News Monitor for March 2002
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BBC 12 March, 2002, Language victory for Algeria's Berbers Berber unrest erupted into violence last year The language spoken by Algeria's main ethnic minority, the Berbers of Kabylie, is finally to be given recognition by the state. When we speak about Tamazight, we mean the identity of the entire Algerian people Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika Tamazight will be recognised as a national language, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced in a speech to the nation on Tuesday. "I have decided in total freedom and with total conviction to include Tamazight in the constitution as a national language," he said. "When we speak about Tamazight, we mean the identity of the entire Algerian people. "The national character of Tamazight cannot be questioned, whether the issue relates to Tamazight as a language or to Tamazight as a culture." Boycott threat The move comes just days after Berber leaders called for a boycott of the parliamentary election in May, saying the state had failed to address the community's concerns. President Bouteflika faces pressure to reach agreement with the Berbers The authorities in Algeria have long faced unrest among the Berbers who demand recognition for their distinctive identity. Violent protests against police brutality in Kabylie last year left 60 people dead and 2,000 injured. Tamazight, which encompasses several regional dialects, is spoken mostly by Berbers and by other ethnic groups in Algeria and Morocco. Berbers are believed to make up about 17% of Algeria's population, but at present Arabic is the only official state language. Political demands While recognition of their language was a key demand of the Berber community, the protesters had many other complaints as well. The BBC's North Africa correspondent, Stephanie Irvine, reports that they have deep-rooted grievances over unemployment, bad housing and perceived abuses by security officials. Last June the protesters drew up a 15-point list of demands for improving living conditions in their poor and mountainous region, known as the "El-Kseur Platform". These include the withdrawal of the despised paramilitary gendarmes, greater democracy and accountability, and a programme to re-launch the region's economy. Only moderate Berber leaders were present at Tuesday's meeting with President Bouteflika. The other, more radical, wing of the protest movement - which commands greater popular support in Kabylie - rejected an invitation to attend the meeting, saying the 15 demands were non-negotiable. If these demands are not met in full by President Bouteflika, the radical wing of the protest movement says it will continue with its active boycott of the elections on 30 May. And it seems unlikely the demands will be met since the government has already stated that a full-scale withdrawal of the gendarmes is out of the question.
BBC 25 February, 2002, Algeria sets poll date The Algerian Government has announced that parliamentary elections are to be held on 30 May. In a cabinet statement President Abdelaziz Bouteflika said consultations would begin with political parties and other groups to ensure the poll proceeds without any irregularities. He expressed his determination to respect the sincerity of the vote and guarantee a free choice for Algerians; the last elections were marred by widespread opposition. The current Algerian National Assembly was elected in 1997 and includes representatives from secular and moderate Islamic parties. Algerian forces have been engaged in a 10-year civil war with Islamic militants which began after an Islamic party was prevented from taking power following parliamentary elections. It's estimated that more than 100,000 people have been killed in the past 10 years of violence.
IRIN 11 March 2002 Anxious Wait for Government Peace Plan Angolans waited anxiously on Monday for a promised government statement on its plan to resume peace talks with rebel movement UNITA, as the humanitarian situation in the country continued to deteriorate. Reverend Daniel Ntoni-Nzinga, executive secretary of the Inter-Ecclesiastical Committee for Peace in Angola (COIEPA), told IRIN on Monday that "we are all in standby positions, there is not any clear picture ... A promise has been made that the government is going to make a statement this week outlining its plans for the peace process". President Jose Eduardo dos Santos' office said in a statement on Friday that the president had endorsed a plan to be announced this week. AFP quoted the statement as saying that the plan included "concrete and immediate measures" and stressed the government's "availability (to consider) all signals that could contribute to a definitive peace in a spirit of openness". The past week has been characterised by confusion in Angola as reports emerged that UNITA's leadership was in tatters. In addition to long-time rebel leader Dr Jonas Savimbi's death in combat in the eastern province of Moxico on 22 February, there is an probe under way to determine whether his successor, General Antonio Dembo, has also been killed. Three of Savimbi's widows claim to have buried him after he died of starvation. "We don't know what UNITA is saying. There is no communication with the leadership since the death of its leader (Savimbi) ... Our usual channels (of communication) are very dependent on the leadership, but the leadership is in a critical stage and they can't even communicate with each other," Ntoni-Nzinga said. COIEPA has been at the forefront of civil society efforts to facilitate a ceasefire and peace talks between the government and UNITA. He said he hoped the government plan would include a "response to the humanitarian situation". "One thing that is clear is that the humanitarian situation is really, really bad ... There are more people in serious need now than we had two or three weeks ago. How it will improve depends on the capacity to respond to those needs. If we failed to respond to needs that were already there, how hard will it be to respond? We still hope we will develop the capacity," he said. Ntoni-Nzinga's comments followed UN reports last week detailing the deteriorating humanitarian situation. In a special report released on 7 March, OCHA said the situation in Angola was "deteriorating sharply". "Despite the recent death of the head of UNITA, Jonas Savimbi, military operations are ongoing. Partners estimate that if current trends continue, approximately 300,000 thousand Angolans will become newly displaced during the next six months, bringing the total number of displaced in the country to 4.6 million and increasing the current emergency caseload by nearly 25 percent. The humanitarian operation is stretched to the limit," the report said. "UN agencies and NGOs are already operating at full capacity and do not have sufficient resources to address the critical needs of additional internally displaced persons. Millions of vulnerable people are living in life-threatening conditions and more will be at serious risk if action is not taken immediately," it added. According to the report: -Displacement levels had steadily increased as a result of counter-insurgency operations and guerrilla activities - from 47,100 in November, to 48,800 in December, to 49,500 in January. -The number of children separated from their families because of sudden and disorganised displacement was increasing markedly, most notably in the provinces of Moxico, Bie, Huambo and Kwanza Sul. "Approximately 4,650 separated children were registered in 17 provinces during the last six months of 2001. Partners estimate that more than 100,000 children are currently separated from their birth families throughout the country." -In several locations with high concentrations of newly arrived internally displaced persons (IDPs), malnutrition rates among both displaced and resident communities have reached alarming levels. "In January global and severe malnutrition rates in Caconda were recorded at 20.7 and 5.3 percent among displaced children between six and 59 months of age. Among resident children of the same age, global and severe rates were recorded at 11.2 and 2.7 percent respectively." -Morbidity and mortality rates had reached "alarming levels", particularly in areas with large concentrations of displaced populations, and had been as high as 12.6 per 10,000 deaths per day among under-fives in Caconda. -More than 84,000 new IDPs were in urgent need of essential survival items and shelter in nine different locations. OCHA said conditions were most serious in the provinces of Bie, Huambo, Huila and Moxico, where tens of thousands of IDPs had poured into municipal centres in search of security and assistance in recent months. Last week the UN refugee agency UNHCR said Angolans were not reported to be crossing the borders en masse in search of safety and assistance. While local news reports said there had been no serious UNITA attacks or ambushes in the last few days, it was not clear whether remaining UNITA leaders had decided to regroup to consider their next move or whether they were indicating a willingness to cease hostilities. The government said last week it was waiting for a sign from the rebel movement that it was ready to resume negotiations over the 1994 Lusaka Peace Accord. UNITA has insisted on just such a signal from the government. According to Angolan national radio, coordinator of the government's Peace and National Reconciliation Commission and Minister of Interior, Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos, said on Monday that there had been "signs of good sense and moderation" from UNITA rebels in the bushes. The minister said the government had not received "all the signs expected" from UNITA's forces, but that the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA) were instructed to establish channels of communication with fighters in the field. He was reported as saying that the expected government announcement would create conditions for the cessation of hostilities, a ceasefire and then renewed talks.
Los Angelas Times 11 March 2002 COMMENTARY Angola's Jonas Savimbi Was No Freedom Fighter Times By PIERO GLEIJESES, Piero Gleijeses, a professor of U.S. foreign policy at Johns Hopkins University, is author of "Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington and Africa, 1959-1976" (University of North Carolina Press, 2002 Friend and foe acknowledged the abilities and charisma of Jonas Savimbi, the Angolan rebel leader who was killed by government troops last month. "Savimbi is very intelligent," Lucio Lara, a senior aide to his bitter rival, Agostinho Neto, once admitted. Savimbi also never deviated from his overriding goals or principles. It is odd, however, that Americans have failed to appreciate what these goals and principles were. During Angola's war of independence against the Portuguese in 1961-1974, Savimbi was an impressive guerrilla leader, but his movement, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola, or UNITA, was far weaker than Neto's Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, or MPLA. In February 1972, Savimbi proposed to have his forces cooperate with the Portuguese to "eliminate" the MPLA. The Portuguese responded favorably, and for the next 18 months Savimbi was their ally. But in late 1973, Lisbon broke the agreement and attacked UNITA. And so Savimbi became known, much against his will, as a "freedom fighter," even though he was still trying to forge a new alliance with Lisbon when the Portuguese regime was overthrown in April 1974. By 1977, the story of Savimbi's betrayal of the Angolan independence movement was public knowledge in Western Europe. In 1979, the mainstream Lisbon weekly Expresso concluded: "The fact that Savimbi collaborated with the Portuguese colonial authorities has been so amply proven that no one can question it in good faith." No one, that is, but Americans. Savimbi's betrayal of the independence struggle has been overlooked in the thousands of press reports and scores of books written about Angola, and, even now, in the articles about his death. America's love story with Savimbi began in 1975, when he became our protege in the covert operation Henry Kissinger unleashed in Angola. And even earlier, he had mesmerized the South Africans. Within weeks of the collapse of the Portuguese dictatorship, Savimbi approached the white rulers in Pretoria for help in the impending civil war in Angola. If he won, he promised to maintain friendly relations with the apartheid regime. How tempting, particularly when the MPLA vowed that there would be no peace in southern Africa until apartheid had been defeated. In July 1975, with Washington's blessing, South Africa began its covert operation in Angola to support Savimbi. Yet Savimbi was not a South African puppet. He was simply being true to himself. He was a warlord whose overriding principle was absolute power, and if this required an agreement with Portuguese colonial authorities first, and then a dalliance with apartheid, so be it. In October 1975, with Washington's urging, South African troops invaded Angola. Crashing through MPLA resistance, they would have taken Luanda, the MPLA stronghold, had Fidel Castro not sent Cuban soldiers to Angola in early November. Contrary to U.S. reports of the time, Castro did so without consulting Moscow. He was no client. "He was probably the most genuine revolutionary leader then  in power," Kissinger writes in his memoirs. By April 1976, the Cubans had pushed the South Africans back into Namibia, and Savimbi had resumed guerrilla war. Ronald Reagan feted him--with supreme contempt for the facts--as a freedom fighter. In 1992, the Angolan government was forced to grant free elections, which Savimbi lost. Predictably, he resumed fighting. By then, stories were appearing in the Western press about his reign of terror in territories he controlled. But this no longer mattered. The Cold War was over, and Savimbi had lost his relevance. History is usually written by the victors. They have a tendency to celebrate their good deeds and overlook the dark corners. The death of Jonas Savimbi provides an opportunity to look again at our policy in southern Africa during the Cold War and to reflect on our inability to see him for what he really was.
News 24 ZA 11 March 2002 DRC rebels deny massacres Nairobi - The Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD-Goma) armed opposition group has denied accusations that it or its Rwandan backers were involved in massacres and mass graves reported near the northeastern city of Kisangani in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). "These accusations are unfounded and untrue," the RCD-Goma deputy spokesman, Jean-Pierre Lola Kisanga, said on Thursday. In a statement released on Monday, the African Association for the Defence of Human Rights (Asadho) accused RCD-Goma and Rwandan soldiers of widespread massacres of civilians while fighting, or under the pretext of fighting, Congolese Mayi-Mayi militias around the DRC's third-largest city. Asadho also reported the discovery of numerous mass graves, five of which it verified the existence of. "Asadho calls upon RCD-Goma and Rwanda, in its capacity as an occupying force, to renounce the logic of reprisals against defenceless civilians, and to respect their obligations under the Geneva Conventions and the cease-fire accords signed in July 1999 in Lusaka," it stated. It also called on humanitarian agencies to come to the aid of people in the region.
BBC 12 March, 2002, Kenyan president's last address President Moi came to power in 1978 By BBC's Muliro Telewa in Nairobi President Daniel arap Moi of Kenya has called on the country's politicians to conduct a peaceful election and avoid making outrageous and inflammatory statements which are likely to fuel tribal hatred. We must demonstrate to the world that we are one united and peaceful people Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi In his last state address to parliament before retiring later this year, Mr Moi also spoke of rampant corruption, reviving the ailing economy and the need to continue with peace initiatives in the region. He urged all leaders and political activists to pursue peace and unity for Kenya's success and prosperity. However, the opposition were not impressed with what they called the "usual rhetoric with nothing new to offer". Fresh blood "Generally, the president sounded tired. And I think it is time new managers took over the running of the country with vigour and new energies," said the leader of the Ford Kenya Party, Wamalwa Kijana. Mr Moi, who became president under the one party rule in 1978, following the demise of Kenya's first President, Jomo Kenyatta, is not allowed to run for another term under the constitution. The opposition say Kenya needs a new leader with vigour The return to multiparty democracy in 1991 witnessed politically motivated ethnic violence in central Kenya and on the Indian Ocean coast, marring the run-up to the 1992 and 1997 elections. However, recent clashes and attacks in two of Nairobi's sprawling slums, that claimed the lives of least 40 people, have raised concern that political violence has now moved to the Kenyan capital ahead of this year's elections. Poverty "We must demonstrate to the world that, although throughout this year we will be staging a lively democratic contest for national leadership, we are one united and peaceful people," Mr Moi told parliamentarians in the speech that was televised live to the nation. The 74-year-old Kenyan leader blamed poverty on high unemployment, rapid population growth and the weak performance of the economy which he said has persisted since mid-1990s. I think it is time new managers took over the running of the country with vigour and new energies Wamalwa Kijana, leader of Ford Kenya Party Mr Moi urged Kenyans to take full advantage of the African Growth and Opportunities Act - part of United States efforts aimed at increasing market access for certain African products to US businesses. Another opposition leader who came out of parliament dejected is former presidential candidate and head of the National Party of Kenya (NPK), Ms Charity Ngilu. "In his final year in office, the president is leaving Kenyans poorer than we were when he took over office," she said. Peace initiative Talking about regional peace, President Moi said that ongoing conflicts and wars in the region have also contributed to the decline of Kenya's development. Citing Somalia as an example, President Moi said the influx of guns, refugees and displaced people had "reduced the ability to engage fully in development activities with them". "In this regard, Kenya cannot feel secure in the absence of a fully-functional central authority in Somalia. Nor can the people of this region be truly at peace when some of their brothers and sisters in the region continue to suffer because of conflicts and wars." Mr Moi pledged to continue to support peace initiatives in Somalia, Sudan and the Great Lakes region.
The East African Standard (Nairobi) EDITORIAL March 9, 2002 Police Deserted Kariobangi? Ochieng' Ogodo An orgy of violence that left in its wake numerous deaths, injuries and destruction of property in the Kariobangi Massacre on March 3, puts the police on the spot. They have no way of escaping blame. The Force, created by an Act of Parliament and funded by tax-payers, owes the country an explanation. This was an army of metallic goons on the rampage and moving in large groups hacking people to death. The Mungiki sect members who perpetrated this were merchants of death and destruction that constitutes a direct affront to the rule of law. Obviously, they have no respect for the Constitution that guarantees right to life for each and every Kenyan. It is a chilling tragedy in which innocent people lost their lives. It ruthlessly deprived spouses of spousal support and children of the enduring love of parents. For about an hour, the more than 300 ruffians wielding pangas, picks, axes and machetes ran violence through Kariobangi North, wreaking havoc as they cut down anyone on site. They had a joint enterprise to murder people who had been identified. The mode of execution is explicit, Rwanda-style genocide. Two main dangers in the happening came to the fore; the irresolute way police deal with such situations and the invidious aftermath of the act. Now Mungiki has been around for sometime and on a number of occasions have, in-the-face of police, committed heinous crimes against innocent people. They have terrorised and bluntly told police they are incapable of stopping their murderous insanity. And the police have sat back and watched them take the law unto their hands. Even where they have warned of an intention to commit crime the pattern of reaction from police has been that of responding after the crime. They never move to forestall such. Alongside Mungiki, there are other bands of goons like Kamjesh that the police seem completely at a loss on how to handle. For a gang of over 300 people to move and wreak havoc in an estate in Nairobi and escape safely without the Commissioner of Police, Mr Philemon Abongo and his officers knowing, is a clear indication of a serious security lapse that leaves Kenyans vulnerable to acts of violence like the Kariobangi Massacre. In a response akin to the orgy that left scores killed in Kibera last year, the police are always late by hours. They arrived in Kariobangi when the dastardly act had been committed and 23 lives lost and bodies littered all over the place. Unashamedly, they went about beating and arresting innocent people. Why can't somebody responsible put some sense in the grey and white matter above the necks of these officers to realise those who commit such crimes do not stand and wait for police arrive. The springing up of vigilante groups in certain areas is the culmination of an inept police force that has progressively failed to guarantee security to people. It is a response to failed national security system. Instead, they threaten, intimidate and extort from Kenyans who are going about their responsibilities. Women and men they arrest in estates arriving from various missions are not criminals. Where were the police when all this was happening? Indications are that they were informed. If that assertion is true then the police committed a crime against people who sustain them and chief gatekeepers of the affairs of the force have no business donning medals of leadership. It is criminal for police to say that they could not act because they were incapable of identifying criminals and innocent people. How are they trained at Kiganjo? This is force that is always trailing criminals as if they have no intelligence unit with sensitive nose for nosing around for any trouble brewing. Police should be ahead of criminals but in almost all cases, they are beaten flat-footed and the struggle is defend the force from genuine accusations from those who pay them for protection. Always any society will have those bent on departing from accepted societal norms, including violating the rule of law and indulgence in anti-people acts. The creation of a police force is necessitated by the desire to secure peoples rights and peace against infringement by criminals. And when it comes to crime committing the force should always be in a state of emergency. When police can not protect people from gangs who revel in inflicting pain, when they can not secure their rights from infringement and when they only have to trail criminals then something is serious wrong with the organisation. Until the force is reorganised to play an effective role in protecting pole we shall still far from living in a free and civilised society.
The Nation (Nairobi) March 8, 2002 Police Blamed Over Massacre David Mugonyi Retired army generals could be brought in to instil discipline in the public service, the President announced yesterday. He blamed the police and provincial administration for failing to stop the killings at Kariobangi, and attributed the violence to selfish political interests. "No-one should blame me if he or she is sacked. I will even appoint retired army generals with good track records to areas where I want to see discipline streamlined," the President said on his arrival from Australia where he attended a Commonwealth conference. "If you are sacked don't blame me, blame your work," he added. President Moi ordered the police to crack down on illegal organisations and to ensure that no group operated above the law. He cautioned Kanu youths from engaging in violence and told the Commissioner of Police to ensure his power was felt countrywide. "I want the police presence to be felt in every part of this city and country," a clearly angry President told Police Commissioner Philemon Abong'o. He continued: "The Commissioner of Police is the one who enforces the laws passed by Parliament. There is no question of anybody elsewhere." "I don't want to hear that anyone has been hurt because Kanu has the power. Your power is peace," he said, describing the panga thugs who rampaged through the Nairobi estate as attackers as "crazy human beings" who survived on tribalism. Later at his Harambee House office, President Moi held a meeting with the heads of government security agencies at which he discussed measures to be taken to strengthen law and order throughout the country. Relative peace returned to Kariobangi North as police announced they had impounded two vehicles suspected to have been used by the attackers. Survivors and residents said the attackers had been taken to the estate in three mini-buses; one green, an other brown, and the third "indistinct." Nairobi provincial police chief Geoffrey Muathe said they had arrested the owner of two of the vehicles and detectives were pursuing crucial leads. "They are pursuing a theory that the attack was planned in Nyandarua and Ngara in Nairobi before being executed with precision and speed," he said. Detectives had established the two vehicles were last Saturday used to ferry Mungiki followers to Nyandarua for prayers, Mr Muathe told reporters at Nairobi provincial police headquarters. The killings at Kariobangi took place the next day. "Some of the people who attended the prayers are suspected to have taken part in the massacre," he said. Members of the Mungiki sect and the Taliban vigilantes based at Kariobangi were said to have been at the centre of the bloodbath in Kariobangi, when 21 people were killed Ð the toll rose when one badly injured victim died in hospital Ð and a further 31 were seriously injured after a gang of about 300 youths rampaged through the estate wielding pangas and axes. By yesterday, only 12 victims were still admitted at Kenyatta National Hospital. The rest had been discharged. The gang's targets were the vigilantes, who on Saturday were said to have hacked to death two Mungiki members in retaliation for the murder of one of the vigilantes. The youths, said by police and residents to be from Mungiki, struck back at 8.30 pm on Sunday, hacking at anyone they could find. Embakasi MP David Mwenje, Mungiki sect leader Ndura Waruinge, and Taliban vigilante group head David Peter Ochieng, were among 31 people arrested over the massacre. Mr Muathe said they would remain in police custody until investigations were complete. "We are verifying some details before we decide when they will appear in court," he said. Senior Assistant Commissioner Samuel Cheruiyot from CID headquarters has taken over investigations from Chief Inspector Daniel Mutie. Mr Cheruiyot moved to Kasarani police station on Wednesday to head the ten-man squad investigating the killings. Members of his squad have been interrogating Mr Mwenje, Mr Waruinge and Mr Ochieng. President Moi earlier on arrival said security is the heart of the nation and was not negotiable.
The Nation (Nairobi) March 8, 2002 Police Seize Vehicles Over Kariobangi Massacre Stephen Muiruri Police have impounded two vehicles suspected to have been used by the people who plotted the massacre at Kariobangi. The owner of the two Isuzu minibuses was also being held for questioning. Nairobi provincial police chief Geoffrey Muathe yesterday said detectives were pursuing crucial leads and investigations were at an advanced stage. "They pursuing a theory that the attack was planned in Nyandarua and Ngara in Nairobi before being executed with precision and speed," he said. Detectives had established the two vehicles were last Saturday used to ferry Mungiki faithful to Nyandarua for prayers, Mr Muathe told reporters at Nairobi provincial police headquarters. The killings at Kariobangi took place the next day. "Some of the people who attended the prayers are suspected to have taken part in the massacre," he said. Members of the Mungiki sect and the Taliban vigilantes based at Kariobangi were said to have been at the centre of the bloodbath in Kariobangi, when 21 people were killed Ð the toll rose when one badly injured victim died in hospital Ð and a further 31 were seriously injured after a gang of about 300 youths rampaged through the estate wielding pangas and axes. By yesterday, only 12 victims were admitted at Kenyatta National Hospital. The rest have been discharged. The gang's targets were the Taliban, who on Saturday were said to have hacked to death two Mungiki members in retaliation for the murder of one of the vigilantes. The youths, said by police and residents to be from Mungiki, struck back at 8.30 pm on Sunday, hacking at anyone they could find. Embakasi MP David Mwenje, Mungiki sect leader Ndura Waruinge, and Taliban vigilante group head David Peter Ochieng, were among 31 people being held over the Kiriobangi violence. They were arrested on Wednesday. Mr Muathe said they will remain in police custody until investigations are complete. "We are verifying some details before we decide when they will appear in court," he said. At the same time, Senior Assistant Commissioner of police Samuel Cheruiyot from CID headquarters has taken over investigations from Chief Inspector Daniel Mutie. Mr Cheruiyot moved to Kasarani police station on Wednesday to head the ten-man squad investigating the Kariobangi killings. Members of his squad have been interrogating Mr Mwenje, Mr Waruinge and Mr Ochieng. Mr Muathe said a special police squad that was formed to crackdown on members of the Mungiki sect arrested 13 people at a matatu terminus at Umoja estate at 5 am yesterday. They seized pangas, daggers, 14 rolls of bhang, snuff and a toy pistol. "The suspects were part of a 30-man gang. The others escaped when the officers pounced on the group," he said. Mr Muathe said they were part of a group that extorts money from matatu operators posing as stage managers. "They get between Sh500 and Sh1,000 from every matatu a day. They use the money to fund their illegal activities," he said. The city police boss said detectives were interrogating the seized men to establish if they were linked to the Kariobangi massacre. In another incident, police raided a house in the sprawling Kayole estate and seized six containers for carrying mortars used by the military, a toy pistol and a beret. The suspects slipped away before the police struck. "I don't know how the suspect got wind of the impending raid. We are hunting them down," Mr Mwathe said. On Wednesday, police commissioner Philemon Abong'o confirmed that Mr Mwenje and Mr Waruinge were being held for allegedly inciting the violence at Kariobangi estate. "We don't arrest anybody unless we have sufficient evidence to justify it," he said. Mr Abong'o directed all the provincial commanders to carry out intensive operations to crack down on members of all the self-styled groups including the Mungiki. Mr Waruinge was also being investigated over some remarks he allegedly made in Nyandarua on Saturday. Armed police arrived at the homes of Mr Mwenje and Mr Waruinge in Dandora and Ngong estates as dawn broke and picked them up. Mr Ochieng was arrested at Kariobangi and taken to Kasarani police station amid tight security. Mr Mwenje's lawyer, Mr Mutavi Maseki, said the MP was made to record two statements on his alleged link with Mungiki and the Kariobangi violence.
BBC 4 March, 2002 Religious sect rampages in Kenya The police have now restored order At least 20 people have been killed in a slum in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, in overnight riots. Members of a banned religious sect went on the rampage after three of their members were killed. The violence took on an ethnic dimension. The Mungiki sect is predominantly Kikuyu and they are fighting a largely ethnic Luo vigilante group, nicknamed "Taleban". The BBC's Alice Muthengi in Nairobi says that the police are now in control and the streets of the Kariobangi slum are deserted. The fighting started from 2200 and lasted until dawn local time, reports Reuters news agency. Traditions Police have confirmed 20 deaths but local residents say that many more people may have been killed. Seven people have been arrested, according to Reuters. Members of the sect attacked bars belonging to ethnic Luos with machetes, sticks and clubs. The Mungiki sect urges people to return to traditional lifestyles. The sect was banned because it advocates the practice of female circumcision, or female genital mutilation. However, correspondents say that the sect still operates widely, despite the ban. Vigilante groups have been set up in Kariobangi to deal with the high level of crime there.
BBC 12 March, 2002 Clashes in eastern Madagascar Both presidents claim the support of Madgascar's military By Alastair Leithead BBC Correspondent in Madagascar Violence has broken in the east of Madagascar with reports of a number of people being injured and killed in incumbent President Didier Ratsiraka's heartland, the port town of Tamatave. There has been fighting in the streets between his supporters and those backing self-declared new president Marc Ravalomanana who now controls the country's capital city. The situation is tense as reports suggest the attacks are becoming increasingly racially motivated. The violence comes as a visiting mediation group suggests the forming of national unity government to help resolve the political crisis. Worry The trouble broke out over the blockade in the port and another, 70 km (45 miles) away manned by Ratsiraka supporters, which have cut off petrol supplies to the capital. What is particularly worying is the increasing ethnic dimension to the violence, as the mainly coastal Ratsiraka supporters have threatened the Merina, or highland people living in Tamatave. Mr Ravalomanana is from the highlands. In the capital, Antananarivo, people are starting to go back to work after weeks of a general strike. Also the Organisation of African Unity contact group which has been analysing the political crisis for a week has come up with its report. It's representative from Senegal, Abdulaye Bathily, said that dialogue is vital between the two main protagonists. "We feel that it is necessary to have a government of national reconciliation. We feel that it is necessary to have a new electoral consultation with the support of the international community," he said. Crisis timeline 16 Dec - Presidential election held 7 Jan - Opposition claim rigging, begin daily protests 25 Jan - Result announced, run-off ordered 28 Jan - Opposition strike begins 22 Feb - Ravalomanana declares himself president, PM announces state of emergency 27 Feb - First violent clashes in capital 28 Feb - President imposes martial law in capital 4 Mar - Army lets Ravalomanana's 'ministers' take office 8 Mar - Defence ministry taken over, leaving only PM's office in elected government hands
BBC 8 March, 2002 Africa Media Watch As the crisis surrounding Madagascar's disputed presidency intensifies, the island's press sounds a warning note over divided loyalties within the army while remaining sceptical over any prospect of an early resolution to the conflict. The Madagascar Tribune eyes the situation nervously. "Clearly the question of legality and legitimacy no longer concerns just the two presidential candidates, but now also the army," it says. It details a dispute between two generals, one loyal to incumbent president Didier Ratsiraka and the other to rival Marc Ravalomanana, each of whom is seeking, the paper says, to assert his authority over the army. If the cannons roar, sparks will fly across the whole island Madagascar Tribune "This showdown between the two generals, and perhaps through them pro-Ravalomanana and pro-Ratsiraka officers, has people on tenterhooks." "Let's hope this standoff doesn't degenerate into a confrontation. If the cannons roar, sparks will fly across the whole island," the paper warns. L'Express de Madagascar says that while Mr Ravalomanana appears to have been successful in his bid to take over ministerial offices, he still has some way to go to persuade the army to side with him. "He must first use a great deal of influence to win over the rest of the armed forces... who are still in the other camp," it says. Illegal In a separate article, the paper views Mr Ratsiraka's attempts to hold onto power in light of the decision by provincial governors to transfer the capital to Tamatave. Didier Ratsiraka and Marc Ravalomanana are now swimming in the same boat of illegality Magistrate It quotes a magistrate as saying that "President Ratsiraka should not have resorted to the illegal means which his challenger, Marc Ravalomanana, proved to champion when he declared himself president of the republic." "According to which law have his supporters decided to transfer the capital to Tamatave?" he questions. "The constitution is very clear about the issue: Antananarivo is the capital of Madagascar." "Didier Ratsiraka can no longer pride himself in his position as the legitimate president in defending his cause according to the law," he continues. "He and Marc Ravalomanana are now swimming in the same boat of illegality." Unjustified The newspaper Midi Madagasikara says the decision to transfer the capital cannot be justified. The division in Madagascar does not help anyone Midi Madagasikara "Instead of biding their time and accelerating the transfer of powers and resources, they hurried to transfer the capital... an illegal and illegitimate decision in law." "In deciding to cluster the five provinces, the governors have also overlooked article one of section two of the constitution which provides for the unity and indivisibility as well as the integrity of the republic," it adds. The paper also describes a situation of rising tension and laments the impact of the island's fragmentation on ordinary people's lives. It quotes a letter from an official to the local governor saying that: "All foreign nations are extolling globalisation while we are heading backwards towards the division of our country." The paper says this 'distress call' is shared by local business representatives who are concerned by the threat posed to local industry by the national state of emergency and blockades at the entrance to the province's capital. "The division in Madagascar does not help anyone," the article concludes. Widespread anger A commentary in the Madagascar Tribune also sounds a critical note over the fracture lines running across the island. Neutral groups... are also opposed to this 'balkanisation' of the island. Madagascar Tribune "Regarding the transfer of Madagascar's capital to Tamatave, there has been general indignation and not only among Marc Ravalomanana's supporters," it says. "Neutral groups, such as white collar workers, intellectuals and academics, are also opposed to this 'balkanisation' of the island." And another commentary in the paper remains sceptical over whether efforts by the Organisation for African Unity (OAU) to overcome the impasse will actually amount to anything. "The OAU continues to engage in diplomatic efforts, even though it has only a little room for manoeuvre," the writer says. "It remains to be seen whether this latest OAU mission will, like the last one, return empty-handed." BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.
BBC 25 February, 2002, 00:23 GMT Crisis alarms Madagascar press Does 'President' Ravalomanana court disaster? Madagascan papers have expressed alarm at the political crisis following opposition leader Marc Ravalomanana's decision to declare himself president. The independent L'Express de Madagascar says that the "jubilation of local people was quickly dampened" when and the incumbent President, Didier Ratsiraka, imposed a state of emergency. The Sword of Damocles is hanging over our heads. The press is under threat Madagascar Tribune And it expresses concern that the government could resort to "imposing an independent government in each province or instigating an ethnic war" on the multi-racial Indian Ocean island. The paper notes that Mr Ravalomanana's move has given rise to some amusement locally. "Many people are saying jokingly that Madagascar will finally develop now that it has two presidents." But the situation is really no joking matter, it continues, urging the "two presidents" to "spare the country the consequences of potential inter-ethnic clashes". Backward step? The Madagascar Tribune says the decision to impose a state of emergency "constitutes a step backwards in terms of freedom and democracy". Arrest rumours brought activists onto the streets "The Sword of Damocles is hanging over our heads. The press is under threat," it declares, adding that the state of emergency will "plunge the nation into darkness". And it blames the situation on the "obstinacy on the part of President Didier Ratsiraka's camp, which left the other party with no option but to make the extreme move". "Marc Ravalomanana's move may have gone too far, but the situation would have been resolved by resuming talks... with representatives more inclined towards consensus," the paper believes. It concludes by urging "enlightened people" to oppose the state of emergency, "which has all the characteristics of a doomed system of dictatorship". Western countries are trampling underfoot the Madagascan people's deepest hopes for change Midi Madagasikara The Midi Madagasikara likewise believes that press censorship is imminent. "The state of emergency decreed by Didier Ratsiraka gives him sweeping powers to act in any way he feels like for a renewable period of three months," it notes. It calls on readers to "do their utmost in spreading the word so that this unjust government measure... is known to all across the world in an effort to overturn it once and for all". West's disinterest? Papers are also dismayed by the apparent lack of concern shown by the West. The Midi Madagasikara criticises French, US and other Western diplomats who joined the Organisation of African Unity in condemning the unusual move taken by the opposition leader. "Western countries are trampling underfoot the Madagascan people's deepest hopes for change," an editorial in the paper says. The incumbent president is not without support The Madagascar Tribune describes the confrontation in Madagascar as "a battle which the West has never understood or has never wanted to understand". "Such a situation reduces us to the ranks of banana republics." It says that "for outsiders, the troubles of this part of the continent do not matter". "The outside world sees us as a group of poor, fragile states, when we are not the arena for bloody tribal conflicts, wedged in between the Arab world and the untypical South Africa. "As far as they are concerned, we barely make an impression, especially since we hardly represent a threat in the world," it concludes.
BBC 15 Dec 2002 Madagascar leader faces strong challenge Mr Ravalomanana's arrival has livened up politics By Johnny Donovan in Antananarivo After the apathy which greeted the 1996 Madagascar presidential election, when voter turnout reached an all-time low, this year there has been renewed interest in politics, with stadiums and meeting-grounds often hosting crowds of several thousand people. This can be partly attributed to the arrival of political newcomer Marc Ravalomanana, the mayor of Antananarivo, who has rapidly risen from the position of rank outsider to joint favourite, alongside the incumbent President Didier Ratsiraka. Admiral Ratsiraka has ruled for 23 years Admiral Ratsiraka, who on Sunday will be running for a fifth term after 23 years in office, has ruled virtually non-stop since 1975 with the exception of a three-year period in the early 1990s, when he was replaced by Albert Zafy. In the 1970s and 80s, Mr Ratsiraka severed ties with the West as part of an attempt to bring socialism to Madagascar. But he is now a staunch supporter of economic liberalism, and has made stability and continuity the watchwords for his current election campaign. However, the 67-year-old who was once fondly nicknamed Deba - the Malagasy word for big man - is rumoured to be in poor health, often relying on his aides to help him move to and from political meetings during the recent campaign. Rags to riches Members of the ruling party Arema currently occupy the vast majority of senior positions in the country's administration - a matter of concern for the opposition which claims that, in spite of democratic elections, the president is too well entrenched to be removed. Independent candidate Marc Ravalomanana, a self-made multi-millionaire whose business empire includes a monopoly on the sale of all oil and dairy products on the vast island, has been capturing hearts with his lavish economic promises to rebuild the Malagasy economy. Mr Ravalomanana is a political newcomer From a family of modest means, the 52-year-old is currently the owner of the largest non-foreign owned company in Madagascar and, for many of his supporters, he is the epitome of the rags to riches story. Since becoming mayor in 1998, he has earned himself a reputation as something of a maverick. While he is currently riding high on a surge of popular support for his "Vote for change" campaign, many Antananarivians have not forgotten last year's brutal evictions in the poorest districts of the capital as part of his attempts to clean up the city. Ethnic split Recent criticism surrounding Mr Ravalomanana's non-payment of taxes has cast a shadow over his self-styled image of a by-the-book businessman who will bring economic progress to the island. An ultra-strict Protestant with dubious political credentials, many fear that if he is successful in Sunday's elections he will rule with an iron fist. However there is an ethnic dimension to the current election. Following a bloody struggle in the late 18th century, the Merina tribe of the central highlands conquered the country. Since then politicians from both camps have accentuated tensions between the predominantly African people of the coastal regions and the inhabitants of the central highlands who are more Melanesian in origin and today occupy many of the most important positions in the administration. President Ratsiraka has switched from socialism to liberalism If Mr Ravalomanana wins, it will have been the first time since independence in 1960 that a president hailing from the country's central highlands is elected. Other candidates include Harizo Razafimahaleo, businessman and leader of the country's second largest political party, Leader-Fanillo, who is making his second bid for the presidency, and ex-President Professor Zafy Albert, impeached in 1995 for violating the constitution. The two remaining candidates, Pastor Daniel Rajakoba and businessman Patrick Rajaonary, are only expected to win around 2% of the vote between them. Back-biting The last two weeks' election campaigning have been generally marked by a lack of attention to the island's main concerns which include increasing rural insecurity, poor infrastructure and foreign investor confidence. Instead, the contest has focused much more on the personalities and the private lives of the individual candidates, often leading to a climate of political back-biting. The four outsiders complain that Didier Ratsiraka and Marc Ravalomanana enjoy greater access to the capital and argue that campaigning has become a contest of gift-giving, devoid of political significance. Madagascar's enormous size together with its weak infrastructure, especially its lack of decent roads, mean many of the ballot boxes will have to be transported long distances by foot before being counted. Consequently, the final result is only expected to be known in around a month's time.
IRIN 11 March 2002 40 die in southeast clashes over land LAGOS, 11 Mar 2002 (IRIN) - At least 40 people died in clashes over ownership of agricultural land that erupted last week between two communities in Nigeria’s southeastern Cross River State, police authorities said. Joseph Eze, a police spokesman, told journalists on Friday at Calabar, the Cross River capital, the fighting was between the Apiapum and Ufatura communities in the Obubra local council. He said worth five billion naira (US $43.8 million) were lost, in addition to the people killed. He said the police had, so far, arrested 559 people and were still on the trail of a number of others considered masterminds of the clashes. "The police have launched a manhunt for a retired army officer who allegedly conveyed armed youths and ammunitions in his vehicle," Eze said. The police command in the area has called on victims of the clashes, many of whom are said to be traders based at Apiapum, to provide information on their losses. Police officials said contingents of anti-riot police have been deployed in the area to maintain peace and the situation was now under control. Nigeria has been wracked by many incidents of communal clashes over ethnic, religious or land disputes since President Olusegun Obasanjo was elected in 1999 to end more than 15 years of military rule in the country of 120 million people. Government officials have sometimes blamed the disturbances, which have claimed several thousand lives, on former military officers said to be undermining democracy.
This Day (Lagos) 3 Mar 2002 Judge Orders Soldiers Out of Benue, Daniel Ior Makurdi The long drawn battle against military occupation of some parts of Benue state which reached a crescendo with a court action has been put to rest. The Federal High Court sitting in Makurdi ordered the immediate withdrawal of the soldiers by the federal government. The court, presided over by Justice Asuquo Edet also described the deployment of the soldiers to the affected areas as an "exercise of irresponsibility in governance." For an excerpt from the Africa 2002 guidebook, click here. (Adode Acrobat). To buy the book, click here. Delivering judgement in the motion on notice filed on behalf of Dr. Alexander Gaadi, by a Makurdi based legal practitioner Ocha Ulegede, Justice Edet described the deployment of soldiers to Benue State following the alleged killing of 19 soldiers in Benue State as "an act of genocide and governmental irresponsibility." To arrive at that ruling, Justice Edet agreed with the submission of counsel to the plaintiff that the killing of 19 soldiers used to defend the deployment of more troops leading to the killing of hundreds of Tiv people as a civil crime which could have been handled by the police "not soldiers who were acting as if they were prosecuting an international war." The judge cited sections 4 (1) and section 4 cap (2) of the Army and police acts the judge said the roles of both the Army and the police were clearly spelt out in law and therefore, the deployment of the soldiers to the areas was in contravention of the code for such an exercise. According to him, when it was reported that 19 soldiers had been killed "it became wise for the withdrawal of the soldiers and their replacement with the police to be affected." The deployment of more soldiers therefore became "an act of executive irresponsibility in governance."
The East African (Nairobi) March 11, 2002 Kigali Murder Suspect Flees to Cameroon Faustine Rwambali ONE OF the most wanted Rwandese genocide suspects, Jean-Baptiste Gatete, is now said to be living in Cameroon after running from country to country and changing identities as he moved on to avoid being caught. Gatete is listed by Arusha-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) as genocidaire number 382 and "a most wanted suspect" who took part in the 1994 mass murder in Rwanda, which claimed over a million claimed the lives Tutsis and moderate Hutus. The other two most wanted suspects now in police custody at the Arusha special prison for genocide suspects are Sylivestre Gacumbitsi, the former Mayor of Rusumo, Kibungo, and Vincent Rutaganira, the former Kibuye Member of Parliament. A diplomatic source said in Dar that Gatete was in Cameroon after fleeing from a Tanzania refugee camp to the Sychelles. However, fearing that he would be identified and arrested there, he went on to Cameroon, where he is said to be posing as a teacher and preacher. Gatete is "accused of organising and chairing the meeting on the night of April 6, in which the crucial decisions about genocide in Murambi were taken. He also incited the killings at Gakoni on the night of April 6, 1994." He is also accused of "arming the Interahamwe in Murambi, providing them with transport and encouraging them to kill the minority Tutsi, working closely with the military and civilians, who were involved in the genocide in Murambi and Kibungo." It is claimed that he also forcibly moved 150 refugees from the orphanage in Gakoni to the Parish of Kiziguro on April 9, two days later they were killed in a massacre that he planned and implemented. Gatete is further accused of "transporting soldiers and militiamen to the Parish of Kizuguro in Murambi on April 9, to kill more than 2,000 displaced refugees, and it is said he usually stood by while his fellow countrymen and their families were killed by the militiamen." The African Rights report also accuses Gatete, in co-operation with the bourgmestre of Kayonza, the head in Rwamagana and head of the military detachment in Kayonza of planning and directing the massacre of more than 4,000 Tutsi refugees at the parish of Mukarange in Muhazi on April 11-12, 1994. "He was physically present at the scene," the report says. Gatete is also alleged to have encouraged the militiamen in Rukira commune to murder Tutsi women, children and elderly people, and to set up roadblocks along the way the communes of Kibungo on the Tanzania border, where the militias murdered people. Gatete was born in 1951 in Karambo cellule, Rwankuba sector in Murambi. He is the son of Nzabonariba and Mukarubibi and attended his primary and post-primary school in Byumba and went to secondary school at Saint Andre College in Nyamirambo. He then went to Belgium at the University of Louvain La Neuve and graduated as an agricultural engineer. The other two suspects now in Arusha, Gacumbitsi and Rutaganira, are now scheduled to appear before the ICTR to face genocide charges. Rutaganira, 62, was arrested in one of the refugees camps in Kigoma, Tanzania, recently. He was Member of Parliament for Kibuye constituency. He faces seven counts in connection with the genocide. According to one human-rights group based in London, African Rights, which specialises in tracking down the perpetrators of the Rwanda 1994 genocide, Gatete, the former mayor of Murambi lived at liberty in Tanzania before serious tracking began. Gacumbitsi fled to Benaco refugee camp, Ngara district in Tanzania in April 1994 after the massacre of over 4,000 people at the Catholic Parish of Nyarubhuye, Kibungo.
