News Monitor for February 2002
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VOA News 10 Feb 2002 6 Killed in Algerian Massacre Algerian officials say unknown gunmen have killed six people and wounded one other during an attack near the capital, Algiers. Authorities say the killings took place late Saturday in a village in the Bougara area, located about 30 kilometers south of Algiers. Officials say the victims were all members of the same family. The attack came a day after Algerian security forces said they had killed the head of the country's most radical insurgent group in a nearby town (Boufarik). However, authorities have not linked the two events. Algerian officials announced that Antar Zouabri and two other members of the Armed Islamic Group, known as the GIA, died Friday in a gunfight with security forces. The GIA is one of two militant groups blamed for many massacres that took place in Algeria during the past decade, as the government struggled to control violent attacks by Islamic extremists. The militants rejected an amnesty offered three years ago by the military-backed government of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who said he was trying to bring the country together. The uprising in Algeria dates back to 1992, when the army canceled a national election that the Islamic Salvation Front was set to win. Since then, nearly 150,000 people have been killed. Most of the victims have been civilians. Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.
AFP 31 Jan 2002 Nearly 305,000 stranded by fighting in central Angola: UN LUANDA, Jan 31 (AFP) - Some 305,000 people in central Angola cannot receive humanitarian aid because they are cut off by fighting between government and rebel forces, UN and government officials said Thursday. Another 22,000 are living in dire conditions, they said. Assistance Minister Albino Malungo meanwhile appealed to humanitarian organizations for food, tents and clothing for thousands of people who have managed to reach the cities of Camacupa and Kuito in central Bie Province. "People there have no resources," he said. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) issued a report entitled "Humanitarian Crisis in Bie" saying that people had been displaced by fighting in Bie and neighboring Huambo and Moxico provinces. Non-governmental organizations in Bie estimate that some 21,500 displaced people have yet to be registered and have so far been unable to receive humanitarian aid. Angola has suffered armed conflict for most of the last four decades, as feuding liberation movements turned their struggle into a civil war that has raged almost non-stop since independence from Portugal in 1975. The war between the government and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) has left more than 500,000 dead and forced some 4.1 million from their homes.
AFP 3 Feb 2002 Two UNITA attacks in Angola leave at least 15 dead LUANDA, Feb 3 (AFP) - At least 15 people have been killed in two attacks by UNITA rebels in different parts of Angola, according to press reports and statements from the army and rebels Sunday. At least 14 people were killed and more than 40 youths were abducted during a raid by the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) on the port of Baia Farta, the Portuguese daily Diario de Noticias reported. The paper said 150 homes and shops were sacked and 50 head of livestock stolen during the surprise attack by UNITA forces Saturday on Baia Farta, near Benguela, some 450 kilometers (280 miles) south of the capital Luanda. Baia Farta lies in an area known for fishing and tourism and has been the centre of heavy investment from Portugal. The headquarters of the African Investment Bank was among buildings looted during the raid, the paper added. Meanwhile, one civilian died and another was injured in a UNITA attack early Saturday on the town of N'Dalatando, 250 kilometers (150 miles) east of Luanda, according to army officials in the capital. The attack was led by five rebels who fled after soldiers returned fire, the army said. UNITA said in a statement that it had actually taken control of N'Dalatando, provincial seat of Kwanzu-Norte. The rebel group said it had killed 68 army soldiers and seized "a large quantity of military goods," while 12 rebels died and 21 were injured, in a statement signed by rebel leader General Geraldo Abreu "Kamorteiro." The Portuguese news agency Lusa, citing army Colonel Paulo Silva, said UNITA had attacked N'Dalatando on Saturday, but that the resulting skirmish with the army that lasted only five minutes, according to the Portuguese news agency LUSA. One woman died in the attack, as well as unknown numbers of rebels, LUSA said, citing Silva. Angola gained independence from Portugal in 1975 but the liberation war soon turned into a civil conflict that has raged in the country on and off ever since. UNITA downed a military plane with a Russian crew in an eastern province a week ago, killing some 30 people, according to Moscow.
IRIN 13 Feb 2002 Angola: ''Scorched earth'' policy condemned JOHANNESBURG, 13 February (IRIN) - The head of the Irish development agency GOAL on Wednesday condemned what he called a "scorched earth" policy by the Angolan military in the east of the country, aimed at driving people out of the bush and into the government-held city of Luena. John O'Shea told IRIN from Dublin that people were being forced from their homes in Angola's eastern province of Moxico, "and piled into a town that cannot cope with their numbers." He called on the Irish government to raise the issue as soon as possible with the UN Security Council. "I'm trying to bring attention to a running sore that nobody seems to want to know about," O'Shea said. "I want to put pressure on the Irish government to bring the people of Moxico to the attention of the Security Council." O'Shea's concerns were shared by other humanitarian workers in Angola contacted by IRIN. "The red flag we are raising is that the policy of the government seems to be the cleansing of Moxico province and a rapid resettlement of people in the Luena area without the provision of adequate services like water, sanitation and shelter," one aid worker said. "They are bringing people to Luena without ensuring that there are any safety nets when they arrive." According to a report on the crisis in Luena by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), more than 5,600 internally displaced persons (IDPs) arrived in the city from conflict areas in Moxico and other provinces during January. Around 90 percent of the new arrivals were ferried in from the countryside on board government helicopters. The bulk of the new IDPs are sent to Muachimbo, some 12 km from Luena, beyond the government's security checkpoint. Although the camp has capacity for 7,000 people, more than 8,000 have been squeezed into the facility and more are arriving. "Approximately 80 percent of the population at Muachimbo does not have access to adequate shelter or essential non-food items, including clothing, kitchen kits and blankets," the OCHA report said. An aid worker whose organisation is active in Luena, told IRIN that villagers found in areas in Moxico the military want to clear are crowded onto helicopters with little opportunity to bring anything with them. "Overland they would have some chance, but people are arriving [at Luena airport] bewildered." OCHA pointed out that many of the IDPs landing in Luena are in a critical condition. "Large numbers of children are both severely and moderately malnourished" and there are indications that "the nutritional status of the new arrivals has reached emergency levels". The report said that the most common causes of illnesses and death among the IDPs include malnutrition, diarrhoea, malaria, tuberculosis and acute respiratory infections. Angola's UNITA rebel leadership is believed to have taken refuge in Moxico - an early stronghold of the movement - a vast, under populated and remote region bordering Zambia. A long-running government offensive has sort to trap UNITA forces and their guerrilla chief, Jonas Savimbi, active in the rugged territory. Analysts suggest that as part of that operation, the government is attempting to remove the civilian population that could provide supplies and support to UNITA. Provincial authorities estimate that an additional 50,000 IDPs could arrive in Luena in the next five months. "Humanitarian partners are operating at full capacity and do not have sufficient resources to respond to additional influxes of IDPs," the OCHA report warned. An aid worker based in Luanda explained that additional problems were that the government had been slow to identify and de-mine new potential IDP sites within the security perimeter to ease the existing overcrowding at Muachimbo, and the poor condition of the landing strip at Luena airport due to the lack of maintenance. "We can't get in the number of flights needed. For 5,000 displaced you need pretty consistent resupply," she said. During the first week of February, local authorities, UN agencies and NGOs developed a plan of action to address the emergency needs in Luena. The steps include opening a new reception centre close to the airport and a local hospital where there is a therapeutic feeding centre. The humanitarian conditions at Muachimbo are also targeted for improvement, and the identification of a secure alternative IDP site. Repairs to Luena airstrip are also a priority.
AFP 5 Feb 2002 Angola's army says 23 rebels killed during weekend attack LUANDA, Feb 5 (AFP) - Angola's army killed 23 rebels while fending off a weekend attack on the south-central port town of Baia Farta, the military said in a statement Tuesday. The army also rescued all those abducted by rebels during the Saturday raid by the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), the statement said, without specifying how many people were involved. The Portuguese daily Diario de Noticias reported Sunday that 40 people had been kidnapped. At least 10 and as many as 14 people were also killed during the attack on this small coastal town, near the industrial city of Benguela, 450 kilometers (280 miles) south of Luanda. The rebels pillaged and looted homes, according to witnesses quoted by state television, which broadcast images of houses and public buildings riddled with bullet holes. The attack on Baia Farta took place shortly after another rebel attack Saturday on the town of N'Dalatando, 250 kilometers (150 miles) east of Luanda, which left one person dead, according to the army. Angola gained independence from Portugal in 1975, but the liberation war soon turned into a civil conflict that has raged in the country on and off ever since.
Natonal Post (Canada) 8 Feb 2002 Outcry mounts over future of Bushmen Botswana says 700 natives must leave their traditional Kalahari homeland: Water supply to be cut Corinna Schuler National Post Stephen Corry, Survival International The Bushmen of the Kalahari say they will use bows and arrows to defend their only water pump. Botswana's government is determined to oust the last surviving Bushmen from a remote game park in the Kalahari Desert this week by cutting off their only water supply -- a pump the tribal bands have vowed to defend with bows and arrows. This latest attack on "Africa's first people" has enraged human rights campaigners in southern Africa, provoked questions in the British parliament and set activists planning protests in four European cities. "This is undoubtedly the final chapter in the appalling story of injustices which have been suffered by the Bushmen for centuries," says Stephen Corry of Survival International, the London-based lobby group that is staging the demonstrations. He even goes so far as to call the forced removal of Gwi and Gana Bushmen genocide. Botswana calls it modern reality. "People are free to live as they like," says Major-General Moeng Pheto, the man in charge of the Remote Area Development Program. "But if they stay in the game reserve, they will have to do it without supplies from the government." Botswana, which has a history of good governance that is rare in Africa, insists it cannot afford to keep the water pumping. But diamond resources make the country one of the richest on the continent and, in any case, offers of funding from the European Union have gone unanswered. At the centre of the controversy are 700 men, women and children known locally as Basarwa, "people who have nothing." They live in six mud-hut villages inside the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and want to stay on the land where their ancestors hunted more than 20,000 years ago. If the government cuts off their water, they face a stark choice -- give up the land and their link to ancestral graves or die of thirst. The government is downplaying the mounting opposition and there is no way to obtain independent confirmation of what is happening inside the park. But one Gwi Bushman reported this week that dozens of police and government officials had arrived to oversee the dismantling of the pump. "People are frightened," Xlaexlan told lobbyists at the First Peoples of the Kalahari. "The government is saying it will cut off all supplies. My sister is leaving, and my mother and father are emotionally sick because of what is happening ... They say the army is coming in." Xlaexlan, who was born and raised on the reserve, is one of the few residents who speaks English. He said some tribesmen are guarding the pump at night. "They are planning to defend it with what little they have -- bows and arrows," says Qose Xukuri, a First Peoples spokeswoman. The vast Central Kalahari Game Reserve was created by the British in 1961 to provide a haven for the Bushmen and the game animals on which they depend. But the fact is the Bushmen no longer fit the quaint stereotype portrayed in such Hollywood movies as The Gods Must be Crazy. The park's residents swapped animal skins for jeans and runners long ago. They still hunt with bows and arrows, but instead of chasing animals on foot, they ride horses and use packs of dogs. In the old days, Bushmen survived the desert by collecting water from tubular plants, then storing it underground in ostrich eggshells. Today, the Basarwa cannot live in the wild without outside help. For decades, the government supplied water, trucked in food and dispatched mobile health clinics. Then, five years ago, it announced plans to move all Basarwa out of the park and into relocation camps, saying they should be in more settled communities where services could be provided more easily. At least 1,200 Bushmen were lured to the camps with promises of schools, clinics, fresh water and a "resettlement bonus" of five cows. The army trucked out hundreds of others and bulldozed their huts before an international outcry put an end to forced evictions in 1998. Life in the government camps proved bleak. "Those of us who have gone to the settlements know that there are so many problems there," says Ms. Xukuri. "So many people are left with nothing, depending totally on government for handouts. They are just drinking alcohol. We are becoming poorer and no one is hunting." Lobby groups suggest the government is trying to clear the park to make way for tourist developments and diamond mines. Several companies hold mining concessions within the reserve and De Beers has already sunk an exploratory shaft near the Bushmen community of Gope. Others believe Botswana is simply embarrassed by the Bushmen. "How can you have a Stone Age creature continue to exist in the age of computers?" asked Festus Mogae, Botswana's President, back in 1996, when he was vice-president. Five years ago, Botswana promised Britain, its old colonial master, that officials would never again force people to leave the park. But it has finally lost patience with the 700 holdouts. First, it accused them of "over-hunting" and limited licences for each man to three large antelope a year. Last month, it stopped the health clinics and food trucks, and now it has announced plans to dismantle their only water pump. This week, the water continued to flow while government officials tried to persuade people to register for the relocation camps.
BBC 3 Feb 2002 Massacres alleged in Burkina Faso Human rights activists in Burkina Faso have accused the authorities of carrying out wide-scale extra-judicial killings as part of a campaign to curb armed robberies. The Burkinabe Human Rights and People's Rights Movement said its members had reported discovering more than 100 handcuffed and bullet-riddled bodies in the three months to early January. It said such executions were just as unlawful and unacceptable as the activities of the bandits being targeted by the security forces. There has been no reaction to the allegation from the Burkinabe authorities.
BBC 5 Feb 2002 Burkina Faso denies massacres The government says security forces acted in self-defence The Burkina Faso Government has denied allegations that security forces have carried out a series of extra-judicial killings of suspected criminals. The denial follows reports by human rights activists that they found more than 100 handcuffed and bullet-ridden corpses. They accuse the authorities of carrying out the killings as part of a campaign to curb armed robberies. The Burkinabe Security Minister, Djibril Bassole, acknowledged his forces had killed a number of suspected criminals. But he said his officers had no choice but to defend themselves against what he called armed and dangerous bandits. Abandoned corpses The allegations came in a letter from secretary general of the country's Human Rights Movement, Chrysogone Zougmore. He said that between mid-October last year and the beginning of January this year, his organisation found a total of 106 bodies. The corpses had either been disposed of in swampy areas, dumped on the road side, or just left for vultures, dogs and crocodiles to feast on. He placed the blame for the deaths squarely on the security ministry which has recently embarked on an operation to rid the cities and highways of armed robbers. Only last week, newspapers published pictures of nine bodies found in the north of the country, close to the border with Mali. Mr Zongmore said the security forces had very intelligent and able officers who were capable of arresting suspects and bringing them to trial. Otherwise, he said, there was a danger that innocent people could be executed, under the guise of upholding law and order. He added that those who gave the orders for the killings were just as guilty as those who carried them out. Call for proof At a press conference on Tuesday, Minister for Security Lieutenant Colonel Djibril Bassolet questioned the numbers issued by the Human Rights Movement. He acknowledged that some killings had taken place, but he insisted that none of those had been extra-judicial, saying many bandits were using highly professional and dangerous weapons. Colonel Bassolet said members of the security forces had no choice but to defend themselves. He said the government was doing its best to protect its citizens by providing security around the country. But if the Human Rights Movement had any proof of extra-judicial killings, he said the group should submit it to him and he would investigate it.
IRIN 27 Feb 2002 BURUNDI: Twelve killed in ambushes NAIROBI, 27 Feb 2002 (IRIN) - A total of seven soldiers have been killed in the past few days in rebel ambushes in western Burundi, Burundi's Radio Publique Africaine (RPA) reported on Tuesday. On Monday afternoon, a vehicle travelling from Bujumbura to Rumonge, fell into a rebel ambush at Nyarukona in Gitaza zone, RPA said. Five people, including a soldier, were killed while four civilians were kidnapped during the incident and the vehicle burnt. In another ambush in Bubanza Province, northwestern Burundi, six soldiers were killed in an ambush on Tuesday morning as they were walking to Kivyuka market in Musigati commune, it reported. It said the soldiers were allegedly killed by rebels who recognised them. The attack was reportedly to avenge the death of Louis Sinabajije, a former leader of the rebel Forces pour la defense de la democratie (FDD), who was gunned down last week during a confrontation with the regular army, RPA added. Kivyuka market was deserted immediately after the exchanges of gunfire intensified between the assailants and the army, who had come to the rescue of their slain colleagues. A security official in Burundi confirmed to IRIN on Wednesday that the reported incidents had taken place, adding that there have been infiltrations by rebels from neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo. He added that soldiers have been trying since last week to flush out rebels in the Rukoko valley and Mutimbuzi area in western Burundi.
Africa News Service, Inc. 5 Feb 2002 West Africa; Regional Seminar On International Criminal Court BYLINE: UN Integrated Regional Information Networks BODY: The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) held a three-day regional seminar last week in Abidjan on the statute of the International Criminal Court(ICC). The aim of the conference, attended mainly by senior officials of ECOWAS member states and law specialists, was to inform the regional experts on the role and purpose of the Court, its powers and its methods of operation, ICRC's regional office in Abidjan said in a statement. Participants were also briefed on the measures countries need to take to implement the statute of the Court. At the end of the conference, three recommendations were adopted, including one calling on those West African countries that have not ratified the court's statute to do so. Countries were also urged to implement measures to facilitate cooperation with the Court once it becomes effective, and to strengthen legislation prohibiting violations of international humanitarian law. Six of the 15 ECOWAS states - Benin, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone have ratified the statute of the proposed court. Eight others - Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d'Ivoire, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia and Niger - have signed but not yet ratified, ICRC said. Togo has done neither. The statute of the ICC was adopted in Rome on 17 July 1998. According to ICRC, 49 countries have so far ratified it. It will come into force two months after its 60th ratification. The ICC will judge those deemed most responsible for violations of international law including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
AFP 2 Feb 2002 Thousands flee violence in DR Congo town: UN GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo, Feb 2 (AFP) - Almost 13,000 people living on the edges of a city in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have fled into the city centre to escape increasing violence involving rival groups, UN sources said Saturday. They said they feared a humanitarian crisis in the city of Kindu, where clashes were occurring between the Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD), the Rwandan-backed rebel group that rules much of the region, and members of a militia group known as the Mai-Mai. A UN coordination office for humanitarian aid in Goma, located near the DRC's border with Rwanda, said clashes between the RCD, supported by Rwandan government forces, and the Mai-Mai were taking place almost daily. The region was only 30 percent accessible to humanitarian groups, and water supplies and sanitation in Kindu were suffering as a result, the UN said in its latest daily information bulletin. Kindu, the capital of Maniema Province, is due later this year to host some 2,000 members of the UN Observer Mission in the DRC (known as MONUC from its French initials). The Mission is supposed to help disarm rival factions under a peace agreement. The UN office said that on January 25 a team from the British charity Merlin were held up by Mai-Mai fighters on the road leading from Kindu to Kalima. It said three members of the team who were abducted by the group were later released unharmed. A member of Merlin confirmed the report. An independent source confirmed that insecurity was increasing in areas around Kindu. Humanitarian problems in and around Goma were vastly increased last month when lava from a nearby volcano ploughed into the town, causing widespread devastation and sending several hundred thousand people fleeing.
BBC 6 Feb 2002 Lumumba's son hails Belgian apology Francois Lumumba, the son of Congo's first prime minister, has welcomed the "sincere regrets" expressed by Belgium over his father's 1961 assassination. "This recognition by Belgium is a determining step, a sign of political courage that must be congratulated," he told reporters. Belgium apologised for the first time on Tuesday for the killing of Patrice Lumumba who led Congo, later Zaire, to independence from the former colonial power. This follows a Belgian parliamentary commission's conclusion last November that Belgium did bear moral responsibility for the killing. The assassination has long been blamed on both Belgian intelligence and the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). At the time, Africa was one of the battlegrounds in the Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union. 'Indifference' "The government feels it should extend to the family of Patrice Lumumba ... and to the Congolese people, its profound and sincere regrets and its apologies for the pain inflicted upon them," Foreign Minister Louis Michel said. Lumumba: Liberator or agitator? Mr Michel said Belgium had demonstrated "apathy" and "cold indifference" towards Lumumba. Lumumba is the only elected leader in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo since it won independence from Belgium in 1960. A charismatic nationalist, he was overthrown four months after he took office, and was later murdered, aged 35. A Belgian commission of inquiry has heard testimony that Lumumba could not have been assassinated without the complicity of Belgian officers backed by the CIA. Colonial past In the chaos and factional fighting after independence, Lumumba was abducted by Congolese rivals, taken to the breakaway province of Katanga and killed. Two years ago, a book claimed Belgium had been responsible for the logistics behind the killing. But some have suggested that Lumumba's political rivals may have been to blame. The parliamentary inquiry and debate are being seen as a way for Belgium to come to terms with its colonial past, correspondents say. Sign of contrition Belgium is setting up a Patrice Lumumba fund, worth over $3m, in what correspondents describe as an effort to make amends. It will make an annual contribution of nearly $500,000 to the fund. Its aim is to help Congo's democratic development by financing conflict prevention, legal and youth projects. In a similar move two years ago, Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt apologised to the people of Rwanda for his country's attitude during the 1994 genocide.
Reuters 6 Feb 2002 Congo seeks more than apology for Lumumba's murder February 6, 2002 KINSHASA, Congo (Reuters) -- The Congolese government Wednesday applauded Belgium's apology for its role in the 1961 murder of independence hero Patrice Lumumba but said it wanted reparations and other countries should admit their part. Belgium's government apologized Tuesday for its role in killing Lumumba, an outspoken critic of colonialism, months after he was elected as the former colony's prime minister. "Saying sorry doesn't help. We are looking to ask for some kind of reparations -- not only for the family of Lumumba, but also for the Congolese people," the Democratic Republic of Congo's information minister, Kikaya Bin Karubi, told Reuters. "Democracy was killed with Patrice Lumumba and as a result, we have suffered decades of misery in this country," he said. Lumumba was shot on January 17, 1961, by police in the breakaway province of Katanga in the presence of Belgian police and officials, seven months after being elected to lead the huge Central African state after independence the previous year. Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel expressed his government's "profound and deepest regrets" for Lumumba's death, admitting that some members of the Belgian government of the time "carry an irrefutable part of the responsibility." A Belgian parliamentary commission concluded last November that Belgium was morally responsible for Lumumba's death, saying the government and Belgium's late King Baudouin knew of plans to kill Lumumba but did nothing to thwart them. But the commission found no evidence that Belgium had directly ordered his assassination. "We would also ask everyone else who was involved to do a similar investigation," said Karubi. "I'm referring to the United Nations, the United States and Russia because this country was the theater of the Cold War and that's what led to the assassination of our prime minister." Lumumba's anti-colonial stance and his overtures to the Soviet Union enraged and alienated Western powers. Since his death, the former Zaire has seen little stability. It is now trying to end a messy regional conflict that began in 1998 when Ugandan and Rwandan-backed rebels tried to oust the government, in turn supported by Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola. "The apology will help the peace process because anything that unites Congo at a time like this is good," said Karubi. Michel, an aspiring peace broker in the Congo war, promised 3.75 million euros ($3.27 million) to a foundation created in Lumumba's name to promote democracy in the Congo. In a previous attempt to make amends for its dark colonial past, Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt apologized for his country's failure to do more to try to prevent the 1994 genocide in neighboring Rwanda, another former Belgian colony.
AFP 17 Feb 2002 Uganda deploys troops in DR Congo to quell ethnic clashes KAMPALA, Feb 17 - Uganda has deployed troops in the northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where some 200 people are feared dead in ethnic clashes, a military spokesman said Sunday. Bantariza Major Shaban Bantariza told AFP by telephone that soldiers of the Ugandan battalion stationed in Bunia town were deployed early Sunday to quell the unrest, sparked by a land dispute. "If the commander in Bunia feels that the capacity he has is not enough to contain the situation, then we shall withdraw some of the troops that were recently sent ... to beef him up," Bantariza said. Reports on Saturday said that that Lendu tribesmen attacked their Hema rivals at Kparanganza, 25 kilometres (15 miles) north of Bunia, in the early hours of Friday, killing around 200 people. A spokesman for the Hema community told AFP in the Rwandan capital Kigali on Saturday that Lendu militia had attacked the village in the early hours of Friday, while everyone was asleep. Bantariza said that casualty figures had yet to be verified, but pledged that the situation would normalize following the deployment. Bantariza said Saturday that the Ugandan military deployed in the area had hesitated to deploy "because its intervention in the past had attracted criticism that Uganda was biased in favour of the Hemas." Uganda recently said that the United Nations had consented to its new deployment of troops in the DRC, but Bantariza said that the two battalions still in the country should be spread out. Uganda has troops in the country to back one of two main rebel movements, the other backed by Rwanda, against the Kinshasa regime, which has enjoyed the military support of Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia. All parties to the conflict signed a peace accord in 1999, but only Namibia has withdrawn all its troops from the former Zaire.
Witness to Horrors 'Black Livingstone: A Tale of True Adventure in the Nineteenth-Century Congo' by Pagan Kennedy Reviewed by Samantha Power Sunday, February 10, 2002; Page BW05 BLACK LIVINGSTONE A Tale of True Adventure In the Nineteenth-Century Congo By Pagan Kennedy Viking. 237 pp. $24.95 If ever there was a man suited to go undercover to document Belgian atrocities in the inaptly named Congo Free State in 1899, it was the seasoned African-American missionary William Sheppard. Sheppard had mastered several African dialects, had gained privileged access to the impenetrable Kuba kingdom, and had earned an unusual reputation as a Christian more devoted to improving African lives than to saving African souls. So Sheppard was not altogether surprised when Malumba, tribal chief of the Pianga region, proudly showed him 81 hands: the evidence of a ghastly massacre he had just orchestrated. In fact, it was not Sheppard's "Africanness" that had earned him Malumba's trust: It was his whiteness. He was the Mundele Ndom, "the black white man," and Malumba wrongly assumed that all white men (even the black ones) were loyal to the vast Belgian apparatus that had ordered the massacres in its pursuit of the country's coveted rubber riches. With Malumba's unwitting help, Sheppard, decked out in his trademark Panama hat and white linen, collected graphic written and photographic evidence of the atrocities carried out at Belgian bidding. After personally counting through the clenched and open-palmed hands, a sickened Sheppard contributed reports to the century's first human-rights crusade: the campaign to end the Belgian horrors that pillaged the Congo and left more than 10 million of its citizens dead. Pagan Kennedy offers this and other stories in her biography of the man she calls the "Black Livingstone." Sheppard's trail-blazing accomplishments certainly warrant the effort. The son of a barber, Sheppard was raised in Virginia and schooled at Booker T. Washington Hampton Institute and at the Tuscaloosa Theological Institute in Alabama. For an African American even to reach Africa as a Southern Presbyterian missionary was a feat -- and one Sheppard could not accomplish until he could find a white colleague to accompany him. Sheppard gained fame not because of his race but because of his thunderous exploits, which ranged from big-game hunting and landscape architecture to anthropological foraging and art collecting. He won admission to the Royal Geographic Society, paid visits to Queen Victoria and to President Grover Cleveland. His most lasting contribution was probably the new image of Africa he communicated to packed churches on his trips back to the United States. While other missionaries sought to impose Christian doctrine and Western structures on the African continent, Sheppard was an open-minded and curious observer. He found himself dazzled by the cultural richness and complexity of the societies he encountered, visions he impressed upon church colleagues and open-mouthed audiences back home. Kennedy offers a smoothly written tale of Sheppard's life, and is to be commended for bringing his extraordinary story to greater prominence. But when she comes up against barriers to understanding, she is too quick to engage in what she herself calls "speculative biography." For example, she speculates that "most wondrous" for Sheppard "would have been his newfound liberation from the race hatred of the American South"; how he "must have looked forward" to the return of Sam Lapsley, his white friend and fellow missionary; and how Kubaland, the dazzling, orderly kingdom he was the first Westerner to penetrate, "must have reminded him of the American South." Kennedy continues: "In both places, his survival depended on his ability to play-act, to go under a false identity, to hide his true impulses and feelings -- and most important, to stay on the good side of men who could easily kill him." For a biographer not to decipher fully the motives and fears of a character is forgivable. The surviving paper trail for Sheppard's life is far thinner, for instance, than the treasure troves of material that Edmund Morris brilliantly mined to depict Sheppard's contemporary Theodore Roosevelt, with whom Sheppard shared considerable bravery, a love of the outdoors and a rare charisma. But Kennedy's flights of fancy and her constant efforts to superimpose on Sheppard's struggles in Africa the indignities he suffered in the Jim Crow South (not documented in any detail in the book) start to tire the reader. To attempt to tie Sheppard's adventures together, Kennedy stresses his ability to adapt to an unnerving and often terrifying variety of wildernesses -- that of the deep South, the deep jungle and the inner unknown. He is, she reminds us again and again, a "shape-changer." But she worries about what she calls "the cost of such stupendous adaptability." She asks, "Who was he under all the different masks and costumes?" Despite Kennedy's admirable and fond scavenging into Sheppard's past, he proves inaccessible. In her frustration, his biographer goes too far in offering answers and attempting to tidy up a character who defied categorization and simple moralizing. • Samantha Power is the author of the forthcoming " 'A Problem From Hell': America and the Age of Genocide."
Al-Ahram Weekly Online 14 - 20 February 2002 Issue No.573 Putting out the fire Sectarian clashes between Muslims and Copts in an Upper Egyptian village are "under control", according to the police. Amira Howeidy could only get as far as neighbouring Maghagha to check the facts -- Bani Wallnems has been cordoned off since Sunday (photo: Yousri Aql) -- Sunset in the town of Maghagha, north of the Minya governorate in Upper Egypt. Accross the lush green fields, farmers depart for home, some with their cattle and sheep and others laden under huge bunches of clover. The call for the maghreb (sunset) prayer soars from village to village. It is very quiet, too much so perhaps. It is difficult to imagine that only a day before this scene of pastoral innocence turned ugly. On Sunday, 11 February, clashes between the Muslim and Coptic inhabitants of Bani Wallnems village, 30km from Maghagha, broke out leaving 11 injured, including two policemen. Part of the newly-constructed Al-Azra (The Virgin Mary) church and five houses belonging to Copts were torched, three cars destroyed and an entire village left in shock. Fifty people have been arrested in connection with the events. Heavy security forces have cordoned off Bani Wallnems since the clashes erupted preventing anyone from entering or exiting the village. Even the press -- rather, specifically the press, as an angry officer stationed at the entrance to the village made clear -- were denied entrance. "Go back," he shouted firmly at the Al-Ahram Weekly team. More than a dozen armed members of the Central Security Forces and assorted policemen blocked the entrance with the help of an armoured vehicle. "No one is going in. These are orders," they said. A statement, issued by the Interior Ministry a few hours after the clashes affirmed that the situation was "under control" and that the security apparatus succeeded in containing the violence which, according to the statement, was nothing more than a "minor incident." However, some of the inhabitants of Maghagha and the villages near Bani Wallnems reluctantly recounted scenarios of what they heard or think happened. Amm Hegazi, a local taxi driver, put it this way. "More than 30 or 40 Central Security Force vehicles were speeding up and down town in a state of frenzy yesterday. I heard that the whole thing began when the exaggerated ringing of the Church bells drowned out the call for the fagr [dawn] prayers coming from an adjacent mosque. This provoked the Muslims. One thing led to another and the clashes happened." Speaking on condition of anonymity, a local residing in the Nazlet El-Asr village, half a kilometre from Bani Wallnems, told the Weekly that, "the church was always there but recent extensions have made it as high as 15 metres. The adjacent mosque has similarly been extended upwards. On Sunday, instead of ringing the church bell briefly, Louka -- a school secretary whose uncle is a priest -- went on and on ringing. When some Muslims objected, he took his gun and shot at them." Since then, he said, "those armed men in green [anti riot squads] have occupied the village and enforced a curfew. It's been extremely tense." Following the clashes, all the injured were transported to the Maghagha Central Hospital and released on the following day, Monday. Hospital officials speaking to the Weekly said that the injuries were "slight." Security officials, however, were not commenting. The Maghagha prosecutor said that those arrested -- of whom 19 are juveniles -- will be held in custody pending the investigation. Forensic experts, said the prosecutors, are collecting evidence at the scene. The Coptic Orthodox Church had yet to issue a statement as Al-Ahram Weekly went to print. Sources close to the Church told the Weekly that it sent a fact-finding mission to Bani Wellnems but, when approached by the Weekly, the Bishop of Maghagha declined to comment. According to the Minya Governor, Major-General Hassan Hemeida, efforts are underway to hold "reconciliation talks" between Muslim and Coptic figures in Maghagha and Al- Minya. Inside the Bishopric of Maghagha, a crowd of young Coptic men were gathered at the entrance, whispering amongst themselves. "Tell them what really happened, Hanna," a young man urged his friend. Hanna complied but would only say, "We've always lived in peace with Muslims. This whole thing has been blown out of proportion. We live peacefully," he told the Weekly as shouts from the dozens who surrounded Hanna silenced him. "No one but the Bishop will say the truth," they echoed. But the Bishop is "upset" and will not speak to the press. The village remains isolated. The whole thing could be a minor incident as the Interior Ministry's statement said. But who can verify this? "Denying the press access to the village is a mistake" the governor told the Weekly. The police's heightened sensitivity may have been a result of the bloody incident of sectarian strife that occurred over two years ago. On New Year's Eve of 2000, violent clashes erupted when a trade dispute went out of control in the mainly Coptic village of Al-Kosheh in southern Egypt. Twenty Copts and a Muslim were killed. A court in the Sohag governorate acquitted most of the defendants and issued light sentences on the rest. This triggered Coptic anger. The verdict was contested and a retrial was recently accepted. Muslim-Coptic relations have soured over the past two decades, particularly in Upper Egypt. Observers attribute this to the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and to the fact that the south of the country remains underdeveloped and lacks basic services, such as electricity and fresh water, in many of its provinces. Critics argue that the official approach to the problem has focused on the security dimension -- such as tracking down Islamic militants -- at the expense of development. Will the disturbances and the social criticism implicit in them find a listening ear? "Nothing will damage Muslim- Coptic relations, in one week; everything will return to normal", the governor of Minya was quoted as saying. Bishop Aghathon of Maghagha on the other hand asserted that "our Muslim brothers stood by our side during the clashes." For Amm Hegazi, the important thing now is "to get those security people out of the village. We want everything back to normal so that we can watch TV and follow up on what happened to Bin-Laden, the man who shook America," he said with a wink.
AFP 4 Feb 2002 Liberia reports fierce rebel fighting in six northern areas MONROVIA, Feb 4 (AFP) - Liberian rebels and government forces have been locked in bitter combat since Friday in six zones in the country's north and northwest, defence officials said here Monday. A defence official, quoting frontline government commanders, told reporters that fighting was raging in Belle Fassama and Belle Baloma in Belle District, Lower Lofa County, about 200 kilometres (125 miles) northwest of Monrovia. He said clashes were also ongoing at Geingbai in Gbarpolu County, some 120 kilometres (75 miles) from here. He said the two sides were vying for control of the northern provincial capital of Voinjama, as well as the towns of Masambolahun and Kolahun -- all some 300 kilometres north of Monrovia. Kolahun, which had been a rebel stronghold for several months, was wrested on December 25 from rebels of the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) group. But the official could not say whether rebels had re-established a grip on Kolahun, which the Liberian government says is their main supply route to Guinea. The intensification of fighting comes in the wake of reports that LURD rebels were using VHF radios captured from government troops to intercept government military communications. An Armed Forces of Liberia captain from the embattled region told reporters that government troops had intercepted a rebel communication claiming they had launched 'Operation Spare No POWs'. Since 1999, forces loyal to Liberian President Charles Taylor have been fighting rebel factions in the north who had opposed Taylor during Liberia's bloody 1989-1997 civil war. Meanwhile, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) on Monday said in a statement issued in Abidjan that it had completed the delivery of emergency food rations to over 11,000 internally displaced persons in the region.
Reuters 12 Feb 2002 Citing Emergency, Liberia Rounds Up Youths By REUTERS ONROVIA, Liberia, Feb. 11 (Reuters) — In a roundup that it justified by a state of emergency, the government has put scores of street youths in jail, officials said today. The city, Liberia's capital, was frequently the scene of deadly street fighting during a civil war in the 1990's. It has been on edge since rebels struck 22 miles away on Thursday. Security forces have since driven the rebels back. But the police said they had locked up the youths for terrorizing residents and would keep them until their parents came. The human rights group Amnesty International accused President Charles Taylor's forces of using the emergency as a cover for rights violations, including forcible recruitment. Liberia's return to chaos has raised concerns in neighboring Sierra Leone, where Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain, over the weekend, hailed efforts that ended a war by Liberian-backed rebels.
AFP 14 Feb 2002 Over 700 refugees flood into Sierra Leone from Liberia: UN FREETOWN, A total of 729 refugees have been brought across the border from neighbouring Liberia into eastern Sierra Leone within the past three days, UNHCR official Chris Hambrouck told AFP Thursday. According to the official, 356 refugees were moved from Gendema Town to Blama on February 12, and a "direct convoy" from Sinje to Blama in the south brought in 243 people the next day. She disclosed that a second convoy also brought in 130 people by truck on the same day bringing the total to 729 people. "We shall continue to bring in more refugees who are wishing to come," she said. Reports from the area reaching the capital say that the refugees appear to be "in relatively good shape." According to a State radio correspondent, the refugees speak of soldiers of the Liberian army terrorising camp dwellers, seizing their properties and demanding money. "We are grateful to be back on Sierra Leone soil and to reshape our lives once more," Brima Morovia, a refugee was quoted as saying.
SAPA-AFP16 Feb 2002 UN monitoring Liberian refugees Freetown - United Nations peacekeepers are "monitoring" the flow into Sierra Leone of refugees fleeing fighting between rebels and government forces in Liberia, the head of UN military operations in Sierra Leone (Unamsil) said on Saturday. General Daniel Opande, who heads Unamsil, said on a UN radio programme here that the peacekeepers were "prepared to assist and ensure that there are no security implications". "The concern for us now is the refugees and returnees coming to the border," Opande said. Liberian President Charles Taylor declared a state of emergency last week when rebel activity was reported near the capital, Monrovia. "We have not seen any major concern that will affect security," Opande said, adding: "The potential for weapons coming from any of our borders is very real so we have to take precautionary measures." Unamsil oversaw a sweeping disarmament programme under which more than 43 000 former fighters in Sierra Leone laid down their weapons between May last year and January 2002. The disarmament initiative was part of a peace accord signed last May between the government, Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels who unleashed Sierra Leone's brutal civil war in 1991, and the UN
Business Day (Johannesburg) 15 Feb 2002 OAU And UN Appeal for Peace in War-Torn Liberia February 15, 2002 Matthew Tostevin The Organisation for African Unity urged Liberia's warring factions yesterday to stop fighting and voiced concern for thousands of refugees in the war-torn west African country. OAU's plea came as Liberian authorities pursued their crackdown on suspected rebel sympathisers in Monrovia and revived exit visas to check who planned to "chicken out" and flee. In New York, United Nations Security Council members deplored the violence and said the government should take "effective actions to respect human rights and the safety of civilians". On Monday, UN SecretaryGeneral Kofi Annan called for an end to fighting, expressed concern for the stability of the west African nation and urged neighbouring countries to keep armed groups from using their territories to launch attacks. The capital, Monrovia, scene of bloody street fighting in a 1990s civil war, has been on edge since rebels struck just 35km from the capital last Thursday. Fighting is continuing and thousands of refugees are spilling into the capital and neighbouring Sierra Leone. 15 February, 2002, 11:39 GMT More unrest in Liberia Liberians are used to fleeing first and asking questions later By Mark Doyle West Africa correspondent Gunfire and unrest is continuing north of the Liberian capital, Monrovia. Latest reports say unidentified gunmen opened fire on Wednesday in the town of Tubmanburg, about 60 km north of the capital. The government says it is prosecuting a war with rebels known as Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD). Tens of thousands of people have been made homeless after fleeing gunfire in recent weeks. The residents of Monrovia are frightened and trying to work out what is going on. Sympathy? But the problem with pinning down what is happening in the Liberian war is that the government may have an interest in playing up the unrest. Liberia is under United Nations sanctions because of what the UN says is its illegal involvement in gun running and diamond smuggling with neighbouring Sierra Leone. The theory, circulating among some Monrovia residents, is that President Charles Taylor is using the humanitarian crisis caused by this war to get sympathy for the sanctions to be lifted. This theory is only half true. There is a real rebellion in Liberia - a rebellion which has caused thousands of people to flee their homes. Liberia's army can be ill disciplined However anyone who has spent time in this country knows that much of the unrest is caused, not by rebels, but by undisciplined government army soldiers. Ordinary people caught between a rock and a hard place are terrified of the rebels but wary of government troops as well. When the gunfire starts they very sensibly run first and ask questions later. Tens of thousands of them have done just that.
BBC 8 Feb 2002 Liberia declares state of emergency The Liberian army says it is poorly equipped Liberian President Charles Taylor has declared a state of emergency as armed rebels appeared to be gaining ground on the capital Monrovia. The president made the announcement hours after rebels attacked Klay, just 35km (22 miles) north of the city, although he made no reference to the fighting. Forces loyal to President Taylor have been fighting rebel factions in the north of the country since 1999. Earlier this week, Defence Minister Daniel Chea said the government army was fighting an unfair war because of an international ban on selling weapons to the Liberian Government. Last week, the rebels briefly captured the village of Sawmill just 80km from Monrovia, causing thousands of refugees to flee. Rebels poised "The arms embargo and the government's inability to fully cater to the economic and social well-being of its citizens warrant the declaration of a state of emergency," Mr Taylor said on state radio and television. Thousands of refugees have fled the latest fighting "The state of emergency will be lifted only circumstances which warranted this action are removed," he said. Rebel spokeman Charles Bennie told the BBC's Focus on Africa that they would soon be in control of Klay junction, on the main road to Monrovia. Information Minister Reginald Goodridge confirmed to the same programme that they were in the area. Rebels had earlier told Reuters news agency that thousands of rebel fighters were poised to strike Monrovia and could take the city in 72 hours. They said they wanted the president to resign and leave. Liberia has repeatedly accused neighbouring Guinea of backing the rebels, spearheaded by the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (Lurd). The defence minister has said that if the arms embargo was lifted, the army could defeat the rebels within a month. The international ban was imposed because Liberia was accused of selling diamonds on behalf of the rebel movement in neighbouring Sierra Leone. The government said in January that the sanctions should be lifted because the war in Sierra Leone has officially been declared over. Fractured forces Lurd is thought to be led by former chief of staff Charles Julu, who served in the former regime of president Samuel Doe, assassinated in 1990 after Mr Taylor launched an insurgency. Taylor won elections but now faces security problems The rebels gather many of the forces that fought Mr Taylor during the country's brutal civil war from 1989 to 1997. Rebels claim to be active in northern Liberia, and the government has sent military reinforcements there to deal with them. But the situation is also confused by a variety of pro-Liberian government militias in the region, some of which are reported to have clashed among themselves. Our West Africa correspondent says the conflict in Liberia is complex and fragmented, with no clear rebel front-line outside Monrovia. He says the rebels - if they exist as a coherent force at all - are a mixture of dissidents opposed to President Taylor and elements who would best be described as bandits.
IRIN 25 Feb 2002 MALAWI: Party youths attack paper JOHANNESBURG, 25 Feb 2002 (IRIN) - Malawi's independent press is the latest casualty of political intolerance in the region, the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) said in a statement. Youths allegedly affiliated to the ruling party abducted a reporter and assaulted the editor-in-chief and several other staffers of a privately owned Lilongwe newspaper, The Chronicle, the media watchdog said on Friday. Some of the assaults allegedly took place outside a police station. "Youths belonging to the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) Young Democrats and the National Intelligence Bureau (NIB), an official intelligence body ...(on) 22 February, literally broke into" the paper's offices. They abducted a reporter and fled with him in an unmarked Land Rover, MISA said. Publisher and editor-in-chief, Robert Jamieson, told MISA he and his son gave chase in his car. "We managed to contact the para-military police, the Police Mobile Force, who helped us to force the Land Rover into a police station," Jamieson was quoted as saying. MISA alleged the police looked on as "the party thugs assaulted Jamieson, his son who also works at the paper, and the reporter, Mallick Mnela. They accused them of writing ill of President [Bakili] Muluzi and the UDF". The Chronicle said of the incident. "Politically related violence has been given as one reason [why] Denmark has withdrawn all aid to Malawi and [why] Britain and the United States have withheld funding for budgetary support." The paper said it was not the first time that police had "stood helplessly by as UDF cadres openly attack people seen to be out of step with government". "Although this is not the first time that the Young Democrats [the UDF's militia] have targeted individual journalists in the country it is the first incidence of them visiting a newsroom to terrorise staff and threaten dire consequences (for) writing critically on government's performance." The paper warned that "political analysts have indicated that this behaviour by Young Democrats could see the death of critical and accurate reporting in the country and a return to repression and autocracy".
ICRC 21 Feb 2002 Press Release 02/15 . Niger: African conference pledges greater protection for civilians Geneva (ICRC) – The African Parliamentary Union's first Conference on International Humanitarian Law for the Protection of Civilians during Armed Conflict in Africa came to a close on 20 February with the adoption of a Final Declaration.* The Conference, held in Niamey, Niger, was attended by delegations of parliamentarians from the following countries: Algeria, Angola, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Côte d'Ivoire, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Guinea, Kenya, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Senegal, Sudan and Tunisia. During the Conference, participants exchanged views on the protection of vulnerable people during armed conflicts and discussed possible parliamentary action to ease their plight. The Final Declaration highlights the concern of parliamentarians over the proliferation of armed conflicts and other forms of violence in Africa, which have caused immense suffering among civilians and violated the norms of international humanitarian law. It also stresses that there could be no better prevention than good governance, the rule of law and respect for human rights. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) urges parliamentarians to fulfil their pledges, in particular by playing an important role in bringing about accession by States to humanitarian law treaties and ensuring that those treaties are reflected in national legislation and fully implemented. The participants also committed themselves to paying particular attention to the plight of refugees and displaced persons and to preventing the recruitment for military purpose of children under 18 years of age. One of the Conference's aims was to encourage parliamentarians to use all the means at their disposal to facilitate parliamentary discussions on humanitarian law treaties and to ensure that States and all parties to armed conflict honoured their obligations, in particular to respect the rights of the victims of armed conflict and the dignity of all individuals. The participants also undertook to provide independent humanitarian organizations, in particular the ICRC, the National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and their International Federation, and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, with unimpeded access in times of armed conflict to civilians in need and to facilitate the free flow of humanitarian supplies. In order to keep up the momentum created by the Conference, the first of its kind, and to generate further debate on humanitarian law and related issues, the parliamentarians requested the African Parliamentary Union to set up a coordinating committee in charge of follow-up activities. * http://www.uafparl.org/, http://www.ipu.org/
AP 4 Feb 2002 Nigerians Flee More Ethnic Clashes By GLENN McKENZIE, LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) - Thousands fled neighborhoods of Nigeria's largest city Monday during a third day of ethnic violence that has killed at least 55 people and injured 150, officials said. Fighters carrying machetes, swords, slingshots, bows and arrows vastly outnumbered police officers. There are long-standing hostilities between the mainly Muslim Hausas and the Yorubas, most of whom are Christians and animists. The Hausas dominate Nigeria's north, while the Yorubas are the main tribe in the southwest. The violence was the latest blow to the polluted and crime-ridden city of Lagos, which still is recovering from explosions at an army weapons depot that killed at least 1,000 people last week — many of them women and children who fell into a canal and drowned during a late-night stampede to escape the explosions. Nigerian Red Cross President Emmanuel Ijewere said his organization had counted 55 bodies by late Sunday and was helping care for more than 150 people with gunshot, machete and other serious wounds at area hospitals. But witnesses spoke of dozens more killed overnight in clashes in the streets of Idi Araba and Mushin, impoverished Lagos neighborhoods where the fighting between Yoruba and Hausa tribal fighters began Saturday. Residents said the violence spread overnight to the nearby neighborhoods of Fadeyi of Onipanu. Soldiers were deployed Monday to help contain the fighting. In the morning, an Associated Press photographer saw a mob of Hausas hacking to death a suspected Yoruba militant with cutlasses and machetes. The body of another man was lying outside the area's main hospital bordering the neighborhoods. Seventeen burned, mutilated bodies were counted by AP reporters Sunday. Plumes of black smoke rose from several square miles of slums Monday, and fleeing witnesses said thousands of homes were razed. Gunshots reverberated through nearly abandoned streets. Elsewhere, streams of residents carried on their heads whatever belongings they could. Hundreds of people — mostly Hausa women, children and elderly men — sought refuge at the Abalti army barracks, near Idi Araba. Officials said they would soon be transferred to a camp set up at the Ikeja police college to house thousands of people displaced by the deadly explosions last week. Some Hausa residents said members of a Yoruba militant group, Odudua, attacked Hausa homes and an Idi Araba mosque Saturday. The Yoruba fighters said the Hausas made the first move. Many others said the fighting began with a neighborhood squabble. Hundreds of police moved in Sunday to impose a nighttime curfew. But the violence resumed after midnight when some witnesses said Odudua members burned homes believed to be owned by Hausas, shot at residents and threw homemade petrol bombs. That could not be independently confirmed. "We carried my grandmother from my house while they were shooting at us," said 30-year-old Mohammed Gorlunu, a fleeing Hausa resident. "My neighbor's house was burning when we left and maybe mine is burning now, too." Police appeared to have retreated by Monday morning. The handful of remaining officers were vastly outnumbered by fighters toting machetes, swords, slingshots, bows and arrows. "Only the army can stop this now. The police are not helping us any more," said Lateef Alawsa, a 35-year-old Hausa collecting glass bottles to make petrol bombs. Africa's most populous country is riven with ethnic, religious and political divides. Thousands have been killed in periodic violence since President Olusegun Obasanjo won 1999 elections, ending 15 years of brutal military rule. Although a former military officer, Obasanjo is a Yoruba and the army traditionally has been dominated by Hausas. Thousands of people in the city of 12 million lost their homes in the explosions at the weapons depot. Authorities planned a mass burial of unclaimed bodies for Monday or Tuesday.
