resource-rich Congo, which has been devastated by a four-year conflict that has embroiled local rebels and armies of fellow African nations. "We hope to arrive at a legal framework that will allow the withdrawal of these troops, which have occupied our country for more than four years," Congolese government spokesman Kikaya Bin Karubi told The Associated Press in Kinshasa, Congo's capital, on Tuesday. Military experts from Uganda and Congo opened the Luanda talks on Monday, and talks between ministerial delegations began Tuesday. The Congolese delegation is headed by Congo's presidential representative, Katumba Mwanke. Congo's ruinous war began in 1998 when Congolese rebels, backed by Uganda and Rwanda, launched a campaign to overthrow then-President Laurent Kabila, accusing him of sheltering militias that threatened their own security. Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia sent troops to back Kabila. Peace efforts have gathered momentum since Kabila was assassinated last year and succeeded by his son, Joseph. Last month, Joseph Kabila and Rwandan President Paul Kagame signed a deal to clear the way for the withdrawal of Rwandan troops. Under the accord, Rwanda has agreed to withdraw its troops from eastern Congo in exchange for the government's commitment to round up, disarm and repatriate thousands of former Rwandan soldiers and militiamen who have used the country since 1994 as a base for attacks on Rwanda. The Rwandans fled to Congo, then known as Zaire, after spearheading the 1994 genocide in Rwanda in which more than half a million people, most of them minority Tutsis, were slaughtered.
Reuters 11 Aug. 2002 More Mutilated Bodies Take Congo Clash Toll to 90 BY FINBARR O'REILLY Reuters KINSHASA - U.N. observers found more mutilated bodies in northeastern Congo Sunday, bringing the death toll from fighting to at least 90, including women and children hacked to death. Clashes in the town of Bunia involving tribal militias, a rebel faction and the Ugandan army exploded last week in a local turf war that has been inflamed by a devastating four-year conflict in Africa's third biggest country. Another rebel faction said Sunday a separate battle was raging northwest of Bunia and dozens of people had been killed. Coming after last month's peace deal between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda, the fighting has highlighted the difficulty of ending a many-sided conflict that has left an estimated two million dead in the mineral-rich former Zaire . U.N. observers in Bunia found a pit where 38 hacked up bodies had been dumped Friday, a day after finding 37 bodies -- including many women and children. Fifteen more corpses were discovered at the governor's residence Sunday. "They are mostly unidentified combatants killed with machetes," U.N. spokesman Hamadoun Toure told Reuters in Kinshasa. He said the governor appeared to have fled and the observers had no idea where he was. As an observer mission, the U.N. force has neither the mandate, the weapons nor the troops to stop eruptions of killing of a type that has become all too common in Congo's lawless east. Residents of Bunia told Reuters by satellite telephone that the town was calmer after Ugandan troops took control on Saturday, but that fears remained strong of more clashes. Bunia is less than 50 km (30 miles) from the Ugandan border. A senior intelligence official in Uganda denied reports that 11 Ugandan soldiers were killed in the fighting and said five combatants had been arrested. MANY-SIDED STRUGGLE The fighting at Bunia pits rebels of the Congolese Rally for Democracy-Liberation Movement (RCD-ML) and militias from the Lendu ethnic group against ethnic Hemas and the Ugandan army, which at one time backed the RCD-ML. Thousands of people have been killed in fighting in recent years between the Hema and the Lendu, whose clashes over land have often been fought with bows and arrows, spears and machetes. The RCD-ML, led by Mbusa Nyamwisi, broke away from the main RCD, Congo's biggest rebel faction backed by Rwanda. Another breakaway group, RCD-National, accused the RCD-ML of attacking its positions about 250 km (160 miles) northwest of Bunia last week. There was no independent confirmation of clashes or the group's claim to have killed dozens of attackers. "Mr. Nyamwisi's forces came and they died," the group's leader Roger Lumbala told British Broadcasting Corporation radio from Uganda. He did not say whether his forces suffered casualties. Congo's war erupted in 1998 when Rwanda and Uganda invaded to support rebels fighting the Kinshasa government. Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia sent troops to back the Congolese army. Last week, the presidents of Congo and Rwanda signed a peace agreement, but the number of other factions involved has increased doubts whether it will be decisive in ending the war. Uganda said last year it had pulled out most of its troops from northeastern Congo, leaving a power vacuum which helped trigger local violence like that at Bunia. The U.N. spokesman said the head of the mission and its military chief of staff had flown to Uganda from Kinshasa on Sunday to discuss the security situation with the authorities there.
BBC 10 August, 2002 Second mass grave found in DR Congo DR Congo's war has left an estimated two million dead United Nations peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo say they have discovered a mass grave containing 38 bodies near the north-eastern town of Bunia. About half of the dead were women and children, said the chief of staff of the UN force, Colonel Tim Watts. There are bound to be more dead Colonel Tim Watts UN mission The bodies were found on Friday in a village outside the town of Bunia, headquarters of a rebel faction and scene this week of clashes involving rival militias. It follows the discovery by the UN on Thursday of a mass grave on a farm outside Bunia. It held 37 corpses, all but three of them women and children. Most had machete wounds. An unknown number of people have been killed in the fighting in the area, which has also involved the Ugandan army, but it is feared that the majority of the victims are civilians. The UN says the area is now quiet with Ugandan troops patrolling the streets of Bunia, after they and their tribal allies seized the important trading town from another Congolese rebel faction, the Congolese Rally for Democracy Liberation Movement. "Our observers have counted 75 bodies so far, but there are bound to be more dead," said Colonel Watts. "The situation in Bunia is still pretty tense and our observers are unarmed, so it's difficult for them to go out and check." Mineral wealth Congo's war, which has left an estimated two million dead, broke out in 1998. The continuing fighting comes in spite of moves to work out a lasting peace agreement. Less than two weeks ago, a peace deal was signed in South Africa between the Congolese President, Joseph Kabila, and one of the key players in the four-year old war, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda. Mr Kagame has pledged to withdraw the thousands of troops he sent over the border in pursuit of Hutu rebels involved in the 1994 genocide of up to one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus. But correspondents say the number of other factions involved make it doubtful whether a peace deal with Rwanda alone will be decisive in ending the war. Thousands of other foreign troops remain in DR Congo - motivated primarily by Congo's vast mineral deposits. Uganda and Burundi have long supported rebel groups. At various times, Angola, Chad, Namibia and Zimbabwe - despite all having problems at home - have sent forces to back the government in Kinshasa.
Sapa AFP 18 Aug 2002 Rwandan troops sweep through eastern DRC Kigali - Troops of the Rwandan army are conducting a major sweep against ethnic Hutu rebels in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), military sources said on Sunday. In the mountainous bush country, about 200km south of the eastern DRC town of Bukavu facing the Rwandan border, Rwandan forces had taken control of the four settlements during the past three weeks, said military sources. On Friday, Rwandan forces captured the settlement of Nzovu, 150km west of Bukavu, the sources said. Rwanda and its chief ally in one of the most troubled regions of the vast central African nation, the rebel Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD), have repeatedly claimed that the locations west of lakes Tanganyika and Kivu were used by the RCD government to provide airborne supplies to Hutu rebels operating in the area. The sources said the army sweep was aimed at cutting off the supply lines serving the Hutu Interahamwe (we kill together) rebels and former Rwandan Hutu soldiers who fled to eastern DRC after Africa's worst genocide in living memory. They are widely held responsible for the 1994 genocide which claimed up to a million lives in Rwanda. On July 30, the DRC and Rwanda signed a peace accord providing for the disarmament and regrouping of the ethnic Hutu fighters. Under a 90-day plan they are supposed to be repatriated in exchange for the withdrawal Rwandan army forces from the DRC. - Sapa-AFP
HRW 20 Aug 2002 Congo: War Crimes in Kisangani, Implicated Commanders Named Human Rights Watch (Washington, DC) PRESS RELEASE Washington, DC In a new report, Human Rights Watch identifies top commanders of the Rwandan-backed Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD) rebel movement implicated in the May massacres in Kisangani, and calls for their prosecution for war crimes. The report finds the rebels responsible for widespread killings, summary executions, rapes, and pillage during the put-down of a mutiny beginning on May 14, 2002. The commanders responsible for these war crimes should be promptly arrested and prosecuted, said Suliman Baldo, senior researcher in the Africa Division of Human Rights Watch. Baldo welcomed the recent signing of a peace accord by Congolese President Kabila and Rwandan President Kagame. The agreement called for the disarming of the former Rwandan Armed Forces (ex-FAR) and Interahamwe militia in Congo implicated in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, and a withdrawal of Rwandan forces from Congo. However, Human Rights Watch said that war crimes and crimes against humanity continue to be committed daily by all parties to the war in the Congo, including the Rwandan army and its proxy force, the RCD-Goma. Impunity plagues the Great Lakes region, and until the belligerents and the international community show resolve in uprooting it, innocent civilians will continue to be massacred by lawless forces, said Baldo. The 30-page report, titled War Crimes in Kisangani: The Response of Rwandan-backed Rebels to the May 2002 Mutiny, is based on a three-week research trip to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Human Rights Watch research team established that Congolese military and police elements attempted a mutiny against Rwandan elements within RCD-Goma in Kisangani on May 14, briefly occupying the local radio station and killing several persons believed to be Rwandans. The attempted mutiny soon ended, but RCD-Goma flew in from Goma the top commanders of its army to coordinate a brutal repression campaign afterwards. Human Rights Watch research documented the killing of dozens of civilians in the Mangobo area of Kisangani in the course of the repression, as well as numerous rapes, beatings, and widespread looting. In addition, the loyalist RCD-Goma elements executed a large number of detained police and military personnel, many of them at the Tshopo Bridge, and threw their mutilated bodies in the river. Many of the bodies later resurfaced. Human Rights Watch also documented killings at other locations, including an abandoned brewery, the military barracks at Camp Ketele and at the Mangobo airport. A final death toll remains to be determined, but Human Rights Watch established that at least 80 persons, and probably many more, died during the mutiny and the repression that followed. Directly implicated in the killings were: Gabriel Amisi, also known as Tango Fort, the assistant chief of staff for logistics of the RCD-Goma army; Bernard Biamungu, commander of the Fifth Brigade headquartered in Goma; Laurent Nkunda, the commander of the Seventh Brigade based in Kisangani, and other senior officers of the Fifth and Seventh Brigades. Biamungu was seen giving commands to soldiers to go to Mangobo soon before civilians began to be killed there, and was personally at the scene of some of the killings. Biamungu, Amisi, and Nkunda were all seen at the Tshopo Bridge shortly before summary executions took place there on the night of the 14th. Human Rights Watch questioned whether the U.N. Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) failed to carry out its mandate to protect civilians "under imminent threat of physical violence." The U.N. Mission had more than a thousand soldiers in Kisangani and were clearly aware of the killings. However, Human Rights Watch commended the detailed investigation into the Kisangani events by MONUC and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights that contributed to the establishment of an accurate record of the abuses. The Security Council in July issued a strong call for accountability for the killings. We welcome the U.N. Security Council’s call for accountability in Kisangani, said Baldo. But the Security Council needs to provide MONUC with the means to protect civilians within areas of their deployment, and to increase the number of human rights officers attached to the mission Sapa-AFP
IRIN 12 Aug 2002 Bunia calm but tense following ethnic bloodbath NAIROBI, 12 Aug 2002 (IRIN) - The city of Bunia in northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) was reported to be calm but tense on Monday following several days of intense fighting among ethnic groups, rebel militias and the Ugandan People's Defence Forces (UPDF). "Although the centre of town is a bit more calm than last week, the population is still very frightened and markets are still closed," a Bunia resident told IRIN on Monday morning. "Despite promises by the UPDF to control the [ethnic] Hema militias and move them away from town, they continue to harass the population in certain areas of Bunia." Bunia, with a population of about 300,000 people, is less than 50 km from the Ugandan border. At least 100 people, including a large number of civilians, are reported to have been killed since the latest regional clashes erupted on 6 August, when Hema militias supported by the UPDF and a dissident faction of the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie-Kisangani-Mouvement de liberation (RCD-K-ML) called Union of Congolese Patriots seized control of most of Bunia and took charge of local government, according to news reports. Mbusa Nyamwisi's RCD-K-ML, which was reportedly supporting the Lendu ethnic community, fled the city, as did the rebel governor of region, Jean-Pierre Molondo. Uganda originally backed Nyamwisi's RCD-K-ML, but reportedly switched their support to Hema fighters last week. The death toll thus far includes a mass grave containing 38 mutilated bodies, including women and children, found on 9 August by UN officials; another 37 bodies found on 8 August, all but three of which were those of women and children, and most with machete wounds, according to the Ugandan independent daily newspaper, the Monitor; 15 corpses found at the Ituri provincial governor's residence on Sunday, though it was not clear if the dead had been combatants or civilians; and 11 UPDF soldiers. Many businesses and homes were pillaged and/or destroyed. A regional humanitarian source told IRIN on Monday that these most recent displacements of Bunia residents was "bound to aggravate an already serious humanitarian situation", which already included 4,000 displaced families "in need of urgent humanitarian assistance following last month's attacks". The source noted that the humanitarian community was already facing shortages in their assistance for this group of displaced. Although humanitarian organisations in the region have temporarily halted their activities, most still believe that the situation has not deteriorated to a point at which their evacuation would be necessary. Ambassador Amos Ngongi, the Special Representative of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the DRC, is currently in Kampala to hold talks with Ugandan authorities over the peace process as a whole, Ngongi's spokesman, Hamadoun Toure, told IRIN on Monday. "He will certainly raise, among other things, the Bunia issue, and remind the Ugandans of their international responsibilities in the town," Toure said. "As occupying forces, they have to provide security for the civilian population. This is not a demand from MONUC [the UN peacekeeping mission in DRC], but it is a rule of international law." Jean-Baptiste Dhetchuvi, a spokesman for the Hema community, told the Associated Press on Sunday that the move on Bunia was to protect Hema civilians who were being attacked by DRC-based Rwandan and Ugandan rebels. [A useful background document produced by Human Rights Watch on conflict in Ituri can be found at: http://www.hrw.org/backgrounder/africa/hemabckg.htm]
IRINnews 8 Aug 2002 ETHIOPIA: Ethnic clashes worsening effects of drought ADDIS ABABA, - Ethnic clashes have erupted between rival groups fighting over scarce water sources in Ethiopia's Afar Region and surrounding areas, the UN Emergencies Unit for Ethiopia (EUE) has warned. The Afar and the Issas have clashed near the Awash River that runs through their territory while searching for water, according to a report published by the EUE. The report states that some 400 cattle were stolen by the Afar who launched the attack on the Issas from Shinille zone in Somali Region. Many clashes between the groups are being sparked because of the drought which has had a "devastating" impact on the pastoralists in the region. Children are also begging for water at the side of roads, according to the report by the EUE, whose mission was carried out in mid-July. The clashes are worsening the impact of the drought which has hit Afar Region and surrounding areas including parts of Oromiya and Somali Regions. Issa community leaders told the EUE team that they would have to return to the water points regardless of the risks if their cattle are to survive. Conflict has also meant that traditional watering holes have been left empty because it is too dangerous to return to the Awash River and refill them. "Following clashes, many Somali pastoralists were forced to leave their traditional water and grazing areas," the report said. "Without secure access to water, the very survival of the pastoral community’s livestock is threatened." "Immediate political solutions are essential to negotiate conflict resolution between Afar and Issa communities over water and grazing lands," it stressed. The EUE also called on regional governments in the Afar and Somali Regions to set up peace talks between clan elders. Often the clashes between ethnic groups – who are all nomadic pastoralists – are triggered because they wander into each other’s territory in search of water or pasture. The condition of livestock in the region has also declined over the years. The EUE said that camels, which could go for 15 to 20 days without water, would now need to drink every three days.
The Nation (Nairobi) 14 Aug 2002 What NEP Leaders Should Have Told Moi OPINION Abdule. H. Kore North Eastern Province (NEP) is the third largest in Kenya. It has a total area of 126,902 square miles and covers 22.5 per cent of Kenya's total land surface. It has a population of more than 900,000 people of whom over 220,000 are registered voters. Independent Kenya's successive governments, just like the colonial government, have always marginalised the area's population. As a result, the province has been touted as a hardship area. Only its semi-arid conditions and stigmatic insecurity have received any publicity. The province becomes politically significant only in terms of the five-province clause requirement during presidential elections. Which is why the current succession debate has only gained relevance in the province just four months to the General Elections. President Moi, in his characteristic style of visiting the province only when elections are around the corner, took NEP by storm between August 5 and 7, touring Mandera, Wajir and Garissa districts. As expected, North Eastern MPs, who claim to be diehard Kanu supporters gave the President blind support for his post-Moi agenda - the Uhuru Project. These leaders assumed the support of the Somali community was automatic and unquestionable. Goodwill not reciprocated both in 1992 and 1997, voters overwhelmingly voted for Kanu, fearing that anything to the contrary might bring them more suffering. However, in both cases, the political goodwill was not reciprocated. Many, therefore, wonder: If we did not benefit under Moi, what guarantee is there that we shall benefit under his chosen successor? President Moi was on a working tour of the province. This would have been a perfect time to explain to him what NEP people want. However, to the disappointment of many, the leaders stuck to their tradition of hero-worship and sycophancy. They were short of ideas and they only tried and outdo one another in shouting loud support for Uhuru just because he is Moi's choice. The important issues which needed to be addressed like drought, lack of water, hunger, ignorance, and disease were ignored. In Mandera, the MPs failed to raise the plight of more than 15,000 Danaba residents displaced in bloody clashes between the Garri and Ajuran clans of Wajir North. These displaced families who fled their homes two years ago are still living in makeshift camps at El-Danaba. The fact that disease, infant mortality and maternal mortality are wiping out the people due to lack of medical facilities was never addressed. People walk 70 kilometres to the nearest medical centre which lacks equipment and personnel. The leaders never raise the issue of 70,650 primary school-age children in Wajir, who are expected to share 49 poorly-equipped primary schools, a situation that effectively locks out more than 50 per cent of them. Secondary school age children numbering 28,025 are also expected to share six schools with a capacity for just 2,880, meaning that 90 per cent of such children never get places. More than 12,634 secondary age girls are expected to share one girls' school. The shortcomings of President Moi's tenure on matters relating to NEP cannot be blamed on the President alone. His trusted lieutenants are preoccupied with how they can benefit from political patronage, and therefore, Moi's reign has not been any different from Mzee Kenyatta's. The MPs failed to raise the issue of Islamic-run NGOs closed following the August 7, 1998 bomb blast. The NGOs were supporting thousands of impoverished residents by providing employment for youth and running orphanages. The Government did not provide alternatives. The thorny issue of insecurity was also downplayed. The long history of violent clashes and abuse of basic human rights coupled with frequent displacement of families from their homes was not mentioned at all. The Malka Marri killings of 60 men in 1981, the terror in Garissa in 1980, the Wagalla massacre of 1984 in Wajir, and the killing of 187 people in 1998 at Bagalla in Wajir are not issues that people from the province will forget. Someone should have told the President that Garissa, despite being on the banks of Tana River is still so short of water that people spend most of the day looking for water. He should have been told that during drought in Mandera, hordes of thirsty monkeys fight for water with humans - that is how desperate the water situation was. Reversing legacy of inequality The people of NEP want a president who will: Ensure the Garissa-Wajir-Mandera Road is tarmacked in the next five years, and that feeder roads from Wajir to Mandera, Isiolo to Modogashe, Wajir to Moyale and Moyale to Isiolo ,are also tarmacked in the subsequent five. Apologise to the people of NEP for the massacres of the past and promise compensation to the families of the victims. Promise to reverse the legacy of inequality, marginalisation and discrimination suffered by the people of NEP through affirmative action measures - like making the province a tax- free zone for 10 years. Ensure pastoralists in the region are allowed dual citizenship and are given free land for grazing and cultivation as well as the right not to be displaced from their own lands. Mr Kore is with the National Young Leaders Network.
The Nation (Nairobi) August 15, 2002 NGOs Plea to Aspirants On Human Rights NGOs have asked presidential aspirants to promise to fight human rights' violations if they assumed office. They told those aspiring for the top job to assure Kenyans that they would investigate political assassinations and other killings and prosecute those implicated. Spokesmen of the NGOs issued the statement at a function to mark the August 13, 1997 Likoni attacks which sparked ethnic violence in Mombasa, Kwale and Kilifi. Mr Khelef Khalifa of the Muslims for Human Rights said: "Investigations have shown that the violence was politically motivated." He said the clashes were a continuation of what had happened in Molo and parts of the Rift Valley prior to the 1992 General Election. Mr Khalifa said the government had suppressed information on the clashes and cited the Akiwumi Report. "Despite a court order, the government has refused to make the report public," Mr Khalifa said. The statement was also issued by spokesmen of the Kenya Human Rights Commission, Council of Imams and Preachers and the Coast Rights Forum. The NGOs also asked the presidential aspirants to ensure that Kenya, as a signatory to various international treaties on human rights, adheres to those treaties and takes concrete steps to entrench them into the local legal system. "The Government should immediately halt all forms of harassment of the media and abandon forthwith all schemes to muzzle free press in Kenya and release the Akiwumi Report on tribal clashes," Mr Khalifa said. Mr Khelef accused the Government of using state organs especially the judiciary to intimidate those who dare to inform the public. "The aim is to suppress the right to information and all basic rights and freedoms. The jailing of MP Njeru Gatabaki is the latest example in a long list," he said.
IRIN 16 Aug 2002 Jailed MP released by presidential decree NAIROBI, 16 Aug 2002 (IRIN) - The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has welcomed the release this week of Kenya's jailed opposition member of parliament and publisher, Njehu Gatabaki, by presidential decree. Gatabaki, who is editor-in-chief of the monthly magazine, Finance, was on 9 August sentenced to six months' imprisonment after being found guilty of publishing an "alarming" report, which directly implicated Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi in politically motivated ethnic killings in Molo, Rift Valley Province during the run-up to the 1992 general elections. Gatabaki was on Wednesday being held in Kamiti Maximum Security Prison just outside the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, when he was released at the orders of Moi, according the East African Standard newspaper. The case against Gatabaki arose from a December 1997 report in Finance magazine, entitled "Moi ordered the Molo massacre", alleging that Moi was responsible for ethnic clashes which plagued parts of Rift Valley Province in the early 1990s, according to CPJ. Gatabaki had originally been arrested on 5 December 1997, but was subsequently granted bail, after which the case had been inching its way through Kenya's backlogged court system, CPJ said. His sentencing drew protests from press freedom organisations, notably the CPJ and Reporters sans frontieres, each of which issued a statement asserting that what had befallen Gatabaki was part of the government's plan to "harass" the media. "Journalists should never be criminally prosecuted for doing their work. We demand the immediate release of Gatabaki," Ann Cooper, the CPJ executive director, said in a statement released on Wednesday.
The Nation (Nairobi) 21 Aug 2002 Mungiki Sect Demonstrate in Support Uhuru Kenyatta. By Mugumo Munene The banned Mungiki sect yesterday staged a massive demonstration through Nairobi streets in support of Kanu presidential nomination hopeful Uhuru Kenyatta. Hundreds of members of the traditionalist group - some armed with machettes and clubs - marched through the city centre waving placards and singing in support of the Local Government Minister. Sniffing tobacco, wielding clubs, and waving pro-Uhuru banners and placards, the demonstrators interrupted business in the city as they headed for Uhuru Park. Some brandished swords, but their leader insisted they stood for peace. Sect chairman John Maina Njenga said: "No one will mobilise us to cause chaos. We are for peace and not on hire. We support Uhuru because he is beyond tribal politics." Mungiki was proscribed with 17 other groups in March after its members were linked to the Kariobangi massacre in Nairobi, which left 23 people dead. Police commissioner Philemon Abong'o announced then that the 18 groups had been outlawed as they were a threat to security. But yesterday, plainclothes policemen and Intelligence officers freely mixed with the marchers. Police spokesman Peter Kimanthi said the demonstration was allowed to take place because its organisers had notified police as individuals and not as Mungiki members. He said it did not exist in government records. "Those people were allowed to demonstrate as Kenyans. As long as those who apply for permission fulfil all the requirements and don't break the law, police have no reason to stop them." Uniformed police monitored the march from a distance. At Parliament Road, Central divisional police boss Japheth Koome stood with a squad of uniformed anti-riot officers. Asked why the demonstrators carried weapons, Mr Njenga replied: "We could be attacked. We are just prepared in case of any eventualities, but as you have seen, we are not fighting anybody." The march started at Kamukunji, snaked through the Gikomba open-air market, past Kariokor and into Ronald Ngala Street in the city centre. The chanting demonstrators then joined Haile Selassie Avenue, turned on to Harambee Avenue, passed by Jogoo House on to City Hall Way. They tried to enter Parliament Road but were blocked by police. Officers in riot gear stood between the group and the President's Office, where President Moi had spent the morning working. Mr Koome asked the marchers to stay away from the mausoleum of Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, where Kenya Army men were rehearsing for tomorrow's memorial for the founding President. The sect's national co-ordinator, Mr Ndura Waruinge, briefly argued with Mr Koome and insisted that his group was peaceful "and we should not be provoked". They had come in all manner of transport - on buses, private cars, hand carts and donkey carts. Sect officials said that they had hired the vehicles with funds drawn from the sect's account. Some of the placards and banners read Uhuru na Kazi, Uhuru for President, Mungiki for Peace and President Moi must be respected. At Uhuru Park, the sect members burst into traditional Kikuyu songs in praise of Kanu, Mr Kenyatta and President Moi. The first group to reach the park was led by Mr Waruinge, Mr Njenga and Kamukunji Kanu aspirant Simon Mbugua. It was later joined by another led by Nairobi Mayor Dick Waweru. Many of the sect members wore simple clothes and knitted caps in national flag colours. Mr Waweru was clad in a white suit emblazoned with Kanu's symbol of a cockerel. At about 1 pm, the rally was briefly interrupted as the presidential motorcade passed by. It slowed down with presidential security on full alert, but did not stop. Mr Njenga said that there had been rumours that youths had been hired to disrupt the meeting. Mr Waweru said Nairobi residents were united to ensure that Mr Kenyatta succeeded President Moi.
