Prevent Genocide International 

News Monitor for May 2003
Tracking current news on genocide and items related to past and present ethnic, national, racial and religious violence.

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BBC 16 May 2003 Africa plans joint defence force By Damian Zane Addis Ababa Africa's defence chiefs have agreed that by 2010 the continent should have a stand-by force that will intervene to prevent genocide. The force will act in conflicts such as that engulfing Ituri, in north-east Democratic Republic of Congo. An estimated 50,000 people have died there in fighting between the minority Hema ethnic group and the majority Lendu. The chairperson of the meeting, South African chief of staff General Simpiwe Nyanda, specifically said that was the kind of problem the future force could deal with. If the timetable is stuck to, the African Union will be ready to get involved in such crises within seven years. The force will fall under the AU's peace and security council which, when established, will be able to sanction intervention in places where genocide is suspected, without reference to the country involved. However, the military officials at the meeting recognised that there was a long way to go before such action was likely. Stand-by brigades The agreed plan envisages the establishment of regionally based stand-by brigades, where each country initially pledges soldiers and logistical support to the United Nations and later to African Union observer missions. It is hoped that from these brigades an AU peacekeeping force will be constituted, and thereafter an intervention force will be formed. AU officials stress that this does not constitute the establishment of an African defence force. The soldiers will remain under the command of their individual countries until such time as the continental body takes charge of a specific mission. They will eventually return to their countries when that mission is over. If all goes to plan, this will be the first step towards enabling Africa to avoid always having to rely on the international community to solve its problems.

AFP May 23 2003 Mbeki wants standby force prioritised An African peacekeeping unit would enable the continent to carry out future security initiatives PRETORIA SA President and African Union (AU) chairman Thabo Mbeki has urged member countries to give special priority to the establishment of an African standby force to allow the continent to solve its own conflicts. "Recent international events have confirmed the need for us Africans to do everything we can to rely on our own capacities to secure our continent's renaissance," Mbeki said at a special AU summit near Pretoria on Wednesday evening. Mbeki said getting the AU Peace and Security Council up and running should top the agenda at the meeting, which opened on Wednesday at the Sun City holiday resort and is due to end today. The foreign ministers of the AU's 53 member states who make up the executive council of the organisation are attending the summit. In December last year, foreign ministers from about 30 African countries opened talks in Libya on setting up a series of institutions as part of the AU. These bodies will, in an unspecified future, include a panAfrican court of justice, parliament and central bank, with the peace and security council modelled on the United Nations Security Council and empowered to send peacekeeping troops into countries where genocide is being committed. The AU was established last year, replacing the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), formed 40 years ago. "I trust that we will specifically consider the African standby force, which would be crucial to all future peace initiatives on the continent," Mbeki said. "As we know, the African standby force shall be established in order to enable the peace and security council to perform its responsibilities with respect to the deployment of peace support missions and intervention." The South African media have been calling for the speedy establishment of an African peacekeeping force backed by the UN. Mbeki said earlier this month that he would ask the UN to authorise UN troops deployed in the troubled Ituri region in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo to take tougher action to protect civilians caught up in bitter ethnic fighting. SA has been actively involved in the Congo peace process. It facilitated a historic deal between Congolese parties that went to war in 1998, which saw an agreement for an interim government of national unity signed in Pretoria in December. Renewed fighting, especially in Ituri, has slowed, but not stalled, the peace process. Mbeki said African wars were hampering progress of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad), an economic and social upliftment programme aimed at encouraging sustainable growth for the continent. Nepad was drawn up by African leaders and promises stability, good governance and democracy in return for increased trade and aid from the developed world. Mbeki said the AU had been encouraged by the progress made in conflict-stricken countries such as Burundi, Congo , Ivory Coast, Sudan, Madagascar and Angola. "The progress that we have made in most of these countries demonstrates the fact clearly that, as Africans, we can and must continue to solve our own problems, relying in the main on our efforts, determination and resources, however meagre these resources may be."


AFP 30 Apr 2003 NGO warns conditions in Burundi unsafe for civilians and aid workers PARIS, April 30 (AFP) - The charity Action against Hunger (ACF) warned Wednesday that violence in Burundi has created unstable and deteriorating conditions for both civilians and aid workers in Burundi. "Despite ceasefires signed by the different rebel groups and the transitional government, there paradoxically have been fresh outbreaks of violence causing the displacement of people, limited access for humanitarian aid and deteriorating security for civilians," the ACF press release said. The non-governmental organisation specifically referred to shelling last week in the eastern province of Ruyigi that caused damage to its camp, and compelled it to reduce activities and evacuate its expatriate aid workers. "NGOs are victims of an increasing number of thefts, ambushes and hold-ups," ACF said. In a separate announcement Tuesday, the French humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said it was forced to suspend its activities in the southern province of Makamba due to "repeated administrative constraints imposed by the Burundi government". Burundi has been ravaged since 1993 by a civil war between Hutu rebels and the predominantly Tutsi army that cost the lives of at least 300,000 people, most of them civilians. The country saw a landmark swap of presidency in its transitional government from Tutsi Pierre Buyoya to Hutu Domitien Ndayezeye on Wednesday, under the terms of a political power-sharing agreement struck in 2000.

AFP 1 May 2003 Six killed in rebel attacks hours before Burundi's power handover BUJUMBURA, May 1 (AFP) - Five civilians and a soldier were killed in attacks by Hutu rebels in Burundi, officials said Thursday, hours before a historic handover of power saw Pierre Buyoya, a Tutsi, cede the presidency to his Hutu deputy Domitien Ndayizeye, "The FDD (Forces for the Defence of Democracy) attacked a displaced persons' camp at Gahongore (35 kilometers / 20 miles north of Bujumbura) at around 1:00 am (2300 GMT) Wednesday," the governor of Bubanza province, Isaie Bigirimana, told AFP. "They killed five civilians, one soldier and injured six more civilians before pulling back, taking some stolen livestock with them," he said. The rebels' target was a power station in Gahongore, according to the governor, "but the army prevented them getting to it." Burundi has been rocked for 10 years by an ethnic civil war, pitting Hutu rebels against the Tutsi dominated army. The conflict has claimed 300,000 lives, according to the United Nations. In 2000, an accord aimed at ending the war, by providing for more equitable power-sharing between Hutus and Tutsis in the small central African country, was signed in the northern Tanzanian town of Arusha. It provided for a three-year transition period during which authority is meant to be shared between the small but historically dominant Tutsi minority and the Hutu majority. Rebel movements did not sign the Arusha accord, and a ceasefire reached in December last year between Buyoya's government and three of the four Hutu rebel groups active in Burundi -- including the FDD -- has been violated repeatedly and is considered a dead letter. Hours after the attack in the west, Ndayizeye took the oath of office of president Wednesday, taking over the reins of power from Buyoya, who has led Burundi for the last 18 months. At the end of the new president's term, Burundi is due to hold elections. According to a military official, Brigadier General Sylvestre Nimubona, the FDD launched another attack in northern Burundi shortly before Ndayizeye was sworn in. They "fired six missiles at the hydro-electric power station of Rwegura, but there was no damage," he said.

BBC 2 May 2003 African media hail new Burundi era Burundi's new president took centre stage in the country's media as Pierre Buyoya, a Tutsi, stood down in favour of his Hutu deputy, Domitien Ndayizeye. There is a sense of a new beginning - even though continued rebel attacks during the same week are also widely reported. Papers in other African countries are generally encouraged by developments, seeing new hope for the whole continent. Burundi's ABP news agency highlights the symbolism of the ceremony in which the new president and his vice president were sworn in. It portrays them as "holding the national flag in their right hands", as their left hands "rest on the transitional constitution and charter for unity". Burundi is big enough for both Hutu and Tutsi to live in harmony and prosperity The Monitor Both leaders pledged to "fight for national unity... and against genocide and exclusion" with a commitment to "promote human rights", the agency says. Burundi's Nouvelle Vision weekly believes that Mr Ndayizeye is a "favourable" choice as the new president. But the paper also points to the "heavy responsibility on his shoulders", saying Mr Ndayizeye has inherited a country "clinically dead" and in a "deep abyss". It also worries over the possible corrupting influence of holding high political office. "Power is like alcohol," the paper says. "After the first drink, one is as happy as a lark. After the second glass one feels as though one could kill a lion. By the third drink, one becomes like a pig, only able to do foolish things," the paper cautions. African triumph Elsewhere, Uganda's Monitor commends Burundi's outgoing president Mr Buyoya for his "courage". The paper urges the rebels to "join hands" with the government so that the country can put an end to the "10 years of wanton destruction of lives and property". If the transition in Burundi goes according to plan, another African country will have passed a critical test of its future stability Standard "Burundi is big enough for both Hutu and Tutsi to live in harmony and prosperity," the paper says. Tanzania's Guardian is likewise upbeat, seeing a "ray of hope" which "heralds a new era of victory" for Burundi. "Victory is certain to Burundians, the African continent and to peace lovers the world over," the paper proclaims. Kenyan papers also see the transition as a potential victory for the entire continent. "If the transition in Burundi goes according to plan," the Standard says, "another African country will have passed a critical test of its future stability." "If Burundi wins, Africa wins and the continent will have learnt that there are more civilized ways of settling ethnic-inspired power disputes, than coups that leave the people and the country poorer," the paper adds. Note of caution Kenya's Daily Nation takes heart from the peaceful handover of power. A new era for Burundi? "Considering the bitter divisions in Burundi, a Tutsi general handing over power to a Hutu is something worth shouting about," the paper says. The paper says the Burundi process is just one example of how progress towards peace has been "mirrored" across Africa. The first steps towards a transitional government in the Democratic Republic of Congo and rebels in Angola "hanging up their guns" are two other examples the paper highlights. The South African Star, however, is less euphoric. While conceding the "significance on paper" of a new president, it warns that "few Burundians are celebrating". The paper stresses the ethnic divisions between Hutu and Tutsi, pointing to a recent attack in Bujumbura by the rebel Hutu Forces for Defence of Democracy. The paper urges African countries with "military clout" to work together to establish a "robust" peacekeeping force for Burundi. Describing Burundi's power-sharing agreement as a "fragile attempt" to bring peace, the paper fears that cooperation between the Hutu and Tutsi could break down and end in a "bloodbath". 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.

Rueters 2 May 2003 Justice remains a dream in blood-soaked Burundi By William Maclean BUJUMBURA, May 2 (Reuters) - In a recent atrocity in Burundi's war, government troops shot, hacked and burned to death 173 Hutu men, women and children in two hill settlements. Five months later, in the only court case to result from the September 9 massacre in Itaba district, two officers who commanded the troops responsible were convicted of "not following orders" and jailed for four months. For human rights activists used to the casual brutality of Burundi's decade-old ethnic war, their conviction by a military court on February 20 was an advance for the concept of justice. "Most cases never even get to court. This was exceptional," said one of the activists, who declined to be identified. "The culture of impunity is very deep," said Eugene Nindorera, a former government minister of human rights. "Lots of crimes are committed in the full light of day, but such is the atmosphere of fear and retribution that no one denounces the perpetrators." Hutu rebels commit their share of rape and slaughter and regularly pillage civilians' farms and recruit their children, human rights groups say. While such atrocities continue it is fanciful to talk of peace, they say. "Not addressing justice and impunity here will prevent a durable peace," said Jan van Eck, a South African analyst. "On the other hand, we are going through a very fragile transition. The government feels very threatened by those who remain outside the process, and the potential for repressive actions will remain as long as the war continues." Fighting rages between the Tutsi-led army and the main Hutu rebel group despite the signing of a ceasefire in December, and another Hutu rebel group refuses to agree any truce at all. A framework for reconciliation brokered by former South African President Nelson Mandela in 2000 stipulated the creation of a war crimes inquiry, a tribunal for trying the worst offenders and an amnesty process. After 18 months of debate, parliament last month authorised the government to make an official request to the United Nations to set up those bodies and seek funding for them. But human rights activists say Burundi's international profile is so minuscule that international donors will never give sufficient funding to make the process work. MAGIC WAND "You'll need a magic wand," said Pie Ntakarutimana of Burundi's Ligue Iteka human rights group of the possibility of a robust judicial inquiry. Funding for an international tribunal along the lines of the U.N.-backed court that is probing Rwanda's 1994 genocide "is a dream. "You need to be realistic". Analysts say the need for justice and the political imperative to get leaders with blood on their hands to lay down their guns place contradictory pressures on the peace process. "There is an analysis that says an inquiry might simply stir up political instability. Many leaders in the country have some alleged link to crimes of war, but these are the very people involved in negotiating peace," said former human rights minister Nindorera. "And for the donor countries, the top priority is the ceasefire, not justice. They are after all politicians, not human rights activists." The peace process got a boost on Wednesday when Domitien Ndayizeye, a Hutu, took over the presidency from Pierre Buyoya, a Tutsi, becoming the first Hutu president since Buyoya overthrow then Hutu President Sylvestre Ntibantunganya in 1996. The idea is that the powerful symbolism of the first Hutu president in seven years will send a clear message of change in a country historically dominated by minority Tutsis. But the impunity enjoyed by combatants on all sides makes most Burundians wary of seeing the move as anything other than a tiny, fragile step on the path to reconciliation. They recall that some of those responsible for the incident that sparked the war -- the assassination of then president Melchior Ndadaye, a Hutu, in October 1993 -- remain at liberty today, as do many Hutus who have massacred Tutsis.

The Age AU 2 May 2003 Mandela mediates to end African genocide May 2 2003 The transfer of power in Burundi raises hopes that the killing will stop, but Hutu rebels have different ideas. James Astill reports from Bujumbura. Within range of rebel guns, Nelson Mandela has presided over the inauguration of a new Burundian president - his latest effort to end an ethnically based civil war that has been threatening a second genocide in central Africa for almost a decade. In the ceremony, on Wednesday, the country's elite Tutsi minority handed over power to the Hutu majority. Mr Mandela praised President Pierre Buyoya for stepping down on schedule to cede power to his Hutu vice- president, Domitien Ndayizeye. "I swear to fight against genocide," Mr Ndayizeye vowed. Burundi is a mirror image of neighbouring Rwanda, where similar ethnic hatred between the Hutus and Tutsis in 1994 led to killings of more than 800,000. The toll in Burundi is estimated to be 200,000 deaths. advertisement advertisement Hutu rebels held fire from their positions in the hills above Bujumbura, the Burundi capital on Lake Tanganyika, during the presidential handover. But, with the Hutu rebels refusing to recognise Mr Ndayizeye as their champion, and fighting intensifying throughout the country, the prospects for peace appeared little improved. "This change is purely cosmetic," said Peter Nkurunziza, leader of the main rebel group, the Force for the Defence of Democracy (FDD), by phone from a fund-raising drive in Gabon. "How do you expect us to give up 10 years of effort for nothing?" In a brief and uncharacteristically sombre speech, Mr Mandela acknowledged that Wednesday's transition had not delivered peace. "We have not nearly reached the end of that road," he said. Mr Ndayizeye's accession to power follows the terms of a peace accord between Burundi's main Hutu and Tutsi political parties, brokered by Mr Mandela three years ago. Three of four Hutu rebel groups signed it, but not the FDD, which views Mr Ndayizeye, (even though he is Hutu), as the stooge of Burundi's Tutsi-dominated army. Two weeks ago, the FDD fired more than 100 rockets into Bujumbura, killing at least six civilians. Mr Nkurunziza warned that its next attacks would be "catastrophic". The African Union - the common arm of African nations - and South Africa in particular, had worked hard to turn Burundi into a showcase of how Africans can create peace among themselves. As part of the agreement, the African Union will station 3500 peacekeeping soldiers - from South Africa, Mozambique and Ethiopia - in Burundi. While Tutsis make up 15 per cent of the population and Hutus 85 per cent, Tutsis have traditionally dominated the government and army, stoking long-simmering resentment among the majority. Now, with the FDD effectively excluded from the peace process and rapidly rearming, some analysts warn that the danger of a genocide in Burundi is increasing. "If the rebels launch a total assault (the Tutsi elite) would be completely cut off from Rwanda and Tanzania," said a leading Western analyst, based in Bujumbura. "This is the plan, it is a genocidal agenda." Others disagree, countering that Burundi's army and the rebels are too closely matched, and the two tribes too internally divided to try exterminating each other. But no analyst disputes that unless the FDD can be brought into Mr Mandela's power-sharing plan, the inauguration will be meaningless. "Burundians see this transition as a time of fear, not a time of hope," said Alison Des Forges of Human Rights Watch. "Civilians still have no faith that they won't become the targets of unpredictable violence, either from the government or the rebels."

Reuters 4 May 2003 Burundi Abuses Continue By William Maclean Reuters Sunday, May 4, 2003; 8:37 AM BUJUMBURA, May 4 - Four Burundian rebels raped a woman so violently at a health centre in the African country that the woman, eight months pregnant, aborted the foetus. As the infant emerged, a rebel hacked off one of its legs. The July 12, 2002 atrocity at Butwe village was reported by the Ligue Iteka human rights group, which commented there would be no end to Burundi's civil war and the horrors it inflicts until its combatants sincerely worked for peace. That is the consensus on Burundi's decade of massacre, rape and pillage: it grinds on because ethnic extremists want to retain the military option, despite some progress in peace efforts and the arrival of African Union (AU) peacekeepers. For many reasons topped by mistrust between the political leaders of the Hutu and Tutsi communities, a December truce between the Tutsi-dominated government and Hutu rebels has been largely disregarded and so there is no peace for the AU to keep. "It's very delicate. There is still a mile to walk for peace," Mamadou Bah, political director of the 3,000-strong AU force, told Reuters. "The combatants have restarted hostilities. But that does not mean we stop preparations for our mission." The peace process got a boost on Wednesday when Domitien Ndayizeye, a Hutu, took over the presidency from Pierre Buyoya, a Tutsi, under a reconciliation process brokered by former South African president Nelson Mandela in 2000. The idea is that the powerful symbolism of the first Hutu president in seven years will send a clear message of change in a country historically dominated by minority Tutsis. But whatever the success of the move -- and Ndayizeye is seen by rebels as a Hutu sell-out in a system of Tutsi supremacy -- the job of silencing the guns has so far been botched. Diplomats say the ceasefire was a rushed effort that made the mistake of leaving for later discussion of key issues such as how to demobilise and disarm the combatants. TROOPS ARRIVE LATE And the AU troops, meant to deploy within weeks to monitor any violations, arrived too late, diplomats say, starting to fly in only in April. They will be at full strength only in August. Their absence has helped undermine confidence in the truce and reinforced the position of hardliners in the Tutsi-led army and their foes in the Hutu rebel Forces for Defence of Democracy (FDD) group who want to impose a solution through force of arms. Within weeks rebels restarted shelling the capital Bujumbura and government troops resumed operations in the countryside. Army troops shot dead at least 30 and possibly up to 80 men, women and children at Mwegereza in Ruyigi province in late January, rights activists said. The army is investigating. South African analyst Jan van Eck says the solution is in effect to start again, by holding a regional summit where the combatants recommit themselves in public to the ceasefire. "We need to determine whether we have a ceasefire to keep, and then deploy the AU to see if anyone violates it," he said. The AU troops will also eventually have the job of creating cantonment areas where disarmed former army soldiers and rebels prepare for integration into a new national army. Later, the former foes will collaborate on building ethnic power-sharing, reforming the Tutsi-dominated army and civil service and prepare for free elections in 18 months' time. But that cannot happen without a ceasefire, a fact made repeatedly at Ndayizeye's inauguration by Mandela and other speakers, and by a choir that serenaded the audience as it prepared to witness him take the oath of office. "Oh God, change our hearts so that we can live together," it sang.

Bongiwe Mlangeni Johannesburg 'TO MAKE peace with an enemy one must work with that enemy." Nelson Mandela wrote these words within the context of the South African negotiation process. That motto guided Mandela's work as the mediator of the Burundi peace process, at times strengthening and at times threatening the negotiations. However, his commitment to bringing an all-inclusive deal to Burundi is slowly beginning to pay off. It has taken much patience from all sides and sceptics who proclaimed the process was doomed have had to eat their words. On Wednesday, Mandela witnessed the hand-over of power from Tutsi leader Pierre Buyoya to Domitien Ndayizeye, a Hutu. The handover occurred under the terms of a three-year power-sharing government inaugurated in 2001. Ndayizeye will rule until presidential elections are held at the end of this transitional phase. He is the fourth Hutu to lead the country since the assassination of President Malchior Ndadaye in 1993, a few months after his election by an overwhelming majority. Ndadaye's death shattered hopes for peace; the situation worsening when his successor, Cyprien Ntaryamira, also a Hutu, was killed in a plane crash, together with his Rwandan counterpart, sparking the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Observers say this week's handover was a miracle. There was a time when such a development was unimaginable because of the intricate nature of the Burundi conflict, the mistrust and animosity which characterised the negotiations, and the ongoing killing of civilians. The successes in Burundi so far are testimony to what Africans can achieve if they work together. South Africa's involvement in the two countries has gone beyond proving President Thabo Mbeki's assertion that the continent has to find its own solutions to its problems. It has also registered a shift from the old days when intervening parties were foreigners who used force to settle conflicts. Mandela brought his moral authority to the Burundi peace process, ensuring international support and involving the expertise of other Africans in his mediation, most notably Deputy President Jacob Zuma, who has been the chief facilitator and a key player in bringing on board the main rebel forces. The process was not without challenges, however. Burundi's political history cannot be viewed in isolation from the rest of the Great Lakes region, a centre of intense ethnic conflict. The divide between the Hutus and Tutsis has been manipulated ever since the Belgian colonial rulers formalised and entrenched that divide by proclaiming one group inferior to the other. Mandela understood that successful mediation depended on how well he understood the nature of the Burundi conflict. He was lucky to find a process that was built on sound principles. South African analyst Jan van Eck points out that Burundi was the only country in the region which had in place a peace process built on the principle of all-inclusiveness, even though inclusiveness was difficult to achieve in practice. The process was also headed by a prominent statesman, Tanzania's Mwalimu Nyerere, whose death left a void but also created an opportunity for a different approach. Madiba's magic was obvious from the beginning. His first meeting with Burundian parties took place in Arusha in January 2000. Van Eck points out how pleasantly surprised the delegates were by Mandela's entreaty that if they thought he did not understand certain facts correctly, they should discuss it further with him and provide him with more information. He also stunned the warring parties when he extended an invitation to excluded rebel movements to join the peace process. So far, only one of the major rebel groups has not signed the ceasefire agreement. The recent transfer of power from a Tutsi to a Hutu leader displayed a commitment to peace from Burundi's leaders. Buyoya's assertion that there would be no more coups from his side has been encouraging. Buyoya seized power in two coups: in 1987 when he ousted President Jean-Baptiste Bagaza, recently released from house arrest; and in 1996 when he ousted Slyvestre Ntibantunganya, a Hutu. The challenge of leading Burundi to real peace is now in the hands of Ndayizeye. It is still true that too many civilians are dying , adding to the United Nations' figure of 300 000 dead and one million displaced since 1993. Rebel movements continue to exchange fire with the Tutsi-dominated army, raising doubts about how much control Ndayizeye will actually exercise. The continent's leaders, through the African Union, are going a long way to offer home-grown answers to local conflicts. Burundi, together with its neighbour Congo, will soon provide answers to the question of just how far Africans themselves can take the dream of a peaceful and stable continent.

Salt Lake Tribune 12 May 2003 Dyer: Burundi May Soon Bear Witness to Another African Genocide By Gwynne Dyer SYNDICATED COLUMNIST There may be another genocide coming in Africa, this time in Burundi, and the most frustrating thing about it is that you can't even pin the blame for it on some monster of wickedness. It's just the situation. Burundi got a new president recently. On April 30, Domitien Nzayizeye, a member of the Hutu majority, accepted the presidency from Pierre Buyoya, the Tutsi army officer who has ruled the country since 1996. Former South African president Nelson Mandela showed up in person to bless the transfer of power, and a 3,000-strong force is being sent by the African Union to keep the peace. But there is no peace to keep: Last month a hundred rockets rained down on the lakeside capital, Bujumbura, from the hills behind, and the massacres out in the villages continued at about the usual rate. Burundi has a past only slightly less bloody than its twin to the north, Rwanda, where 800,000 members of the Tutsi minority and Hutus thought to be friendly toward them were slaughtered by a Hutu-led extremist government in 1994. It has exactly the same population mix and, just as in Rwanda, the Belgian colonial authorities played a game of divide-and-rule, transforming the traditional patron-client relationship between the pastoral Tutsis and the Hutu farmers into a modern and far nastier system of ethnic privilege. Then they departed, leaving the 15 percent minority of Tutsis in charge of both countries. There were Hutu rebellions in both countries, but in Burundi the Tutsi, who have a stranglehold on the army, managed to hang onto power. In 1972 Tutsi extremists massacred up to 250,000 Hutus in an attempt to wipe out the entire educated Hutu elite in Burundi, and since then guerrilla war has been almost constant in the countryside. The Hutu are filled with mistrust and bitterness, which makes the Tutsi minority all the more reluctant to relinquish power, and even clever people with good intentions cannot break the vicious circle. Major Pierre Buyoya is such a person, and the coup he carried out in 1987 was meant to solve the problem. He actually gave the country multi-party democracy for a little while, and a Hutu, Melchior Ndadaye, was elected president in 1992. But the Hutu guerrillas never came in from the hills, the Tutsis never let go of the army -- and in 1993 Ndadaye was assassinated by a rebel group of Tutsi paratroopers. Buyoya managed to stabilize the situation, and another Hutu was elected president of Burundi -- but he was almost immediately killed in Rwanda, shot down together with the Rwandan president by a surface-to-air missile. The Rwandan regime blamed the downing of the presidential aircraft on Tutsi rebels and began the great genocide of 1994, but the missile was almost certainly fired by Hutu extremists in the Rwandan army precisely in order to provide a pretext for a massacre of the Tutsis in the country. Another Hutu, Sylvestre Ntibantunganya, became president of Burundi in 1994, but the Hutu guerrillas out in the hills saw him as just a Tutsi puppet and escalated their attacks. The Tutsi-run army retaliated with counter-massacres of Hutu villagers, and by 1996 the U.N. special rapporteur for human rights was talking about a "genocide by attrition" in Burundi -- so Buyoya seized power again. He never fully got the army back under control (there were two coup attempts against him in 2001, and village massacres are still commonplace), but he is trying once again to hand over power to the majority. Buyoya understands that Burundi's future, and the safety of his own Tutsi people, can only be assured in the long run by a democratic system that grants the majority full rights. His problem with the Hutu presidents he boosted into office in the mid-90s was that he had to choose people moderate enough to escape a veto by the Tutsi army officers, who see themselves as the final bulwark against the kind of genocide that their fellow Tutsis suffered in Rwanda. Unfortunately, he has the same problem again with Nzayizeye. Pierre Nkurunziza, leader of the Forces for the Defence of Democracy, the biggest Hutu rebel group, rejects Nzayizeye as a mere Tutsi puppet: "This change is purely cosmetic. How do you expect us to give up 10 years of effort for nothing?" The FDD is no longer observing the cease-fire that it signed last December, and insists that it will only suspend its attacks if the Tutsi-dominated army disarms. Given what happened to the Tutsis in Rwanda, that is not going to happen. Nobody is being unreasonable here. Buyoya is right to keep trying to hand over power to Hutus, and Nkurunziza is right to say that the change is cosmetic so long as the army remains Tutsi. Even the Tutsi army officers are just trying to protect their own people in a terrifying situation they did not create. The new African Union is meeting its first challenge well -- but it may all be in vain. Most rural people in Burundi live in perpetual fear and misery, and the FDD is rapidly re-arming. It may soon be a match for the army in both firepower and discipline. "If the rebels launch a total assault [the Tutsi elite] would be completely cut off from Rwanda and Tanzania," said a Western analyst based in Bujumbura. "This is the plan. It is a genocidal agenda." ----- Gwynne Dyer is a London-based independent journalist whose articles are published in 45 countries.

AFP 18 May 2003 Ethiopian advance party arrives in Burundi for peace mission An advance party from Ethiopia arrived here on Sunday to finalise preparations for an African peacekeeping force due to monitor peace accords aimed at ending the civil war, an AFP journalist reported. "The contigent of troops will come after. We will prepare and arrange everything for the coming troops so that they arrive in favorable conditions," the African Force's future second-in-command, General Tadese, said. More than 900 soldiers from South Africa have already been deployed in the country. The peacekeeping force will be made up of some 2,800 soldiers, including 1,600 South Africans, 980 Ethiopians and 290 Mozambicans. The remainder of the South African contingent is expected to arrive on August 5 while the troops from Mozambique and Ethiopia are due to arrive on May 22 and June 2 respectively. The African Force was mandated by the African Union to monitor a peace ceasefire signed last year between Burundi's government and three of the country's four Hutu rebel movements. "Now we are busy planning the details for encampments in five provinces", commander of the African Force, South African General Sipho Binda, explained. However the ceasefire signed in December between the government and Pierre Nkurunziza's Forces for the Defence of Democracy (FDD) has been violated repeatedly with both sides accusing the other of breaking it. "We are calling him (Nkurunziza) to come on board. Our principal political masters are helping (us) to move forward," Sipho Binda said. More than 300,000 people, mainly civilians, have been killed in Burundi since the civil war erupted in 1993 with the assassination of the first democratically elected Hutu president Melchior Ndadaye.

IRIN 20 May 2003 UN envoy decries "gross violations" of human rights BUJUMBURA, 20 May (IRIN) - The UN Special Rapporteur of Human Rights in Burundi, Marie-Thérese Bocoum, who on Monday completed a weeklong visit to the country, has decried the "gross violations" of human rights in Burundi. "With the war [between rebels and government forces] continuing in Burundi, I don't see how we can talk about the improvement of the human rights situation, human rights violations are committed daily," she said. Speaking at the end of her visit, she said Burundian women and girls were increasingly victims of sexual violations and rights to health care and education were not respected. A majority of the population lived in abject poverty, she said. "That is why I call upon all the warring parties to deploy all possible strategies to stop war, otherwise all efforts already made will be in vain, and this will discourage the Burundian population," she added. During her visit, Bocoum held talks with government officials, representatives of human rights organisations, civil society and political parties.

AFP 25 May 2003 African Union force to launch rebel demobilisation program BUJUMBURA, May 25 (AFP) - African Union (AU) peacekeepers in the war-ravaged central African state of Burundi will set up the first demobilisation camp for rebel fighters in June, an AU statement on Sunday. The camp will be opened up in northwest Burundi even as fighting rages on between the Tutsi-dominated army and the main Hutu rebel group, the Forces for the Defence of Democracy (FDD), in violation of a December ceasefire. "The first demobilisation camp will be set up in Muange in June 2003 and will be supervised by South Africa," the AU statement said. The African Force (AF) has been mandated by the African Union to monitor a ceasefire signed last year between the government and three of the country's four Hutu rebel movements, aimed at ending the 10-year civil war. More than 900 South African soldiers have been deployed in Burundi, the first of a 2,800-strong force that will include troops from Ethiopia and Mozambique. The AF has been tasked with overseeing the demobilisation of rebel fighters and their integration into Burundi's armed forces. The operation will begin by targeting two minor Hutu rebel groups, who agreed to the ceasefire. "We cannot give a precise date for the start of the demobilisation operation, but we will be ready by June to receive rebel fighters who wish to integrate these zones," said an AF officer, who did not wish to be identified. "Nobody will be forced to come into these zones, we will be open and ready to welcome the fighters who come to us," he said. More than 300,000 people, mainly civilians, have been killed in Burundi since the civil war erupted in 1993 with the assassination of the first democratically elected Hutu president Melchior Ndadaye.

IRIN 26 May 2003 African peace mission commanders in place BUJUMBURA, 26 May (IRIN) - The high command of the African peace mission in Burundi is now complete, with the arrival in the capital, Bujumbura, on Monday of 11 officers from Mozambique. They join officers from Ethiopia and South Africa already in Burundi. "The army staff of the African Mission in Burundi (AMIB) is now complete, with the arrival of the 11 Mozambican officers. Sixteen officers from Ethiopia - among them the deputy commander of AMIB - have been in Bujumbura since 11 May. South Africans - including the force commander - have been in place since March, so the process of deploying all peacekeeping troops is moving forward," Maj Botha, a spokesman of the South African Protection Support Detachment, told reporters in Bujumbura. "We hope all remaining troops will be in Bujumbura in the early days of June," he added. The entire force will ultimately comprise 2,870 troops: 1,600 South Africans, 290 Mozambicans and 980 Ethiopians. They will help demobilise, disarm and reintegrate combatants of three Hutu rebel groups fighting against the Tutsi-led army as part of the ceasefire agreements signed by three rebel movements and the government in October and December last year. Combatants of two minor rebel groups - the Forces pour la defense de la democratie (FDD) faction led by Jean-Bosco Ndayikengurukiye, and the Forces nationales de liberation faction of Alain Mugabarabona - have declared themselves ready to be cantoned. Three cantonment areas are currently being established respectively in eastern, central and northwestern Burundi. An AMIB press release on Sunday said the first cantonment area to be deployed will be at Muyange in the northwestern province of Bubanza, by June 2003, and will be manned by South Africans. The Mozambican deployment in the first cantonment area is planned for later in June. No agreement about cantonment has been reached between the main Hutu FDD rebel faction, led by Pierre Nkurunziza, and the government.

IRIN 26 May 2003 Rights groups urge respect for ceasefire NAIROBI, 26 May (IRIN) - Local and international human rights campaigners on Sunday denounced violence which they said was "blindly directed at the civilian population" in Burundi, and urged the army and rebels to respect a ceasefire agreement reached on 2 December 2002. A statement issued in Paris by the Federation internationale des droits de l'homme (FIDH), and its member organisation Ligue Burundaise des droits de l'homme (Iteka), condemned violations of the ceasefire which were "mortgaging the settlement of the Burundian conflict". According to the statement, there was fierce fighting in April in several provinces, notably Bujumbura Rural, Muramvya, Gitega, Ruyigi, Kayanza and in Bujumbura city. It said that a FIDH mission which visited Bujumbura from 15-20 April found "yet again a climate of fear and insecurity prevailing in the Burundian capital". The human rights campaigners called on the transitional government to pursue dialogue with rebels so that progress made in the peace process was not wiped out. Meanwhile, Burundian news agency, Netpress, on Friday quoted President Domitien Ndayizeye as saying that rebel groups which did not sign up to the peace process would be "very aggressively fought". Ndayizeye, a Hutu, took over as president on 30 April from Pierre Buyoya, a Tutsi, in accordance with the terms of a peace agreement to end the country's civil war. News agencies on Friday quoted the leader of the main rebel group, Conseil national pour defense de la democratie-Forces pour la defense de la democratie (CNDD-FDD), Pierre Nkurunziza, as saying the group would do its best to ensure implementation of the ceasefire agreement, but it reserved the right of "self-defense".

AFP 26 May 2003 Burundi rebels threaten to attack African peacekeepers BUJUMBURA, May 26 (AFP) - The main rebel group in the central African state of Burundi threatened Monday to attack an African Union (AU) peacekeeping force deployed there, accusing it of siding militarily with government forces. Also Monday, the command headquarters of the force were fully established. "Since Sunday, South African soldiers of the African Force have been heading towards the interior with army troops," said Gelase Daniel Ndabirabe, spokesman for the Forces for the Defence of Democracy (FDD). "The African Force is coming with cannons together with the army it came to support and if these elements of the force enter our areas it will be a simple act of agression... an act of war and we will respond," he added. Some 900 South African soldiers mandated by the AU to supervise peace accords signed with some of Burundi's rebel groups are deployed in the country. "The African Force is neutral," insisted Mamadou Bah, the AU representative in Burundi. "It is not working with the army and we are preparing cantonment sites," he said. Among the force's jobs is to help in the process of regrouping, disarming, demoblising and reintegrating rebel fighters. "We beg them not to attack us, because the work we are doing is not hostile against any party," said Bah. Meanwhile, the command centre of the force was fully established Monday, according to its South African spokesman, who identified himself only as Major Botha. "The headquarters of the African Mission in Burundi is today complete with 11 Mozambican officers having just arrived," he said. "Sixteen Ethiopians, including the second-in-command, Brigadier Geberat Ayale, have been in Burundi since May 11, and the South Africans, including the force commander, General Sipho Bindo, have been here since March," he added. Some 300,000 people have been killed since 1993 in Burundi's civil war, which pits a Tutsi-dominated army against various rebel groups, some of which have signed ceasefires with the government.

AFP 28 May 2003 Fifty thousand civilians flee Burundi fighting BUJUMBURA, May 28 (AFP) - An estimated 50,000 civilians have fled new fighting between rebels and the army of Burundi near to the capital of the small central African state, local officials said. The new exodus, from an area in the Kabezi region, began on Sunday when the army began an offensive against rebels of the National Liberation Forces, a group made up mainly of people from the majority Hutu ethnic group. "Some 50,000 people, or around 70 percent of the population, have fled from the hill country in the Kabezi district since the army began operations against the FNL," said Felicien Ntahombaye, a local official. He said the exodus had mainly centred on the regions of Masama, Gitenga, Kiremba and Mwanza. Firing could be heard from the hills of the region until mid-morning on Tuesday. Eyewitnesses said the army offensive came after FNL rebels carried out a mortar attack on Kabezi village last Friday. Ntahombaye said the FNL had fired three mortars into the village. "They seriously injured a civilian, and then the army came to flush them out," he said. Both the army and the FNL confirmed the clashes, but neither mentioned casualties. Ntahombaye said he hoped that the people who had fled would be able to return to their homes by the weekend. The FNL is the only one of the four main rebel groups fighting the government in Burundi which has refused to sign a peace agreement. The civil war in Burundi, one of the world's most densely populated countries, has killed an estimated 300,000 people since it began in 1993. The war is mainly linked to a long-standing conflict between the two main ethnic groups in the country, the majority Hutus and the minority Tutsis.

IRIN 29 May 2003 More than 15,000 civilians flee fighting in west NAIROBI, 29 May (IRIN) - Between 15,000 and 20,000 civilians have fled continuing fighting that erupted last week between the army and rebels of the Forces nationales de liberation (FNL) faction of Alain Mugabarabona in Kabezi Commune, about 20 km south of capital, Bujumbura, in western Burundi. Radio Publique Africaine reported on Tuesday that the displaced people were from the regions of Mwaza, Gitenga, Mubone and Kiremba. Some of them had found refuge in Mutumba, others in Karinzi in Mutambu Commune and in Rusiba in the Rusiba zone. Kabezi Communal Administrator Felicien Ntahombaye said he deplored the persistence of insecurity in his commune and called on humanitarian agencies to help the displaced, who had nothing to eat and nowhere to take shelter, the Burundi human rights NGO, Ligue Iteka, reported on Wednesday.

IRIN 30 May 2003 Burundi: Chronology of political and security situation in 2003 NAIROBI, 30 May (IRIN) 14 Jan - Burundi ceasefire talks facilitator, South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma, says in Addis Ababa that Ethiopia, Mozambique and South Africa agree to supply troops to support the ceasefire in Burundi until a UN peacekeeping force could be deployed. 17 Jan - South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma meets Pierre Nkurunziza, the leader of the larger Conseil national pour la defense de la democratie-Force pour la defense de la democratie (CNDD-FDD) faction. They discuss the implementation of ceasefire agreements. 21 Jan - Zuma meets with Alain Mugabarabona, leader of the Parti leader of the Parti de liberation du peuple hutu-Forces nationales de liberation and Jean-Bosco Ndayikengurukiye, the leader of another CNDD-FDD faction, to discuss the implementation of ceasefire agreements. 25-26 Jan - Zuma facilitates meetings in Pretoria, South Africa, between Burundian President Pierre Buyoya and three rebel leaders: Jean-Bosco Ndayikengurukiye, Alain Mugabarabona, and Pierre Nkurunziza. The meetings cover issues such as the return of former fighters and leaders to Burundi; the participation of the former armed movements in the transitional institutions of the state and parliament; and issues relating to disarmament, demobilization, and the building of a new inclusive security apparatus in the country. 26 Jan - Buyoya signs a memorandum of understanding with Ndayikengurukiye and Mugabarabona, which will see the two exiled leaders return to the Burundi capital, Bujumbura, on 10 February. 27 Jan - President Buyoya and the leader of the largest wing of the CNDD-FDD, Pierre Nkurunziza, sign a memorandum of understanding in Pretoria, capital of South Africa, paving the way for the implementation of a ceasefire accord they reached in Arusha, Tanzania, on 2 December 2002. 30 Jan - A weeklong meeting of the defence and security technical commission of the transitional government of Burundi and Jean-Pierre Nkurunziza's CNDD-FDD faction in Dar es Salaam begins. 4 Feb - Burundi's interior and public security minister, Salvator Ntihabose, announces a 60-day extension of the house arrest of former President Jean-Baptiste Bagaza, who has been under house arrest in Bujumbura since 4 November 2002. 13 Feb - Following years of exile, Jean-Bosco Ndayikengurikiye, leader of a faction CNDD-FDD rebel group, and Alain Mugabarabona, leader of a faction of the Parti pour la liberation du peuple hutu-Forces nationales de liberation (Palipehutu-FNL) rebel group, return to Burundi to take part in the implementation of the ceasefire accord signed with the government in October 2002. 14 Feb - The EC announces in Brussels will this year provide about two million Burundians a €15-million (US $16.1 million) aid package, the commission's Humanitarian Aid Office. 24 Feb - The suspension of ceasefire talks between Burundi's transitional government and the main Hutu rebel group, CNDD-FDD is an "acutely negative" development that might lead to a "serious deadlock", Jan van Eck, a conflict analyst form the University of Pretoria, says. 25 Feb - The Conseil national pour la defense de la democratie-Forces pour la defense de la democratie (CNDD-FDD) faction led by Pierre Nkurunziza warns that it will not be responsible for the security of observers sent by the African Union to monitor a ceasefire in the country. 2 Mar - Burundi's transitional government and the main rebel movement, Pierre Nkurunziza's faction of the CNDD-FDD recommit themselves to implementing past agreements to end nearly 10 years of civil war. The commitment is made in a joint communiqué signed at the end of a two-day regional summit on Burundi in the Tanzanian commercial capital, Dar es Salaam. 4 Mar - The EC donates €1.23 million (US $1.34 million) towards the establishment of an African Union Ceasefire Observer Mission in Burundi that will monitor the implementation of the ceasefire agreements signed at the end of 2002 between the transitional government and all but one rebel faction. 9 Mar - Rebels of the Forces nationales de liberation (FNL) loyal to Agathon Rwasa attack Rukaramu, an area 10 km northwest of the capital, Bujumbura, displacing 3,000 people. 12 Mar - Eight Gabonese soldiers arrive in the capital, Bujumbura, bringing to 43 the number of the African Union's ceasefire monitors in Burundi. Their arrival brings the force to its full complement. 19 Mar - Thousands of people from Ruyigi commune surviving in critical conditions, sleeping rough in order to escape repeated attacks by Forces pour la defense de la democratie (FDD) rebels. 26 Mar - The African Union (AU) and the government of Burundi sign an agreement on the statutes for the AU peacekeeping force due for deployed to Burundi. 27 Mar - Ministry of Defence Serge Nizigiyimana says 68 rebels loyal to Pierre Nkurunziza and four government soldiers died during three days of intense fighting in the west-central province of Muramvya, around the Kavumu and Musenyi hills. 1 Apr - Defence ministers of Ethiopia, Mozambique and South Africa announce that their countries would send 3,500 peacekeeping troops to Burundi, under the aegis of the African Union. 2 Apr - The African Union (AU) outlines the mandate of its 3,500-strong peacekeeping force, due to be deployed in Burundi within 60 days. 3 Apr - A radio station in Burundi, African Public Radio, reports that around 440 civilians have been killed in fighting in the eastern province of Ruyigi since January. 4 Apr - Jean Baptiste Bagaza, the leader of the suspended Tutsi opposition Parti pour le redressement national (PARENA), is released from house arrest. Bagaza, a former president of Burundi, was placed under house arrest in November 2002 for allegedly plotting to kill President Buyoya. 10 Apr - Thousands of people flee Kanyosha Commune, southeast of the capital, Bujumbura, following heavy fighting between government forces and fighters loyal to rebel leader Pierre Nkurunziza. 15 Apr - Legislators vote 99-3 in favour of a bill repressing genocide and other crimes of war. There were 26 abstentions. 22 Apr - Alphonse Marie Kadege of the Uprona political party is nominated as the candidate for the vice-presidency in the second transitional phase in Burundi due to begin on 1 May. 25 Apr - The Burundian National Assembly and Senate confirm Alphonse Marie Kadege of the Uprona political party as the country's next vice-president. 25 Apr - The UN Children's Fund distributes non-food items to more than 500 Burundian families who were displaced when rebels shelled Kanyosha Commune, Bujumbura Rural Province. 30 Apr - Domitien Ndayizeye is inaugurated president of Burundi, to lead the second half of a three-year transitional power sharing government designed to end 10 years of civil war. 30 Apr - The African Union's ambassador to Burundi, Mamadou Bah, is appointed head of the African Mission in Burundi (AMIB), South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma announces. 5 May - Army launches offensives against FDD rebels in central and northern parts of the country. 5 May - A week after the transfer of the presidency from a Tutsi to a Hutu, the first wave of Burundian refugees arrives in Burundi, aid agencies say. 5 May - New President Domitien Ndayizeye reshuffles his cabinet, retaining all the ministers who served under former President Buyoya and naming three new faces from three pro-Hutu rebel groups. 7 May - The government lifts a six-month-old ban on the Parti pour le redressement national (Parena) led by a former state president, Jean-Baptiste Bagaza. 15 May - Humanitarian workers say that ore than 12,000 people have fled Bubanza Province, northwestern Burundi, since 5 May when the army launched an offensive against Forces pour la defence de la democratie (FDD) rebels. 18 May - The deputy commander of the African peacekeeping mission in Burundi, Brig-Gen Geberat Ayele of Ethiopia, arrives in Bujumbura, together with 15 officers, to prepare for the arrival of the rest of the Ethiopian contingent expected to take part in the mission. 26 May - The high command of the African peace mission in Burundi is complete, with the arrival in the capital, Bujumbura, of 11 officers from Mozambique. They join officers from Ethiopia and South Africa already in Burundi. 27 May - The UN Security Council says it will send a mission to Burundi 7-16 June to urge all parties in the country to "continue pressing for peace. 27 May - A local radio station reports that between 15,000 and 20,000 civilians have fled fighting that erupted on 22 May between the army and rebels of the Forces nationales de liberation (FNL) faction of Alain Mugabarabona in Kabezi Commune, about 20 km south of capital, Bujumbura. 27 May - President Ndayizeye holds his first meeting with military commanding officers to discuss harmonisation in the running of the country during the second phase of the transition period.