BBC 12 Feb 2002 Nigerian politicians 'inciting violence' Democracy has not brought stability Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has repeated accusations that politicians are orchestrating the violence that is threatening to tear his country apart. Mr Obasanjo has warned that the nation's fragile democracy has become a battleground for political opportunists backed by private armies who are exploiting ethnic and religious differences to gain power. Rioting since the return of democracy three years ago has left more than 10,000 dead. Just last week, riots in Lagos left 100 people dead. Our people are deliberately misled and galvanised to take up arms against each other President Obasanjo And "There is no large-scale violent activity in our nation today, communal religious, ethnic... that has no substantial political undertones," Mr Obasanjo told Nigerian leaders, in a speech released on Monday to journalists. He said Nigerians were being deliberately misled into taking up arms against each other thinking they are protecting dearly held values and interests. Cynicism "In fact they merely serve as the foot soldiers of cynical political strategists," he said. Obasanjo is expected to seek re-election in 2003 Nigerians lived under military rule for almost three decades, and our correspondent says there are already strong indications that the political campaigns for elections due to be held in early 2003 will be turbulent. After 15 unbroken years of military rule, it was hoped that a civilian government would bring greater social stability and a platform for sustained economic growth but this has not materialised. "Our nation is in danger of being caught in a vicious cycle where only those who have no respect for our laws or morality will find their ways into making laws for us and determining how we live our lives," Mr Obasanjo said. Parliament Mr Obasanjo's unhappiness with politicians, has also spread to taking action in the parliament. A senior MP said the president had ordered the suspension of salaries and allowances paid to members of the House of Representatives. Eziuche Ubani, spokesman for the speaker of the lower chamber, said the January and February allocations due to the House had not been paid. President Obasanjo is reported to have written to parliament last week demanding details of full payments. He is said to have requested urgent information about how the allowances were calculated. MP Dr Ahmed Lawan told the BBC that Mr Obasanjo's decision may be linked with a controversy surrounding a new electoral law. Mr Obasanjo is alleged to have made amendments to the draft without consulting parliament.
AP 3 Feb 2002 Understanding How Violent Mind Works By Rodrique Ngowi KIGALI, Rwanda –– Seven years after more than half a million people perished in the genocide that also shattered Rwanda's economy, the small central African nation is still trying to figure out how to deal with the aftermath and prevent a repeat of the horror. Survivors of the 100-day government-orchestrated slaughter recently invited Jews, American Indians, Aborigines, Bosnians and Armenians to their capital city to learn from their experiences. The Rwandans discovered that learning how to prevent genocide may, at least in part, come from insights gained from studies in public mental health. Genocide, the wholesale attempt to wipe out an entire people, is often preceded by such warning signs as delegitimization, dehumanization, scape-goating and devaluing of potential victims. Peering into the minds of potential perpetrators of genocide may help to prevent it, said Reva Adler, a public health specialist at the University of British Columbia in Canada. Strengthening the rule of law and democracy are the most effective safeguards against genocide, the foreign participants said at a conference organized by the New York-based Group Project For Holocaust Survivors and Their Children and IBUKA, a coalition of Rwandan associations of genocide survivors. Conventional methods of preventing genocide involve diplomacy, military intervention and mobilizing military allies. "But these are all very late-stage primary interventions," Adler said, "mobilized when things look bad." Public health scientists "believe that it is possible to study the minds of people before they commit genocide and understand what they are thinking and change it," she said. Adler proposes logging episodes of violence in societies at risk and analyzing what type of violence is being perpetrated, then interviewing people who commit violence to figure out what is on their minds when they do it. The next step is to "design intervention that would make it clear that although they think they are going to gain esteem, power and protection from violence, in fact something else is going to happen – they are going to get hurt, go to jail and will look stupid," she said. The approach has worked in prisons and schools in the United States, Adler said, and mental health experts have found that people's attitudes and behavior do change. By combining what was learned from studying perpetrators of genocide during World War II and interviewing individuals in societies at risk of erupting into mass killings, scientists expect to find a health intervention that actually changes public attitudes, Adler said. Rwanda is struggling to reconcile its society, reconstruct its shattered economy and bring to justice those involved in the genocide organized by the extremist government of the Hutu majority then in power. The slaughter of minority Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus was triggered by the mysterious shooting down of the plane carrying Hutu President Juvenal Habyarimana to Kigali on April 6, 1994. The genocide ended July 4 when Tutsi rebels led by now President Paul Kagame captured Kigali and formed a government made up of both Tutsis and Hutus. At least 120,000 Rwandans are imprisoned in Rwanda awaiting trial on charges connected with the genocide. Another 51 have been detained by a U.N. tribunal in neighboring Tanzania on charges of masterminding the mass killings. A U.N. peacekeeping force in Rwanda when the genocide began was withdrawn by the Security Council despite pleas from its Canadian commander. Council members, including the United States, refused to call the mass killings a genocide until several months later. Promoting tolerance and mobilizing international public opinion are good preventive measures against genocide, said Jerry Fowler of the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. "(But) building a society based on the rule of law and respect for human rights for all without regard for group identity is the best and first measure toward preventing genocide," he said. In an effort to foster good relations and prevent the country's Hutu majority from feeling that they are marginalized, the Tutsi elite that wields considerable power in the government has appointed Hutus to key posts. The government has also set up the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission and is seeking to encourage all Rwandans to heal by speeding up trials of genocide suspects through a traditional community-based justice system known as "gacaca."
AFP 12 Feb 2002 -- Heavy fighting claims 19 lives in southern Somalia MOGADISHU, Feb 12 (AFP) - At least 19 people were killed and 28 wounded in heavy inter-clan fighting Tuesday evening in the southern Somali town of Bardera in Gedo region, an eyewitness and faction sources told AFP. Eight of those killed were civilians, the witness said. The fighting, which continued into the night, engaged gunmen of the Somali Reconciliation and Restoration Council (SRRC) -- a coalition of opposition warlords -- and gunmen allied to the Mogadishu-based Transitional National Government (TNG), Adan Haji Hussein Barale, a prominent elder told AFP. A source in the SRRC, who confirmed the fighting, said SRRC men briefly occupied Bardera but were pushed back. At least seven houses were burnt by the fighting, Barale said. One heavily armed vehicle was destroyed inside Bardera. In Baidoa, the SRRC headquarters town 250 kilometers (155 miles) northeast of Bardera, the opposition exhorted residents to show their support. "Come and support the SRRC, let us fight the TNG, we shall give a lesson to the Mogadishu government," blared loudspeakers mounted on cars. SRRC spokesman Mohamed Aden Ali Qalinle, who described the fighting as "very heavy", said more gunmen would be sent to Bardera later in the evening.
AFP 15 Feb 2002 -- Somali peace talks set for April in Kenya NAIROBI, Feb 15 (AFP) - A national reconciliation conference aimed at creating a broad-based government for strife-torn Somalia will be held in Nairobi in April, regional foreign ministers said Friday. The conference, bringing together Somalia's Transitional National Goverment (TNG) and other factions will be convened "during second half of April", foreign ministers from members states of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) said after a meeting that ended late Thursday. Somalia last had a fully recognised national government in 1991, when the regime of president Mohammed Siad Barre collapsed. The country plunged into factional bloodletting as rebel leaders who had waged war against Barre turned on each other to battle for territory and resources. Thirteen previous reconciliation conferences have failed to restore stability to the Horn of Africa country. The ministers described the situation in Somalia as "grave" saying that terrorists and extremist groups had taken advantage of the anarchy. "The committee (of ministers) observed that the absence of a central authority over the last decade in Somalia had created a situation whereby terrorists and extremists groups operate freely in Somalia thereby threatening the national security of neighbouring countries," they said. US officials have repeatedly expressed concern over the presence in that country of groups or individuals believed to be linked to al-Qaeda, the terror network allegedly responsible the September 11 attacks in the United States. The TNG came into being in 2000 after lengthy inter-clan talks in Djibouti, but has so far failed to exert its authority beyond certain areas of the capital, Mogadishu. The leaders of most armed factions in the country oppose the TNG under an Ethiopian-sponsored umbrella group known as the Somali Restoration and Reconciliation Council. Kenya, Djibouti and Ethiopia, whose foreign minister Seyoum Mesfin attended Thursday's meeting, will form a technical committee of three "frontline states" which will prepare the details of the planned reconciliation conference. The committee's task will be to "draw up the terms of reference for the conference, determine the criteria for participation, decide on the number of participants and monitor and guide the peace process," the communique said. It will also prepare the budget for the peace process, but the responsibility of looking for the money was left to the IGAD secretariat and the council of ministers. The ministerial commitee appealed to the international community and humanitarian agencies to continue providing aid to Somalia. "In particular, it appealed for the active involvement of the United Nations in the national reconciliation process, in the rehabilitation and restoration of peace and stablity in Somalia". IGAD groups seven east African states -- Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Uganda and Somalia. The transport minister in Somalia's transitional government, Abdi Mohamed, attended the meeting's opening ceremony on Thursday, but his presence was not acknowledged in the final communique. Leaders of the armed oppostion have always demanded that TNG be treated like any other faction and not a sovereign authority in Mogadishu.
Reuters 18 Feb 2002 -- U.N. evacuates some staff as Somali clans fight MOGADISHU, Feb 18 (Reuters) - The United Nations said on Monday it had evacuated international staff from a southern Somali town as a precaution after fighting among rival factions reportedly killed 36 people. Witnesses said gunmen from both sides were killed in the second outbreak of fighting this month in Bardhere district of Gedo region 400 km (250 miles) west of Mogadishu between factions using heavy machineguns. The witnesses said 36 people were killed. In Nairobi, a U.N. spokesperson said the world body was temporarily evacuating foreign staff from Baidoa town to neighbouring Kenya as a security precaution but was keen that they return as soon as possible to work on drought relief. The fighting pitted a faction friendly with neighbouring Ethiopia known as the Somali Restoration and Reconciliation Council (SRRC) against the Juba Valley Alliance, aligned to Somalia's fledgling transitional national government (TNG). The witnesses said the fighters of the Juba Valley Alliance took control of the Bardhere district at the end of several hours of clashes that began shortly after dawn on Monday. Some witnesses said the Juba Valley Alliance militiamen were expected to try to advance on Baidoa in the next few days, where the SRRC has its headquarters and where workers on several U.N. humanitarian projects are based. Eight people were killed in an outbreak of fighting between the two groups in Bardhere on February 12. ``We have relocated international professionals out of Baidoa and they will be moving via (the northeastern Kenyan town of) Mandera to Nairobi. This action was prompted by information about clashes this morning,'' the U.N. spokesperson said. ``We are concerned about regaining access as soon as possible due to understandable concern about a deteriorating humanitarian situation caused by drought.'' The spokesperson declined to say how many staff were being moved. U.N. international staff remain at work in other parts of the south, as well as in the centre and north of the country. Various U.N. agencies have 100 international staff and 400 local staff to help 750,000 of the country's most needy people in the chaotic Horn of Africa country of seven million.
IRIN 26 Feb 2002 SOMALIA: At least 12 killed in Mogadishu fighting NAIROBI, 26 Feb 2002 (IRIN) - Fighting erupted in Mogadishu's southwest Medina district on Monday morning, leaving at least 12 people dead and an unknown number of others wounded, local sources told IRIN on Tuesday. The fighting broke out at 1000 local time (0700 GMT) when militia loyal to Mogadishu faction leader Muse Sudi Yalahow attacked supporters of Umar Mahmud Muhammad Finish, his former right-hand man and deputy, a local resident said. Both Yalahow and Finish belong to the Da'ud subclan of the Abgal clan. The fighting died down on Monday evening, but resumed on Tuesday "when Yalahow forces supported by troops of [faction leader] Husayn Aydid attacked our positions", Abdullahi Shaykh Hasan, a spokesman for Finish, told IRIN. The fighting started when Yalahow's forces tried to recapture the Jazira airstrip, which is currently controlled by troops loyal to Finish, Abdullahi said. Yalahow lost the airstrip last December. According to other sources, Finish's forces destroyed a "technical" (pick-up mounted with heavy weapons) belonging to Yalahow and captured an unarmed pick-up. The same sources said the death toll was likely to be higher than the figure being reported "because many civilians are being buried where they died". Yalahow is the leader of the United Somali Congress/Somali Salvation Alliance and a senior member of the Somali Reconciliation and Restoration Council (SRRC), a grouping of southern factions opposed to the Transitional National Government (TNG) of Somalia. Finish, on the other hand, joined the factions which signed a peace deal with the TNG in the Kenyan town of Nakuru last year - he is now a TNG ally. There is a reported lull in the fighting, but "no actual truce has been agreed", Abdullahi said.
News 24 South Africa 7 Feb 2002 PAC: Charge Mbeki with genocide Cape Town - The Pan Africanist Congress wants President Thabo Mbeki charged with genocide for his government's "shameful" response to the threat of HIV and Aids. "Only the dim-witted and those consumed by misguided loyalty or ideology will fail to realise that South Africa, and Africa's greatest challenge is the HIV/Aids epidemic," PAC health secretary Costa Gazi said on Thursday. He said of the more than 36 million people that were living with HIV/Aids, 75% were in sub-Saharan Africa, and with 1 700 to 2 000 new infections daily, South Africa had the highest rate of infection. "The South African government's response to this epidemic is scandalous and shameful. "Rather than continue to stand on the sideline, and remain prisoners of hope, we intend as the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania to bring charges of genocide, alternatively culpable homicide, against the President and the government of South Africa," Gazi said. The President's office brushed aside Gazi's threat. PAC wants a water-tight case "He is talking the kind of nonsense that is not worth responding to," Mbeki's spokesperson Bheki Khumalo said. Gazi - the former head of public health at Cecilia Makiwane Hospital at Mdantsane, East London - said the party was still discussing plans, but were determined to follow through with the charges. "We are still formulating an approach, we want to be sure of which is the best way to take up the point." Asked when these charges would be put before South African courts, he said: "As soon as possible... but we know the courts are slow, and we know government will appeal, so we have to present a water-tight case." Gazi threatened a similar charge against then Health Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in early 1999, but it never reached the courts. The department of health slapped a R1 000 fine on him for bringing Dlamini-Zuma into disrepute, by suggesting she be charged with manslaughter for refusing to provide pregnant women with AZT. Later that year, Gazi requested the SA Human Rights Commission take Mbeki and new Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang to court over the AZT issue. Cemeteries are getting full Gazi said on Thursday that instead of prioritising the life of its citizens, South Africans had witnessed an unforgivable display of inaction from those entrusted with leadership. "We have been treated to discredited and pseudo-intellectual debates by President Mbeki. "These have proved to be nothing more than a pot pouri of misrepresentations, denials, half-truths, distortions, misreading of text, all spiced with frightening intellectual dishonesty. "While the political/scientific furore continues, cemeteries are getting full as large numbers succumb to the epidemic," he said.
AFP 13 Feb 2002 -- UN protests bombing of village after food drop KHARTOUM, Feb 13 (AFP) - The United Nations office in Khartoum has issued an official protest to the Sudanese government against the aerial bombing of a southern Sudanese village in which two children were reported killed, a UN source said Wednesday. "A (verbal) protest was delivered to the foreign ministry (Tuesday)," the source said without specifying further. The UN World Food Program (WFP) said earlier that it would protest the weekend bombing in Bahr el-Ghazal state during a raid by a government aircraft, just after it had dropped food onto the village of Akuem. Sudan's embassy in Washington said the Khartoum government so far had no confirmation of the bombing.
AFP 13 Feb 2002 -- Sudan expresses "profound regrets" for bombing KHARTOUM, Feb 13 (AFP) - The Sudanese government expressed its "profound regrets" on Wednesday for bombing a southern village and killing two children, blaming the air strike on a "technical error. " The foreign ministry pledged in a statement that there would be no repeat of last weekend's bombing, which happened while villagers had gathered to receive aid from UN World Food Program (WFP). The bombing sparked protests from both the UN agency and the United States. "The government expresses its profound regrets for this deplorable incident which was the result of a technical error and was not a premeditated act," the ministry said, without elaborating on the "technical error. " It said that the government "expects to take all necessary measures to prevent a repetition of such regrettable incidents. " The WFP had said the plane dropped six bombs on the village of Akuem in the southern state of Bahr al-Ghazal, killing two children and wounding a dozen people, just as people gathered for one of its food airdrops. The United States on Tuesday strongly condemned the bombing. "The United States is outraged by the government of Sudan's aerial strike against a civilian target in the south of the country," US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said in a statement. "This horrific and senseless attack indicated that the pattern of deliberately targeting civilians and humanitarian operations continues. " The south of Sudan has depended for years on food aid, as millions of people suffer from drought and forced displacement caused by fighting between the Sudanese army, various militias, and rebels of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), engaged in an 18-year civil war against the Khartoum regime. Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail said on a visit to Nairobi earlier in the day that Khartoum has made an unconditional ceasefire offer to the southern rebels. The ceasefire offer, which has already been communicated to the SPLA, would be unconditional, and international observers would be invited to monitor the truce, Ismail said.
IRIN 27 Feb 2002 SUDAN: Anti-torture group expresses concern at amputations NAIROBI, 27 Feb 2002 (IRIN) - The World Organisation Against Torture (OMTC) on Tuesday expressed its urgent concern that the government of Sudan appears to have resumed the punishment of amputation of limbs, "and that it is beginning systematically to execute sentences of amputation given in 2000 and 2001". It said in a statement that it had received information from one of its partner organisations, the Sudanese Victims of Torture Group (SVTG), that 46-year-old Anthony James Ladou Wani had had his right hand amputated on 24 January after his conviction on charges of stealing motor-vehicle spares. Wani was sentenced in May 2000 after a trial in which he had no legal representation, because he was unable to pay for it, and had been detained since in Kober prison, in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, according to the Swiss-based organisation. It was being alleged that Wani - a Christian member of the Kakwa tribe in southern Sudan - had not received a fair trial, that there had not been enough evidence to convict him, and that judicial procedures had not been followed properly, it added. The punishment of amputation "is against the Government of Sudan's international obligations, with regards to Article 5 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 7 of The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights", according to the OMTC. The use of amputation as a punishment was also prohibited under the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which has been ratified by Sudan, it said. In its statement, the OMTC called on Khartoum to "immediately stop the inhuman practice of amputation" and to abolish the use of amputation - enshrined in the Sudanese Criminal Act 1991 - as a method of punishment. It also urged the Sudanese authorities to commute all sentences of amputation, ensure access to legal representation and guarantee a right of appeal for all individuals. Muhammad Ahmad Dirdiery, charge d'affaires at the Sudanese embassy in Nairobi, told IRIN on Wednesday that amputations were among the punishments set out under Shari'ah law, and which are practiced through out the Islamic world, not just in Sudan. "The punishments are part of our religion. Amputation as a punishment occurs throughout the Islamic world, so why single out Sudan?" he asked. International human rights conventions to which Sudan is a signatory do not prohibit the Islamic interpretation of human rights, according to Dirdiery. "Because we are part of those conventions does not means we are denied our right to practice Shari'ah. There is a cross-cultural interpretation of human rights, and the Euro-northern hegemony of culture is not our interpretation," he said. He added, however, that such punishments were rare, and said they had only taken place twice since President Umar Hasan al-Bashir came to power in 1989. The OMTC statement on amputations came just days after another alert, on 19 February, in which it followed other rights groups in expressing concern for the pregnant, 18 year-old Abok Alfa Akok, who had reportedly received 75 lashes after sentencing by the criminal court in Nyala, Southern Darfur State, on 12 February. The court had originally sentenced Akok to death by stoning for allegedly being pregnant out of wedlock, but an appeals court overturned that and sent the case back to the lower court for fresh sentencing, Reuters news agency reported on 10 February. The original ruling was made in line with Shari'ah [Islamic] law, even though Akok - a member of Sudan's Dinka tribe, the largest ethnic group in the south - was Christian, according to Reuters. The US-based Human Rights Watch expressed its deep concern on 1 February, including in a letter to Sudanese President Umar Hasan al-Bashir, about "barbaric punishments" in Sudan. It specified Akok's sentence of death by stoning and the use of amputations as a punishment. [see http://www.hrw.org/africa/sudan.php] Sudan is committed to respecting the human rights of everyone under its jurisdiction and believes that this goal is compatible with the country's Islamic and African traditions, according to the Advisory Council on Human Rights of the Government of Sudan. It says it accepts information from any individual, nongovernmental organisation or governmental organisation considered relevant to improving human rights in Sudan, and invites such people or groups to bring alleged violations of human rights to its attention so that it can try to take action to end or prevent them. [see http://dcregistry.com/homepages/suahrc.html]
Reuters 5 Feb 2002 Rwanda Genocide Witness 'Walked Over 60 Bodies' ARUSHA, Tanzania - A witness at the U.N. tribunal for Rwanda described Tuesday how she walked over 60 bodies to escape militiamen during the 1994 genocide, the Internews agency reported. The prosecution witness, identified as GAG to protect her identity, described one attack in which Hutu militia separated women from other victims to rape them before killing them. ``We're going to rape you and taste Tutsi women,'' she said she heard the militiamen say. The witness was testifying at the trial of a former Rwandan minister charged with involvement in the genocide in which ethnic Hutu extremists slaughtered an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and Hutu moderates. Former Higher Education Minister Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda, 48, has pleaded not guilty to nine counts including genocide, crimes against humanity and rape. GAG, who lost two of her seven children during the massacres, said she had been forced to pick her away over corpses strewn around a house owned by a pastor named Nkuranga, hoping he would protect her. She said the pastor had chased her and other refugees from the compound to be killed on Kamuhanda's orders. ``The God of Tutsi has abandoned you,'' she quoted the pastor as saying. GAG, who was left for dead during one attack, said she hid in a forest for 11 days before she was rescued by the Tutsi-dominated Rwandan Patriotic Front that seized power after the April-July genocide. ``I was unconscious...I drank rain water to come to my feet...I was two months pregnant,'' she said. Kamuhanda was arrested in November 1999 in central France where he had been staying since March 1998. The trial continues.
BBC 6 Feb 2002 Rwanda priest leaves Italy for tribunal Father Seromba was based in Florence from 1997 A Rwandan Catholic priest has left Italy to face genocide charges at the war crimes tribunal in Tanzania, officials have said. Father Athanase Seromba has been sheltering in the diocese of Florence since 1997 despite calls for him to be handed over. "Father Athanase, who has always affirmed his innocence, wanted to go to the tribunal with the intention of demonstrating his innocence before the law," the diocese said. It said that Interpol officers would escort him to the tribunal building for his own safety. Massacre allegations According to the London-based human rights organisation African Rights, Father Seromba - who is a Hutu - is responsible for a notorious massacre at his church in Nyange in 1994. Survivors claim that the priest helped to herd people into his church before ordering the building to be bulldozed to the ground. The group says Father Seromba left behind mass graves filled with more than 2,000 bodies. Father Seromba was moved to Italy soon afterwards to study.
AFP 9 Feb 2002 ARUSHA, Tanzania: A Rwandan Roman Catholic priest held responsible for more than 2,000 deaths on Friday pleaded not guilty before a UN tribunal sitting in Tanzania to charges arising out of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. "Father Athanase Seromba, former Catholic priest at Nyange parish, Kibuye prefecture... pleaded not guilty to four counts charging him with genocide, or... complicity in genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide and crimes against humanity for extermination," according to a statement released by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Seromba gave himself up to the tribunal on Wednesday, after flying into Tanzania from Italy. The 38-year-old priest has been living in the diocese of Florence since 1997 despite repeated calls by the ICTR's top prosecutor Carla del Ponte for Italy to hand him over. According to his indictment, Seromba "planned and organised (the) extermination of thousands of Tutsi (who) fled their homes in and around Kivumu commune and sought refuge at the Nyange parish to escape the attacks against them, which began on 6 April 1994. Over the 100 days that followed, between half a million and one million Rwandans were killed, most of them from the Tutsi minority, but also many Hutus opposed to the orchestrated slaughter. On the priest's orders, according to the charge sheet, the extremist militias who carried out the genocide "attacked with traditional arms and poured fuel through the roof of the church, while gendarmes and communal police launched grenades and killed the refugees." "The church was then bulldozed and its roof collapsed, killing more than 2,000 Tutsi refugees gathered inside," said the ICTR statement.
Internews (Arusha) 26 Feb 2002 "Hate' Radio Revived Killings in Kigali, Witness Tells Judges Mary Kimani Arusha The interim government in Rwanda had stopped massacres in Kigali by 9 April 1994 but the Radio Television Libre Des Mille Collines (RTLM) re-ignited the killings, a witness testifying for the prosecution in the so-called "Media Trial" today told judges at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). The prosecution alleges that RTLM was set up as a "hate" media and used to broadcast messages that incited ethnic Hutu to kill ethnic Tutsi during the April-June 1994 genocide in Rwanda. The prosecution witness -- identified only as "X" -- said he was a member of a pacification team sent round by the interim government to ask civilians and militiamen to stop violence. Violence erupted in Rwanda following the death of President Juvenal Habyarimana. Unknown assailants shot down Habyarimana's plane as it approached the capital Kigali on 6 April 1994, killing all on board. "The killings had stopped," X told the court. He alleged that Joseph Nzirorera, then secretary-general of the Movement of the Republic for National Development (MRND) party, told him bodies of those who had been killed would have to be removed and buried in a mass grave in Nyamirambo (a suburb of Kigali) because "members of the international community had began to arrive." According to the witness, killings resumed after a news item broadcast on RTLM stating that Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) soldiers were burning ethnic Hutu in the Kivugiza suburb of Kigali. However, X could not verify whether the news item was false or not. He maintains that RPF continued to deploy its soldiers despite a government announcement imposing a curfew on the city. The witness concluded his weeklong testimony against Ferdinand Nahimana, Jean Bosco Barayagwiza and Hassan Ngeze, the "Media Trial" defendants who are charged with using the media to incite ethnic hatred and massacres in Rwanda between April and June 1994. Nahimana and Barayagwiza were RTLM founding members while Ngeze is a former owner and editor of an alleged Hutu extremist newspaper 'Kangura.' All three have denied the charges. Witness X, who was granted special protection measures, has been testifying via satellite link from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) at The Hague, Netherlands. He is a former senior member of the MRND militia wing, the 'Interahamwe,' and has been a prosecution informant since 1996. Under the special protection measures, X has received a new identity, and will soon receive new traveling documents. The prosecution, led by Steven Rapp of the United States, is expected to call Georges Ruggiu, a former RTLM journalist upon the completion of X's testimony. Ruggiu pleaded guilty to persecution and incitement to genocide in May 2000 and was sentenced to 12 years in prison in June 2000. The Media Trial is held before Trial Chamber I of the ICTR, comprising Judges Navanethem Pillay of South Africa (presiding), Erik Mose of Norway and Asoka De Zoysa Gunawardana of Sri Lanka.
IRIN 28 Feb 2002 UGANDA: Army rescues 80 LRA abductees NAIROBI, An estimated 700 Ugandan soldiers rescued some 80 civilians who were captured by the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in a weekend attack on a market in northern Uganda, according to a Ugandan army official. "The UPDF [Uganda People's Defence Force] pursued the rebels 10 or 20 kilometres inside the Sudan, freed 80 civilians, and have now returned to Uganda," the army spokesman, Maj Shaban Bantariza, told IRIN on Thursday. About 300 LRA rebels on Saturday 23 February attacked a local defence unit detachment in the Agoro Market area of Lamwo County, Kitgum District, and kidnapped around 100 people - mostly men between 15 and 25 years of age. Four people, two civilians and two soldiers, were reportedly killed in the attack. Bantariza confirmed reports that the LRA leader, Joseph Kony, had been involved in the incident, and claimed Kony's presence indicated the rebel group was now in desperate need of reinforcements. "The whole of last year they were not able to make any incursions into the north and have become desperate. The weekend incident was a kind of suicide attack," Bantariza said. The US in December included the LRA - as well as the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) operating in western and southwestern Uganda - on its "Terrorist Exclusion List" under the US Patriot Act. "They are now on the terrorist list. They know the United States, Sudan, and everyone else is against them," Bantariza said. Kony has led the LRA in its guerrilla-style war against Ugandan government forces and the civilian population of northern Uganda since the late 1980s. Operating from bases in southern Sudan, and supported until recently by Sudan, it has waged a campaign of terror - brutalising, killing, and looting, destroying homes, and abducting people, particularly children, to act as fighters, sex slaves and porters for looted goods. However, it has become increasingly isolated in recent months, following the improvement of Ugandan-Sudanese diplomatic relations, as well as the Sudanese government's announcement last year that it had ended its support for the rebel group. According to Bantariza, the Ugandan army has been cooperating with Sudanese authorities to facilitate the pursuit of LRA rebels inside Sudan following incidents such as the one at the Agoro Market. "We are in contact with Sudan. We are cooperating with Sudan," he said.
IRIN 28 Feb 2002 ZIMBABWE: More political unrest reported Morgan Tsvangirai - court action over alleged television "smear" JOHANNESBURG, 28 Feb 2002 (IRIN) - Zimbabwean police arrested 31 members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in Harare on Thursday, and nine people were injured in the melee, the opposition party said. "Four truckloads with an unspecified number of police officers descended on the premises and started beating up people at random, while others surrounded the building where about 500 MDC supporters were undergoing polling agent training," the MDC said in a statement. The MDC said the 31 officials from the party's Harare provincial office were picked up as the police judged the meeting an illegal gathering under the terms of Zimbabwe's new public order law. The police were not available for comment, and international election observers could not at the time confirm the incident. Meanwhile, the MDC has begun legal action in Australia over the broadcasting of a secretly filmed videotape that appeared to show party leader Morgan Tsvangirai discussing the elimination of President Robert Mugabe. The MDC has described the film as "malicious propaganda" and an attempt to smear Tsvangirai before the 9-10 March presidential election. Zimbabwe's Vice President Joseph Msika on Thursday denied the government had charged Tsvangirai with treason over the alleged plot to kill Mugabe. "No treason charge has been levelled against him by the government, but by the press," Msika said after meeting with South Africa's Deputy President Jacob Zuma, news reports said. However, MDC spokesman Learnmore Jongwe insisted Tsvangirai had been charged with treason, when he was warned and cautioned by the police on Monday. He told IRIN that the government's denial was related to this weekend's Commonwealth heads of state meeting in Australia, and Harare's alleged desire to improved its international image. Zuma arrived in Zimbabwe for talks with Mugabe and to check conditions for a free and fair election, a statement said. He did not meet with the MDC "because it was a government-to-government visit", a spokesperson told IRIN. Based on the responses he had received from the authorities, Zuma was "confident" that legitimate polls could be held. In a related development, Zimbabwe's Supreme Court rejected revised electoral laws on Wednesday, which news reports said dealt a blow to the government. In a second setback, a High Court judge also delayed the implementation of recently passed citizenship rules that had disqualified tens of thousands of voters. The Supreme Court cancelled the General Laws Amendment Act that had given state election officers sweeping powers and contained restrictions on vote monitoring, identity requirements for voters, campaigning and voter education. Because the act was struck down by a majority in the Supreme Court, the government cannot appeal against the judgment. However, Mugabe could use his presidential powers to override the Supreme Court, as he has done in the past.
Zimbabwe, See 2002 News Monitor for Zimbawe: (News From 2001)
ICRC 7 Feb 2002 ICRC News 02/06 . Bolivia: ICRC team sent to Cochabamba following upsurge in violence The Bolivian government's campaign to eradicate by force the cultivation of coca leaves in the Chapare region of Cochabamba has met with resistance on the part of local farmers, leading to an upsurge in violence in recent weeks. In mid-January, clashes between farmers and security forces claimed several lives and left many injured. The authorities detained a large number of people accused of having been involved in the violence. A team from the ICRC regional delegation in Buenos Aires was sent to the region, where they carried out a survey of humanitarian needs from 28 to 31 January. In accordance with the ICRC's mandate, and on the basis of a permanent agreement between the organization and the Bolivian authorities, ICRC delegates visited 54 detainees, including six women. After assessing the living conditions in the various centres where they were being held, the delegates provided the detainees with material assistance. The delegates also met with local authorities, including the Governor of Cochabamba and the Director of the National Police. They spoke with leaders of farmers' groups in the region and with the President of the coca growers' unions, who was on hunger strike to protest his recent expulsion from the Chamber of Deputies. During the talks, the delegates stressed the ICRC's concern about the effects in humanitarian terms of the recent events. They underscored the need to ensure full respect for the principles of humanity applicable in such situations, especially those governing the use of force to maintain law and order, the treatment to which detainees are entitled and the respect due to the wounded and to clearly marked medical vehicles. The delegates also visited the local branch of the Bolivian Red Cross and its team of relief workers, who have brought assistance during demonstrations and skirmishes between farmers' groups and security forces.
Reuters 5 Feb 2002 Canadian forces not taking care of their own, according to report TORONTO (Reuters) - The Canadian military is not looking after some of its severely stressed soldiers within its ranks, much to the detriment of those who have witnessed genocidal slaughter in countries such as Rwanda, Canada's chief military watchdog said in a report released Tuesday. The report found that a macho mentality within the Canadian forces has discouraged some from seeking medical help for their problem, known as a post-traumatic stress disorder. "The situation will soon reach a critical point," said Andre Marin, the Canadian Forces ombudsman. "People have to realize this is a problem. Everything is not rosy." Marin's report comes as Canada begins sending 750 soldiers to Afghanistan to aid the U.S.-led coalition. Canada has also been active in a number of hotspots around the globe in a peacekeeping role, including in Africa and in the Balkans. The disorder is a psychological injury caused by the reaction of the brain to a very severe psychological stress, such as when one's life is endangered. "It's basically a problem of machoism within the forces," Marin said. "They are treated as though they are weak, as though they can't meet the demands put on them." In the report, Marin recommended the appointment of an official who would report directly to the chief of defense staff on progress in treating the disorder. "We think a coordinator is key, because a coordinator can bring all of this together," Marin said. "I expect all recommendations to be implemented." Marin said the military doesn't know how many of its soldiers suffer from the disorder and the report also recommends a databank to list soldiers afflicted by the disorder. Marin encouraged soldiers to get clinical treatment outside their bases, so as to avoid the stigma attached to suffers of the disorder. Some of those clinical treatments include medication and exposure therapy, which teaches sufferers to respond to traumatic imagery with neutral thoughts. In his report, Marin said the clinical procedures are largely successful but most important is identifying and treating those affected. The study was spurred by a complaint from a former corporal who had served in Rwanda and Croatia as a peacekeeper. The soldier, Christian McEachern, claimed he received inadequate treatment for the disorder. "We need to affect a cultural change to eliminate the stigma associated with PTSD, or any type of mental injury," said Defense Minister Art Eggleton in response to the report. "Failure to respect and properly treat our members who are suffering from these illnesses will not be tolerated."
AP 5 Feb 2002 Groups: U.S. Should Withhold Aid WASHINGTON (AP) -- The United States should withhold anti-drug aid to Colombia's military because it has failed to meet human rights conditions set by Congress, three leading rights groups said Tuesday. The criticism came a day after President Bush proposed expanding military aid to Colombia to help the country protect a major oil pipeline from guerrilla attacks. Military assistance to Colombia has been limited to the drug fight. ``In 2001, political violence increased, the massacre of civilians more than doubled in frequency, attacks on human rights defenders and trade unionists remained among the highest in the region and the perpetrators of human rights abuses continued to escape accountability,'' Alexandra Arriaga of Amnesty International said at a news conference. The State Department said it is looking into the activists' concerns and expects to decide within weeks whether Colombia has met the conditions for receiving aid. It said both the U.S. and Colombian governments have made human rights a high priority. There was no immediate comment from the Colombian government. Colombia is the main beneficiary of a $625 million package approved by Congress last year for military, police and social programs to fight drugs in the Andean region. About $100 million of the aid is military assistance for Colombia, according to the State Department. The package is a follow-up to Plan Colombia, the $1.3 billion program that provided helicopters and training to Colombian counternarcotics battalions. In both packages, Congress set human rights standards that Colombia would have to meet to receive military aid. Colombia did not meet some of the conditions under Plan Colombia, but President Clinton used a national security waiver to allow the aid to go through. In this year's package, the standards are less stringent, but the Bush administration wasn't given the option of a waiver. ``The administration is caught between a rock and a hard place, between being honest and disrupting the aid flow or misrepresenting the facts in order to keep the aid spigot open,'' Coletta Youngers of the Washington Office on Latin America said at a news conference. This year's conditions require the State Department to certify that Colombia is suspending soldiers linked to paramilitaries or rights abuses, is prosecuting those soldiers in civilian courts and is taking steps to sever all links with paramilitaries. None of the conditions has been met, said the report by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the Washington Office on Latin America. ``Certain military units and police detachments continued to work with, support, profit from and tolerate paramilitary groups, treating them as a force allied to and compatible with their own,'' it said. Paramilitaries are blamed for most of the massacres in Colombia. The State Department has listed the main paramilitary group as a terrorist organization. Rights groups met with State Department officials Friday, a meeting required by Congress under its conditions for aid. Charles Barclay, a State Department spokesman, said Colombia shares human rights concerns with the United States, noting that President Andres Pastrana and military leaders have condemned links between paramilitaries and Colombian security forces. ``The military has in fact dismissed personnel suspected of collusion with the paramilitaries,'' he said. ``The government is working to subject military personnel suspected of human rights violations to trials in civilian courts.'' If Colombia is certified as meeting the rights standards, it could receive up to 60 percent of the military aid allotted to it under the Andean package. The remaining aid would be subjected to another examination of human rights in June. On the Net: Human Rights Watch: www.hrw.org State Department: www.state.gov
AFP 10 Feb 2002 -- Weekend violence in Colombia leaves 22 dead BOGOTA, Feb 10 (AFP) - Violence left 22 dead around Colombia over the weekend, while rebel bomb attacks caused severe damage, Colombian authorities said Sunday. Five men died Saturday when armed assailants opened fire indiscriminately on a bar in the outskirts of Cali, according to the authorities. In another incident outside Cali, a rebel from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) died in fighting with army troops. And a civilian and a FARC rebel died Saturday when rebels attempted to launch an incursion on the town of Barbacoas, according to a military spokesman. Two civilians were killed and two others were kidnapped Sunday in a rebel attack on Salgar in northwest Colombia, police said. A FARC guerrilla was killed and two others were injured when a truck exploded as it was carrying four cylinder bombs intended to blow up an army training center outside Bogota. The 13th Brigade said the explosion occurred when soldiers discovered the vehicle and rebels sought to set off the explosives, causing one of the bombs to blow up, killing the truck's driver. Two rebels fled. Three more FARC rebels died in fighting with military at Acacias, army sources said. National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas early Sunday detonated a powerful bomb at Arauca, northeast Colombia bordering with Venezuela. No one was injured but the explosion caused major damage over a 300-meter (984 foot) area. Police deactivated a bomb placed at an abandoned navy base in Arauca. Meanwhile, the ELN blew up five power pylons in Northern Santander, hampering electricity services. The army said it killed five right-wing paramilitaries Saturday in San Martin, and Convencion, and captured 13 other paramilitaries in diverse operations. The army said it arrested five FARC rebels, 12 suspected criminals. A police officer and two civilians were injured early Sunday in an attack by FARC insurgents at Paz del Rio, in Boyaca.
ICRC 21 Feb 2002 Press Release 02/16 . Colombia: ICRC calls on all parties to conflict to respect international humanitarian law Geneva (ICRC) – Following the breakdown of negotiations between the FARC-EP (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia / People's Army) and the government, intensified fighting looms. In accordance with its mandate, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) reminds all parties to the conflict of their obligation to respect the rules and principles of international humanitarian law applicable to non-international armed conflicts. The ICRC stresses that all parties to armed conflict must distinguish at all times between the civilian population and combatants and between civilian property and military objectives. Attacks against the civilian population as such, as well as against individual civilians, are prohibited, as are indiscriminate attacks. The latter are attacks likely to cause incidental loss of life or injury to civilians which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated. Persons not taking or no longer taking part in hostilities, including the wounded, the sick and prisoners, must be treated humanely at all times and their lives must be spared. Medical personnel, establishments and transports are also entitled to such protection. Commanders must supervise their men so as to ensure that their conduct towards civilians complies at all times with the aforementioned rules and principles. In the last few hours the ICRC has deployed four teams of experts in emergency situations to the area in order to closely monitor developments and provide humanitarian assistance should the need arise.
NYT February 1, 2002 Mexico's Supreme Court Demanding Inquiry Into '68 Massacre By TIM WEINER MEXICO CITY, Jan. 31 — Mexico's Supreme Court is ordering the government of President Vicente Fox to investigate the 1968 massacre of student demonstrators by government troops here in the capital, perhaps the darkest chapter of recent Mexican history. Neither the government nor the military has ever officially acknowledged the gravity of the killings on Oct. 2, 1968, on the eve of the Olympic Games in Mexico City. No one has ever been charged. Official history texts used in Mexico's schools, printed by the government, erase the event. Historians and human-rights activists say roughly 300 people died, and perhaps 1,000 were injured, when plainclothes government snipers fired on a crowd of peaceful demonstrators. News of the event was suppressed and fire hoses washed the blood from the plaza. The government admitted to fewer than 30 deaths, and maintained that the students opened fire. The little documentation that has surfaced suggests that the killing was orchestrated at the highest levels of the government, with the intent of suppressing political unrest that might embarrass Mexico before the world. The most senior officials whom historians say may bear responsibility were the president, Gustavo Díaz Ordaz, and his interior minister, Luis Echeverría. Mr. Echeverría succeeded Mr. Díaz Ordaz as president in 1970. Neither man ever spoke directly about the event. Mr. Diáz Ordaz is dead; Mr. Echeverrchía has gone only so far as to acknowledge to a congressional committee, in 1998 that the demonstrators were not violent revolutionaries but the "sons and daughters of workers, farmers and unemployed people." José Elías Romero Apis, chairman of the justice and human rights commitee in the lower house of Congress, said today that the court's decision was just and that a serious investigation might implicate the two former presidents. "In Mexico, no interior minister can order troops around without the president's authorization," he said. A survivor of the 1968 killings in the Tlatelolco district, Raúl Álvarez Garín, said today that the investigation, if properly carried out, "will be like the Watergate case" in its implications for Mexico. "There are two things we want to know," he said. "Who gave the order to attack the students and what did the order say?" The court's order to the executive branch was communicated in an announcement, not a published judicial decision, and arose from a legal complaint by survivors against the government's continuing refusal to open its files on the case. The order compels President Fox to fulfill part of a promise he has been slow to keep. After he won election almost 19 months ago, ending 71 years of rule by the Institutional Revolutionary Party, he promised to form a federal commission to investigate past political abuses. The old ruling party, which still holds a plurality in Congress, and even some members of his own cabinet were steadfast against the idea. But advocates of an accounting pushed back, from inside and outside the government. Two months ago, the federal human rights commission disclosed publicly for the first time that 275 people — among them students who survived the Tlatelolco killings — had disappeared after government security forces arrested them in the 1970's. Mr. Fox now says a special prosecutor will investigate those disappearances.
WP 14 Feb 2002 Memories of Massacre in Mexico Long-Hidden Photos Detail '68 Army Shootings of Students By Kevin Sullivan; Page A21 MEXICO CITY, Feb. 13 -- A leading newspaper here has published horrific photos, kept hidden for more than 33 years, that provide the most graphic documentation ever of one of the most painful episodes in modern Mexican history. More than a dozen black-and-white photos, published in El Universal beginning on Monday, show the corpses of young people who were shot, sliced with bayonets and mangled nearly beyond recognition on Oct. 2, 1968, in a clash between students and soldiers long known here as the Tlatelolco massacre. "These are the most horrible photos ever published in Mexico," said Homero Aridjis, a noted poet and activist. He said the photos are proof that former presidents and other government officials lied for decades about the events at Tlatelolco square, which energized a generation of young activists and influenced the course of Mexican politics. Many believe the Tlatelolco massacre helped hasten the end of decades of authoritarian rule in Mexico. Popular support for the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, steadily declined after the incident. Its 71-year grip on power ended with the election of President Vicente Fox in 2000. The killings, by soldiers sent to avoid embarrassing disruptions on the eve of the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, became a rallying point for students, academics and other pro-democracy activists. The massacre, and the government's refusal to acknowledge it, sparked the formation of several anti-government guerrilla groups that dog the government to this day. Throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s, the Mexican government engaged in a "dirty war" against anti-government activists, many of whom traced their anger directly to Tlatelolco. Government officials recently acknowledged for the first time that at least 275 of the 532 people missing and presumed killed in that era were last seen in the custody of Mexican soldiers or police. Fox last month appointed a special prosecutor to investigate those incidents. Roberto Rock, editor of El Universal, said in an interview that the photos were being published now because of the "new political environment" in Mexico. He said the photos remained in a safe for decades because editors feared they were too graphic and could upset family members of the dead. Mexican army troops escort arrested demonstrators in Mexico City, October 3, 1968, after a night of violence between the army and student protestors during the 'Massacre of Tlatelolco.' Rock said he and other editors in the past never believed that publication of the photos would be enough to force the government to admit the truth about Tlatelolco. But he said the photos might be more useful now that Fox has begun looking into violent excesses by previous governments. He said the special prosecutor has asked to review the photos and that they would be turned over. Rock also noted that the Mexican Supreme Court recently ordered the federal attorney general's office to investigate the Tlatelolco incident. He said that publication of the photos might encourage others with photographs or information to come forward. Many Mexicans are skeptical of Fox's commitment to investigating the past and doubt that the special prosecutor will be able to find sufficient evidence to prosecute those who abducted and killed activists. There is also little hope here that there will ever be a full accounting of the roles of the presidents who were in office during the Tlatelolco massacre and the "dirty war" years, including Gustavo Diaz Ordaz (1964-70), Luis Echeverria (1970-76) and Jose Lopez Portillo (1976-82). PRI governments have maintained that fewer than 30 people died at Tlatelolco, while most independent estimates put the death toll at between 200 and 300. The truth has been difficult to document because the government has always refused to release records that would provide a full accounting, and security forces at the time confiscated most news photos taken that day. The photos being published in El Universal this week were taken by Manuel Rojas, a staff photographer who died several years ago. In stories accompanying the pictures, the newspaper reported that Rojas managed to hide these photos from government security agents who confiscated his other photos and negatives.