IRIN 21 Aug 2002 Outrage over Mungiki threats NAIROBI, 21 Aug 2002 (IRIN) - The Kenyan media and human rights fraternity has expressed outrage over threats of violence issued this week by members of an outlawed sect and by two legislators against those who were "insulting" President Daniel arap Moi. The independent Daily Nation newspaper reported on Wednesday that two opposition Members of Parliament, Stephen Ndichu and Kihika Kimani, had allegedly vowed to use members of the outlawed Mungiki, a quasi-religious ethnic Kikuyu sect, to take up arms and attack those opposed to Moi's choice of Uhuru Kenyatta, son of Kenya's founding president, Jomo Kenyatta, as his preferred successor. The MPs, who were reportedly addressing a public gathering at the weekend in the country's Central Province, urged members of the outlawed sect to take up arms and attack those opposed to the Uhuru-for-president campaign, according to the paper. Moi, who is the chairman of the ruling Kenya African National Union (KANU) has in recent weeks publicly campaigned for Kenyatta's nomination as the party's presidential candidate. His choice of Kenyatta has sparked protests within KANU from other candidates seeking nomination in the party, who have argued that Kenyatta was being given undue advantage over them. On Tuesday this week, hundreds of Mungiki adherents poured onto the streets in Nairobi, the capital, to voice their support for Uhuru, an ethnic Kikuyu. They announced that no one would be allowed to "again insult President Moi", the Daily Nation reported on Wednesday. "We have already met and resolved that no one will be allowed again to abuse Moi. And I'm telling Mungiki to ready themselves," the paper quoted Kimani as saying in his native Kikuyu language. Mikewa Ogada, a human rights activist in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, told IRIN on Wednesday that the remarks made by the two MPs and the Mungiki were worrying. He said a comprehensive statement would soon be issued to the press after a consultative meeting by human rights organisations in the country. "They [Mungiki] were exercising their rights be demonstrating. But the statements they made are meant to incite people to violence," he added. The Mungiki sect, a shadowy sect, composed mainly of unemployed youths, has since the late 1990s been accused of participating in acts of violence within Nairobi and its environs. In March this year, Police Commissioner Philemon Abong'o banned the Mungiki along with 17 other vigilante groups operating in the country, for security reasons. The ban followed attacks in Nairobi's Kariobangi residential suburb in which nearly 30 people were killed overnight by a gang of suspected Mungiki members. In a hard-hitting Wednesday editorial, entitled "Is Mungiki now legitimate?", the Daily Nation newspaper accused the two MPs of warmongering, and criticised the government for applying "double standards" to the outlawed Kikuyu sect. "Does yesterday's officially-sanctioned demo mean that Mungiki is now legitimate, because its aims now coincide with those of the power centre? Does it mean that if a banned outfit reconstitutes itself for a "worthy" political cause, then it ceases to be illegal? Does it mean that, as such an organisation "protects" the president, it can do anything under the sun with arrogant impunity?," the editorial posed. "At the Saturday meeting, when the two MPs hurled vile epithets at opponents of their favourite politicians, and advocated violence, it was obvious that they were breaking the law. Yet nothing has been done about it. This is abuse of power. It is indefensible and a complete anachronism, especially in a sensitive election year," it added. Ndichu has, however, denied making the remarks attributed to him. He told IRIN on Wednesday that he was for the Uhuru-for-president campaign, but had never advocated violence. "I don't advocate violence. When I was talking to Mungiki, I told them to be peaceful. "Hakuna matata. [a long-standing popular Kiswahili slogan meaning "there is no problem" used to portray Kenya as a peaceful nation in a turbulent neighbourhood]. It's all politics. I am a Christian. I pray that this country should have a peaceful transition. There should be no chaos at all," Ndichu said. "Journalists put a lot of words into people's mouths. They are all bashing Uhuru. But there are also those who support Uhuru," he added. The East African Standard newspaper's Wednesday editorial, entitled "Now its donkey politics", in reference to reports that the Mungiki had brought donkeys to accompany them on their demonstration, stated that the Mungiki "may have the vote, but they also have a notoriety that does not go in well with a sober and national approach to this kind of exercise. Known for their anti-women, pro-violence, traditional and ritualistic approach to most issues, Mungiki is hardly the kind of baggage any politician would want to carry on such a journey," it added.
IRIN 20 Aug 2002 Liberia: ECOWAS hails reconciliation conference MONROVIA, 20 August (IRIN) - Mohammed Ibn Chambas, executive secretary of the Economic Community of West African Countries, ECOWAS, on Monday hailed efforts by Liberians to seek national reconciliation. Chambas met President Charles Taylor to discuss a proposed peace meeting for Liberia that ECOWAS plans to hold in Dakar, Senegal. ECOWAS, along with other regional and international organisations such as the African Union and the United Nations have been invited by Liberia's government to attend the opening of a national reconciliation conference on Saturday. Hundreds of Liberians, including prominent opposition figures and various NGOS have been also been invited. Ibn Chambas urged Liberians to seek a peaceful resolution of the country's conflict. He said stability in Liberia would lead to regional stability while continuing instability created problems for other countries as well. Organisers of Saturday's conference told journalists in the Liberian capital, Monrovia, on Monday that at least 500 people were expected to attend the meeting at the refurbished Unity Conference Center in Virginia, just outside Monrovia. Also visiting Liberia this week was a delegation of government ministers and parliamentarians from Guinea and Sierra Leone. On Monday, they met various Liberian government officials, including Taylor, opposition leaders and civil society to assess the security situation and to discuss prospects for peace in the war-torn country. The delegation, led by Sierra Leone's Alex Koroma, has been seeking ways to encourage the three Mano River Union countries - Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone - to build peace ahead of the proposed ECOWAS meeting in Dakar.
IRIN 21 Aug 2002
Fears over rising political violence BLANTYRE, 21 Aug 2002
(IRIN) - Political violence is on the rise in Malawi as political divisions
deepen ahead of elections in 2004, a new report by the Malawi Human Rights Commission
(MHRC) has warned. The survey by the state-appointed independent organisation
said that the politicisation of ethnicity and regionalism was encouraging violence
and discrimination. Hate speeches by political leaders, the fragility
of democracy and the rule of law, and Malawi's underlying poverty and illiteracy
have helped drive intolerance, the commission said. "We want to
establish the real causes and establish solutions to the prevalence of human
rights violations, discrimination and related intolerance which are on the increase
in our country," said Emiliana Tembo, MHRC executive secretary. She noted
that complaints to the commission of beatings and harassment on political and
religious grounds were running at levels normally seen at the height of election
campaigns, even though polls were not for another two years. The failed
attempt earlier this year by President Bakili Muluzi to amend the constitution
to run for a third term, condemned by the church and civil society groups, has
raised the political temperature in Malawi. Opponents warned that the
democratic gains won in 1994 with the end of the dictatorial rule of Hastings
Kamazu Banda would be threatened. Human rights NGOs have been quick
to blame the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF's) militants, the "Young
Democrats", for perpetrating much of the current violence, with the police
allegedly choosing to look the other way. David Nungu, director of
investigations for MHRC, said the commission intended to investigate the allegations
of state-sponsored violence. "It'll form the part of the peace building
process emanating from public inquiry into political intolerance," he said.
Among the recent high-profile cases was an attack last week on Brown Mpinganjira,
the leader of the opposition pressure group National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
He was ambushed at a police roadblock just outside the capital Lilongwe. "We
had very successful rallies in Mchinji and Dowa. We were coming from another
rally at Chinsapo, Likuni and had decided to drive straight to Blantyre. A white
Prado without number plates overtook us at high speed and we found it parked
next to the police roadblock," Mpinganjira, a former senior cabinet minister,
told IRIN "The police asked us to get out of the car. We saw close to 12
people carrying metal bars, sticks and stones. I then told my driver to proceed.
But they pounced on us and smashed windows on the right hand side of our vehicle.
Luckily we drove away at high speed. "They intended to kill me. They're
coming for me. [President] Bakili [Muluzi] wanted to kill me. Yet the police
were part and parcel of it all," said Mpinganjira, who has been in and
out of police custody since he was axed from the cabinet in 2000. A second NDA
vehicle was held up at the roadblock but managed to turn around and sped away
to Lilongwe police station. "These thugs followed them to the police yard.
One of our colleagues was stabbed in the back and shoulder. The car was smashed,
people were stabbed and robbed inside a police yard. And these people had the
audacity to fire in the air in the police yard. Our car is still at the police
yard as I speak to you now," Mpinganjira said. An eyewitness, Lawrence
Mlambwaza, alleged the NDA team was attacked by the Young Democrats and the
National Intelligence Bureau (NIB). According to Ollen Mwalubunju, executive
director for the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), ruling party
militants were acting with impunity. "We have witnessed the Young
Democrats beating up opposition politicians," he said. "Does it mean
the law that we have only protects members of the ruling party? We appeal to
the state president to discipline members of his party. He has a greater role
to play." Faustace Chirwa, executive director of the NGO Women's Lobby
said efforts to advocate peaceful coexistence were not working. "All the
efforts to advocate for non-violence have failed. On a serious note, we do not
have a direct answer to the problem. But we'll keep on lobbying the perpetrators,
including the president, who are promoting violence because we fear the repercussions,"
she said. Paul Maulidi, the UDF's deputy secretary-general told IRIN that his
party's policy was to condemn violence. "But you must understand that this
is politics. In politics, you're dealing with people's emotions. When they hear
you castigating the president, they'll hit you. Normally those things happen
outside the knowledge of the political leaders. It's not the position of the
party. And those things happen everywhere, not only in the UDF. If we get evidence
[of violence], we have a disciplinary committee," he said.
IRIN 12 Aug 2002 Plateau peace meeting denouces militias LAGOS, 12 Aug 2002 (IRIN) - Government officials, political and community leaders met on Sunday to discuss ways to end a year of ethnic and religious turbulence in Nigeria's Plateau State and denounced the emergence of militia groups, saying it is a key factor aggravating conflict. The meeting in the state capital Jos, organised by the governor, Joshua Dariye, was attended by more than 80 participants including human rights groups, traditional and religious leaders and communities that have been affected by ethnic and religious clashes in the past year. "Security agencies should be advised to redouble their efforts at detecting and preventing the outbreak of violence," said the official communique issued at the end of the meeting. "Organisers and perpetrators of conflicts who stock arms and train ethnic and religious militias should be apprehended and prosecuted," it added. The meeting also called for tolerance among the various ethnic communties in the central region state, in order to reduce the sort of friction that has often led to violence. Intermittent communal clashes have rocked Plateau State since September 2001, when ethnic and religious clashes between Muslims and Christians Jos, resulting in the loss of over 1,000 lives. Since the beginning of the year several clashes have occurred in parts of the state, in which mainly local Christians have engaged Muslim Hausa-speakers whose origins are further in the north of the country. Scores of people have died and thousands have been displaced. Relations between Nigeria’s Christians and Muslims have grown increasingly tense since 12 states in the mainly Muslim north introduced strict Islamic or Sharia legal codes. Under this code adultery is punishable by stoning to death, stealing attracts amputation of limbs while drinking of alcohol is punished by public flogging. The pervading tension in the state has been worsened by political violence between rival factions of the ruling People’s Democratic Party.
Vanguard (Lagos) NEWS 17 Aug 2002 How Soldiers Massacred Tivs, Witness Tells Panel By Kingsley Omonobi & Hassan Mohammed SOLDIERS of the Nigerian Army conveyed by at least five trucks and accompanied by armoured tanks carried out the alleged massacre of Tivs and other inhabitants of Logo Local government area of Benue State after completing an earlier massacre at Gbeji, the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the Tiv/Jukun crisis heard Thursday. The killings were alleged to be in retaliation for the killing of 19 of their colleagues at Zaki Biam. Testifying at the commission's sitting, the chief administrative officer of Logo local government area, Mr John Ashe, said that aside from the massacre of innocent citizens which was pre-meditated, the soldiers left in their trail, the destruction of houses, churches, clinics and petrol stations among others. Mr. Ashe who said he was an eye-witness to the events leading to the destruction of Zaki Biam in Benue State told the commission that he saw soldiers in trucks including three armoured cars on his way from Zaki Biam to Ugba in Logo local government area. His words: "We received a report at about 5 p.m. on 22 October, 2001 that soldiers had invaded Gbeji and Ayii. We then went to Zaki Biam at about 10 p.m. of the same 22nd to report to soldiers of 72 Battalion, Makurdi who were camped there and the commander was not there but we met a captain who was the second in command. We informed him of the need to get some soldiers to provide protection for the place. "The captain said it was late and his boss was not around, so we were asked to come back the next day, 23rd. When we got there the next day, the captain said the commander had not come but he would give us some men and he asked us to come back at 12 noon. On our way back, between Wukari and Zaki Biam, we saw a convoy of armoured cars with headlights on coming in our direction. We had to give way and parked by UBA (United Bank for Africa). "We drove about 100 metres from the bank and we saw another convoy, this time about 100 metres to the secretariat. We saw armoured cars with long nozzles and a white pick-up with a bold inscription Operation Thunder. When the pick-up passed, we heard a whistle and the vehicles that were passing were by the road side. "They moved on and later on, we heard loud sounds of shooting but there was nowhere we could run to other than abandon our car and fled into the bush (myself, the driver and our deputy chairman). Shooting continued until about 4 p.m. "After the operation, the soldiers disappeared only to reappear in Zaki Biam. We slept in the bush, the following day we came out and we heard that people were going to Zaki Biam to identify corpses." However, during cross examination by Elder Chris Abongabi, Mr Ashe could not say whether the soldiers actually reached Zaki Biam before the shooting was heard.
AP 11 Aug 2002 Muslims, Christians Pray in Nigeria OSOGBO, Nigeria (AP) — Hundreds feverishly shout prayers as a virgin casts melon seeds and meat from a freshly sacrificed goat into the Osun river — offerings to the river goddess people here believe shields them from disease, hunger and war. Many of the worshippers observing the centuries-old ethnic Yoruba celebration in southwestern Nigeria this weekend are Christians and Muslims. But they say one cannot pray to enough gods in a country overwhelmed by grinding poverty, rampant ethnic violence and the ravages of AIDS and malaria. Kalopo Wale, a 25-year-old Christian, first made the trip to the banks of the Osun a decade ago, after dropping out of school because his parents couldn't afford the fees. ``I had a problem that day. I prayed here, and it went away,'' Wale said near the water's edge. ``That's why I come every year.'' Days after participating in the celebration known as the Osun water festival, a tailor offered Wale an apprenticeship. Now he has his own business and is back seeking prosperity. The weeklong festival is one of the most sacred feasts for the Yorubas in that part of Nigeria. The ceremony also draws tens of thousands from other parts of this nation of 120 million people — and dozens of tourists — to the town of Osogbo each August. The Yoruba — who believe in a pantheon of gods, each representing a natural element or emotion — regard the river as Osun, the goddess of fertility. The waters, they believe, cure infertility in women, heal the sick, and ensure prosperity and long life. Every August, streams of women flow from the river's edge carrying plastic jugs of brownish water on their heads. ``With that water you can request anything you want,'' Wale said, watching the women. ``You take it home, pray to it, drink it, give yourself a bath.'' The 20-million-strong Yoruba tribe is almost equally divided between Christians and Muslims. But Yoruba beliefs have survived, withstanding the onslaughts of religion as well as European colonization and tribal wars. Slaves took Yoruba traditions as far as Cuba and Brazil. They are also evident in neighboring West African countries, Benin and Togo. The Yoruba belief in multiple gods helps them reconcile different religions, said Caleb Kullman, 31, an American researcher, who is studying the effects of modernity on the Yoruba. ``Nigerians are very practical,'' Kullman said, watching crowds stream to the river for blessings from priestesses. ``If they think they can get more benefits if they mix praying to Osun with Christianity, they will.'' Yet, ethnic, religious and political clashes have killed thousands of Nigerians in recent years. The presence of thousands of white-cloaked members of the Yoruba ethnic militia, the Odudua Peoples Congress, at this year's festival served as a reminder of the violence still tearing at Nigeria. The militia was banned two years ago after the government blamed it for ethnic riots that killed more than 100 people in the commercial capital, Lagos.
Vanguard (Lagos) NEWS August 20, 2002 Security Report Fingered in Obasanjo, Governors' Talks By Paul Odili THE planned meeting between President Olusegun Obasanjo and the 36 states governors in Abuja this week was prompted by a recent American security report on the state of Nigeria's democracy, Vanguard can now reveal. The security report was said to have cast doubts over the legitimacy of the country elections, which the American government suspects would be rigged in favour of incumbent office holders and therefore not reflect the true aspirations of Nigerians, thus sparking violence. The U.S. State Department had, in an August 8, 2002 statement, warned Americans to be weary of travelling to Nigeria, claiming that armed gangs and authorities were clashing ahead of the council polls originally scheduled for August 10. It described conditions in Nigeria as posing "considerable risks to travellers," alluding to religious and ethnic violence in parts of the country. Vanguard gathered that the meeting in Abuja is at the instance of the governors, who were said to be alarmed by the American security report. Their interpretation of the report is a vote of no confidence on the political leadership of the country which could be seized by anti-democratic forces to undermine democratic rule. According to sources, the 36 state governors on learning of the report, "were really scared and would like to impress it on the President to do something." The governors, Vanguard, further learnt hope to use the meeting in Abuja to prevail on the President to soften his hard stand on some issues like the implementation of the budget, and the release of funds into the nation's economy. Some state governors are already losing control of the situation in their states, especially where some of them are owing workers their salaries up to 10 months. Other issues which the governors hope to take up with the President include the security of the nation. Sources said the governors are apprehensive following briefing by the commissioners of police in their various states over possible violence during the coming elections. The police commissioners had held a meeting recently with the Inspector-General of Police, at which they reviewed the operational status of the police which they say is inadequate. The governors are likely to mount pressure on the President to release more funds to the police and seek the President's support to set up community police, which the source said, however, could be a form of state police the governors have been calling for. The other issue on the agenda of the meeting is the current face-off between the Presidency and the National Assembly, which the governors hope to wade in as it is heating up the polity.
Chicago Tribune 9 Aug 2002 Rwandans turning to Islam as faith shaken by genocide By Laurie Goering KIGALI, Rwanda — Long before the call to prayer begins each Friday at noon, Rwanda's Muslim faithful jam the main mosque in Kigali's Nyamirambo neighborhood, the overflow crowd spreading their prayer rugs on the mosque steps, over the red-earth parking lot and out the front gate. Almost a decade after a horrific genocide left 800,000 Rwandans dead and shook the faith of this predominantly Christian nation of 8 million people, Islam, once seen as a fringe religion, has surged in popularity. Today "we see Muslims as very kind people," said Salamah Ingabire, 20, who converted to Islam in 1995 after losing two brothers in the killing spree. "What we saw in the genocide changed our minds." Women in bright tangerine, scarlet and blue headscarves stroll the bustling streets of the capital, beside men in long, white tunics and embroidered caps. Mosques and Islamic schools are overflowing with students. Today about 14 percent of Rwandans consider themselves Muslim, up from about 7 percent before the genocide. "We're everywhere," says Sheik Saleh Habimana, the leader of Rwanda's burgeoning Muslim community, which has mosques in nearly all of the country's cities and towns. Islam is no rarity in Africa, and countries around Rwanda — Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda — have large Muslim communities. But the religion was never particularly popular in Rwanda until the 1994 genocide, which spurred a rush of conversions. From April to June 1994, militias and mobs from the country's ethnic Hutu majority hunted and killed hundreds of thousands of ethnic Tutsis at the government's urging. Within a few months, three of four Tutsis in the country had been hacked to death, often with machetes or hoes. More than 100,000 suspected killers eventually were jailed and many others fled to Congo, where they joined that nation's bloody war. The genocide stunned Rwanda's Christian community. While clergy in many communities struggled to protect their congregations and died with them, a number of prominent Christian leaders joined in the killing spree and are facing prosecution. Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, the head of Rwanda's Seventh-day Adventist Church, is on trial, charged with luring Tutsi parishioners to his church in western Kibuye province then turning them over to Hutu militias who slaughtered 2,000 to 6,000 in a single day. The day before the massacre, Tutsi Adventist clergymen inside the church sent Ntakirutimana a now-famous letter, informing him that "tomorrow we will be killed with our families" and seeking his help. Survivors report that he replied: "You must be eliminated. God doesn't want you anymore." At the same time, Rwanda's Muslims — many of them intermarried Tutsi-Hutu couples — were opening their homes to thousands of desperate Tutsis. Many Muslim families successfully hid Tutsis from the Hutu mobs, who feared to enter the country's insular Muslim communities. Yahya Kayiranga, a young Tutsi who fled Kigali with his mother at the start of the genocide, was taken into the home of a Muslim family in the central city of Gitarama, where he hid until the killing was over. His father and uncle who stayed behind in Kigali were slain. "We were helped by people we didn't even know," the 27-year-old remembers. Unable to return to what he considered a sullied Catholic church, he converted to Islam in 1996. Today he wears a white tunic and gold-embroidered cap and no longer drinks Rwanda's traditional banana beer. He is studying Arabic and the Quran at a local madrassa and most mornings awakens for the dawn prayer, the first of five each day. His job as a money-changer in downtown Kigali conflicts with Islam's prohibitions on profiting from financial transactions, but he thinks he has mostly adapted well to his new faith. "I thought at first Islam would be hard, but that fear went away," he said. "It's not easy at the beginning, but as you practice it becomes better, normal." Rwanda's Muslim leaders have struggled to impart the importance of unity and tolerance to their converts, who number as many Hutus as Tutsis. Sheik Habimana is one of the leaders of the country's new interfaith commission, created to promote unity and tolerance, and in a country still seething with anger and fear after the mass killings, Rwanda's mosques are one of the few places where reconciliation appears to have genuinely taken hold. "In the Islamic faith, Hutu and Tutsi are the same," Kayiranga said. "Islam teaches us about brotherhood." While Rwanda's ethnic Tutsis, for the most part, have come to Islam seeking protection from purges and to honor and emulate the people who saved them, Hutus also have come, seeking to leave behind their violent past. "They all felt the blood on their hands, and they embraced Islam to purify themselves," Habimana said. Becoming Muslim has not been an easy process for many Rwandans, who chafe at the religion's dress and lifestyle restrictions. Despite Islam's new post-genocide status, Rwandan Muslims traditionally have been second-class citizens, working as taxi drivers and traders in a society that reveres farmers. "Because we were Muslim we weren't considered Rwandanese," Habimana said. Now, as the religion's popularity grows, that is changing. 'I think now it will be a complete genocide of the non-Muslims'
AFP 16 Aug 2002 Ethnic origins ignored in Rwanda's first census KIGALI: Eight years after up to a million of its citizens died in Africa's worst genocide in living memory, Rwanda Friday began its first ever population census that ignores ethnic origins. Some 10,000 officials were mobilised to gather information on the tiny central African nation's estimated 8.6 million inhabitants in an exercise expected to last until August 31 and costing around eight million dollars. "The 1994 genocide and the return of refugees have muddled the statistics, so the current data on the Rwandan population are only estimates," President Paul Kagame said in a televised address prior to the launch of the census. "We can no longer rely on estimates when we are trying to fight poverty," he said. According to international relief agency figures, between 500,000 and one million people -- mainly Tutsis and moderate Hutus -- died in the 1994 killing spree orchestrated by the previous Hutu government and carried out by machete-wielding gangs, according to international relief agenc. All ethnic references have since been banned from official literature by the current government, which emerged after the genocide from the former Tutsi rebellion, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (FPR). Ethnic tensions are blamed for sporadic massacres of Tutsis prior to the genocide, dating back to 1959 -- three years before Rwanda's independence from Belgium. New national trappings officially adopted last December include an ethnically-neutral flag, anthem and coat of arms. In the new census, citizens will be asked 65 questions touching on their age, religion, means of transport and communication, housing and sanitary facilities -- but not on their Tutsi, Hutu, or other ethnic origins. Both of the previous censuses since independence charted the population's ethnicity, as well its steady growth -- from 4.8 million in 1978 to 7.2 million in 1991. The country's National Population Office expects the current population to double over the next 20 years.
Reuters 17 Aug 2002 Rwanda Slams UN Tribunal for Dropping Genocide Case Reuters KIGALI - Rwanda Saturday said it was unhappy with a decision by a U.N. tribunal trying suspects in the country's 1994 genocide to drop charges against a former army officer and promised to launch its own investigations. U.N prosecutors said Wednesday there was insufficient evidence to try Leonidas Rusatira, a former general they had alleged participated in the killing of about 2,000 ethnic Tutsis at a technology institute in the capital Kigali. But Rwanda's Minister of Justice and Institutional Relations Jean de Dieu Mucyo accused the tribunal of rushing its decision and added that the government would carry out its own investigations and present the findings to the U.N. court. "We were shocked to hear the sudden decision," Mucyo told Reuters. "We wonder how in a spell of three months the tribunal could finalize investigating this man and pass such a questionable decision. I mean, other cases have been taking years to complete." The government has often accused the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda based in Arusha, Tanzania of working too slowly and Mucyo said its decision regarding Rusatira showed it was weak. "We are not happy with this kind of decision. It clearly depicts the weaknesses of the Arusha court that we have been condemning all along," he said. An estimated 800,000 people were killed in the genocide, in which extremists from the ethnic Hutu majority slaughtered Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus. Observer groups had criticized Rusatira's arrest in Belgium in May saying the general had in fact tried to protect Tutsis hunted by militiamen and had publicly called for an end to the killings by his army. "The issue of saying that he saved Tutsis during the genocide is mere propaganda. He fooled the U.N. and the world by pretending to protect the Tutsis and yet he secretly turned around and ordered for their murder," the minister said.