IRIN 30 May 2003 Halfway through transitional period, peace remains elusive BUJUMBURA, 30 May (IRIN) - The second of two 18-month transitional periods has just begun in Burundi. In a long awaited ceremony, witnessed by leaders and dignitaries from all over Africa, presidential powers were transferred from a Tutsi to a Hutu. The questions are: How much was achieved in the first 18 months? And what is the new president, Domitien Ndayizeye, expected to achieve in his 18 months in power? So far, the most crucial elements of Burundi's peace process - ceasefire agreements signed between the government and armed rebel groups - remain unimplemented on the ground. Commentators noted with optimism that the transfer of power was a real step forward, and a sign that promises were beginning to be kept in the Burundian context. The 30 April handover marked the mid-point of the implementation of the Arusha Accord that was signed in 2000, the country's roadmap to peace that was facilitated by former South African president, Nelson Mandela. The date was also symbolic as, for the first time since the 1993 assassination of Burundi's first democratically elected president, Melchior Ndadaye - the event that sparked the decade long civil war - a member of the Hutu majority was ruling Burundi. However, other commentators complained that 30 April merely marked a superficial alteration and little would change for most Burundians, as the political process was moving far faster than the reality on the ground. During Pierre Buyoya's 18-month tenure as president of the transitional government, peace continued to elude Burundi, and the war between the Hutu rebel factions and the government forces intensified. Agathon Rwasa's Forces nationales de liberation (FNL) is yet to enter into ceasefire negotiations with the transitional government, and a 3 December 2002 ceasefire signed between Pierre Nkurunziza's Conseil national pour la defense de la democratie-Forces pour la defense de la democratie (CNDD-FDD) and the government has not held. Amid the continued fighting, civilians continued to suffer at the hands of all the parties involved in the conflict; social infrastructure collapsed, humanitarian agencies struggled to deliver relief and, Burundians said, the country had never been poorer. Little change with political transition Aside from changes at the head, the transfer brought little structural change to the political scene in Burundi. President Ndayizeye made only minor changes to the cabinet that had served under Buyoya, introducing three new ministers from pro-Hutu rebel groups to take part in the next stage of the transitional process. These new additions to the cabinet were Gaspard Kobako, a senior member of the CNDD-FDD faction led by Jean-Bosco Ndayikengurukiye, who was appointed minister for public works and equipment; Cyrille Hicintuka, from the Forces nationales de liberation (FNL-PALIPEHUTU) faction led by Alain Mugabarabona, minister for civil service; and Rodolphe Baranyizigiye, from the Front pour la liberation nationale (FROLINA) rebel group led by Joseph Karumba, who was appointed minister for youth, sports and culture. This left Agathon Rwasa's FNL and Pierre Nkurunziza's CNDD-FDD still outside the framework of the transitional government for Ndayizeye's 18-month term. FNL still seems a long way from joining the peace process, but in an effort to iron out issues not finalised in the 3 December ceasefire agreement negotiations with Nkurunziza have continued. Reasons for continued fighting However, following the FDD's bombardment of Bujumbura in the lead-up to the 30 April handover, and the subsequent successful transfer of power, pressure mounted on CNDD-FDD to clarify its political position. Many analysts saw the continuation of the war, despite the December ceasefire, as a result of wrangling for positions in the transitional government. "The problem that remains is political," a regional analyst who requested anonymity told IRIN. "CNDD-FDD is not prepared to integrate into the existing political framework. They want a new constitution so they can start again from a new agreement." The analyst added, "They are going for very high positions - maybe even the vice-presidency." There was some concern over the 28 March agreement, signed between Buyoya and Ndayizeye to confirm the transfer of presidency, which some observers said left Ndayizeye with his hands tied and saw him devolve the main thrust of negotiating with the rebels to his vice-president, on the grounds that it would be easier for a Tutsi to negotiate with Hutu rebels. However, in the brief period since he has been in office, Ndayizeye himself has taken the lead and actively rekindled negotiations, travelling regionally and repeatedly telling the CNDD-FDD that the door is open for them to participate in national institutions. But Nkurunziza has made it clear that, unlike Ndayikengurukiye's CNDD-FDD faction and Mugarabona's FNL, his group is not prepared to enter into the transitional government just yet. Nkurunziza argues that the lack of implementation of the 3 December ceasefire agreement, and the need to renegotiate the make-up of the transitional government, makes his group's entry into government institutions impossible. "This accord was signed between two belligerents who are the transitional government and the CNDD-FDD movement and these two belligerents have to be treated equally," Nkurunziza told IRIN recently. "If arrangements must be made in the composition of the transitional government, they should be negotiated," he said. "It is out of the question that we adhere to the transitional government. The issue here is to negotiate together the composition of a responsible transitional government," he added. In the weeks following the change of president, it emerged that another regional summit would be called, most probably in the Tanzanian commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, and the CNDD-FDD would get the negotiations they wanted. Pressure has also mounted on Rwasa's FNL, the only remaining pro-Hutu movement yet to sign a ceasefire with the government, to at least enter into negotiations with the government. In a statement issued on 30 April, the UN Security Council warned the FNL that sympathy for the movement was scarce. "The FNL's unwillingness to date to seek a peaceful resolution of this conflict makes it difficult for the international community to accept the legitimacy of its concerns," it said. The government's position was somewhat stronger, and in the 28 March agreement, Ndayizeye vowed to sideline FNL and impose sanctions "if the group continued its policy of violence". However, Ndayizeye neither specified the sanctions nor how he intended to go about them. This is a threat that has been used before, albeit without success, but the consensus was that if Nkurunziza's CNDD-FDD joined the process, Rwasa would be left with little room for manoeuvre and would also be forced to sign up. However, according to FNL spokesman Pasteur Habonimana, because they were not signatories to the Arusha accord, they were not part of the peace process; therefore, negotiations with a Hutu president "are impossible" and the only possible course for dialogue would be in the ethnic context, with a Tutsi. "We will talk with the vice-president, but only if he comes as a Tutsi and not as the vice-president," Habonimana said. While believing that the change of presidents had been symbolic, many Burundians said that, as political wrangling continued and deals were made and broken daily, they continued to feel increasingly separated from those in charge. Jan van Eck, an analyst who follows the Burundi process closely, agreed. "There is a disconnection between the population and the peace process," he said. "The process is like a train that is trying to meet all the deadlines. The locomotive is moving on, regardless of the situation on the ground, and other elements are being left behind." Other critics argued that while South Africa was breathing life into the process, some aspects of its approach were not suitable to the Burundian context. They said that South Africa "oversimplified" the Burundian problem, and was trying to address it in the same way that it addressed apartheid. Meanwhile, politicians within the government said that there had been significant collaboration between Tutsis and Hutus, and that progress had been made in changing the political mindset on ethnicity. They also felt that the strategy adopted by the ruling party, the Front pour la democratie au Burundi (FRODEBU), to join the transitional government - within the framework of the Arusha accord - was realistic and sustainable, whereas the rebels who have remained in the hills would soon be a spent force. "If the rebellion doesn't come to the table, it will be crushed," a FRODEBU member said. "If this change really brings even more progress, then the rebellion will have lost its raison d'etre." However, sceptics suggested that the political class, whether Tutsi or Hutu, was in collusion and the change in mindset would only accentuate the difference between those within and those outside the process. "Now they [Hutu politicians] have had a taste of power, they are protecting each other, Eugene Nindorera, a former Burundian minister for human rights, told IRIN. "There are so many divisions, that it can't merely be put down to the simple Tutsi-Hutu split. It is a war of a different nature." Nindorera said that Burundians were waiting for a leader who would deliver peace and govern according to the wishes of the people, rather than for personal interests. "We will judge the change on what he [Ndayizeye] delivers. If he brings peace and kicks the bad people out - whether Hutu or Tutsi - people will understand and respect him for it," he said. "However, the reality is that there is a lack of confidence between the parties. This is not only within the context of the ceasefire negotiations, but also within the government itself." In his speech at the inauguration, Mandela put the burden of change on Burundi's political class, urging them to put the good of Burundians before their own personal interests - something many Burundians outside the process agreed had not been done. Humanitarian situation deteriorates Despite the change in president, fighting has continued in parts of the country. There is little doubt that though a few may have benefited, the large majority of civilians continue to suffer, and providing humanitarian assistance remains difficult for the agencies involved. Most humanitarian agencies agree that their main problems are the lack of security on the ground and lack of government clearance to access war-affected populations, and, frequently, a combination of the two. "The political changes that are taking place are positive steps, but at the end of the day, security on the ground and access to people are our main concerns," Antoine Gerard, head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Burundi, told IRIN. "We want to see these steps translated into tangible benefits for the population, otherwise we run the risk of there being two tracks of development - while the political process continues, the population continues to suffer," he said. Poverty increases In a country that was already extremely poor before the war, the humanitarian situation in Burundi has declined drastically over the last decade during what aid workers called "the silent emergency". By 2001, the Human Development Index for Burundi had dropped to the third worst in the world, reflecting the accumulating impact of the collapse of indicators such as vaccination coverage, which, according to OCHA, declined from 83 percent in 1993 to 54 percent in 2001. Primary school attendance, which declined from 70 percent in 1993 to 48 percent in 2001, served as another indicator of Burundi's decline. "Burundi is on its knees," Cyrille Barancira, an official at the Banque Commercial du Burundi, said. "If this war doesn't end now and the international community doesn't come in, this country could simply implode." Aid workers, who often complained about the lack of political will on all sides to bring about a lasting solution to the problem, said that the only thing that would change the lives of Burundians for the better was lasting peace. According to Action Contre la Faim, an organisation overseeing emergency food distribution and nutrition programmes in Burundi, there have been fewer beneficiaries recently despite the large numbers of internal displacements. However, the organisation was looking to see whether rain in May would be sufficient to ensure that the June harvest eases food security concerns. During the decade of war, basic health care deteriorated so drastically that, according to a recent report issued by the International Rescue Committee (IRC), an NGO that works in the health sector, disability in Burundi is often the result of the lack of primary health care and the subsequent non-treatment of minor problems rather than a result of war injuries. Civilians bear the brunt of human rights violations Furthermore, civilians are increasingly on the receiving end of wide-scale human rights violations as a result of what many see as the "paralysis of the justice system". In a recent statement, the UN Security Council welcomed the approval of legislation on genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity and "looked forward to their implementation". But many Burundians felt that, in reality, this was a distant dream. "These laws are being introduced, but how, in the situation that the country is in, are we really going to impose these laws?" Nindorera, the former minister for human rights, said. "They give the impression of moving forward without addressing the real problem, which is the need for peace." In early May, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights in Burundi, Marie-Therese Bocoum, completed a trip around the country and echoed Nindorera's concerns. "With the war [between rebels and government forces] continuing in Burundi, I don't see how we can talk about the improvement of the human rights situation, human rights violations are committed daily," she said. Some observers have said the answer lies in an international tribunal similar to the Arusha-based tribunal for the Rwandan genocide. Others have called for increased references to the Geneva Conventions in the ceasefire agreements signed, so that all sides become more aware of the violations that they commit. Some Burundians are even hoping that the African Union (AU) force in Burundi would impose peace on their country. But many observers agree that, over the next 18 months, Ndayizeye's ability to bring a lasting ceasefire would be the only way to begin resolving Burundi's humanitarian problems. Military concerns The humanitarian situation in Burundi has remained precarious because, despite a brief lull in hostilities immediately after the signing of the ceasefire in December, both sides have largely ignored the agreement. Soon after the formalities of the change in president were over, there was yet more fighting. On 5 May, the army launched heavy offensives against the FDD rebels in central and northern Burundi, leaving more than 100 dead. The rebels said that civilians were the victims, but the army said that it had killed rebels that had tried to occupy areas in Bubanza and Mwaro provinces. Meanwhile, the new president suggested that the army's attacks were in response to the bombing of Bujumbura by the FDD during the lead-up to the 30 April power transfer. Whatever the explanation, it was clear that a change in president was not going to bring an immediate end to the war. Some claimed that this was proof of Tutsi Vice-President Alphonse Marie Kadege's hardline stance towards the rebellion, after he warned the rebels during his inaugural speech "as they have become militant, the government is willing to fight them, so they are forced to accept what they should have done willingly". However, Ndayizeye considered an all-out war "unlikely" and observers said that both sides knew that an absolute military resolution of the conflict was impossible, as neither has the ability to ultimately defeat the other. The hostilities, they argued, were more an attempt by the government to assert its position before the pending talks with the rebels. The African peace force As the African Mission in Burundi (AMIB) deployed by the African Union (AU) arrive in greater numbers on the ground, speculation mounts over the role that they would play. According to Maj-Gen Sipho Binda of South Africa, the commander of the AMIB force, the AU troops have a clear mandate "to assist with the safeguarding of the terms of the ceasefire to enable the role players to implement what they agreed upon in Arusha". However, sceptics have repeatedly questioned how peacekeeping troops, with a "non-combat" mandate, would operate when essentially there was no peace to keep. According to the AU, 6 June is the date for the first cantonment area to be operational, and Binda said that, militarily, they would be ready to support the process, but there were still many other factors involved. "We, as a military, have a plan. We have a road map to peace but when it comes to cantonment areas, we have a lot of people that must be brought on board," he told IRIN. The main players, Binda said, had to be willing to stop fighting and, in the case of the rebel factions, have the confidence to come out of the bush and go to the cantonment areas "by themselves". But none of the rebel factions seem prepared to take part yet. FNL and CNDD-FDD have repeatedly said that they have not been involved in the negotiations over the AU mission and the cantonment areas, so there has to be further negotiations over nearly every security issue before cantonment is likely. "The points we still need to negotiate are the mandate of the AU mission, the training of the new defence force and the police, the establishment of cantonment zones for rebels and the barracking of government soldiers and the reintegration of combatants," Nkurunziza told IRIN. From the army's point of view, chances of an end to the fighting also seem slim and they argued that they would not return to the barracks while rebel attacks continued. "In the ceasefire it is clearly marked that so long as there is still fighting, the army will not return to the barracks," army spokesman Col Augustin Nzabampema told IRIN. "So, it is up to the rebellion to stop their attacks. In the meantime, we will continue our mission of maintaining security." Nzabampema added that although the army did not oppose reform, and had been discussing it for several years, implementation was still a long way off, as the parties were "not yet agreeing on many things, so discussions on the future structure of the army will continue". Other factors determining prolongation of war But there are other factors in play that will continue to determine how long war will continue in Burundi despite the change in president. Despite Tanzania's reassurances that it was not supporting rebels, there have been repeated calls from Bujumbura for Burundi's eastern neighbour to stop its support of the CNDD-FDD. Tanzania said it had nothing to gain from supporting the war and that western Tanzania's massive refugee population was proof of that. But critics say that ever since former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere's involvement in the Burundi peace talks, Tanzania has always been more sympathetic to the Hutu cause. However, a diplomat in Bujumbura suggested that it was time that Tanzania was brought more closely into the Burundi process and, in return, it "came clean" on the issue of the rebels, known to launch their attacks from the bush in western Tanzania. A further complication was the important role that key members of the armed forces played in politics, business transactions and government contracts in Burundi. Many observers suggested that real change in Burundi was unlikely as there were too many profiting from the status quo and in the near future, the real power would remain in the hands in those in power in the army, no matter what reforms were made. "The power has never and will never leave the army," a local journalist said in Bujumbura. "They [the army] are the people deciding the policy so even if there is a change, the people that will have the influence are still Buyoya's men."

Côte d'Ivoire - Also read News Monitors for Côte d'Ivoire from 2002 and 2001

May 5, 2003 Chaos in West Africa By SOMINI SENGUPTA BIDJAN, Ivory Coast, May 4 — Liberian mercenaries fight alongside Ivory Coast government forces. Guinean soldiers open their barracks for Liberian rebel gun-runners. Veterans of Sierra Leone's insurrection show up to assist rebels in Ivory Coast. Weapons are ferried from Burkina Faso to the Liberian capital, in brazen violation of a United Nations embargo. This, according to recent reports by United Nations investigators and international advocacy groups, is what the chaotic conflicts of West Africa look like today. These are not conventional civil wars. Rather, they are part of a lethal, internecine web that has ensnared every country on this suffering patch of the continent, as guns proliferate across the bush, hardened fighters roam in search of work and rebel armies flourish with the succor of neighboring heads of state. Restoring a measure of normality here is among the toughest challenges facing the United Nations, diplomats and international advocacy groups say. The next test comes on Monday, when the Security Council considers whether to renew sanctions against Liberia. Liberian officials admit they violate the sanctions. But the issue is whether sanctions against Liberia alone are sufficient, when rebels and their government patrons in the region share responsibility for the mayhem. The fate of millions of ordinary people who must live in this bedlam is at stake, as well as the manpower and money already invested in the region, from France's deployment of nearly 4,000 soldiers to a former colony, Ivory Coast, to peacekeepers from Britain in a former colony, Sierra Leone. The United States, by contrast, has refrained from intervening directly in Liberia, which was founded by freed American slaves, and has opposed an expanded United Nations role in Ivory Coast. A report to be released Monday by the United Nations' Expert Panel on Liberia details the ways the government of Charles Taylor and his rebel enemies continue to violate the United Nations arms embargo, through a network of Serbian arms dealers, Chinese timber companies and fake documents. Some of the same companies, the panel says, have delivered weapons to neighboring countries, including Ivory Coast. The panel calls for additional scrutiny of all rebel groups and their government benefactors across the region. "The basis for the imposition of the sanctions against Liberia needs to be reassessed because violence and conflict are spreading across the region and are generated not only by Liberian forces," the panel concludes. "A comprehensive new approach by the Security Council to the situation in all of West Africa is required." The British ambassador to the United Nations, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, is scheduled to lead a Security Council Mission to the region in mid-May. Its goal, in part, is to look at the impact of arms trafficking and mercenaries in fueling conflict across the region. The British-based advocacy group Global Witness has proposed including timber in the new Liberia sanctions package. Proceeds from logging, it alleges, have financed other wars in the region. Sanctions prohibit the Taylor government from selling diamonds and buying weapons and bar top government officials from traveling overseas, on the basis of its support for the rebel army known as the Revolutionary United Front in Sierra Leone, which was known for hacking off its enemies' limbs. Its two top commanders have been indicted by a United Nations-backed war crimes court. One of them is accused of having aided the Ivory Coast rebels and gone into hiding in Liberia, which Mr. Taylor — himself at risk of prosecution as a war criminal — has vehemently denied. Liberia says it plays no part in aiding rebels in the lawless west of this country. With insurgents tightening the noose on the Liberian capital, Monrovia, the Foreign Minister Lewis Brown, said his government had neither means nor will to foment trouble elsewhere. He openly admitted that his government continued to buy guns. "We are using our money to defend ourselves," he said in a recent interview. "If we get a dime, what do you think we are going to do with it, build toilets on Broad Street?" On sanctions, he said he hoped for sympathy from Washington. "They clearly have to include other violators," he said. The Taylor government has found an improbable ally of sorts in the International Crisis Group, a research and advocacy organization based in Brussels that for years pointed to Liberia's destabilizing role. In a report issued last week, it urged the United Nations to investigate other countries in the region and warn their presidents about their potential vulnerability to sanctions and war crimes prosecution if they keep meddling in their neighbors' affairs. "A strategy centered on Liberia alone will not be enough," the group argues in its report. "Rebel groups ally with neighboring heads of state in symbiotic relationships to pursue wars of revenge." In a sense, the bloodshed has come full circle. The insurrection that Mr. Taylor started from here more than 13 years ago wreaked havoc in Liberia, fostered a war of rape and mutilation in Sierra Leone, and nipped at Guinea's southern heels. Last September, a failed coup dragged Ivory Coast, long an oasis of political stability, into West Africa's vicious cycle. There was little cause for wonder when veterans from the region's wars landed here and began pulling a new generation of young Africans into their fraternity of killing and banditry. Government and rebel leaders signed a cease-fire over the weekend, but not without rebel accusations of new attacks by the army. Even if the cease-fire holds, refugee camps here and in Ghana have become recruiting grounds for new fighters, the United Nations panel says. Hired hands have bragged to researchers with the Crisis Group of 10-year contracts that could take them into Togo next. Roughly 1,000 former rebels from Sierra Leone prowl West Africa for a paycheck, the panel estimates. Ever-growing numbers of youths from Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Ivory Coast are now schooled in nothing but the art of destruction. The panel cites numerous links between government forces in one country and rebel operatives in another. It offers the example of Liberian soldiers and pro-Taylor militias who crossed into western Ivory Coast and came back loaded with cars and cellphones. Ivorian government forces, meanwhile, recruited Liberians from inside refugee camps, the panel reports. The government used them to fight western rebels, the panel reasons, and also "encouraged" a new insurrection in Liberia.

Reuters 17 May2003 Troops in Ivory Coast to Fight on Liberian Border ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, May 16 (Reuters) — The top United Nations official in Ivory Coast said today that President Laurent Gbagbo had given approval for French and West African troops to move into the country's anarchic west. The troops have been waiting for the president's go-ahead before entering the area bordering Liberia, where fighters have been coming in across the border and have complicated efforts to end the eight-month-long civil war in Ivory Coast, a former French colony. The United Nations special representative to Ivory Coast, Albert Tevoedjre, said the movement of troops could start in a matter of days. "The president has given us his decision to help the rapid deployment of the necessary forces to the west," he told reporters after meeting with Mr. Gbagbo in Abidjan, the country's main city. Ivory Coast, the world's top cocoa grower and traditionally one of the most stable countries in western Africa, tumbled into civil war after a failed attempt by renegade soldiers to oust Mr. Gbagbo last September. Three rebel factions now hold the predominantly Muslim north and large chunks of the west. Rebel ministers have joined a power-sharing government under a peace accord signed in January. No clashes have been reported between Mr. Gbagbo's forces and the rebels for more than 10 days, after a total cease-fire signed largely to end persistent clashes in the west. Fighting in the west has been complicated by the involvement on both sides of fighters from Liberia's civil war, West African mercenaries and tribal militias. Reports of atrocities against civilians have been widespread. French officers say they plan to deploy up to 900 of their 4,000-person military force in Ivory Coast to the west, to keep the warring sides apart and prevent gunmen from crossing the border in either direction. The French force is to be helped by regional troops. The United Nations has agreed to deploy a force of 26 military observers to assist in peacekeeping, bringing in another 50 if they are needed, officials have said.

AFP 20 May 2003 Precarious stability in Ivory Coast eight months after start of civil war by Laurent Banguet ABIDJAN, May 20 (AFP) - Eight months after civil war first erupted in Ivory Coast, the west African nation finds itself in a precarious position, having taken firm steps toward reconciliation, but still far from peace and stability. A ceasefire has held for more than two weeks and an eight-month-long curfew has been lifted, but key posts in a reconciliation government remain vacant and the economy of the region's former powerhouse is sputtering. Ivory Coast's reputation as the most prosperous and peaceful country in west Africa evaporated on September 19 when a military rebellion broke out and rapidly transformed into a civil war, slicing the country in half. After a first peace agreement was signed near Paris in January, more peace talks followed in Togo and Ghana and eventually lead to the formation of a national reconciliation government on April 3 and to a ceasefire a month later. The eight months that it took Ivory Coast to go from war to a fragile peace is impressive compared to neighboring Sierra Leone and Liberia, where civil wars raged for years before a semblance of normality returned. Except for the entry of rebels into the government, the most important sign of calm in Ivory Coast has been the ceasefire signed May 3 between the army and the three main rebel groups, now called the "new forces." In addition to stopping the fighting, the belligerents pledged to "do everything to ensure the free movement of people, goods, economic operators and humanitarian agencies... throughout the national territory." Under the agreement, the warring parties also accepted the deployment in the troubled west of the country of peacekeeping troops from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and some 900 troops from France, Ivory Coast's former colonial ruler. The government then announced that territory controlled by the rebels was no longer considered "war zones," which opened the way for a resumption of economic and administrative activities in the northern half of the country, under rebel control since last September. That announcement was followed by the politically symbolic test-run of a train from Abidjan to Ouagadougou in neighboring Burkina Faso, which used to be the main export route for goods from Ivory Coast destined for landlocked countries such as Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso. Then on May 12 the prime minister of Burkina Faso, which Ivory Coast has often accused of supporting its rebel forces, announced that the border between the two neighbors, closed since the start of the war, could reopen by end of May. Another sign of progress could come this Thursday, when the government is due to meet in the central city of Bouake, the country's second city and the de facto headquarters city of the "new forces" since the September rebellion. Yet against this bright tableau of progress there remain several dark and ominous gaps. The war has hit hard the economy of the world's largest cocoa producer that was once a magnet for investors in the region. The main port of Abidjan, which in normal times accounted for more than 85 percent of national customs revenues and served as a lifeline for Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, has seen business fall by half since the start of the war. On the political front, the all-important posts of defense and security ministers remain vacant. President Laurent Gbagbo has refused to be pressured into naming the ministers and is supported in his stance by his Ivorian Popular Front (IFP) party, but the country's other political parties have called on Gbagbo to quickly fill the posts. In response to what they call an "anti-IFP front," the vociferous Young Patriots movement that backs Gbagbo has called a demonstration for May 24, where they are expected to demand the "immediate disarmament" of the rebels, as in previous protests. The most worrying security situation remains the "wild west," the most unruly part of the country since the start of the civil war, which is even more vulnerable due to its proximity to Liberia. Liberia is itself grappling with a rebel war and Liberian combatants have fought alongside both Ivorian rebels and government soldiers in the area. The main Ivorian insurgent movement is now clearing the west of Liberian combatants.

AFP 23 May 2003 Ivory Coast starts sweeping military operation to secure western border GUIGLO, Ivory Coast, May 23 (AFP) - Ivory Coast Friday launched a joint operation combining government troops, rebel forces and French and West African peacekeepers to secure the west of the war-torn country bordering Liberia. A convoy of some 115 vehicles and armoured vehicles, mostly French, left the western town of Guiglo for Toulepleu, near the Liberian border, in an effort to extend a ceasefire line up to the border. Liberians fighting alongside both Ivorian government forces and rebels in the area have been accused of rights abuses and looting in the area. Ivory Coast had been sliced in two since a September 19 rebellion that rapidly transformed into civil war. Rebels control the north and a vast swathe of the west. The rebels recently joined the government after gruelling peace talks and this month signed a truce with the government which has so far been respected. From Toulepleu, the combined French, West African and Ivorian government force will travel north towards Teapleu to join another convoy which left Friday morning from the western town of Duekoue, still under rebel control. Duekoue is about 30 kilometres (18 miles) north of Guiglo. The second convoy includes French troops, soldiers from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) peacekeeping force and rebels, who are now called the "new forces" after joining a peace government. The aim is to create a "zone of confidence" in the west with the French and West African peacekeepers and rebel forces monitoring the north and the Ivorian government soldiers in charge of the southern portion of the western frontier. Both the west African peacekeepers and the estimated 4,000 French troops have a United Nations mandate to to police a ceasefire between government and rebel forces. General Bruno Dary, the head of the French force in Ivory Coast, said: "I will have succeeded in my operation today if we arrive in Bangolo and Teapleu without firing a single shot." "Our soldiers can still be the target of uncontrolable elements," he said, that the operation, in which some 800 French troops are involved, would take between two and three weeks. Gaspard Dely, the chief of the Movement for Peace and Justice (MJP) rebel movement which surfaced in the west at the end of November came to Guiglo -- a government-held town -- to serve as a liasion officer on the part of the insurgents. Last Friday, Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo gave his approval to the deployment of "impartial" forces in western Ivory Coast, bordering Liberia, where civilians have suffered widespread exactions.

AFP 24 May 2003 Rebel attack kills five in Ivory Coast: report ABIDJAN, May 24 (AFP) - Five civilians were killed in a rebel attack on an Ivory Coast village in the west of the country, the government army said on Saturday. Colonel N'Goran Aka, the army spokesman, said the attack occurred on Friday at Guezon, a village on a main east-west road between the towns of Daloa and Duekoue. The spokesman accused the Ivory Coast Patriotic Movement (MPCI), the main rebel group in the west African country, of giving weapons to foreigners from Burkina Faso to "sow terror in the zone". "The Liberians have gone, now it is the Burkinabes armed by the MPCI who are sowing terror," he charged. Both citizens of Liberia -- which borders Ivory Coast to the west -- and of Burkina Faso -- located to the north -- have been widely accused of taking part in the Ivory Coast civil war, which broke out after an army rebellion in September last year. There are large immigrant communities from both neighbouring countries within Ivory Coast. Much of the western region where the attack was reported has descended into lawlessness in recent months. The latest attack was reported the day after the start of a major pacification operation in western Ivory Coast by the combined forces of the government army, French and west African peacekeepers and rebel forces who have signed a peace agreement. Colonel Aka said that as a result of that operation, launched close to the Liberian border on Friday, a command post was to be set up in the town of Guiglo, some 400 kilometres (240 miles) west of the main city of Abidjan.

AFP 26 May 2003 Ivory Coast monitors say belligerents in the west committed to peace TEAPLEU, Ivory Coast, May 26 (AFP) - An international team tracking the implementation of a peace accord in Ivory Coast Monday said both rebels and government forces were committed to creating a "zone of confidence" in the lawless western region. Albert Tevoedjre, the head of the committee, which visited the region bordering Liberia, told AFP: "Up till now, both sides have given proof of their good faith. "There are problems that but mainly on a political level and I am sure the prime minister will address them very soon." Ivory Coast on Friday launched a vast operation combining government troops, rebel forces and French and West African peacekeepers to secure the west of the country. Liberians fighting alongside both Ivorian government forces and rebels in the area have been accused of rights abuses and looting. Ivory Coast had been sliced in two since a September 19 rebellion that rapidly transformed into civil war. Rebels control the north and a vast swathe of the west. The rebels recently joined the government after gruelling peace talks and this month signed a truce with the government which has so far been respected.

DR Congo

CNN 2 Jun 2003 4,000 dead in Congo in 8 months BUNIA, Congo -- Human rights organizations say the death toll in fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo is now 429 in the last few weeks and 4,000 in the past eight months. They say 50,000 have died in the past four years and that 500,000 have fled over the same period. The U.N. Security Council Friday unanimously voted to deploy an emergency force to help stabilize the conflict in the northeastern part of the country to try to prevent further massacres in a remote area scarred by tribal killings and cannibalism. The 15-0 vote authorizes the deployment until September 1 of an interim force in Bunia, the center of the strife. Ethnic violence between the Hema minority and Lendu majority for control of the town is blamed for the deaths. A Congolese militia accused a rival group on Monday of killing 352 civilians in a weekend attack near Bunia, where French-led peacekeepers are due to start deploying this week. Kisembo Bitamara, spokesman of the Party for the Unity and Safeguarding of the Integrity of Congo (PUSIC), told Reuters the attack was carried out by Lendu fighters backed by Congolese government troops at Tchomia on the shores of Lake Albert. "They killed 352 civilians, men, women and children, 37 of whom were at the Tchomia hospital," Bitamara, whose party represents a segment of the rival Hema community, told Reuters. He said the attack at Tchomia, about 50 km (30 miles) east of Bunia, involved mortars and automatic weapons and started at 5:00 am (0300 GMT) on Saturday and lasted the whole morning. Officials in Kinshasa and Lendu commanders in the Bunia area could not immediately be reached for comment. U.N. peacekeepers in Bunia routinely say they have no hard information on events beyond its outskirts because they do not venture far from the town. "The attackers, about 2,500 of them, attacked the residence of our leader Chief Kawa and killed 22 of his relatives but chief Kawa was not there," Bitamara added. He said Hema fighters had fought back, killing six Congolese government troops. "Kinshasa is behind this attack...the Lendu did not have mortars and machine guns before they came from Kinshasa," he said. The reported attack happened only hours after the U.N. Security Council authorized a French-led multinational peacekeeping force to deploy in Bunia to try to prevent massacres in the remote area scarred by tribal killings and cannibalism. Human rights groups had pleaded with the United Nations for months to beef up its presence in the region surrounding Bunia, known as Ituri, warning of the possibility of genocide on the scale of Rwanda, where 800,000 were slaughtered in 1994.

CNN 8 May 2003 Fighting feeds Congo genocide fear KIGALI, Rwanda -- Fighters from rival communities clashed in the eastern Congolese town of Bunia Thursday, swelling the numbers of people fleeing violence and raising fears of possible genocide. "The streets of Bunia are deserted and most of the shops are shut down," an official of the U.N. mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, known as MONUC, told Reuters. "MONUC does not have enough food to feed the displaced people and there might be a lot of problems in the next few days," the official said by telephone from the town. Bunia, 50 miles from Uganda, and nearby areas in the Democratic Republic of Congo have suffered some of the worst atrocities in the mineral-rich country's war, which began when Uganda and Rwanda invaded in 1998 to back rebels fighting to topple the government in Kinshasa. Aid agencies say more than three million people have died in the conflict, mainly through war-related starvation and disease. Fighting intensified on Wednesday night and Thursday between members of the Lendu and Hema communities in and around Bunia, the official said. Thousands have escaped or tried to flee since fighting erupted at the weekend. Five hundred gathered at MONUC's Bunia office and about 1,000 were at the airport, the official said. "They are coming along with all their belongings, running from different parts of Bunia. Fighting is taking place at different places at different times," the official said. Uganda started withdrawing its remaining troops from Bunia at the end of April but said at the time it considered the United Nations would not be able to keep the peace in the area. Panicked Congolese -- fearing a power vacuum and limited role from U.N. peacekeepers will lead to new killing fields -- have been desperately trying to escape the country's northeast although most are unable to leave the region. Uganda was one of five nations neighboring Congo which were sucked into a war in the country and which withdrew forces as part of a peace deal. But Uganda has since sent troops back into the country to fight what it says were Ugandan dissidents training there. Uganda's most recent withdrawal is to be completed this week. Taking the place of the withdrawing Ugandans are 800 Uruguayan peacekeepers with a mandate only to protect United Nations personnel. Uganda says it offered to stay for a couple of more months to hand over control -- gradually and properly, it says -- to a U.N. force with a robust mandate. Human Rights Watch, based in the United States, said ethnic killings between Congo's Hema minority and Lendu majority have claimed at least 4,000 lives in the past eight months.

Reuters 8 May 2003 Congo Tribes Fight Amid Fears of Major Bloodshed NAIROBI - Rival tribes exploiting a power vacuum left by departing Ugandan troops fought for supremacy in the eastern Congolese town of Bunia on Thursday, swelling the numbers of people fleeing violence there, a U.N. official said. U.N. sources reported widespread looting on Thursday evening after a day of sporadic clashes fueled fears a small U.N. peacekeeping force deployed in and around the town would be not be able to prevent a fresh round of ethnic bloodletting. A Western diplomat who visited the town of up to 300,000 earlier this week said on Thursday there was considerable potential for serious violence against civilians by fighters of the rival Hema and Lendu communities. 'It is a very, very dangerous situation, In a worst case scenario there could be massive ethnic violence in Bunia. There is a high risk of civilians not simply being killed in the crossfire but of them being targeted,' he said. 'There has been a lot of talk of genocide which I have not listened to. But now I can say that this is a possibility. The situation is grave.' Bunia, 80 km (50 miles) from Uganda, and nearby areas in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), have suffered some of the worst atrocities in the mineral-rich country's war, which began when Uganda and Rwanda invaded in 1998 to back rebels fighting to topple the government in Kinshasa. Uganda started withdrawing its remaining troops from Bunia at the end of April but said at the time it considered the United Nations would not be able to keep the peace in the area. About 400 troops of the U.N. Mission in Congo (MONUC) patrol in and around the town, not nearly enough, according to residents, to check ethnic violence let alone keep normal law and order. MONUC Patricia Tome said a plane carrying DRC Human Rights Minister Ntumba Luaba had been shot at as it was approaching Bunia on Thursday and was forced to turn around. He had been flying to Bunia to assess the humanitarian situation there. It was not clear who had opened fire on the place but Tome said the recent clashes had not been far from the airport. Thousands have escaped or tried to flee since fighting erupted at the weekend. Five hundred gathered at MONUC's Bunia office and about 1,000 were at the airport, the official said. Some 4,000 people sought refuge at U.N. compound in Bunia on Tuesday, MONUC officials said. Most foreign troops have now pulled out under international pressure and Uganda, the last foreign state to have soldiers openly deployed, is due to finish its withdrawal this month. For many years local land conflicts have pitted the Hema against the rival Lendu but bloodshed has spiraled out of control as factions from the country's wider conflict have taken sides in this 'war within a war.' Amnesty International said in a 2002 report that fighting between Hema and Lendu had killed an estimated 50,000 people, mainly civilians, since June 1999. Aid agencies say more than three million people have died in the wider conflict, mainly through war-related starvation and disease. Ugandan troops were close to the Hema until late last year when a Hema militia leader threw in his lot with Rwandan-backed rebels. Uganda then drew closer to the Lendu militia.

VOA News 14 May 2003 UN Expresses Fear of Rwanda Like Genocide in DRC U.N. officials are expressing fear that the fighting between rival ethnic militias in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (D-R-C) could turn into "a Rwanda-like" genocide. In 1994, extremist ethnic Hutus in Rwanda massacred close to 800-hundred thousand ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus during a three-month period. Carolyn McAskie, U.N. Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator said the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation and ethnic tension in the region has conjured up "shades of Rwanda 1994." The fighting between the ethnic Hema and Ledu militias has killed hundreds of people in past few weeks. Ms. McAskie said the humanitarian situation in Bunia, the region's main town, is extremely dangerous and desperate" and needs what she called "the very basic life-saving interventions." Margaret Carey of the U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations says what is needed in Bunia is a rapid deployment of well-equipped, well trained troops, under a mandate that permitted the use of force. A U.N. monitoring force of just over 600 soldiers is in the region. But it does not have the mandate or equipment to stop the fighting. Meanwhile, the DRC government and the ethnic militias are expected to hold talks Thursday in Tanzania in an effort to halt the fighting. But it is unclear if all the factions involved in the conflict will attend the meeting. A U.N. spokeswoman, Patricia Tome, said the fighting in Bunia is preventing the distribution of relief supplies to civilians. The U.N. mission in Bunia says it is providing refuge to more than 10,000 civilians in its compound. Thousands others have fled the town, some crossing into neighboring Uganda. Carla del Ponte, the chief U.N. war crimes prosecutor, says the latest fighting could, in her words, be a genocide. Some information for this report provided by AP.

NYT 14 May 2003 France Says It Will Send Troops to Congo Under U.N. Mandate By FELICITY BARRINGER UNITED NATIONS, May 13 — As tens of thousands of troops from rival Congolese militias skirmished in the northeastern province of Ituri and the death toll from the weeklong spasm of violence rose past 160, the French government indicated today it was preparing to respond to a call by the secretary general of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, to send troops to quell the disturbances before they escalated further. But French diplomats here took pains to point out that Mr. Annan's recent appeal was to France and other governments. Mr. Annan reinforced that point today. "It wasn't a request only to France," he said. "It was a request to governments with capacity." Mr. Annan further added that "France has indicated in principle that it is prepared to participate in such a force, provided there is a clear mandate, and other governments join in. So we are in touch with other governments trying to see if they will join France in such an effort." About 700 Uruguayan troops are in the embattled city of Bunia as part of a peacekeeping operation. A Council diplomat said Monday that an additional contingent of Bangladeshi troops was expected to reinforce them. Calls for international attention to this newly virulent killing ground in the Congolese wars escalated today. Pope John Paul II said that the recent killings — including the deaths of two Roman Catholic priests and 48 others who took refuge in a church in the town of Bunia over the weekend — were "profoundly disturbing." Echoing the warnings that came from United Nations diplomats Monday, the Vatican statement said, "We risk a tragedy like the one in Rwanda in 1994." Carla Del Ponte, the war crimes prosecutor at The Hague, picking her words carefully, said to reporters at the United Nations today that "from what we know" the killings in Ituri "could be a genocide." A genocide, she and aides said, is marked not just by its scope but by the essential fact that victims are chosen for their race. Militias from the Lendu and Hema groups have been battling for control of Bunia since Ugandan military forces pulled out, with the last troops leaving May 7, The Associated Press reported. An A.P. dispatch today quoted Patricia Tomé, a United Nations spokeswoman on the scene, as describing fighting as near as 200 yards to United Nations bases in Bunia, where thousands of civilians have taken refuge. "As we speak, they're using artillery, mortars. You can hear the exchanges of gunfire," she told The Associated Press. Mr. Annan said today that the United Nations had "asked the Ugandan government to cooperate and use its influence in the region to ensure that the militia and the people in the region restrain themselves and do not escalate tensions in the region."

AFP 14 May 2003 UN rights chief calls for end of eastern DR Congo violence, GENEVA, May 14 The UN's top human rights official Sergio Vieira de Mello on Wednesday expressed grave concern at reports of indiscriminate and ethnically-motivated killings in the northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) town of Bunia. "The High Commissioner calls on all parties to immediately cease using violence and to cooperate with the United Nations," Vieira de Mello said in a statement as he welcomed France's decision to send troops to the area. The UN rights chief said he was gravely concerned "at the latest reports of indiscriminate killings in Bunia... and in particular at reports that civilians are again being killed because of their ethnicity". Vieira de Mello pledged "complete support to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in investigating these events and warned "that there will be no impunity". He also called for more human rights monitors throughout the northeastern Ituri province. A report by the High Commissioner's office and the UN mission to DRC (MONUC) into massacres in Drodro, north east of Bunia, last month has been completed and will be submitted to the UN Security Council shortly, the statement said. France announced on Tuesday that it was ready to deploy troops alongside a beleaguered UN force there amid warnings of a humanitarian catastrophe. At least 10 people were killed and about 100 wounded on Wednesday as fierce clashes rocked Bunia, a UN spokesman told AFP as the fighting continued. Over the weekend at least 30 civilians, including three babies and two priests, were massacred in the town. Since 1999, an estimated 50,000 people in Ituri have been killed in tit-for-tat massacres linked to the long-running feud between the minority Hema and the Lendu majority.

AFP 16 May 2003 DR Congo's leader, Ituri factions sign truce DAR ES SALAAM, May 16 (AFP) - Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) President Joseph Kabila and five armed ethnic factions vying for the control of the country's northeastern Ituri region signed a truce agremeent in Tanzania Friday. The agreement, due to come into effect at midnight (2100 GMT) Friday, provides for the cessation of hostilities, the cantonment of fighters, the demilitarisation of Bunia, Ituri's battle-ravaged capital, and the deployment of foreign troops in the region. It also warns foreign governments against arming groups involved in the conflict. Other signatories included Thomas Lubanga, the leader of the the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), an ethnic Hema-led group now in control of Bunia, and Justin Gopa Lobo the commander of the Front of Nationalists and Integrationists (FNI), a faction comprising the Hemas' arch-rivals, the Lendu, who have been battling to recapture Bunia Over the last week, at least 40 civilians have been killed in Bunia some in apparently targetted ethnic massacres, others caught up in battle. Fears of a humanitarian crisis in Ituri are mounting in the wake of this week's violence. Most of the town's inhabitants have fled and those who remain face dire shortages of food, running water and medical facilities. The ceasefire agreement follows two days of talks in Dar es Salaam between Kabila and the Ituri factions. "Objective number one is a total cessation of any military action in Ituri," Kabila told BBC radio on Wednesday. "Since the situation is so dire, so catastrophic, I believe ... the whole international community (may be) forced to impose peace on those elements who don't want to conform with the (Ituri) Pacification Commission," Kabila added, referring to a power-sharing body set up in Ituri to which warring parties have in theory signed up.

ICRC 16 May 2003 Press Release 03/31 Democratic Republic of the Congo: two Red Cross volunteers killed in Bunia Geneva/Kinshasa (ICRC) – The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is deeply shocked by the deaths of two volunteers from the Red Cross Society of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The two Red Cross workers died on 11 May while carrying out humanitarian duties during fighting in Bunia, in the north-east of the country. Both were wearing tabards that clearly identified them as Red Cross personnel. This is the second time that personnel from the Movement have been killed in this part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo; in April 2001, six ICRC employees were murdered in the same region. As guarantor of international humanitarian law and in accordance with its mandate, the ICRC reminds all parties to the conflict of their obligation at all times to differentiate between civilians and those who are participating directly in hostilities, and between civilian property and military objectives. There is also an obligation to respect humanitarian workers, together with medical personnel, facilities and vehicles, especially if they bear the red cross emblem. Persons in authority within parties to the conflict must maintain discipline among their troops, to ensure that their behaviour is at all times in conformity with international humanitarian law. The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement extends its deepest sympathy to the families of the two volunteers killed. They have sacrificed their lives in the cause of solidarity with the victims of conflict in their country. The Movement calls on all concerned to respect the red cross emblem, life and human dignity.

SAPA 16 May 2003 World Must Act to Prevent DRC Massacre: Pahad Pretoria South Africa was very keen to stop the atrocities currently taking place in the north-eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), deputy foreign affairs minister Aziz Pahad said on Friday. "We are fearful that if the international community does not act quickly another massacre will happen," he told reporters in Pretoria. The United Nations chief war crimes prosecutor, Carla del Ponte, has already warned that fighting in the region could lead to genocide. Violence broke out in the Ituri province of the DRC last week after Uganda withdrew the last of its 6,000 troops from in and around the town of Bunia. Fighters from the Lendu and Hema ethnic groups are fighting for control of the town. At least 100 people have been confirmed killed in the fighting, about half of them at a church where they had fled. On Tuesday, clashes took place as close as 200 metres from the United Nations (UN) base in Bunia. Over 10,000 people fled to the airport and the UN compound to seek shelter. By Friday, reinforcements were being sent for the 750-member UN contingent in the city, with the total number expected to rise to 850 by the end of the month. President Thabo Mbeki has already appealed to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to ensure that UN peacekeeping troops be allowed to open fire on militia attacking civilians. France had on a similar condition agreed to provide troops for an international force to help quell the violence, Pahad said. "Outside of that no force will be able to resist the carnage." It was hoped that the UN Security Council would soon give such a mandate, he said. South Africa was also keen to be part of the multilateral force. Mbeki was expected to react to Annan's request in this regard soon, Pahad said.

Reuters 16 May 2003 Militias in Congo sign ceasefire deal Accord aims to end ethnic fighting which has killed hundreds in Bunia and to prevent humanitarian crisis KINSHASA (Congo) - Congolese President Joseph Kabila and members of militia groups fighting with mortars and machetes for the town of Bunia in eastern Congo signed a ceasefire in neighbouring Tanzania yesterday. The United Nations estimates that fighting in and around Bunia between armed militias linked to the rival Hema and Lendu tribes has killed hundreds of people in the past week and driven tens of thousands of people from their homes. Refugees find shelter at a UN compound in Bunia, Congo. Tens of thousands have been driven from their homes by the fighting. -- AP Under pressure to avoid mass genocide, the UN beefed up its forces in the troubled town yesterday, sending in dozens more troops - Uruguayans - from other parts of this central African country. On Thursday, there were 750 UN troops in the troubled town, but they have been unable to stem the widespread looting and killing which has caused UN officials to warn of a possible humanitarian disaster in Bunia and the resource-rich Ituri province. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is trying to persuade countries to contribute to an international security force to stabilise the region. After meeting members of five militia groups in Tanzania, Mr Kabila signed an agreement binding all signatories to cease hostilities, to demilitarise Bunia and to allow the deployment of an international intervention force. Previous accords signed among the factions fighting in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo have failed to end the conflict. 'The importance is not the people on paper, what will be important is the implementation of what was signed,' Mr Kabila said in Dar es Salaam. 'After the demobilisation and disarmament, we will wait for an international intervention force to make sure that no more massacres take place. Those are immediate plans.' The fighting in Bunia between gunmen from the rival Lendu and Hema tribes erupted a day after neighbouring Uganda withdrew its more than 6,000 troops from in and around the town. At least 100 people have been confirmed killed in the fighting, including scores slain at a parish church where they had sought refuge. The chaos has made it impossible to determine the overall toll. Fleeing civilians have jammed roads out of the city by the thousands. 'The situation is very dramatic, there's no fighting but the town is very tense,' said Brigadier-General Roberto Martinelli, deputy UN commander in Congo. 'They are very dangerous, There are a lot of young people 10 to 11 years old, they are on drugs, they are not fully controlled.' -- Reuters,AP

AP 16 May 2003 THOUSANDS FLEE CITY Taking advantage of a lull in fighting by rival ethnic militias in the eastern town of Bunia, thousands of residents fled their homes and jammed roads out of the city. United Nations workers appealed to the more than 10,000 people swarming its compound to move to the nearby airport, where thousands more have sought safety. Aid workers tried to restore water supplies at the compound, fearing cholera and dysentery. In Tanzania, Congo's president, Joseph Kabila, above, and leaders of the tribal factions opened urgently convened talks. "The talks are at an early stage," a government spokesman said, "but there is optimism."

Guardian Uk 17 May 2003 Thousands flee tribal terror in Congo town James Astill in Bunia Saturday May 17, 2003 The Guardian Occasional gunshots, groaning wounded and the shrieks of hungry children seeking safety in a besieged UN compound expressed the horror of Bunia yesterday. Around 12,000 terrified civilians were huddling against the wire perimeters of the two UN barracks in the town in eastern Congo, building makeshift camps under the machine guns of 700 Uruguayan peacekeepers. Since at least 100,000 civilians having already fled, the town is practically deserted. There is no reliable estimate of the death toll from the intertribal conflict in the town but throughout yesterday bodies and mutilated wounded trickled into a makeshift clinic built against the wire. The remains of 10 decapitated militiamen, their hands tied, arrived first. Two policemen were later found later, executed by the fighters of the Hema tribe who seized Bunia from the Lendu on Monday. "Maybe we've seen a hundred bodies, maybe more. But most are still lying in their homes," said Claude Idringi, head of nursing in the clinic. Senior UN officials have warned that there may be a genocide in Bunia and elsewhere in Ituri province, but many analysts think the term inapplicable to the tit-for-tat killing spree which flourished under Uganda's chaotic occupation of Ituri during Congo's five years of convoluted civil war. On May 6 Uganda withdrew its troops from Bunia, and Lendu militiamen poured in. On Monday the Hemas took the town, reinforced by Ugandan artillery. Yesterday, Lendu fighters lurked in the suburbs, killing Hema civilians. Ndjerayi Palos, 80, lay in the clinic with her left arm neatly amputated by a Lendu bullet. "I was the only one they didn't kill," she said. "My four neighbours are all dead." Lokana Kabogambe, 27, lay on the concrete beside her, trembling from shock, his head and arms swathed in bloodied bandages. Lendus came to his house on Thursday, murdered four of his rela tives, and left him for dead. "They are animals," he said. With the main Hema militia, the Union of Congolese Patriots, tightening its grip on Bunia, UN officials warned of a counter-massacre of Lendus. "Our big fear is that they start entering the camps at night and taking out Lendus," said Michel Kassa, head of the UN coordination agency. "We have no real idea how many are there." Meanwhile in New York negotiations continued at the UN on a French offer to send a military force, in response to a request by the secretary general, Kofi Annan, for action by security council members. Britain was also reported to be considering sending a small force. The present Uruguayan UN peacekeepers, though praised for their efforts to protect fugitives, are ill-equipped to prevent the killing beyond their barracks. "There are a lot of problems, but the main one is we just don't understand the people," said Sgt Edinson Carballo. "I'd be very glad to go home."

IRIN 17 May 2003 UN approves emergency Congo force The UN Security Council on Friday demanded an end to a wave of killings in the Democratic Republic of Congo and urged Kofi Annan, the secretary-general, to seek troops for an emergency international force. The move followed a call from Mr Annan, the United Nations secretary-general, for council to approve a mulitnational military force to northeast Congo "to address the urgent humanitarian and security situation." Inter-ethnic fighting in the province of Ituri in April resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1,000 people, and on Friday some 12,000 people had sought safety at UN compounds in Bunia, province capital, as fighting continued between rival Hema and Lendu militia. The fighting, which has intensified over the past ten days after Ugandan troops pulled out of the area, came as Joseph Kabila, president of DR Congo, signed a truce agreement in Tanzania designed to end fighting between five ethnic groups in Ituri. That truce was due to come into effect at midnight on Friday. Uganda is one of seven African countries that have participated in the war in the Congo which broke out in 1998 when Ugandan and Rwandan backed rebels attempted to overthrow the government in Kinshasa. A UN peacekeeping of some 700 soldiers is currently in the area to monitor a wider cease-fire but the mission is lightly armed and has done little to calm the fighting. France and South Africa have expressed willingness to send troops to join the force but have called on other countries to join them. Troops from Uganda and Rwanda back rival rebel groups and have exacerbated rivarily between the groups, something that was condemned by the Security Council on Friday who called on countries to "end all support to armed groups and refrain from any action that might compromise the return to peace." UN sources said they had made it clear in reports to the UN security council since last year that peacekeeping force of under 5,000 had neither the strength nor mandate to contain the threat of bloodshed. The force is already heavily stretched monitoring illusive ceasefire agreements across several front lines in a country four times the size of France. UN officials have warned of a bloodbath in Bunia and Carla Del Ponte, chief UN war crimes prosecutor, assessed that from what the UN had evaluated the fighting thus far "could be genocide." The UN has also warned of a wider humanitarian crisis and personnel in the area were working to restore electricity and water supplies, whilst Red Cross personnel were "clearing dead bodies from the streets." Some 80 per cent of Bunia'a population is thought to have fled the town seeking refuge with the UN or hiding in the jungle.

AFP 19 May 2003 EU mulls UN request to send troops to DR Congo BRUSSELS, May 19 (AFP) - The European Union is considering a UN request to send troops to bolster a peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of Congo, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said Monday. EU defence ministers responded in a "generally positive" manner to the request made by UN chief Kofi Annan, said Solana, who was tasked with studying the possibility further. "It will not be very large, but it would be to consolidate what already exists" deployed by the UN there, he told reporters, announcing the UN request after a meeting of EU defence ministers in Brussels. "It will probably be for a short period of time so ... that others, other countries can take over rapidly after we do the first support for the mission which is already there," he added. The United Nations Security Council last week endorsed an appeal for member states to participate in an emergency military operation. In a formal statement, the council said it welcomed Annan's efforts "to address the urgent humanitarian and security situation in Bunia," the capital of DR Congo's Ituri province and the scene of bloody inter-ethnic fighting.

AFP 19 May 2003 Two UN observers "savagely" killed in DR Congo's Ituri region: UN BUNIA, Democratic Republic of Congo, May 19 (AFP) - Two observers from the UN MONUC mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who had gone missing in country's troubled Ituri province, were "savagely killed", a MONUC spokesman said Monday. "We can confirm that they are dead," spokesman Hamadoun Toure told AFP. The bodies of the two men -- a Jordanian and a Nigerian -- were taken back to the city of Bunia on Sunday night. The UN mission, which had 20 military observers in the eastern DRC province, lost contact with the two men on Wednesday. MONUC also has some 700 troops stationed in Bunia, the province's main city. A statement from the UN mission said that a team from MONUC had managed to reach the town of Mongbwalu, 70 kilometres (45 miles) north of Bunia on Sunday, where it found that the bodies of the military observers had already been buried. "The first indications make you think that the observers were savagely killed," the statement said. It said that Namanga Ngongi, the UN's special representative in the DRC, condemned the "ignoble and revolting" attacks on the observers, who had been in the region for a month to support the country's peace process. All the UN's observers who had been operating outside Bunia were brought back to the town two or three days ago for security reasons, the UN said. Bunia's population is normally in the region of 350,000, but many of the town's inhabitants have fled following repeated bloody clashes between armed ethnic factions. At least 10 people were killed and about 100 wounded on Wednesday in fighting in Bunia, which was taken last week by the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), which is led by the Hema ethnic group.

AFP 19 May 2003 DR Congo: Bunia's population cries out for international force by Helen Vesperini BUNIA, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), May 19 (AFP) - Traumatised residents of battle-scarred Bunia, in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, are crying out for the speedy deployment of an international force to restore durable peace. "All these ceasefire accords signed by warring factions are all very well on paper but in practice they produce nothing," scoffed stallholder Norbert Kibongi, 22, as he waited outside the UN headquarters with his bags. "What we need is an intervention force," he added, explaining that he now hoped to board a plane for his home town of Butembo, south of Bunia. Most of Bunia's 350,000 residents have already fled the town as clashes have raged between armed groups from the minority Hema tribe and the majority Lendu. The presence of 700 soldiers from the UN's force in DRC, MONUC, has done little to stop the violence and the UN Security Council has solicited troops for a more robust military presence in Ituri. France has already provisionally agreed to contribute troops to the beefed-up force, and a 12-strong reconnaissance team arrived in DRC's capital, Kinshasa, at the weekend. Surrounded by wounded civilians and children orphaned by the recent fighting, a nurse is looking forward to a beefed up protection force. "We need a force, not one like MONUC, but one that can be everywhere and can say to the fighters, 'You have 24 hours to put down your weapons or we will kill you,'" said the nurse, who asked not to be named. Since 1999, ethnic violence in Ituri has killed an estimated 50,000 people and displaced 10 times that number. Unlike Rwanda and the rebel groups it backs in DRC, who have grumbled about France's alleged pro-Kinshasa bias, the people of Bunia couldn't care less which countries send troops to Ituri. "Send us the French, the Americans, the Chinese, but send us someone," begged Masenga Bandema, who is camped out with his family in the MONUC compound. The leaders of the armed groups are less enthusiastic. "We are tired of foreigners because foreigners are behind our problems," said Lendu chief Matthieu Ngudjolo, chewing gumn and wearing an amulet on his arm. Uganda, which pulled out the last of its troops from Ituri on Monday, has repeatedly been accused of fanning violence in the region and exploiting its natural resources, which include gold and timber. And others have accused Rwanda of supporting the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), the Hema-led group now in control of Bunia. "With the agreement we have, this force will not be important. If it doesn't hold, we'll see," said UPC "chief of staff" Floribert Kisembo, referring to a ceasefire signed May 16 in Tanzania by several armed groups from both sides of the ethnic divide. UN envoy Amos Namanga Ngongi, MONUC's top official, said of the force's arrival: "I hope it's days, not weeks."