VOA 2 March 2002 Could Rwanda's 1994 Genocide Have Been Prevented? Michael Leland Beloit, Wisconsin 2 Mar 2002 12:45 UTC Listen to Michael Leland's Report from Beloit, Wisconsin (RealAudio) Leland Report - Download 514k (RealAudio) It has been nearly eight years since genocide in Rwanda left an estimated 800,000 ethnic Tutsi civilians dead. United Nations officials continue their tribunal to bring those responsible to justice, and a debate continues over whether the massacre could have been prevented. Several human rights scholars and international aid officials recently met at a small college in the Midwestern United States to discuss the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, and whether international intervention would have made a difference. The killing began in April of 1994, after a plane carrying the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi was shot down, killing both men. Many believed the plane was shot down by ethnic Hutus who opposed a proposed power-sharing arrangement in Rwanda with the country's ethnic Tutsi minority. Within days, a systematic slaughter of Tutsis began throughout the country. Evidence has shown the Hutu government at the time planned the slaughter. Alison des Forges of the group Human Rights Watch, says there was opposition to the killing at first. "There were areas where people said, 'No, we are not going to kill our Tutsi neighbors.' But after two weeks, particularly after clear signals that the international community would do absolutely nothing, it was clear from the start there would be no interference from the international community and therefore the people who had begun organizing the genocide were able to carry it further into the country," she explains. Ms. des Forges was speaking at a discussion titled, "Genocide and Intervention," held recently at Beloit College in the state of Wisconsin. Speakers on the panel pointed out that the international community has been criticized for not trying to stop the killing. Samantha Power of the Carr Center for Human Rights at Harvard University says at the time, there seemed to be few voices in the United States calling for action in Rwanda. "There was no Congressional Black Caucus hunger strike on behalf of Africans as there had been on behalf of Haiti. There were no editorials as there had been in the New York Times and Washington Post on behalf of Bosnia. There was no apparent domestic constituency," she notes. In response to the genocide, Tutsi rebels went to war against the Hutu government, driving it from power in a little more than three months. More than 1.5 million Hutu refugees fled to neighboring Tanzania and what was then known as Zaire, now Congo. Alain Destexhe is a Belgian senator who worked for the aid group Doctors without Borders at the time. He says his organization began helping the Hutus in the refugee camps, but withdrew from the region when it became clear that Hutu militiamen were using the camps as a base for guerilla warfare in Rwanda. "We were convinced that we were doing more harm than good. We were convinced that by working in those camps, we were allowing, in a way, the genocide to continue," Mr. Destexhe says. Mr. Destexhe says that is one of the problems faced by aid workers in such situations, that helping those truly in need can also mean helping those contributing to the humanitarian crisis. He says aid groups have to make a lot of noise in situations like that, in hopes of getting other countries involved in stopping the crisis. But Alan Kuperman of the University of Southern California's School of International Studies, says international intervention might have saved only 25 percent of the 800,000 Tutsis killed. He says it would have taken weeks for troops and supplies from other countries to arrive in Rwanda. "A policy of intervening after you know about genocide is a failed policy, certainly in this case. What you need to do is concentrate on preventing the outbreak of such conflict through better diplomacy," Mr. Kuperman says. He says better monitoring of potential trouble spots could make it easier to recognize the need to send in peacekeepers to prevent widespread violence. But Alain Destexhe says he fears the United States-led war on terrorism could meaneven less attention is paid to ethnic conflicts around the world.
IRIN 12 March 2002 Former rebel leader in court again ABIDJAN, 12 Mar 2002 (IRIN) - Former rebel leader Foday Sankoh appeared briefly again in court in the capital, Freetown, on Monday on murder charges, news organisations reported. He was first charged on 4 March, the first time he had been seen in public since his detention nearly two years ago. Sankoh, who led the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) during its 10-year fight against the government, and dozens of former RUF rebels are facing charges of murder and related offences. The case has been adjourned until 18 March to allow time for one of the defence lawyers to get a license allowing him to practice law in Sierra Leone, news organisations said. The head of Sankoh's six-strong defence team, Nigerian lawyer Edo Okanya, said he believed he had nothing to fear from representing the former rebel, the BBC reported. Okanya is due to be joined by five other Commonwealth lawyers, one from Ghana, two from South Africa and two from Britain. Sierra Leone's attorney-general Solomon Berewa, told the court that Sankoh, who is reportedly frail, would be allowed to see a private doctor even though he had been regularly seen by medical personnel provided by the government, the BBC reported. The charges Sankoh faces relate to an incident outside his house in May 2000, when his bodyguards opened fire on demonstrators outside killing at least 20 people. Also appearing in court were members of the former West Side Boys militia who were charged with rape, murder and robbery, the BBC reported. That case was also adjourned until next week.
BBC 11 March, 2002, Sankoh murder trial begins Foday Sankoh (right) was arrested in May last year By Tom McKinley BBC Freetown correspondent Sierra Leone rebel leader Foday Sankoh and 49 members of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) have appeared in court to answer charges of murder. The charges were brought last week, after a state of emergency enabling the government to detain the accused without trial was lifted. Most of the civil war's atrocities will be dealt with by a United Nations special court. But this case relates to an incident in May 2000, when Mr Sankoh supporters allegedly killed 21 protesters after a peace deal had been signed. Clash concerns Foday Sankoh arrived in court amid tight security and much apprehension. The RUF adopted ruthless methods such as amputation during civil war There were concerns that former members of the RUF might clash with pro-government supporters. But the court was cordoned off by armed police and everything went smoothly. The main defendant looked frail and bemused as he stood in the dock with his RUF colleagues. Looking at this dreadlocked figure, slumped against the wall, it was hard to believe that this is a man who bears much responsibility for 10 years of bloody civil war in Sierra Leone. After their handcuffs were removed, the accused stood and listened as the attorney general asked the court for an adjournment. This was necessary, he said, because the accused had requested legal representation and Sankoh had asked to see a doctor of his own choice. Peace process Perhaps the most dramatic event took place when Sankoh was led out of court. His RUF colleagues began chanting for peace and sang "Halleluiah, praise our God". Speaking in public for the first time in almost two years, Sankoh turned to a reporter and said: "My only concern is that Freetown is not safe". It is not clear whether this was a veiled threat or a feeling of personal insecurity, but the comments will certainly raise questions as to whether Sierra Leone's peace process is still on course.
BBC 12 March, 2002, Monitors set for Sudan Sudan's rebels are seeking autonomy for the south The United States has given details of plans to deploy international monitors in Sudan, to ensure compliance with a ceasefire agreed by the government and the SPLA rebel movement in January. US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said a team of 15 monitors, together with support staff, would be led by a Norwegian officer, and would be deployed in the Nuba mountains for an initial period of six months. Some two million people have died in the 19-year civil war between the government in Khartoum and southern rebels. The Nuba Mountains - one of the hardest hit areas - have been fought for by both the government and rebels of the Sudan People's Liberation Army. Mediation efforts Mr Boucher said the SPLA leader, John Garang, would be meeting US officials in Washington this week. The Sudanese government committed itself at the weekend to a US-sponsored plan aimed at reducing attacks on civilians, following several attacks on villages in the south. Both the ceasefire and the agreement to protect civilians are part of a peace initiative led by former US Senator John Danforth. Washington's mediation efforts were suspended last month after the Sudanese Government bombed civilians at a humanitarian relief point.
IRIN 12 March 2002 US gets agreement on attacks against civilians - The helicopter gunship attack on Bieh drew widespread condemnation. The Sudanese government said it was a tragic mistake. NAIROBI, 12 Mar 2002 (IRIN) - The United States says it has secured agreement from the government of Sudan and southern rebels to ensure the protection of civilians against military attack. "We now have an agreement... that will permit, we hope, more secure humanitarian activity in Sudan, and allow discussions on the way forward in the peace process," the State Department spokesman, Richard Boucher, said at a press briefing on Monday. According to Boucher, agreement was reached with the Sudanese government last week, and the deal was endorsed by the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) over the weekend. The agreement is to be monitored by two teams of monitors: one, for the north, in Khartoum, and the other in southern Sudan, probably near the SPLM/A base in the town of Rumbek, Lakes (Buhayrat) State, United Press International (UPI) quoted State Department officials as saying. "The Sudanese government has agreed to an international monitoring mechanism to assure that the agreement is complied with, and that will go forward as well," Boucher said. The agreement opens the way for the US to resume peace discussions with Khartoum, which Washington suspended in February following an attack by a government of Sudan helicopter gunship on a relief centre at the village of Bieh, western Upper Nile (Wahdah, or Unity State), in which at least 24 people were killed (more than 47 met their deaths, according to some reports). The Sudanese government had offered an explanation and apology for the attack, and efforts were now being made to prevent similar incidents, according to Boucher. He said last week that the US had received a letter from Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Uthman Isma'il in which the Sudanese government acknowledged the tragedy at Bieh, and indicated concrete steps it intended to take to ensure there was no repeat - "including moving the approval process for all military flights to the Khartoum military command". An undertaking to end attacks on civilians was one of four confidence-building measures proposed by the US peace envoy to Sudan, John Danforth, in November. The other three concerned: the creation of zones and times of tranquillity (throughout Sudan) in which humanitarian assistance could be offered to vulnerable populations; an end to the taking of slaves; and an internationally monitored cease-fire in the Nuba Mountains region of south-central Sudan. Bringing an end to attacks on civilians has proved to be the most contentious of Danforth's proposals, with the Sudanese government saying it would only end such attacks if the rebel SPLM/A suspended its own military activity. The rebel movement has repeatedly indicated its unwillingness to accept a global cease-fire in the absence of a comprehensive peace settlement. According to the Sudanese government, the scope of the US proposal has now been widened to include all forms of attacks on civilians by both the government and rebels (rather than focusing on aerial bombing, carried out by government forces). "The proposal is a comprehensive one that covers protection from war-related harm, of not only civilians but also civilian installations and other civilian aspects," AFP news agency on Sunday quoted Sudanese Foreign Ministry Under-Secretary Mutrif Siddiq as saying. According to Boucher, the agreement on attacks on civilians meant the Sudanese government was now making progress on all four of Danforth's proposals. "It is the fourth point that he [Danforth] was looking for agreement on. So that completes his initial effort to get an agreement on those four points and to monitor their implementation," Boucher said.
SUDAN: Church groups urge action on "three key issues" NAIROBI, 11 Mar 2002 (IRIN) - Delegates at last week's Sudan Ecumenical Forum in the UK capital, London, warned on Thursday that any peace settlement in Sudan "must be just and lasting and not a quick-fix solution". Delegates called for pressure on the government of Sudan to put an end to bombings and other attacks on civilians, a suspension of oil production, and recognition of the right to self-determination of the southern Sudanese and other marginalised people in Sudan, according to the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD). "There are currently the conditions to achieve a peace deal in Sudan and no reason why we should not try," Clare Short, British Secretary of State for International Development, told delegates. "It is fantastically important that we try to end this war," CAFOD quoted her as saying. The conference, from 4 to 6 March, brought together religious leaders from Sudan and their worldwide church partners in an effort to promote dialogue and "find solutions to the problems that lie at the heart of Sudan's conflict", according to Christian Aid, CAFOD and Tearfund, co-sponsors of the event. The forum was an effort to ensure that the voice of southern Sudanese civil society is heard more clearly, according to the three charities. "Any peace agreement that is reached without taking into account the views of the ordinary people will not be sustainable," said Rob Rees, CAFOD programme officer for Sudan. Attacks on civilians, oil production and self-determination were the "three key issues" raised at the meeting, with delegates making it clear that the UK Government and international partners must address these if a just and lasting peace were to be achieved, Christian Aid reported. Firstly, it said, the churches of southern Sudan had systematically documented bomb attacks on civilians by the government of Sudan since 1999, and recent reports had revealed an increase in attacks on civilians using helicopter gunships. Delegates had also confirmed the Sudanese churches' position that "oil exploration must be suspended until there is a just and sustainable peace and agreement has been reached for the equitable sharing of resources," the nongovernmental organisation stated. Research, particularly in the last two years, had shown that the oil business had aggravated the suffering of civilians, especially in oil-producing areas, it said. Thirdly, the Sudanese church delegates called on all their political leaders "to ensure that any peace settlement includes the rights of the southern Sudanese and other marginalised people to determine for themselves how they should be governed", according to Christian Aid. Delegates at the London forum also reaffirmed the churches' position that slavery and abduction were the result of the ongoing Sudanese conflict, and must therefore be ended through a political settlement, CAFOD reported.
AFP 11 Mar 2002 -- Ugandan troops redeployed inside Sudan KAMPALA, March 11 (AFP) - Uganda has redeployed troops inside Sudan to counter a new attack by the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in an operation being overseen by President Yoweri Museveni, a Ugandan army spokesman said Monday. The spokesman, Major Shaban Bantariza, told AFP that Ugandan units were patrolling a sprawling area along the Uganda-Sudan border in pursuit of what he said was "a mobile enemy which moves in small groups." "They (the LRA) have been moving from east to west along the border and vice versa in an apparent attempt to re-enter Uganda, either through West Nile or Kidepo National Park," Bantariza said. Museveni, himself an army lieutenant general, is at the border to assess the security situation and give a morale boost to his fighters, the spokesman said. Without giving the exact figure inside Sudan, Bantariza said that up to two battalions had been deployed, with some of the soldiers camped inside Uganda waiting to reinforce those across the border patrolling areas in southern Sudan, in case the need arises. A battalion in Uganda comprises between 600 to 800 soldiers. "I cannot tell you which parts of Sudan they are patrolling, but for sure we have troops inside Sudan," Bantariza added. The troops face hundreds of rebels commanded by Museveni's long-time nemesis Joseph Kony, leader of the LRA. Uganda military sources say that although Kony has lost the key support of the Sudanese government, a militia organisation calling itself the Equatoria Defence Force (EDF), which is also armed by Khartoum to fight the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) of Colonel John Garang, had become the LRA's main backer. The SPLA has been fighting Khartoum since 1983 to end domination of mainly Christian and animist southern Sudan by the Arabised, Muslim north. Uganda's current military operations inside Sudan seem to have the blessings of Khartoum, whose relationship with Kampala has lately thawed. Last week, Ugandan Defence Minister Amama Mbabazi said Kampala and Khartoum were in talks to find ways to handle the instability in the two countries. The Ugandan deployment follows an attack on Agoro in Lamwo county of Kitgum district, some 430 kilometres (268 miles) north of Kampala on February 23, during which three people were killed, including a government soldier. The Ugandan army pursued the rebels into Sudan, killing 80 of them. It also rescued 80 abducted civilians. The army lost three soldiers, including a senior officer, in the battles before returning to Uganda on March 4.
IRIN 28 Feb 2002 Focus on oil-related clashes in western Upper Nile NAIROBI, 28 Feb 2002 (IRIN) - A recent escalation in military activity in western Upper Nile (Wahdah, or Unity State) could be due to a major government offensive to gain control of oil production areas, according to humanitarian sources. "An offensive which started around November has been increased in the last few weeks. We have reports that troops have come in from Kassala [in eastern Sudan] and from the Nuba Mountains [in Southern Kordofan, south-central Sudan] following the cease-fire agreement there," aid workers told IRIN on Tuesday. Following a helicopter gunship attack on a relief centre at the village of Bieh on 20 February, in which at least 24 people were reportedly killed, the US government announced it was suspending peace discussions with Khartoum until a satisfactory explanation was offered. The incident at Bieh was the second clearly verified air attack on civilian targets in the oil-rich region in February. The village of Nimne, also in western Upper Nile, was bombed by government aircraft on 9 February, killing five civilians, including an employee of the international health organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF). Apart from the attacks at Bieh and Nimne, there had been reports of increased government activity in civilian areas, with helicopter gunships reportedly flying low over villages, sources said. A "massive increase" in attacks originating in Bentiu, the main government garrison town in the area - and capital of western Upper Nile/Unity State - had been observed, with a number of bombing raids by government Antonov aircraft being launched from there, they added. The government of Sudan, for its part, has expressed concern that the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), rather than pushing for peace, was "actually intensifying its acts of sabotage and military operations in areas of oil production." To that end, it said, the rebel movement had "declared Unity State in southern Sudan as a military operations area." The government stated, in a Foreign Ministry press release, that it was defending the sovereignty of the state and its citizens in the light of "imposed military aggression by the other party to the conflict." In those circumstances, although it was government policy to ensure that civilians were not targets in areas of conflict, "unforeseen casualties happen to innocent civilians", the statement said. Khartoum reaffirmed its commitment "to achieve a peaceful and just settlement of the conflict in southern Sudan" and called on the international community to pressure the SPLM/A into halting "the current, unjustified escalation of military operations." The apparent increase in government-sponsored military actions appeared to be linked to the signing of a merger agreement in January between the two largest rebel groups active in southern Sudan - the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) and the Sudan People's Defence Forces (SPDF). At the time of that agreement, the Sudanese government described the merger as a "negative step", saying it could adversely affect the country's peace process. Prior to the merger, SPLA and SPDF forces had often been in conflict in western Upper Nile, with the SPDF suspected of working with government forces to secure oil production sites against SPLA attack, according to regional analysts. Hostilities between the two rebel groups in western Upper Nile appeared to have ended in February, however, when the local SPLA commander, Peter Gadet, and his SPDF counterpart, Peter Par, signed a local-level agreement in the village of Koch to implement the merger. This resulted in the government suddenly losing a useful lever with which to control the area, analysts said. "There has been a change of tactic [by the government] following the SPLA-SPDF agreement. All areas in the region are now perceived to be rebel-held areas," according to humanitarian sources. "They [the government] have been worried since the SPLM and SPDF merged," SPLM/A spokesman Samson Kwaje told IRIN on Tuesday. "They are the ones that have mounted the offensive." Some analysts say the merger could have serious implications for the oil industry in Sudan, with several rebel factions regarding attacks on the oil infrastructure in western Upper Nile as a priority. SPLM/A leader John Garang has repeatedly claimed that the oil installations are "legitimate targets" in Sudan's 19-year civil war. The Swedish oil company Lundin Petroleum AB announced in January the suspension of its operations in oil concession area Block 5a "as a precautionary measure to ensure maximum security for its personnel and operation", as a result of the deterioration of security levels in the area. The government has held that the attacks on Bieh and Nimne were unfortunate mistakes stemming from its response to rebel attacks. It has also claimed that rebel forces, and not the government, were responsible for targeting civilians. "The [SPLA-SPDF] alliance has targeted our armed forces, which have been performing their duty of protecting the oil," the Sudanese army said in a statement reported on Republic of Sudan Radio on 21 February. The SPLA-SPDF alliance had also been responsible for "targeting civilians working in the area of development and growth of Unity State", it added. According to analysts, however, government forces could be aiming to secure the main road running from the town of Bentiu, a government-held oil producing centre, south to the government garrison town of Leer (Ler, 8.18 N 30.08 E), in order to facilitate access to oil concession block 5a. SPLA Commander Peter Gadet's forces had reportedly repulsed several attempts by the government to advance out of Bentiu down the "oil road", according to humanitarian sources. "There is an ever-increasing offensive to open the road to Leer. We have reports of lots of tanks and other armoured vehicles moving in the area," they said. An escalation of fighting would exacerbate the problems faced by thousands of displaced people in western Upper Nile, informed relief workers told IRIN this week. As many as 50,000 civilians could be expected to flee south from Bieh, Leer, Koch, Duar, Nhial Diu and Mankien Payam districts, they said. The Sudanese government on 23 February claimed to have captured the airstrip situated at Nhial Diu, some 40 km southwest of Bentiu. "After continuous fierce fighting in Wahdah (Unity) State, the army and militia were able to take control of the main base of the rebels, and occupied the airport at Nhial Diu," AFP quoted army spokesman General Muhammad Bashir Sulayman as saying. Samson Kwaje told IRIN on Monday that he could neither confirm nor deny the government's claims. Many civilians had sought sanctuary at Nhial Diu following previous outbreaks of fighting in western Upper Nile, humanitarian sources reported. As a result of renewed government offensives, they were now being pushed further afield; there was now a danger they could be forced into Bahr al-Ghazal, possibly putting pressure on Dinka communities there at a time when food security was "precarious" following a modest harvest. The US government, through its peace envoy, John Danforth, has been attempting to build confidence in the Sudanese peace process with four specific measures, including a proposal to deploy independent monitors to help protect civilians from attack. According to Danforth, however, the Bieh helicopter gunship attack took place despite indications by the Sudanese government last week that it would accept an international mechanism to verify the protection of civilians in the Sudanese civil war. Danforth is expected to submit a report to US President George W Bush within the next few weeks on the feasibility of Washington taking an active role in efforts to end Sudan's 19-year civil war. However, the Sudanese army statement of 21 February appeared to offer little hope for an end to fighting in western Upper Nile. "We would like to warn civilians and other organisations to stay away from the region of the current military operations to preserve their souls and property," it said.
Internews (Arusha) 6 March 2002 Genocide Suspect Joseph Kanyabashi Watched 2500 Refugees Killed, Witness Claims Sukhdev Chhatbar Arusha Genocide suspect Joseph Kanyabashi watched a group of attackers surround and kill 2500 refugees in Kabakobwa, Butare Province, during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, a witness today claimed before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). The witness -- identified only as "FAM" - is testifying mainly against Kanyabashi, a former mayor of Ngoma commune in Butare. Kanyabashi is one of the six defendants in the so-called "Butare Trial." FAM, the seventh prosecution witness since the trial began in June 2001, testified that the refugees gathered at Kabakobwa to escape attacks that began after unknown assailants shot down a plane carrying Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana on 6 April 1994. "Kanyabashi was standing by a vehicle observing the killings," the witness alleged, adding that he was one of the attackers. FAM is a detainee awaiting sentencing in Rwanda for his role in the genocide. The witness told the court that Kanyabashi, Alphonse Nteziryayo, former governor of Butare and another man named Muvunyi, directed him and other attackers to arm themselves with machetes, clubs and other traditional weapons and go to Kabakobwa. Nteziryayo is one of the Butare six. Led by prosecution attorney Jonathan Moses of New Zealand, FAM testified: "We were told to dress in banana leaves and to paint the lower part of our bodies in white and the upper parts in black before the attack." FAM claimed that on reaching Kabakokwa, he saw a huge crowd surrounded by the soldiers and para-military police. "On reaching there, they [the soldiers and the police] asked us to attack the refugees two minutes later, the soldiers opened fire on the crowd." "We prevented those escaping the shooting with our machetes and traditional weapons," FAM stressed. Kanyabashi also ordered the setting up of roadblocks in April 1994 in Ngoma, FAM claimed. During proceedings in the morning, the fifth prosecution witness - - identified only as "TO" -- completed his testimony. He claimed that genocide suspect Elie Ndayambaje told a meeting in Muganza commune that he would co-operate to wipe out the "enemy," meaning ethnic Tutsi. The Butare Trial is the largest before the ICTR. The six are: Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, a former Rwandan minister for family and women's affairs; Nyiramasuhuko's son Arsene Ntahobali, a former militia leader; Elie Ndayambaje, a former mayor of Muganza commune; Alphonse Nteziryayo, a former governor of Butare; Joseph Kanyabashi, a former mayor of Ngoma commune and Sylvain Nsabimana, a former Butare governor. All six d have denied charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. They allegedly committed the crimes in Butare Province, southwestern Rwanda. Nyiramasuhuko is the only woman indicted by the ICTR. The trial is held before Trial Chamber II of the ICTR, comprising Judges William Sekule of Tanzania (presiding), Winston Matanzima Maqutu of Lesotho and Arlette Ramaroson of Madagascar.
Internews (Arusha) March 8, 2002 FBI Agent Made Copies of RTLM Tapes, Witness Says Mary Kimani Arusha Kaiser Rizvi, a former investigator at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), today testified that an FBI agent made copies of Radio Television Libre Des Mille Collines (RTLM) tapes in September 1994 as part of a US investigation on the genocide in Rwanda. Rizvi submitted copies of the tapes during his testimony. Rizvi was a member of the Bangladesh contingent in the UN Assistance Mission in Rwanda (UNAMIR). As an ICTR investigator, he was in charge of collecting RTLM tapes for use by the prosecution in the so-called "Media Trial." Rizvi left the tribunal for a new post in the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). He is testifying as the 41st prosecution witness against Ferdinand Nahimana and Jean Bosco Barayagwiza, founding members of RTLM; and Hassan Ngeze, the editor of an alleged Hutu extremist newspaper, 'Kangura.' The three have denied using their respective media to incite ethnic Hutu to kill ethnic Tutsi. Rizvi gave evidence about the chain of custody of the 345 copies of RTLM tapes that the prosecution intends to present in court. The former ICTR investigator told the court that a number of the tapes were made available to the ICTR by the US State Department. Rizvi stated that the FBI agent named Denise Minor received the tapes from Hose Niyibizi, a Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) archivist operating from the Rwanda Information Office (ORINFOR). Rizvi also tendered other copies of RTLM tapes collected from people who allegedly recorded them from the RPF secretariat's archive. The tapes form the bulk of the evidence that the prosecution is bringing against Nahimana, Barayagwiza and Ngeze. Challenging the admission of the tapes, John Floyd of the US, lead counsel for Ngeze, argued that Rizvi is in no position to testify about the tapes' chain of custody as he is relying on hearsay regarding who recorded the tapes. "The real question is who recorded the tapes, whether they are edited; if they were made continuously or regularly what he is saying is irrelevant," Floyd protested. The judges admitted into evidence the tapes received from the US State Department, saying there was reliable information on how they were collected. The court also accepted other tapes collected from sources whose background was not given, on condition that the prosecution later produces additional evidence to prove the chain of custody. The 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.
NYT 3 Mar 2002 Trial Centers on Role of Press During Rwanda Massacre By MARLISE SIMONS ARUSHA, Tanzania — A trial is unfolding far from the spotlight in this East African town, but its outcome may one day ring out around the world. It is the trial of three journalists that focuses on the question, can freedom of speech degenerate into genocide? Or put differently, can journalism kill? According to prosecutors of the United Nations war crimes tribunal for Rwanda, the answer to both questions is a forceful yes. The three men in the dock, all former Rwandan news media executives, stand accused of genocide and incitement to genocide through their use of radio broadcasts and newspapers. Their trial is also examining the full scope of the role played by the news media in the massacre of more than 800,000 people in Rwanda in 1994. It is the first time since Julius Streicher, the Nazi publisher of the anti-Semitic weekly Der Stürmer, appeared before the Nuremberg judges in 1946 that a group of journalists stands accused before an international tribunal on such grave charges. Prosecutors have drawn stark parallels between the vitriolic campaigns against the Jews by Der Stürmer before World War II and the actions of some Rwandan media organizations before and during the 1994 slaughter of the Tutsi. At Nuremberg, the charge of genocide did not yet exist. Legal specialists believe that the outcome of the current trial may set a crucial precedent for future international cases, in particular for the permanent International Criminal Court, which is expected to open later this year to handle accusations of grave rights violations. "A key question will be what kind of speech is protected and where the limits lie," said Stephen Rapp, an American lawyer, who is the senior prosecutor in the case. "It is important to draw that line. We hope the judgment will give the world some guidance." National laws inevitably vary, and as for international legal standards, "there has been no decision since Nuremberg," Mr. Rapp said. The Allies' military court at Nuremberg, which sent Julius Streicher to the gallows, may seem far away and the Rwanda tribunal has no death sentence. But questions about the effects of hateful propaganda and whether journalists should exercise self-restraint or even self-censorship in dangerous moments are topical. "This is very much a living issue," said a judge at the Rwanda tribunal. "People have found Osama bin Laden's hate talk against Americans objectionable. So why did some American media use self-restraint or even self-censorship in his case? Clearly because there were larger values involved." The accused in what is informally called here "the media trial" are Ferdinand Nahimana and Jean- Bosco Barayagwiza, who the prosecutors say founded and controlled a Rwandan radio station and directed its news coverage, and Hassan Ngeze, a former newspaper publisher and editor. Prosecutors charge that all three were part of a well- prepared plan to use their outlets first to spread ethnic hatred and then to persuade people to kill their enemies, the Tutsi and moderate Hutu. That required demonizing the Tutsi, prosecutors said, and the media played a key role in accomplishing this. To make their case, prosecutors have armed themselves with some 50,000 documents, more than 600 audiotapes of what they say are inflammatory broadcasts from Radio Mille Collines and stacks of copies from the pictorial newspaper Kangura, peppered with vicious cartoons and nasty texts. The radio, nicknamed Radio Hate, was the mouthpiece of the extremist Hutu Power movement. At first, it addressed its Tutsi opponents with warnings like "You cockroaches must know you are made of flesh. We won't let you kill, we will kill you." But once the massacres had begun, the prosecution said, the broadcasts goaded Hutu militia groups to "go to work" and kept inciting people with messages like "the graves are not yet full." Defense lawyers have rejected the genocide charges and the defendants have pleaded not guilty. John Floyd, an American lawyer defending Mr. Ngeze, denounced the indictments as a "vulgar farce" and "dangerous stuff." "What's really on trial here is freedom of the press and intellectual freedom," he said. "These people should never have been indicted. They've already been locked up for five years. Just with these indictments, the U.N. is already defending press censorship." Other lawyers have been more circumspect, among them Jean-Marie Biju-Duval, the French defense counsel for Mr. Nahimana. In his view, the central question of the trial is, "At what point, if any, does political propaganda become criminal?" That issue, however it is defined, may soon also apply to songs. Simon Bikindi, a well known Rwandan singer, has been indicted by the tribunal on charges of genocide. Arrested in the Netherlands, where he was living, Mr. Bikindi is about to be transferred to Arusha. According to his indictment, Mr. Bikindi composed songs that helped foment fear and hatred of the Tutsi. He is also charged with joining militia gangs on their killing sprees. The media trial, one of the tribunal's high profile cases, has been going on since October 2000, plagued, as other cases here, by management problems. Its prosecutors have changed several times and it may still be months from completion. Some 40 witnesses have already been heard. Complicating matters, two of the defendants opened their own Web sites, and they are reported to have leaked some confidential court data. One defendant, Mr. Barayagwiza, a former government information official, is refusing to show up in court, although his two court-appointed lawyers are attending. He became outraged because other judges had ordered his release, ruling that the prosecution had violated his rights. But after a public outcry in Rwanda and an appeal by the prosecution, that ruling was reversed. He said he would not bother to attend a trial in a court that was politicized and biased. Prosecutors argue that their case is not about freedom or excess of the press, but about a criminal conspiracy. They say Radio Mille Collines and the newspaper Kangura were as much part of the well-prepared plan to kill Tutsi as was the creation of extremist militias and the importation and distribution of machetes well before the killing began. In Rwanda, a nation of few televisions, radio has enormous power, the prosecutors say. Witnesses told the court that once the slaughter had begun — it lasted about 100 days — Radio Mille Collines was vital in steering the militia and calling direct hits. They said the station would broadcast the names and addresses of people who were targets along with their vehicle license plates and the hiding places of refugees. "There was an FM radio on every roadblock, there were thousands of roadblocks in Rwanda," a police investigator said. He told the court that in prison interviews "many people told us they had killed because the radio had told them to kill." Mr. Rapp, the American prosecutor, said that even in the United States, with its fierce protection of freedom of speech, "if you ordered a hit, using the media, that would not be protected." He drew the analogy of a newspaper that became part of a stock fraud. In such a case, he said, "the issue is not freedom of expression but the crime of fraud." But Mr. Floyd, the American defense lawyer, insisted that "this media trial" was the "most dangerous trial I have ever been in because it may give comfort to despots in the future." The three judges trying the case, led by Navanethem Pillay of South Africa, will be looking at how hate speech is dealt with in various nations, like the United States, Germany, France and South Africa, "because there is very little precedent in the international field," according to a legal researcher. The panel is likely to study the Streicher judgment at Nuremberg, the researcher said, but also cases like the United States Supreme Court decision allowing a Nazi group to march through a Jewish neighborhood. An unusual case on the books involves a journalist in France. After World War II, the main announcer of Radio Paris, Jean Herold Paquis, was tried for committing treason with his pro-German broadcasts during the Nazi occupation. He was given the death sentence.
BBC 13 March, 2002, Mugabe wins 'rigged' Zimbabwe poll Mugabe: President since independence in 1980 Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has won a fifth term in office amid accusations of ballot irregularities and ruling party violence. Mugabe: 1, 685,212; Tsvangirai: 1,258,401 Official turnout: 3,130,913 or 55.9% High turnout in Zanu-PF's rural strongholds Increased Zanu-PF support in some MDC strongholds including Matebeland South Election aftermath He defeated rival Morgan Tsvangirai by a substantial margin in a presidential election described by some foreign and local observers as deeply flawed and unjust. With all votes counted, Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede said Mr Mugabe had received about 54% of the vote, with Mr Tsvangirai getting 40%. Three minor candidates received 6% between them. The three-day election saw higher turnouts in Mr Mugabe's rural strongholds than in the towns and cities, where many faced massive delays when trying to vote - fuelling claims that opposition supporters had been intimidated and prevented from voting. Both Britain and France have rejected the election result, saying it was not free and fair. The United States says it is considering further sanctions. Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa described the outcome as a "runaway victory" for Mr Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party. Tsvangirai says Mugabe stole the vote through systematic cheating But Mr Tsvangirai alleged "daylight robbery", saying the presidential vote had been "massively rigged" and that one million voters had been disenfranchised. He added: "We have been cheated of the right to freely and democratically elect the president of our choice." "They [the people] will have to decide what to do. They are the ones who have been cheated." A spokesman for the MDC's London office called on the international community to refuse to accept the legitimacy of President Mugabe's government. South African observers declared the election "legitimate", however. Mission leader Samuel Motsuenyane blamed the difficulties faced by some voters on "administrative oversights". Most foreign and local observers have said the election was scarred by violence, deeply flawed and unjust. Security fears There are fears of a violence by opposition supporters in the aftermath of the vote. Security forces have been put on high alert and police have set up roadblocks on the main approach roads to the capital, Harare. As a young Zimbabwean studying in the UK, I am totally and utterly gutted by the result of the election Samantha Garikayi, London Click here to tell us your views Dozens of heavily armed soldiers have taken up positions around the MDC's office in Zimbabwe's second city, Bulawayo. A BBC correspondent says this clearly reflects government concern about a possible backlash if voters believe the election to have been unfair. Leading Zimbabwean journalist Basildon Peta told the BBC that people were probably waiting for a cue from their leaders before deciding what to do. "There is a lot of unhappiness among those who have been disenfranchised," said Mr Peta, who fled to South Africa fearing for his life before the vote. Sanctions call British Foreign Minister Jack Straw said Mr Mugabe was bent on achieving "one goal: power at all costs". We believe that in fact the voice of the people of Zimbabwe was not fairly heard US Assistant Secretary of State Walter Kansteiner "It is no surprise that this outcome has now been achieved." He said if evidence showed Mr Mugabe had "stolen" the election, it would have "enormous implications for the nature of our relationship with Zimbabwe." US Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Walter Kansteiner called the election flawed and said the United States would consider further sanctions against Mr Mugabe and his government. "These failed elections were a tragedy for the people of Zimbabwe," Mr Kansteiner said on a visit to South Africa. Britain and Australia led an unsuccessful call for Commonwealth sanctions against Mr Mugabe before the election because of violence during the campaign. The government says the election was free and fair The human rights organisation, Amnesty International, said it was deeply worried about almost 1,500 opposition polling station officials and independent election observers who had been detained during the election. It demanded their release, adding: "We are deeply concerned for the safety of those arrested in the light of the well-established pattern of disappearances, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by Zimbabwean security forces." Mr Mugabe, 78, became prime minister after Zimbabwe achieved independence from Britain in 1980 and has ruled the country ever since.
BBC 13 March, 2002, Early results give Mugabe boost Mugabe faces the biggest challenge to his 22-year rule Early results in Zimbabwe's presidential elections have given President Robert Mugabe a clear though not overwhelming lead. But with over 25% of votes counted, electoral observers have condemned the voting process as neither free nor fair. The election is total confusion and chaos... there is no way these elections can be described as substantially free and fair Reginald Matchaba-Hove Election observer Some of the first constituencies to declare were in Matebeleland, in the west of the country, where President Mugabe does not traditionally enjoy much support. The BBC's Elizabeth Blunt says although the vote went against him, he did not do as badly as expected. President Mugabe did better there than his party, Zanu-PF, did in the last parliamentary election, and Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) lost ground. In Mashonaland, President Mugabe's own home territory, he has massively increased the Zanu-PF vote, adding as many as 10,000 votes in a single constituency. Elections 'severely flawed' Our correspondent says this may be because Zanu-PF had become complacent in the past, and it is only now that they have made a real effort to get out their vote. Results so far Mugabe - 415,206 Tsvangirai - 340,217 32 of 120 districts declared Or it might be - as the opposition has alleged - that they have used their power locally to pack the voters roll with Zanu-PF supporters. Kare Vollan, the head of the largest European group of observers, from Norway, said the election was severely flawed and failed to meet international standards. Welshman Ncube said the charge against him was politically-motivated Reginald Matchaba-Hove, chairman of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) - a coalition of non-governmental organisations - said: "The election is total confusion and chaos... there is no way these elections can be described as substantially free and fair." Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede said 3.1 million people had voted, about 55.4% of those registered. The first candidate to obtain 50% of the votes cast will be the winner. Meanwhile, a leading opposition official Welshman Ncube has been charged with treason in connection with an alleged plot to kill Mr Mugabe. 'Malicious propaganda' Thousands of soldiers and police were deployed as counting got under way on Tuesday, following a third, unscheduled, day of voting. Britain, which has been pushing for sanctions against Mr Mugabe's regime, said there was "pretty strong evidence" that President Mugabe had "stolen" the election. Mr Vollan said he estimated that thousands of people in Harare had been disenfranchised. HAVE YOU VOTED? I and many others who got to the polling station hours before the official opening of the station at 0700 only managed to vote late in the night N Musvoto, Zimbabwe Click here to tell us your experiences He said the 25 Norwegian observers had documented numerous reports of harassment and assault against opposition officials, members and supporters. In contrast, Zimbabwean Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said that anyone criticising the election was "spreading malicious propaganda". Threat of violence Tension has been high since the polls closed following a 24-hour extension won by the MDC. Choose a link below for latest news from around the country: 1. Harare 2. Mashonaland 3. Matebeleland 4. Midlands 5. Manicaland 6. Masvingo Mr Matchaba-Hove said that "a flawed electoral process is a potential cause of conflict", and urged the public to remain calm. Anticipating an outbreak of trouble, the government positioned armed police and soldiers in cities, villages and at strategic sites in the Midlands province. Residential suburbs have been sealed off and a curfew has been imposed from 1800 local time (1600 GMT) on Tuesday. As counting began, a court in Harare charged the Secretary General of the MDC, Welshman Ncube, with treason. He had been arrested in February, along with Mr Tsvangirai and another party official, when police accused all three of treason. Mr Ncube, who was released on bail, said his arrest was an act of political desperation. "We remain firmly confident [of victory] otherwise they [the government] would not be in such a state of panic," he told the Associated Press news agency.
Washington Times 12 March 2002 Cops, vigilantes deter Zimbabwe voters By Nicole Itano THE WASHINGTON TIMES HARARE, Zimbabwe — Police and vigilantes loyal to President Robert Mugabe chased thousands of voters away from polling stations yesterday at the close of a presidential election marred by charges of fraud and intimidation. Top Stories • War on terror in 'second stage' • Senator suspects pilot alive in Iraq • House set to 'cloak' amnesty • Sharon acts threaten his coalition • U.S., Saudis freeze cash at charity • Drivers hit by gas prices The action came as the Zimbabwe High Court rejected an opposition demand that polling be extended for a fourth day. Police also detained four American diplomats, who were attempting to monitor the election, for five hours. In addition, they arrested a high-ranking official of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the opposition party trying to unseat Mr. Mugabe. Yesterday marked the end of a chaotic three days of voting that marked the most serious challenge ever to Mr. Mugabe's 22-year presidency. Throughout the campaign, government supporters targeted MDC candidate Morgan Tsvangirai and his supporters. The election was to have ended Sunday night, but the High Court extended it for a day after hundreds of thousands of voters had yet to cast ballots. Many had waited in line for more than 48 hours since polls opened on Friday. "They chased us away," said one angry voter who refused to give his name because the police who closed the poll still lingered nearby. "I'm very angry because it is my right to vote. I want to vote." The number of polling stations in the capital of Harare, an opposition stronghold, had been slashed in what opposition leaders said was a blatant attempt to disenfranchise opposition voters. Despite the court order keeping polls open yesterday, officials delayed the opening until midday and then closed them promptly at 7 p.m. At some polls, as many as a thousand voters were still waiting to cast their votes when police shut the stations down. Overall, 2.7 million of the nation's 5.6 million registered voters, or 48 percent, cast ballots by Sunday night, the government said. The opposition said the overall turnout figures were suspect and intended to guarantee Mr. Mugabe's re-election. Police used tear gas and batons to drive away voters at at least one polling station. Shots were reportedly fired at another. But in most places crowds dispersed without incident, in some cases chanting the MDC slogan: "Change, Change, Change," as they left. Earlier in the day, Mr. Tsvangirai called on supporters to wait peacefully for an announcement of the results, which are expected late today or tomorrow. "Let us first wait peacefully for your votes to be cast and counted," he said. "As you wait for the results, do not succumb to their provocative traps. I know they are trying very hard to provoke you."