Internews (Arusha) 20 Aug 2002 Plans to Indict French Military And Government Officials By Sheenah Kaliisa Arusha The Rwandan government is planning to indict French military and government officials for their alleged involvement in the 1994 genocide, 'Internews' has learned. A source in the Rwandan government, who spoke to Internews on the condition of anonymity, said the indictments would be issued "very soon." "Of course we have to indict the French. We are gathering evidence," the official said on the telephone from Kigali. The Rwandan government is accusing France of arming the Habyarimana government to plan and implement the April-June 1994 genocide, which began on 6 April when unknown assailants shot down a plane carrying then President Juvenal Habyarimana, Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryarmira and other Rwanda government officials. The president and all on board died in the crash. The genocide claimed more than 800,000 lives. Rwanda also alleges that France shielded and provided an escape route for genocide perpetrators through 'Operation Turquoise', French peacekeeping forces deployed in Rwanda in 1994. The government claims that the French incited killing of ethnic Tutsi and moderate ethnic Hutu and simultaneously shielded top government officials and militiamen. According to the government, the French also facilitated the escape of genocidiares to France and to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), then Zaire. "They [the French] saved some Tutsi just to cover up what they were doing," the source added. In June 1994, France, which colonized Rwanda until 1961, established ' Zone Turquoise' in western Rwanda near the border with DRC, which was to be a neutral no-fighting zone between government and rebel forces. "We have too much evidence. For example, we have a telephone conversation where a top French official was talking to a Rwandan military official, giving them weapons and asking him to stop killing Tutsis on camera. 'Kill them [Tutsi] but do it off camera'," the source told Internews. When contacted, Rwanda's Prosecutor-General Gerald Gahima declined to give any details, but did not deny that his office is conducting investigations. "I have no comment about that at this stage," Gahima said on telephone from Kigali. Another source indicated that Rwanda plans to hold a public debate titled 'France in the 1994 Genocide' on national television. However, Internews' efforts to establish the date of the program failed. The government of Rwanda on 23 July wrote to the UN Security Council, criticizing the performance of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), which was established in 1995 to try the alleged perpetrators of the genocide. Rwanda claims that the ICTR is inefficient and corrupt. The Kigali government wants increased protection measures for witnesses testifying before the tribunal. Rwanda also claims the tribunal has in its employ people suspected to have been involved in the genocide. Judge Navanethem Pillay of South Africa, ICTR President, wrote to the UN Security Council on 8 August denying Rwanda's claims and absolving the UN court of any impropriety. Since its inception in 1995, the ICTR has handed down nine judgments - eight convictions and one acquittal. Currently, trials are in progress for 22 detainees and 29 others are awaiting trial. The latest arrival at the United Nations Detention Facility (UNDF) in Arusha in Augustin Bizimungu, a former chief of staff in the Rwandan Armed Forces (FAR) who was arrested in Angola last week and transferred to Arusha in last Thursday.
Irin 2 Aug 2002 ICTR unlikely to fulfil mandate by 2008 NAIROBI, 2 Aug 2002 (IRIN) - At its current rate of work, there is "no chance" that the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda will complete its mission before 2008 to hear all the cases of genocide suspects before it at Arusha, Tanzania, the International Crisis Group reported on Thursday. This, it said, was because of the Tribunal's "overly ambitious" prosecution schedule and "the lack of effective efforts" to expedite processes and hearings. "Five cases of utmost importance have been waiting too long to be heard," it said. [The full report, titles The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda: The Countdown is available (only in French)]
IRIN 9 Aug 2002 US to fund expansion of ICTR NAIROBI, 9 Aug 2002 (IRIN) - The US government is to fund "a significant expansion" of the United Nations Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), US Ambassador-At-Large for War-Crimes Pierre-Richard Prosper announced on Tuesday. Speaking to journalists in the Washington, he said the US was prepared to agree to a complement of a pool of 18 new judges for the court, which would effectively triple the roster of nine judges who currently made up the tribunal. Although over 40 indictees had been captured and handed over to the court, Prosper said "the tribunal court calendar is now backlogged with a significant number of cases. It has come to our attention and the attention of the UN Security Council... [that] additional judges should be assigned to the [ICTR] process." Declining to specify how much the US would spend, he added that "we intend to use our presence in the Security Council to see if we an advance this issue - to add resources to the tribunal for Rwanda so that it can move at a more expeditious pace." The ICTR, established to try the chief instigators of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, has come under heavy criticism for being too slow, despite its large budget. Since 1996, when the court was established, it has handed down only nine judgements - eight convictions and one acquittal. Its budget in 2001 was almost US $94 million, of which the US - the largest single donor to the tribunal - donated US $20.2 million. In late February this year, the US government called on the ICTR to finish its work by 2007-2008. On 1 August an advocacy body, the International Crisis Group, issued a report on the tribunal stating there was "no chance" that the court would complete its mission before 2008, at its current rate of work. This, it said, was because of the tribunal's "overly ambitious" prosecution schedule and "the lack of effective efforts" to expedite processes and hearings.
Internews (Arusha) NEWS 16 Aug 2002 ICTR President Praises UN Approval of 18 Temporary Judges By Sukhdev Chhatbar Arusha Navanethem Pillay of South Africa, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), has praised Wednesday's decision by the UN Security Council to approve the creation of a pool of 18 ad litem (temporary) judges to expedite trials at the Arusha-based UN court. The Security Council unanimously adopted the resolution enabling the tribunal to appoint temporary judges, in an attempt to speed up trials for suspects of the April-June1994 genocide in Rwanda. Currently, the tribunal has nine permanent judges. Trials are in progress for 22 detainees and 29 others are awaiting trial. "This measure will significantly enhance the capacity of the tribunal to dispose of the cases pending before it," Pillay stated. The ICTR President notes that the Security Council's decision provides for only four of the ad litem judges to sit in the trial chambers at any one time, "rather than the nine proposed by the tribunal, with a view to completing our mandate by a projected date of 2008." Pillay urged UN member states to propose sufficient number of qualified candidates "so that the new judges can take up their duties as soon as possible." UN sources hinted that the temporary judges would take up their positions early next year, at the latest. The Security Council took almost one year to consider the tribunal's proposal for ad litem judges, who will serve for non- renewable four-year terms. The ICTR was established in November 1995 to try the alleged perpetrators of the genocide, which claimed the lives of more than 800,000 ethnic Tutsi and politically moderate ethnic Hutu. Violence in Rwanda in 1994 started immediately after the death of then President Juvenal Habyarimana in a plane crash on 6 April 1994. Unknown assailants shot down the plane at it approached the capital, Kigali, killing all board. Habyarimana and Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira were returning from a regional peace meeting in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Since inception, the tribunal has handed down nine judgments -- eight convictions and one acquittal.
New Vision (Kampala) 19 Aug 2002 UPDF Army Discovers Mass Graves By Emmy Allio THE army has said it discovered two mass graves yesterday at Awich, Aswa county in Gulu near the battle scene where Vincent Oti was reportedly shot and injured. Oti is deputy to Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord's Resistance Army rebels. Sources said the mass graves will be opened this week to find out whether Oti was killed and buried there or was still in hiding. "Since we have not seen his body, we cannot go on record to say he is dead. But the information we gather is that Kony and his commanders are mum on his whereabouts," a security source said yesterday. The source said Kony sneaked back into Sudan last Tuesday, hours after the Awich battle. On Thursday, Kony appointed Charles Tabuley as his deputy. Tabuley ordered the July 24 Mucwini massacre and the Achol-Pii raid where over 100 people were killed. Sources said Oti, the author of the massacre of 250 people in his home village in Atiak in April 1995, was reportedly shot on his way from Kilak to Pader district to meet Kony.
Christian Science Monitor 19 Aug 2002 Zimbabwe's political tool: food Since Friday, 133 white farmers have been arrested. Opposition says Mugabe is exploiting food crisis. By Nicole Itano, Special to The Christian Science Monitor HARARE, ZIMBABWE - Even with foreign aid pouring into the country, observers say that Zimbabwe will not have enough food for its people over the coming year. In this looming crisis, the government sees an opportunity - to gain political leverage by withholding food from political opponents, says Sam Mlilo, an organizer for the opposition party here. Mr. Mlilo says that members of his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party come to him looking for food, as drought and President Robert Mugabe's controversial land redistribution program have edged Zimbabwe closer to famine. But Mlilo has to turn his fellow supporters away. "I have no resources, no food for you," he tells them, "and the next day, I hear that they have surrendered their party cards because they have been starving." Mlilo, a former university professor who lives in Mberengwa East, an area wracked by violence during the country's March presidential elections, adds: "It's really working. [The government's] plan is going to work." That plan, according to opposition leaders such as Mlilo and aid groups, is to starve the opposition into submission, forcing their allegiance to Mr. Mugabe's regime. Earlier in the year, some 50 MDC supporters were beaten and shot, allegedly by Mugabe supporters in the run up to the March elections. But as rural villagers are reduced scavenging for roots and berries, or selling their remaining assets to buy high-priced food on the black market, the MDC and local nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) say food is the government's latest weapon. The government denies this charge. Speaking to the nation last week during Zimbabwe's independence day celebrations, Mugabe promised that the government would feed everyone, even the "stooges and puppets," one of his favorite term for opposition supporters he claims are working for Britain, the country's former colonial master. In two short years, Zimbabwe has gone from a food supplier to becoming one of the largest humanitarian emergencies on the continent. Mugabe's plan to give white-owned farms to landless blacks has crippled the country's commercial-farming sector. Yesterday, more than 133 white farmers were arrested for defying orders to vacate their land. Over the next nine months, the country faces a 1.5-million-ton food-production shortfall and the specter of six million starving if it doesn't receive sufficient aid, according to the United Nations' World Food Program (WFP). Even with aid, Zimbabwe is likely to face a half-million ton shortfall. But despite pleas from the UN to allow the private importation of food to help fill the projected gap, the government has maintained a steely grip on the market. Late last year, private wheat and corn imports were banned, and the government-run grain marketing board, which is managed by top military and intelligence officials, was given control. Known MDC supporters are being turned away from grain depots, while party big men are buying up grain and selling it on the black market at a profit, say some observers. NGOs also report that MDC supporters are being discriminated against in government-run food-for-work programs. The Food Security Network, a coalition of 54 local NGOs that has been monitoring the situation in Zimbabwe, says politicization of food aid has been reported in at least 33 of the country's 54 districts. They say many of the depots are being run by youth militia from Mugabe's ZANU-PF party or by intelligence officers, and that more food is being sent to ZANU strongholds than to MDC areas. "We went to one depot that was being run by youth militia," says the director of one prominent NGO, who asked not to be named out of fear of retaliation from the government. "That in itself is outrageous. These are the same people who were beating and torturing people in the first four months of the year," referring to alleged violence around the March election, which most observers say was rigged in favor of Mugabe. The government has threatened to ban NGOs critical of the state and to seize the passports of their workers. The WFP says that food is being distributed to all, not just to those in a particular party. But local NGOs and the MDC say that monitoring has been poor. They accuse aid agencies of looking the other way to avoid confrontation with the government, allowing it to influence who receives donated food. "The lists of beneficiaries are all being drawn up by rural committees, which are relying on chiefs and headmen who are all in the pay of the government," says Eddie Cross, spokesman for the MDC on economic affairs. "On principle [the WFP and aid groups] will not act in a political manner, but they're allowing themselves to be manipulated." The WFP and donors deny such allegations and say that they have thoroughly investigated all charges of political bias in the food-distribution process and found them untrue. The biggest problem, they say, is just that there's not enough food aid for everyone. Since the ranks of the needy are so vast, it is nearly impossible to prove whether someone was left off a list because of political affiliation. Still, several cases of direct interference by ruling-party militants have been recorded. In the town of Binga, near Lake Kariba, war veterans stopped food distribution by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace for almost two months, saying that the commission was a political organization that was using the food to foment antigovernment sentiment. In another district, a local NGO says its workers were beaten by war veterans who claimed that bags of cornmeal were being distributed with pro-opposition material inside. The biggest challenge for the donors may be the next phase of the crisis - the recovery phase. Feeding the hungry is usually followed by long-term efforts to improve food security, but according to the WFP, donors will likely be hesitant to subsidize new farmers placed on land taken from white commercial farmers.
WP 21 Aug 2002 Argentine Ex-Leader Tied to Death Squad U.S. Records Cite Role in 1976-83 Killings By Dana Priest Page A14 One of the leaders of the military dictatorship that ruled Argentina between 1976 and 1983 was at the top of the chain of command, directing a notorious death squad thought to be responsible for the killing and disappearance of thousands of Argentines during that period, according to declassified State Department documents released yesterday. Gen. Leopoldo Galtieri, who served as president of Argentina from December 1981 to June 1982 and faces criminal charges in the disappearance of 18 people, is listed at the top of an organizational diagram drawn by officials at the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires. The chart, once stamped secret, shows the chain of command for the secretive unit, known as Battalion 601, moving from task forces, through positions in its headquarters, to the Army's chief intelligence officers and then to Galtieri. The chart, drawn by James J. Blystone, the Regional Security Officer at the embassy, is one of 4,677 pages released yesterday after years of requests by U.S. groups and the relatives of Argentine victims of the military government's war against its own people. Then-Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, during a visit to Buenos Aires in 2000, met with the grandmothers of some people who had disappeared, and Albright promised to push for the documents' release. More than 9,000 Argentines, including political and labor leaders, clergymen, human rights activists, physicians and students, were killed or "disappeared" during the military junta. The United States, which tacitly encouraged the campaign against anti-government activists in its early years, later tried to pressure the government to stop the disappearances. The released documents include memos outlining an intense policy dispute within the U.S. government over what its position on the ruling junta should be, according to Thomas S. Blanton, executive director of the National Security Archive, a nongovernmental research institute that pushed for the release of the documents. Blanton, often a critic of the U.S. government because of its secrecy, praised the State Department yesterday. "For Argentina, this information is essential for coming to terms with their very bloody past, and that's hugely significant." But, he added, the documents also show "a remarkable level of knowledge by the U.S. government" about daily human rights abuses. At the time, some U.S. government officials said the abuse was being committed by renegade military and security force elements, and was not Argentina's government policy. But one of many examples describing the U.S. government's knowledge about the government's unorthodox tactics is laid out in a cable from the embassy to the State Department in May 1980: A reliable source described for embassy officials the "very hard orders that went out late last year for security procedures" concerning the Montoneros, a domestic terrorist group. "Torture and summary executions will be their lot," the cable quotes the source as saying. Asked by U.S. officials "why the military did not feel it possible to bring these people before formal courts, even military courts, our informant gave two reasons," the cable says. "First, security forces neither trust nor know how to use legal solutions. The present methods are easier and more familiar. Second, there is no responsible military man who 'has the courage' to take formal responsibility for the conviction and execution of a Montonero." The cable concludes by saying: "Under present rules, 'nobody' is responsible on the record for the executions." http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB73/press.htm
BBC 8 Aug 2002 Massacre in Colombia welcomes new president By BBC At least 13 people have been killed and nearly 30 wounded in explosions in the Colombian capital Bogota, minutes before Alvaro Uribe was sworn in as the country's president. Several of the explosions took place in poor Cartucho district a few streets away from the national parliament where Mr Uribe was receiving his presidential sash. A correspondent says that only the Marxist guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have the ability to mount such attacks. He says the are a sign that the FARC is not intimidated by the new president's pledge to get tough on them and to restore order in the country. Mr Uribe, a 50-year-old lawyer, won a landslide election victory in May after promising a crackdown but has since warned people not to "expect miracles". In the past six months there have been three attempts on his life, including one which destroyed cars in his motorcade. Mr Uribe's father was gunned down by FARC rebels on the family ranch in Antioquia in 1983. Mr Uribe did not mention the explosions during his inaugural address. But concerns about possible attacks had led to the ceremony being moved from its traditional outdoor location in Bogota's central colonial plaza into the parliament. Several regional presidents were attending the inauguration, as well as the heir to the Spanish throne, Prince Felipe, but they were not hurt. Instead, local residents took the brunt of the injuries, with several children among the dead. A number of police officers also suffered injuries. A series of mortar shells were fired, despite the presence of 20,000 soldiers and police, and a US surveillance plane. Although there was no claim of responsibility, home-made mortars are a weapon frequently used by the FARC. The outgoing President, Andres Pastrana, staked his government's reputation on initiating peace talks with the rebels, who have been at war with the Colombian authorities for 38 years. But his attempts to end the conflict failed, and the cycle of violence has continued. Mr Uribe has already warned that he will need a "lot of time" to tackle Colombia's problems.
AP 18 Aug 2002 Colombian paramilitary commander says army executed 24 of his fighters BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) - A regional commander of an outlawed paramilitary force accused an army soldier on Saturday of executing 24 of his men along a roadside in central Colombia. The paramilitary commander, who goes by the nom de guerre Rodrigo, dismissed an army claim that the paramilitaries were killed during combat as a lie. The right-wing paramilitaries and the U.S.-backed Colombian army often maintain secret links and work together in attempts to crush Colombia's 38-year-old leftist insurgency. Rodrigo said in a telephone interview that a drunken soldier from the army's 14th Brigade forced his men from a truck near Segovia village in Antioquia province on the evening of Aug. 9 and ordered them to kneel on the side of a road with their hands behind their necks. The soldier then opened fire on the men with a machine gun, Rodrigo said by phone from Segovia, 186 miles (300 kilometers) north of the capital, Bogota. Army officials have said 24 paramilitary fighters were killed during fighting that broke out near Segovia on Aug. 9, and that three soldiers were injured during the alleged clashes. Rodrigo said the army soldiers were injured when 12 paramilitary fighters returned fire while trying to escape. The brigade's commander, Col. Guillermo Quinones, could not be reached for comment Saturday. Another officer of the brigade, Col. Hector Hurtado, said the case was being investigated by a prosecutor in Segovia. The prosecutor's office did not answer phone calls Saturday. Rodrigo, commander of the paramilitary's Metro Block with an estimated 1,200 fighters, said he learned of the massacre from four of his fighters who survived. The dead paramilitaries were between the ages of 18 and 25, Rodrigo said. He pledged not to take revenge against the army. "We will never take military action against the state or the army,'' said Rodrigo. "That's why we're denouncing this, so that what happened will be investigated and brought to light.'' Rodrigo said he and other paramilitary commanders had met frequently with a lieutenant from the 14th Brigade to coordinate operations against rebels. The United States, which provides millions of dollars in military aid as well as training to the Colombian security forces, has insisted the army sever ties with the paramilitaries, who have been accused of numerous massacres of suspected rebels and other abuses. About 3,500 people were killed last year in Colombia's war.
AP 18 Aug 2002 Nine deaths in Mexico may be drug-related MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Eight men and a woman were lined up against a wall and gunned down with assault rifles and pistols at a western Mexico ranch in what reports published Sunday said may have been a drug-related massacre. The victims' bodies were found Saturday, and the execution-style killings -- each victim was found facedown and shot in the head -- probably occurred sometime Friday, Michoacan state police told local media. Police found a white powder, plastic bags such as those used to package cocaine for retail sale and unspecified equipment that may have been used in processing cocaine, state police told the newspaper La Jornada. Tests were continuing on the equipment and the powder to determine their nature. The killings occurred in the remote rural township of Aquila in a mountainous area about 20 miles (30 kilometers) from the Pacific coast and some 50 miles (80 kilometers) east of the coastal resort city of Manzanillo. Impoverished farmers in the area reportedly grow small plots of marijuana, but the cocaine trade would be a relatively new development there. The dead included the ranch's owner, and most of the other victims -- who ranged in age from 19 to 49 -- appeared to be ranch employees. Photographs of the crime scene showed the bodies -- some shirtless -- crowded side by side into the small, brick warehouse-type room where they were executed. Original reports had said other ranch residents were missing, but two women and five children later turned up, saying they left the property after ranch owner Jose Mendoza told them to take the weekend off. The killers apparently showed up at the ranch Friday in two pickups, which they then abandoned outside the property, and killed everyone present at the ranch. State police searched the area for signs of the attackers.
AP 20 Aug 2002 Mexico Land Issues Spark Clashes ALTAMIRANO, Mexico (AP) — Supporters of leftist Zapatista rebels clashed with a rival group in southern Mexico, injuring nine people. Five others were wounded in a separate attack motivated by religious differences. Zapatistas and supporters of the former ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, fought each other with sticks, guns and machetes on Monday in Chiapas state. Seven injured PRI supporters were treated in nearby hospitals; two injured Zapatistas were treated within their autonomous townships. There was no immediate information on their conditions. The two groups are engaged in land disputes near the city of Ocosingo, about 100 miles east of the colonial city of San Cristobal de las Casas. In a separate clash in Chiapas state, militant Catholics ambushed a group of Protestants in the village of San Juan Chamula, wounding five people. About 50 men armed with hunting rifles attacked Protestants as they took their children to school on the first day of classes, a spokesman for the regional governor said. The predominantly Catholic village, on the outskirts of San Cristobal, has seen decades of religious violence that has forced out thousands of Protestant farmers. Town leaders have demanded uniformity in religion, saying that dissent weakens an embattled culture that has survived several genocidal wars in recent centuries. Critics say local bosses only seek to maintain power for themselves. Also Monday, about 2,000 Zapatista supporters wearing ski masks marched through the Chiapas city of Altamirano, near the Guatemalan border, to demand custody of men they claim killed one of their leaders earlier this month. The Zapatistas kidnapped one man they claimed was a government agent and ransacked several homes, the government news agency Notimex reported.
Miami Herald 7 Aug 2002 Mexico targets ex-president in murder inquiry BY ANDRES OPPENHEIMER Miami Herald MEXICO CITY -- Former President Luis Echeverría, a populist who governed Mexico from 1970 to 1976, has emerged as the principal target of an unprecedented government investigation into the long-hidden ''dirty war'' waged against anti-government activists decades ago. As if to emphasize the government's determination to punish wrongdoers, top officials say they will invoke international treaties to overcome a 30-year statute of limitations law that would prevent the prosecution of Echeverría for gross human rights abuses in the 1970s. Interior Minister Santiago Creel said the 80-year-old Echeverría is being investigated for his alleged role in the 1968 and 1971 killings of dozens -- perhaps hundreds -- of leftist activists, many of whom disappeared after clashes with government forces in Mexico City demonstrations. The first incident took place while Echeverría was interior minister under his predecessor, the late Gustavo Díaz Ordaz. The Echeverría probe is among half a dozen investigations that are putting to a test a vow by President Vicente Fox to end Mexico's tradition of allowing powerful politicians to get away with commiting crimes. Leaders of the party once led by Echeverría claim Fox has embarked on a witch hunt, and threaten to strike back with labor union strikes and other protests if the government goes ahead with the inquiries. ''In cases of disappearances, we will take the position that this is a continuing crime,'' Creel said in an interview at his office. ``There will be a debate about this, but we believe there is a basis to make a good argument that the statute of limitation on these crimes has not expired.'' Echeverría, who championed Third World causes and used to lash out against the United States during his presidency, had long been the target of press allegations that he had authorized the killings. But it wasn't until President Fox's victory in 2000, when Echeverría's Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) lost power after seven decades of often authoritarian rule, that the government started a serious investigation into the case. Last month, the Mexican government declassified millions of government files on the ''dirty war'' of the 70s and 80s. In addition, Fox appointed a special prosecutor to look into the 532 documented cases of political killings and disappearances, including those in the 1968 clash at Mexico City's Tlatelolco Square and the 1971 student demonstration in the city's San Cosme district. Until recently, Echeverría lived the privileged life of an elder statesman of the PRI. He was a frequent visitor at the presidential residence of Los Pinos, and recommended loyalists to powerful jobs. One of his children, Benito Echeverría, has headed a Mexican government tourism office in Miami for about seven years. MANY QUESTIONS But, in a scene reminiscent of Chile's recent probes into former dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet, Echeverría was summoned by special prosecutor Ignacio Carrillo Prieto to testify last month and was greeted with shouts of ''assassin!'' by scores of demonstrators. The prosecutor gave the former president more than 150 questions, which he will have two months to answer. Last week, Echeverría was hospitalized, suffering from non-life-threatening respiratory infections, the health ministry said. In a statement, the ministry said the ex-president was admitted to Mexico City's Ignacio Chavez National Cardiology Center on Thursday for routine tests. Echeverría's doctors said he was no longer suffering from fever, that his prognosis was good and that they expected him to be out of the hospital ``in a few days.'' Government prosecutors want to know whether Echeverría -- as many of the victims' relatives say -- ordered the repression of the 1968 student demonstration, where army troops killed at least 30 leftist activists, while he was interior minister. Some historians believe many more were killed in that incident. Echeverría has said in the past that the orders had come from President Díaz Ordaz, and that the late president himself had publicly admitted that. But the main charges against Echeverría focus on the June 10, 1971, killings in San Cosme by a para-military group known as ''Los Halcones'' (The Falcons), reportedly created by Díaz Ordaz and assigned to patrol the streets and subway stations. `TWO BIRDS' Former Mexico City Mayor Alfonso Martínez Domínguez was quoted in a 1979 interview with the weekly Proceso as saying that the killings by the paramilitary group ``were engineered by Luis Echeverría to kill two birds with a stone: He wanted to scare those who he said were trying to harass his government at the very start of his term, and he got rid of me.'' According to human rights groups, the paramilitary group not only shot at the demonstrators, but also went to several hospitals afterwards to kill survivors in the emergency wards. Echeverría declined requests for an interview, but his top attorney, Juan Velázquez, disputed the critics' version of the events. Velázquez said the Falcons were ordered by ''somebody'' to crack down on the demonstrators with canes and, when they were met with gunfire from the demonstrators, went back to their headquarters to get weapons. The Falcons did indeed go the hospitals later that day, but it was to take their own wounded, the attorney said. At any rate, prosecution for both the 1968 and 1971 crimes has been proscribed, and the government will not be able to invoke international conventions against genocide to press charges against Echeverría, Velázquez said. ''Assuming, without conceding, that there was a genocide, the 30 years the law would have required to file charges has already expired,'' Velázquez said. ``And Mexico's Supreme Court ruled in 1999 that, when there is a question of hierarchy between the Mexican Constitution and international conventions, the Constitution comes first.'' LATER CRIMES Some academics concede that the Supreme Court ruling may well protect Echeverría for these two incidents. But they add that the former president could still be prosecuted for later crimes, and will at any rate end his life shrouded in controversy. ''It may be too late to do justice in connection with the events of 1968 and 1971, but there can still be legal action regarding actions that took place after 1973, which have not prescribed,'' says leading historian Lorenzo Meyer. ``At any rate, forcing Echeverría to respond for his actions sets an important precedent to prevent these crimes from remaining unprosecuted in the future.''