EUOBSERVER 19 May 2003 - 21:05 CET European forces for Congo peace mission UN Secretary General KOFI ANNAN has asked the EU to contribute forces. BRUSSELS – At a key meeting today (19 May) in Brussels, EU defence ministers made what could be the first step toward putting EU peacekeeping troops in the volatile north eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has asked the EU to contribute forces to help restore order in and around the town of Bunia, the scene of fierce fighting that has left up to 300,000 homeless and scores dead. EU foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, presented Mr Annan's request to defence ministers from the member states. After discussions over lunch, ministers decided to task Mr Solana with drafting a response for the Secretary General. The French government has already said it is willing to send troops, it now looks like more EU states are ready to back the move. Irish Defence Minister, Michael Smith, stunned journalists by saying that he "would not be surprised to see Irish troops in the Congo in the not to distant future". Hinting that this could happen without UN backing, the Minister said his government would need to look at changing current legislation which bars Irish peace keeping missions without a UN mandate, in case that the EU wants to act without UN backing. Sometimes, he said, "we seem to be coming after the holocaust" referring to the EU's inability to act in south east Europe, adding that peacekeeping is "probably one of the most noble things people can do". Greek Diplomats told the EUobserver that Athens, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU, also "strongly supports EU involvement". The UK government’s position is not yet clear although diplomats say the proposal has found some favour in London. Mr Solana told the press that any military action would have the aim of stopping a "catastrophe " and work toward "stability in the region". Fighting broke out last week between Lendu and Hema militias after Ugandan forces pulled out of the region. Because of the scale and the inter-ethnic nature of the violence which ensued comparisons are already being made with the Rwandan genocide. There has now been a lull in fighting after Congolese parties signed a ceasefire agreement three days ago. Speaking to Journalists Javier Solana declined to specify whether the force to be sent to the DRC would include non- European forces and he was not able to tell when an answer could be given to Mr Annan. However, it would be a question of "months not of days," he said. But key questions remain including the ability of peacekeepers to open fire on militia. Written by Lisbeth Kirk, Andrew Beatty

Reuters 18 May 2003 Uneasy calm in east DR Congo, French soldiers on way By Carter Dougherty BUNIA, Congo, May 18 (Reuters) - An uneasy calm settled in the town of Bunia in eastern Congo on Sunday following days of ethnic killings and looting as a ceasefire entered its second day, residents and a U.N. military observer said. Congolese President Joseph Kabila and militia groups signed the agreement on Friday in Tanzania seeking to end the violence around Bunia between militias linked to rival Hema and Lendu communities, estimated by the United Nations to have killed hundreds of people in the past week. On the first day of the ceasefire, residents said killings and kidnappings continued but the only gunshots heard on Sunday came from the hills far outside town. The U.N. special envoy in Democratic Republic of Congo told a news conference a reconnaissance team of French soldiers was due to arrive in the region on Monday as part of what could be a larger contingent of foreign troops to help quell the fighting. Across the street from the U.N. headquarters, Congolese medics and aid workers used the pause in fighting to treat the sick who crowded into a dimly lit makeshift hospital. But they were wary of further bloodshed. "We have not yet avoided a catastrophic situation," Jean-Baptiste Bigubaguba, a medical technician at the hospital told Reuters. COLLECTING BODIES Humanitarian workers fanned out to collect bodies from the streets. At least two corpses were still rotting amid the market stalls, their bones strewn about by dogs. "There is no shooting or fighting in Bunia, but the situation is tense," a U.N. military observer said. "Life is not fully normal, shops are still closed here and most of the people are still in hiding trying to remain safe." He said the United Nations was trying to trace two of its soldiers, a Nigerian and Jordanian who were feared dead. People tentatively began reoccupying the bullet-riddled buildings in the town. Rows of shops showed evidence of looting. Residents said Lendu militiamen had knocked holes through foot-thick walls and wooden doors and forced open steel gates to grab goods from pharmacies, clothes shops and other stores owned by people from the minority Hema tribe, many of whom have fled. "They chased us out and got everything," shopkeeper Justin Ajombu-Ngajole-Nzinzi said. Aid workers restored power and water and people ventured out of refugee camps U.N. peacekeepers have been protecting. France has said it is willing to send peacekeeping troops to Congo only if other countries joined a multinational force. South Africa has also expressed its willingness. U.N. Security Council members are expected to adopt a resolution this week authorising the force. Amos Namanga Ngongi, special representative of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, said a larger contingent of soldiers from other countries could soon follow the French reconnaissance team into the province. "I hope it's days, not weeks," he said. Ngongi said a peacekeeping force would need a U.N. mandate that allowed it to engage armed elements that endanger international forces, civilians or U.N. staff. "The (existing) U.N. mandate was based on an agreement that did not include the kinds of problems that exist in Ituri." Bunia is the biggest town in Ituri province.

Boston Globe 18 May 2003 The Congolese 'cleaning' recalls Balkan massacres By Carter Dougherty, Globe Correspondent, 5/18/2003 BUNIA, Democratic Republic of Congo -- The violence in the former Yugoslavia gave the world the expression ''ethnic cleansing.'' Now, from Congo, the scene of another brutal civil war, comes another euphemism for mass murder: nettoyage, French for cleaning. ''That's what happens when they try to exterminate people,'' Claude Kabeya, 41, said as he cowered for protection behind a broken window inside the tiny Bunia airport, which is now a bustling United Nations base. By last night, a measure of calm had been restored to Bunia, a dusty gold-trading town in northeastern Congo, after a cease-fire, signed in Tanzania by rival tribal militias, took effect. The town enjoyed its first full day without shooting in a week. Aid workers had repaired water treatment facilities and restored power in a bid to avert a cholera epidemic, after several cases of the disease were detected. Despite the lull, Bunia remained a scene of barely contained chaos. Outside the UN security perimeter, dogs picked at a half dozen bodies littering the road. The few residents brave enough to stay in this part of Bunia nod knowingly when nettoyage is mentioned. ''We don't know what they want,'' one man who witheld his name for fear of retribution said of the militias. ''They just kill.'' The United Nations, with a force of 700 Uruguayan soldiers, hustled to protect the refugees. UN troops are protecting more than 12,000 displaced people. More than 100,000 people have fled into Uganda. The United Nations controls the airport, a nearby logistics base, and a central compound, all of which are teeming with refugees. But three-fourths of Bunia is empty, a playground for militiamen waving Kalashnikov assault rifles as they roam through unpaved streets. Only UN armored personnel carriers and vehicles of humanitarian groups venture beyond the coils of barbed wire that ring the few official installations. Last week, as rival militias have vied for control of the town, dozens have died of gunshot or machete wounds. Residents have described hearing shots as combatants search houses to ''clean.'' They kill off whomever they choose. The UN chief war crimes prosecutor, Carla del Ponte, and human rights groups have begun to speak of a ''possible genocide'' in Congo's Ituri Province, and have drawn parallels to the 1994 slaughter of 800,000 people in Rwanda. The violence in Ituri, which borders Uganda and Sudan, seems to lack a root cause. The majority Lendu tribe has murdered many of the minority Hema group in the past few months, seemingly acting on old grudges. The Hema have even begun to identify with Rwanda's Tutsi, the main victims in 1994. But there are at least seven other ethnic groups in the area. Diplomats said they suspect that two regional powers, Uganda and Rwanda, are fanning the flames in Ituri as they exploit its natural resources, which include gold but extend to oil as well. ''You cannot paint this as a Hema-Lendu conflict,'' said Christophe Boulierac, a UN spokesman in Bunia. Nevertheless, the bloodletting in Ituri has one common thread: Civilians are caught in the crossfire and are often specifically targeted, aid workers said. ''There are barely any military casualties,'' said Shannon Strother, an emergency officer for UNICEF, the UN children's organization. ''It's women, children, and old people, and it's got to stop.'' Mortars and heavy machine guns have seen plenty of use in Bunia, and civilians have learned that any disturbance means trouble. ''When there's fighting, it doesn't matter who they're aiming at,'' said Justin, a 26-year-old Congolese man who asked that his last name not be used. ''Everyone just has to hide.'' The Ugandan Army, which was deployed in Bunia for months, pulled out early this month, while warning of a nasty power vacuum. The Ugandans also supplied weapons to Lendu militia, observers have said, in an effort to ensure that its prophecy became reality. The militias raged through Bunia for days, at one point attacking the blue-and-white painted UN compound. The Hema faction, called the Union of Congolese Patriots, went on the offensive. The group is also allied with the Rally for Congolese Democracy, a group that receives extensive support from Rwanda. Adding to the chaos, Hema leaders have killed Hema suspected of collaborating with the other side; the Lendu have done the same. The crisis has dealt a blow to the peace process in Africa's third-largest nation. The process aims to end a five-year war responsible for the deaths of more than 3 million people. Rebel factions signed an accord in December to create a transitional government and a unified army. The new army has yet to materialize, and UN forces have been unable to impose any kind of peace. ''Right now, the UN's peacekeeping abilities in Ituri are nonexistent,'' said Fabienne Hara, codirector in Africa for the International Crisis Group, a think tank based in Brussels. Representatives from various militias, rebel groups, and governments reached an accord Friday in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The UN hopes the pact will pacify Ituri and will allow for the care of civilian wounded. Local officials reported, however, that Uganda has flown in planeloads of weapons to rearm Lendu fighters. The agreement foresees the deployment of a multinational force, authorized by the UN Security Council, that would get a tough mandate to confront combatants. Defenders of the UN's work in Ituri say the blame lies in New York, where diplomats have been discussing new approaches to peacekeeping. France, meanwhile, says it's ready to send a robust force to Ituri, provided it included troops from other nations. But the French involvement has stirred alarm in Rwanda, whose government is composed in large part of Tutsi who stopped the genocide there. France dispatched soldiers to Rwanda in 1994, but the Rwandans accused them of sheltering and, on occasion, even of aiding the Hutu who did most of the killing. This story ran on page A4 of the Boston Globe on 5/18/2003.

AP 19 May 2003 EU Says Quick - Reaction Peacekeepers Ready By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Filed at 8:08 p.m. ET BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) -- European Union defense ministers said Monday their 60,000-member rapid-reaction force was ready for peacekeeping duties, and the Congo could be the first deployment. But the 15 ministers said the lack of hardware could make it hard to send and protect the troops if a conflict intensifies or if they had to undertake more than one mission. The statement, however, said they were considering a U.N. request for it to send troops to northeastern Congo, where tribal violence has left dozens of people dead. ``The Security Council has another place where it can go to draw forces, which is the European Union,'' Javier Solana, the EU's foreign and security policy representative, told a news conference. Solana said it was too early to say when an EU force could be ready to deploy, or how large it would be. The European Union launched its plan four years ago four years ago to develop a military wing to undertake peacekeeping, humanitarian operations and deal with regional crises like the Balkans in the 1990s. ``The Union has operational capability across the full range of tasks assigned to it,'' the 15 defense ministers said in a statement. The European Union is already offering to take over NATO's 17,000 strong peacekeeping mission in Bosnia at the start of 2004. A Congo mission would be another test of such a force. The ministers said shortfalls in equipment meant the EU was still at least several months from meeting a goal of having the full force ready to deploy within 60 days for operations that could entail risks of heavy fighting. ``We still have a lot to do to meet the shortfalls,'' said British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon. ``We want to see other countries spending more.'' Seeking to minimize costs, the Europeans are considering leasing equipment such as big military cargo planes from commercial airlines or from former Soviet republics such as Russia or Ukraine. They are also looking to pool equipment to avoid duplication of resources within the bloc. France and Britain -- the EU's biggest military powers -- will be the biggest contributors to the force. Both are expected to contribute around 12,000 troops backed by warships and combat aircraft.

AP 20 May 2003 U.N.: 231 Killed in Congo Tribal Fighting By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Filed at 3:05 p.m. ET BUNIA, Congo (AP) -- New evidence of atrocities surfaced Tuesday in a northeastern Congo region that has been riven by tribal fighting, while French military officers arrived to assess deploying peacekeepers there. Aid workers said Tuesday they had found 231 bodies of people killed since May 4 on the streets of Bunia, including women and children, some decapitated, others with their hearts, livers and lungs missing. U.N. officials are already investigating reports that acts of cannibalism were carried out during the clashes. On Monday, church leaders and residents in Bunia said fighters killed civilians and combatants, cutting open their chests and ripping out hearts, livers and lungs, which they ate while they were still warm. The aid workers warned the death toll may rise because they have searched only nine of the town's 12 neighborhoods. Some bodies were so decomposed after being left in the hot sun for days that they were buried where they were found, while others were burnt by residents. The aid workers did not want to be identified for fear of retribution from the rival Hema and Lendu tribal factions, which have been battling over Bunia, the capital of the resource-rich Ituri province, for days. Hamadoun Toure, spokesman for the U.N. mission in Congo, confirmed the death toll. ``These killings have to stop. It is lives lost for the family, lives lost for the Congo,'' Toure said. ``We are facing a paradoxical situation whereby we have a political development in almost the rest of the country, but in the northeast we are still running to recover and bury dead bodies.'' The horrific nature of the attacks is often fueled by a mix of tribal hatreds and a desire to spread terror in the region. There is also a belief among some that eating one's foes is a source of power. Fighting subsided Friday after the rival factions signed a cease-fire agreement. They agreed to demilitarize the town, but hundreds of gunmen still patrolled the streets Tuesday with assault rifles, machetes and rocket-propelled grenades. The United Nations has sought an international force to stabilize the region, and wants France to lead it. French army and navy officers arrived Tuesday to assess security in the region, the capacity of the local airport and how to deploy and supply the troops, U.N. officials said. ``They will be studying the feasibility of deploying French troops here and what would be needed for such a deployment,'' said French Col. Daniel Vollot, commander of U.N. troops in Ituri. Ituri has been plagued by fighting and massacres for several years as rival tribes and rebel factions fighting in the nearly five-year civil war in Congo fought for control of the province's rich mineral deposits, vast timber forests and fertile land. The latest fighting for Bunia erupted after Uganda withdrew its more than 6,000 troops from in and around the town earlier this month. There are about 750 U.N. troops in Bunia, but they could not stop the violence. There are an estimated 25,000 to 28,000 tribal fighters in the region, with thousands deployed in and around Bunia. Reports of cannibalism and other atrocities have repeatedly surfaced in the region. On Jan. 15, U.N. investigators confirmed that rebels committed cannibalism, rape, torture and killing in the province late last year. Similar reports emerged after an April 3 massacre of up to 1,000 people in Drodro, 26 miles northeast of Bunia, and 14 surrounding villages. The war in Congo broke out when Uganda and Rwanda sent troops to back rebels seeking to oust then-President Laurent Kabila, accusing him of arming insurgents threatening regional security. Most foreign troops have withdrawn under a series of peace deals. President Joseph Kabila's government and the main rebel factions have signed accords under which they have committed themselves to setting up a transitional government and integrating their forces into a new national army.

BBC 20 May 2003 Fleeing DR Congo with tales of horror By Will Ross BBC, western Uganda Allegations of cannibalism and mass murder are coming from Congolese civilians of the Hema ethnic group who have fled across the border into western Uganda. Terrified civilians have fled in their thousands It is impossible to verify some of the more extreme claims - for example that the ethnic Lendu militia have eaten the hearts of Hema victims or worn their intestines as a grisly headdress. But there is no doubt about the fear felt by fleeing civilians. United Nations officials are taking the allegations of cannibalism seriously and plan to investigate. Amos Namanga Ngongi, head of the UN mission in Congo, told reporters that the reports were too persistent to be entirely without foundation. In the fishing village of Ntoroko, at the southern tip of Lake Albert, the authorities claim 12,000 refugees have crossed the border over the last month. It is impossible to verify the figures especially as those fleeing the conflict in Ituri District are now living amongst the Ugandan community. "They are our brothers and sisters so we welcome them and they stay together with us," says Emmanuel Kawaya, the chairman of the sub-county before warning that they are placing a strain on facilities and resources. Protection Following the influx, it is now hard to tell if you are in Uganda or the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Congolese music rings out from the bars and open-air hair salons offer the latest in fashion. Even those running from conflict keep up with the styles. UNREST IN ITURI REGION Q&A: DR Congo's latest flashpoint In pictures During the exodus from the Ituri district, most of the refugees benefited from the protection of the withdrawing Ugandan troops. "We would all have been massacred on the way if it weren't for the large numbers of Ugandan soldiers," whispers Antoinette. Antoinette says the Lendu militia around Bunia town have been killing the Hema in large numbers. Between Bunia and the border, she claims to have seen empty villages where Hema once lived. She says now they are occupied by the Lendu and their allied Ngiti militias. Antoinette now sleeps under the stars outside Ntoroko's Anglican church. She has no food, is ill but has no access to medication and fears cholera due to the lack of adequate sanitation. Ntoroko does have a cholera problem - and posters advising on preventative measures can be seen throughout the town. New life Some of the withdrawing Ugandan troops not only protected the refugees during the walk to the border but came in useful at a vital hour: when 20-year-old Bernadette gave birth on the way to the border. The small UN force have failed to halt the violence The soldiers constructed a wheelbarrow from wood and pushed Bernadette with baby Meshack to the border. She says that when the Lendu started killing the Hema in Bunia she could not find her husband and had no option but to flee. She still has no idea whether her husband is alive or where he is. She has not eaten for two days and is now struggling to breastfeed baby Meshack. Forty kilometres away in Rwebisengo, a group of 400 refugees crossed to the Ugandan side of the Semiliki River which marks the border. The situation there is slightly different as those fleeing are not all from the Hema ethnic group and do no not have a historical connection with the Ugandans. For that reason the authorities hope to establish a camp for the refugees. Warnings Degracius says he is a businessman from Butembo of the Nande ethnic group and accuses the rebel Union of Congolese Patriots, UPC, of forcing him to flee. "If you are not Hema you are automatically an enemy of the UPC and are treated as a Lendu," he claims. All of the refugees I met were critical of the United Nations for not protecting them from the militias. Uganda and Rwanda have been arming the militias "I don't know if the minds of those at the UN headquarters are functioning well," says Ngadjole Lonema who describes himself as a businessman from Bunia. He criticises the UN for deploying as few as 700 peacekeepers on the ground while the Ugandan army has been withdrawing some 9,000 troops from Congo. I asked Ngadjole Lonema what advice he would give to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. "He must deploy at least 15,000 troops immediately to prevent the Hema being eliminated from the map of Congo. If he doesn't act quickly he will count the dead bodies like they were counted in Rwanda in 1994." While hope is currently pinned on a ceasefire between the opposing factions, many suggest that militias capable of carrying out horrendous human rights atrocities are unlikely to turn into a disciplined force overnight. So the immediate deployment of a large peacekeeping force is essential.

GENOCIDE WATCH (www.genocidewatch.org) 21 May 2003 GENOCIDE EMERGENCY: ITURI, EASTERN CONGO Genocidal massacres have cost thousands of lives in Ituri, Eastern Congo in the past three years. Genocide Watch, Coordinator of the International Campaign to End Genocide, a coalition of twenty human rights and religious organizations in nine countries, declared a Genocide Alert for Ituri province in February, 2000. Since then, the genocidal massacres have only gotten worse. With the withdrawal of Ugandan troops from the province under the Congolese peace accords, a power vacuum has been created. Ethnic militias organized by extremists from both the Hema and Lendu groups have committed genocidal massacres during the past month that have taken at least a thousand lives. The United Nations Observer Mission in the Congo (MONUC) lacks a mandate and the personnel and resources to intervene to stop the killings. U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan has called for a “coalition of the willing” to send heavily armed infantry to the province to intervene, to be authorized by U.N. Security Council Chapter VII mandate. France has agreed to lead the intervention and the European Union and African Union are also considering whether to send troops. The operation will require both financial and military resources. All the warning signs for genocide that were present in Rwanda in 1994 are present in Ituri. In fact the Hema and Lendu are groups that have similar antipathies that the Tutsi and Hutu had in Rwanda. Genocide Watch sees all eight stages of the genocidal process now underway in Ituri. The population is classified into rival groups. Their identities are symbolized through local knowledge of who belongs to which group. Each group dehumanizes the other and expresses that in the hate speech they use and the destruction of the bodies of those slain. Both are organized into armed militias. The militias have polarized the society, driving other groups to ally with one side or the other. Genocidal massacres have prepared the way for larger killings, because they have been carried out with complete impunity. Extermination of part of the other group is already under way. Those supporting the militias, including Uganda and Rwanda, deny their involvement. The Genocide Convention defines genocide as “the intentional destruction, in whole or in part, of a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group.” The killings in Ituri are genocidal because the victims are targeted solely because of their ethnic identity. Genocide Watch calls upon France, members of the European Union and the African Union, and the United States, as well as other members of the world community to contribute troops, airlift, communications and logistical support, and financing for an immediate intervention to establish peace in Ituri province, under a Chapter VII United Nations Security Council mandate.

BBC 21 May 2003 Eyewitness: Bunia's bloodshed By Andrew Harding BBC, Bunia, Democratic Republic of the Congo The only word for what's happened here is butchery. Hundreds of civilians have been injured In Bunia's cramped hospital, the survivors are lined up on the floor, hundreds of people cleaved by machetes. Machete cuts and multiple bullet wounds can be seen everywhere. It is a miracle that many of these people are still here to tell their story. Some of them are too traumatised to speak, having seen their children slashed or killed before their very eyes. Farmer Basil Uzelo struggles to tell us that he is the only one left from his family of six. His throat was slit, but somehow he survived. "If you can, tell the world to send troops" he says, "to bring peace by force". But the outside world is not listening yet. A small team of United Nations military observers is more or less besieged inside its own compound. They are powerless to stop the butchery outside, and are desperate for reinforcements. Drugged and dangerous Most of the UN's Uruguayan force seem to be out of touch and outnumbered. They have been heavily criticised for not doing more to stop the killing. The militias recruit child soldiers But they say this criticism is unfair. Although they have not been able to stop the bloodshed, they claim their presence has prevented more widespread killing. "Trouble can start at any moment here" says the French commander. "There are two ethnic militias vying for control of the town here and we're completely at their mercy". Child soldiers are also much in evidence around Bunia, many of them drugged, all of them dangerous. These fighters are not about to surrender power peacefully. "Its not up to foreigners to bring security here - we can take care of that," says one. One 19-year-old fighter tells us his AK47 is for the protection of others. Genocide But civilians are being targeted in this conflict as rival militia, the Hemas and the Lendus, attempt to exterminate members of the opposing community. The situation in town is extremely tense. Militia leaders oppose French intervention The UN are clearly visible, but right next to them are very well armed rebel troops who are threatening to reignite this war. The talk now is of deploying a stronger international force, disarming the warring factions and establishing a lasting peace. But at the moment talk is all it is. The French want to take a leading role, but the militia are opposed to any intervention. They believe that France supports their enemy, the DR Congo Government. In the meantime, the plight of civilians worsens. There is no clean water, no sanitation, and no food for the children. Thousands are crammed around the UN complex, it is too dangerous to be anywhere else. There are all the ingredients of genocide here in eastern DR Congo. Now the international community has to decide whether its ready to come in and prevent this happening. .

AP 22 May 2003 Pygmies demand tribunal over cannibilism Pygmy activists from Congo demanded that the United Nations set up a tribunal to try government and rebel fighters accused of slaughtering and eating Pygmies during fighting in the northeastern corner of the country. Army, rebel and tribal fighters — some believing the Pygmies are less than human or that eating their flesh would give them magic power — have been pursuing them in forests, killing them and eating their flesh, the activists told a news conference Wednesday. There have been reports of markets for Pygmy flesh, the representatives alleged. "In living memory, we have seen cruelty, massacres, genocide, but we have never seen human beings hunted and eaten literally as though they were game animals, as has recently happened," said Sinafasi Makelo, a representative of the Mbuti Pygmies in Congo. "Pygmies are being pursued in the forests ... people have been eaten," said Makelo, a delegate to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, which is meeting at UN headquarters. About 600 000 Pygmies are believed to live in Congo. Africa's third-largest country is emerging from a four-and-a-half year civil war, fueled in large part by the desire of both Congolese and their neighbors to control resources and territory. Among the original inhabitants of Congo, the Pygmies live deep in northeastern forests, eking out an existence by hunting and gathering food. Cannibilism reports confirmed Earlier this year, human rights activists and UN investigators confirmed that tribal fighters and members of one rebel group killed, cooked and ate at least a dozen Pygmies and an undetermined number of people from other tribes during fighting with rival insurgents. There have been no reports of Congolese Army soldiers engaging in similar activity. Njuma Ekundanayo, an expert member of the Permanent Forum, said attacks against the Pygmies "are not only coming from the army but also from other groups." "We don't understand why the military practices cannibalism against the Pygmies," she said. Pygmy women raped, sexually assaulted The fighters also rape and sexually assault Pygmy women, and sexually transmitted diseases are spreading in Pygmy communities, the activists said. Addressing the forum on Tuesday, Makelo told the body to ask the Security Council, the UN Committee on Human Rights and other bodies to recognize cannibalism as a crime against humanity and an act of genocide. He also asked the United Nations to set up an international tribunal to try those accused of such crimes. Ekundanayo, the Permanent Forum member, said no figures on the number of such assaults are available. "The Pygmy people of the Congo have been more marginalised politically, and more so since the war, the situation of the Pygmies has grown more grave," she said. Separately, UN spokesperson Fred Eckhard said it was "taking longer than we had hoped" for the international community to piece together an emergency force to deploy to Ituri province in northeastern Congo, where the death toll from recent tribal fighting is mounting. The Hema and Lendu tribes have been fighting each other for control of the region's rich mineral deposits, vast forests and fertile land. Rwandan, Ugandan and Congolese governments are accused of using the tribes as proxies in their own rivalries. Hundreds killed in latest violence The latest clashes erupted May 7 after neighboring Uganda pulled out the last of its more than 6000 soldiers in and around Bunia, leaving a security vacuum. Hundreds of people have been killed. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan last week asked France to lead an emergency force to Ituri, which would be separate from the UN force already in the country to monitor a 1999 ceasefire. On Thursday, a UN official said a grave with more than 32 bodies was discovered by aid workers clearing bodies from a northeastern Congolese town, bringing the number of people killed in tribal fighting to more than 300. Aid workers were tipped off about the grave by residents of the neighbourhood on the outskirts of Bunia where it was located, said Isabel Abric, a spokesperson for the UN mission in Congo. The bodies appeared to have been dumped into a pre-existing pit and many were in an advanced state of decomposition, Abric said. It was not immediately clear if the victims were civilians or fighters killed in more than a week of clashes between Hema and Lendu rival tribal factions. Sapa-AP

Independent UK 22 May 2003 British troops may go to Congo after UN uncovers massacre By Nigel Morris and Ray Whitaker Britain is preparing to join an emergency peace-keeping force being sent to the Democratic Republic of Congo to end a fresh outbreak of bloodshed in the war-torn African nation. A small United Nations force in north-eastern Congo has been watching helplessly as rival factions, backed by the neighbouring states of Uganda and Rwanda, engage in a bloody civil war. Yesterday a UN official said 280 bodies had been discovered in the town of Bunia, which would be the headquarters of any new peace-keeping venture. Some of the bodies were mutilated and might have been cannibalised, he added, supporting statements by church leaders and local people that cannibalism took place during the fighting. Yesterday some of the tribal fighters patrolling the streets of Bunia had human organs hanging from their assault rifles. Tony Blair confirmed yesterday that Britain had been asked to contribute to a French-led operation being planned for the mineral-rich Ituri region of Congo. The deployment of soldiers has not been ruled out but Britain is more likely to offer logistical or medical support. A government source told The Independent last night: "We want to help; that's not in question. What is not decided is exactly what sort of support we can offer." A team of French officers is in the remote region to assess the mission but the Defence Ministry in Paris has already said that the deployment of French forces would be "very complex", requiring hundreds of flights by heavy cargo planes. The dangers of intervention can scarcely be exaggerated in a country where it is estimated that at least two million people, perhaps twice as many, have been killed since the former Mobutu regime began losing its grip in the mid-1990s. Two years ago, however, the Prime Minister called the state of Africa "a scar on the conscience of the world", and told the Labour Party conference: "It [the international community] could, with our help, sort out the blight that is the continuing conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where three million people have died through war or famine in the last decade." The vast central African country, already bankrupted by Mobutu, has been torn apart by ethnic warfare and the interference of its neighbours. At one stage six African nations had troops in Congo, plundering the country's resources of diamonds, gold and oil when they were not lending support to rival factions. Laurent Kabila, Mobutu's successor, was assassinated in 2001, after which his son Joseph took over. President Kabila is now nominally in charge of an interim government that will hold elections in two years under a peace deal signed in South Africa at the end of last year. But the agreement has caused as many problems as it has solved: any British personnel arriving in Congo will find that the government in Kinshasa is being accused by rebel groups of failing to stick to the peace timetable and sending troops into areas under their control. In Ituri, trouble began after the withdrawal of Rwandan troops allowed ethnic hatreds between the two local tribes, the Lendu and the Hema, to surface. Aid agencies and human rights groups have warned of potential genocide. Gareth Evans, the former Australian foreign minister who now heads the International Crisis Group, said this week that Lendu and Hema might become names "as indelibly inscribed on our collective conscience as Tutsi and Hutu" - the two groups whose enmity led to the slaughter of over a million people in Rwanda nine years ago. Last year the UN Security Council proposed expanding the Monuc peace-keeping force, mainly drawn from South American and African countries, from 5,500 to 8,700 troops, and mandating it "to protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence". But in practice Monuc has only 3,800 troops and its 700-strong force in Bunia is hard-pressed to even maintain its own safety. Last weekend the mutilated bodies of two peace-keepers who disappeared a few days earlier were found in shallow graves near the town. Britain has privately complained to the UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, about the calibre of the UN team trying to keep the peace in the region. One British source described it last night as "shambolic". In the Commons yesterday, Tony Blair was careful to avoid committing British troops to Congo, saying: "There is a UN force being put together now. I understand France is going to make a considerable contribution to that. We are seeing, given all our other engagements, what support we can give." Mr Blair added: "It is going to be very important to make sure that force is properly led and properly supported, because otherwise we will revisit the terrors of the Congo of a decade or so ago. We are doing everything we can to avoid that situation." Clare Short, the former secretary of state for international development, said yesterday that the UN operation in Congo had been "less effective than it could have been". She said: "Instead of absolutely focusing on getting a government that brings together the three factions that were fighting - and then we can start to build a national army and help people of the Congo to start to develop the resources of their country - it has been rather partial, weak and muddled." The Government denies that the plight of central Africa has slipped down its list of foreign priorities following crises in Afghanistan and Iraq. It points to the joint visit of Mr Straw and Hubert Védrine, his French counterpart, to the region last year. At the time, Mr Straw said: "My intention is to go back. You can assume I will return to the Congo problem."

IRIN 22 May 2003 Ituri's Greek Cypriot community finally flees [ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations] © IRIN KAMPALA Fighting in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo has escalated so much recently that members of the region's oldest expatriate community have fled into neighbouring Uganda. On 17 and 18 May scores of Greek Cypriot residents of Ituri were flown to Entebbe, Uganda, after spending three nights hiding at Bunia airport. "The number we counted on one plane was about 60, but there were probably more on another UN flight," Elizabeth Roussos, the vice-consul of the Cyprus consulate to Uganda, said. "Some have gone to the border at Kasase, waiting to go back. Others have gone to Greece, some are staying here," she added. Since the latest round of violence broke out after 6 May in Bunia and surrounding areas, thousands of Congolese have poured across Uganda's porous border to seek shelter. The wave of killings that has swept across Ituri has left its civilian population in a state of shock, and Ituri's Greek Cypriots were no exception. Whenever violence erupted in the past, a hardcore group of Cypriots always tended to stick it out in Ituri. Their numbers may have been dwindling steadily, but there were some who refused to be scared away - until now. Until recently, 56-year-old Ituri trader John O (who insisted that his full name not be published) had never fled his hometown of 50 years. Armed thugs have beaten him, robbed him repeatedly, and on many occasions he has seen Bunia descend into bloody chaos. "I've been attacked by thugs on many occasions, and I was shot by a Lendu militia in a robbery, but I still stayed on," he told IRIN. "What really made me decide to get out was that the fighting had become so unpredictable - there are no boundaries to it," he said. "It started to encroach right inside the town centre." He said this round of fighting started after the Ugandans left the town on 6 May. "The Hema took over the town and both they and the Lendu started attacking us," he said. "They said that all their problems were because of us." The final straw for John O was when a grenade was thrown into one of the Cypriot compounds in Bunia, exploding and seriously injuring two people. "That was when our group was finally evacuated," he said. "It was arranged by the UN with permission from Kinshasa. They flew a plane from there and took us to Entebbe, along with others." The Cypriot community has rarely involved itself in politics, preferring instead to keep a low profile. Yet the Cypriots have lived in Ituri as long as anyone alive today can remember. Many have married indigenous Congolese. According to John O, the Cypriots first settled in the region at end of the 19th century, shortly after King Leopold of Belgium initiated the "scramble for Africa". For years, they enjoyed the fruits of Belgium's colonial divide-and-rule economy and in their heyday numbered between 3,000 and 4,000. But since the late President Mobutu Sese Seko's reign, their numbers have declined. Most are cross-border import-export businessmen or farmers, part of the thriving export trade operating out of the region into Uganda, Rwanda and Sudan. "They deal in salted and smoked fish from Lake Albert. Some of them grow and trade in coffee. They run a lot of eastern Congo's profitable agriculture," Roussos said. "We used to call some parts of Ituri 'little Greece'," said John D, 57, a Cypriot coffee grower from Isero in the northeast. "We Greeks have beaten the whole of eastern Congo in successful trade. Because of us, it used to be the richest area in the whole region for production of coffee," he added. However, while the Cypriots have excelled in many trades, they apparently missed a slice of Congo's most lucrative and controversial business: mining. "We had nothing to do with mines," said John D. "This has always been for the Belgians and more recently the South Africans. But not the Greeks. We were not allowed before independence and we haven't bothered since. We are farmers." John O was in the more controversial timber business, although he said none of his timber was smuggled across borders or transported on Ugandan or Rwandan military vehicles. "I never worked with the Ugandan army, not even on one shipment," he said. Insofar as one can distinguish between legal and illegal activities in this region, John O's trade was legitimate. Every log was cleared with the regional authorities in accordance with his licence and Congo's environmental regulations. But who were the "authorities"? "We export according to the laws of Kinshasa," John O said. "Even now, the government offices we look to for permits are administered from Kinshasa. This has always been so, right up to today." This may seem odd, considering that Kinshasa has not been in control of Ituri since 1997. What about John Pierre Bemba's rebel Movement liberation congolais? Or the "administration" of the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD-Goma)? Were these not now the authorities? "The chiefs of the rebels are just people we deal with," said John O. "They have no claim on us. They are thugs. Congo's mandate is in Kinshasa." But the Cypriots said they did not know that the government of Kinshasa had been accused of supporting some of eastern Congo's most repugnant militias, including the Hutu "Interahamwe" responsible for the 1994 Rwandan genocide. "We never heard about anything like that," John D said. "I had no idea. For us Greeks it is just important that we are following the law of the land." He added that lawlessness had increased massively since Congo's warring parties split into smaller groups. "Even when Bemba's men were in control, they were quiet. They only started misbehaving later when all the factions broke up," he said. Looking back over the years, John D and John O were unanimous about whom to blame for the country's troubles. "Mobutu destroyed everything," John O said. "If it wasn't for him, the Congolese people could be living in the richest land on earth," John D said. "If we had had [Patrice] Lumumba, he could have made Congo a wonderful place. He was not a racist, he was calling on everyone to unite." Both men said Lumumba's murder on 17 January 1961 - approved of if not assisted by the CIA at the height of the Cold War - that was the turning point for the Congo. "From the moment of his assassination, that's when the thugs took over," John D said. "America wanted Mobutu. They hated Lumumba because they couldn't buy him. And the Congolese are still suffering because of it."

IRIN 22 May 2003 Death toll from Bunia fighting rises KINSHASA, 22 May 2003 (IRIN) - A grave containing at least 30 bodies has been found in Bunia, the UN Mission in the DRC, MONUC, told IRIN on Thursday. The discovery takes to just over 300 the number of people killed in recent ethnic fighting in the town. A spokeswoman for MONUC, Isabelle Abric, said the bodies were found in a water reservoir in a district of Bunia. "The bodies are in such a bad state it is impossible to identify them," she said. The Red Cross and MONUC, she said, were trying to retrieve the bodies. She said Red Cross volunteers had found a further seven bodies in the streets of Bunia. The UN has said that most of the victims of the fighting between Hema and Lendu militias in Bunia appeared to be civilians, including children. Fighting stopped following the signing of a ceasefire agreement signed on Friday in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, by militia representatives. However, the UN reports the situation in Bunia is still tense.

IRIN 22 May 2003 Bunia still "tense", UN says Bunia, Ituri District, eastern DRC NAIROBI, 22 May 2003 (IRIN) - The town of Bunia, in northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), remains "tense" amidst concern for the safety of internally displaced people in camps, the UN said on Wednesday. "There have been reports of militias attempting to infiltrate sites where internally displaced persons [IDPs] are currently located," Fred Eckhard, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, said in New York. As a result, Eckhard said, the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC) was maintaining tighter surveillance at the campsites. He also described the humanitarian situation in Bunia as "critical", with 4,000 people camped at the MONUC base and another 9,000 at the tiny airport, which is under UN control. Eckhard said security constraints and landmines outside Bunia were seriously impeding humanitarian access to people in need. The international NGO Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) reported it was setting up a surgical theatre in a former Bunia supermarket. MSF said that it already had a physician, a nurse, an anaesthetist and a surgeon already working at another health facility in the centre of town. MSF said it was difficult to work in Bunia's hospital now because the security of patients, national and international staff was not guaranteed. MSF had referred five patients from the hospital to the health facility in the centre of Bunia, where patients underwent surgery for machete and gunshot wounds. The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) said on Wednesday it was mobilising a protection specialist to help set up a transit centre to reunite lost children with their families. It said many children had lost their parents either to the fighting or in the general chaos. UNICEF, and the Italian medical NGO COOPI, has established two emergency therapeutic feeding centres in Bunia to help malnourished children who were "all over the place in the camps and in the town". Reports continued on Wednesday of people still fleeing Bunia and surrounding areas. Action by Churches Together (ACT) - a global alliance of churches and relief agencies operating in 50 countries - reported that 22,515 IDPs had been registered in Beni territory, south of Bunia. The number included 10,132 children, 7,494 women and 4,434 men mainly from Bunia, Mongbwalu and Drodro - in Ituri District. ACT reported that the people were scattered between Beni and Eringeti, mainly in Kokola, Maimoja, Oicha, Mbau, Mavivi, Beni town and Eringeti. It said many were traumatised and were suffering from fatigue, swollen feet and dehydration. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees reported that at least 20,000 people, mainly from the Hema and Alur communities, had been registered since the beginning of May by authorities in villages in the two western Ugandan districts of Nebbi and Bundibugyo. The agency reported on Wednesday that more were expected to arrive in the coming days, trailing the last Ugandan troops who completed their withdrawal from Bunia on Tuesday.

CNN 22 May 2003 New mass grave found in Congo BUNIA, Democratic Republic of Congo -- Aid workers clearing bodies from the bloodied northeastern Congolese town of Bunia have discovered a new mass grave, bringing the death toll from tribal fighting to more than 300, a U.N. official said Thursday. Aid workers were tipped off about the grave, which was found to contain more than 32 bodies, on Wednesday by residents on the outskirts of Bunia where it was located, Isabel Abric, a spokeswoman for the the U.N. Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) told The Associated Press. The bodies appeared to have been dumped into a pre-existing pit and many were in an advanced state of decomposition, making it impossible to say exactly how many there were, Abric said. An additional seven bodies were picked up off the streets of Bunia, the capital of the Ituri district, bringing the total number of confirmed dead to 319 people, Abric said. MONUC said many of the corpses had body parts missing. Rumours of militia cannibalism have been wafting around the town, but MONUC said it was not possible to know how the bodies were mutilated. "Many of the bodies have had parts ripped out but it is difficult to say whether this is cannibal-style atrocities or not, as there are a lot of dogs who have been eating the bodies," MONUC spokesman Hamadoun Toure told reporters in Kinshasa He was speaking after representatives of Congo's Pygmies held a new conference in New York demanding a U.N. tribunal to try those accused of cannibalism. (Full story) The U.N. has called for an emergency peacekeeping force in the region, where militiamen, often drugged, have been fighting with machetes, guns and bows and arrows. A 750-strong U.N. force there lacks the mandate to intervene. The bodies found this week were recovered after a rise in fighting between rival Hema minority and Lendu majority for control of Bunia and fears of a Rwanda-style genocide. Some tribal fighters patrolling the streets of Bunia have had human organs hanging from their assault weapons, AP reported Wednesday. A Lendu fighter secures one of the fighters' encampments. There has been no major fighting in Bunia in recent days, but the atmosphere remains tense. Tens of thousands fled their homes when the violence began earlier this month, and many are in desperate need of food and water. "The town itself is still empty, people are coming out progressively but shops and the big market is closed," said Toure, who returned to Kinshasa from Bunia on Wednesday night. Ituri has suffered some of the worst atrocities in Congo's war, which began in 1998. Late last year, militia groups went on the rampage through the region's dense forests, raping young girls, looting and killing indiscriminately. Pygmies living in the jungles said they had seen rebels eating human flesh. The parties fighting for Bunia have signed a cease-fire, but human rights groups say the situation could easily boil over once more, and want the quick dispatch of a U.N. force with a robust mandate, which can effectively protect civilians. Britain, France and South Africa have said they would consider sending troops. A small group of French soldiers were due to leave Bunia on Thursday, to go back to France and discuss the possibilities of the proposed intervention. Ethnic killings between the groups have consumed at least 5,000 lives between July 2002 and March 2003, according to the U.S.-based group, Human Rights Watch. Locals said they fear the international community will turn a blind eye to the Hema-Lendu killings, allowing it to turn into another genocide along the lines of what took place in Rwanda. An estimated 830,000 people died in the 1994 Rwanda genocide, most of them members of the country's Tutsi minority.

Guardian UK 23 May 2003 UN troops wait behind razor wire as Congo's streets run with blood James Astill in Bunia, Congo, where thousands have died in ethnic violence Dead bodies litter Bunia's empty streets. From some the blood still drips from machete slashes, spear thrusts and bullet wounds. Others are two weeks old and stinking, half-eaten by the packs of dogs flopping lazily about the once-prosperous north-eastern capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. There are women's bodies scattered in Bunia's main mar ket place; a baby's body on its main road; two priests' bodies inside one church. Last week, a burning corpse was tossed on to the main UN compound's lawn, to show 700 Uruguayan peacekeepers what they were missing while they cowered under fire behind its razor-wire perimeter, unauthorised to intervene in the latest massacre of Congolese civilians. As the two-week fight for Bunia between rival ethnic militias cooled this week, Albert Asumani slipped back to the ransacked suburb of Nyambe where he lives. "Why? Why are we killing our brothers? When will it end?" he said, stripping off a pair of yellow rubber gloves he had donned to toss two dead neighbours into a pit-latrine. This week, for perhaps the first time, western countries appear to be asking the same question about Congo's four-and-a-half-year war, which at one time involved nine na tional armies and a confusion of local militias, and which has already claimed an estimated 4.7 million lives. On Tuesday France sent military observers to Bunia; it is now considering sending troops with orders to shoot to kill. Britain may send a small force in support. This flicker of attention to the world's biggest war comes after the UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, called for a "coalition of the willing" to police Bunia and the surrounding hills of Ituri province. Carla del Ponte, the UN war crimes prosecutor, has suggested that the mass killings by the local Hema and Lendu tribes "could be genocide". In fact, the war in Ituri is not a genocide, a word which describes a systematic programme of annihilation. It is too chaotic, with random atrocities perpetrated by Hema and Lendu militias. Nor is the killing of 300 people in Bunia particularly extreme by Ituri's recent standards. Last September in nearby Nyakunde village, 1,200 Hema civilians were killed. In all, Ituri's war - which began after Uganda armed Hemas and Lendus in a bid to control Ituri - has claimed an estimated 50,000 lives. "No one was bothered about Nyakunde or took much notice of Ituri before," said Anneke Van Woudenberg of Human Rights Watch. "But now you have a few UN peacekeepers getting shot at and suddenly everyone's interested in Congo." The battle for Bunia began on March 6, as Ugandan troops withdrew from the town in line with a recent peace accord. With the UN mission in Congo unable to fill the vacuum - having only 4,000 troops to police an area two-thirds the size of western Europe - a massacre in Bunia had been widely predicted. "Does the world care what happens to Congo? No," said Lieutenant-Colonel Daniel Vollot, the French commander of UN forces in Ituri. "We've been sending messages every day to [the UN headquarters in] New York [saying] this was going to happen, that we need more troops. Nothing was done." The Lendus took the town, and began looting and killing Hema civilians, putting 250,000 people to flight. Among the 12,000 that remained, crammed against the razor wire of the UN compound, was Safi Sabina, 32. "People were screaming, we were running from the machetes," she said, bowing her head to the baby in her lap as she began to cry. Her father, mother, two aunts and three young brothers and sisters were all murdered by the militiamen. Days later, the main Hema militia, the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), rearmed by Uganda, took the town. During the UPC's previous seven-month rule in Ituri, its fighters massacred an estimated 10,000 Lendus. Now, in power again, it is killing less selectively. In Nyambe, a dozen bodies lay in front of smashed-up mud huts, with half a dozen more patches of blood to show where bodies Mr Asumani had already buried had lain. The UPC chased the Lendus through the suburb, and then returned to murder its residents and loot their homes, he said. Most of their victims were not even Lendu, but members of Ituri's other small tribes, murdered for their few cooking pots and clothes. This week, the UPC's many child fighters were looting the last of Bunia. Tripping over stolen jackets many sizes too big, they did not spare the rotting corpses a glance. One showed off a chain of watches up to his elbow - none had batteries - and complained of having no food. Emerging from a scrimmage of fighters inside a clothes warehouse, Singoma Mapasa, 14, shed light on a cycle of violence fuelling a dozen or more small wars in eastern Congo, a land crammed with the guns of invading foreign armies. Asked why he was fighting, Singoma said nothing about tribal hate. "The Lendus murdered my parents," he said. "So, now, how else could I survive?" With Bunia thoroughly looted this week, the contents of its every house spilled into the dirt outside, Lendu and Hema fighters mixed cheerfully across the frontline. "We don't have a problem anymore, we're Congolese brothers," declared one such group within metres of Nyambe's decaying bodies. The killing and looting, they explained, was the "inevitable" consequence of war. At least it was over, they said. In the green hills outside Bunia, however, the killing continued. "Bunia's calm again, but in the bush we hear of the same atrocities that have been going on for three years," said Michel Kassa, the head of the UN coordination agency, OCHA, after overflying Ituri's razed villages. "We know there are people there in terrible need, but we won't be able to reach them unless an international force comes to put an end to this orgy of violence." And in Bunia's main hospital, another reminder that vio lence in Ituri is long-running and, unless there is an intervention, likely to be on-going. In February, two landmine victims, Isabelle, a Hema, and Benita, a Lendu, spoke to the Guardian, lying side-by-side in a crowded ward. This week, they were virtually the only patients remaining; most of the rest fled when the hospital was looted by the UPC. "Yes, we stayed here," said Isabelle, a 47-year-old mother of seven children. "How could I run on one leg?" · James Astill will be reporting from Bunia at 10.30 tonight on BBC2's Newsnight

UN News Service 23 May 2003 Top UN officials head to northeastern DR of Congo to assess situation in Bunia Senior United Nations peacekeeping and humanitarian officials have arrived in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to meet with top government officials and assess the situation in the country's bloodied northeastern town of Bunia, where an inter-ethnic power struggle has been raging for weeks. According to a UN spokesman in New York, the Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Marie Guéhenno arrived in the DRC yesterday and has met with President Joseph Kabila. "He will also be travelling to Bunia to assess the situation there," Fred Eckhard said at a press briefing. Meanwhile, Carolyn McAskie, the UN's Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, is currently visiting North and South Kivu. If security conditions permit, she, too, will travel to Bunia to get a first-hand look at the humanitarian situation and the steps being taken to address it. In the meantime, the French reconnaissance team that visited Bunia and the Ituri province to lay the groundwork for the possible deployment of troops is now in Kinshasa for de-briefings with the UN. "The UN is providing full information on the situation to Member States interested in participating in the multinational force recommended for Bunia by the Secretary-General last week," Mr. Eckhard said. Chaos has swept Ituri since the pull-out earlier this month of Ugandan troops as called for in last year's peace accord to end the DRC's five-year war. The Ugandan military commander, Brigadier Kayihura, wrote to the UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC) on 8 May complaining about continued fighting in Ituri and declaring that Uganda would re-enter the DRC if elements threatening Ugandan security remain in control close to the two countries' border. Though Bunia has experienced a few days of relative quiet, the humanitarian situation there - and throughout the volatile Ituri district - remains critical. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that due to simmering tensions between the rival Hema and Lendu militia - locked in a deadly struggle for control of the mineral-rich area - and a pervading lack of security, aid groups are able to assist only a small number of people within Bunia and have virtually no access to desperate populations elsewhere in Ituri. OCHA reported that Bunia itself is nearly deserted, after roughly 80 per cent of its approximately 150,000 residents fled the town after nearly two weeks of clashes and killings of unarmed people left more than 300 dead. Humanitarian agencies on the scene continue to provide medical services for some 9,000 internally displaced persons at camps concentrated around the local airport and roughly 6,000 who have been sheltering near the local UN compound. Plastic sheeting and high-protein biscuits are also being distributed. Humanitarian partners have managed to restore water and electricity supplies to the town after they had been shut down by fighting forces.

IRIN 23 May 2003 DRC: Fighting breaks out in northern Ituri district NAIROBI, 23 May (IRIN) - Fighting broke out on Thursday in the area around Aru, in Ituri District, northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), close to the Ugandan border, news agencies reported. The clashes were due to in-fighting in the rebel Congolese group, Forces armees pour le Congo (FAPC), a breakaway faction of the Hema group, the Union des patriotes congolais (UPC), news agencies said. They said there had been an attempt to topple the FAPC leader, "Commander" Jerome Kakawavu Bakonde, but the attempt had failed and calm had returned to the area. The FAPC controls the area around Aru and Mahagi, where there is a lucrative crossborder trade between DRC and Uganda. Aru is about 170 km north of Bunia, the principal town of Ituri, where at least 300 people have been killed in fighting between ethnic Hema and Lendu militias since the withdrawal of Ugandan soldiers on 6 May. Fighting in Bunia subsided after a ceasefire agreement reached on 16 May, which was also signed by the FAPC. According to the UN Mission in the DRC, MONUC, the UPC still controls Bunia, while Lendu militia are located in the southern outskirts. MONUC has been meeting leaders of the two militias to try to work out a plan for the fighters to withdraw to their camps. News agencies reported on Thursday that Belgium, Canada and Germany had indicated they were prepared to support a UN rapid reaction force to be led by France, although details of the three countries' contributions still had to be worked out. Germany suggested it would give financial help, while Belgium may decide to provide air logistics support, news agencies said. Canada was reported to be considering making a "small" contribution, but had yet to decide whether this would involve sending troops. Meanwhile, aid agencies are still struggling to cope with internally displaced people who fled Bunia. The British charity, Merlin, which provides healthcare in emergency situations, said on Thursday that people arriving in Eringeti, some 140 km south of Bunia, had suffered the "whims of countless local militias" along the way. "We are treating 550 new cases in Eringeti alone and the people continue to arrive," a Merlin aid worker, Michelle Brown, said. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has said he intends to appoint William Lacy Swing, a career US diplomat, as his next special representative in the DRC, replacing Amos Namanga Ngongi, UN News reported. Swing, who was Annan's special representative to Western Sahara, is due to take up the post on 1 July.