Daily News ZW Mugabe should go gracefully: Zvobgo 3/12/02 10:00:56 AM (GMT +2) Staff Reporter ZANU PF founder member Eddison Zvobgo said President Mugabe should accept blame for Zimbabwe’s mess and prepare for a dignified exit from power. “I would not want to see him living in exile,” he said, referring to Mugabe. “I would like to see him remain here in the role of an elder statesman and see Morgan going to his house for advice, the kind of role that Nelson Mandela has, a father of the nation,” he said in reference to MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, expected to win a free and fair poll. “People can never say goodbye to their history.Mugabe is part of the history of this country. I would wish him well if he would accept it.” Hinting at deep rifts among the President’s political and military circle, Zvobgo told The Scotsman newspaper the party’s “official position” is that it will abide by the result of the presidential election and will not tolerate attempts to subvert it. “There are plenty of other sources who strengthen that view,” he said. “We are a democratic people. I cannot see what would be gained by any attempt to do otherwise.” He acknowledged that there could yet be an abortive coup attempt, but appeared confident that few within the armed forces would actually join it. “Even if such a thing happened and succeeded, it would not be permanent. I don’t lose sleep over that issue.” He said the only way to ensure Zimbabwe’s recovery was through the formation of a government of national unity. “People are angry,” he said. “I believe that because of the magnitude of the problems we face and also because of the squeezing and fracturing of society which these problems have caused, that a government of national unity would make matters easier. All the political energies could be harnessed towards State objectives and we would stand a great chance of being listened to sympathetically by those who have the means to help the European Union, the US and so on.” Zvobgo, the highly respected chairman of the Parliamentary Legal Committee, said the government should accept blame and acknowledge that people are angry over the current economic and political mess. While Mugabe has regularly claimed that British neo-colonial interference is responsible for the state of the country, Zvobgo said: “I am not one who believes in blaming the world for the plight in which we find ourselves. Sure, some factors were beyond our control, but others were within our grasp and we either mismanaged or we hesitated and lost an opportunity. Clearly we have not finished what we set out to do.” In particular, he said, the failure to come up with an orderly and legal land redistribution scheme instead of allowing the war veterans to launch sometimes bloody farm invasions has caused problems. “The devil which has spoiled everything was when we decided to take land,” he said. “That was really the crunch.” He condemned attempts at driving through unconstitutional legislation as “bristling with arrows pointed at the heart of freedom. That was the crunch”. “The pack of cards started crumbling,” said Zvobgo. “I had always been aware that doing it that way would be a disaster. I spent 10 years in prison during the liberation struggle, but I didn’t go through all that personal sacrifice simply for land. “If any minister brings in a piece of legislation which is shoddy, badly-crafted, bristling with arrows pointed at the heart of freedom, my committee will have no hesitation in saying ‘No’,” he said, referring to Professor Jonathan Moyo’s Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Bill. “Information cannot be controlled. It’s like fighting the Pope. You know you could never win.” Mugabe hauls in his foes MDC official on treason charge Andrew Meldrum in Harare Wednesday March 13, 2002 The Guardian Robert Mugabe's government seems to be paving the way to crack down on anyone it regards as opposition after the results of the presidential election are declared today. The list includes independent election observers as well as opposition party officials. Amnesty International said as many as 1,400 people had been arrested in the past two days. The arrests have added to the tension as the country nervously awaits the results. Stories in the government-owned newspaper the Herald yesterday ascribed the arrests to plots by whites to "create chaos" and "disrupt the vote counting". Amnesty International and local civic groups say the government may be planning further arrests and a campaign of violence against the opposition, whether or not Mr Mugabe wins. The most prominent figure detained is Welshman Ncube, secretary general of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. He was charged with treason, a crime punishable by death, and conspiring with the MDC's presidential candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, to assassinate Mr Mugabe, and released on bail. "They are charging Welshman now to prepare to formally charge Tsvangirai in court, too," said Brian Raftopoulos, chairmanof the Crisis in Zimbabwe Committee. "We believe the government is planning to go after the MDC, trade union leaders, civic groups, the media." Amnesty pointed to "an emerging pattern of mass arbitrary detention" of MDC polling agents, independent election observers and activists, and to the numerous camps of Mr Mugabe's extra-legal youth militia studding the country. It was investigating reports that arms have been distributed to some members of the militia, which has been accused of several political murders and thousands of cases of torture and beatings since the beginning of the year. "If they were to get arms, as some reports suggest, it's a real cause for alarm. They are a para-military group and there doesn't seem to be much control over them. It is a big concern," Amnesty said. Among those arrested are 130 observers for the Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network, which represents 38 civic organisations. The network trained 12,500 observers but the government only accredited 400 of them. Another group picked for arrests was the Zimbabwe Citizens Support Group, which provided transport for MDC agents so that the party could be represented at remote rural polling stations. Amnesty said it was concerned that many of those arrested were being held in "congested conditions that constitute a risk to their health and the possibility of injury". Dozens of people were held in a fenced pen outside Harare central charge office.
IRIN 11 March 2002 Allegations of poll rigging Zimbabwe's hotly contested presidential election may continue for a fourth day JOHANNESBURG, 11 Mar 2002 (IRIN) - It would be nothing short of a miracle for Morgan Tsvangirai to emerge victorious over Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe's seemingly flawed presidential election. This was the belief of Chris Maroleng, a researcher with the African Security Analysis Programme of the Institute for Security Studies, as the third day of voting drew to a close on Monday. Allegations of electoral irregularities have emerged and the opposition have approached the courts to extend the polling into a fourth day. AP reported that the Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum (Zim Rights), claimed election observers and polling agents had been assaulted in Bulawayo and in Centenary. It said a Commonwealth observer group had to "rescue" the locals from ruling party militia. The rights group also said three polling agents representing the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) were attacked by a group of ruling party militants in Hurungwe. Zim Rights claimed that "police attacked voters and fired teargas at two Harare area polling stations, prompting voters to flee from one of the stations. With regard to allegations of poll rigging Zim Rights said they received "reports of bogus polling stations set up and helicopters flying ballot boxes in and out of Gokwe North area. Opposition representatives were cleared from the area". The organisation claimed 92 percent of voters at a polling station in Bulawayo south were turned away despite being registered. The organisation listed a litany of similar allegations of intimidation and poll-rigging. In his paper Future Power Plays in Zimbabwe, Maroleng states that: "The increasing number of reports of political violence and serious violations of human rights ... particularly by members and supporters of Mugabe’s ZANU-PF, coupled with the introduction of draconian laws by the government (prior to the election), had further tilted an already uneven political playing field, to the distinct disadvantage of the MDC. "In these circumstances it appears that it would take nothing short of a miracle to prevent Mugabe winning." "The question then arises: what would such a victory mean for the internal dynamics of the ZANU-PF, and the central issue of an eventual presidential succession. This is a particularly interesting point of conjecture when one considers the various factions jostling for power and influence, sometimes split along ethno-linguistic and provincial lines." Maroleng said the current dominant faction within ZANU-PF, led by Mugabe, had at its core a large following of the Zezuru ethno-linguistic group, one of the principal Chishona-speaking groups. "Most analysts agree that should Mugabe win the election he would seek an exit strategy that would allow him to retire reasonably soon without fear of prosecution and provide him with protection from revenge by some of the enemies that he has made over the past two decades," Maroleng said. For such a strategy to work it would require that Mugabe's successor be someone he can "trust and (who) has a relatively constant history of loyalty to (Mugabe). The successor would also have to have the capacity to provide the protection that Mugabe requires and would have to be considered politically astute enough to remain in power long after Mugabe has left the stage. Finally, this successor would preferably come from the dominant Zezuru ethnic group, as ethno-linguistic considerations seem to play an important part in Zimbabwean politics". Maroleng said the fight to be Mugabe's successor would likely be bloody. "The ensuing power plays that will inevitably occur within ZANU-PF as a result of the hotly contested succession to the presidency will not be uneventful. Considering the fact that ZANU-PF has a long and checkered history of resorting to violence as a means of sorting out political problems, it seems reasonable to anticipate that even after the elections, politically motivated acts of violence will continue to be an essential component of the political landscape of Zimbabwe. "Excessive factionalism in ZANU-PF could lead to the implosion of this political party, which would create space for the MDC to take power itself. However, this is all very much future music and one hopes against hope, that a peaceful election and transitional period will be experienced in Zimbabwe," Maroleng said.
Election Flawed - Observers UN Integrated Regional Information Networks March 12, 2002 Posted to the web March 12, 2002 Zimbabwe's election cannot be called free and fair, an independent observer group told IRIN on Tuesday as ballot counting continued. The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) told IRIN that the presidential poll - in which incumbent Robert Mugabe faces the stiffest challenge yet to his 22-year rule from Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai - could not be endorsed as too many people had been disenfranchised. ZESN is an umbrella body consisting of 38 church and civic groups. Deputy spokesman Tawanda Hondora said: "It certainly was not free and fair because the environment was not conducive to a free and fair election. The pre-election period was characterised by a high incidence of politically related violence, primarily orchestrated by state-trained militia and war veterans who are known sympathizers of (the ruling) ZANU-PF. "At the same time there was a deliberate use of the law by the government, and in particular the contesting candidate Mugabe, to confuse the process and at the same time disenfranchise various sectors of Zimbabwe's electorate. The ruling party and government have, by using terror tactics in rural areas and simply frustrating the voting process in urban areas, ensured that the process favours Mugabe." Hondora said he would be "shocked out of my wits if Mugabe loses this election" as Mugabe had "played all his cards and worked exceedingly hard to ensure he wins the election by any means necessary". An example of this was the late opening of polling stations in Harare on the court-ordered third day of voting on Monday. The same stations closed at 19H00 on Monday while long queues of people had still not voted. Various sections of Zimbabwe's electorate had been disenfranchised, Hondora said. "The reduction of polling stations in urban areas (allegedly by 50 percent) was because they (the government) have accepted the MDC has (majority) support in urban areas. It's no coincidence that government increased polling stations in rural areas, notwithstanding that we have not had any significant complaints that rural populations do not have access to polling stations." The Electoral Institute of Southern Africa (EISA) also expressed concern at the reduction of polling stations in urban areas, but team leader Dr Inonge Mbikusita-Lewanika told IRIN she could not comment on the freeness or fairness of the election. "EISA does not use the terms because we could not agree on definitions of free and fair," she said. As to the electoral process itself, Mbikusita-Lewanika said: "My own summary (of the poll) is that the major problem is that many people have not voted, and obviously those who have not voted are not happy. However, the overall arrangements for the poll impressed me." EISA is not viewed as hostile by the government because its role is to support electoral processes throughout the region and not simply to sit in judgment. Thus they have had the benefit of "friendly briefings". At one such briefing, EISA expressed concern about the reduction of polling stations in urban areas, but was told the "reduction would only be by 10 percent". Reuters and AFP reported that Britain cited "pretty strong" evidence on Tuesday that Mugabe had "stolen" Zimbabwe's landmark vote, in a blunt assessment shared by many observers who said it was neither free nor fair. Norwegian observers reported major flaws in the election amid growing criticism of the fairness of polls conducted in an atmosphere of violence, intimidation and legal wrangling. Human rights group Amnesty International also condemned voter intimidation and harassment of observers, and called for the immediate release of more than 1,400 people detained by security forces. Zimbabwe's Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, meanwhile, told reporters the election had been "exemplary". The Southern African Development Community (SADC) observer mission reportedly said the election was not transparent. The head of the SADC observer mission made his comments after the Zimbabwe Independent Electoral Commission (ZIEC) refused to release figures on the total number of people who voted. SADC parliamentary forum observer mission chief Duke Lefhoko told The Namibian that he was stunned when ZIEC refused to give the total figures of people who have voted so far. "On the first day, they were disclosing the figures, but now they are not co-operating. Why the sudden change of heart? They have been transparent, now they are not transparent," the newspaper quoted him as saying on Tuesday. More reaction from the many observer groups in Zimbabwe is expected over the next few days as official results are collated.
INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP MEDIA RELEASE Last Chance for Peace and Democracy as Zimbabwe Violence Threatens Harare/Brussels, 11 March 2002: Although the result of Zimbabwe's presidential election is not expected to be announced for another two or three days, all indications are that the victor should be the Movement for Democratic Change's (MDC) Morgan Tsvangirai. Pre-election polling, both public and private, indicated overwhelming support for Tsvangirai in the major cities and clear majority support across the country, notwithstanding the extensive and well documented intimidation of opposition supporters - and there is no evidence that mood changed during the polling period. There is ample further evidence, however, that President Mugabe has been desperate to win by whatever means it takes. Over the last three days ICG personnel visited numerous polling stations with no independent observers or MDC polling agents; interviewed MDC polling agents who had been beaten by ZANU-PF war veterans; witnessed others being threatened by youth militia; talked to voters who had been turned away at the polls because of no proof of residence; observed paltry turnouts at rural stations where the government is claiming massive voting; and spoke with voters who had walked away without voting from huge lines in Harare's high density suburbs. Mugabe's strategy has taken different forms in urban and rural areas. In cities and towns, the government reduced the number of polling stations, leading to huge lines designed to frustrate would-be voters into leaving; required proof of residency during the registration and polling process which thousands of poorer urban dwellers do not have; expelled with no explanation thousands more citizens off the voters' rolls; and defied a court order by delaying the opening of polls for the unscheduled third day of voting, aimed at further discouraging potential voters. In rural areas, the government's tactics have been more extreme. It has beaten and threatened polling agents of the opposition MDC, thus ensuring no presence in nearly half of the polling stations in rural areas, and making it much easier to stuff ballot boxes given the paucity of international and domestic observers; placed youth militia camps in the immediate vicinity of polling stations, designed to further intimidate voters; and in a final guarantee, suddenly doubled the number of registered rural voters through a secret process, the preponderance of whom are in areas considered to be ZANU-PF strongholds. The critical questions now are whether Tsvangirai, notwithstanding all the government's efforts, will in fact be declared the winner; whether, if he is, ZANU-PF respects that result; and what will be the popular reaction if Robert Mugabe is seen to be stealing the election. "The risk of major violence erupting is exceedingly high," says John Prendergast, Africa Program Co-Director of the International Crisis Group. "Deep resentment combined with economic desperation has created a pressure cooker in parts of Zimbabwe: there is every chance of an explosion if the results are seen to be fixed. And Mugabe's massive deployment of loosely controlled youth militias and warlord war veterans makes it likely that there will be a bloody reaction to any mass protest or rioting." Whether there is a total breakdown of law and order, in any of these scenarios, is likely to depend in the last resort on the Zimbabwean army, an institution that the current government has attempted to politicise and deprofessionalise over the past two years. The government's new Public Order and Security Act allows its security forces to open fire on demonstrators. Late as the hour now is, ICG believes that there remains a small window of opportunity for the international community to influence a peaceful outcome: South Africa should clearly state that it will not whitewash the results of this election if they are reached illegitimately. The single greatest influence on the calculations of the ZANU-PF inner circle at this point would be the certainty that South Africa will maintain a principled stand. South Africa, along with other southern African states, is also best positioned to affect the immediate calculations of the Zimbabwean military. They should deliver a clear message to the military that they expect it to uphold the constitution and the rule of law, to help keep the peace, and to respect the will of the people. Other key external actors , particularly the European Union and the United States, should echo this diplomacy both publicly and privately. Preparations must begin to totally isolate the ZANU-PF leadership if it clearly steals the election. South Africa and Nigeria should make it clear that the regime will be diplomatically isolated, within SADC, the African Union and the Commonwealth. The EU and U.S. should announce that they will widen and deepen their targeted sanctions against the ZANU-PF leadership, extending them to anyone in senior positions involved in fixing the election, or participating in human rights violations after it. They should indicate also that this targeted sanctions regime will also extend to those individuals and companies directly and culpably involved in the abuse of the ZANU-PF government's economic power."The critical need is to make it clear right now, to all those potentially involved, that participating in an election steal will not be cost free," stated ICG's President Gareth Evans. This election represents a fork in the road for Africa and its promotion of democracy. The continent is championing its own plan for a future relationship with the international community, the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), which is based on principles of good governance and African peer pressure. Zimbabwe is the test case for this fledgling approach, and will signal to the international community whether the continent is indeed serious about fulfilling its own pledges. The elections are also a test of SADC's political will, as Zimbabwe broke all its pledges to that regional organisation. If the ZANU-PF government steals the election, there are no good policy options facing Zimbabwe's regional neighbours or the wider international community. If major violence breaks out - causing or threatening loss of life on a large scale - it will not be possible to avoid considering the question of military intervention. The day or so remaining before the results are declared represents the last best chance to avert a massive crisis. If you have any problems opening ICG reports or files, please email us MEDIA CONTACTS Katy Cronin (London) +44.20.86 82 93 51 Sascha Pichler (Brussels) +32 2 536 00 70 Heather Hurlburt (Washington) +1 202 408 8012 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Zimbabwe Standard (Harare) EDITORIAL March 10, 2002 Matabeleland Set to Slaughter 'Jongwe' John Makura BULAWAYO Residents of Matabe-leland, a region that has been neglected by the government since independence, regard the two day presidential poll that ends today as an excellent opportunity to 'boot out' a ruling party that has been cruel and insensitive to their needs for over 21 years. A year after independence, the Zanu PF government, eager to destroy the Ndebele people who were PF Zapu supporters, was desperate for an excuse to purge the Matabele people. A few dissidents who emerged in the province were the excuse that Mugabe needed to "deal once and for all" with PF Zapu supporters. Over 20 000 civilians were massacred in cold blood by the notorious North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade and several thousands maimed under an operation code-named 'Gukurahundi'. Up to now the Mugabe regime is yet to compensate victims of the Gukurahundi. Apart from the atrocities by the Perence Shiri-led brigade, pleas by the region for government to solve acute water problems experienced there have fallen on deaf ears. For more than 10 years, government has dilly dallied on the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (MZWP) which could transform parts of Matabeleland into a green belt, while at the same time guaranteeing adequate water supplies to Bulawayo, once Zimbabwe's industrial hub. Last year, during the run up to the mayoral election, the government announced that work on the $336,7 billion project was starting in earnest after Malaysian investors had released $24 million for the initial phases of the construction of the Gwai-Shangani Dam. As expected, this turned up to be yet another political gimmick by a government that only recognises the importance of Matabeleland when elections are beckoning. A team of Malaysian engineers which had arrived for the project a few weeks before the Bulawayo mayoral election went back home for 'Christmas' and up to now they are yet to set foot in Matabeleland.
AFP 10 March 2002 No trial for Mugabe if MDC win -- BERLIN - Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has told the German newspaper Die Welt that if he wins crucial presidential elections this weekend, President Robert Mugabe will not be tried. Tsvangirai said in an interview to appear in Sunday's edition of the paper that if he were victorious in the two-day polls, which opened on Saturday in the southern African nation, Mugabe would "not be brought before the courts." "I believe in the adage 'live and let live'. Mugabe has done a lot for this country, but in the end, he destroyed his own legacy," he said, according to the German text of the interview. "He reminds me of my father, who was also stubborn and inflexible," Tsvangirai added. But the opposition leader, who is posing the toughest challenge ever faced by Mugabe, warned the president against any "manipulation" of the polling. "If he went against the will of the people, he would regret it," Tsvangirai said.
SMH 4 March 2002 Decision on Zimbabwe to await poll By Craig Skehan and Michelle Grattan Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon yesterday signalled that Commonwealth leaders will not suspend Zimbabwe before next weekend's election - despite what he described as a "deteriorating" situation. But the Prime Minister, John Howard, meanwhile toughened his rhetoric against Zimbabwe, the knottiest issue facing the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, which opens this morning. In an interview with ABC Asia Pacific TV broadcast on Thursday night, he said the Commonwealth should maintain the Harare principles on minimum democratic standards. "If the Harare principles are to mean something now and into the future, they have to be applied in a fairly consistent fashion." advertisement advertisement The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group discussed Zimbabwe at its meeting yesterday, but Mr McKinnon was tight-lipped about what the group would put to the leaders. Officials said they would certainly consider ways of authorising the Commonwealth to intervene in member states where threats to democracy fell short of an armed coup. One source said leaders would provide for new criteria which would be applied to Zimbabwe after the March 9-10 election. Zimbabwe's visiting opposition foreign policy spokesman, Tendai Biti, told the Herald the Commonwealth "must give a warning" in anticipation that President Robert Mugabe would steal the election and in anticipation there would be "a breakdown in law and order". Mr Biti said there were "precedents" for the international community to intervene where a government lost control "or too much control results in the genocide of innocent people". It might also become necessary for the Commonwealth to help with urgent food aid as tens of thousands were facing starvation because of economic mismanagement and misrule. The British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, was due to meet Mr Howard late last night. Britain, like Australia, has taken a strong position on Zimbabwe, but African nations have refused to go along with it. Before leaving London, Mr Blair indicated Zimbabwe was unlikely to be suspended this weekend. His spokesman said although the Zimbabwe Government was prepared to inflict suffering on its people and flout Commonwealth values, it was "unrealistic' to expect CHOGM to take a decision to suspend Zimbabwe just a few days before the elections were to be held. Australia last hosted CHOGM in Melbourne in 1981. There are 54 Commonwealth countries but Pakistan is suspended and thereby not eligible. All but two - Grenada, and Antigua & Barbuda - of the 53 eligible countries are expected to attend.
Mirror Australian Telegraph Publications 3 March 2002 Mugabe unveils manifesto of hate HARARE: Robert Mugabe has pledged to follow in the blood-stained footsteps of Idi Amin in an attempt to extend his 22-year reign. The Zimbabwean president this week accused Asians in the southern African nation of "economic sabotage" and said their businesses should be seized. The move, reminiscent of Amin's decision to expel tens of thousands of Asians from Uganda in the early 1970s, was seen as further evidence of Mugabe's determination to cling to power, regardless of the result of next weekend's presidential election. In a speech to about 15,000 supporters, he set out his plans for another six-year term. They included: THE seizure of all white-owned farms. THE seizure of all white-owned companies, including mines. ALL whites who "belittled" his administration to be expelled. HARARE'S transport companies, many of them owned by Asians, to be seized. THE ZCTU -- the Zimbabwean equivalent of the Australian Council of Trade Unions -- to be disbanded. The group, formed on Mugabe's orders in the 1980s, has grown critical of his rule, and its former general-secretary, Morgan Tsvangirai, is challenging him for the presidency. COMPANIES that announce closure plans will be seized as this is also tantamount to "economic sabotage". In a speech littered with expletives, Mugabe, 78, said he would expel whites whose "conduct reflected a reluctance to live under black rule". National political commissar Elliot Manyika, of Mugabe's Zanu PF party, also denied the Government was to blame for food shortages that this week resulted in international food aid being distributed for only the second time in 20 years. He said white farmers and Asian merchants were hoarding food to destabilise the government. "There are companies which are creating artificial shortages, while some of them are divesting from this country for political reasons," he said. "We should take over these companies." The announcement came as Mr Tsvangirai, 49, was arrested for the second time in a week. He had earlier been charged with treason over an alleged plot to assassinate Mugabe, and on Friday he was again detained briefly for holding an "illegal gathering". Police said he had broken the law by meeting nine members of his Movement for Democratic Change without seeking permission. His arrest followed that of 31 opposition supporters during a raid on a training session for polling agents. MDC spokesman Learnmore Jongwe said police who raided the training meeting in Harare also beat nine people after accusing them of holding an "illegal gathering". MDC chances of success were further damaged with the news that at least 3000 Zimbabweans had been removed from the electoral roll. Registrar-general Tobaiwa Mudede blamed "human error", but it was uncertain whether the mistake would be rectified. Mr Mudede also confirmed the Government would abide by a Supreme Court ruling ordering it to re-instate voting rights for Zimbabweans living abroad. The Government has earlier said the hundreds of thousands of mostly opposition supporters who had fled to neighbouring countries would not receive postal votes. However, MDC justice spokesman David Coltart said the Government had neither the will nor the ability to organise a postal ballot before voting begins on Saturday. "It is unlikely that thousands of eligible voters who have gone missing from the roll will be re-instated. It is a cynical move by Zanu PF," he said. He added that MDC supporters were being "systematically struck off", but many of them would not know that until they tried to vote.
Independent (UK), 3 March Mugabe opponents forced to campaign at dead of night Matabeleland - Thatched homes and bushes flash by, lit only by a glorious full moon as we speed north in the dead of night. Pamphlets spew out behind us and flutter wildly to the ground. There are more than 30,000 fliers promoting Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in the back. My companions are on the election trail for an opposition party so harassed by President Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF government that it has mostly gone underground, using the cover of night to strew pamphlets, emails and a "whispering campaign" to reach voters with its messages. More than 100 MDC rallies have been prohibited by the police, and many that have been held have been violently disrupted by government supporters who have for months also been campaigning at night - manning roadblocks or roaming from door to door, beating or harassing people who do not have Zanu PF cards. There have been tens of thousands of reported cases of violence and intimidation, and some 100 MDC supporters murdered, in the two years since Zanu PF panicked at the prospect of losing power to a swelling opposition after two decades in power. Matabeleland is an MDC stronghold, but there is still reason to fear intimidation. Our truck's numberplates are false, and the men tossing pamphlets are nervous. "If we come across another vehicle, duck so you can't be seen," says one. "If we get chased, hold on tight." The province is home to the Ndebele, descendants of dissident Zulus who fled north from King Shaka's expanding empire in the 19th century. At a recent rally in Matabeleland, Mr Mugabe reportedly warned the Ndebele that if they voted against him they should "pack their bags" and go back to South Africa. In the 1980s, Mr Mugabe sent in the brutal Fifth Brigade, which crushed dissent among the Ndebele minority at the cost of 20,000 lives. Surveys forecast that Mr Mugabe will win, at most, 30 per cent of the popular vote. Faced with loss of power and the collapse of a patronage system that has richly rewarded party loyalty with jobs, money and land, Zanu PF is resorting to desperate measures. Officials in two provinces are reported to have told villagers to line up behind their headmen at the poll "so that it would be known how they voted". Everything is being done to make up the potential shortfall in votes, from the selective registration of voters to reducing the number of polling stations in MDC-supporting urban areas while increasing those in rural parts. The Electoral Supervisory Commission has been stuffed with security officials and the state-controlled broadcasting corporation is becoming ever more partisan. While many Zimbabweans fear electoral manipulation may enable Mr Mugabe to squeak to victory, in Matabeleland people are confident that he will finally be forced to retire. In some areas, Zanu PF has run out of membership cards due to soaring demand from people who want the protection they bring, but nobody is fooled. "I managed to get one," said a businessman in Bulawayo. "But even the guy selling them supports the MDC."
BBC 2 March 2002 Zimbabwe Supreme Court judge quits The resignation comes a week before the polls A judge on Zimbabwe's Supreme Court judge has resigned only days after throwing out new electoral legislation seen as favouring President Robert Mugabe's re-election. A panel led by Judge Ahmed Ebrahim on Wednesday declared that the electoral amendments had been enacted illegally in January. Among other things, the amendments would have barred independent monitors from next weekend's election and stripped Zimbabweans living abroad of voting rights. Critics say Mugabe has crammed the Supreme Court with his supporters A government minister said that Judge Ebrahim, who was the last non-black judge on the Supreme Court, had announced his retirement without giving any reasons. He is expected to leave the bench in May, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa told the pro-government newspaper The Herald. No comment has yet been reported from the judge himself. Of south Asian origin, Judge Ebrahim has been on the Supreme Court since 1990. In early 2000, he sat with four other judges, two white and two black, but the government subsequently made accusations of pro-white bias and added three black judges. The two whites, Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay and Judge Nicholas McNally, had both left the court by December last year after clashing with the government over its failure to halt violent attacks on white-owned farms. Government officials have attacked the Supreme Court's ruling on the electoral amendments, describing it as a "rotten fish". Election fever On Saturday there were large rival rallies in the southern city of Bulawayo. Thousands of Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF supporters turned up at a stadium to hear the president speak. He said that his policy of reconcilation with the country's former white rulers after independence had been an error. "Did we make a mistake through reconciliation? Yes, deep down I say it was a mistake," said Mr Mugabe. We must make an effort to make sure that we have the highest turnout... we must confirm a resounding defeat for this regime Morgan Tsvangirai At a rally a few miles away, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai told thousands of his own supporters that they should not fear intimidation. "We were determined to bring change to this country because there were some of us who were murdered in order to bring this democratic change," the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader said to cheers. "We must make an effort to make sure that we have the highest turnout... we must confirm a resounding defeat for this regime." The speech was disrupted at one point when a military helicopter circled overhead.
Zimbabwe Independent Friday, 1 March 2002 News Analysis Eric Bloch Column Muckraker Comment Government sets up 146 militia bases THE opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has exposed 146 Zanu PF militia bases around the country ahead of next weekend's presidential election. MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai told international election observers on Tuesday at a closed-door meeting that political gangs were on the rampage. "The government and indeed the ruling party has various militia bases throughout the country," he said. "We will give you details of the bases of armed bands of rogue elements in Zanu PF. They are terrorising people and will be frog-marching voters to polling stations." The bases are located in Mashonaland Central (40), Matabeleland North (29), Mashonaland West (23), Masvingo (13), Bulawayo (13), Mashonaland East (9), Manicaland (9), Chitungwiza (9), Mashonaland East (6), and Harare (5). In Masvingo, Gutu political heavyweights Vice-President Simon Muzenda and deputy Minister of Youth Development, Gender and Employment Creation, Shuvai Mahofa, have intensified Zanu PF's violent poll campaign. The Zimbabwe Independent has learnt that party militias are camped at Muzenda's Paradise Park Motel which they have turned into their main base of operations. They are transported to various parts of Gutu North and South to beat up MDC supporters. Muzenda's security company, Expert Securities, transports the youths in navy blue trucks. Mahofa is allegedly feeding the militias. "Two beasts are slaughtered a week to feed the marauding youths. About 15 animals have already been slaughtered," a source said. The cattle are being taken from nearby farmers. The youths have been camped at Paradise Park Motel for the past month. They have forced the temporary closure of six schools in the two constituencies and imposed curfews at the growth point. The schools affected include Chatikobo, Soti Source, Machingambi primary and secondary and Chitsa primary and secondary. More than 70 teachers have fled the area. At Mukaro Mission the militias last week picked up 10 teachers suspected of being MDC sympathisers. "The fate of the teachers is not known but we are told that they might not come back to the school," sources said. Last week at Domborembavha secondary school the militias sent the headmaster scurrying for his life before they looted household property worth more than $500 000. At Magombedze, Nyamandi and other surrounding schools, teachers have been severely beaten and threatened with death if their abduction is leaked to the press. "I cannot go back to the school before the election because they promised to kill me if I am seen in the area," one teacher from Machingambi Secondary School said. In Gutu South, training camps have been established at Mutambwi secondary school, Munjanganja School, Manhede School, and Mawere township as well as Basera growth point. Zanu PF is offering a $200 incentive to local youths to join the training programme. However, no payments have been received a month later. "Every time we ask for the money, they always say Mai Mahofa will bring it when she comes to address rallies in the area," one of the militiamen said.
Zimbabwe Independent Friday, 1 March 2002 News Analysis Eric Bloch Column Muckraker Comment Diamond dealers fear Mugabe defeat Vincent Kahiya PANIC is setting in among diamond dealers with links to the Zimbabwe government who fear that a defeat for President Robert Mugabe could jeopardise their interests in the region. Sources said a looming victory for Morgan Tsvangirai has seen frantic moves by diamond companies that have benefited from Zimbabwe's presence in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the illicit traffic in "blood diamonds" that has followed. This explains, they said, the dramatic disclosure by Canadian consultancy Dickens & Madson, which has been linked to diamond dealing, of a plot to assassinate Mugabe by Tsvangirai. Intelligence sources this week said the relationship between Zimbabwe's leaders and rogue businessmen, both local and international, involved in trafficking in arms, gemstones and precious metals dating back to the Mozambican civil war in the early 1980s, was under threat. The sources said Zanu PF's partners in the diamond and precious metals trade assisted Zimbabwe to fight Renamo and open up the Beira Corridor in the 1980s. "These are guys who once supported Renamo but turned against the movement and provided information to Zimbabwe thereby undermining rebel positions," a source said. The news followed reports this week that John Bredenkamp, who is exploiting diamond and cobalt deposits in the DRC, had recently put together plans to sell off his claims. Bredenkamp tried to sell his cobalt and diamond concessions last month but the move was blocked by the Congolese who were unhappy about it, especially after Zimbabwe had played a key role in ensuring the ceding of the claims to the businessman, the source said. According to a United Nations Security Council Report, under pressure from Zimbabwe Bredenkamp's Tremalt Ltd in January last year formed a joint venture with Gécamines, called Kababancola Mining Company (KMC). In a 25-year agreement, KMC acquired rights to a concession representing the richest Gécamines holdings, the report said. Bredenkamp pledged to invest $50 million in the mining operations, which translated to 80% of the venture. Profits were to be split between the government of the DRC (68%) and Tremalt (32%). Gécamines is the largest mining operation in the DRC and has holdings in government-controlled Katanga province which contain one of the largest concentrations of high- grade copper and cobalt in the world. Apart from diamonds Zimbabwe is also involved in what the latest Global Witness report calls the largest logging concession in the world, Socebo (Société Congolaise d'Exploitation du Bois), a joint venture between Zimbabwean military controlled Osleg (Operation Sovereign Legitimacy) and Kinshasa-based company Cosleg. The company has started to exploit 33 million hectares of forest in the DRC, 15% of the total land area. Logging has already commenced in Katanga, carried out by the Zimbabwean military in conjunction with a company called SAB Congo. The export sales arm of SAB Congo is a London-based company, African Hardwood Marketing Ltd. Sources said the ring had since Zimbabwe's move into the DRC ensured that the diamond industry in Zimbabwe remained a closely guarded secret. Proposals to open up the industry and develop a processing plant have largely been ignored. Last year United States-based Flashes of Color, a gemstone buying firm, sent a letter to President Mugabe proposing the setting up of a diamond industry to process gemstones from the DRC. To date no response has come from of the Office of the President. The company co-owner, John Marsischky, told the Independent last week that he had been approached by numerous senior politicians and military leaders during a visit to Harare, all of them offering to sell diamonds which had no certificates of origin. Congolese officials are believed to be keen to prosecute both Congolese and foreign companies or individuals who have not adhered to the terms of agreements reached for the exploitation of their resources. They are particularly keen to secure restitution from Israeli generals who have been prominent in the Congolese diamond trade. The timing of the release of a surveillance video in which Dickens & Madson directors led Tsvangirai in explaining what would follow an assassination or coup plot against Mugabe has been seen as linked to a scramble by diamond dealers, many in South Africa, who will no longer be able to launder their stones through Harare. - Staff Writer. \www.theindependent.co.zw/
NYT 12 March 2002 Argentine Default Reopens 'Dirty War' Wounds By LARRY ROHTER BUENOS AIRES, March 11 — First her leftist husband disappeared and then all four of her daughters and two sons-in-law. The "dirty war" that took them ended long ago, but Elsa Oesterheld has never stopped feeling that pain. "The disappearance of a person leaves those who loved him with a sensation of permanent and irreversible anguish," she said. "Even though you have the conviction that they are dead, they're not really dead to you because you have no proof. To this day, I do not have any death certificates, and it all leaves me wondering: why did they kill them and not me?" Now, a quarter of a century later, the Argentine state has again made Mrs. Oesterheld, 77, a victim. After admitting its responsibility for the deaths in her family and promising to pay a sizable indemnity, the government has broken its word. Millions of Argentines are suffering from the government's decision to freeze bank accounts and suspend payments on its debts. But as the country's worst economic crisis ever drags on, the families of the 30,000 people killed by military and security forces during the "dirty war" of the 1970's here are being forced to bear a uniquely painful burden. "Money cannot repair the damage done us, but this makes the situation doubly painful," said Estela de Carlotto, director of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, a human rights group representing relatives of the disappeared. "Not only do we not get our children back and have to endure the state letting their jailers go free, but now we have to put up with the additional injustice and indignity of seeing the money that was paid to us confiscated." For many years after the fall of the military dictatorship here in 1983, the families of the disappeared fought to get the government to admit its guilt and punish those directly responsible. They failed on the latter count as a result of an amnesty that ruled that death squad members were just following orders. But in the mid-1990's the government finally agreed to pay the relatives up to $256,000 as restitution for each death. An additional 12,000 people were held as political prisoners but survived, according to the estimate of Mabel Gutiérrez, director of Relatives of the Disappeared and Political Detainees, a human rights group. They are entitled to compensation based on how long they were jailed and whether they were tortured. "The state had a choice, through the law it passed, of paying in cash or with bonds, and it opted to pay with bonds," said Rodolfo Ojea Quintana, a lawyer who represents the families of the disappeared. "But with the default in December, it has now reneged on payments to all bondholders, including the families of the disappeared." The government's decision to suspend payments of interest and principal on its foreign and domestic debts has meant material hardship for families that have been suffering emotionally for decades. The most affected are also the most vulnerable: aging retirees like Mrs. Oesterheld, and the young grandchildren of those killed. "I'm not asking to redeem the bonds completely," she said in an interview in her small apartment. "All that I am asking is the payment of interest so that I will have enough money to live on." Her husband, Héctor Oesterheld, who disappeared in 1977 at the age of 58, was a popular cartoonist and a sometime screenwriter whose style has been described as "equal parts Stan Lee and Albert Camus" by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, a group that defends cartoonists worldwide. As the author of a comic book version of the life of Che Guevara, he was regarded with suspicion by the military, and finally he went underground because of his sympathies with the left-wing Montonero guerrillas, sealing his fate. "I never liked politics in any form, and when Héctor did the Che book, I warned him he would be marked as a Communist, even though he wasn't one," said Mrs. Oesterheld, who sold the rights to her husband's work after his death because she needed money. "He laughed that off, but he was terribly naïve, and it led him to make the big mistake that cost him his life." After Mr. Oesterheld, one by one the couple's four daughters, students with leftist sympathies, also disappeared: first Beatriz, 19, after a lunch with her mother on June 19, 1977; then Diana and Estela, and their husbands; then Marina. Only Beatriz's body was ever recovered. Lawyers and government officials say that although they recognize the moral force of the claim of Mrs. Oesterheld and other relatives, to make an exception for them would infringe the legal principle that all creditors must be treated equally, and would expose the government to a flood of lawsuits from other bondholders and bank depositors. "It is extremely painful to us to see that people are being victimized by this situation," said Eduardo Amadeo, the spokesman for President Eduardo Duhalde. "We will make the greatest effort possible to resolve this, taking into account the legal restrictions that are in place." But relatives of the disappeared find it offensive that the Argentine state, whose systematic use of violence against their family members violated every canon of the rule of law, now cites that same principle as the reason it cannot provide compensation. "We became creditors not by choice but because the state finally assumed its responsibility for the death of our loved ones," Mrs. Gutiérrez said. "They took our children and never answered our questions about what was done with them, not where, how, why, or when. Then they tried to clean their consciences giving us these bonds, and now there's not even that. It's too much too bear." Alcira Ríos, another lawyer representing the families of the disappeared, said that if the government failed to resume payments promptly, a complaint would be filed with international tribunals. "These are victims of state terrorism, not investors," she said, "so it is simply not permissible to make them victims again by treating them as if they were any ordinary creditor." In Mrs. Oesterheld's case, she split the indemnity for her husband's death with the only surviving members of her family, a pair of grandsons: Martín Mórtola Oesterheld, 27, and Fernando Araldi Oesterheld, 26. They have filed separate claims for reparations for the deaths of their parents, but have not been compensated and say that they need the money now being denied them. "At the moment, there isn't even any work for us because the economy is in this huge mess," said Mr. Mórtola, a graphic artist and stage designer who was largely raised by Mrs. Oesterheld. "So the symbolism of this action by the state is very strong, like a slap in the face or a punch in the stomach." Mrs. Oesterheld was also awarded $160,000 as compensation for the death of her youngest daughter, Marina, who was eight months pregnant when she was abducted and is reported to have been allowed to give birth while in detention before being executed. But Mrs. Oesterheld has always refused to touch that account. "It's not my money," she said firmly. "It may be set away in my name, but it belongs to Marina's child, who could appear at any moment." If Mr. Araldi is compensated, he intends to do something similar, he said. His mother, Mrs. Oesterheld's daughter Diana, was also pregnant when she disappeared and is known to have been kept alive long enough to deliver her child, so he hopes eventually to be able to share the money with the younger brother or sister he has never met and nd whose identity remains unknown. "I don't know whether my sibling is going to show up tomorrow or 40 years from now, but I'm sure he or she will eventually appear," Mr. Araldi said. "I don't think life can be so unjust that I would never get to meet him."
AFP 10 Mar 2002 -- Traditional parties routed in Colombian congressional elections BOGOTA, March 10 (AFP) - Colombia's two largest and most traditional political parties were routed in congressional elections here Sunday, with voters electing in their stead a bevy of right-wing and left-wing independents. Supporters of hard-line independent presidential Alvaro Uribe did best in largely peaceful nationwide voting Sunday, followed, ironically, by supporters of Antonio Navarro Wolf, an ex-guerrilla from the demobilized M-19 rebel group swept into the senate. Congressional candidates from President Andres Pastrana's Conservative Party were routed, along with those from the Liberal Party, Colombia's largest and best-organized political organization. Liberals and Conservative presidents alternated power in Colombia throughout most of the 20th century. Sunday's balloting, which was largely peaceful, took place 18 days after President Andres Pastrana ended a three-year-old peace process with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Latin America's most powerful rebel group. The FARC has called on Colombians to refrain from balloting, but dire predictions of widespread violence turned out to be baseless. Colombian voters had to elect 102 senators and 166 representatives, the whole of the nation's congress. As of 10 pm Sunday (0300 GMT Monday), and with 90 percent of the votes counted, Liberals had 32 seats in the senate -- down from 56 -- while Pastrana's Conservatives had 13 senate seats, down from 17. The remainder was taken up by independent candidates, some supporting Navarro, others supporting Uribe, and still others personalities with no clear political stance. Figures for the Chamber of Representives were still preliminary. Officials said that 95 percent of the country was calm, with isolated incidents of violence, including ballot-box burning, in remote rural areas. In regions where right-wing paramilitaries were active there was pressure to elect candidates of their choosing. Last week a commander with the United Self-Defense units of Colombia (AUC) said that his group would like to see one-third of Congress represent his group's views. The AUC, as well as the FARC and two smaller leftist groups, are considered terrorist organizations by Washington. The single biggest vote-getter of the evening was Luis Alfredo Ramos, the former mayor of Medellin, Colombia's second largest city. Senate seats are elected nationwide, while chamber of representative seats are elected locally. Also elected to office is former labor leader and ex-M-19 guerrilla Luis Alberto Gil. The M-19 rebels signed a peace agreement with the government and put down their weapons in 1990. Since then many of the ex-rebels have been killed -- an example FARC leaders point to as proof that the government cannot guarantee their safety if they cease hostilities. Navarro himself was the victim of an assasination attempt more than a decade ago. A grenade thrown at him ripped off a leg and damaged his vocal chords. In some regions, such as the oil-producing Arauca department bordering Venezuela, FARC guerrillas declared voters a "military target," and called for an "armed strike," in which any moving vehicle can be attacked. Yet officials said that elections had been suspended in just seven of the country's 1,097 municipalities, though soldiers had to operate polling stations at some sites in the Arauca region due to the threats. Uribe, a Liberal Party dissident, is hands-down the front runner in the May 26 elections with 60 percent support, according to a recent poll. He is followed by Liberal Party stalwart Horacio Serpa with 24 percent. The Conservative Party candidate has single-digit support, while support for abducted Green Oxygen Party candidate Ingrid Betancourt is below one percent. Also on the Sunday's ballot: five candidates the FARC is holding hostage. As of late Sunday it seemed likely that none of them would be elected to office.
Reuters 9 March 2002 U.S. should ask "forgiveness" of Cuba-Castro By Andrew Cawthorne HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuban President Fidel Castro has lambasted the U.S.-led war on terrorism as hypocritical and says Washington should ask forgiveness for four decades of hostile actions since the 1959 Cuban Revolution. "The government of the United States should ask Cuba for forgiveness for the thousands of acts of aggression, sabotage and terrorism committed against our country for 43 years," Castro said in a speech on Friday night. His tough speech contrasted with a more conciliatory mood in recent months from Cuban leaders who had suggested U.S.-Cuban cooperation for the transfer of prisoners from Afghanistan to the Guantanamo Bay Naval base could be a model between the Cold War foes for working together on other areas. Castro was speaking at a ceremony to honour the mothers and wives of five Cubans jailed in Florida on spy-related charges but hailed here as heroes unjustly punished for protecting their nation from anti-Castro violence planned on U.S. soil. "Our heroes will have to be freed. The enormous injustice committed against them will be known by the whole world ... men who defended their people from death by seeking information on terrorism," he said of the five, convicted last year for infiltrating Cuban American groups and a U.S. military base. Three of the five alleged members of "The Wasp Network" spy ring received life sentences from a Miami court late last year, while the other two were imprisoned for 15 and 19 years respectively. Castro, 75 and one of the world's longest-serving leaders and best-known opponents of the U.S. government, said Washington's declared new war on terrorism following the Sept. 11 attacks was two-faced. "The U.S. government will never have the moral authority to combat terrorism while it continues to use such practices against nations like Cuba and to support massive, repugnant and brutal massacres like those carried out by its ally Israel against the Palestinian people," Castro said. "It should renounce its policy of world domination, stop intervening in other countries, respect the United Nations' authority and comply with international treaties it signed." 'HEIGHT OF ARROGANCE' The U.S list of seven nations alleged to sponsor terrorism was "the height of arrogance," Castro added. "They have the cynicism to mention Cuba among those countries, when thousands of Cubans have died as victims of terrorism from the U.S. and not one U.S. citizen has suffered the least scratch nor has one screw even been affected by any action of such a nature by Cuba." In a long list of grievances against Washington, Castro said Cuba was owed an apology for its economic embargo, whose banning of food and medicine were "acts of genocide." Castro also listed violence allegedly planned by anti-communist Cuban Americans including a 1976 bomb that killed 73 people on a Cuban plane and 1997 explosions at tourism installations; assassination plots against himself; biological "wars" on people, animals and plants; and the "illegal and arbitrary" U.S. occupation of the Guantanamo Bay Naval base. U.S. President George W. Bush's government has made it clear it wants no rapprochement with Castro unless there are reforms to his one-party socialist system. The State Department chided Havana this week for failing to provide better help in the post-Sept. 11 scramble to gather information round the world to find the culprits of the attacks. "There is no inclination in this building or anywhere in the executive branch to consider that Cuba is anywhere near qualified to come off the terrorism list," a State Department official told Reuters in Washington this week. The State Department says Cuba is on its blacklist -- with Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria -- because former members of the Basque separatist group ETA and some U.S. fugitives live on the island, while Havana also has links with Colombia's guerrilla movements.