AP 4 Aug 2002 '68 Student Demonstration Studied MEXICO CITY –– A special prosecutor said he has found no evidence to support historians' claims that about 300 people died when army troops opened fire on student demonstrators in 1968. It appears that about 38 people died during the demonstration at Mexico City's Tlatelolco Plaza, Ignacio Carrillo said in an interview published Sunday. Carrillo was appointed in January to investigate the massacre and the disappearances of hundreds of leftists in the 1970s. The Mexican government reported shortly after the Oct. 2 massacre that 24 died, but witnesses described a blood bath and many historians have said the death toll was 300. No firm body count or list of the dead has been compiled beyond a monument erected in 1998 bearing the names of 38 known victims. That number is probably close to the real figure, Carrillo said. "I haven't seen any photographs that show hundreds of bodies, I haven't seen any document that supports that," Carrillo told the newspaper La Jornada. For decades, the government's secretiveness and its decision to hastily remove the bodies led many Mexicans to believe that a crime of enormous proportions had been covered up. Carrillo said that "imprecise figures always appear, based on the nature of massacres ... when you open fire indiscriminately on a crowd of people, the number of victims remains unclear." Carrillo, a legal scholar, was named special prosecutor when President Vicente Fox created the post in January. Fox, the first opposition candidate ever to win Mexico's presidency, promised to do away with repression and investigate past crimes when he ended the 71-year rule of the Institutional Revolutionary Party in 2000.
WP 11 Aug 2002 Idaho's Anne Frank Memorial Takes Aim at Intolerance Idaho has had it with hate. The state is tired of the rap it often gets as a haven for neo-Nazis and other ragtag extremist groups, and it's about to take a big step to prove it. On the banks of the Boise River this week, Idaho leaders are planning to celebrate the opening of an elaborate testament to tolerance, the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial. Its centerpiece is a life-size bronze statue of the famed Jewish teenager, whose diary of persecution by the Nazis during World War II put a face on the Holocaust and has long been a worldwide bestseller. The memorial, spread across several acres of parkland, also will feature 60 stone tablets engraved with quotations from past and present champions of human rights. The project has been in the works for nearly seven years and cost $1.5 million to complete. The memorial's backers say they decided to make Frank the focus of it because they believe her life story has the power to inspire greater respect for human dignity and racial diversity -- and, perhaps, to silence the small but vocal hate groups in the state whose antics have drawn national attention. "This is no small effort," said Les Bock, who has led the campaign for the memorial. "We really want to put Idaho at the forefront of human rights." -- Rene Sanchez
WP 18 Aug 2002 Descendants Of Slaves Rally for Reparations Organizers Call Event Milestone in Movement By Chris L. Jenkins and Hamil R. Harris Page C01 Raising red, black and green flags and clenched fists, thousands of African American activists descended on the Mall yesterday, demanding reparations from the U.S. government for centuries of slavery and racism against black people. Young and old traveled from nearly every corner of the country, but the assembly for Millions for Reparations was modest by Washington standards, as the rally filled a small swath of the grassy expanse near the U.S. Capitol. But organizers called it an important moment for a largely grass-roots movement that has gained momentum over the last several years, with prominent lawyers and professors now calling for compensation to the descendants of slaves for free labor and decades of Jim Crow laws that they say are responsible for the economic and social ills in the black community today. "This is the first time there has been a mass rally demanding reparations from the United States government," Conrad Worrill, chairman of the National Black United Front, told a spirited crowd. His group, which escorted dozens of Chicago residents on a 12-hour bus ride, was one of the chief organizers of the rally. "They owe us!" Worrill added. Throughout the afternoon, speakers from across the country spoke about the need for uniting the African American community behind the single banner of compensation and the need for lobbying lawmakers and others who have long been skeptical about the merits of reparations. Others spoke of the continued disparities in their neighborhoods and how reparations were needed to spark a new beginning for many communities of slave descendants. With the U.S. Capitol as his backdrop, Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), who has introduced legislation in Congress for 13 years to create a commission to study reparations, urged people to contact their congressional representatives as soon as they arrived home. "We will get [reparations] by contacting every single member of the House of Representatives, every single member of the Senate," he said, adding that blacks have been dealt a "historical injustice that can only be corrected" in Congress. His challenge drew a wave of cheers from the chanting, sometimes swaying crowd of thousands that assembled at Third and Constitution from late morning to early evening. Before the line of speakers came to the platform, groups spread across the Mall, arguing how reparations should be administered. There seemed to be a soapbox every few feet. "We built this country from the ground up," Willie Francona, who came from Philadelphia with his two daughters and son, said to those at his table filled with pamphlets and books. Pointing to the U.S. Capitol, he added: "That was our labor. And not a dime was given to any of the ancestors who sweat." Such comments resonated throughout the hot summer day, and nearly half the crowd took to the shade along the edges of the Mall rather than brave the heat in front of the stage. Many lay out on kente cloth and African print blankets and lawn chairs. Manotti Jenkins of Chicago heard about the march on the Internet and flew to Washington with his wife and two daughters, ages 6 years and 6 months. "Regardless of how much money I make as a corporate attorney, the impact of slavery is still here," he said. "We don't have the dignity and the respect we deserve as humans." The rally got its most energetic jolt just before 2 p.m. when Minister Louis Farrakhan, head of the Nation of Islam, gave a short speech on the need to use the money responsibly, if reparations are ever approved. "We cannot settle for some little jive token," he told the crowd. "We need millions of acres of land that black people can build." Although police and rally organizers gave no official estimates, some acknowledged that the turnout was low compared with other events on the Mall. But supporters said the reparations movement was gaining. They cited lawsuits filed in federal courts in New York and New Jersey against companies that allegedly profited from the slave trade and a lawsuit planned against the federal government. Some civil rights organizations have yet to take a formal position on reparations, but the NAACP has called for a federal study on the issue. "A fire has been started here today by a grass-roots movement, and that's the real victory of today," said Benjamin Chavis Muhammad, a leader in the Nation of Islam and a former head of the NAACP. Critics of reparations contend that payments, whether to individuals or institutions, would present a logistical nightmare, and they question who should pay the money and who should receive it. "I think it's bad politics and that the African American community would be better served trying to reach out to other groups," Glenn Loury, a Boston University sociology professor and critic of the reparations movement, said in an interview. Some passersby also were skeptical. "The biggest problem, for example, is recent immigrants from, say, the Philippines," said Guy Tillinghast, 44, a doctor from Abingdon, Va. "Should their tax dollars go to pay for something 150 years before they came to this country?" Many who attended the rally said they are passionate about the movement but realistic about its chances. "My great-great-grandmother was a slave in Florida, but I don't expect we're going to get any cash," said Suzanne Andersen, 51, a nurse from West Hempstead, N.Y. "What we need now is a foothold. We're still at the bottom. We've got millions of people in the prison system, and they all look like me." For those who have fought for reparations for years, the day symbolized a movement coming of age. Ray Jenkins, a Detroit activist known as Reparations Ray, embraced the cause in the 1960s and has since been hailed as a pioneer of the reparations movement. "They laughed at me when I talked about reparations all those years ago," he said after appearing on stage with Conyers. "But people aren't laughing anymore." Staff writer Ian Shapira contributed to this report.
WP 18 Aug 2002
Cash Alone Can Never Right Slavery's Wrongs By Courtland Milloy
Page C01 At the Millions for Reparations rally on the mall yesterday, a group
of supporters began a spirited call-and-response that quickly spread through
the crowd. "What do we want?" "Reparations." "When
do we want it?" "Now." Although nobody that I spoke to believed
for a second that they'd ever see a dime in restitution for slavery, the chanting
continued at a fevered pitch. And the cause, as it turned out, was not just
money. "We have, emerging in America, millions of black people who understand
that there has been some long-term harm done by the evil practice of slavery,"
said Conrad Worrill, chairman of the National Black United Front in Calumet
Park, Ill., and one of the organizers of the rally. "As more people get
involved, we hope to have deeper discussions about the impact of slavery and
try to develop a consensus on what kind of reparations would be appropriate."
In other words, the reparations they want now is the educating of America about
slavery, which would at least facilitate some conversation about that "peculiar
institution." Not that getting people to take a hard look at the massive
subjugation, dehumanization and genocide that occurred on American soil would
be any easier than winning financial redress. In his 1998 book, "Rituals
of Blood," Harvard sociologist Orlando Patterson argues that the most serious
problems affecting African Americans today are rooted in 2 1/2 centuries of
slavery and its aftermath, the neoslavery of Jim Crow. In making his case, however,
Patterson bucks a disturbing trend. "I go against the prevailing revisionist
view that slavery had little or nothing to do with present gender and familial
problems," he writes. "This revisionist denial, I insist, is not just
an academic absurdity. It is an intellectual disgrace, the single greatest disservice
that the American historical profession has ever done to those who turn to it
for guidance about the past and the etiology of present problems." This
perverse yet widespread notion that slavery was largely benign is, as Patterson
asserts, "worse than the more than two centuries of racist historiography
that preceded it." No wonder, then, with much of academia in denial about
the consequences of slavery and many Americans so uninformed as well, opinion
polls routinely show 80 percent of whites opposing reparations of any sort.
The highest levels of government are not immune, either. In every
legislative session since 1989, for instance, Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.)
has introduced a bill that would establish a commission to study slavery and
its lingering effects on African Americans. But the legislation, known as the
Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act, has never
even been debated. Says Worrill, "The fact that this country, founded on
the ideals of freedom, could spend centuries importing and breeding human beings
as chattel, set them 'free' and then say, 'forget about it,' is not only unforgettable,
it's unforgivable." A recent Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation poll
found that when whites were asked if they agreed with the statement "White
Americans have benefited from past and present discrimination against African
Americans, so they should be willing to make up for these wrongs," 58 percent
said no. Blacks, on the other hand, are less inclined to dismiss slavery as
something that they ought to just "get over." A poll of Alabamians
taken in June, for instance, showed that 67 percent of blacks favor the federal
government paying reparations to slave descendants. In Illinois, a poll taken
in May 2001 found that 66 percent of blacks favor reparation payments.
But their actual numbers are minuscule compared with the 85 percent of whites
in the state who disagreed. Supporters on the Mall were not fazed by the magnitude
of the opposition. "There have always been majorities in this country who
said never -- never to freedom, never to civil rights," said Uzikee Nelson,
a sculptor who lives in Washington. "Regardless of what others think, we
are the ones who have to keep on kicking about reparations." E-mail: email@example.com
Reuters 18 Aug 2002 U.N. cuts rations as Afghan food aid runs out By Simon Denyer MAZAR-I-SHARIF, Afghanistan, Aug 18 (Reuters) - The U.N.'s World Food Programme is being forced to cut rations for millions of hungry and vulnerable Afghans because international donors have failed to stump up promised cash, officials say. Just seven months after Western nations pledged billions of dollars in aid to help rebuild Afghanistan, money is already running out for the most basic requirement -- feeding people who continue to live on the borderline of survival. "The level of resources we are going to get will not be enough," said Guy Gauvreau, the WFP's representative for northern Afghanistan. "We're extremely worried about it. It's understandable -- there's a drought in southern Africa -- but we cannot forget Afghanistan," he said. Some six million Afghans still need food aid over the next year, according to U.N. figures. The WFP has appealed for $285 million this year but is still short of more than $90 million -- or 200,000 tonnes of food -- and the lack of cash is beginning to hurt. Afghanistan is only slowly getting back on its feet after 23 years of war and the worst drought in living memory. The south remains bone dry for a fourth year, and while there has been decent rainfall in the north, many people are still struggling. UNPRECEDENTED DESTITUTION Shortages of seeds or oxen combined with locust infestations and a lack of security in many areas all limited the harvest, which Gauvreau says was "good, but not enough to feed people". Afghanistan already has one of the highest levels of infant and maternal mortality in the world and life expectancy is among the lowest. The drought has brought people to a unprecedented levels of destitution, aid workers say. More than half the country's livestock has been lost in the last four years, with massive deaths and distress selling last year. Rebuilding of herds is only happening slowly this year. "People have sold livestock, mortgaged their land, some have gone into debt, even sold the beams of their houses," said Andrew Pinney of Irish aid agency GOAL. "And they have sold in a terrible market, that's how desperate they have become." Pinney says some parents in the north have even been forced to sell their daughters as child brides, girls as young as eight fetching between $150 and $800. "The practice seems to have stopped in the last six months as food aid has produced some sort of buffer," Pinney said, adding continued support was essential to help communities recover. But support is running out. Only a fraction of the $4.5 billion in aid pledged to Afghanistan in January has so far come through. Donors have cited security concerns and Afghanistan's still limited capacity to absorb aid, but critics blame bureaucracy and many Afghans feel the outside world has simply failed to live up to its promises. RATIONS CUT AS BRUSSELS, WASHINGTON SQUABBLE Humanitarian sources say Washington, which has so far provided the lion's share of WFP's funding for Afghanistan this year, is demanding Brussels meet more of the shortfall. As the two capitals squabble over who should pay the bill, Gauvreau is being forced to cut back on aid for vulnerable Afghans in the north. Former refugees returning from abroad used to receive a one- time handout from WFP of 250 kg (550 pounds) of wheat to help them get back on their feet. That ration has been cut this month to just 100 kg (220 pounds), and Gauvreau says he fears a further cut to 50 kg (110 pounds) within two weeks if aid does not arrive fast. Crucial food-for-work programmes -- where communities receive aid in return for digging wells or canals or improving their land -- also face the axe throughout the north. Gauvreau needs to find 18,000 tonnes of wheat from somewhere to truck into the mountains before the roads close around the end of October, to help two million people get through the harsh winter. "What we are afraid of is that if the winterisation plan does not have enough resources to implement, there's going to be a major nutritional crisis in the mountain areas," he said.
Guardian UK 19 Aug 2002 UN evidence of Taliban massacre Leaked report says 960 died in sealed containers David Teather, The UN has gathered enough evidence to begin a criminal investigation into the allegation that almost 1,000 captured Taliban are buried in mass graves in Afghanistan, it was revealed last night. A confidential UN memo leaked to the American magazine Newsweek, said disturbing evidence had been uncovered which substantiated the rumours of mass graves in an area called Dasht-i-Laili. The captives allegedly died after being packed into sealed cargo containers en route from Konduz to the Northern Alliance prison at Sheberghan. The Newsweek report cites the discovery of bodies with little clothing and no obvious trauma as consistent with the claim that they had died of suffocation in the containers. A witness quoted in the memo put the number at 960. There appears to be no evidence that the US knew of the deaths, nor that American officials saw or were involved in putting prisoners into unventilated trucks. The Guardian reported in June that a former chairman of Amnesty International was calling for an independent inquiry into claims that US troops tortured Taliban prisoners and were complicit in the disappearance of thousands of others during the war. The call by Andrew McEntee, now a human rights lawyer, was based on a British-made documentary which described thousands of Taliban fighters being corralled into the containers after the battle of Konduz in November. At the time the jail in Sheberghan, in north-western Afghanistan was under American control. The film, Massacre at Mazar, claimed that large numbers of prisoners died on the journey. The footage showed areas of compacted red sand, apparently caked with blood, traces of bones, including jaws, and pieces of clothing. But only 15 bodies had been found, the programme said. Washington would not be drawn last night on whether it supported a full-scale inquiry. The militia leader whose forces allegedly carried out the killings is General Abdul Rashid Dostum, reputedly one of Afghanistan's most ruthless warlords. His spokesman told Newsweek that many people had died of suffocation, but he put the total at 100-120. He said some "were seriously injured and had died en route". He also said that the treatment of the prisoners would have been coloured by the uprising of prisoners at Qala Jangi three days earlier. "If the incident at Qala Jangi hadn't happened, it's possible that the prisoners would have been transferred more peacefully," he said. "There would have been less irregularities." He added: "They suffocated. Nobody killed anybody." The details of the transfer of prisoners was left to much lower ranking officials, he said. During the war US soldiers stayed close to Gen Dostum, but it remains unclear how much US officials knew about the treatment of prisoners. "Considering the political sensitivity... and related protection concerns, it is strongly recommended that all activities relevant to this case be brought to a halt until a decision is made concerning the final goal of the exercise: criminal trial, truth commission, other etc," the UN report said. Even if the US knew nothing of the alleged mistreatment, questions will be asked about its responsibilities when training and fighting alongside its allies. More than 3,000 Taliban were captured at Konduz. The Newsweek report, which was based on interviews with people who claimed to have seen the transportation, said fighters promised that they would be released but they were packed into the trucks instead. The first evidence of using abandoned containers for executing captured enemies was noted in a 1997 UN report. About 1,250 Taliban were left in containers in the desert sun after an assault on Mazar-i-Sharif. The dead were later found to have been grilled black. When the Taliban captured Mazar in 1998 they killed several hundred in a similar fashion. · US officers have yet to discover any senior al-Qaida leaders among the 600 captives held at Guantanamo Bay, a US intelligence source has told the Los Angeles Times. The unnamed source said the captives are "mostly low and middle-level" fighters not the "big time guys" who could help to fracture al-Qaida.
Rediff 30 July 2002 Musharraf regrets 'excesses' by Pak troops in 1971 More than three decades after Pakistani occupation troops carried out genocide during Bangladesh Liberation War, President Pervez Musharraf on Monday regretted the 'excesses' and called for burying the past. Musharraf, the first Pakistani army ruler to visit Bangladesh since the independence of this country in 1971, chose ironically to record his expression of regret while paying homage at a memorial, about 50 km from Dhaka, for those who laid down their lives for Bangladesh's liberation. "Your brothers and sisters in Pakistan share the pains of the events of 1971. The excesses committed during the unfortunate period are regrettable," Musharraf wrote in the official visitors' book after laying a wreath at the National Martyrs Memorial at Savar. "Let us bury the past in the spirit of magnanimity. Let not the light of the future be dimmed. Let us move forward together," Musharraf said, adding that 'courage to compromise is greater than to confront'. An estimated three million people were killed and nearly 300,000 women raped by the Pakistani Army and their local henchmen, comprising mainly fundamentalist groups, during the nine-month liberation war of Bangladesh. The Pakistani president, according to official BSS news agency, also spoke of the sincere greetings and good wishes he carried from the people of Pakistan for 'their Bangladeshi brothers and sisters'. "We wish this land and its people peace, progress and prosperity," he said and expressed confidence that with 'our joint resolve, the friendship between Pakistan and Bangladesh will flourish'. Earlier Musharraf on his arrival in Dhaka was given a red carpet welcome and a 21-gun salute. He was received at the airport by Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia and acting President Jamiruddin Sircar. Begum Zia's assassinated husband and Bangladesh's former military ruler Zia-ur Rahman had himself fought against the Pakistani troops during the liberation war. A number of Bangladeshi political parties, particularly the leftist groups, have opposed Musharraf's visit and the student front of main opposition Awami League, headed by former premier Sheikh Hasina, called a country-wide strike on Tuesday protesting the Pakistani military ruler's tour. Awami League cancelled a proposed meeting with Musharraf protesting his usurping a democratically elected government. Two years ago, Musharraf had called off a scheduled meeting with Hasina, the then prime minister, on the sidelines of the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the United Nations in New York after she had made a veiled attack on him in a speech at the world body for overthrowing an elected government.
www.pak.gov.pk PAKISTAN PRESIDENT’S REMARKS AT SAVAR 31 July 2002 Following is the text of the President's remarks on Visitor's Book at the National Memorial of Martyrs at ‘Savar’ (Dhaka) during his recent visit to Bangladesh: "I bring good wishes from the people of Pakistan for the Bangladeshi brothers and sisters, we wish this land and its people peace, progress and prosperity. Your brothers and sisters in Pakistan share the pain of the event of 1971. The excesses committed during the unfortunate period are regrettable. Let us bury the past in a spirit of magnanimity. Let not the thought of the future be dimmed. Let us move forward together. Courage to compromise is greater than courage to confront. I am confident that with our joint resolve, Pakistan- Bangladesh friendship will flourish in the years to come." http://www.pak.gov.pk/public/visits/presidents_remarks_at_savar.htm
PTI 23 Jul 2002 Protests in Bangladesh against Musharraf's visit DHAKA: An organisation campaigning for elimination of killers and collaborators of Bangladesh's 1971 War of Liberation has come out firmly against the visit of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf. Welcoming an "autocrat" will tantamount to show disrespect to democratic movements both in Bangladesh and Pakistan, leaders of Bangladesh's Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee said in a statement published here on Monday. Musharraf is to arrive here on July 29 on a three day visit. Nirmul leaders Kabir Chowdhury and Shahriar Kabir asked people to boycott Musharraf's engagements in the country. Maanavzamin tabloid reported two days ago that some of Musharraf's buddies in Pakistan army and presently retired army officers in Bangladesh were planning to give him a reception. Nirmul, which has long been waging an anti-fundamentalist campaign, alleged that Musharraf was an officer of the Yahya Khan-led Pakistani Army that perpetrated massacre in Bangladesh. A number of Left parties and student bodies have called for cancellation of Musharraf's tour.
Independent (Bangladesh) 10 Aug 2002 Letter to the Editor on President Musharraf’s regret in Dhaka Sir, General Musharraf’s regret at the National Martyrs Memorial outside Dhaka on July 30 that "excesses" were committed in East Pakistan in 1971 is a good beginning, but it is not enough and it is very late. Pakistan Army should issue an official apology for the genocide because it was primarily responsible for it. An interesting fact emerges from the history of those times—a history Musharraf wants Pakistan and Bangladesh to "forget." India asked the US to be "permitted" to invade East Pakistan much earlier than December 1971. But it was denied "permission" because Pakistan government at that time was helping America in its secret parleys with China. This gave the Pakistani military more time to deepen the genocide. The same American government, however, threatened India with nuclear attack if to proceeded to invade West Pakistan. This saved West Pakistan from possible dismemberment. There are three reasons why the history of these times should not be forgotten. First, the Pakistan military has not learnt any lesson from it as is evident from the fact that it fought a number of counterinsurgencies after the fall of Dacca—in Balochistan in the 1970s, in the NWFP a number of times since the 1970s, in rural Sind in the 1980s and in Karachi in the 1990s—with disastrous results. Second, rather than confining itself to Pakistan, it began interfering in the neighboring countries covertly (we should also notice its failed intervention in Kashmir in 1965 Operation Gibraltar) on a much more massive scale than before—especially in Afghanistan—bringing nothing but tragedy to our society. Third, it seemed to be one of the few militaries in the world whose men and officers have shown little or no remorse at its killing of East Pakistanis. (To compare, Vietnam veterans in America still suffer psychologically from the trauma of Vietnam, three decades after the war! ended.) It needs to reflect over its actions and show some anguish! Rather than deleting that part of our history, we should begin to study it seriously. Musharraf would do well to take a few lessons from it himself! Mohammad Ghazali, by email
Daily Star (Bangladesh) 18 Aug 2002 Forgive, yes; forget, never Akku Chowdhury, Banani, Dhaka What Hasnat Abdul Hye commented in his regular column on the subject of recent regret by Pakistan' Chief Executive General Pervez Musharraf is the sentiment shared by most Bangladeshis. Mr. Hye has used his power of writing very lucidly and without the usual emotional political rhetoric or illogically sentimental statements we hear from most intellectuals or writers when relating to such an issue whose wound is still very raw with most Bangladeshis. Mr. Harun-ur Rashid in his 'Bottom Line' also wrote on this subject which was very well researched and expressed our sentiments. The year 1971 is just not a time frame for the people of Bangladesh. It is very real and will always remain so. 1971 and its history with all its gore and glory are written with the blood of the Bangladeshis. The 'excesses' in the form of genocide committed by Pakistan Army can never be forgotten. Moreover in the absence of any remorse from the arbitrators and any punishment against them made the scar of 1971 so much deeper, that for last 31 years cordial relationships between the two country have fallen further apart. It is a shame for the next generation of Pakistanis to carry the burden of guilt that was committed by their forefathers. It is also not healthy for our children to grow with a sense of discontent about the Pakistanis. But then without any redemption it's always most difficult for any reconciliation. We don't want to live in our past, nor do we want our children to grow up dwindling in the time warp of 1971. But the 'Spirit of 1971' is what we draw our strength from so that our future generations will build a better tomorrow for all Bangla-deshis. We learn the follies of human being from 1971 so that not only we but nobody repeats the same kind of unthinkable atrocities on fellow human being that was committed on the Bangladeshis. It's from 1971 we learn what price the people are willing to pay for their freedom.
www.southnexus.com (Karnataka, India) 20th Aug 2002 Bangla Govt admits atrocities, rules out communal angle DHAKA, Aug 20: Bangladesh government has admitted that atrocities were committed on members of minority communities after last year's general elections, but said these were only due to "family or individual feuds" and not communal in nature. A report, submitted to the High Court on August 5 by the Attorney General Hasaan Arif, also outlined steps taken by the government to deal with the situation. Acting on a writ petition filed by legal aide body Ain-o-Salish (AOS) alleging large-scale atrocities, the Court had ordered the government to submit a report after investigations. The Court has asked AOS to give its reply in three weeks, a local daily reported on Sunday. There were reports of large-scale atrocities in southern and western districts following the October polls, which brought a four-party alliance to power. Khaleda Zia-led Bangladesh National Party is the principal constituent of the ruling alliance which includes Muslim fundamentalist parties. Opposition Awami League, Left parties like Workers Party, Communist Party of Bangladesh, centrist Gono Forum, leaders of Hindu, Christian and Buddhists Unity Council and other organisations alleged that many attackers belonged to the ruling alliance, a charge denied by the government. In an interview to BBC, the Attorney General said it was only "incidental" that the "political victims" hailed from minority communities.