AFP 26 May 2003 Main DR Congo rebels pull out of peace pact follow-up committee KINSHASA, May 26 (AFP) - The main rebel group in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) said Monday it had pulled out of a follow-up committee on the central African country's peace process because of the government's alleged bad faith over issues affecting the army. "The Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD) suspends its participation in meetings in Kinshasa of the committee following up the global, inclusive peace accord for Democratic Republic of Congo until further notice," an RCD statement said. The RCD, the largest rebel movement in DRC both in terms of manpower and military might, was a signatory to a peace accord signed last December in Pretoria and formally enacted last month. The decision to pull out of meetings of a follow-up committee tasked with allocating responsibility in DRC's proposed new armed forces was taken because of "the government's bad faith over issues concerning the army," the statement said. It was taken at an extraordinary meeting of RCD leaders on May 23 in the rebel group's eastern headquarters city of Goma. The RC was backed by Rwanda in a bid, launched in 1998, to oust the government of then president Laurent Kabila, which boiled over into all-out war that drew in half a dozen other African countries and claimed some 2.5 million lives, both directly in combat and indirectly through disease and hunger. A military follow-up committee ran aground after three weeks of working sessions. The RCD was given the defense ministry portfolio in an interim government set up under the Pretoria peace deal and tasked with taking DRC through to democratic elections. The rebels were the only member of the military committee that backed a South African proposal which would have given the eastern-based rebels control of the army and logistics, and made them second in command of the navy. The RCD cited as another reason for its pull-out from the committee "a disagreement arising over the designation of the vice president from the political opposition." The interim government is led by President Joseph Kabila, who took over from his father Laurent when the latter was assassinated in 2001, with four vice presidents drawn from two main rebel groups -- the RCD and the Congolese Liberation Movement, -- the political opposition and Kabila's backers in Kinshasa. The leader of the armed political movement Congolese Rally for Democracy Liberation Movement (RCD-ML), Mbusa Nyamwisi, meanwhile accused the RCD and Rwanda of blocking the arrival of foreign troops in a bid to consolidate their military positions. "Rwanda and the RCD have launched their troops in the northeast of Democratic Republic of Congo in an attempt to block the deployment of a neutral international force in the region," Nyamwisi alleged. The rebels were targetting all areas that had an air field to ensure that they could maintain supply routes for weapons and munitions, Nyamwisi, a ally of Kabila, insisted.

Telegraph UK 26 May 2003 Five peacekeepers, no guns, six armies May 26 2003 Battle for supremacy . . . a Lendu militiaman gives orders at an undisclosed location south of Bunia last week. Photo: AFP/ Marco Longari "That was close," said Khaled, the Egyptian major, fishing a cigarette from his pyjama bottoms, after a huge explosion shook the United Nations building in Uvira, a rebel-held town in eastern Congo. "Who's doing the fighting? Who knows?" he said. "We are five peacekeepers here: me, a Croatian, a Nigerian, a Malian and a Togolese. There are hundreds of thousands of people in this region. There are maybe six armies fighting each other. We have no guns. What are we supposed to do?" North of Uvira, beyond Rwandan-controlled territory and into Uganda's sphere of influence, lies Bunia, where Britain is considering sending several hundred troops to bolster a promised French mission under the auspices of the UN. On Friday, Canada, Pakistan, Nigeria and South Africa all signalled that they, too, might send in forces following an appeal by the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, for a "coalition of the willing" to create a rapid reaction force for the Congo. About 4 million people have died in the savage civil war and the UN is investigating reports of cannibalism and other atrocities. Two UN peacekeepers, hacked to death this month, may have been victims of cannibalism. There is already a 750-strong UN peacekeeping force in Bunia but, not authorised to use force, they, its members, like their colleagues in Uvira, have been trapped in their compound, powerless to intervene in the savagery outside. An orgy of brutal ethnic violence has gripped the town in recent weeks as Hema and Lendu tribes battled for supremacy. This bloodshed is not new. Mass graves are discovered often in Ituri, where 50,000 people have been killed since Uganda and Rwanda invaded Congo in 1998. Mr Annan is terrified of a repeat of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, when the UN was accused of failing to prevent the massacre of up to 1 million people. On that occasion, Belgian troops left the country at the first sign of trouble. In the past few years Britain has become Rwanda's biggest donor but has done little to pressure President Paul Kagame's Government, diplomats in the region say. The Telegraph, London

IRIN 26 May 2003 Top UN Official Calls for "Firm Intervention" in Bunia Nairobi The UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Marie Guehenno, on Sunday visited Bunia, in northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), to assess the situation following the fighting between Lendu and Hema militias in which more than 300 people died. Guehenno told reporters in Bunia that a firm intervention by the UN was urgently needed to stop further massacres. After arriving in the Congolese capital Kinshasa on Thursday, Guehenno said at least six countries were considering contributing to a rapid reaction force which the UN wants to deploy in Bunia and the surrounding district of Ituri. At present, the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC) has about 800 men in Bunia, but they have not been able to prevent massacres of civilians. After his visit to Bunia, Guehenno was due to fly to Kampala, Kigali and Pretoria for further talks on the situation. Two weeks of brutal fighting between Lendu and Hema militias began on 7 May after the withdrawal of Ugandan troops that had been occupying Bunia. According to UN News, the Ugandan military commander Brig Kale Kaihura wrote to MONUC on 8 May complaining about the continued fighting in Ituri and declaring that Uganda would reenter the DRC if what he called "elements threatening Ugandan security" remained in control close to the DRC-Uganda border. A leader of the Hema militia group, the Union des patriotes congolais (UPC), told the Bunia radio station, Radio Candip, on Saturday that there was no question of the UPC leaving town. The UPC signed a ceasefire agreement with Lendu militia on 16 May. The UPC controls Bunia, while Lendu fighters are on the outskirts. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported on Friday that due to simmering tensions between the militias, and a pervading lack of security, aid groups were only able to assist a small number of people within Bunia, and had virtually no access to "desperate" populations elsewhere in Ituri. According to OCHA, Bunia was nearly deserted after roughly 80 percent of its approximately 150,000 residents fled the town, UN News reported. OCHA said humanitarian groups continued to help about 9,000 people camped close to the airport and around the MONUC base.

MONUC 27 May 2003 UN Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo DR Congo: Briefing note - Calm in Bunia disrupted by sporadic gun shots by Yulu Kabamba Sporadic gunshots resumed Tuesday 27 May 2003 in Bunia, district of Ituri. They lasted about an hour and a half. MONUC is not in a position to confirm the death toll released by UPC according to which 6 people were killed and 5 others injured. Monday, a mortar shot injured 5 people and killed one of the combatants of the Patriotic Resistance Front in Ituri (FRPI). They came to recover the body of one of their members killed in the vicinity of the bridge leading to the south access of the residential district. MONUC political and military representatives met with the chiefs of staff of the two armed groups with whom they agreed to meet again on Tuesday for further talks. In another development, 50,000 displaced people from Bunia and its vicinity have arrived at Erengeti, 35 km from Beni, according to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). NGOs on the ground including Merlin, MSF France, World vision, "Première Urgence", mobilized to provide assistance to the displaced. CESVI and "Solidarité" are preparing to distribute the food donated by the World Food Program (PAM). Roughly 300,000 doses of various vaccines, stocked in the premises housing the laboratory of Bunia General Hospital as part of the wide-scale vaccination campaign funded by UNICEF, were stolen or destroyed during the night of Saturday to Sunday. The warehouse of the World Health Organization (WHO), which participates in this program, was also looted. Refrigerators, as well as medical and logistical equipments (including a motorbike, two bicycles, equipment for the cold chain for vaccines storage) were stolen and several laboratory equipments destroyed. In the neighborhood of Simbilyabo, MONUC Human rights verification team counted 70 houses burnt most of which razed to the ground.

IRIN 27 May 2003 Renewed fighting in Bunia as NGOs call for rapid intervention force NAIROBI, 27 May (IRIN) - Fighting erupted again on Tuesday in Bunia, the principal city of the embattled Ituri District of northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the UN Mission in the DRC, known as MONUC, reported. MONUC said it could not confirm the figures of six dead and five injured reported by the Union des patriotes congolais (UPC), the ethnic Hema militia currently in control of central Bunia. However, MONUC reported that mortar fire on Monday had killed one and injured five members of the Front de resistance patriotique de l'Ituri, an ethnic Lendu militia trying to dislodge the UPC from the city. "The situation in Ituri remains extremely volatile. Without the arrival of a Chapter Seven force, the humanitarian community will not be able to continue programme implementation," one Bunia resident predicted. "An outbreak of fighting in Bunia within the next 24 hours cannot be excluded. Factions hostile to the UPC will most certainly seek a military solution on the ground, thereby completely ignoring MONUC as mediator. It would appear that the coming 48 hours could be decisive." Chapter Seven of the UN Charter authorises the UN to use military force in response to "any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression". However, member states contributing soldiers to UN peace missions are often reluctant to commit their troops to such a level of activity. [For more information on Chapter Seven, go to http://www.un.org/aboutun/charter/chapter7.htm] A consortium of European NGOs on Tuesday echoed the call for a move to Chapter Seven. In a statement issued by the Reseau Europeen Congo and the Great Lakes Advocacy Network from Brussels, the relief and development organisations called for the rapid deployment of a UN international intervention force in Ituri. "Relying on the deployment or effective implementation of the transitional government in the DRC or on the intervention of Uganda and Rwanda is the equivalent of allowing the chaos to continue, with more massacres of civilians in Ituri," the statement said. "MONUC, the UN, and the member nations of the UN Security Council risk finding their credibility even further diminished." This most recent round of armed hostilities followed the weekend theft and destruction of some 300,000 doses of various vaccines, financed by the UN Children's Fund, which had been housed in the Bunia General Hospital, MONUC reported. The warehouse of the UN World Health Organisation was also pillaged, according to MONUC, with medical equipment and vaccine refrigerators stolen. Also on Tuesday, a MONUC human rights verification team reported that 70 houses in the Simbilyabo section of Bunia had been burned to the ground, while the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that some 50,000 civilians fleeing Bunia had arrived in the area of Eringeti, located some 35 km north of Beni.

AFP 27 May 2003 Heavy weapons fired in DR Congo's Bunia KIGALI, May 27 (AFP) - Heavy weapons were fired for about an hour Tuesday morning in Bunia, the capital of northeast Democratic Republic of Congo's volatile Ituri region, officials there said. It was the first time such shooting had been heard in the town for a fortnight. "We were woken up by shooting, I think it was mortars, heavy weapons in any case," Isabelle Abric, a spokeswoman for MONUC, the UN mission in DRC, told AFP in Kigali by telephone, speaking from Bunia. "The sound of artillery woke us up," said Thomas Lubanga, head of the Union of Congolese Patriots, the faction that took control of Bunia on May 12. The shooting reportedly started around 6:00 am (0400 GMT) and died down after about an hour. Lubanga, whose faction is dominated by the ethnic Hema minority, blamed the shooting on Mathieu Ngudjolo, a leader of the rival Lendu majority. My men "chased them out of town," said Lubanga, speaking from Ituri by telephone.

BBC 29 May 2003 UN slams DR Congo 'hate radio' France has requested a UN peace force for DR Congo Ethnic militias in the volatile Democratic Republic of Congo town of Bunia are broadcasting hate messages that threaten civilians, the United Nations has said. Candip Radio aired a statement by an ethnic Hema militia group, warning that it would use force to dislodge civilians who had sought refuge at the base of the UN mission in DR Congo (Monuc) in Bunia. Such messages could incite hatred and rekindle memories of Radio Mille Collines which fanned the 1994 genocide in neighbouring Rwanda, according to a Monuc statement. More than 400 people have been killed in Bunia and much of the population has fled the north-eastern town since fighting erupted between two rival ethnic militias. France has tabled a draft resolution with the UN Security Council to send more than 1,000 troops to the town of Bunia. The troops would be charged with protecting civilians and a Security Council vote on the resolution could be held as early as Friday. Violation In a letter to the chief of staff of the Hema Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), Monuc condemns the UPC threat against displaced civilians. "It is a flagrant violation of the UN Security Council's resolutions mandating Monuc to protect civilian populations faced with imminent threats". Monuc says it has encouraged the displaced civilians of Bunia to return home if they considered that security conditions permitted. "The return shall, however, be done on a voluntary basis in accordance with international humanitarian law". Some 50,000 people have fled the fighting in recent days, Monuc says. The clashes between rival Hema and Lendu groups followed the withdrawal of Ugandan forces from the area. See also Radio Netherlands Hate Radio: Democratic Republic of Congo http://www.rnw.nl/realradio/dossiers/html/congo-h.html

NYT 31 May 2003 May 31, 2003 Stopping the Genocide in Congo In 1995, a contingent of 400 lightly armed Dutch peacekeepers stood by while Serbs massacred some 7,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica, Bosnia. The United Nations, which had promised security, betrayed Srebrenica by failing to send enough men and crippling them with restrictive rules of engagement. The U.N.'s failure shocked the world's conscience at the time. Today, the same thing is happening in eastern Congo. War in the Democratic Republic of Congo has lasted four years, involved a half-dozen African nations and killed more than 3 million people. In the district of Ituri, home to 4.6 million, the U.N. promised to guarantee security as a peace process was put into place. But a small contingent of peacekeepers has been able to do no more than watch as civilians are massacred. A new force approved yesterday by the Security Council is a real improvement, but may not be strong enough. Congo's war is being played out in miniature in Ituri, where 60,000 people have been killed and half a million displaced since 1999. The warring parties in Ituri are militias backed and armed by the governments of Congo and neighboring Uganda and Rwanda. In April, peace talks in the region made progress. Ugandan forces controlled Ituri, and there was a temporary peace. But on April 26, the Ugandans pulled out, as specified in the peace accords. The U.N. promised to secure the zone but sent only 712 soldiers, who are allowed only to guard U.N. property and escort humanitarian workers. Interethnic massacres have so far killed about 400 people. Yesterday the U.N. Security Council authorized the deployment of a French-led force of 1,400 new soldiers, most of them French but others from African and other nations. The soldiers will be able to use force to protect civilians but will not be able to leave Bunia, the capital. Yet much of the population has fled to the countryside, and massacres are occurring there. We worry that the troops may be too few and have too limited a mandate to do what is needed: stop the killings, end the flow of weapons from neighboring countries and disarm the militias. The French-led contingent and its new powers are also temporary. When Bangladeshi soldiers arrive in September, they will come with a weaker mandate, leaving them unable even to protect civilians in the capital. A strong U.N. force is just one part of the necessary response. The United States, European countries and South Africa must all increase the pressure on Congo, Uganda and Rwanda to carry out the peace accords and stop arming proxy militias. Ituri is one of the most violent and byzantine regions of a dangerous and complex war. There is no peace to keep. In such situations, peacekeepers run great risks, and the U.N. should not send them lightly. But when genocidal massacres are occurring, the world has a duty to step in.


ICRC News 12 May 2003 03/53 Ethiopia: First course on law of war for instructors of the Ethiopian Ground Forces The first corps-level course in Ethiopia for law of armed conflict (LOAC) instructors has just come to an end in Awassa. Organized and taught by the ICRC in coordination with the Ethiopian Army's Department of Operations, the 10-day course provided training for 38 commanding officers of the Awassa Military Corps and officers from the Legal and Training Departments. Corps commander Gen. Abraha Wolde Mariam highlighted the importance of professionalism in the armed forces, adding, "Knowledge of LOAC and its full integration into all levels of command are an essential part of this". ICRC head of delegation Alain Aeschlimann emphasized that "To be respected, international humanitarian law must be known." He described the course as "a milestone in the integration of international humanitarian law into the Ethiopian Ground Forces." LOAC regulates the means and methods of warfare, and consists of the Geneva Conventions, their Additional Protocols, and other international treaties. Better known outside military circles as "international humanitarian law", it does not prohibit war, but rather strikes a balance between military necessity and the demands of humanity. It requires belligerents to maintain a degree of humanity on the battlefield – to avoid harming non-combatants, for instance – and imposes limitations on means and methods of warfare. The aim of the course was to give Ethiopian officers the knowledge and skills to integrate LOAC into the training programmes of the Awassa Military Corps. Topics included the protection granted to civilians and to cultural objects, respect for medical personnel and for facilities bearing the Red Cross/Red Crescent emblems, and limitations on means of combat. In the coming weeks and months, the ICRC will hold similar LOAC courses for other Ethiopian military corps, for Ethiopian Ground Forces training establishments and for the Ethiopian Air Force.

Kenya, see United Kingdom

IRIN 16 May 2003 Future truth commission could face controversy over Moi © UN DPI ex-president Moi NAIROBI, 16 May 2003 (IRIN) - A government-appointed Task Force on a possible Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Kenya is likely to face controversy over former president Daniel arap Moi, says Task Force chairman Professor Makau Mutua. "I think there are strong currents in the country that suggest perhaps that the former president Mr Daniel arap Moi, if he is implicated, should be treated somewhat differently as a former head of state," said Makau, a lawyer and head of the Kenya Human Rights Commission. "Kenyans do not want to set a precedent in which the former president is, as it were, undressed in public," he told IRIN. "But there are equally strong feelings on the other side that the violations of the last 24 years could not have been committed without his knowledge and perhaps even his participation." Kenyan Justice Minister Kiraitu Murungi launched the Task Force last weekend, to seek views on whether Kenya should have a Truth Commission and, if so, how it should work. The Task Force has 18 members, including men, women, lawyers, academics, religious leaders, Moslems, Christians, members of the former KANU regime and victims of alleged human rights abuses. It is due to submit its recommendations to the government by the end of August. Makau believes Kenyans want such a commission. He says the question therefore is how it should work. The anti-corruption NGO, Transparency International, has been active in seeking redress for economic crimes in Kenya. It has also been facilitating the debate on a possible Truth and Reconciliation Commission. "We conducted a survey in October last year which we never published because we found the results fairly explosive," says TI Kenya's Deputy Director Mwalimu Mati. "We found that Kenyans speak very eloquently about political assassinations, land clashes, economic crimes, grand corruption. And Kenyans certainly do not want any blanket amnesty or policies of forgive-and-move-on. What they want is some new institutions to be created, and I think a Truth Commission would be one of those." Makau added that another controversial issue facing the Task Force would be the composition of any future commission. He said the commission should be careful not to be perceived as either a "witch hunt" or a "whitewash". He also said the Task Force must also look carefully at the historical period to be covered. "There are those who feel that we should include the Mau Mau period of the independence struggle and the atrocities committed by the British," he said. "That issue may not divide the Task Force. I think that probably we will arrive at the conclusion that we should look at the post-colonial period."


ICG 30 April 2003 Tackling Liberia: The Eye of the Regional Storm This report unravels the involvement of many West African leaders in their region's worsening conflict. While Charles Taylor of Liberia is the key to regional instability, the conflicts in the Mano River Union (Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone) and Côte d'Ivoire are interwoven and cannot be treated separately. A comprehensive strategy is required, including a stronger U.S. role. A phased approach is needed to get a ceasefire and press Taylor to postpone elections and stand down. The Security Council should prepare a peacekeeping mission to monitor the ceasefire and help establish an interim administration, and make standby arrangements for a more robust multinational force if the ceasefire collapses. If there is no ceasefire, tougher measures should be taken, including wider sanctions and steps to bring Taylor and others before a war crimes tribunal such as Sierra Leone's Special Court. For the full Press Release, please see CrisisWeb - http://www.crisisweb.org

Reuters 6 May 2003 Liberia Says Indicted Warlord Bockarie Is Dead Tue May 6, 2003 01:47 PM ET MONROVIA, Liberia - Sam Bockarie, a notorious West African warlord accused of atrocities in Sierra Leone, was killed in a shootout with Liberian forces on Tuesday, Liberia's government said. "He is dead. The body is right here," Liberia's Information Minister Reginald Goodridge told Reuters. Bockarie, a Sierra Leonean, had been indicted by a U.N.-backed war crimes court for atrocities during the war in his homeland. Liberia's government earlier said its forces exchanged fire with Bockarie after he crossed from Ivory Coast and refused to give himself up for arrest. The former hairdresser, diamond-miner and disco dance champion who became a rebel commander in his native Sierra Leone, was recently reported to be leading a band of fighters helping rebels in Ivory Coast.

NYT 7 May 2003 Accused of Hiding War Crimes Suspect, Liberia Says It Killed Him By SOMINI SENGUPTA ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, May 6 — For a week, the Liberian president, Charles Taylor, has been accused by United Nations investigators of harboring an accused war criminal, a West African warlord named Sam Bockarie. Today, Mr. Taylor's government said its forces had shot and killed Mr. Bockarie this morning as he tried to enter the country before dawn. The body of Mr. Bockarie, who led a campaign of rape and mutilation in his native Sierra Leone and more recently aided rebels in this country's seven-month-old war, was taken to the morgue in the Liberian capital, Monrovia, said the Liberian information minister, Reginald Goodridge. Sierra Leone government officials have inspected the body, Mr. Goodridge said. "We are pretty sure that is his body," he said. Nicknamed Mosquito for his blood-sucking reputation, Mr. Bockarie was among West Africa's most infamous warlords. He was second in command of the Revolutionary United Front, the Sierra Leonean rebel group known throughout the world for cutting off civilians' limbs. Two years ago, sanctions were imposed on the Taylor government for its support of the front. Since their March 7 indictment, both Mr. Bockarie and a former junta leader of Sierra Leone, Johnny Paul Koroma, were believed to have been in hiding in Liberia. The news of Mr. Bockarie's death comes as the noose tightens around the Taylor government. Two rebel groups have gained ground in capturing vast swaths of Liberian territory. The war crimes court in Sierra Leone, backed by the United Nations, has warned Mr. Taylor that he is vulnerable to indictment for aiding and abetting an indicted war criminal. Diplomatic pressure has continued to mount on a country long seen as having spread chaos across West Africa. Today the United Nations Security Council renewed sanctions, barring Liberia from selling diamonds and buying arms. The Council also threatened to add timber, among the government's most prized exports, to the list of prohibited goods. Already, fighting in the east has forced one of Liberia's principal logging concerns, Oriental Timber, to curtail its operations drastically. This evening, the Liberian information minister said villagers had tipped off government forces that Mr. Bockarie would try to slip into the country from Ivory Coast early this morning. A gunfight ensued, he said, and two Liberian soldiers were killed, along with Mr. Bockarie and two of his men. Alan White, the war crimes court's chief investigator, said last week that the court had obtained evidence that Mr. Bockarie had slipped across the border and had been holed up in Kahnple, near the Ivory Coast border, with up to 50 fighters. Mr. Bockarie, a secondary school dropout from eastern Sierra Leone, had followed his father into the diamond mines and tried his hand as a professional disco dancer and hairdresser before taking up the business of war. He volunteered for the Liberian war in 1989 and took it to his own country a few years later. United Nations investigators said Mr. Bockarie came to Ivory Coast to offer his expertise and his veteran fighters to the rebels operating in the west of the country.

IRIN 7 May 2003 UN-Backed Court Calls for Proof of Former Rebel Leader's Death New York Following news reports that ex-rebel leader Sam Bockarie had been killed during an apparent attempt by Liberian authorities to arrest him, the United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone demanded that Monrovia turn over the body of the fugitive war crimes suspect for positive identification. In a statement released yesterday, the Court's Chief Prosecutor, David Crane, called on the Liberian Government to provide proof of Mr. Bockarie's death. "If reports of Mr. Bockarie's death are true, I ask Liberian authorities to provide proof and request that they turn his body over to us for forensic examination and positive identification," he said. On 7 March, the Court indicted Mr. Bockarie and fellow fugitive Johnny Paul Koroma for alleged atrocities - ranging from murder and sexual slavery to forced conscription of children and attacks on UN peacekeepers - committed during Sierra Leone's 10-year civil war. Both were connected with the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF). Earlier this week, Mr. Crane challenged Liberian President Charles Taylor to arrest and surrender the pair, even offering specific details regarding their whereabouts.


IRIN 2 May 2003 Prisoners Build Homes for Genocide Survivors Nairobi Some 3,500 former genocide prisoners have begun building homes in Buture Province for survivors of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, the Rwanda News Agency reported on Friday. The former convicts are also involved in community development activities. "We chose these activities because they would help the two parties of the genocide to unite and reconcile," Aimable Twagiramutara, the executive secretary of Butare Province, said. At least 40,000 prisoners have been released so far in 2003, following a presidential directive. The measure applied to the sick, aged, under-aged and those who have confessed to lesser crimes of genocide. About 100,000 genocide suspects are still in detention awaiting trial. In the genocide, Hutu extremists killed at least 800,000 Tutsi and politically moderate Hutus in 100 days.

IRIN 14 May 2003 Government Re-Arrests 787 Genocide Suspects Kigali A total of 787 genocide suspects who were recently provisionally released by the Rwandan government have been re-arrested after fresh crimes were reported against them, an official in the Justice Ministry told IRIN on Tuesday. The head of the ministry's judicial services, Hannington Tayebwa, said those who were re-arrested were among 22,567 suspects who completed a three-month re-integration and rehabilitation programme held in numerous camps across the country. Tayebwa told IRIN that the 787 were arrested following new accusations made against them by IBUKA, an umbrella organisation for associations of genocide survivors. In a new report, IBUKA listed some of the suspects, accusing them of "not being open and telling the truth" about the crimes they committed during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. "IBUKA came up with fresh accusations against some of the released prisoners. We, therefore, had to reprimand them pending investigations into these new allegations," Tayebwa said, adding that the suspects could not be investigated while they remained free. President Paul Kagame issued a decree in January 2003, provisionally releasing up to 25,000 genocide suspects, mainly the elderly and the sick as well as those who were minors during the April-June 1994 genocide. Judicial officials also claimed that some of the re-arrested prisoners committed offences during their rehabilitation in the camps. Tayebwa said that some of them were accused of selling illicit drugs such as marijuana. He said that they had received reports that some of them had committed rape. "They used to sneak out of the camps and commit these crimes," Tayebwa told IRIN. The highest number of those re-arrested was from the western province of Kibuye, where 144 were returned to prisons. Genocide survivor groups had criticized the provisional release of the suspects, saying that those pardoned could intimidate survivors into silence - jeopardising the planned Gacaca communal courts, due to begin operating shortly.

BBC 26 May 2003 Rwandans vote on new constitution The government promises elections later this year Rwandans voted on Monday on a draft constitution that the government says would prevent a repeat of the 1994 genocide. Turnout was reported to be high and voting peaceful. The Tutsi-dominated transitional government says the new constitutional framework safeguards against the dominance of a single political party. However, critics say it is geared toward keeping the Rwandan Patriotic Front in power and includes significant powers to curtail civil rights. About 800,000 ethnic minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus died in the campaign of ethnic cleansing orchestrated by extremist Hutu authorities in 1994. Shops shut Correspondents say a majority of the country's nearly 4 million registered voters is expected to approve the country's fifth constitution since gaining independence from Belgium in 1962. DRAFT CONSTITUTION Prevents one party-dominance Bans inciting ethnic hatred Allows parliament to curtail free speech At least half of registered voters must participate for the results to be validated. It has already been approved by parliament. The ballot paper asked the question: "Do you accept the new constitution?" Voters put their thumb-prints in one of two boxes: "Yes" or "No", Up for approval in this vote is a framework of a national assembly, senate, and president eligible to hold up to two seven-year terms in office. Shops and offices were closed to allow people time to vote. 'Turning point' Aid agency vehicles have been requisitioned to transport ballots. The Rwandans need some healthy nationalism to pull themselves back together Helen Tewolde, Eritrean Canadian Have Your Say The draft constitution stipulates that no party can hold more than 50% of the seats in cabinet, even if they secure an absolute majority in parliamentary elections. It also provides that the president, prime minister and president of the lower house cannot all belong to the same party and includes a new provision outlawing inciting ethnic hatred. But one article in the proposed constitution in effect prohibits political campaigning at grassroots level, restricting it to provincial and national institutions. Critics charge this is designed to strengthen the RPF's hold on power. Rights 'threat' The draft also contains frequent reference to "national unity" as a priority. Going against national unity was the reason given for the dissolution of the country's second-largest party, the Democratic Republican Movement, by the RPF-led parliament earlier this month. The country is still deeply traumatised by the killing Human rights groups, while noting the attention paid to rights within the draft, have also cautioned that it allows parliament to restrict those rights. "The [draft] constitution confers on the government broad powers to curtail speech or meetings that are deemed divisive," said the New York-based Human Rights Watch. If the new draft constitution is approved, parliamentary and presidential elections will follow later in the year, the government says.

Sierra Leone

Montreal Gazette 3 May 2003 Horror haunts genocide expert LISA FITTERMAN William Schabas is a member of Sierra Leone's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, whose task is to produce an impartial historical record of the 1990s civil war in the West African nation. William Schabas checked over the contents of his suitcase. Dark suit for his daughter's wedding today in Toronto? Check. NutriBars, flashlight, cans of tuna and packets of dried fruit for Sierra Leone? Check. His is a life of extremes, one that bounces this weekend between the nuptials at one of Toronto's more tony churches and a mosquito net into which he'll crawl while camping in the remote bush of the war-devastated West African country. Schabas, who until 1999 headed the law faculty at the Université du Québec à Montréal and is now director of the Centre for Human Rights at National University of Ireland's Galway campus, is one of seven members of Sierra Leone's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Struck last spring to produce an impartial historical record of the brutal 1990s civil war and to try to provide some kind of succour to victims, it began formal witness hearings a few weeks ago. These are some of the mental images that haunt Schabas: an 18-year-old peasant girl who had her leg chopped off when she was 8 and depends on her unemployed brother to feed her; the three men who'd had their ears chopped off and fingers mutilated - all just because. It is inexorable. The stories keep piling one on top of the other, people missing limbs, ears and eyes, people whose lives have been destroyed as surely as have their body parts. "Where does this come from, this chopping off of limbs?" Schabas wondered aloud. "Basically, everybody, everybody has been touched by the war, as surely as people during the ice storm in Montreal. "Everybody has a story." It's not the first time Schabas, an expert in the field of war crimes and genocide, has confronted horror. He has been involved in human rights missions to Rwanda, Burundi, Cambodia, South Africa and El Salvador. Mary Robinson, the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights, nominated him to the commission in Sierra Leone. But it never gets any easier. He says it's hard to see a population scrabbling like mad to survive in a country that lacks ideology and leadership. It's hard to realize a corrupt elite still runs the country, and that there's no Nelson Mandela to give the people purpose and courage. "I need to think that what we are doing can effect change, that we can promote peace and reconciliation in a country that has been devastated by war," he said. "That's what I believe. I have to believe it." The commission is to produce a report by October. lfitterman@thegazette.canwest.com

VOA News 9 May 2003 Amnesty Criticizes US, Sierra Leone Impunity Deal A prominent human right group has criticized the United States and Sierra Leone for agreeing not to surrender each other's citizens accused of genocide and war crimes to the new International Criminal Court (ICC). In a statement issues Thursday, the London based Amnesty International said this is a completely unacceptable decision. Amnesty said the decision is particularly noteworthy when Sierra Leone is starting the process of dealing with the mass human rights abuses that have taken place in recent past. Earlier this week, Sierra Leone's parliament became the first in the world to ratify the agreement with the United States. In return, the United States will not surrender to the court Sierra Leoneans to the ICC. The United States says the ICC could become a forum for politically motivated prosecution of U.S. citizens. Amnesty said the impunity agreement between the United States and Sierra Leone is unlawful and that it had written to Sierra Leone's President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah not to sign it. A U.N. war crimes tribunal was set up in Sierra Leone in January last year to judge crimes during a brutal 10 year civil war which was formally declared over the same month. About 200,000 people were killed and thousands more deliberately mutilated in the war. Some information for this report provided by AFP.

BBC 26 May 2003 Sierra Leone fighters turn friends By Alice Martin BBC Africa Live! in Freetown Although the war is over in Sierra Leone, the fighters - or at least, the ex-fighters - still have a role to play. The former enemies found they were relations When Rashid Sandy first met Foday Sajuma in Freetown's Talking Drum studios, he was dismayed to find an ex-combatant from an opposing faction. But they began talking and before long found that Mr Sajuma was actually related to Mr Sandy on his mother's side. "All this time we had been throwing bullets at one another," Mr Sandy, a former high-ranking official in the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), told BBC World Service's Africa Live! programme. "Now, besides being a co-worker, Foday is also my uncle. It's amazing." Commitment to peace The RUF were responsible for some of the worst atrocities in West Africa in recent times. "He has to bless me," Mr Sajuma joked. The former soldiers meet up in the mornings at Talking Drum "He wouldn't be living now if it weren't for the hospitality of my organisation." Mr Sajuma is a former fighter of the Civil Defence Forces - also known as Kamajors - who supported the government of the now President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah. CDF forces held Rashid Sandy for 6 months towards the end of the war. "They could see I was committed to peace, that's why they didn't kill me," he said. This kind of banter continues on and off the microphone - the two are co-presenting a programme in the local Krio language, originally entitled "Throw Away the Gun". Now that the disarmament process has advanced, they have changed the name to "Let's Build Sierra Leone". Forgiving communities It was a brave move by the directors of Talking Drum studios, who are even sponsored by a peace-building organisation, Search for Common Ground. And they went further - as soon as Rashid was comfortable with his role as a producer and presenter, he was put in charge of the studio's Makeni office in northern Sierra Leone, the former national headquarters of the RUF. The decision to place Rashid in Makeni has had a big impact on the numbers of former fighters coming in on the peace process there. Makeni is now a peaceful community Many of the ex-combatants are nervous of returning home, either for fear of reprisals or through guilty feelings. But in fact, communities are generally a deal more forgiving than anyone could have imagined. About 70,000 ex-combatants have been disarmed in Sierra Leone - although this does not count anyone who did not have a weapon to hand in - and more than 30,000 have received official benefits package which includes training in skills such as carpentry, farming, tailoring, and computers. New breed of soldier But after a few months training, ex-combatants are still at the lower end of a competitive job market, and some have voted with their feet and stuck to the skills they know. The reported death of former RUF leader Sam Bockarie, alias "Masquita", in Liberia - and other reports of Sierra Leonians joining the conflict in Ivory Coast - are indications of a new breed of African mercenary. The sign-up for such fighters is reportedly as much as $500. These men can kill, rape and pillage a community that is not their own, and they need no ideology. While things are currently looking up for Sierra Leone, the real test of reconciliation will be over the next two years, as the UN withdraws the 15,000 soldiers of its Unamsil force.


IRIN 23 May 2003 Sides agree to monitor ceasefire NAIROBI, 23 May (IRIN) - At the end of the current round of peace talks in Kenya, Sudan's warring sides have agreed to monitor a cessation of hostilities accord. The Sudanese government and the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) signed an accord to establish a monitoring and verification mechanism under an already-existing Memorandum of Understanding on the cessation of hostilities. Media sources, however, indicated that little progress was made on issues such as wealth and power sharing between the north and the south, as well as security arrangements during a six-year transition period provided for in the Machakos protocol, signed last July. The closed-door session reportedly went through some difficulties after the government delegation threatened to leave the meeting in protest against the presence of two separate delegations from Sudan's umbrella opposition, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), and the Ummah political party. The two groups were not included in the earlier negotiations. Chief mediator in the talks, Lazarus Sumbeiywo of Kenya, said he would have high-level consultations with both Khartoum and the rebels in the "next couple of days" before deciding when the talks would resume.

IRIN 28 May 2003 Watchdog publicises attacks on civilians NAIROBI, 28 May 2003 (IRIN) - The US-led Civilian Protection Monitoring Team [CPMT], set up to monitor and report on attacks against civilians and civilian facilities in Sudan, made its findings public on Wednesday with the launch of a website detailing attacks in two areas. The CPMT reported that forces from both the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) and the government had launched attacks in the Pagak Malwal area of Eastern Upper Nile in March. "It is likely that some civilians were killed as a result of attacks undertaken by both parties," said the report, adding that an indeterminate number of civilians were also displaced as a result. In Wankai cattle camp, in Western Upper Nile, the SPLA had attacked and killed a "large number of civilians", possibly as high as 17, most of whom were women and children, the CPMT added. About 20 residents of Wankai were also wounded, it said. The CPMT resumed its work late last month after a disagreement between the government and the team, regarding its mandate, was resolved. Since early March, the government had denied the CPMT the necessary security clearances to conduct its investigations, accusing it of overstepping its mandate by also probing violations of the cessation of hostilities. Charles Bauman, Programme Manager for the CPMT, told IRIN the issue had been resolved through discussion but that there was "always the potential for running into problems on the ground". Last week, for example, the SPLA had objected to the CPMT's presence in a particular location, he said. "It's not necessarily done by design, although it could be. We're operating in areas where communications are difficult," he said. He added that the biggest obstacle to the team's operations at the moment was the rainy season, which resulted in some landing strips being too muddy for planes to land. The CPMT has 17 members on the ground, based in Khartoum and Rhumbek, who are undertaking ongoing investigations where allegations of attacks on civilians have been made. Each completed CPMT report is given to both sides for comment, after which it will be published on the website. Bauman told IRIN it was "extremely important" for the reports to be made public, to help bring pressure to bear on the parties to adhere to their agreement to protect civilians. [see www.cpmtsudan.net]


Hirondelle News Agency (Lausanne) 8 May 2003 Akazu Was the Mastermind of the Genocide, Expert Witness Say The 1994 Rwanda genocide was not organized by the state but by Akazu and was executed by the Interahamwe, an expert witness in the Kamuhanda trial told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda on Thursday. Nkiko Nsengimana, a Rwandan political scientist, described Akazu (the little house) as the core of power, which mainly consisted of the clan of the first lady (Mrs Habyarimana), with people from the North of the country who occupied strategic positions and wielded a lot of power. The Interahamwe was the youth wing of the MRND party, which was ruling Rwanda during the genocide. Testifying for the second day in the trial of former Rwandan Minister for Higher Education and genocide suspect Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda, the witness concentrated mainly on the attack of the presidential plane on April 6th, in which president Habyarimana was killed, and its consequences. Chaos after the crash "This attack triggered the genocide. It made it possible for the ultra to take over the state power. Akazu took over and carried out the catastrophe that we all know about. The brains behind the Tutsi genocide are Akazu with their armed wing the Interahamwe," he declared. The assassination of Habyarimana, according to the witness was intended to create a political void and cause political chaos. He cited the first victims on April 7th as the then Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana and several ministers. He further explained that the assassinations of Uwingiliyimana and other leaders who could still represent the state, was perpetrated by Col Théoneste Bagosora, then the head of gendarmerie with his henchmen as a formula to create a new government which he wanted to head. After the killing of the President, the top military officials met immediately with UNAMIR where Bagosora proposed that the army take over power .The UNAMIR refused and said instead a meeting should be held with the RPF. "The army refused to accept Bagosora, he left and was not seen the whole night until the following morning when the killings started.He became the real perpetrator of the massacres at that time," the witness said. Nsengimana, who was led in his chief evidence by Kamuhanda's lead counsel Aicha Conde of Guinea, also told the court that Joseph Nzirorera and Aloys Nsekalije, a colonel in the army and a former minister, were members of Akazu and were very much feared because of the power that they had. "Nzirorera was the leader of the Interahamwe and used to say 'my Interahamwe'", Nsengimana stated. Collective responsibility of the government According to the witness the interim government had a collective responsibility to stop the genocide. He added that each leader in the government should have been held responsible for criminal acts or omissions." How were the elite Tutsi and Hutu able to live and allow sacrifice of human life?" the witness wondered. Nsengimana was the thirty-sixth and last defence witness in the trial. After completion of his testimony he expressed his surprise to the chamber for being referred to as a defence witness whereas he came to testify as an expert witness. He said he could as well have testified as a prosecution witness, for that matter. The trial was adjourned to Monday when the chamber will hold a status conference and attend to pending matters and motions. Kamuhanda trial is before Trial Chamber II composed of Judges William Hussein Sekule of Tanzania (presiding), Arlette Ramaroson (Madagascar) Winston Churchill Matanzima Maqutu (Lesotho)

SAPA 15 May 2003 'Genocide minister' gets life Arusha - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda on Thursday sentenced Eliezer Niyitegeka, the central African country's information minister during the 1994 genocide, to life imprisonment for genocide. Niyitegeka, 50, faced eight charges of genocide and crimes against humanity related to the massacre of Tutsi civilians in western Rwanda's Bisesero hills between April and June 1994. He was not found guilty of rape, one of the charges brought against him. Up to a million minority Tutsis and Hutus opposed to the organised ethnic slaughter that ravaged tiny Rwanda for 100 days were killed in the genocide. Pronouncing the sentence, South African judge Navanethem Pillay said: "Mr Niyitegeka organised the genocide, incited people to commit it and himself massacred Tutsis in the hills of Bisesero." The defence had entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf and demanded that he be acquitted. Niyitegeka was arrested in Kenya on February 9, 1999 and transferred to the seat of the ICTR, in the northern Tanzanian town of Arusha. His trial began on June 17 last year and went into deliberation at the end of February. "The accused was a minister, in other words at the top of the government hierarchy. He was a journalist, someone well known, a reference to society. As a minister, he was committed to upholding the constitution but instead he violated it" by taking part in the genocide, the prosecution said during Niyitegeka's trial. Niyitegeka's sentence was one of the most rapid handed down by the ICTR, which has come under severe criticism for its slowness. Since it was created by the United Nations in November 1994 to try the leaders of the Rwandan genocide, the ICTR has convicted 11 people and acquitted one. - Sapa-AFP

IRIN 28 May 2003 ICTR elects new president and vice-president NAIROBI, The UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Monday appointed former ICTR vice-president Judge Erik Mose of Norway as its new president. Judge Andresia Vaz of Senegal was elected vice-president, the ICTR said. According to a statement issued by the tribunal, Mose and Vaz were elected during the 13th ICTR session in Arusha, northern Tanzania. Mose, who has been vice-president since 1999, takes over from Judge Navanethem Pillay of South Africa. Vaz was appointed an ICTR judge in 2001. The tribunal said three of four other judges were sworn in ahead of Monday's plenary session - Ines Monica Weinberg de Roca from Argentina, Jai Ram Reddy of Fiji and Sergei Aleckseievich Egorov from Russia. The tribunal was set up in 1995 to try Rwandans suspected of organising and taking part in the 1994 genocide, in which some 800,000 Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus were killed.

IRIN 30 May 2003 Tribunal amends laws to expedite genocide trials Out of 80 indictments signed by the tribunal, 65 suspects have been held so far; the rest are still at large ARUSHA, 30 May 2003 (IRIN) - The UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, (ICTR) has amended 23 of its laws and rules of procedure and introduced new ones to enable it to expedite trials for the remaining suspects of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda who are in the court's custody in Arusha, Tanzania. The amendments were adopted on Thursday after the 13th plenary session of the tribunal's judges. Tribunal Spokesman Roland Amoussouga told a news conference that new changes address the loopholes within the current rules of procedure and evidence, thereby to enable the judges to conduct the trials faster. The amendments follow widespread criticism of the tribunal by sections of the international community and the Rwandan government over delays in trial proceedings. Amoussouga said that the changes seek to harmonise ICTR rules of procedures with those of the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), based in The Hague, Netherlands. The changes include a provision for the substitution of a judge who is unable to continue presiding over a case. The new rule allows for the incoming judge to continue with the case from where his predecessor left off, unlike in the past when a trial would have to restart if one of the three judges left midway. Amoussouga said this would reduce the time a detainee spent in custody, pending case deliberation. Moreover, under the amended rules, ICTR detainees will for the first time be able to seek provisional release following the removal of a clause that required them to provide "exceptional circumstances" for provisional release. "The chamber must now only have to hear from the host country and be satisfied that the accused will appear for trial and not cause a danger," Ammoussouga quoted one of the new rules. He told reporters that the plenary session had proposed the amendment of 44 laws and rules of procedure, but amended and adopted only 23 of them. Plea-bargain agreements between the prosecution and defence teams have also been introduced as a way of expediting the trials. Under the arrangement, if an accused pleads guilty, the prosecution can recommend that the chamber mitigate the sentence. However, the rule does not bind the judges to the agreement in the plea-bargain arrangement - a common aspect of Western judicial systems. The UN Security Council set up the ICTR in 1995 to try perpetrators of the genocide in Rwanda, which claimed the lives of more than 800,000 people. Out of 80 indictments signed by the tribunal, 65 suspects have been held so far. The rest are still at large. "It is very important that we ensure that we do not waste time," Amoussouga said. "Whereas there have been some loopholes which enabled delays, they have been identified and collective action has been taken to make sure they are addressed."


AFP 28 May 2003 15 killed, 35 abducted in northern Uganda rebel attacks KAMPALA, May 28 (AFP) - At least 15 people have been killed, 19 injured and 35 others abducted in ambushes by suspected Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels in northern Uganda, army spokesman Major Shaban Bantariza said Wednesday. "Fourteen people were killed in the ambush, while 12 others were admitted at several hospitals with injuries, after a group of about 100 LRA rebels ambushed ambushed a passenger bus travelling in a convoy," Bantariza told AFP by telephone. He said the convoy of vehicles heading for Kampala from the northwest town of Arua was ambushed near Ayago Bridge, some 16 kilometres (10 miles) before they reached the bridge crossing the River Nile at Karuma. Bantariza said the bus and two trucks in the convoy were set ablaze, adding it was not known whether those killed were burnt in the bus before the army arrived. "Our response force reacted by going to the scene and managed to rescue 50 people, who included the 12 injured, but many other people were still missing and our forces are still searching for them," Bantariza said. Sources in Pakwach, further to the north, said about 10 bodies on top of a pick-up vehicle were driven away towards Arua moments after the ambush, the worst in the recent months. Rebel attacks have rendered the area between Karuma and Pakwach Bridges, near the Murchison Falls National Park, dangerous for travelers from northwest Uganda, forcing authorities to introduce a convoy system and bar vehicles from travelling unaccompanied through the area. Earlier reports reaching Kampala from northern Uganda said that at least one person was killed, seven injured and 35 others abducted by LRA rebels in a separate attack Tuesday night. "One person was killed and seven others injured in an ambush on their vehicle on Tuesday night at Pajure on Lira-Kitgum road," survivor Samuel Odongo told AFP by telephone from northern Uganda. Thirty-five other people were abducted overnight in the northern Gulu district, as suspected LRA rebels carried out a spate of abductions, targeting displaced people's camps, army sources also confirmed Wednesday. An army officer, who asked not to be named, told AFP 10 people were abducted from Pabbo Camp in Kilak county, 13 from Palenga and seven from Opiti camps in Omoro county, while five others were taken from Awor village neighbouring Omoro county. The LRA recruits its fighters by aducting mainly young children, whom they teach how to fire a rifle, before unleashing them on northern Uganda's civilian population. The group started fighting President Yoweri Museveni's secular government in 1988, ostensibly to replace it with a regime based on the biblical Ten Commandments. But their campaign has been marked by its violence against northern Ugandan civilians, 800,000 of whom have been displaced and live in squalid camps dotting the entire northern region. Efforts to end the rebellion through dialogue have yielded little result.

IRIN 29 May 2003 Kibaale calm after violent land clashes KAMPALA, 29 May 2003 (IRIN) - Western Uganda's Kibaale district is reported to be calm again following fierce ethnic clashes over land which resulted in the murder of three civilians, including two children who were beheaded with hunting knives. A further 50 people suffered serious injuries from attacks with spears, axes and machetes, according to police sources. The fight occurred on Monday between members of the Banyoro tribe and the dominant Bakiga tribe of western Uganda. A group of Bakiga attacked the Banyoro in a "pre-emptive strike" when they saw them in a Bakiga-settled area and feared an attempt to appropriate their land by force. Police commissioner for Uganda's mid-west region Grace Turyagumanawe told IRIN "it was just the usual fighting over land". "We have already arrested 15 involved in starting the fight. We are still pursuing the ringleaders but we have a good idea who they are. We will be bringing them to justice," Turyagumanawe said. Turyagumanawe added that security had been bolstered in the region. "We have increased foot patrols and have quite a number of extra men on the ground. We are now in a better position to prevent further scuffles." The gruesome killings are the latest in a long line of clashes concerning questions of land and self-rule in Kibaale. In April 2002, the Banyoro and Bakiga came to blows when the numerically dominant Bakiga succeeded in electing one of their number as a councillor for the district. The Banyoro rejected the results because they regard the Bakiga as aliens on their land. The Banyoro say they want to be compensated for historical wrongs by the British who, they say, robbed them of their homeland a century ago. In 1974, a government resettlement policy facilitated a large influx of ethnic Bakiga into Kibaale, leaving them in the majority, Minister of State for Lands and MP for Kibaale, Isoke Baguma told IRIN. "No-one was displaced but the move was done without the consent of the Banyoro," he said. [ENDS]


BBC 26 May 2003 Zimbabwe action 'next week' Tsvangirai warns his supporters to be ready for trouble Zimbabwe's main opposition party says it will begin its "final push" against President Robert Mugabe next week. A spokesman for the Movement for Democratic Change told BBC News Online that the party was calling for prayer meetings culminating in marches to start on 2 June. Paul Themba Nyathi said the protests would not stop until "Mr Mugabe gives a clear signal that he will leave office". The MDC accuses Mr Mugabe of rigging elections last year and We must be prepared to make a mark to ensure that we will never again be oppressed Morgan Tsvangirai, MDC leader The latest sign of the economy meltdown is a shortage of bank notes. There were long queues outside banks on Saturday morning ahead of Monday's public holiday despite limits on cash withdrawals. There have been shortages of basic commodities such as bread, sugar and petrol for several months. The latest statistics show annual inflation is running at 269%. 'Western plot' Some eight million people require food aid, according to aid agencies. The opposition blame the shortages on economic mismanagement, while Mr Mugabe says they are a result of a western plot to bring him down. As the pressure on Mr Mugabe's government has increased, so-called "war veterans" loyal to his Zanu-PF party have threatened to use force to prevent any opposition protests. Zimbabweans are getting used to queues "Using our military experience, we will mobilise," warned Patrick Nyaruwata, chairman of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans' Association. "We will co-ordinate with state security agents to fight." But MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai told thousands of supporters that he was not afraid. "We must be prepared to be arrested, we must be prepared to make a mark to ensure that we will never again be oppressed," he said. "Prepare for a final push, with democracy marches in every city, and from every workplace," he told a Harare rally on Sunday. Press freedom The main trade union umbrella organisation has urged workers to stock up on the staple food, maize-meal, and cash ahead of the mass protests. Meanwhile, South Africa has rejected a request to curb media criticism of Mr Mugabe, reports the French news agency, AFP. Zimbabwe Information Minister Jonathan Moyo asked the South African Government to stop the "demonisation" of Mr Mugabe in South African media. "South Africa has laws that govern the freedom of the press and we have no intention of interfering with that," President Thabo Mbeki's spokesman Bheki Khumalo told AFP.