AP 25 Feb 2002 Fujimori Chronicles His Presidency By SHIGEYOSHI KIMURA, TOKYO - Former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori, wanted in Lima on suspicion of homicide and corruption, has written a book that chronicles his administration's success in crushing leftist rebels and compares the decade-long struggle to the U.S.-led war on terror. In "Alberto Fujimori Fights Terrorism," which arrived in stores here Monday, Fujimori takes credit for liberating Peru from fear by defeating the Shining Path and Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement, two groups that terrorized Peru with car bombings, assassinations and peasant massacres. Peru's government wants to try Fujimori for homicide, accusing him of sanctioning two massacres by a death squad in the early 1990s. He also faces charges including embezzlement and dereliction of duty. In the 237-page paperback, he rebuts the accusations and argues that the authoritarian measures he took in a decade in power were needed to fight the guerrillas. "I was able to exterminate terrorism, something many viewed as impossible. But once I achieved that, there were those who emerged ... saying that there should have been another way, that it wasn't necessary to sacrifice democracy," he wrote. "So then why wasn't terrorism exterminated long ago by the two previous democratically elected administrations?" Fujimori, who was in Tokyo when his government collapsed in a corruption scandal in November 2000 and has not left his parents' native Japan since, has denied any criminal wrongdoing. Peru wants to extradite him, but Japanese law prohibits extradition of its citizens and Tokyo has repeatedly said it won't make an exception. Fujimori was popular in the first half of his presidency, when many Peruvians gave him credit for reining in the rebels and ending a spiral of inflation and economic chaos. But his popularity later dived, hurt by a slowdown in economic growth and his autocratic rule. His May 2000 re-election in a tarnished vote and his close ties with his spy chief Vladimiro Montesinos, who faces criminal charges, also eroded public support. For more than a year after arriving in Japan, Fujimori communicated with the media only through a Web site, using it to criticize Peruvian authorities and their case against him. He resurfaced last month, defending his record against the leftist rebels in a lecture to students at a Japanese university. In the book, he frequently draws parallels between his battles against Peru's rebels and the U.S.-led campaign against Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network. Fujimori, who used force liberally against Peru's rebels but also invested money in the impoverished rural areas where they were strongest, warned that military might alone will not eliminate terrorism. "There has to be active development and the root of poverty has to be killed," he wrote. "In the war in Afghanistan, there has to be a shift from military weapons, with culture and development filling in the gap." The publisher, Chuokoron-shinsha, printed more than 20,000 copies of the book, which was translated into Japanese and is being sold only in Japan. Fujimori's memoirs are due out this summer, said Setsuo Sugiyama, a spokesman for the publisher. An official at the Peruvian embassy in Tokyo declined to comment on the book, saying he had not yet read it.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch February 7, 2002 Commentary : International court would help in fight against terror By David J. Scheffer Former Nuremberg prosecutor Whitney R. Harris asserted in 1999 that "basic principles of international law, derived from the common sense of suffering mankind, now govern the would-be despots of the world." We have come a long way since World War II in holding individuals, including leaders, accountable for the most heinous crimes known to humankind: genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Now the United States has declared war on terrorism and how we conduct that war will test Harris' proposition mightily. Within the last decade, several ad hoc criminal tribunals have been established or are now being developed to render justice against leading perpetrators of atrocities in the Balkans, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Cambodia and East Timor. Slobodan Milosevic, the former Serb leader, goes on trial this month in The Hague. The top leaders of the former Rwandan government responsible for the 1994 genocide are being tried by the international tribunal in Tanzania. Bringing international terrorists, like Osama bin Laden, and their governmental collaborators, like Mullah Mohammed Omar, to justice is central to the campaign, and vigilance in apprehending them cannot slacken. The United States must remain above reproach in how it treats the Guantanamo detainees under international law. But a rule of reason surely applies that enables us to apply the law and interview these men to prevent further terrorism. So far, some missteps by U.S. authorities have triggered unfortunate criticism about American intentions and methods. Witness the controversies over how to classify the Guantanamo detainees and before which court to prosecute terrorist suspects. A future weapon in the campaign against terrorism could be the International Criminal Court, which will be established soon. But even though the United States signed the Rome Treaty in 2000, the Bush administration opposes the court. It has rejected any move toward U.S. ratification due to its fear of exposing U.S. service members to prosecution. There always have been legitimate concerns about the ICC and how it would operate in a world where America's role in defending international peace and security, and now confronting terrorism, is so prominent. But when we hold others to a high standard of legal performance, they expect us to step up to the plate on the same diamond. During the Clinton administration, we were deeply engaged in the negotiations to find treaty-friendly means to ensure that American interests are protected while advancing international justice. We negotiated safeguards that would make the prospect of any American, particularly any U.S. service member, appearing before the ICC exceptionally remote. Indeed, the United States would have to demonstrate sheer incompetence for that to happen. Opposing the ICC will be a futile strategy and will undermine U.S. interests. The United States can protect our people, while joining our allies in the work of the court. Above all, we should amend federal and military law to ensure that U.S. courts can prosecute the full range of crimes in the ICC's jurisdiction. Even the staunchest opponents of the ICC have to admit the common sense of doing this. Under the court's rules, it will defer to U.S. prosecutors provided our law allows investigation of the specific crime. This would be our first line of defense against politically motivated charges, one we would use to ensure that Americans are tried here rather than by the ICC, even if the United States does not ratify the Rome Treaty. If the legacy of Nuremberg and Whitney Harris are to be sustained, the United States must resume its leadership in forging the International Criminal Court and demonstrate our unwavering commitment to legal norms in the campaign against terrorism.
ICRC 9 Feb 2002 Press Release . Geneva Convention on prisoners of war Geneva (ICRC) -The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) welcomes the United States' reaffirmation of the applicability of the Third Geneva Convention to the international armed conflict in Afghanistan, and its recognition of the treaty's importance and value. International Humanitarian Law foresees that the members of armed forces as well as militias associated to them which are captured by the adversary in an international armed conflict are protected by the Third Geneva Convention. There are divergent views between the United States and the ICRC on the procedures which apply on how to determine that the persons detained are not entitled to prisoner of war status. The United States and the ICRC will pursue their dialogue on this issue. The ICRC remains firmly convinced that compliance with international humanitarian law in no manner constitutes an obstacle to the struggle against terror and crime. International humanitarian law grants the detaining power the right to legally prosecute prisoners of war suspected of having committed war crimes or any other criminal offence prior to or during the hostilities. The United States has demonstrated its respect and support for the ICRC's humanitarian mandate and activities in past and present conflict situations. ICRC delegates continue to be able to visit all persons detained by US forces both in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, in accordance with the organization's mandate set forth in the Third Geneva Convention.
Denver Post 16 Feb 2002 editorial Learning about ourselves Traditional history classes focus on who, what, when and where, without ever delving into why. But for about 1,500 Colorado students, that has changed radically. "Facing History and Ourselves" is a powerful curriculum that helps students link the past to their moral choices today. Although launched in 1976 by the Boston-based foundation of the same name, the curriculum came to Colorado just 11/2 years ago. For that, thank Bill Gold, a retired businessman, and the many philanthropists and foundations that have supported his quest. The studies focus on the Holocaust. Rather than dwelling on gruesome concentration camps, students examine what genocide and prejudice mean to a society, "what it says about you as a people," notes Stephanie Rossi, who uses the curriculum in 10th-grade American history and 12th-grade psychology classes at Wheat Ridge High. Says Gold, "I got concerned about America being divided into various tribes - old and young, black and white, men and women, etc. If people would make their voices known and speak out, we'd be much better for it. This is what we're teaching the kids - to become responsible citizens, understanding the other guy. But first you've got to understand yourself." Gold has no illusions that prejudice will be eradicated. But, "If we only reach 5 percent of them, wouldn't it be wonderful?" In Facing History and Ourselves, students learn to think for themselves. They reflect on those who fell for Hitler's dogma and those who challenged it, demonstrating that people can make a difference. As the sign over Rossi's door reads: "If you think you're too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a room with a mosquito." The curriculum became particularly poignant in the wake of Sept. 11, says Emily Seaman, who teaches ninth-grade Introduction to Social Studies at West High. One 15-year-old designed a cube-shaped memorial, asking people to "pick a path the way for they want to live their life," with peace, harmony and equal rights for all, or hate, racism and discrimination. "Whatever path a person chooses will make good or bad to the world in the future. This is my message," the girl wrote. The outpouring of compassion from such projects has been amazing, Seaman says. Last summer, the local foundation, directed by William Fulton, launched a leadership program to teach 24 students the values of tolerance and democracy and how to extend their awareness into community activism. The curriculum also is taught at Cherry Creek and Manual high schools and at P.S. 1 and the Rocky Mountain School of Expeditionary Learning. We commend Gold, Fulton and all the others who have brought these important lessons to local students. And we hope more schools will adopt this critically important curriculum.
NY Daily News 17 Feb 2002 The Ghosts of Armenia here are ghosts in the office of state Controller Carl McCall — ghosts from another time and place that could wind up haunting the next gubernatorial campaign. Like any good ghost story, this one begins long ago. Back before World War I, when Turkey was still the Ottoman Empire, enterprising agents of the New York Life Insurance Co. began peddling policies there. They signed up 8,000 clients, half of them Armenian merchants. The attraction was obvious. A lot of these Armenians had relatives in the United States, and some planned to move there themselves. Most of them never made it. In 1915, the Ottoman Turks began the first genocide of the 20th century. More than a million Armenians were murdered. Eventually, the empire itself collapsed and was replaced by a secular Turkish government. By 1922, the New York Life Insurance Co. was aware that most of its Armenian policyholders were dead. One of its executives dryly informed the U.S. State Department that they had been "prematurely terminated" by "massacre." The new Turkish rulers cast an envious eye on the insurance money. They argued that the dead Armenian policyholders would have been Turkish citizens if they had survived. Since they hadn't, their estates should go to the government. New York Life rejected this macabre proposal. The company settled the individual claims it could verify and closed the books. Over the years, when other claimants came forward, the company had a simple demand: Show me the paper. Since the Ottomans hadn't given their victims death certificates, and the new Turkish government — its own claims denied — refused to admit genocide had occurred, there was no way claims could be documented. The company considered this tough luck. One of the supposed beneficiaries was a woman named Yegsa Marootian. She began making inquiries about her brother's policy around 1920. Almost 80 years later, her son Martin was still asking. In 1999, by now an old man, Martin Marootian filed a class-action suit against the company in California. New York Life was forced to admit it held 2,200 unpaid Armenian policies. It offered to settle with Marootian and other claimants for 10 times face value, up to a total of $10 million. Marootian turned the offer down flat. His case is now in Federal Court in Los Angeles. It's unlikely he'll live to see a penny. Others may be more fortunate. In the course of the Marootian case, Armenian community leaders noticed something interesting: New York Life did not claim that it had turned the uncollected insurance money over to New York State, as required by law. New York Life says that it long ago turned over the Armenian policies to a French company, and that it owes nothing. But McCall evidently had his doubts. Last year, the controller's office informed an attorney for the Washington-based Armenian National Institute, Jacob Toumayan, that an audit of New York Life's Armenian accounts would begin in the late spring of 2002. Toumayan was recently told that it has been moved up and is in fact underway. Will the inquiry be completed by Election Day? The controller's office refuses to even discuss its audits, let alone their motivation and timing. This leaves the way open for cynics to speculate that the audit might have something to do with the fact that there are 75,000 Armenian-Americans in New York State. Me, I'd rather believe that McCall simply wants to do the right thing and give a 90-year-old ghost story a happy ending. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Reuters 26 Feb 2002 U.S. Wants to Limit War Crimes Tribunals By Carol Giacomo, Diplomatic Correspondent WASHINGTON - Even as Slobodan Milosevic stands trial in the Hague, the Bush administration is pressing for an eventual end to the war crimes process that brought him and others charged with genocide to justice, U.S. officials and rights activists say. The administration believes the tribunals, created in the 1990s to deal with specific horrors in Yugoslavia and Rwanda, should not become a permanent fixture and that war crimes jurisdiction should be shifted to national courts. A senior U.S. official said Washington was not seeking an abrupt end to the process. But he added, "We don't expect this to extend indefinitely and the tribunals need to think about what the strategy is for shutting them down." The effort has raised concerns the United States, which was instrumental in establishing the war crimes tribunals, may be seeking to close them down prematurely. Since taking office in 2001, the Bush administration has been reluctant to engage in multilateral endeavors and is adamantly opposed to a separate and permanent international criminal court. U.S. officials have also expressed concern over the enormous expense of such trials, which cost $100 million a year to operate. Carla del Ponte, chief prosecutor for the Hague tribunals, said in November she was starting to consider an "exit strategy" under which the tribunal would end in 2008. But she told the United Nations: "There may be people who are saying (after Sept. 11) the world has moved on and the issue of the day is now terrorism. We cannot take that view of international justice." The U.S. ambassador at large for war crimes, Pierre-Richard Prosper, has proposed a deadline of 2007 for the tribunal dealing with Yugoslavia. But some rights activists believe he may be aiming for an earlier cut-off date. Speaking in December, Prosper said that while the United States was proud of its leadership in creating the tribunals, "to fulfill the spirit of the (U.N.) Security Council, they must begin to aggressively focus on the endgame." The tribunals should "focus on those most responsible ... and, in regards to the (tribunal for Yugoslavia) should conclude work by 2007," he said in the Hague. Recently, rumors swirled in Belgrade about a plan to close the tribunal even sooner if two key indicted former Bosnia Serb leaders, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, were arrested. The idea was aired in a Jan. 21 article in the newspaper Glas Javnosti by Kosta Cavoski, a law professor and close associate of President Vojislav Kostunica. It said an unnamed "special U.S. envoy for war crimes" in January offered Belgrade officials a deal: "You immediately surrender (Karadzic and Mladic) to us ... and we promise that the spectacular trial to the world's most famous troika ... will be the last trial before the Hague court." Prosper was traveling and not available for comment. Del Ponte, in her November speech to the U.N. Security Council, said trials for existing war crimes detainees would not be completed before 2005 at the earliest. Beyond those, she would pursue 136 new investigations -- 36 in Yugoslavia and 100 in Rwanda -- and this would result in a maximum of 45 new trials. Richard Dicker of Human Rights Watch said the tribunals have grown in stature over the years and said it should be up to the prosecutor how long they went on. He said national courts in the Balkans did not yet have the independence to take over the Hague tribunals' work.
AP 27 Feb 2002 Sept. 11 Breeds Rush of War Movies By DAVID GERMAIN, AP Movie Writer LOS ANGELES - Long before Sept. 11, movie studios had rediscovered their love of the soldier. A rush of military dramas shot before the terrorist attacks are now riding a wave of public patriotism at its highest level since World War II. By chance, Hollywood already had chosen to revisit notions of duty, honor, camaraderie and sacrifice in a range of combat arenas, from World War II and Vietnam to Somalia and Bosnia. The courage-under-fire themes of "Black Hawk Down," "Behind Enemy Lines," "Hart's War," and the upcoming "We Were Soldiers" and "Windtalkers" would do John Wayne proud. While generally projecting the U.S. military in a good light, the films are not so much exercises in flag-waving as they are acclamations of the fraternity of fighting. "These guys went over there with ideals and pride and desire to be the vanguard of freedoms most of us take for granted," said Mel Gibson, who stars in "We Were Soldiers" as Lt. Col Hal Moore, commander of the first big battle against the North Vietnamese in 1965. "Once they got there, they were under siege, backs to the wall. They didn't eat or drink or sleep. Basically, it became that they were fighting for each other. It's not mom or apple pie you're fighting for, it's the guy next to you." The call to arms for fresh war films came after a period of indifference toward the soldiery during the self-absorbed 1980s and early '90s. Cartoonish action heroes ruled the adventure genre, and the big war movie of the '80s was "Platoon," which presented Vietnam troops in an ugly light. "Platoon" came after more than a decade of disillusionment with federal authority after the Watergate scandal and Vietnam pullout. Then, the military came to seem less relevant after the Soviet Union crumbled and the Pentagon closed bases. "It was not the most popular thing in the world to be a soldier then," said Rod Lurie, a 1984 West Point graduate who directed last year's military prison drama "The Last Castle." "Soldiers were even looked upon as second-class citizenry." In the mid-1990s, ceremonies, books and news coverage of the 50th anniversary of D-Day and the end of World War II rekindled appreciation for veterans. Tom Brokaw's World War II best-seller "The Greatest Generation" and Steven Spielberg's Normandy invasion epic "Saving Private Ryan" put human faces on that war for a generation that had not lived through it. "The other part of it was, a lot of our fathers and parents who stood for those things the greatest generation has now become known for were beginning to die, quite honestly," said David Ladd, a producer on "Hart's War," which stars Bruce Willis as a fourth-generation West Point colonel plotting sabotage while imprisoned by the Nazis. "You saw a lot more honor paid to the men who made the sacrifices, which had gone out the window for awhile in the years before that." Hollywood put a rush of patriotic combat films into production. Most of the footage in the current battle films was in the can before Sept. 11, but the attacks and the war on terrorism have heightened public interest in stories about soldiers of virtue. The '80s and '90s were a "fairly frivolous time," when Americans were more concerned with their stock portfolios than with political issues or military threats, said "We Were Soldiers" director Randall Wallace, who also wrote Gibson's "Braveheart." "Great things did not seem to be at stake to people," Wallace said. "Sept. 11 reminded us there is such a thing in the world as evil, and there is the necessity for such things as duty, honor and sacrifice." Before "We Were Soldiers," such nouns rarely applied to films about Vietnam. "M-A-S-H" satirized the U.S. military in Vietnam under the guise of a Korean War setting. "Apocalypse Now" turned Vietnam into a surreal zone of madness and bestiality. "Platoon" depicted U.S. soldiers as drug abusers, back-stabbers and butchers of the innocent in a scene reminiscent of the My Lai massacre, in which Vietnamese civilians were killed by soldiers under the command of Lt. William Calley. "Platoon" "took every bad instance that occurred in the Vietnam War, officers smoking dope with their men, sergeants killing each other, soldiers burning buildings. It was nonsense," said Moore, who retired in 1977 as a lieutenant general. "Apocalypse Now," based on Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness," "wasn't even about Vietnam. It was something else. I walked out." Moore and journalist Joseph Galloway co-wrote the battle memoir "We Were Soldiers Once ... And Young," the basis for the film, which recounts their experiences during the ferocious three-day siege in the Ia Drang Valley. Unlike past Vietnam movies, "We Were Soldiers" presents a close-knit unit of soldiers with a paternal commander. The troops are brave and honorable, earnestly loyal and willing to lay down their lives for a comrade. "Hal and Joe felt that Vietnam guys particularly had really suffered at the hands of Hollywood," Gibson said. "I think the movies have always managed to focus on the exception, not the rule. There's no doubt that what Lt. Calley did over there was an atrocity. Atrocities happen in war. It's lamentable, and there's no way to justify it. "But it was the exception among the rule. Everyone in Vietnam wasn't a drug-taking, baby-fragging wacko. They were mainly men and women doing their duty." Says Moore: "The basic message of our book was hate the war but love the American warrior." Films such as "We Were Soldiers" and "Black Hawk Down" border on anti-war sentiments with their grimly realistic images of men dying in battle, Moore said. The films are valuable, especially after Sept. 11, as reminders that freedom and prosperity still may require the sacrifice of American lives in battle, he said. "These movies are pro-military. I would hope they help show the people of America the necessity for strong military forces. And when they see movies that show soldiers realistically fighting and dying for their country, I would say to the American people, they can be proud they have such men."
Al-Ahram Weekly Online 21 - 27 February 2002 Issue No.574 Absentminded bigotry Anti-Muslim comments allegedly made by US Attorney-General John Ashcroft have caused an uproar in the Arab and Muslim American community, writes Anayat Durrani Major Arab and Muslim groups have strongly criticised the anti-Muslim remarks allegedly made by United States Attorney General John Ashcroft during a 9 November radio interview with conservative Christian syndicated columnist and radio personality Cal Thomas. Ashcroft was quoted as having said: "Islam is a religion in which God requires you to send your son to die for him. Christianity is a faith in which God sends his son to die for you." Thomas's short article, "Men of Faith in Washington, DC Need Our Prayers," which repeats this quote and praises Ashcroft for his statement, was carried by an online religious Web site, crosswalk.com, in December. Arab-American and Muslim groups have since demanded Ashcroft either clarify his statements or be removed from office. The New York Daily News first reported on the story. When asked about the quote, Thomas, who has remarked that he thought the quote was "profound," told the Daily News, "I wrote it down accurately and repeated it to make sure I had it right. I've got my integrity and a four-decade career as a journalist and people can decide for themselves." The Muslim Public Affairs Council called Ashcroft's alleged comments a distorted view of Islam and said such a statement was alarming coming from the US attorney general. The group immediately sent a letter to the Department of Justice, which responded saying that the remarks attributed to Ashcroft did not accurately represent his views and that the Department of Justice "remains committed to protecting the civil rights and dignity of all Americans." The Muslim Public Affairs Council has called for a meeting between Ashcroft and Muslim leaders to address general distrust in the American Muslim community towards law enforcement and called for providing sensitivity and diversity training about Islam to Department of Justice officials. "It is now even more imperative that a dialogue ensues between the attorney general's office and the American Muslim leadership. It is time to move from words to substantive policies in the halls of power that will institutionalise sensitivity toward American Muslims," said the council's political adviser, Mahdi Bray. Other Muslim and Arab groups were also quick to react. James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, wrote a letter to President George W Bush on 8 February, calling Ashcroft's alleged remarks "a horrible distortion of Islam" which could only serve to incite anti-Muslim hatred. He said Ashcroft's statements had undermined Bush's efforts to promote tolerance and understanding in the aftermath of 11 September, and asked President Bush to remove Ashcroft from office or ask for his resignation if the attorney general did not publicly repudiate the statements. "The bigoted comments reportedly made by our nation's chief of law enforcement are outrageous! The fact that he has not denied making them or apologised for them raises serious questions about his ability to enforce our nation's laws in a fair and unbiased manner. The president should act to correct this situation," Zogby said. The American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee also wrote a letter to President Bush condemning Ashcroft's comments, calling them, "inflammatory, fanatical and inexcusable, particularly coming from the attorney general of the United States." The American Muslim Political Coordinating Committee sent a letter to Ashcroft, signed by leaders of four major American Muslim groups, calling his remarks "offensive to our community due to their inaccuracy and divisiveness." The committee called on Ashcroft to clarify his statements and to take actions in the Department of Justice to "sensitise officials regarding Islam and Muslims." Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations, said that if it were true that Ashcroft made the remarks, they were "inaccurate, offensive and are unbecoming of a law enforcement official who is currently initiating and administering policies that have a disproportionate impact on Muslims." In the days that followed the horrific 11 September attack, President George W Bush took a lead role in encouraging tolerance towards Arabs and Muslims. Bush described Islam as a "peaceful" religion, not at all associated with the acts of terror committed against Americans. During a visit to the Islamic Centre of Washington, DC, President Bush said, "These acts of violence against innocents violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith, and it's important for my fellow Americans to understand that. The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That's not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don't represent peace. They represent evil and war." American Muslim and Arab groups have pointed to Ashcroft's remarks as having negated Bush's efforts at promoting unity as a nation. Ashcroft's comments come at a time when American Muslims and Arabs have become increasingly uncomfortable with the actions of the Department of Justice towards their communities in the wake of 11 September. They cite the hundreds detained following the attacks who have been singled out based on their religion and ethnicity, many of whom continue to be detained, as well as the FBI interrogations of more than 5,000 Middle Eastern men, the closure of immigration hearings and profiling of Muslim and Arab-American airline passengers. Also cited is the focus of the Department of Justice and the FBI on rounding up and deporting 6,000 Muslims and Arabs -- out of some 314,000 foreign nationals or "absconders," the vast majority of whom are from Latin America -- who have ignored court orders to leave the country. "It is hard to see how policies such as these, which after all are based on racial and religious profiling, can be administered in an unbiased manner given Mr Ashcroft's apparent hostility towards Islam," Awad said. In response to Arab and Muslim groups, Justice Department spokeswoman Susan Dryden told the Washington Post that Ashcroft's statement was misrepresented and reflected views on terrorists and not mainstream Islam. "The attorney general made reference to extremist suicide terrorists who have hijacked the religion," Dryden said. "The reported remarks do not accurately reflect the attorney general's views." Ashcroft did release a brief statement last Wednesday saying that the quotes "do not accurately reflect what I believe I said." In reaction to Ashcroft's statement, Zogby told the Washington Post, it was "akin to saying 'I don't recall.'" He added, "The consequences those remarks have had, and the fact that they've been out there so long, require a far more emphatic response from the attorney general." Arab and Muslim groups said Ashcroft's remarks had since caused a flurry of hate e-mails and phone calls to their offices.
Reuters 28 Feb 2002 U.S. Presses Case on International Courts By Carol Giacomo WASHINGTON - The Bush administration on Thursday escalated its attack on the European-backed international justice process, calling for an end to ad hoc U.N. war crimes tribunals by 2008 and signaling fresh opposition to a proposed permanent criminal court. The U.S. approach, coming as the tribunals in the Hague are trying former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic , underscored U.S. concerns that the courts could impinge on American sovereignty by subjecting its troops in the anti-terrorism war to prosecution. The criticism came at congressional testimony by the U.S. ambassador at large for war crimes, Pierre-Richard Prosper. In addition to criticizing the ad hoc tribunals prosecuting war crimes and genocide in the Balkans and Rwanda, Prosper said the administration was conducting a high-level review of how to implement its policy of opposition to the permanent International Criminal Court. Republican hard-liners are pressing President Bush to take the highly unusual step of revoking the U.S. signature on the ICC treaty and a senior U.S. official told Reuters recently he was optimistic this would be the outcome. Appearing before the House of Representatives International Relations Committee, Prosper accused the Hague tribunals of lapses in professionalism and management, drawing backing from key congressmen who expressed similar concerns. While the tribunals are important and have advanced justice for war crimes victims, "we recognize there have been problems that challenge the integrity of the (tribunal) process," Prosper said. "The professionalism of some of the personnel has been called into question, with allegations of mismanagement and abuse," he said. Also, "the process at times has been costly, has lacked efficiency, has been too slow and has been too removed from the every day experience of the people and the victims," he said. He did not provide much detail on his mismanagement charges except to note complaints about defense attorneys splitting U.N.-paid fees with the families of war crimes defendants. But he said all concerns were raised with the U.N. headquarters and the tribunals and were being addressed. Prosper said the tribunals were designed to pursue major war crimes offenders, not every legal violation. Echoing U.S. arguments against the permanent ICC, he said the tribunals "were not designed to completely usurp the authority and ... the responsibility of sovereign states." Hence, the Bush administration was "urging both tribunals to begin to aggressively focus on the end game and conclude their work by 2007-2008," he said. Carla del Ponte, chief prosecutor for the Hague tribunals, told the United Nations last November she was starting to consider an "exit strategy" under which the tribunal would end in 2008. MLADIC, KARADZIC MUST GO Richard Dicker of Human Rights Watch sharply criticized Prosper for deliberately "smearing" the tribunals by lumping his criticism of the Yugoslav war crimes court together with the genocide tribunal for Rwanda. Moreover, Prosper's fault-finding "effectively reinforces the denunciations of the tribunals made by Milosevic at his trial," Dicker said. But Nina Bang-Jensen of the International Coalition for Justice stressed what she said was Prosper's critical pledge that the U.S. would ensure the arrest of indicted Bosnia war crimes suspects Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic as well as three war crimes indictees from the Vukovar region of Croatia. "Because they are Republicans and oppose the (permanent) court, there is always a rush to conclude the administration is not committed" to the war crimes process, she said. "But by their actions they have shown their commitment to the two tribunals," she told Reuters. Answering questions at the hearing, Prosper said: "Karadzic and Mladic must go to the Hague. This tribunal cannot begin to move toward closure as long as they remain at large." "It does not mean that this stops with Karadzic and Mladic. The Vukovar Three are notable offenders who also need to be brought to justice in the Hague," he added. NATO troops swooped into a remote Bosnian village on Thursday in what proved to be a fruitless search for Karadzic. But Prosper also said lower level war crime suspects should be tried by domestic courts in the Balkans and Rwanda. Europeans have faulted Washington for going its own way on such issues as the ICC despite the post-Sept 11 anti-terrorism war that relies on allied cooperation. While President Bill Clinton signed the treaty establishing the ICC he did not send it to the Senate for ratification. Bush has also refused to send it to the Senate and some officials want the United States to revoke its signature.
Wall Street Journal 28 Feb 2002 Bush Presses For Closing Of Tribunals --- U.S. Wants Timetable To Shut Down Courts Of U.N., Citing Abuses By Jess Bravin WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration is seeking a firm timetable for shutting down United Nations war-crimes tribunals, saying they have been marred by instances of mismanagement and abuse that "challenge the integrity of the process." One U.N. court is trying Slobodan Milosevic and other alleged Yugoslav war criminals, and another alleged Rwandan war criminals. The U.S. wants future prosecutions handled by each country's own domestic justice system, as soon as current high-profile cases are completed. That view will be detailed today when the administration's top war-crimes official testifies before a House committee hearing on the tribunals. The U.S. position has escalated a conflict with its major allies, which favor expanding the reach of international tribunals; they plan to replace the ad hoc panels with a permanent International Criminal Court for war crimes. The divide existed before Sept. 11; Washington traditionally has resisted international institutions that potentially might try to exercise jurisdiction over the U.S. But the difference has grown sharper following the terrorist attacks, with the U.S. vigorously opposing any move that suggests -- as some European leaders have -- that alleged perpetrators of international terrorism would best be tried by international panels rather than in U.S. courts. "We want to bring ownership of the process back to the people, because that is the only way the rule of law will become truly ingrained in a society," said Pierre-Richard Prosper, the U.S. ambassador at large for war-crimes issues. The U.S., he said, is prepared "to provide economic, technical, legal and logistical support," to help improve domestic court systems, but the amount has yet to be decided. Mr. Prosper is expected to testify today before the House International Relations Committee. While the current tribunals have done some good work, he said -- and together have indicted 193 suspects -- "we don't want to create an environment where there is a dependency on international institutions." European officials said they don't understand why the Bush administration is raising the rhetoric in the midst of the most notorious case since Nuremburg: the trial of the former Yugoslav president, Mr. Milosevic. "Undermining the credibility of the U.N. tribunal when we are at the pinnacle of its accomplishment is suicidal," said a European diplomat. California Rep. Tom Lantos, the House committee's senior Democrat, said that international tribunals still were needed. Waiting for states like Yugoslavia "to get their courts in order only means that war criminals will go unpunished," he said. In November, the war crimes prosecutor, Carla del Ponte, told the U.N. Security Council that she hoped to wrap up trials by 2008. But the Bush administration believes that date can never be met if Ms. del Ponte follows her plan to pursue dozens of new investigations involving 150 additional suspects. "We want her to focus on the leaders, the architects, the kingpins" of genocide, Mr. Prosper said, while prosecutions of "mid- and lower level players" should be delegated to national courts. The turning point for U.S. officials may come if the two most-wanted fugitives, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, are turned over to the tribunal. The two former Bosnian Serb leaders have been indicted on genocide charges for the killings of Bosnian Muslims in the mid-1990s. The Rwanda and Yugoslavia tribunals have moved too slowly, and have "been too removed from everyday experiences of the people and the victims," Mr. Prosper said. They have been costly, with annual budgets of $100 million each, and have faced questions about "the integrity of the process," he said. Earlier this month, the Rwanda tribunal dismissed a defense attorney, after allegations he inflated his bills and split his fees with a defendant. Similar problems have affected both tribunals, a U.N. internal audit found last year. While there have been problems, "people should keep in mind that the NATO countries spent in one year [of military operations in Yugoslavia], 1999, the equivalent of 200 years of the Yugoslav tribunal budget," said William Pace, who heads the Coalition for an International Criminal Court, an advocacy group that supports U.N. tribunals for war crimes. The remedy advocated by the Bush administration is strengthening the domestic justice system in Rwanda, Yugoslavia and other countries. In Yugoslavia, that means building up conventional courts, while in Rwanda the approach may involve using the country's traditional "gacaca" system, with tribal elders dispensing justice to lower-level perpetrators. "The penalty may be, `Now you need to give two cows, or you need to farm the land of these people,' " said Mr. Prosper, a former assistant U.S. attorney who himself led a successful prosecution for genocide at the Rwanda tribunal in 1998. But most EU and North Atlantic Treaty Organization members are moving in the opposite direction, by establishing the International Criminal Court. The ICC treaty -- signed by President Clinton in the last weeks of his term but never sent to the Senate for approval -- has been ratified by 52 countries, including Britain, Canada and Germany. Should eight more follow, as proponents expect this year, the ICC will begin operation in The Hague, where Rwanda and Yugoslavia tribunals are based.
AP 7 Feb 2002 'The Middle Passage' Visits Slave Trade NEW YORK (AP) - During "The Middle Passage," the hugeness of nature is never in doubt as a clipper ship glides across the ocean's expanse. But apart from a brief roiling storm, the sea is calm. Nature is an onlooker, burdened with no role in this abominable enterprise. This is the business of men - profiteers who engaged in the sale of fellow humans. To mark Black History Month, HBO is airing "The Middle Passage," a suitably disturbing encounter with the slave trade that prevailed for many centuries leading up to the Civil War. Conceived as neither the standard docudrama nor heart-rending spectacle, the film is a meditation on wholesale sin that lulls the viewer to a new understanding. It airs Saturday at 10:05 p.m. EST. The so-called Middle Passage was that leg of the Europeans' triangular route carrying human stock from West Africa to the Americas. The voyage to the New World took as long as three months, with each ship's cargo - men, women and children by the hundreds - chained and abused and terrified. "The child who looks out over this ocean cannot imagine the horror it holds," begins the narrator, an African native whose spirit-self recounts, entirely in voice-over, the long-past tale of "monumental genocide and enslavement" that doomed him to be "just another black body in a sea of despair." His words, however redolent of grief and rage, are voiced with doleful restraint by Djimon Hounsou (the films "Gladiator," "Amistad" and, in a 1994 recurring role, "ER"). Their lyricism is thanks to novelist-screenwriter Walter Mosley ("Devil in a Blue Dress"), who adapted the narration from its original French. Part of the story must be told in raw numbers (for instance: four centuries of slave trade; millions of victims), and, spoken aloud, they help convey the scale of this holocaust. But the accompanying images capture the horror in another way: a vivid smallness. Many of the scenes are striking in their stillness, like a series of tableaux vivants. Other sequences unwind in languorous skip-frame or slow motion. Just as no one on-screen ever utters a word, likewise the action is muted. A mouse skitters over a man prostrate against the planks in the hold, almost motionless as milky fluid spills from his mouth. "The heat is unbearable," the narrator says, "as is the pitch and roll and the vomit that follows." The effect is stark, even shocking. And all the more so for being subdued. The Africans' humanity is betrayed in almost countless ways. Like stockyard animals, they are regularly herded on deck for a bit of exercise, accompanied by a whip and a sailor with a fiddle. "They forced us to dance to their despicable tunes," says the narrator. "We, who have so much music in us." A dreadful, life-sapping routineness settles in. And not only for the captives, but also for their captors, sailors who pray to God for safety "and beseech him to allow them safe passage to their destination," declares the narrator with undisguised disgust. For him and the viewer, the voyage is broken up by flashbacks to a happy life in Africa. "What have we done to so enrage our ancient ancestors?" he poses. But, like nature, otherworldly factors don't apply here, as he finally acknowledges: It was his own brutal prince who sold him and fellow tribesmen to the Europeans. "I was traded for a barrel of gun powder," he explains, "in a time when a man's worth was measured in lengths of precious cloth or in the weight of a tub of copper." Besides rampant sickness and starvation on the ship, suicide among the prisoners is common. But with the vessel's approach to the American shore, now carrying fewer than half of the 600 souls abducted, those able to "endure the unendurable ... have been given the necessary strength to endure the nightmare of slavery," the narrator says darkly. It takes nothing away from the drama to disclose that he isn't one of those survivors. He is slaughtered when, panicked by the sight of land and what it may mean, he goes on the attack. "I think I may have bitten into the neck of the first sailor that passed me," he says. "Whatever I did, I did it with such passion and resolve that they had to pierce my body with a sword many times over, before I would let go." Not that he ever really does, of course. Nor will "The Middle Passage" soon turn loose of those who see it. --- On the Net: www.hbo.com
AP 19 Feb 2002 Today's Highlight in History: On Feb. 19, 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt signed an executive order giving the military the authority to relocate and intern Japanese-Americans as well as Japanese nationals living in the United States. . . On this date: In 1986, the U.S. Senate approved a treaty outlawing genocide, 37 years after the pact had first been submitted for ratification.
AP 27 Feb 2002 Today's Highlight in History: . . . In 1861, in Warsaw, Russian troops fired on a crowd protesting Russian rule over Poland; five marchers were killed. . .. In 1933, Germany's parliament building, the Reichstag, caught fire. The Nazis, blaming the Communists, used the fire as a pretext for suspending civil liberties. . . In 1973, members of the American Indian Movement occupied the hamlet of Wounded Knee in South Dakota, the site of the 1890 massacre of Sioux men, women and children. (The occupation lasted until May.)
Canberra Times 1 Feb 2002 Aborigines ask Lib MP for help By MONIKA BOOGS, Police Reporter Aboriginal Tent Embassy members have appealed to federal Liberal Senator Bill Heffernan to help them get back the coat of arms on Old Parliament House. The appeal was made when Senator Heffernan met members of the group yesterday afternoon. He visited the embassy of his own accord, saying he had always found time in the past to meet and talk to members. ''I went down to have a yarn with them,'' he said yesterday. Aboriginal elder Kevin Buzzacott said members had asked Senator Heffernan to return the bronze coat of arms featuring the kangaroo and emu. Australian Federal Police retrieved a coat of arms from the embassy on Tuesday after it was allegedly taken from Old Parliament House at the weekend. Embassy members have lodged a writ against the Federal Government over the use of images of the emu and kangaroo on publications and property. The writ's grounds include that the kangaroo and emu and its graphical forms are of significance to the traditions and customs of the Aboriginal people and its use by the Australian Government is an act of genocide. Mr Buzzacott said the embassy members wanted to speak to the Indigenous Affairs Minister Philip Ruddock about the use of the kangaroo and the emu. He said that meeting Senator Heffernan was a start. ''We start off talking and see what happens,'' Mr Buzzacott said.
Canberra Times 4 Feb 2002 War's horrors, war's criminals By RALPH ELLIOTT World War II Day by Day Edited by Edward Bunting and others. Dorling Kindersley. 728pp. $70. War Criminals Welcome: Australia, a Sanctuary for Fugitive War Criminals since 1945. By Mark Aarons. Black Inc. 649pp. $34.95. A MASSIVE tome, redolent of the horrors and heroism, the daily destruction and dour Churchillian determination, World War II Day by Day is a remarkable chronicle of the most appalling six years of the 20th century. Its pages lavishly furnished with photographs, some in colour, the book offers a concise calendar of selected events across the world, along with slightly longer articles and maps dealing with specific occurrences, people, topics, places. Just about every recorded aspect of World War II receives mention: Dame Myra Hess playing German composers Bach and Beethoven amid the German bomb damage at the National Gallery in London in October 1940; the first escape from Colditz in April 1941; Allied prisoners moved to Changi and bomb damage in Darwin, both pictured in February 1942; Australian troops capturing Finschhafen in New Guinea in October 1943; Monte Cassino in ruins, February 1944; the Normandy landings in June 1944; a flying bomb over London; Himmler's Nazi publication Das Schwarze Korps admitting "imminent collapse"; the mushroom cloud over Nagasaki; Goering at Nuremberg "in jovial mood" in August 1945. Your reviewer found references to his own World War II experiences, but he looked in vain for a mention of the Guards' legendary Regimental Sergeant-Major Britten, whose stentorian voice close to my head caused irreparable damage to my eardrums while training to be a British infantry officer. The book ends with a well-illustrated summary of each year's major events displayed in chart form, a brief Who's Who of the war's principal protagonists, and a commendably full index. Mention must be made in conclusion of the coloured double-paged reproductions of paintings introducing each new year of the war. Beginning with Paul Nash's painting Battle of Britain, introducing 1940, the series ends with Leslie Cole's grisly picture of One of the Death Pits, Belsen, introducing 1945. It was Mark Aaron's 1986 radio documentary series that prompted the Government of Bob Hawke, who wrote a foreword to Aaron's book, to undertake an inquiry into war criminals and form the Special Investigation Unit for that purpose. The unit was later disbanded under Keating, opening the doors to Australia not only to former Nazis, but to war criminals from countries like Cambodia, Chile, Afghanistan, and the former Yugoslavia. Who can forget Justice Minister Amanda Vanstone's cordial "Mr Kalejs is welcome to return to Australia" in January 2000? Konrad Kalejs is probably the best known of former Nazi security-police officers among the Latvian criminals who found sanctuary in Australia after being thrown out of the United States, Canada, and Britain. As an Australian citizen, as Aarons avers, he was effectively immune from prosecution under domestic law, and the Australian government refused to charge him under the War Crimes Act, as the Liberal Party had consistently opposed the very concept of war crimes trials for World War II Nazis. There are many others besides Kalejs, Aarons argues. Perhaps the most poignant cases in War Criminals Welcome are those where a genuine refugee is suddenly confronted by a former murderer "living almost around the corner" in Australia. It happened to Phiny Ung, who had fled with her baby daughter and her husband from the Khmer Rouge only to come face to face with her father's and her brother's killer in her Sydney suburb. Aarons pleads for proper investigation of alleged war criminals before they all die peacefully in their Australian retirement homes. The failure of successive governments to do so, from Arthur Calwell's cover-up when he became Australia's first Immigration Minister in 1945, to the Howard Government's refusal to introduce legislation to give effect to Australia's ratification of the Geneva Convention on Genocide, underlines the need for Aaron's message to be widely heard. This is especially urgent in view of the present Government's treatment of refugees trying to find sanctuary in Australia. Some of them may indeed be guilty of war crimes, but most of them are more probably "poor naked wretches", as Shakespeare so pithily put it. If there are criminals among them, judicial methods can presumably be devised for dealing with them if they reach this country, albeit not in the cosily welcoming manner of Vanstone. The fact, discussed at some length in this book, that some former Nazis proved eminently useful in Australia and elsewhere during the Cold War against communism, should not prevent retribution for former crimes to be exacted after due process. Aarons's latest book contains photographs like the cheerful face of mass killer S. Rover, from Sarajevo, or that of Ukrainian killer M. Berezovsky happily enjoying a beer at an Adelaide wedding, but in the end the reader cannot help feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of evidence amassed in this huge tome and by the realisation that our governments just don't seem to care.
AP 14 Feb 2002 Bangladesh opposition accuses government of political persecution DHAKA, Bangladesh - Bangladesh's main opposition on Thursday accused the government of killing political rivals and undermining democracy. "The government is out to eliminate the political opposition. But we shall resist the conspiracy," former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina told an opposition-sponsored national convention on crimes against humanity. Hasina claimed that at least 288 members of her Awami League party were killed by supporters of Prime Minister Khaleda Zia since she swept the October parliamentary elections. She also accused Zia's government of failing to protect the minority Hindus in this Muslim-majority nation of 130 million people. The government denies the charge. "We are an elected democratic government. We have deep respect for human rights," Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan, a local government minister and secretary-general of ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party, told reporters in Dhaka. Bhuiyan said the BNP will hold a separate national convention in March to highlight the "violation of human rights" during Hasina's five-year rule that ended in December. Thousands of Hindus were forced to flee to India, a Hindu-majority neighbor, to escape violence by Zia's supporters after the December elections, Hasina told the conference. She said Hindus were targeted because of their longtime support for her party's secular policies. The conference at Dhaka's Engineers Institute was attended by 1,000 opposition politicians, human rights activists and writers, organizers said.
Sidney Morning Herald 4 Feb 2002 Khmer leaders set to escape justice By Mark Baker, Herald Correspondent in Phnom Penh Two of the most notorious surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime are likely to be released from prison within weeks because of a dispute between the United Nations and the Cambodian Government over plans to put them on trial for genocide. The two men - directly implicated in the genocide in which up to 2 million Cambodians perished - have been detained without trial for almost three years and must be released by early next month under Cambodian law. They are Ta Mok, the one-legged former Khmer Rouge commander known as The Butcher, and Kaing Khek Ieu, commandant of the Tuol Sleng death camp in Phnom Penh in which about 20,000 people were executed. A genocide tribunal which had planned to try the two men and other former Khmer Rouge leaders has been stalled indefinitely by continuing arguments between UN legal officials and Cambodian authorities over the court's powers and procedures. Benson Samay, the lawyer who represents Ta Mok, said he was preparing to file a motion for his client's release from a military detention centre in Phnom Penh on March 6, the third anniversary of his arrest. "The law says three years is the limit, and there will be no legal basis for the government to keep holding him after that date," Mr Samay said. The Prime Minister, Hun Sen, late last year flagged the possibility of legislation to further extend the detention of the two, but he is believed to have dropped the plan after strong opposition from human rights groups. The head of the Cambodian Institute for Co-operation and Peace, Kao Kim Hourn, said: "You cannot indefinitely put someone in jail and keep extending it; indefinite detention is not defensible under any law." Even the Documentation Centre of Cambodia, which has assembled detailed evidence of Khmer Rouge atrocities in preparation for genocide trails, argues that an extension of the detentions would be wrong. The centre's director, Youk Chhang, said: "Extending their detentions would set a bad precedent, a bad example for the country. It would undermine the rule of law which the international community has been trying so hard to promote." There is speculation that Mr Hun Sen may use the release of the two men to put pressure on the UN to drop its demands for further concessions over the formation of the tribunal. Under legislation approved by the Cambodian parliament last August, teams of foreign and local judges and prosecutors would try the most senior surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge, several of whom were freed under disputed amnesties offered in return for their surrender in the late 1990s. Senior UN legal officials are believed to be pressing for guarantees that all the surviving leaders are put on trial and that international judges have the right to override members of Cambodia's notoriously corrupt judiciary. According to evidence assembled by the Documentation Centre, Ta Mok, as commander of the Khmer Rouge's south-western zone in the mid 1970s, directed and facilitated the rounding up of suspected traitors who were later executed, and failed to prevent or punish atrocities committed by his subordinates. Kaing Khek Ieu has admitted to journalists that he supervised the torture and execution of thousands of prisoners, including women and children, at Tuol Sleng.
InterPress Service 7 Feb 2002 Cambodian poll wins applause By Marwaan Macan-Markar BANGKOK - Despite some bumps along the way, Cambodia has taken a few impressive steps in its march toward democracy in the country's just concluded local government elections. While the governing Cambodian People's Party (CPP) is poised for victory in last Sunday's poll - the country's first-ever attempt at democratically electing local governments or communes - the opposition also has something to cheer about. Election returns thus far show that the opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) has garnered sufficient votes to secure a place in the 1,621 communes. This would bring to an end to the absolute dominance by the CPP - led by Prime Minister Hun Sen - in the communes in Cambodia's 22 provinces. "This marks a dramatic change in grass-roots politics in Cambodia and it will have an impact at the national level in the future," says Sunai Phasuk, researcher at the Bangkok-based Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL), which monitored the weekend poll. "No more will Cambodia have a one-party state at the grass-roots level," adds Sunai. "The CPP will have to give up the overwhelming power it enjoyed at the local level." Cambodian poll watcher Koul Panha feels that this shift will help usher in democratic features as checks and balances in governing the communes. "The SRP's presence will be able to improve the quality of governing the communes. It will be able to make CPP more accountable," says Panha, executive director of the Phnom Penh-based Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL). Sunday's poll came after Cambodia's last two general elections in 1993 and 1998, both of which were part of its transition to democracy after decades of conflict and a large United Nations presence in the early 1990s. The CPP took control of the communes in 1979, after the ouster of the genocidal Khmer Rouge. The commune councils were the creation of the French colonists in 1908, helping to serve as administrative units to control the Cambodians and to raise taxes. Sunday's poll also brought another welcome development, given reports of pre-poll violence - the absence of any violence on election day, when more than 80 percent of Cambodia's some 6 million eligible voters turned out to cast their ballots. "There was a positive atmosphere at polling stations across the country and no reports of violence or serious intimidation," states ANFREL in a preliminary report on the election issued on Tuesday. "The atmosphere was sometimes festive and people were clearly very excited to have the opportunity to exercise their vote." ANFREL's monitoring team, which visited all of Cambodia's provinces, said of Cambodia's voters: "They came early to vote and in large numbers. Frequently we found that by 9 or 10 o'clock in the morning most people had already cast their vote." COMFREL's Panha says that the vote-counting process was so far being conducted without cause for suspicion. "The counting has been very smooth and without any irregularities," he adds. Women's-rights activists are hoping that they, too, will have reason to cheer once the final outcome of the poll is known, since this election spurred more than 12,000 women to run as candidates for the CPP, SRP and the royalist Funcinpec party. This marked a new trend, since only four of 1,621 commune chiefs thus far are women. Women made up 20 percent of the SRP's candidates, 14 percent of Funcinpec's and 13 percent of the CPP's , says Lorraine Corner, head of the Asia-Pacific office of the United Nations Fund for Women (UNIFEM) in Bangkok. "In terms of numbers we were impressed," says Corner, adding that female candidates need to secure places in the newly elected commune councils to put "women's issues on the local agenda, like violence against women". But female candidates were not spared pre-election violence. Three women were among the more than 15 candidates killed in poll-related violence, the majority of the victims from the opposition. The run-up to the poll also resulted in close to 250 cases of intimidation, threats and violence documented by human-rights groups and the poll monitors. According to one UN agency, there was sufficient evidence of local authorities threatening villagers to affect the outcome of the poll. Consequently, the entire process has fallen short of being free and fair, and the ruling CPP finds itself in the dock. The party has also been blamed for legitimizing political violence among cadres and supporters as a way of winning to ensure continued control of its grass-roots power base. Critics also found worrisome the failure of the country's National Elections Commission (NEC) to remain neutral and to defend the democratic process effectively. "The NEC proved it was an incompetent body, failing to respond to the reports of violence," says Panha. Sunai was equally harsh, calling for the NEC to be reformed to ensure free and fair elections in the future. Currently, a majority of the NEC's members are loyal to the ruling CPP. The NEC, in fact, did little for its cause when it undermined the opposition's access to the media during the countdown to the polls - by banning the television broadcasts of candidates' debates. The international community and donor countries have to take stock of these violations, says Sunai. "They must get the CPP to commit to an election free of violence and intimidation to help Cambodia achieve democracy," he adds.