VOA News 21 Aug 2002 Cambodia Welcomes New UN Proposal on Genocide Tribunal Cambodian officials have welcomed a new proposal by the United Nations to restart negotiations on setting up a genocide tribunal for former Khmer Rouge leaders. Senior diplomats in Phnom Penh said Wednesday the offer will assist in efforts to find justice for nearly two million people who died under the communist Khmer Rouge regime during the late 1970s. Earlier this week, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he would revive the talks if he received a mandate from either the General Assembly or the Security Council. But some Cambodian officials say a mandate may not be necessary because the trial already has broad international support. The rebel group's leader, Pol Pot, died in 1998. But many of his top lieutenants still live in Cambodia. No member of the Khmer Rouge has ever faced a court for crimes committed under its rule.
BBC 22 Aug 2002 Cambodia to resume UN tribunal talks More than 1.7 million people died under the regime Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen has agreed to work with the United Nations to revive plans to establish a tribunal to try former Khmer Rouge leaders for crimes including genocide. The UN suspended four-and-a-half years of negotiations on the issue in February after deciding that a joint tribunal with Cambodia's judicial system was unlikely to succeed. Right now, the door is beginning to open, but the problem is whether the Security Council or the General Assembly will give the mandate Prime Minister Hun Sen But on Tuesday, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan tried to break the impasse by offering to resume talks, providing he receives a mandate from the UN Security Council or General Assembly. The UN wants former Khmer Rouge leaders to be brought to trial for atrocities carried out by the regime between 1975 and 1979 in which 1.7 million people died. Close co-operation Hun Sen urged both the UN and his government to work closely together to finally bring about the establishment of a tribunal. "Everything is already at a good point but we have to try to join together, not only Cambodia but also the secretary general and other countries that are involved," Hun Sen said. "Right now, the door is beginning to open, but the problem is whether the Security Council or the General Assembly will give the mandate," he added. Pol Pot oversaw the genocide Experts say that it should be possible to gain a mandate from the UN General Assembly, but that China, a permanent member of the Security Council could veto a trial. China supported the Khmer Rouge, but maintains that any crimes against humanity carried out by the regime remain a domestic matter. Previous negotiations between the UN and Cambodia collapsed because of Cambodia's insistence that national law would take precedence over the agreement with the UN in the trials. There was also disagreement about who should go on trial - Cambodia wants to restrict prosecution to about 10 selected Khmer Rouge figures. Evading justice Hun Sen has said that the if the focus of the tribunal is too wide it may reignite the country's civil war which ended in 1998. The problem is compounded by the fact that many Khmer Rouge leaders defected to the government's ranks at the end of the war. No Khmer Rouge leader has ever faced trial for the "killing fields" atrocities carried out when they were in power. The extreme Maoist group seized control of Cambodia in 1975 and about 1.7 million people are believed to have died during their reign of terror through execution, torture, starvation and hard labour.
AFP 10 Aug 2002 Indonesian and East Timorese police meet JAKARTA, Aug 10 (AFP) - Indonesian national police officials and their East Timorese counterparts met on Saturday for their first coordination meeting, discussing border security issues and refugee repatriation, authorities and a report said. The closed-door meeting began at 10:45 am (0145 GMT) in Belu district police station in the Indonesian border town of Atambua, West Timor, said an officer at the police station who identified himself only as Benny. He said the Indonesian team was headed by the local district police chief but he could not say who led the East Timorese team. Belu district police chief Adjunct Senior Commissioner Agus Nugroho told the Antara news agency after the talks that he had sought information on a group in Bobonaro, which had caused worries and hindered the repatriation of refugees from that area. Bobonaro district Civpol Chief, only identified by Antara as Sergeant Woodward, replied that some 15 members of the group, called Kolimau 2000, had been questioned by the East Timor police following a brawl there and that the situation in Maliana, the main town in Bobonaro was now safe and secure. Woodward asked his Indonesian counterpart to help provide a list of names and repatriation destinations for former members of the pro-Indonesia militia groups who intended to return to East Timor/ He said such a list was important so that the authorities in East Timor "can prepare the East Timorese community so that they can accept agins this former members of PPI and at the same time assure their security." PPI is the Indonesian acronym for the Pro-Integration Fighter's Force, an umbrella organisation for the militia groups. The military-backed militias launched a campaign of terror and intimidation in the runup to the August 30, 1999 UN-held ballot in East Timor and a violent scorch-earth campaign after the announcement of the pro-independence poll results. More than 250,000 East Timorese fled or were forced to flee to West Timor. The cash-strapped Indonesian government has set the end of the month as the deadline for government assistance for the repatriation of refugees. The civilian police force headquarters in Dili, East Timor's capital, could not be immediately reached for comment.
Amnesty International 14 Aug 2002 Indonesia: East Timor trials deliver neither truth nor justice ASA 21/121/2002 In a joint statement issued today, Amnesty International and the Judicial System Monitoring Programme (JSMP) expressed their grave disappointment in the trials of the first East Timor cases in Indonesia. The findings of the two organizations show that the trials were seriously flawed, have not been performed in accordance with international standards, and have delivered neither truth nor justice. The former Governor of East Timor, Abilio Jose Osorio Soares was found guilty yesterday of committing crimes against humanity by failing to control subordinates and sentenced to three years' imprisonment. The former Regional Police Commander, Brigadier General Timbul Silaen, who was responsible for security around the 1999 ballot on independence, was acquitted. Five Indonesian military, police and government officials who are accused of failing to prevent a massacre in Suai on 6 September 1999, were also found not guilty. Both organizations have been monitoring the trials closely. JSMP, supported by the International Platform of Jurists for East Timor (IPJET), is the only independent organization which had international legal observers consistently present during the trials. Amnesty International and JSMP believe that the Indonesian prosecutors failed in their duty under international law to bring effective prosecutions against the accused by presenting indictments which did not correspond to allegations about the conduct of the accused, ignoring relevant evidence and by presenting cases which deliberately failed to prove the widespread and systematic nature of the violations that occurred in East Timor. The two organizations have documented a succession of serious procedural and other failures which meant that the trials did not achieve the objectives of delivering justice and revealing the truth about the extent of the involvement of members of the Indonesian security forces and civilian authorities in perpetrating crimes against humanity and other serious crimes in East Timor in 1999. Among the problems identified by the two organizations were: The indictments presented a version of events which did not reflect the widespread and systematic nature of the crimes which took place in East Timor in 1999 and failed to address the role of the Indonesian security forces in setting up and supporting militia in East Timor. Key evidence regarding the direct involvement of the Indonesian security forces in committing serious crimes was not presented to the court. Such evidence has been well attested in expert investigations including by Indonesia's own Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights Violations in East Timor (KPP-HAM), the United Nations (UN) International Commission of Inquiry and in investigations carried out by the UN Serious Crimes Unit in East Timor. A lack of experience among key officials, including judges and prosecutors, was reflected in sloppily drafted indictments and questions and cross-examinations which failed to address the evidence effectively; Victims and witnesses summoned to testify at the trials were not provided with adequate protection. Several witnesses from East Timor refused to appear before the court because they were not confident that their security could be guaranteed. The trials of 16 other suspects, including several senior military officials, are still in progress. Both Amnesty International and JSMP are seriously concerned that the indictments issued and initial proceedings in these cases are similarly flawed. In addition to procedural failures the two organizations have been concerned by the succession of decisions by the Indonesian authorities which undermined at an early stage the prospect of a credible or effective justice process. Such obstacles included a decision by President Megawati Sukarnoputri to limit the jurisdiction of the court such that it can only hear a handful out of the many hundreds of cases of serious crimes that were committed in East Timor during 1999. If Indonesia is to fulfil its international obligation to provide a credible remedy for the gross human rights violations committed in East Timor both the weaknesses of Indonesia's judicial system and political resistance to holding perpetrators of human rights violations to account must be simultaneously addressed. The process in Indonesia has also highlighted the need for Indonesia to cooperate with the trial process currently taking place in East Timor. So far 114 people have been charged with committing serious crimes, including crimes against humanity, by East Timor's Deputy Prosecutor General. Many are living in Indonesia. Indonesia has so far refused to transfer any of them to East Timor for trial by the UN established Special Panel for Serious Crimes, and has also taken no steps to bring most of them to justice in its own courts. In view of the serious problems with the trials in Jakarta, Amnesty International and JSMP believe that it is also the moment for UN to review its decision not to pursue the recommendations of its own International Commission of Inquiry on East Timor to establish an international criminal tribunal. The crimes committed in East Timor during 1999 were of such a serious nature that they cannot go unpunished, but the prospect of Indonesia being able to fulfil its responsibility to deliver a credible and effective justice process is now remote. Credible alternatives must therefore be sought. Background On 30 August 1999, in a United Nations organized ballot, 78.5 per cent of the East Timorese population voted against continued integration with Indonesia which had illegally occupied the territory since 1975. In the months leading up to the vote, violence, threats and intimidation were widely employed against supporters of independence by pro-Indonesia militia. The militia groups had been set up and were backed by the Indonesian security forces. The violence escalated dramatically after the results of the ballot were announced on 4 September 1999. It is estimated that around 2,000 people were unlawfully killed by militia and the Indonesian security forces. Others were subjected to torture, including rape. Over a quarter of a million people fled or were forcibly expelled to Indonesia. Thousands of others sought safety in the hills while infrastructure and property was looted and destroyed. Under pressure from the international community, Indonesia set up a team to conduct an initial inquiry into reports of grave human rights violations. It reported in January 2000 that crimes against humanity had been committed in East Timor and publicly named 33 individuals, including members of the Indonesia military and police, civilian officials and militia members, which it alleged to be responsible. Indonesia's Attorney General selected just five cases and 18 individuals for investigation and prosecution. Inquiries were also carried out by a UN appointed International Commission of Inquiry on East Timor and by a team of UN experts consisting of the Special Rapporteurs on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, on torture and on violence against women, its causes and consequences. Both inquiries found that widespread or systematic violations of human rights had taken place. Both recommended that an international criminal tribunal should be established to bring perpetrators to justice. For more information or to arrange an interview contact Amnesty International in London on +44 207 413 5729 or the Judicial System Monitoring Programme in Dili, East Timor on +670 390 323 883, +61 419804600 or email firstname.lastname@example.org ( www.jsmp.minihub.org)
PTI 18 Aug 2002 Alert along Indo-Bhutan border Kolkata, Aug 18. (PTI): An alert has been sounded along the Indo- Bhutan border in North Bengal after yesterday's KLO attack on CPI(M) activists at Dhupguri which claimed five lives. "An alert has been sounded along the Indo-Bhutan border in Jalpaiguri district and along the West Bengal-Assam border. CRPF personnel, with nearly 100 commandos, are patrolling the border areas," the sources said. Four persons were detained for interrogation after some cartridges were recovered from them, the police said adding their possible connection with the incident is being investigated. The Chief Minister, Buddhadev Bhattacharjee, has asked the DGP to make an on-the-spot study of the situation in Dhupguri, they said. Earlier in the day, senior police officials held a meeting at the State secretariat to take stock of the situation following the massacre and to work out the next course of action. Asked whether the CID would investigate the incident, they evaded a direct reply, saying, "agencies of the police are at it".
Dawn (Pakistan) 19 August 2002 Arundhati blames bigots for tension in S. Asia By Bahzad Alam Khan KARACHI, Aug 18: Award-winning author and social activist Arundhati Roy criticized on Sunday the Indian government for using the Kashmir issue as a device to divert the people's attention from more pressing issues, such as the state-sponsored pogrom in Gujarat. Speaking at a seminar which was held to mark the formal launch of a newspaper, Daily Times, Ms Roy also took the Pakistan government to task. "What right does the government of Pakistan have to say that it wants freedom for Kashmir when it cannot give freedom to its own people?" Ms Roy, whose novel The God of Small Things catapulted her to stardom when it received the Booker Prize in 1997, said: "Successive governments in India have not sought to resolve the Kashmir issue at all. It is their perennial solution. It is a rabbit they pull out of their hats whenever they want to distract attention of the people from major issues." As thousands of people hung on Ms Roy's every word, she said that following a military standoff between India and Pakistan some months back, when foreigners had flown out and war correspondents had flown in, a lot of people had asked her whether or not she would leave the country. She said: "I used to wonder where I would go. I used to think where I could buy a new life. I am certain that the reason why war talk started in India was that the government wanted to take world attention away from Gujarat." She observed that the Indian government shamelessly supported Narendra Modi "who oversaw the genocide in Gujarat." She said: "In India very, very often I am denounced by religious extremists who, I have to say, bear a strong affinity with the ideals held by religious bigots here in Pakistan. Religious bigots are more interested in bigotry than their religion." She said: "As I watch the bigots increase their religious rhetoric against women, I just want to tell them, 'You don't know what you are missing, boys." As the crowd broke into peals of laughter, she added that "they do not know what joy there is in equal companionship." Ms Roy noted that all those who spoke against social justice and displacement of 33 million people by dams were labelled as anti-national in India. In a voice cracking with emotion, she said that if she received prior information that India was going to fire a nuclear missile at Pakistan, she would come here to receive it. Ms Roy underlined the need for scaling up interaction between the peoples of India and Pakistan. She also read out excerpts from her essay The End of Imagination. Earlier, the editor of The Hindu, N. Ram, deplored the rise of the Hindu right in India. "The first act of the BJP-led coalition after coming to power was to hijack India's nuclear policy, obliging Pakistan to follow suit." The editor of The Indian Express, Shekhar Gupta, regaled the audience with his lighthearted comments. He said: "While India is an imperfect democracy, Pakistan is an imperfect dictatorship. India has not been able to achieve the level of prosperity a genuine democracy would have acquired. Similarly, Pakistan has not sunk into the depth of chaos a genuine dictatorship would have got a country into." He said: "After the Kargil episode, the Bhartiya Janata Party leaders looked like fools. They were rescued by Sonia Gandhi." Shahrayar M. Khan, Pakistan's former foreign secretary, enumerated the factors "which have restricted freedom in Pakistan and India." He said: "First, extreme poverty. We have 50 million people living below the poverty line. Second, the legacy of history. Third, the exploitation of religion for political and other narrow purposes." He said that both Pakistan and India could resolve these issue only if there was peace on their borders. The president of the All Pakistan Newspapers Society, Hameed Haroon, said that the club of South Asian activists was not as large as it should be. He said: "We should enlarge this club - not necessarily into a movement because most of us are too refined to join a movement." He stressed the need for taking into account the aspirations of the Kashmiri people while formulating policies which governed relations between India and Pakistan. The editor of the Daily Times, Najam Sethi, read out the mission statement of the newspaper. Former politician Salman Taseer also spoke on the occasion.
AFP 12 Aug 2002 Muslims, Christians vow to work for peace in Central Sulawesi JAKARTA, Aug 12 (AFP) - Muslims and Christians from a sectarian violence-plagued district in Indonesia's Central Sulawesi have vowed to work together to return peace and security, officials said Monday. Some 25 members of Muslim camps from the district of Poso, the scene of several recent clashes, and eight of 23 signatories to an earlier state-sponsored peace pact were present, they said. Many Christian representatives due to attend the meeting in the Central Sulawesi capital of Palu late Sunday were notably absent, due to "transportation problems, Welfare Minister Yusuf Kalla said. Representatives from both camps agreed in the meeting to declare those responsible for unrest in Poso as their common enemies, Kalla said, according to the state Antara news agency. "Any anarchist in Poso will become our common enemy, that is the results the agreement reached by signatories of the Malino I (earlier peace pact) in Palu," Kalla said. The meeting agreed that the civilian population should take an active part in helping authorities maintain peace in the area and should not offer protection to those guilty of creating unrest. "In general, the situation in Poso in under control, although there has been some violence and tension here and there in the past weeks," Central Sulawesi police spokesman Agus Sugianto told AFP. He could not immediately confirm an Antara report that one man was found dead with a gunshot wound in Poso town late on Sunday evening. Two men, including a policeman, were also abducted by a group of unknown men on Saturday. National Police Chief General Da'i Bachtiar, who also observed the Palu talks, was quoted by Antara as saying reinforcements would be deployed in Poso. He said an evaluation of conditions in Poso showed tensions had begun to return following a gradual pullout of reinforcements in July. An army battalion from South Sulawesi and an elite police unit from Jakarta were dispatched to Poso on Saturday to reinforce 280 soldiers and 2,120 police already in the district, he said. Poso has seen more than two years of intermittent sectarian clashes between Muslims and Christians that have left between 500 and 1,000 people killed and tens of thousands homeless. In the latest violence last week, gunmen sprayed a bus with bullets, killing an Italian tourist and wounding four Indonesians. A Western diplomat said recent incidents in the Poso area fit a pattern of seemingly random acts by unknown attackers seen repeatedly throughout Indonesia in recent years. The diplomat, who declined to be named, suspected "people interested in destabilizing this country," with ties to elements of the military and to former dictator Suharto. Last week's bus ambush was the fourth on public transport since the December peace pact. Seven people were killed and scores injured in the three previous attacks. Groups of armed men have also attacked several isolated villages in Poso district in the past week, torching several homes.
AP 13 Aug 2002 Indonesian army fuels terror, says report JAKARTA, Indonesia While the West anxiously hopes Islamic terrorism won't escalate in Southeast Asia, a new report suggests that such militancy has long been stoked by one force that the United States now wants to extinguish it -- Indonesia's military. "If you scratch any radical Islamic group in Indonesia, you will find some security forces involvement," Sidney Jones, country director for the International Crisis Group, said yesterday. The Brussels-based think tank said that a group known as Jemaah Islamiyah -- accused of trying to carve out an Islamic state in Southeast Asia -- was set up by Indonesian military intelligence in the 1970s in an effort to compromise opponents of then-dictator Suharto. The report warned that efforts by governments to crack down on the Jemaah Islamiyah by fabricating evidence or using other illegal means could backfire and risks turning its members into national heroes. The document traces the history of Jemaah Islamiyah, which authorities in Malaysia and Singapore claim has links to al-Qaida. It's also accused of plotting to bomb U.S. targets in Singapore. Dozens of alleged members have been arrested in Malaysia and Singapore. The timing of the report, which raises serious questions about the military, is likely to be embarrassing to the United States, which has been trying to restore military-to-military ties with Indonesia since U.S. President George W. Bush took office last year. Relations were severed after Indonesian troops laid waste to East Timor in 1999 and committed massive human rights violations. Earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell visited Jakarta and announced a new US$50 million program to assist the security forces in the anti-terrorism struggle. Powell also signed an agreement with ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations security forum, aimed at boosting U.S. efforts to fight terrorism in the region. This week, Pacific fleet commander Admiral Thomas B. Fargo is due in Jakarta. Jemaah Islamiyah has its roots in the Darul Islam rebellion in Indonesia in the 1940s and 50s which sought to transform the nascent nation into an Islamic state, said the report. The religious uprising sparked a bloody war against republican authorities before collapsing in the early 1960s. In 1966, General Suharto seized power in Indonesia amid an army-organized massacre of 500,000 leftists. By the 1970s, Suharto was eager to give his dictatorship a veneer of legitimacy, and the regime set up a secular and a religious party to act as the loyal opposition to the ruling Golkar Party. Still, Suharto's cronies were concerned about the possible popular appeal of the opposition parties and set about to discredit them, said the ICG report. Intelligence chief General Ali Murtopo used his agents to persuade former Darul Islam members to reactivate themselves, ostensibly to prevent communist infiltration. When they did so in 1977, the security forces arrested 185 activists and accused them of seeking to establish a fundamentalist Islamic state. The name Jemaah Islamiyah first surfaced in court documents as the organization the activists thought they were setting up at Murtopo's behest, the report said. Most of them were released in the 1980s, and some -- radicalized by their experience in prison -- attempted to fight the dictatorship. These included Abu Bakar Bashir, a Muslim cleric now accused by Singapore of being Jemaah Islamiyah's ringleader. Jones said that senior Indonesian military officials retained close ties to the group at least through the 1980s. "These links need further investigation," she said. The Bush administration's moves to renew military ties came despite criticisms from Senator Patrick Leahy, the Vermont Democrat who sponsored the law ending military ties, and Robert Gelbard, who served as U.S. ambassador here until last year. Both men claim the army remains the main obstacle to democratic reform in Indonesia. With Suharto's overthrow in 1998 after massive pro-democracy protests, the brutal repression of political rivals that characterized his dictatorship ceased. But Jones warned that Jakarta was now under pressure from Washington to re-institute arbitrary measures against Bashir and his followers. "Inside Indonesia, there is very little hard evidence of any direct engagement (by Jemaah Islamiyah) in criminal activities," Jones said in an interview. "There is a big leap between having communication with people who know other people who may have had links to al-Qaida, and planning actual attacks."
WP 10 Aug 2002 Human Rights and Terror Page A18 LAST WEEK the Bush administration took a first step toward resuming military-to-military ties with Indonesia, which had been interrupted because of human rights violations by the Indonesian army in East Timor three years ago. The decision was justified for two reasons. First, the war on terrorism makes it more important for the United States to maintain military contacts in the world's largest Muslim country, which either is or may become a base for al Qaeda sympathizers. Second, the government of Megawati Sukarnoputri has shown some willingness to hold past human rights abusers accountable, a willingness that justifies a cautious resumption in military aid. But U.S. engagement needs to be formulated in a way that nudges Indonesia further toward respecting human rights and other norms of democracy. This is why the State Department's other Indonesia initiative last week was troubling. That initiative was to intervene in a lawsuit filed against Exxon Mobil for its alleged complicity in human rights abuses in Indonesia. The suit claims that Indonesian security forces protecting Exxon Mobil operations in the country committed a variety of atrocities, from genocide to sexual assault; if the allegations are without merit, which they may be, the company is capable of defending itself. But last week the State Department's legal office responded to the judge's invitation to weigh in on the proceeding. Rather than taking the position that the suit should succeed or fail on its merits, the State Department urged that it be dismissed. The department's letter to the judge lays out the reasons for this position. Allowing the suit to proceed would damage "the ongoing struggle against international terrorism." It would diminish the administration's "ability to work with the Government of Indonesia," as the government would view U.S. court action as an offense to Indonesian sovereignty. The lawsuit could also deter further U.S. investment in extractive industries, pushing Indonesia to seek investment from Chinese oil companies or others that care little for human rights or U.S. interests. If foreign investment in Indonesia suffered, the blow to the economy could undermine Indonesia's stability. These arguments are not convincing. The State Department's professed policy is to risk its good relations with foreign governments in order to deliver a tough message on human rights, so why not allow a court to deliver the same message? The State Department's own policy is to encourage American companies to take actions that further human rights -- indeed, the department has worked hard to get oil firms to sign a human rights code developed in 2000 -- so why the argument in last week's letter that human rights obligations will unacceptably deter foreign investment? As to the war against terrorism, the State Department itself argues that the way to prevent radical Islamic movements from springing up in Indonesia is to encourage the country on its path toward tolerant democracy. Urging the dismissal of a human rights case sits oddly with this strategy. The State Department's real objection to the Exxon Mobil suit is that it doesn't think courts are the right place to make foreign policy. This is a reasonable debate to have, and the administration should consider urging Congress to amend the stretched and aged law of 1789 under which many of these cases are brought. But the State Department should be wary of writing letters like the one it wrote last week. And, having written that one, it should move quickly to reassert its commitment to human rights and to corporate social responsibility.