OneWorld US 1 Mar 2002 Fresh Calls for Justice Six Years After Guatemala's Peace Accord Jim Lobe, Almost six years after a peace accord ending 30 years of war, Guatemala is suffering a new surge of violence resulting from its failure to punish past human rights abuses and end impunity, according to a report released by Amnesty International Thursday in Madrid, Spain. The report, 'Guatemala: The Lethal Legacy of Impunity,' focuses on the failure of Guatemala's authorities to implement human-rights provisions of the peace accords and recommends reforms to ensure that the institutions which committed abuses are dismantled. In particular, according to the report, the judicial system has failed to try and punish the perpetrators of past violence or protect the victims of new injustices. One result is that growing numbers of Guatemalans are taking the law into their own hands. "Having committed mass murder with impunity during the conflict years, those responsible see little reason to rein in their activities now," according to the report. "They have also engaged in a whole new range of economically motivated crimes, abetted and covered up by state agencies, in what has been referred to as Guatemala's 'Corporate Mafia State.'" "Meanwhile, crime rates and vigilante justice spiral, as citizens lose respect for the law," the report states. Some 200,000 people "disappeared" or were summarily killed during Guatemala's civil war which reached its height in a scorched-earth counter-insurgency campaign in the Mayan Highlands in the late 1970s and early 1980s when hundreds of villages were razed and almost all of their inhabitants, including women and children, were massacred. Two inquiries--one by the Catholic Church and another by a Historical Clarification Commission created by the 1996 peace accords--established that the vast majority of abuses were carried out by the Guatemalan military and army-backed civil patrols. Both also recommended that the officials responsible for these crimes be identified and the institutions which supported or orchestrated them dismantled. Yet almost six year later, these recommendations, as well as human rights-related reforms included in the peace accords, have not been implemented, according to the report. "Far from building the firm and lasting peace called for by the Peace Accords, Guatemala is continuing down the path of lawlessness and terror," according to the report. "Those responsible are still walking free and continuing to wield power in today's Guatemala." "This sends a message to those in power that they can literally get away with murder, and paves the way for renewed abuses," it added, noting that those fighting for justice, including survivors of atrocities, relatives of victims, human rights activists, and members of the judiciary have been particularly at risk. The report details three particularly notorious assassinations of prominent Guatemalans; the 1998 killing of Catholic Bishop Juan Jose Gerardi, who headed one of the human rights inquiries; the 1990 murder of anthropologist and human rights activist Myrna Mack, and the 1994 slaying of Judge Epaminondas Gonzalez Dubon, who had ordered the extradition of an army officer to the U.S. on drug-trafficking charges in which convictions were eventually obtained, but only of low-level officers. Prosecutors, judges, investigators, and witnesses in all three cases were subject to intimidation, death threats and, in some cases, actual attacks, including the fatal shooting of a police inspector in the Mack case. As a result, many of those involved went into hiding or exile. In two of the cases, the Estado Mayor Presidencial, an especially notorious intelligence unit which the current president, Alfonso Portillo, promised to dismantle, actively frustrated the prosecution by withholding evidence and witnesses, and even protecting defendants, according to the report. In all three cases, those senior officers believed to have been the "intellectual authors" have never been charged and remain at large, the report concluded. Investigations and prosecutions of massacres in the Indian highlands have been even more difficult, as public prosecutors have generally shown little interest in pursuing the cases, according to the report, which details several examples. In only a handful of cases, convictions have been obtained, but all against army-organized civil patrols or low-ranking officers. Even in those cases, threats against judges and other court officers, intimidation and attacks against witnesses, and, in at least one case, against the child of a witness, repeatedly disrupted and frustrated the prosecutions. "Death threats, attacks and other acts of intimidation against those advocating social change or combating impunity are a daily occurrence," the report found. "Offices have been broken into and important data stolen. Others have been subjected to electronic surveillance and their e-mail traffic monitored. Guatemala's human rights community is living under siege."
Chicago Tribune 3 March 2002 Ex-agent links incinerator to death squad LIMA, PERU -- A former Peruvian intelligence agent has testified that a paramilitary death squad may have used an incinerator to cremate its victims, a congressional investigator says. Congresswoman Anel Townsend, chairwoman of a committee investigating former President Alberto Fujimori's government, said Friday that she would send the agent's statements to prosecutors. She did not identify the person giving the information. The lawmaker presented preliminary results of her committee's inquiry into allegations by a former intelligence agent that she was held at a torture center in army intelligence headquarters several years ago. Townsend showed a videotape of the former intelligence agent guiding committee members through rooms in the basement where she was allegedly tortured in 1997 on suspicion of leaking government secrets. The video also showed a brick oven in a separate basement at the headquarters where army officials said documents were routinely destroyed. The Colina group was a paramilitary death squad that authorities say committed two high-profile massacres of supposed guerrilla sympathizers in the early 1990s. Fujimori has been in exile in Japan since November 2000, when a corruption scandal toppled his 10-year authoritarian government.
March 13, 2002 Cheney Says U.S. Is a Mideast Force for Peace By REUTERS Filed at 8:15 a.m. ET SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (Reuters) - Vice President Dick Cheney Wednesday emphasized the role of the United States as Middle East peacemaker as violence between Palestinians and Israelis overshadowed his mission to build support for the U.S.-led war on terrorism. Comments from a senior U.S. official on Cheney's trip suggested growing impatience with Israel. The official said while Washington remained a strong supporter of Israel, ``the level of violence that we're seeing now in the Middle East needs to stop.'' Cheney earlier spoke to some 350 U.S. National Guard troops taking part in an international peacekeeping mission in Sinai, and was to meet later with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Egypt is the vice president's second stop on a tour of 11 Middle East states to drum up backing for the war on terrorism and the U.S. campaign against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. ``This region is both the site of many conflicts and one of the critical centers of American interest -- economic, military and political,'' Cheney said. ``Our country is engaged in the Middle East as a force for stability and long-term peace.'' The senior U.S. official told reporters the increasingly bloody violence between Israelis and Palestinians was taking time from Cheney's discussions with Middle East leaders about the war on terrorism and the U.S. drive to prevent Iraq from acquiring or using weapons of mass destruction. But it had not pushed the other issues off the agenda nor weakened U.S. determination, the official said. He said the prospect for resuming Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations was now remote, despite a separate peace mission by U.S. Middle East envoy Anthony Zinni, who is due in the region Thursday. Cheney is due to meet Zinni on his tour. ``There shouldn't be any doubt in anybody's mind about our strong support for Israel,'' the official said. ``(But) there is a point where we need now to bring the current violence to an end.'' Washington has for months focused on Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in demanding more steps to end the violence. That sentiment was missing from the official's comments Monday. In Jordan Tuesday, King Abdullah urged the vice president to focus on ending 17 months of Israeli-Palestinian fighting and warned him against attacking Iraq, amid speculation that Iraq could be next on Washington's list after Afghanistan. NEXT OBJECTIVE Cheney said work remained in the first U.S. objective in the war on terrorism -- to crush the militant Islamic al Qaeda network, blamed for the September 11 attacks on the United States, and prevent it from regrouping outside Afghanistan. ``Our next objective is to prevent terrorists and regimes that sponsor terror from threatening America or our friends and allies with weapons of mass destruction,'' Cheney told the U.S. troops from a National Guard brigade from Arkansas. ``The United States will not permit the forces of terror to gain the tools of genocide,'' Cheney said. Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher, who met Cheney on his arrival, had earlier said Egypt was ready to discuss any issue with him but that the continuing Israeli attacks on Palestinians were foremost on the agenda. Israel has been pursuing its biggest military offensive in the West Bank and Gaza in 35 years, using armored vehicles and tanks. At least 1,057 Palestinians and 340 Israelis have been killed since the violence began in September 2000. Mubarak was in Washington earlier this month where he met President Bush and called for greater U.S. involvement in the quest for Middle East peace. Egypt was the first Arab state to sign a peace treaty with Israel and has traditionally played a key mediation role in the Arab-Israeli conflict. In the past, Egypt has urged Iraq to comply with U.N. resolutions to avoid any possible U.S. strikes, but has also said it opposed widening military action to include Iraq.
Reuters 11 March 2002 Bush Marks Anniversary, Says War Entering New Phase WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Six months after the attacks that shook the world, President Bush on Monday said the war on terrorism had entered a new phase -- preventing al Qaeda militants from establishing new havens, starting with Yemen, Georgia and the Philippines. ``Every terrorist must be made to live as an international fugitive, with no place to settle or organize, no place to hide, no governments to hide behind and not even a safe place to sleep,'' Bush said. Speaking on the White House South Lawn, Bush marked six months since the Sept. 11 attacks with a call against complacency. About 1,300 people were present at the event, including members of Congress, more than 100 ambassadors, about 300 family members who lost relatives in the attacks and rescuers who responded to the disasters. More than 170 flags flew in a symbolic show of solidarity with the United States. The ambassadors from Nigeria, South Korea and Turkey offered statements of support. In an eerie coincidence, planes taking off from nearby Washington National Airport flew in the distance as security agents on the White House roof scanned the skies with binoculars. With the war in Afghanistan well in hand, Bush said, the United States was providing military training and equipment to the governments of the Philippines, Georgia and Yemen, representing the next phase in the war on terrorism. ``We will not send American troops to every battle, but America will actively prepare other nations for the battles ahead,'' he said. As Vice President Dick Cheney embarked on a Middle East tour to drum up support against Iraq, Bush expressed his fears about nations believed to be developing weapons of mass destruction. However, he did not single out by name Iraq, Iran and North Korea -- countries he has called an ``axis of evil.'' ``Here is what we already know: Some states that sponsor terror are seeking or already possess weapons of mass destruction. Terrorist groups are hungry for these weapons, and would use them without a hint of conscience. And we know that these weapons, in the hands of terrorists, would unleash blackmail and genocide and chaos,'' he said. NO MARGIN FOR ERROR ``There is no margin for error and no chance to learn from mistakes. Our coalition must act deliberately but inaction is not an option,'' the president said. Bush has been criticized by Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, a South Dakota Democrat, for failing to sufficiently explain the U.S. strategy to take the war on terrorism beyond Afghanistan. A Washington Post-ABC News poll published on Monday said public support for the war on terrorism remains strong and largely undiminished by recent U.S. military casualties in Afghanistan. It gave Bush an 82 percent job approval rating. In the Philippines, Bush said, ``terrorists with links to al Qaeda are trying to seize the southern part of the country to establish a militant regime.'' The United States has sent more than 500 troops there to train Philippine forces. In Georgia, he said, ``terrorists working closely with al Qaeda operate in the Pankisi Gorge near the Russian border,'' and Washington is planning to send up to 150 military trainers to prepare Georgian soldiers to re-establish control. ``In Yemen we are working to avert the possibility of another Afghanistan. Many al Qaeda recruits come from near the Yemen-Saudi Arabian border, and al Qaeda may try to reconstitute itself in the remote corners of that region,'' Bush said. ``We will help Yemeni forces with both training and equipment to prevent that land from becoming a haven for terrorists,'' he said. CELLS THOUGHT IN MORE THAN 60 NATIONS The Bush administration believes al Qaeda cells are located in more than 60 nations, including the United States. ``This mission will end when the work is finished -- when terror networks of global reach have been defeated. The havens and training camps of terror are a threat to our lives and to our way of life, and they will be destroyed,'' Bush said. Since U.S. bombs began falling in Afghanistan on Oct. 7, 2001, the Taliban government has been toppled, al Qaeda has been broken up and an interim government friendly to the United States has been installed. The whereabouts of Osama bin Laden remain a mystery, with some U.S. officials assuming he is alive while some, like Bush himself, publicly suspecting he might be dead.
AP 5 MArch 2002 'Arab Card' Played in Senate Race By J.M. HIRSCH, CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - The Arab card has been thrown down on the table in the race for Senate in New Hampshire. Rep. John E. Sununu has been the subject of accusations — some of them made anonymously, some of them made openly by his GOP rival's campaign — that the Arab-American congressman is anti-Israel and soft on terrorism. The allegations could be just the start of a dirty, expensive and high-stakes campaign for the historically Republican Senate seat, now held by Bob Smith. Smith, 62, and Sununu, 37, will face off in the Sept. 10 primary. The winner is expected to battle Democratic Gov. Jeanne Shaheen in an election that could help decide control of the nearly tied Senate. Smith has never been quoted referring to Sununu's ethnicity, but questions about terrorism and the congressman's Lebanese and Palestinian heritage surfaced last fall in a flurry of news reports. Among them was a New Republic story that identified Sununu as the only ethnic Palestinian in Congress and quoted an unidentified Smith adviser as saying of Sununu: "People are just beginning to focus on how pro-Arab he is and how naive his positions are on the terrorism issue." Smith spokeswoman Lisa Harrison said the senator's staff was never contacted about the story and would never make an issue of a candidate's ethnic background. But Franklin Foer, associate editor of the magazine and author of the story, said he talked to the senator's staff and campaign repeatedly. In fact, Foer said, two people — a Smith staffer and a supporter — sent the magazine a fact sheet titled "John E. Sununu: A Pattern of Support for Radical Anti-Israel Causes Funded by Radical Islamic Fundamentalists." Sununu spokeswoman Barbara Riley said the facts tell a different story about Sununu, whose father, John H. Sununu, was governor of New Hampshire and White House chief of staff under George Bush. "Number one, any charge that Congressman Sununu's voting record on the Middle East is anti-Israel is baseless," she said. "He has consistently supported financial military assistance for Israel. Number two, John has strongly supported President Bush 's proposals to eliminate global terrorist organizations." Still, Smith's campaign director, Corey Lewandowski, has repeatedly questioned Sununu's commitment to Israel and the fight against terrorism. In November, former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited New Hampshire at Smith's invitation. Lewandowski told The Boston Globe last month: "Mr. Netanyahu knows that Senator Smith has been a supporter of Israel and Congressman Sununu has never been a supporter of Israel. He's consistently voted against Israel. I think that was part of the impetus for Mr. Netanyahu wanting to come up and campaign for Bob Smith." Later, Lewandowski told The Associated Press the Globe misquoted him, then said he misspoke in the interview. He said Netanyahu's visit was not a campaign event or intended to highlight differences between Smith and Sununu on Israel. In December, Sununu went to a fund-raiser attended by Ziad Asali, president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. Following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Asali said Osama bin Laden may be posing as a champion to some Muslims because he had seized on "legitimate grievances deeply felt in the Arab and Islamic world." Asali also contributed $1,000 to Sununu in December. "If that is the type of person Congressman Sununu feels should be contributing to his campaign, then I think that may call into question his views on terrorism," Lewandowski told the AP. Former Sen. Warren Rudman, a Sununu supporter and Mideast expert, said the accusations will hurt Smith. "I'm not the only person who has looked at some of these things and rolled his eyes," Rudman said. "This primary should be fought out on issues, not on silliness, and to some extent character assassination and guilt by association." Anthony Corrado, a professor of government at Colby College, said he was not surprised to see the ethnic card played. Since Sept. 11, "we can expect that issues of being weak on terrorism, and even xenophobic statements, will be part of the negative discourse we see in the hard-fought contests." Tom Rath, a New Hampshire Republican political consultant, said the Arab issue will not matter to voters. According to census estimates, New Hampshire's Arab population is one-fifth of 1 percent of the state's 1.2 million residents. "I've heard no resonance of the issue whatsoever other than the inside baseball Washington sort of reports," Rath said. "It doesn't seem to me to have had any traction in New Hampshire." Shaheen's husband is of Lebanese descent. But that has not become an issue. Sununu has voted for foreign aid packages that included about $3 billion to boost Israel's military and economy, and opposed a measure that would have reduced aid. But in 1999 he was one of six Republicans to vote against a measure opposing the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian free state, according to the Congressional Quarterly Almanac. And last year he was the only Republican to vote against a bill penalizing the Palestinian Authority if it declared itself an independent state without Israel's consent. Smith opposes unilateral moves by Palestine to declare itself an independent state. The candidates differ on the use of classified evidence to deport suspected terrorists. Smith favors the measure; Sununu considers it unconstitutional.
NYT March 2, 2002 Experts Dispute Bush Aide's Criticism of War Crimes Panels By BARBARA CROSSETTE NITED NATIONS, March 1 — Secretary General Kofi Annan and international law experts rose to a strong defense of United Nations war crimes tribunals for the Balkans and Rwanda today in response to a broadside attack on them on Thursday by the Bush administration's ambassador for war crimes. In testimony to Congress, the American war crimes ambassador, Pierre-Richard Prosper, cast doubt on the integrity of the tribunals. "The professionalism of some personnel has been called into question, with allegations of mismanagement and abuse," he said. Mr. Prosper said the administration wanted both tribunals to focus on winding up their work by 2007- 2008. Justice Richard Goldstone of South Africa's Constitutional Court, who was the first chief prosecutor for the tribunals, said today that talking about a timetable in these terms was equivalent to holding a sword of Damocles over the heads of these judicial panels. "It is premature, in my view, to start placing a limit on the lives of the tribunals," he said in an interview by e-mail from South Africa. "They are functioning as well as could be expected and they must be allowed to complete their work." Justice Goldstone also said that only a Security Council resolution — subject to the veto of any of the five permanent members — could bring an end to the tribunals' work. In Strasbourg, France, the 43-nation Council of Europe condemned what it called unacceptable American pressure and attempts to interfere with international justice. The tribunals have always been ad hoc, and judges and prosecutors have been studying plans for phasing out their work for more than a year. The Security Council created the tribunal for the Balkans in 1993 after atrocities in Bosnia began to be widely reported. The Rwanda court was established in 1995, a year after a campaign of genocide that left hundreds of thousands dead. What surprised international lawyers and rights groups was the timing of the Bush administration's remarks, just as the trial of Slobodan Milosevic, the mastermind of Serbian campaigns in the Balkans, has begun in The Hague. Richard Dicker, director of the international justice program at Human Rights Watch in New York, called the remarks a "smear campaign," adding, "For Pierre Prosper to make his comments at a time when the court has begun the most important international criminal trial since Nuremberg — and when the accused, Slobodan Milosevic, is calling into question the legitimacy of the tribunal — that is totally incomprehensible." Today a spokeswoman for Mr. Annan, who was returning from a trip to Europe, hit back at Mr. Prosper's comments, which were made in Washington at a hearing held by the House International Relations Committee. "We reject any allegations of corruption and mismanagement," the spokeswoman, Marie Okabe, said, adding that the United Nations needed specifics from Mr. Prosper. Legal experts say that while it was widely known that there have been management problems at the Rwanda tribunal, which is based in Arusha, Tanzania, the only serious questions that had been raised about the Balkan tribunal concerned some defense lawyers' decisions to split their fees with the families of those they were defending, which lawyers here consider professionally unethical but unrelated to the management of the court. Mr. Prosper told the House committee that the administration still wanted to see "those who bear the greatest responsibility" for war crimes to stand trial at the tribunals. Among those he included Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb leader whom international troops tried and failed to capture on Thursday, and Ratko Mladic, the Bosnia Serb military chief. But he added that lower-level war criminals should be tried in national courts. Legal experts who have followed these tribunals, and urged the creation of similar ones for Cambodia, East Timor and Sierra Leone, say that flies in the face of conditions on the ground. "This is willfully ignoring the realities that led to the creation of these two tribunals in the first place," Mr. Dicker said. "That is the absence of an independent and impartial judiciary in these countries that could conduct credible trials." In Rwanda, for instance, said Alison des Forges, an expert on the Rwandan judicial system who teaches at the University of California at Berkeley, this step would mean throwing trials into the hands of an untested new system of community courts known as gacaca. "Gacaca represents a very courageous but completely untried experiment in popular justice," she said. "We have no idea how it is going to work. There have been no trials under this system as yet. They have selected 260,000 judges, most of whom have no training, no education beyond primary school." In his testimony, Mr. Prosper also renewed the administration's rejection of the International Criminal Court, which is nearing the ratification by 60 countries needed for it to begin functioning. That court, in essence a permanent war crimes tribunal, is intended to make ad hoc tribunals unnecessary. The Pentagon has been deeply opposed to it, saying that American soldiers and officials abroad would be subject to prosecution in any number of places, often for political or ideological reasons, and that this would hamstring American action. Some diplomats here say that since the American-led war on terrorism is expanding from Afghanistan to the Philippines, Georgia and Yemen, the fears of the American military must be even more acute. At the International Peace Academy, a research organization with close ties to the United Nations, David Malone, a Canadian diplomat who is the organization's president, said that since Sept. 11 the United States had received considerable sympathy from many developing nations and seemed to be reaching out more to Arab leaders. But, he added, at the same time Washington seems to be distancing itself from some of its closest allies on a range of issues, including how to deal with Iraq, and in rejecting international courts, which all European nations and most NATO members support. Diplomats say they are perplexed that the United States appears not to accept that terrorism needs to be fought with a maximum of international cooperation, as Secretary General Annan has said.
WP 1 March 2001 U.S. Seeks End to War Crimes Tribunals by 2008 By Colum Lynch Special to The Washington Post Friday, March 1, 2002; Page A19 UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 28 -- The top U.S. war crimes official said today that the Bush administration will press for closing the U.N. war crimes tribunals for Rwanda and Yugoslavia by 2008. But he said the United States first wants two leading fugitives from the Bosnian conflict captured and delivered to The Hague to face trial. Pierre-Richard Prosper, the U.S. ambassador-at-large for war crimes, told the House International Relations Committee in Washington that former Bosnian Serb president Radovan Karadzic and Gen. Ratko Mladic, who commanded Bosnian Serb forces during the 1992-95 war in the former Yugoslav republic, "will not remain beyond the reach of the law." The two are charged with genocide and war crimes. "We have the requisite patience and are committed to holding them to answer before the tribunal," Prosper said. The Bush administration has not identified other individuals who must face trial before the tribunals -- which operate in The Hague and Arusha, Tanzania -- are closed. Prosper said the two courts have been troubled by mismanagement and corruption. "In both tribunals, the process, at times, has been costly, lacked efficiency and has been too slow," he said. As a result, he said, the Bush administration was "urging both tribunals to begin to aggressively focus on the endgame and conclude their work by 2007-2008." U.S. officials said they prefer letting national courts try war criminals whenever feasible, a principle that contributes to U.S. opposition to the creation of an international criminal court. "When war crimes do occur, we look first to a state's domestic system for action," Prosper said.
WP Guilty Bystander 'A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide' by Samantha Power By Reviewed by Adam Hochschild Sunday, March 3, 2002; Page BW05 "A PROBLEM FROM HELL" America and the Age of Genocide By Samantha Power Basic. 610 pp. $30 Midway through Samantha Power's forceful and saddening new book comes a telling moment. It is April 1994, and there is a press conference at the State Department. An official speaks about the pending evacuation of Americans from Rwanda, where violence has broken out. Then department spokesman Michael McCurry makes a statement criticizing governments that have banned showings of the film "Schindler's List." "The most effective way to avoid the recurrence of genocidal tragedy," he says, "is to ensure that past acts of genocide are never forgotten." As McCurry speaks, the well-planned, high-speed slaughter of some 800,000 Rwandan Tutsi is just getting under way, with the full knowledge of the United States. Samantha Power, the director of a human rights center at Harvard, looked at a string of genocides that stretched across the 20th century. In every case, the U.S. government knew what was happening. Power saw one of these mass murders, the war in Bosnia, firsthand as a freelance correspondent. In her conclusion she quotes David Rieff, another writer who has also grappled with genocide and intervention. The famous moral of "Never again!" that we are all supposed to draw from the Holocaust, he says, has come to mean that never again will Germans murder Jews in the 1940s. Power repeatedly comes back to the ironic juxtaposition of Holocaust and holocaust. In 1978, some 120 million TV viewers watched the mini-series "Holocaust." The same year, Pol Pot's hideous genocide in Cambodia was in full swing. Remaining piles of skulls and bones testify to killing and deliberate starvation that wiped out some two million Cambodians, many of whom were tortured first. The United States not only did nothing to stop this, but sent support to Pol Pot after his overthrow. Geopolitics had prevailed: Pol Pot was backed by our new friend, China, and had been overthrown by Soviet-allied Vietnam. In 1993, the Holocaust Museum opened in Washington, accompanied by many more vows of "Never again." This was just the point when Sarajevo was under siege, in the agonizingly drawn-out Serb campaign against the Muslims of Bosnia. Until far, far too late, President Clinton, just like the elder George Bush before him, looked the other way. Why have we not learned more from the searing example of the Holocaust? In his brilliant and unduly ignored book The Holocaust in American Life, the historian Peter Novick suggests one reason. Most of the leading American Jewish organizations have preferred to use Holocaust commemoration to lobby for unconditional U.S. support of Israel rather than to raise awareness of genocide wherever it may occur. Power's survey of American apathy begins early in the century with the Turkish slaughter of Armenians. Not only did the United States fully know what was going on, but one of the most passionate lobbyists for action by Washington was the U.S. ambassador to Turkey, Henry Morgenthau Sr., who is still a hero to Armenians today. Power then covers half a dozen other genocides, including one we now usually forget: Iraq's savage attack on its Kurdish population in the late 1980s. The United States at that point was giving various kinds of under-the-table aid to Iraq (geopolitics again: it was at war with Iran), and the Kurds got no help. Power ends with one hopeful example: Kosovo, where the belated U.S. and European intervention may have saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of Kosovar Albanians. It also helped topple the house-of-cards regime of the man who wanted to kill or expel them, Slobodan Milosevic. (Although here, too, politics ruled: NATO simply did not want a million-plus desperate Kosovar refugees fleeing towards its member states Italy and Greece.) Power tells this long, sorry history with great clarity and vividness. She is particularly good at bringing alive various people who were eyewitnesses to these catastrophes as they were happening and who tried to make Americans share their outrage. These characters range from Ambassador Morgenthau in Turkey to Raphael Lemkin, the Polish Jew who invented the word genocide and determinedly lobbied to outlaw mass ethnic slaughter, to junior State Department officials who resigned over Bosnia. The most poignant whistle-blower of all is Romeo Dallaire, a bluff, professional French-Canadian general who was commander of the tiny United Nations force in Rwanda. Despite his repeated, urgent pleas, the United States and NATO member state saw to it that this body of troops was reduced still further and never ordered to stop the killing. And that would have been extraordinarily easy: The Rwandan Hutus had little military hardware and slaughtered most of their victims with machetes. Dallaire left the army a shattered man, haunted by the memories of mass murder he was not able to stop. After being found drunk and unconscious on a park bench in Quebec, he wrote, "There are times when the best medication and therapist simply can't help a soldier suffering from this new generation of peacekeeping injury." Why this long, disgraceful, consistent record of U.S. inaction? Despite daily blasts of hot air in Washington to the contrary, governments act for political and not moral reasons. There are no American constituencies strong enough to get troops sent to stop people from being killed in a distant and unfamiliar part of the world. More powerful forces, from strategic alliances to arms manufacturers, usually push for business as usual. Furthermore, Power points out, "the perpetrators of genocide were quick studies." Hitler knew the world had forgotten the Armenians; both Milosevic and the Rwandans saw that the United States withdrew from Somalia as soon as American soldiers were killed. Bill Clinton comes off particularly badly in this book, because two of the more easily preventable genocides, in Rwanda and Bosnia, happened on his watch. He knew that there were no opinion poll points for him in intervening in either place, so he let the killing go on. He issued defiant statements ("No one should doubt NATO's resolve"), did little or nothing, and later, as is his wont, apologized fulsomely. Most presidents didn't even bother with the defiant statements or the apologies. To prevent the next genocide, we need a national leadership that can inspire public opinion, not just follow it. And that seems no more likely from this White House than from the last. • Adam Hochschild's most recent books are "King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa" and "Finding the Trapdoor: Essays, Portraits, Travels."
Terror in the Streets 'Riot and Remembrance' by James X. Hirsch, 'Reconstructing the Dreamland' by Alfred Brophy and 'The Burning' by Tim Madigan Reviewed by Thomas J. Sugrue Sunday, March 10, 2002; Page BW05 RIOT AND REMEMBRANCE The Tulsa Race War and Its Legacy By James S. Hirsch Houghton Mifflin. 358 pp. $25 RECONSTRUCTING THE DREAMLAND The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 By Alfred Brophy Oxford Univ. 187 pp. $27.50 THE BURNING Massacre, Destruction, and The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 By Tim Madigan St. Martin's. 297 pp. $24.95 In late 1999, international news media flocked to Tulsa, Okla., to report on the city's long-ignored 1921 race riot. News helicopters hovered over a cemetery where investigators searched for suspected mass graves of riot victims. Elderly men and women appeared on "Sixty Minutes II" and "Frontline" to recount their childhood memories of an event that left as many as 300 dead and nearly the entire black population of the city homeless. The clash of memory and politics, history and current events, turned Tulsa's past into a lightning rod for heated discussions about race, rights and reparations. What happened in Tulsa? What relevance does an 80-year-old event have for race relations in America today? Should victims of the bloody events of 1921 be compensated for their losses? These are the questions that James Hirsch, Tim Madigan and Alfred Brophy explore in their books on what they respectively call Tulsa's "race war," "race riot" and "massacre" of 1921. On May 31, 1921, Tulsa exploded in violence. The spark was the arrest of "Diamond" Dick Rowland, a young man who made a living shining shoes, who was accused of assaulting a white woman. The sensationalist Tulsa Tribune covered the case closely and reportedly ran an editorial encouraging a lynching in its first edition that day. By early evening, several hundred whites had gathered at the county courthouse where Rowland was imprisoned. A small band of black Tulsans gathered weapons and drove to the courthouse, determined to protect Rowland from a lynching. Their fears were not unfounded. In August 1920, mobs in Tulsa and Oklahoma City had broken into jails and murdered a white carjacker and a black man suspected of killing a police officer. More than 50 blacks had been lynched nationwide that year. Responding to the brutal attacks, A.J. Smitherman, editor of the black Tulsa Star, encouraged his readers to arm themselves and be prepared "take life if need be to uphold the law" and prevent a lynching. The volatile combination of white vigilantism and black self-defense led to a clash on Tulsa's courtyard steps. As Rowland languished in his jail cell, the county sheriff tried to disperse the crowd. When whites attempted to disarm the black protesters, shots were fired, and chaos ensued. Vastly outnumbered, the black Tulsans retreated across the railroad tracks to Greenwood, the segregated city's black district. Reports of a "Negro uprising" brought thousands of angry whites to the streets. They broke into hardware and sporting goods stores and pawnshops, collecting guns and ammunition. The city's police chief, John A. Gustafson, deputized at least 250 white men on the spot, issuing them badges and weapons. One newly minted "deputy" gloated: "Now you can go out and shoot any nigger you see and the law'll be behind you." White Tulsans went on a rampage. Sorties of armed whites raided Greenwood on June 1. White men, most of them wearing police badges, shot at black pedestrians, looted black-owned homes and torched 1,256 private homes, a black hospital and school, one of the nation's largest black-owned hotels and Tulsa's premier black church. Two airplanes buzzed the neighborhood, leading some black residents to believe that they were being bombed. Armed blacks, led by World War I veterans, defended their neighborhood but were outgunned. Estimates of the number killed ranged widely. Oklahoma officials reported that 36 had died; a Salvation Army official estimated that 150 people died; NAACP leader Walter White wrote that somewhere between 200 and 250 people died. More than 7,500 local black residents found themselves refugees, most herded into an internment camp at an area fairground. After the disaster, an apocalyptic postcard circulated. A panorama of the charred remains of Greenwood, the postcard was simply inscribed: "Running the Negro Out of Tulsa." These three histories of Tulsa overlap significantly in their chronology, though they differ in style and emphasis and on some key details. Hirsch argues that "each side misunderstood the actions of the other." In an illuminating and brilliant discussion of history, memory and forgetting, Hirsch offers us a chronicle of misunderstanding, tracing the contentious debates about the meaning of the 1921 riot from its immediate aftermath through the Tulsa Race Riot Commission hearings in the 1990s. In his convincing account, Hirsch shows how the wounds of racial division -- in Tulsa and in the nation at large -- are far from healed. Brophy, a law professor who worked for the Riot Commission, uses hitherto unexamined court records to recount the riot. He recovers a largely forgotten history of black activism in one of the grimmest periods of race relations, emphasizing the black militancy of the World War I era and how assertive black demands for racial equality threatened white Tulsans. Linking history and advocacy, Brophy also offers a reasoned defense of reparations for the riot's victims. Madigan's book is a historical reconstruction of the riot that tells the story from the perspective of the black victims with novelistic flourishes, including invented dialogue. Hirsch's book is the best of the three. Riot and Rememberance offers a compelling account of the clash between history and memory, as the author revisits the contending white and black versions of the massacre. White Tulsans blamed the event on violent, lawless blacks who had brought on the destruction of their own neighborhood. "Uppity" blacks pushed too far, too fast in their demands for racial equality. Tulsa's political leaders and business elite eagerly endorsed the view that black Tulsa had brought on its own fate; in doing so, they could wash their hands of responsibility and leave Greenwood residents to rebuild their neighborhood alone. For white Tulsans, the event quickly slipped into obscurity, ignored by newspapers, history textbooks and by local officials. As late as 1972, Tulsa's white-owned media outlets refused to report on the events of 1921. Black Tulsans recounted the events of 1921 at family reunions and in church halls but seldom in public, for fear of white retaliation. The black version of 1921 differed greatly from the white. Black witnesses recalled bodies "stacked like cordwood" and passed on stories about black refugees paraded through the streets at gunpoint. Many black Tulsans viewed the events of 1921 as a white conspiracy to silence black protest and maintain racial supremacy. Some believed that the burning of Greenwood, just adjacent to downtown, was a thinly veiled land grab, intended to profit developers at the expense of black residents. Over the years, the documentary record grew thin. Police and national guard records for May and June 1921 simply disappeared. Even the allegedly inflammatory Tulsa Tribune editorial was torn out of the only remaining copy of the newspaper in the public library. All that remained were the conflicting and imperfect memories, distorted through the prism of politics, that collided during the 1990s hearings on the Tulsa Race Riot. Many white Oklahomans dismissed the events of 1921 as ancient history, perhaps disturbing but ultimately irrelevant. They saw little to be gained from opening old wounds, and possibly much to lose if the riot's history sparked a campaign to award reparations to black victims. By contrast, many black Tulsans viewed the events of 1921 as a conspiratorial effort by wealthy whites to drive black Tulsans out. They believed that the city and state governments should be held culpable for their failures to protect black Tulsans from the marauding white mob. Where the historical record was incomplete or ambiguous, in such matters as the stories of aerial attacks and mass graves, many black Tulsans believed the worst: that government officials had used planes to attack innocent civilians and had covered up the carnage by burying the dead secretly and anonymously. They demanded reparations, at least to the survivors of the horrors of 1921. It's unlikely that today's inquiries will determine the truth of accounts of airplane attacks and mass graves. Madigan uncritically accepts the accounts; Brophy believes that planes were used to coordinate the attack on blacks but does not settle on an absolute number for casualties; Hirsch remains agnostic about both. But all agree that the horror of Tulsa must not be forgotten. These three books forever rescue Tulsa from the fog of historical amnesia. But the consequences of 1921 -- the deaths, the destruction of property, the loss of a whole generation's wealth, the forever poisoned racial climate in Tulsa -- all remain unremedied. In February 2001, the Tulsa Riot Commission issued its report and called for reparations to survivors. On June 1, 2001, Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating signed the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot Reconciliation Act. The bill was largely symbolic: It recognized the terrible costs in lives and property and race relations that resulted from the riot but avoided the issue of reparations altogether. The state government instead awarded each survivor a gold-plated medal bearing the state seal. Tulsa's survivors may forever await justice. • Thomas J. Sugrue, a professor of history and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, is author of the Bancroft Prize-winning book "The Origins of the Urban Crisis."
NYT March 7, 2002 A Tribe Is Prey to Vengeance After Taliban's Fall in North By DEXTER FILKINS with BARRY BEARAK AZRA, Afghanistan, March 3 — One after the other, the villages in the valley of Shor Daryab stand all but empty. Nazra and Guljosh, abandoned. Ghaforbai and Babakzai and Daulatzai, gutted. Attan Khoja, a mishmash of lean-tos and caves and half-crazed hangers-on. "Go this way, and you will see that all the villages are empty," said Amir Jan, a lone man searching for truffles near a lifeless town. Until recently, the 10-mile valley near the border with Turkmenistan was inhabited almost exclusively by ethnic Pashtuns, the group that formed the core of the Taliban movement. The Pashtuns are Afghanistan's largest ethnic group, but a minority here in the valleys and plains of the northwest. They lived in clusters, away from the more numerous Uzbeks and Tajiks, and when the Taliban fled the area last November, the Pashtuns suddenly found themselves hunted and alone. The Pashtuns of northern Afghanistan are fleeing their villages by the thousands now, telling tales of murder and rape and robbery, and leaving behind empty towns and grazing grounds just beginning to shimmer with the first grass of spring. Some refugees are living in caves; others are heading south, to where their ethnic brethren still dominate. Dozens, perhaps hundreds of Pashtun villages have been looted. Reports like these inspire proposals by the interim government in Kabul for a security force to police areas outside the capital, proposals that the Western allies are reluctant to accept. One of those who has caught the full fury of revenge against the Pashtuns is Muhammad Yosin, a farmer from Attan Khoja who fled his village when the Uzbek gunmen came and now lives with his family in a cave. On a crinkled piece of paper he carries a handwritten list detailing what they stole: new carpets — 4; old carpets — 4; mattresses — 6; cups — 12; plates — 6; teapot — 1. "I have 100 witnesses who would swear I am not a Taliban supporter," said Mr. Yosin, a tiny man with a long beard, "and still they took everything I own." The persecution of the northern Pashtuns opens a new chapter in Afghanistan's tangled history of ethnic relations. For decades, northern Afghanistan peacefully cradled its many groups, jostling together the Pashtuns, the Turkmen and the Hazara with the dominant Tajiks and Uzbeks. Then came the Taliban, ethnic Pashtuns drawn mainly from the south and inspired by a vision not only of extreme Islam but also of Pashtun supremacy. When the Taliban swept across northern Afghanistan in the late 1990's, they focused their fury on minorities, massacring thousands. The Taliban often gave favored status to their local brethren, setting aside the choicest lands for their farms and cattle. Now, it appears, the newly dominant are exacting their revenge, from Herat in the west to the outskirts of Kabul in the east, where Kuchi nomads are too afraid to bring their sheep to their historic grazing lands on the Shamali Plain. Much of the mayhem seems to be unfolding before the gaze of America's wartime allies, the Uzbek warlords who took over when the Taliban collapsed. More than a dozen Pashtun villagers along the Shor Daryab blamed an Uzbek warlord named Hashim, who led the force that took control of the area in November. Seated on the floor of his office in nearby Faizabad, Mr. Hashim seemed a harmless figure, a smiling man with a beard. Above his head hung a framed portrait of Abdul Rashid Dostum, the Russian-backed Uzbek mercenary and regional leader, and a letter of appreciation for Mr. Hashim's help in subduing the Taliban. Asked about the thousands of Pashtuns who have fled their villages, he dismissed them with a wave, saying, "They are Al Qaeda." It is not clear to what extent the attacks on Pashtuns have been politically orchestrated, and to what extent they are spontaneous revenge. A United Nations official, who declined to be identified, said of the anti-Pashtun campaign: "It has been systematic and wide scale. Rapes are far more common than killings, but the serious looting is very pronounced. With the change in power, it is time to settle old scores." No one knows how many Pashtuns have fled their homes, or how many villages have been sacked. The United Nations says 50,000 Afghans have gathered at camps near the Pakistan border, many of them northern Pashtuns and Kuchi nomads. In Faryab Province, where the Shor Daryab runs, field workers with the International Organization for Migration said they had distributed food to more than 2,000 displaced Pashtuns living in tents and caves. Until recently, Attan Khoja formed a network of mud-brick Pashtun hamlets nestled alongside the Shor Daryab, a once-formidable river that years of drought have reduced to a gully. The breathtaking valley, framed by undulating green hills, provided the grazing grounds for the herds of sheep, camels and cows that kept the villagers alive. According to villagers still left in Attan Khoja and some who fled, the Taliban abruptly retreated from the province's main precincts on Nov. 9, the same night that opposition forces expelled the Taliban from the key northern town of Mazar-i-Sharif. The next night, the villagers say, Uzbek soldiers led by Mr. Hashim swept through, gathering up all the guns. Like many Pashtuns left in Faryab Province, the people of Attan Khoja say they neither supported the Taliban nor benefitted from their rise to power. The next night, the villagers say, the Uzbeks returned, yelling and shooting and dragging men from their beds. Some women were raped. Nearly everyone was robbed, animals were seized, carpets carted off. Three men resisted; they were shot. "We have the women sleeping in the donkey stables," said Gul Muhammad, a 55-year-old shepherd. "When the men with guns come, we cannot protect them." After that first night, the Uzbeks came again and again, the villagers said, always demanding money and valuables at the points of their guns. After each attack, more and more villagers left. When the survivors of Attan Khoja had nothing left to give, the Uzbeks ripped the beams and frames from their mud-brick homes. While none of the villagers' claims could be verified, today the village of Atan Khoja stands in ruins. It is mostly an eerily quiet place. Door and window frames have been torn away, and most of the roofs are gone. Many of the remaining families have carved caves from the nearby mountain walls, where they live with the few possessions they have left. The stragglers who have stayed seem to have paid a price for their stubbornness. A bedraggled woman named Gul Dana sat outside her cave mumbling to herself, unable to remember the names of her sons and bemoaning her ill fortune. "We have nothing, we have nothing, no carpets to sit on," Gul Dana cried, fingering her head scarf. "I think it is time I sold my veil." The people of Attan Khoja seem befuddled by their fate, but a drive north along the Shor Daryab offered something of an explanation. A few bumpy miles up the road, the hamlet of Daulatzai stood silent but for a pair of shepherds grazing their animals on the hillside. They were Uzbeks from over the hills, and they reveled in the novel experience of leading their sheep to the finest lands in the valley. "During Taliban times, we would have been beaten for trying to bring our sheep over the hills," said Lal Muhammad, 25. "The Pashtuns were arrogant, and they were cruel." He pointed to one of the few intact houses: "See the window frames and the roof beams? They are mine. I am not going to take them back, but they are mine, and they took them from me when the Taliban came four years ago." Across northern Afghanistan, the pattern repeats itself. In the middle of a grassy plain southwest of Shibarghan, Kuchi nomads clamor over their few remaining sacks of rice. That very morning, they said, Uzbek gunmen had come in search of loot. When they found none, they grabbed one of the young men instead. "They took my son! They took my son!" howled Shah Pairy, pulling the veil away from her face. Two miles down the road, Abdul Shakur, a 21-year-old Uzbek farmer, guided an ox across his fields for the first time in four years. The Taliban had seized his lands when they conquered the area, he explained, and now he was taking them back. If some Pashtuns were suffering now, well, Mr. Shakur said, it was time they were repaid, wasn't it?