BBC 8 Feb 2002 Cambodia genocide court in disarray Nearly two million people died under the regime The United Nations has pulled out of the special international court being set up with the Cambodian Government to try former leaders of the murderous Khmer Rouge regime. The UN legal counsel, Hans Corell, said he had concluded the independence, impartiality and objectivity of the proposed court could not be guaranteed. Khmer Rouge leaders Pol Pot: Died in 1998 Ta Mok: The Butcher, captured and awaiting trial Kang Kek: Chief executioner, in jail awaiting trial Ieng Sary: Foreign minister, pardoned Nuon Chea: Chief political theorist and "Brother Number Two", at liberty Khieu Samphan: Public apologist, at liberty "We will no longer continue the negotiations," he told a news conference. There was no immediate comment from Cambodian diplomats. But US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the court remained an important project. "The tribunal is important to help resolve many of the issues that remain in Cambodia," he said. "We think there are grounds for continuing their discussions". The UN has been pressing Cambodia to bring former Khmer Rouge leaders to trial for atrocities carried out during their rule between 1975 and 1979. A spokesman for UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said the Cambodian Government had also rejected the organisation's proposals for providing assistance to the trial. The main sticking point appears to have been the Cambodian Government's insistence that national law would take precedence over the agreement with the UN in the trials. Correspondents say the proposed trials are a divisive subject in Cambodia, with some fearful that they will reopen old wounds and plunge the country back into civil war. Trial delay Cambodia has been waiting for a UN decision since August last year on their proposals for a tribunal presided over by three Cambodian judges and two foreign judges. Pol Pot oversaw the genocide Late last year, Prime Minister Hun Sen criticised the UN for the delay, asking for a clear "Yes or no". He said if the answer was "no", Cambodia would proceed on its own. Critics of the tribunal say it will be a whitewash, because many of the most notorious Khmer Rouge leaders have already been given amnesty under a deal in the 1990s to end the country's long-running civil war. During the Khmer Rouge "killing fields" regime, 1.7 million people died through execution, torture, starvation and hard labour.
Sydney Morning Herald 8 Feb 2002 The art of killing Vann Nath with some of his paintings of the horrors in the background. Cambodian artist Vann Nath was spared by the Khmer Rouge to paint portraits of his murderous captors. More than 20 years later he and his fellow survivors are still waiting for justice, reports Mark Baker from Phnom Penh. Vann Nath remembers as vividly as if it were yesterday the moment that Pol Pot's men came for him. He remembers the handcuffs and leg chains, then the blindfolded beatings and the electric shocks. During the long and brutal interrogations he had no answers to charges that he was a spy and traitor. He still has no answers for the madness that engulfed Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge regime. His hands shake and his eyes redden with emotion as he relives the nightmare of the long journey from his village to Phnom Penh and the infamous Tuol Sleng prison. There, for the first month, he was forced to lie shackled with dozens of other prisoners in a darkened cell, unable to sit up, unable to wash or use a toilet, and fed just a few spoonfuls of rice gruel each day. "I thought my life was over," he says. "I was sure they would execute me." Vann Nath also remembers the face of the man who sent thousands of people to their deaths but chose to spare him: Kaing Khek Ieu, the former teacher known as Duch who became commandant of Tuol Sleng, the Khmer Rouge death camp codenamed S21. When Duch discovered that his prisoner had worked as an artist painting cinema hoardings before being sent to the countryside to work as a field labourer, he was set to work painting portraits of Pol Pot and other leaders of the regime. "It was my skill as an artist that saved my life," he says. "If not for that, they would have killed me just like all the others. "When I first came to Tuol Sleng I thought Duch was an educated, thinking man. I didn't know the truth then. But he was the one who killed so many people. All those people who came to Tuol Sleng the men, the women and the children he was the one who signed their death warrants." Vann Nath is one of the last witnesses to the horrors of the Asian Auschwitz. When invading Vietnamese forces liberated Phnom Penh from the Khmer Rouge in January 1979, only seven of the estimated 20,000 prisoners who had entered Tuol Sleng came out alive. Now just two survive: Vann Nath and Chum Mey, a mechanic also spared execution because of his skills. More than two decades after the fall of the Pol Pot regime and more than three years after the death of Pol Pot and the surrender of the remnants of his Maoist movement in their last jungle redoubts, no-one has been brought to account for the atrocities of an era in which close to 2 million Cambodians perished. Just two men have been arrested pending the establishment of a genocide tribunal Ta Mok, the one-legged Khmer Rouge commander known as The Butcher, and Duch, who admitted in interviews with journalists in 1999 that he had overseen the torture chambers and mass executions at Tuol Sleng. Within weeks, both men could be freed because of continuing bickering between the United Nations and the Cambodian Government. Legislation passed last August by the Cambodian parliament and ratified by King Norodom Sihanouk has provided for the establishment of a special court comprising international and local judges and prosecutors to try surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge. But the UN is still withholding final approval and vital funding for the tribunal because of haggling over its composition and the extent of its powers. By early next month Ta Mok and Duch are likely to be freed after being detained without charge for three years, the maximum allowed under Cambodia law. Other Khmer Rouge figures expected to face genocide charges remain free and are living in prosperity in Phnom Penh and elsewhere, thanks to a contested amnesty granted after they surrendered. "The public needs to reclaim this issue," says Youk Chhang, director of Documentation Centre of Cambodia, which has assembled a vast archive of evidence of Khmer Rouge atrocities. "We trusted them too much, both the government and the UN, and now we are being held hostage by them on this issue. They are undermining their responsibility to us, the victims, and also to the perpetrators, both sides." Youk Chhang says the disagreements over the tribunal must be settled quickly while there is still momentum for trials and before the accused die or escape. "Both the Government and the UN have a historical responsibility to do something about this. The Khmer Rouge violated both domestic and international law, so the UN has an obligation to humanity to act, and the government has an obligation to its citizens to see that justice is done." The UN wary that a flawed outcome in Cambodia may set a bad precedent for genocide trials elsewhere in the world is understood to be concerned about the involvement of notoriously corrupt and incompetent Cambodian judges in the process. They are believed to be demanding a greater say in the composition of the courts and the right of international judges to override their local counterparts in the event of deadlocked decisions. UN legal officials are also believed to be seeking guarantees from the Government that several key Khmer Rouge leaders granted amnesties after they surrendered be put on trial. Doubts remain about the Government's willingness to prosecute the three most significant figures in the regime after Pol Pot Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary and Khieu Samphan. According to evidence recently assembled by the Documentation Centre and international lawyers, Nuon Chea Brother Number Two was Pol Pot's deputy responsible for devising and implementing the regime's execution policies; Ieng Sary, as foreign minister, encouraged and facilitated executions within his ministry; and Khieu Samphan, the presidium chairman, encouraged low-level officials to execute suspected dissidents. Ieng Sary, who until recently travelled on a Cambodian passport, lives in a grand 12-room house in Phnom Penh and is often seen in the city's best restaurants. He regularly visits Thailand with his family for medical check-ups and shopping. Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan live comfortably in the border town of Pailin on the profits from gem and timber smuggling businesses that flourished when the area was under Khmer Rouge control. The Cambodian Foreign Minister, Hor Nam Hong, claims to have answered the UN concerns about the trial legislation in a letter sent two weeks ago to the UN's chief legal counsel, Hans Corell. "If the UN keeps raising this or that problem, this matter will never end," Hor Nam Hong said in an interview with Reuters. "We want the UN to help us try the Khmer Rouge very soon. They are so old, they could die before the trial." But while the Government is quick to blame the UN, there are still widespread suspicions that the Prime Minister, Hun Sen a former Khmer Rouge commander who fled to Vietnam during the early stages of their rule remains less than enthusiastic about embarking on a series of sensational trials that will reopen the wounds of history, especially with elections due next year. China is also suspected of lobbying against the trials, which would highlight their support for Pol Pot. Kao Kim Hourn, executive director of the Cambodian Institute for Co-operation and Peace, suspects that the Cambodian genocide issue is no longer high on the UN's agenda since September 11. "The UN seems to be losing interest, but they have a political and a moral responsibility," he says. "What is important is that we have got to this point today: do we want to sit on this case forever, to quit, or do we want to move ahead? There's no room any more for buying time on both sides and the UN has been as guilty as the present government." While the politicians bicker, the victims continue to wait for justice that seems as elusive and distant as ever. For Vann Nath this means more than laying his ghosts to rest. He lost three sons: one during the civil war unleashed by Lon Nol's coup against the former Sihanouk government, another during the killing fields of Pol Pot's reign, the third after years of starvation and disease soon after the fall of the Khmer Rouge. The prospect that Duch may yet go free fills him with despair. "Duch is a prisoner now but even that prison is no hardship for him," says Vann Nath, whose paintings of the terrors perpetrated by Duch now line the walls of the Tuol Sleng museum. "There is no pain, no suffering for him. And it was not just him who did the killing. There were many others and now they have a good life outside. All of them must be brought to justice or the people who suffered under them will never have peace." Youk Chhang, who lost a brother and two sisters during the Khmer Rouge era, agrees. "The people are demanding answers to what happened and justice for those who were the victims and for those who were responsible ...We want to live in the present, not in the past, but the past is still with us. We need to have closure. If nothing happens this will be setting a very bad precedent for the new century: here is one of the most heinous crimes of all in the 20th century and we failed to do anything about it."
WP 9 Feb 2002 U.N. Ends Negotiations On Khmer Rouge Trials Cambodians Accused of Rejecting Key Points By Colum Lynch; Page A24 UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 8 -- The United Nations today scrapped negotiations with Cambodia aimed at establishing a war crimes tribunal to prosecute the aging leaders of the Khmer Rouge, the radical movement that killed an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians during its reign of terror in the 1970s. U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan said the United Nations was disassociating itself from the court because it could not guarantee its "independence, impartiality and objectivity," according to Annan's spokesman, Fred Eckhard. Cambodia's U.N. ambassador, Ouch Borith, said the government "is determined to go ahead" with a new tribunal, "with or without" the help of the United Nations. "It is true that the government has requested assistance from the United Nations," he added. "But it does not mean that we invited the U.N. to dictate to us." U.S. and French officials said they hoped that Annan's decision would not mean the end of 4 1/2 years of complex negotiations involving Cambodian officials, U.N. lawyers, the U.S. State Department and Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.). "We think there are grounds for continuing their discussions," said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher. Kerry, a Vietnam veteran who has taken a personal interest in the issue, said that he phoned Annan's lawyer, Hans Corell of Sweden, this evening to ask the United Nations to reconsider the decision. Kerry voiced frustration with the United Nations for shutting down the talks without first asking the major powers to use their leverage to press for a compromise. "I'm very disappointed and I'm surprised," he said. "I think there were better ways to deal with this than just arbitrarily pulling the plug." Corell told reporters it is unlikely the United Nations can resolve its differences with Cambodia. He blamed the collapse of the talks on Cambodia's refusal to accept key provisions of a lengthy agreement completed in May 2000 to create a war crimes court composed of international and Cambodian judges. The tribunal was to have authority to try those who had the greatest responsibility for mass murder in Cambodia. Only a handful of senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge were expected to face trial. Since Cambodia first asked the United Nations in 1997 for assistance "in bringing to justice persons responsible for genocide and crimes against humanity during the Khmer Rouge regime," the government has frequently backpedaled on its pledges, according to U.N. officials. For example, they said, Cambodia had promised that the agreement's substance would be reflected in legislation passed by the Cambodian National Assembly and Senate; instead, Cambodian lawmakers deleted several key provisions, including one ensuring that those leaders who had been granted amnesty in Cambodia could still be tried by the tribunal. The United Nations has devoted the past several months to negotiating a separate "memorandum of understanding" that would guarantee that no one would be exempt from prosecution. But Corell said Cambodia's chief negotiator, Sok An, dashed any hopes of a compromise in a Nov. 11 letter, in which he insisted that no agreement could "prevail" over Cambodian law. U.S. officials privately voiced irritation with the Cambodians and the United Nations for their inflexibility. "Frankly, neither party has been that enthusiastic about the whole process," a State Department official said. "Our view here was that a deal was possible." Human rights advocates, in contrast, said the United Nations had no choice but to withdraw from the talks."There was no political will in Cambodia," said Mike Jendrzejczyk, an expert on the court at the New York-based advocacy group Human Rights Watch. "We strongly support the U.N.'s decision to drop the negotiations." Catholic priest pleads not guilty to genocide charges
Reuters 9 Feb 2002 Cambodia Says Will Hold K.Rouge Trial Without U.N. By Ek Madra PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - Cambodia said Saturday it would pursue its own plans for a Khmer Rouge trial after the United Nations pulled out of talks to set up a special court to try leaders of the group blamed for 1.7 million deaths in the 1970s. "The Cambodian position is that we will put the Khmer Rouge on trial," co-Minister of Interior and Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng told Reuters, without saying when this would happen. "The United Nations pullout is their problem." Hans Corell, the chief U.N. legal counsel, said Friday the world body was ending negotiations with Cambodia on the special court after concluding that as currently envisaged by Phnom Penh it could not guarantee its impartiality Cambodian negotiators and politicians expressed dismay and surprise at the U.N. decision to quit four-and-a-half years of negotiations. They said they hoped it was not irrevocable as a trial conducted by the government would not be endorsed globally. Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, the main local body investigating Khmer Rouge crimes, called it a failure by the United Nations and a betrayal of Khmer Rouge victims. He said he hoped a compromise could be reached. "They failed to take international law and the victims into account in their negotiations," he said. "This should be about justice for those who died, not politics." A source close to the Cambodian negotiation team said the U.N. announcement was a "complete surprise." "It seems this is the end of the story as far as international participation is concerned. It's possible that other countries on a one-to-one basis could participate, but that's not likely." "PLAN B" However the source added: "The Cambodian government has always had a Plan B to hold its own trial. The prime minister has always said he will hold his own trial." Prime Minister Hun Sen, once a junior Khmer Rouge commander, has always appeared reluctant to see U.N. participation and some analysts believe he does not want to see any trial. The U.N. announcement came less than a week after disputed local elections which brought him a landslide and bolstered his position. Hun Sen said last year he expected 10 top Khmer Rouge leaders tried, but the U.N. has not wanted to be bound by such a limit. One of the main sticking points has been former Khmer Rouge foreign minister Ieng Sary who was pardoned by constitutional monarch King Norodom Sihanouk after his defection in 1996 and the government's insistence that he should not be tried. Ieng Sary was in Phnom Penh Saturday, but a guard at his house said he would not speak to reporters as he had a heart complaint and was resting. "He's too old, he doesn't want to see anyone," the guard said. Only two high-profile Khmer Rouge figures are in detention -- Kaing Kek Keu, better know as "Duch," who ran the group's main torture center and one-legged military commander Ta Mok. The surviving senior Khmer Rouge leaders currently live in quiet retirement in an enclave on Cambodia's western border with Thailand. Former Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot died in 1998. Duch's lawyer Kar Savuth said a trial should be held by Cambodians and said the U.N. decision was politically motivated to cover up its former relationship with the Khmer Rouge. "Between 1975 and 1979 the U.N. supported the Khmer Rouge and accepted them at the United Nations until 1989. The United Nations supported a genocidal regime," he said. Some 1.7 million people died in the Maoist group's 1975-1979 "killing fields" rule, of execution, starvation, overwork and disease, but none of its leaders has ever been punished. A 1999 survey of almost 90,000 people by local rights groups found the vast majority wanted an international trial. Saturday, several Phnom Penh citizens said the U.N. should not abandon its efforts. "The government could do it without the United Nations, but I don't think it would be fair for the victims as we don't trust the courts," said 22-year-old student Neath Sokheng. "Justice must be done," said taxi driver Pok Sam. Nhiek Bun Chhay, deputy-secretary general of Hun Sen's royalist coalition partners, said a trial without the U.N. would be "meaningless" and he could not see when it could take place. U.S. and French officials said they hoped the U.N. decision was not irrevocable. An Asian diplomat said the U.N. could be trying to apply pressure to gain concessions. He said Hun Sen could hold a trial in Cambodia, but it would need participation of foreign judges to give it credibility. Kao Kim Hourn, director of the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace, said the U.N. had been defeated by those in the government who did not want to see any trial. "The U.N. has played into the strategy of the government," he said.
AP 9 Feb 2002 Cambodia to Hold Khmer Rouge Trial By Chris Decherd PHNOM PENH, Cambodia –– Cambodia says it still is determined to bring Khmer Rouge leaders to justice for genocide despite the United Nations' surprise announcement that it won't help the government establish a court. The United Nations on Friday abandoned 4½ years of negotiations with the Cambodian government on a U.N. role in a court to try Khmer Rouge leaders, saying there was no guarantee the tribunal would be independent and impartial. Cambodian Cabinet minister Sok An said Saturday that the decision was "no problem at all," underlining the government's long-standing position to carry out the trial even without U.N. backing. Cambodian legal and social activists, however, said a tribunal without U.N participation would just be a "show trial" and would not be trusted by Cambodians. The communist Khmer Rouge ruled Cambodia from 1975-79 and are blamed for the deaths of 1.7 million people from starvation, disease, overwork and execution. The movement lasted as a rebel group until 1998, the year its leader, Pol Pot, died. Now many of his top lieutenants continue to live freely in Cambodia. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan decided to end talks on U.N. participation in the court after the Cambodian government made clear that its law setting up the tribunal would take precedence over any agreement with the United Nations on the conduct of the trials. U.N. legal adviser Hans Corell said the world body dropped out because otherwise it would be deprived "of its substantive role of ensuring that international standards of justice" are maintained. Among other points of difference, the United Nations wants defendants to have the right to pick their own counsel and to mandate the government to arrest suspects who do not voluntarily appear before the tribunal. The law does not have those provisions. The United Nations and Cambodia's government also differ over how to deal with Ieng Sary, a top Khmer Rouge leader who was granted amnesty when he defected in 1996. The United States, which has acted as a bridge between the United Nations and Cambodia during past negotiations, said it hoped they would continue their dialogue. Corell refused to speculate on a resumption of negotiations. The government has long said it would hold a tribunal even without U.N. backing. Cambodia's U.N. ambassador, Ouch Borith, said Cambodia's request for U.N. help in creating the tribunal "does not mean that we invite the U.N. to dictate us to do this and to do what they want." Lao Mong Hay, director of the independent think tank the Khmer Institute for Democracy, said it was clear the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen had no intention of relinquishing control over a future trial. "As a brother of two victims of Khmer Rouge rule, I prefer not to have any show trial," Lao Mong Hay said. "The present legislation cannot guarantee an international standard of trial." Kek Galabru, the founder of the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights, a leading human rights group, said a tribunal without the United Nations would be "useless" but that the world body must protect its own reputation. "If it cooperated with such a tribunal that doesn't meet international standards, the United Nations will lose all credibility," she said. In June 1997, Cambodia asked Annan for assistance in bringing to justice those responsible for genocide and crimes against humanity. Hun Sen rejected a U.N. proposal for an international court, but asked the United Nations to assist in drafting a Cambodian law allowing foreign judges and prosecutors to participate in the tribunal's proceedings. Corell says the Cambodians later backed out of an agreement reached over the law, which Hun Sen says takes precedence over any agreement with the United Nations. Another main sticking point is how Ieng Sary's amnesty will be interpreted by the court. The United Nations said during negotiations that it wanted the tribunal to be free to indict any suspect. Hun Sen said Ieng Sary deserves credit for helping bring peace to Cambodia by crippling the Khmer Rouge with his defection. Hun Sen said last year he expected about 10 people to go on trial. Low-ranking and middle-ranking Khmer Rouge leaders would not be targeted, he said. ––– Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed to this report.
Reuters 10 Feb 2002 Cambodia May Ask Some Nations to Join K.Rouge Trial By Kevin Doyle PHNOM PENH - Prime Minister Hun Sen said Monday Cambodia would invite individual nations to participate in a trial of Khmer Rouge leaders for crimes against humanity if the United Nations refused to rejoin the process. Hun Sen told reporters the government would welcome a resumption of talks with the United Nations on setting up a special court and said there was still time for it to reverse its decision to withdraw from the process. But he added: "We cannot leave the issue halfway. The law must be implemented. We will wait for the United Nations to come back, but we cannot wait for ever. "If there is no United Nations participation, we will invite various countries that want to join the tribunal and will send their prosecutors and judges. The law allows us to do this. "But I hope the United Nations will come here and work with us." Hans Corell, the chief U.N legal counsel, said Friday the world body was ending talks with Cambodia on setting up the special court after concluding that as currently envisaged by Phnom Penh it could not guarantee its impartiality. Hun Sen noted that the United States, Japan and France had all expressed surprise at the decision. Foreign governments and Cambodian rights groups have urged the U.N. to reconsider as international involvement was crucial to the global credibility of a trial. If the United Nations did not return, Hun Sen said, it would be another mistake by the world body which had once recognized the Khmer Rouge as the legitimate government of Cambodia. CATASTROPHIC REVOLUTION Some 1.7 million people died of execution, starvation, overwork and disease during the catastrophic Khmer Rouge revolution between 1975 and 1979, but none of its leaders has been ever been punished for the crimes of that period. A key sticking point in the talks with the United Nations has been who should go on trial and the government's desire to restrict prosecution to about 10 selected Khmer Rouge figures. A particular issue was the fate of former Khmer Rouge foreign minister Ieng Sary, who was pardoned by constitutional monarch King Norodom Sihanouk after his defection in 1996. Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said Saturday that without U.N. involvement, Cambodia had two options -- to hold a trial alone or with help from individual countries, but it wanted a trial held before general elections in 2003. Despite Hun Sen's comments, he has always appeared reluctant to see U.N. participation in a trial and once referred to officials of the world body as "germs. Analysts are pessimistic about the possibility of the United Nations being persuaded to rejoin the process and say that without its participation, Cambodia would leave untouched former members of the Khmer Rouge holding positions of power in the government. Several government ministers have Khmer Rouge backgrounds, including Hun Sen himself, who was a junior military commander before defecting to Vietnam, whose troops overthrew the radical Maoists in 1979. Only two high-profile Khmer Rouge figures are in detention -- Kaing Kek Ieu, better know as "Duch," who ran the group's main torture center and one-legged military commander Ta Mok. A judge warned Saturday they would have to released soon unless the law was changed to extend their three-year detention. The surviving top Khmer Rouge leaders, including former head of state Khieu Samphan and ideological guru Nuon Chea live in quiet retirement in an enclave on Cambodia's western border with Thailand. Former Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot died in 1998.
Reuters 11 Feb 2002 Door open for U.N. at Khmer Rouge trial PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - Cambodia says it will ask individual nations to help try Khmer Rouge leaders for genocide and crimes against humanity if the United Nations refused to rejoin the process, but diplomats said it was premature to rule out U.N. involvement. Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Monday the government would welcome new talks with the United Nations on setting up a special court and said there was time for it to reverse its decision last week to withdraw from the process. But he added: "We cannot leave the issue halfway. The law must be implemented. We will wait for the United Nations to come back, but we cannot wait for ever. "If there is no United Nations participation, we will invite various countries that want to join the tribunal and will send their prosecutors and judges. The law allows us to do this." Hans Corell, the chief U.N legal counsel, said on Friday the world body was ending talks with Cambodia on setting up a special court after concluding it could not guarantee its impartiality. UN PULLOUT AHEAD OF MILOSEVIC TRIBUNAL The U.N. pullout came just ahead of Tuesday's U.N. war crimes tribunal in the Hague to try former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic for genocide and crimes against humanity during the violent break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Foreign diplomats and Cambodians have said they were shocked and dismayed by the U.N. announcement. Some 1.7 million people died of execution, starvation, overwork or disease during the catastrophic Khmer Rouge revolution between 1975 and 1979, but none of its leaders has been punished. On Monday, several foreign ambassadors welcomed Hun Sen's willingness to continue talks with the United Nations and said it was premature to rule the world body out of the process. Commenting on the prospect for U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to reverse the U.N. decision, U.S. ambassador Kent Wiedemann told Reuters: "Anything is possible in international diplomacy." He said it was premature to plan a tribunal without U.N. involvement. "This is something that might be addressed down the road, but it's absolutely premature to comment. The United States is focused on getting the Cambodians and United Nations back together. We believe they are truly on the brink of an agreement." Envoys from Japan, Britain and Australia made similar comments and France has said it hopes the U.N. will reconsider. Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said on Saturday that without U.N. involvement, Cambodia had two options -- to hold a trial alone or with help from individual countries, but it wanted a trial held before general elections in 2003. Foreign governments, rights groups and ordinary people say international involvement is crucial to the global credibility. Independent analysts doubt the U.N. can be persuaded back and fear that without its participation, Cambodia would leave untouched former members of the Khmer Rouge holding positions of power in the government. Hun Sen said that if the United Nations did not return, it would be another mistake by a body which had once recognised the Khmer Rouge as the legitimate government of Cambodia. MINISTERS HAVE KHMER ROUGE BACKGROUNDS Hun Sen is one of several government ministers with a Khmer Rouge background and despite his comments on Monday has always appeared reluctant to see U.N. participation in a trial. He has referred to the U.N. in the past as "germs". Hun Sen was a junior military commander before defecting to Vietnam, whose troops overthrew the radical Maoists in 1979. He has not been implicated in Khmer Rouge crimes. A key sticking point in the talks with the United Nations was who should go on trial and the government's desire to restrict prosecution to about 10 selected Khmer Rouge figures. A particular issue was the fate of former Khmer Rouge foreign minister Ieng Sary, who was pardoned by constitutional monarch King Norodom Sihanouk after his defection in 1996. Only two high-profile Khmer Rouge figures are in detention -- Kaing Kek Ieu, better know as "Duch", who ran the group's main torture centre, and one-legged military commander Ta Mok. They have been detained for nearly three years and Hun Sen said on Monday the government planned draft legislation to extend their remand periods -- which expire in March and May -- until a tribunal can be set up. The surviving top Khmer Rouge leaders, including former head of state Khieu Samphan and ideological guru Nuon Chea, live in quiet retirement in an enclave on Cambodia's western border with Thailand. Former Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot died in 1998.
Amnesty International news release 11 Feb 2002 Cambodia: Flawed trials in no one's best interests The announcement that the United Nations is pulling out of its cooperation with the Cambodian authorities to bring suspected perpetrators of gross human rights violations from the Khmer Rouge era to justice came as no surprise, Amnesty International said today. "The process as envisaged by the Cambodian authorities fell short of required internationally recognized standards for fair trials, and it is for the UN to ensure that these standards are maintained," the organization said. "Participating in trial procedures which are not fair would serve only to undermine UN human rights standards, and sell the Cambodian people short." After protracted negotiations since 1997 the UN and the Cambodian authorities agreed in July 2000 to establish a so-called "mixed tribunal" of Cambodian and international judges, to sit in Cambodia and judge a limited number of prioritised cases. Amnesty International expressed concern at the time that the agreement did not provide full guarantees of independence and impartiality required to ensure that justice be done, and be seen to be done. The Cambodian government drafted a law which was passed by Cambodia's National Assembly and Senate, and was signed by the King of Cambodia in August 2001. The law raised serious concerns about fairness, which the UN detailed to the Cambodian government, but they declined to alter the legislation. "The net result of these years of work is that Cambodian people are still no closer to achieving justice, and that is the real tragedy," Amnesty International said. "The legacy of the Khmer Rouge era still hangs over Cambodia, and over the judicial system in particular. Impunity for those responsible remains the reality, and the Cambodian government must take responsibility for its own lacklustre legislation." Background The extended negotiation process between the UN and the Cambodian authorities to bring to justice those suspected of responsibility grave human rights violations, including crimes against humanity, in Cambodia between 17 April 1975 and 7 January 1979 (the so-called Khmer Rouge period) began with a letter from the Cambodian prime ministers in June 1997, requesting help. The UN's recommended option, an international tribunal, was rejected by the Cambodian authorities. A series of meetings and letters followed, resulting in an agreement for a way forward in July 2000. However, the Cambodian legislation to enable this agreement to be enacted fell short of the provisions required by the UN, and the Cambodian authorities refused to alter the law. The Cambodian judicial system is weak and subject to political pressures especially in high profile cases. On 8 February 2002, the UN Secretary-General's Legal Counsel Hans Corell announced that the UN will no longer negotiate on the issue with the Cambodian authorities.
HRW 12 Feb 2002 Cambodia: Tribunal Must Meet International Standards (New York, February 12, 2002) - The United Nations was right to pull out of negotiations with the Cambodian government over how to bring Khmer Rouge leaders to justice, Human Rights Watch said today, but neither the U.N. nor the Cambodian government should consider the issue closed. Human Rights Watch urged the Cambodian government to take the necessary measures to bring the proposed tribunal up to international standards so that the U.N. could participate. "Given the failure of the Cambodian government to address the concerns about the tribunal raised more than a year ago, we feel the U.N. acted appropriately," said Mike Jendrzejczyk, Washington director of Human Rights Watch. "The Cambodian people deserve justice, but at the same high standard as the people of the former Yugoslavia." The U.N. legal office announced last week that it was withdrawing from further discussions with the Cambodian government over the establishment of a special "mixed tribunal" composed of both Cambodian and foreign judges and prosecutors. A law setting up that tribunal, passed by the Cambodian National Assembly in January 2001 and signed by King Sihanouk in August 2001, had serious shortcomings from a human rights perspective. One of the most glaring defects of the law is that it could prevent prosecution of senior Khmer Rouge leaders who previously received pardons or amnesties. The Royal Cambodian Government's pardon of former Khmer Rouge Foreign Minister Ieng Sary after he defected in 1996, for example, might be allowed to stand. The U.N. had insisted on a provision that previous pardons or amnesties would not be a bar to prosecutions. The law also deletes all references to defendants' right to counsel of their choice, thus undermining the possibility that defendants will have proper defense and be allowed access to international counsel. Supporters of the Cambodian legislation argue that this kind of detail can be worked out later. Human Rights Watch believes that the U.N. should not cooperate with a domestic tribunal that does not meet international standards because this will not address Cambodia's need for real accountability for the Khmer Rouge's crimes. Human Rights Watch urged donor governments to strongly encourage the Cambodian government to promptly demonstrate its willingness to fully meet the criteria laid out by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. In the meantime, donors should not pledge any assistance for a domestic Cambodian tribunal that is not fully independent and impartial. The Cambodian government has said that it is willing to go it alone, without the U.N. But Japan, the European Union, the United States and other donors have repeatedly said they would only support a tribunal with U.N. involvement. "Donors should now use their influence to persuade the Cambodian government to cooperate fully with the U.N.," said Jendrzejczyk.
Bangkok Post 18 Feb 2002 Khmer Rouge get away with murder The United Nations has capped a decade of failure in Cambodia by abandoning the effort to bring Khmer Rouge leaders to justice for their terrible, undoubted crimes. The leaders of the world body have deserted Cambodians who are searching for a morsel of justice. The UN has also given the impression there is a statute of limitations on mass murder. Even if the United Nations does the right thing and reverses its decision, it will take years to recover its reputation. The decision to stop negotiating for a war crimes tribunal in Cambodia came suddenly. The Cambodian government got 45 minutes notice. Nations deeply involved in the process got 30 minutes. The United States, France and others protested in vain. Last week, they sent high-ranking envoys to appeal directly to the UN secretary-general, Kofi Annan. Mr Annan took responsibility for ending the tribunal discussions and turned down requests to revive the talks. Justice denied in Cambodia not only allows the Khmer Rouge leaders to get away with murder. The UN decision to flick off the atrocious crimes in Cambodia demonstrates an enormous disrespect for the people of that daunted nation. For the third time in a little over 10 years, the United Nations has effectively gone against Cambodian hopes and trans-national morality. In the early 1990s, the biggest UN military force ever assembled refused to confront marauding Khmer Rouge, despite overwhelming demands from the Cambodian people to put down that murderous group. The peacekeepers, in the most expensive UN operation ever, even encouraged the Pol Pot forces to take over entire districts by force. Rather than evict violent and intimidating Khmer Rouge leaders from the ensuing election, UN officials egged them on with the lie that they were a legitimate political force. They also refused to disarm the Vietnamese-installed Hun Sen, thus allowing him to hijack an election he did not win. Strongman and former Khmer Rouge officer Hun Sen has played the major role in denying justice to his people for the Pol Pot days. The premier may now succeed in cheating justice with his delays. Pol Pot is dead. Last week, the mass murderer Ke Pauk died. The lawyer for another murderer, Ta Mok, demanded his client be tried or released on bail. Most of the surviving inner circle of Khmer Rouge killers live peacefully in Pailin. By quitting Cambodia, the UN is ultimately taking responsibility for a lack of justice. The United Nations cannot blame its decision to abandon justice on Prime Minister Hun Sen. In fact, UN and foreign negotiators _ diplomatic and civilian _ had made agonising but measurable progress in establishing a respectable tribunal. The decision to abandon five years of negotiations and the Cambodian people's expectations of justice falls entirely upon Mr Annan and, probably, very poor advice from tired, cynical UN officials. The frustration over glacial confrontations with Hun Sen is understandable. Using such subjective stress as an excuse to forsake all Cambodians is not. The United Nations must rescind its ill-considered, injurious decision to abandon the fight for justice in Cambodia. Unfortunately, the reputation of the world body has probably suffered irreversible damage in the eyes of Cambodians. Successive, timid UN actions have encouraged and ensured the survival of the Khmer Rouge. The United Nations has pushed hard to establish a world court for serious human rights violators. In the eyes of many, particularly the abused Cambodian people, the UN has lost the stature to lead such a principled stand. Returning to Cambodia to fight for justice against the Khmer Rouge killers can partly retrieve this shattered UN image.
Bangkok Post Friday 15 February 2002 ANALYSIS TRYING THE KHMER ROUGE: UN walkout could deny Khmers chance for justice The United Nations record on Cambodia is not one it can feel particularly proud about. And now it has further blotted its copy book by withdrawing from the trial of those genocidal guerrillas, the Khmer Rouge. by TOM FAWTHROP (Tom Fawthrop is a freelance journalist based in Phnom Penh.) Survivors of Cambodia's Killing Fields have long prayed for the day of judgment on the Pol Pot regime, the long-awaited day to witness the indictment of their tormentors and the arraignment of Khmer Rouge leaders in court. It is now 23 years since the Pol Pot regime was ousted, and the dark secrets of its torture centre and death camp S21, or Toul Sleng, and mass graves were revealed to the world. The abrupt and shock decision of the United Nations to walk away from the mission of helping the Phnom Penh government set up a credible tribunal has all but killed the hopes of millions that justice and accountability for the Khmer Rouge's crimes against humanity was finally on the horizon. In order to justify walking out on the last hope of Cambodians for real justice that only a UN-supported tribunal is likely to provide, the UN legal chief, Hans Corell, has incurred a heavy responsibility to explain why he could not go the extra mile, and at least one final trip to Phnom Penh, to clinch an agreement with the Cambodians. Many Cambodians are angry with the UN's unilateral decision to abort the long process which started back in 1997, with Prime Minister's Hun Sen's request to the UN for assistance in putting the Khmer Rouge leadership on trial. Some also blame the stubborn position of Hun Sen and his apparent insistence that Khmer Rouge law could not be amended by further negotiation with the UN. All the donor countries, and especially the US embassy in Phnom Penh, expressed dismay over the UN walkout, and are currently lobbying for a change of heart and a return to the negotiating table. The Cambodian government has reacted with unusual restraint in saying that the door is open for more talks. Its invitation to Mr Corell to return to Phnom Penh for face to face negotiations, an invitation first issued back in August last year, is still on the table. Swedish lawyer Corell, UN under-secretary in charge of legal affairs, insists that the always troubled ``marriage'' with the Cambodian Task Force for the Tribunal led by Sok An, senior minister in charge of the Cambodian cabinet, has broken down because of irreconcilable differences. The UN was expected to sign articles of co-operation with the Cambodian government detailing technical aid and international funding, and special responsibilities including the nomination of international lawyers and judges. The deal-breaking issue, according to the UN, is Phnom Penh's insistence that its Khmer Rouge Trial Law would be the sole authority for the tribunal's procedures, and the separate agreement signed with the UN dubbed ``Articles of Co-operation'' would apparently downgrade the UN's status and role in the process. Whether or not the differences are so irreconcilable is open to question. Previous deadlocks between the two parties have been overcome through the mediation of third parties and mutual compromise. Diplomats in Phnom Penh were not impressed by Mr Corell's off-hand way of announcing the termination of the UN's role. No consultation took place with the UN member states, no advance warning was given to Sok An and the Cambodian government, and no courtesy was extended by way of a last trip to Phnom Penh. One senior diplomat based in Cambodia said ``the problem is Hans Corell's arrogance''. DEADLOCK WITH PHNOM PENH The Khmer Rouge Trial Law finally signed into law by King Norodom Sihanouk last August reflects a series of compromises with the UN legal team in an attempt to uphold ``international legal standards''. However there remain serious doubts given the prevalence of corruption, the lack of legal training and the absence of an independent judiciary. Mr Corell claimed in a New York press conference on Feb 8 that the Cambodian Special Law would not guarantee the independence, the impartiality and the objectivity that a court established with the support of the United Nations must have. The ambitious formula is one that acknowledges Cambodian sovereignty while, at the same time, both sides recognise the need for strong international participation and assistance to ensure the result is a credible tribunal, capable of rendering a historic judgment on the crimes of the Pol Pot regime. Mr Corell has admitted he was never enthusiastic about the Cambodian model and wanted to escape from the negotiations a long time ago. Observers in New York claim it was only American pressure from the Clinton administration, that kept him on board. The UN legal department's view was bolstered by several international human rights organisations that have dismissed Khmer Rouge law as deeply flawed. But Kent Wiedemann, US ambassador to Phnom Penh, does not accept that the differences between the two sides are irrevocable. In his view: ``It takes will on both sides, but I don't see any huge differences or hurdles that have to do with international standards of justice.'' UN DILEMMAS AND ITS SORRY RECORD ON THE KHMER ROUGE UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is going to be reminded during the next few weeks that the reputation of the international body may well be tarnished and dammed whichever path the United Nations takes. The lawyers have warned the UN that if it becomes the handmaiden to a sham trial orchestrated by Phnom Penh, it would damage its international credibility. But others will point out that the UN's reputation will also be damaged if it washes its hands of Cambodia. The UN failed Cambodia spectacularly in the 1980s when the Cambodia seat was occupied by a coalition government which included Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge. Now all these years later, it is in danger of failing Cambodians again. The issue of holding an international tribunal in the 1980s was raised in many quarters. Survivors of the genocidal regime, the late Dr Haing Ngor, Dith Pran and human rights advocate David Hawk lobbied the United Nations and Western governments in vain. The Hun Sen government and then Australian foreign minister Bill Hayden also issued calls during the '80s for the international community to set up a Khmer Rouge tribunal. The UN made no response. Cold War politics triumphed over human rights, and it was not until 1997 that the UN Human Rights Commission formally recognised the crimes against humanity committed by the Pol Pot regime. Some senior UN officials have privately remarked that the seat given to the coalition government which included the Khmer Rouge was one of the most embarrassing episodes in UN history. The Cambodian government's deep-seated distrust of the UN is all part of the negotiating process, as is the fact that it was Phnom Penh and not the United Nations that defeated the Khmer Rouge and brought peace to the country in 1998. The narrow legalistic approach of the UN's legal team has failed to take into account the Cambodian government's deep sense of historical grievance, and the feeling that the United Nations let them down in the '80s. CORELL'S LAW In a genocide tribunal of such international importance and legal complexity, it is astounding that no face to face negotiations have taken place between the UN lawyers and the Cambodian side since July 2000 (the date of Mr Corell's last visit to Cambodia). Nor is there any authorised UN representative in Phnom Penh to co-ordinate and facilitate the proceedings. Highly sensitive and complex issues have been dealt with at the insistence of Mr Corell through the exchange of letters - often abrasive letters from the UN side scolding the Cambodians for taking too long and many other sharp and condescending remarks, hardly calculated to improve testy relations between the two sides. So clearly part of the problem has been Mr Corell, his style and his busy agenda, which now includes setting up a tribunal in Sierra Leone. Kao Kim Hourn, the director of the Cambodian Institute for Peace and Co-operation, said: ``The shifting of the focus of the United Nations to Afghanistan and other areas has overshadowed Cambodia,'' he said, ``and now the United Nations is just washing its hands of Cambodia.'' If the United Nations has finally pulled the plug, it is clear who are the winners. China had failed in putting pressure on Hun Sen and now ironically finds that it is the UN that has come to rescue it from embarrassment over its ardent support for the Khmer Rouge. It is also clear that Ieng Sary and other Khmer Rouge leaders will rejoice that their chance of cheating justice will be vastly improved. And the losers from a United Nations withdrawal will once again be the Cambodian people, just as they were 20 years ago when they were victims of a UN boycott. The United Nations owes it to Cambodian people to accept Phnom Penh's invitation for further talks, and to ensure the last chance for a credible tribunal is not squandered just because Cambodia once again has become a sideshow to events in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
NYT February 14, 2002 Cambodia Won't Easily Find Justice on Its Own By YOUK CHHANG HNOM PENH, Cambodia -- In 1977, my oldest sister, who had two little daughters, was accused of stealing rice from the collective kitchen. Despite her repeated denials, the Khmer Rouge cadre refused to believe her, and to prove his allegation, he took a knife and cut open her stomach. My sister's stomach was empty, and she died. Even if God can forgive that Khmer Rouge cadre, the man's responsibility as a human being for what he did to my sister remains. Her murder was just one of millions of crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge, crimes that remain unjudged and unpunished. The Khmer Rouge have gotten away with murder. The world must not give up its efforts to bring their leadership to justice. There has been a lot of talk about justice recently. Justice for the members of Al Qaeda and their victims, justice for Sierra Leone and the former Yugoslavia. For Cambodia, the process of justice seems to be moving in reverse. After years of negotiations, last Friday the United Nations said it would end its efforts to reach an agreement with the current Cambodian government on a tribunal to judge former leaders of the Khmer Rouge. Although the government says it will go ahead with a tribunal of its own if necessary, the United Nations and Cambodia should resume their discussions and cooperate to establish one. More time has already passed since Cambodia asked the United Nations for assistance in this matter, in 1997, than the Khmer Rouge took to lay waste to Cambodia and kill 40 percent of its population. Last August King Norodom Sihanouk signed a law establishing the special Khmer Rouge Tribunal, but the United Nations says the complicated formula that the law sets out for a court with Cambodian and foreign judges and prosecutors may not provide impartial justice. The survivors and their children, fearing that the government will be reluctant or unable to pursue the guilty effectively, have placed their hopes in the United Nations. They want assurance that all former leaders indicted by the tribunal will be arrested and prevented from fleeing. And, knowing that only the highest standards of justice will allow their country to move toward healing, they want to be sure due process applies to the accused. Under the Khmer Rouge, an invisible organization called Angkar governed every aspect of Cambodians' lives, using techniques of psychological terror. The legacy of its insane actions remains with us today, not only in Cambodia's political and economic underdevelopment but also in the ruptured social structures that resulted from Angkar's relentless assault upon religion and the family. Those of us who work at the Documentation Center of Cambodia have spent seven years trying to document the millions of crimes and atrocities committed under the Khmer Rouge regime. The center's core objectives are the promotion of memory and justice, both of which are critical foundations for establishing the rule of law and genuine national reconciliation in Cambodia. So far the center has documented 19,440 mass graves and 167 extermination centers. It has collected more than 600,000 pages of Khmer Rouge documents. Our monthly magazine, Searching for the Truth, sends information we have uncovered to villages all over the country. Twenty-three years after the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime, some of its leaders continue to live in freedom in Cambodia. While many of the regime's victims live in dire poverty, some of these former leaders, like Ieng Sary and his wife, Ieng Thirith, are even free to travel to Thailand for expensive medical treatment. It would be relatively easy to bring these people to justice. All it takes is a meeting of political wills between the international community and Cambodia. That is within reach. It would be yet another tragedy for Cambodia if the momentum is allowed to fade and justice is further delayed. In 1994 the United States Congress passed the Cambodian Genocide Justice Act, affirming American support for efforts to bring the Khmer Rouge to justice. America could help Cambodia now by reaffirming that support. It should speak out on the necessity for United Nations participation in forming a tribunal whose credibility will not be doubted. Unless powerful voices are heard from the international community, justice may never come to Cambodia. Youk Chhang is director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia.
Reuters 16 Feb 2002 Former Khmer Rouge Military Chief Dies PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - Former Khmer Rouge military chief Ke Pauk, a leading figure in Cambodia's 1970s "killing fields" regime, died Friday, government officials and genocide researchers said. His death underscored the urgent need to prosecute the organization's aging leaders before it is too late, the officials and researchers said. General Ke Pauk, 68, died of natural causes in Anlong Veng in northern Cambodia after a long period of ill-health, Meas Sophea, deputy chief of staff of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, told Reuters Saturday. He was the second most senior Khmer Rouge figure to die, after its leader Pol Pot in 1998, and would have been a key target for prosecution in a planned Khmer Rouge tribunal. Prime Minister Hun Sen said Ke Pauk's forces had a bloody reputation during Khmer Rouge rule and he was disappointed the general had died before standing trial. "Unfortunately Ke Pauk, who has not yet been tried, died yesterday. He was one of the suspects," Hun Sen said at a bridge construction project in eastern Kompong Cham province. Hun Sen said that three Khmer Rouge leaders -- Pol Pot, Son Sen and Ke Pauk -- had now died without trial, but named four surviving members of the regime's hierarchy who would be charged. "There remains Ta Mok, Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan and Duch...and other people who will be charged by the court," he said. Cambodia's top genocide researcher, Youk Chhang, said evidence showed that Ke Pauk was responsible for ordering and implementing the mass killing of 10,000 people in Kompong Cham alone. Youk Chhang said his death made it imperative that a trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders take place soon or the surviving suspects would succumb to old age before facing justice. "The United Nations and the Cambodian government must decide to try the Khmer Rouge as quickly as possible because the fact is, nature and time are not waiting for us." An estimated 1.7 million people died from starvation, disease, forced labor and execution at Khmer Rouge hands. A planned U.N.-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal was shelved this month when the world body said it was ending four-and-a-half years of talks because the court envisaged by Phnom Penh could not guarantee impartiality. Government spokesman Om Yen Tieng said Ke Pauk should not be judged guilty until a tribunal was formed but his death was a reminder that Cambodia cannot wait forever. "Ke Pauk's death reminds us that a tribunal must begin. Time is limited," he said. None of the aging former Khmer Rouge leaders has yet stood trial. Most live in quiet retirement in an enclave on Cambodia's western border with Thailand. Only two high-profile Khmer Rouge figures are in detention -- Kaing Kek Ieu, better know as "Duch," who ran the regime's main torture center, and one-legged military commander Ta Mok, also know as "the butcher." Both have been held for almost three years awaiting trial. Their lawyers said this week the government should either start court proceedings or release them on bail. EXECUTION POLICIES Genocide researchers say Ke Pauk, as chief of the Khmer Rouge "Northern Zone," was responsible for bloody purges of rank-and-file members when their loyalty became suspect. He was believed to have ranked sixth on the Khmer Rouge government's decision-making central committee and fourth in the group's military command. In 1998, however, Ke Pauk played a crucial role in the defection of thousands of Khmer Rouge rebels to the Phnom Penh government after an internal power struggle. The government rewarded him by making him a one-star general in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, then the highest rank awarded to a former Khmer Rouge rebel. Genocide researcher Stephen Heder and international lawyer Brian Tittemore named Ke Pauk as a possible Khmer Rouge trial suspect in a report released last year. "Evidence respecting (Ke Pauk's) position in the Communist Party suggests his direct responsibility for facilitating and implementation of (Communist Party of Kampuchea) execution policies," the report stated. Ke Pauk told journalists in an interview in 2000 that he was ready to stand trial. He admitted that the Khmer Rouge had made "mistakes," but he was adamant that the late Pol Pot had been mostly to blame for the regime's excesses. Ke Pauk lived out his last years among his extended family in Cambodia's main tourist town, Siem Reap. Neighbors knew him as a nice man who never talked politics. Suffering from high blood pressure and diabetes, he went to Thailand for medical treatment last month but suffered a stroke and returned to Anlong Veng where he died Friday, nephew Heng Sun said by telephone from northern Cambodia.