Indepndent Online SA 5 May 2003 MDC hold trump card in Mugabe 'exit plan' By Basildon Peta President Thabo Mbeki and other African leaders could face legal barriers in their bid to persuade President Robert Mugabe to step down. Mugabe might be willing to exit at once if Zimbabwe's constitution did not require an election within 90 days of his doing so. That is the opinion of Lovemore Madhuku, professor of constitutional law at the University of Zimbabwe. The constitution requires an election within 90 days if the president leaves office between elections. Either of the two vice-presidents or the speaker of parliament would act as president pending the election. Madhuku believes this is the biggest stumbling block for Mbeki, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and Malawian President Bakili Muluzi, who were due in Harare on Monday to launch a new diplomatic push after Mugabe hinted he might be willing to step down. The African presidents were to meet Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. Mbeki explained the objectives of the Harare meeting on the eve of his visit, Jeremy Michaels reports. "The political leadership of Zimbabwe must get together to look at all these challenges of Zimbabwe and solve them, because a solution to the problems of Zimbabwe lies with the Zimbabweans... it doesn't lie with anybody else," Mbeki said. If Mugabe is persuaded to step down, the constitution would have to be amended because the Zimbabwean leader won't agree to an early election. Mugabe has categorically stated that the next presidential election will be in 2008. It is understood, however, that Mugabe could be persuaded to hold an early election to run concurrently with Zimbabwe's parliamentary elections in 2005, but definitely not before. To get Mugabe's co-operation, the constitution must be amended to do away with the 90-day requirement. But Mugabe's ruling party is short of the two-thirds majority required to change the constitution because it lost 57 seats to the Movement for Democratic Change in the June 2000 parliamentary election. Mbeki's biggest hurdle is to persuade the MDC to agree to the constitutional amendment needed to change the 90-day law and allow Mugabe to appoint a successor who will last until at least 2005 without holding an early election. The opposition has so far rejected this plan, saying it wants an early election. If it maintains that position, Mugabe is likely to cling to power. Meanwhile, speculation is mounting as to who would succeed Mugabe. Speaker of parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa is a key favourite. Other contenders are former finance minister Simba Makoni, Special Affairs Minister John Nkomo and Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi. Information Minister Jonathan Moyo has been mentioned, but he is very unpopular. Mnangagwa remains Mugabe's favoured choice. His major weakness is that he is unpopular with party members. He is the most hated man among the Ndebele people of the Matabeleland region, who constitute about 30 percent of the population. Mnangagwa stands accused of masterminding the massacre of more than 20 000 Ndebeles during the disturbances in Matabeleland in the early 1980s. Makoni is the man believed to be favoured by Mbeki as a successor. As a former secretary of the Southern Africa Development Community, Makoni is respected internationally. He was fired as finance minister last year after criticising Mugabe's economic policies. The faction headed by former army commander General Solomon Mujuru favours Sekeramayi, who has been accused by the UN of plundering the Democratic Republic of Congo. If Zanu-PF were to allow party members to choose the leader, Special Affairs Minister John Nkomo would probably win. He is popular in the party even though he is Ndebele. He is a moderate seen as pursuing different policies from Mugabe. Tsvangirai believes he could win against any candidate except Makoni. - Independent Foreign Service This article was originally published on page 1 of The Star on 05 May 2003

The Mercury 29 May 2003 Zimbabwe war vets arm ahead of street protests By Basildon Peta Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe is surreptitiously arming his war veterans and violent youth brigades with guns so that they can crush the planned street protests to topple his regime next week. The street protests have been dubbed "the final push for freedom" by the opposition. Army sources promised chaos and bloodshed on a scale never seen before, if protesters tried to march into Mugabe's official residence in Harare. The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said it would begin street protests from Monday to force Mugabe out of office, but Mugabe's militant war veteran supporters have vowed to crush them. They said they would use their military experience to ensure the MDC protests "don't even take off". According to sources, Mugabe has "opened army barracks" to the war veterans and youth militias. The sources said Mugabe was taking the MDC threats seriously. They said Mugabe was well aware that the last national strike called by the opposition had been an overwhelming success. He was therefore taking into account the possibility of an overwhelming response to the latest call. "Mugabe's resolve to crush any challenge to his authority must not be underestimated," said a middle ranking army official, who preferred not to be identified. Weapons "He has ordered the army to give weapons to his war veterans and the youth brigades for his defence," added the official, insisting that they would use these guns only if necessary. A senior army officer said there was nothing wrong with arming war veterans and youth brigades because they were considered a reserve force of the Zimbabwe National Army. "You may recall that the war veterans have been constituted into a reserve force of the army. They are entitled to weapons, if this is necessary for them to defend their leader." Officials say Mugabe trusts the war veterans more than the young soldiers who joined the army in large numbers after independence from Britain in 1980. He feels the war veterans are more loyal to him and more reliable than young soldiers who did not fight in Zimbabwe's liberation struggle, the officials say. The notorious war veterans, who spearheaded Mugabe's often violent farm invasions, last week vowed to use "military tactics" to thwart the planned protests against Mugabe. Mobilise National Liberation War Veterans' Association leader, Patrick Nyaruwata, said his militias would forcefully resist the MDC "final push for freedom". "We have stood aside and observed you for too long and this time we will not," Nyaruwata said in a statement. "This time, using our own military experience, we will mobilise against you. I do not mince my words." Nyaruwata added: "The consequences of any mass action will be grave. We will co-ordinate with state security agents to fight you off. "Remember that most top security agents in defence, the police and the Central Intelligence Organisation are war veterans and we will be co-ordinating with them." The MDC has vowed to press ahead with its protests, despite the threats. Its spokesman, Paul Themba Nyathi, said there was nothing wrong with the people of Zimbabwe using peaceful mass protests to free themselves from "this rogue regime". However, the MDC is not taking Mugabe's threats lightly. It has been placing full-page advertisements in Zimbabwe's independent press, urging the country's uniformed services not to allow themselves to be used against the people. The opposition party is telling the army to disobey illegal orders, warning that those who partake in Mugabe's repression will face serious consequences under a "future" MDC government. - Independent Foreign Service



Reuters 16 June 2003 Former Chief of Secret Police Is Indicted by Judge in Chile SANTIAGO, Chile, May 15 — A retired army general who led Chile's secret police under the former dictator Augusto Pinochet was indicted today in the 1974 kidnapping of a Spanish priest who was tortured and then disappeared. Judge Jorge Zepeda indicted Manuel Contreras, the former chief of Mr. Pinochet's feared secret police, known as DINA, charging him with arresting the priest, Antonio Llido, and taking him to a secret torture center where witnesses said he was savagely beaten. "For this, the former members of the now defunct DINA have been indicted as authors of the crime of kidnapping," the judge said in his ruling. Like hundreds of Chileans who went missing in the 1970's and 80's, Mr. Llido was never seen again. The suspicion is that he was killed, despite efforts at the time by the Vatican and the Spanish government to secure his release. Mr. Contreras, now 73, was sentenced to 15 years in prison last month for the kidnapping and disappearance of a young left-wing activist in 1975. He has already served time for plotting the 1976 car-bomb murder in Washington of a Chilean diplomat, and the courts accuse him of masterminding the similar killing of a dissident army commander in Argentina. Mr. Contreras, the highest-ranking Chilean military official convicted of human rights crimes, has denied the charges. Eight other top DINA members were also indicted in the case of Mr. Llido, who was accused of helping a rebel group. The priest's disappearance was crucial to Spain's efforts in the late 1990's to prosecute Mr. Pinochet for rights abuses.


Tico Times /AFP 16 May 2003 Acquittals Called 'Step Backwards' for Guatemala By Edin Hernández AFP GUATEMALA CITY - Last week's acquittals of three former Guatemalan military officers accused of murdering a human-rights investigator are proof of an ebbing tide of justice and the persistence of militarism, the victim's family, diplomats and humanitarian organizations said. Last Wednesday, an appeals court absolved retired colonel Juan Valencia, who had been convicted last year and sentenced to 30 years in prison, of having ordered the 1990 murder of anthropologist Myrna Mack, who was investigating massacres of indigenous people during the country's protracted civil war (1960-96). The court also reaffirmed the acquittals of retired general Edgar Godoy and retired colonel Juan Oliva, also members of an elite Army unit who had been charged with playing a role in the crime (TT, May 9). "This ruling is a blow not only for Myrna and my family, but also for Guatemala, because this pushes aside the hope for a rule of law," the victim's sister, Hellen Mack, said. "I had the hope that judges courageous enough to convict military officials still existed, but from the looks of things, there are not. Guatemala is a long way away from being a state of law." NO JUSTICE: Esperanza Mack (left) is consoled by her daughter Hellen after acquittals. Orlando Sierra, AFP Mack was particularly critical of the appeals court, which she said is well-known for supporting military officials accused of crimes. She noted the same appeals court had thrown out the convictions of three military officers and a priest in the 1998 bludgeoning death of Church human-rights advocate Bishop Juan Gerardi. "This court was not impartial," she said, adding, "I did not expect this ruling that only shows that Guatemala is far from having justice free of fear and coercion." Over the last year, a growing number of judges and judicial prosecutors have complained about receiving death threats and actually being attacked. "This is a setback in the construction of a state of law in Guatemala and a shame of the administration of justice, as well as a demonstration of the authoritarianism and militarism that persist in Guatemalan society," humanitarian support group Mutual Aid Group (GAM) director Mario Polanco told AFP. "As GAM and the organization of families of the (civil war) disappeared, we reject this ruling and hope that Guatemalans and the international community react adequately to halt this series of abuses of justice." "This is an act that shows that in Guatemala there is no justice," U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala John Hamilton said. The envoy was in the courtroom along with Swedish Ambassador Maria Lessner and the head of the United Nations Verification Mission for Guatemala (MINUGUA) Tom Koenigs when the ruling was announced. "Although we respect the court's decision, it is disappointing that 13 years after such a barbarous murder, the intellectual authors have not been convicted," Hamilton added. The ruling has added to speculation that the U.S. may seek to limit Guatemala's role in the proposed free-trade agreement with Central America. "It is regrettable that the intellectual authors of this crime have not yet been established," Koenigs warned. "Obviously the investigations were not sufficient to establish the responsibilities of these authors, and thus, there is no conviction of them, whoever they may be." The U.N. representative admitted he was "a little surprised" by the acquittals and added that "It casts a cloud not just the system of justice but also the system of investigation because the intellectual authors remain at large." Lesser said it was "very regrettable" that "Guatemala has not been able to serve justice for Myrna and the other victims of the harsh repression the country suffered" during the civil war. No fewer than 200,000 Guatemalans are believed to have been killed or disappeared during the civil war. A report issued by Gerardi just days before his murder blamed the U.S.-backed Guatemalan Military for the majority of the human-rights abuses during the war.

rightsaction.org 16 May 2003 KILLING MAYAN PRIESTS Rights Action is extremely concerned by a series of killings of Mayan priests who have supported efforts to end impunity and promote indigenous rights and identity. This information was prepared by Annie Bird in Guatemala. Over the past eight months many Mayan spiritual guides, or Mayan priests, have been killed. In this request for urgent action we describe five of them. Some were involved in the exhumation of mass graves resulting from massacres carried out by the Guatemalan army and paramilitary groups under their command during the genocide campaign between 1981 and 1983. All were dedicated to promoting respect for human rights and Mayan identity. All were also key figures in re-building and maintaining community unity and values. In these cases (between September 2002 and May 2003), the victims were not robbed. In those cases where witnesses are coming forward, police officers and former military personnel linked to crime gangs have been implicated. If thoroughly investigated, these killings could prove illustrative of the clandestine networks of crime, repression and social control. Unsurprisingly, all of the killings remain in impunity. Rights Action joins Guatemalan human rights organizations, that we support and work with (including CONAVIGUA, ADIVIMA, GAM and others), in condemning the killing of Mayan priests and calling for the immediate investigation and prosecution of those responsible, while taking measures to protect the life and safety of witnesses and family members pursuing justice, and other Mayan priests and human rights activists receiving death threats. Rights Action also believes these killings can only be understood in a broader and historical context. GERARDO CAMÓ MANUEL During the evening of May 3, 2003, Mayan priest Gerardo Camó celebrated a ceremony on a hill beside the village of Chiac, Rabinal, Baja Verapaz. At approximately 2 am, while he was delivering the prayer of thanks to the heart of the sky and the earth, a man appeared on the ridge three meters from the group, which included the priest and three others. He shot Camó six times, killing him, and fled from the astonished group. The assassin was recognized as a native of Chiac, Gerardo’s home village, who joined the National Civil Police - PNC. Ever since then he has brought numerous guns into the village, which neighbors believe to be stolen, and fires them off at night with others. Sixty-two year old Gerardo Camó was a respected community leader. In coordination with ADIVIMA (Association for the Integral Development of the Maya Achi Victims of the Violence/ Asociacion de Desarrollo Integral para las Victimas de la Violencia Maya Achi), he formally denounced to the District Attorneys office the existence and location of two mass graves in Las Tres Cruzes, Rabinal, which were exhumed beginning December 3, 2002. He and another Mayan priest performed ceremonies during the exhumation. He left a widow and two adult children. On May 14, 2003, members of ADIVIMA were verifying the location of another mass grave in Chiac when an unidentified person began shooting, forcing the group to flee. DIEGO XON SALAZAR At approximately noon on Wednesday, April 3, 2003 in Canton Camanchaj, Chichicastenango, Quiche, Diego Xon Salazar was harvesting apples in his garden when two heavily armed men kidnapped him. Xon’s children, in the house at the time, heard strange noises and looked outside in time to see at a distance their father being forcibly taken by the men. Later that day they heard gunshots that they believed originated on the outskirts of town, and concluded that their father had been shot. On Thursday, April 4 Xon’s children initiated a search for their father with agents of the National Civil Police - PNC, but the PNC quickly suspended the search saying they needed a judge’s order to proceed. The family went to the office of the Justice of the Peace, who did not authorize the search telling family they would have to go to the District Attorneys office on Monday. However, on Saturday, April 4, 2003 Xon’s body was found in a field outside of the town. Diego Xon was a Mayan priest and also an activist with the Mutual Support Group – Grupo de Apoyo Mutuo - GAM, an organization of victims of Guatemalan state sponsored repression. He collaborated in the creation of 17 human rights committees in Quiche, in exhumations and in the work of GAM. In addition, he was a member of the Academia de Lenguas Maya, a national Guatemalan organization that champions Mayan languages, and of Ucux Mayab Tinamit, a local organization in Quiche that promotes Quiche culture. According to GAM, in March 2002 Xon began denouncing the re-organization of the PAC (Civil Defense Patrols/ Patrullas de Auto Defensa Civil), paramilitary organizations created by the army in the early 1980s, several months before their June 2002 public actions demanding indemnification for “services” provided to the army during the years of repression and of genocide. After making these denouncements, Xon began receiving death threats from former PAC members and members of evangelical churches which in addition to threatening his safety warned him to stop his religious activities as a Mayan Priest. These threats were duly reported to the National Civil Police, but GAM expresses concern regarding the inadequate measures taken by the police to protect Xon given the complaints of threats. Further, GAM is concerned by the lack of investigation into the murder by the District Attorney’s office. MARCOS SICAL PÉREZ At 8:20 pm on December 16, 2002 seventy-two year old Mayan priest Marcos Sical Perez and his seventy-one year old wife, Marcela Cortez Sarpec had just returned from a Christmas celebration (posada) and were de-graining corn on the patio of their home when two men entered the patio, ordered them to put their arms in the air. They shot Marcos Sical 12 times in the face and chest and shot Marcela 5 times in the left leg. The assailants then proceeded to hit both of the victims in the head with the guns and a stick, presumably testing to see if they were alive, and then fled the crime scene. Marco’s and Marcela’s daughter witnessed the incident from approximately twelve meters. Marcela survived the attack. The attackers were recognized by both Marcela Cortez and her daughter, as well as by neighbors who witnessed the attackers flee the home. One is the resident of a neighboring town, works for a private security company, is known to have been trained as a Kaibil (an elite commando unit of the Guatemalan army known to have been responsible for a large number of massacres) and to be the leader of a crime band that violently robs people in the area. His accomplice was also a resident of Pichec, a distant relative of the victim, who is known to belong to the crime band. The witnesses and victim of the crime could not place a formal complaint until the third week of January since the District Attorney’s office was closed for Christmas. The men identified by the witnesses as the attackers were arrested a few days after the complaint was filed. The District Attorney in charge of investigating the case elected not to formally press charges against the accused attackers. On March 13, 2003, the men that witnesses identified as the assassins were released. The surviving family which pursued justice for the murder now fear for their safety. Marcos Sical, a highly regarded resident of the village of Pichec, Rabinal, Baja Verapaz, was a well known Mayan priest in the region. In coordination with ADIVIMA, he performed ceremonies for the commemoration of massacres in Rabinal, including the anniversary of the Panacal and Rio Negro massacres, and during the exhumation of mass graves, including the exhumation of the mass graves from the Rancho Bejuco and Pichec massacres. Given her age, Marcela Cortez has had difficulty recovering from the multiple fractures to her leg and may be permanently crippled. In addition to the widow, Marcos Sical left seven grown children. ALVARO POP CAAL On October 9, 2002 Antonio Pop, sixty-two year old Mayan priest, lawyer, renowned champion of indigenous rights and identity, and a founder of the Academia de Lenguas Mayas, was kidnapped. After a small effort to demand ransom, communication with the kidnappers ended just three days after the kidnapping. On December 16, 2002 three men were arrested for extortion in a neighboring town. One of the detainees admitted to participating in Pops kidnapping and having witnessed his murder by one of the other detainees. On December 17, 2003 he led police to a well where Pops body was found. Forensics determined he had killed by a gunshot several days after the kidnapping. Though the killing has the appearance of common crime, given how little interest the kidnappers demonstrated in negotiating a ransom, Pop’s family and human rights organizations fear the motive was political rather than economic. MANUEL GARCIA DE LA CRUZ Manuel Garcia de la Cruz worked tirelessly to facilitate the exhumation of mass graves in the municipalities of Joyabaj and Sacapulas, Quiche. In collaboration with CONAVIGUA (National Coordination of Widows of Guatemalan - Coordinadora Nacional de Viudas de Guatemala), he coordinated the exhumation of mass graves in Estansuela in Joyabaj and Trapichito, Chuchuca, Arequin, and San Jose Sinache in Zacualpa, among others. Like other Mayan leaders killed, he was committed to helping the surviving victims of the genocide give their loved ones a proper burial. A deeply spiritual man, he believed the spirits of the victims must rest properly, and he coordinated ceremonies for the exhumations. Garcia worked closely with the Mayan spiritual guides in the region. He was willing to respond to any request of the guides. He facilitated communications and coordinated with the spiritual guides. During the evening of September 6, 2002, Manuel Garcia de la Cruz was brutally tortured and killed. His body was found in the town of Cruzchich, Joyabaj where he had traveled the previous day from his home in Chuchuca, Sacualpa with the intention of buying corn. He was decapitated, disemboweled and his ears and nose cut off. Manuel Garcia will be remembered for his total commitment to his community. His widowed wife was pregnant when he was killed and they were already raising five young children. No one has been prosecuted for this crime, and there has been little investigation.

Article's Date: Tuesday, May 20, 2003 Guatemala Defense stand or presidential office? Jill Replogle As a lawsuit against Ríos Montt progresses, so does his presidential campaign. While the ruling Guatemalan Republican Front (FRG) party gears up for the official start of this year’s national election campaign, a genocide case against the party’s presidential candidate and current Congress president, General Efraín Ríos Montt, edges closer to the courthouse doors. Ríos Montt stands accused of ethnic cleansing by the survivors of 22 communities that suffered massacres at the hands of the dictatorial regimes headed by himself (1982-1983) and Romeo Lucas García (1978-1982). The "scorched earth" policies employed by both administrations saw tens of thousands of indigenous people murdered and over one million displaced. The Association for Justice and Reconciliation (AJR) filed the lawsuit in 2001 and all evidence is expected to be in the public prosecutor’s hands by the end of the year, according to the AJR’s legal representatives from the Center for Human Rights Legal Action (CALDH). A similar case against Lucas García, who was overthrown in a coup by Ríos Montt in 1982, is being prosecuted at the same time by the AJR. According to Sandra Sosa, assistant public prosecutor in the case, more than 100 witnesses of 25 massacres (11 committed during the Lucas García regime and 14 during Ríos Montt’s time) have given testimonies. Additionally, all forensic evidence has been turned over to the prosecutor’s office by CALDH, while nearly all the site reports have been completed. CALDH estimates that over 2,100 men, women, and children died in the 25 massacres orchestrated by the two dictators and carried out by the army and army-controlled Civil Defense Patrols (LP Aug. 12, 2002). Of the over 200,000 people killed during Guatemala’s 36-year civil war, it is thought that some 132,000 perished under the governments of Lucas García and Ríos Montt. Of them, 83 percent were indigenous peoples, according to the Guatemalan Commission for Historical Clarification. If the cases against Ríos Montt and Lucas García make it to trial, they will be setting a precedent both nationally, as the first genocide cases to be heard in Guatemala, and internationally, as the first to be heard in the court system of the nation where the crimes were committed. Past and ongoing war crimes and genocide trials, against Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann and, more recently, against former Yugoslavian president Slobodan Milosevic, have been heard in foreign or international courts. This is the case in the other pending genocide case against Ríos Montt, pursued by Nobel Peace Prize winner, Rigoberta Menchú in Spanish courts. Trying the case nationally during this fragile period of democratic transition in Guatemala is both a challenge and a key opportunity. "Justice is one of the most important factors in strengthening state institutions, and this case could help the justice system regain its credibility," said Fernando López, legal director of the Justice and Reconciliation Program at CALDH. "If there isn’t legal truth, documented and filed, there’s a risk that this could be forgotten and repeated," said Christina Laur, also with CALDH, adding that the legal process has provided both an outlet for the victims to express their grief and the possibility of healing. "When the witnesses first started to meet as a group, people kept their heads down, they didn’t talk. But when they finally did start talking, there was an incredible outpouring of grief," said Laur. "Now they’ve moved from being victims to social actors." In April, the children of the witnesses, now young adults, got together for the first time to learn about the case their parents are prosecuting. "It’s time for us to be informed about the legal process," said 23-year-old Oliverio Uz Alvarado. "When our parents die, there won’t be anyone left to say what happened." As the case moves along, so does the FRG election campaign, headed by its presidential candidate, Ríos Montt. The party’s Secretary of Organization, Haroldo Quej Chen, said the FRG is not worried about the accusations against its candidate. The more immediate problem is whether or not Ríos Montt will be allowed to run in this year’s election. His attempts to get on the 1990 and 1995 ballots were both thwarted when his candidacy was ruled unconstitutional. Article 186 of the Guatemalan Constitution states that anyone who has participated in a coup is prohibited from running for president or vice-president of the country. However, according to Roberto Villeda, from the Center for Defense of the Constitution, the FRG’s influence in the courts could be stronger than the jurisprudence that has thus far found Ríos Montt’s candidacy to be illegal. While other analysts and human rights activists share this concern, some are more optimistic about the power of the law. In an interview with Guatemalan daily Prensa Libre, political analyst Héctor Rosada said, "if [Ríos Montt’s candidacy] is approved, it would go against history, and compromise the image of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Electoral Tribune."

VOA News 24 May 2003 Former Guatemalan Dictator Nominated for Presidency Guatemala's ruling party has chosen former military dictator Efrain Rios Montt as its presidential candidate for the November elections. Leaders of the conservative Republican Front party announced their decision at a meeting Saturday in Guatemala City. The country is due to elect a new president in November. General Rios Montt is an evangelical minister who is currently the head of the Congress. His opponents say he cannot legally run for president brecause the country's 1985 constitution bars former coup leaders from seeking the presidency. Mr. Rios Montt is expected to mount a court challenge to that ban. Mr. Rios Montt seized power in 1982 and ruled for 18 months, during which his government was accused of numerous human rights violations. Human rights groups say at least 17,000 political opponents were murdered during the general's "scorched earth" anti-guerrilla campaigns. The strongman eventually lost power in 1983 via another military coup. Two years, ago, authorities ordered investigations into General Rios Montt for charges of genocide against Mayan Indians during his administration. Thousands of peasants were killed and hundreds of Indian villages were destroyed during his reign. Human rights groups describe General Rios Montt's 1982-83 presidency as the most violent period in Guatemala's 36-year civil war. Peace accords ended the fighting in December 1996. Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.

AP 23 May 2003 Washington Squirms Over Guatemala Race By GEORGE GEDDA - To the discomfort of the Bush administration, Guatemala's ruling party is preparing to nominate as its presidential candidate a former president who is remembered for massacres of civilians during his first presidency two decades ago. The selection of Gen. Efrain Rios Montt as the nominee of the ruling Guatemalan Republican Front Party is expected to be made official Saturday. Administration officials have informed allies of Rios Montt that U.S. relations with Guatemala could be damaged if he were to prevail in elections this fall, which could affect cooperation in such areas as alien smuggling and counternarcotics activities. Rios Montt currently is president of the Guatemalan Congress. Except for strategically important countries, leaders of foreign governments with a record of rights abuses generally do not get White House invitations. Rios Montt is expected to be no exception if he is elected. The Rev. Phil Anderson, of the Washington-based Guatemala Human Rights Commission/USA, said, "We stand with those in Guatemala, many of them survivors of massacres during his presidency, that want him tried for acts of genocide." A Guatemalan truth commission that examined human rights conditions during three decades of civil war concluded that, during Rios Montt's presidency, agents of the state "committed acts of genocide against groups of Mayan people." The Guatemalan Constitution bars anyone who has participated in a coup from assuming the presidency. The incumbent president, Alfonso Portillo, a Rios Montt supporter, says he believes the candidate will be able to clear that hurdle. The issue may be decided by Guatemala's Constitutional Court. If nominated, analysts say Rios Montt would be no shoo-in on election day because of Portillo's unpopularity. The U.S. visas of a number of Latin Americans have been revoked for human rights violations. The State Department, following established procedures, won't say whether Rios Montt is among them. Efforts seeking comment on Rios Montt's candidacy Friday from the Guatemalan Embassy were unsuccessful. Successive U.S. administrations have praised the evolution of democratic rule in Latin America, seeing it as the best hope for a better future. Reflecting disappointment with the results so far, Secretary of State Colin Powell warned a month ago that Latin American governments need to deliver a better life to their peoples, or democratic rule could be in jeopardy. A handful of countries have performed well, but Guatemala, with its problems of endemic poverty, corruption and rampant street crime, is not among them. Most of the high hopes generated by a 1996 peace agreement with leftist rebels have not been fulfilled. The State Department's most recent report on human rights conditions worldwide cites some positive developments but says the Guatemalan judiciary "suffers from inefficiency, corruption and intimidation." A U.N. mission in Guatemala reported last year that the overall human rights situation in the country had deteriorated. While many in Guatemala have bitter memories about Rios Montt's presidency two decades ago, others remember with fondness that order prevailed in the capital city in that period. The city is not nearly as safe now as it once was. Rios Montt was part of a long string of military presidents who ruled from the mid-1950's until 1986. He seized power in a coup in March 1982 and was deposed 17 months later. --- On the Net: State Department's Guatemala page: http://www.state.gov/p/wha/ci/c2866.htm


NYT 19 May 2003 “Cover-Up Found in Honduras Prison Killings”, By TIM WEINER, New York Times EL PORVENIR, Honduras, May 18 — After the shooting and the screaming and the smoke faded away, the guardians of state security scrambled to write the story of how 68 people were killed inside the prison walls here on April 5. They said 59 of the dead were vicious gang members who shot other prisoners, then barricaded themselves inside two cellblocks and set a suicidal fire, killing innocent victims in the process, as the police arrived to restore order. But that first draft of history is now crumbling into dust. What happened at El Porvenir, according to an independent report commissioned by the president of Honduras, was in fact among the worst prison massacres of this sort in many years. A draft copy of the report, which is to be sent to President Ricardo Maduro this week, says 51 of the dead were executed — shot, stabbed, beaten or burned to death - by a force of the state police, soldiers, prison guards and prisoners working with the guards. All were members of the Mara 18, a feared youth gang. It was, with a handful of exceptions, the Mara who died at El Porvenir. Almost every member of the gang who survived was wounded. "It is not true that the police opened fire to break up a chaotic fight, as some have attempted to establish," the report says. "They fired on a defined group within the prison population." Church leaders said the Porvenir report, written by three outside experts appointed by the Ministry of State Security, might force the nation to deal in a different way with its most despised citizens — the growing number of teenage gang members. Their emergence reflects the acute social problems of Honduras, one of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere, where half the population of 6.5 million is under 18. Honduras, like other Central American countries, is struggling to create a democracy. It is trying to build a justice system and a civil society out of very little after three decades of military rule. From 1963 until 1993, the police were under military control. The army, which received millions of dollars in military aid from the United States, killed and tortured citizens, including prisoners, the Central Intelligence Agency found in a 1998 inspector general's report. Today, although Honduras is a constitutional democracy, "the judiciary is poorly staffed and equipped, often ineffective, and subject to corruption and political influence," says the latest State Department report on the nation, dated March 31. Prisons are filled far beyond capacity, increasingly by children who have turned to crime, like the Mara 18. El Porvenir was "a time bomb," says its leading inmate, José Edgardo Coca, a former police sergeant and head of its prisoners' association. On the day of the killings, the prison held about 550 men, 350 more than its capacity. Roughly 80 percent of prisoners throughout Honduras are not convicts, but are awaiting trials in overwhelmed courts. About 80 members of Mara 18, a group that grew out of the 18th Street Gang in Los Angeles, were transferred to the prison in February. Tensions flared immediately between the gang and the established prisoners' association. "The Mara were ungovernable," Mr. Coca said. They were "the straw that broke the camel's back" at El Porvenir, said Armando Calidonio, second in command at the Ministry of State Security. On Saturday, April 5, Mr. Coca said, the head of the Mara 18, Mario Roberto Cerrato, shot him with a smuggled pistol, setting off the killing. No pistol was recovered after the killing. What became of it? "That is the question of the millennium," Mr. Coca said. The Mara 18 gang fought prison guards and Mr. Coca's allies from 9:55 until 10:05 a.m., the report said, until soldiers arrived from an army camp nearby. Shortly after 10:15 a.m., national police units, including a special operations squad called the Cobras, began to arrive at the prison. Mr. Cerrato was "shot with malice," the report said, after a prison trusty knocked him down. With their leader dead, most of the gang members retreated to a cellblock. Followers of Mr. Coca barricaded the cellblock and set it aflame, the report said, "in the presence of the police." Then, the report said, the police "opened fire on gang members who came out of their cells barefoot, their hands raised above their heads in surrender." One Cobra shot a prisoner who staggered from the cellblock in flames. Other Mara 18 members, who had surrendered, were beaten or stabbed as they lay face down in the prison yard, the report said. "Of the 68 bodies received at the morgue in San Pedro Sula, 18 had gunshot wounds, 17 had knife wounds, and 24 were burned," the report said. "It is important to point out that no firearms were found among the victims." Mr. Calidonio, the vice minister of state security, called the deaths an aberration, a momentary loss of control, saying, "It's admirable that nothing happened the other 364 days of the year." The executions seem to reflect widespread hatred of the youth gangs in Honduras. "There are people who think they all should be exterminated," said Auxiliary Bishop Romulo Emiliani in San Pedro Sula, the nation's second-largest city, one of the few people in the country working to rehabilitate the gangs. Bishop Emiliani, who preached at the prison on Easter Sunday, April 20, called the deaths of the Mara 18 youths "an assassination" that laid bare the country's social problems. They also offer "a great opportunity to demonstrate that there is law and order in this country," he said, if those responsible are brought to justice. "It is one thing to put down a rebellion," he said. "It is quite another to commit murder." President Maduro promises a "profound transformation" of the nation's prison system. But the problems of Honduran prisons often seem to be no more than a reflection of deep social ills. Over the past year, the State Department report says, evidence suggests that the police, vigilantes and "death squads" formed by businessmen and former soldiers have taken judicial matters into their own hands — by killing suspected criminals, particularly teenagers.


BBC 29 May 2003 Death in Peru violence State of emergency gives police right to arrest protesters At least one person has died and more than 70 been injured in clashes across Peru following the imposition of a state of emergency, according to reports. A student was killed when officers opened fire on a group of protesters occupying university buildings in the southern town of Puno, said officials. There are also unconfirmed reports of another death. At least 95 people have been arrested since the state of emergency was imposed on Tuesday night to contain strikes by teachers, farmers and health workers. The protesters have been pressing for pay increases, which the government says it cannot afford while implementing austerity policies agreed with the International Monetary Fund. In the capital Lima, police in riot gear turned water hoses on protesting court workers at the national justice palace. Hospital workers in the city of Barranca say 20 people were injured as troops fired in the air to disperse a crowd of rock-throwing farmers demanding tax cuts. More unrest was reported from Chiclayo, where several teachers were arrested, and in the city of Huanco, where many shops brought down shutters to avoid looting. Hospital on alert Soldiers were unblocking roads in the cities and armoured vehicles were sent to guard public buildings. The rector of the university in Puno, on the edge of Lake Titicaca, denounced what he called excessive use of force by the authorities that led to the deaths of two students. Democracy [does not mean] people can destroy the peace and interrupt the freedom of movement Prime Minister Luis Solari Puno's regional hospital has been put on "red alert" to cope with the number of casualties - some said to be in a serious condition - said director Isaac Manzaneda. President Alejandro Toledo said he was forced to call a 30-day state of emergency to protect the public's fundamental right to lead a normal life following the wave of strikes. "We are responsible for defending this democracy we got back at such a high cost," said Mr Toledo. More than eight million children have not been in school for more than two weeks after teachers began their strike in mid-May. Rights suspended The state of emergency suspends civil liberties and gives police the authority to detain protesters and enter private residences to round up suspected leaders without warrants. Freedom of movement and rights to assembly are also prohibited. The teachers have vowed to continue their action, but the farmers and health workers have suspended their strike. Correspondents say the protests add to the problems of the president, whose popularity has slumped to a new low after two years in office. Armoured vehicles are guarding plazas across Lima In April, thousands of Peruvian coca farmers marched into the country's capital, Lima, demanding that the government end restrictions on growing the cash crop, which is used to make cocaine. This is the second time Mr Toledo has resorted to emergency powers. Last June he imposed a state of emergency in parts of the country after at least one protester was killed and several hundred injured during street protests at government plans to privatise two regional electricity firms. Prime Minister Luis Solari said democracy did not give strikers the right to cause disruptions to public order. "Democracy is one thing, and another thing is the understanding that democracy means people can destroy the peace and interrupt the freedom of movement," Mr Solari told RPP radio. Thirty-six people were injured - 16 police officers and 20 civilians - and 95 arrested in clashes around the country on Wednesday alone, according to Interior Minister Alberto Sanabria and Health Minister Fernando Carbone.

United States (see Germany, Poland)

Boston Globe 5 May 2003 THE OMBUDSMAN Should we call it a massacre or a genocide? By Christine Chinlund, MOST GLOBE READERS probably don't have a particularly strong view on whether the word ''genocide'' or ''massacre'' should be used to describe what happened to Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire nearly 90 years ago. But for those who do care, the passions run extraordinarly deep.That is especially true for Armenian-Americans this time of year; April 24 is the anniversary of what they say was, by any reasonable measure, a campaign of genocide started against them in 1915 by the Ottoman Turks. In all, 1.5 million Armenian men, women, and children were slaughtered or died in forced marches, Armenians say. To call it anything other than genocide, they say, is a dangerous denial of history and is an insult to humanity. To the contrary, say the Turks. They argue that while 600,000 Armenians may have died, it was simply the consequence of war, not an attempt to wipe out an a entire people. (The United Nations defines genocide as ''acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group.'') Newspaper editors around the country -- not to mention would-be presidents and Washington politicians -- have, like it or not, been drawn into the debate. The Boston Globe, like other papers, had to pick sides. For 15 years the Globe has, to the dismay of its large Armenian-American readership, shunned the use of ''genocide'' unless it's used in quotes. The paper prefers ''massacre,'' and routinely includes Turkey's version of events. Several other papers with large Armenian-American readership use ''genocide'' more freely. For example, the Los Angeles Times's main headline on its story about the April 24 anniversary read, ''Thousands march to denounce genocide.'' The Providence Journal routinely refers to Armenian genocide in both text and headlines. (California and Rhode Island are the states with the largest share of the population reporting Armenian ancestry. Massachusetts is third.) The list goes on. To reader Marc A. Mamigonian of Belmont, the Globe's ''disgraceful, Orwellian policy has been made more obvious than ever to the Armenian community in recent months.'' First, he said, was the removal of the word ''genocide'' from the Globe's capsule review of the movie ''Ararat,'' which, after all, was about the Armenian genocide. Then came the the Globe's April 3 obituary of Pastor Vartan Hartunian, a local Armenian leader. Pastor Hartunian was ''a genocide survivor . . . [and] a righteous man who devoted a large part of his life to raising public awareness . . . of the genocide,'' wrote Mamigonian, director of publications for the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research in Belmont. ''Incredibly, I found that the word genocide was not used (except in quotes) and there was the usual caveat that `The Turkish government maintains that figure of 1.5 million killed is exaggerated.' Well, heck -- why not come out and say that Vartan Hartunian might have been a liar? It amounts to the same thing.'' Add to that some Armenian-American readers' displeasure over the Globe's lack of a story on the April 24 commemoration -- ''I didn't read one word on Armenian genocide; what are we, dirt?'' demanded reader John Garabedian -- and it amounts to sour relations with the 28,500 Armenian-Americans in the state. But there is potential for a changed landscape. The Globe is reviewing its 15-year practice of avoiding the word ''genocide'' next to Armenian. It is possible, although not a given, that sometime soon it will be used more freely. The review is wise and timely. A book describing the genocide -- Samantha Power's ''A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide'' -- just won the Pulitzer Prize. In Washington, members of Congress grow more willing to acknowledge the genocide, although they are still wary of a resolution saying so for fear of angering Turkey, a NATO ally. (That concern may fade since Turkey's parliament refused to let the United States use bases there in the war against Iraq.) Going back a few years, there are other signs of change: France officially acknowledged the genocide. George W. Bush as a candidate, although not as president, used the g-word. ''A combination of new and better scholarship, along with a wider recognition of a fuller definition of genocide that grew out of the debate over the Balkans, have combined to lead most knowledgable historians of the period to conclude what happened to the Armenians was genocide,'' says Paul Glastris, senior fellow at the Western Policy Center in Washington and editor of The Washington Monthly, who has studied the Armenian genocide. Not being a historian, I can not claim personal knowledge of what happened to Armenians, or why. But I find it telling that 126 Holocaust scholars have signed a petition calling the Armenian genocide ''an incontestable historical fact.'' The Globe's rethinking comes at a good time. The ombudsman represents the readers. Her opinions and conclusions are her own. Phone 617-929-3020 or, to leave a message, 929-3022. Our e-mail address is ombud@globe.com. This story ran on page A15 of the Boston Globe on 5/5/2003.

Los Angelas Daily News 16 May 2003 Slave disclosure measure adopted By Rick Orlov Staff Writer Calling it a matter of reclaiming history, Los Angeles on Friday became the second major city in the nation to adopt a measure requiring companies to disclose if they profited from slave labor. In a 10-0 vote, the City Council approved the measure requiring firms to disclose if they used slave labor prior to 1865 and the Civil War. "This is not about money," said Councilman Nate Holden, who introduced the proposal. "This is not about reparation. This is about reclaiming a part of our history that has been lost." Under the proposal, which now goes to Mayor James Hahn for approval, companies will be required to disclose if they made use of any slave labor in their history. "We aren't talking about a lot of companies," Councilwoman Jan Perry said. "But we are talking about a few large companies in transportation or textiles that were around in 1865 and still in business today." Councilman Bernard C. Parks, who had voiced uncertainty over the measure, also backed it. "For some reason over the past several years, slavery is something people put in the back of their minds," Parks said. "Yet, we have people who talk of the Armenian Genocide or the Holocaust. It's important to realize that for our community that may never overcome the bondage of slavery to say never again." Dr. Geraldine Washington of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Association for the Advacement of Colored People said the measure was important to the entire African-American community. It has been adopted by Chicago and is being considered for adoption in New York City. "This will go a long way to help healing in our community," Washington said. Barbara Ratliffe, an attorney supporting the measure, said it deals with an issue that cannot be forgotten. "This will help African-Americans to reconstruct and reclaim a history that was nearly lost," Ratliffe said. "People tell us to move on and forget it, but that would put us in denial. Everybody who comes to this country today come for the opportunity and they have benefited from the opportunity created over hundreds of years. Black people contributed, but we didn't get the chance to benefit because of slave labor."

Asian Times 17 May 2003 www.atimes.com Villagers vs Oil Giant: Ashcroft to the Rescue by: by Jim Lobe In a move that has provoked outrage from human-rights groups here, US Attorney General John Ashcroft has asked a federal appeals court in effect to nullify a 214-year-old law that has provided foreign victims of serious abuses access to US courts for redress. Ashcroft's Justice Department has filed a "friend of the court" (amicus curiae) on behalf of California-based oil giant Unocal in a civil case brought by Myanmese villagers who claimed that the company was responsible for serious abuses committed by army troops who provided security for a company project. But the department's brief was not limited to defending the company against the plaintiffs. Instead, the document, which was submitted last week to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California, asked the court to reinterpret the 1789 Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA) in a way that would deny victims the right to sue in US courts for abuses committed overseas. "This is a craven attempt to protect human-rights abusers at the expense of victims," said Kenneth Roth, executive director of New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW). "The Bush administration is trying to overturn a long-standing judicial precedent that has been very important in the protection of human rights." Other rights activists agreed. "The brief is a broadside attack designed to wipe the law off the books," said Elisa Massimino, director of the Washington office of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (LCHR), while Terry Collingsworth, director of the International Labor Rights Fund (ILRF) and one of the lead lawyers in the Myanmar case, called the move "shocking". "They're not just saying a bunch of Burmese peasants can't sue a US oil company," said Tom Malinowski, director of HRW's Washington office. "They're saying Holocaust survivors were wrong to have sued German companies for enslavement during World War II, and that victims of genocide in Bosnia were wrong to try [Serb leader Radavan] Karadzic in US courts. I don't think this administration wants to be seen as denying victims rights in these cases." ATCA, which was enacted by the first US Congress as a tool for piracy on the high seas, permits non-citizens to sue foreign and domestic individuals or companies in the United States for abuses "committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States". Since 1980, the act has been used successfully by victims of abuses committed by foreign governments and militaries overseas against individual defendants who were served with notice while living or visiting in the United States. The first case was brought by the father and sister of Joel Filartiga, a 17-year-old Paraguayan who was kidnapped and tortured to death by a Paraguayan police officer who subsequently came to the United States. In that case, another appeals court ruled that ATCA permitted victims to pursue claims based on violations of international human-rights law. Subsequent cases have been brought against national leaders, such as former Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos, and senior army officers from Guatemala, Indonesia, Argentina, Ethiopia and El Salvador, among other countries. While damages have been awarded in almost all those cases, they have rarely been collected, primarily because defendants fled the United States once they received legal notice. Lawyers began bringing cases against US and foreign corporations - usually involving, as in the Unocal case, alleged abuses committed by foreign armies or police that provided security for the companies - under ATCA in 1993. About 25 such cases have since been filed, although most of them have been dismissed by the courts. The most successful have been brought by survivors of the Nazi Holocaust against foreign companies and banks, which rejected their efforts at recovering their money or insurance claims after World War II. While the case was never fully tried, it helped induce Swiss banks to negotiate settlements worth more than US$1 billion. The Unocal case was originally filed in 1996. Last September, the Ninth Circuit Court overturned the dismissal of a trial-court judge and ruled that the company could be sued for such abuses as forced labor, rape and murder committed by Myanmese soldiers guarding the Yadana gas pipeline, if plaintiffs produced evidence showing that the company knew about and benefited directly from the troops' conduct. In its brief, the Justice Department was far less concerned about the specific case than about all litigation under ATCA, which, it said, "has been commandeered and transformed into a font of causes of action permitting aliens to bring human rights claims in United States courts, even when the disputes are wholly between foreign nationals and when the alleged injuries occurred in a foreign country, often with no connection whatsoever with the United States". The brief said that ATCA could not be used as a basis to file civil cases and that victims should sue under other laws; that the "law of nations" covered by the act did not include international human-rights treaties; and that abuses committed outside the United States should not be covered by the law. "Although [ATCA] is somewhat of a historical relic today, that is no basis for transforming it into an untethered grant of authority to the courts to establish and enforce (through money damage actions) precepts of international law regarding disputes arising in foreign countries," the brief said. Moreover, it warned, the use of the act "bears serious implications for our current war against terrorism, and permits [ATCA] claims to be easily asserted against our allies in that war". In that respect, it "raises significant potential for serious interference with important foreign-policy interests". But human-rights activists pointed out that if US foreign-policy interests were at risk, the State Department always has the option of intervening in an ATCA case - as it did last summer when it asked a judge to dismiss a case brought by plaintiffs from the Indonesian province of Aceh against oil giant ExxonMobil. Indeed, the State Department was explicitly asked to comment on the foreign-policy implications of the Myanmar case and reportedly prepared a letter that said it had no problems with the action proceeding. But the Justice Department, which represents the rest of the government, failed to deliver the letter and instead filed its own brief, which makes no reference to a State Department position. "I don't think this has anything to do with the war on terror," said Malinowski. "I think this is motivated by a very hardcore ideological resistance within the Justice Department to the whole concept of international law being enforced. The notion that international norms are enforceable by anyone is repugnant to some in the Justice Department." Collingsworth agreed that the move contradicted the avowed aim of the administration of President George W Bush to end terrorism. "Particularly today, with all this talk of the war on terror, to remove one of the few tools we have to address human-rights violations is the epitome of hypocrisy," he said, adding that he thought the Ninth Circuit Court would reject Ashcroft's arguments. "The Department of Justice filed the almost identical brief in the Marcos case in the late 1980s, and it was rejected."

Fresno (California) Bee 22 May 2003 House panel OKs resolution citing an Armenian genocide By Michael Doyle Bee Washington Bureau (Published Thursday, May 22, 2003, 4:45 AM) WASHINGTON -- Turkey's vaunted political clout temporarily vanished Wednesday as a key House committee handily approved a resolution citing what lawmakers termed "the Armenian genocide." Written by Mariposa Republican George Radanovich, the diplomatically loaded language marks the latest effort to get Congress on the record concerning the loss of life between 1915 and 1923. Turkey denies there was a genocide, while politically active Armenian Americans insist that's the only term that fits. "It's extremely important for the Armenian community, and for the international community, to speak with clarity about an historical fact," said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Glendale. _____ Related item _____ • Read the details of the bill. Schiff serves on the House Judiciary Committee, which approved Radanovich's measure by a unanimous voice vote. Technically speaking, it is not a commemoration, although that is the resolution's fundamental intent. "I think it is important to recognize genocide wherever it exists," Radanovich said, "and I think it's important for Turkey, as it enters the modern community of nations, to recognize some of its own faults." Radanovich's congressional district, as does Schiff's, includes many Armenian Americans. In the San Joaquin Valley alone, common estimates peg the number of Armenian Americans at about 50,000. Schiff's district is served by at least five Armenian-language newspapers. Lawmakers have previously tried, without success, to pass resolutions explicitly commemorating, as one of Radanovich's earlier efforts put it, "the Armenian genocide ... perpetrated by the governments of the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923." But the Turkish government, backed by the U.S. State Department and reinforced by a cadre of Capitol Hill lobbyists, always fights hard in opposition. Turkey dismisses as exaggerated the claims that 1.5 million Armenians died and note that many died on all sides during chaotic wartime. "The veracity of the Armenian Genocide has always been highly questionable," Turkish Ambassador Faruk Logoglu stated in a letter to House Judiciary Committee members. "The Armenian allegations have, to this date, never been historically or legally substantiated beyond reasonable doubt." The Turkish government also reminds lawmakers that Turkey is a valued NATO ally, although that card lost some value after the country refused this year to host the U.S. 4th Infantry Division's planned invasion of northern Iraq. Even so, the resolution approved by the committee faces high-level resistance. "I believe it is our duty to make sure that our strategic interests are not compromised by issues of this kind, which must be addressed elsewhere," Logoglu wrote, adding that "history by legislative fiat is likely to be neither fair nor just." The last time a Radanovich-written resolution concerning the issue passed out of a House committee, Speaker Dennis Hastert pulled it from the House floor minutes before debate was to start. "We have a lot of work to do," said Elizabeth Chouldjian, spokeswoman for the Armenian National Committee of America. "We need to get our grass roots going." In a tactical maneuver, Radanovich this year folded the "Armenian genocide" reference into a larger resolution "reaffirming support" of the Geneva Convention concerning the crime of genocide. The resolution then cites "the lessons of the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide, and the genocides in Cambodia and Rwanda, among others." This language enabled Radanovich and Schiff to keep the resolution away from the House International Relations Committee, where strong opposition resides. Radanovich said it also was crafted in hopes of winning broader support from Jewish groups. In a similar vein, Radanovich tried in a previous Congress to press a resolution concerning the human rights training of State Department employees. The political point of that resolution, too, was to have Congress on record as affirming the phrase "Armenian genocide." By writing it as a matter concerning State Department training, however, the intent was to have it pass through a committee friendlier than the international relations panel.