Dawn (Pakistan) 6 March 2002 Protocol signed for trial of Afghan war criminals By Our Staff Reporter ISLAMABAD, March 5: The Basque government and the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) signed a protocol here on Tuesday to take the case of the war criminals in Afghanistan before international criminal courts and the United Nations Human Rights Commission. The protocol, signed at a news conference, provides for trial of the war criminals belonging to different factions, including the Taliban and the Northern Alliance, for human rights violations against the Afghan people. The Basque government housing and social matters department chief, Javier Madrazo Lavin, and Sehar Saba of RAWA signed the protocol. Speaking on the occasion, Mr Javier said within the framework of the Basque cooperation rules, legal, political and financial assistance would be provided to RAWA to begin with the legal actions in the international criminal courts. A delegation of the Spanish government may also report the human rights violations in Afghanistan by Taliban and the Northern Alliance to the UN in its 58th session of the Human Rights Commission, he said. Giving some of the names of those who are accused of war crimes, genocide and violence and abuse of women in Afghanistan, RAWA representative, Saba Sehar, said Burhanuddin Rabbani, Gulbadin Hekmatyar, Ahmed Shah Masood, Sayyaf, Dostum, Mullah Omar, Khalili, Taliban and the Northern Alliance leadership are all involved in the crimes against the Afghan people and women. Accusing the Northern Alliance, she said RAWA would like to remind the world that those who destroyed the Afghan people mentally and physically do not have the right to power. She said some of the worst perpetrators of human rights abuses were holding important posts in the Interim Administration. The violence, the human rights abuses are still going on, she said, adding, Afghanistan is not only limited to Kabul where the presence of the International Security Assistance Force has somewhat improved the situation but reports of killings, beatings and restrictions on women ae rampant in other parts of the country. In response to a question about civilian casualties due to US-led coalition bombings, Ms Saba said there are casualties but that is another issue as the Americans came to root out Taliban and terrorism in Afghanistan. However, she said the methodology adopted by the US was not positive as it led to civilian casualties and forced many people to abandon their homes and become refugees. The RAWA member, who asked the press photographers not to take her pictures for security reasons in response to a question about the reason said there are still many Jihadi groups, including the fundamentalists from Afghanistan who are powerful enough to harm the RAWA members. Recounting a list of attacks on RAWA officials, she said that RAWA founder was killed in Pakistan and many other Afghan women tried to lodge cases against atrocities of fundamentalist groups but they were not registered by the police authorities.
10 March, 2002, 08:21 GMT Cambodia dismantles 'skull map' Cambodia wants to improve its image for tourists A map of Cambodia made up of human skulls - a reminder of the 1970s "killing fields" - has been removed from public display in the capital Phnom Penh. It had been on the walls of the Tuol Sleng museum for more than two decades, starkly highlighting the atrocities perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge. The museum director, Chey Sophearith, said he wanted to end the fearful feelings visitors had when they saw the skulls, and also to encourage the growth of tourism in Cambodia. Pol Pot oversaw the genocide He said the skulls were also decaying and "we want to preserve them in a decent place". Buddhist monks said prayers for the dead as the skulls were taken down. The map was made up of about 300 skulls and showed Cambodia's two main rivers in blood-red paint. The director of the Documentation Centre of Cambodia, which has been gathering evidence against the Khmer Rouge regime for some years, is said to support the map's removal, and to want to change Cambodia's image from a "killing field" to a place for tourism and business. Slaughter The Khmer Rouge turned Tuol Sleng - formerly a school - into a notorious prison where inmates were tortured and executed. Some 16,000 people died there. Instead of the skulls, the museum now has a modern satellite map showing Cambodia's 343 burial sites, 19,440 mass graves, 167 prisons and 77 memorials. The former Tuol Sleng commandant, Kang Kek Ieu, also known as Duch, is one of only two Khmer Rouge leaders currently in detention in Cambodia. The Khmer Rouge are blamed for the slaughter of about 1.7 million Cambodians. The killings took place between 1975 and 1979.
AFP 8 March 2002 UN representative wants UN-backed Khmer Rouge trial PHNOM PENH: United Nations special repesentative for human rights Peter Leuprecht said Friday that he hoped a trial of surviving Khmer Rouge leaders would go ahead with UN support but rebuked Cambodia for its weak judiciary. He also said that he knew of no country that supported the United Nations decision to pull out of the trial aimed at delivering justice for the 1.7 million people who perished under the 1975-79 ultra-Maosit regime. "It is regrettable it has taken so long, ups and downs, changes in position," he said of the four-year effort to hold a trial. "There is a lot of thinking going on in governments and diplomatic circles. "I hope this will lead to a positive result." It was a rare comment from the UN on the trials for genocide and crimes against humanity, since the world body stunned Cambodia and pulled out of negotiations on February 8. Diplomats here say there is a remote chance the UN can be enticed back to the negotiating table after it cited Cambodia's inability to hold objective and impartial hearings for the withdrawal. Leuprecht said Cambodia's monarch King Norodom Sihanouk had agreed with him that the decision was regrettable, that hopefully the last word had not been spoken and that neither he nor the king had given up on delivering justice. Sihanouk promulgated legislation last August for a trial. This included articles which would allow for a foreign-assisted trial without UN involvement or for a Cambodian-only tribunal. However, Leuprecht was sharply critical of the Cambodian judicial system, partly because of a serious lack of qualified judges and lawyers. He said 200 practising lawyers were insufficient for a country of Cambodia's size and suggested boosting the number by raising salaries, setting up new schools for magistrates and lawyers and spending more on the judicial ministry. "I believe this is one way to fight corruption within the judiciary," he said. Independent Uk 08 March 2002 18:52 GMT Home > News > World > Europe Footage of massacre played to Milosevic By Katarina Kratovac in The Hague 08 March 2002 Serb forces fired machine guns and grenades at a column of fleeing ethnic Albanians under a white banner, killing 109 people as the bloody Kosovo war neared its conclusion, a survivor testified yesterday in the trial of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. "It was dark when the shooting began," Sabit Kadriu said, recalling the night of 2 May 1999 when he and thousands of other Albanians fled a Serbian rampage in northern Kosovo. "We heard grenades, children crying ... 109 people were killed that night." Village elders carried a white banner identifying them as civilians, he said. Prosecutors displayed footage of Mr Kadriu's convoy before it was shelled: villagers gathering on a meadow in daylight, their belongings piled on top of tractors and trailers. Then the video shows what Mr Kadriu, who worked for the Council for the Defence of Human Rights and Freedoms, which tracked Serbian violence in Kosovo, described as the aftermath: scattered bodies of several young men, bullet holes through their jackets, some with head wounds. A woman's body lies in a nearby field. Smoke rises from burning houses in the background. Mr Milosevic is on trial for war crimes and genocide in Kosovo, Croatia and Bosnia, during the violent break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.
AP 2 March 2002 Pol Pot plotting escape before death: Researcher ANLONG VENG, Cambodia (AP) — Former Cambodian leader Pol Pot planned to flee the Southeast Asian country the night before he died in 1998 to avoid arrest for atrocities committed under his rule, a researcher said Saturday. Pol Pot's escape was thwarted when he was badly shaken by artillery shells fired by government troops near the shanty on the Thai border where he spent his final days after losing control of the Khmer Rouge, Ly Kim Heng said. The Khmer Rouge is blamed for the deaths of 1.7 million Cambodians from disease, starvation, overwork and execution during its 1975-79 rule. The account of Pol Pot's final day was provided by Ly Kim Heng, a schoolteacher who is researching the regime for authorities in Anlong Vern, a one-time Khmer Rouge stronghold in the northwest that Cambodia's government wants to turn into a tourist site. Ly Kim Heng said she was told the escape story in December by Kov, a trusted aide of Pol Pot who uses only one name. "The day before Pol Pot died, he heard the news that people wanted to hand him over to Thai authorities and then...to the United Nations for trial," Kov said, recalling a conversation with Pol Pot's wife. Pol Pot, then 73, asked his wife to dye his hair black and prepare to flee with him that night to Thailand, where he planned to live as a Thai citizen in disguise, the aide was quoted saying. "But because of fear and shock caused by the shells landing near his house, he had a shortness of breath and could not go," Kov said. He died the next day, April 15, 1998, in a small wood-and-bamboo shanty less than 500 metres from the border. He was cremated without ceremony April 16. In the days before Pol Pot's death, the United States led diplomatic manoeuvring to have him seized and brought before an international genocide tribunal. Pol Pot was living under virtual house arrest among former comrades who had unseated him in a power struggle and there had been speculation he might be turned over by his former comrades as part of a deal. The shells that scared him were fired by government-backed former Khmer Rouge soldiers who had mutinied against the hard-line rule of the movement's military chief, Ta Mok, who had seized control of the remnants of the Khmer Rouge from Pol Pot in 1997. No former Khmer Rouge leader has ever faced trial for the atrocities committed when the group held power in 1975-79. Many live freely in Cambodia after having reached defection deals with Prime Minister Hun Sen's government.
WP 11 March 2002 China's Insecurity Complex By Fred Hiatt Page A21 A few days ago Chinese authorities turned the power of the state against a small home for the aged in a suburb of Beijing. This nursing home, this threat to order and stability in the People's Republic of China, provided shelter to nine men and women in their eighties and nineties, a blind man and a disabled man. The leader of the home, himself a septuagenarian, had officiated at a small Christian service under a tent outside the house. And so police cut off the electricity, levied a large fine and threatened to cut off the water too unless the house evicted its residents and shut down. You read such stories -- this one was reported in the New York Times -- and it's not so much the arbitrariness and petty cruelty that get your attention. Far greater numbers have suffered far more harshly at the hands of China's Communists. What takes your breath away instead is the sheer insecurity of China's rulers. They bully a bunch of helpless old invalids, and you think: Why are they so afraid? This is, after all, the world's most populous country, one of its oldest and greatest civilizations, by universal acclamation a rising power, with an economy that grows by an officially reported 7 percent or 8 percent every year. Yet its leaders seem spooked by shadows. The State Department's annual report on human rights in China, released last week, is dispassionate in its language, but from its dry recitations of detentions, tortures, exiles and house arrests a list of enemies of the state emerges that is breathtaking in its scope and in their mildness: Tibetan musicologists, elderly Catholic bishops, peacefully protesting relatives of Tiananmen massacre victims, American academics, muckraking journalists, Falun Gong devotees who only want to practice their spiritual breathing exercises. Of the three most monstrous totalitarian experiments of the 20th century, only one survived into the 21st without a change of ruling party. The Nazis were defeated from outside, the Soviet Union by internal rebellion. The Communists of China meanwhile held onto power by abandoning their ideology, permitting more personal freedom and ruthlessly suppressing any challenge, real or imagined, to their political control. In some ways their efforts have succeeded. Recovering from the lunatic years of forced collectivization and Cultural Revolution, China has regained a large measure of normality. Freer to choose their spouses, their professions and their places of residence, millions of Chinese have responded by creating new wealth and finding areas of personal fulfillment where the state no longer interferes. But in embracing greed as a motivating force without accepting an impartial rule of law as a moderating influence, China has opened itself to a danger that its leaders may not be able to control: corruption, described in a recent Post report from the northeast city of Shenyang as "the rot that has infected the Chinese state." No political system is immune to graft, theft and influence-peddling; stories from democratic datelines such as Rome, Tokyo or Annapolis tell you that from time to time elected officials can compete with all but the most brazen authoritarian ones in ripping off the public. But those stories also tell you that, over time, the mechanisms of democracy -- elections, checks and balances, a free press -- tend to make the system self-correcting. The same isn't clearly so in China. Post correspondent John Pomfret's report from Shenyang portrays Communist Party officials looting the public treasury without fear. A deputy mayor gambled away $4 million in public funds in Macao and Las Vegas. "Corruption in Shenyang involved almost every government department and ran the gamut from smuggling, to buying and selling official positions, to stealing farmland for big development projects, to rigging construction contracts, to basic theft from government coffers," Pomfret found. But even when the crime became so uncontrolled that authorities in Beijing had to act, there was no clean sweep. Though some officials were fired, most of the party apparatus in Shenyang was untouched, while whistleblowers went to jail: a journalist, sentenced to nine years; a 71-year-old retired official, sent to a labor camp for two. In the end, there's no way to combine real accountability with one-party rule. Which brings you back to the fear at the top. As China's leaders wrestle with corruption and other problems of development, such as unemployment, rising expectations, fraying social safety nets and rural poverty, they will continually struggle to justify rule by a Communist Party that no longer believes in communism. One possible outcome is that they will lose control, and China will fracture in some way or become increasingly lawless; anyone even sketchily familiar with Chinese history can only shudder at that prospect. A second possibility is the development of something like national socialism, in which the party maintains its control by manipulating hyper-nationalism and foreign expansion: Shudder again. If a third, more welcome option of political liberalization is ever to become imaginable, it will depend on a thickening of civic society -- on precisely the kinds of people that the party is continually silencing, and the kinds of organizations that it will not tolerate. Those who speak out on behalf of such victims are routinely vilified by China's government as unpatriotic and "anti-Chinese." But they are the true patriots, for they understand that China's hope rests in Christian preachers, environmental activists, union organizers and everyone else unafraid of bullies.
BBC 11 March, 2002, China expands use of lethal injection - China leads the world in its use of the death penalty The Chinese Government is planning to increase the use of lethal injections to execute criminals, as an alternative to the current method of shooting them in the back of the head. The official news agency Xinhua quoted the vice-president of China's Supreme Court, Liu Jiachen, saying that some courts were already using lethal injection to carry out executions. But he said more facilities were needed to be built before the method could be introduced nationwide. Mr Liu said condemned criminals and their relatives favoured the method which he described as a civilised way of enforcing the law. According to human-rights groups, China has executed more people than the rest of the world put together in recent years. In 2001 China executed well over 2,000 people and by some estimates as many as 5,000. Human rights groups have consistently criticised the large number of executions carried out, often following swift trials, and for non-violent crimes such as corruption and theft. Critics of the use of lethal injection have suggested the new method is simply cheaper, and makes it easier to harvest the executed prisoners' organs for use in transplants.
BBC 11 March, 2002, Beijing renews criticism of Dalai Lama The Chinese Government has renewed its criticism of the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, saying he has no following or authority to speak for the Himalayan region. The chairman of the Tibet regional government, Legqog, told the China Daily newspaper human rights conditions in Tibet were the best since 1959, when the Dalai Lama fled to India. His comments come after calls by the US State Department for China to open talks with the Dalai Lama. Last week, a state department report on human rights accused China of widespread abuses in Tibet, including suppressing religious freedoms. Correspondents say Beijing wants the Dalai Lama to stop taking part in what it calls separatist activities, while the Dalai Lama has said he wants greater autonomy - rather than independence - for Tibet.
PTI 12 March 2002 Misuse of voters list in Gujarat riots alleged AHMEDABAD: Allegations are being levelled in the minority circles here that there was a distinct pattern of "communal cleansing" in the recent riots in Gujarat.Read this story in... Hindi The manner in which the people of minority community, irrespective of their economic status, were attacked first raised suspicion about systematic misuse of voters list to identify and target them. Similarly, according to the victims, the licence and other relavant papers from the civic bodies were used to target the hotels and other business establishments owned by them. "All my five hotels including Renbasera meant for poor people were attacked, while three other hotels still stood," said a hotelier, who claims to have known Chief Minister Narendra Modi since his school days. There have been other such instances. According to some minority community people, during break-out of commual violence in the past also majority community hardliners had tried to get the minority community people ousted from colonies like Meghaninagar. "They succeeded to a large extent in 1985 violence, yet the posh Gulmohor Society was ours. Now, that's also gone," says one of them. Many minority community people alleged that the voters' list was virtually used as a killing tool as the mob, apparently angered over the Godhra massacre, went around different localities including in Ahmedabad, as part of "cleansing operation". "They hardly failed in laying their hands on their target, thanks to the documents like voters' list," said a police official adding "the mission was accomplished with clinical precision." This is for the "first time in the country" violence was carried out using documents like this, said the senior cop on condition of anonymity. "We saw ethnic problems in Assam or in Bhagalpur, but this kind of precision was not known elsewhere," he said. However, others say, "this game of using documents" was "not a Gujarati invention." "In Jammu and Kashmir, it was tried and tested in a more refined manner. Poor pandits just had to quit the state," said a local resident in one of the sensitive colonies apparently showing his approval for the violence. "The voters' list has certainly made their task easier and the motivated mob knew exactly who stayed where," said a woman inmate at Sanklitpur relief camp in Johopura.
Daily Telegraph UK 4 March 2002 Soldiers 'held back to allow Hindus revenge' By Rahul Bedi in Ahmedabad (Filed: 04/03/2002) TROOPS and police appeared to have most of Gujarat state under control yesterday after almost 500 people had died in India's worst Hindu-Muslim bloodshed in a decade. Noorjehan, a muslim woman, recovers after beaten by Hindus in Ahmedabad Intelligence officials admitted, however, that there had been a deliberate delay by federal and state governments in deploying the army to give Hindu militants a free hand after a Muslim mob killed 58 Hindus on a train. The air force had 13 transport aircraft fuelled and ready at Jodhpur in neighbouring Rajasthan state to ferry troops to Ahmedabad, early on Thursday evening, when the rioting was at its height. "But for an inexplicable reason, even though it was apparent that the state police were proving incapable, 1,000 troops were flown out only the next morning," said a senior military officer. On arriving in Ahmedabad, scene of the worst violence, the soldiers were not provided with transport, information on communally sensitive areas or guides. "When the army was eventually deployed on Friday evening it was not taken to the trouble spots, but merely asked to display itself in areas from which the Muslims had already fled," a security officer said. "It was a calculated decision by the state's Hindu nationalist government." Intelligence officials admitted that a "systems failure", prompted by politicians, allowed the rioting to continue. They said some police connived and, at times, even helped Hindu mobs. Narinder Modi, Gujarat's chief minister, said yesterday: "Every action has an equal and opposite reaction." His officials conceded that this was a "cynical justification" of four days of rioting. Mr Modi, who belongs to the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party that heads the federal coalition, added that Gujarat's 50 million people had shown "remarkable restraint under grave provocation", implying that the violence could have been worse. A curfew was in place last night in sensitive parts of Ahmedabad, but an air of normality was returning. However, Muslim survivors of grisly massacres and the unchecked 30-hour orgy of violence and arson, were bemused. They said the police simply stood by, or in some cases even encouraged the rioters as they went on the rampage, burning entire families to death in their homes. "The police actively supported the rioters, almost as if they were accompanying them," Sakina Inayat Sajid, who lost six of her family and whose husband is missing, said from her hospital bed. The few policemen she pleaded with for help in Shehajpuri Patia told her to "go and die elsewhere". But there was no escape. All exit points had been surrounded by mobs armed with swords, iron rods, acid and paraffin. "I do not know how I made it out alive," said Mehboob Sheikh, a lorry driver, who lost all nine family members, including his two children. The killings ended when the first troops arrived. "But by then it was too late," said Shabana Abdul Sayeed at the local civil hospital. "There was nothing left to destroy or burn." The roots of the violence lie in the decade-old campaign by Hindus to build a temple to their god Lord Ram on the site of a mosque at Ayodhya. The 16th century mosque was razed by Hindus in 1992, believing the spot to be Ram's exact birth place. This led to countrywide riots in which more than 2,000 died. The Hindus burned in a train last week were returning from Ayodhya. Under instructions from the federal administration, Ayodhya has been sealed off. Atal Behari Vajpayee, the prime minister, who is confronting his worst political crisis since coming to power four years ago, has met World Hindu Council leaders and asked them to drop, or at least postpone their plans in the interests of communal harmony. The Foreign Office said last night that it had no further information on Britons caught up in the rioting other than that Mohammed Aswat Nallabhai, a man from Batley, West Yorks, had been killed. One of Mr Nallabhai's relatives was injured and two others are missing.
AP 11 March 2002 . Hindu Groups Clash With Police By Chandra Banerjee CALCUTTA, India -- One person was killed and more than 30 injured Sunday after police clashed with Hindu activists trying to stage a religious ceremony in eastern India in defiance of a ban on large gatherings imposed after recent sectarian violence, officials said. One member of the fundamentalist World Hindu Council, which organized the ceremony, was killed in the shooting and some 32 people including 25 police officers were injured, said local administrator Alapan Bandopadhyay. The incident took place at a train station south of Calcutta after dozens of Hindu hard-liners defied a government ban on congregations of more than four people meant to prevent riots, said Chayan Mukherjee, the state's inspector-general for law and order. The ban was imposed after more than 700 people were killed in Hindu-Muslim clashes earlier this month that erupted when Muslims attacked a train carrying Hindu nationalists. The Hindu-Muslim violence was the worst in a decade. The clash at the train station, about 20 kilometers south of Calcutta, came as members of the Hindu group were preparing to hold a religious ceremony in a show of support for a disputed plan to build a temple at the site of a razed 16th-century mosque in western India. The mosque was destroyed by thousands of Hindu fundamentalists in 1992 and both sides consider the land holy. Most of the injured activists had bullet wounds in their legs. The policemen were injured by rocks and other objects hurled by the mob, Bandopadhyay said. Police and paramilitary forces were attacked and police vans damaged when they tried to prevent members of the group from assembling. They tried to beat the crowd back with wooden truncheons, lobbed tear gas shells and finally opened fire, the administrator said. The ceremony planned by the Hindu hard-liners involved throwing offerings of flowers, wheat, butter and twigs into a fire while chanting Hindu hymns. Separately, Muslim leaders who met Sunday in New Delhi rejected a compromise proposal made by a Hindu cleric to defuse tensions over the disputed holy site in the western town of Ayodhya. The Shankaracharya of Kanchi Jayendra Saraswathi -- one of Hinduism's four most revered pontiffs -- proposed that Hindus be allowed to hold symbolic prayers at an adjacent piece of land on March 15 while awaiting a final verdict by India's Supreme Court. "The proposal is incomplete and inchoate. It has offered nothing to the Muslims except to wait for the Supreme Court's verdict," said Yusuf Muchala, spokesman of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, briefing journalists after the daylong meeting. Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee urged Hindu and Muslim leaders to purse dialogue until the dispute is settled amicably. Hindu hard-liners had initially threatened to begin construction of the temple on March 15 but agreed to accept the court's verdict following mediation efforts by the Hindu cleric. Thousands of police and paramilitary troops, guarding Ayodhya, 550 kilometers east of New Delhi, held a flag march through the main streets of the town Sunday to instill confidence among the residents. 12/03/2002 08:38 - (SA) --Tight security at Hindu festivalMissile muscle for World CupSkulls removed from displayEffects of Agent Orange probed Tight security at Hindu festival Related Articles Hindus, Muslims march for peace Ahmedabad, India - Security was beefed up in the western state of Gujarat on Tuesday for a major Hindu festival falling soon after an eruption of sectarian violence claimed 700 lives. Tuesday's holiday was dedicated to Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction. "We have intensified patrolling in several rural areas where we are expecting a large congregation of Hindu worshipers to gather," said Deputy Police Superintendent KLN Rao. "Our forces are on high alert," he said. In Gujarat's commercial capital, Ahmedabad, which bore the brunt of the recent Hindu-Muslim clashes, police said extra security had been deployed around the city's Shiva temples. "But no additional force has been called in from outside. We have an adequate security force in the city," said Joint Police Commissioner MK Tandon. A fearsome wave of communal violence swept over Gujarat following a Muslim attack on a passenger train carrying Hindu activists on February 27. The attack triggered a violent Hindu backlash across the state, with many Muslim families being burned alive in their houses. Police officials said on Tuesday that both Hindu and Muslim "miscreants" were distributing communally inflammatory pamphlets in several cities and villages, exhorting the members of each community to boycott goods produced by the other. - Sapa-AFP
News 24 ZA (South Africa) 5 March 2002 -- Hindus, Muslims march for peace Ahmedabad, India - Hindu and Muslim leaders marched side by side for peace on Tuesday in India's Gujarat state, as the grisly task continued of uncovering fresh bodies from the worst sectarian violence in nearly a decade. As many as 800 people took part in the march, which was given a heavy police escort and wound through Gujarat's commercial capital Ahmedabad to finish at the ashram of India's independence hero and apostle of peace, Mahatma Gandhi. Ahmedabad bore the brunt of five day's of statewide communal clashes that claimed more than 580 lives. "This is our city and we want it back," said one of the marchers, K Stalin, who runs an NGO promoting literacy. "This city does not belong to Muslim fundamentalists or Hindu extremists. It belongs to us citizens," he said. Daytime curfew restrictions were lifted in Ahmedabad on Tuesday, although they remained in force in 20 other sensitive areas. "We are still getting reports of the odd incident of violence here and there," deputy inspector general of police K Chakravarty said. Death toll sure to rise Police officials said the death toll was sure to rise as bodies were still being recovered from remote Muslim villages that had been attacked and burned by Hindu mobs. Some officials said the final figure could cross the 1 000 mark. The violence was triggered by a Muslim massacre on February 27 of 58 Hindu train passengers, many of them women and children. Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi described the massacre as a "planned, composite terrorist attempt" and said a full judicial inquiry had been ordered into the subsequent riots. The train had been returning from the northern town of Ayodhya, where Hindu activists have been pushing a campaign to build a temple from March 15 on the ruins of a 16th-century mosque razed in December 1992 by Hindu zealots. Fears that the campaign would trigger further sectarian clashes eased on Tuesday when a radical Hindu group agreed to wait for the courts to rule on ownership of the disputed religious site. In return, however, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP - World Hindu Council) demanded the government hand over an adjacent plot where the VHP could go ahead with its temple construction from June 2. The compromise was announced by the chief mediator in the dispute, the Shankaracharya of Kanchi, Jayendra Saraswati - one of India's four Hindu pontiffs. Apprehension about handover Saraswati, who had also held talks with Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and various ministers, said the government seemed "inclined" to accept the VHP compromise offer, but would first have to discuss the issue with opposition parties. While Muslim leaders had voiced "apprehensions" about the handover of an adjacent plot, they also seemed agreeable to the proposal in principle, he said. The army was still out in force in Ahmedabad and other cities, after being deployed on Friday when it became clear that the state police were unable, or in some cases unwilling, to curb the Hindu backlash that followed the train massacre. Since the riots began, thousands of terrified and homeless Muslims in Ahmedabad have been sheltering in seven "safe homes", which in most cases means the local mosque. In the Shah Alam Aalam mosque, in the heart of the city, around 5 000 Muslims have been living in hopelessly overcrowded conditions for four days. Even with troops on the streets, most are too scared to return to the collection of charred houses and shops which used to be the bustling Muslim commercial and residential hub of the city. Ayub Kureshi, a butcher who lost two of his children in the riots, came to Ahmedabad 15 years ago from the southern state of Karnataka with dreams of building a new life. "I built a home here and things were going well," Kureshi said. "Now I don't know how I will rebuild my home or where I will go." - Sapa-AFP
Hindustan Times 11 March 2002 Lawyers want temple, mosque in Ayodhya HT Correspondent (New Delhi, March 11) -- A lawyers' organisation on Monday moved the Supreme Court, seeking judicial intervention in constructing a Ram temple at the disputed site and a mosque elsewhere in Ayodhya to resolve the ongoing controversy. An intervention application filed by the United Lawyers' Front through its president Anis Suhrawardy said the court should constitute a committee comprising former chief justices, eminent jurists, journalists and people from the field of arts and culture to undertake the construction of the temple and the mosque in Ayodhya to uphold the country's secular fabric. It urged the court to hear its plea on March 13 along with another petition which sought army deployment in Ayodhya to foil any attempt of movement of temple construction material to the disputed site. The application said the apex court should restrain the government from succumbing to any pressure of either the VHP or the Babri Masjid Action Committee (BMAC). After filing the petition, Suhrawardy said the application has been listed for hearing on March 13, when the apex court hears the other petition filed by Mohd Aslam. On March 15, the Supreme Court will hear the third petition seeking contempt proceedings against VHP leaders and former UP CM Rajnath Singh for violating the status quo orders. Voicing concern over the prevailing situation in the country, the lawyers' body said Hindu and Muslim fundamentalists have played havoc that has led to the killing of innocents and destruction of property. "It appears that these fundamentalist groups belonging to both the communities have taken the centrestage in national politics and have also succeeded in influencing and pressuring the state machinery as per their dictates, deeds and desires," it said.
Hindustan Times 11 March 2002 HC dismisses plea The Allahabad High Court on Monday dismissed a writ petition seeking a direction from the court for removing curbs on the movement of kar sewaks in Ayodhya on the ground that it lacked merit. A division bench comprising Justice Jagdish Bhalla and Justice U.S. Tripathi also imposed a symbolic cost of rupee one on the petition to be deposited within three days. PTI, Lucknow
AP 5 March 2002 Theories Abound About Indian Riots By BETH DUFF-BROWN, AHMADABAD, India (AP) - The day after the deadly train fire that ignited Hindu-Muslim violence in western India, local authorities blamed the attack on a railroad platform fracas among angry Muslim tea vendors and slogan-chanting Hindus. Photos AP Photo Audio/Video Hindu-Muslim Conflict Appears To Calm (Reuters) Nearly a week later, conspiracy theories abound about who was behind the assault, which claimed 58 Hindu lives and set off riots and attacks that left more than 500 people dead, most of them Muslims. Indian officials, as they often do, hinted at a Pakistan link to the train fire in Godhra on Feb. 27. Other Indians wondered if Islamic militants had a hidden hand in lighting the fire. Islamic Pakistan has denied involvement and called on India to stop the killings of Muslims, who are a minority in India. What appears clear is that Hindus and Muslims in this western desert state don't blame their neighbors, even though they may have turned on them in anger or fled them in fear. They blame religious extremists and outside influences. "All this, blame the Hindu and Muslim fundamentalists," said Satish Aggarwal, a Hindu whose milk shop survived the riots. "We blame the Muslims in Godhra for starting it. But we know the ISI (Pakistan's intelligence service) was behind that." Aggarwal, surveying the damage in his community in Ahmadabad, the commercial capital of Gujarat state, was expressing a common belief held by Indians: Pakistan and its Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency, ISI, is behind many of their woes. "The needle of suspicion" pointed to some "outside terrorist outfit," said India's Home Minister L.K. Advani. Vipul Vijoy Singh, head of Gujarat's anti-terrorism squad, said Indian intelligence officials were investigating whether ISI agents had a hand in provoking the train fire. "Intelligence is working very hard on various reports on anti-national elements operating within the country and those who are funding operations from outside," Singh was quoted as saying in Tuesday's The Asian Age newspaper. Police have arrested 27 people in the train massacre, including Mohammed Hussain Abdul Rahim Kalota, a Muslim who is chairman of the Godhra municipality. Indian government spokeswoman Nirupama Rao said Pakistani involvement could not be ruled out, adding "there is every reason for us to investigate whether there is a larger design to this whole situation." Indian and Pakistani soldiers have been nose-to-nose along their disputed frontier for months, since India blamed the ISI and Pakistan-based Islamic militant groups for the Dec. 13 attack on its Parliament that left 14 people dead. A main point of contention is disputed Kashmir , over which the neighbors have fought two wars. New Delhi accuses Pakistan of supporting Islamic separatists in India-held Kashmir. Islamabad says it gives the militants only moral support. Pakistan scoffed at accusations it was involved in the train attack. "People within and outside India expect an early end to the ongoing genocide rather than indulging in the game of blaming others," said a statement from Pakistan's government. The blame game resumed Tuesday, in ways that Pakistan likely would applaud. Police in Ahmadabad filed several reports accusing local leaders of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's Hindu nationalist party and the fundamentalist World Hindu Council of leading Hindus into Muslim communities and commanding them to burn Muslims alive. Gujarat state secretary for the World Hindu Council, Jaideep Patel, denied that members of his group were involved in the attacks. Pran Chopra, a political scientist with India's Center for Policy Research, said Hindu-Muslim riots have traditionally been orchestrated by those with power. In this case, that would be Muslim political leaders in Godhra and Hindu nationalists in Gujarat. "The conspiracy theories are neither completely true, nor are they entirely baseless," Chopra said. When asked if Pakistan or possibly Osama bin Laden 's al-Qaida terrorism network could have had a role in the train fire, Chopra said he would not rule out indirect involvement. "The parentage of the al-Qaida and the parentage of those who might have planned this might be the same," he said. "The very people who produced the al-Qaida are the people who have their own sympathizers and supporters in Gujarat." Kanti Bajpai, a professor of international affairs at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, said the train attack appeared to be a well-planned assault and may have been Muslim extremists trying to polarize the communities. "It was tailor-made to make riots in a very calculated way," Bajpai said. Still, he believes the root of the riots lie in the north Indian town of Ayodhya, which Hindus believe is the birthplace of their most revered god, Rama. Most of the Hindus killed on the train were activists returning from a pilgrimage to Ayodhya. The World Hindu Council insists it will begin prayer ceremonies in Ayodhya next week in preparation for building a Rama temple, defying court orders to wait. Muslims deeply resent the temple project as the site is where a 16th-century mosque was torn down by Hindus in 1992, provoking riots that killed 2,000 people. "We know historically that when the temple issue is roiled up, there's going to be communal violence," Bajpai said. Relations between Hindus and Muslims have been rocky since the end of British colonial rule in 1947. An estimated 1 million Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs were killed in rioting that accompanied the partition of Pakistan from the Indian subcontinent. Still, they have lived in relative harmony in India and clashes are rare.
Hindustan Times 3 March 2002 Police indulgence towards Sangh led to carnage Rathin Das (Ahmedabad, March 3) The unfortunate conflagration that claimed more than 400 lives in Gujarat till now can directly be attributed to the police indulgence towards the Sangh Parivar activists over the last few years since the BJP has come to power in the state. By all accounts, most of the attacks on the minorities in Ahmedabad came in full view of the police, who remained mute spectators to the crime. The continued indulgence of the Gujarat Police towards the Sangh Parivar over the years has actually snowballed into Hindutva protagonists virtually acquiring quasi-police powers, calling the shots in almost every walk of life. The over-indulgence of the Gujarat Police towards the saffron brigade actually dates back to the BJP coming to power in early 1998 when the then Chief Minister, Keshubhai Patel, had described the torching of cola vans by the VHP, in protest against the economic sanctions following the Pokhran blasts, as a 'patriotic' act. Encouraged by Keshubhai's comment, the Sangh Parivar soon took the liberty of dictating terms in various fields. They disrupted fashion shows and beauty pageants, interrupted distribution of Christian literature, prevented Valentine's Day celebrations and tore off Christmas related festoons and decorations on the eve of the New Year. The situation acquired such a serious dimension that the State Director General of Police had to attribute the deteriorating law and order in Gujarat to the Sangh Parivar's increased 'belligerence' following the BJP's coming to the power in the state. Though the DGP's statement brought enormous embarrassment to the ruling BJP in Parliament, the Sangh Parivar continued to get police patronage in their quasi-police role in preventing what they perceived as moral decay in Indian society like fashion shows, inter-community marriages, conversions, celebrations of Valentine's Day or New Year. Two years ago, the Sangh Parivar's writ extended even up to preventing slaughter of animals during Bakri-Eid as it hurts the sensibilities of the Jains, an economically influential community in Gujarat. The pattern of identifying the minority victim and their establishments even without their typical beard and cap - as testified by some incidents in Gurukul and Sola Road areas this time - confirms the worst apprehension that the VHP had indeed completed its ethnic mapping to pinpoint the minorities in 'general' localities of the communally surcharged city. Not only that the state police had turned a blind eye to the moral policing by the Sangh Parivar, it remained silent when the state Bajrang Dal distributed to its members tridents with the cutting edge longer than six inches. The state police did not act even after the Central intelligence agencies pointed out that cutting tools longer than six inches, as distributed to nearly a lakh Bajrang Dal activists during a membership drive last summer, is a clear violation of the Arms Act. True, the police and the Sangh Parivar would certainly say that these tridents were not used in the current carnage, but the increased arrogance of the saffron brigade due to the police indifference must have surely added to the mood of revenge. And the Chief Minister's ambivalent statements blaming the victims for provoking the attacks added the necessary fuel to the already uncontrollable fire. And, giving the marauders a free hand for the first 48 hours also served their intended purpose of settling scores with the minority in the same fashion as the original carnage. Juxtaposing this 'eye for eye' strategy with the reports of many roadside dargahs being converted into small makeshift temples overnight brings out the Sangh Parivar's political statement that remains unfinished as yet at Ayodhya. In sum, the carnage, followed by building temples on demolished dargahs, has actually helped the BJP re-consolidate its position which was under serious threat as evident from a series of electoral reverses.
WP 3 March 2002 Trapped in House of Fire Wave of Religious Reprisals Ensnares Indian State By Rajiv Chandrasekaran; Page A01 SARDARPURA, India, March 2 – Carrying wooden sticks and plastic jugs of kerosene, the mob of 500 Hindus made no secret of its intentions as it swarmed into this tiny farming town late Friday night. "Kill the Muslims," they chanted. "Kill the Muslims." Trying to flee but surrounded on all sides by the Hindu crowd, most of the town's Muslims holed up in the one place they believed was safe: a one-room house with thick concrete walls and metal-barred windows at the end of their neighborhood. But the throng soon followed them there and encircled the house, seeking revenge for a Muslim attack on Hindu train passengers earlier in the week. "Get rid of the Muslims," some of the Hindus said, according to a Hindu man who witnessed the attack. Panicked and crying, those inside the house begged for their lives. "We said, 'Please forgive us. Please let us go,' " said Ruksanabano Ibrahim, 20, who was packed inside with a dozen family members. "We kept saying, 'We are not your enemies. What have we done to you?'‚" Then, just as it did moments earlier with shops, cars and other homes in the neighborhood, the mob doused cloth-wrapped sticks with kerosene, ignited them and hurled them through the windows. The terrorized occupants, who were locked inside the house, tried in vain to smother the flames with wool shawls and douse them with bottles of drinking water. When police officers arrived a half-hour later and broke down the door, 29 people were dead. Most of the 15 others in the house were seriously burned. The gruesome attack was the latest in a wave of retaliatory killings by Hindus that have plunged India's western Gujarat state into anarchy since Muslims firebombed the train on Wednesday, killing 58 Hindu nationalists who had been rallying to build a temple at the site of a destroyed mosque. Subsequent clashes have claimed more than 350 lives in the most severe religious strife in India in almost a decade. Although police imposed a curfew in 37 towns and army troops sent to the state received orders to shoot rioters on sight, the unrest continued today. In Ahmadabad, which was the scene of brutal slayings and arson attacks on Thursday and Friday, Hindu gangs set fire to shops in several Muslim neighborhoods. In the town of Vadodra, police said seven Muslims working in a bakery were burned alive by a Hindu mob. Police said more than 120 people were killed Friday in Ahmadabad, Sardarpura and another village in eastern Gujarat. Despite fears among some government officials that the fighting would spread to other states, most of the violence has been confined to Gujarat, which has a long history of Hindu-Muslim clashes. Police said they have killed 47 rioters in the state and arrested 1,200 people, including several dozen who allegedly participated in the train attack. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee delivered a nationally televised address calling for peace. He said the attacks were "a blot on the country's face." About 12 percent of India's 1 billion people are Muslims, while 82 percent are Hindu. Although India is an officially secular nation, religious tension between Hindus and Muslims has existed for centuries. In 1947, when India gained its independence and was partitioned to create the Muslim nation of Pakistan, hundreds of thousands of people were killed as they tried to move between the countries. And in 1993, in the last major round of religious fighting, more than 800 people died in sectarian riots in Bombay. While the police and military have increased their presence in large cities, the revenge attacks appear to be spreading to rural areas like Sardarpura, where security forces are stretched thin. Local police officials expressed concern at their ability to stem a wave of vigilante attacks across the state's farming villages, many of which have small Muslim enclaves but lack full-time police protection. In Sardarpura, which has the largest Muslim population in a 30-mile radius, the violence began on Friday afternoon, when several hundred irate Hindus arrived from Jhantral, a nearby village. Claiming that two Jhantral residents were killed aboard the train on Wednesday, the mob used pickaxes to demolish a light blue mosque on the road into Sardarpura, located about 40 miles north of Ahmadabad. Forced to disperse from the mosque by police, the Hindus later regrouped and returned to the village around 9 p.m., police officials said. Once again, the police pushed them back by firing tear gas canisters, the officials said. But then, the 14-man police contingent left the town to patrol neighboring villages. As soon as they departed, the mob returned – with devastating consequences. "We couldn't just stay here," said B.K. Purohit, a police sub-inspector. "We had to patrol other areas." After an emergency call from the town, the officers headed back, but said they were stopped a few miles away by roadblocks. Muslims who used to live here, as well as those in other parts of the state contend security forces have been slow to respond. In some cases, they said, police and soldiers simply stood by as women and children were killed with sticks and swords. "The police were nowhere to be seen when we were attacked," said Fatima Bibi, 48, who hid with nine relatives in the home of a Hindu family. "They should have been protecting us." As the mob closed in on the Muslim neighborhood, the residents attempted to defend themselves by throwing stones and brandishing knives, said Sanju, a Hindu mechanic who witnessed the confrontation. But the Muslims quickly found themselves outnumbered and were forced to retreat, he said. Although some Muslims managed either to run away from the village or to hide in the homes of Hindu families, most made their way down a rutted dirt path, past burning cars and huts, to the concrete house. "We thought it would be the safest place because the walls are so thick," Ibraham said from her hospital bed today in a nearby city. But it also was the most crowded. By the time Ibrahim arrived with her relatives, the small house already was stuffed with people. So when the mob began throwing flaming sticks through the open windows, setting the bed and other furniture alight, there was no place to retreat, she said. "Those who could not move into the corners, they were sucked into the flames," she said. As new pieces of blazing material were tossed into the house and flames danced up the walls, Ibrahim and a few others kept moving around the room, tripping on the bodies of people who had collapsed. "We were filled with fear," she said. "We were crying, begging them to let us go." Ibrahim, who has a large bandage over her right eye, said she lost 10 relatives in the blaze, including her aunt, who owned the house. Police officers said they removed the 29 badly burned bodies from the house this morning. By this afternoon, the village was largely abandoned except for police officers and cows wandering the streets, which fleeing residents had been too panicked to take. Those Muslims who were not taken to the hospital ran off to other villages, where they planned to move in with relatives. Hindus joined the exodus out of fear that Muslim gangs might attempt to exact revenge. Hindus in the area neither praised nor repudiated the attack. A group of middle-aged Hindu men loitering outside the town said they were particularly upset by rumors that some of the women and children aboard the train had been raped. "They should be punished because they have done awful things to our people," one man said. Police officials said they have found no evidence that any of the passengers were raped. The train was returning from the northern town of Ayodhya, where hard-line Hindus want to build a temple to the god Ram on the site of a 16th-century mosque that was razed by Hindus in 1992. A Hindu group said it plans to start construction of the temple on March 15. Hindu and Muslim residents said they could not recall another incident of religious violence in the town, even when the Ayodhya mosque was torn down and riots engulfed Bombay. "Relations were always very good," said Nasir Mohammed, a Muslim driver. "Sometimes, we would even go into the homes of Hindus." But he and Ibrahim said they can no longer imagine returning to Sardarpura. Mohammed said he plans to continue living with relatives in a smaller village 35 miles away. Ibrahim said she has no idea where she will go after she leaves the hospital, but she said it likely will not be to a village where Muslims are in the minority. Analysts said those sentiments suggest that even if government forces quell the violence, the lingering polarization could set back India's efforts to foster a multi-religious society. "In one night, the Hindus ended years of harmony," Ibrahim said. "Why in the world would anyone want to go back?" Special correspondent Rama Lakshmi contributed to this report.