International Campaign for Tibet 8 Feb 2002 Tibet Raised and Debated in UN General Assembly for First Time Since 1965 United Nations, NY - The accreditation of a Tibetan NGO to a UN conference became the focus of full General Assembly vote in New York today for the first time since 1965. China objected to the UN's recommendation of accrediting the International Campaign for Tibet, but the matter went for a General Assembly vote when the European Union refused to go along with China's objection. Out of 189 potential voting nations, 93 voted against accrediting ICT, 44 voted for, 16 abstained and 40 did not vote or were not present. Pakistan and Cuba spoke up on behalf of China's motion. The EU was a aggressive advocate for ICT noting ICT's positive contribution to the UN's World Conference Against racism last year, to which it was accredited. "We are obviously disappointed that China prevailed on this vote but we are pleased that most of the world's major democracies voted for us or abstained," said Bhuchung Tsering, Director of ICT, who was at the UN for the vote. "We lost this vote but Tibet is squarely back on the international agenda and there to stay," said Tsering. "Ironically, China itself raised the status of Tibet in the UN General Assembly to its highest level in decades and made the political status of Tibet the focus of the debate," Mr. Tsering continued. The vote also exemplifies China's growing influence at the United Nations and the incredible sensitivity of China towards the issue of Tibet. "Today's vote is less a reflection of lack of support for Tibet in the UN than a reflection of China's fierce and powerful lobbying force," said Tsering. China's efforts to block ICT's accreditation avoided a discussion of ICT's qualifications regarding sustainable development in Tibet, and centered on political question of Tibetan independence, even though ICT does not take a stand of the question of independence. "Though 'splitting Tibet from China' is nowhere in our mandate, the fact that 44 of the world's strongest and most influential democracies voted in support of an issue that China made about Tibetan independence, is encouraging," said John Ackerly, President of ICT. "China has once again tried to deny a voice to the Tibetan people, but such repressive tactics will never subdue the desire of Tibetans to speak for themselves," said Tsering. "We want to thank all of freedom loving countries who believe that UN conferences should not exclude any people or NGOs who represent them," said Tsering. Authoritarian countries around the world supported China, including Myanmar, Iraq, Sudan and others. India and Brazil abstained and virtually all of the newly-emerging democracies in eastern Europe voted for ICT's inclusion. Representatives of ICT intend to go to the World Summit in partnership with other organizations to give voice to Tibetans and discuss sustainable development in Tibet.
31 January, 2002, 18:13 GMT Fiji seeks judge for Speight trial Speight wants indigenous people to have more power Fiji is looking for a foreign judge to preside over the treason trial of coup plotter George Speight after local judges said they were unwilling to take it on. The British judge who heard the preliminary stages of the case is leaving Fiji after receiving death threats, local media reported. The trial is scheduled to start in less than three week's time, but Fiji's Chief Justice said he hoped to "resolve" the problem next week. No one seems willing in Fiji to take on the case Chief Justice Timoti Tuivaga George Speight led an armed rebellion in May 2000, toppling the then government of Mahendra Chaudhry, Fiji's first ethnic Indian prime minister. The rebels said their actions were carried out to defend indigenous rights. Mr Speight is being held on a prison island off the capital, Suva, and could face the death penalty if convicted. Bias accusations Fiji's Chief Justice Timoti Tuivaga told Reuters he had approached judges in neighbouring New Zealand and Australia after failing to find a local judge. "No one seems willing in Fiji to take on the case," he said. Justice Tuivaga said he would take over the role until a replacement for Justice Peter Surman could be found. He refused to comment on speculation that local judges feared they could face death threats. He also said he would not personally hear the case if public opinion was against him doing so. The Citizens Constitutional Forum and the Fiji Labor Party have both questioned his partiality. Earlier this month, police and military uncovered a plot by nationalists to kidnap Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase, military chief Frank Bainimarama and other government leaders to force Mr Speight's release. Five people were arrested. Mr Qarase was elected prime minister last September, after heading an interim indigenous government appointed by the military following the failed coup. Mr Speight was elected MP in the vote, but later dismissed from parliament because he had been unable to attend sittings. There is nothing in the constitution to stop him standing for the post again though in a by-election. Ethnic Indians were brought to Fiji by the British colonial regime. They now account for 44% of the population and dominate the economy - to the anger of Fijian nationalists such as Mr Speight.
BBC 15 Feb 2002 Fiji PM loses crucial legal battle PM Qarase could resign and call a fresh election A court in Fiji has ruled the indigenous government of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase must include members of the opposition sparking fears of a nationalist backlash. The opposition Fiji Labour Party brought the action before the appeals court because it said the constitution guaranteed it ministerial representation. Under the country's 1997 constitution, any party winning more than 10% of seats in parliament should also be given a place in the cabinet. Mr Chaudhry is backed by ethnic Indians The Labour Party, which is dominated by members of Fiji's ethnic-Indian community, won 27 seats in the 71-seat chamber in last September's election, yet was not awarded any cabinet posts. Labour leader Mahendra Chaudhry, who was deposed in a nationalist coup attempt in 2000, has said his party should have been given at least six of the 21 cabinet positions. The panel of five judges unanimously agreed that Mr Qarase's move to exclude Labour from his cabinet was a clear breach of the constitution. They rejected the prime minister's arguments that he was under no obligation to include Labour members in his coalition government because their policies were diametrically opposed. Mr Qarase insisted that to follow the letter of the constitution would have led to an unworkable government. Racial divide The BBC's regional correspondent, Phil Mercer, says the court's decision to find in favour of Mr Chaudhry technically clears the way for members of his party to take their place in government. The prime minister has said he is considering an appeal against the ruling. However he could take pre-emptive action by calling a fresh election, which would heap more political uncertainty on a country that has still not recovered from the violent unrest of two years ago. Fiji's racial divide will be highlighted again next week with the scheduled trial for treason of coup leader George Speight and 12 co-defendants. Mr Speight says the Chaudhry administration was the target of a nationalist uprising because it was slowly stripping away the rights of Fiji's indigenous majority.
BBC 18 Feb 2002 Death penalty for Fiji coup leader Security has been stepped up for the trial George Speight, the man who led a coup in Fiji two years ago, has been sentenced to death by hanging after pleading guilty to treason. It is the sentence of this court that you be taken from this court to a prison and then to a place of execution where you will be hanged High Court Judge Michael Scott Speight broke down and wept when the judge passed sentence after a hearing lasting little more than an hour. But Fiji is the process of abolishing the death penalty, and his lawyer later said that the former coup leader expected to have his sentence commuted to life imprisonment by Fiji's President Ratu Josefa Iloilo. Speight, a charismatic former businessman, led an armed gang of nationalists who stormed Fiji's parliament in May 2000 and held the country's first Indo-Fijian Prime Minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, hostage for 56 days. 'Defending rights' Through his lawyer, Speight said he wanted "to exercise his right to plead guilty at the first opportunity" as his trial opened on Monday morning. Speight was upbeat when he arrived at court - but the hearing was brief "This will be recognised as our contribution to the stability of this country and reconciliation," said Speight's lawyer when he announced the guilty plea. Speight, who was being tried with 12 co-defendants, had always insisted his actions were carried out to defend indigenous rights, which he claimed were being undermined by Mr Chaudhry's administration. But no evidence was apparently heard before the judge accepted Speight's plea and passed judgement. "It is the sentence of this court that you be taken from this court to a prison and then to a place of execution where you will be hanged," said High Court Judge Michael Scott. "And may the Lord have mercy on you." The other 12 defendants expect to have their treason charges reduced later on Monday, according to defence lawyers. Divisions The eight weeks of the coup left a deep scar across the country. Mr Chaudhry was Fiji's first ethnic Indian PM Racial divisions intensified between the indigenous majority and the powerful, ethnic Indian community, whose ancestors were brought to the islands to work on colonial sugar plantations by the British more than 100 years ago. Unemployment and poverty have also increased and Fiji's political system has been thrown into chaos. The hostage crisis of two years ago was brought to an end by a deal brokered by the military, which took control of the country during the stand-off. Amnesty cancelled It guaranteed Speight immunity from prosecution. But the agreement was later scrapped, and the former rebel leader was arrested and charged with treason. Speight's group was initially granted immunity against prosecution by the military Senior army commanders accused him of breaching the conditions of the amnesty deal by failing to hand over weapons stolen from the military and used in the uprising. Speight and his group have been held on Nukukau island, a former colonial quarantine station for indentured labourers brought in from India. During his time in custody Speight won a seat in parliament in the first election since the coup. He was later expelled for failing to attend.
BBC 18 Feb 2002 Reprieve for Fiji coup leader Speight led an armed coup attempt in 2000 George Speight, the man who led a coup in Fiji two years ago, has received a life sentence after pleading guilty to treason. It is the sentence of this court that you be taken from this court to a prison and then to a place of execution where you will be hanged High Court Judge Michael Scott Speight was sentenced to death by hanging by the trial judge but the country's President, Josefa Iloilo, signed a decree commuting the sentence. Earlier Speight broke down and wept when the judge condemned him after a hearing lasting little more than an hour. Fiji is in the process of abolishing the death penalty. Correspondents say people sentenced to life in prison in Fiji usually spend about 10 years behind bars. Speight, a charismatic former businessman, led an armed gang of nationalists who stormed Fiji's parliament in May 2000 and held the country's first Indo-Fijian Prime Minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, hostage for 56 days. 'Defending rights' Through his lawyer, Speight said he wanted "to exercise his right to plead guilty at the first opportunity" as his trial opened on Monday morning. Speight was upbeat when he arrived at court - but the hearing was brief "This will be recognised as our contribution to the stability of this country and reconciliation," said Speight's lawyer when he announced the guilty plea. Speight, who was being tried with 12 co-defendants, had always insisted his actions were carried out to defend indigenous rights, which he claimed were being undermined by Mr Chaudhry's administration. But no evidence was apparently heard before the judge accepted Speight's plea and passed judgement. "It is the sentence of this court that you be taken from this court to a prison and then to a place of execution where you will be hanged," said High Court Judge Michael Scott. "And may the Lord have mercy on you." Ten of Speight's co-defendants later pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of keeping abducted prisoners in confinement - which carries a maximum penalty of seven years in prison. The other two still face treason charges. Divisions The eight weeks of the coup left a deep scar across the country. Mr Chaudhry was Fiji's first ethnic Indian PM Racial divisions intensified between the indigenous majority and the powerful, ethnic Indian community, whose ancestors were brought to the islands to work on colonial sugar plantations by the British more than 100 years ago. Unemployment and poverty have also increased and Fiji's political system has been thrown into chaos. The hostage crisis of two years ago was brought to an end by a deal brokered by the military, which took control of the country during the stand-off. Amnesty cancelled It guaranteed Speight immunity from prosecution. But the agreement was later scrapped, and the former rebel leader was arrested and charged with treason. Speight's group was initially granted immunity against prosecution by the military Senior army commanders accused him of breaching the conditions of the amnesty deal by failing to hand over weapons stolen from the military and used in the uprising. Speight and his group have been held on Nukukau island, a former colonial quarantine station for indentured labourers brought in from India. During his time in custody Speight won a seat in parliament in the first election since the coup. He was later expelled for failing to attend.
Times of India PTI 18 Feb 2002 Hurriyat condemns Rajouri massacre as anti-Islamic SRINAGAR: Hurriyat Conference on Monday termed the massacre of eight Hindus in Jammu region's Rajouri district on Sunday as "inhuman and anti-Islamic" and demanded an impartial international probe to unravel the "mysterious hand" behind the killings. In a statement here, the Hurriyat said "these type of incidents are engineered to malign the on-going freedom struggle in the state." It demanded an impartial international probe into the killings to unravel the "mysterious hand" behind the carnage. In a major strike, suspected Lashker-e-Toiba (LeT) militants on Sunday gunned down eight Hindus, including five children and two women, in sleep in a remote village in Rajouri district.
PTI (Press Trust of India) 20 Feb 2002 VHP warns of 'Hindu backlash' if temple construction opposed The Vishwa Hindu Parishad on Wednesday warned of a 'Hindu backlash' if its plan to build a Ram temple in Ayodhya was opposed and said about one million activists would arrive in the town by March 15 to start construction. "The Ayodhya temple movement is a public expression against militant Islam," VHP general secretary Pravin Togadia told reporters in Jaipur. 'Ram bhakts' being recruited by the VHP throughout the country would start reaching Ayodhya from February 24 onwards and by March 15 about one million would reach the town. "We cannot wait indefinitely for the government to find a solution," he asserted.
26 Feb VHP to go ahead with temple 'at all costs' A defiant Vishwa Hindu Parishad said on Tuesday that it was determined to go ahead with the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya from March 15 "at all costs", despite the government's resolve to maintain the status quo at the disputed site. "We will go ahead with the process of construction from March 15 as announced earlier," the VHP's senior vice-president, Giriraj Kishore, told the Press Trust of India. "We are ready to face bullets or go to jail." He said Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had convened Tuesday's all-party meeting and given the assurance of maintaining the status quo on the suggestion of Congress president Sonia Gandhi "only to become popular". Kishore regretted that the opposition parties were not coming up with "constructive ideas" to resolve the issue and were instead creating an uproar in Parliament.
PTI 27 Feb 2002 Sangh leaders meet prime minister on temple issue Senior Sangh Parivar leaders met Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in New Delhi on Wednesday evening to "convince him of the legality of returning the land acquired by the government in Ayodhya to the Ram Janambhoomi Nyas" to facilitate the construction of the Ram temple from March 15. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leader Madan Das Devi, Vishwa Hindu Parishad international working president Ashok Singhal and former high court judge Justice Ram Jois attended the hour-long meeting at the prime minister's Race Course Road residence, sources said. During the meeting, Vajpayee appealed to Singhal and other leaders to postpone the ongoing movement at Ayodhya in view of the "tense situation" prevailing in Gujarat following the attack on the Sabarmati Express at Godhra, the sources said. Union Home Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani, Defence Minister George Fernandes and Law Minister Arun Jaitley were present at the meeting. Justice Jois, a leader of the Sangh Parivar's legal wing, the Adhivakta Parishad, informed Vajpayee and other ministers that there were no legal complications in the government handing over the land, they said. The meeting came close on the heels of the Godhra incident where about 55 people were killed when miscreants set afire four bogies of the Sabarmati Express and Advani's warning that the government would not hesitate to take action to maintain law and order in Ayodhya. Emerging out of the meeting, a visibly angry Ashok Singhal declined to talk to reporters.
27 Feb 2002 UP government fears terrorist attack in Ayodhya Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow With thousands of karsevaks arriving in Ayodhya, the Uttar Pradesh government apprehends a terrorist strike in the temple town. "We have received intelligence reports about possible attacks by the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and other Pakistani terrorist outfits on the devotees who are thronging to Ayodhya," Principal Secretary (Home) Naresh Dayal said on Wednesday. He said, "Thousands of Hindu devotees and leaders of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad are understood to be on the target list of these terrorists, who can sneak into the crowds and create serious trouble." Taking note of the reports, the administration has sounded an alert. "We have to take special care, particularly in view of the devotees who are converging in Ayodhya to participate in a ritual (purnahuti yagna) currently in progress," he pointed out. Some of the devotees are staying back in Ayodhya as part of the VHP's plans to build a Ram temple from March 15. Around 12,000 karsevaks who are now being called Ramsevaks are camping at Ramsevakpuram -- a temporary township erected to conduct the yagna. Asked about the steps being taken to prevent karsevaks from heading for Ayodhya, he said: "The central government had sent word to other states from where most of the devotees were arriving." According to him, the bulk of the karsevaks are arriving from Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Maharastra and Kerala. He said there would not be any local fallout of the attack on the Sabarmati Express in Godhra, Gujarat and maintained that the victims happened to be devotees returning from Ayodhya. "We have sounded a state wide alert to prevent any communal situation," he declared.
27 Feb 2002 Attack on Sabarmati Express premeditated: BJP The Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday said the attack on the Sabarmati Express at Godhra railway station in Gujarat was a "premeditated assault" by elements out to destabilise the nation. "The brutal murder by setting fire to the railway bogies in which they (the kar sevaks) were travelling, near Godra station of Gujarat, has shocked the nation. No words are strong enough to condemn this mass killing by elements who are out to destabilise the country," party president K Jana Krishnamurthy said in a statement in New Delhi. Details clearly indicated that it was a "premeditated assault", he said. Krishnamurthy appealed to the people of Gujarat to "cooperate with the state government to maintain absolute peace and tranquillity when the nation is fighting against terrorism from across the border". "The BJP is sure that the state government will take all necessary steps to vigorously pursue action to apprehend and arrest the culprits whoever they may be," he said. Blaming the Inter-Services Intelligence of Pakistan for the attack, party leader J P Mathur hoped that the "so-called secular leaders, instead of merely condemning the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and other organisations, should openly condemn the elements which are trying to provoke communal passions in the country".
PTI 27 Feb 2002 Sangh leaders meet prime minister on temple issue Senior Sangh Parivar leaders met Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in New Delhi on Wednesday evening to "convince him of the legality of returning the land acquired by the government in Ayodhya to the Ram Janambhoomi Nyas" to facilitate the construction of the Ram temple from March 15. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leader Madan Das Devi, Vishwa Hindu Parishad international working president Ashok Singhal and former high court judge Justice Ram Jois attended the hour-long meeting at the prime minister's Race Course Road residence, sources said. During the meeting, Vajpayee appealed to Singhal and other leaders to postpone the ongoing movement at Ayodhya in view of the "tense situation" prevailing in Gujarat following the attack on the Sabarmati Express at Godhra, the sources said. Union Home Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani, Defence Minister George Fernandes and Law Minister Arun Jaitley were present at the meeting. Justice Jois, a leader of the Sangh Parivar's legal wing, the Adhivakta Parishad, informed Vajpayee and other ministers that there were no legal complications in the government handing over the land, they said. The meeting came close on the heels of the Godhra incident where about 55 people were killed when miscreants set afire four bogies of the Sabarmati Express and Advani's warning that the government would not hesitate to take action to maintain law and order in Ayodhya. Emerging out of the meeting, a visibly angry Ashok Singhal declined to talk to reporters.
27 Feb 2002 UP government fears terrorist attack in Ayodhya Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow With thousands of karsevaks arriving in Ayodhya, the Uttar Pradesh government apprehends a terrorist strike in the temple town. "We have received intelligence reports about possible attacks by the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and other Pakistani terrorist outfits on the devotees who are thronging to Ayodhya," Principal Secretary (Home) Naresh Dayal said on Wednesday. He said, "Thousands of Hindu devotees and leaders of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad are understood to be on the target list of these terrorists, who can sneak into the crowds and create serious trouble." Taking note of the reports, the administration has sounded an alert. "We have to take special care, particularly in view of the devotees who are converging in Ayodhya to participate in a ritual (purnahuti yagna) currently in progress," he pointed out. Some of the devotees are staying back in Ayodhya as part of the VHP's plans to build a Ram temple from March 15. Around 12,000 karsevaks who are now being called Ramsevaks are camping at Ramsevakpuram -- a temporary township erected to conduct the yagna. Asked about the steps being taken to prevent karsevaks from heading for Ayodhya, he said: "The central government had sent word to other states from where most of the devotees were arriving." According to him, the bulk of the karsevaks are arriving from Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Maharastra and Kerala. He said there would not be any local fallout of the attack on the Sabarmati Express in Godhra, Gujarat and maintained that the victims happened to be devotees returning from Ayodhya. "We have sounded a state wide alert to prevent any communal situation," he declared.
27 Feb 2002 Attack on Sabarmati Express premeditated: BJP The Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday said the attack on the Sabarmati Express at Godhra railway station in Gujarat was a "premeditated assault" by elements out to destabilise the nation. "The brutal murder by setting fire to the railway bogies in which they (the kar sevaks) were travelling, near Godra station of Gujarat, has shocked the nation. No words are strong enough to condemn this mass killing by elements who are out to destabilise the country," party president K Jana Krishnamurthy said in a statement in New Delhi. Details clearly indicated that it was a "premeditated assault", he said. Krishnamurthy appealed to the people of Gujarat to "cooperate with the state government to maintain absolute peace and tranquillity when the nation is fighting against terrorism from across the border". "The BJP is sure that the state government will take all necessary steps to vigorously pursue action to apprehend and arrest the culprits whoever they may be," he said. Blaming the Inter-Services Intelligence of Pakistan for the attack, party leader J P Mathur hoped that the "so-called secular leaders, instead of merely condemning the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and other organisations, should openly condemn the elements which are trying to provoke communal passions in the country".
Guardian UK 28 Feb 2002 Fire attack on train shakes India 15 children dead among Hindu activists returning from disputed site of destroyed mosque Luke Harding in New Delhi Thursday February 28, 2002 The Guardian India was last night bracing itself for a bloody upsurge in religious tension after a crowd of angry Muslims yesterday set light to a packed train carrying Hindu activists, killing at least 57 people, including 15 children. Hours after the morning attack in Godhra, police were still pulling charred bodies burned beyond recognition out of the blackened carriages of the Sabarmati Express in the western state of Gujarat. Some 43 people were injured in the attack, many critically. Yesterday's incident appears to have started after some of the activists taunted a Muslim youth on the station platform and shouted pro-Hindu slogans. A crowd of Muslims then stopped the train soon after it set off towards its destination, Ahmedabad, three hours away. They poured kerosene into four carriages, and watched as the passengers tried to escape through barred windows. "I heard screams for help as I came out of the house. I saw a huge ball of fire," said Rakesh Kimani, 18, who lives nearby. "I saw people putting out their hands and heads through the windows trying to escape. It was a horrible sight." The local police chief, Raju Bhargava, said the known victims were 15 children, 25 women and 17 men. Asked whether Muslims were responsible, he said: "It appears so." The Hindu activists had been returning from the northern town of Ayodhya, where thousands have been gathering to campaign for the building of a temple on the ruins of a mosque, the Babri Masjid. Its destruction 10 years ago by Hindu zealots provoked the worst rioting in India since partition, killing more than 3,000 people. With the prospect of a wave of communal violence across the country, India's prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, last night appealed for calm. He cancelled a trip to Australia for the forthcoming Commonwealth summit in Brisbane. Extra policemen were drafted into Old Delhi and other urban areas with large Muslim populations, to prevent reprisals. Gujarat's Hindu nationalist state minister, Gorbardhan Jhorapia, last night claimed the attack on the train was "well-coordinated and pre-planned". As news of the massacre spread there were several attacks on Muslims across the state. Two people were stabbed in the towns of Anand and Baroda, while a mob set light to buses in Ahmedabad. Mr Vajpayaee, whose Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) swept to power in the mid-1990s, appealed to the World Hindu Council, or VHP, to abandon its plan to build a temple on the disputed Ayodhya site. "This incident is very sad, unfortunate," he said. "I would appeal to the VHP to suspend their campaign and help government in maintaining peace and brotherhood in the country." But the VHP said last night it would stick to its deadline for building work to begin in Ayodhya by March 15. In an attempt to dampen the growing crisis the government yesterday banned more Hindu activists from pouring into the town. It also stopped the trans port of temple pillars to the heavily guarded site, which is surrounded by razor wire. Ayodhya remains the most divisive and explosive issue in Indian politics. Although Mr Vajpayee's party emerged from the same Hindu revivalist movement as the VHP, he has increasingly distanced himself from the demands of his old and frequently unreasonable allies. He has called on the courts to resolve the temple dispute. India's hardline home minister, Lal Krishna Advani, who was at Ayodhya when the mosque was destroyed but denies charges of having encouraged it, also warned the VHP that anyone moving to build the temple would face legal action. "The Vishwa Hindu Parishad has embarked on a course of action in Ayodhya which is fraught with dangerous consequences," he said in a statement. "The developments in Ayodhya can thus precipitate a serious law and order problem." Why the mob, which witnesses said numbered several hundred, attacked the train at 6.30am was not immediately clear. Police in some areas of Godhra were ordered last night to shoot troublemakers on sight. The town of 300,000 was shuttered and the streets largely deserted. Muslims comprise about 40% of Godhra's population, compared to a national average of about 12%. The World Hindu Council has called for a state-wide strike today to protest against the attack - one of the most gruesome incidents of communal violence in a decade. "It will be done in a peaceful manner. We will not allow any violence," the council's vice-president Acharaya Giriraj Kishore said. Council officials in neighbouring Maharashtra state called for a similar strike. Flouting court orders banning any construction until the row is settled, the VHP has initiated a holy ceremony as a prelude to building the temple next month. All activity at the site has been frozen while a state court rules on the dispute. But hardline Hindus say it is taking too long and last year set a deadline of March for construction.
PTI 28 Feb 2002 We will not remain silent spectators: VHP Adopting an aggressive posture, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad warned that Hindus would not remain "silent spectators" if incidents like the attack on 'Ram sevaks' in Gujarat were repeated. "It is unfair to attack unarmed devotees who were returning home after attending the Sri Ram Yagya in Ayodhya," VHP joint secretary R S Pankaj told reporters in Ayodhya. Pankaj said the VHP would not in any circumstance change its programme to construct a temple at Ayodhya. Ram sevaks would start moving carved stones from the workshop to the acquired land under the direction of sants and seers as per schedule from March 15. Criticising the tight security measures in the town, he said they had created hurdles in the movement of vehicles carrying food for karsewaks. "The unnecessary curbs should be withdrawn and our religious functions should be allowed to be performed in peace," he said. According to official sources, 22 companies of the Central Reserve Police Force and 12 companies of the Provincial Armed Constabulary are posted in Ayodhya and another 60 companies of the CRPF and the Rapid Action Force from neighbouring states will reach the town in two or three days.
PTI 28 Feb 2002 VHP calls for bandh in Maharashtra, Rajasthan on March 1 The Maharashtra and Rajasthan units of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad have called for bandhs (general strikes) on Friday, March 1, to protest against the attack on the Sabarmati Express at Godhra in neighbouring Gujarat. "Various Hindu and social organisations and people across the state should participate in the bandh with a humanitarian aspect," Professor Vyankatesh Abdeo, an office-bearer of the Maharashtra unit of the VHP, said in a statement. In Jaipur, Jagannath Gupta, Rajasthan VHP president, said, "We appeal to the people to support this bandh and pay tributes to those who were killed while on their mission to construct the Ram temple at Ayodhya." The Shiv Sena and the BJP women's wing have extended support to the strike in Rajasthan. Abdeo said that at least 15,000 Ram sevaks would depart from Maharashtra for the purna-ahuti yagna at Ayodhya in the first week of March. Meanwhile, police strengthened security and vigilance in the sensitive cities of the state to avert any untoward incident, Inspector General of Police A K Jain told the Press Trust of India. PTI 2 mar 2002 Hindus protect mosque in Bihar Anand Mohan Sahay in Patna While Gujarat was burning, a small town in Bihar set an example of communal amity, when a group of Hindus got together and protected a mosque from being vandalised. During Friday's bandh in Muzzaffarpur, called by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad to protest the Godhra carnage, a group of hooligans tried to enter the Company Bagh mosque and vandalise it. A senior police official, who was present on the spot when the incident occurred, said that when the word spread about the bid by the hooligans to enter the mosque, almost 100 Hindus converged on the spot from the nearby Goriamath and Sariyaganj area and challenged them. A tussle broke out in which quite few Hindus were injured while guarding the mosque, but the hooligans had to beat a hasty retreat in face of stiff resistance, he said. By the time police reinforcement came in, the hooligans had done the vanishing act. Muzzafarpur has the distinction of never having witnessed a communal riot. "Thanks to timely intervention of local Hindus a major incident was averted," a senior police officer said, heaving a sigh of relief. 1 mar 2002 AIR staff reprimanded for Godhra report Josy Joseph in New Delhi Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Sushma Swaraj has pulled up the top brass of All India Radio for its coverage of the attack on passengers of the Sabarmati Express at Godhra on Wednesday. According to officials, Swaraj took up the issue on behalf of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. The Gujarat CM objected to AIR reports, which said the entire trouble in Godhra started after some karsevaks, returning from Ayodhya, refused to pay up for the tea that they had at the station. The argument between the vendors and karsevaks flared into a carnage, the report said. The reports was used in the English news bulletins and almost every regional bulletin, most importantly in the Gujarat bulletin. Modi complained that the report was based only on rumours. The Gujarat government believes the Godhra massacre was pre-mediatated and was not spontaneous as the report indicated. Swaraj gave a dressing down to the top brass of AIR, officials said, though no action taken against anyone. But, fear and anticipation of future action hung heavily in the AIR newsroom where reporters pointed out that their report was not an isolated one. Similar reports had appeared in other media, including newspapers. When contacted, D R Malakar, director general, AIR, who retired on Thursday, said he was not aware of any such incident.
AP 28 Feb 2002 Muslim Housing Complex Torched in Western India At Least 38 People Killed in Hindu Reprisal By Ashok Sharma AHMADABAD, India –– Angry Hindus set fire to homes in a Muslim neighborhood Thursday and then kept firefighters away for hours, dragging out one former lawmaker and burning him alive. At least 58 people died in revenge attacks triggered by a Muslim assault on a train. Police appeared outnumbered or unwilling to stop the violence in western Gujarat state. They stood in bunches, watching as groups of Hindus, wielding iron rods and cans of gasoline or kerosene, roamed Ahmadabad, attacking Muslims in their homes, shops and vehicles. The government promised to send the army to Ahmadabad, the region's main city, to quell the rampage. But there were fears violence would spread Friday, when Hindu nationalists called for a nationwide strike. In Thursday's worst attack, 38 people – including 12 children – died when some 2,000 Hindus set fire to six homes in an affluent Muslim neighborhood. Some trapped residents made frantic telephone calls to police and firefighters. But police said they arrived two hours later and firefighters were delayed by more than six hours because of blockades by rioters. A former lawmaker, Ehsan Jefri, fired at the rioters when they tried to enter his house, but he was dragged out and burned alive. Elsewhere in Ahmadabad, rioters pulled a Muslim truck driver out of his vehicle and killed him at a roadblock, police said. Other Hindus made bonfires with goods looted from shops, and 20 men tore down a small mosque. J.S. Bandukwala, a Muslim and human rights activist, said his house was attacked by Hindus who "lobbed burning rags and pelted stones," before his Hindu neighbors took him to safety. In a few instances, police opened fire on rioters, killing two and wounding six in Ahmadabad and two other towns, police said. The violence was in retaliation for an attack Wednesday in Godhra, a town south of Ahmadabad, where Muslims set fire to a train carrying Hindu nationalists, killing 58 people, including 14 children. Tensions have been growing between Muslims and Hindu nationalists who have been using the train to go back and forth to Ayodhya, in northern India, where the World Hindu Council plans to start building a temple next month on the ruins of a 16th-century mosque. The 1992 destruction of the mosque by Hindus sparked nationwide riots that killed 2,000 people – and the government has called for calm, fearing bloodshed could spread quickly in this nation of more than 1 billion, where Hindu-Muslim fighting killed nearly a million people after independence in 1947. Narendra Modi, chief minister of Gujarat state and a member of the ruling Hindu nationalist party, called the assault on the train an "organized terrorist attack." Indian officials often blame longtime rival Pakistan for internal strife. Some police and state officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, suggested that Pakistan's spy agency, or the Islamic militant groups with which it is linked, may have incited Muslims to attack the train. They provided no evidence, and no official has drawn any link between the violence in India and the al-Qaida terror network of Osama bin Laden. Wednesday's attack came after Hindus on the train refused to pay for food taken from Muslim vendors at the station and shouted slogans – a common occurrence in recent days that has fueled Muslims' resentment, police said. Officials said 58 people died in Thursday's violence, and at least 150 people were admitted to Ahmadabad hospitals, mostly with stab wounds. Police gave no estimate of how many people were arrested. On highways in the state, Hindus set up roadblocks, stopping cars to look for Muslims. Smoke billowed across Ahmadabad's skyline from 70 burning buildings. In many areas, rioters prevented firefighters from putting out fires, said Mayor Himmatsinh Patel. "There was a complete breakdown of law and order. I have been calling for the army but no action has been taken," he said. Modi said soldiers would deploy in Ahmadabad on Friday and may also move into 26 other towns that saw violence and were placed under curfew. The chief minister denied police had been derelict in dealing with the riots, saying the region's Hindu majority had "shown restraint" in their response to the train attack. His state government supported a strike called by Hindu nationalists on Thursday. Hindu activists called for that strike to be extended across the country on Friday to protest the train attack, and they said they would set up barricades in the capital, New Delhi. Rajendra Singh, the police superintendent in northern Uttar Pradesh, said 10,000 paramilitary troops had surrounded Ayodhya to prevent violence. Some 20,000 Hindu activists have gathered to pray for the temple construction.
AFP 13 Feb 2002 -- Indonesian militant Muslim group refuses to leave Malukus by Victor Tjahjadi JAKARTA - A paramilitary Muslim group which had waged a "holy war" against Christians in the Malukus said Wednesday it would not leave the eastern islands despite the signing of a pact to end three years of sectarian bloodshed there. Christian and Muslim leaders from Maluku on Tuesday signed an agreement at Malino to end the violence, which has claimed some 5,000 lives. It stipulates that outside forces should withdraw. The Laskar Jihad (Jihad Force), which is based on Java island, said its activities in Maluku centre on "humanitarian work" rather than war. "We have no business with the Malino agreement because our mission in Maluku focuses on humanitarian work and every citizen of this country has the right to stay anywhere he wants," the group's spokesman, Ayip Syarifuddin, told AFP. In May 2000 Laskar Jihad -- with the apparent connivance of security forces -- sent thousands of fighters to the islands. The peace deal calls for an independent inquiry into the activities of Laskar Jihad as well as into two Christian separatist groups, the Front for the Sovereignty of Maluku and the South Maluku Republic (RMS) movement, and a Christian group called Laskar Kristus. The pact says all unauthorised armed groups should surrender their weapons or be disarmed. "For those outside parties that are sowing unrest in Maluku, they are obligated to leave Maluku." Christians accuse Laskar Jihad of worsening the bloodshed while Muslims blame the Christian separatist movements. "If the government has a strong and plausible reason for us to leave Maluku, we will gladly do so, but so far we have not done anything illegal in Maluku," Syarifuddin said. "The presence of the RMS is right in front of us yet the authorities are not doing anything to this group," he said, adding that Laskar Jihad banned its members from carrying weapons. Catholic priest Cornelis Bohm, of the Crisis Center of Ambon diocese, said Christians would demand "strong and decisive actions" to expel Laskar Jihad from Maluku. "Their image as killers and provocateurs of war is so deeply rooted here that no Christian in Maluku will ever believe their claim (to be) a humanitarian non-government organisation," Bohm said. President Megawati Sukarnoputri welcomed the peace deal, the second negotiated by her ministers in two months. A December agreement ended Muslim-Christian fighting in the Poso region of Central Sulawesi. Top welfare minister Yusuf Kalla said Jakarta would soon send judges as well as more troops and police to the Malukus. Asked about Laskar Jihad's stance, he said: "I have approached them", but did not elaborate. Commentators said police and troops must stop taking sides if the peace deal is to work. The International Crisis Group (ICG), in a report last week, said there was little confidence among the local population that government forces would protect them from further attacks because they were seen to have taken sides. "This perception is particularly strong among Muslims, which has made it politically difficult for government officials to act against Laskar Jihad," the report said. The ICG said continuing sporadic attacks and bombings were not necessarily linked to religious groups. "There are indications that the security forces themselves have an interest in maintaining an atmosphere in which business people and property owners feel vulnerable and are willing to pay for protection." Asmara Nababan, secretary general of the National Commission on Human Rights, said the agreement was "concrete in terms of support from both sides" but police, troops and officials must act impartially. The Maluku bloodshed drove more than half a million people from their homes in the former Spice Islands. More than 80 percent of Indonesia's 214 million people are Muslims but in some eastern regions Christians make up about half the population.
AFP15 Feb 2002 Aceh separatist rebels reject mass rally plan by Muslim hardliners BANDA ACEH, Indonesia, Feb 15 (AFP) - Separatist rebels in Indonesia's Aceh on Friday condemned plans by the paramilitary Muslim group Laskar Jihad to hold a mass rally in the province, saying they are not fighting a religious war. The Free Aceh Movement (GAM) demanded that Laskar Jihad and Acehnese organizers cancel the rally planned for Monday, said Ayah Sofyan, a rebel spokesman for the Banda Aceh area. Leaflets distributed by the group since early this week said the rally would take place at the Baiturrahman main mosque. "GAM refuses the presence of Laskar Jihad in Aceh because it might create religious, race and ethnic problems," Sofyan told AFP. "The ongoing conflict in Aceh is a political one between Acehnese people who want freedom and the government of Indonesia," Sofyan said. He said the presence of Laskar Jihad would "endanger the lives of non-Muslim residents in Aceh." Junaedi, an official with the Laskar Jihad office in Jakarta, confirmed the rally would take place on Monday and said they had sent several people to Aceh to prepare for it. The Java-based Laskar Jihad has waged a "holy war" against Christians in the eastern Maluku islands -- the scene of sectarian strife between Christian and Muslims which has claimed some 5,000 lives and driven half a million from their homes Laskar Jihad -- with the apparent connivance of security forces -- sent thousands of fighters to the islands in May 2000. They had sent thousands of other fighters to Poso in Central Sulawesi, where religious strife also broke out. Peace deals to end both conflicts have recently been brokered byt Laskar Jihad appears also to be trying to establish a presence in the easternmost province of Papua. A human rights group in Papua said last month that Muslim militants from the Malukus had moved there to train pro-Jakarta militiamen who are confronting Christian separatist guerrillas. Sofyan said GAM intelligence suggested that the Indonesian armed forces (TNI) were backing the mass rally plan. "The presence of Laskar Jihad in Aceh is backed by the TNI," he said. "We are urging Acehnese people not to be provoked by the Laskar Jihad and not to attend the rally," Sofyan added. The Aceh rebels have waged a sporadic guerrilla war for independence since 1976, in which an estimated 10,000 people have died. After talks with the government in Switzerland on February 2 and 3, GAM agreed to accept autonomy as a basis for negotiations but denied it was dropping its claim for independence. More than 200 people, many of them civilians, have been killed this year alone.
AP 18 Feb 2002 United Nations Indicts 17 in Indonesia By JOANNA JOLLY, DILI, East Timor (AP) - International prosecutors on Monday indicted 17 pro-Jakarta militiamen and Indonesian soldiers for crimes against humanity allegedly committed during East Timor 's violent break with Indonesia in 1999. Among those charged was Eurico Gutteres, a notorious militia commander who now heads a youth wing of President Megawati Sukarnoputri's ruling party in Jakarta. International arrest warrants will be issued for the suspects who are all believed to be in Indonesia, said Siri Frigaard, U.N. deputy prosecutor general in East Timor. Under an agreement signed in 2000, Indonesia committed itself to cooperate with U.N. investigations in East Timor and to extradite suspects. But recently, Megawati's administration has refused to abide by the accord. So far, 99 people have been charged with crimes committed before, during and after the U.N.-supervised independence referendum that ended Indonesia's 24-year military occupation of East Timor. At the time, Indonesian troops and their militia proxies launched a massive campaign of violence in which hundreds of people were murdered and most of East Timor devastated. The bloodbath ended in September 1999 with the arrival of international peacekeepers. East Timor is currently under temporary U.N. administration. It is due to achieve independence in May. Guterres, who led a militia gang based in the capital, Dili, was charged with five counts of crimes against humanity for allegedly ordering his men to shoot pro-independence activists during a rally, and leading an attack on a separatist leader's home in April 1999. Guterres, who now heads the Indonesian Young Bulls — part of Megawati's ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle — immediately denied he had anything to do with the raid, saying he was not in Dili at the time of the attack. "I also reject the Interpol request for my extradition because I am an Indonesian citizen," he said. "It is up to my government to decide whether to hand over or not."
Reuters 26 Jan 2002 Baghdad Airs Kurdish TV to Win Over Iraqi Kurds TUNCELI, Turkey - Baghdad has begun airing Kurdish-language television broadcasts in a bid to win over Iraqi Kurds as fears mount the U.S. ``war on terrorism'' could spread to Iraq, Kurdish officials told Reuters on Saturday. Kurds wrested control of northern Iraq from Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in the wake of the 1991 Gulf War and are protected by U.S. and British warplanes based in Turkey who patrol a no-fly zone over the enclave. ``Saddam Hussein is using this method to win over and influence Kurds before a U.S. attack on Iraq,'' a Kurdish official said on condition of anonymity. The station has launched trial broadcasts from a studio in the town of Kirkuk near the Kurdish enclave and will begin airing regular programming in the coming weeks, he said. U.S. President George Bush has warned Hussein to allow U.N. weapons inspectors to return or face consequences. The rival Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), which administer breakaway northern Iraq, have said they oppose Hussein but are wary of any U.S. military action against his regime.
NYT February 6, 2002 Terror Acts by Baghdad Have Waned, U.S. Aides Say By JAMES RISEN ASHINGTON, Feb. 5 — The Central Intelligence Agency has no evidence that Iraq has engaged in terrorist operations against the United States in nearly a decade, and the agency is also convinced that President Saddam Hussein has not provided chemical or biological weapons to Al Qaeda or related terrorist groups, according to several American intelligence officials. The officials said they believe that the last terrorist operation tried by Iraq against the United States was the assassination attempt against the first President Bush during his visit to Kuwait in 1993. That plot was disrupted before it could be carried out. American intelligence officials believe that Mr. Hussein has been reluctant to use terrorism again for fear of being detected. George J. Tenet, the C.I.A. director, is to testify Wednesday before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to review the global threat. During his appearance, his first before Congress since Sept. 11, Mr. Tenet is likely to be asked about a wide range of terrorism issues, including Iraq. Since Sept. 11, there has been widespread speculation about possible Iraqi links to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, based largely on reports of a meeting in Prague between Mohamed Atta, a leader of the hijacking teams, and an Iraqi intelligence officer. The reports about that meeting have been the subject of intense analysis and debate within the American intelligence community, and some officials even questioned whether the meeting took place. Now senior American intelligence officials have concluded that the meeting between Mr. Atta and the Iraqi officer, Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, did take place. But they say they do not believe that the meeting provides enough evidence to tie Iraq to the Sept. 11 attacks. United States intelligence officials say they do not know what was discussed at the meeting. But some experts on Iraq say that even if Iraq were somehow involved in the Sept. 11 attacks, President Hussein would never have entrusted such a sensitive matter to a mid-level officer like Mr. Ani. American officials say Iraqi intelligence now focuses most of its resources on finding ways to evade trade and economic sanctions that were imposed on Iraq after President Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990. Instead, American intelligence officials say their greatest concern is Iraq's continuing development of chemical and biological weapons, covert programs that have resumed since United Nations weapons inspectors left in 1998. Mr. Hussein apparently feels that such weapons will help his government deter any military attack by the United States and its allies. A C.I.A. report released last week noted that Iraq is probably continuing low-level nuclear weapons research as well, and that its inability to obtain enough fissile material is the biggest obstacle to becoming a nuclear power. The major threat to the United States from Iraqi efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction would come instead from Baghdad's parallel efforts to develop long-range missiles, which could be tipped with chemical or biological warheads, the C.I.A. believes. In his State of the Union address last week, President Bush described Iraq as part of an "axis of evil," which includes Iran and North Korea, that the United States must confront in order to maintain global stability. Mr. Bush said Iraq "continues to flaunt its hostility toward America and to support terror," but the section of his speech devoted to Iraq focused primarily on Baghdad's efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction. In fact, some American intelligence officials say, the Bush administration does not have enough evidence of Iraqi complicity in anti- American terrorism to justify making Iraq the next target in the war on terrorism. Some signs have emerged in recent years that President Hussein might consider terrorism as a tool against the United States in the long- running duel over the inspection of suspected chemical and biological weapons sites. In 1998, American and Middle Eastern intelligence agencies discovered that Abu Nidal, the Palestinian who had been one of the most feared terrorists of the 1970's and early 80's, had moved to Baghdad. Abu Nidal had been ousted from his previous haven in Libya, after Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi decided he wanted to end Libya's ties to terrorists in order to get out from under international sanctions. But Abu Nidal does not appear to have engaged in any anti-American operations since his arrival in Iraq, and he may have ended his terrorism activities, officials said.
BBC 17 Feb 2002 Iran and Iraq exchange war dead - Iran and Iraq have still to make peace Iran and Iraq have exchanged more remains of soldiers killed during their war in the 1980s in the latest move to improve relations between the two states. The remains of 59 Iraqis were exchanged for those of 75 Iranians at the al-Faka border post, 350 kilometres southeast of Baghdad. An Iranian official said the sides had also agreed to mount a joint search for the remains of soldiers missing in action along the border. The new exchanges come after a visit to Tehran by Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri during which he said it was time for the countries to put the past behind them. Prisoner issue Iraq accuses Tehran of still holding 29,000 Iraqi prisoners Iran says Baghdad is still keeping 3,200 Iranian prisoners Baghdad only admits to holding 60 Iranians allegedly involved in unrest in southern Iraq Colonel Feysal Baqerzadeh, who supervised the exchange of the remains for Iran, said a joint operation to find soldiers missing in action would shortly be launched in the Meymak region of Iran and the Mandali region of Iraq. To date, Iran has received the remains of 3,998 of its soldiers from Iraq and handed over those of 5,323 Iraqis, he added. The legacy of the 1980-88 conflict, in which an estimated one million people died, continues to dog relations, with the two sides yet to sign a treaty ending the war. The two accuse each other of still holding thousands of prisoners-of-war. There was anger in Iran in January when prisoners released by Baghdad turned out to be not the detainees the Iranians were expecting. But some progress has been expected since the Iraqi foreign minister's five-day visit in January, although no hard agreements were announced during his stay. There has also been speculation that the US president's portrayal of the two states as parts of the same "axis of evil" may bring them closer together.
Reuters 28 Feb 2002 U.S. Said Gathering War Crimes Data on Saddam WASHINGTON - In another sign of U.S. determination to move on Iraq, the Bush administration said on Thursday it was amassing evidence of war crimes by Saddam Hussein and left open the possibility it might back a tribunal to bring him to account. Although the administration is vehemently opposed to a permanent international criminal court and has called for the end of two ad hoc tribunals dealing with war crimes and genocide in Rwanda and Yugoslavia by 2008, it has not ruled out future ad hoc tribunals. The U.S. ambassador at large for war crimes, Pierre-Richard Prosper, told Congress he has two assistants assigned to investigate Iraq and they are working on a "daily basis" to develop data on atrocities blamed on Saddam and top aides. "We do believe that Saddam Hussein and his top lieutenants need to be held answerable for their actions. ... We have taken steps to collect information regarding abuses that have occurred. ... It is an effort that my office is involved in on a daily basis," he told the House of Representatives Committee on International Relations. Rep. Tom Lantos, a Democrat from California, raised the issue of a possible international war crimes tribunal for Iraq, citing Saddam's programs to develop weapons of mass destruction and charges that he gassed Iraqi Kurds in the village of Halabja in 1988. Prosper said he did not know what jurisdiction might ultimately prosecute Saddam. If the Iraqi leader is ousted from power, as Washington wants, an Iraqi judicial institution might be able to do the job but in any event, "we do believe there needs to be a forum created to address this issue," he said. "What I'm saying is that we will definitely be looking for some sort of mechanism to create this and I think it is difficult at this time to state precisely what that mechanism might be," he said. The administration has increasingly focused on effecting "regime change" in Iraq as part of its post-Sept 11 anti-terrorism war. Prosper made his comments during a hearing in which he criticized the Hague tribunals prosecuting war crimes and genocide in Rwanda and Yugoslavia and urged that their work end by 2008. He also reinforced vehement Bush administration opposition to a proposed International Criminal Court that would be a permanent structure for prosecuting war crimes and genocide. The administration fears that the permanent court would impinge on U.S. sovereignty by subjecting American military forces to prosecution at a time when they are increasingly deployed around the world in the war against terrorism.