ANCA 21 Mar 2003 ANCA News Update - House Judiciary Committee Votes on H.Res.193 JUDICIARY COMMITTEE PASSES GENOCIDE RESOLUTION Panel's Approval of Radanovich-Schiff-Knollenberg-Pallone Resolution Sets Stage for Consideration by Full House WASHINGTON, DC - The full House Judiciary Committee today approved legislation, introduced by Representatives George Radanovich (R- CA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), and Congressional Armenian Caucus Co- Chairmen Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Joe Knollenberg (R-MI), marking the 15th anniversary of the U.S. implementation of the U.N. Genocide Convention, reported the Armenian National Committee of America. The vote on this measure, which specifically cites the Armenian Genocide as an instance of past genocide, opens the door to full House consideration of the initiative. The decision to bring H.Res.193 to a vote on the House floor now rests with the senior House leadership. The measure has been cosponsored by over 100 U.S. Representatives. "We want to express our appreciation to Chairman Sensenbrenner, Ranking Member Conyers, the members of the Judiciary Committee, and the authors of H.Res.193 for taking this important step today toward adoption of H.Res.193," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "Working together, as a community that has experienced the horrific consequences of genocide, we will continue to support efforts in Congress to move this legislation toward passage, and help ensure that the lessons of the Armenian Genocide - and all past genocides - are used to prevent similar atrocities in the future." Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner (D-WI) opened the consideration of H.Res.193, noting former Wisconsin Senator Bill Proxmire's (D) thirty-year campaign to gain ratification and later implementation of the Genocide Convention in 1988. "The enactment of the implementation of the [U.N. Genocide Convention] 15 years ago made clear the commitment of the United States to the provisions of the Convention, this country's acknowledgement of the Holocaust and other genocides throughout history and our promise to do all we can to prevent future genocides. I urge my colleagues to support the resolution," stated Chairman Sensenbrenner, who is a cosponsor of the legislation. Ranking Committee Democrat John Conyers (D-MI), who has been outspoken in his support for the initiative, warned against efforts to erase references to the Armenian Genocide. Chairman Sensenbrenner concurred noting that he would "strongly oppose any amendment that would strike mention of the Armenian Genocide." Genocide Resolution sponsor and Judiciary Committee member Adam Schiff (D-CA) noted the importance of the Genocide Convention and specifically efforts to reaffirm and Armenian Genocide as well as as well as other genocides in this legislation. "This is extraordinarily important not only for the Armenian community but for the international community that we do not equivocate about the loss of 1.5 million lives," explained Rep. Schiff. Following passage of the measure, Rep. Schiff noted: "This is a huge victory! A unanimous vote by the House Judiciary Committee to pass the Armenian Genocide resolution is a human rights triumph. The Congress of the United States may be finally on its way towards recognizing the slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians for what it was: genocide." H.Res.193 marks the 15th anniversary of the U.S. implementation of Genocide Convention, and calls on the United States to learn from the lessons of past genocides - including the Holocaust, as well as the Armenian, Cambodian and Rwandan genocides -- to prevent future atrocities. Upon Judiciary Committee passage of the measure, lead cosponsor George Radanovich stated: "I welcome today's Committee action as a meaningful step toward ensuring that the noble aims of the Genocide Convention and the painful lessons of past genocides will help to prevent future crimes against humanity. In the coming days and weeks I will continue to work with my House colleagues to see this legislation adopted by the full House of Representatives." - Turkish Ambassador and Lobbyists Had Sought to Remove Reference to Armenian Genocide In the days leading up to today's Judiciary Committee vote on H.Res.193, Turkish Ambassador Faruk Logoglu and lead Turkish lobbyist Bob Livingston sought to divert this legislation into a vehicle of Armenian Genocide denial. Specifically, they attempted to erase reference to the Armenian Genocide from the legislation text. In a letter to Judiciary Committee members, Logoglu argued that "the veracity of the Armenian Genocide has always been highly questionable. . . The Armenian allegations have, to this date, never been historically or legally been substantiated beyond reasonable doubt." He continued noting that, "reference to the so- called 'Armenian Genocide' in H.Res.193 will cause severe disappointment and indignation in Turkey. This in turn will invariably have negative consequences for Turkey-U.S. relations." The ANCA sent a point-by-point response of the Ambassador's letter to Committee members yesterday evening. Armenian Ambassador to the U.S. Arman Kirakossian contacted Committee members to respond to the Turkish Ambassador's false claims and to set the record straight on the facts of the Armenian Genocide. Congressional sources have affirmed that Logoglu and Livingston had held a series of meetings with Judiciary Committee members, in an effort to have an amendment striking the Armenian Genocide language from the bill. However, no such amendment was offered during consideration of the measure

VOA News 22 May 2003 Congressional Committee Votes on Resolution on Armenian Genocide The judiciary committee of the U.S. House of Representatives has approved a resolution that mentions the Armenian Genocide. The measure marks the 15th anniversary of the U.S. ratification of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide. It cites the importance of learning the lessons of the Holocaust, as well as the Armenian Genocide and the Cambodian and Rwandan genocides in the effort to prevent the repetition of similar atrocities. Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner says this is the first time the House Judiciary Committee has formally recognized the Armenian genocide. Armenians say some 1.5 million people died between 1915 and 1917 as the Ottoman Empire disintegrated during World War I. Turkey rejects the claim, saying far fewer were killed during the collapse of the empire. The United States has not officially recognized the killings as genocide, but each April marks what the White House has called a horrendous loss of life.

state.gov Washington File 21 May 2003 Senate Panel Authorizes Millennium Challenge Account (But votes not to have a separate governing body) (710) Kathryn McConnell Washington File Staff Writer Washington -- A Senate panel May 21 adopted a bill to establish a supplemental U.S. foreign aid account but stripped it of a Bush administration provision that would have required it to be managed by a new corporation governed by a board of directors. The Foreign Relations Committee also approved a bill authorizing appropriations for a package of foreign aid programs and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) for the fiscal year beginning October 1 (FY04), adding an amendment offered by Senator Christopher Dodd, a Democrat, that would add Caribbean countries to a list of African countries targeted for assistance by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Senators Chuck Hagel, a Republican, and Joe Biden, a Democrat, sponsored the amendment making the proposed foreign aid Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) the sole responsibility of the secretary of state. They said a new bureaucracy, the proposed Millennium Challenge Corporation, would weaken the State Department's ability to effectively manage foreign aid. The Millennium Challenge Corporation would undercut the secretary's "power and leverage" with foreign aid and development assistance, Hagel said. The MCA is a major Bush administration proposal that would dramatically increase available U.S. foreign aid funds and channel the additional money to countries that adopt market-based policies, govern justly and invest in their own populations. The senators specifically opposed the administration's proposed inclusion of the secretary of the Treasury and director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on the corporation's board. "OMB, in particular, does not have the expertise or experience to make foreign policy," Hagel said. The committee also approved an amendment offered by Democrat Jon Corzine that would set aside 10 percent of MCA funds for assistance to "bridge countries," or countries that are close to, but do not fully meet, the fund's criteria for aid. Both bills now go to the full Senate for debate. The House of Representatives also must approve its own versions of the MCA and foreign aid authorization bills. Final versions of both bills must be passed by the House and Senate before being sent to the president for signature or veto. The committee voted to reduce by $300 million to $1,000 million funding for the MCA in FY04, saying that the program needed time to become established and effectively distribute its funds. The panel also voted to cut $31 million from the administration's requested $731 million to fight drugs in the Andean region. The committee approved two new funds requested by the administration -- the Complex Foreign Contingencies Fund and a Famine Fund. It also approved authorization of a $15 million Radiological Terrorism Threat Reduction Act and a Global Pathogen Surveillance Act. The Complex Foreign Contingencies Fund would support peace and humanitarian intervention operations to prevent or respond to foreign territorial disputes, armed ethnic and civil conflicts, and acts of ethnic cleansing, mass killing or genocide. The Radiological Terrorism Threat Reduction Act would authorize the secretary of State to provide contributions and technical assistance to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to deal with the threat of radioactive materials being dispersed by conventional explosives, or "dirty bombs." The foreign aid measure includes the authorization of appropriated funds for humanitarian assistance and reconstruction efforts in and around Iraq. It would authorize continued funding for programs focusing on strengthening and preserving democratic institutions and processes, and conflict resolution in transition countries. The measure includes the authorization of an additional $70 million over the administration's request for the Freedom Support Act to aid countries of the former Soviet Union and a $40 million increase in funding for Eastern European and Baltic states under the Support for East European Democracy (SEED) Act. The measure authorizes increased funding of international military training, peacekeeping, nonproliferation, anti-terrorism and demining programs. Peacekeeping would get a $6 million increase over the administration's request and nonproliferation, anti-terrorism and demining would get a $100 million increase. The bill would authorize funding for the Inter-American Foundation, African Development Foundation and the Asian Development Fund. The bill would make permanent a provision that foreign aid can be provided through nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) as well as through government bodies. (The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

Newsday 24 May 2003 Jewish Fears Today 'We are at the dawn of a new era of anti-Semitism,' an international conference in Manhattan was told By Carol Eisenberg STAFF WRITER May 24, 2003 The stories told by the visiting European Jews had a surreal quality: From France, they recounted arsons, beatings and the return of "dirty Jew" as an epithet. From Paris and Geneva, they told of political rallies where crowds chanted "death to the Jews." And from London, they described Islamist cells preaching Jewish genocide. "The past is not past after all," French historian Alain Finkielkraut pronounced to a sell-out crowd last week at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in lower Manhattan. "It was just waiting, hidden in the dark, for more appropriate times.... To their own surprise, Jews are feeling very sad and scared." It is a sign of the times and also of a collective sense of Jewish shock that there were two high-profile conferences last week to try to understand the resurgence of anti-Semitism around the world. In New York, prominent writers, historians, intellectuals, social scientists and Jewish leaders came from Europe, Israel, Latin America and the United States to explore "Old Demons, New Debates." In Paris, a similar conference was sponsored by the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO. And just a few weeks earlier, another symposium met at the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. For many participants in New York, the gathering was a bitter jolt, confirming that for all the strides Jews have made in three generations since the Holocaust, the ancient animus is thriving, albeit in some new, 21st century forms. "Like many of us, I would never have imagined several years ago that I would soon be attending a conference on anti-Semitism, considered not as a historical phenomenon, but as - once again - a clear and present danger to the Jewish people," said panelist Hillel Halkin, a New York-born commentator for Commentary and The Forward. Many participants noted the paradox that even in New York - the heartland of Jewish America, where descendants of once-persecuted Europeans consider themselves "the luckiest Jews who ever lived," in the words of Leon Wieseltier, literary editor of the New Republic - the conference drew sell- out crowds four days in a row. "We are at the dawn of a new era of anti-Semitism, what might be called globalized anti-Semitism," said Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, author of "Hitler's Willing Executioners" and a conference speaker. "The racist anti-Semitism of the Nazis, for instance, was exported to the Muslim world, grafted onto it and then re-exported back to Europe, and that's mainly what we see today." Byproducts include the 41-part "historical drama," aired on Eygptian television last fall, that purported to explain modern Middle Eastern history through the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a notorious forgery concocted by the Russian czar's secret police 100 years ago to prove a Jewish plot to conquer the world, said David Pryce-Jones, senior editor of The National Review. Another is the medieval libel that Jews use the blood of Christian children to make matzo, which, he said, has disappeared from Europe but is now routinely repeated in the Middle East. Likewise, the physical attacks on Jews in France "are committed by Muslims, but the rhetoric that made them acceptable comes from the European political elite," said Mortimer Zuckerman, president of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations and publisher of The Daily News. But this anti-Semitism is different from what came before. Unlike earlier forms that saw individual Jews as a threat to their neighbors' well-being, Goldhagen said, globalized anti-Semitism is focused almost entirely on the political and military threat believed to be posed by the Jews of Israel and the United States. And it often is translated, he said, into conspiracy theories that blame Zionism and the so-called Zionist-controlled United States for all evil in the world - be it AIDS or Third World poverty. This new anti-Semitism, he suggested, is epitomized by the picture of a Jewish Rambo, his jackboot on the throat of a Palestinian - an image that has supplanted old caricatures of Jews as craven and manipulative Shylocks. "Zionism has become a mythologized danger to the entire world," Goldhagen said, "...a free-floating prejudice, available to everyone and, as such, very hard to combat." Increasingly, many panelists noted, that demonization extends to the United States as Israel's chief ally, evident for instance, in this prayer by the Mufti of Jerusalem, cited by Pryce- Jones: "Oh, Allah, destroy America, for she is ruled by Zionist Jews." Goldhagen, Pryce-Jones and many others, however, went to pains to distinguish legitimate criticism of the state of Israel and its policies, as well as its human rights record, from an irrational hatred that challenged Jews' right to national self-determination. Finally, however, there was no consensus on how broad the resurgence of anti-Semitism is or how much of a threat it poses, particularly to U.S. Jews. Some speakers, such as Irwin Cotler, a member of the Canadian Parliament and a human rights lawyer, described an explicitly genocidal threat that, if left unchecked, would have increasingly lethal implications. "The convenants of terrorist organizations ... publicly call for the destruction of Israel and the killing of Jews wherever they may be," said Cotler, a professor of law at McGill University in Montreal, where he also heads the human rights program. And Cotler warned that state-sanctioned ideologies of hate were flourishing in many nations in the Middle East, including Syria and Saudi Arabia. "If we have learned anything from history," he said, "it is that this teaching of contempt, this demonizing of the other and the creation of an ideology of hatred is where it all begins. The Holocaust did not begin in the gas chambers. It began with words." Many American Jewish intellectuals took a more deliberate stance, arguing that Jews were far better positioned to defend themselves than they had been in the past. The Israeli military is feared or celebrated for good reasons, they said. As for America, "I do not believe that the U.S. is just another address for Jews on the run," said Wieseltier. "I believe, rather, that the U.S. represents a revolution in Jewish history, a country that is in its philosophical foundation and political practices structurally hospitable to us. We cannot be pilloried as a state within a state in a state that is comprised of states within a state. We cannot be excoriated for difference in a society in which difference is the substance of sameness." As for antidotes, many speakers suggested looking to the past. Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League based in Manhattan, offered advice that seemed to hark back to his own improbable survival as a Jewish child, hidden by his Catholic nanny during the Holocaust. "Wherever, whenever and however good people stood up and said, 'No,'" he said, "Jews lived. And that's still the most effective antidote that we have today." Recounting how people frequently say to him, "'Why don't you just pipe down?'" Foxman said, he always will speak out. "I will tell you," he said, "when the question is, 'Do I stand up and say - 'No. That is unacceptable, that is unAmerican, that is unChristian, that is immoral' - rather than, 'Well, maybe it will go away' - I will err on the side of standing up. "Because if there's anything we've learned in our lifetime in terms of a response to anti-Semitism, it's that we don't have the luxury to be silent."

NYT 24 May 2003 A Utah Massacre and Mormon Memory By SALLY DENTON SANTA FE, N.M. As families tramp all over the country this summer, visiting historic sites, there's one spot — Mountain Meadows in southwestern Utah — that won't be on many itineraries. Mountain Meadows, a two-hour drive from one of the state's popular tourist destinations, Zion National Park, is the site of what the historian Geoffrey Ward has called "the most hideous example of the human cost exacted by religious fanaticism in American history until 9/11." And while it might not be a major tourist destination, for a century and a half the massacre at Mountain Meadows has been the focus of passionate debate among Mormons and the people of Utah. It is a debate that cuts to the core of the basic tenets of Mormonism. This, the darkest stain on the history of the religion, is a bitter reality and challenging predicament for a modern Mormon Church struggling to shed its extremist history. On Sept. 11, 1857, in a meadow in southwestern Utah, a militia of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormons, attacked a wagon train of Arkansas families bound for California. After a five-day siege, the militia persuaded the families to surrender under a flag of truce and a pledge of safe passage. Then, in the worst butchery of white pioneers by other white pioneers in the entire colonization of America, approximately 140 men, women and children were slaughtered. Only 17 children under the age of 8 — the age of innocence in the Mormon faith — were spared. After the massacre, the church first claimed that local Paiute Indians were responsible, but as evidence of Mormon involvement mounted, it placed the sole blame for the killings on John D. Lee, a militia member and a Mormon zealot who was also the adopted son of the prophet Brigham Young. After nearly two decades, as part of a deal for statehood, Lee was executed by a firing squad in 1877. The church has been reluctant to assume responsibility — labelling Lee a renegade — but several historians, including some who are Mormon, believe that church leaders, though never prosecuted, ordered the massacre. Now, 146 years later, Lee's descendants and the victims' relatives have been pressing the Mormon Church for an apology. The move for some official church acknowledgment began in the late 1980's, when a group of Lee descendants, including a former United States secretary of the interior, Stewart Udall, began working to clear their ancestor's name. In 1990, descendants of victims and perpetrators began urging the Mormon Church to accept responsibility for the massacre and to rebuild a crumbling landmark established at the site by United States Army troops in 1859. The current church president, Gordon B. Hinckley — himself a prophet who says he receives divine revelations — took a personal interest in the episode, and in 1998 he agreed to restore the landmark where at least some of the bodies were buried. But even that concession turned controversial when, in August 1999, a church contractor's backhoe accidentally unearthed the bones of 29 victims. After a debate between Utah state officials and church leaders — what has been called Utah's "unique church-state tango" — about state laws requiring unearthed bones to be forensically examined for cause of death, the church had the remains quickly reburied without any extensive examination that might have drawn new attention to the brutality of the murders. A month later, on Sept. 10, 1999, when descendants of the perpetrators and the victims gathered to dedicate a church-financed monument in what they hoped would be a "healing" service, both sides were disappointed by Mr. Hinckley's remarks. He continued to hedge on the issue of church responsibility, even adding a legal disclaimer many found offensive. "That which we have done here must never be construed as an acknowledgment of the part of the church of any complicity in the occurrences of that fateful day," he said. This was thought by many to be an effort to avoid wrongful-death lawsuits. But the church's reluctance to apologize is more complicated. At a time when religions around the world are acknowledging and atoning for past sins, the massacre has left the Mormon Church in a quandary. Roman Catholics have apologized for their silence during the Holocaust, United Methodists for their massacre of American Indians during the Civil War, Southern Baptists for their support of slavery, and Lutherans for Martin Luther's anti-Jewish remarks. But unlike the leaders of other religions, who are believed to be guided by the hand of God, Mormon prophets are considered extensions of him. To acknowledge complicity on the part of church leaders runs the risk of calling into question Brigham Young's divinity and the Mormon belief that they are God's chosen people. "If good Mormons committed the massacre," wrote a Mormon writer, Levi Peterson, "if prayerful leaders ordered it, if apostles and a prophet knew about it and later sacrificed John D. Lee, then the sainthood of even the modern church seems tainted." Believing they were doing God's work in ridding the world of "infidels," evangelical Mormon zealots committed one of the greatest civilian atrocities on American soil. Without a sustained attempt at accountability and atonement, the church will not escape the hovering shadow of that horrible crime. Sally Denton is the author of the forthcoming "American Massacre: The Tragedy at Mountain Meadow, September 1857

NYT Utah Massacre of 1857 (2 Letters) To the Editor: Re "A Utah Massacre and Mormon Memory," by Sally Denton (Op-Ed, May 24): As a descendant of a participant in the Mountain Meadows massacre, I strongly agree that the Mormon Church should acknowledge its role in the events at Mountain Meadows. However, Ms. Denton might have noted the courageous work of Juanita Brooks, a Mormon who wrote a history of the massacre in 1950. Ms. Brooks, who campaigned for a memorial at the site, recognized more than half a century ago that history and justice require a comprehensive accounting of the horrible events of 1857. ANDREW C. MERGEN Washington, May 26, 2003 • To the Editor: In "A Utah Massacre and Mormon Memory" (Op-Ed, May 24), Sally Denton tells only half the story of the tragedy at Mountain Meadows in 1857. She does not mention that for a quarter of a century, Mormons had repeatedly been driven from their settlements by mobs that burned their homes and killed their children. In 1857, the United States Army was on its way to Utah, and Mormons foresaw another expulsion. Some of them panicked and performed a terrible act that has stained Mormon history ever since. RICHARD BUSHMAN New York, May 25, 2003 The writer is emeritus professor of history, Columbia University.

ft.com 26 May 2003 The war on terror requires subtler weapons By Daniel Byman The terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia and Morocco highlight a sad truth: the war on terrorism is far from over. Al-Qaeda and the ideology it promulgates remain strong and the Middle East in particular will remain fertile ground for anti-western radicalism for the foreseeable future. As a result, for years and perhaps decades to come, western states must be ready to live with the risk of large-scale terrorist violence. Several important tasks remain to be completed in the war on terrorism. First, much of al-Qaeda's senior leadership apparently remains alive, including of course Osama bin Laden himself and Ayman Zawahiri, his deputy. Not only can these leaders continue to organise and plan but, as long as they remain alive in the face of a worldwide manhunt, they gain stature for their movement through nothing more than successful defiance. Al-Qaeda also has a remarkable ability to regenerate its leadership and cells. In the years before September 11 2001, police and security forces disrupted its cells worldwide and arrested many members. These efforts probably saved hundreds if not thousands of lives but they did not stop it. It is more than a movement: it is also an organisation that seeks to inspire and co-ordinate other groups and individuals. Even if it takes losses beyond its ability to recuperate, there is still a much broader Islamist movement that is hostile to the US and other western countries, seeks to overthrow US allies and is committed to violence. A proper listing of the al-Qaeda roster should also include at the very least senior officials of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad; the Jamaat Islamiyya in south-east Asia; the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat in Algeria; and al-Ittihad al-Islamiyya in Somalia. The conceptual key is to see al-Qaeda not as a terrorist group but, rather, as a global insurgency. Unlike, say, the November 17 organisation in Greece, al-Qaeda cannot be crushed with a few arrests. Instead, it requires a painstaking struggle to take out not only the current leadership but also the broader organisational structure. That struggle is going well in the short term but the long-term outlook is more troubling. Al-Qaeda and like-minded groups continue to draw numerous recruits throughout the Middle East and the Islamic world more broadly. Although it is difficult to get more than an anecdotal sense of al-Qaeda's recruitment, Mr bin Laden himself gloated about its successes in a videotape recorded before the overthrow of the Taliban. While al-Qaeda remains attractive, the US appears to be failing to win support in the Muslim world. Polls taken before the war with Iraq became imminent suggest that in Jordan, Pakistan and Egypt - whose governments strongly support the war on terror - popular antipathy towards the US is intense. US efforts at public diplomacy have made little progress so far. Indeed, efforts to fight terrorism have fostered anti-Americanism in the Muslim world. Washington has embraced sordid governments such as the Karimov regime in Uzbekistan, remained silent about Russian brutality in Chechnya and made other distasteful concessions to ensure co-operation against al-Qaeda. Such moves bolster al-Qaeda's claims that the US supports the oppression of Muslims and props up brutal governments. Another sign of problems on the horizon is the emergence of new areas in Afghanistan where would-be radicals are able to congregate and form lasting ties. Chechnya remains a bloody stand-off, attracting militant Islamists as well as homegrown radicals. Kashmir has died down but the trouble may soon reignite. Xinjiang remains turbulent and Indonesia may flare up. If the US mishandles the reconstruction of Iraq, that country too could become a training ground for potential al-Qaeda recruits. No easy long-term strategy promises success. Instead, the US and its allies must accept the inevitability of a large, global movement bent on murder as a form of political expression. Success will mean winning the hearts and minds of the people of the Islamic world. This is a much bigger campaign than the war on terrorism has so far embraced. It will require tools - economic, cultural, and political - that the US has defined but has yet to wield effectively. The writer is assistant professor in the security studies programme at Georgetown University and a non-resident senior fellow at the Saban Centre for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution


BBC 29 May 2003 Pact to end Venezuela violence President Chavez is accused of authoritarian behaviour An agreement has been signed by the government and opposition in Venezuela to end the political crisis that has gripped the country for more than a year. The deal - which was brokered by the Organisation of American States (OAS) - sets out the framework for a referendum on the presidency of Hugo Chavez. But no date for such a poll has been set, and the document is widely seen as a victory for the president. At least 50 people have been killed in political violence over the past 14 months as critics accused President Chavez of amassing power and mismanaging the economy. Under the new agreement, both the government and opposition have agreed to abide by the constitutional rules and try to avoid violence. It says a referendum on President Chavez's rule can take place later in the year, although several procedural steps will need to be taken first. Ease tensions OAS Secretary-General Cesar Gaviria said it had taken months of hard work by his negotiators to get the two sides to agree. "This is a good agreement for all Venezuelans," he said. Analysts say that while the accord may ease tensions in Latin America's most politically polarised society, it does not automatically guarantee a referendum. The two month general strike hit the economy hard BBC correspondent Steven Cviic says the opposition - which brings together most political parties, business, the unions and the middle class - probably feels this is the best it is going to get in the short term. At the end of last year, with a general strike hitting the oil industry hard, his opponents thought they had President Chavez on the run. But he simply refused to budge, pointing out that he was the elected president. The opposition seems to have recognised that if it is going to remove him from office, it has to be ready to settle down for a long haul, says our correspondent.



Australian Broadcasting Corp 5 May 2003 Aboriginal remains returned to Coorong tribe The National Museum of Australia will hand back the remains of hundreds of South Australian Ngarrindjeri Aboriginal people today. The remains were collected from gravesites more than a century ago by Adelaide coroner William Ramsay-Smith, whose practices were criticised at the time. The museum's repatriation unit will return the remains to tribal representatives in a special ceremony in Canberra this morning. Museum spokesman Martin Portus says it is the largest collection of remains to be handed back in Australia's history. "The 18 large boxes of some 300 remains of Aboriginal people will be trucked back to Camp Coorong near Meningie in South Australia, where on Thursday they will be welcomed back to country in a no-doubt very emotional ceremony involving fire staged by the Ngarrindjeri people," he said. The Ngarrindjeri collection includes remains from the Australian Museum in Sydney and from a collection recently returned from the Royal College of Surgeons in London. In a statement, the chairperson of the Ngarrindjeri Heritage Committee, Tom Trevorrow, said: "The wrongs of the past are the inheritance of the present. "The unbelievable acts of stealing, desecration, abuse and genocide upon our people will never be forgotten. "The return of our old people to their true resting places is a significant step but only one step in the continuing journey for justice that the Ngarrindjeri must travel."

St. Petersburg Times (Florida) 17 May 2003 Column 3 little girls who stood tall against oppression By Barbara Fredricksen I rarely write about movies. In fact, I can remember writing about only two, The Brothers McMullen and the Russian tragedy Burnt by the Sun, and then only because I thought they were little-noted movies too good to be missed. Now I feel called on to write about another movie, this one made just last year in Australia, Rabbit-Proof Fence. It doesn't have any car chases, explosions or digitalized whiz-bangs, so its stay in a few area theaters was too brief and too far away for most of us to go see. Now it is on DVD and videocassette, and it, too, is a movie that needs to be seen, not just because it's a good, well-made story, but also because it's about a historic event that is too little known. (Okay, I didn't know about it.) Based on a true story, and set in 1931 Australia, the film is about three young half-white/half-Aborigine girls, sisters Molly and Daisy and their cousin Gracie, who are kidnapped from their remote village by the Australian government and transported 1,200 miles south to a camp where, like tens of thousands of other "half-caste" children who were also abducted, they will be trained to be housemaids and field hands for white Australians. In the movie, the three girls escape and, using their wits and raw determination, walk 1,500 miles home along the Rabbit-Proof Fence, a barrier designed to thwart overabundant, imported rabbits from getting to pasture lands and fields on the other side. The girls knew that the fence ran near their village and would lead them home. It's a powerful, beautiful story of love, courage and hope, and the triumphant ending makes you feel good - until you listen to the extras on the DVD or start reading up on the story and learn that, years later, Molly's children also were abducted by the Australian government, rescued by their mother, taken home via the rabbit-proof fence, then kidnapped again. Molly, now 85, hasn't seen her youngest child since then. The government's goal, revealed in letters from the government officials in charge of this program between 1900 and 1970, was to breed away the indigenous population as much as possible, wait for the rest to die out, and thus create an assimilated, all-white Australia. The nasty name for this process is "genocide"; it continued in Australia until at least 1973. Except for a brief flurry of notoriety before the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, when sportswriters wrote about Aborigines setting up camp outside the gates to protest their treatment by the Australian government, the whole sorry episode of the "Stolen Generation" has gotten little notice outside Australia. Even today, according to Robert Manne, associate professor at La Trobe University in Melbourne, the "right-wing intelligentsia in Australia" claim it's all a myth, that the government was really "rescuing" the children from exploitative parents, not kidnapping them. Not true, says Manne. "Removals occurred without any reference to the courts and as a consequence of age and racial caste, never because of suspected, let alone proven, parental neglect," he wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald in February 2002. Nor is there any evidence the tribes ostracized or abandoned the children, as the government claimed, Manne writes. In fact, the Aborigines often did everything they could to reclaim their children. Some white Australian politicians refuse to acknowledge or apologize for what happened, saying that if they do, Aborigines will want reparations that could cost billions. Instead, they've set up study commissions with long names and little effect, still determined to impose their values, beliefs and customs on a native population that was functioning well and perfectly content for tens of thousands of years before the British arrived in 1788. It's worth noting that director Phil Noyce (Patriot Games, The Bone Collector), an Australian, chose three Aboriginal girls who had never acted before to play Dolly, Daisy and Gracie. Many of the members of the cast and crew had either been abducted or had a relative who had been abducted, bringing a special poignancy to the set. Rock star Peter Gabriel composed a compelling and haunting score for the movie, using Aboriginal instruments and sounds from nature. And lest we begin feeling too smug about what the Aussies did to the Aborigines, it might be good to remember that the Americas' European settlers did virtually the same thing to this country's native population, except in a much more violent way.


Reuters 1 May 2003 UN funding plan could undermine Khmer Rouge trials By Irwin Arieff UNITED NATIONS, May 1 (Reuters) - Draft U.N. plans to fund courts to try former leaders of Cambodia's brutal Khmer Rouge regime could deal a death blow to hopes for getting the already long-postponed trials under way, diplomats and human rights activists warned on Thursday. The plans introduced in a U.N. General Assembly committee on Thursday call for U.N. members to fund the tribunals with voluntary contributions rather than through the regular U.N. budget funded by annual dues, the diplomats said. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a March 31 report to the 191-nation General Assembly, had warned that "the opportunity of bringing those responsible to justice might be lost" if the courts were funded by voluntary contributions rather than dues payments. "The operation of a court should not be left to the vagaries of voluntary contributions," Annan said, predicting it would take "more than a year before sufficient contributions were received" to enable the court to begin functioning. An estimated 1.7 million people died under the ultra-Maoist Khmer Rouge's four-year reign of terror in the 1970s. Brad Adams of New York-based Human Rights Watch told Reuters: "The risk is that the United Nations will be pushed into starting a tribunal that may not be funded through to completion of its work. That would be a cruel joke on Cambodians who have waited 24 years for justice." The General Assembly's social, humanitarian and cultural committee is due to vote on Friday on the financing plan. The plan, drafted by Japan, was first introduced to the committee on Thursday. Diplomats predicted the Japanese draft would be broadly backed by the committee, whose membership includes representatives of all 191 U.N. member-states. KILLING FIELDS Most Khmer Rouge victims were executed or died of starvation, overwork or disease as the Khmer Rouge vision of a peasant utopia in the southeast Asian nation turned into the nightmare of the "killing fields." U.N. and Cambodian officials reached an agreement on establishment of the courts in March, after more than five years of negotiations and many compromises. But that agreement did not touch on funding. The U.N. plan calls for special courts to be created within the Cambodian justice system that would function in some ways like national courts and in other ways like the international tribunals set up to prosecute grave crimes against humanity in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. The goal of the special courts is to try "senior leaders" of the Khmer Rouge and "those who were most responsible" for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. Annan has estimated the special courts' budget at more than $19 million and projected it could wrap up its work within three years. However, Japan, the United States and France have questioned whether the process might take much longer and the courts' true price-tag end up much higher. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International criticize the U.N. plan, arguing the Cambodian government, which is still littered with former Khmer Rouge officials and soldiers including Prime Minister Hun Sen, would be able to exert strong influence over the proceedings. But many diplomats say blocking the deal would deprive ordinary Cambodians of the last chance to bring to justice those responsible for one of the 20th century's worst atrocities.

Reuters 2 May 2003 UN Panel Approves Long-Delayed Khmer Rouge Trials Fri May 2, 2003 04:59 PM ET By Irwin Arieff UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - A U.N. committee approved by consensus on Friday a long-delayed plan to create special courts to try former leaders of Cambodia's brutal Khmer Rouge regime but to fund the trials through voluntary contributions rather than via the regular U.N. budget. Diplomats hailed the plan's approval by the U.N. General Assembly's Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee without a formal vote, but warned that justice could yet be denied if governments failed to contribute generously to the courts' operation. The plan must now be adopted by the full General Assembly, but routine approval is expected as all 191 assembly members are also members of the committee. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a March 31 report to the assembly, had warned that "the opportunity of bringing those responsible to justice might be lost" if the courts were funded by voluntary contributions rather than through regular U.N. dues payments. Following the committee action, British U.N. envoy Alice Burnett noted Annan's concerns but expressed confidence global goodwill would see the court's work through to completion. "We trust that the international community will, before the extraordinary chambers are set up, come forward with sufficient pledges of financial support for the full anticipated duration of the chambers' existence, to allay any concerns on the funding question," Burnett said. FOUR-YEAR REIGN OF TERROR An estimated 1.7 million people died under the ultra-Maoist Khmer Rouge's four-year reign of terror in the 1970s. Most Khmer Rouge victims were executed or died of starvation, overwork or disease as the Khmer Rouge vision of a peasant utopia in the southeast Asian nation turned into the nightmare of the "killing fields," rural areas where people were slain and buried in shallow graves. U.N. and Cambodian officials reached an agreement on establishment of the courts in March, after more than five years of negotiations and many compromises. But that agreement did not touch on funding. The U.N. plan calls for special courts to be created within the Cambodian justice system that would function in some ways like national courts and in other ways like the international tribunals set up to prosecute grave crimes against humanity in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. Some human rights groups have criticized the plan as failing to meet international justice standards. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, among others, argue the Cambodian government, which is still littered with former Khmer Rouge officials and soldiers, including Prime Minister Hun Sen, would be able to exert strong influence over the proceedings. But many diplomats say blocking the deal would deprive ordinary Cambodians of the last chance to bring to justice those responsible for one of the 20th century's worst atrocities. The goal of the special courts is to try "senior leaders" of the Khmer Rouge and "those who were most responsible" for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. Annan has estimated the special courts' budget at more than $19 million and projected it could wrap up its work within three years. However, several countries have questioned whether the process might take much longer and the courts' true price-tag end up much higher.

Reuters 14 May 2003 Cambodia says genocide trial approval months away PHNOM PENH, May 14 (Reuters) - Cambodia said on Wednesday it would probably be several months before it could sign a deal reached with the United Nations to set up a genocide court to try members of the 1970s Khmer Rouge "Killing Fields" regime. After five years of negotiations, the U.N. this week approved an agreement to set up the court, leaving ratification by the Cambodian National Assembly as the last hurdle to be cleared before it can be established. The Khmer Rouge are blamed for an estimated 1.7 million deaths in the country's "Killing Fields" as they pursued an agrarian utopia during four years of rule. Many of the ultra-Maoist regime's surviving leaders who would face trial are elderly and increasingly infirm, and Cambodia says it is keen to get the genocide case to court as soon as possible. Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said on Wednesday, however, that it was doubtful whether parliament in the impoverished Southeast Asian country would have time to ratify the trial deal until after a general election on July 27. "I think it probable it will have to wait until the next National Assembly," he told reporters. The Khmer Rouge movement's supreme leader, 'Brother Number One' Pol Pot, died in 1998. The U.N. deal calls for creation of special courts within the Cambodian justice system that would function in some ways like national courts and in other ways like the international tribunals set up to prosecute crimes against humanity in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. Some human rights groups say the proposed courts would give the Cambodian government too much say in the proceedings and would fail to meet international justice standards. Funding has also yet to be resolved. An estimated $19 million to pay for the trials is to be sought through donations from individual U.N. member states, suggesting that the trial's actual opening is still some way off.

Reuters 18 May 2003 After Years of War, Now Sex Violence Scars Cambodia Sun May 18, 2003 09:30 AM ET By Ed Cropley PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (Reuters) - After nine months working the streets of the Cambodian capital, Im Thea says she is used to being gang raped. "It has happened to me so many times, I cannot count," the 21-year-old prostitute says matter-of-factly, standing on her patch under a flickering street lamp just yards from the impoverished Southeast Asian nation's Independence Monument. A smear of cheap lipstick around her mouth and a face white with make-up give the mother-of-one a clown-like appearance. But there is nothing comic in her solemn brown eyes -- no emotion, no hope, just resigned acceptance of a fate endured by scores of women at the very bottom of an increasingly brutal society. The world's oldest profession is far from new in war-scarred Cambodia, but fueled by a destructive mixture of poverty, desperation and a moral vacuum left by decades of conflict, many young Khmers are turning to sexual violence for their kicks. Im Thea says that after negotiating with a single customer, she is often then set upon by a group. "It is often with six to 10 men. They come out and then they have sex one by one. We have to be patient. If the men get unhappy, they beat us or take our belongings -- our money, our watch, our clothes, even our shoes," Im Thea says. BLAME IT ON THE KHMER ROUGE? After the horror of the 1970s Khmer Rouge genocide, in which 1.7 million people are believed to have died, hope returned a decade ago with a huge U.N. reconstruction program. Cambodia is now at peace and fairly stable, but in a salutary example to other countries being "rebuilt" by the international community, there appears to be something rotten in its society. The economy may be slowly growing and the roads have fewer potholes, but evidence is emerging of an increasingly desperate dog-eat-dog world where the vulnerable, in particular women, count for little. For the first time, some are even saying the usual explanation for all Cambodia's ills -- the legacy of Pol Pot's brutal ultra-Maoist regime -- is wearing thin. "Blaming the Khmer Rouge must stop at some point," says Women's Affairs Minister Mu Sochua, who as a mother of three teenage girls has personal as well as professional concern about what she says is an alarming escalation of sexual violence. "We deal with the victims of gang rape. How can I say to one of these victims, Sorry, but all this is caused by the Khmer Rouge?"' Instead, she says, it is time Cambodians started to treat those less fortunate than themselves as human beings. "SOMETHING GUYS DO FOR FUN" The government is aware of the increase in all types of violence against women, of which the gang rape of prostitutes is one of the latest and most extreme forms. A new domestic violence bill has its final parliamentary hearing later this month to back up existing prostitution laws which do not prohibit a woman selling her body. But reformers are battling against deeply ingrained social attitudes in which sex workers are regarded as somehow subhuman, a perception highlighted in a recent study by Gender and Development in Cambodia, an aid organization. Not only did nearly 60 percent of male students interviewed say they knew of friends who had been involved in gang-raping prostitutes, but only 13 percent of men and women saw it as morally wrong because the prostitute is not consenting. The statement: "Gang rape is for fun. It does not hurt anybody because prostitutes see many men" was ticked by 12 percent of respondents. A similar proportion said gang rape of a prostitute was okay -- as long as the men all paid up at the end. HUMILIATING POVERTY Under the banner "Women's Agenda for Change," charities such as Oxfam Hong Kong (OHK) are teaching prostitutes about their rights and encouraging victims of violence to come forward. But with a widening gulf between the rich and the desperately poor, as well as the absence of any real social safety net in Cambodia's largely privatized economy, campaigners fear brutality can only rise as poverty drives more women into the sex industry, and more men out of traditional livelihoods. "Laborers, farmers, fishermen are finding it harder to eke out a living. They can't find jobs, they're falling out of society, and they're angry -- and they are taking out that anger on those who are most vulnerable," says OHK's Rosanna Barbero. Add that to a corrupt and unconcerned police force -- prosecutions for sexual violence of any kind are rare -- and the problem looks like it is here to stay. Back on the streets, where Im Thea's desperation for $5 has overcome her fear of gang rape, the issue is quite simple. "I don't want to do this job, but there is no work in the countryside. This is the only choice I have."

BBC 24 May 2003 Khmer Rouge's legacy of fear When the survivors of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime gathered for the annual remembrance service this week, they were finally able to look forward to the prospect that the main perpetrators would face justice. But, says Eric Unmacht, a big question for many Cambodians is whether the trial will lay the ghosts of the past to rest. After years of negotiations, the international community has finally agreed to take another plunge into the murky waters of Cambodian politics, by approving a plan for a United Nations role in the trial of senior Khmer Rouge leaders. Cambodians still have psychological scars from the Khmer Rouge era The 191-member General Assembly approved a plan earlier this month to allow for the creation of an unprecedented joint court, designed to prosecute senior cadre for crimes committed over two decades ago - when an estimated 1.7 million people died during the brutal communist regime. But the outcome of the trial has been largely left in the hands of the Cambodian Government - and many Cambodians doubt it will bring noticeable changes to their lives. Some even say that after years of negotiating and foot-dragging, the court will be flawed and incapable of bringing justice. "I don't care about what's going on with a trial, because for years I heard about this idea and even today, there's still been no trial," said 36-year-old Phuong Yan. Cambodians will assess the trial's success in many different ways, says Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the Cambodian Defenders' Project. One that often gets drowned out by the chorus of international rights groups, diplomats and legal experts is whether the trial will help Cambodians deal with their personal traumas over the regime's brutality. "When people still see any word or hear anything about the Khmer Rouge, they get scared," Sok Sam Oeun said. "If they see this trial completed, they can put this behind them." 'I still suffer so much' San Chreung, a 61-year-old farmer, said "My husband was killed by the Khmer Rouge and my mother died of starvation at that time." "When I remember that time, I still suffer so much," she said. "I really regret that [supreme leader] Pol Pot died before he could face trial. I want him to suffer as much as he caused to the Cambodian people to suffer." Chum Manh, one of only three survivors of the Khmer Rouge's notorious S-21 prison and torture centre, said: "Last night, tears fell down from myself and my family when we heard Prime Minister Hun Sen say that the Khmer Rouge leaders must face trial." "I can not forget the time I was tortured in Tuol Sleng for 12 days, day and night," he said. "Every day, I'm looking for and wanting this trial." An estimated 1.7m people died as a result of the Khmer Rouge regime "But I still wonder whether they will have it or not," he added. "If not, I worry Cambodia will turn into a lawless country." Mental health experts say that while many Cambodians have managed to push their personal Khmer Rouge nightmares to the back of their minds, they still suffer as a result. "Cambodians suffer from collective trauma from the Khmer Rouge time," said Chhim Sotheara, a psychiatrist and the director of the Trans-Cultural Psychosocial Organisation. "This means that everyone suffers from it, so it's almost simple to ignore it," he said. Violent society A glance at the local newspaper headlines shows the violence Cambodians still live under on an everyday basis. From acid attacks in the countryside to brutal mob killings in the city streets, the average Cambodian is exposed to a level of violence that many Cambodians blame on the climate of impunity. Some say a big step towards reversing this trend is to try those most responsible for crimes committed during the Khmer Rouge regime. "The violence that happened in our society every day is mostly caused by the culture of impunity," said Ny Chakrya, director of the investigation and monitoring division of the human rights group Adhoc. "This culture is pushing the people who commit crimes to commit them again and again and again," he said. "It's good to have a Khmer Rouge trial, as this trial will look for justice for the Cambodian people who suffered under the Pol Pot regime," he added.

East Timor

Sydney Morning Herald 1 May 2003 Massacres go unpunished as UN crimes unit heads for collapse By Mark Dodd, Herald Correspondent in Dili The United Nations Serious Crimes Unit, in charge of gathering evidence to prosecute those responsible for the violence which swept East Timor in 1999, is on the point of collapse. Morale is at rock bottom and qualified investigators are resigning or choosing not to renew their contracts, amid claims the unit is chronically under-equipped and incompetently managed. Revelations of the crimes unit's problems follow disclosure by the Herald of two secret reports detailing the results of investigations into the bloody events linked to East Timor's independence vote. The reports - one the Indonesian Government's own investigation and the other by special UN rapporteur Mr James Dunn - confirmed the involvement of senior Indonesian military figures in the planning and arming of the militias responsible for the violence and revealed details of several mass killings. No-one has yet been tried for crimes related to these events. The UN is aware of the problems with its crimes unit. In January it sent a senior official from the International Criminal Tribunal in the Hague, Ms Mary Fisk, to report on problems at the task force now dubbed by its own staff the "not so serious crimes unit". Over the past fortnight there have been three resignations including two senior investigators, one of whom was in charge of determining responsibility for the murders of 70 independence supporters in the Oecussi enclave within West Timor. The Serious Crimes Unit is currently without a forensic pathologist although more than 30 sets of human remains are awaiting examination in Dili. A replacement from Canada is expected to arrive this month. One Australian Federal Police officer working at the unit is investigating on his own more than 300 individual homicides that occurred in Bobonaro and Ermera districts, including the murders of UN staff. One investigator said at times he wondered if the Serious Crimes Unit and the UN transitional administration were on the same side. "They are holding reconciliation negotiations with militia leaders we want to arrest," he said. Mr Mohamed Othman, the UN chief prosecutor in East Timor, admitted yesterday there was a shortage of competent investigators. "We need additional investigators. We need them in order to finish investigations within a certain time frame," he told the Herald, adding that specialist investigators in homicide and sex crimes were urgently required to fill existing vacancies. However, Mr Othman, a Tanzanian judge with experience at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, said he still expected indictments for crimes against humanity to be handed down against senior Indonesian military commanders and civil administrators by the end of the year. By June he said at least six cases would be ready to go to trial involving army-backed militia killings committed in Liquica church, Cailaco, Maliana police station, Oecussi, the murder of priests and church workers in Los Palos, and a rape case committed in Lolotoi. "In these cases, which are all crimes against humanity, we would have a minimum of 60 accused ranging from militia executioners to army commanders. "These cases will give a good indication of criminality of all the actors at a district level, then we move on to cases of command responsibility," he said. Other staff of the Serious Crimes Unit are not so optimistic. Many blame the Norwegian head of the unit, Mr Oyvind Olsen. Mr Olsen arrived in East Timor last year and staff believe he has little understanding of the situation that existed in 1999 and has been tardy in his support of prompt investigations of major crime scenes. "You have good people who are committed and want to achieve results, yet they are getting so frustrated they are leaving," a senior UN official close to the Serious Crimes Unit, who asked not to be named, said. "The Serious Crimes Unit is not going to last forever - maybe one or two years. Evidence decays, memories fade. "It is crucial investigations are done swiftly and systematically after the crime was committed."


PTI 3 May 2003 Sangh Parivar sponsored bandh hits life in Kerala Press Trust of India Thiruvananthapuram, May 3 Stray incidents of violence marred the Sangh Parivar-sponsored dawn-to-dusk Kerala bandh on Saturday to protest communal violence at Marad Beach which left nine persons dead with one more succumbing to injuries in the morning. Reports of stoning of state roadways buses and bandh supporters trying to force closure of a bank branch came in from Kochi while the situation in Marad near Kozhikode, rocked by violence on Friday night, remained tense but under control, police said. The bandh was "total" in Beypore area comprising Marad, they said. In other parts of the state shops remained closed in urban areas and bus services were largely off the road. Security has been tightened across the state and the law and order machinery put on top gear to check fresh violence, police said. Inspector General of Police (North) Venugopal Nair, was camping at Marad to oversee the security arrangements. Meanwhile, the toll in the clashes went up to nine with one person succumbing to injuries. Twenty others were injured in the clashes, the condition of three of them was stated to be critical. Over 60 people have been taken into custody in connection with the violence, police said. Chief Minister AK Antony has described the incident as "most unfortunate" and instructed police not to show any mercy towards trouble-makers. He would visit Marad on Sunday to assess the situation and peace efforts.

Keralanext.com 3 May 2003 Marad clear proof of growing terrorism:RSS Kochi: RSS State secretary A R Mohan today termed the violence at Marad in Kozhikode as a clear evidence of growing terrorism in the State. The organised attack on Hindus by Muslims without any provocation was to create a Kashmir-like situation. This has to be taken very seriously and should be defeated by all peace-loving and democratically conscious people, he said. BJP state secretary P P Mukundan said there were reports on fascist forces increasing in the state after the UDF assumed power. The one-sided attack was pre-planned as all the people were killed in a similar way, he said. Even Chief Minister A K Antony at a meeting in New Delhi had admitted that terrorist activities are strengthening in the State and no action was taken to avoid violence. The government should take stringent action against the culprits, the BJP State secretary said.

Newindpress, India - May 3, 2003 Peace initiatives in Marad prove skin-deep Marad (Kozhikode): Saturday's bout of renewed violence has shattered into pieces the veneer of peace that prevailed in this sensitive coastal belt. The death of eight persons has proved that the peace which existed here for about 16 months was only skin-deep. The last peace committee meeting was held here on March 30. Peace has ebbed away from Marad, despite it being under the eagle eyes of police since the communal flare-up on January 3, last year, which left five dead and many injured. Several houses and country boats were razed to ashes and valuables were looted from houses in the overnight violence, which erupted over an alleged eve-teasing incident during New Year celebrations on the beach. A semblance of peace was brought in thanks to the efforts of political parties and community leaders. Cultural leaders, politicians and film stars too had descended on the coast to bolster peace efforts. For three months, the village was in deep crisis with most of its men, arrested in connection with violence, languishing in jails, and women and children in relief camps. Even in relief operations, they preferred to remain divided, with both sides opening relief camps exclusively for their own people. Everything gave a facade of peace and harmony to the beach which then was studded with police outposts. Houses were rebuilt and distributed equally among families from both sides. The peace committee met occasionally to take stock of the situation. However, there were minor skirmishes and quarrels over petty issues, indicating that embers of ire were still alive in both camps. Though several houses were renovated, occupants, particularly women, were reluctant to stay in these houses. That episode had thrown a wedge between the Hindus and Muslims on the coast, who used to go for fishing in one boat. However, since then, fishermen belonging to both communities had stopped that age-old practice.Æ A 'Sneha Sangamam' was held here in an attempt to bridge the gap between the communities which was attended by leaders of various political parties and religious leaders. The entire area was provided electricity and water connection because it was said that many a conflict began with women picking quarrels at water taps. The authorities revived the traditional Kadal Kodathi system (Sea Court) to stop local disputes from snowballing into major conflicts. All the issues pertaining to communities were discussed and settled at these courts. But all these could not prevent the dark forces lurking behind the shadow, waiting for an opportunity to strike. www.newindpress.com

The Hindu 4 May 2003 RSS blames it on Muslim terrorists By Our Staff Reporter KOCHI MAY 4 . The RSS State secretary, A.R. Mohanan, who suspects a well-plotted conspiracy by Muslim terrorists behind the Marad carnage, has sought a comprehensive probe into it. At a news conference here on Sunday, Mr. Mohanan wanted the State Government to seek an investigation by the CBI. The Marad violence was not just a law-and-order issue; the nation's security was at stake. He suggested that the National Development Front (NDF) `might have been involved' in the killings. He, however, refused to comment on the BJP leader, P.P. Mukundan's allegation that a UDF partner was involved in the Marad violence. Mr. Mohanan claimed that Hindus were becoming a `minority' in Kerala and warned of a conspiracy by anti-national forces to turn the State into another Kashmir. The Marad attackers had attempted `ethnic cleansing' of Hindus, he added. Kunhalikutty resignation sought The Viswa Hindu Parishad (VHP) will convene an emergency meeting of Hindu organisations to chalk out an action plan to counter terrorist attacks of the kind witnessed in Marad, the VHP State organising secretary, Kummanam Rajasekharan, has said. At a Press conference in Kozhikode today, he alleged that the twin objectives of the massacre were to force mass conversion of Hindus into Islam and to wipe out the Hindu population there. He demanded the resignation of the IT Minister, P.K. Kunhalikutty, owning responsibility for the carnage and for creating a false impression that peace had returned to Marad after the riots there last year. Mr. Kunhalikutty was leading the efforts to restore peace at Marad.

PTI 4 May 2003 Scared residents of Marad Beach decide to leave homes Marad Beach, May 4 (PTI): Terrified members of a particular community in Marad Beach of Kozhikode have decided to leave their homes and move to safer destinations after the recent violence in the fishermen-dominated area which claimed nine lives. "How do you expect us to live here now. What happened to the assurances made last time?," Shoba, a relative of one of the deceased and who witnessed communal clashes in January 2002, said while bursting into tears. Sasi, who was fast asleep in a nearby house and escaped the attack, said "we don't believe in peace anymore. Neither do we wish to retaliate nor do we have confidence in the security provided. We would now like to protect ourselves". "All those with whom I was talking an hour before the incident were either dead or left bleeding when I woke up," Sasi said in a state of shock. Meanwhile, deployment of a heavy police force in the area failed to convince people from leaving their homes fearing recurrence of such attacks.

BBC 4 May 2003 Arrests follow India village massacre By Charles Haviland BBC correspondent in southern India More than 60 people are under arrest in a south Indian fishing village, after nine fishermen were killed and more than 20 people injured in a sectarian attack. The victims, who have died in the past two days since Friday's attack in the state of Kerala, were all Hindus. The Kerala Chief Minister, AK Antony, is visiting the village to try to broker peace. Police remain on high alert in the hamlet of Marad near the city of Calicut. Weapons 'seized' They say the carnage on the beach there was the result of a well-planned attack, using lethal weapons. Among the dead was a man about to celebrate his marriage. Two women are among those injured. Of more than 60 people arrested, 40 were held after a raid on a mosque from which weapons were also seized, including 17 bombs. Marad had been tense since January last year, when five people, including four Muslims, died in communal violence. Calm shattered Local sources say the new incident appears to have been a revenge attack on Hindus. It has shattered the calm which local peace-making organisations had helped promote. The Kerala coast has a volatile mix of Muslim, Hindu and Christian fishing communities, most very poor and living virtually on top of each other. Competition between them is heightened by dwindling fish stocks and they no longer share the same boats. The violence took place in a Muslim majority area, but one in which the Hindu nationalist movement, the RSS, is also strong. As police try to damp down tensions, a home affairs minister from Delhi is due to visit Marad on Monday.

PTI 8 May 2003 Tripura massacre toll rises to 33 Agartala, May 8. (PTI): The toll in the yesterday's attacks by insurgent groups in Tripura rose to 33 with two persons succumbing to their injuries at G B Hospital here in the wee hours today, police said. The two - Suradhani and Sanjoy Sarkar - were among the six injured in the shootout yesterday by the banned All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF) at Satcharri, a border village of West Tripura district, which claimed the lives of 19 others. Another 10 persons were killed by suspected insurgents of proscribed National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) armed with automatic weapons opened fire at Moharcherra market and in a nearby village fair. Eight persons were killed on the spot and two of the five injured died on way to the hospital last night. In another incident, a couple was shot dead by the outfit at Radhanagar village under Kumarghat police station of North Tripura district in the wee hours yesterday. The ultras also kidnapped one person on their way back to Bangladesh. Tripura State Rifles and Assam Rifles are patrolling the affected Satcharri and Moharcherra areas, where tension continued to prevail, official sources said.

Keralanext.com 19 May 2003 Muslim League to launch campaign against extremism Kozhikode: The Indian Union Muslim League in Kerala has said it would launch an 'aggressive' campaign against forces engaged in extremist activities in the state and set up a relief committee to rehabilitate those affected in the recent attack at Marad, which claimed nine lives. "The League will launch a powerful and systematic anti-extremist campaign, irrespective of political or religious considerations", IUML state general secretary and Industries Minister P K Kunhalikutty said while briefing reporters on the deliberations of the working committee meeting here. Dismissing as 'baseless', the charges levelled by the BJP and the CPI(M) against the League, in connection with the Marad incident, he said "while the BJP seeks to cash in on communal lines, the CPI(M) wants to score political mileage". Expressing anger over the Government's decision to take over a place of worship of the minority community in the area, from where a cache of weapons were recovered following the attack, the IUML demanded that the religious place be handed over to the Wakf board immediately. On distribution of tridents by the VHP in the state, it wanted the Antony Government to "take appropriate steps at the appropriate time" to avoid such incidents from leading to communal disturbances in the state.

Sun Network, India - May 13, 2003 Marad incident: VHP moots defence force to check attacks Kozhikode, May 14 - Reiterating the demand for a CBI probe to expose the roots of conspiracy behind the Marad carnage in which nine people were killed on May 2, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) on Tuesday announced that it would build up a `defence force' in association with other Hindu organisations to check such attacks in future. Disclosing this at a press conference here, VHP national vice-president P Ramachandran and other leaders said a meeting of all Hindu organisations, scheduled to be held here on May 20, would work out the details of the plan. Though they refused to go into the line of action of the proposed `defence force', VHP leaders claimed that they did not believe in violence as a rhetoric. ``This is to equip the Hindus with self-pride and self-protection,'' the leaders said. VHP leaders, including state president K V Madanan, secretary B R Balaraman and organiser-in-charge of Kerala and Tamil Nadu P S Kashi Vishvanathan, led by Dr Ramachandran, visited Marad on Monday to gather details on the May 2 mass murder. Urging that the shrine at Marad from where a huge cache of arms was seized be left under the state administration for a longer time till things became normal, the VHP alleged that arms were concealed at many more places of worship in the districts of Kozhikode, Malappuram, Palakkad, Kasaragod, Kollam, Alappuzha and Thiruvananthapuram and the miscreants were being given training. The supporters of the National Development Front (NDF), which was accused of masterminding the attack, had crept into all the major political parties, they claimed, adding that the killing of one man from the other community was aimed at destroying the evidence of high-level links behind the attack.