PTI Ram-Rahim Nagar: An oasis of peace SANJAY PANDEY AHMEDABAD: They have done it again. For the fourth time in a row Ram-Rahim Nagar slum residents in Behrampura have set a record of sorts. Once again their respective faiths did not come in way of the violence all around them or create a rift among them. After easily sailing through turbulent times in 1969, 1985 and 1992 the locality once again did not witness any form of violence or disturbance. When everything burnt in communal frenzy, harmony reigned supreme in these slums despite having a mixed population of Hindus and Muslims. A temple of Lord Hanuman and a dargah alongside summarises the brotherhood and peace at Ram-Rahim Nagar even in these turbulent times. Mutual trust helps 20,000 people living in this slum to overcome any communal hailstorm. "Humanity is our religion here," says Pyar Ali B Kapadia, President, Ram-Rahimnagar Jhupdawasi (slums) Mandal adding that nobody is worried about each other’s faith. This secular colony instead has become a refuge for some 300 riot-affected people housed in a nearby mosque. "Members have contributed on their own to arrange for food and shelter for these riot victims," says Taj Bano Sayyed, who is co-ordinating the relief measures. Poverty being their common enemy, co-existence of Hindu and Muslims is at its best. People here are least concerned about Mandir-Masjid issue. "Everytime Mandir-Masjid issue is raked up tension crops up and innocent people die," says A H Badami, a retired clerk from Central Excise and Custom adding that issue should be buried forever. Originally a resident of Bijapur in Karnataka he settled here in 1951 and today feels himself lucky to be here for obvious reasons. Home to some 20,000 people Ram-Rahimnagar never experienced the riots and its ugly aftermath. Since 1973 the Mandal, the local governing body comprising 21-member executive committee, has gifted peace and communal harmony to the residents. The secret behind the peace at Ram-Rahimnagar is its Mandal’s neutrality. Equal representation of both communities at the local body and official work sans money transaction are twin factors that have kept the Mandal’s role out of controversy or doubt. "If there are any disagreements we identify the root cause and nip it in the bud," says 30-year-old Mohammed Rafiq Sheikh, a member of the Mandal. "Everybody strives here to maintain peace," says Aljibhai Parmar, Vice-President who has been living in these slums for 35 years now. But peace does not come cheap. Residents now keep night-long vigil so that no outside elements can enter and spread rumours and hatred among them, explained Parmar on how peace was maintained in a locality surrounded by riot ravaged areas. "The residents seem to be uneducated and impoverished but they have great sense and maturity," says Abdul Salam, a local resident and tailor by profession. "Every celebration whether it is holi, diwali or uttarayan everybody joins in and revels," says Shabbir Khan ‘Master’, a teacher at nearby Behrampura municipal Urdu School. Today, Ram-Rahimnagar personifies that proverbial oasis of peace in a city where rioters have shaken the common man’s faith on peaceful co-existence. The fear that may grip you while rushing through the narrow bylanes, leading to this colony, does a disappearing act when you meet the residents who stand guard on their peace. Once you have established your identity, members of both the communities are eager to accord a warm welcome, that is if you deserve it.
Reuters 10 March 2002 Indian Muslims Reject Proposals on Disputed Site March 10, 2002 NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Indian Muslim leaders on Sunday rejected a proposal by a top Hindu cleric meant to ease a religious land dispute in the northern town of Ayodhya and end communal violence in which more than 700 people have died. Their decision came after a week of negotiations to head off a possible new upsurge of violence before a March 15 deadline set by hard-line Hindus for starting work on a temple at a site in Ayodhya where a mosque was razed in 1992. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board said in a statement it rejected the proposals as incomplete. The Shankaracharya of Kanchi, one of Hinduism's top religious leaders, had suggested hard-line Hindus be given land adjacent to the site where the Babri mosque was demolished in 1992, triggering nationwide riots in which 3,000 died. He had also proposed building a wall to protect the former site of the mosque until a court ruled on whether the land should be given to Muslims or Hindus. Hard-line Hindus believe the 16th-century Babri mosque was built by Muslim Moghul invaders on the birthplace of the Hindu god-king Ram, and see the temple as a means of setting right the insult they believe their religion suffered at the time. The Muslim board said it wanted written guarantees the site of the razed mosque would be protected until the court verdict. More than 700 people have died since February 27 when a Muslim mob attacked a train carrying Hindu devotees back from Ayodhya, burning to death 58 men, women and children. The attack in the town of Godhra triggered reprisals against minority Muslims in the western state of Gujarat and authorities finally had to deploy the army to quell the violence. The Muslim board condemned the Godhra attack but said it had been used as an excuse for "systematic pogroms or ethnic cleansing of the Muslims amounting to genocide in Gujarat." HARD-LINE HINDUS READY TO MOBILISE Thousands of devotees led by the hard-line Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) have already gathered at Ayodhya ahead of the March 15 deadline and one of its senior members said Sunday thousands more could be sent there if necessary. "Five hundred people from every district of Gujarat will go to Ayodhya on March 12," said Jaideep Patel, joint general secretary of the VHP in Gujarat's main city, Ahmedabad. "At any time we can send between 5,000 and 50,000 people to Ayodhya whenever required," he told Reuters. "It will all depend on instructions from Ayodhya." So far the violence has been limited to Gujarat, with a massive police presence preventing it spreading to other states. But Sunday, one Hindu activist was killed and four wounded in the village of Taldi in eastern India when police opened fire after a group planning to hold an unauthorized prayer meeting started pelting them with stones. "Given the current situation in the country this unscheduled prayer meeting would have generated unnecessary tension," a district official said. The communal tension has plunged Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee into his worst crisis since he took office in 1999. He was already juggling a military stand-off with Pakistan to force it to crack down on Islamic militants and had just seen his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) defeated in four state elections. The Hindu nationalist BJP heads the national coalition government and also runs the state government in Gujarat. Now Vajpayee faces the choice of turning against Hindu hard-liners who come from the same ideological family as the BJP or appeasing them and alienating his secular coalition partners.
PTI 7 March 2002 Opposition dharna to protest Gujarat killings NILANJANA BHADURI JHA TIMES NEWS NETWORK NEW DELHI: Expressing outrage at the complete breakdown of law and order in Gujarat, Opposition parties, led by Sonia Gandhi, agitated outside Parliament to demand the dismissal of Home Minister L K Advani and Chief Minister Narendra Modi. About one hundred and fifty Opposition MPs, led by Congress President Mrs Sonia Gandhi, sat in a silent dharna in front of Gate 1 of Parliament to protest against the complete break down of law and order in Gujarat. The MPS sat below Mahatma Gandhi's statue, and there was no slogan-shouting. Some of them held placards which read: "Remove Modi", "give relief to all genocide victims", "maintain peace and harmony", "killer Sangh Parivar down down". Some Opposition leaders also said that there demand includes the resignation of Home Minister L K Advani for the "complete bnreakdown of law and order and administration in Gujarat". Sonia Gandhi is also likely to lead a delegation of Opposition parties that will visit Gujarat tomorrow. The decision to hold the dharna was taken in a meeting held at the residence of senior CPM leader Somnath Chatterjee on Wednesday night. Talking to the Times News Network, Chatterjee said the Opposition demands immediate restoration of normalcy in the state, protection of people and property, relief for the victims and deployment of Army in the state to prevent any further incidents of violence. The parties also lashed out at the state administration and accused the Modi government of conniving with the perpetrators of the dastardly acts of arson and riots that followed the attack on Sabarmati Express on February 27. Present at the meeting were former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda, Shivraj Patil (Congress), Ramji Lal Suman (Samajwadi Party), Raghuvansh Prasad Singh (RJD), P A Sangma (NCP), Ajoy Chakraborty (CPI), Amar Roy Pradhan (RSP), Joyanta Rongpi (CPI-ML) and Simranjit Singh Mann (Akali Dal-Mann). Earlier on Wednesday, the Congress bitterly criticised the Gujarat government for discriminating against victims of the post-Godhra incident. The state administration has announced a package of Rs 2 lakh for victims of the attack on Sabarmati Express and Rs 1 lakh for those who died in the subsequent incidents of violence in the state. Party spokesperson Jaipal Reddy said, "The Modi administration's stand on compensation is nothing less than institutionalising sectarian discrimination."
Times of India 3 March 2002 Number of karsevaks dwindle in Ayodhya ] AYODHYA: The continuing administrative squeeze around Ayodhya and Faizabad got tighter on Saturday, with the cancellation or diversion of all trains reaching the twin towns till further notice. The last of the trains, carrying some 2,000 karsevaks from Ayodhya, left town on Friday evening. Ironically enough, it was the Sabarmati Express, bound for Ahmedabad in Gujarat, the same ill-fated train which was attacked in Godhra last Wednesday. The lack of easy transportation to and from Ayodhya has already begun to reflect in the numbers at Karsevakpuram, the VHP headquarters in Ayodhya. Just before noon, the site of the Purna Ahuti Yagna conducted every morning since February 24 looks deserted but for a dozen or so karsevaks. ``We have strict instructions not to let the media in,'' says the young volunteer in-charge of regulating the negligible human traffic to the holy fire. Local media in-charge of the VHP Sharad Sharma at first sullenly denied that the number of karsevaks had dwindled. Then he said since the trains were stopped on Friday, some 2,000 karsevaks arrived on Saturday by other means. The local BJP leaders, re-elected MLA Lallu Singh and the Faizabad district party president Mahant Manmohan Das, are more forthright. Because of the administration's dictatorial ban on rail and road travel, religious-minded karsevaks are being prevented from reaching Ayodhya, they complain. There are no exact estimates of how many karsevaks are still left behind in Ayodhya. The figure varies from an optimistic 4,000 to an improbable 10,000. Requests to visit Ramsevakpuram ^ the semi-permanent township which houses the VHP volunteers ^ for an independent assessment, are firmly turned down. ``The karsevaks have told us not to send anyone from the media there...Because the media can some times be too aggressive with its questioning,'' says Sharma. That might be so, but he clearly has other things on his mind. On Friday evening, a wire service photographer was manhandled inside Ramsevakpuram and his chain snatched. Just a stone's throw away from Karsevakpuram, the administration has, in the past 24 hours, part-sealed the workshop where stone pillars for the proposed temple are being chiseled and carved. The gate used for bulk transportation has been locked up, with a single-file side entrance allowed for individual access. The men in uniform posted outside have orders not to let anyone unlock the main gate. But none of this is having a reassuring impact in the Muslim areas of the temple town. From Kutia to Panjitola, Kajiara to Begumpura, the mood among the minorities remains grimly nervous. Many families have moved their women and young ones to safer areas. But it is impossible to ascertain how many. Mohammed Salim, nephew of Hashim Ansari, the man who filed the original court petition against the installation of Ram idols in 1949, claims that nearly every Muslim family in Panjitola located within shouting distance of the barbed-wire fencing that marks off the acquired land around the disputed masjid has seen some safety-driven migration. But in Faizabad, Khalil Ahmed Khan, of the Faizabad Helal Committee, has compiled a list complete as of Friday of those Muslim families who have left Ayodhya for safer destinations. While Khan feels that the administration has clearer directions today than in December 1992 ^ both from the court and the Central government to maintain the peace and the status quo, there is ample room for concern. But the last word belongs to a retired Muslim teacher: If the Muslims are migrating, can anyone blame them? Do you think a Muslim can really trust the system after what has happened in Gujarat in the last two days? Bangladesh pledges communal harmony
Scotsman UK 3 March 2002 Hindus torch more Muslims as Indian mobs defy their prime minister BETH DUFF-BROWN IN AHMADABAD VENGEFUL Hindu mobs continued to torch Muslim homes, killing scores, and rioting spread through western Gujarat state yesterday as the death toll in India’s worst religious strife in a decade reached 415. Among the dead was a British man who was killed while visiting family in the region. Mohammed Aswat Nallabhai, 41, from Batley, West Yorkshire, was attacked on Thursday along with three relatives . It is understood Nallabhai’s group were travelling in a minibus when they were attacked near Himmatnagar, about 100 miles from Gujarat’s biggest city, Ahmadabad. Two of his companions, men named as Saeed Dawood and Shakil Dawood, are missing. Consular officials are making efforts to trace them, the Foreign Office said. A third family member, Imran Dawood, also from Batley, is recovering in hospital in Bombay with "minor injuries". A Foreign Office spokeswoman said she had no further details about Nallabhai’s death. "I can confirm that one British male is dead and another is in hospital," she said. The violence continued unchecked for a fourth day despite troops being deployed with orders to shoot rioters on sight. A curfew was imposed in 37 towns and prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee went on television to appeal for peace and restraint, saying the violence was a "blot" on the nation’s reputation. "Whatever the provocation, people should maintain peace and exercise restraint," Vajpayee said. "The burning alive of people, including women and children, is a blot on the country’s face." But on the streets, some members of the country’s Hindu majority shunned their prime minister’s words. "Learn from us how to burn Muslims," said chilling graffiti on a wall in Naroda on the outskirts of Ahmadabad. Fresh rioting and arson were reported in the cities of Surat, Bhavnagar, Vadodra and Ahmadabad, the commercial capital of Gujarat. In Ahmadabad mobs set fire to shops in at least three neighbourhoods and prevented fire engines from approaching. In the eastern town of Vadodra, at least seven Muslims working at a bakery were burned alive by a mob. On Friday, at least 122 Muslims were burned to death in their homes by Hindus in three separate attacks in Ahmadabad and two other villages. The bloodshed was triggered by a Muslim mob burning a train carrying Hindu nationalists on Wednesday, killing 58 people. Since then, right-wing Hindus have been on a retaliatory rampage in Gujarat, one of India’s richest states. Muslim residents have accused police and soldiers of standing by and watching residents being slaughtered, often with swords and sticks. Authorities said they had begun moving Muslims in some parts of the state from mixed neighbourhoods to Muslim areas where security had been stepped up. State government officials said the death toll in four days of carnage was 415, including those killed in the train and 47 killed from fire. The religious clashes were the worst in India since 1993, when 800 people were killed during Hindu-Muslim riots in Bombay. "It’s not a good thing what happened but this chain reaction is normal. Now everybody has to suffer," said Satish Aggarwal, a Hindu who operates a dairy kiosk in Ahmadabad. A small crowd of Hindu residents gathered at Aggarwal’s kiosk said Muslims were to blame for the events of the last few days. "It’s the Muslims’ fault!" they shouted. Gujarat is the home state of Mohandas Gandhi, India’s independence leader, an icon of non-violence who struggled for reconciliation between India’s Hindu majority and Muslim minority during religious riots following the country’s independence in 1947. About 12% of India’s one billion people are Muslims, and 82% Hindus. During partition, many educated and professional Muslims left for Pakistan. Muslim leaders had ruled the Indian subcontinent until the arrival of the British in the 18th century. Although the majority of Indians are not religious extremists, the British and later Indian politicians including Gandhi have manipulated religious differences . In Ahmadabad many hotels, shops and restaurants have been destroyed and looting has been widespread. Bodies blackened by fire lay in the streets, along with burned-out furnishings and vehicles, shredded clothes and other personal belongings. Muslims streamed into hospitals, for treatment of stab wounds and burns, but also for refuge. The origin of the violence lies in the World Hindu Council’s campaign to build a temple at the site of a demolished 16th century mosque in the northern town of Ayodhya. The 1992 razing of the mosque by Hindus sparked nationwide riots that killed 2,000 people. Hindus claim the site is the birthplace of their most-revered god, Rama. The Hindus killed in the train massacre were returning from Ayodhya. A council spokesman said the plan to start building the temple would go ahead on March 15. About 10,000 security forces are deployed in the town.
Times of India 3 March 2002 VHP, BJP workers named in FIR on riots AHMEDABAD: Workers of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bharatiya Janata Party have been booked for murder in FIRs filed in the Naroda-Patia violence on Friday which claimed nearly 65 lives. Interestingly, the FIRs filed at the Meghaninagar police station names shopkeepers of the area as being the culprits responsible for the killing of nearly 38 persons who were burnt alive. The five BJP and VHP workers named in the Naroda-Patia incident are Kishan Korani, PJ Rajput, Harish Rohera, Babu Bajrangi and Raju Noble apart from 10-15,000 people, in this complaint filed by police sub-inspector AK Solanki. At Chamanpura, the persons have been vaguely identified in the FIR as small-time traders in the area mostly operating around a temple in this area, that has always been in a state of communal frenzy. Their identities in the FIR run as those dealing in furniture, imitation jewellery and even country liquor. "The persons named in this carnage are Girish, identified as "who lived near the mandir" and "does furniture work", Ramesh "who lives near the mandir", Mangilal Dhulichand Adinath, Mukesh Mochi, Prabhu Mochi, ‘Gabbar’, ‘Abesh’, Ashish — the son of a chanawala, Ramesh of ‘Sadhna stores’, Deepak alias Pradeep who is a BJP worker and ‘Ghunghriya vaal wala’ (the curly-haired one) who deals in country liquor. This FIR was lodged by senior police inspector of the Meghaninagar police station KG Erda. Apart from murder, arson, rioting with deadly weapons, conspiracy, the accused in the Chamanpura case have also been booked for dacoity. The other sections under the IPC that have been applied on the accused are 143,144,147, 148, 323, 336, 337, 435,436, 427, 186, 188, and Section 135 (1) of the Bombay Police Act. Advani calls Gujarat violence terrorism before retracting
PTI 3 March 2002 Ahmedabad, In an apparent slip, Home Minister LK Advani on Sunday said the magnitude of violence on the innocents taking place in Gujarat was "terrorism" before retracting to label it as "communal violence". Addressing a press conference here, he said what has happened in Godhra and subsequently in Ahmedabad in which innoncents were targetted and killed was terrorism. "The Godhra incident and its fallout at Naroda and Meghaninagar was a blot on society and for country," he commented. Showing his distress, he continued "here innocents have been killed. Like we ask them (Pakistan), does killing innocents in Jammu and Kashmir mean freedom struggle for them. Many innocents have been killed here which was very unfortunate and this is what is terrorism," Advani said. But when a reporter asked him to clarify on his terming the Gujarat violence "terrorism", Advani retracted saying "it is not terrorism. It is communal violence." Indian Express Kar sewaks going but look who’s waiting » VHP says we don’t need trains, buses, its 25,000 UP cadre will simply cross the bridge over Saryu river SONU JAIN & RAKESH SINHA AYODHYA, MARCH 3: THE number of Ramsevaks dwindled to just 800 today — with the daily departures and no arrivals because of restrictions — but the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) wasn’t looking despondent. They say they have been holding a trump card for years which can swing the game their way if they believe they are not going to score enough points in this round of the Ayodhya campaign. One of the best kept secrets of the VHP is the rapid deployment strength of its Uttar Pradesh cadre. They are only waiting for word from New Delhi where the Mandir Nirman Samiti is meeting tomorrow. With the Centre being forced to take a hard line, the VHP has already held a strategy meeting of its six Prant coordinators with its central minister Rajendra Singh Pankaj. On eve of VHP meeting, first ally sends a warning Kumbakonam: DMK chief M Karunanidhi said his party will quit the NDA in the ‘‘unlikely’’ event of permission being granted for the construction of the Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya. He added, however, that he was satisfied with Prime Minister Vajpayee’s handling of the issue. n New Delhi: The VHP postponed its Sunday meeting to Monday to finalise its stand on its current temple campaign. Finding it hard to climb down, VHP leaders met the RSS today and are said to be working on a face-saver although Ashok Singhal said that the March 15 plan remains unchanged. If the Delhi meeting leads to a situation that’s unacceptable to the VHP or doesn’t throw up a face-saving formula, the UP cadre would be called in to storm Ayodhya. According to the earlier VHP schedule, the UP cadre was to arrive in limited numbers from March 9. Ramesh Mani Dixit, prant sanyojak for Ayodhya, who is now in Balrampur, told The Indian Express that he plans to return to Ayodhya with at least 25,000 Ramsevaks on March 5. His writ runs over a huge area, stretching from Gorakhpur to Bahraich. Earlier, they would have entered the holy city in four separate groups on March 9, 13, 17 and 21. The VHP has divided UP into six prants — Avadh, Kashi, Ayodhya, Meerut, Uttaranchal and Braj. It’s sweep is both wide and deep. Each prant has at least 20 zilas, each zila at least 214 blocks. Each block has its own units of VHP and Bajrang Dal, making the region a fertile ground for the growth of the saffron brotherhood. These areas, especially the villages on the other side of the Saryu, have been cultivated with great care for more than 30 years because the distance to Ayodhya can be covered on foot if the need so arises. In these villages, Ramsevaks do not have to wait for trains and buses — they simply walk along the road which leads to the bridge over the Saryu. In fact, even in 1990 when Babri Masjid was first stormed, it was from the Saryu-end that people poured in. So huge was the number that the police had to resort to teargassing at several points. The VHP support base in villages which hug the road to Gonda, Balrampur, is quite strong. The approach road and other access points have been carefully studied and woven into the revised VHP strategy of calling upon the UP cadre at a short notice. ‘‘I am going to concentrate on the visits to Taraliganj and Manakpur which are the nearest blocks,’’ said Dixit. According to him, the Ramsevaks will try not to bring in their children but women would definitely be around in large numbers. Many are members of the Durga Vahini, the women’s wing which has played an active role in the temple movement. The Avadh prant has been asked to bring in a similar number on March 6. The organisers claim Union Home Minister L K Advani is familiar with most of their strategies but are confident that they have worked out a plan which can penetrate the security cordon of 70 CRPF companies and 22 state police companies.
Indian Exprerss 4 Mar 2002 Mob forces NID, IIM students to call off dharna against violence ENS & AGENCIES AHMEDABAD, MARCH 3: A 100-strong mob today forced students and faculty from three city-based institutions, sitting on token fast to protest ongoing violence in Gujarat, to call off their stir midway. Students and faculty members from the National Institute of Design (NID), Indian Institute of Management (IIM) and Centre for Environment Planning and Technology had organised a token fast near the IIM, when the group arrived at the venue, police said. It asked those at the venue to go to Godhra, if they were serious about the protest, even as the group threatened of dire consequences if the ‘dharna for peace’ was not stopped at once, police said. The threat forced the organisers to call off the dharna, police said. The IIM has been an island of peace in the state which has been swept by violence. Inside the gates of Louis Kahn’s architectural masterpiece, the institute was working on as usual. The only casualty was annual placements, postponed by a week from the scheduled March 1. More than jobs, the management students are worried about the violence. ‘‘Ahmedabad appeared to be one of the safest cities, especially for me who is from Bihar,’’ said second-year student Himanshu Rai. The faculty share the students’ views. ‘‘After violence of this magnitude, I no longer believe we are a civil society,’’ Prof Jagdeep Chokkar, IIMA Dean, said. ‘‘I have been witness to communal riots earlier. But this is the worst.’’
Afternoon Despatch & Courier (Bombay) 3 March 2002 CITY RAM SEVAKS OUT SMART POLICE Mock demo held at CST while real Sevaks leave for Ayodhya from Dadar BY HUBERT VAZ A batch of 500 `Ram Sevaks' this morning outsmarted the police and left for Lucknow, on their way to Ayodhya, by the Pushpak Express that departed from Dadar Station at 8.30 o'clock. According to the general secretary of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad's city unit, Mr. Mohan Salekar, their plan of diverting the attention of the police to Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, where a mock demonstration by some activists was held, was successful. The "real Ram Sevaks" boarded the Pushpak Express from Dadar Station, he said. The police and railway police were out in large numbers at CST this morning when the VHP activists carrying saffron flags and wearing bands on their foreheads sat on the CST outstation concourse demonstrating against the attempts to prevent them from going to Ayodhya. At least 20-25 police vans, besides around 10-15 specially requisitioned BEST buses, had been stationed outside CST to take them away. However, just three vans were sufficient when the police later arrested them for attempting to disregard the government directive. Those arrested included six young women. Mr. Salekar said the VHP had known about the police's intentions to stop the activists at CST and so staged a demonstration just to fool them. Those who left by the Pushpak Express did not go together and did not carry any flags or ribbons to give away their identity. He said that the VHP would be sending more batches "by hook or by crook" on March 4, 11 and 14. VHP city president, Mr. Ramesh Mehta, who also courted arrest along with the activists at CST, said: "No one can stop us from going to Ayodhya and building the Ram temple. This is our land we will not allow anybody to let Pakistani forces rule us." South Mumbai Bharatiya Janata Party MLA, Mr. Mangal Parbhat Lodha, who also joined in the demonstrations at CST, swore that Ram Sevaks from Mumbai would reach Ayodhya by all means and that no force in the country could stop them. Last night, the state government had issued a directive to thwart all attempts at sending Ram Sevaks from Mumbai to Ayodhya in view of the violent outbursts in Gujarat. The police and the railway authorities had been told to see to it that the activists did not make their way to Ayodhya in line with the prime minister's directive in this regard.
BBC 1 March, 2002, Indian press shocked by bloodshed Security forces are struggling to contain the riots Indian commentators fear that the current violence in Gujarat could spiral into nationwide chaos if plans go ahead to begin work on a Hindu temple in Ayodhya. The widely-read independent Hindi-language daily Rashtriya Sahara says the latest violence "puts the whole human race to shame". "Such an horrendous example of communal frenzy is perhaps unprecedented in independent India," says the daily. "Since the fundamentalist demon of both the Hindu and Muslim communities has been roused, it must be satiated." Conspiracy "The brutal killings were not the result of any immediate tension, but part of a well-planned conspiracy. It is possible that it was hatched by the fundamentalists," the paper says. This is the first phase of communal frenzy. Its reaction might be seen in more massacres since the root of the tension continues to be Ayodhya Rashtriya Sahara "This is the first phase of communal frenzy. Its reaction might be seen in more massacres, since the root of the tension continues to be Ayodhya ... all political parties must regard it as a national problem and start immediate discussions and find a solution acceptable to all," Rashtriya Sahara urges. The Asian Age, an English-language independent, voices fears about activists of the hardline Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) gathering in Ayodhya. "It is now imperative that instead of using the temple issue to create an atmosphere of uncertainty and insecurity, the government at the Centre lives up to its responsibility and calls off the squads that have started arriving in Ayodhya with the one-point agenda of fomenting tension and trouble," the paper says. Muslim fears The largest circulation Urdu daily in the Indian capital, Qaumi Awaz, calls for the VHP leaders to be arrested. "The Vishwa Hindu Parishad has threatened that the Ram temple will be built even if it leads to riots all over the country. In a provocative statement, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad has threatened to start communal riots in order to terrify the Muslims." If the Vajpayee government believes in the supremacy of law, the VHP leaders should be detained Qaumi Awaz Qaumi Awaz says that to destroy secular Indian society, the VHP "is intimidating the people through the prospects of riots all over the country." "If the Vajpayee government believes in the supremacy of law, the VHP leaders should be detained." Hindus 'unsafe' The largest-circulation Hindi-language daily, Dainik Jagran, says the train attack which triggered the riots proved that Hindus were at risk in their own country. "The manner in which pilgrims returning from Ayodhya were burned and killed is no ordinary crime but is the most obnoxious, horrendous, and unpardonable offence against humanity. The complicity of Pakistan's agents and terrorist organisations cannot be ruled out." Islam is absolutely safe in India. A Hindu is gradually becoming an orphan and helpless in his own country Dainik Jagran Dainik Jagran says the Hindu "is gradually becoming an orphan and helpless in his own country, without the least hope of help from any quarter". "Today's leaders, who mostly belong to the Hindu society, are the absolute epitome of cowardice. Nothing can be expected from them." However, Dainik Jagran urges the Hindu community "not to lose its self-control". "The Hindus should not forget that the Muslims in the country are their brothers and the Godhra incident could be part of a conspiracy hatched by foreign forces". Insanity Delhi's Hindustan Times speaks of "the insanity unleashed by the VHP" and accuses the BJP of "perhaps hoping that the VHP's belligerence will consolidate the Hindu vote behind it". Now the worst that was feared has happened in Gujarat. The communal conflagration can spread like wild fire unless preventive arrests are made immediately Hindustan Times "Now the worst that was feared has happened in Gujarat. The communal conflagration can spread like wild fire unless preventive arrests are made immediately and the government makes it absolutely clear that it will crack down on the miscreants wherever they create trouble." In Madras, the Tamil-language Dinamani says the plans for the construction of the Ayodhya temple on 15 March are based on "the auspicious day fixed by astrologers". "Central and state governments should take swift action to see that communal riots are not triggered off in other parts of the country. The evil forces that were responsible for this heinous crime should be identified and punished."
Jakarta Post 13 March 2002 Timbul set to face rights trial JAKARTA: Former East Timor Police chief Brig. Gen. Timbul Silaen said he was ready to stand trial before the human rights tribunal for his alleged involvement in East Timor atrocities. The tribunal is due to start sitting on Thursday. Timbul's lawyer Palmer Situmorang said the genocide and crimes against humanity charges laid against his client were weak. "We will point out how weak the charges are in our formal response once the charges have been read out in court," Palmer told reporters on Tuesday. The charges carry the death penalty if proven. A separate hearing for another defendant, former East Timor governor Abilio Soares, will also take place on Thursday. A four-member panel of judges, presided over by Judge Marni Emy Mustafa, will try Abilio's case, while Judge Andi will preside over Timbul's trial. A third hearing will likely involve five defendants, including former Covalima regent Herman Sedyono. -
Jakarta Post 13 March 2002 Kontras report reveals rights abuses worsening Tertiani ZB Simanjuntak, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta The country's human rights record worsened in 2001 as the state continued to neglect its obligations to promote and protect human rights, the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) said. In its annual report released on Monday, Kontras said that the administrations of both former president Abdurrahman Wahid, familiarly known as Gus Dur, and President Megawati Soekarnoputri had failed to show a commitment to upholding the people's civil and political rights in 2001. "What we see is only a tug-of-war between political interests, but we have yet to see efforts to strengthen the institutions that handle human rights issues or the refining of legal mechanisms," Kontras coordinator Ori Rahman said during a discussion organized in conjunction with the launching of its annual report titled Human Rights in Stagnation: Report on Human Rights Conditions in Indonesia in 2001. Highlighting the unrestrained human rights abuses in 2001, Ori said that the country's rights records was only likely to worsen in 2002 and beyond. Kontras noted that efforts to protect victims and to make people more aware of human rights issues were neglected in 2001, and that both Gus Dur and Megawati had failed to prevent more rights violations. "This is indicated by the appointment of those who were responsible for many rights abuses to strategic positions in the country," Kontras said. The appointment of A.M. Hendropriyono and Da'i Bachtiar as the National Intelligence Agency (BIN) and National Police chiefs respectively has come under fire because of their alleged past human rights abuses. Hendropriyono has been accused of human rights abuses in Lampung in 1989, in what became known as the Talangsari intimidation, while demands have been made for Da'i to account for the shooting dead of five supporters of Gus Dur in Bondowoso, East Java, in 2000. "The military and police still have the power to influence the state's policy with regard to human rights issues," Ori said. Many past human rights abusers have been left untouched, including those responsible for the 1984 mass slaying in Tanjung Priok, North Jakarta; the 1989 intimidation in Talangsari, Lampung; the 1998 and 1999 shootings of student activists and citizens; and the unsolved kidnappings of at least 1,039 people, 14 of whom have not been heard from since. Meanwhile, repressive action against secessionist movements in Aceh and Irian Jaya was still ongoing, and the social conflicts in other regions of the country, such as Maluku, Central Sulawesi's Poso and Central Kalimantan's Sampit had yet to be resolved. Kontras concluded that the latest government-backed peace deals for Maluku and Poso had failed to change the quality of violence in those regions, violence that also involved the military.
AFP 11 Mar 2002 -- Aceh violence claims eight more deaths BANDA ACEH, Indonesia, March 11 (AFP) - Violence involving government and separatist rebels left eight people dead in the past 24 hours in Indonesia's troubled Aceh province, military and residents said Monday. Troops shot dead two rebels of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) early Monday after a raid on a suspected rebel hideout in Matangkuli province in North Aceh, Aceh military spokesman Major Zaenal Muttaqin said. The raid followed two clashes between the military and separatists on Sunday in which two rebels were killed and one soldier injured, Muttaqin said. Several firearms and ammunitions were confiscated at both locations, he said. In East Aceh, troops shot dead another two rebels Monday. Humanitarian activists in the region also told journalists by telephone that they found two male bodies, both with gunshot wounds in separate locations on Monday. An estimated 10,000 people have died since December 1976 when the GAM began to fight for an independent Islamic state. More than 300 have been killed this year alone in the energy-rich province on the northern tip of Sumatra island.
AFP 11 Mar 2002 -- Indonesia: Nearly 39,000 weapons surrendered in riot-torn Poso since December JAKARTA, March 11 (AFP) - Nearly 39,000 weapons have been surrendered following a peace agreement in December between warring Christian and Muslim residents in Indonesia's region of Poso, a police spokesman said Monday. The situation in Poso has greatly improved since Muslim and Christian leaders signed the peace pact on December 20, Adjunct Senior Commissioner Agus Sugianto said. Muslims and Christians in Poso, a district in Central Sulawesi province, had clashed intermittently for more than two years, leaving more than 1,000 people dead and tens of thousands of refugees. Sugianto said most of the weapons surrendered, including home-made guns, have been destroyed and police and troops have continued raids to search for more weapons. More than 3,000 police and soldiers have been stationed in Poso. "The situation is already conducive. There has been increasing social and economic interaction between the conflicting groups," Sugianto told AFP. He said public buses linking three provinces on Sulawesi island via Poso have begun plying their business. The police spokesman said last week police found 22 rounds of ammunition for an M-16 rifle inside a tree trunk. The central government has also brokered a deal to halt Muslim-Christian clashes in the Maluku islands east of Sulawesi.
Asia Times March 8, 2002 atimes.com Southeast Asia Indonesia going about rights trial the wrong way By Richel Langit JAKARTA - Barring the unexpected, Indonesia's long-awaited human-rights trials will kick off next Thursday, with military and police personnel as well as civilian authorities responsible for the bloody violence in East Timor in 1999 taking the defendant's chair. While the tribunal may herald a new beginning in the country's respect for human rights, the trials are very unlikely to bring to justice those responsible for the killings of tens, or even hundreds, of innocent East Timorese before, during and after the United Nations-organized referendum in 1999, and the destruction of almost 80 percent of the former Portuguese colony's infrastructure. A corrupt judicial system and ill-equipped state prosecutors and judges, as well as a severe lack of understanding of human rights themselves among Indonesians, raise severe doubts that the trials will see justice served. The Attorney General's Office has named 18 suspects in the East Timor mayhem, which also drove almost 200,000 East Timorese into West Timor, of whom at least 120,000 are still living in refugee camps. Seven of the suspects have been charged with committing gross human-rights violations, including genocide, which carries the death sentence. The Central Jakarta Human Rights Court has set Thursday, March 14, as the first day of hearings. But, even before the trials start, it looks increasingly clearer now that they are merely court exercises designed to clear military and police personnel as well as civilian authorities of their human-rights abuses in East Timor after Indonesia's former 27th province voted to break away from the country. After already numerous delays, the administration of President Megawati Sukarnoputri is seeking yet another indefinite delay for the first hearing, pending the issuance of two regulations - one on witnesses' protection and another on rehabilitation and compensation. The drafts of the two regulations have been submitted to the office of the president, but until now she has not signed them and there are no indications exactly when she will. The stakes are very high for Indonesia. The United Nations has vowed to bring the rights violators before an international court if it finds the court proceedings here to be insufficient. If the UN Security Council determines that these ad hoc trials do not bring justice to rights victims, international interference could take place through the creation of an International Human Rights Tribunal on East Timor. Law No 26/1999 on the Human Rights Court, which serves as the legal basis for the whole rights trial proceeding, does not specifically cover the many issues needed to guarantee a fair trial. The law excludes the possibility of using any other legal process than the country's Criminal Code, which, unfortunately, has some fundamental weaknesses when dealing with gross human-rights violations - that is, it lacks international standards on admissible evidence, testimonies and visum et repertum (seen and discovered), among others. It also fails to specify extradition arrangements needed to bring witnesses from East Timor, an important point since the trials for criminal cases in Indonesia require a direct witness. The role of the Foreign Affairs Ministry will therefore be crucial, but it has not been involved in the establishment of this tribunal. The absence of a regulation protecting witnesses is likely to prevent human-rights victims or military personnel to come forward and testify against the suspects who are mostly security personnel including three army generals, one police general and several middle-ranking military officers. Given all these legal loopholes, the quality of the upcoming trials will depend very much on the judges and prosecutors. Unfortunately, however, both the judges and prosecutors were chosen quietly by the Supreme Court and Attorney General's Office respectively, depriving the people at large the opportunity to scrutinize their past track records and affiliations. The fact is that none of the 17 ad hoc judges has ever been known to have any involvement in human-rights issues. As all of them are university lecturers, neither are they known for their experience in litigation or due legal processes. The chance is they will view human-rights issues purely as an academic exercise. The ad hoc judges are also still new and still have to learn about formalities of court proceedings, but at the same time they are confronted with the people's demands for justice. As the ad hoc judges will be accompanied by about 12 career judges, much of the career judges' time is likely to be spent on lecturing the ad hoc judges on formalities in court trial. To make matters worse, one of the ad hoc judges once worked as a legal consultant for military and police personnel accused of gross human-rights violations in East Timor and another one is a retired army lieutenant-colonel. And even among the 12 career judges, most of them have experience dealing with human-rights cases, while some have questionable past track records. Furthermore, on the prosecution side, two of the 24 ad hoc state prosecutors appointed by the Attorney General's Office are active military officers. Against such a backdrop, Indonesia seems to be depending on a child who is still learning to walk when it comes to these trials. Both the ad hoc judges and state prosecutors are inexperienced in regard to a rights tribunal. The judges and prosecutors will have all the excuses they need since a human-rights court is still new in Indonesia. Again, the fact is that the very idea of human rights is still new to most Indonesians. Regardless of the outcome of the trials, the tribunal will at least put an end to the Indonesian military's (TNI) impunity, thanks to strong pressure from the international community to bring to justice those responsible for the genocide in the former Portuguese colony, which will earn for itself the recognition as the first country to declare independence in the 21st century.