Internatonal Herald Tribune 7 Feb 2002 NEWS ANALYSIS Sharon's Year in Power Has Been Israel's Bloodiest in a Generation Lee Hockstader Washington Post Service Thursday, February 7, 2002 JERUSALEM Just before he won a landslide victory in Israel's election for prime minister one year ago Wednesday, Ariel Sharon mused on the future he imagined for his newborn twin grandsons. . "What kind of life will they have?" he said in a campaign appearance. "If I'm elected, I will do everything-and a little more-to bring about quiet, security and peace." . Today, Mr. Sharon has failed to achieve any of those goals. The 73-year-old former general, who was scheduled to arrive in Washington Thursday for his fourth meeting with President George W. Bush in a year, has played a key role in the bloodiest 365 days that Israel has undergone in a generation. . He has forged a close and valuable alliance with the Bush administration, which has helped him to isolate and delegitimize his nemesis, Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader. He has sealed off Palestinian towns, razed and rocketed Palestinian buildings and crushed the Palestinian economy. But if Mr. Sharon has any strategy to achieve peace - and most Israelis say they doubt that he does - it is clearly not working. . For his domestic audience, he remains nonetheless that rarest of Israeli figures: a relatively popular premier standing astride a reasonably stable government. . "I don't believe there is a rational plan here that leads anywhere," said Avishai Margalit, an Israeli scholar and commentator. But "for most people there is no alternative. I don't remember ever, including me as a kid during the independence war during the worst days in Jerusalem, when the future hung in the air and people were as depressed and dejected as they are now." . Since Mr. Sharon's election, at least 200 Israelis and 515 Palestinians have died in the violence. He has escalated Israel's campaign of assassinating Palestinian militants, authorized dozens of army incursions into territory ceded to the Palestinians in the 1990s and ordered the first Israeli bombing raids on the West Bank and Gaza Strip since 1967. He has waged his tit-for-tat military campaign in the name of punishing Palestinian terrorism and forcing Mr. Arafat and his eight-year-old administration to quell the 16-month-old Palestinian armed uprising. . Eventually, Mr. Sharon's aides say, he hopes to forge a long-term armistice agreement that would skirt irreconcilable disputes over refugees and Jerusalem and, perhaps, establish a Palestinian state - albeit one lacking in contiguous territory, a capital of its own choosing, control of its borders and other basic facets of modern statehood. They say that by besieging Mr. Arafat in his West Bank compound and marginalizing him internationally, Mr. Sharon hopes to encourage a shift in Palestinian leadership. . Yet there is no sign of movement in that direction. To the contrary, there is evidence that Mr. Sharon's tactics have further embittered a new generation of Palestinians. . Security officials on both sides of the conflict warn of a growing and inexhaustible supply of Palestinians willing to die, including as suicide bombers, for the cause of evicting Israel from Palestinian territories. . "He feels that if you put enough pressure and weaken" the Palestinians, "then eventually they will simply bow to the pressure," said Sari Nusseibeh, a prominent Palestinian scholar and Mr. Arafat's top representative in Jerusalem. "But my sense is that he will finally come up against a political mirage. . "He'll find that he has in fact weakened his interlocutor but he won't find that he's lowered his position." . In a poll published last week in the daily newspaper Ma'ariv, Israelis by a margin of 2 to 1 said that they thought Mr. Sharon had no plan to end the violence. . The survey buttressed a long-standing view of Mr. Sharon, who bitterly opposed the 1993 Oslo peace accords and refused to shake Mr. Arafat's hand on an occasion in which they met. In this view, Mr. Sharon dismisses any sweeping resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. He is determined that Jews must retain as much land in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as possible, even if it means fighting for it. . "It's a blood feud and it's not future-oriented but always backward-oriented," said Mr. Margalit. To Mr. Sharon, "you always settle scores from what happened yesterday, so it's mostly tactics - whom to hit and when and how." . Still, Mr. Sharon arrives in Washington in some ways as a strong leader. His support has slipped in the polls recently but still stands at around half the Israeli public. . The Israeli leader has won unalloyed support from Mr. Bush himself for freezing out Mr. Arafat. Mr. Bush was angered by an apparent Palestinian attempt to smuggle a freighter filled with Iranian-supplied weapons into the Gaza Strip last month. . As he presses his diplomatic advantage against Mr. Arafat, Mr. Sharon appears to be planning to increase his military edge, as well. . Senior Israeli Army officials speak openly of conducting longer and deeper incursions into the largest Palestinian cities in response to continuing Palestinian ambushes, sniper attacks and bombings. . This week, Israeli Army officials said that they were planning to build a mock Palestinian city, for training purposes, in the southern Israeli desert. The $8 million facility would be much larger and more realistic than an existing training "village." . It would allow Israeli troops to simulate raids, roadblocks and other operations in a variety of "neighborhoods" - the twisting alleyways of an Arab market, modern apartments in a city center, scattered houses and orchards at the edge of town. . "The military is prepared to go in with massive forces to Jenin and Nablus" - major Palestinian cities in the West Bank - "and find, identify and destroy as much as possible the military infrastructre," said Gerald Steinberg, an Israeli professor who specializes in security issues. . It is a far cry from the expectations that attended Mr. Sharon's electoral victory last year. . A pariah following Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon, which he led as defense minister, Mr. Sharon was widely viewed as too militaristic to be elected prime minister. Over time, he regained stature and respectability, and last year engineered one of the more remarkable political comebacks in Israeli history. . Israeli voters, disgusted with Mr. Arafat and disenchanted with peace overtures by the former prime minister, Ehud Barak, turned to Mr. Sharon in droves. Many were convinced by the avuncular image he presented in television advertising that he would be tough, but also responsible. . Many Israelis regard Sharon as stuck in his present course, incapable of altering his policy even if he wished. If he launches an all-out war, reoccupies the Palestinian territories or eliminates Mr. Arafat, the Labor party would bolt his coalition government. If he opts for negotiations over the future of Jewish settlements, the hard-liners would quit. Either way his government would be likely to fall, so all Mr. can do is forge ahead, analysts say. JERUSALEM Just before he won a landslide victory in Israel's election for prime minister one year ago Wednesday, Ariel Sharon mused on the future he imagined for his newborn twin grandsons. . "What kind of life will they have?" he said in a campaign appearance. "If I'm elected, I will do everything-and a little more-to bring about quiet, security and peace." . Today, Mr. Sharon has failed to achieve any of those goals. The 73-year-old former general, who was scheduled to arrive in Washington Thursday for his fourth meeting with President George W. Bush in a year, has played a key role in the bloodiest 365 days that Israel has undergone in a generation. . He has forged a close and valuable alliance with the Bush administration, which has helped him to isolate and delegitimize his nemesis, Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader. He has sealed off Palestinian towns, razed and rocketed Palestinian buildings and crushed the Palestinian economy. But if Mr. Sharon has any strategy to achieve peace - and most Israelis say they doubt that he does - it is clearly not working. . For his domestic audience, he remains nonetheless that rarest of Israeli figures: a relatively popular premier standing astride a reasonably stable government. . "I don't believe there is a rational plan here that leads anywhere," said Avishai Margalit, an Israeli scholar and commentator. But "for most people there is no alternative. I don't remember ever, including me as a kid during the independence war during the worst days in Jerusalem, when the future hung in the air and people were as depressed and dejected as they are now." . Since Mr. Sharon's election, at least 200 Israelis and 515 Palestinians have died in the violence. He has escalated Israel's campaign of assassinating Palestinian militants, authorized dozens of army incursions into territory ceded to the Palestinians in the 1990s and ordered the first Israeli bombing raids on the West Bank and Gaza Strip since 1967. He has waged his tit-for-tat military campaign in the name of punishing Palestinian terrorism and forcing Mr. Arafat and his eight-year-old administration to quell the 16-month-old Palestinian armed uprising. . Eventually, Mr. Sharon's aides say, he hopes to forge a long-term armistice agreement that would skirt irreconcilable disputes over refugees and Jerusalem and, perhaps, establish a Palestinian state - albeit one lacking in contiguous territory, a capital of its own choosing, control of its borders and other basic facets of modern statehood. They say that by besieging Mr. Arafat in his West Bank compound and marginalizing him internationally, Mr. Sharon hopes to encourage a shift in Palestinian leadership. . Yet there is no sign of movement in that direction. To the contrary, there is evidence that Mr. Sharon's tactics have further embittered a new generation of Palestinians. . Security officials on both sides of the conflict warn of a growing and inexhaustible supply of Palestinians willing to die, including as suicide bombers, for the cause of evicting Israel from Palestinian territories. . "He feels that if you put enough pressure and weaken" the Palestinians, "then eventually they will simply bow to the pressure," said Sari Nusseibeh, a prominent Palestinian scholar and Mr. Arafat's top representative in Jerusalem. "But my sense is that he will finally come up against a political mirage. . "He'll find that he has in fact weakened his interlocutor but he won't find that he's lowered his position." . In a poll published last week in the daily newspaper Ma'ariv, Israelis by a margin of 2 to 1 said that they thought Mr. Sharon had no plan to end the violence. . The survey buttressed a long-standing view of Mr. Sharon, who bitterly opposed the 1993 Oslo peace accords and refused to shake Mr. Arafat's hand on an occasion in which they met. In this view, Mr. Sharon dismisses any sweeping resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. He is determined that Jews must retain as much land in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as possible, even if it means fighting for it. . "It's a blood feud and it's not future-oriented but always backward-oriented," said Mr. Margalit. To Mr. Sharon, "you always settle scores from what happened yesterday, so it's mostly tactics - whom to hit and when and how." . Still, Mr. Sharon arrives in Washington in some ways as a strong leader. His support has slipped in the polls recently but still stands at around half the Israeli public. . The Israeli leader has won unalloyed support from Mr. Bush himself for freezing out Mr. Arafat. Mr. Bush was angered by an apparent Palestinian attempt to smuggle a freighter filled with Iranian-supplied weapons into the Gaza Strip last month. . As he presses his diplomatic advantage against Mr. Arafat, Mr. Sharon appears to be planning to increase his military edge, as well. . Senior Israeli Army officials speak openly of conducting longer and deeper incursions into the largest Palestinian cities in response to continuing Palestinian ambushes, sniper attacks and bombings. . This week, Israeli Army officials said that they were planning to build a mock Palestinian city, for training purposes, in the southern Israeli desert. The $8 million facility would be much larger and more realistic than an existing training "village." . It would allow Israeli troops to simulate raids, roadblocks and other operations in a variety of "neighborhoods" - the twisting alleyways of an Arab market, modern apartments in a city center, scattered houses and orchards at the edge of town. . "The military is prepared to go in with massive forces to Jenin and Nablus" - major Palestinian cities in the West Bank - "and find, identify and destroy as much as possible the military infrastructre," said Gerald Steinberg, an Israeli professor who specializes in security issues. . It is a far cry from the expectations that attended Mr. Sharon's electoral victory last year. . A pariah following Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon, which he led as defense minister, Mr. Sharon was widely viewed as too militaristic to be elected prime minister. Over time, he regained stature and respectability, and last year engineered one of the more remarkable political comebacks in Israeli history. . Israeli voters, disgusted with Mr. Arafat and disenchanted with peace overtures by the former prime minister, Ehud Barak, turned to Mr. Sharon in droves. Many were convinced by the avuncular image he presented in television advertising that he would be tough, but also responsible. . Many Israelis regard Sharon as stuck in his present course, incapable of altering his policy even if he wished. If he launches an all-out war, reoccupies the Palestinian territories or eliminates Mr. Arafat, the Labor party would bolt his coalition government. If he opts for negotiations over the future of Jewish settlements, the hard-liners would quit. Either way his government would be likely to fall, so all Mr. can do is forge ahead, analysts say.
Reuters 14 Feb 2002 Israeli Group Vows to Press Arafat Lawsuit JERUSALEM - A group of Israelis pledged to press for Palestinian President Yasser Arafat to be tried for crimes against humanity on Friday, despite a ruling which looks to have halted a similar case against their own prime minister. The Terror Victims Association, representing 30 Israeli victims of Palestinian political violence, in November petitioned a Brussels court to prosecute Arafat under a 1993 law giving jurisdiction over foreigners who committed human rights violations outside Belgium. The group said it would not abandon the suit despite a ruling by The Hague -based International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Thursday which sounded the death knell for an attempt -- under the same law -- to have Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon tried for war crimes. "We are continuing with our suit against Arafat," group chairman Meir Indor told Reuters. "The fact Sharon has been relieved of the legal farce fabricated for him need not prevent a true trial of he who truly committed crimes and brought about the murder and injury of thousands of victims." The ICJ ruled Belgium had no right to issue an arrest warrant for a former Congolese minister accused of human rights abuses as he was immune from prosecution. The arrest warrant was issued while he was a serving minister. The case was similar to that of Sharon, whose trial is sought by Palestinians alleging that as Israeli defense minister he was involved in the 1982 massacre of hundreds of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon by a pro-Israel Christian militia. "The Sharon case, in my opinion, is closed," Belgian Foreign Ministry legal adviser Jan Devadder told Reuters after the ICJ ruling. "The judgement is clear: immunity for all ministers for all crimes while still in office." But the Israeli group said the ruling did not apply to Arafat and his Palestinian Authority . "An autonomy is not a state, and international law does not afford protection to its senior officials," said the group's lead attorney, Yaacov Rubin. Another 22 complainants had been added to the suit, the group's statement said.
Reuters 25 Feb 2002 Mass Killer Feted by Jewish Extremists in West Bank By Megan Goldin KIRYAT ARBA, West Bank - Israeli police cordoned off the burial site of a U.S.-born mass killer on Monday, the anniversary of his massacre of 29 Palestinians, to prevent extremist Jews from gathering at his grave. Photos Reuters Photo Baruch Goldstein is still the hero of many fervently radical settlers eight years after he gunned down 29 Muslim worshippers at the burial place in the city of Hebron of the biblical Abraham -- the traditional forefather of Jews and Muslims. "He had a heart of gold," said Eli Tzur, lounging on a chair in his restaurant near Goldstein's grave in the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba in the West Bank. "He was a good man," said another settler, Mordechai Buchwald. Seventeen months into a Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation, the diehard settlers of Kiryat Arba and nearby Hebron are more determined than ever to stay put. They eye the breathtaking landscape of the West Bank with a proprietary air and thump the Bible with their hands when they talk about the land they say was promised to them by God. The words "civil war" roll easily off their tongues when the prospect comes up that Israel may one day have to dismantle its settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to make peace with the Palestinians. "If that happens, there will be a lot of bloodshed," said settler David Ben-Shitreet. Kiryat Arba's stone-clad apartment buildings are a few hundred yards from Hebron's Cave of the Patriarchs, known to Muslims as the Ibrahimi mosque. On February 25, 1994, Goldstein entered the shrine and fired around 100 bullets from an automatic rifle at Palestinian worshippers. Survivors bludgeoned him to death with a fire extinguisher. For a Russian resident of Kiryat Arba, the park where Goldstein's grave is situated is a nice place to walk her dog. But to Tzur and his friends it is a place of pilgrimage to a man they consider a national hero. The destruction of a shrine at Goldstein's graveside under a Supreme Court order in 1999 and blue police barriers such as those put up around the site Monday have done nothing to douse their admiration of Goldstein. These modern-day zealots scoff at the idea of peace and talk openly about expelling the Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip to elsewhere in the Middle East. "(But) not to Jordan," said Tzur. "We still have land there. There are 22 Arab countries where they can go to," he said with a flick of the wrist, pausing as two Palestinian labourers entered the restaurant to buy sandwiches. MYTHOLOGY Goldstein's devotees have turned the story of his death into a myth that mirrors the legend of Purim, the Jewish festival on which he carried out the killing with the words "It is Purim today," before entering the Hebron shrine and opening fire. "He saved us," said Ben-Shitreet. "The Palestinians intended to carry out a massacre with knives and guns. And he knew about it and saved us." Those familiar with Jewish lore would recognize the story of Purim in which the Jews of Persia were saved by a righteous Jew named Mordechai from a plot to annihilate them. Goldstein is Mordechai to many of his admirers. In the topsy-turvy world of the southern West Bank, where settlers are armed with automatic rifles and prayer books, the villain is often the hero and the hero the villain. The words of reverence they use for Goldstein turn into revulsion when they mention Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin , slain in 1995 by a rightwing Jew who opposed the land-for-peace deals he had signed with the Palestinians. "He (Rabin) is the murderer, not Goldstein," said Tzur.
AP 27 Feb 2002 Charges Could Come in Riot Deaths By JACK KATZENELL, JERUSALEM - Top Jewish and Arab officials, including former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, could face charges or reprimands over the deaths of 13 Israeli Arabs in riots in October 2000, an inquiry commission said in a decision published Wednesday. The commission investigating the riots sent letters to 14 people who might be harmed by its report, a standard Israeli legal practice, said courts spokeswoman Tamar Paul-Cohen. Such commissions have the authority to recommend criminal charges, dismissal from government posts and official reprimands. After the first Arab was shot dead on Oct. 1, Barak "did not take sufficient steps to prevent or minimize use of deadly force by the police," the commission wrote. In addition to Barak, former Internal Security and Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami, two Arab members of parliament and the head of the Islamic Movement were cautioned. The police commissioner and the region's police commander, both since retired, also received letters. The riots broke out in Arab towns and villages in northern and central Israel and spread to the Arab neighborhoods of Jaffa, part of Tel Aviv. Rioters blocked main highways and attacked cars with rocks and firebombs. Some of the rioters fired weapons at police, according to testimony. A bank, a post office and a gas station were also set on fire and store windows were smashed in the worst disturbances by Israel's Arabs in the country's history. Police shot and killed 13 rioters. Police insisted that they were firing in self-defense, but relatives of the dead charged that police used live ammunition unnecessarily. The commission warned that Barak is likely to be harmed if it reaches the conclusion that he ordered the police to use whatever means necessary to keep the roads open, "ignoring the high number of casualties that should have been foreseen," and ignored social causes of the riots. Barak and the other officials have the right to engage attorneys and to cross-examine the witnesses who delivered evidence against them before the commission's final report is written. Barak's government agreed to the commission of inquiry under heavy pressure from the Arab minority, galvanized and radicalized by the deaths and the Palestinian uprising. About 20 percent of Israel's citizens are Arabs. The commission of inquiry was headed by Supreme Court Justice Theodor Or. Public hearings were stormy. The family of one of the dead assaulted a senior police officer as he was giving evidence before the commission and had to be restrained by security guards. All of those named as letter recipients were questioned by the commission. Barak and Ben-Ami were questioned for many hours. All of the officials maintained that they acted correctly. The Arab members of parliament, Azmi Bishara and Abdel Malik Dahamshe, and the Islamic Movement leader, Sheik Raed Salah, denied that they had incited their people to violence. The commission's warning does not necessarily mean that the recipients will be prosecuted, but it does mean at least that the report will bring criticism. In 1983, a commission of inquiry into the 1982 massacre of hundreds of Palestinian refugees in two Beirut camps forced Ariel Sharon to step down as defense minister, ruling that he was indirectly responsible. Sharon is now Israel's prime minister.
Reuters 27 Feb 2002 Arabs Put Off New Mideast Resolution at U.N. By Evelyn Leopold UNITED NATIONS - Arab delegates on Wednesday put off introducing a potentially divisive U.N. Security Council resolution on the Middle East crisis while their governments sought a common position on peace initiatives. Slideshows Reuters Mideast Conflict Audio/Video Israel Considering Saudi Peace Plan (AP) A U.S. official said Palestinian President Yasser Arafat told his delegation in New York "not to push a resolution in the Security Council at this time." The official was not certain about the reasons or whether this meant action would be delayed until after an Arab summit in Beirut next month. Yemen's U.N. ambassador, Abdallah al-Ashtal, told Reuters a decision on the next move would be up to the Palestinians. Ashtal, head of the Arab group at the United Nations , also said it was too soon for all 22 nations to take a united stand on such issues as a proposal floated by Saudi Arabia for Israel to withdraw from Palestinian territories in exchange for recognition from the entire Arab world. "It is too early for them to pronounce themselves on such a big and important proposition," Ashtal said. The Security Council, at the request of Arab nations, conducted a marathon debate on Tuesday that is to resume late on Wednesday. The original aim was to devise a resolution that the United States, Israel's closest ally, would not veto. One early draft resolution referred obliquely to the proposals floated in The New York Times by Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, which picked up speed this week with praise from President Bush , the European Union and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan . In contrast to Western nations, most Arab delegates in Tuesday's debate, with the exception of Jordan and Morocco, avoided referring directly to the Saudi initiative in the Security Council, which would give official weight to their governments' position ahead of the summit. Syria, however, appeared to dismiss the Saudi plan. Its U.N. ambassador, Mikhail Wehbe, said the peace process required political will from Israel and "not further initiatives." He characterized Israeli actions against Palestinians as war crimes, genocide and ethnic cleansing. SECURITY COUNCIL CAN'T RESOLVE CRISIS, SAYS U.S. The United States has attempted to keep the Security Council out of the Middle East crisis. U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte repeated that position but did not threaten a veto on a resolution all other council members want. "As a practical matter, Security Council action at this time will not resolve the problems between Palestinians and Israelis," Negroponte told the council. Negroponte also said that Secretary of State Colin Powell had been in touch with Arab governments, Palestinian and Israeli leaders and Annan. He said the U.S. Middle East mediator, Gen. Anthony Zinni, would go back to the region as soon as possible. But most members of the Security Council, whose task is to keep international peace, were dismayed at being sidelined as the violence escalated, with at least 893 Palestinians and 277 Israelis killed since a Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation erupted in September 2000. "If the council is to act effectively, it must speak unanimously," said British Ambassador Sir Jeremy Greenstock. "We must all remain focused on urging the parties to fulfill their responsibility to end the violence and return to the negotiating table."
BBC 13 Feb 2002, Lebanon hears case against Sharon At least 800 civilians were killed at Sabra and Shatila A Lebanese court has been hearing evidence presented by 21 Palestinian survivors of a 1982 massacre in Beirut, in a case brought against Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Two witnesses gave evidence during the first session at Beirut's Justice Palace on Wednesday. Mrs Khansa has drawn up 73 charges against Israel The lawsuit has been filed by their Lebanese lawyer, May Khansa, who blames Mr Sharon for the massacre at Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. She is also suing the Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres over the abduction and assassination of leaders of the Shiite Hezbollah movement in Lebanon, and a massacre of civilians in Lebanon when he was prime minister in 1996. Mr Sharon's lawyers argue that he is immune from prosecution because he is a sitting head of government. In 1982, Mr Sharon was minister of defence and the engineer of the invasion of Lebanon. His troops were in control of west Beirut when right-wing Christian militias entered the camps of Sabra and Shatila and slaughtered between 800 and 2,000 unarmed civilians. Long charge-sheet One of the witnesses, Amouna Madi Younes, told AP what she saw prior to the the massacre in which her daughter died: Sharon's troops failed to prevent the massacre "We went to the roof and we began to watch (Ariel Sharon) while he was observing the camp with his field glasses. We did not understand anything. During the night they attacked the camp and slaughtered people." The Lebanese lawyer, who is close to the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah movement, believes that the trial will have a positive influence on another case brought against Mr Sharon, this time in Belgium, by a different group of 23 survivors of the Sabra and Shatila massacre. She says the Lebanon trial will help prove the extent of the war crimes committed by Mr Sharon. Belgian case A Belgian law adopted in 1993 makes it possible to try anyone, including heads of state, for crimes against humanity, regardless of where they occurred. The Belgian court will rule on 6 March whether Mr Sharon can be tried in Belgium. But several lawyers here have dismissed the trial in Lebanon against Mr Sharon as a sham, and have put in doubt the competence of Lebanese courts to rule in such a lawsuit. They also fear that Mr Sharon's lawyers in Belgium will argue that if their client is being tried in a Lebanese court for his role in the Sabra and Shatila massacre, there is no need for another trial in Belgium.
AFP 13 Feb 2002 Myanmar talks making progress, success imminent: junta The historic dialogue between Myanmar's military junta and democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is progressing steadily and success is "imminent", a government spokesman said Wednesday. The spokesman rejected criticism from the United States and pro-democracy ethnic political parties in Myanmar that the pace of the talks, which began in October 2000, is too slow. "Myanmar's ongoing process might seem to be slow to some but it is a steady and sure process where success is imminent. In fact, there is a saying 'slow and steady wins the race'," he told AFP in a statement. The military regime this week faced mounting pressure to speed up the secret dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been held under house arrest since a month before the unprecedented contacts began. In a report to Congress, the US government said Monday that the talks had contributed to mutual understanding and secured the release of some 180 political prisoners, but much more needed to be done. "The United States welcomes this confidence-building process but urges the regime to move from confidence building to genuine political dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi aimed at returning the country to democracy and civilian rule," it said. The report, prepared by the State Department and the US embassy in Yangon, also held out the prospect of an easing of US sanctions against Myanmar if there was tangible progress towards democracy. The junta spokesman said the dialogue was "progressing in the positive direction" and characterised the current political climate in Myanmar as "more encouraging and forthcoming" than many other troubled nations. "There are nations in South Asia, South East Asia, Middle East, Eastern Europe, Latin America where talks have totally failed and there are no peaceful options left," he said. "There are even countries where talks have not only failed but the situation has gone from bad to worse with fighting flaring up." Pro-democracy ethnic political parties this week also urged the junta to increase the dialogue's momentum and "take speedy measures to come to a political agreement". Observers hope the talks will plot a way out of the stalemate that has beset Myanmar since the junta disregarded the National League for Democracy's landslide victory in 1990 elections. Since the two sides began the secret meetings, the junta has released more than 200 members of the NLD and pro-democracy parties. On Wednesday it had freed another five, in an apparent goodwill gesture timed to coincide with a visit by UN human rights envoy Paulo Sergio Pinheiro. "They are all in good health and back together with their respective families," the junta said in an official statement. The five included four NLD members as well as Kyi Pe Kyaw from the Democratic Party for New Society, a disbanded pro-democracy youth party. The NLD figures were identified as Hla Tun Aung, Kan Shein, Htein Lin and Myo Mying Nyein. Myo Mying Nyein, who was involved with several weekly magazines, was arrested in 1992 for allegedly infringing the publishing act. His late father was a famous international boxer, known in the ring as Tiger Ban Yein. Hla Tun Aung, Htein Lin and Kyi Pe Kyaw were released from a jail in Myitkyina, the capital of northern Kachin state, where Pinheiro arrivedWednesday as part of his 10-day mission to Myanmar. The Brazilian academic, who was forced to scrap an earlier trip to Kachin state when he fell ill during a visit last October, is expected to visit prisons in Kachin state.
AP 18 Feb 2002 Angry Legislators Scuffle in Nepal KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) -- In a session marked by scuffles and noisy recriminations, Nepalese legislators on Monday said the government should resign because it ignored repeated calls for help in advance of a rebel attack that killed 137 people. In the aftermath of the deadliest assault in Nepal's 6-year war, lawmakers knocked down a podium, tussled with guards and shouted for the government's resignation; they took no action on Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba's request to extend a state of emergency. Debate resumes Tuesday. Deuba said he needed the extension to keep up the fight against rebels trying to topple the Himalayan kingdom's constitutional monarchy and install a communist government. The guerrillas, who draw their inspiration from Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Tse-tung, attacked government offices and a small airport in Achham on Sunday, killing 77 policemen, 55 soldiers, an intelligence officer and four civilians. The rebels broke off peace talks and renewed attacks Nov. 26, prompting the imposition of the state of emergency, which is up for renewal. Also, King Gyanendra ordered the army to fight the rebels, a task left previously to the overmatched police force. Deuba said the state of emergency was showing results. ``The situation in country has gotten better since the emergency was imposed and such a task takes time. So it is our compulsion to continue mobilization of the security forces,'' Deuba told Parliament. The Parliament melee started when a member of the governing Nepali Congress party, representing the town of Mangalsen where the main attack took place, said the government ignored warnings that violence was coming. Another attack took place at the airport in the nearby town of Sanphebaga. ``Representatives and government officials from the area had warned the government about the possible attack. But it was ignored,'' Ram Bahadur Bista said. Chief District Officer Mohan Singh Khadka, the area's administrative chief, wrote several letters to the government seeking additional security forces, Bista said. Khadka died in the attack. ``The government has failed to provide security and prevent the attack, despite having information about the possible assault. It has now lost all moral ground to continue in power,'' said Pradeep Nepal of the main opposition United Marxist Leninist Communist Party of Nepal. Deuba said the army has sent reinforcements by helicopter to the Achham district, 375 miles northwest of the capital Katmandu. He said the military had taken control of the area and people were beginning to come out of their homes. The emergency measures restrict freedom of the press, assembly, expression and movement and allow suspects to be detained for three weeks without charge. Deuba raised the death toll to 137 from 129, adding a policeman and seven soldiers to the casualty list. The attacks came as the impoverished Himalayan nation was still coming to terms with the June palace massacre of King Birendra and eight other royals by Crown Prince Dipendra, who then shot himself. Nepal is a constitutional monarchy. Earlier this month, the U.S. State Department issued an advisory to warn Americans about travel in Nepal after the guerrillas staged attacks near popular tourist destinations, including the main entry point for the Mount Everest trek. The latest attacks were not near tourist sites. More than 2,400 people have died in fighting since 1996. The rebels have called a general strike Friday and Saturday to commemorate the sixth anniversary of their insurgency.
IRIN 27 Feb 2002 PAKISTAN: Shi'ite killings a challenge to Musharraf's reforms ISLAMABAD, 27 Feb 2002 (IRIN) - The brutal massacre of 10 Shi'ite Muslims in Pakistan has sparked fear and outrage among the minority community and also posed a direct challenge to the government, bent on cracking down on hardline Islamic militants, analysts said on Wednesday. "The government has completely failed in protecting the lives of Shi'ites," Sayed Raziuddin Razi, a Shi'ite leader, told IRIN in Rawalpindi, adjacent city to the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, where at least 10 people were shot dead and more than a dozen injured on Tuesday evening. Police said two unidentified gunmen opened fire on the worshippers while a third accomplice waited outside the mosque on a motorcycle. Razi, secretary-general of the banned Tehreek-e-Jafria Pakistan (TJP) party, said the incident was the latest in a series of terrorist attacks on the minority community, reflecting the failure of the government to control the law and order situation. The party was banned along with four other religious parties by President General Pervez Musharraf earlier this year as part of his campaign to curb sectarian and ethnic violence. "The government has failed in maintaining law and order," he said. "The incident will instigate the Shi'ites who have often become victim of terrorist attacks by militant groups," he added. Hundreds of people have been killed in tit-for-tat attacks by armed militants from the majority Sunni sect and minority Shi'ite groups in the past few years. However, sectarian violence appeared to have died off since 11 September, and in the wake of Musharraf's attempt to make the country a moderate Islamic state despite resistance by Islamic militant groups, many of them ardent supporters of the ousted Taliban of Afghanistan. "Its definitely a warning to the government," political analyst Hussain Haqqani told IRIN from Lahore, capital of Punjab province. "Its quite clear that the change Musharraf wants to bring in the country will not come without a fight. These are messages," Haqqani said explaining that the gruesome slaying of Wall Street journalists Daniel Pearl earlier this month and Tuesday's sectarian violence were related to each other. "The barbaric murder of Daniel pearl confirms my worst fear that Pakistan's transition from an ally of extremist Islamists to a modern Muslim state will not come about without a fight," he said. "Having turned a blind eye in the past to the wrong means of volunteer militias organised in the name of jihad (holy war), Pakistan's government must now contend with the covert operations of these groups against its own authority," Haqqani added. Razi, who came under attack by gunmen riding motorcycles last week, and narrowly escaped, said the government would have to do more than pay lip service to control sectarian violence, which has made the Shi'ite community feel vulnerable. "Only banning religious parties will not help. Effective steps against those people who instigate violence and who work on behalf of foreign interests should be taken," said Razi. TJP has asked the government to withdraw a ban on its activities and Razi said if the government did not do so, the party would go to the court. Musharraf says he is committed to rooting out political and religious violence from society and has warned extremists of dire consequences if they do not change their ways. However, its easier said than done.
Reuters 19 Feb 2002 Focus-Polish wartime leader's death still a mystery By Douglas Busvine WARSAW (Reuters) - Accident or sabotage? The debate rages on in Poland decades after the death in a mysterious plane crash of World War Two leader-in-exile General Wladyslaw Sikorski. A provocative radio documentary, declassified British files and an intriguing gesture by Russian leader Vladimir Putin have revived interest in the one man who might have led Poland to freedom had he not died off Gibraltar on July 4, 1943. Returning to England from a six-week tour inspecting Polish troops in the Middle East, Sikorski stopped over on the strategically-important British colony at the tip of southern Spain before taking off in a Liberator bomber at 11 p.m. into a clear night sky. His plane at first gained height normally but then went into a slow dive, its engines cutting out just before it slammed into the sea. Of the 17 people on board only the Czech pilot Edward Prchal survived, testifying to a hurried inquiry that his controls had jammed. The investigation failed to establish the cause of the accident, but ruled out sabotage. A second British investigation in 1969, the results of which have only recently released, questioned the original findings and concluded there might indeed have been foul play. The inconclusive evidence left the field open to speculation on the fate of a soldier-statesman revered by Polish patriots but who had become a thorn in the side of Britain, the Soviet Union and America as they battled Nazi Germany. "For 20 years I was of the opinion that the Gibraltar crash was very probably an accident. But from what I've learned recently I'd put the 'very probably' down to 'likely'," said Norman Davies, a professor of history at Oxford University. "As the likelihood of a technical disaster drops, the probability of sabotage and assassination grows," added Davies, a leading authority on Poland. Most suspicion has focused on Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, who had much to gain from eliminating a tiresome champion of post-war Polish independence. British collusion has been mooted, but never proved. CONSPIRACY THEORIES A recent BBC radio documentary examined both scenarios and made waves by citing sources who claimed Sikorski may even have been the victim of Polish factions hostile to his attempts to deal with Stalin. President Putin added fuel to the fire on a visit to Poland last month by returning Sikorski's military file -- seized by the Nazis after they invaded Poland in 1939 and later captured by the Red Army and shipped east. The dossier itself, comprising Sikorski's birth certificate, his school certificate and records of his inter-war military and political career -- he was prime minister in the early 1920s -- throws no light on the reasons for his death. But Putin's offer to open Soviet archives to Polish historians raised hopes that the last untapped source -- the files of Stalin's feared secret service -- might solve the riddle of Sikorski's death. "The meaning of President Putin's gesture is clear -- Russia is ready to sit at the table and talk," said Wladyslaw Stepniak, head of Poland's state archives. In addition to seeking the return of Polish records still in Russia, Stepniak said "there are chances" that Polish historians could gain access to relevant Soviet intelligence files. Russia's FSB domestic intelligence agency, successor to Soviet spy agencies, declined, however, to say whether it had a Sikorski file in its archives. HISTORIC MOTIVES Although the documentary evidence is lacking, history was clearly running against Sikorski when he died at the age of 62. Back in 1941, after Hitler reneged on the 1939 Nazi-Soviet pact to carve up Poland and attacked the Soviet Union, he proved his statesmanship by persuading Stalin to release Poles deported en masse to Siberian labour camps. But, denied the chance to join the battle to regain their homeland, the deportees decamped to the Middle East in 1942. Then, in April 1943, came the German discovery of thousands of bodies of Polish officers in mass graves in the Katyn Forest, a find gleefully trumpeted by Nazi propagandist Josef Goebbels. Sikorski demanded a Red Cross inquiry. Stalin broke off ties. Moscow did not admit responsibility for the Katyn massacre for another five decades. Historians note that by the time of Sikorski's death Stalin was already shifting his strategy to prepare a communist puppet government to take power in Poland and backing the creation of a partisan force answerable to Moscow to fight with the Red Army. The weakened exiled government failed to stop Stalin, British leader Winston Churchill, and U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt redrawing the map of Europe, letting the Soviet Union expand westward and giving Moscow a free hand in Poland. "If Sikorski had lived, he would not have let Churchill and Roosevelt decide the Polish question behind closed doors and in effect sell out to Stalin," said Davies. Poland did not shake off the communist yoke until 1989. Sikorski's acumen as commander-in-chief of the Polish resistance -- forged as a field commander in the 1920 defence of Warsaw against the invading Bolsheviks -- was soon missed. Non-communist partisans launched the disastrous 1944 Warsaw Rising which Soviet forces, camped nearby, did not -- or could not -- support. The Nazis crushed the 63-day rising at a cost of a quarter of a million lives. CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE In addition to the collapse of his relationship with Stalin, circumstantial evidence points to -- but falls short of proving -- a Soviet plot to assassinate Sikorski. Was it mere coincidence that, beside Sikorski's plane, an identical Liberator, used by the Soviet ambassador to London Ivan Maisky, was parked on the Gibraltar airfield on the fateful day? Might Soviet double agent Kim Philby, Gibraltar station chief of British intelligence, have orchestrated his death? And can any credence be lent to a KGB defector to Britain in the 1960s who claimed that Sikorski was victim of a Soviet plot? Fodder for conspiracy theorists, not serious historians, said Cambridge University's head of history, Christopher Andrew. "I don't take seriously the idea that the Soviets could have been responsible for Sikorski's death," said Andrew, a leading historian of British and Soviet intelligence. "Philby could not have been used for any assassination attempt in 1943 since the Soviets thought -- wrongly -- that he was a double agent working for the British." Others, like London-based Polish historian Jan Ciechanowski, a historian of the Warsaw Rising, are less sure. "I don't know if it was sabotage or an accident. But if it was sabotage, you can exclude the British, Germans and Poles. Who do you have left?" asks Ciechanowski. Where historians do agree is that, to close the Sikorski case, Russia would have to open up the archive of Stalin's NKVD secret service -- something they doubt will happen soon despite Putin's cooperation offer.
Reuters 19 Feb 2002 Cleaning Woman Foils Time-Bomb Blast DUSHANBE (Reuters) - A cleaning lady accidentally defused a time-bomb in a business center in Tajikistan's capital Tuesday, a police officer said. When the woman moved a package to clean a floor of the nine-story building, a clockwork detonator fell out and the package was found to contain powerful bars of TNT explosive. The detonator went off harmlessly a few minutes later. The bustling building in central Dushanbe houses traffic police and the office of a district prosecutor, as well as a local information agency and an Internet company. Tajikistan, a poor mountainous state in Central Asia, remains volatile after a civil war in 1992-97. Crime with contract killings and blasts is rampant, and President Imomali Rakhmonov himself once narrowly escaped an assassination attempt. The country's international profile has grown over the past few months as it served as a base for western forces, aid organizations and journalists seeking access to neighboring Afghanistan .
South China Morning Post 7 Feb 2002 Murdered migrants may be someone's surplus workers William Barnes in Bangkok The killing of 20 ethnic Karen villagers - whose bodies were dumped in a river that divides Laos from Thailand - was most probably the work of a ruthless Thai boss, said officials and human rights workers yesterday. There is a fear that heightened official rhetoric in Thailand against the perhaps million-strong Lao population scraping a desperate living in the country has encouraged some Thais to feel that such "unwanted guests" get what they deserve. "We've been expecting something like this to happen. There is an ugly mood around. We've warned all refugees not to leave the camps," said one Karen refugee official forced to live in exile. Even by the brutal standards of endemic cross-border violence, this appears a particularly nasty crime. Police near the border town of Mae Sot, six hours northwest of Bangkok, have spotted or recovered 20 bodies, most wearing the distinctive Karen dress. The victims' hands and feet had been bound before their throats were cut. A policeman said small towels had been placed in their mouths, perhaps to keep them quiet as they were killed. Karen, Thai and Western observers in the area said that although widespread forced labour, compulsory bribes and taxes and numerous extra-judicial killings have driven countless thousands of Karen in Laos towards the Thai border, this elaborate massacre was not something either Laotians or Karen were likely to have carried out. "In Burma (and Laos) you can get a bullet but not usually like this. This is gangster stuff," said one international human rights worker. "These people are so vulnerable it's quite possible they were killed for simply demanding their pay. Maybe they were someone's surplus workers." More than a million, mostly Karen, refugees live in camps in Thailand supported by international aid organisations. "Fatigued" Thai governments have flatly refused to consider expanding this number, which means even the most desperate possess at best temporary work cards; at worst they find themselves in the hands of crude gangsters. The Government of Thaksin Shinawatra has engaged in a campaign to have all the "surplus" Laotians pushed back across the border. The refugees in official camps appear safe for the moment but underground workers - frequently labelled "diseased" and "criminal" by officials - are clearly vulnerable. The Labour Ministry announced yesterday that it would start vigorous new raids, in co-operation with the security forces, to round up illegal workers. The irony, said one Thai businessman in Mae Sot, was that for all the furore over illegal immigrants, many businesses would collapse if they could not employ cheap foreign labourers prepared to do the dirty jobs Thais turn down. "Its our big secret. Thais won't do this kind of work (picking fruit, cleaning fish, sewing shirts) for reasonable money. We need these people and they are desperate to come here. That's why they will come back and that's why we will employ them."
The Nation 7 Feb 2002 EDITORIAL: Indifference to Karen deaths Thailand's ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights requires, among other obligations, that it undertake to respect and to ensure to all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction, the rights recognised in the Covenant, without distinction of any kind such as to race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinions, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Seen in this light, the Thai authorities' recent handling of the apparent massacre of some 20 people believed to be minority ethnic Karen was disgraceful, taken into consideration one of the paramount rights recognised in the covenant - the right to life. The local police, it was reported, when initially informed of the slain bodies by villagers living nearby, didn't bother to investigate after learning that those who died were members of an ethnic minority. This forced the villagers to push the bodies down the Moei river in order to get rid of the stench, making it even more difficult for the local police after they decided they'd better investigate when number of dead rose to 20. The police's reluctance to investigate the death of the 20 Karen ethnic villagers - who were blindfolded and with their hands and feet bound, their throats cut and decomposed beyond recognition - was appalling. Sadly, this has stemmed from indifference by the authorities to people of ethnic minorities. Consequently, Interior Minister Purachai Piumsomboon had to order the police to get more involved in the case. The police chief, meanwhile, tried to comfort the public by saying no Thais were among the 20 dead. But that was not the point. What is pertinent here is the crucial provision under the covenant, ratified by Thailand, which stipulates that every human being has an inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law and no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his or her life. Thus, the crucial issue is the protection of all people under Thailand's jurisdiction, regardless of race or country of origin. One of the strongest theories about the deaths - repeatedly told to reporters by police - was that the victims were part of an illegal activity and that they were killed as a warning to others not to mess around with the mastermind. The suggestion here is that the killings were only of concern to the people involved - in other words, their business - and that it would be a waste of time for the police to investigate. Another theory suggested by police was that the 20 slain Karen villagers, seven of them women, might have been involved in a local business which illegally trafficked labourers from Burma. A more chilling suggestion, one that the police seem not too keen to discuss, is that they were illegal migrants who had worked for years without being paid and were killed by their employers. Whatever the real reason is behind the fate of the 20 Karen, one thing is certain: their inherent dignity as human beings and their inherent right to life were violated. As one of the state parties to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Thailand understands full well that it is obliged to undertake to ensure that any person, including the 20 Karen ethnic villagers in this case, whose rights or freedom are violated, shall have an effective remedy. The effective remedy, in this case, is justice for those who died. It is the obligation of the police to find the people behind these brutal slayings and prosecute them, and then eliminate any illegal operations that put human lives at risk.
ICRC 21 Feb 2002 ICRC News 02/08 . Turkey: Humanitarian law symposium The first-ever symposium on international humanitarian law for Turkish universities was held at Marmara University in Istanbul on 7 February. It was organized by the ICRC in conjunction with the university's Denizmer-Marinetr Centre. Professor Turay Yardimci, Marmara's rector, gave the opening address. The symposium brought together representatives of five Istanbul universities. The event, which was attended by two ICRC delegates, was built around the presentation of the ICRC publication How does law protect in war?* and was intended both to strengthen links between the ICRC and Turkey's academic circles and to promote the teaching of humanitarian law in the country. It is part of the organization's worldwide endeavour to encourage the inclusion of that body of law in the programmes of leading faculties of law, international relations and journalism, which are educating the new generation of decision- and opinion-makers. The ICRC's strategy is to make available reference works and other teaching material, to "train the trainers" and to maintain a network of specialists by taking part in symposiums, competitions and similar events organized by universities. Antoine Bouvier, the ICRC's head of academic programmes, feels that cooperation between the organization and Turkish universities is an important development since it includes them in the special effort which the ICRC has been making in recent years with others in the Middle East, the Russian Federation, the Caucasus region, Central Asia and Central Europe. "With the influence it enjoys throughout the region", he said, "Turkey can do much to promote humanitarian law in a part of the world that remains badly affected by armed conflict." * Marco Sassoli and Antoine Bouvier, How does law protect in war? ICRC, 1999
BBC 17 Feb 2002 Haider 'keeps options open' - Mr Haider says his Iraq visit was "humanitarian" By Bethany Bell in Vienna Austrian far-right politician Joerg Haider has reportedly suggested conditions for returning to national politics shortly after announcing he was leaving for good. The former leader of the Austrian Freedom Party, which is a member of the country's governing coalition, has been criticised for visiting Iraq earlier this week. Mr Haider was lashed by Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel for visiting Iraq The party is due to meet on Sunday to discuss Mr Haider's surprise announcement of his withdrawal from politics. There is considerable confusion in Austria as to the future of both Mr Haider and the Freedom Party which, under his leadership, became one of the most successful far-right movements in Europe. Mr Haider stepped down as leader two years ago after his party entered its highly controversial government coalition. But he remained a member of the coalition's policy-making committee and has been criticised even by his own party for interfering too much in the work of the government. Shock visit This week, Mr Haider came under fire from all sides for meeting the Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, in Baghdad. And then, on Friday, Mr Haider declared he was leaving the national stage for good - a move which caused shockwaves throughout the party and forced the current leader, Vice-Chancellor Susanne Riess-Passer, to cut short a visit to the United States. She has stressed that Mr Haider is an integral part of the party. Now, according to media reports, there are signs that Mr Haider could be reconsidering his position. He is due to attend Sunday's meeting of the Freedom Party's leadership in Vienna.
IRIN 15 Feb 2002 ICJ rejects Belgium's arrest warrant for Ndombasi NAIROBI, The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Thursday rejected Belgium's international arrest warrant for Abdulaye Yerodia Ndombasi, a former foreign minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), for alleged crimes "constituting grave violations of international humanitarian law". The Court found that "the arrest warrant of 11 April 2000, and its international circulation, constituted violations of a legal obligation of the Kingdom of Belgium towards the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in that they failed to respect the immunity from criminal jurisdiction and the inviolability which the incumbent Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Democratic Republic of the Congo enjoyed under international law." The Court also determined that Belgium "must, by means of its own choosing, cancel the warrant... and so inform the authorities to whom it was circulated". The ICJ, also known as the World Court, is the principal judicial organ of the UN. Its judgment in this matter "is final, without appeal and binding for the Parties". The case was initiated after Rwandan and Congolese Tutsis alleged that Ndombasi had incited hatred against them in speeches referring to "vermin" and "extermination". Ndombasi reportedly made the comments shortly after Tutsi-led rebels attacked the DRC capital, Kinshasa, in August 1998. Ndombasi said he was referring to invading forces from Rwanda and Uganda who backed the revolt, and not to a specific ethnic group. The DRC brought the matter before the ICJ in October 2000, asking for the immediate revocation of the warrant against Ndombasi, claiming that it violated the principle by which one state cannot exert its power on the territory of another, as well as the principles of sovereign equality and of diplomatic immunity. Belgium subsequently asked the court to reject the DRC's motion. A controversial 1993 Belgian law asserts universal jurisdiction to prosecute suspects for war crimes, regardless of their nationality or where the crimes were committed. The first trial under the Belgian war crimes law took place last year, when four Rwandans, including two Roman Catholic nuns, were sentenced by a Brussels court for their role in the 1994 genocide. Analysts expect that Belgian cases against several world leaders, including the former Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet, the Cuban leader, Fidel Castro, former Iranian President Ali Hashemi Rafsanjani, Iraqi President Saddam Husayn, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo, and the Palestinian leader, Yasir Arafat, would now be dropped. Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch (HRW) expressed disappointment at the ICJ's judgment. "This is a disappointing decision, because it effectively shields some state officials from prosecution for atrocities," said Reed Brody, HRW Advocacy Director. "Government ministers who commit crimes against humanity and war crimes are not likely to be prosecuted at home, and this ruling means they will enjoy impunity abroad as well. This decision goes against the international trend towards accountability for the worst abuses." According to HRW, the Belgian anti-atrocities law is part of a growing trend towards accountability for the worst international crimes. Prosecutions based on universal jurisdiction, such as those now possible under the Belgian law, are an essential part of the emerging system of international justice. "They help to break down the wall of immunity with which tyrants and torturers protect themselves in their own countries," the group said. In its decision, the ICJ stated that even sitting government ministers may not "enjoy impunity in respect of any crimes they might have committed". The decision recognised "immunity of jurisdiction", however, for a sitting foreign minister before the national courts of other countries. Brody added that the decision "highlights the need for the rapid establishment of the International Criminal Court, which will be able to investigate and prosecute those individuals - including state leaders - accused of crimes against humanity, genocide, and war crimes when national courts are unwilling or unable to do so, and which expressly rejects any substantive or jurisdictional immunities". [For complete details on the ICJ ruling, go to: http://www.icj-cij.org/icjwww/ipresscom/ipress2002/ipresscom2002-04_cobe_20020214.htm]
Reuters 15 Feb 2002 Ruling Likely to End Sharon War-Crimes Case THE HAGUE, Feb. 14— The World Court sounded the death knell today for a Belgian attempt to try Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel for war crimes, ruling in a similar case that serving ministers were protected from prosecution. Jan Devadder, legal adviser to the Belgian Foreign Ministry, said decision by the International Court of Justice, based in The Hague, would most likely result in Belgium's dropping its case against Mr. Sharon. "The Sharon case, in my opinion, is closed," Mr. Devadder told Reuters, after the ruling by the United Nations' highest judicial body. The court of justice, also known as the World Court, ruled that Belgium had no right to issue an arrest warrant on charges of rights abuses for a former Congolese minister because he was immune from prosecution. The Congo case is similar to the Sharon lawsuit. The court "concluded that there existed no exception under international law to the rule establishing immunity from criminal process before foreign national courts," said the president of the court, Gilbert Guillaume. The ruling is likely to have a bearing on a backlog of cases in which high-profile politicians are accused of war crimes and rights abuses, including Yasir Arafat, the Palestinian leader, and Fidel Castro of Cuba. Israel welcomed the ruling in the case, brought by a group of Palestinians who accused Mr. Sharon of responsibility for the 1982 massacre of hundreds of Palestinians in Lebanese refugee camps while he was Israeli defense minister. "From the outset, the Israeli position was that the legal proceedings against Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in Belgium should be halted forthwith," said a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Yaffa Ben-Ari. The case that decided the issue today involved a dispute between Congo and Belgium, which used its rights laws to issue an arrest warrant for former Foreign Minister Aboulaye Yerodia Ndombasi on charges of crimes against humanity. Mr. Yerodia was accused of inciting hatred against ethnic Tutsi in August 1998 in speeches in which he referred to "vermin" and "extermination." As many as a million Tutsi and moderate Hutu were massacred in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.