AFP 9 Aug 2002 One man killed as violence mars North Maluku peace JAKARTA, Aug 9 (AFP) - One man died and 35 houses were burned down when Christian and Muslim villagers clashed in a return to communal violence on the North Maluku island of Halmahera, police said Friday. Although the reason for the violence remained unclear, men from the neighboring villages of Gorua and Wari attacked each other on Wednesday, police said from northern Halmahera. "The situation was under control again by Wednesday afternoon and our latest count shows that one man was killed and 35 houses were burned down in both villages," First Police Inspector Matheus Beai told AFP. He said Wari villagers fought back and launched a retaliatory attack on Gorua. Both villages were damaged. He declined to elaborate but according to residents, Gorua is predominantly Christian while Wari is settled by Muslims. The violence marred a fragile peace that has been in place since 2001. The area saw some of the worst clashes between Muslims and Christians after sectarian violence erupted in neighboring Maluku province early in 1999. The sectarian violence erupted in Ambon, the capital of Maluku province, and quickly spread to the other islands in Maluku and neighboring North Maluku. More than 5,000 people have been killed in the violence which also created more than 500,000 refugees and caused widespread destruction. A state of civil emergency is in effect in both provinces as part of efforts to halt the violence.
AFP 18 Aug 2002 Indonesia sends more troops to restive Poso district JAKARTA, Aug 18 (AFP) - Indonesia's government has sent more troops to boost security in the restive district of Poso in Central Sulawesi which is gripped by sectarian violence, a report said Sunday. The head of the military command overseeing security in Central Sulawesi, Major General Amirul Isnaini, said another company of men had been sent to Poso from South Sulawesi on Saturday, the Antara news agency reported. Speaking in Makassar, the capital of South Sulawesi province, Isnaini said the company of 125 men had left for Poso by land. He said security needed to be improved to prevent a possible flareup of the sectarian unrest in Poso which currently hosts two battalions of men reinforcing the two local battalions. An Indonesian battalion consist of between 650 and 1,000 men. Poso has been the scene of violence between Muslims and Christians in the past two years which has left some 1,000 people dead. Representatives from the Christian and Muslim communities met last week for a second round of talks mediated by Indonesian welfare minister Yusuf Kalla in Palu, the capital of Central Sulawesi. On Friday, an unknown group of men conducted a siege on a village in Morowalyu district, some 138 kilometers (85 miles) southeast of Poso that left 43 houses burned and one person wounded by a gunshot, the Koran Tempo said. A baby was reported to have died of suffocation in the arms of his scared mother who had held him too tightly, it added. US Department of State Date: 19 Aug 2002 Indonesia - Human Rights Tribunal for East Timor Press Statement Philip T. Reeker, Deputy Spokesman Washington, DC Indonesia's Ad Hoc Human Rights Tribunal for East Timor handed down its first verdicts on August 14 and 15, acquitting six of seven defendants of committing gross human rights violations. Without commenting on the specific verdicts, which are subject to appeal, the United States is nevertheless disappointed that prosecutors in these cases did not fully use the resources and evidence available to them from the United Nations and elsewhere in documenting the atrocities that occurred in East Timor. As the Secretary indicated during his recent visit to East Timor, the United States is committed to building a closer relationship with Indonesia, including its military, on the foundations of our common interests as democracies that respect the rule of law and account for human rights. Indonesia's establishment of the Ad Hoc Tribunal represented a bold step towards punishing the perpetrators of past atrocities, as well as warning those who might consider new violations of human rights in Aceh and elsewhere. We strongly encourage the Indonesian government to build on that positive step by mounting effective and credible prosecutions of the remaining cases that meet international standards of justice and utilize the wealth of available evidence to bring to justice perpetrators of atrocities in East Timor. The United States has supported the Tribunal's establishment, and also stands ready to do what it can to assist further.
news.com.au (Australia) 20 Aug 2002 Concern over court acquittals By Karen Polglaze AUSTRALIA was concerned about the acquittal by an Indonesian court of six officials accused of crimes against humanity in East Timor, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said. The process was meant to bring justice to the people of East Timor after the crimes committed in their territory following the August 30, 1999, vote for independence from Indonesia, Mr Downer said. "We'll make sure we follow this issue very closely," he said. "We have some concerns about what has happened." Last week, Indonesia's human rights court acquitted six officials including former East Timor police chief Timbul Silaen of crimes against humanity due to lack of evidence. The prosecution asked for Timbul to be imprisoned for more than 10 years. Four low-level military officers and one policeman were acquitted of being involved in the September Suai massacre where 50 people, including three priests, were killed in the grounds of the south coast town's cathedral. Separately, the court convicted former East Timor governor Abilio Soares for failing to control civilian militias, sentencing him to three years' jail. The international community bowed to reality in allowing Indonesia to try those accused of aiding and abetting killings, torture, rape and arson in 1999. But the court's findings have renewed concerns that justice will not be done. "On the face of it, we have some concerns," Mr Downer said. "This is a matter that we'll be discussing with the East Timorese because this is an argument about the way the East Timorese people were treated in 1999. "We know what happened to the people of East Timor in 1999 and it's a process which is meant to bring justice to those responsible for the crimes committed in 1999." Mr Downer said the prosecution could appeal the acquittals, and he would wait to see whether that occurred. But the alternative possibility of setting up an international tribunal to deal with these and other cases was unlikely to succeed because it would need the approval of the United Nations Security Council, he said. The International Criminal Court has no jurisdiction as it can hear only those crimes occurring after its establishment on July 1. Mr Downer said the East Timor government was looking at some alternative ideas which he would discuss with them but not in public.
BBC 15 Aug 2002 Israel under fire over 'human shields' The Israeli army has been bitterly condemned for its alleged use of Palestinians as "human shields" for soldiers trying to seize militants. A teenage Palestinian, Nidal Abu M'khisan was shot dead on Wednesday night after being forced by Israeli soldiers to go to the door of a house sheltering a Hamas militant in Tubas. Leading Israeli human rights group B'Tselem issued a statement denouncing the action, shortly before the army sparked fresh condemnation by shooting dead a five-year-old Palestinian boy. The child, Ayman Fares, was hit in the head by a bullet when Israeli forces opened fire on the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Yunis. 'Hail of bullets' According to the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem, the army has been using Palestinian civilians to shield them from hostile gunfire since the current uprising started nearly two year ago. "Using civilians as if they were bullet-proof vests and turning them into objects whose sole purpose is to protect soldiers is neither legal nor moral," the group said in a statement. "Whatever the circumstances, soldiers must not endanger the lives of civilians to protect their own." Palestinian witnesses said Nidal was forced at gunpoint to the house, where the wheelchair bound Hamas commander, Nasser Jarrar, was hiding. Some Israelis justify the practice by saying their country is at war with militants The army has denied the 19-year-old had been deployed as a shield, saying they hoped to prevent deaths by having the teenager warn any civilians who may have been inside the house. When he knocked on the door he was killed by a burst of bullets, although Tubas residents claim they came from the soldiers, not the house. The use of Palestinian human shields became a particular issue during Israel's sweeping military operations in April, when human rights organisations - including B'Tselem - petitioned the supreme court to order a stop to the practice. The government did then outlaw it, but drew a distinction between human shields and, what it called "neighbourhood procedure". This involves deploying civilians to help soldiers enter Palestinian homes, or approach besieged militants to negotiate an end to a standoff. B'Tselem said Wednesday's incident proves this procedure is just as dangerous as the one which was banned. But many prominent Israelis do not agree. A number of government ministers told Israeli media that the country was in a war situation, and sometimes the lives of Palestinian civilians had to be endangered, to prevent attacks in Israel, or to protect Israeli soldiers.
Jerusalem Post Aug. 20, 2002 Barak denies charges during Or Commission investigation Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak began testifying in front of the Or Commission Tuesday in response to allegations that he did not respond appropriately to the Israeli-Arab riots of October 2000. The Commission is investigating whether he, other Israeli leaders, the police and the IDF acted correctly when the riots broke out. Thirteen Israeli Arabs were killed during the riots, which broke out concurrently with the Intifada in the territories. Barak is specifically accused with failing to arrange for enough security forces prior to the riots and that he ordered that the Wadi Ara road be kept open at all costs, according to Israel Radio. Barak denied that he ordered the Wadi Ara road kept open. Also, he blamed an Arab nationalist group for perpetrating the riots. It is probable the testimony will continue Wednesday, the radio reported.
Ha'aretz 12 Aug 2002 Temple Mt. riots were 'planned massacre,' Salah tells Or panel By Yair Ettinger, Ha'aretz Correspondent The clashes between police and Arab demonstrators that broke out during then opposition leader Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount on September 29, 2000 were a "planned massacre," Sheikh Ra'ad Salah, the head of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, charged at a session of the Or Commission on Monday. Salah is one of three Israeli Arab leaders who received warning letters from the commission, which is investigating the Arab riots of October 2000, The warning letter said that Salah appeared to have contributed materially to the riots in which 13 Israeli Arabs were killed, apparently by police via "repeated messages encouraging the use of a violence as a way of achieving the Arab sector's goals," and, more immediately,by repeatedly describing the clashes of September 29, in which seven Arabs were killed,as a "planned massacre." Salah reiterated this accusation to the commission. "I do not merely say that there was a massacre, but also who was responsible for this massacre," he said. "It is known who committed this massacre." Asked by the commission chairman, Justice Theodor Or, whether he believed the "massacre" had been planned, Salah responded: "Yes, yes, yes, totally." Salah also rejected the commission's charge that a campaign waged that summer by the Islamic Movement, entitled "Al-Aqsa [the mosque atop the Temple Mount] is in danger," had similarly inflamed Israeli Arab public opinion with no sound basis in fact. "I am the owner of Al-Aqsa Mosque," Salah declared. "We, the Islamic nation, are the owners of Al-Aqsa Mosque, and therefore I am the only one who can decide whether Al-Aqsa Mosque is in danger or not." Salah confirmed that he has called for the mosque's "liberation;" asked what methods he advocates for achieving this, he replied: "It's not my decision, it is the Israeli government that will decide. The shortest and quickest way would be for the Israeli government to recognize that the mosque isn't theirs and return it to the Muslims." Asked about comments he had made that allegedly denied the legitimacy of the state of Israel, Salah responded that he recognizes the state, but not its definition as a Jewish state. The commission also asked why, in his then capacity as mayor of Umm al-Fahm, he had urged his fellow mayors to reject a request for a meeting by then prime minister Ehud Barak on the first day of the riots, October 1. Salah responded that ever since Barak's election in 1999, the mayors had been trying to meet with him, but Barak rejected "more than 10" such requests. They thus had no interest in acceding to a request apparently aimed solely at quelling the riots rather than addressing their demands, he said.
AP 2 Aug 2002 Israel Calls Gaza Bombing a Mistake By Ramit Plushnick-Masti JERUSALEM –– The Israeli military said Friday that faulty intelligence was to blame for the deaths of 14 civilians – most of them women and children – in an air attack on a Gaza City apartment building that successfully targeted and killed a Hamas military leader last month. In a statement summarizing the military investigation of the incident, the army said it regretted the civilian deaths. The army also said the attack never would have been launched if authorities had known women and children were in the building with Salah Shehadeh, head of the Hamas military wing. Israel faced widespread world criticism for the attack. The Israeli pilot of a U.S.-made F-16 fired a one-ton missile at the three-story building where Shehadeh was staying on the night of July 22. His wife and 14-year-old daughter were among those killed in the attack. Some 150 people were wounded in the explosion that brought down the targeted building and badly damaged three others. Palestinian officials and other critics of the attack said that using such a powerful bomb in the densely packed Gaza City neighborhood was sure to cause civilian casualties. Hamas vowed to avenge Shehadeh's death and said the first blow was struck Wednesday in the bombing at Jerusalem's Hebrew University, which killed seven people, including five Americans. The army said Shehadeh was one of the founders of the Hamas military wing, known as Izzadine el-Qassam, and he was directly responsible for initiating many of the deadliest attacks against Israelis.
WP 6 Aug 2002 Truth Massacred By Richard Cohen Tuesday, August 6, 2002; Page A15 In 1962 Egypt's President Gamal Abdel Nasser used poison gas in a now-obscure war in Yemen. Twenty years later, President Hafez Assad of Syria crushed a rebellion by bulldozing much of the city of Hama and killing anyone who got in the way. That same decade, Saddam Hussein of Iraq used poison gas against his enemies. The Middle East is a tough neighborhood. It goes without saying that had Israel fought its Arab foes the way they themselves do, the world would scream bloody murder and bureaucrats at the United Nations would get carpal tunnel syndrome banging out condemnations. What's more, tasteless references would be made to the Holocaust and how -- such irony -- the victims had turned oppressor and were using the methods of their one-time enemy. The fact is, though, that Israel has largely eschewed such methods. It fights hard and sometimes ruthlessly -- assassinations, for instance -- but it has generally adhered to Western standards of warfare. It has the only army in the Middle East in which reservists have refused to serve for reasons of conscience -- an option I wouldn't recommend to any soldier in any Arab army. Israel, it can be argued, has the "most humane army in the world." The phrase happens to come from an Israeli army officer and was used to rebut the accusation that Israel had conducted a "massacre" last April in the Palestinian refugee camp at Jenin. For a time, though, those words were mockingly hurled back at Israel by those who insisted otherwise. "Eyewitnesses" were cited who reported the stacking and burning of bodies and the wholesale slaughter of civilians. It never happened. So says the United Nations. In a recent report, it lists the dead as follows: 53 Palestinians and 23 Israelis. Given the nature of the fighting -- house to house in close quarters -- Israel can hardly be accused of a war crime. On the contrary, it can be accused of folly. Any Arab regime would have followed the rules laid down at Hama: Bulldoze the entire area and shoot everyone in sight. But the Jenin "massacre" not only lives on in Palestinian mythology but also remains embedded in the files of many Western media outlets. "We are talking here of a massacre, and a cover-up of genocide," wrote a columnist for Britain's Evening Standard in April. The Guardian, another English paper, opined that what happened at Jenin was "every bit as repellent" as the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. This, I take it, is vaunted British understatement. No doubt some bad things happened at Jenin. The Israeli Defense Force did restrain humanitarian aide workers from entering the area. It barred journalists, leading to the suspicion that something awful was happening. It may be that here and there Israeli troops used human shields, as alleged, and certainly homes that sheltered snipers were destroyed rather than entered. After all, Israel lost 13 soldiers when they were lured into a booby-trapped house. What, dear reader, would you have done? Israel should get out of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and the Palestinians should get a state of their own. What's more, Israel is no paragon of virtue. It is a country as good or as bad as the best of them, and it will occasionally do despicable things in the name of national security. The United States has sometimes strayed from the straight and narrow. Should I mention My Lai? But the readiness, the alacrity, with which some in the West stand ready to judge Israel by standards they would not apply elsewhere -- and which are routinely violated in the Arab world -- is downright repellent. The hard truth is that Israel could sharply reduce its Palestinian problem by sharply reducing the number of Palestinians -- push them out. This is how Czechoslovakia got rid of its Germans after World War II. And an immense swap of populations accompanied the partition of Pakistan and India. In other words, it has been done. A heartbreaking tragedy is being played out in the Middle East. Two peoples, convinced of the righteousness of their cause, are struggling for the same piece of land. But one engages in the inhumane murder of civilians while the other strives, sometimes vainly, to retain its humanity. This, too, is a fact -- one that often gets obscured by the din of propaganda. Jenin is an example of that. What got massacred there was not Palestinians but truth itself.
AFP 9 Aug 2002 Agence France Presse: Four dead after grenade attack on Pakistan Christian hospital A grenade attack on a hospital chapel near the Pakistani capital left at least four dead and 26 wounded, the second time within days a Christian target has been hit. Two Pakistani nurses and a paramedic were among the dead, while one of the attackers was found dead at the scene, hospital workers and witnesses said on Friday. The assailants hurled grenades as staff were emerging from a church service around 7:45 am (0145 GMT) at the Christian Hospital in Taxila, an ancient Buddhist town 25 kilometers (15 miles) west of Islamabad. "They were coming out of a church service when they were attacked," Marwad Shah, police chief in the nearby city of Rawalpindi, told AFP. "Three were killed, two nurses and a paramedic. There were no foreigners killed." At least 26 people were wounded in the attack, said a hospital worker named Benjamin who was injured as he left the chapel. The attack is the second on Christian premises in majority-Muslim Pakistan this week, and the fourth since Pakistan joined the US-led assault on the Taliban and al-Qaeda after September 11 last year. On Monday masked gunmen raided a Christian school for foreign aid workers' children in the Murree hills northeast of Islamabad, killing six Pakistanis. Hospital administrator Clement Bakhshi said that except for a Swedish nurse who was on leave at the time of the attack, there were no foreign patients or staff at the hospital. "I'm sure this is a sign of ongoing violence against Christians," he said. The Christian mission-run hospital treats around 200 patients daily, specializing in eye care. The wounded were initially treated at the hosptial but have since been transferred to another hospital in the nearby town of Wah, the Christian Hospital director's wife, Juliana Ashchenaz said. Some 30 Buddhist peace marchers from Japan, Central Asia and Russia are currently staying in Taxila, the site of ancient Buddhist monuments. The anti-nuclear campaigners had been confined to the Taxila Museum, six kilometers (four miles) from the hospital since Tuesday, after Pakistan withdrew permission for their planned cross country march. Pakistan Christian rights activist Shahbaz Bhatti blamed Islamic militants, who have been blamed for the earlier attacks, for the latest bloodshed. "These Islamic militants are targeting us and we are paying the price to be Christians here and to be allied with the West," Bhatti, who heads the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance, told AFP. "I think now it will be a complete genocide of the non-Muslims here if the Islamic militant forces are not checked." A Christian Protestant church in Islamabad, packed with foreign diplomats' families, was attacked with grenades in March, killing five people including a US embassy official's wife and stepdaughter. Last October gunmen opened fire on a Catholic church in the Punjab city of Bahawalpur, killing 16 worshippers. In Taxila, Japanese monk Terasawa Junsei, who says he and his fellow marchers have been confined "under virtual house arrest" since Tuesday, said it was possible the peace marchers were a target. "There are suspicions that certain people would use our presence for provocation," he told AFP by phone from Taxila. Junsei said some of the peace marchers had received "strange and suspicious" phone calls earlier in the week, asking for the room number of where they were staying, inquiring what were they doing in Pakistan, and requesting a meeting outside the museum "in the city." Security personnel guarding the monks traced the anonymous calls to a public phone booth, Junsei said. The group of monks had planned to walk from Taxila to the north-western city of Peshawar to promote peace between nuclear rivals India and Pakistan.
Guardian UK 10 Aug 2002 The Pakistani Christians were absorbing the news yesterday of the second attack on their institutions this week, as recognition sank in that they had become a new target in a wave of retaliatory militant attacks triggered by the American military campaign in Afghanistan. Many Christian leaders now believe more attacks will follow. "We are paying the price of being Christians here and being allied with the west," said Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian leader who heads the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance. "I think now it will be a complete genocide of the non-Muslims here if the Islamic militant forces are not checked." Pakistan's Islamist militants increasingly appear to associate even Pakistani Christians with the west and regard them as legitimate targets. "It appears that a spate of attacks on Christian institutions is gaining momentum," said Samuel Azariah, the presiding Bishop of the Church of Pakistan. Christians make up barely 3% of a predominantly Muslim population of 140 million. Most were converted under British colonial rule and many of their institutions in the country date back to before independence. The hospital in Taxila which was attacked yesterday was built in 1922. Although Pakistan's founder, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, envisaged in 1947 that his new country would be a religiously tolerant secular state, it quickly became clear that that would not be the case. Father Roccus Patras, a Roman Catholic priest in Bahawalpur, saw 16 people killed in an attack on his church in October. Last month he had a chilling meeting with the five Islamist militants who carried out the attack. "They told me they were very satisfied with what they had done and that it was the will of God to kill non-believers. They said we are allied to the Americans and Europeans because we are Christians," he said. "I asked them what they would do if I forgave them and the police let them free. They said they would come back to kill us again." The militants told Father Patras that they were incensed by comments made by US President George Bush when he talked of a "crusade" against terrorism. "Why are we being persecuted for his statement?" he said. "Our future is very dark and many people, me included, are now very frightened. We can't trust anyone." The men who attacked his church were shot dead by police after an apparent escape attempt last month. Christians frequently occupy the lowest positions in Pakistani society. In major cities such as Islamabad and Karachi thousands live in shanty towns. Many work as road-sweepers, though a few are employed by international organisations or as domestic staff for the small foreign community. Pakistan's military ruler, General Pervez Musharraf, appeared to promise respite for persecuted religious minorities shortly after he seized power in a coup three years ago. He undid a long-criticised law enforcing separate electorates during general elections but balked at changing perhaps the most discriminatory weapon, the blasphemy law. Under this law, anyone who is seen to have criticised or mocked Islam can be sentenced to death. It has often been badly abused to settle disputes against Christians.
Daily Star (Bangladesh) 6 Aug 2002 Massacre at Christian school in Pakistan No student among six killed, one foreigner hurt AFP, Reuters, Islamabad Six people were killed and at least three wounded yesterday in a gun attack on a Christian school near Murree, northeast of the Pakistan capital of Islamabad, local officials and school staff said. "Two of our guards who are Muslims, a carpenter and a cook, were killed," an administrator of the school, who preferred anonymity, said, adding a receptionist was also seriously injured. A passer-by was also killed. However, no students were among the dead, officials said. The Filipina mother of a student was the only foreigner hurt, a school employee said. The unidentified assailants sprayed bullets on the Murree Christian School in the popular hill resort town of Murree, 40 kilometres northeast of the capital Islamabad, police said. "Four to five men attacked the school, then fled into jungle," Murree-based police officer Maqboll said. The school was "run by foreign nuns and teachers, most of the children are foreigners," another Murree police officer, who gave his name as Javed, said. The attackers struck at around 11:15am, employee Larry Cutherell said. A policeman on duty at the school fired back, he said. The school caters to 150 students from 16 nationalities from kindergarten to high school, Cutherell said. He did not specify the nationalities, but said that Pakistanis "who want to go to university overseas" were among the students. "Whoever's behind this is trying to create problems for Pakistan," Cutherell said. Five ancillary staffs were killed, he said. The school had recruited private security guards as well as police to guard it. "The school employed a private security company and a police officer, who shot back at the assailants during the attack," Cutherell said. Local police officer Mohammad Yasin said the school was surrounded by "military installations". Several Christian schools run by Pakistani missionaries and a number of army training and logistics bases are located around Murree. Police would not say whether the attackers targeted the school because it is Christian or because it caters to foreign students. There have been five attacks on Western targets in Pakistan already this year, four of them deadly. Abducted US reporter Daniel Pearl was killed in the southern city of Karachi, a grenade attack on an Islamabad church killed five people in March, a suicide car-bomb attack in Karachi killed 11 French and three Pakistanis in May, and a similar attack outside the US consulate killed 12 Pakistanis in June. A group of European tourists were attacked with a grenade last month, but there were no casualties apart from light injuries. A US diplomat's wife and stepdaughter were among those killed in the attack on the Islamabad church, which was filled with mainly foreign worshippers. Last October five gunmen opened fire on a Catholic church in the Punjab city of Bahawalpur, killing 16 Pakistani worshippers. Police on July 23 arrested three Muslim militants suspected of that attack. All three were killed four days later in what police said was an "encounter" between police transporting the suspects and unknown attackers who opened fire on the police van.