NYT Magazine 10 March 2002 The Threat of Jaffar By ANDREW MARSHALL Late last summer, Indonesia's newly elected vice president, Hamzah Haz, welcomed a string of guests into his official residence, only a short walk from the sprawling American Embassy compound in downtown Jakarta. Among the academics and politicos he greeted was a 40-year-old Muslim cleric named Jaffar Umar Thalib. A photograph in a local newspaper the next day showed him and the vice president locked in a warm embrace. Outside Indonesia, however, this visit by Jaffar -- who was, even then, arguably the most feared Islamic militant in the most populous Muslim nation on earth and who would soon be mentioned in the same breath as Osama bin Laden -- went largely unreported. In fact, Jaffar Umar Thalib didn't really blip on Washington radar screens until after the terror attacks. Only then did global attention focus upon the potential threat posed by Muslim extremists in Indonesia -- a sprawling and practically lawless country with porous borders and a thriving black market in weapons and explosives - and upon what role they might play in Al Qaeda's network in Southeast Asia. Jaffar is the commander of Laskar Jihad, a Muslim paramilitary group renowned for its fanaticism and brutality. His followers, who number between 3,000 and 10,000, are well drilled, heavily armed and ferociously loyal. Among the plethora of radical Islamic groups that have formed in Indonesia since the three-decade dictatorship of Suharto collapsed in 1998, Laskar Jihad stands out. ''They've got real organization and they've got reasonably capable people,'' says Harold Crouch, an Indonesia expert with the Australian National University. ''You might find an airline pilot or two in Laskar Jihad, but in the others, I doubt it very much.'' According to persistent reports, hundreds of non-Indonesian Muslims -- including, it is believed, Al Qaeda operatives -- have trained at camps run by Laskar Jihad in the jungles of Sulawesi, and American officials are convinced that Al Qaeda ''sleeper cells'' still exist there. Jaffar got his start in jihad fighting alongside the anti-Soviet mujahedeen in Afghanistan in the late 1980's; around the same time, he met Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. While Jaffar now openly scorns bin Laden as a misguided lightweight, experts say there is little difference between the two. ''He claims to be ideologically opposed to Osama, but his ideology is parallel,'' says Rohan Gunaratna, a researcher at the Center for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. ''They both believe in using violence to achieve their political goals.'' In late December, in an effort to gauge the threat posed by Jaffar, I traveled to Java and made the hour's drive north from Jogjakarta, Indonesia's cultural capital, to Laskar Jihad's headquarters. What I found was less than reassuring. Sounding very much like bin Laden, Jaffar -- who elsewhere has described the United States as ''the biggest enemy of the Islamic people'' -- said that he is convinced there is a global conspiracy of American-led Jews and Christians to destroy Islam and all Muslims. In the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, which he publicly cheered, he had threatened to declare war on all American facilities in Indonesia. Jaffar, who oversees a network of pesantren -- Koranic schools that, like the madrassas of Pakistan, produce countless young militants schooled in jihad -- preaches that democracy is ''incompatible with Islam'' and that Indonesia's 210 million people should be governed under strict Islamic law. He practices what he preaches too: last year, he presided over a makeshift Islamic court in Maluku that passed judgment on an adulterer. The 30-year-old man was buried up to his waist in the ground and stoned to death by a mob. Jaffar was arrested but never prosecuted for the murder. ''All of these factors have led U.S. policy makers to conclude that Jaffar is a radical demagogue infused with a worldwide Islamic credo,'' says Peter Chalk, an analyst with the RAND Corporation in Washington. Furthermore, he adds, Laskar Jihad is seen as one group that might be prepared to aid ''the logistical relocation of Al Qaeda forces, post-Taliban.'' Even the name his father bestowed on him seems custom-made to jangle Western nerves: Jaffar, the evil sorcerer who deceived Aladdin; Thalib, as in ''Taliban,'' from the Arabic for ''religious student.'' Jaffar is by no means the only worrisome figure in Indonesia. For example, the police there recently questioned Abu Bakar Baasyir, another well-known Muslim cleric. Baasyir, who has hailed Osama bin Laden as ''a true Islamic warrior,'' is suspected of leading Jemaah Islamiyah, a Qaeda-linked terror group in Southeast Asia. (Baasyir denies any links to terrorism.) While his group is smaller and more secretive than Laskar Jihad, it apparently has stronger ties to the global jihad movement. But Jaffar, whose violent activities have so far been confined to the domestic sphere, heads a much larger organization whose members operate openly and with virtual impunity. ''It's about potential,'' says Larry Johnson, a former State Department counterterrorism official. ''If these groups are allowed to grow, unchecked by local authorities, they could pose a threat.'' askar Jihad's headquarters are located in a pesantren, a huddle of ramshackle buildings reached by a rutted back road and guarded by sentries in black commando outfits. I am met there by Eri Ziyad Abu Zaki, the group's public-relations officer, a shyly grinning young man in a knee-length tunic. The holy warriors are part of the ''human resources division,'' Eri Ziyad tells me, and all new recruits are expected to undergo military training at several ''secret places'' in Java. He also shows me the group's twice-monthly tabloid, called Bulletin Laskar Jihad. It is well written, slickly produced and venomously anti-American. ''America Starts Digging Its Own Grave,'' screams one front-page headline (in Indonesian), referring to the Afghan campaign. ''You're Dead, America,'' howls another. Laskar Jihad also runs a Web site, in both Indonesian and English, that makes pleas for donations and describes its work in sometimes erratic English (''Jihad Troopers at Glance''). The tabloid publishes no pictures of humans or animals. Like the Taliban, Laskar Jihad considers recreating images of living beings a blasphemy against God. Flipping through back issues, the only human form I could find was a picture of the Statue of Liberty -- decapitated, naturally. About 400 men, women and children stay on the compound, where the usual vices -- alcohol, gambling -- are banned. So are television and music. ''Music is a distraction from God,'' Eri Ziyad says. The group imposes Taliban-like restrictions on its women, who must cover their faces with Saudi-style veils and remain largely housebound. Jaffar himself has four wives -- the maximum Islam allows -- and 11 children. Eri Ziyad leads the way to a modest house near the mosque and knocks on the door. We are ushered into a sparsely furnished anteroom by a beaming Jaffar Umar Thalib himself. He is tall and certainly plumper than his reputation as an ascetic would suggest. He wears a white skullcap, a crisp, checked sarong and a long, diaphanous cream shirt with embroidered pink trim. Beneath it is a white T-shirt bearing what looks like Laskar Jihad's clashing scimitars logo. He is pale-skinned, with dark brown eyes, and when he smiles (which is often), he is disarmingly handsome. His mustache is neatly trimmed, and he has a straggly, graying beard, which he constantly combs between his thumb and forefinger, like a pantomime villain. Jaffar is tired. He returned late the previous evening from the eastern Javanese city of Surabaya, where the police arrested 102 Laskar Jihad members for trashing gambling clubs in December. Squads of Jaffar's long-robed followers regularly patrol Indonesian cities, raiding liquor stores and suspected brothels. ''The idea behind this action is to clear up all the vice, especially during Ramadan -- the gambling, the prostitution, the drinking,'' he says. ''We are not the only group doing this. But when we do it, the authorities always overreact. It is one of the many attempts being made to discredit us.'' Also out to discredit Laskar Jihad is the international media, which Jaffar says he believes is ''controlled by Jews and Christians.'' But he obviously enjoys the attention he has received since Sept. 11. ''We heard that when Megawati visited the U.S., George Walker Bush warned her to be careful of Laskar Jihad,'' he says, referring to the Indonesian president, Megawati Sukarnoputri. ''He called us 'jihad forces.' Also, Colin Powell called us an organ of the Qaeda network. And then Robert Gelbard, the U.S. ambassador in Indonesia, made a statement saying that Jaffar Umar Thalib was'' -- and here Jaffar speaks mockingly in English -- ''a quite dangerous man.'' Eri Ziyad, who is sitting nearby taking notes, guffaws dutifully. Our meeting took place the day after Afghanistan's interim government was sworn in. Jaffar has a predictably low opinion of it. ''It is a puppet government established to abolish so-called Islamic radicalism,'' he says. ''It will only prolong the suffering of the Afghan people. I believe the war will continue. All the anti-American powers are still united, are still strong. They are rebuilding their power outside Afghanistan, particularly along the Pakistani border.'' ''So the Taliban aren't finished yet?'' ''No, in my opinion they are still a big threat to the U.S.,'' he replies. ''George Walker Bush said it himself after Sept. 11: this is a crusade. The U.S. has since tried to withdraw this statement and express friendship to Muslim people. But it has not been forgotten by the mujahedeen.'' He leans back and interlocks his fingers, then cracks them extravagantly. ''I hope the Americans share the same fate as the Soviets.'' Afghanistan is very close to Jaffar's heart. He earned his warrior credentials there along with hundreds of other Indonesian Muslims who fought with the mujahedeen. According to Laskar Jihad lore, Jaffar once shot down five Soviet helicopters in the Lowgar valley south of Kabul with a single rocket-propelled grenade. ''With the help of God, I got one of the helicopters from quite close range, and it exploded. At the same time, the other four tried to escape and in their panic crashed into each other.'' He throws up his hands in mock incredulity. ''All of them -- destroyed!'' For Jaffar, then in his mid-20's, Afghanistan was a liberation. To that point, he had spent his entire life in the suffocating environs of various Islamic schools. He was born in 1961, the seventh of eight children, in east Java. His formidable father, Umar Thalib, was a veteran of Indonesia's independence war who later ran a pesantren with the same martial ferocity, beating a religious education into his son with a rattan stick. ''Learning Arabic from my father was like learning boxing,'' Jaffar has said. At age 19, in an apparent act of filial rebellion, he left his father's pesantren to study Arabic at a Jakarta institute but failed to complete the course because of a disagreement with a teacher. In 1987, for similar reasons, he dropped out of another Islamic college in Lahore, Pakistan. He spent the next two years with Afghan mujahedeen and recalls the period with obvious affection. ''We were not there to learn,'' he says, ''but to fight.'' But actually he did learn: he learned how nasty little wars are waged and he learned that superpowers could be vulnerable. ''From my two-year experience in Afghanistan, I concluded that the whole concept of a superpower was only created by the mass media,'' he says. ''It did not fit with reality at all.'' Another Muslim who was reaching much the same conclusion was Osama bin Laden. Jaffar met him in 1987 in Peshawar, the Pakistani town near the Afghan border. His recollection of the encounter is prefaced by a deep, resonant belch. ''At that time, he still shaved his beard,'' Jaffar says. ''He was a spiritually empty man. He had no religious knowledge at all.'' He adds that bin Laden was an arrogant fellow who poured scorn on Saudi Arabia, which Jaffar regards as a model Islamic state. ''Because of this, we distanced ourselves from him,'' Jaffar says. ''We only knew of the Qaeda network after the Sept. 11 attack.'' Is this true? While it is hard to find concrete proof of meaningful collaboration between Laskar Jihad and Al Qaeda, either before or after Sept. 11, strong suspicions linger. Apparent confirmation of a link came in mid-December, when the head of Indonesia's National Intelligence Agency publicly acknowledged that Al Qaeda members had probably trained in Poso, a district in central Sulawesi. But a few days later he retracted this statement, almost certainly under pressure from Indonesia's radical Muslim lobby. Then there is Laskar Jihad's Web site, which once featured links to Web sites of other radical organizations. These included Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistan-based outfit accused by India of participating in the assault on the New Delhi Parliament, as well as Hezbollah, Hamas and groups in Bosnia and Chechnya. These links no longer appear on Laskar Jihad's Web site. Still, none of this adds up to an indictment, and Jaffar knows it. He happily admits that in the weeks preceding Sept. 11, ''someone close to Osama bin Laden'' visited Laskar Jihad's offices in Maluku to offer financial help. Bin Laden's offer was not only rejected, Jaffar insists, but his emissary was threatened with death should he ever set foot on Maluku again. Gunaratna, the terrorism expert, says he believes Jaffar's open contempt for bin Laden is disingenuous. ''Publicly, he's against Osama,'' Gunaratna says, ''but privately he has told Muslim leaders that he's willing to send fighters to Afghanistan if Osama requested.'' Jaffar told me that a unit of 10 Laskar Jihad ''observers'' was currently stationed in Afghanistan, although he wouldn't elaborate on their activities there. Even if Jaffar's contempt for Al Qaeda's mastermind is genuine, how reassuring is that? If the world's most wanted man is, as Jaffar suggests, a lightweight -- at one point in our interview he even questions whether Osama bin Laden is ''truly anti-American'' -- what does this say about the quality of Jaffar's radicalism? His views on the Sept. 11 terror attacks provide a clue. While refusing to name suspects (he is clearly reluctant to feed the Osama legend), Jaffar heaps praise upon the perpetrators. ''Of course, I feel sad that there were so many Muslim victims,'' he says. (An estimated 800 Muslims died in the World Trade Center.) But he is heartened that the anti-Islamic stance of America got a ''hard slap.'' ''When we see the global impact of the attack, of course we support it.'' Jaffar chuckles to himself. ''In fact, we offer our applause.'' A red curtain in the corner of the room parts slightly and a disembodied female hand extends a tray of glasses filled with a sweet cordial. Jaffar takes a glass and with an expansive gesture encourages his guests to do the same. I ask him if the killing of innocents is ever justified, and Jaffar responds with another question: were the victims of Sept. 11 really innocent to begin with? ''The policy of any government,'' he explains, ''especially a democratically elected government like the U.S., is also the responsibility of all the people who supported it. The people run the risk of the results of those policies.'' Furthermore, he says, ''economic facilities'' like the World Trade Center are legitimate targets according to the Koran and the Hadith, the sayings of the Prophet Muhammed. And if there are civilians in those facilities? ''If there are civilians,'' Jaffar says, ''even Muslim civilians . . . well, that is the risk of war.'' And yet for all his talk about America's ''parasitic'' Jewish lobby and Washington's support of ''Zionist terrorism'' and his labeling of Americans as ''belligerent infidels'' whose deaths are justified by divine imperative, Jaffar may not be quite the threat he cracks himself up to be. Harold Crouch insists that the dangers posed by Laskar Jihad beyond Indonesia's borders is overblown. ''They've got no interest internationally,'' he says. ''They're certainly anti-American, but that's the rhetoric of all radical Muslim groups.'' Jaffar is a vocal opponent of his country's various armed separatist movements. Recent reports suggest that he is training about 100 fighters in Papua, an independence-minded province in easternmost Indonesia. Jaffar's avowed goal is the establishment of an Islamic government in Indonesia, although many believe his true agenda is more personal. ''Part of him wants fame, respect and influence,'' says Jacqui Baker of the Australian National University, who spent three months studying Jaffar and his followers. ''Although Jaffar rejects overt politics, he still wants to be a prominent figure on the Indonesian political landscape.'' Since December, Singapore and Malaysia have arrested dozens of Muslim radicals with apparent links to Al Qaeda, while the Philippines has invited American troops to come in and help wipe out Abu Sayyaf, another militant outfit with possible Al Qaeda ties. So far, Indonesia has done little, apart from question Abu Bakar Baasyir, the cleric suspected of running a Qaeda-linked terror group. Meanwhile, Jaffar and his ultraviolent followers continue to operate with impunity. Jaffar, unlike Baasyir, ''is not an international jihadist, but could graduate into one,'' Gunaratna says. ''There is a pattern with these groups. They start nationally, go regional, then go international, which is precisely why they must be stopped while they're still small.'' Laskar Jihad has already rapidly grown into what Gunaratna believes is a military outfit with definite capability to conduct terrorist activities. ''If the Indonesians don't crack down, it will become a large group with real political force,'' he predicts. Washington has warned that Indonesia could become a target in the war on terror, a prospect that ''scares the heck out of the Indonesian government,'' as a Western diplomat puts it. For now, however, it seems that Jaffar scares the Indonesian government more. Buoyed by a resurgence of popular fundamentalism and protected by sympathetic political and military figures, he has become a striking symbol of Indonesia's inability to confront the threat from home-grown militancy. No one, apparently, has the power or inclination to rid Indonesia of its most turbulent priest. Jaffar glances at his gold wristwatch and makes apologies. It is almost time for prayers at the compound's mosque, and Jaffar plans to deliver the sermon. The amplified drone of a muezzin's call soon fills the room. ''I don't want to get carried away with this issue of anti-Americanism,'' he says, almost as an afterthought. ''That would be wrong. We oppose the policies of the U.S. government, not the people themselves.'' He thinks for a moment. ''Because some Americans are Muslims, too.'' Then he stands up and stretches, and for the first time the logo on his undershirt is clearly visible. It is not, as I had initially thought, the clashing sabers of Laskar Jihad. It is a Playboy bunny. Andrew Marshall, who writes frequently about war and politics in Asia, is the author of ''The Trouser People,'' a book about contemporary Myanmar, to be published this month by Counterpoint.
AP 3 March 2002 Indonesia's president warns the country is facing disintegration By CHRIS BRUMMITT, JAKARTA, Indonesia - Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri Sunday warned that violence and separatist movements could lead to the break up of the vast island nation. "Our national integrity is facing serious threats," Megawati told a crowd of around 15,000 members of her Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle in the north Sumatran city of Medan. "The country is still in a fragile state ... with several regions hit by violence and conflict," she said in her address, which was broadcast by Jakarta's El-Shinta radio. Separatists are fighting to break away from Jakarta's rule in the provinces of Papua and Aceh. More than 200 people have been killed in battles between guerrillas and soldiers this year in Aceh, on the northern tip of Sumatra island. Religious and communal conflicts rumble in other regions, particularly the eastern Maluku islands and Kalimantan province, though violence there has decreased over the last year. Since becoming president in July, Megawati has made maintaining national unity her benchmark policy. She has ordered the military to crack down on secessionist groups. However, analysts warn that brutality by government troops is one of the major causes of separatist sentiments. In her address, Megawati called on members of Indonesia's national elite to stop politicking and work together to solve the problems facing the country. "At this point when our country needs cooperation to get out from crisis, everyone is busy with internal politics," she said. Even though elections are not scheduled until 2004, rival parties have already started positioning themselves to provide the country's next leader. Indonesia's political and military elite are determined that Aceh and Papua do not follow the example of East Timor (news - web sites), which voted for independence after 24-years of Jakarta rule in 1999. Indonesia, a former Dutch colony, is made up of 13,000 islands and hundreds of different ethnic groups. With about 210 million people, it is the world's fourth most populous nation. Megawati's father, Sukarno, was the country's founding president.
Israel - Palestine
Jerusalem Post 13 March 2002 Mofaz orders halt to marking prisoners' arms with numbers By Nina Gilbert Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Shaul Mofaz yesterday said he has ordered the IDF to immediately stop marking numbers on the forearms of Palestinians who have been detained in the recent sweep of refugee camps. Mofaz said there had not been an order to mark captives with ink, and he has ordered an investigation into the matter. He said steps would be taken against whoever was responsible for the decision. Mofaz's order came in response to outrage expressed in a meeting of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee by Shinui MK Yosef Lapid, who is a Holocaust survivor. Lapid said the connotation of the act is "unbearable," noting it was carried out at Auschwitz. He said Mofaz had confirmed the marking of Palestinians was carried out at Tulkarm-area refugee camps. A military source told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that numbers had been inked on the forearms to facilitate the questioning process. Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat censored Israel in an interview to Abu Daubi television Monday for using Nazi tactics such as marking the detainees in its military campaign. Lapid said Arafat is "jumping on every opportunity for anti-Israeli propaganda." However, he said Israel must be "sensitive" to the connotations of such an act, even if it is practical. "Military commanders must act more wisely and not do this," he said, adding that he is sure soldiers who carried out the procedure were not aware of "how chilling it is." Brig.-Gen. Gershon Yitzhak, commander of IDF forces in the West Bank, said it was a thoughtless act and would be dealt with. "To my regret I am not aware of this phenomenon," Yitzhak told reporters at his headquarters near Ramallah. "This is the first time that a query on this nature has been made to me. It appears to me that this is a grave and insensitive issue and we will deal with it immediately." (Arieh O'Sullivan contributed to this report.)
Jerusalem Post 13 March 2002 Nationality clause to likely be removed from ID cards By Nina Gilbert The nationality clause is likely to be removed from state identity cards by the Knesset Law Committee this afternoon, after a wide majority of members expressed support for the compromise formulated to avert a political crisis after the High Court of Justice ordered non-Orthodox converts to be registered as Jews. Interior Minister and Shas leader Eli Yishai came to the committee this morning and withdrew a proposed regulation to remove the clause only for all kinds of converts. As part of the compromise, the state is to ask the court to consider the committee's move and reject contempt of court petitions from converts who asked to be registered in keeping with the court's ruling. MKs from the Likud, Labor, Arab and haredi parties support the compromise. The main opposition came from the far Right. National Religious Party whip MK Shaul Yahalom warned the move is only serving the cause of Balad MK Azmi Bishara to turn Israel into a "state of all citizens," instead of a Jewish state. He blamed Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who was involved in the compromise, and Shas for collusion with Bishara. Yisrael Ba'aliya MK Marina Solodkin has also proposed removing place of birth from the card.
NY Post 13 March 20002 ISRAELI ARMY WILL STOP WRITING ON PALESTINIAN DETAINEES - JERUSALEM - The Israeli army yesterday halted a new policy of writing ID numbers on Palestinian detainees - after the practice drew comparisons to the Nazis' treatment of inmates in concentration camps. Knesset member Tommy Lapid, a Holocaust survivor, denounced the policy as "insufferable," comparing it to World War II-era death-camp inmates' having numbers tattooed on their forearms. Israeli forces began writing ID numbers on the foreheads and forearms of detainees last week during an army sweep of a West Bank refugee camp. On Monday, PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat equated the practice with "new Nazi racism." "Did you see them put [numbers] on people they've arrested in the Tulkarem refugee camp?" Arafat said on Abu Dhabi Television. "Isn't this the sort of thing they used to say the Nazis did against the Jews?" The Israeli army initially defended the numbering as a useful way to identify and keep track of the hundreds of prisoners seized last week in the Tulkarem camp. Post Wire Services
AP 12 March 2002 Israel Criticized for I.D. Numbers JERUSALEM (AP) — An Israeli lawmaker who survived the Nazi Holocaust expressed outrage Tuesday over Israeli troops writing identification numbers on the foreheads and forearms of Palestinian detainees awaiting interrogation during an army sweep of a West Bank refugee camp. Yugoslav-born Tommy Lapid said he told army chief of staff Lt. Gen. Shaul Mofaz and Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer that the practice must cease immediately. ``As a refugee from the Holocaust I find such an act insufferable,'' Lapid said, adding that Mofaz and Ben-Eliezer also were displeased with the practice and that both had pledged action. During World War II, concentration camp inmates, most of them Jews, had numbers tattooed on their forearms. Mofaz later said in a radio interview that he had ordered an immediate halt to the numbering, which the army said was done to identify and keep track of prisoners last week in the Tulkarem refugee camp. One photograph showed a detainee who had just been released with a large number written across his forearm. Other detainees said they had three-digit numbers written across their foreheads. The army has said the marking, in ink that could be washed off, was a one-time occurrence and not military policy. Television footage of detainees in another West Bank camp on Monday showed no such markings. Still, Col. Gal Hirsh, a regional commander in the West Bank, conceded the numbering of prisoners at Tulkarem was a mistake. ``I don't think that putting numbers on the (arms) of Palestinians that were arrested is a good idea,'' Hirsh said. Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat on Monday equated the action with the treatment of Jews in Nazi concentration camps. ``Did you see them put (numbers) on people they've arrested in the Tulkarem refugee camp?'' Arafat said on Abu Dhabi Television. ``Isn't this the sort of thing they used to say the Nazis did against the Jews? So what do they say about these things? Isn't this a new Nazi racism?'' Hirsh said the incident had been blown out of proportion and he condemned the comparison between Jewish soldiers and Nazis. ``This makes me sick,'' he said. Raanan Gissin, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon acknowledged that numbering prisoners in such a way did not create an attractive media image. ``If the idea was to convey a message of deterrence, clearly it conflicts with the desire to convey a public relations message,'' he told Israel Army Radio. Israeli military commentator Ron Ben-Ishai said commanders in the field often scribbled on their own arms, to note down such things as radio frequencies and call-signs, but acknowledged that to do so with Palestinian prisoners was insensitive.
AFP 12 Mar 2002 -- Twenty-five dead as Israel smashes into refugee camp, occupies Ramallah RAMALLAH, West Bank, March 12 (AFP) - The Israeli army occupied Tuesday most of the West Bank city of Ramallah, the Palestinian Authority capital, in its biggest operation of the intifada after a battle in a Gaza Strip refugee camp left 17 Palestinians dead. Four Palestinians were killed as some 100 tanks moved into the city, pushing close to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's office in the centre, Palestinian security sources said. The army also surrounded two refugee camps on the outskirts of Ramallah. A spokesman said it was the biggest military operation since the outbreak of the Palestinian intifada, or uprising, in September 2000. It came only a day after Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Arafat, who had been confined to Ramallah for some three months by an Israeli blockade, was free to move around the Palestinian territories. Palestinian information minister Yasser Abed Rabbo immediately condemned the incursion. "The Israeli army is occupying the Palestinian Authority's capital, and that signifies that Ariel Sharon wants to occupy all the Palestinian territories," he told AFP. Marwan Barghuti, the West Bank head of Arafat's Fatah movement, said the occupation was "the last shot that Sharon had." "He will be disappointed if he believes he can terrorise the Palestinian people and destroy their resistance. He has to know that he is stirring up hell, and the Israeli people will pay the price of his acts," he told AFP. The escalating violence prompted the United States to call for a "concerted effort" with European and Arab countries to bring about peace. Elsewhere in the West Bank a member of the Israeli security services was killed by Palestinian gunmen near the Jewish settlement of Kyriat Sefer, Israeli army radio said. In the southern Gaza Strip, three Palestinians died after Israeli helicopter gunships fired on an installation of Arafat's Force 17 bodyguard near Khan Yunis. And in the central Gaza Strip, the army occupied the town of Wadi al-Salqa, taking some 100 prisoners after ordering the surrender of all men there aged 16 to 60, residents told AFP. Israeli troops told the men to gather in a large square near the mosque where they were blindfolded and their hands tied. The move followed a pattern in place since last week, when Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said he would hit the Palestinians harder and harder until they came to the negotiating table. Some 2,000 Palestinians have been rounded up for interrogation in refugee camps, towns and villages in operations the army says are designed to track down "terrorists" and hidden weapons. Israel had earlier launched a major assault on the Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip after gunmen there refused to surrender, sparking a fierce battle that left 17 Palestinians dead. Nearly 70 tanks stormed Jabaliya town and the camp, the largest in the Palestinian territories, with some 100,000 people, sending panicked residents fleeing by car and on foot. The forces withdrew several hours later, after dynamiting a house belonging to a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) militant group and destroying two metal workshops. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said "these attacks are a bloodbath and a continuation of the carnage and war crimes committed by the Sharon government in the refugee camps." However, an Israeli army spokesman said the "operations in Jabaliya camp are only targetted at armed terrorists and not civilians." Another Israeli army source said the aim was to find and seize mortar tubes and Qassam-2 rocket launchers in the heart of the camp. "The Palestinian victims from this operation are only armed men who opened fire on our forces," he said, adding that there were no Israeli casualties. The fighting sent the death toll from the intifada to 1,501, with more than 200 killed, mainly Palestinians, since the army adopted its new tactics at the end of last month. The Palestinian Authority urged the UN Security Council to "immediately" send international observers to the region, said Arafat's top advisor, Nabil Abu Rudeina. He added that "the invasion of Ramallah this morning and the massacres committed during the night in Jabaliya are proof of the determination of the government of Sharon to destroy all chances for saving the situation". The fierce Israeli crackdown comes as US Middle East peace envoy Anthony Zinni is due to return to the region this week. US national security adviser Condoleezza Rice said US consultations with Saudi Arabia and Egypt "suggest that a concerted effort by the parties in the region and also with the European Union might be needed now to push forward a little bit what are some positive steps that the parties have taken." She singled out a peace overture floated by Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz last month, which she said recognised that "there ought to be normalisation of relations between the Arab world and the Israelis. She said Zinni would have "a kind of renewed mandate" to try to implement a cease-fire plan put together last year by US Central Intelligence Agency chief George Tenet. "It's very important for people to understand that he is going to stay there for a while and try to get the parties into a better situation for talks on peace," she said. Sharon and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak both stressed the need to take advantage of fresh US efforts to defuse Middle East violence during a Monday night phone call initiated by Sharon, Egypt's MENA news agency said. Rice said President George W. Bush would be prepared to intervene personally "when he thinks that it can move the process forward." Meanwhile, US Vice President Dick Cheney is due in Amman later Tuesday to begin a regional tour seen as aimed at paving the way for an eventual US attack on Iraq.
NYT March 12, 2002 In New Conflict, Narrowing Ratio of Dead Pressures Sharon By JAMES BENNET ERUSALEM, March 11 — During the first 17 months of the first intifada, or uprising against Israel, almost 15 years ago, roughly one Israeli died for every 25 Palestinians killed. During the first 17 months of this current conflict, with many more dead on both sides, the overall ratio has steadily narrowed to about one to three. Since the beginning of last month, 31 Israeli soldiers — fighters in one of the best-trained, toughest armies in the world — have died in the conflict, more than were killed during an average year of Israel's military occupation of southern Lebanon. The Israeli Army and the police are struggling to combat the essential Palestinian weapons of speed, surprise and suicide. Palestinian militants — some of whom, as boys, threw stones at Israeli soldiers 10 years ago — are now better armed, better trained, and more ruthless. In the enhanced deadliness of its opponent, Israel sees the hand of Iran, and particularly of Hezbollah, the Lebanese extremist group that has Iranian backing. "It's much better than the past," said Dr. Nizar Rayan, a leader in the Gaza Strip of the Islamic group Hamas, when asked what he made of the state of the conflict. "Now, if one Israeli is killed, it equals only three Palestinians." Early in this conflict, he said, the ratio was more like 1 to 12. The death toll, on both sides, is putting tremendous pressure on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel. Put simply, Israelis are demoralized, their faith in their prime minister eroded. Mr. Sharon has undertaken a major military campaign to scour Palestinian refugee camps, rounding up hundreds of suspects in attacks against Israelis and unearthing some weapons laboratories in what since March 1 has become the largest Israeli military operation against the Palestinians since the Oslo agreements of 1993. But with dozens of Palestinians having died in the raids — at least 17 more were killed by late tonight — and attacks on Israelis multiplying, he has also had to make conciliatory gestures, under pressure from the Bush administration. Today, Mr. Sharon freed Yasir Arafat, the Palestinian leader, from confinement in Ramallah, but forbade him to travel outside the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israel, a nuclear power, retains the overwhelming force of arms, including American-made warplanes and helicopter gunships that it no longer hesitates to use even against packed refugee camps. It has fenced off the Gaza Strip, and it has set up armed checkpoints throughout the West Bank to choke off Palestinian-controlled areas. But its enemy is broad and shows growing military capacity. In a fight combining a terror campaign with a guerrilla war, some Palestinian groups, such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, are out to destroy the state of Israel. Others, notably the fighters associated with Mr. Arafat's Fatah faction, say they are fighting to drive Israeli soldiers and settlers out of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which Israel occupied in the 1967 war. But the present struggle has made these differences in goals moot, and now even the groups' tactics are becoming indistinguishable. Rather than attacking just soldiers and settlers — the stated policy of their political leaders — Fatah fighters, known as Tanzim, are blowing themselves up among civilians within the boundaries of pre-1967 Israel, just like fighters from Hamas. Recent high-profile assaults — some militants refer to them as "quality attacks" — have increased the confidence of Palestinian attackers. Even Israel's raids on the refugee camps do not appear to have caused disquiet among militant leaders, who say their fighters have been able to withdraw and regroup. For some Fatah militants, eluding Israeli forces to strike inside Israel sends a particularly potent message. "This is the meaning of such attacks: to prove to the Israelis that the Palestinian resistance fighter can go through checkpoints with his rifle and reach his target," said Naser Badawi, a member of Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades. "These are quality attacks." Israelis believe that their security forces stop many more attacks than actually take place, but they are nonetheless disheartened. In a sign of the rising fear of suicide bombings, a popular pair of cafes here switched this week to offering only carry-out service. "Never before has the country sustained so many casualties from terror attacks as it has during the days of Mr. Security," read a news analysis today in the newspaper Haaretz, referring to Mr. Sharon's campaign promise of peace and security. That kind of criticism explains why Mr. Sharon is moving so fast right now in opposite directions: toward the left on symbols, like loosening Mr. Arafat's bonds, and toward the right on substance, like storming the refugee camps. Yuval Steinitz, a member of the Israeli Parliament from Mr. Sharon's Likud Party but a frequent critic of the prime minister from the right, said that, in yielding on symbolic matters, Mr. Sharon was gaining latitude for the Israeli Defense Forces. "It is quite tricky," he said. "On the one hand, it seems like softening his position, but on the other, it gives the I.D.F. more freedom of action." Although rage at Israel is widespread in the territories, this uprising is not the same kind of mass movement as the first intifada, which began in late 1987. Then, in huge demonstrations, boys threw stones at soldiers who did not rely as often as they do now on live fire as a means of crowd control. In the first 17 months of the conflict, 17 Israelis died, and 424 Palestinians. In the first 17 months of this new conflict, more than 340 Israelis have died, and more than 1,000 Palestinians. This conflict pits armed men in loosely affiliated Palestinian factions operating from territory that, according to the Oslo peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, is under full Palestinian control. "The autonomous area became a warehouse for ammunition, smuggled arms," said Yoni Fighel, a colonel in the Israeli reserves and an expert on counterterrorism. "This gave the opportunity to build the infrastructure for armed struggle." Militant groups have seized on the model of Hezbollah. From Israel's unilateral withdrawal after 18 years in May 2000, they concluded that if they caused Israel enough pain, it would run from the West Bank and Gaza Strip and perhaps from all of historical Palestine. With training by Hezbollah, Israel says, Palestinian extremists began using mortar fire to sow terror in Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip, much as Hezbollah used Katyusha rockets again northern Israel. Israeli officials say Iran is fanning the flames of the conflict. At the beginning of the year, Israel intercepted a ship, under Palestinian command, that was smuggling tons of weapons to the Gaza Strip. Israel and the Bush administration said the weapons came from Iran. The group Islamic Jihad is believed to be financed and influenced by Iran, but a senior Israeli military official said there were also Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza who were under "direct Iranian control." "Iran has a plan for how to destroy Israel," he said.
Xinhuanet 9 March 2002 Situation in Palestinian Territories "Very Dangerous": Arafat GAZA, March 8 (Xinhuanet) -- Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat said on Friday that the situation in the Palestinian territories "is very dangerous" after a wave of violence dominated the Palestinian territories over the last two days where 55 Palestinians and six Israelis were killed. Arafat told reporters after receiving Palestinian mourners at his Ramallah headquarters that "the Israeli government and the Israeli army are continuing their massacres against our defenseless people." "(Ariel) Sharon and the Israeli government are destroying the peace of the braves that I had reached with my partner late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin," Arafat said. "This situation would be reflected on the whole world." Two Palestinian militants were killed on the Gaza Strip northern borders with Israel during armed confrontations between Palestinian militants and Israeli troops stationed on the borders, Palestinian security sources said. The sources said that militants from the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) attacked an Israeli army post north of the village of Beit Hanon on the borders between Gaza Strip and Israel. They said that after a short armed confrontations, two militants were killed and the rest managed to return back into the village. The bodies of the two are still on the ground near the borders, and the ambulances are not able to reach them because of the Israeli army intensive shooting. Following the attack, Israeli troops stationed north of the village fired several tanks shells at the village, causing sever damages to several buildings, but no injuries were reported. This brings the total number of Palestinians killed only during Friday by Israeli troops gunfire, shells and missiles to 53 in Gaza and the West Bank, medical Palestinian sources said. More than 50 tanks and dozens of Israeli troops left the village at Friday sunset after carrying out a military operation during the night into Khuzaa, killing 16 people, among them the Palestinian National Authority public security commander Brigadier General Ahmed Mefrej.
AFP 8 Mar 2002 -- Intifada sees its deadliest day GAZA CITY, March 8 (AFP) - The 17-month-old intifada witnessed its deadliest day of Israeli-Palestinian violence on Friday with more than 40 people killed, all but six of them Palestinians. The following is an account of the bloodshed, which also amounted to the heaviest death toll in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since the outbreak of a first intifada in 1987: Around midnight (2200 GMT Thursday) a gunman of the Islamist group Hamas infiltrates the Atzmona Jewish settlement in the southern Gaza Strip. He opens fire and hurls grenades, killing four settlers and injuring 20 before being shot dead. A fifth settler later died of his wounds. Israeli- F-16 fighters raid the Palestinian intelligence headquarters in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, causing no injuries. The Israeli army opens heavy machine-gun fire and launches rockets on a police station north of Gaza City, killing four, including two policemen and a paramedic. A Palestinian dies of a gunshot wound during his arrest by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank village of Salem. A Palestinian is killed and 15 injured during a tank incursion in the Aida refugee camp near Bethlehem. Eight Palestinians, including five members of the Palestinian security services, including General Ahmad Mufrij -- the most senior Palestinian security official to have been killed in the intifada -- are shot dead during an incursion in Khuzaa village, near Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip. At dawn, five Palestinians, including a member of the Palestinian security forces, are killed and around 30 injured in an incursion into the Palestinian village of Abassan, near Khuzaa. A Palestinian is killed in Aida, and another in the Dheishe refugee camp, also near Bethlehem, where Israeli incursions are underway. The bodies of three Palestinians killed by Israeli troops are found at dawn in the Khan Yunis area. Two Palestinians are killed in the Tulkarem refugee camp, which has been occupied since Thursday by the Israeli army, during clashes with soldiers. Israeli helicopters raid Khan Yunis. The head of Palestinian public security for the Gaza Strip, General Abdel Razaq al-Majaida, said Israel's attacks on the Gaza Strip were also an "assassination attempt" against him. In Tulkarem, a 10-year-old boy is killed by Israeli tank fire. A Palestinian mother of five is shot dead by Israeli fire in Aida. A Palestinian teenager is killed in Al-Yamun, a village near Jenin in the northern West Bank, which has been encircled by the Israeli army. The head of a private hospital in the village of Al-Khader, near Bethlehem, is killed by Israeli tank fire. Another Palestinian is killed by Israeli tank fire in Tulkarem. An Israeli soldier is killed in clashes with Palestinian fighters in Tulkarem camp. A Palestinian man carrying a bomb is shot dead by Israeli border guards in east Jerusalem.
ICRC 4 March 2002 Press Release 02/17 . Palestine Red Crescent official killed Joint Communication to the press The Head of the Palestine Red Crescent Society Emergency Medical Service (EMS) in Jenin, Dr.Khalil Sulieman, 58, was killed today. He was evacuating an injured girl in a PRCS ambulance from the Palestinian refugee camp of Jenin, in the West Bank. The ambulance was hit during an operation of the Israeli army in the camp. Four other Palestine Red Crescent paramedics - two in Dr. Khalil's vehicle and two in a second ambulance, as well as a volunteer, were injured in the incident. Dr. Khalil was single. He has been head of the EMS in Jenin for ten years. He started working with the Palestine Red Crescent as a volunteer some 20 years ago. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the International Committee of the Red Cross have expressed their deepest condolences to the Palestine Red Crescent leadership and to Dr. Khalil's family. The ICRC and the International Federation are extremely concerned that there is insufficient respect for emergency health services in this violent situation and urge both sides to respect the safety and security of emergency health personnel of the Palestine Red Crescent and of its Israeli counterpart, the Magen David Adom. Dr. Khalil is the second PRCS worker to be killed since the current cycle of violence erupted, in late September 2000. Bassam Balbeisi, an emergency medical technician, was killed in Gaza, in October 2000 as he was trying to save two civilians caught in cross-fire between Palestinians and Israelis in the occupied territory. A total of 122 PRCS volunteers and personnel have been injured since September 2000. Over the same period, six Magen David Adom emergency health workers were injured.
Jerusalem Post 3 March 2002 Suicide bomber kills nine in Jerusalem By Etgar Lefkovits JERUSALEM (March 3) - At least nine people were killed, including two year-old infants and a 10-year-old boy, and 57 others were wounded last night, when a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowd of people making their way home from synagogue in Jerusalem's Beit Yisrael neighborhood. Four people were in critical condition last night at Jerusalem's Hadassah-University Hospital at Ein Kerem, including an unconscious seven-year-old boy suffering from second degree burns. The Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades of Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement took responsibility for the attack. Hizbullah identified the bomber on Al Jazeera TV as Muhammad Darameh, 20, of the Dehaishe refugee camp near Bethlehem. The blast, heard throughout downtown Jerusalem, occurred at 7:15 p.m. just outside the Mahane Yisrael Yeshiva guesthouse on Rehov Haim Ozer. The explosion hurled passersby dozens of meters away, amid huge balls of fire. The small side street was littered with pieces of flesh and articles of clothing. A nearby parked car - whose gas tank was apparently set off by the blast, leading to initial reports of a car-bombing - lay completely gutted, as the smell of burned metal and human flesh pervaded the air in the blackened street. A dazed middle-aged man, his shirt bloodied, lay on the ground mumbling, "I'm okay, I'm okay" on his cellphone. "The scene was of a horror unimaginable: babies dead on the street, children burned and bleeding," said Aviva Nachmani, who was staying at the guesthouse celebrating her son's bar-mitzva. Her son escaped unharmed. "I saw an empty baby carriage, with the infant lying dead on the street," said Shlomo, an eyewitness from the nearby Mir Yeshiva. A middle-aged man lay on the ground, his arm nearly severed from his body, he recalled. "He kept crying out: 'Please - save my arm, save my arm." Jerusalem police chief Cmrd. Mickey Levy said the location of the attack, near eastern Jerusalem, may have helped the terrorist or terrorists, especially considering the fact that Jerusalem's downtown and northern areas were teeming with police last night. Levy said police had received several warnings throughout the day about impending attacks, but there were no concrete alerts about a suicide bombing or of an attack in Beit Yisrael, which adjoins Jerusalem's Mea She'arim neighborhood. Police noted last night that they checked out a suspicious-looking man in Beit Yisrael at about 3 p.m., but let him go. At 6:15 police also followed up a call about a suspicious-looking man lurking near Jerusalem's Sacher Park across town, which also ended without arrest. Police Insp.-Gen. Shlomo Aharonishsky said there were a large number of casualties because the attacker picked an especially busy hour, as the street was crowded with worshipers returning home from synagogue. Shrilly Biton, 19, had just left the Mahane Yisrael Yeshiva's guest house, whose stone walls were stained with blood, heading to her car when the blast went off. "I saw people flying in the air, my own brother" said Biton, lightly wounded in the attack, as she was wheeled away on a stretcher. The site of the attack had been targeted before. Last February, a car bomb ripped through a side street in the neighborhood just meters away from last night's attack, but miraculously failed to cause any serious injury that time. Last night a sign affixed to the site last year could still be seen reading: "A great miracle happened here." Upon hearing the news of the attack, hundreds of Palestinians at the Dehaishe refugee camp staged an impromptu celebration, chanting, "Revenge, revenge," and firing guns into the air at the entrance to the camp.
Jerusalem Post 2 March 2002 Suicide bomber kills 10 in Jerusalem A suicide bomber set off a powerful blast a short while ago in the Beit Yisrael section near downtown Jerusalem, killing at least 10 and wounding dozens of Israelis. Channel 1 reported the death of a one-year-old baby girl and nine others in the explosion; preliminary reports mention dozens of wounded, about 15 of them seriously. The wounded were taken to the nearby Bikor Holim Hospital and other city hospitals. The explosion occurred at approximately 7:15 p.m. in the Beit Yisrael section, a haredi neighborhood adjoining Mea She'arim. Most of the casualties were said to be Jews returning from synagogues at the conclusion of Shabbat. Initial reports said the explosion was caused by a car bomb. However, police said this false impression was created because the suicide bomber set off a secondary explosion when his own detonation caused a car he was standing near to explode. The site of the blast was the corner of Beit Yisrael and Haim Ozer streets, the scene of an attempted bombing last year that was averted by an alert passerby.
WP 1 March 2002 Israelis Attack 2 West Bank Camps Palestinians Fight Back As Violence Spreads By Daniel Williams and Lee Hockstader; Page A01 NABLUS, West Bank, Feb. 28 -- Backed by tanks and helicopter gunships, Israeli troops assaulted two densely populated Palestinian refugee camps in the West Bank today, touching off fierce gun battles that raged through the day and into the night. An Israeli soldier and a dozen Palestinian fighters and bystanders were killed. The attacks, at the Balata camp in Nablus and the Jenin camp about 25 miles to the north, met heavy resistance from armed Palestinian defenders, adding a dimension of urban combat to what increasingly seems to be an unstoppable escalation in the 17-month-old Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The violence spread to other West Bank towns. Exchanges of gunfire went on through the night between the Palestinian town of Beit Jala, three miles south of Jerusalem, and Gilo, a southern Jerusalem neighborhood built on land Israel captured from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East war. Tanks also ringed the West Bank town of Tulkarm, 20 miles northwest of here near the line with Israel, raising fears of an assault on its two refugee camps. The surge in fighting drowned out talk about a peace proposal from Saudi Arabia that has played out in newspaper columns and diplomatic travels over the past week, dashing hopes it might muffle the drumbeat of violence. Instead, the week has been one of the deadliest since the uprising began in September 2000; 50 people, most of them Palestinians, were killed in various acts of violence. As a result, nerves have stretched to the breaking point across the West Bank. Israeli troops manning checkpoints routinely aim their rifles at approaching pedestrians and cars. A Palestinian ambush at one such outpost near Ramallah on Feb. 19 killed six Israeli soldiers. The Israeli army issued a statement saying its operations in Nablus and Jenin were designed to arrest Palestinians wanted for terrorist attacks, sending a message that "there is no refuge for terror." But Israeli officials acknowledged that the soldiers at Balata and Jenin have not arrested the militants they had hoped to find. Israeli troops have previously mounted small suspect-snatching raids at refugee camps in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. But today's operations, particularly the one against Balata, lasted longer, were on a larger scale and were more determinedly resisted. Gunmen from a galaxy of Palestinian militia groups long have holed up in refugee camps, sometimes escaping there after operations against Israelis. Although still called camps, the refugee communities have evolved into shantytowns -- labyrinths of narrow alleys lined with cinder-block buildings that are off-limits even to Palestinian police. Palestinians and Israelis have said Balata, on the outskirts of Nablus, is particularly brimming with arms, and Israel prepared its assault with that in mind. Tanks ringed the houses. Helicopters heralded the attack with two missiles that blasted one of Balata's entrances. Israeli army spokesmen said armed groups based there and loosely affiliated with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah group were responsible for four attacks on Israelis in the last six weeks. According to the officials, these were: a shooting north of Jerusalem on Monday evening that killed an Israeli policewoman; a shooting outside the old Tel Aviv bus station Jan. 25 that wounded 23 people; a shooting by a pair of Palestinians on downtown Jerusalem's Jaffa Road on Jan. 22 that killed two; and a shooting at a girl's coming-of-age party in the northern city of Hadera Jan. 17 in which six people died. "The reason we went in now is because we couldn't wait any longer," said an army official, speaking on condition of anonymity. In Balata, young Palestinians carrying AK-47 assault rifles skittered around alleyways and over rooftops, taking potshots at Israeli infantrymen trying to penetrate the warren-like camp, which houses 20,000 people. Israeli troops fired back relentlessly; Palestinian medical workers said more than 150 Palestinians were wounded. "Our men's ward is full," said Samer Rida, the supervisor of Ittihad Hospital here. "Another night of this, and we will have patients on the floor." Israel withdrew from Nablus and many other Palestinian areas in 1995, following agreements reached in peace talks launched with the Oslo agreement of 1993. "We just don't want to see them again," said a wounded fighter, who gave his name only as Fares. In the afternoon, Israel announced a cease-fire to allow unarmed residents to leave. Several hundred walked out, but many families refused to budge. They invoked the 1948 war between Arabs and the newly declared Israeli state, when tens of thousands of Palestinians fled their towns and villages and were never allowed to return. "They should not imagine we will leave again," said Musama Asmar, an elderly resident. Residents said 14 Israeli soldiers who occupied a U.N.-operated school for boys in the camp were trapped inside. Television footage showed them holed up in the three-story building, but Israeli officials denied they were under siege. In mid-afternoon, a shot fired from the school wounded a Palestinian child playing nearby. A single artillery salvo at 3:14 p.m. heralded the cease-fire's end. An attack helicopter hovered overhead. After nightfall, Israeli troops entered several houses at the edge of Balata, evicting the occupants and knocking holes in the walls to move from place to place, residents said. Fighting also flared in the city of Jenin, according to reports from the scene, but the Israeli army apparently did not penetrate in any numbers inside the Jenin refugee camp, as it did in Balata. Five Palestinian policemen defending the city were shot dead, as was a 65-year-old man, televised reports said. As they moved into positions around the Jenin camp, Israeli troops ripped down the Palestinian flag flying over a new regional governor's office in the city, according to the governor, Zuhair Manasreh. The old office was destroyed by Israeli warplanes last year. Manasreh, a German-trained scientist, said the Israeli operations in and around refugee camps mark an ominous new phase. "Entering the camps and trying to clean the camps -- this can lead to a massacre," he said. Yossi Sarid, a dovish Israeli opposition figure, echoed that assertion, saying: "This is nuts, just nuts." [Early Friday, Israeli tanks and ground troops moved into the refugee camp from Jenin's fringes. The Israeli soldiers began searching Palestinian houses at 4 a.m., residents said. As helicopters hovered, gun battles erupted and at least three Palestinian fighters were hurt, the witnesses said, according to the Associated Press.] Marwan Barghouti, head of Arafat's Fatah organization in the West Bank, warned of a sharp intensification of violence if the assaults were not called off. "Our people will fight this and we'll have our reckoning with the criminals of Tel Aviv and the terrorist murderers for their crimes," he said. [Early Friday, Israeli radio reported that Fatah threatened to launch rockets into Israeli cities if Israeli forces did not withdraw from the refugee camps.] In Washington, the State Department expressed concern about "the present situation on the ground, especially in the Balata refugee camp." At a briefing, spokesman Richard Boucher said that "we've been in touch with the Israeli government to urge that the utmost restraint be exercised to avoid harm to the civilian population." Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has been ordering troops to conduct numerous search-and-seizure missions in Palestinian hamlets, seeking to capture gunmen accused of attacks on Israelis. He also has tightened blockades of towns and cities to prevent movement by the gunmen and to punish their communities. The checkpoints have long been a major source of Palestinian resentment. Although Arafat has repeatedly pledged to try to tamp down the violence, Palestinian officials said he has given a green light to his militia forces to assault the roadblocks.