Sun Network, India - May 16, 2003 RSS is controlling Marad, says Pinarayi 16-May-2003 Thiruvananthapuram: CPM State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan alleged that the RSS had taken over the control of Marad. The police force was dancing to the tunes of the RSS by not protecting the Muslim population that had deserted the area, Pinarayi Vijayan said. Briefing newsmen of the two-day deliberations of the CPM State committee, the party State secretary said that the UDF Government had miserably failed to restore peace in Marad even after two weeks of the massacre. ''The Muslims in Marad remain as refugees in their homeland and these innocents are paying the price for the misdeeds of a handful of fundamentalist elements,'' he said. He went on to allege that deserted Muslim houses were being looted with the tacit approval of the police. The police were searching for weapons only in the houses pointed out by the RSS. This was the direct fallout of the appeasement of communal forces by Chief Minister A K Antony. ''Antony has taken a decision not to ban the VHP-led trishul distribution programme even ignoring the Congress high command policy. Congress Governments in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have already banned the programme,'' he said. He said that the construction of a temple at the Idukki dam was progressing on account of the inaction on the part of the Government and the KSEB. This was another reflection of the Government policy of appeasement of communal forces. He demanded that the Government should take the services of a sitting judge for the proposed judicial inquiry into the Marad massacre. A special investigation team comprising police officers known for their integrity be constituted for the case investigation. League protecting NDF: The CPM leader alleged that the ruling Muslim League was hand-in-glove with the NDF which was accused of being behind the Marad massacre. According to Pinarayi, the League was a power-monger and had no compunction in compromising principles. The League-BJP alliance in Chavakkad and Kunnamkulam municipalities was a testimony to such opportunistic politics. The Panchayat member of Marad was also elected on the BJP-League plank. It was a shame that Chief Minister A K Antony chose not to take Industry Minister P.K.Kunhalikutty while visiting the families of the victims of the Marad massacre solely because the Minister belonged to a different community. ''Kunhalikutty has been left to remain at the guest house in Kozhikode. It is clear that Antony is responsible for the allegations against Kunhalikutty,'' he said. Pinarayi Vijayan said that no CPM worker was arrested so far in connection with the recent Marad incidents. But he suspected a design on the part of the police to implicate innocent CPM men in the case. The CPM State secretary also accused the SNDP leadership of trying to offer the organisation on a platter to the BJP in blatant violation of the teachings of Sree Narayana Guru. The CPM State secretary said the two-year rule of the UDF had retarded the State with all developmental activities on the downhill.

BBC 21 May 2003 Analysis: Dividing Kashmir by religion Zaffar Abbas BBC correspondent in Islamabad The suggestion this week that India and Pakistan should agree to the division of Jammu and Kashmir on religious lines to resolve the 55-year-old dispute may not be a new proposal. It is difficult to imagine that the prime minister of a territory, which for all practical purposes is controlled by Islamabad, can be allowed to hold independent views on such a sensitive issue But because it has come from the Prime Minister of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, Sardar Sikander Hayat, it has acquired an altogether different meaning. Understandably it has taken all sides to the dispute by surprise. Mr Hayat is certainly the first prominent Kashmiri government leader on the Pakistani side of the divide to make such a huge departure from Islamabad's official position over the dispute. In an interview with the BBC earlier this month, Mr Hayat suggested the need to explore various options for resolving the dispute, including giving a special status to the Muslim-dominated Kashmir valley. But the real bombshell came on Tuesday, when Mr Hayat came up with a concrete proposal, suggesting that Jammu and Kashmir should be partitioned in such a way that the Muslim majority areas should be allowed to join Pakistan and the areas where Hindus or Buddhists were in the majority should go to India. If put into effect, most of the areas that are already in Pakistan's control would remain with it. Pakistan would also get most parts of the Kashmir Valley, including the summer capital, Srinagar. India would get almost the entire Jammu region as well as Ladakh and some of the area adjoining it. At present India holds about 45% of the disputed region, Pakistan over 33%. The rest is held by China. Pakistan says the wishes of the people of Jammu and Kashmir were ignored at the time of partition in 1947. It argues that they should be given the right to choose between becoming part of India or Pakistan. The Indian Government maintains that the former princely state is a sovereign part of the Indian Union. Refused to consider The proposal put forward by no less a person than the prime minister of Pakistan-administered Kashmir harks back to what seasoned Kashmir-watchers in South Asia and the United States call the Chenab formula - named after the River Chenab which would mark the border between India and Pakistan. At official level, both India and Pakistan have refused to entertain the Chenab formula. A former Pakistani foreign ministry official says the suggestion was proposed in the 1960s by the Pakistan foreign minister at the time, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. But the idea was rejected by his Indian counterpart, Swaran Singh. The proposal remained in cold storage until 1999, when the famous Lahore meeting between the Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, suddenly revived hopes for peace in the region. The security situation has worsened recently As it was revealed later, apart from having formal talks, the two prime ministers decided to establish secret, unofficial lines of communication to discuss some of the more contentious issues between the two sides. During this secret process, the former Pakistani Foreign Secretary, Niaz A Naik, held a series of meetings with an Indian businessman, RK Mishra. Both men had the blessings of their respective prime ministers, and according to Mr Naik, one of the few proposals they discussed in all seriousness was the so-called Chenab formula. Nothing concrete ever came out from those secret talks, and the two sides were still in the middle of exploring all possible options on Kashmir when the Kargil conflict broke out, rendering all talk of compromise over Kashmir meaningless. 'Bitterly criticised' Now the Chenab formula is back in the news. Opposition leaders in the regional capital, Muzaffarabad, have bitterly criticised Mr Hayat for putting the proposal forward. Leaders of the hardline religious party, Jamaat-e-Islami, have declared that nothing short of a plebiscite is acceptable to them. Opposition has also come from leaders of the main Kashmiri political grouping in Indian-administered Kashmir, the All-Party Hurriyat Conference. However, some Kashmiri politicians privately say there is division in its ranks over the issue. Srinagar would become part of Pakistan under the Chenab plan Interestingly, another veteran Pakistan-based Kashmiri leader, Sardar Abdul Qayyum has endorsed the proposal. He has called for discussion on all possible solutions to the Kashmir dispute. Despite the uproar among the traditional Kashmiri supporters, Mr Hayat says he is not ashamed of his suggestion. In fact, he has now come up with more arguments in support of his idea. He says this is the closest thing to the way the partition of India was planned in 1947, a reference to the idea that Muslims should be able to live as a majority in their own country, Pakistan. If the states of Punjab and Bengal were divided on religious lines at the time of partition, then "What is so wrong with the division of Jammu and Kashmir", Mr Hayat is reported to have said. So far the Pakistan Government has neither criticised his statement, nor has it tried to stop him from airing his views. However, for the record, Pakistan's foreign ministry has said that there has been no change in Islamabad's official position on the dispute. But it is difficult to imagine that the prime minister of a territory, which for all practical purposes is controlled by Islamabad, can be allowed to hold independent views on such a sensitive issue. Experts of Kashmiri affairs say there is a strong possibility that Mr Hayat may have the tacit support of the Pakistani establishment, which wants to gauge India's reaction to it. Two proposals Should the Indian Government show some inclination towards considering the proposal, then the Pakistani Government may be encouraged to make such a proposal official. Should India reject the proposal, then Islamabad can simply say it stands by its stated position on the Kashmir dispute - that UN resolutions must be respected and the people of Kashmir decide in a plebiscite whether they be part of India or Pakistan. Many Kashmir-watchers in Islamabad believe there are only two proposals on the Kashmir dispute that officials and think-tanks in America believe have any realistic hopes of success. One is a deal whereby the UN-delineated Line of Control in Kashmir becomes the permanent boundary between India and Pakistan. The other is the so-called Chenab formula. Indian officials have often indicated that the first option would be acceptable to them. And perhaps the division of the Himalayan state along religious lines would be a compromise the establishment in Islamabad would be prepared to consider - at least at this stage.

BBC 26 May 2003 Fresh killings in Kashmir Militants have been targeting soldiers' families At least nine people have died in two separate attacks in Indian-administered Kashmir. Five members of a Muslim family, including three children, were shot dead by suspected militants in Rajouri district some 180 kilometres (112 miles) north of Jammu. In a separate incident, three militants and a policeman were killed after a gunbattle in neighbouring Poonch district. The violence comes at a time when India and Pakistan have taken steps to defuse tensions over the Kashmir dispute. On Monday, Indian Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha was reported as saying Delhi would not press for a complete halt to cross-border infiltration by separatist militants as a precondition for talks. The comments were published by the Financial Times newspaper in what it described as a significant shift in Indian policy. Family killed Police say a group of militants entered a remote village in the mountains in Rajouri, which is close to the border with Pakistan. They entered the house of a Muslim shepherd and shot him dead along with his wife and three sons, aged between five and 13. A police team has left for the area, which is some distance away from the nearest town. It is still not clear who carried out the attack or why the family was targeted. In a similar attack last week, four women and two children were killed by unidentified militants in a remote village in Rajouri. All were family members of three men who worked in the police and the Indian army. The BBC's Binoo Joshi in Jammu says militant groups have been targeting the families of soldiers in recent attacks. Ties restored In the second attack in Poonch, Indian troops and Kashmir state policemen cordoned off an area near Surankote, a suspected militant hideout. A gunbattle left three militants and a policemen dead. Last week the Indian army announced that it had killed more than 60 militants hiding in the Surankote hills, in Operation Sarp Vinash (Annihilation of Snakes). The latest violence comes amid fresh moves to resolve the long-running Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan. Both sides have made conciliatory gestures in the past few weeks, including restoring diplomatic ties at the highest level after 18 months. India accuses Pakistan of fomenting the insurgency in Indian-administered Kashmir, especially by helping militants cross over from Pakistani-controlled territory, and has always said such activity must end before any talks between the two sides can take place. Islamabad denies the allegation, saying it only offers diplomatic and moral support to Kashmiri separatists.


AFP 1 May 2003 Three more die in Aceh, Indonesia reportedly pondering state of emergency JAKARTA, May 1 (AFP) - Indonesian troops reported more firefights with separatist rebels in Aceh on Thursday and a minister said the government may impose a state of emergency if moves to save the increasingly shaky ceasefire come to nothing. Suspected rebels shot dead two civilians and wounded another at a food stall on the outskirts of Lhokseumawe town early Thursday, said provincial military spokesman Major Eddi Fernandi. The Free Aceh Movement (GAM) said the attackers were soldiers who thought the victims to be rebels. About a dozen rebels attacked a military post in East Aceh on Thursday. Soldiers afterwards found the body of one rebel and a rocket-propelled grenade, Fernandi said. An army lieutenant was wounded Thursday when some 15 GAM members attacked a military post at Nila in Pidie district, he added. On Wednesday rebels shot and wounded a soldier in an attack on troops who were guarding a beach at Kluet Selatan in North Aceh, the military spokesman said. He said soldiers did not return fire because many civilians were at the beach. Also on Wednesday soldiers arrested three rebels at Syah Utama in Central Aceh. They confiscated an AK47 automatic rifle, one FN handgun and ammunition, Fernandi said. "If various efforts that have been made by the government don't work, the government will consider either a military emergency or civil emergency," Information Minister Syamsul Mu'arif was quoted as saying. The state Antara news agency said he was speaking to officials in the province. A civil emergency is one level down from a military emergency, which is akin to martial law. However, Mu'arif said the government's priority was still for dialogue with GAM. On Monday, Jakarta said GAM must stop pushing for independence and start disarming before any talks are convened to try to save the December 9 peace agreement. It gave the rebels between one and two weeks to respond to its terms and said a "security operation" would eventually be launched if they ignore the opportunity. The rebels say they are willing to talk but insist that their independence demand still stands. International mediators are talking to both sides about setting a new date and place for a Joint Council meeting after the government angrily pulled out of a meeting in Geneva scheduled for April 25. Indonesia withdrew after GAM tried to postpone the start date. Such a meeting is seen as the last hope of salvaging the peace agreement. The council, the final arbiter on ceasefire breaches, would group government and rebel leaders and foreign mediators from the Henry Dunant Centre. There has been an upsurge of violence as the peace deal foundered, with more than 50 killings reported last month on the energy-rich province on Sumatra island. The government says GAM has been using the ceasefire to recruit fighters and campaign for independence.

BBC 7 May 2003 Indonesia training Aceh 'militias' Indonesia is increasing its military presence in Aceh The Indonesian army has orchestrated mob attacks on international peace observers and civilians in Aceh, according to human rights observers in the strife-torn province. A member of the rights organisation Kontras told the BBC that the Indonesian army had been training "East Timor-style militias" in order to destroy a fragile peace agreement in Aceh. A senior Indonesian official denied the claims, and blamed rebels from the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) for undermining the peace process. Speaking to the BBC's East Asia Today programme, Kontras spokesman Samsul said that the Indonesian army was deliberately trying to break down the peace process. "There are three groups of people perpetrating violence in Aceh: the Indonesian army and police force, GAM and Indonesian-trained militias," he said. We are now facing the same situation that happened in East Timor Samsul, spokesman human rights group Kontras Samsul said that the militias have been trained by the Indonesian police and army since the year 2001. "In central Aceh they attacked the international peace monitoring team, they burned the offices in East Aceh," he said. "All this is committed by the militias. We are now facing the same situation that happened in East Timor," he said, referring to 1999 violence which left 1,000 people dead and which was blamed on militias with Indonesian army backing. But Benny Suryawinata, Indonesian deputy co-ordinating minister for security, denied the claims. "It is not true. It is all biased and one-sided," he said. "If you go to Aceh itself, you can see how GAM treats the Acehnese people. The accusations are not true." He also denied that the Indonesian government or military were seeking to undermine the peace process. "The Indonesians are willing to negotiate with GAM. It is GAM who is not serious about negotiation, " he said. The Indonesian government has given GAM a deadline of 12 May to accept its conditions for talks aimed at saving the peace deal. But the BBC's Jakarta correspondent Rachel Harvey says the situation on the ground is deteriorating rapidly. Violent incidents are on the increase, with thousands of villagers fleeing their homes and seeking refuge in local mosques and schools. Speaking to Indonesian troops in the city of Surabaya, military commander Endriartono Sutarto told several thousand troops that they should ready themselves for a war in Aceh. "The government of Indonesia's priority is a bloodless resolution, but GAM had refused to honour that stance," he told the marines. "If they don't surrender their weapons, then the Indonesian army will fight them with its weapons," he said, according to the Reuters news agency. GAM and the Indonesian government signed a peace agreement in December last year, which was designed to end the 26-year conflict which has claimed at least 12,000 lives. Under the terms of the agreement, the rebels were supposed to place their weapons in special arms dumps, and the Indonesian military was meant to withdraw to defensive positions. Neither Jakarta nor GAM has so far fulfilled its side of the bargain, and both sides continue to blame each other for the breakdown in relations.

Jakarta Post 9 May 2003 'Military operations never achieve results' Tiarma Siboro, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta The government needs more efforts to rebuild the trust of the Acehnese people in the government and not a military operation as such approaches have never succeeded in the country's history in eradicating secessionist movements, observers say. Former Special Forces officer Maj. Gen. (ret) Samsuddin and sociologist Otto Syamsuddin Ishak suggested that the government learn from its experience of the military operation to crush Free Aceh Movement (GAM) rebels between 1988 and 1998 that had instead spurred the resistance movement in the resource-rich province. "We have seen that despite terror and torture against the Acehnese people during the 10-year operation in the province, the secessionist movement there remains strong and Jakarta has failed to win their hearts because human rights violations were not properly solved," said Samsuddin, who is a former member of the National Commission on Human Rights. The examples of East Timor and Papua, Samsuddin said, provide further evidence that a military operation would fuel demands for independence. Indonesia lost East Timor in 1999. Otto said that instead of resolving the problems, the use of force would burden the country's already battered economy and revive military dominance in the country, which goes against the reform movement launched in 1998. "On top of that, the military operation would result in human rights violations and would expand the secessionist movement in Aceh," Otto said. The government has moved closer to announcing an operation to restore security in Aceh, as the rebels have refused to comply with Jakarta's demands for disarmament and their acceptance of the unitary state of Indonesia as preconditions to resume peace talks. It will be the largest military operation conducted in Indonesian history, with between 40,000 and 50,000 troops involved. In a show of strength, TNI has also readied 13 Scorpion tanks, 23 amphibious tanks, helicopters and warships to fight between an estimated 8,000 and 10,000 rebels who are equipped with automatic rifles plus grenade launcher mortars (GLM). Indonesia has also moved two F-16 and four Hawk-200 jet fighters to an air base in the North Sumatra capital of Medan from their home base in Madiun, East Java. Domestic and international pressure has been mounting on both the government and GAM to give peace a chance. With the May 12 deadline for GAM to accept the conditions for peace talks drawing near, violence continues to flare up in Aceh. Two soldiers, identified as First Pvt. Hendra Saputra and First Pvt. Soekamto, were injured after some 20 rebels ambushed and attacked them on their way to Bireuen from Lhokseumawe in North Aceh, Antara reported on Thursday. A local councillor, Husaini, was also attacked by a group of armed people believed to be GAM members. Husaini escaped the onslaught unharmed. Samsuddin suggested that the government intensify intelligence and territorial operations to build trust among the Acehnese people, before it turns to an operation to enforce the law against the rebels. "The military operation to crush rebels will be drawn out, without a guarantee it will achieve its goals," Samsuddin said. It took Indonesian troops 10 years to quell an armed rebellion waged by the Darul Islam in several areas in the country in the 1950s, while in Papua up until now the military has not managed to stop the secessionist movement which began in the 1960s. Otto said the government could emulate the "politics of ethics" conducted by the Dutch colonialists. He likened the government's campaigns for humanitarian assistance, justice and restoration of local government services to the politics of ethics. "These campaigns must be maintained without the military operation," he said.

Jakarta Post, 10 May 2003 TNI replaces Aceh commander The Jakarta Post, Jakarta The Indonesian Military (TNI) unexpectedly announced the replacement of the Aceh provincial military commander Maj. Gen. Djali Yusuf, a few days before the May 12 deadline of the government's ultimatum to the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and possible commencement of a military operation to quell the separatists. Djali, a native of Pidie, Aceh, will relinquish the post he has held since March 2002 to his immediate subordinate, Brig. Gen. Endang Suwarya. Disclosing the reason behind the replacement, TNI Chief Gen. Endriartono Sutarto said Djali would soon reach retirement age. The retirement age of TNI officers ranked brigadier general and above is set at 55. "We won't retain him, because his impending retirement will disrupt the continuity of the planned military operation in Aceh," Endriartono said after a Cabinet meeting. Djali, a 1972 graduate of the Military Academy, is the first commander of the Aceh military command, which was reinstated last year due to increasing violence. His successor Endang is a 1973 graduate and a classmate of Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Endang is also a former Teuku Umar Military resort commander, and was stationed in Banda Aceh before being appointed deputy operational assistant to the Army Chief of Staff last year. Endriartono, who had his retirement age extended by the President last year, dismissed speculations that the change of guard in the Aceh military replacement involved political interests. "We TNI are always well-prepared for any policies regarding our duties in Aceh, including replacing our commanders," he said. According to Army spokesman Brig. Gen. Ratyono, the official transfer of duty from Djali to Endang would be made on Tuesday next week. Many had believed that, as Djali is Acehnese, he would be entrusted to lead the military-police joint operation. Djali was previously involved in a series of military operations in the province and once served as deputy chief of security operations in Aceh in 2001, the first deployment of troops in the province since the fall of Soeharto's New Order regime in 1998. The government is expected to declare the commencement of the operation, if GAM fails to accept the special autonomy and lay down its arms before May 12 -- a condition for the continuation of peace talks. The military plans to enter Aceh on May 15 to restore order, an operation that may last six months. Currently, 4,000 reinforcement troops have already been sent to the resource-rich province, including 2,000 officers from the joint military-police quick reaction strike force (PPRC).

Jakarta Post 11 May 2003 Peace monitors ordered to evacuate Aceh Fabiola Desy Unidjaja, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta As the shadow of war looms in Aceh, members of the Joint Security Committee (JSC) from Thailand and the Philippines have been ordered to return to their countries before Monday. Coordinator David Gorman of the Aceh peace broker, the Henry Dunant Centre (HDC), confirmed the report, but said the JSC members were still waiting for the results of last-ditch efforts to save the peace agreement signed by the government and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) in December last year. "We are giving one last chance today ... as yet, they (the JSC members) are still here," Gorman told The Jakarta Post on Saturday. The JSC consists of representatives of GAM, the Indonesian government and the HDC, and is tasked with monitoring the implementation of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (COHA) signed in Geneva on Dec. 9, 2002. Gorman said the HDC was waiting for both the Indonesian government and GAM to respond in regards the planned meeting of the Joint Council, the highest peace monitoring body. The meeting aims to evaluate the peace agreement. "Only after the last attempt fails, will the JSC members leave the province," Gorman stressed. Jakarta has set a May 12 deadline for GAM to return to the negotiating table after fulfilling the conditions of its accepting the special autonomy and disarming its troops. But GAM has so far refused to budge. Violence has been on the rise over the past few months, with both Jakarta and GAM trading blame. The English-language Nation daily quoted the Armed Forces Supreme Command's General Suraphol Chinachit as saying that the peace monitors had been told to withdraw from Aceh as the peace pact between the government and GAM neared collapse. The forty-six Thai soldiers assigned to the mission are to return to their home country on Sunday. Surin Pitsuwan, one of the three international mediators, said, however, there was still a chance for peace. "I do not think we should be discouraged that a long, violent conflict cannot be resolved in one or two attempts. That is unrealistic," the paper quoted Surin. A source close to the peace process told AFP that meetings were underway in Stockholm with GAM leaders and in Jakarta with the government to bring the government and the rebels together to avert a government-backed military offensive. U.S. envoy Anthony Zinni was assisting in the Stockholm talks, the source said. A Western diplomatic source also said Japanese, European and U.S. diplomats had asked to meet President Megawati Soekarnoputri a few days ago to express their concerns. They were told she was unavailable until Tuesday, "which, as you know, is the day after the ultimatum expires. This is extremely disappointing," the source said. Some 50 Acehnese community leaders were in Jakarta this week also trying to meet with Megawati to push the case for peace. They, too, said they were denied a chance to meet with her. An unofficial war began in the province last week, with gun fights on the increase, after the planned Joint Council meeting on April 25 failed to materialize. Thousands of Acehnese in Bireun regency have fled from their homes, while hundreds of other residents from Central Aceh regency had entered the Aceh capital of Banda Aceh within the past few days, seeking safety. The government expected up to 200,000 people would be displaced if the military operation was launched, and have allocated Rp 400 billion for a humanitarian mission to help the refugees. The Indonesian Military (TNI) has been sending more troops to the province, while GAM has ordered its guerrillas to return to their positions and consolidate ranks at their bases. Meanwhile, forty-eight JSC members from GAM reportedly left the Rajawali hotel in Banda Aceh, where they were staying, leaving their equipment behind. Hotel owner Cut Nur Asikin said on Saturday that they had left the hotel on Thursday without notifying the hotel management. "But the rest of the 48 members from Thailand and the Philippines are still staying at my hotel," Nur said as quoted by Antara. Meanwhile, four GAM negotiators, who were arrested on Friday while they were about to leave on an overseas trip, remained in police custody.

Jakarta Post 17 May 2003 Aceh peace given last chance The Jakarta Post, Jakarta Negotiators from Indonesia and the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM) have left for Tokyo to give peace one last chance, although a senior official said there was little hope the meeting would revive a faltering peace process. Negotiating teams from both sides headed for Tokyo on Friday, a day after Indonesia bowed to international pressure to delay military operations in Aceh and to meet with GAM one more time. If successful the talks could avert the collapse of a five-month old peace process under the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (COHA) signed last December. Unlike the December talks which were brokered by the Henry Dunant Centre, the weekend dialog will be facilitated by the Japanese government. Coordinating Minister for Security and Political Affairs Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said preparations for military operations in Aceh were complete and that the government had secured the support of the House of Representatives for the operations. "The last opportunity to resolve the Aceh problem peacefully will be the meeting in Tokyo on May 17," Susilo said after meeting with senior ministers and security officials on Friday night. Susilo expressed his disappointment with the COHA, which he said had been misinterpreted by GAM as a stepping-stone toward an independent Aceh. To revive the COHA, he said, GAM must accept Indonesia's sovereignty over Aceh, special autonomy for the province, lay down its weapons and cease all armed separatist activities. "However, the chances are slim that they will meet (these conditions)," Susilo told reporters. A presidential decree authorizing war has been prepared and Susilo said it could be signed as soon as the outcome of the meeting was known. The planned meeting in Tokyo already hit a snag with the arrest on Friday of five GAM negotiators as they were about to leave Aceh. National Police chief Gen. Da'i Bachtiar said the five men had not been allowed to leave Aceh because they could be linked to a series of terrorist strikes. He said police had yet to receive confirmation from the Henry Dunant Centre, which mediated the COHA, that the five would indeed attend the meeting in Tokyo. Exiled GAM leaders in Sweden deplored the detention of the five, however they said they remained committed to the Tokyo talks. "We will go anyway but if our delegation from Aceh does not attend the talks will be stalled," GAM delegation leader Mahmood Malik was quoted as saying by Reuters in Stockholm before boarding a plane for Tokyo. Also in Stockholm, GAM's chief negotiator, Zaini Abdullah, said the group would go to Tokyo but would refuse to attend the talks unless the five negotiators were released, AFP reported. The planned meeting in Tokyo follows last-minute international diplomatic efforts to revive the peace deal. Sources told The Jakarta Post that President Megawati Soekarnoputri received calls from United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Tuesday night and U.S. President George W. Bush earlier on Sunday. Both expressed their concerns over war plans in Aceh. Megawati delayed signing a presidential decree authorizing military operations after a two-week deadline for GAM to accept the preconditions for continuing the peace process passed last Monday. Megawati's decision to return to the negotiating table won praise from President Bush. But she is walking a fine line. The President must fend off the military, which has been pressing for war and on whose support she counts for next year's elections. "We will go ahead with our plan to launch a joint operation, including the military operation, but we once again open the opportunity to engage in a dialog (with GAM)," the President said after a consultation meeting with the House of Representatives on Thursday. Legislators have already thrown their support behind military operations, reducing the risk of a political backlash if Megawati goes ahead with the war. Indonesia plans to send up to 50,000 troops to Aceh, which would give the soldiers an about 10 to one numerical advantage over the rebels. About 38,000 soldiers have been deployed to the province already, which some observers say is sufficient for launching a military operation at anytime. The scale of the operation would exceed any military operation in Indonesia for decades. GAM has been fighting for independence in the natural resource-rich province since 1976 in a war that has claimed more than 10,000 lives, mainly those of civilians. However, much will rest on whether GAM will accept Indonesia's sovereignty over Aceh during the Tokyo meeting. The rebels have little if any international support, with even Sweden dissuading GAM from seeking independence. Last month's failure to hold a Joint Council meeting was largely blamed on GAM's refusal to attend because of trivial concerns. This time around GAM has already backed down on its initial demand that the talks be held in either Sweden or Switzerland, agreeing on Tokyo for the venue.

BBC 19 May 2003 Profile: Aceh's separatists Gam has always been outnumbered by the military Aceh's freedom fighters have been battling for the province's independence for the last 26 years. The Free Aceh Movement (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka, or Gam) was founded on 4 December 1976 by Hasan di Tiro - a descendant of the last sultan of Aceh. It has grown from its initial membership of just 150 rebels, to a military strength of between 2,000 and 3,000 today. But it is still vastly outnumbered by the Indonesian security forces, who wield 20,000 troops and 8,000 police in the province, and whose presence has been boosted in the weeks running up to the latest conflict. The current security operation by Jakarta comes after peace talks in Tokyo failed, marking an end to a five-month cease-fire. Historical gripe Officials in Jakarta blamed the Gam rebels for refusing to give up their demand for independence. But the rebels have remained defiant, with the separatist leader, Mahmood Malik, saying they were ready for war if it came. Gam has always maintained that when territory governed by former colonial power the Netherlands was brought together to form the Republic of Indonesia in 1949, the Kingdom of Aceh should never have been incorporated as it never formally belonged to the Dutch. Gam argues that the Acehnese were not consulted, and the group has fought for a return of the province's sovereignty. That struggle has been fuelled by the perception that the Indonesian Government has not fairly shared the province's considerable natural resources with Aceh's citizens, and by reported abuses by the Indonesian military. Vehicle for anger According to one think tank, the International Crisis Group, Acehnese activists often argue that Gam wields so much support among the civilian population because it acts as a vehicle for the local's resentment against perceived injustices by the Indonesian administration. But the Indonesian military is not the only side accused of rights abuses. The ICG reported last year that Gam murdered 19 people in 2000 alone. The group has been accused of practising extortion and intimidation against the local population, and of brutally punishing those believed to be collaborating with the Indonesian security forces. However the picture is complicated, ICG says, by reports that at least some of the abuses may be perpetrated by people masquerading as Gam members.

BBC 19 May 2003 Aceh: Why it all went wrong By Kate McGeown BBC News Online Last December, it appeared that the long-running conflict in the Indonesian province of Aceh was finally coming to an end. The government in Jakarta and the separatist rebels from the Free Aceh Movement (Gam) agreed to a peace deal that many greeted as a breakthrough capable of ending 26 years of violence. But over the last few months, that peace deal has been looking increasingly fragile - and the resumption of military action may have finally sounded its death knell. In pictures: Aceh crackdown Sidney Jones, head of the International Crisis Group in Indonesia, said the deal was doomed from the start. "Negotiations broke down because the agreement reached in December papered over huge differences between the two sides," she told BBC News Online. Gam's main goal is Acehnese independence, a request that Jakarta is extremely unlikely to grant - a fact which was never fully addressed in the peace deal. Under the December agreement, Jakarta said Aceh could have an autonomous government by 2004, which would keep 70% of the revenue generated from the province's rich oil reserves. In return, the rebels agreed to abandon their claims for complete independence, and hand in their weapons. ACEH: ESSENTIAL FACTS Located on the northern tip of Sumatra island Population of 4.3m people Rich fuel resources, including oil and natural gas Home to many conservative Islamists - last year, Sharia law was introduced Gam rebels are fighting for an independent state While the agreement initially seemed to work - with a noticeable reduction in violence on both sides - problems soon occurred when it came to demilitarisation. From the beginning of February, the rebels were supposed to give up their weapons, while the Indonesian military withdrew to defensive positions. But neither Jakarta nor Gam fulfilled their side of the bargain. John Sidel, a lecturer in South East Asian studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, said he was not surprised the deal broke down during the disarmament phase. "When it came down to the really crucial moves, neither side was willing to give in," Dr Sidel said. He also said that the timing of Jakarta's military offensive was significant. The government, he said, was capitalising on American goodwill after its crackdown on terror organisations in the aftermath of 11 September, and its progress in tracking down suspects in connection with last October's Bali bomb attacks. In the current climate, Jakarta's insistence that a crackdown on Aceh would improve domestic stability was unlikely to gain much resistance from abroad, Dr Sidel said. Separatist struggles Analysts have compared the situation in Aceh to that of East Timor, where local separatists also fought a long battle against the Indonesian Government. The people of Aceh are very frightened, and they have every reason to be John Sidel East Timor was finally granted independence from Jakarta on 20 May 2002. Despite the obvious comparisons, Sidney Jones said that Gam had neither the legal basis nor the international support of the Timorese separatists. Aceh was made part of the newly independent country of Indonesia when the Dutch colonialists left in 1945. But East Timor was never part of that initial Indonesian archipelago, being independent at the time the Jakarta army invaded in 1975. Sidney Jones says that one result of the battle for East Timor is that Indonesia is far more reluctant to let other renegade provinces - such as Aceh and West Papua - break away from Jakarta. "It's a matter of national pride to not let what happened in East Timor happen again," added Lesley McCullough, a Scottish academic imprisoned in Aceh in 2002 by the Indonesian Government. 'Shock therapy' To the Acehnese people, the government's current military offensive is all too familiar. Gam rebels have been fighting a 26-year war for independence There was a similar period of what Mr Sidel termed "shock therapy" in the early 1990s, during which thousands of Indonesian troops poured into the province to crack down on the rebels. The lesson from that period, Dr Sidel said, was that military action only bred further resentment against the Jakarta Government. Lesley McCullough also said the current military offensive would not work, saying the army was "fighting a guerrilla war it does not understand", and which it could never completely win. But Indonesian military chief General Endriartono Sutarto insisted that the army could "suppress the power of Gam to a minimum" within six months. In the meantime, the Acehnese people are once again facing an uncertain future. "The people of Aceh are very frightened," said Dr Sidel, "and they have every reason to be."

Reuters Date: 19 May 2003 Indonesia military starts attacking Aceh rebels By Achmad Sukarsono BANDA ACEH, Indonesia, May 19 (Reuters) - Indonesia's military launched rocket attacks on rebels in Aceh on Monday and troops began parachuting in as a big offensive got under way just hours after the president put the province under martial law. Footage broadcast on local Metro TV showed smoke rising from a set of hills after two war planes swooped low over a rise, not far from the airport at the provincial capital, Banda Aceh. Hercules transport planes dropped scores of troops near the airport. Laden with heavy packs, many took defensive positions in fields. Officials also said around 700 fresh marines had come ashore near the industrial town of Lhokseumawe. Just after midnight on Sunday, President Megawati Sukarnoputri gave the go-ahead for war against the rebels after last-ditch peace talks in Tokyo collapsed, leaving a landmark peace pact welcomed by Aceh's four million people in tatters. "The offensive has begun...Two planes launched the rockets, many of them," Major General Erwin Sujono, an operational commander, told reporters at the airport without elaborating on the precise targets and their location. Another military official said offensive patrols had begun and operations would focus on six parts of Aceh. In Banda Aceh, there was little sign of martial law as children went to school, shops opened and traffic clogged the city's busy central market. Tengku Muhammad, 47, said Acehnese felt helpless and prayed that the war would not be long and costly in human life. "Everyone in Aceh is in fear, I have resigned myself to God," said the trader, wearing an olive green Muslim shirt and sarong as he leaned against a pillar inside the city's grand mosque. In a decree, Megawati said the refusal of Free Aceh Movement (GAM) rebels to give up their 27-year fight for independence gave her no option but to get tough. The Tokyo talks were a last effort to rescue a December peace pact, but Jakarta's ultimatum to GAM to accept Indonesian sovereignty over Aceh, which is rich in oil and gas, was always going to be hard for the separatists to swallow. GAM has said it is ready to resume one of Asia's longest-running separatist wars that has killed 10,000 people, adding that it would appeal for United Nations intervention. Megawati has put Aceh military chief Major General Endang Suwarya in charge on the northern tip of Sumatra. The military has the power to impose a news blackout and curfews, detain people and limit or stop transport into and out of Aceh. Her decree runs for six months, but can be extended. Police have already arrested five leading GAM peace negotiators who were staying at a hotel in Banda Aceh, 1,700 km (1,060 miles) northwest of Jakarta. The peace agreement has been beset by bickering and mistrust over the issue of independence, which GAM has long demanded but Indonesia refuses to give. The peace pact did not address this in detail, focusing more on trying to halt the fighting. The staunchly Muslim province is one of two separatist hot spots in Indonesia. The other is Papua in the far east. The government has boosted troops and police here from 38,000 to more than 45,000. GAM has an estimated 5,000 fighters. Despite 27 years of trying, the military has failed to wipe out the rebels. What these often brutal military operations have done, however, is alienate large segments of Aceh's people. (Reporting by Achmad Sukarsono)

AFP 19 May 2003 Indonesia issues decree authorising war in Aceh after Tokyo peace talks fail by Victor Tjahjadi JAKARTA, May 19 (AFP) - Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri signed a decree authorising a military operation and imposed martial law in Aceh province after peace talks in Tokyo with separatist rebels failed, security officials said early Monday. Top security minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said Megawati "ordered concerned authorities to carry out the integrated operations," including what was termed a security restoration operation. The decree took effect at midnight (1700 GMT Sunday). Martial law will last for six months but may be extended. Military authorities have been preparing for weeks for an attack and fighter planes, warships and thousands of troops have been readied. The Free Aceh Movement (GAM) for its part said it has ordered all fighters to be on alert for an attack. Yudhoyono did not say when the operation would start. He told reporters GAM's refusal to end its 27-year struggle for independence prompted the decree. "In principle the Free Aceh Movement rejected fulfilling the requirements of the government of Indonesia," he said, referring to three conditions he set late Saturday. Yudhoyono said that based on a draft statement the rebels had prepared in Tokyo, "it is very clear there is no willingness from GAM to accept the Unitary State of Indonesia as the framework for a peaceful solution in Aceh." The decree said a series of peace moves, including the granting of special autonomy to Aceh "does not stop the Free Aceh Movement's intention to break away from the Unitary State of Indonesia and to declare their independence. "It is considered necessary to place the province... in a state of emergency at the level of military emergency." The talks in Tokyo broke down just a few hours earlier. Swiss-based mediators the Henry Dunant Centre (HDC), backed by the United States, the European Union and Japan, had called the meeting in a last-minute attempt to avert renewed war. "Those efforts were, unfortunately, unsuccessful," HDC spokesman Steve Daly said in Tokyo after about 17 hours of negotiations since Saturday evening. An estimated 10,000 people, most of them civilians, have been killed in the conflict since 1976. The latest peace pact had lasted only since December 9. GAM military spokesman Sofyan Dawood told AFP that commander Muzakkir Manaf had ordered all fighters to be on alert. He said the rebels would use guerrilla tactics "and the place and time of the fighting will be chosen by GAM." Dawood called for a general strike from Monday in the province and urged industries like the US-owned ExxonMobil and the Arun natural gas plant to shut down. "We don't want to attack vital projects but if the military or police who guard the projects make a sweeping, we will attack military or police there." Hundreds of Indonesian troops guard the ExxonMobil operation. Dawood blamed the failure of the talks on Jakarta announcing three conditions late Saturday -- that GAM accept the "unitary state of Indonesia," accept special autonomy for Aceh and drop demands for independence, and start disarming. "The international community knows that Indonesia wants war in Aceh because these conditions are unacceptable and outside (the peace pact)," he said. The Tokyo talks got off to an inauspicious start when police in Aceh arrested five GAM delegates as they were about to fly to Tokyo. The arrests on Friday sparked a strong US protest. They were freed Saturday evening as the talks began but were rearrested early Monday. "If they can't negotiate any more they must be seen as violators of the law," Banda Aceh's deputy police chief, Major Ari Rahman, told AFP. Rahman said the five "have carried out acts of terror" and had also violated the law by promoting separatism. Police accuse GAM of staging bombings in Jakarta and Medan although GAM denies this. One of the five, Sofyan Ibrahim Tiba, said earlier Sunday that any military action would cause many civilian deaths. "Maybe it will only take three months for the Jakarta government to finish the military operation but does it have to kill half of the population to end the conflict?" he said. Indonesia says it will try to avoid civilian casualties.

Reuters 19 May 2003 ExxonMobil Says Business as Usual in Aceh Mon May 19, 1:31 AM ET Add Business - Reuters to My Yahoo! By Joanne Collins JAKARTA (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Corp (NYSE:XOM - news) said on Monday its operations in Indonesia's rebellious Aceh had not been affected by a military offensive in the province and the U.S. oil and gas giant did not plan to evacuate staff. Exxon is Indonesia's second-largest producer of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and operates four onshore and one offshore gas field in Aceh, where Indonesia's military launched rocket attacks against separatist rebels on Monday. "Exxon Mobil is maintaining normal gas and condensate production levels in Aceh," Bill Cummings, a spokesman for Exxon Mobil in Indonesia, told Reuters. Troops began parachuting into Aceh just hours after President Megawati Sukarnoputri put the province under martial law. LNG output from resource-rich Aceh is estimated to be worth $2 billion a year and Indonesia's energy minister reiterated on Monday the military operation would not disrupt output. The minister, Purnomo Yusgiantoro, said security had been beefed up the vital Arun LNG complex, which produces 11 million metric tons a year using supplies from Exxon's gas fields. Exxon owns 30 percent of the LNG plant. "Security for Exxon and the LNG plant have been improved, so there's no problem. Up to this time, production is still going because this project is important not only for the government but also for Aceh," the minister told reporters. Exxon's gas fields are in the rebel stronghold of Lhokseumawe where, according to officials on Monday, around 700 marines came ashore. The fields produce 1.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day and 25,000 barrels of condensate, which is similar to crude oil. Exxon has been dogged by security concerns in recent years. In mid-2000, it had to evacuate most of its workers' dependants after eight employees were briefly held hostage and in 2001 it was forced to shut down several gas fields. When asked how the imposition of martial law would affect the operation, Cummings said:" It probably sounds a bit simplistic but we are operating a business and that business is supported by BP Migas and BP Migas is responsible for providing security for the business." BP Migas is Indonesia's oil and gas watchdog and was established last year to monitor the activities of foreign oil companies. Separatist rebels in Aceh on the northern tip of Sumatra have been fighting for independence in a decades-long rebellion that has killed more than 10,000 people, mostly civilians.

AFP 20 May 2003 Malaysia fears military operation in Aceh will spark refugee crisis KUALA LUMPUR, May 20 (AFP) - The on-going military operation in neighbouring Indonesia's Aceh province could spark an influx of refugees into Malaysia, deputy prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi warned. "There's a big possibility of people fleeing here. We must be ready to tackle the incidence of people from that region flooding our land," he was quoted as saying by Bernama news agency in the southern Johor state. But Abdullah said the Aceh crisis was an internal problem of Indonesia and Malaysia would not interfere in the issue. Malaysia already houses hundreds of Aceh refugees. An all-out war could unleash a flood of refugees across the narrow Straits of Malacca that separates the two countries. Malaysia on Monday expressed hopes that a diplomatic solution will be found to the crisis. "I hope it will be resolved amicably and in a very peaceful manner," deputy defence minister Mohamad Shafie Apdal said. President Megawati Sukarnoputri signed a decree imposing martial law in Aceh after peace talks in Tokyo with the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) broke down Sunday. Indonesia had given separatist rebels from the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) until Monday to announce they are shelving their independence demands and are prepared to start disarming. An estimated 10,000 people, most of them civilians, have been killed in the conflict in Aceh since 1976.

AFP 20 May 2003 Indonesian troops told to "exterminate" Aceh rebels, spare civilians BANDA ACEH, Indonesia, May 20 (AFP) - Indonesia's military chief ordered his men on Tuesday to "exterminate" Aceh separatist guerrillas who refuse to surrender as a huge offensive in the province went into its second day. "Hunt them down and exterminate them," General Endriartono Sutarto told around 400 officers in a briefing in the provincial capital. Indonesia has launched its biggest military operation since the 1975 invasion of East Timor in an attempt to finish off the Free Aceh Movement (GAM). Thousands of troops, backed up by aircraft and warships, are taking part. Sutarto said rebels would be well treated if they give up. "But if they continue to be stubborn and raise arms, and continue to cause suffering to the people, then your sole duty is to exterminate them," he said. He ordered soldiers to avoid civilian casualties and said any excesses against civilians would bring severe punishment. "What you are doing here now is being broadcast all over the world," Sutarto told them. "If there are soldiers who do violate (the order) and cause suffering to people in the field, then just shoot them in the head," he told the officers. The assault began early Monday, hours after last-ditch peace talks broke down in Tokyo. Hundreds of extra troops parachuted into the province on Sumatra island or waded ashore from landing craft in the first deployment of reinforcements. The military said resistance so far was lighter than expected but blamed rebels for torching 30 schools. "They (GAM) are continuing to look for targets and keep moving but their level of resistance is smaller than we had thought," said Lieutenant Colonel Ahmad Yani Basuki, spokesman for the military operation. Seven rebels had been arrested and five killed so far, he told ElShinta radio. Aceh military spokesman Firdaus Komarno said six schools were torched in Aceh Besar district late Monday. In Bireuen district 24 schools had been set alight since Monday afternoon. He said an airborne battalion, normally around 600 men, arrived Tuesday at Takengon airport in Central Aceh. Officials said Monday there are 28,000 soldiers or marines in Aceh plus 8,000 regular police and 2,000 paramilitary police. They are facing off against an estimated 5,000 guerrillas with 2,000 light weapons. An estimated 10,000 people, most of them civilians, have been killed in the conflict since 1976. The most recent peace pact had lasted only since December 9. The military said the assault could last months and might involve aerial and naval gunfire against rebel bases. A plane pounded suspected rebel bases with rockets on Monday. The government says the assault was prompted by GAM's refusal at the Tokyo talks formally to end its independence struggle and to accept special autonomy. President Megawati Sukarnoputri's decision to go back to war is highly popular with the powerful military and with the public outside Aceh. It sparked dismay overseas. The US State Department said military force could not solve the problem and called for a return to negotiations. Australia and other countries made similar pleas. A 10-year operation launched in Aceh in 1989 was marked by gross military human rights abuses and international rights groups expressed alarm at the new assault. The New York-based Human Rights Watch said the campaign and the imposition of martial law in Aceh "sets the stage for gross human rights violations." During the previous 10-year campaign, thousands of civilians were murdered, disappeared or tortured, the group said. Amnesty International called on both sides to protect civilians, saying that previously "both sides have been responsible for serious abuses and ordinary civilians have overwhelmingly been the victims." The government expects some 100,000 people to flee their homes during the offensive compared to 10,000 displaced currently. It says it will provide aid and shelter.

BBC 20 May 2003 Schools torched in Aceh conflict Fifty schools have been torched in one district alone Dozens of schools have been burnt down in the Indonesian province of Aceh, as the military strike against separatist rebels continues into its second day. The Indonesian army and rebels from the Free Aceh Movement (Gam) blame each other for the attacks. Both sides were still talking tough on Tuesday, a day after the military offensive began. Indonesia's army chief General Endriartono Sutarto ordered his troops to "hunt down and exterminate" rebel forces. But Gam spokesman Mahmood Malik vowed the rebels would "fight forever", saying he was "confident that we will be able to resist" the army's offensive. Military forces in Aceh Gam fighters: 5,000 Indonesian troops: 28,000 Indonesian regular police: 8,000 Indonesian paramilitary police: 2,000 The army claims that five rebels have been killed so far, and human rights activists are warning of the potential for a bloodbath. Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri said on Tuesday that she had ordered the operation with a "heavy heart", and hoped it would be "understood and supported by all the Indonesian people". But the international community has appealed to Jakarta to resume last-ditch peace negotiations - which broke down over the weekend in Tokyo - in an effort to stave off the violence. Schools targeted The arson attacks have spread terror among Acehnese civilians. "First we heard gunshots so we thought a crossfire was taking place," a young mother in the provincial capital Banda Aceh told Reuters news agency. "We all cried when we realised the school has been reduced to ashes. Why should anyone attack a school?" she said. ACEH PROVINCE Located on the northern tip of Sumatra island Population of 4.3m people Rich fuel resources, including oil and natural gas Home to conservative Islam - last year, Sharia law was introduced Gam rebels are fighting for an independent state Indonesia's flashpoints In the eastern district of Bireuen alone, more than 50 schools have been burned down, according to correspondent Tim Johnston. Bireuen police spokesman Laksa Widiana said Gam had orchestrated the attacks "in order to discredit the military", a charge Gam denied. The rebels, for their part, claimed the army set fire to buildings in two Acehnese villages over the weekend, before the military operation was officially under way. Tim Johnston says the conflict seems to be settling into an armed siege, after initial air strikes against rebel bases on Monday. There are 28,000 Indonesian soldiers deployed in Aceh, compared to only 5,000 Gam fighters. The rebels' strongest defence, our correspondent says, is their ability to melt into the heavy forest - and into the local population. The fear is that civilians will get caught in the middle, and there will be heavy casualties. Amnesty International called for civilians to be protected, saying that previously "both sides have been responsible for serious abuses, and ordinary civilians have overwhelmingly been the victims". Human Rights Watch said the campaign "set the stage for gross human rights violations". International concern Australia, the US and Japan have all urged for a return to the negotiating table. We have to claim back what they have stolen Rebel spokesman Mahmood Malik Tough fight ahead Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said on Tuesday he hoped it would be possible "to get back on to the diplomatic path before too long". US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said: "It's our judgment that the possible avenues to a peaceful resolution were not fully explored at the Tokyo conference." Rebel spokesman Mahmood Malik said Gam wanted to resume negotiations, but added that any deal with Jakarta must bring an end to exploitation of the province's oil and gas reserves. "We have to claim back what they have stolen from us," he said. Sidney Jones, the Indonesia Director of the International Crisis Group, told the BBC the situation was very different from East Timor, which is celebrating the first anniversary of its independence from Indonesia on Tuesday. "There is no international support for the independence of Aceh, nor is there any legal basis," she said. While East Timor was illegally occupied by Indonesia, Aceh is part of the Indonesian archipelago. Acehnese resentment against Jakarta's rule has been fuelled by perceived abuses by the Indonesian military, and a feeling that the government is exploiting its resources.

New Straits Times 20 May 2003 Order to wipe out separatists BANDA ACEH, May 20: Indonesia has warned separatists in Aceh they would be “wiped out” as its military offensive went into a second day. The separatists vowed to fight forever and said 17 civilians had been killed. Advertisement Military chief Gen Endriartono Sutarto, seeking to allay fears among the northern province's four million people that troops would abuse civilians as in past operations, ordered his officers to shoot their own men in the head if they did. The international community responded with dismay to renewed fighting after the collapse of a five-month-old peace pact, fearing heavy casualties. The United States, Australia and the United Nations urged a return to the negotiating table. "You must chase and wipe out GAM ...you are trained to kill, so wipe them out," Endriartono told 200 military officers in battle dress in the local capital, Banda Aceh. GAM is the Free Aceh Movement, which has demanded independence since 1976. Military patrols fanned out again today across Aceh. GAM spokesman Sofyan Dawood said 17 civilians had been killed since the war began. He said the separatists had suffered no losses. "People were shot and then even burnt. Many houses have been burnt as well," said Sofyan. Military spokesman Lt-Col Ahmad Yani Basuki said seven separatists had been arrested and five were killed yesterday. "Because of these pressures, GAM is trying to shift the focus of attention by burning schools." The deputy chief of the Aceh education office, Anaz Muhammad Adam, said that 179 schools had been set ablaze — including 78 in Bireuen and 74 in Pidie. School burnings have been common in the past. The army says GAM sees such schools as an imposition of the Indonesian education system. President Megawati Sukarnoputri ordered the offensive after last-ditch peace talks in Tokyo collapsed. Mediators blamed Jakarta for the breakdown, saying the Government came with additional conditions. The decades-long conflict, one of Asia's longest-running separatist wars, has already killed more than 10,000 people. The Government recently boosted troops and police here from 38,000 to more than 45,000. GAM has an estimated 5,000 fighters. — Agencies

AP 20 May 2003 Major Military Attack Unfolds Against Rebels in Indonesia By ASSOCIATED PRESS BANDA ACEH, Indonesia, May 19 (AP) — Indonesia began a major military offensive today against separatist rebels in the northwestern Aceh Province, firing rockets, parachuting in troops and landing marines after peace talks collapsed and martial law was imposed. More than 1,000 soldiers landed in the province, rich in oil reserves, in what is expected to be Indonesia's biggest military operation since it invaded East Timor in 1975. Indonesia's military chief, Gen. Endriartono Sutarto, said on arriving in Banda Aceh, the provincial capital, that he had ordered soldiers to hunt for those rebels who refused to surrender and to "destroy them to their roots." About 30,000 government troops are trying to crush about 5,000 poorly armed guerrillas in a dense, mountainous forest. The sides have been fighting since 1976, making this one of Asia's longest-running conflicts. By late afternoon, no rebel casualties had been reported and troops were meeting minimal resistance, said Maj. Gen. Syafrie Syamsuddin. One Indonesian marine was killed in an accident while landing on a beach in bad weather, he said. The attack today signaled a return to military confrontation after the breakdown of a Dec. 9 cease-fire between the government and the Free Aceh Movement. The accord — which envisioned autonomy, rebel disarmament and military withdrawals — unraveled in recent months after violence and recriminations in the province, which is 1,200 miles northwest of the capital, Jakarta. More than 12,000 people have been killed in the decades of fighting. President Megawati Sukarnoputri ordered a crackdown after rebels refused to honor a government-imposed deadline for laying down weapons and abandoning their demand for independence. Five rebel negotiators were arrested and accused of carrying out a series of recent bombings in Indonesia. A presidential decree authorized six months of military rule in Aceh, giving the authorities wide powers to make arrests and limit movements in and out of the province. Residents braced for harsher strikes and heavy casualties. "The rebels will hide behind the civilians, and how will the army tell the difference? Many people will die," a resident named Mawarni said after praying at Banda Aceh's main mosque. The government estimated that the number of refugees in Aceh would balloon to 100,000 from the current 5,000. Today, attack planes droned over Banda Aceh and fired rockets at a suspected rebel weapons cache at a hillside base. The blasts destroyed an abandoned chicken coop and farmers' huts near empty villages. Six C-130 Hercules transport aircraft released 458 parachuters over an airstrip close to Banda Aceh, Maj. Gen. Erwin Sujono said. More than 600 marines landed from one of 15 warships off the province's northern coast, an area with a heavy concentration of rebels, he said. Aceh, on Sumatra island's northern tip, was once an independent sultanate and has a long history of defiance, beginning with a Dutch colonialist invasion in 1870. The Acehnese were at the forefront of Indonesia's fight for independence during the 1940's. When Indonesia declared independence in 1945, Aceh was promised autonomy but never received it — the first of many broken promises by Jakarta that triggered a series of Acehnese rebellions. Many Acehnese in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, want to be governed by a brand of Islam much stricter than that practiced in the rest of the country. But the crackdown is not only about keeping the vast archipelago nation of Indonesia in one piece. Extortion, drug running and arms smuggling have allowed elements on both sides to profit from the conflict. Also at stake are huge reserves of oil and gas that local residents want to keep. Weekend talks in Tokyo were arranged hastily under pressure from international donors alarmed by the prospect of renewed fighting. Even as the two sides talked, thousands of Indonesian troops massed in the province. The European Union, Japan, the United States and the World Bank issued a joint statement today saying they "deeply regret" that the two sides "failed to seize the unique opportunity before them." The rebel leader Malik Mahmud said that he believed that the Indonesian government was "looking for a way to declare war" and that he had no intention of compromising.