InterPress Service 15 Feb 2002 ICJ ruling major setback to fight against impunity By Jim Lobe WASHINGTON, Feb 14 (IPS) - Human rights groups are attacking a decision by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) as a major setback in the global fight against impunity. • Rights and Democracy • Catholic Institute for International Relations • Lawyers Committee for Human Rights • OneWorld Full Coverage on Justice The ICJ invalidated Thursday parts of a Belgian law that gave its courts jurisdiction to prosecute world leaders for genocide and war crimes. The Hague-based ICJ, which threw out an international arrest warrant issued by Belgium against a former foreign minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), ruled that Belgian courts could not deprive the accused, Yerodia Aboulaye Ndombasi, of his diplomatic immunity - even if he was being prosecuted for actions he committed out of office. Yerodia was one of a growing list of world leaders, most prominently Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, and Cuban President Fidel Castro, charged with committing war crimes or crimes against humanity under the Belgian law. Legal analysts who had read the ICJ's opinion agreed that Thursday's ruling likely would cover those leaders and others, including the current presidents of Cote d'Ivoire, Congo- Brazzaville, Rwanda, and the Central African Republic. Israel's foreign ministry officially welcomed the decision and called on Belgium to halt proceedings against Sharon. Jan Devadder, legal adviser to the Belgian foreign ministry, said the ruling's language was sweeping and predicted existing cases against senior foreign officials would soon be dropped. ''The court has clearly ruled government leaders and heads of state enjoy total immunity from prosecution,'' he said. In his summary of the case, ICJ President Gilbert Guillaume said the court had ''concluded that there existed no exception under international law to the rule establishing immunity from criminal process before foreign national courts.'' As precedent, Guillaume cited the 1999 decision by Britain's House of Lords to permit former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet to return home rather than be extradited on an arrest warrant issued by a Spanish judge who was investigating the killings and disappearances of thousands of people under his rule. Given the immunity that attached to Ndombasi as foreign minister, according to Guillaume, the investigating judge in Belgium could not ''rely on a universal jurisdiction unrecognized by international law.'' International human rights groups reacted with dismay, arguing that the ruling underlined the urgent need for the International Criminal Court (ICC), which will be fully empowered to try cases of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes - once it comes into being. Fifty-two countries have ratified the ''Rome Protocol'' that authorizes the ICC - eight short of the 60 required for it to take legal effect. Most observers believe the 60th country will likely deposit its ratification within the next four months. ''This is a disappointing decision because it effectively shields some state officials from prosecution for atrocities,'' said Reed Brody, advocacy director for Human Rights Watch (HRW). ''Government ministers who commit crimes against humanity and war crimes are not likely to be prosecuted at home, and this ruling means they will enjoy impunity abroad as well,'' he added. The decision, said Brody, ''highlights the need for the rapid establishment of the International Criminal Court, which will be able to investigate and prosecute those individuals, including state leaders, accused of crimes against humanity, genocide, and war crimes when national courts are willing or unable to do so, and which expressly rejects any substantive or jurisdictional immunities.'' Amnesty International also deplored the decision, saying it "goes against a growing trend in international law and significant efforts by national jurisdictions to end impunity, including by not giving immunity from prosecution to people suspected of crimes under international law." ''No one should enjoy immunity from crimes under international law, which are so serious that the international community has accepted that it is the responsibility of all states to bring the perpetrators to justice,'' it said. The Belgian law, first passed in 1993 and expanded in 1999, was an effort to comply with international human rights conventions that provide universal jurisdiction for extremely severe human rights abuses, such as genocide. Under the law, Belgian courts may hear such cases whether or not the crimes had any connection whatsoever to Belgium, its citizens or territory. So far, only one trial has been held under the 1993 law. In that case, which was completed early last year, a civilian jury found four Rwandans, including two nuns, complicit in the 1994 genocide in that central African nation. Coming so soon after Pinochet was permitted to return to Chile, the trial attracted considerable media attention. The result was a torrent of new lawsuits brought in Belgian courts against various leaders. So far, the Sharon case has received the most publicity. He was sued last year for his role in the 1982 massacre by Lebanese Falangist militia of hundreds of Palestinians in Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beirut. Sharon, who was Israel's defense minister at the time, had masterminded the invasion of Lebanon, which gave Israel's army control over access to the camps. He was ultimately found to be ''indirectly responsible'' for the massacre by an Israeli commission and forced to resign his post. The case has made both Israel and Belgium distinctly uncomfortable. Late last year, Belgium's foreign minister denounced the law as ''embarrassing'' and called on the parliament to amend in a way that would at least provide immunity for serving officials of foreign governments. Ndombasi's case centered on his alleged role in inciting the massacre of several hundred Tutsis in eastern DRC in 1998 when he served as chief of staff to the late President Laurent Kabila. A Belgian investigating judge had issued an international arrest warrant against him when Ndombasi was foreign minister in 2000. It sought his provisional detention, pending a request for extradition to Belgium for ''serious violations of international humanitarian law.'' Ndombasi served only briefly as foreign minister in 2000 and is currently the DRC's minister of education.
Al-Ahram Weekly Online 21 - 27 February 2002 Issue No.574 Immunity or impunity Why is the International Court of Justice's (ICJ) decision to annul an arrest warrant for a former Congolese minister viewed as a political pretext to end the case against Sharon's pending trial in Belgium? Amira Howeidy finds out. Just hours after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued a decision on 14 February annulling a Belgian arrest warrant for former Congolese Foreign Minister Aboulaye Yerodia Ndombasi on charges of committing crimes against humanity, the loudest cheers came from Belgium and Israel. Belgian officials were happy to capitalise on the decision to save Brussels from months of political embarrassment caused by its courts' acceptance of a complaint filed against Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and others for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the 1982 Sabra and Shatila camp massacres in Lebanon. These resulted in the killing of over 2,000 Palestinian refugees and Lebanese citizens. The Belgian Foreign Ministry's legal adviser was quick to tell reporters that "the Sharon case, in my opinion, is closed." Israel, understandably welcomed the ruling and argued that the legal proceedings against Sharon "should be halted forthwith," in the words of an Israeli foreign ministry spokeswoman. Initial reactions from both the lawyers and plaintiffs who filed the complaint against Sharon as well as experts on international humanitarian law were to refute the ruling's political interpretation. There is no legal link between the ruling, they argued, and the case pending in Belgium. The ICJ, explained a statement issued by a group of the lawyers handling the case, rejected the "issuance" and "circulation" of the international arrest warrant against Yeorida in April 2000. In the Sabra and Shatila case, however, no arrest warrant was requested. The ICJ based its decision on the fact that, given that Yerodia enjoyed diplomatic immunity at the time the arrest warrant was issued, Belgium had no right to seek his indictment as long as he remained in office. The Democratic Republic of Congo had filed a case against Belgium with the ICJ. "Although it's a setback," said a statement issued by the Arab European League (AEL), a Belgian NGO that comprises one of the bodies handling the case against Sharon, "the court's decision by no means represents the end of the case against Sharon." For one thing, the AEL argued, the ruling was not relevant to the principle of 'universal jurisdiction' enshrined in Belgian law. Furthermore, it explained that annulling Yerodia's arrest warrant does not mean "that the criminal investigation brought against him cannot be pursued by the examining magistrate." On the other hand, a new arrest warrant "would be legal as Yerodia is no longer in office and thus does not enjoy immunity any more," AEL claimed. The statement drew a distinction between the diplomatic immunity granted to foreign ministers, which the world court upheld, and the status of "other ministers or prime ministers" who have no immunity. However, even should Belgium consider Sharon to be immune, the AEL suggested, "it will only mean he will not be arrested as long as he is in office and that the investigation and the charges brought against him... should be pursued." The status of another defendant in the Sabra and Shatila complaint, Israeli General Amos Yaron, will not be affected by the ICJ ruling because he enjoys no immunity. Another group of lawyers handling the same case also issued a legal statement, explaining that the Congo-Belgium dispute at the ICJ "concerns only the parties to the litigation." Israel, unlike the Congo, "does not accept the jurisdiction of the ICJ," it argued. The legal adviser to the Belgian foreign ministry, Jan Devadder, said that in his opinion the case against Sharon is closed. He remained silent despite the legal rebuttals made by the lawyers handling the case. But his silence might only be interpreted as reflecting Belgium's political will on the affair. The case itself was frozen last summer and referred to another court to decide on Belgium's competence to look into it. The court will pronounce its decision on 6 March. Although legal experts argue that the law is clear on that matter and that Belgium is indeed competent, the kingdom's political class has been debating for some time now the options facing its country's legal system. "We are aware of the existence of a political will among certain Belgian politicians to use the ICJ's decision as an excuse in order to prevent the victims of the genocide at Sabra and Shatila from seeking justice in Belgium," AEL said. It also took issue with the ongoing debate over modifying law NO 93 of 1999 which allows for universal jurisdiction. "The project of amending the law and the hostile signals coming from the Belgian foreign ministry towards the Sharon case are all to be understood as attempts to protect a war criminal just because he is the prime minister of the state of Israel," it added. But this is a case where politics may triumph over law. The sixth of March will decide if political pressure is stronger than international justice. Whatever the outcome, it remains that, for the first time, a European court was prepared, even for a brief moment, to indict an Israeli head of government.
AP 15 Feb 2002 War Crimes Prosecutor Seeks Karadzic By IRENA GAJIC, BANJA LUKA, Bosnia-Herzegovina - Pressing her hunt for her court's most wanted suspects, the chief prosecutor of the U.N. war crimes tribunal urged Bosnian Serb authorities Friday to find wartime leader Radovan Karadzic. "For sure we know that Karadzic is here," Carla Del Ponte told reporters after meeting Bosnian Serb Prime Minister Mladen Ivanic. "I'm asking the authorities to locate where." Karadzic is a one-time ally of Slobodan Milosevic , on trial by the tribunal in The Hague , Netherlands on 66 counts of alleged genocide and other war crimes committed in Kosovo, Croatia and Bosnia. Each count carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. With Milosevic in custody, the most prominent suspects still at large are Karadzic and his general, Ratko Mladic. The two Bosnian Serbs are wanted for genocide and crimes against humanity and would be potential witnesses at the trial of the former Yugoslav president. Mladic is believed to be hiding in Belgrade, Serbia under the protection of the Yugoslav army, said Del Ponte's spokeswoman, Florence Hartmann. Del Ponte's visit lasted only a few hours, underlining the single purpose of her trip — to deliver a message to the Bosnian Serb leadership to start actively hunting suspects sought by her court. A lower-ranking prosecutor, Geoffrey Nice, is handling the day-to-day court duties in Milosevic's trial, which continued Friday. Authorities in the Serb-controlled half of Bosnia have long refused to cooperate with the U.N. tribunal, ignoring its calls for the detention and deportation of suspects believed living there. While the Bosnian Serb parliament passed a law on cooperation with the tribunal in October, it still has not handed over any suspects. Reacting to intense western pressure, Bosnian Serb leaders this week issued a decree effectively pledging that suspects who surrender within 30 days can expect their government to press for their freedom while awaiting trial by the tribunal. They also requested Yugoslavia to turn over any Bosnian Serb war crimes suspects hiding there. But with more than six years gone without Bosnian Serb authorities detaining a single Serb suspect, Del Ponte said she remained "very unsatisfied and frustrated." She said she wanted Karadzic to go on trial in October with Biljana Plavsic and Momcilo Krajisnik, both wartime allies of the former Bosnian Serb leader. Prime Minister Mladen Ivanic denied knowledge of where Karadzic was. Some 200,000 people were killed during the Bosnian war. A peace agreement divided the country into the Muslim-Croat federation and the Bosnian Serb republic, each with its own governments but linked on the federal level.
AFP 15 Feb 2002 Nearly 100,000 Bosnian refugees returned to their homes in 2001: UNHCR SARAJEVO, Feb 15 (AFP) - Nearly 100,000 Bosnians returned to their homes in 2001 after years spent in refuge abroad and within Bosnia following the country's 1992-95 war, the UN refugee agency said Friday. A total of 98,865 Bosnians returned home in 2001, bringing the total number of post-war returnees to some 823,000. The Bosnian bloody conflict left some 200,000 dead while 2.2 million, over a half of the country's population, were forced to flee. Most of the remaining refugees have decided to stay abroad, while only 300,000 of them expressed a wish to return, a press release from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said. The majority of 2001 returnees were people who returned to areas where their ethnicity is in a minority. According to the 1995 Bosnian peace agreement, the country was split into two semi-independent entities -- the Serbs' Republika Srpska (RS) and the Muslim-Croat Federation. In the first years after the war, Bosnian Muslim, Croat and Serb refugees from areas dominated by another ethnic group were unable to return. But under pressure from international agencies here, local authorities have pressed on with the eviction of illegal occupants, thus enabling pre-war owners to repossess their property. Along with sharp increase of return of property cases, the rate of so-called minority returns last year represents a 36 percent increase compared to 2000, UNHCR said.
AP 28 Feb 2002 NATO Fails to Find Suspect Karadzic By Aida Cerkez-Robinson SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina –– On a tip about the alleged whereabouts of Radovan Karadzic, NATO rushed heavily armed troops to a remote village on Thursday but failed to find the U.N. war crimes tribunal's most wanted suspect. NATO warned the former Bosnian Serb leader and other suspects not to relax. "We are saying to Karadzic, 'we are on your tail,'" said NATO spokesman Mark Laity. Although Karadzic was not found, the raid demonstrates NATO's resolve in apprehending war crimes suspects, said a statement from SFOR, the NATO-led Bosnian Stabilization Force. The SFOR statement said the troops moved into the area on an anonymous tip that Karadzic was there. Three "significant" weapons caches, including anti-tank rockets, grenades, mortar rounds, automatic machine guns, mines and ammunition were found during the raid, it said. The statement also urged the government of the Serb half of Bosnia to cooperate in finding and arresting suspects in its territory. The United States and its allies have in recent weeks applied increased pressure on Bosnian Serb leaders to cooperate actively in the hunt for Karadzic, Ratko Mladic, his top general, and others sought by the tribunal. But the raid sparked an angry reaction from Bosnian Serb leaders, who accused NATO of acting without their knowledge. "One cannot expect cooperation with the tribunal while there is no cooperation of the international community with Republika Srpska," said Bosnian Serb Prime Minister Mladen Ivanic, using the Serb name for his half of Bosnia. He said no one was hurt or arrested in the raid. Karadzic and Mladic were past allies of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, who is now being tried by the tribunal for alleged war crimes committed in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo. The two men are charged with genocide and crimes against humanity in Bosnia during the more than three-year war that began in 1992 when the republic declared independence from Yugoslavia. The war pitted Bosnian Serbs, Croats and Muslims against each other, but the longest and bitterest conflict was between Serbs and Muslims. Approximately 200,000 people, mostly civilians, were killed in Europe's bloodiest conflict since World War II, and more than 20,000 people are still missing and presumed dead. Acting on tribunal warrants, NATO peacekeepers in Bosnia have arrested dozens of war crimes suspects – most of them Bosnian Serbs – since the end of the war. But they have been faced with prolonged criticism for their failure to apprehend Karadzic and Mladic.
Reuters 5 Feb 2002 Croatia War Crimes Trial Resumes After Bomb Scare ZAGREB, Croatia (Reuters) - A Croatian court resumed the war crimes trial of a general accused of killing Serb civilians in 1991 after a brief suspension Tuesday due to a bomb hoax. Police said an anonymous threat, warning that a bomb had been planted at the court in the Adriatic city of Rijeka, had been a hoax. Judge Ika Saric, who presides over the landmark case of General Mirko Norac and four other defendants, had said earlier that a man called to tell the court that a bomb was in place and would soon explode. State radio quoted Interior Minister Sime Lucin as saying: "People who use such threats are only scared of the truth coming out." The courtroom was vacated while police experts searched the premises, the radio said. The U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague, which had investigated Norac as a possible suspect, permitted Croatia to try him locally following his surrender to police in February last year. His trial is seen as a test of the credibility of Croatia's judiciary. Norac, 34, is the highest ranking Croatian army official to be tried for war crimes to date and is seen by many Croatians as a hero of the 1991-95 independence war against rebel Serbs. His arrest prompted mass protests from the nationalist camp who demanded that Croatian soldiers be exempt from such trials. The trial of the five, named "the Gospic group" after a town in central Croatia where Norac was a commander and atrocities allegedly were committed, started last week after months of delays and legal wrangling by the defense. All the defendants pleaded not guilty to charges of killing at least 42 civilians, mostly Serbs, in Gospic at the outset of Croatia's war for independence from the Yugoslav federation. In January 2000, a reformist alliance ousted nationalists, who had largely ignored or condoned crimes against ethnic Serbs. It has since opened a number of such cases but there have been no convictions.
AP 7 Feb 2002 France Unveils Resistance Memorial By Pamela Sampson PARIS –– France has unveiled plans to build a memorial at the site of the only Nazi concentration camp on French soil: Struthof, where tens of thousands of resistance fighters perished during World War II. The European Center for Deported Resistance Fighters will house a permanent exhibition, photographs, historical documents and films that detail the experience of 45,000 resistance fighters who were incarcerated at Struthof between 1941-44. The purpose of the center is to pay homage to the courageous opponents of Nazism and to teach younger generations about the horrors of the war and intolerance, said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jacques Floch. "For the French, this will be a center of their history. For Europeans, it will be a center of their memory," Floch said Wednesday. "This also will be a meeting point for youths to learn to be vigilant against all types of terrorism and acts of barbarism." The project is being funded by the French Defense Ministry, which is contributing nearly $7 million, and the European Union, which has pledged $1.5 million. Completion of the center is expected in 2004. The camp at Struthof, in the Alsace region of eastern France near Strasbourg, was set up to liquidate enemies of the Third Reich. It was built by 300 Germans who had been taken prisoner by the Nazis for opposing Hitler and who were eventually incarcerated in Struthof and died there. But French resistance fighters made up the vast majority of Struthof's 45,000 inmates, and nearly half of them – 22,000 – died of starvation, torture, illness and mistreatment before American troops liberated the camp in November 1944. Struthof also was where the Germans built and tested one of their first gas chambers on 87 Jews who were brought to the camp to be used as human guinea pigs, Floch said.
Reuters 5 Feb 2002 Novel About 'German Titanic' Breaks Taboo on Past By Adam Tanner BERLIN (Reuters) - German Nobel Prize winning author Guenter Grass kicked off a national debate with the publication of a novel on Tuesday focusing on the suffering of German World War Two refugees fleeing the Red Army in the east. Millions of Germans were expelled from Poland, Russia and Czechoslovakia after World War Two, losing their homes and roots as ordinary citizens paid the price for Adolf Hitler's war that left 50 million dead across Europe. Their suffering is rarely commemorated in a nation still seeking to overcome the shadows of Nazi crimes. Grass's latest book ``Crab Walk'' focuses on the plight of the German liner 'Wilhelm Gustloff' carrying thousands of refugees from near Danzig (now Gdansk in Poland) which a Russian submarine sank in January 1945. More than 8,000 people died in what became known as Germany's Titanic -- more than five times as many as the 1,500 who lost their lives when the real Titanic sank in 1912. Yet while the 'Wilhelm Gustloff' is one of the worst disasters in sea-faring history, its story is scarcely known even in Germany. History lessons have avoided the subject, mindful of Germans' role as aggressors rather than victims in the war, and the fate of the ship has been the domain of neo-Nazi propaganda. ``With this book Guenter Grass keeps the tragedy of millions of people who suffered greatly in the expulsion from the east or who lost their lives from being forgotten,'' former Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher wrote in his newspaper column. ``Guenter Grass is writing not to settle scores, but to counter forgetting about the horrors and the distress always associated with the war,'' he said. About 9,000 refugees and wounded soldiers boarded the Wilhelm Gustloff on a freezing January 30, 1945, day hoping to escape the rapidly approaching Soviet army. But the ship -- named after an assassinated Nazi official and launched as the world's largest cruise liner in 1937 -- was hit by Russian torpedoes that evening. ``Thousands of people immediately broke into a terrible panic,'' survivor Karl Hoffmann wrote later. ``They clawed their way upward, pushing and shoving mercilessly.'' ``Those who fell were lost. Children that slipped from their mothers' arms were trampled to death.'' RAW WOUNDS Grass was born in the Baltic city of Danzig and most of his best work has been set in that port city. He has long served as the voice of a German generation that came of age in Hitler's war and bore the burden of their parents' guilt. ``My mother and I fled over land,'' widely read columnist Franz Joseph Wagner wrote in the popular Bild newspaper on Tuesday. ``So many of my relatives died while fleeing.'' ``We, the expelled, may cry together. (Grass) I thank you for this,'' he wrote. Yet the suffering of Germans expelled from the east remains a diplomatic can of worms, especially as the European Union prepares to expand to the east in Poland and the Czech Republic. Many locals there fear Germans will use EU rules to try to claim or buy back pre-war property once within German borders. Conservative chancellor candidate Edmund Stoiber has recently angered Czech leaders by defending Germans who were expelled from the Sudeten region now in the Czech Republic. When Germany started compensating Nazi-era slave labourers, some Germans forced to work in Stalin's post-war Soviet Union said they deserved money too. Germany and Russia ignored them. The debate may now intensify. ``In the likely bestseller, Grass has broken a historical taboo,'' Die Welt newspaper wrote in a front-page Tuesday story.
Reuters 13 Feb 2002 'Butcher of Genoa' Says He's Innocent of War Killings HAMBURG, Germany - A 93-year-old former Nazi SS officer convicted in absentia of war crimes by an Italian court in 1999 said Wednesday that he was innocent of the wartime charges he is to soon face again in a German court. "Naturally, I do not feel guilty," Friedrich Engel told Reuters in a telephone interview from his Hamburg home. "I never killed anyone and never issued an order that people should be killed, and anything that contradicts that is false." Wednesday, a spokeswoman for Hamburg prosecutors said final preparations were being made to charge Engel, the former SS leader in Genoa, in connection with the murder of at least 246 Italians in 1944-45 in reprisal for attacks against Germans. "The charges are being completed and will be raised in about four to six weeks," she said about the present investigation started in 1998. An Italian court sentenced Engel to life imprisonment for killing the Italians in four separate massacres in the final two years of the war in the northwest region of Liguria. German law bars the extradition of citizens for crimes committed abroad, but they can be prosecuted for such crimes back in Germany. The case against Engel, who headed an elite SS force and was dubbed the "Butcher of Genoa" in the Italian media, came to national attention last year when German television reported he was living in Hamburg. An earlier investigation into Engel in that northern port city was dropped in 1969. "It is very late in life to face the charges," he said. "But I cannot do anything about it." "I'm 93 years old, so you can imagine what my health is like. I have serious heart problems and other difficulties and illnesses that I have to deal with." Last year, Engel acknowledged a role in the reprisal killings of 59 of the Italian prisoners of war and voiced regret, saying he was only carrying out orders.
AFP 16 Feb 2002 BERLIN: Israel's former ambassador to Germany acknowledged Friday that Israeli security agents did not have a legitimate excuse of self-defence when they shot dead four Kurdish demonstrators outside the Israeli consulate here in 1999. "At the time I was convinced it was legitimate self-defence because the security agents themselves were sure of this," Avi Primor told newspaper Tageszeitung for its Saturday edition. "But now I know it wasn't like that." The Kurds demonstrated violently at the consulate in protest at what they believed was an Israeli role in Turkey's capture of Abdullah Ocalan, head of the Kurdish separatist movement, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Two guards opened fire when they stormed the building. The former envoy said he had believed at the time the demonstrators had been planning to take hostages or kill somebody. But Primor later realised his fears were groundless, as shown by a later trial of Kurdish demonstrators and the investigations, he told the newspaper. Three demonstrators received suspended jail sentences ranging between nine months and two years from a German court. The trial of another four Kurds charged with storming the consulate continues. The defendants, aged between 18 and 22, face charges of deprivation of liberty and grave breach of the public peace for allegedly forcing their way into the building and holding a female employee hostage for two hours. German authorities expressed serious reservations about the Israeli argument that the guards were justified in their actions because they were acting in self-defence. But no legal action was taken against them because they were protected by diplomatic immunity.
BBC 5 Feb 2002 Protests paralyse Kosovo capital Many Albanians see the former rebels as liberators By the BBC's Nick Wood in Pristina Hundreds of demonstrators have gathered in the Kosovan capital, Pristina, to protest against the arrest of three Albanian men accused of war crimes. The former KLA fighters are charged with war crimes against fellow Albanians Over 2,500 people chanted slogans calling for the release of the men, all former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). This was the largest protest seen so far in Kosovo, since the United Nations police force in the province arrested three former members of the KLA last week. The crowds, mostly bussed in for the occasion, carried banners calling for the men's release, and chanted slogans, such as "Our friends are not criminals". Pristina at a standstill The group has been accused of committing war crimes against fellow ethnic Albanians during the 1998-1999 conflict in the province. Both UN police and soldiers from the Nato peacekeeping force stood by, while the protestors brought the city to a halt. On one occasion, police say, crowds attempted to stone police lines, but for the most part the march passed off peacefully. Increasingly large protests have been held in Pristina, and in towns throughout Kosovo, since the men's arrest. Arrests 'political' The group - all former members of the KLA's military police - were arrested for allegedly beating, abducting and killing ethnic Albanians, in and around the town of Podujevo. The operation - the first of its kind since the UN took over the administration of the province - has aroused controversy amongst the majority ethnic Albanian community. The charges have split Kosovo While many have supported the arrests, others refuse to believe that their kinsmen could be guilty of war crimes. Some, ex-KLA commanders turned politicians, have gone further, describing the arrests as politically motivated. They accuse the UN of deliberately trying to discredit the KLA's wartime reputation.
AP 15 Feb 2002 Regional perspective, privatization, security on new U.N. administrator's agenda By GARENTINA KRAJA, PRISTINA, Yugoslavia - Laying out his top priorities, Kosovo's new U.N. administrator said Friday that strengthening regional cooperation and the rule of law were keys to the province's progress. In his first day on the job, Michael Steiner said his mandate in the southern Yugoslav province would concentrate on efforts to transfer authority to local officials and break the political deadlock that has stymied attempts to elect a president and form a government. "I don't want to overdramatize the fact that the time has elapsed between the elections and the creation of the government, which is still outstanding," the veteran German diplomat said. "But I think now it's becoming high time that the parties get their act together." Steiner, who plans to meet with local leaders this weekend, said he will help Kosovo's parties overcome the impasse but won't impose a solution. The top candidate for president, Ibrahim Rugova — whose moderate Democratic League of Kosovo won the assembly election but failed to win enough support to govern alone — has refused rival parties' demands for a power-sharing deal in return for support. Once in place, the president and provincial government will rule alongside the United Nations and NATO , which took control of Kosovo in 1999 after Western airstrikes ended former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic 's crackdown on independence-minded ethnic Albanians in the province. Steiner said a top priority was strengthening the rule of law in the ethnically tense province. He also noted that despite difficulties, an immediate challenge would be to introduce privatization to the war-shattered economy in an attempt to attract badly needed foreign investment. Kosovo is still plagued by ethnic intolerance between ethnic Albanians, who form a local majority and seek independence, and minority Serbs who want the province to remain under the rule of the central government in Belgrade. Dozens of Serbs have been killed and tens of thousands have fled the province fearing attacks by ethnic Albanians seeking to avenge the deaths of at least 10,000 people during Milosevic's crackdown. Milosevic went on trial before the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague , Netherlands, this week for alleged atrocities his forces committed in Kosovo. "It is vital that Kosovo becomes a safe place for all the Kosovars," Steiner said. Steiner succeeds Hans Haekkerup, who quit unexpectedly in late December. He urgest Kosovo's residents and leaders to pay attention to events occurring beyond their provincial borders, arguing that issues in the region directly affect the province.
AP 10 Feb 2002 Milosevic Trial Hinges on Insiders By DUSAN STOJANOVIC, BELGRADE, Yugoslavia - Just what will "The Insiders" say? The case against former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic may well hinge on what revelations former close aides are willing to make when his war crimes trial starts Tuesday. Slideshows AP Photo Slobodan Milosevic Audio/Video Milosevic Trial Set to Begin (AP) U.N. prosecutors plan to call hundreds of witnesses before the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague , Netherlands, where Milosevic is charged with genocide in Bosnia and crimes against humanity in Croatia and Kosovo. Most of the witnesses are likely to be victims of atrocities during the succession of Balkans wars that began when Yugoslavia started to break apart in 1991. But prosecutors say up to 30 former members of Milosevic's inner circle will also be called. Milosevic is the first former leader of a country to be tried for war crimes in recent history, making this Europe's most important such trial since the Nuremberg proceedings against Nazi Germany's leaders after World War II. Because he was careful to leave no paper trail, some key evidence is expected to come from Western intelligence services. They eavesdropped on Milosevic and the commanders of his 1991-99 military campaigns that left tens of thousands dead and hundreds of thousands homeless. But testimony from those close to Milosevic during his 13 years in office also could be crucial because Western intelligence reports could be challenged as evidence. Insider testimony is also considered critical because it could provide detail on how the chain of command worked and may directly link Milosevic to the crimes. The identities of the aides who may testify — dubbed "The Insiders" by Yugoslavs — haven't been released. But a list of likely prospects has circulated in Yugoslav news media and been discussed by Serbian officials. Topping the list is Zoran Lilic, the figurehead president of Yugoslavia in 1993-97, when Milosevic wielded the real power as president of Serbia, the federation's dominant republic. Dumped by Milosevic for opposing his hardline policies in Kosovo, Lilic has acknowledged being approached by U.N. investigators. Although he said he had not volunteered to testify, he suggested in a recent newspaper interview that he might because of what Milosevic "did to me." Speculation also has pointed to Vlastimir Djordjevic, a police general reported to have been behind a cover-up operation allegedly ordered by Milosevic to hide mass killings of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo during the 1999 NATO bombing campaign against Yugoslavia. Others thought to be on the list are Borisav Jovic, head of Yugoslavia's collective presidency as the federation stumbled toward bloody disintegration in the late 1980s, and Branko Kostic, who succeeded Jovic when Milosevic ordered the Yugoslav army to launch a failed effort to squelch Croatia's secession in 1991. Rade Markovic, chief of the secret police during Milosevic's last years in power, is another prospect. A U.N. team questioned Markovic last month in his Belgrade prison cell, where he is serving a one-year sentence for destroying police files after a popular uprising forced Milosevic from power in 2000. Markovic's lawyer, Dusan Masic, later said his client was willing to testify. Deputy Prosecutor Geoffrey Nice, who headed the team, also urged authorities to extradite Serbian President Milan Milutinovic; Gen. Dragoljub Ojdanic and Vlajko Stojiljkovic, former army and police commanders; and Nikola Sainovic, a close Milosevic aide. Those four have been charged at the tribunal, too, so aren't likely to appear on their own. The tribunal can issue subpoenas but cannot force witnesses to appear. That fact, and Nice's hasty trip to Belgrade just weeks before the trial, have bolstered the hopes of Milosevic allies that the prosecution has run into trouble persuading people to testify against him. Legal advisers for Milosevic suggest they will benefit from any testimony from "The Insiders" and say they've collected signatures from 1,380 people willing to appear as defense witnesses. They also say they will try to call former and current world leaders, such as Bill Clinton and British Prime Minister Tony Blair . Milosevic's Socialist Party accuses tribunal officials and Serbia's new government of "blackmailing" former state officials to "secure fake statements and prove the fake charges" against the former president. "It is impossible to find a witness in Serbia to testify against Milosevic without saying lies," the party said recently. "Millions of this country's citizens were witnesses of (Milosevic's) policies of peace." Tribunal officials express confidence in their case. "We don't have any problems," said Florence Hartmann, spokeswoman for Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte. "We are ready for the trial." For all three indictments, Milosevic faces a total of 66 counts of crimes against humanity, violating the laws and regulations of war, and genocide. He could be sentenced to life if convicted on any charge.
WP By Gary J. Bass Friday, February 15, 2002; Page A33 Slobodan Milosevic, on trial in The Hague for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, is attempting to put The Hague on trial instead. He has refused defense counsel and is mounting a vigorous counterattack against so-called "victor's justice." At every opportunity, Milosevic has ridiculed the tribunal as a tool of NATO imperialism. In February 2001, before his arrest in Belgrade, he accused the court of being a Nazi organ: "I've always considered the international tribunal at The Hague an illegal and immoral institution, invented as reprisal for disobedient representatives of a disobedient people -- as once there were concentration camps for superfluous peoples and people." At his arraignment at The Hague, he said, in his imperfect English, "I consider this tribunal false tribunal and indictments false indictments." The accusation of victor's justice is a perennial favorite of accused war criminals. In the the aftermath of World War I, Kaiser Wilhelm II, hiding out in Holland from Allied prosecution, wrote that "a tribunal where the enemy would be judge and party would not be an organ of the law but an instrument of political tyranny aiming only at justifying my condemnation." At Nuremberg, Hermann Goering scribbled on his own indictment: "The victor will always be the judge, and the vanquished the accused." And at the Tokyo war crimes tribunal, Hideki Tojo complained: "In the last analysis, this trial was a political trial. It was only victors' justice." But what is so wrong with victors who, after their victory, take an interest in justice? If the victory is for a just cause, such as NATO's (belated) resistance against Serb aggression and genocide in the Balkans, then what is wrong with punishing the guilty? All successful efforts at punishing war crimes and human rights violations rest on a certain degree of force. Nuremberg would have been impossible without Allied victory in World War II. Adolf Eichmann would never have gone on trial if Israel had not had the Mossad snatch him in Argentina. Even South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the most famous example of a softer approach to justice, would never have happened without the collapse of the apartheid regime. In fact all legal systems rely on some amount of force. In well-institutionalized domestic legal systems, force is in the background; in international law, it is more obvious. After victory in war or in a revolution, the victors can do what they want with their defeated foes. In that light, what is remarkable about Nuremberg -- and the Hague tribunal -- is the victors' restraint in their exercise of power. In the current case, rather than shooting the defeated, the U.N. authorities are giving those in their custody a full trial, with their crimes laid out in an indictment, protections of due process, the possibility of acquittal and, failing that, a proportionate sentence -- plus one last chance to make speeches to the world. Nothing forced the world to give Milosevic his day in court. As a toppled Eastern European strongman, he could have wound up like Ceausescu in Romania. As World War II was winding down, the Allies planned to shoot the top Nazi war criminals without bothering with a trial. Stalin, in 1943, told Churchill and Roosevelt that he wanted to execute "at least 50,000 and perhaps 100,000" Germans. It was only American insistence on using basic norms of criminal law that bought the Nazis the luxury of trial at Nuremberg. Milosevic is an unlikely person to complain about power politics. While the West let Serb forces overrun 70 percent of Bosnia, Milosevic was protected from international justice by his own power and influence; even after he was indicted by The Hague, he sat tight as president of Yugoslavia, secure once again in the knowledge that power would protect him from justice. It was Milosevic's own people who voted him out of office and then, when he refused to heed their will, staged a revolution to oust him -- making it possible for his successors, under American pressure, to turn him over to The Hague. When Milosevic accuses the tribunal of victor's justice, the victors are not just NATO but also the Serb public. In a perfect world, it would be ideal to have respected international courts that could enforce justice against citizens of any country, strong or weak. But at a time when impunity is still all too typical, as shown by the recent collapse of U.N. efforts to set up a war crimes tribunal for Cambodia, waiting for perfect international courts might well mean no justice at all. Milosevic does not want a fairer brand of justice; he wants no justice. It's true that a tribunal that prosecuted only Serbs would be unfair, just as it was unfair that Nuremberg tried Germans for some crimes that had also been committed by the Soviets. But the Hague tribunal, sensitive to such accusations, also investigates Croats, Bosnian Muslims and Kosovar Albanians. If more of the defendants are Serbs, that is because Milosevic drove his people into war after war: Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo. The tribunal even looked into Serb allegations that NATO was guilty of war crimes in its bombing of Yugoslavia, and decided there was no case there. Compared with earlier war crimes tribunals, The Hague is far more independent. Nuremberg's judges and prosecutors were British, French, American and -- shockingly -- Soviet. In contrast, The Hague was created by the U.N. Security Council, including China and Russia, and its U.N.-selected judges are not just from America, Britain and France but also Australia, China, Egypt, Germany, Guyana, Holland, Italy, Jamaica, Malta, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Zambia. Another sign of its independence: The Hague has long had an uneasy relationship with NATO, whose Balkan agenda is more about stability than about prosecuting war criminals. In the real world, it is victory that makes justice possible, but it is the fairness of the process that makes it justice. The writer is an assistant professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton and author of "Stay the Hand of Vengeance: The Politics of War Crimes Tribunals."
AP 18 Feb 2002 Milosevic Ends Three-Day Tirade THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Slobodan Milosevic ended a three-day tirade against ``new colonialism'' by the West, then heard the first prosecution witness in his war crimes trial testify later Monday about a Yugoslav scorched-earth plan to kill Kosovo Muslims. Mahmut Bakali, an ethnic Albanian and former head of Kosovo's Communist Party, said he had heard of the plan for a Serb invasion of Kosovo — the province of Serbia with a Muslim majority of ethnic Albanians — from the Serbian head of security in 1997, David Gajic. ``It was the plan of Serbia, or a plan of Milosevic,'' he said, ``This would be insanity on a large scale.'' Bakali's testimony moved the trial into its second phase after the prosecutors and Milosevic spent a week laying out their cases in opening statements. The former Yugoslav president is on trial on 66 counts of war crimes during the 1991-99 Balkan wars, including genocide in Bosnia. He could be sentenced to life if convicted on any count. During a 10-hour opening statement, Milosevic seized the offensive, blaming his enemies for the crimes of which he himself stands accused, and describing himself as a peacemaker. He showed contempt toward the prosecution's portrait of him as a ruthless power seeker who orchestrated the murder and expulsions of non-Serbs to create a ``greater Serbia'' in the former Yugoslavia, now made up only of Serbia and much smaller Montenegro. To gain a conviction, the prosecution must prove Milosevic either ordered atrocities against civilians, or that he knew about — or had reason to know about — crimes committed by his subordinates that he failed to prevent or punish. With its first witness, the prosecution began to build its case that Serb brutalities were premeditated and well planned. Bakali said the plan he heard from Gajic was intended ``to destroy 700 Albanian-populated settlements and to destroy property and to destroy people.'' He said he warned the security chief that the blitz would result in war. Bakali was fired by the Yugoslav leadership in 1980 for allegedly organizing pro-independence protests by Kosovo Albanians. He disappeared from public view until 1998, when he became a member of a Kosovo Albanian delegation that negotiated the reopening of Albanian-language universities in Kosovo. He met several times with Milosevic that year. Describing one of the meetings, Bakali said: ``I told him: 'You are killing women and children,''' referring to a police action in the village of Prekaz that left more than 40 members of a family dead in early 1998. Milosevic apparently replied: ``We are fighting against terrorism.'' Milosevic said the police had given the residents two hours to flee but they didn't, according to Bakali. ``He knew about the incident,'' Bakali said. Earlier, Milosevic ended his opening statement as he had begun it last Thursday, with a denunciation of the tribunal as ``an instrument of lies,'' and rejecting its ``false and inverted indictments.'' Although he may cross-examine witnesses, it was the last opportunity Milosevic will have to say his peace until the prosecution winds up its case, probably in about a year. Milosevic accused the West of manipulating ethnic hatred in the Yugoslav republics to break apart the country and place it under Western domination. He singled out Germany and the United States for allegedly supplying separatist groups with arms. ``War on the territory of Yugoslavia was incited by big Western powers,'' Milosevic said. ``The goal of Western envoys was not to bring peace, but their interest was destroying the country and ensuring a new colonialism.'' Mounting his own defense, Milosevic has come to every court session with a heavy leather briefcase. He read from stacks of notes and presented scores of gory photos and video footage showing the victims of the 78-day NATO bombing campaign of Yugoslavia that ended the Serb crackdown in Kosovo. Milosevic denied prosecution charges he planned and ordered the Srebrenica massacre of thousands of Bosnian Muslims in July 1995, for which he stands accused of genocide. More than 7,000 Muslim men and boys were killed in a weeklong rampage by Serb forces in the U.N.-declared Bosnian safe area. Witnesses say captives were lined up and gunned down by machine gun fire. Milosevic said he learned about the killings from U.N. special envoy Carl Bildt and immediately ordered an investigation. He said men were arrested, but had to be released because of a lack of evidence. He also denied knowledge of the horrors in Bosnian prison camps — where thousands of non-Serbs perished during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war — saying he was told prisoners were being kept only briefly to be swapped in prisoner exchanges.
NYT 27 Feb 2002 Milosevic Grills Witnesses Too Harshly, His Prosecutors Complain By IAN FISHER THE HAGUE, Feb. 26 — Prosecutors sought today to clamp down on Slobodan Milosevic's lengthy cross- examinations, saying his grillings could deter future witnesses from testifying against him in his trial here for war crimes. "We do have to have in mind the effect that questioning can have on witnesses yet to come," the lead prosecutor, Geoffrey Nice, told the judges. "It would be foolish to pretend that this process isn't being given very wide publicity." His comments came at the end of a day when Mr. Milosevic, at times sharply, questioned two ethnic Albanians who said they had witnessed executions by Serbian forces in the war in Kosovo in 1999. During the first six days of testimony, Mr. Milosevic, the former Yugoslav leader acting as his own lawyer, has taken vigorous advantage of his right to ask questions to make his own case: that his army and police were not responsible for atrocities. Today the judges said that so far, they had allowed that leeway intentionally. There is no jury hearing the case, they noted, and they can decide what is relevant. "This is not a jury trial, where it is helpful to have counsel bobbing up and down making objections," Richard May, the chief judge, said. "Rather the reverse. It takes up a lot of time and usually is to no point. "This is a tribunal of professional judges and should be allowed to decide for itself when questions or anything of that sort are improper or not." All the same, Judge May said the judges would consider exactly how far to let Mr. Milosevic go, especially in his arguments that NATO bombing and Albanian guerrillas of the Kosovo Liberation Army were responsible for killings in Kosovo. Mr. Milosevic is charged with genocide and with ultimate responsibility for atrocities committed in three Balkan wars: in Croatia, in Bosnia and in Kosovo, the southern province of Serbia. Since the trial opened two weeks ago, he has confronted witnesses, largely scared or angry, who say he is to blame for killing relatives and friends. Judith Armatta, a lawyer for the Coalition for International Justice, an American group that supports the tribunal, said one reason for the judges to avoid too many objections from the prosecutors was to keep the trial on track. But she added that Mr. Milosevic's questions ran the risk of allowing him too much room to define the case himself. Judge May has shown dwindling patience for Mr. Milosevic's tactic of asking repeated questions about whether witnesses knew certain Albanian rebels, or killings they had carried out. Today Mr. Milosevic made two complaints that showed for the first time concretely how he is conducting his defense. Twice he said he could not get through by telephone to his "associates," people who appear to have been relaying detailed information between court sessions. In the last few days he has shown a deep knowledge of people killed in fights with the Kosovo Liberation Army, relationships among Albanian families, the number of houses in a village and even whether a building in the small town of Suva Reka might have blocked a witness's view. Judge May has been putting increasing pressure on Mr. Milosevic to confine his questions to evidence given by the witnesses — the general rule for cross-examination. At one point today the judge infuriated Mr. Milosevic by giving him just 10 minutes more, after he had questioned an Albanian doctor for more than two hours. Mr. Milosevic had asked repeatedly about specific killings that he said had been carried out by the Albanian rebels. The court also heard the testimony of a 32-year-old Albanian woman, Ajmoni Behrami, who said that in March 1999 her village of Izbica was emptied by Serbian forces and its women and children forced to march for six days, escorted by police officers and soldiers, to Albania. The Serbian forces executed more than 100 men, she said, and burned two paralyzed women. Along the way, she said, she became separated from her sister, who was carrying Ms. Behrami's six- month-old son, who later died. "The baby died because I couldn't feed him," she said. "There was nobody to breast-feed him." Mr. Milosevic began his cross-examination with rare words of compassion. "I am sorry that the witness lost a baby," he said, "but I have to ask her a few questions." Like many witnesses, Ms. Behrami was reluctant to discuss the Kosovo Liberation Army. She originally denied to a prosecutor that her husband had been with the group, but later said he had been a member at some point before his death.