Al-Ahram Weekly Online 28 Feb. - 6 March 2002 Issue No.575 An ominous prelude Azmi Bishara, the most prominent Palestinian politician in Israel, was put on trial in an Israeli court yesterday for the second time in less than three months -- charged with supporting a terrorist organisation. Jonathan Cook reports from Nazareth Bishara during a rally last year when he ran for the post of Israel's premier Crowds of several hundred supporters of prominent Palestinian member of the Israeli Kenesset, Azmi Bishara, converged on the square outside the court building where he is being tried in Nazareth yesterday, waving Palestinian flags. Some wore stickers bearing Bishara's face and the legend "J'accuse" -- a reference to the Dreyfus affair, the trial of a Jewish army officer in 19th century France often cited as an archetypal example of anti-semitism. Bishara, a combative and outspoken figure among the handful of Palestinian Members of Knesset (MKs), is being prosecuted for two speeches -- made a year apart -- in which he praised resistance to the occupation of Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza. If found guilty, he faces up to three years in jail. The small courtroom where the trial opened yesterday was packed with lawyers, TV camera crews, journalists, Arab MKs and leaders of the Arab minority. The path to trial was cleared in November when the Knesset voted to lift Bishara's parliamentary immunity so that the attorney general, Elyakim Rubinstein, could indict him on two separate charges: one relating to the two speeches, and the other to trips he made to Syria. Both charges are based on emergency laws dating back to 1948. It is the first time a politician has been stripped of his immunity for his political activities. In previous cases, the Knesset has removed the immunity of an MK only if he was suspected of committing a crime. Bishara has maintained throughout that the cases are politically motivated and part of a wider campaign by the government to silence the one million Palestinian citizens of Israel. Shortly before the hearing, Bishara said that even if he were acquitted it would be only "the beginning of the campaign." One of his lawyers, Riad Anis, added that this was a trial of all Israel's Arabs and not only Bishara. At yesterday's hearing, the case became mired in legal arguments with the judges over Bishara's defence attempt to focus on the political motivation behind the trial. After a recess, the judges allowed the lawyers to make their presentation. Hassan Jabareen, of the Adala (or Justice) legal centre, submitted several press cuttings from June last year, after the Syria speech. The reports said that the attorney general consulted with the Shin Bet security service and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon before filing the indictment. Jabareen argued that this pointed to the political goals behind the case. Jabareen said the fact that Bishara's actions had been "criminalised is an effort to de-legitimise not his speech in Syria but what he represents." He added, "No-one is interested in what Azmi Bishara really said." Israeli posecutors, meanwhile, alleged that Bishara had incited violence and supported a terrorist organisation in his two speeches, one of which was delivered in Umm Al-Fahm in northern Israel in the summer of 2000 and the other in Syria last June at a memorial service for the late President Hafez Al-Assad. In the Umm Al-Fahm speech, Bishara praised the struggle by Hizbullah in forcing Israel to withdraw from south Lebanon, while in the Syria speech he urged Arabs to support the Intifada and the resistance to occupation of the Palestinian territories. The Syrian speech, which was televised and showed Bishara next to Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, was reported to have outraged Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Bishara's lawyers claimed yesterday that the Knesset had no power to lift the MK's immunity. The judges were told that Bishara was protected because he made the speeches in his capacity as an MK and that the opinions expressed reflected the political platform of his party, the National Democratic Assembly. The defence team also argued that the texts of both speeches did not contravene any article of the regulation cited: the Anti-Terror Ordinance of 1948. The case was adjourned for the judges to decide whether Bishara has a case to answer. If they allow the prosecution to go ahead, the trial risks turning into an embarrassing examination of Israel's occupation policies, both in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. It is also likely to draw international criticism. Yesterday's proceedings were watched by seven foreign observers, including two members of the European Parliament. The Inter-Parliamentary Union, a Swiss-based organisation representing 160 national parliaments, added their voice, writing to Bishara's lawyers to condemn the trial. Many in the Palestinian minority fear that the case is a prelude to much harsher treatment of them by Israel, leading possibly to the outlawing of some of their political parties. In the earlier trial, heard in Nazareth magistrate's court in December, Bishara was indicted for helping 800 elderly Palestinian citizens of Israel to visit relatives in Syria. Prosecutors argued that he and two assistants who arranged the trips were in breach of an emergency regulation which classifies Syria as an enemy state. Bishara's legal team surprised the court by handing over his service passport, given to him in 1996 when he became an MK, and arguing that all holders of such a passport were exempt from the regulation. The judges are expected to finish their preliminary deliberations on whether to carry on with the earlier trial in the next few weeks. In addition to Bishara's trial, six other Palestinian MKs are currently under investigation, either for incitement or sedition, after expressing support for Palestinian resistance in the West Bank and Gaza. The Shin Bet security service has stepped up its monitoring of the Palestinian population, claiming that it is a nest of terrorist cells plotting to harm Israel. In the past few months there have been public campaigns, taken up by right-wing cabinet ministers, for the country's Palestinian citizens to be expelled.
Times UK March 04, 2002 Pakistani media are divided over violence in India from Zahid Hussain in Islamabad THE latest communal riots in India are yet more proof of what they describe as the “fallacy of Indian secularism”, according to the Pakistani media. Most of the local newspapers described the strife as a planned “genocide of Muslims by Hindu extremists”. The local mass circulation Urdu newspapers ran shrieking headlines of “Muslims being burnt alive” and “children being lynched”, further fueling anti-Indian sentiment. Although less vitriolic, the more serious English-language newspapers displayed on their front pages photographs of a Hindu mob armed with swords marching through a Muslim neighbourhood and the charred bodies of a Muslim family. “At the roots of repeated communal flare-ups in India lies the larger issue of alienation among the minorities, despite India’s secular façade,” a leading article in The Nation, one of the main Englishlanguage newspapers, said. Violence against Muslims in India has provoked a strong reaction from Pakistani authorities in the past, but the military Government, which is locked in a war with religious extremists at home, has resisted holding the Indian authorities responsible for the killings of Muslims. Instead, Islamabad has described the riots as a “law and order problem inside India” and sympathised with “all those who have suffered as a result of the violence”. The statement is a clear departure from traditional official reaction, when only the killing of Muslims was highlighted, and is, to some extent, reflected in the officially controlled electronic media, which has refrained from using the issue to raise tensions between the two nations. Some commentators, however, continue to accuse India’s nationalist Hindu BJP Government of fuelling the communal strife to “serve its vested political interests”. The Nation wrote: “The self-serving Hindutva Policies of the ruling coalition have systematically stoked communal frenzy in multi-ethnic India.” The allegation first made by George Fernandes, the Indian Defence Minister, that the Inter Services Intelligence, Pakistan’s military spy agency, might have been involved in instigating the communal riots has provoked intense criticism from Pakistan’s private and the official media. The most respected English language newspaper, Dawn, told the Indian authorities not to “point fingers at Pakistan” for the strife and instead concentrate on controlling the violence. “When the armies of both nations are depoyed eyeball to eyeball along their borders, a miscalculation on either side could lead to a war,” a leading article in the paper said. Some commentators cite the heightening of HinduMuslim tension to justify Pakistan’s claim on Kashmir, the only Muslim majority state in India. The troubled state has been at the centre of a longstanding conflict between the two nuclear nations. “Muslims do not have any democratic and human rights in India,” Nawai Waqt an influential right-wing Urdu-language newspaper, said. Some of Pakistan’s right-wing newspapers have revived their old theme that the communal divide would ultimately lead to disintegration of India. “This is a beginning of an end of India as a state,” a local Urdu newspaper declared. However, more rational analysts gave warning against such wishful thinking. They said that instability in India would have a direct bearing on Pakistan.
Reuters 4 March 2002 Sri Lanka PM Calls for Unity on Cease-fire By Scott McDonald COLOMBO (Reuters) - Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe urged the nation on Monday to back his plans for peace with local rebels, but opposition lawmakers immediately denounced the Norwegian-brokered cease-fire as a sell-out. In a speech to a special parliamentary session called to review the truce, Wickremesinghe said partisan politics had made it almost impossible to end a nearly two decade ethnic war in which 64,000 people had died. "Often where one stands on an issue depends on where one sits at that particular time and this is especially the case in Sri Lankan politics, where parochial, opportunistic and divisive politics often overwhelm statesmanship..." Wickremesinghe said. The session was expected to end on Tuesday with a decision to form a multi-party committee to overlook the cease-fire. Wickremesinghe's plea for bipartisan support was quickly rebuffed by the opposition. "This is a de facto granting of a separate state, a deception practiced on parliament and the people," said Wimal Weerawansa of the Marxist People's Liberation Front. President Chandrika Kumaratunga's People's Alliance also criticized the pact. "What right has the government to sign an accord with an outlawed terrorist group," said alliance lawmaker Dinesh Gunawardene. NO CONTROL In his speech, Wickremesinghe did not mention Kumaratunga, the country's executive president with sweeping powers to sack the government and suspend parliament, who has said Norway had gone too far in trying to end the conflict. The prime minister's party, which won parliamentary elections in December, was also accused of partisan politics two years ago when it refused to support Kumaratunga's peace plan that included constitutional changes. Wickremesinghe dismissed criticism that the agreement's provisions for a demarcation between the armies of the two sides gave the Tigers de facto recognition. "We have no control over law and order on significant portions of land in the north and east. The armed units of the LTTE dominate these areas," he said. "The armed forces have so far been unable to regain control. We all know this is the reality. "We have been fooling the people and in the process we have fooled ourselves," said Wickremesinghe, who added face-to-face talks were likely to begin within three months. Norway, which has been shuttling between the two sides since 1999, has the final authority regarding interpretation of the cease-fire agreement. The first of the monitors, led by retired Norwegian General Trond Furuhovde, arrived at the weekend and were expected to be in place later this week.
Bangkok Post 6 March 2002 CRIME 13 murdered Burmese found at dump site An official shows one of the Burmese 20 kyat banknotes found on the dead bodies of 13 Burmese nationals in Prachin Buri province yesterday. _ JETJARAS NA RANONG Thanu Bunpeng - Prachin Buri The bodies of 13 Burmese nationals, including three children, were found in a deserted dump site here yesterday. The dead were three men and seven women, aged about 18-30, two boys and one girl. The bodies were stuffed in rice sacks and left in a 100-rai dump site in tambon Nonhom, Muang district. Police said all the dead had broken necks and severe body bruises. One of the dead carried an identity card issued to an alien registered for work in Thailand, and also some Burmese kyat banknotes. The card showed its holder's name was ``Su'', aged 18. Police believe the victims were killed somewhere else before their bodies were left at the dump site. They were believed to have been killed at least 10 hours before their bodies were found by a villager about noon. The bodies were sent to a provincial hospital for autopsy. Doctors reportedly found small pills in the mouths of some of the victims. Area villagers said they saw a small truck heading towards the dumpsite yesterday morning. Police said the victims might have been killed by their employers who did not want to pay them. Last month, the dead bodies of 17 people believed to be Karen workers were found in a stream in Tak province.
Bangkok Post 9 March 2002 HUMAN TRAFFICKING Burmese man, woman arrested Taken to identify bodies of 13 victims Another two people have been arrested in connection with the deaths of 13 Burmese nationals whose bodies were found in a dump. Two Burmese nationals were arrested yesterday, bringing the number of arrests to four. They were identified only as Mathuay and Tong, and caught in Kamphaeng Phet province. Two Thais, Som Poolsombat, 50, and his wife Bunta Phooto, 42, were arrested in Kamphaeng Phet and Nakhon Sawan on Wednesday and charged with breaking the labour law governing foreigners, recklessness resulting in the deaths of others and concealing bodies. The 13 victims were illegal aliens and died of suffocation while being smuggled from Tak to factories in Nakhon Pathom. Police yesterday brought the Burmese suspects to Bangkok to identify the bodies at the Nitivej Forensic Institute at Police Hospital. Mrs Bunta was taken to Prachin Buri for questioning while her husband stayed behind in Kamphaeng Phet. She appeared under severe stress, covering her face. She screamed when reporters took her picture, saying she was not responsible for the deaths. The Bangkok-based Co-ordinating Committee on Alien Workers and Families said the government should provide better protection for foreign workers. Meanwhile, police in Mae Sot arrested 116 men, 100 women and 37 children from Burma yesterday for entering Thailand illegally, AP reported.
March 11, 2002 Bosnian Serb Party Names Successor to Karadzic By REUTERS Filed at 3:21 p.m. ET BANJA LUKA, Bosnia (Reuters) - The Bosnian Serb Democratic Party (SDS) replaced its founder Radovan Karadzic as president Monday and insisted it had turned over a new leaf in a drive to shed its arch-nationalist image. ``After 10 years, we turned a new political page. It took courage to make a new beginning,'' the new party president, Dragan Kalinic, told a party congress. Analysts and political rivals saw the move as no more than window-dressing in the face of heavy Western pressure on the Serb republic to hand over Karadzic and other fugitives charged with war crimes in Bosnia's 1992-5 war. The SDS is the biggest and most influential political party in Bosnia's Serb Republic. It has drawn heavy international criticism for reluctance to defuse ethnic tension and reunify the still deeply divided state. The West distrusts the SDS for alleged links with Karadzic although it expelled him and other war crimes suspects in December. The International Crisis Group think-tank said in its latest report that the SDS still kept ties with Karadzic. Karadzic founded the party in 1990 and remained its leader until 1996 when he was forced to quit politics under Western pressure. The SDS had since operated a collective presidency. Political rivals said the move was a purely cosmetic bid to avoid sanctions threatened by Western envoys. ``When we speak about its activity on the ground, among citizens of the Serb Republic, the SDS continues to be a very conservative, arrogant and rigid party,'' said Igor Radojicic of the opposition Alliance of Independent Social Democrats. The U.N. war crimes tribunal has indicted Karadzic twice for genocide during Bosnia's war. He is widely believed to be hiding in Yugoslavia's southern republic of Montenegro, where he was born, and in eastern parts of Bosnia's Serb republic.
BBC 3 March, 2002, Tension on edge of Georgian gorge Tense times ahead for troops in the Pankisi Gorge The arrival in Georgia of a small team of US military experts and the announcement that 200 troops may be sent there to help in the war on terrorism has focused attention on the country's Pankisi Gorge, bordering on Chechnya. Apart from Georgia and the United States, the country that has shown greatest interest in the move is Russia, which has long accused Georgia of failing to act against Chechen rebels who it says have been sheltering in the gorge. Initial reaction from Moscow was negative, but President Vladimir Putin later said the main thing was that action was finally being taken against both the Chechen rebels and the al-Qaeda fighters who are suspected of having joined them. Georgian Christians fear Islamist incomers The main evening news on state-owned Russian Public TV on Saturday gave prominence to a despatch by a correspondent just back from the Pankisi Gorge - or as close as it was safe to go. Anton Stepanenko's report focused on the situation at a checkpoint manned by Georgian Interior Ministry troops at the edge of the gorge. After the refugees from Chechnya arrived, the gorge gained a bad reputation... The Georgian Patriarchy declared bluntly that Islamic extremism was on the march Russian Public TV reporter "Beyond here", he explained, "the so-called zone of unrest begins, where Chechens - both local and from Chechnya - live and there are no police or soldiers." The Pankisi Gorge is home to the Kists, a local ethnic-Chechen community, as well as refugees from Chechnya who have moved in more recently. The gorge lies in Georgia's Akhmeta District, which - in the Russian reporter's account - has been split in two since the new arrivals from Chechnya upset the previous coexistence between the Kists and Orthodox Georgians. Incomers blamed "After the refugees from Chechnya arrived, the gorge gained a bad reputation," he said. Pankisi has an established local Chechen community "Now there are no Orthodox congregations: Georgians who used to live beside the local Chechens tried to leave that unstable place, and the Georgian patriarchy declared bluntly that Islamic extremism was on the march." A local Georgian woman blamed the incomers for rising crime. "Criminal elements are undermining the Kists' reputation," she told the reporter. "Among Chechens there are good people as well as those with whom we are fed up." There is virtually no information on what is actually going on in the gorge... Nevertheless, there are signs of increased activity TV reporter As for the soldiers at the unofficial frontier, the report said, the constant threat of attack forces them to rearrange the concrete blocks that constitute their checkpoint at least once a week, to give them extra time to respond. The reporter found them unwilling to talk, although their gestures invited him - and his viewers - to draw conclusions from the appearance of some motorists. Some drivers arouse the soldiers' suspicions "They reckon that the distinctive appearance of some refugees who drive through a few times a day speaks for itself," he commented, as his film showed a bearded man with a skullcap and camouflage jacket returning to his car. In general, the reporter found information hard to come by. "There is virtually no information on what is actually going on in the gorge or on the plans of the secret services. "Nevertheless", he concluded, "there are signs of increased activity."
Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty Date: 11 Mar 2002 -- Steiner calls on EU not to forget Kosova Michael Steiner, who heads the UN's civilian administration in Kosova (UNMIK), said in Madrid on 7 March that Europe "risks disaster" if it fails to help Kosova rebuild and develop while the international community concentrates on Afghanistan and the Middle East, Reuters reported. He added: "It would be wrong to concentrate on the new crises in this worldwide beauty contest of crises and forget the place on your own continent, because that would be very dangerous for Europe. Don't forget the continent where you come from...because it would be a disaster if this was a failure because this is the middle of Europe." Steiner goes to Brussels on 11 March, followed by trips to Berlin, Washington, London, and, on 15 March, Moscow, ITAR-TASS reported. In Prishtina on 10 March, Steiner appealed to all residents of Kosova to hand in to the authorities any illegal weapons in their possession, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported.
BBC 12 March 2002 Donors double Macedonia aid Many refugees have still not returned home International donors have approved a $515 million package to rebuild Macedonia's economy after last year's conflict with ethnic Albanian rebels - more than doubling their initial target. With this conference we will leave behind us the political instability and we will turn a new page of economic prosperity Ljubco Georgievski, Macedonian Prime Minister Meeting in Brussels, about 40 countries and international organisations said the money would be used to finance the reconstruction of the country as well as to help the government implement its economic reforms. The rest will be spent on rebuilding homes, schools and other facilities, and to underpin the peace agreement by strengthening local government and improving the teaching of the Albanian language. The conference - co-sponsored by the European Commission and the World Bank - was given the go-ahead last week when the Macedonian parliament adopted key parts of an agreement which ended the recent conflict with ethnic Albanian rebels. The BBC's Oana Lungescu in Brussels says that by exceeding their target, donors clearly gave Macedonia a vote of confidence. Conditions In pledging 307 million euros ($274m), donors highlighted three areas of priority for Macedonia: macroeconomic assistance, reconstruction of areas affected by the conflict as well as measures to implement the peace agreement signed last year. "In addition, donors indicated another (271m euros ($241m) for general economic development purposes in 2002," a statement by the co-sponsors said. Donor money 307m euros ($274m) to balance the budget, to rebuild infrastructure and implement peace deal 271m euros ($241m) for general economic development The biggest contributions came from the European Commission and the United States. Macedonian Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski welcomed the conference as a turning point for his conflict-ravaged country. "With this conference we will leave behind us the political instability and we will turn a new page of economic prosperity," he said. Corruption fears The International Crisis Group, a non-governmental organisation monitoring conflict areas, warned donors that to approve a quarter of a billion dollars without demanding serious reform would simply mean subsidising corruption. Estimated costs 185m euros ($165m) to balance the budget 45-73m euros ($40-64m) for reconstruction 76m euros ($66m) to implement peace deal The group says corruption threatens the viability of the Macedonian state. EU and World Bank officials insist, however, that they are monitoring closely how aid is spent, strengthening in the process both local institutions and the free press. The Macedonian Government has taken a series of steps to implement the internationally-backed deal signed last August which pulled it back from the brink of all-out war with the rebels. The agreement promised greater freedom to Macedonia's ethnic Albanians in running their own affairs. The peace deal ended fighting between the government and ethnic Albanian rebels Last week, the international community said it would reward Macedonia after the government approved an amnesty for rebel fighters. Thousands of Albanian and Macedonian homes were shelled or torched in the six-month conflict last year. Many of the 80,000 people who fled the fighting now live among the ruins of their homes, or have still not returned.
AFP 12 Mar 2002 -- Macedonia frees eight ethnic Albanian rebels ahead of donor meeting SKOPJE, March 12 (AFP) - Macedonia's government has freed at least eight former rebels from the ethnic Albanian National Liberation Army (NLA) under the terms of an amnesty deal, officials told AFP late Monday. The adoption and implementation of the amnesty law has been tied to donor aid, and on Tuesday Macedonia is hoping to win more than 225 million dollars in financial support at a conference in Brussels. Among those freed from jail was Sami Habibi, who was suspected of carrying out an attack on a police station in Tearce, near Tetovo, last January. Two policemen died and three were injured in the attack, official sources said. Macedonia's Justice Minister Idzet Memeti said judges were working overtime to handle the cases of other detained rebels, and said he expected the cases to be processed by late Tuesday at the lastest. Macedonia's parliament last week approved a long-awaited amnesty law that is a part of the peace plan that ended fighting between Macedonian forces and ethnic Albanian rebels last year. The amnesty law aims to pardon "all those linked with the crisis," when a seven-month conflict between the government forces and ethnic Albanian guerrillas threatened to escalate into a civil war. Ethnic Albanian rebels launched an insurgency in February 2001 in a bid to improve rights for the country's ethnic Albanians, who make up almost one third of the country's two million people. Skopje, however, accused the rebels of trying to unite northwestern Macedonia with the neighbouring Yugoslav republic of Kosovo -- also majority ethnic Albanian and the scene of a NATO bombing campaign in 1999.
AFP 10 Mar 2002 -- Reserve policeman shot dead in Macedonia SKOPJE, March 10 (AFP) - Unidentified assailants shot and killed a reserve policeman overnight in northwestern Macedonia, an area with a strong ethnic Albanian population, police said Sunday. The 36-year-old man, who was off duty and in civilian dress, was gunned down in a hail of automatic weapons fire, with witnesses saying the attackers escaped in a car heading in the direction of a neighbouring ethnic Albanian village. The attack took place in the ethnically mixed village of Gostivar, about 20 kilometres (12 miles) south of Tetovo, a flashpoint town in last year's ethnic Albanian uprising that had threatened to spill over into a fresh Balkans war. The killing comes just days after the country's parliament approved a controversial amnesty bill granting immunity to those involved in the seven month conflict which erupted in February last year. Despite the official disbanding of the guerrilla National Liberation Army (NLA) -- which stirred the uprising in a bid to improve rights for the country's ethnic Albanian minority -- tensions in the region persist. Seven attackers, at least two of them Pakistanis, were killed in clashes with security forces earlier this month. And last month ethnic Albanian rebels attacked Macedonian security force positions in the north and northwest of the country, a week after a Macedonian man was killed returning to the house he had abandoned some months before. A Western-brokered peace accord ended the armed uprising last August, with the ethnic Albanian rebels agreeing to lay down their arms. While the rebels insisted they were fighting for ethnic Albanian rights, Skopje accused them of trying to unite northwestern Macedonia with the neighbouring Yugoslav province of Kosovo.
AP 8 March 2002 Macedonia Rebels Welcome Amnesty Law By ERMIRA MEHMETI, SKOPJE, Macedonia - Ethnic Albanian rebels on Friday welcomed a new amnesty law encouraging them to come down from highland strongholds and reintegrate into society as part of a Western-backed peace plan. The law passed by the Macedonian parliament Thursday effectively frees from prosecution several thousand insurgents who took up arms last year to fight for greater rights for their community. The amnesty covers crimes including high treason, mutiny, armed rebellion and conspiracy against the state. However, any war crimes committed during the conflict will be investigated and punished by the Netherlands-based U.N. war crimes tribunal for former Yugoslavia. "This is a great step for peace," said Hajrulla Misini, a former rebel commander known by his nom-de-guerre, Shpati. "I see no reason any more for armed conflict in Macedonia." Ali Ahmeti, a top representative of the insurgent group that disbanded after endorsing a Western-designed peace agreement in August, said the law "would lead to stability and confidence-building between the communities." NATO (news - web sites) Secretary General Lord Robertson said in Brussels, Belgium, that the amnesty was "critical" for lasting peace. He also said Macedonia could continue to count on the 19-nation alliance's support. NATO extended its 1,000-strong peacekeeping force for three months in mid-February at the government's request. Javier Solana, the European Union (news - web sites)'s top diplomat, called the amnesty "courageous" and said it shows "the will of the authorities and the citizens to close the chapter of crisis and conflict." Militants within the ethnic Albanian community, which makes up nearly a third of Macedonia's 2 million people, battled government forces for six months last year struggling for equality with dominant Macedonians. The amnesty law, the last key element of the peace pact, means former fighters "will be able to return to normal life, go back to their work, or serve in public institutions," Ahmeti said. Other peace provisions ratified in recent months define broader rights for ethnic Albanians in government, police, army and education. Hard-liners among the Macedonians had fought against the amnesty, opposing any concessions to the ethnic Albanians. One lawmaker, Stojan Popov, said Friday that he law degrades "the entire legal system." The law is key to attracting millions of dollars in reconstruction aid pledged by the European Union and the United States if a peace deal was implemented fully. In Geneva, a spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said the law would encourage the returns of displaced persons within Macedonia and refugees in neighboring Yugoslavia — about 26,000 people. Insurgents also have relinquished their control of two-thirds of the 100 villages in northwestern Macedonia, the mostly ethnic Albanian-populated area. Authorities hope to re-establish control over the rest soon.
Moscow Times 12 March 2002. Page 3 Chechen Village Protests 82 Deaths By Yevgenia Borisova Staff Writer Musa Sadulayev / AP Dzhankhot Hashiyev, 11, left, and Anzor Magaziyev, 10, carrying the frame of a rocket to sell as scrap metal in Grozny. After losing 82 residents, the Chechen village of Tsotsin-Yurt has signed an appeal urging the West to prevent the "mass extermination of Chechens" by Russian troops, a Chechen organization said Monday. The Chechen National Salvation Committee, which backs rebel Chechen leader Aslan Maskhadov, said that 700 residents of Tsotsin-Yurt in the Kurchaloi district had signed the petition detailing the deaths of 82 villagers during the ongoing Chechnya conflict and that it would forward the letter to human rights activists in the United Nations, the Council of Europe and Human Rights Watch. "We ask you to help us to stop the genocide against our nation and, as a first step, to send international observers to Chechnya," said the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Moscow Times. Of the people listed, 41 died or disappeared during so-called mopping-up operations in the village. More than 20 died of wounds inflicted by gunfire or bombings, five were killed at checkpoints and six were tortured to death, the letter said. In addition, 12 people were picked up for questioning in their homes, some as long as two years ago, and have yet to return. Ruslan Badalov, head of the Chechen National Salvation Committee, said Tsotsin-Yurt villagers brought the letter to his office in Nazran, Ingushetia, on Saturday. They told him they were holding a round-the-clock protest against the violence in their village "for the third week running." The population of Tsotsin-Yurt was unclear Monday, and district officials could not be reached for comment. The Federal Security Service, which is overseeing what it calls "the counter-terrorist operation" in Chechnya, could not immediately comment. Lecha Yakhyayev, spokesman for the pro-Moscow Chechen administration, said the letter "blows the situation out of proportion" and that it would be difficult to prove the individuals mentioned were all peaceful civilians. "Some of them could have been fighters who were killed when they tried to escape," he said by telephone from Grozny. Diederik Lohman, Human Rights Watch's director in Moscow, said the letter was a sign that many Chechens were fed up. "What is going on in the republic -- and it is remarkable at the moment -- is that people have started to openly and publicly protest against the murders of their relatives and neighbors," he said. "They understand that there is no other option to ever stop this war."
AFP 12 Mar 2002 -- Pro-Moscow Chechens fed up with lawless Russian troops by Sylvie Briand GROZNY, Russia, March 12 (AFP) - Chechnya's pro-Moscow administrators who once saw the Russian military as a bulwark against lawlessness now believe that troops' indiscipline and greed are prolonging the war which has left the republic in ruins. Chechen officials, working alongside civil servants seconded from Moscow to the new high-security administrative centre in the capital Grozny, are scathing in their criticism of soldiers' conduct in the 30 months since the conflict began. "One reason why this war is not about to end is that the Russian troops have no interest in seeing things get back to normal. Why should they? While they're here they earn a whole lot more than they'd get anywhere else," one official told AFP on condition of anonymity. "Why have they not yet arrested the warlords Shamil Basayev, Khattab or (rebel Chechen president Alsan) Maskhadov, hiding out in a territory that is half as big as Switzerland? Either this is the most incompetent army in the history of the world or they simply don't want to arrest them," he said. The ravages perpetrated by the separatist rebels are considerably aggravated by the Russian troops in the view of many residents, who have reported innumerable cases of looting, rape, arbitrary arrests and hostage-taking by the federal forces. Around 90,000 Russian troops are stationed in Chechnya, where Moscow has been attempting to restore its control over the breakaway republic since October 1999. A Russian officer in Chechnya earns between 500 and 600 dollars a month, while an ordinary soldier earns 200 dollars, well above what his comrades in other regions are paid. "I was glad when the Russian troops first moved in, but not for long. How can such an undisciplined army be expected to establish order?" said Aylita Chegrenova, a press service official in the local finance ministry. A former journalist, Chegrenova believes that several of her colleagues in the pro-Russian administration are secretly helping the rebels. "That was the case during the first Chechen war (1994-96) and that is still the case today," she said. In Grozny's only hospital, a delapidated building whose walls are pockmarked with bullet-holes, Aida displays the still-suppurating wound in her foot, the result of a wild blast of machine-gun fire by Russian soldiers. "It was five thirty in the morning, and we were on our way to the hospital with my sister who was about to give birth. "But a Russian armoured vehicle passed by and fired at us. They sped away after they saw us, me and my sister, in the car. She and her husband were just lightly injured," she said. Her neighbour on the ward added: "If they had been killed, the Russians would have said it was the rebels who did it. But it's those Russian marauders, always drunk, always on the look-out for girls." In recent months Grozny has seen several killings of Chechen and Russian civilians, most of them unresolved, carried out by masked men wearing military clothing. "It's difficult to say how many girls have been raped by soldiers, as they are too ashamed to say what has happened, or to come for treatment if they contract a disease," said Magomed, a male nurse. Human rights groups and other non-government organisations have complained that cases of rape by Russian troops, several of which have been reported by Chechen civilians, go unpunished by the military authorities. The prosecution of a Russian officer, Yury Budanov, accused of murdering an 18-year-old Chechen girl who had also been raped is a rare instance of legal action being taken, but the trial in his home city of Rostov-on-Don is still in progress more than a year after it opened.
Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty Date: 11 Mar 2002 -- Russian 'sweeps' in Chechnya continue Russian troops conducted a total of seven search operations on 8 March in Grozny and the Kurchaloi, Shali, Shelkovskii, Achkhoi-Martan, Nozhai-Yurt, and Gudermes Raions, killing 10 Chechen fighters, Interfax reported. Seventeen men were arrested on suspicion of sympathizing with President Aslan Maskhadov and a further 56 were detained. Forty people were detained in a further search operation in Grozny on 10 March. Meanwhile, in a tacit admission that Maskhadov's guerrillas move freely not just in the mountain regions in southern Chechnya but in the north of the republic, villages in Beno-Yurt (Nadterechnyi Raion) complained on 9 March to the local administrator, military commandant, and FSB representative that members of "illegal" armed formations interfere with their lives and "disgrace honest Chechens," ITAR-TASS reported. LF ... AS DOES PROTEST IN TSOTAN-YURT... "Thousands" of residents of Tsotan-Yurt and other villages in Kurchaloi Raion are continuing the demonstration they embarked on three weeks ago against the ongoing Russian "sweep" operations, chechenpress.com reported on 10 March (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 February 2002). The website also published a list of the names of 82 persons from Tsotan-Yurt killed by Russian troops since the war began in October 1999, and of a further 29 who disappeared after being detained during such sweep operations.
Reuters 8 March 2002 Chechen rebel leader wants war crimes tribunal By Karl Emerick Hanuska AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The Chechen rebel leadership is pushing for the creation of a war crimes tribunal like that for the former Yugoslavia to try alleged atrocities by Russian forces, a senior Chechen representative says. "Those who committed genocide against the Chechen people must answer for their crimes. A forum for this is our key goal," Akhmed Zakayev, chief envoy of the breakaway region's president Aslan Maskhadov, told Reuters in a rare face-to-face interview on Friday. He was speaking in Amsterdam a day after meeting Carla Del Ponte, the chief prosecutor at the Hague Yugoslav war crimes tribunal. The chances of Russia agreeing to subject itself to a similar United Nations institution, however, are slim. Chechnya is in its second war in a decade and Maskhadov, elected in 1997 after forcing the Russian army to withdraw, has been waging a guerrilla campaign against troops sent back into the province in 1999 when the Kremlin blamed Chechens for bombings that killed over 300 people in Moscow and other cities. Chechen officials charge that Russian security forces rigged the blasts themselves as an excuse to invade the region, which remained formally part of Russia but de facto a separate entity. Moscow has accused Muslim Chechen leaders of being allied with Islamic militants like Osama bin Laden, which they deny. "No matter what the war's outcome is and whether or not we are acknowledged as an independent state, the Chechen people must be guaranteed the same human rights as anyone else in Europe," said Zakayev, a bearded, soft-spoken former actor. He said the talks with Del Ponte were purely "consultative", part of a series of steps to get the international community involved in ending violence in Chechnya, where tens of thousands have died since the first war began in late 1994. Chechens have long called for a greater international role in a conflict that Moscow says is a purely internal matter. RUSSIAN ANGER Russia, which rallied behind the U.S. war in Afghanistan after drawing parallels between the September 11 attacks and its own problems in Chechnya, protested in January when officials in Washington, London and Paris met Maskhadov's envoys. The creation of a U.N. institution comparable to the Hague tribunal to deal with Chechnya is highly improbable given that the court for Yugoslavia was set up by the U.N. Security Council -- on which Moscow has a permanent power of veto. Russia denies systematic abuses by its forces and says any wrongdoing by individual soldiers is properly investigated and punished. But rights groups note that few cases are brought to trial and not one Russian serviceman has yet been convicted. Zakayev praised Del Ponte, who is Swiss, for what he called courage in ensuring that the victims of war atrocities had been given the chance to speak out. "One can only be overwhelmed by her courage in a sea of hypocrisy," he said during the interview in Amsterdam. "This tiny woman like no one before has demonstrated the mettle and the courage to try and show the world that crimes will not be left unpunished." Zakayev said he was heartened by the fact the Hague tribunal was now trying former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic for genocide and crimes against humanity in the 1990s. "What I saw there was a man who thought he was untouchable, who considered himself nearly a god...sitting in the dock. That really gave me hope about what tomorrow might bring," he said. But Zakayev faulted Western nations for failing to force a settlement in Chechnya and said that without the involvement of the international community there could be no peace there. "That is what was wrong with Chechnya after the first war. It did not have the financial or political support to stand up to the security services of Russia and other nations around the world who were active there," he said. "We are a part of Europe and so Europe and the rest of the West must be a part of the solution."
AP 3 March 2002 Swiss Voters Narrowly Approve Joining U.N. GENEVA (AP) -- The Swiss voted Sunday to join the rest of the world as members of the United Nations after sitting on the global sidelines for more than five decades. Tallies reported from all precincts showed a nationwide margin of 55-45 percent in favor. The crucial second obstacle -- approval by at least half the country's cantons, or states -- was cleared by a much narrower 12-11 vote. Impassioned appeals from nationalists fueled opposition to the government-backed referendum to join 189 countries in the world body. Switzerland has long been a dues-paying member of some U.N. specialized agencies like the World Health Organization and the International Labor Organization. But it remains -- with the Vatican -- an observer state in the U.N. General Assembly. Seventy-five percent of Swiss rejected U.N. membership in a similar referendum in 1986, backing opponents who said membership would let East-West polarization compromise Swiss neutrality. But the government -- backed by Swiss industry, banks and interest groups -- contended that the political climate has changed since the height of the Cold War, and that it is time for the 7 million Swiss to play a full role in the world. The government also feared another rejection of full membership would make Switzerland an international outcast with a selfish and uncaring reputation. The country evidently agreed. Nationwide 1,484,818 people voted in favor, compared with 1,236,067 against. The division between cantons held at 11-11 for two hours until Zurich, the largest canton, weighed in on the side of the U.N. supporters, assuring their victory. Opponents claimed U.N. membership would force Switzerland to abandon its cherished sovereignty and submit to the political dictates of the five permanent members of the Security Council, such as the imposition of sanctions on countries like Iraq. The nationalists plastered the country with posters claiming that U.N. membership would mean wasting millions of dollars a year for nothing. Switzerland already provides logistical help to peacekeeping operations and invariably follows U.N. sanctions. Leading the opposition has been Christoph Blocher -- a billionaire industrialist who says Switzerland is successful and wealthy precisely because it is different. ``We have our system of direct democracy, neutrality and federalism. We would lose that if we became a member of the United Nations,'' Blocher said in a recent debate. Blocher, a leader of the nationalist Swiss People's Party, swung a 1992 vote against Swiss membership in a loose European free trade pact, forcing the government to put aside plans to join the European Union.
VOA News 8 Mar 2002 Europe Ecevit: Turkey Wants Full EU Membership Turkey's Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit has reaffirmed his country's determination to become a member of the European Union. In a statement issued Friday, Mr. Ecevit rejected suggestions by a senior Turkish general who sharply criticized the European Union and said that Turkey should seek new partnerships with countries like Russia and Iran. General Tuncer Kilinc, who is secretary-general of the National Security Council, complained that Turkey has not received the slightest help from the European Union on any issue affecting Turkey's national interest. Mr. Ecevit agreed there have been arguments between the European Union and Turkey, but he said the country should not let occasional friction deflect it from its destiny in Europe. He said full EU membership is Turkey's undeniable and indispensable right and seeking other alternatives is out of the question.
AP 12 March 2002 New job stirs old Scottish feud Edinburgh, Scotland More than 300 years after the Campbell clan slaughtered 38 MacDonalds at Glencoe in the Scottish Highlands, feelings still run hot. On Monday, the MacDonalds took up the metaphorical cudgels after learning a Campbell will run the visitor center on the massacre site. The National Trust for Scotland said Roddy Campbell is the best choice to head the $4.5 million center, which will open in May. "His name did not come into it," spokesman Simon Walton said. But Hector MacDonald, a Highland historian, called the appointment a farce. "Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against the Campbells, but I would not stay a night in the company of one," he told The Daily Telegraph. Historians say the 1692 massacre came after the Campbells accepted shelter from the MacDonalds. Thirty-eight MacDonald men, women and children were shot, bayoneted or burned to death. About 160 MacDonalds escaped, but unknown numbers perished later of hunger and exposure. The MacDonalds, notorious cattle stealers who preyed on Campbell families, had been tardy in pledging allegiance to King William III, who was placed on the throne by England's Protestant Parliament in place of the deposed Stuart monarch, James II. Twenty-three years after the massacre, MacDonalds and Campbells fought together against the English at the battle of Sheriffmuir. Glencoe councilor Drew McFarlane Slack suggested that "before he arrives, Mr. Campbell could consider changing his name. . . . There are still some very strong feelings about the massacre here."
AP 4 March 2002 Holocaust Historian Goes Bankrupt LONDON (AP) - Historian David Irving, who questioned the extent of the Holocaust, was declared bankrupt Monday after failing to pay legal costs to an American professor and her publisher. Irving sued American academic Deborah Lipstadt and publisher Penguin in April 2000 over her 1994 book, "Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory." Irving said the book destroyed his livelihood and fueled hatred against him. After Irving lost the case, the High Court ordered him to pay Lipstadt's and Penguin's legal costs — estimated at $2.78 million — including an interim payment of $210,000. Penguin's lawyers said Monday it took action after Irving failed to pay. "Our client has been very patient, but Irving was clearly not going to meet the interim payment, which is a fraction of their total costs," said lawyer Mark Bateman. A bankruptcy order clears the way to seize assets to settle unpaid debts. High Court Judge Charles Gray ruled that Irving had "misrepresented and distorted" historical evidence and that he was "anti-Semitic and racist and that he associates with right-wing extremists who promote neo-Nazism." Irving, the author of nearly 30 books, insists he does not deny that Jews were killed by the Nazis, but challenges the number and manner of Jewish concentration camp deaths.
Reuters 7 March 2002 Reuters Milosevic's Bid for Release Is Rejected THE HAGUE -- Former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic suffered a setback at his war crimes trial in The Hague when judges rejected his request for temporary release from jail to help him mount a defense. Milosevic, accused of crimes against humanity and genocide in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s, was the tribunal's most wanted suspect until his extradition from Belgrade last June. Milosevic has declined to appoint defense counsel in a show of contempt for the court. He has said the right to conduct his defense was hampered by insufficient support facilities in prison. 27 Adar 5762 22:29Sunday March 10, 2002 (15:30) Mofaz: Capturing PA areas would worsen situation Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Shaul Mofaz rejected the notion that the IDF should capture all territory under the control of the Palestinian Authority. He said such a decision would only further deteriorate the security situation, said Jerusalem Post reporter Arieh O'Sullivan. Retaking the territories would entail a return of more than three million Palestinians to an Israeli civil administration, a wide-ranging call-up of reservists, and regional complications, he said. No call-up of reservists is imminent, he said, although soldiers will increase their presence in outlying communities. The IDF will continue striking Palestinians from land, sea, and air, and will make every effort to arrest wanted Palestinians. Mofaz said about 200 Palestinians have been killed since the IDF incursion into the Balata refugee camp and more than 1,200 have been arrested, including many Palestinians on Israel's wanted list. "The war with the Palestinians won't be over within a week, and we can't let it wear us out," Mofaz said. He called for Israelis to be steadfast so they can win the war. 27 Adar 5762 22:28Sunday March 10, 2002 (19:00) 24-hour Arab strike passes quietly By David Rudge The 24-hour general strike of the Arab community in Israel today - in solidarity with Palestinians and against the government's "policies of aggression" - passed quietly with no reports of any violent incidents. Organizers said the strike, which was declared by the monitoring committee of the Israeli Arab leadership, had been "the most widely supported in the history of the Arab community in Israel." They maintained that 85 percent of Arabs heeded the call and did not go to work. Schools and public institutions, including banks and local councils, were closed. Some reports said the strike was not observed in parts of the western Galilee, where many shops and businesses were open as usual.
AFP - Agence France-Presse
AI - Amnesty International
AP - Associated Press
BBC - British Broadcasting Network
HRW - Human Rights Watch
ICC - Coalition for an ICC
ICG - International Crisis Group
ICRC - International Committee of the Red Cross
IRIN - Integrated Regional Information Networks UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Africa and Central Asia)
IWPR Institute for War & Peace Reporting (the Balkans, Caucasus and Central Asia, with a special project on the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal)
NYT - New York Times
UN-OCHA Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
PANA - Panafrican News Agency
PTI - Press Trust of India
RFE/RL - Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Reuters - Reuters Group PLC
WP - Washington Post
Prevent Genocide International
The global education project of Genocide Watch