The Australian 7 Aug 2002 Pakistan school massacre averted By John Zubrzycki and Louise Milligan QUICK thinking by staff and security personnel, and a monsoon shower, prevented a shooting rampage by gunmen at a Christian school in Pakistan from being turned into a massacre, the school's Australian principal said yesterday. Russell Morton said staff shepherded students to safety inside school buildings and then bolted doors after four men brandishing automatic weapons and grenades barged into the grounds of Murree Christian School. Six Pakistanis, including two security guards, were killed in Monday's attack, which was repulsed when a local police officer – who feigned death after being shot at – began firing at the assailants. None of the 146 students at the school, including up to 12 Australians, were injured in the attack – the third against Christian institutions in Pakistan since President Pervez Musharraf joined the US-led war on terror last year. "From the amount of weaponry the men were carrying, they were clearly ready for a long stay, possibly even for taking hostages," Mr Morton, who witnessed the attack, said by phone. "Our first reaction was to get the children to safety. We had drawn up contingency plans and staged drills for this kind of lock-down situation where children could be taken to safe areas." The action probably saved the lives of several dozen mostly foreign-born students and staff sheltering in the hostel building, which was riddled with bullets after the gunmen failed to gain entry. "It was almost eerie. When I saw them, they were moving quickly but acting quite calmly and shooting at any people they could see," said Barry Lock, the school's boarding manager. Three people were injured in the attack, including a Filipina woman who was visiting her children. But Mr Morton said the toll could have been higher if outdoor classes had not been cancelled because of monsoon rain. "God's hand was evident in protecting the students," he wrote in an email to his previous school, Hutchins School, in Hobart. Officials yesterday were discussing the future of the school, set up in 1956 to teach the children of missionaries, which is located in the Himalayan foothills about 40km northeast of the capital, Islamabad. About 150 children aged 6 to 18 from 20 countries attend. Foreign Minister Alexander Downer warned Australians in Pakistan to leave the country: "In this particular case, given the large number of foreign students at the school, you could safely conclude that it was a deliberate attack on foreigners." No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Guardian UK 17 Aug 2002 East Europeans torn on the rack by international court row By Ian Traynor Trapped in the middle of the increasingly rancorous dispute between the US and the EU about international justice, the countries of eastern Europe are in a quandary about how to respond to the intense US pressure to give American citizens immunity from war crimes prosecutions. While Washington bullies, Brussels warns. From Estonia on the Baltic to Albania on the Adriatic, countries' hope of joining both Nato and the EU appear to be threatened by the row about the new International Criminal Court in the Hague. In the Balkans, where the issue of war crimes is politically potent, and up through central Europe to the Baltic states of the former Soviet Union, governments are wrestling with a hard dilemma: how to avoid offending the US and improve their hope of being admitted to Nato while toeing the west European line as candidate members of the EU. Croatia is the latest target of the US campaign: the government in Zagreb disclosed on Wednesday that it had received a letter from the US embassy requesting a bilateral pact banning the extradition of Americans from Croatia to the Hague. The dilemma is particularly tough in neighbouring Bosnia, the scene of the worst war crimes in Europe since the Nazis, where 2,500 US military personnel are helping to keep the peace. In Serbia the Yugoslav president, Vojislav Kostunica, dismissed the US pressure this week and said there would be no deal. But the prime minister, Zoran Djindjic, may yet do Washington's bidding. Together with Iraq, the row about the ICC is perhaps the most serious of the many issues currently clouding transatlantic relations. Brussels bluntly warned the east Europeans this week to heed EU advice and avoid making concessions individually to the Americans before the EU agrees a common position at the end of the month. In eastern Europe integration with the west has been a fundamental foreign policy aim for the past 10 years and they regard membership of the EU and Nato as the twin pillars of that policy. But the conflicting pressures on them concerning the ICC show how estranged the US and Europe are becoming. The court, brought into being last month, is fiercely opposed by the Bush administration, even though the UN has agreed to waive any possible prosecution of Americans for a year. Washington is seeking individual pacts with the 77 states which have made themselves subject to the court to make extraditions of Americans to the Hague impossible. While Washington wants fast results, Brussels is playing for time. Reluctant to incur US displeasure, and with one eye on improving its chance of joining Nato in November, Romania broke rank last week to become the first European country - the only country bar Israel - to promise not to extradite Americans to the Hague. Neighbouring Bulgaria is also extremely wary of alienating the US, and was the only country to support the Americans during last month's peacekeeping crisis in Bosnia, when the US threatened to scupper the Bosnian mission unless it got its way on the ICC. Romania's decision is now seen to have been a foreign policy blunder, condemned by Brussels and regretted by the Bucharest. But the Romanian foreign minister, Mircea Geoana, made it clear that Bucharest was intimidated Washington's "clear and direct request". It was unprecedented, he said. "I can't remember anything they put so much weight or interest into." In former Yugoslavia, whose atrocity-riddled succession wars in the 1990s helped prompt the court's foundation, and have produced the first war crimes trial of a former head of state (Slobodan Milosevic), the US campaign appears to be stalling. Croatia, which was the first east European state to ratify the ICC statutes, is defying the US demand. In Washington this week its president, Stipe Mesic, was characteristically blunt. "This is not good and it's getting counter-productive," he told a US radio interviewer. "You have an established democracy fighting for respect for the law and at the same time demanding its citizens be exempted for things others have to answer for." Mr Kostunica, a fierce opponent of the specific war crimes tribunal for former Yugoslavia in the Hague, although Belgrade has ratified the new court's statutes, rebuffed the US on Monday. If the Serbs and Croats continue to defy the US, the Bosnians may follow. Paradoxically, the three former Yugoslav states, at war with one another for much of the 90s, may end up united in resisting the American demand, denounced last week by Human Rights Watch as "hypocritical bullying". Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, already Nato members and leading candidates for the EU, are playing for time. The Poles and the Czechs are traditionally pro-American and are increasingly resentful of the terms being dictated by Brussels in the drawn-out negotiations for EU accession. The Slovakian government had made it plain that it is reserving judgment on the US request until the EU sets a policy. Meanwhile the signals from the Baltic are that the Estonians will bow to the US demand when their prime minister, Siim Kallas, visits the White House early next month.
AFP 8 Aug 2002- Karabakh enclave defies international opinion over presidential poll by Mariam Harutunyan YEREVAN, Aug 8 (AFP) - Defying international condemnation, the separatist enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh is to hold presidential elections Sunday, reinforcing the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the small Caucasus territory. According to the leaders of Karabakh, a mountainous slice of land populated mainly by Armenians but lying inside Azerbaijan, the poll will serve as proof that their state is democratic and its government legal. "We think that only a freely elected power would have the mandate to hold talks and bear responsibility before the international community for any legal obligations," Karabakh's foreign ministry said in a statement. The elections, which will be held in 265 polling stations across Karabakh, will be the third presidential poll since the enclave declared independence from Azerbaijan in December 1991. Azerbaijan and its neighbor Armenia fought a bitter war over the territory in the early 1990s, which claimed about 30,000 lives and forced almost a million civilians on both sides to flee their homes. When a ceasefire was declared in 1994, most of the enclave was under de facto Armenian control. Since then there has been a tense stand-off with a permanent settlement proving elusive. The international community, led by Russia, France and the United States working within the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), have tried in vain to mediate a peace deal. On Tuesday, the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan decided to hold bilateral talks on the issue for the first time in more than a year, on August 14. Karabakh's president Arkady Gukasyan insisted that the enclave would pursue its aim of independence. "If we manage to hold elections in full accordance with modern standards of a democratic society, we demonstrate to the world that we are loyal to democratic principles and have earned the right to enter the international community as a free state," he said. However, Russia and the European Union have joined Azerbaijan in denouncing the forthcoming elections as a challenge to Azerbaijan's territorial integrity. Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanyan scoffed at the criticism, saying that "Azerbaijan has no historical, legal or moral basis for insisting on the principle of territorial integrity." "The territorial integrity Azerbaijan refers to has been illegally formed in the Soviet times, it is a Stalinist legacy," Oskanyan added. Gukasyan is one of the poll's contenders, pitting himself against a former parliament speaker Artur Tovmasyan, Christian-Democratic leader Albert Kazaryan and the chief of the republic's Unity party Grigory Afanasyan. Gukasyan, who is viewed as the race's favorite, said he would use his second five-year term to pursue economic reforms. Reforms are much needed as the republic's economic situation remains grave, presidential aide Manvel Sargsyan said, adding that much of the enclave's economic woes stemmed from its indeterminate status. "Karabakh's independence is not acknowledged, it is deprived of international financial aid, and we cannot implement programs of economic and social development," Sargsyan told AFP. "We get only humanitarian aid, from Armenia and the Armenian diaspora," he added. However, private investors have not turned their backs on the embattled enclave, pouring some 25 million dollars into over 30 commercial ventures set up in Karabakh over the past two years, Sargsyan affirmed. Karabakh Telecom, timber producer Ata-Vank-Les and Sirkap hotel operator -- sponsored by Lebanese, US and Swiss companies respectively -- were among the largest such schemes, he added.
VOA News 12 Aug
2002 US Donates $1M for Srebrenica Memorial The United States has announced
it is giving $1 million to build a memorial for the thousands of victims killed
in Srebrenica seven years ago in what is believed to be the worst massacre in
Europe since World War II. The U.S. embassy in Sarajevo said in a statement
Monday the money will go toward designing and constructing a memorial and cemetery
for those who died. The statement said although the memorial will not
bring back the victims, it is a symbol that will help friends and families cope
with their losses. About 8,000 Muslim men and boys disappeared in July 1995,
after Serb forces captured Srebrenica, an enclave in eastern Bosnia-Herzegovina
which the United Nations had declared a safe haven. International humanitarian
groups say the Serbs massacred those missing, although 6,000 of the missing
have yet to be accounted for. The United Nations War Crimes Tribunal in The
Hague has indicted several top Bosnian Serb leaders in connection with the deaths.
Some information for this report provided by AP.
AFP 19 Aug 2002 Seven years after the war, Bosnians still cling to their weapons By Tanja Subotic BANJA LUKA, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Aug 18 (AFP) - Although Bosnia's 1992-95 war ended almost seven years ago, NATO peacekeepers say that almost every house here seems to possess some wartime weapon. When searching houses NATO-led Stabilisation Force (SFOR) soldiers usually find illegal rifles and pistols, as well as hand grenades, ammunition, sometimes even explosive. All this despite calls for a safe environment, especially for the sake of children who might come across the stashes. "Everyone seems to have weapons. Or not every, but there seems that a vast proportion of the population either has a weapon or knows where a weapon is," Major Alex Macintosh told AFP. In the four-and-a-half-months since he and his unit of Welsh guards have been based in the SFOR military base near the Bosnian Serb town of Banja Luka, no large weapons hides were found. "All the weapons that we've found have been in people's houses or (their) out-buildings," he said. In this period of time, SFOR found 46,000 rounds of ammunition in Banja Luka and the region alone, "which might just hint towards how vast the issue of weapons and ammunition is." During a door-to-door search attended by a AFP journalist in Laus, an urban suburb of Banja Luka, 66-year-old Bosnian Serb Dusan was discovered to be hiding a rifle in a cupboard in his bedroom. When SFOR soldiers knocked at his door and asked him whether he had any piece of weaponry he admitted he had an illegal weapon in the house, but somehow he forgot who gave it to him during the war, he said. "I have no idea who brought it and gave it to me," Dusan added. "They usually put blame on their friends or someone else," said Richard Brewer, an SFOR soldier. The operation was part of a Bosnia-wide project dubbed "Harvest", launched in 1998 to collect all wartime weapons. Another Bosnian Serb who refused to give his name swore to SFOR that he had no weapons in his house. Soldiers started to search the house and outside found a few hand-grenades and incendiary ammunition. Weapons were under the stairs on reach of his two small children, of whom one was just learning how to walk. "How that got there? I do not know. It must have been that someone had put it there", he told SFOR soldiers, taken by surprise. "Yesterday we found in a house 37 kilos of explosives, together with fuse and other things needed to have it work," Sgt Brian Nicholls said. If that had exploded it would have blow up the whole suburb, he added. Although weapons have been collected among the population for years, some still believe that they can even get money for them. A woman, when SFOR soldiers found a bayonet in her house, got emotional: "I do not know who put it there". After the soldiers explained to her that she would not get into trouble with the police, she calmed down and said: "Oh, good! Then, how much for that knife?" SFOR soldiers fail to understand local people who do everything to hide their wartime weapon, even taking the chance that their own children might find it. "A local man told me: 'In your house you have a front door, and in this country we have one at the front and one at the back, so that when you (SFOR) come in the front door, we can run out through the back door'," Major Macintosh said. Bosnian authorities granted amnesty to all people who turn in or are found to have an illegal weapon, in order to encourage them to give it. Since the beginning of "Harvest" in 1998, SFOR has collected in the whole of Bosnia more than 20,000 weapons, 23,500 mines, 100,000 hand grenades, 6.5 million rounds of ammunition, 6,000 kilos of explosives and 60,000 other military items such as mortars, mortar rounds and rifle grenades. It turned out that door-to-door collecting of weapons is more successful and in the first six months of this year, compared to the same period last year, there was in increase of over 200 percent in the turning in of hand grenades, small arms and explosives. Some 200,000 Bosnians were killed during the war, while approximately half of the country's population was forced to flee their homes.
AFP 17 Aug 2002 NATO closes in on Karadzic By Amra Hadziosmanovic - Agence France-Presse SARAJEVO - NATO said yesterday it was closing in on the UN’s most wanted war crimes suspect, Radovan Karadzic, after a military sweep through southeastern Bosnia but there was still no sign of the elusive Serb. NATO forces mounted a two-day search in the area near Celebici village, one of Karadzic’s suspected hideouts, and officials said troops from the alliance had new information about the support network said to be keeping him on the run. “This week’s operation sheds more light into the dark corners of the network and has drawn us a better picture of his movements, the help he gets and those who help him,” said US General John Sylvester, who commands the NATO-led Stabilization Force (SFOR). SFOR troops have already made two failed attempts to capture Karadzic this year in Celebici, which lies in the Serb-run half of Bosnia near the border with the Yugoslav republic of Montenegro. NATO sources have blamed earlier failures to capture Karadzic on a local alert network helping the war crimes suspect, who still enjoys wide support among local Serbs. “Now we’ll decide when and where to exploit this new information,” Sylvester said. Asked whether it was enough to lead to his arrest, SFOR spokesman Scott Lundy said: “We have to wait and see. We are closer” to capturing Karadzic. The elusive wartime Bosnian-Serb leader, indicted by the UN war crimes tribunal for genocide and war crimes during the 1992-95 war in Bosnia, is believed to be constantly surrounded by a ring of diehard bodyguards, occasionally moving to Montenegro to evade arrest.
Jerusalem Post 19 Aug 19, 2002 Islamic group in Denmark targets Jewish leaders By NINA GILBERT Fifteen prominent Danish Jews have been put on a hit list by an extreme Muslim group, a Danish newspaper revealed last week. The list reportedly includes Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Melchior's father, Binyamin, a leading rabbi, and Oslo accords-architect Ron Pundak. The Simon Wiesenthal Center has called on Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen to personally intervene in the case. The Muslim group believed to be behind the list is Hizb Ut Tahrir, whose aim is to create worldwide Islamic rule. Melchior told The Jerusalem Post Monday night that he could not confirm or deny that his father is on the list. However, he said that the Danish authorities are "taking the matter seriously" and have contacted the people on the list. Melchior said the newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, obtained the list through Muslim connections, but was pressured not to publish it. He also said that the attorney-general of Denmark is considering outlawing the Muslim group that is reportedly behind the plot. According to Melchior, the group has been active for the past few years, and the incidence of extreme Muslim activities is on the rise since the outbreak of violence between Israel and the Palestinians two years ago. Binyamin Melchior was the chief rabbi of Denmark and is still a prominent figure in the country. Pundak lives in Israel and in Denmark and was the editor of a leading Danish newspaper. The senior Melchior and Pundak recently received attention when they joined forces to raise money for Palestinians.
Guardian Uk 12 Aug 2002 Munich remembers Olympic massacre John Hooper, Berlin Israeli athletes who competed at the European Championships in Munich joined relatives of the 11 Israelis killed when the city hosted the 1972 Olympic It took place by a monument to the victims, at the bridge linking the former Olympic village to the Olympic stadium, amid tight security. Police helicopters patrolled and marksmen were stationed overlooking the site. On September 5 1972, Palestinian terrorists of the Black September group stormed the Israeli competitors' quarters in the Olympic village, killing two Israeli athletes and holding the others hostage in an effort to gain the freedom of 200 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. In a botched rescue attempt, nine more Israeli athletes were killed, as well as five terrorists and a German policeman. The European track and field championships, which ended yesterday, marked the first time since those Olympics that the village had been used by athletes, including the 17 members of the Israeli team. Among the Israeli athletes attending the ceremony was Alex Averbukh, who on Saturday won the pole vault competition, giving Israel its first gold at a European championship and its first medal of any kind in a major athletics competition. He said: "I want to give a little present to the Israeli people, because the news from there is not so good".
CNN 10 Aug 2002 Hitler's untold millions By Stephanie Halasz BERLIN, Germany (CNN) -- A $100 million renovation of a Polish castle never used is just one of the signs of wealth displayed by Germany's wartime leader Adolf Hitler. Hitler, who used to portray an image of frugal living as part of his Fascist philosophy in the 1930s and World War II, in fact accumulated a fortune that would make him a multibillionaire in today's terms, a new German documentary says. The castle, which was in then Germany, had 20 million Reichsmarks spent on it rebuilding an apartment for Hitler which he never visited. The documentary reveals how incredibly rich the dictator really was, and how he obtained his fortune. His personal money became entwined with his party's and the state's wealth deliberately to hide how much he really was worth in monetary terms. Much of that wealth came from the expropriation of Jewish belongings, the seizure of enemy property abroad, and slave labour -- all these were means with which the Nazis financed their megalomaniac ideas. There was public perception at the time that money meant little to Hitler and he certainly showed few visible signs of living ostentatiously. But he was greedy. After 1934 he did not pay any taxes. Starting in 1937 his portrait was put on German stamps for which he is reported to have received residuals, plus a payment from the postal ministry that would be worth about $300 million today. He also received millions of dollars from sales of his autobiography ' Mein Kampf' and party donations -- making his salary worth $500,000 in today's terms seem irrelevant. By the time Hitler committed suicide in a Berlin bunker at the end of WWII while facing defeat he was a very rich man. But how important was this wealth? Not very, many argue... as Hitler was foremost a mass murderer. The historian Wolfgang Wippermann said: "What is important is that he and the regime killed more than six million Jews. "I think this is the most important aspect and not all these details about his life." Hitler committed genocide and unleashed war onto the world. And, while destroying countries, cities, families, he turned himself into a rich man.
AP 22 Aug 2002 Hitler's filmmaker unrepentant at 100 By David Rising BERLIN - The films she made for Adolf Hitler brought her international attention, then destroyed her postwar directorial career. But as she turns 100 today, it is still those movies that Leni Riefenstahl thinks of most proudly. Once dubbed a "Nazi Pin-Up Girl" by the Saturday Evening Post, Riefenstahl remains unrepentant about her work for Hitler, saying her films portraying Nazi Germany were about art, not propaganda or ideology. Speaking in a rare interview by telephone from her home near Munich, she dismissed the notion, prevalent in Germany, that she should apologize for helping to glorify Hitler and the Nazi party. Instead, she emphasized the prizes she received for the films. "I don't know what I should apologize for," Riefenstahl said. "I cannot apologize, for example, for having made the film Triumph of the Will. It won the top prize. All my films won the top prize." In Triumph of the Will, a critically acclaimed documentary, Riefenstahl employed a crew of 120 with 40 cameras to put together mesmerizing montages of goose-stepping soldiers in torchlight parades, endless rows of swastikas and close-ups of Hitler and other Nazi leaders speaking to a dazzled German public. Riefenstahl admits it was used to sell National Socialism, but says that was not her intent. "One can use it for propaganda, but in and of itself it is no propaganda film - it has absolutely no commentary. ... There is not one single anti-Semitic word in my film," she said. One of Riefenstahl's biographers, Rainer Rother, called her view simplistic. "I think she might not have been an anti-Semitic woman, but she still was aware of what was going on," said Rother, whose book Leni Riefenstahl: The Seduction of Talent is being released in English to coincide with her birthday. "National Socialism means at least you don't say no to anti-Semitism - that's something she must have known at the time and calculated." Despite her age and poor health due to injuries sustained in accidents - including a helicopter crash in Sudan in 2000 - Riefenstahl is still working and physically active - diving for three weeks in March in the Maldives. She also is about to release her first film in nearly a half-century. A 45-minute documentary cut from footage shot during dives in the Indian Ocean between 1974 and 2000, Impressions Under Water will be broadcast on German television later this month in honor of her birthday. Riefenstahl says she has always been guided by the quest for beauty, whether in her hypnotizing images of the Nuremberg rallies or in still photographs of the African Nuba tribe. "I always see more of the good and the beautiful than the ugly and sick," Riefenstahl said. "Through my optimism, I naturally prefer and capture the beauty in life." Born Helene Bertha Amalie Riefenstahl in Berlin in 1902, Riefenstahl was a dancer until she sustained a knee injury. In 1926, she made her debut as an actress in the derring-do movie The Sacred Mountain - one of director Arnold Fanck's many alpine films emphasizing athleticism. After several more movies, she made her directorial debut in 1932 with The Blue Light, in which she also starred. While her documentaries have won the most praise, it is this metaphorical film that is Riefenstahl's favorite. "She never was a true believer, but she had a unique opportunity," Rother said. "No one else at that time could command such a lot of cameramen and the support of the party and state for the rallies. She used, in a way, the system for a work of art but also served the ideology. There's no doubt the party rally films are carefully constructed to support the party message." Riefenstahl said she plans to celebrate her 100th birthday with "a small circle" of friends at a hotel near her home in the lake town of Poecking.
Belfast Telegraph 31 July 2002 Village marks 'forgotten atrocity' By Sarah Brett CROWDS of people gathered in the Co Londonderry village of Claudy today to mark the 30th anniversary of one of the worst atrocities in the history of the Troubles. A service was held in the village this morning to commemorate the nine victims of a triple bombing there on July 31, 1972. Six people, including a nine-year-old girl, were killed instantly when car bombs ripped though the heart of the village. A further three people died later from injuries sustained on a day that has been called the Troubles' forgotten tragedy. While no paramilitaries ever claimed responsibility for the bomb blitz, it is widely believed to have been the IRA's response to Operation Motorman, which occurred on the same day. Two Catholic teenagers were shot dead in Creggan when the Army attempted to reclaim nationalist no-go areas in Derry and Belfast. Families of the Claudy bomb victims and survivors of the attack today gathered at a memorial in the village to mark the 30th anniversary. Foyle SDLP Assemblywoman, Annie Courtney, said it was an emotional day for everyone involved. Mrs Courtney lived in the village of Park, near Claudy, and was a nurse at Altnagelvin Hospital when the bombings took place. "1972 was such a traumatic year that left no-one in Northern Ireland untouched, but for the North West, Claudy represented the most devastating terrorist attack yet," said Mrs Courtney. "Today will bring back a huge range of memories for local people, from the quiet summer's morning before the bomb to the immediate horror directly after and the years of recovery and derelict buildings that followed. "The shock felt by local people was unparalleled and the devastation was felt by everyone." Derry's Deputy Mayor, Mary Hamilton, recently called on the IRA to admit that they carried out the Claudy bombings. Mrs Hamilton, who owned a guest house in Claudy in 1972 and was injured in the attack, said the terrorists responsible for the bombings should finally admit their guilt.
Aug. 13, 2002 Poles start to hear Pope's pro-Jewish message WADOWICE, Poland (Reuters) - Pope John Paul's childhood in the sleepy Polish town of Wadowice before World War II exemplified how harmonious relations between local Jews and Catholics could be. As a boy, Karol Wojtyla played soccer with Jewish kids in a park between the church on the main town square and a synagogue down the road. He would invite friends, Jewish and Catholic, to his family's modest three-room apartment to hear stories told by his father, a retired army officer. His landlord was a Jew. Nazi invaders wiped out Wadowice's Jewish community and had a searing impact on the future pope, who this week returns to southern Poland for a four-day visit many believe may be his last to his overwhelmingly Roman Catholic homeland. The pope, now a frail 82, made a priority of rebuilding relations between Catholics and Jews from the outset of his 23-year-old pontificate. On his first trip to Poland as pope in 1979, he said: ``I couldn't not come here'' at Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Nazi death camp just 15 miles from Wadowice. But his message of reconciliation has been slow to take root among Poles, who only now are starting to reach out to an estranged Jewish diaspora and question an entrenched self-image as innocent victims of Nazi terror. In a small yet symbolic step, a plaque commemorating Chaim Balamuth has been put up on the pope's boyhood home, which the prewar owner's descendants say was expropriated by German occupiers and then taken over by the Polish state. It has been transformed into an informal papal museum with the help of nuns like Sister Magdalena. ``I don't like calling it a museum. It's our memory, our little Polish Vatican,'' said Sister Magdalena, who runs the free exhibit which attracts up 2,500 visitors each day. Sister Magdalena admits that when a representative of the Balamuth family called seeking a way to memorialize the late owner, after the pope spoke of him during an emotional visit to his hometown in 1999, she feared the museum may be lost. ``I was a bit hesitant...but he turned out to be very pleasant. I pray now that the (Balamuth) family will not change its mind and change the character of this place,'' she said. STEP IN RIGHT DIRECTION Ayall Schanzer, a lawyer for the Balamuth family, said the plaque was a ``heart-warming'' step in the right direction. Schanzer said the family was confident of regaining the title to the house, but added more should be done to commemorate Wadowice's 20 to 30 percent prewar Jewish population, most of whom perished in the nearby Nazi camps. ``The Balamuth family is very respectful of the papal connection to their property and they have no intention at this point to change the nature of the home,'' Schanzer said in a telephone interview from the United States. ``But obviously there is going to have to be some type of negotiation of how can the Balamuth family use this (house) as an opportunity to really show both sides of the equation.'' Poland has been slow to acknowledge acts of anti-Semitism and is the only eastern European state besides Belarus not to have set up a restitution scheme to return private property, much of it Jewish, confiscated by Nazi and communist regimes. Some Poles heroically helped Jews survive the war at the risk and often cost of their own lives. But a few, like the townsfolk of Jedwabne in northeastern Poland who in 1941 perpetrated a bloody massacre of their Jewish neighbors, helped the Nazi killing machine which sited most of its death camps on then occupied Polish territory. On the other hand, Poles feel they are being unfairly charged with anti-Semitism or that their war guilt is being equated with that of the Nazi German aggressors. Some Israelis, such as many children of eastern European Holocaust survivors, vow never to set foot in Poland, but have few qualms about visiting Germany. Most of the Jewish children to visit Poland see the death camps and the ``destruction'' of their culture and life and learn little of the prewar history of tolerance which made Poland the medieval heartland of European Jewry. Six million Poles died in World War II, half of them Jews. Of the 300,000 Jews who survived the Holocaust, most emigrated in the wake of the war or after a purge by the communist government in 1968. Some 20,000 Jews now live in Poland. THE JEDWABNE EXAM A year ago, President Aleksander Kwasniewski apologized for the Jedwabne pogrom, confronting Poland's self-image as a country which suffered most from, not contributed to, the atrocities and injustice of World War II. ``Since the apology, this fragment of our history has become a fact, a part of Poles' consciousness,'' said Agnieszka Arnold, a film maker whose research brought Jedwabne to the public arena. ``Poland has mostly passed this difficult exam. Jedwabne has made Poles reflect on history more fairly and taught them to be scared to hate. This is very positive,'' she added. But while Kwasniewski, along with Polish and Israeli political and civic leaders, bowed his head in memory of the Jedwabne killings, officials from Poland's Roman Catholic Church were conspicuous by their absence. In the run-up to the high-profile ceremony in Jedwabne, church officials held their own service for the victims and said their presence was not needed at the Jewish religious event. ``It would have made the event at Jedwabne that much more meaningful if the Catholic Church had participated, in this sense it was a missed opportunity,'' said Michael Schudrich, the American-born chief rabbi of Warsaw. WATERED-DOWN MESSAGE Pope John Paul has made unprecedented gestures toward his ``older brothers,'' including an historic trip to Israel two years ago where he voiced the sadness of the church for centuries of Christian hatred of Jews and the Holocaust. In a survey after the Pope's trip to the Holy Land, more than half of Poles said they viewed Jews as ``older brothers in faith,'' while a quarter denied any connection between the two religions. A fifth had no opinion. While Poles frequently list Israelis as their least favorite foreigners, Romanians and Serbs aside, the preferences are roughly in line with those of other central Europeans like the Hungarians or Czechs. But Poland, unlike many western European countries, has had virtually no anti-Israeli protests or anti-Jewish incidents in the wake of escalating violence in the Middle East this year. In a recent poll aimed at gauging latent anti-Semitism, Poles were asked which group they thought had too much say in Poland. Less than one percent said Jews, while more than 10 percent said the Catholic Church was too powerful. But when the same survey asked specifically if Jews had too much power in Poland, 43 percent said yes. Similar views are often aired on Radio Maryja, a popular Catholic station which propagates ultra-conservative and nationalist views. ``The pope's common roots message did have an initial impact, but future progress depends on how much it will become part of the day-to-day teachings of the church,'' said Michal Strzeszewski, a sociologist at the CBOS polling agency.