Al-Ahram Weekly Online 21 - 27 February 2002 Issue No.574 Called to account A sadistic war criminal finally brought to justice, they say. A victim of Western double standards, he retorts. Zlata Filipovic and Iason Athanasiadis discuss why the Milosevic trial is more than a strictly Balkan affair Vukovar, Sarajevo, Srebrenica, Pristina, Trnopolje, Racak. These are names that have become synonyms of Balkan bloodshed and human pain. Places that have echoed to the brutal rhythm of rape, torture and mutilation. Last week, the trial of the man who headed the former Yugoslavia's hierarchical pyramid at the time of the atrocities, Slobodan Milosevic, began at the United Nations' international war crimes tribunal in The Hague. Beyond an attempt to call a suspected war criminal to account, the trial marks the highest profile effort to apply international law to armed conflicts everywhere. "This tribunal, and this trial in particular, give the most powerful demonstration that no one is above the law or beyond the reach of international justice," said Carla Del Ponte, the combative chief prosecutor who has worked unstintingly over the past few years to bring Milosevic before international justice. But Milosevic, a trained lawyer who has refused to appoint a legal team, relying, instead, on legal advisers such as Jacques Verges -- famous for defending Gestapo officer Klaus Barbie and Carlos the Jackal -- quickly turned the tables on the court. After listening impassively for two days while prosecutors outlined their case, Milosevic hit back by saying, "You basically have nothing, and that is why you have to concoct things, you have to invent things. "Serbs don't believe in the justice system of The Hague. The Hague is not interested in what Milosevic did for Serb people," he snarled while delivering his opening statement. Presiding judge Richard May, who has not so far flinched before turning Milosevic's microphone off in mid-speech, watched as the defendant went on to perform a four-hour-long soliloquy of self-justification. In deigning to address the tribunal, whose legitimacy he claims to reject, Milosevic has revealed that his rhetorical flourishes -- even the apparently sincere belief in his own upstanding conduct -- are all tactical manoeuvres intended to release him from the charges he faces. Just such a tactical manoeuvre appears to have been his repeated efforts at linking the trial and the events to which it relates to the current US-led war on terrorism, as underlined by his references to Muslim- majority Kosovo as having been a hotbed of Al-Qa'eda activity. He has demanded the immediate arrest of former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former NATO commander Wesley Clarke because "they had deep-rooted connections with terrorists," referring to tacit US support of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). And, in denying the tribunal's legitimacy -- even while participating in its workings -- Milosevic argued that, "This court is illegal because it is financed through donations by, for example, Saudi Arabia, which also finances international terrorism." Milosevic brushed off the 66-count indictment against him as "an ocean of lies" and dismissed the proceedings as a "show- trial" directed against all Serbs. He seems to be displaying the political trait he knows best -- avoiding the negative consequences of his own actions. A good tactician but a bad strategist, the former Yugoslav president was, from early days, a Communist party apparatchik who was prompt in executing orders from his superiors and never became too prominent, even when he had ascended to the top of the power structure. Milosevic's reliance on others, such as warlords Arkan and Vojislav Seselj, to do the dirty work for him goes far in explaining why The Hague may have greater difficulty in proving his culpability through examining de facto examples of his involvement in the massacres, rather than trying to find de jure instances of guilt. As Vidosav Stevanovic argues in a forthcoming biography of the Serbian leader, Milosevic's main motivation was maintaining his grip on power and he guaranteed this by balancing off the power of the army with oral agreements he had with paramilitary leaders and draping his actions in nationalist rhetoric. Beyond the eloquence and hyperbole, Milosevic also addressed some of the charges against him. He rejected that Serbia was involved in fomenting war in Croatia and Bosnia and alleged that the mass exodus of 800,000 refugees from Kosovo in 1999 was due to the KLA's depredations and the NATO bombing campaign. In illustrating his assertion that NATO bombings were indiscriminate or, worse, vindictive, he held up several graphic photographs depicting the on-the- ground carnage. He alleged that in Kosovo his forces had been fighting terrorists, just like the Americans in Afghanistan, and professed amazement that it was considered acceptable for the US to fight a campaign against terrorism halfway round the world but not for him to eliminate them in his backyard. As regards committing atrocities, Milosevic gave prosecutors hungry to establish a direct link in the chain of command between himself and the soldiers carrying out the massacres on the field little cause for celebration, stating, "I'm not saying that some individuals did not do this (massacres), but the police and army defended the country courageously and honourably. It is the Serb tradition, and the tradition of the Serb military, that a prisoner of war, an unarmed person, is held sacred. Whoever violated this sacred principle has to be held accountable. However, this was not done by the military or by the police. Such dirty crimes cannot be the crimes of an army, a people a nation a country, their government." In a shrewd move aimed at drawing a line between regular troops -- those under his command -- and paramilitaries, Milosevic said that the former "defended their country honourably and chivalrously," while the latter "go and loot and burn and kill." Milosevic, who mainly depended on shadowy paramilitary units such as the ones led by the infamous Arkan to carry out his dirty work, is hoping that their irregular status will have sufficiently blurred the connection between them and himself, allowing him the opportunity now to convince the court that there really was no direct chain of command from him to those responsible for atrocities. Wearing the Yugoslav national colours of red, white and blue, Milosevic has tried to promote the impression that he is the embodiment of the Serb nation, implying that this, far from being a trial against one individual, is targeting a whole nation, "Our citizens stand accused, citizens who lent their massive support to me," he declared. "My conduct was an expression of the will of the people." He sought to weave a paranoid conspiracy theory whereby the Serbs, victims of a US-backed resurgent Germany "which was to be master of Serbia in order to advance its ambitions to the east," would be subjected to genocide. "The whole world knows that this is a political trial and it has nothing to do with law whatsoever," he repeats, punctuating this statement with, "I can look anyone in the eye -- I defended my country honourably and chivalrously." Milosevic's performance has earned him few plaudits from trial-watchers. "Creative, yet predictable," is how one, Mary Adele Greer of the Coalition for International Justice, described Milosevic's performance. "The [Serb] public is his jury -- he's obviously appealing to their sentiments, and to get them on his side." Back in Belgrade, the trial's proceedings are being followed avidly. In a country where people crowded night after night onto bridges and other likely targets over the course of the NATO bombardments in a bid to protect the national infrastructure, the current trial is being widely interpreted to be another invasion of national sovereignty. Milosevic is partly to blame for this perception. His people simply do not know what actions he carried out in their name, while the Kostunica-led multi-party alliance currently in power has other things to worry about, such as the parlous state of the economy. One of the hallmarks of the Milosevic regime was the manipulation of the media, the co-opting of the intelligentsia and the state's ability to blur peoples' minds with propaganda. These were the main contributing factors to why a big part of the Serbian populace cannot fathom that their former president is on trial for any reason other than that the West has a personal vendetta against them. Typical of this is the case of Ranka Prcic who, over the course of the conflict in Bosnia, was desperately trying to find out what conditions were like in Sarajevo, where her parents were trapped. Not only was there little coverage of what was going on a few miles to the south on the state-controlled news, but Ranka did not find out about conditions in the Bosnian capital until she fled to Paris two years later. "I'm furious at the lack of guilt that friends of mine in Belgrade feel at what happened and their government's role in it," complains 21-year-old Masa, a Montenegrin student currently finishing a degree at Oxford. "The only reason why Milosevic was removed from power was for economic reasons, because people could not endure living in such conditions. His fall from power was not because his people took a brave anti- nationalist stand." The survivors of Milosevic's nationalist wars will be marking, this April, a decade since the dismembering of Sarajevo started. For them, the world seems to have forgotten the images and stories of Sarajevo, the buses filled with orphaned infants, the football fields turned cemeteries, the devastated buildings, the wounded and the dead. That one of the men held responsible for the horrors is on trial does not change anything that has happened -- but it does bring closer the possibility of establishing the truth. Filipovic's account of life in wartime Sarajevo, Zlata's Diary, was an international bestseller translated into 30 languages. She is currently translating a biography of Milosevic for a British publisher
Al-Ahram Weekly Online 21 - 27 February 2002 Issue No.574 Can of worms The Milosevic trial has unleashed a barrage of questions regarding the legitimacy and credibility of international tribunals, writes Negar Azimi Jonathan Swift is said to have quipped that "laws are like cobwebs, which may catch small flies but which let wasps and hornets break through." Last week's dramatic opening of the trial of Slobodan Milosevic has seemingly defied such a belief. For many people, the former Serb strongman's precarious situation is a stunning manifestation of the potential power international jurisprudence may wield. Doubtless, questions are raised as to the trial's significance within the context of the global battle for a so-called justice- without-borders, while countless are left wondering, who will be next? In the pre-Milosevic era, international law pundits and human rights activists once resoundingly deemed former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet's 1998 arrest in London a seminal moment in the materialisation of a brand of transnational justice -- justice that transcends borders, political fancy or domestic whim. Though a Chilean court ruled that the retired general was too ill to stand trial last July -- thereby rendering futile all attempts to prosecute him -- the three-year saga did not fail to leave a lasting impact; to many, it signalled the end of an era of an oft- selective impunity. Indeed, it seemed that nobody was above the law. Nevertheless, as Pinochet's and Milosevic's names were splashed across newspapers in ubiquitous fashion, countless efforts to wage a battle against a culture of impunity were being registered in increasingly far-flung locales. Largely a result of Pinochet's arrest, for example, was the February 2000 arrest in Dakar of Chad's ex-dictator, Hissein Habré. According to a 1992 fact-finding commission report, Habré's regime had been responsible for 400,000 political murders and upwards of 200,000 counts of torture. His case is currently pending in a Brussels District Court, while reports from Belgium indicate that the case against him is beginning to yield evidence not only of massive overt and covert US and French support for Habré's regime, but also of close ties between the US and the former dictator's notorious political police. At the base of Mount Kilimanjaro resides another experiment in transnational justice in the form of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha, Tanzania. Much like the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY), the ICTR has been subject to attack for moving painfully slow, only having tried about 10 cases since its inception in November 1994. Also like the ICTY, the ICTR has been deemed by many a pathetic attempt to compensate for the lack of action taken by the international community in addressing a genocide that left between 500,000 and one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus dead -- a collective soothing of consciences, as it were. However, the ICTR is not without its victories: it has conducted the first international trial for genocide in history, and its conviction of Jean Kambanda, Rwanda's former prime minister, represents the first time an international tribunal has found a former head of government guilty of genocide or crimes against humanity. Similar initiatives are taking form to address atrocities committed in Cambodia, Sierra Leone, and East Timor. Meanwhile, obvious candidates for individual prosecution most often fall into one of two categories: first, those in exile, such as Paraguay's Alfredo Stroessner, Haiti's Jean- Claude Duvalier and Raoul Cedras, Ethiopia's Mengitsu Haile Mariam, Uganda's Idi Amin; and second, those still enjoying impunity at home, among them senior Khmer Rouge leaders, and Efrain Rios- Montt in Guatemala. But despite such initiatives, prosecutions remain largely tied to the political will of big state actors. Some may wonder why it is only the dictators of client states who are brought to justice and not the political leaders of those countries who put them in power and sustained them while they committed their atrocities. Why is Pinochet brought to justice and not Henry Kissinger? Why Habré and not the American and French leaders who supported him throughout his rule? Ali Abunimah, vice-president of the Arab-American Action Network, told Al- Ahram Weekly, "What we are witnessing is not true justice but selective justice. Milosevic is being put on trial because the Western powers want that, but would they ever allow a truly impartial investigation into NATO's actions in Kosovo?" And what of the man the Village Voice had deemed "Manhattan's Milosevic?" Kissinger, a revered statesman and current star of the lecture circuit, is also the one- time US secretary of state who recently called for limits on "universal jurisdiction prosecutions" in the journal Foreign Affairs, warning against allowing "legal principles to be used as weapons to settle political scores." Kissinger has reason for concern. He has long been haunted by American involvement in Chile; a French judge recently called on him to testify in court on to such involvement during his tenure as Richard Nixon's national security adviser. He narrowly evaded the summons, but political activists continue to call for his indictment for his hand in Chilean affairs as well as a devastating policy toward Cambodia during the Vietnam War. Earlier this year, Christopher Hitchens's scathing book The Trial of Henry Kissinger made best-seller lists and managed to land on the front cover of the American magazine Harper's . In the Middle East, it is Ariel Sharon who is enjoying immunity thanks to the neophyte doctrine of international justice. Efforts have been made to indict the Israeli prime minister for the 1982 massacre of Palestinian refugees at the Sabra and Shatila camps in Beirut -- for which a 1983 Israeli government inquiry determined that Sharon had been "indirectly responsible." For many, the case of Sharon reveals the contradictions in the application of the afore-mentioned doctrine. Abunimah of the Arab-American Action Network comments: "The United States, which strongly backs the trial of Milosevic, also opposes all efforts to convene the signatories of the Fourth Geneva Convention to examine Israel's war crimes and violations in Palestine. Meanwhile, it welcomes Sharon in the White House like a hero." Incidentally, the quest to indict Sharon and others was dealt a decisive blow last week at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). In a decision that made few headlines, the body ruled that a Belgian arrest warrant for the acting foreign minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo constituted a violation of international law. Human Rights Watch's Advocacy Director Reed Brody told Al-Ahram Weekly that the decision will prove deleterious: "The decision is nothing short of a setback for attempts to prosecute officials for war crimes. This ruling signals that officials will enjoy impunity for the time they are in office, which is against any trends toward international accountability." Amidst such setbacks, the imminent birth of an International Criminal Court (ICC) bears a glimmer of hope for advocates of an international justice system. The drafting of the 1998 Rome Statute, laying the groundwork for the ICC under the auspices of the United Nations, exists as a landmark legal moment. The envisaged court is meant to address the most serious crimes via an international forum, namely, genocide, crimes of war and crimes against humanity. In the end, the ICC is meant to complement national legal structures, serving as a potential back- up when domestic systems are unwilling or genuinely unable to proceed. Though many scoffed at the prospect of an international tribunal of this nature, the campaign to establish it has been quite successful; many estimate that the initiative will get its required 60th ratification by mid-2002. As it stands today, 52 countries have ratified the ICC Statute, with the US administration standing as perhaps the biggest objector to its mandate and mission. In a grand show of judicial chauvinism, America refuses to put itself under the writ of the international body. It seems that in the pursuit of what are often described as "special responsibilities" for international defence, the United States wants to maintain its leeway to commit what others may consider objectionable, or even worthy of the dreaded designation "war crimes." In the end, we are left to see if the Milosevic trial will sound a warning against such categorical isolationism, and by extension, serve as notice that the perpetrators of crimes against humanity, however powerful, will henceforth have to answer to a new, improved brand of accountability. It is the era, after all, of a brave new judicial landscape, perhaps without precedent.
AFP 31 Jan 2002 Moscow and Tbilisi jointly fight Chechen separatists in Georgia TBILISI, Jan 31 (AFP) - Moscow and Tbilisi have joined forces to fight Chechen rebels holed up in Georgia's volatile Pankisi gorge region, a senior Georgian security official said Wednesday. The Russian and Georgian special services "will carry out joint operations in the Pankisi Gorge," Georgian National Security Secretary Nugzar Sazhaya told reporters. Georgia "does not deny" that some of the Chechen refugees in the gorge area, on the border between Georgia and Russia's breakaway republic of Chechnya, were involved in combat action" against Russian forces. Moscow has long accused Georgia of offering shelter to Chechen separatist fighters. In November, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Georgia of harboring "terrorist bases". Russian security council secretary Vladimir Rushailo said here that the Georgian and Russian Security councils had signed a cooperation agreement on Wednesday. Rushailo, on the second day of a visit in Tbilisi, added that the Russian and Georgian security security agencies "will conduct, and are already conducting, joint actions" in the Pankisi Gorge. He gave no details on the nature or scale of the cooperation. Russia is also "about to send to Georgia specialists from the Russian emergencies ministry who will help Chechen refugees (in the Pankisi Gorge) return" to their republic, Rushailo went on. On Tuesday, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze said after meeting with Rushailo that Tbilisi would take steps to "restore law and order" in the area and to "oust criminals" by reinforcing the police presence there. Shevardnadze irked Russia last November when he admitted the presence on his territory of Chechen rebel warlord Ruslan Gelayev, whom Moscow accuses of being a terrorist. To Moscow's fury and public astonishment, the Georgian leader branded Galayev a "well-educated man" who should be scratched off Russia's most-wanted list. Moscow has been entangled for over two years in a seemingly endless military operation in Chechnya, which Russian troops entered on October 1, 1999, to put down a separatist insurgency. More than 3,500 Russian troops have been killed in the subsequent fighting, according to the official death toll. Soldiers' support groups say the real figure is two to three times higher. Russian public opinion has been turning slowly but steadily against the war, with around half of the population supporting peace talks according to the opinion polls.
AFP 6 Feb 2002 Russian troops seal off Chechen town SLEPTSOVSK, Russia, Feb 6 (AFP) - Russian forces have sealed off the town of Shali in southeastern Chechnya, and are preventing all its inhabitants, including women and children, from leaving, a Chechen rebel spokesman said in neighbouring Ingushetia Wednesday. Tanks and artillery were placed around the town and the neighbouring village of Germenchug late Tuesday, said Islam Khasukhatov, a spokesman for the rebel leadership. Around 50 people have been held for questioning, he said. Local officials at Shali said that 15 people were arrested Tuesday. Meanwhile Russian Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov was due to visit Chechnya Wednesday to discuss the disappearance of a federal helicopter that was reported missing near Grozny on Sunday, news agencies said. Three days of searches for the Mi-24 helicopter, which vanished from radar screens as it travelled from Grozny to the North Ossetia capital of Vladikavkaz, have failed to provide any clues to its fate. Military officials have said it could have crashed in the mountains in the south of the republic, but they have admitted it could also have been brought down by rebel gunmen. Eight helicopters and land search groups, representing a total of 160 men, are engaged in the operation, the ITAR-TASS news agency reported. On January 27 Russia suffered one of its most serious losses in the 28-month Chechnya war when five commanders, including two generals and a deputy interior minister were killed when their helicopter was shot down over the breakaway republic. Gryzlov was also due to meet interior ministry troops during his 24-hour visit, the Interfax news agency said. Russian troops swept into Chechnya in October 1999 to put down a separatist insurgency.
AFP 14 Feb 2002 -- Chechen refugees in Georgia "close to panic" as Russians arrive TBILISI, Feb 14 (AFP) - A Russian delegation arrived in Tbilisi Thursday to discuss the repatriation of Chechen refugees living in Georgia's Pankisi gorge, but the refugees' chief spokesman said their mood was "close to panic." The 17-strong delegation headed by Deputy Emergency Situations Minister Yury Brazhnikov is due to meet Georgian officials to discuss a timetable and the means of repatriation of the approximately 7,700 Chechen refugees believed to be living in northern Georgia. "The presidents of Russia and Georgia want this repatriation to be achieved within a short period using humanitarian methods in line with international norms," Brazhnikov said on his arrival here. Tbilisi is insisting that the repatriations must be voluntary, whereas Moscow wants the Pankisi gorge -- which it charges is being used as a rebel base -- to be entirely cleared of Chechens. The issue has caused considerable friction between the two former Soviet republics in the past two years, with Moscow charging that Tbilisi has allowed rebels hidden among the refugees to use Georgia as a supply base for fighters across the border with Chechnya, a rebel Russian republic. Chechen refugees have displayed a marked reluctance to return to their homeland, saying they are afraid for their safety at home, where Russian troops launched a self-declared anti-terrorist operation in October, 1999 and remain bogged down in a guerrilla conflict. Khizri Aldamov, leader of the Chechen diaspora in Georgia, warned that "the mood among the refugees is close to panic." The refugees will refuse to leave Georgia unless the Russian army pulls out of Chechnya first, he said. At Duisi, the main town in the Pankisi gorge, "the Chechen women have staged a mass protest to insist that the Georgian authorities do not hand over their sons to the mercies of the Russian army," he said. Brazhnikov noted that "an amnesty has been decreed allowing any former rebels, even those who fought in Chechnya, to return." The conditions for the refugees' return to Chechnya are already in place, he said, adding that various methods of bringing them back to their homeland were being considered, including air transport. The delegation of Russian interior, foreign and emergency ministry officials and border service representatives had been due to fly to Tbilisi last week to discuss a repatriation plan, but Georgia requested a week's delay, prompting fears in Moscow that Tbilisi was dragging its feet. The Russian delegation was due to meet transport ministry and other officials on Friday, and on Saturday travel to the Pankisi region, though for security reasons it will not enter the gorge itself, Georgian officials said. Tbilisi is keen to resolve the refugee issue because their presence has proved an economic burden for Georgians living in the region.
AFP 11 Feb 2002 -- Chechen separatist leader sees chance for ceasefire MOSCOW, Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov said Monday he hoped that the recent airing of allegations that Russian secret services staged a wave of apartment bomb blasts that started the war in Chechnya could lead to a ceasefire in his republic. Maskhadov told AFP that the charges, aired by Russia's self-exiled tycoon Boris Berezovsky, should prove to the public that Chechens were victims of a sinister war staged by Moscow for its own political benefit. "I hope that Mr. Berezovksy, as he has promised to do, at the end of February will open everyone's eyes" by broadcasting a documentary linking the Federal Security Service (FSB, ex-KGB) to the September 1999 blasts that claimed nearly 300 lives, said Maskhadov. "I think that then it will be understood that the secret service tried to create a cause for launching this barbaric aggression against the Chechen people, after accusing the Chechens of staging that bombings." Maskhadov, who is considered a fugitive by Russian authorities, answered AFP's questions in person on condition that his whereabouts not be released. Moscow officials have discouraged the Russian media from airing interviews with Chechen separatist leaders including Maskhadov, whom they consider a terrorist. Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Chechen separatists of staging the apartment block bombings which shocked the country and made people deeply suspicious of the mayhem that ruled Chechnya following the end of the first, 1994-96 war there. That war left the republic with de facto independence which it claims to this day. However the Chechens denied any involvement in the attacks, and Russia has so far failed to deliver any proof linking the rebels to the bombings. This year Berezovsky, a prominent Putin critic who once held a senior government post in which he had dealings with Chechen rebel representatives, announced that he had evidence linking the FSB to the incident. Some have suggested that the government may have organized the bombings in order to justify a war in Chechnya, which stirred public patriotism, boosted Putin's popularity and helped him storm to the presidency in March 2000. Berezovsky, who is facing criminal charges in Russia linked to his business activities, said he held no proof linking the alleged government plot to Putin, who recently headed the FSB. Both the FSB and Putin have brushed off the charges. The agency has also opened its own investigation into terrorism allegations against Berezovsky.
AFP 16 Feb 2002 Russian troops hunt Chechen rebels in two villages, 19 dead MOSCOW, Feb 16 (AFP) - Russian forces on Saturday continued to hunt down suspected Chechen separatists in two villages southeast of the capital Grozny for a third straight day, local officials told the Interfax news agency. Russian troops have thus far killed 19 Chechen rebels in the operation in the villages of Starye Atagy and Novye Atagy, according to Russian military sources. Sherip Alikhajyev, head of the Shali regional administration, said troops had completely surrounded the towns, and that interior ministry officials and FSB (ex-KGB) security officials have set up document checks for villagers. Russia said the operation officially began on Thursday, but a Chechen source said it began Monday with the killing of a pro-Russian Chechen official in Novye Atagy. Meanwhile, Russian forces claimed to have killed Chechen rebel commander Naip Idigov on Friday, while failing to provide more details. Russian daily Kommersant reported Friday that four FSB officers had been killed during an ambush in Starye Atagy. Guerrilla warfare has swept through Chechnya since Russian forces launched a self-proclaimed anti-terrorist operation in the separatist republic in October 1999.
VOA 22 Jan 2002 Turkey Steps Up Crackdown on Kurdish Language Campaign Amberin Zaman Ankara , Turkish authorities are keeping up a month-long crackdown on thousands of students seeking the right to be educated in the Kurdish language. At least 17 students were jailed on charges of promoting separatism in the largely Kurdish Malatya Province. The imprisoned students are accused of signing a petition calling on their local university to introduce a course in Kurdish as an optional language course. The students were acting in concert with thousands of other ethnic-Kurdish students and their sympathizers across Turkey who have signed similar petitions. Abdurrahman Demir is a 20-year-old student at Dicle University in the largely Kurdish Diyarbakir Province. Mr. Demir told VOA that security forces arrested him last month after he joined the Kurdish language campaign. Mr. Demir says he was stripped naked and beaten by security forces until he signed a confession saying that he had been acting under orders from the Kurdistan Workers' Party. The group has been banned by the Ankara government as a terrorist organization. Mr. Demir has been released from prison and is now awaiting trial on charges of promoting separatism. Though not all the students who have signed the petition have been jailed, many of them have been expelled by their universities. Education in Kurdish is banned under the Turkish constitution. Education minister Metin Bostancioglu re-affirmed the government's position, saying that introducing Kurdish language courses is against the law. The Turkish government says the Kurdish language campaign, which began in November, is being orchestrated by the Kurdistan Workers' Party to rekindle separatist sentiments among the country's estimated 12 million Kurds. Following the capture of its leader, Abdullah Ocalan, in 1999, the Kurdistan Workers' Party ended its 15-year long armed campaign for an independent Kurdish homeland in Turkey's largely Kurdish provinces. The group now says that lifting bans on Kurdish language education and broadcasting will satisfy the Kurds' demands for expanded cultural rights. The Turkish government is under pressure from EU countries to offer ethnic Kurds the right to express themselves freely in their own language as a precondition for Turkey's entry into the European Union. In October, Turkey's parliament passed legislation that eased bans on Kurdish language broadcasting, but the legislation left bans on Kurdish language education in force.
VOA 29 Jan 2002 Human Rights Violations by Turkish Security Forces Increasing Amberin Zaman Diyarbakir, Human rights violations by Turkish security forces are reported to be on the rise again in the country's largely Kurdish southeastern provinces. The reported upturn in rights violations follows a period of marked decline in the number of such incidents. Osman Baydemir is a lawyer in the predominantly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir in southeastern Turkey and chairman of the local branch of the Human Rights Association of Turkey. Mr. Baydemir says human rights violations in the region have risen sharply in recent months. To emphasize his point, the lawyer cites some cases from a thick red file he is holding. In September, Mr. Baydemir says, government security forces in the eastern province of Van shot dead a deaf and mute shepherd after he failed to heed their demands to identify himself. The same month security forces allegedly shot dead two brothers in the southeastern province of Sirnak as they were planting their crops. According to Mr. Baydemir, the security forces claim the brothers were members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Mr. Baydemir says victims' families deny they had any links with the rebels. Arbitrary detentions and torture are being reported with increasing frequency since the beginning of last year when two officials of Hadep, the largest pro-Kurdish party in Turkey, disappeared in the southeastern town of Cizre after being called in by military police for questioning. The officials have not been heard from since. Those being targeted include members of the pro-Kurdish People's Democracy Party as well as students who are taking part in a freshly launched campaign to be educated in the Kurdish language. Kurdish language education is constitutionally banned in Turkey, and government authorities say the language campaign is being orchestrated by the PKK. Devlet Bahceli, a deputy prime minister in Turkey's coalition government, charges that the PKK is using the campaign and the students to stir up separatist feelings among Turkey's 12 million Kurds. Muhammed Tasdemir is a biology student at the Dicle University in Diyarbakir. Mr. Tasdemir, who denies any connection with the PKK, told VOA he was detained for four days at the local police headquarters after signing a petition last month calling for the right to be educated in the Kurdish language. Mr. Tasdemir says he was blindfolded and beaten and forced to listen to Turkish patriotic songs during his detention. He has been released from prison but is awaiting trial on charges of promoting Kurdish separatism. Mr. Baydemir and other human rights advocates say the crackdown in Diyarbakir and other Kurdish areas represents a shift in government policy. Up until a year ago, they say, there had been a palpable softening in official attitudes. Many here attribute that shift to a unilateral ceasefire called by the PKK following the capture in 1999 of their leader, Abdullah Ocalan. Following the ceasefire, the Ankara government appointed officials to senior posts in the southeastern provinces who won praise in the region for their tolerance and efforts to curb abuses by police and other security personnel. Mr. Baydemir says for a while there was a sharp decline in extra-judicial killings and disappearances allegedly carried out by security forces. So what has changed? Mr. Baydemir believes there is a link between the latest crackdown, including the campaign against the Kurdish language, and Turkey's importance in the eyes of Western governments since the terrorist attacks in September. He charges that Western governments are keeping silent about the human rights violations because they need Turkey's cooperation in their fight against global terrorism. Turkish officials dismiss such claims as nothing more that PKK propaganda and point to a series of constitutional reforms approved in October - after the attacks - by the Turkish parliament. The reforms, among other things, ease restrictions on broadcasting and education in the Kurdish language. If security forces have become more active in the southeastern provinces, officials in Ankara say there is only one reason for that: increased activity by the PKK.
See Iraq, 26 Jan 2002
Reuters 11 Feb 2002 Turkey shuts down Kurdish TV DIYARBAKIR, Turkey -- Turkey's broadcasting watchdog has suspended broadcasts for one year by a local television station that played Kurdish-language music videos. The move, on Monday, comes despite a constitutional amendment to allow Kurdish broadcasts. Turkey altered its constitution in October to allow Kurdish-language television and radio broadcasts, part of a drive to meet European Union human rights standards, but it has yet to change the relevant laws. "Broadcasts by Gun TV have been stopped for 365 days for playing music pieces with Kurdish lyrics," Turkey's Radio and Television High Council (RTUK) said in a statement. COUNTRY PROFILE At a glance: Turkey Provided by CountryWatch.com "(Gun TV) was in violation of (laws) barring broadcasts that incite society to violence, terrorism and ethnic separatism and incur feelings of hatred in society," the watchdog said. An RTUK spokeswoman said the watchdog expects Gun TV to file an appeal once lawmakers make Turkey's legal code conform with the constitutional changes, but said the ban could still stand. "These are not just romantic songs, but strongly ideological songs," she said. The EU has said Turkey must improve its human rights record, including expanding cultural and linguistic rights for its 12 million Kurds, if it is to begin membership talks with the bloc. RTUK often imposes short suspensions on television and radio broadcasters for various infringements but rarely imposes bans for as long as a year. Gun TV broadcast rallies and meetings organized by the People's Democracy Party (HADEP), Turkey's only legal Kurdish party, which faces possible closure for its alleged ties to Kurdish separatists. "The decision was completely political. There were no sorts of 'separatist' programs being broadcast. It's a one-sided decision," said Nevzat Bingol, Gun TV's owner. Police raided Bingol's Gun Radyo in November, stopping the radio station's broadcasts and seizing studio equipment. Separately, authorities have cracked down in recent weeks on a campaign calling for Kurdish-language instruction in schools. Police have detained hundreds of university students and parents who signed petitions calling for Kurdish in the classroom. Turkey fears greater Kurdish cultural rights could prompt restive Kurds to demand greater autonomy. Security forces have fought Kurdish separatists in a 17-year-long conflict that has claimed 30,000 lives, mainly civilians in the southeast. Violence has all but ceased since the 1999 capture of Kurdish guerrilla commander Abdullah Ocalan. Ocalan, now on death row for treason, has called on his fighters to withdraw from Turkey and seek rights for Kurds through political means.
Guardian 14 Feb 2002 Chomsky wins case for Turkish publisher - Istanbul court drops charges after US author flies in to challenge prosecution over pro-Kurdish essay By Owen Bowcott. The Guardian A Turkish publisher accused of disseminating separatist propaganda was acquitted yesterday after one of his authors -the celebrated American linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky - appeared in an Istanbul court and asked to be tried alongside him. In a case highlighting the limited freedom of expression permitted in discussions about Turkey's treatment of its Kurdish minority, the director of Aram Publishing, Fatih Tas, escaped the one-year jail sentence he had been anticipating. "The prosecutor clearly made the right decision," said Professor Chomsky, who had petitioned to be named as a co-defendant. "I hope it will be a step toward establishing the freedom of speech in Turkey that we all want to see. I am here to express support for the writers, journalists and human rights activists who are willing to take serious risks." A delighted Mr Tas, who last year published American Interventionism, a Turkish translation of Prof Chomsky's essays, declared after the trial: "If [he] hadn't been here we wouldn't have expected such a verdict." Mr Tas still faces charges over books which question Turkey's human rights record. In one of the essays, Prof Chomsky, who teaches at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, alleged that the Turkish government had "launched a major war in the south-east against the Kurdish population" and described the conflict as "one of the most severe human rights atrocities of the 1990s". The Kurds, he wrote, "have been miserably oppressed throughout the whole history of the modern Turkish state". Turkish security forces waged a 15-year campaign against Kurdish rebels which resulted in the deaths of more than 30,000 people and the destruction of thousands of villages. The fighting effectively ceased with the capture of Abdullah Ocalan,leader of the Kurdistan Workers' party, in 1999. If Mr Tas had been convicted, it would have been a severe embarrassment for the Turkish government, which this week hosted a meeting of foreign ministers from EU and Muslim states. The conference was supposed to improve understanding between the Christian west and Islam following September 11. Turkey is keen to develop its position as a bridge between the two civilisations. The parliament recently passed reforms aimed at permitting greater freedom of expression, to enhance Turkey's application to join the EU. In October last year the government altered the constitution to legalise Kurdish-language television and radio broadcasts, in an attempt to conform to EU human rights standards. This week, however, Turkey's radio and television high council, which oversees the broadcast media, suspended the licence of a local TV station for a year for "playing music with Kurdish lyrics". Scores of Turkish writers and journalists have been jailed in the past under anti-terrorist laws which forbid criticism of the state's conduct of the war in the south-east. Prof Chomsky is giving several lectures during his three-day visit to Turkey. Tomorrow he is due to fly to Diyarbakir to meet Kurdish politicians. Before yesterday's trial he said that Americans had a duty to monitor and protest against human rights abuses in Turkey. "When the United States provides 80% of the arms for Turkey, for the express purpose of carrying out repression that's my responsibility," he explained.
AP 16 Feb 2002 They sang revolutionary songs and chanted slogans threatening to go back to war to defend the country's independence. Kurdish rebels seek new, peaceful image DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (AP) -- The new name says it all: A Kurdish rebel group with a history of ruthless guerrilla attacks is trying to shed its bloody image and become a legitimate political force. What was the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, will become the Democratic Republic Party, said Kurdish sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "The coming days will be decisive for the PKK's future," said the group's leader, Abdullah Ocalan, who is being held on a remote island while he appeals a death sentence. His statement, appearing in the German-based Kurdish paper Ozgur Politika, indicated he is trying to reshape his party from behind bars, where he has been held for three years. But the government is unlikely to accept the group and says giving in to Kurdish demands could break up the country along ethnic lines. The PKK's attempts to clean up its image are likely aimed at Europe, where the group has a strong presence, analysts say. Turkey is pressing the European Union to include the PKK on its list of terror groups, as the United States has done. "The PKK is the old PKK with a different tactic," said Michael Radu, an expert on terrorism with the Philadelphia-based Foreign Policy Research Institute. "Ocalan is a much more effective public-relations strategist than Turkey, and he is telling Europe how nice his organization is." The PKK was founded 24 years ago in 1978 with the goal of getting Turkey to grant autonomy to Kurdish minority. It turned to armed struggle in 1984, and the fighting has claimed 37,000 lives. There are some 12 million Kurds in Turkey, most living in the southeast. Although they represent about 20 percent of the population of 67 million, the government doesn't recognize them as an official minority. Kurdish language is outlawed in schools, at official events and in broadcasts other than music. "People can speak Kurdish if they want," Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit said Friday. "But we cannot accept Kurdish education." Ocalan called a cease-fire after his arrest, but the government rejected it and fighting continues, though it has decreased considerably in recent years. While most Turks consider the Kurdish rebels a barbaric terrorist group, there is considerable sympathy for them outside the country. Ocalan's fate has become a key issue in Turkey's relations with the European Union. The EU has demanded Turkey lift Ocalan's death sentence and says allowing Kurdish education is crucial for Turkey's hopes of joining the Union.
NYT February 11, 2002 Trial of Milosevic Will Peel Layers of Balkan Guilt, Too By IAN FISHER SANSKI MOST, Bosnia and Herzegovina — The remains of 372 people killed 10 years ago are laid down on a warehouse floor here. Traces of distinct human beings — a Mozart T-shirt, a pocket watch — recede in the sameness of the bones, which two forensics experts arrange like puzzles and label. B for a whole body, BP for something less. What overwhelms is the size of the crime: that the earth in what was once a part of Yugoslavia still disgorges the dead in such large numbers. Digging for these bodies, all Bosnian Muslims, began only this past Sept. 11, the day the world's attention turned toward the crimes of a new decade. But starting on Feb. 12, some of the worst crimes of the last decade will undergo their own autopsy. Slobodan Milosevic, the former president of Yugoslavia, and of Serbia, its largest remaining republic, the man accused of being most responsible for these deaths and thousands of others, will stand trial before an international court in The Hague. Mr. Milosevic, the first head of state ever to be tried for war crimes, is essentially accused of leading a genocidal, criminal enterprise. The aim of that enterprise, prosecutors allege, was to "cleanse" land he believed belonged to ethnic Serbs of other ethnic groups, Croats, Muslims, Albanians. It spans three wars, in Croatia, Kosovo and here in Bosnia, where he is accused of genocide, in the most significant war crimes trial since Nuremberg. Mr. Milosevic proclaims innocence, saying he acted only to keep Yugoslavia whole. "This is a malicious, utterly hostile process aimed at justifying the crime against my country, using this court as a weapon against my country and my people," he told judges at The Hague in January. Even among experts who loathe Mr. Milosevic, there are worries over whether the proceedings may look like victors' justice and whether the prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, can deliver the evidence that draws a direct line between Mr. Milosevic and bodies like those uncovered here. That will be for the judges to decide in a trial expected to last at least two years. But beyond the trial itself is the question of what it means for the people of what was once a much larger Yugoslavia, the wreckage of what was an imperfect but functioning multiethnic state in Europe, a unique bridge between East and West. Well over 200,000 died in the wars of that Yugoslavia's destruction, most of them Muslims. Ethnic cleansing has left an indelible trace; most of Bosnia is now divided along ethnic lines. Soldiers of outside nations, slow to react as the war escalated, patrol those still volatile lines. Foreign bureaucrats run Bosnia, now an independent nation, and Kosovo, still a province of Serbia — and will for years to come. For many victims, there is a need for justice. For the Serbs, who supported Mr. Milosevic for 13 years, the questions raised by the trial are perhaps more complex. Many among the new, reformist breed of leaders in Belgrade — who faced criticism at home for extraditing Mr. Milosevic last June — see an opportunity to come to terms with a violent past that was long repressed. But any reconciliation with the past, as they see it, is not a collective thing but a matter of blaming the old leaders and allowing Serbia to move squarely into Europe. "We have to individualize the guilt," said Ivan Djordjevic, a former dissident lawyer and an official in Serbia's Ministry of Internal Affairs. "Otherwise we have this feeling of collective guilt, that this whole nation had the goal of eliminating other people and killing. Not all of us supported this." For the victims, this lets Serbia, the largest entity in the former Yugoslavia, off too easily — and leaves open the possibility of ethnic hatred, then war, returning. "Milosevic will be found guilty of crimes," said Veton Surroi, the publisher of Koha Ditore, an influential Albanian newspaper in Kosovo, Serbia's southern province. "But his society cannot escape responsibility for those crimes. This is an opportunity for them to open the soul and say: `Wait a minute, where was I when that happened? Where were the Serb people?' " "After all," he added, "they will need to deal with it, if not for anyone else's sake, for their own sake." Serbian Pragmatism Weary of the Past and Its Burdens Maybe he is blunter than most, but Dejan Milojevic is like many Serbs: weary of Mr. Milosevic, tired of hearing about the savagery of Serbs, eager to reap the rewards of rejoining the outside world. After Mr. Milosevic's extradition, and confronting an average income here of $125 a month, many Serbs are more pragmatist than nationalist. "The main thing we are interested in," said Mr. Milojevic, 29, a town official in Aleksinac, south of Belgrade, "is how to cash in on all the misery we've been through. We are willing to admit guilt in Kosovo if that will bring in money." Still, Mr. Milojevic has reservations. He wonders if Mr. Milosevic can get a fair trial at The Hague, since the same nations that paid for the NATO bombing against Serbia in 1999 are underwriting the trial. He believes that not only Mr. Milosevic, and not only Serbs, are guilty of war crimes. He is still angry at the West, not least because stray NATO bombs killed 24 people, most of them civilians, in Aleksinac in April 1999. Latinka Perovic, a historian who campaigned against Mr. Milosevic, suggests that the mixture of pragmatism, adaptability and indignation in Serbia is also a way to wiggle out of a larger responsibility for supporting Mr. Milosevic. "It is not good to stay on that level only," Ms. Perovic said. "There is another level which is not being discussed. That is the issue of punishment of crimes as a moral issue, an ethical issue." She said the new Yugoslav government — led by President Vojislav Kostunica, a moderate nationalist who defeated Mr. Milosevic at the polls in 2000 — has done little to explore this function of the trial.
AFP 26 Feb 2002 Yugoslavia adopts minorities law with eye to Council of Europe BELGRADE, The Yugoslav parliament adopted on Tuesday a law protecting ethnic minorities, providing the Roma community a status of national minority and establishing an ombudsman's post. The adoption of the law, drafted with help from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), will help Yugoslavia's bid to join the Council of Europe. About twenty ethnic minorities live in Yugoslavia, the largest of which is the ethnic Albanian community who make up the majority in the southern Serbian province of Kosovo. Minorities make up about 40 percent of Yugoslavia's population of 10 million. The law will not apply to Kosovo, which has been under UN administration since 1999. "The adoption of this law will favour inter-community relations and integration of minorities into the state institutions which will strenghten the political stability in the country," Rasim Ljajic, Yugoslav minister for ethnic minorities, said. According to the law, adopted by both chambers of the Yugoslav parliament, each minority would have a "national council," a consultative regional assembly, which would focus on the issues of education, communication, as well as preserving and developing ethnic culture and language. These "councils" are to be supervised by the "state council for minorities" comprised of local deputies and ministers in charge of the issue who will meet at least twice a year under the chairmanship of the Yugoslav president.
Al-Ahram Weekly Online 14 - 20 February 2002 Issue No.573 African rendezvous in Paris Determined to launch a new partnership with France, African leaders lobbied for more trade and improved aid at last week's Franco-African summit, writes Layla Hafez from Paris -- Keen to shake off the legacy of colonial subjugation, African countries today are seeking to establish a new partnership with the former colonial power, France. Accordingly, 13 African heads of state ended, on 8 February, four hours of heated debate with French President Jaques Chirac and Michel Camdessus, former director of the International Monetary Fund and currently the French president's personal representative in the New Partnership for the Development of Africa (NEPAD), at the Elysée Palace in the French capital. The meeting, held at the initiative of President Chirac, was meant to be an "informal discussion" aiming at allowing the five countries that founded NEPAD in 2001 -- Egypt, Algeria, South Africa, Nigeria and Senegal -- in addition to eight other African countries representing the different regions of the continent, to present their plan for African development. This partnership initiative emerged from the 2001 G8 summit in Genoa, and its results will be presented by France to the other member nations at the next meeting of the G8, to be held in Canada in June 2002. President Chirac stated categorically, "It is morally and politically essential that all industrial countries reconsider in a clear way their prior commitment to contributing 0,7 per cent of their GDP in aid to the least developed countries." President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal pointed out that African leaders did not come "to the meeting to beg for money" and that it was "in the interest of the rich countries and the world economy to save the continent from economic collapse and social disintegration. Africa is rich in resources and represents 13 per cent of the planet's population." In similar vein, President Hosni Mubarak said, "Gandhi said that poverty is the hardest kind of violence. I would add that poverty is the hardest kind of terrorism," adding that if "the rich countries delay their aid again, I am sure that the war against terrorism will become a world war and no country in the world will be safe from it." Meanwhile, President Olusejun Obasanjo of Nigeria affirmed: "If we don't do anything to end poverty, rearmament will continue, there not being any security anywhere." The vision of the "new Africa" was equally clear in the mind of Anil Gayan, Mauritian minister of foreign affairs, "We have a vision of an Africa free of conflict and engaged in its mission of reconstruction," he said. He also envisaged the birth of "a new spirit whereby Africans will no longer consider the rest of the world to be the sole source of their problems." Only thus can African countries assume "responsibility for their difficulties and be successful." President Chirac showed concern for the wealth imbalance between Africa and the West in arguing for the "boosting of this process that will enable the NEPAD aeroplane to take off. The G8 in Canada must be the starting rather than the arrival point." He also linked aid provision to African countries to the degree of their success in fighting "corruption." However, the Elysée meeting witnessed some tension as well. Camdessus accused African countries of being incapable of pulling themselves out of the deplorable state they exist in, saying, "You always talk of taking off but never actually do so." The African leaders present at the meeting took offence at his superior tone and made clear that they objected to his comments on three points. They started by objecting to the "good governance" and '"democratisation" conditions imposed on Western aid, arguing that this was exactly what they themselves desired without the need for donors to set humiliating preconditions. Secondly, African leaders protested that aid given to them came in small quantities and only after long and tedious bureaucratic processes. Meanwhile, in Afghanistan the West was pouring in money without such restraints, they complained. Thirdly, African leaders objected to the arrogance with which the West related to them and requested equal treatment, stating that it was in the West's interest for Africa to get out of its present poverty-stricken and unstable state. The 8 February meeting, despite being touted as an "informal discussion," was the fruit of months of hard work and thorough studies completed by the NEPAD member-countries. The grouping emerged through the integration of both the New Initiative of Africa (NIA) -- founded in 2000 by Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt and Algeria -- together with the OMEGA Plan, started by Senegal in 2001. The initiative focuses on allowing Africa to take control of its own destiny and map out an integrated plan of development based on its own priorities, rather than those of outsiders. It will allow Africa to prove its capabilities for good governance with the aim of securing accountability and credibility, first to the continent's inhabitants and then to the entire world. At the meeting, Senegalese President Abdullah Wade put forward the main priorities that African countries will have to address before they can start on the road towards development. In order to minimise the gap between themselves and richer industrialised nations, they will have to strengthen themselves in the fields of health and education, develop their agricultural, energy and technological sectors, as well as maximise infrastructure, attracting foreign investment and developing good governance. The NEPAD plan also underlined that there are rich resources present in Africa whose correct exploitation will enable it to progress, namely its energy and mineral deposits in addition to its rich human resources pool. For these plans to succeed and for Africa to achieve a certain credibility with its own investors and the private sector, let alone with those rich nations that will provide foreign capital and investment, NEPAD is making a point of underlining the kind of political, economic and social stability that can only be achieved through democracy and good governance.
WP 5 Feb 2002 Nationalism for Smarties 'Who We Are: A History of Popular Nationalism' by Robert H. Wiebe WHO WE ARE A History of Popular Nationalism By Robert H. Wiebe Princeton Univ. 282 pp. $24.95By Chris Lehmann, Page C02 Robert H. Wiebe was one of the last remaining masters of a fast-vanishing genre in U.S. history: the energetic synthesis. His best-known work, "The Search for Order: 1877-1920," supplied an engaging, closely argued narrative of the many realms in which Progressive-era citizens sought to place American democracy on a modern footing. Ever larger business cartels, new communications technologies, dramatic surges in immigration and rapidly urbanizing living conditions forever changed the country's inherited political ideal of face-to-face self-government, and the aim of much Progressive reform, Wiebe argued, was to substitute the prerogatives of the bureaucratic state for the humbler, more informal protocols of yeoman democracy. Wiebe continued to pursue this core Progressive predicament in later works; in a discipline fragmenting into small-bore monographs and self-dramatizing cultural gestures, he remained unfashionably preoccupied with the question of how ordinary citizens can wrest some control over their lives from an increasingly impersonal state. Wiebe died last year, not long after retiring from his professorship at Northwestern University, but he had managed to complete his broad-ranging, provocative study of nationalist movements across the globe, "Who We Are." It's a project as controversial in subject as it is ambitious in scope: In many circles, nationalism has long been a byword for backward -- and dangerous -- brands of parochialism in political affairs. Its critics on the right and left alike identify it with territorial conquest, religious, racist and ethnic intolerance, even genocide. So while Wiebe's book is a remarkable topical survey, it is also, like all his other works, an argument. For most thinkers of the modern era, Wiebe writes, nationalism is an "infuriatingly persistent anomaly. . . . Nothing so thoroughly affronted the universalist values that the champions of human rights and of law and order alike used to measure the health of the world. It accumulated modifiers: atavistic, fanatic, xenophobic, blind, bloody. . . . Nationalists never smiled; nobody smiled at them." If Wiebe is not out to put a smile on the face of nationalism, he is at least determined to present it in a more nuanced historical framework. He argues that, as was the case with earlier democratic ideals, most nationalist movements arose out of a dense network of local social relations, based on that most primary and durable of social organizations, the family. Displaced immigrants reconstituted their family-based visions of community in newly urban (or New World) settings, via the graces of what Wiebe calls "networks of fictive kin." Such networks fed on images of traditional comity that were at least partially falsified by the renewed ethnic self-consciousness, extended family ties and nostalgia common to all immigrant experience. But that, in turn, is a good deal of their psychic appeal, as Wiebe recognizes: "Where a people's primary need is to find a source of integration, nationalism can provide it; where their primary need is to draw a line of separation, nationalism can do that, too. . . . Belying nationalism's own dogmatism, permeability and adaptability rank among its greatest strengths." Indeed, the great irony of modern nationalism is that these apparently backward-looking sentiments spawned all sorts of institutions: newspapers, fraternal orders and unions, religious institutions and charitable societies -- and, of course, political parties. These new clusters of ethnic identification churned out offshore support for aspiring nationalist movements in forsaken homelands, in places as diverse as Italy, Ireland, Poland, Israel, Norway and Basque Spain. More or less artificial bonds of religion, language and territory got baptized in the image of the nation -- and, more important, greatly politicized -- as the restless cultural odysseys of displaced ethnic groups settled into the modern state's rigid, opportunistic and often murderous rhetorics of blood and soil. As was the case in Wiebe's earlier accounts of the modern fate of American democracy, this courtship of the state stands as aspiring nationalists' original sin. In Germany, for example, the state was both the object and principal agent of nationalist fervor -- and this helped, in turn, to foment World War I and then the horror of Nazi genocide. Wiebe portrays the global order of the 20th century as a rivalry among nationalism, socialism and democracy, with the state assuming an increasingly prominent role as backstage choreographer. And as the world order split along the great superpower rift of the Cold War, the state bulked ever larger, supplying the building blocks by which the Soviet Union and America waged their lumbering face-off in the rhetorical service of socialism and democracy. Nationalism, meanwhile, became the object of a lower-tier version of state servility, as Third World polities clamored to throw off the yoke of colonialism under a new generation of nationalist leaders, and recombined into disheartening states-for-their-own-sakes: cults of personality, kleptocracies, "ethnic cleansers" -- and, all too often, fusions of all three. Wiebe obviously composed "Who We Are" before the events of Sept. 11, but he does presciently suggest that the post-Cold War world is slouching toward a new order, that we now face extrastate formations of warlordism and fundamentalism. Which is not to say, as Wiebe cautions, that the state might gain any new moral legitimacy: "Lying awkwardly across the multiple attachments of everyday life and accentuating worldwide differences in privilege and power, [states] institutionalize these problems without providing solutions for them. Weaken the state, goes the warning, and you enter a jungle of terrors. But strengthen the state, it is worth emphasizing, and you repeat the familiar horrors." In passages like this, "Who We Are" neatly captures the mood of disaffiliation that now wracks so many traditional polities, and fuels in turn the apocalyptic grievances among fundamentalist zealots. At other times, however, Wiebe's writing does get abstract and occasionally downright sociological, pocked with grim tautologies ("the unity that depended on citizenship . . . required a definite jurisdiction within which citizens could act collectively") and unlovely adverbs such as "indicatively." In addition, he often delivers his global examples at a breakneck pace that can leave readers famished for more grounding in historical detail. And, at a clear loss to suggest any more promising outlets for the curdled ethnic nationalist movements of the present day, he voices a strange hostility to universalist human rights, which he argues will set "culture against culture in a battle of survival." Instead, Wiebe gestures vaguely to "diversity" as a foundation for global interdependence, seemingly unaware of how little this thin liberal shibboleth has served even to advance intra-ethnic understanding within American society. For all these shortcomings, "Who We Are" remains a keen and critical study of a powerful constellation of political sympathies too frequently dismissed as retrograde, ignorant and xenophobic. Nationalism continues to touch an acutely sensitive nerve: the question of how to engage the networks of fictive kin that shape our everyday lives even as more practical control over them is ceded to the remote forces of the corporation and the state. One only regrets that we no longer have Robert Wiebe to wrestle with this central challenge to our own nation's democratic promise.
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)
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PTI - Press Trust of India
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WP - Washington Post
Prevent Genocide International
The global education project of Genocide Watch