AP 13 Aug 2002 Russian Jews mark activists' 1952 executions By JIM HEINTZ, Associated Press MOSCOW (August 13, 2002 8:55 a.m. EDT) - Marking the 50th anniversary of one of the last spasms of Stalinist terror, Jews gathered in a Moscow synagogue Monday to reflect on the improvement of their condition in Russia over the past half-century and warn that anti-Semitism still plagues the country. The ceremony at a synagogue dedicated to victims of the Holocaust commemorated the Aug. 12, 1952, execution of 13 members of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee in the basement of Lubyanka, the infamous Moscow building that was headquarters of the Soviet secret police. Although the number of victims was tiny compared to the tens of millions of people estimated to have died under dictator Josef Stalin, the killings are seen as an especially shocking demonstration of how the system had become debased by paranoia and bloodlust. Stalin died in 1953. The committee had once been an important propaganda tool for Stalin in the fight against the Nazis, and the Soviet Union allowed some of its members to travel to the United States for fund-raising events. But after the creation of Israel in 1948, Stalin began to see the group as a potential threat to his grasp on power, and members were arrested and tried in secret. Among those tried and executed were several prominent Yiddish writers, including poet Yitzhak Feffer and novelist David Bergelson. "We have a task. Those of you living today - do everything so that such a tragedy cannot be repeated," Russia's chief rabbi Adolf Shayevich said at the opening of the memorial ceremony. "You all very well remember the system that broke and destroyed its children." Israeli Ambassador Nathan Meron chose to reflect with melancholy satisfaction on how Russia now has close relations with Israel. "It is very sad that (committee members) were not living to see ... the establishment of diplomatic relations between the state of Israel and the new Russia," Meron said, and went on to praise improvements for Jews in Russia. "The life of the Jewish community in today's Russia is free, without limits," he said. However, some speakers noted recent indications of resurgent anti-Semitism in Russia, drawing attention to the appearance of anti-Semitic flyers at some bus shelters and to the case this year when a woman was injured when removing an explosives-rigged anti-Jewish sign placed along a highway. Yevgeniya Albats, a prominent journalist, said Russia's Jews must fight against such eruptions of prejudice, saying that previous oppressions were encouraged by Jews' failure to fight back. "It was because we were silent. It was our fault," she said. The ceremony ended with a performance by singer Mark Aizkovich, who has written songs based on the poems of some of the writers killed 50 years ago. Smiling broadly, he urged the gathering of about 150 people to remember the joy the authors brought their readers, but got only some hesitant hand-clapping to lively passages before attendees began drifting out.
WP 11 Aug 2002 Attacks on Foreigners Rising in Russia Frequency of Violence, Recruiting By Fascist Groups Alarm Kremlin By Peter Baker, Page A01 KRASNOARMEYSK, Russia -- The fight that night at the tiny hole-in-the-wall Three Palms bar started much as fights do in bars around the world: Men who have been drinking step outside to punch each other over a woman. Then matters got out of hand. A knife appeared and Igor Samoluk wound up on the ground, bleeding. By the next day, a band of ethnic Russians eager for vengeance against Samoluk's Armenian assailant roamed around town bursting into apartments and beating up every Armenian they could find. A dozen Armenians ended up in the hospital with smashed faces and broken bones. "You can imagine how much blood there was," recalled a nurse who treated them. But that only inflamed the passions set loose by the barroom brawl. Within a week, hundreds of Russians gathered at town hall demanding that two men arrested for beating Armenians be freed and that illegal immigrants be evicted. The pogrom of Krasnoarmeysk, as the episode last month in this small town north of Moscow came to be called here, put on display a streak of ethnic and religious violence that has increasingly troubled Russia. Long-simmering tensions in a country built as a multi-ethnic empire have erupted regularly enough to alarm the Kremlin. Young black-clad men calling themselves skinheads wander the streets looking for Armenians, Chechens, Azerbaijanis and other dark-skinned people to attack. African diplomats and their families have been repeatedly accosted; last week the son of a Cameroon diplomat was beaten by a half-dozen men. A mob rampaged through a market bludgeoning three foreign nationals -- an Indian, a Tajik and an Azerbaijani -- to death. And recently anti-Semitic signs planted along roadsides have been rigged with hidden explosives to blow up anyone who takes them down. "The situation is very bad, it's very bad for us," said Benjamin Legnongo-Ndumba, the ambassador from Gabon who along with other African envoys met recently with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov to complain. "We told him that we are afraid to go to restaurants, theaters, parks -- that every time some of us get attacked. It's very dangerous for us here." Among recent victims was a Jewish American teenager of Russian descent. Yakov Shmuel Vershubsky came to Russia from his home of Muncie, N.Y., to study in his father's homeland. One day in May, just before his 16th birthday, he was walking to a synagogue when a couple of skinheads approached him from behind. "I turned around to look at them and they punched me in the nose," Vershubsky recalled. As they hit him, they called out "Zhid," a Russian epithet for Jew. Vershubsky was left with a broken nose that will require plastic surgery -- and a commitment to move somewhere safer. "The police aren't looking," Vershubsky said. "They aren't doing anything. They wrote it up and put it in the archives." By many accounts, the number of self-declared skinheads or fascists is on the rise. Exact numbers are hard to come by; a recent report by the prosecutor general's office estimated that crimes against foreign nationals have increased by 31 percent recently. Police estimate there are 7,000 skinheads in Russia, but human rights groups say there are that many in Moscow alone and 25,000 in all nationwide. The skinheads report that recruitment is up significantly. The People's National Party, one of the more visible fascist organizations operating here, claims 1,000 members in Moscow and 10,000 throughout Russia. "Over the last year, the organization has grown 10 times thanks to the influx of young people -- 15- and 16-year-olds," said Semyon Tokmakov, the group's shaven-headed deputy director. "Give us more time. In two or three years, they'll grow up and they'll be better educated and they'll be warriors of the white race." The situation in Russia mirrors recent tensions in Western Europe, where a backlash against Asian and African migrant workers and asylum-seekers has reshaped politics. Anti-immigration politician Jean-Marie Le Pen surprised France with a second-place finish in presidential elections, while similar parties surged ahead in recent elections in Denmark and the Netherlands. Alexander Ivanov-Sukharevsky, a former film director who founded the People's National Party in Russia in 1994, calls himself an admirer of Le Pen. "In the future, I see a united Europe, based on the unity of blood," he said in a telephone interview. In Russia, he believes, a turning point has been reached. "Our people have woken up finally. Our people are ready to become full masters of their own land." Yet the history of ethnic relations in Russia differs significantly from that of Western Europe, where the tension stems from the arrival of new immigrants seeking economic or political refuge. Russia, by contrast, has long been a multi-ethnic mix of nationalities swallowed up by imperial expansion in the Caucasus and Central Asia. Official anti-Semitism was prevalent in the Soviet years. But the sort of unsanctioned random street violence seen lately represents a different phenomenon that in some cases has been exacerbated by the economic travails of the past decade. "In Soviet times, there was nothing like this," said Emmanuel Dolbakyan, head of the Armenian Cultural and Educational Center in Moscow. "This sort of thing simply was not possible. People wouldn't have dared." Now there are fears that it is making Russia a tinderbox. "It's a real threat to our country," said Alexei Navalny, who helped found a group in June called Moscow Without Fascism that hopes to sponsor a rock concert against skinheads in September. "Russia is a multinational country. If in Moscow they beat Tatars and Bashkirs, then in Bashkortostan and Tatarstan, they're going to beat Russians, too. It can explode our country from the inside." President Vladimir Putin has responded to the flurry of attacks, pushing a law against extremism through the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, and inviting the victim of an anti-Semitic attack to the Kremlin to award her a medal for courage. "Unfortunately, now we are witnessing the growth of extremism not only in Russia but in many other countries, including countries with so-called developed democracies," Putin said last month. "I must say that for any country extremist activities undermine the very foundation of the state's existence and for such a country as Russia it is absolutely fatal since our country is multinational and multi-religious." "If we let this chauvinistic disease of either national or religious intolerance develop," Putin added, "we will ruin our country." But Putin's response has generated as much criticism as praise. The measure he signed into law two weeks ago grants wide powers to the government to shut down groups that it deems extremist; some critics maintain it could be used to target more mainstream organizations disliked by the Kremlin, such as Greenpeace, the environmental group. Even without the new law, Putin's government has moved to shut down several publications linked to ethnic extremists. Last month courts approved the government closure of Russkiye Vedomosti, a nationalist paper, for targeting Jews and other minorities, and Limonka, a paper tied to jailed nationalist writer Eduard Limonov, for inciting ethnic conflict and calling for overthrow of the government. At the same time, Limonov was put on trial for preparing terrorist acts. Last week, the government closed Russkiye Khozian (Russian Master), a magazine affiliated with a man connected to a market rampage in Moscow. The prosecutor's office says fewer than half of the recent reported crimes against foreigners have been solved. Take the anti-Semitic signs. In June, Tatyana Sapunova, 28, an ethnic Russian, stopped her car outside Moscow to take down a sign that read "Death to Zhids," only to have it explode and burn her badly. While she was later honored by Putin at the Kremlin, a dozen other booby-trapped signs have since been found around the country and just one teenager has been caught. Mikhail Zhuk, the top prosecutor handling such cases, said he hoped authorities would be able to respond more vigorously with the advent of Putin's law. "Now that the law has been signed it will activate our work," he said. "We'll pay more attention." One center of fascism in Moscow can be found in a cramped apartment in a run-down building near downtown. On the wall hangs the flag of the People's National Party, with its symbol a Nazi-style cross. As its teenage acolytes enter, they greet Tokmakov, the deputy director, with a Seig-Heil salute. On the television plays a video of the latest initiation in February, a scene reminiscent of a Ku Klux Klan rally complete with a burning cross and an oath pledging loyalty to "the triumph of the white race." Perhaps the Klan style is no accident. Tokmakov and others from the party have met David Duke, the former Klan leader who last year rented an apartment in Moscow and published an anti-Semitic book in Russian. Still, Tokmakov, who considers Hitler a "political genius" and celebrates his birthday "just like my own," distinguishes his group from the Klan and the Nazis because it supports Israel as the "lesser of two evils" needed to keep Arab "misfits" away from Russia. "Arabs are the kikes of today," he said. Like other skinheads and fascists, the party's members complain that Armenians, Azerbaijanis and others from the Caucasus region have taken jobs from ethnic Russians, monopolize local produce markets, don't pay taxes and harass women on the street. "They don't wash themselves, they don't clean up, they sleep 10 to 15 in a small room," said Tokmakov. "They bring their dirty culture here. And the more of them come here, the dirtier Moscow becomes." Officially, the party disavows violence, but its members happily recount tales of after-hours beatings. Tokmakov, who at 27 favors camouflage pants and a knife on his belt, was convicted of attacking a U.S. Marine in Moscow in 1998 because he was African American and "looked impudent." He served time in jail, where he met Ivanov-Sukharevsky and enlisted in the party. Maxim Martsynkhevich, 18, his hair chopped down to a short bristle, said he seeks out trouble at every opportunity. For a time, he said, he and his friends went to a dormitory where they knew they would find Asian students. "Every day we beat Chinese there," he said. Martsynkhevich traces his animosity to 1999 when terrorist bombs blew up several apartment buildings in Russia; the blasts were widely blamed on Chechen separatists and became a primary impetus for the current war in Chechnya. His girlfriend, he said, died in one of the explosions. "The dark ones, I just hate them," he said. "I don't consider them human. It doesn't just burn me up, it drives me crazy. I look around and if I don't see any obstacles, I'll go beat up this guy and maybe even kill him and I'll have as much joy as if I bought a car." Asked if he had actually killed anyone, he demurred, but added eagerly, "I very much want to kill someone." On his hand was a bandage left over from what he said was a knife fight. After some friends were beaten up by Caucasians, he said, he went looking to even the score and found a couple of dark-skinned men at a bus stop. It did not matter that the two had nothing to do with the earlier fight. "If you beat up one, then the others will be afraid," he said. A similar rationale seemed to be behind the attacks that followed the bar fight in Krasnoarmeysk, a town of 26,000 where the textile factory shuttered in the 1990s has just reopened. Krasnoarmeysk had avoided the sort of violence more prevalent in Moscow, 30 miles southwest, yet harbored quiet resentment of the Caucasians who run much of the local market. After Igor Samoluk was stabbed, other Russians could not take out their anger on his alleged assailant because he was arrested. So they went looking for other Armenians. Vitaly Pashentsev, the town's top official, said the incident was exploited by outsiders with their own agendas. Most people in town get along well. Yet he said he remained worried about the dark impulses exposed. "Many people have negative attitudes toward the Caucasians," he said. "Sometimes I'm appalled by my own people."
'We Are the Lost Ones' The Chechens know they have been forgotten by the West. By Anne Nivat Wednesday, August 21, 2002; Page A17 The dramatic crash of a Russian military helicopter in Chechnya this week, in which more than 100 members of the armed services were killed, was a reminder to those in the West of something many of them have forgotten in recent years: The Chechnya war goes on. It may be worse then ever. Over the past three years, I have traveled extensively throughout the tiny, mountainous republic, determined to report fairly on this forgotten conflict, which the Kremlin would like very much for the rest of the world to ignore. The West needs to know that the real and intended casualties have mostly been Chechen civilians, local independence-minded governments, the Chechen economy and the people's nonaggressive Sufi Muslim culture. The Russians, lacking dramatic military successes, have managed to defuse Western criticism by designating the conflict an "anti-terrorist operation." They have depicted the Chechen people as bloodthirsty terrorists who would impose Islamic law on other Caucasian republics. Today even educated Muscovites commonly say there is nothing wrong with killing Chechen noncombatants, even babies. Returning to Chechnya in June, I was hoping to find that the situation was "under the process of normalizing," as the Kremlin puts it. High-ranking military officials have repeatedly said the "military phase has been over" in Chechnya since March 2000. Instead I found that the situation was deteriorating. Many Chechens are preoccupied with planning ways to avoid the "zachistkas," the frightening, out-of-control raids of villages by masked soldiers searching for young Chechen males. These operations are conducted every day by the Russian army. Afterward, families search out the fate of loved ones who were dragged off. In every village, young men have disappeared. Some lucky ones return after their families pay for their release. Many never come back. Chechens with whom I survived long hours of aerial bombardment during the peak of the war in winter 1999-2000 talk of their fear that any male between the ages of 12 and 60 can now disappear without a trace at any moment. I traveled in the garb of a Chechen peasant woman, a scarf tied around my head, a long skirt brushing my ankles and a satellite phone strapped to my belly. From the start, I had declined to participate in the Russian-organized tours. One day in 2000, while my colleagues visited a flower market in the capital city, Grozny, with a government escort, I was able to make my own way to an arms market a few yards away. The Russian secret services eventually found me in February 2000 and sent me back to Moscow, but I was able to return clandestinely later. The Chechens know they have been forgotten, and they no longer expect a Western intervention like that in Kosovo. They know that Western aid organizations consider the region too dangerous to venture into because of the continuing fighting and the risk of kidnapping. Food, shelter and medicine are delivered in insufficient quantities and at irregular intervals. The Chechens have become obsessed with three things: how to survive in such a hostile environment, how to pass safely through the many Russian military checkpoints on the roads and how to save their young men from being kidnapped. "We are the lost ones," Tabarka Lorsanova, 46, told me when I saw her again in June. She had said much the same thing when we first met in November 1999. She had fled Grozny for a nearby village in the south of the country, which she thought was safer. Now, back home in the capital, she was trying to rebuild her life from piles of rubble where shops had once stood, now without electricity, heat or running water. Tabarka has only one son and doesn't want to lose him. In April 2001, he disappeared during a raid at the University of Grozny, in an operation that left most of the students in a state of shock. The mother remembers how she argued with the Russian soldiers who had encircled the building and prevented her from entering. After insisting for two hours, she finally made her way through with a group of other outraged parents. Ten students had been arrested, one of them her son, for the simple reason that he "didn't look like his passport picture." All ended up being released, but two had to pay a ransom of $1,800 each. Tabarka summarizes well the perplexity of the Chechen population regarding the behavior of the Russian military machine: "As soon as Putin announced that the war was finished, we understood that on the contrary the situation had gotten worse. After so many horrors, how can we possibly trust them anymore?" For many Chechens, the Russian president's declaration marked the beginning of "the era of the zachistkas." I arrived in Meskert-Yurt, a large village of 5,000 inhabitants, two days after the end of one of these "mopping-up" operations, an exceptionally long one lasting from May 21 to June 11. What I saw defies description. In late May, in a scenario that replays itself over and over, the village was sealed off -- encircled by masked Russian soldiers. Although an order from the Kremlin known as "Decree Number 80" forbade masks and mandated identification of the soldiers and of the raid's purpose, it was ignored by the perpetrators. The method in all these operations is the same: Under the pretext of searching for rebels, the military enters each house, terrorizes every family and drags away one or more civilian men, mostly very young ones, even if their documents are legitimate. A few days later, some of the families of the disappeared are informed by intermediaries of the possibility of "repurchasing" their loved ones with money or rifles. In Meskert-Yurt the majority of the houses are farms, sheltering geese, hens and turkeys, sometimes cows or horses. On a sunny Thursday afternoon, the only thing I could see were the stupefied inhabitants of the village, searching the fields and ditches in all directions around their farms to recover the bodies or body parts of their loved ones. When I met Maaka, 43, a mother of six, she couldn't even manage to cry anymore. Her three sons, Aslan, 15, Makhmud, 13, and Rashid, 11, had been killed by enraged soldiers after being horribly mutilated. She showed me their bodies lined up beside many others. I saw no military attire among the broken bones and shreds of flesh, but I did see a woman's scarf and a teenager's basketball sneakers. Eyes protruded, bloody flesh hung from crushed skulls, sometimes enough to show the expression of terror at the moment of death. On the sixth day of the blockade, some grimly determined women succeeded in passing an SOS letter to inhabitants of the nearby city of Argun, who transmitted it to the kommandantura (Russian headquarters). Alerted, the head of the Chechen administration, Akhmed Kadyrov, then tried to go to the site but was not allowed to enter. Then it was Aslanbek Aslakhanov, the single Chechen deputy of the Duma (lower house of the Russian parliament), who took a turn to try to force the blockade. On foot, through fields, he managed with great difficulty to enter the village. Four days later, the zachistka ended. Forty people had disappeared. This is the new Russian military strategy: to avoid formal combat and air bombardment and to multiply the clandestine raids under the pretext that terrorists hide in these villages. The Russians have identified four principal "terrorists" who need to be captured to end the war. I have interviewed all but one, and I had little trouble getting to their hide-outs. In three years of war, only one of the four has been eliminated, a Saudi-born commander who called himself Khattab and who died last April. In Chechnya, nobody believes Khattab was killed by the Russian secret services. It is said he was a victim of other fighters who may have wanted to remove evidence of an al Qaeda connection or who simply didn't need him anymore. The Russian army must know exactly where the rebel leaders are, thanks to information from intercepted satellite phone calls, aerial photographs and paid or tortured informants. Yet there has been no move to kill or capture any of them. Why? Perhaps because as long as the war goes on, underpaid Russian military personnel can augment their incomes by preying on the civilians. It has now become impossible to cross any checkpoint in Chechnya without bribing a soldier, usually a young draftee. And the benefits are shared with officers. When a car stops, the driver is asked for "the form number 10," which means a 10-ruble note folded inside the passport. Sometimes the soldier may ask for quite a bit more, "form number 50" perhaps. Because of this situation, fewer civilians can move around. People stay at home, even when the zachistka threatens. There is no outcry in the West about a war fought on the very edges of Europe. We seem to have heeded Russia's justification for it: that this, too, is a war on terrorism. President Vladimir Putin is welcomed as a colleague and treated as a friend -- especially after Sept. 11 -- by heads of state across Europe and in the United States. But by showing its willingness to wipe Chechen civilization off the map in order to prevent a people's independence, Russia tells us a great deal about how it might behave with its own citizens under the pretext of "maintaining order." For the time being, Tabarka, Maaka and the thousands of other mothers, elderly people and children of Chechnya wait. They have no other choice. Tabarka is living in two tiny rooms of her house in one of the most devastated neighborhoods of Grozny. A professional accountant before the war, she would like to find a job in the Kremlin-appointed Chechen administration, but that is possible only by bribing officials, and she has no money left. Her son, now 24, is in Odessa, Ukraine, trying to make a living while waiting for the war to stop. For now, she has forbidden him to return home. Anne Nivat is a Moscow-based writer. Her book "Chienne de Guerre: A Woman Reporter Behind the Lines of the War in Chechnya" won the 2000 Albert Londres Award in France.
Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 19 Aug 2002 Plans approved for rebuilding Chechen capital The Russian government has approved a plan for rebuilding Grozny over a period of five years, Interfax reported on 17 August, quoting Chechen Prime Minister Stanislav Ilyasov. Ilyasov said it is anticipated the city will have 600,000 residents. The more polluted areas in the west of the city will not be rebuilt, but instead a new district housing 100,000 people will be built on the southeastern outskirts. On 16 August, the Energy Ministry said it will spend 150 million rubles ($4.78 million) from the export of Chechen oil on restoring public buildings in Grozny to provide temporary housing, Interfax reported. Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 19 Aug 2002 New fighting in Chechnya triggers civilian exodus Renewed fighting flared up on 15- 16 August in the villages of Gekhi-Chu and Shalazhi in Urus Martan Raion between Chechen militants and federal forces, Russian news agencies reported. A spokesman for the Russian federal forces said at least 32 Chechen fighters were killed and the remainder forced to retreat. "The Moscow Times" quoted a Chechen administration source as saying that at least 12 Russian servicemen also died. Residents of villages in Urus Martan Raion began fleeing to Ingushetia to escape the fighting, according to chechenpress.com on 17 August.
AP 20 Jul 2002 ICTY wants more action By Katarina Kratovac - The Associated Press BELGRADE - The chief UN war crimes prosecutor arrived in Yugoslavia yesterday to demand better cooperation with the Hague tribunal, prompting President Vojislav Kostunica to summon the country’s top defense council to discuss the issue. Despite the 2001 handover of former President Slobodan Milosevic, now on trial for war crimes and genocide committed during the wars in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo, the UN court has been unhappy with Yugoslavia’s overall lack of cooperation. More than a dozen war crimes suspects still remain at large. Topping the list are the Bosnian-Serb wartime commander Gen. Ratko Mladic and former Bosnian-Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, both indicted for war crimes and genocide in connection with the 1995 massacre of up to 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica. Yugoslav officials have denied the two are in the country. Meanwhile, Kostunica called a session of the country’s Supreme Defense Council to consider tribunal demands for access to top military files on Milosevic. One of the documents sought is a Milosevic statement, issued shortly after his arrest in Belgrade in April 2001, in which he admitted diverting $390 million to bankroll Serb armies fighting in neighboring Croatia and Bosnia. On Thursday, Belgrade freed key former Milosevic associates from vows of secrecy they swore while in office, permitting them to testify against the ex-president without fear of prosecution at home. The decision was expected to enable Zoran Lilic, a key former Milosevic associate, to reveal confidential information. Lilic, who served as the figurehead president of the collapsing Yugoslav federation from 1993-1997, was detained last week in Belgrade and flown to the Netherlands, where he is waiting to testify. No precise dates for Lilic or Markovic’s testimonies have been set.
news source abbreviations
AFP - Agence France-Presse
AI - Amnesty International
AP - Associated Press
BBC - British Broadcasting Network
HRW - Human Rights Watch
ICC - Coalition for an ICC
ICG - International Crisis Group
ICRC - International Committee of the Red Cross
IRIN - Integrated Regional Information Networks UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Africa and Central Asia)
IWPR Institute for War & Peace Reporting (the Balkans, Caucasus and Central Asia, with a special project on the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal)
NYT - New York Times
UN-OCHA Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
PANA - Panafrican News Agency
PTI - Press Trust of India
RFE/RL - Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Reuters - Reuters Group PLC
WP - Washington Post
Prevent Genocide International
The global education project of Genocide Watch