Australian Broadcasting Corporation 21 May 2003 UN called to investigate events in Aceh The separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM) has demanded the intervention of the UN as the conflict with Indonesian forces in the province moves into its third day. In an official statement, one of GAM's leaders in exile called for an urgent UN mission to "investigate crimes against humanity" in Aceh. The statement was released on a day when fierce fighting killed 13 people, including 10 civilians, and the number of schools burnt to the ground rose to around 200. --------- Compere: Tony Jones Reporter: Tim Palmer TONY JONES: The separatist Free Aceh Movement -- or GAM -- has demanded the intervention of the UN as the conflict with Indonesian forces in the province moved into its third day. In an official statement, one of GAM's leaders in exile called for an urgent UN mission to "investigate crimes against humanity" in Aceh. The statement was released on a day when fierce fighting killed 13 people, including 10 civilians, and the number of schools that burnt to the ground rose to around 200. Indonesia correspondent Tim Palmer reports from Aceh. TIM PALMER: The men of this mobile brigade unit are jumpy as they head for the scene of the latest attack. There's been gunfire and the road is littered with cartridges, but by the time they reach the school the gunmen who did this are gone and so is any chance of saving the buildings. A few kilometres away, villagers pick through the school books that were their children's future. If they know who did this, they're too scared to say. They know what it means -- someone is trying to scorch Aceh's future. FEMALE ACEHNESE: (TRANSLATION) These people want us to become stupid and then the next generation of children will be stupid too. And in the end, all of Aceh will be ignorant. TIM PALMER: The Marines rolling out of Samalanga may have overwhelming force, but after the choreographed parachute drops and missile strikes that opened this war for the cameras, the soldiers aren't having it all their own way This column was ambushed during the afternoon. In the ensuing gunfight, a civilian was critically injured and the gunmen disappeared. The war's already falling into a familiar pattern. The orders from the very top are simple and brutally expressed -- Indonesia's army commander-in-chief, Endriartono Sutarto, has been touring the province, telling his troops that every GAM rebel who resists must be exterminated. But first you have to find them. As these men from East Java settled into camp, some expressed frustration that the Free Aceh -- or GAM -- rebels had taken off their uniforms and were indistinguishable from the civilian population. "We only know they're GAM once we're being attacked", one officer said. A difficult campaign for the troops and an even more dangerous one for the civilians in the way. Tim Palmer.

BBC 21 May 2003 Aceh offensive intensifies Indonesia has vowed to crush the separatists Indonesian troops have been stepping up their operations against separatist rebels in Aceh province. The BBC's Orlando de Guzman said that in one incident, at least eight villagers were shot dead in the eastern Bireun area. He said he entered the village of Mapa Mamplam as Indonesian forces were leaving. He saw the bodies of four men with bullet wounds in the back of their heads. Eyewitnesses said they, and about four others, had been lined up and shot by the armed forces. In another incident in the same area, a spokesman for the rebel Free Aceh Movement (Gam) told the Associated Press that 13 people, including 10 civilians, had been killed in the village of Cotrabu. The military confirmed that an operation was under way in the area, but gave no details. Foreign Ministry spokesman Marty Natalegawa told the BBC's East Asia Today programme that the Mapa Mamplam incident was "stories" aimed at discrediting Jakarta. Military forces in Aceh Gam fighters: 5,000 Indonesian troops: 28,000 Indonesian regular police: 8,000 Indonesian paramilitary police: 2,000 Indonesia's security operation in the province began on Monday after talks with rebel negotiators broke down, shattering a five-month-old peace deal that had raised hopes of ending 26 years of violence. The government declared martial law and announced an all-out military offensive against Gam. More than 150 schools have been burnt down in the province, with each side blaming the other for the destruction. Officials say the education of tens of thousands of children is being disrupted. Media clampdown More troops were parachuted into the province as Indonesia's military chief, General Endriartono Sutarto, urged his forces to "hunt down and exterminate" the separatists. "Chase them, destroy Gam," said General Sutarto. "Don't talk about it, just finish them off." Our correspondent says the Kopassus forces he met leaving Mapa Mamplam claimed there had been a gunfight, but villagers denied there was any exchange of fire. Fifty schools have been torched in one district alone One man in the village said he had beaten up by Indonesian troops. He said he had been told: "We already killed 10 rats over there." The Foreign Ministry spokesman said Gam was burning homes, but that that was not being condemned by the media. "We are sick and tired... of people only pointing to situations allegedly committed by the Indonesian Government when similar - not similar - atrocities committed by the Gam are left untouched," he said. Meanwhile, the Indonesian military governor in Aceh has ordered a clampdown on media reporting in order to deny separatist rebels a platform. "We will bring a halt to the news from the spokesmen of Gam because they are turning the facts upside down," said Major General Endang Suwarya. Schools targeted The arson attacks on local schools have spread terror among Acehnese civilians. ACEH PROVINCE Located on the northern tip of Sumatra island Population of 4.3m people Rich fuel resources, including oil and natural gas Home to conservative Islam - last year, Sharia law was introduced Gam rebels are fighting for an independent state Indonesia's flashpoints "We all cried when we realised the school has been reduced to ashes. Why should anyone attack a school?" a young mother in the provincial capital Banda Aceh told Reuters news agency. In the district of Bireun alone, more than 50 schools have been burned down. There is no independent confirmation of who carried out the raids. Military balance There are 28,000 Indonesian soldiers in Aceh, confronting 5,000 Gam fighters. Correspondents say the rebels' strongest defence is their ability to melt into the heavy forest - and into the local population. "This war definitely can't be won in weeks like the US did in Iraq," senior military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Achmad Yani Basuki told Reuters news agency. He described the fighting as "of a sporadic nature. Sometimes we can hit them, but later they run away". Acehnese resentment against Jakarta's rule has been fuelled by abuses by the Indonesian military, and a feeling that the government is exploiting the region's resources. The failed peace deal, signed in December, offered Aceh an autonomous government by 2004, which would have been allowed to keep 70% of the revenue generated from the province's rich oil reserves.

BBC 21 May 2003 'They killed them one by one' Civilians have been caught between the two sides of the conflict People in the village of Mapa Mamplam say Indonesian troops have committed a massacre there during an offensive against Aceh's separatist rebels. This has been described by the Indonesian Government as part of a series of fabrications aimed at discrediting its campaign. The BBC's Orlando de Guzman has visited the village. I got there just as the Indonesian army patrol was leaving. These men are part of the Indonesian army's notorious specials forces. They told us they'd just been in a gunfight with Gam (Free Aceh Movement) rebels earlier in the morning. I followed the narrow dirt road leading to a dirt village they'd just patrolled. They asked the victims to stand in front of the rice fields and then they killed them one by one in the back and then they threw their bodies to the rice field Witness There we found a burning roadblock. People had just started coming out of their houses. One woman was inconsolable, troops had broken her door down with automatic gunfire to search for suspected rebels. But this was just the start. We had stumbled across a massacre. The villagers were desperate to tell us what had happened. "The TNI [Indonesian army] come to the village and they take some people in the rice field," one man told us. The alleged massacre happened in Bireun district "They just shoot them, they just shoot them and the people die." We found the main witness at the cemetery, where the bodies had been buried quickly, according to Muslim tradition. We cannot use his name here, but he says he saw everything from a hiding place in the palm trees. "They asked the victims to stand in front of the rice fields and then they killed them one by one in the back and then they threw their bodies to the rice field," he told me. 'Young victims' My translator and I walked past the area where the killing had happened. I stopped to ask a group of women what they had seen. One woman said she did not see the killings happen, but that she was a relative of one of the victims. She said they were not members of Gam. "They are not Gam - they are working in the rice fields, they are not the Gam, [because] they were very young," she told us. At least eight young men were killed here. The youngest was 11, another 13, another 14, and none of the remaining five were over 20. The villagers told me that all had the same injuries - shot in the back of the head.

Jakarta Post 21 May 2003 GAM accuses TNI of attempting genocide The Jakarta Post, Jakarta The separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM) rejected a recent order from the Aceh military commander to surrender to the motherland of Indonesia, accusing the Indonesian Military (TNI) of trying to eliminate them. Sofyan Dawood, the spokesman of GAM military wing, said in a statement that "the Aceh nation answers the (Indonesia's) call for war in the name of the sacred faith to protect Aceh sovereignty". "Aceh National Military Commander condemns TNI Commander (Gen. Endriartono) Sutarto who ordered his men to root out GAM, which clearly reveals the aim to commit genocide," he said. Dawood added that the failure of the recent peace talks in Tokyo had been engineered by Indonesia, calling it "a mere political maneuver". The Aceh Military Commander, Maj. Gen. Endang Kuswanto, ordered GAM to surrender shortly after President Megawati Soekarnoputri announced late on Sunday the government's decision to impose martial law in the province following the failure of the peace talks in Tokyo over the weekend. Separately, a GAM leader in Sweden said that GAM troops could resist the Indonesian forces indefinitely. Mahmud Malik, who lives in exile, was quoted by Reuters as saying that his supporters in Aceh would go on fighting "forever, as (long as) the Acehnese people exist". "We have been fighting Indonesia for 27 years... we are confident that we will be able to resist them. We have to claim back what they have stolen from us. They are the robbers and we have to demand back our property that they have taken -- with interest," Malik said. He was confident that GAM members knew how to live in Aceh's jungle and were familiar with the mountainous terrain. "We have long experience. We have become more and more sophisticated in guerrilla warfare," Malik remarked. He refused to reveal the number of the group's armed members. However, the government estimates that there are currently some 5,000 men in the GAM military wing. The government sent about 50,000 military and police troops to fight the separatist forces. Malik said that GAM had no problem with weapons. "We bought some from their soldiers who needed money," he said with a hearty laugh. The bloody conflict in Aceh started in 1976 when GAM sought independence. About 10,000 people had been killed during the war.

Jakarta Post 21 May 2003 Megawati seeks support for Aceh war Fabiola Desy Unidjaja and Nana Rukmana, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta/Cirebon President Megawati Soekarnoputri called on the people to support her decision to wage war against Free Aceh Movement (GAM) rebels to maintain the country's territorial integrity. Megawati said there was no option for her other than to launch massive military strikes against GAM. "I hope that the decision receives the understanding and support from Indonesian people, including those who work under the name of democracy and human rights," Megawati said on Tuesday. "It was with a heavy heart that for the sake of national integrity, human rights and to upheld the law, I had to impose martial law in Aceh province," the President said. Megawati was making her overdue comments during the commemoration of National Awakening day. The decision to launch the offensive was taken last week as GAM refused to meet government demands to give up its independence fight. The government imposed martial law in Aceh following the failure of last minute talks in Tokyo over the weekend to save the peace deal signed in Geneva on Dec. 9 last year. "I refused to disregard the founding father's wish just to meet the demands of a number of separatist members, who were led by foreign nationals," she stressed. GAM is lead by Hasan Tiro, who has been living in Sweden since 1979 and had relinquish his Indonesian nationality. Concerns over the military offensive came from various groups, both from within the country and the international community, amid fears it will only bring more suffering to the Acehnese. Many questioned the effectiveness of military strikes to end the conflict, which has plagued the province since 1976 and claimed more than 10,000 mainly civilian lives. Meanwhile, a number of politicians called on the government to remain open to finding a peaceful solution, but they stopped short from criticizing the use of military force. United Development Party (PPP) chairman Hamzah Haz, who is also Vice President, said keeping the peace option open in Aceh would save both energy and funds for the government. "If we could go with peace, we could prevent more casualties in the province and save a lot of funds to support our development program," Hamzah said. Former president Abdurrahman Wahid, who began the dialog process with GAM in 2000, said the peaceful approach was the best approach. "Should the government be willing to be more patient, there is still a possibility of continuing with the peace process," Abdurrahman said in Cirebon, West Java. He said the government should not give up so easily in exploring peace as the Acehnese would only support peaceful solutions in the province. "But it is up to the government, I do not want to judge them."

Jakarta Post 21 May 2003 Winning the battle may cost Indonesia the Acehnese Kusnanto Anggoro, Senior Researcher, Centre of Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Jakarta Martial law has taken effect in Aceh. Under Presidential Decree No. 28/2003, signed by the President on Sunday night, newly installed Iskandar Muda Military Commander Maj. Gen. Endang Suwarya is named the military ruler -- assisted by the Aceh governor, provincial police chief and the chief of the provincial prosecutor's office. Heavy emphasis on a military solution will dominate the "integrated operation" for months to come. Interestingly, the government imposed martial law instead of a state of civil emergency. Also interesting is that the rule is applicable to the whole of Aceh rather than to only the most conflict-ridden areas: Pidie, Bireuen and North and East Aceh. The government should strike a balance between what is necessary and what is sufficient with regard to intensity of conflict and the jurisdiction of the use of force. The government confronts many dilemmas. From the military point of view, for example, it would be well-nigh impossible for the government to send in a vast number of troops to Aceh while imposing only a civil emergency there. Besides, the decision may also reveal the central government's distrust, if not disappointment, in the Aceh administration. The decision may also be a preventive strategy to anticipate a worst-case scenario of conflict escalation. Whatever the case, a political solution has not gone astray. Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has stated clearly that martial law could be relaxed if the rebels stopped fighting and started disarming within a week of the Tokyo meeting. Yet GAM leader Malik Mahmud in Tokyo has already stated the movement's preparations for war. The windows of peace are closing. Nonetheless there is still flexibility in the next six months, depending very much on what happens on the ground and, perhaps, also in the Paris Club. The President, as supreme commander of the military, should formulate a comprehensive policy on counterinsurgency. Unfortunately, this is perhaps the weakest link, as the government has been unable to devise a clear policy on Aceh. Meanwhile, Aceh's martial law authorities must ensure that the operations be carried out professionally. Not only should this operation be in line with political objectives devised by the government but they also should adhere to a number of principles -- minimum use of force, unity of command and flexible tactics. For these matters, the military rule in Aceh may provide legal bases for military operations, but it does not resolve serious problems in a counterinsurgency strategy. Perhaps, we have all returned to square one. In a matter of days, there will be great demand for the government to devise a clear policy to respond to what the military personnel may achieve on the ground. The regional commander in Aceh, as regional authority of the military rule, has enormous power. According to the draconian 1959 State of Emergency Act, especially article 25 to article 34, he may curtail public space and take tough measures, starting from controlling postal equipment, regulating the export and import of goods, confiscation of goods, to arresting and detaining people. However, the commander should be extremely cautious. Jerome Napoleon of Westphalia -- Napoleon Bonaparte's brother -- reminds us, "one can do anything with bayonets -- except sit on them." The commander must be aware of his mandate, defined ambiguously as restoring public order and security in Article 24(1)), to win back the hearts and minds of the Acehnese, the key to which is establishing a responsive local government. It remains to be seen whether the commander is capable of all this without using brute force. The question of the military's credibility is even more serious. In the last four decades, there has emerged a saying that the Indonesian Military (TNI) is capable of anything but winning a war. It lost in East Timor. It made things worse in Papua and was trapped in a stalemate in Aceh. The reasonable success in weakening GAM in the late 1970s did not last long. Indonesian generals must not be too optimistic. They cannot be a Sun Tzu, who believed that "a general can penetrate the mist of the immediate future sufficiently well to know if he will be victorious". They have to be as cautious as Karl von Clausewitz, who argued that "the fog of war" and "human fallibilities" allow for no certainty of victory. Thus, political and military intelligence should take the lead before military operations. As an asymmetric war, in which two opposing parties run a similar strategic objective but possess unequal military strength, insurgency wars have their own logic. First, agility is even more crucial than bayonets and bullets. Second, right is much more important than might. Third, and more importantly, in a strategic sense, military force is necessary, but a "political buckshot" could well be decisive to win the war. Indeed, it remains to be seen whether the TNI is capable of brazening out GAM's hit-and-run strategy. Conventional counterguerilla warfare, simply by emphasizing an offensive strategy, will never work. Egyptian Gamal Abdel Nasser lost in Yemen to a few thousand barefoot Yemeni guerrillas, despite the support of 40,000 modern troops, Russian tanks and Russian jets. Everybody knows that might is no substitute for right. More importantly, in counterinsurgency, strength appears to be an irrelevant instrument to win battle, let alone restore peace. The Dutch were unable to defeat Indonesian patriots. The Russians failed to seize the Chechens. The great Indian army failed to overcome the Naga -- a backward people of 500,000 on the northeastern frontier of India. Indeed, there are no easy shortcuts to solving insurgencies. By definition, everybody would seek a military solution to such problems. The insurgency problem is military only in a secondary sense, and a policy addressing complex political and social aspects in a primary sense. Using excessive force has always been precarious. After all, what is needed is a well-conceived counterinsurgency policy. In the Philippines, success emerged in the early 1950s, once defense minister Ramon Magsaysay presided over the reorganization of the Philippine security apparatus. In Thailand, Prime Minister Prem Tinsulanond adopted a broad political strategy to neutralize the communist insurgents and reclaim remote areas and the people from their control. The military should change its own hearts and minds first. It must rely on a defensive strategy, instead of an offensive one that would more likely produce excessive civilian casualties. The net effect of the Manuel Roxas government's "iron fist" campaign in the Philippines during the late 1940s was that the rebel Huk movement probably more than doubled in size. Moreover, the tactical objectives of the military operations are to neutralize the insurgence and/or reclaim territory and the people. All of these are aimed to provide room for maneuver for the government to run its policy effectively and return to a political solution, such as an offer to promise to accord them respect and security, and unconditional amnesty. Anything can go wrong in a military operation. The TNI is restoring its image and will not go for a defeat in Aceh. But the generals should learn from the French army, who were capable of defeating the Algerian guerrillas -- at the expense of the French being the second-most hated country in the world in the 1960s. No reasonable Indonesian would meet the cost of winning a military operation that loses the people of Aceh. A responsive government hardly sells out its credentials to the continuous use of brute force. The writer lectures in Strategic and Security Studies at the postgraduate studies program, University of Indonesia.

Jakarta Post 21 May 2003 Students targeted in Aceh war The Jakarta Post, Jakarta As war intensifies between government troops and separatist rebels in Aceh, students have been targeted with the burning of an estimated 185 schools throughout the province. Both Free Aceh Movement (GAM) separatists and the Indonesian Military (TNI) have denied involvement. Fire destroyed the elementary school of 12-year-old Husaini in her village of Aleu Awe in Bireun regency. Neither police nor the fire brigade were present when the fire broke out. "I can no longer go to school," Husaini told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday, "because all the other schools have been burned down as well." Fire has razed schools in five regencies throughout Aceh since martial law came into effect early Monday morning, affecting thousands of students, including junior high school third-graders sitting their final exams. Bireun lost 78 schools, Pidie regency 74 schools, Aceh Besar regency 28 schools, Aceh Jaya two schools and one school each was destroyed in Aceh Tamiang regency and the provincial capital of Banda Aceh, Antara reported. Bireun and Pidie are GAM strongholds. Despite the scale of the act not a single perpetrator had been arrested and no party has claimed responsibility. Indonesian Military (TNI) Chief Gen. Endriartono Sutarto blamed the rebels, voicing disbelief over their actions. "I don't know what GAM expects from burning down schools when all the time they claim to be fighting for the people of Aceh," Endriartono said. He promised to have soldiers protect schools. Military operation spokesman Lt. Col Achmad Yani Basuki said GAM was setting schools on fire to ease pressure on them by diverting soldiers to protect the schools. GAM military spokesman Sofyan Dawood denied the charges, Reuters reported. "People were shot and then even burned. Many houses have been burned as well," he said. Fauziah, an elementary school teacher in Djuli district in Bireun, was in the process of removing equipment from her school after hearing of the fate of other schools. But after returning to remove other essential equipment her school was already on fire. "Many schools were burned down at night," she sobbed. The destruction affects the education of tens of thousands of elementary, junior high and senior high schools students, provincial education office deputy head Anas M. Adam told Antara. He said the damage could amount to Rp 100 billion (about US$11.76 million). While skirmishes continued on some battle fronts on Tuesday, police in Banda Aceh arrested a women's rights activist for allegedly having links to GAM. Two vans of police officers arrested Cut Nur Asikin, an activist with the Srikandi Aceh women's rights organization, from her home on Jl. Fatmawati and took her to police headquarters. The officers also seized documents and discs from her house. "We suspect Ibu Cut has connections with GAM, so we arrested her for questioning," Aceh Police deputy chief Comr. Arie Rachman said. In North Sumatra, police shot dead an alleged GAM commander, identified only as Tison, as he and about 30 GAM members attempted to enter the province from Pangkalan Susu district, Langkat regency on Monday evening. "We tried to hunt the other GAM members but they escaped. They failed to infiltrate North Sumatra," Langkat Police chief detective First Insp. M. Khadapy Marpaung said on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Minister of Justice and Human Rights Yusril Ihza Mahendra said the government had no plans to offer amnesty to rebels wishing to surrender. Yusril said the amended 1945 Constitution clearly stipulated that amnesty could be granted upon approval from the House of Representatives. "The opportunity for them (GAM members) to receive amnesty remains wide open, but the President must consult the House beforehand," Yusril said in Jakarta. "But there has been no discussion on that matter so far." Yusril's statement came after Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ryamizard Ryacudu said rebels who surrendered could be given amnesty. "If they repent, they will be treated as a patient who must be cured. But if they put up a fight, they will be shot dead," Ryamizard said in Bandung, where he was attending the 57th anniversary celebration of the Siliwangi Military Command overseeing West Java. He said now martial law was in effect, GAM members who were captured would be treated as prisoners of war and would be brought before a war tribunal. On Monday the TNI said it had 28,000 soldiers in Aceh plus 8,000 regular police and 2,000 paramilitary police. They are facing off against an estimated 5,000 guerrillas with 2,000 weapons. The New York-based Human Rights Watch said the campaign and the imposition of martial law in Aceh "sets the stage for gross human rights violations." It expressed particular concern about recent comments by Indonesian military leaders about plans to "crush" the separatists. "These statements are particularly worrisome given the appalling track record of the Indonesian Military in Aceh." During the previous 10-year campaign, thousands of civilians were murdered, disappeared or tortured, the group said. Amnesty International called on both sides to protect civilians, saying that previously "both sides have been responsible for serious abuses and ordinary civilians have overwhelmingly been the victims."

BBC 22 May 2003 Indonesia steps up Aceh assault There are already 28,000 Indonesian soldiers in Aceh Indonesia is intensifying its military operations against separatist rebels in the northern province of Aceh, with army commanders reportedly ordering troops to shoot arsonists on sight. The move follows a spate of school burnings, which the military and the rebels have blamed on each other. The military is reported to believe that the arson attacks are an attempt to divert soldiers from combat operations. The BBC's Rachel Harvey says the army is determined to crush the rebels, amid evidence that supplies of food and fuel are running low in many areas. Travelling on what was a major supply route into the provincial capital, Banda Aceh, she says Indonesian troops are using chainsaws to remove tree trunks blocking the road. ACEH PROVINCE Located on the northern tip of Sumatra island Population of 4.3m people Rich fuel resources, including oil and natural gas Home to conservative Islam - last year, Sharia law was introduced Gam rebels are fighting for an independent state Indonesia's flashpoints She reports seeing burned out vehicles, including a bus and trucks carrying fruit and vegetables, and says public transport has come to a halt. Since the offensive began on Monday, rebel strongholds, especially in the northern districts of Bireun and Pidie, have seen almost daily gun battles. Thousands of people have fled their homes. The Free Aceh Movement (Gam) rebels have accused the military of targeting civilians, including children, in their operations in the north. The military has denied this. The military crackdown in Aceh began after talks with rebel negotiators broke down, ending a five-month-old peace deal that had raised hopes of a permanent resolution to the 26 year conflict. The military said on Thursday it had killed 22 rebels in the past three days, while the rebels said they had only lost two men, and accused the army of killing up to 50 civilians - some of them farmers in paddy fields. Army officials say one soldier has been killed and several wounded. Martial law Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri has imposed martial law, giving the military sweeping powers to make arrests, impose curfews and curb travel. Gam and government sources give widely different accounts of operations on the ground. The BBC's Orlando de Guzman said that, in one incident on Wednesday, at least eight villagers were shot dead in the eastern Bireun area. Military forces in Aceh Gam fighters: 5,000 Indonesian troops: 28,000 Indonesian regular police: 8,000 Indonesian paramilitary police: 2,000 Eyewitnesses in the village of Mapa Mamplam said they had been lined up and executed by the armed forces. "It's basically a massacre against civilians," rebel spokesman Sofyan Dawood said on Thursday. But military chief Endang Suwarya hit back, saying: "Absolutely no civilians were killed. We have a list of targets that we want killed or captured. We don't miss or make mistakes." In Jakarta, Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda told foreign officials that Indonesia's territorial integrity was at stake in Aceh. "It is they (Gam) who speak the language of force and terror," he said. Emergency schooling Since the offensive began, nearly 290 schools have reportedly been burnt down in the province, mostly in Pidie and Bireun. Officials said the education of tens of thousands of children was being disrupted. The United Nations has appealed to both sides to spare the schools, and said it would send 300 emergency school kits and 50 tents to the province. Acehnese resentment against Jakarta's rule has been fuelled by past abuses by the Indonesian military, and a feeling that the government is exploiting the region's resources. The failed peace deal, signed in December, offered Aceh an autonomous government by 2004, which would have been allowed to keep 70% of the revenue generated from the province's rich oil reserves.

BBC 23 May 2003 Youths 'massacred' in Aceh village- Shocked villagers told of the seven boys and men being shot Fresh details have been emerging of alleged executions by Indonesian troops fighting separatist rebels in Aceh. The BBC's Orlando de Guzman has made a second visit to the site of Wednesday's incident, in the northern village of Mapa Mamplam, and has been told by witnesses that boys, one as young as 12, were among the victims. Military chiefs have denied the allegations, saying that civilians are never targeted. They asked the victims to stand in front of the rice fields and then they killed them one by one Mapa Mamplam villager Orlando de Guzman's first visit to Mapa Mamplam Indonesian warships have been shelling rebel positions, as the military continues its offensive against the Free Aceh Movement (Gam), which began on Monday after peace talks broke down. The villagers at Mapa Mamplam said a group of seven boys and men, aged between 12 and 20, were sleeping in a hut near a prawn farm to guard it - standard practice in rural areas. A group of Indonesian soldiers entered the hut and dragged the boys out, lining them up on one of the dykes dividing the ponds, they said. A witness, who had a clear view of the events, told our correspondent that some of the group were then shot one by one at close range. Three or four others were then told to run, before being shot in the back, the villager said. ACEH PROVINCE Located on the northern tip of Sumatra island Population of 4.3m people Rich fuel resources, including oil and natural gas Home to conservative Islam - last year, Sharia law was introduced Gam rebels are fighting for an independent state Indonesia's flashpoints In his first visit to the village, our correspondent saw four bodies with bullet wounds to the back of the head. The military said on Friday it had killed 38 rebels since Monday. Rebels said 12 of their fighters had been killed, along with 53 civilians. Human rights workers say almost 10,000 people have fled their homes since the fighting started. Major-General Endang Suwarya, the commander overseeing Indonesia's campaign in the strife-torn province, has insisted: "Absolutely no civilians were killed. "We have a list of targets that we want killed or captured. We don't miss or make mistakes." However, Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda admitted that rebels no longer wear military uniform, and therefore are difficult to distinguish from the local population. Our correspondent says that whenever reports of such abuses come to light in Aceh, the Gam rebels and Indonesia's authorities tend to blame each other. However, he adds that in recent days there have been many confirmed cases of Indonesian troops storming into villages, dragging people out of their homes and brutalising them. 'All-out attack' The BBC's Rachel Harvey says the army is determined to crush the rebels, amid evidence that supplies of food and fuel are running low in many areas. So far, the offensive has largely taken the form of sporadic skirmishes, largely in the middle of the night, and mostly in the northern districts of Bireun and Pidie. MILITARY FORCES IN ACEH Gam fighters: 5,000 Indonesian troops: 28,000 Indonesian regular police: 8,000 Indonesian paramilitary police: 2,000 Indonesian press back operation The military crackdown in Aceh began after talks with rebel negotiators broke down, ending a five-month-old peace deal that had raised hopes of a permanent resolution to the 26-year conflict. Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri has imposed martial law, giving the military sweeping powers to make arrests, impose curfews and curb travel. Acehnese resentment against Jakarta's rule has been fuelled by past abuses by the Indonesian military, and a feeling that the government is exploiting the region's resources. The failed peace deal, signed in December, offered Aceh an autonomous government by 2004, which would have been allowed to keep 70% of the revenue generated from the province's rich oil reserves.

Reuters 23 May 2003 Villagers tell of Aceh atrocity BANDA ACEH - Villagers in remote Mapa Mamplam say Indonesian troops massacred at least eight youths, one as young as 11, as hostilities in the war against separatist rebels intensify. A BBC report quoted a number of witnesses to the killings. One said the Army took the young males into a rice field. Another said he saw the killings take place. "They asked the victims to stand in front of the rice fields and then they killed them one by one in the back and then they threw their bodies to the rice field." Indonesia launched a military attack on the breakaway province this week after negotiations to end the conflict fell over in Kyoto, Japan. At least eight villagers are said to have been killed. The youngest was 11, another 13, another 14, and none of the remaining five was over 20. Villagers said all been shot in the back of the head. Indonesia has denied killing non-combatants, although it says it has killed at least a dozen separatists. A spokesman for the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) insisted no separatists had been killed and accused the military of murdering nearly 50 civilians. The military said it was considering imposing night curfews in areas hit by the heaviest clashes. In Jakarta, Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda went on the defensive in the face of international concern over the military's biggest offensive in decades. He told foreign envoys that Indonesia's territorial integrity was at stake over Aceh, the country's northernmost province, on the tip of Sumatra. "GAM forces are moving continuously, and we are tracking them today," said senior military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Achmad Yani Basuki. "Our attacks are not on specific areas, but wherever we find GAM." Casualty claims have been hotly disputed ever since GAM began fighting for independence in 1976. One hospital official in the provincial capital, Banda Aceh, said that since Monday the military had brought in nine dead bodies riddled with bullets. He said they looked like civilians. The military said a district rebel commander had surrendered on Wednesday, coinciding with the bloodiest clashes since President Megawati Sukarnoputri declared martial law. They said Teuku Ali Said, rebel chief of a district in western Aceh, gave himself up to Indonesian soldiers. Last week a more senior rebel commander defected. Officials said schools were still being burned down in this resource-rich province, with about 250 schools torched since Monday, affecting 60,000 students. Troops have been told to shoot arsonists on sight. The two sides have traded accusations over the arson. Public transport on the main road linking Banda Aceh and the capital of neighbouring North Sumatra province has ground to a halt after attacks on vehicles, officials said. Indonesia, which has tried and failed to defeat the rebels many times, has 45,000 troops and police in Aceh - with more to come. GAM has about 5000 fighters. More than 10,000 people have been killed in the 27-year war. Foreign Minister Wirajuda said the rebels alone had wrecked the peace process. Mediators have said Jakarta sank talks in Tokyo aimed at saving a five-month-old peace pact, saying it had sought to impose new conditions on the rebels. "Nothing less than the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Indonesia is at stake ... It is they who speak the language of force and terror," said Wirajuda. "The Indonesian Government and people are doing only what are expected of us."

Jakarta Post 22 May 2003 Celebrations of 1998 reform turn violent Zakki Hakim and Tertiani ZB Simanjuntak, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta Thousands of people across Indonesia took part in violent demonstrations on Wednesday to demand heads of state resign as the beginning of a drive to complete reforms that began with the downfall of former authoritarian president Soeharto on May 21, 1998. The protesters said the current regime had failed to lead the country in the spirit of reform that had driven Soeharto from power five years ago. Violence marred the rallies in Jakarta, Pekanbaru in Riau, Makassar in South Sulawesi, and Purwokerto in Central Java. In Jakarta, at least four different groups held separate rallies, including about 800 students and workers who had taken a week to march from Bandung and other West Java cities. Close to 1,500 demonstrators gathered outside the House of Representatives compound in Central Jakarta to demand the current regime be replaced with younger people not yet influenced by the corrupt mentality of the New Order regime. The protesters tried to repeat their past success of occupying the House compound, but were repelled by police water cannons. They were finally dispersed at 7:30 p.m. Some threw stones and molotov cocktails at police, while other demonstrators burned banners and the flags of political parties draped over the toll road fence near the House compound. At least one policeman suffered minor injuries after he was hit in the groin by a bottle hurled by a protester. The police mobile brigade and riot units arrested nine of the rally organizers and confiscated a pickup truck loaded with sound equipment. The clash caused heavy traffic congestion in Jl. Gatot Subroto and the toll road running parallel to it after the demonstrators tried to evade the police by running across the roads.

Australian Broadcasting Corporation 22 May 2003 Indonesian court acquits general of war crimes Indonesia's human rights court has acquitted a former Indonesian military commander in East Timor of crimes against humanity in the territory in 1999. Brigadier General Tono Suratman had been charged with crimes against humanity during East Timor's bloody independence vote in August 1999. General Suratman had controlled Indonesian troops in East Timor until two-weeks before the vote. The charges carried a maximum penalty of death, although prosecutors demanded a 10-year jail term. However, the Human Rights Court in Jakarta has found General Suratman not guilty, saying in its ruling that both his dignity and his position within Indonesia's military should be restored to him.

Survival International 21 May 2003 Papua: soldiers convicted over tribal leader's death Seven low-ranking members of the Indonesian special forces have been convicted of causing the death of Papuan tribal leader Theys Eluay in November 2001. But the soldiers, three of whom remain in the army, have been given jail terms of only two to three and a half years, angering Papua's tribal peoples. Reports of torture and murder by the military continue. http://www.survival-international.org/tc%20papua.htm

AFP 23 May 2003 Indonesia says 36 rebels killed in Aceh war, civilians to be moved LHOKSEUMAWE, Indonesia, May 23 (AFP) - Indonesian troops fired mortars Friday in a fierce clash with Aceh separatist rebels and said 36 guerrillas have been killed since the start this week of a major attack in the province. In Jakarta, officials announced plans to move thousands of civilians out of their homes in conflict areas and into tented camps. There were fears of food shortages in Aceh after trucking firms stopped deliveries from neighbouring North Sumatra. Drivers had reported threats and attacks on their vehicles from unidentified armed civilians. Lieutenant Colonel Yani Basuki, spokesman for Indonesia's biggest military operation for a quarter-century, said 11 more members of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) were killed Friday in three separate clashes. He said 16 had been captured since the offensive began Monday. In the fiercest firefight of the day, Basuki said about 20 soldiers in Pidie district ambushed a guerrilla group collecting supplies. Basuki said three rebels were killed and one escaped. While soldiers were searching the area, they came under fire from what was believed to be a large rebel force. Soldiers responded with mortars and a grenade launcher and pulled back to base. "The contact was as intense as that." Basuki said two soldiers had been killed since Monday, including one in an accident. The military said it has secured much of Pulo Nasi island, off the provincial capital Banda Aceh, after a land, sea and air operation in which warships fired salvoes at suspected rebel bases. A military source said troops face problems advancing through thick tree cover because of fears of booby-trapped paths. A reporter from the state Antara news agency said troops have seized four of eight rebel posts. The military, which has a record of gross rights abuses in past campaigns, has denied reports by villagers that 10 people gunned down on Wednesday in the northern coastal district of Bireuen were farmers. Aceh's regular military spokesman Firdaus Komarno gave a higher death toll than Basuki, saying 58 GAM members have been killed and 23 captured since Monday. He said two soldiers have died and 19 were injured while five civilians have been killed. GAM, which has also been accused of brutalities during its 27-year fight for independence, said in a statement to AFP in Jakarta that troops had killed 50 civilians as of Thursday evening. No independent confirmation was possible. Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda, asked about the GAM allegations, told reporters: "It's just part of their tactics. "Before it was clear that they were wearing military uniform complete with their red berets but now they disappear and are not wearing military uniform any more and when they get shot they claim they are civilians," Wirayuda said. In Jakarta the social affairs ministry said it would provide 2,000 big tents, enough to house 60,000 people, for civilians who may be moved out of combat zones. Ruchadi Ardiwinata, ministry secretary general, gave no figure for how many may be moved and said it depended on the intensity of the fighting. He said the government would not force residents to leave if fighting breaks out near their homes but "we will strongly advise them to leave." Civilians would stay two days in the tents before being moved to more permanent refugee accommodation. Indonesia has given no time frame for its assault, which was launched after the breakdown of last-ditch weekend peace talks with GAM in Tokyo. Up to 30,000 troops plus 10,000 police are confronting some 5,000 guerrillas. Civilians have been the first to suffer. Komarno said the fighting has forced 23,000 people to flee their homes. He said 328 schools have now been torched in attacks blamed by the military on GAM, leaving around 100,000 children with nowhere to study. The rebels say the army is behind the arson attacks to try to smear GAM.

BBC 24 May 2003 Probe into Aceh 'killings' Villagers complain of intimidation tactics by Indonesian troops The Indonesian authorities say they are investigating claims that soldiers have killed civilians in their offensive against separatist rebels in the Indonesian province of Aceh. People have reported beatings and shootings by government troops who are moving from village to village hunting for members of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM). Indonesian Red Cross officials say they have found 80 corpses since the military offensive began six days ago - although it is not known if they are civilians or fighters. It also says food is running out in parts of the province - echoing the United Nations warning of a looming humanitarian crisis. An Indonesian army spokesman reportedly said an inquiry into the conduct of its troops would be carried out by two soldiers and two journalists from the Indonesian publication Tempo. He said the probe had been sparked by media reports of the killings, and the military justice system would be used against any wrong-doers. ACEH PROVINCE Located on the northern tip of Sumatra island Population of 4.3m people Rich fuel resources, including oil and natural gas Home to conservative Islam - last year, Sharia law was introduced Gam rebels are fighting for an independent state Indonesia's flashpoints It comes as villagers described to the BBC how Indonesian troops were arriving in their communities, beating and firing on people. One village head said all the young men had fled. One woman said she had not heard from her brothers for days, and another man described how he was woken in the night by armed soldiers and questioned about the rebels. "But I'm not a rebel," he said. "I don't know anything." The BBC's Rachel Harvey was told 11 people were killed by Indonesian troops in one village alone. The Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) has evacuated around 80 bodies from areas where there had been fighting since Monday. Marie Muhammad, head of the PMI, said it is difficult to identify if those who died had been involved in combat or were innocent victims. Night raids Villages in parts of northern Aceh have been reporting that homes are being raided at night by unidentified armed men. The men are said to be confiscating identity documents, without which civilians cannot safely move about. One woman explained how they took all her family's identity papers, and those of her neighbours. "If I ask people, they say they are GAM - but I don't know if they are or not," she told the BBC. The authorities have ordered all civilians in the embattled province to get new identification cards, in a move aimed at stopping rebels blending in with the population. They also say the new identity cards - with signatures from local police and the local military - will help restore normality as people are currently too fearful to travel in the region for fear of being shot. Indonesian troops captured this man who they say is a rebel commander The Indonesian Government has insisted it wants to avoid civilian casualties, and has also deployed troops to guard roads so trucks bringing much-needed supplies can get through. The UN children's fund, Unicef, is also flying out 20 tonnes of basic health equipment on Sunday - enough to meet the needs of 200,000 people for three months. It fears as many as 300,000 people could be displaced within three months. The organisation is also concerned that 60,000 children are being deprived of an education following the burning and destruction of more than 280 schools, which separatist militants and government forces have blamed on each other. New offensive The government says its forces have killed 58 rebels, and are currently celebrating the capture of an alleged rebel commander, Tengku Hasan Muda, after taking the tiny guerrilla-held island of Nasi. Rebels say 12 of their fighters have been killed, along with 53 civilians - but it is difficult to verify the death toll figures of either side. The new military offensive began after the collapse of peace talks, ending a five-month-old ceasefire that had raised hopes of a permanent resolution to the 26-year conflict. The failed peace deal offered Aceh an autonomous government by 2004, which would have been allowed to keep 70% of the revenue generated from the province's rich oil reserves.

Reuters 25 May 2003 Indonesia to Protect Aceh Civilians, Food Supplies Reuters Sunday, May 25, 2003; 6:01 AM By Dean Yates BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (Reuters) - Indonesian officials sought to reassure frightened civilians in Aceh on Sunday by pledging to protect buses and ensure regular food supplies after attacks on trucks and other transport. Food supplies has been severely curbed nearly a week into a military offensive to crush Free Aceh Movement (GAM) rebels fighting for independence of the oil and gas-rich province. "What's important is that supplies to the shops be guaranteed," chief social welfare minister Yusuf Kalla told reporters on a visit to Aceh, a staunchly Muslim province on the far northern tip of Sumatra island. Another priority was taking care of refugees, who Kalla said numbered about 20,000. Attacks on traffic and burnings of vehicles, blamed by the military on separatists, has stifled transport. The Indonesian military said separately police had begun protecting buses in the districts of Bireun and Pidie on the north coast of Aceh, where some of the heaviest fighting in the province of four million people has taken place. Traders and residents in the provincial capital of Banda Aceh fretted on Sunday about shortages of vegetables, cooking oil, milk powder and cigarettes, saying some prices were soaring. "No vehicles want to come here. It's just not safe on the roads," said trader M. Kafim in the main market behind a sprawling black and white mosque that dominates the city center. But traders said supplies and prices of the staple rice were unaffected. Kalla said trucks traveling on roads with goods would be protected, but ships would also be chartered to carry trucks from other provinces to major port cities in Aceh. COUNTING CASUALTIES Many have fled their homes and scores of people have been killed since martial law was declared and the offensive launched after a five-month peace agreement collapsed. The Indonesian Red Cross said on Saturday it had removed about 80 bodies from conflict areas in Aceh, where more than 10,000 people have been killed in decades of fighting. The military says at least 62 rebels have been killed while the rebels said at the weekend they had killed more than 600 soldiers and police. The military's own count of its casualties is two dead and 19 wounded. The various figures could not be independently verified but correspondents in Aceh said they did not know of any evidence that would support GAM's count of government dead. GAM says more than 70 civilians have been killed while the military puts the number at five. Often accused of human rights violations in the past, the military says it is doing its utmost to avoid civilian deaths in its biggest operation in decades. Indonesian television showed several clashes in Aceh on Sunday. A GAM spokesman, Jamaika, said three government warplanes dropped 35 bombs on villages in north Aceh. Military spokesman Ahmad Yani Basuki denied there had been an air attack and said bombing was not a government tactic. The government has 45,000 troops and police pitted against about 5,000 rebels. Jakarta hopes for victory within six months, but the rebels have historically taken advantage of Aceh's rugged, jungle-clad terrain. Resource-rich Aceh is one of two separatist hot spots in the archipelago. Papua province in the east is the other. (With additional reporting by Telly Nathalia in Jakarta)

WP 26 May 2003 Indonesia Denies Targeting Civilians From News Services Monday, May 26, 2003; Page A24 BANDA ACEH, Indonesia, May 25 -- The Indonesian armed forces today denied that they were targeting civilians in a week-old offensive against separatist rebels in Aceh province. More than 30,000 soldiers are hunting 5,000 poorly armed guerrillas who have mostly retreated into the jungles or melted into the civilian population. The army attacked after peace talks aimed at ending the 27-year rebellion broke down. In Aceh and other separatist-minded provinces in Indonesia, the army has been accused of setting up and arming civilian militias to terrorize independence supporters. "It is not true. I have not received such reports," Lt. Col. Ahmad Yani Basuki, a military spokesman, said when asked about one incident. "The Indonesian military is committed to protecting civilians." Also today, Indonesian officials sought to reassure frightened civilians in Aceh by pledging to protect buses and ensure regular food supplies after attacks on trucks and other transport. The military has blamed those attacks on rebels. Fears of worsening food shortages are growing as the military tries to crush Free Aceh Movement rebels in the oil- and gas-rich province. "What's important is that supplies to the shops be guaranteed," the chief social welfare minister, Yusuf Kalla, told reporters on a visit to Aceh, a staunchly Muslim province on the far northern tip of Sumatra island. The military said that police had begun protecting buses in districts where some of the heaviest fighting in the province of 4 million people has taken place. Traders and residents in the provincial capital of Banda Aceh fretted about shortages, saying that some prices were soaring. "No vehicles want to come here. It's just not safe on the roads," said trader M. Kafim, who was in the main market behind a sprawling black and white mosque that dominates the city center.

AFP 27 May 2003 Indonesia asks foreign aid workers to leave war-torn Aceh JAKARTA, May 27 (AFP) - The Indonesian government has advised foreign aid workers in Aceh province, where the military is mounting an assault to crush separatist rebels, to leave because of security concerns, the foreign ministry said Tuesday. "We know that GAM wants to attract international attention by, among other things, disturbing foreigners," spokesman Marty Natalegawa told AFP, referring to the separatist Free Aceh Movement. He said any assistance by foreign aid groups should be channeled through the Indonesian Red Cross. Some foreign aid agencies have operated in Aceh without proper coordination with authorities, he said. "This makes it hard for the government to protect them." The military said Tuesday that 76 separatist rebels have now been killed in Aceh province in the military's biggest operation for a quarter-century. The Asian Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday the World Bank has closed down its village assistance project in Aceh and is evacuating about 2,300 workers from the countryside. The bank cited increasing security risks and a military clampdown on public gatherings of more than five people as the reasons for the pullout, the newspaper said.

BBC 27 May 2003 Jakarta steps up Aceh campaign Supply trucks are now travelling in convoy for safety reasons Indonesia has said it plans to step up its military offensive in the province of Aceh in an attempt to thwart separatist rebels. The Indonesian military said that the "momentum" of operations was to be increased, with more patrols and sweeps involving vehicle and document searches in the region. Security forces may also conduct systematic searches going from village to village, said spokesman Major General Syafrie Syamsuddin. He added that there were concerns such a method may lead to reprisals for local citizens. "Such a large operation will, of course, get reactions from [rebels]," he said. "If the reaction is aimed at the [military], or the police, that is to be expected. We are worried, though, that it will be aimed at civilians and the media." Aid workers banned The announcement comes as international concern is growing about the humanitarian situation in Aceh. On Monday, the Indonesian Government said it was banning foreign aid workers from the province. In pictures: war-torn Aceh Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda said the ban was being introduced because some non-governmental organisations were sympathetic to the rebel Free Aceh Movement (Gam). Human rights organisations have expressed concern about the reported killings of civilians since the government began its offensive against the Gam last Monday. Amnesty International said the week-old campaign had led to grave human rights abuses, including the killing of children, and laid the blame on both the government and the rebels, urging both sides to make the protection of civilians a priority. BBC correspondent Rachel Harvey in Aceh says food convoys, electricity pylons and schools are all being deliberately attacked. The International Red Cross has said it urgently needs more supplies in Aceh. The aid agency says it does not have enough equipment to carry out its work effectively, with some volunteers having to handle days-old corpses without protective clothing. A Red Cross official in Aceh told the BBC that 82 bodies had been recovered since the offensive began - but our correspondent says it is difficult to establish their identities because many Acehenese are not carrying identity papers Aid convoy Food prices in Aceh have risen sharply due to attacks on lorries plying the main supply routes in and out of the province. But on Monday, a convoy heavily guarded by Indonesian troops left the provincial capital Banda Aceh to bring in supplies from the neighbouring province of Medan. Several minibuses carrying scores of people trying to flee the capital were also in the convoy. The Indonesian authorities said the disruption of transport and food supplies was the result of rebel attacks on major transport routes. "These shortages simply cannot be allowed to continue," said Aceh Governor Abdullah Puteh. Rebel representatives deny they are to blame for the food shortages and truck attacks.

AFP 28 May 2003 Death toll mounts in Aceh as troops face highly-mobile guerillas BANDA ACEH, Indonesia, May 28 (AFP) - Indonesia's military reported increased rebel casualties Wednesday in Aceh province but admitted that troops were facing difficulties confronting highly-mobile guerrillas who melt into the population. As a major military campaign to crush the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM) entered the 10th day, troops have killed 81 rebels and arrested 22 others, military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Yani Basuki said. Four soldiers and two paramilitary policemen have been killed while dozens of rebels have surrendered, he said. "We're continuing to hunt them until their strength is destroyed," Basuki told AFP. Basuki said troops have detected GAM strongholds but rebels were not wearing uniforms and were blending into the population. "They are highly mobile. Besides they are not wearing uniform so it's difficult to distinguish them from ordinary civilians," he said. Soldiers have been ordered to hold their fire against rebels who are mingling with residents to prevent civilian casualties, he said. A soldier from the army special forces Kopassus died on Tuesday after a home-made bomb exploded on the road in East Aceh, deputy operation commander Brigadier General Syafzen Nurdin said. He lost his leg in the blast and died in hospital, Nurdin said. The military spokesman said firefights were reported in several remote areas in North Aceh and Pidie districts, where rebels are strong, but there were no immediate reports of casualties. The government has advised foreign aid workers in Aceh to leave, citing security concerns. It said foreign aid is welcome but should be channeled through Indonesian aid agencies. But staff with foreign aid groups such as Cardi, London-based Oxfam International and Save the Children remained in Aceh on Wednesday. "If our headquarters in Jakarta ask us to leave, we will," said one of the aid workers. Seventeen tonnes of medicine donated by the World Health Organization and the UN Children's Fund arrived in the provincial capital Banda Aceh. "The emergency health kits will be enough to cater for 200,000 people for three months," said Cut Idawani of the provincial health office. Up to 40,000 police and soldiers are confronting an estimated 5,000 rebels from GAM, which has been fighting for an independent state since 1976. Some 10,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in the past 27 years. Right group Amnesty International, in a weekend report, said grave human rights abuses including the killing of children and other civilians were already being reported. The military, which has a record of rights abuses during past military operations in Aceh, has promised it would spare civilians this time. Police said they had arrested a soldier and a civilian who were trying to smuggle half a tonne of marijuana out of Aceh on Tuesday.

AFP 28 May 2003 Military sets up camps for thousands of Acehnese, to replace ID cards BANDA ACEH, Indonesia, May 28 (AFP) - Indonesian authorities said Wednesday they were preparing camps for thousands of civilians displaced by war and would replace four million ID cards -- signs the assault on separatist rebels is being stepped up. Sixteen tented camps in nine districts -- including Bireuen, Pidie and North Aceh -- had been erected, said martial law administrator Major General Endang Suwarya. Refugees will be provided with sanitation facilities and temporary classrooms, he said. Suwarya did not say how many people would be housed in the camps but said there are currently 18,000 refugees in the province. The social affairs ministry said last week it would provide enough tents for 60,000 people. The ministry said civilians would not be forced to leave combat zones but would be strongly advised to do so. The military, aided by provincial administrators, will next month issue new ID cards for some 4.2 million residents in Aceh, Suwarya said, which signals heightened efforts by the military to distinguish civilians from the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) rebels. The first step of the process will affect 1.7 million people. Suwarya said "there are no longer heavy concentrations of GAM" but troops will continue operations in several areas because most of them "have blended in with the public." As of Wednesday afternoon -- the 10th day of Indonesia'a biggest military operation in a quarter-century -- troops had killed 82 rebels and arrested 54 others, Suwarya said. Four soldiers and three paramilitary policemen have been killed and dozens of rebels have surrendered, he said. "The result of the government evaluation today is that the integration operation is on the right track," said top security minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in Jakarta. "Some targets have been achieved in the first 10 days. Of course there's still so much to do." In the Aceh town of Lhokseumawe, operations spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Yani Basuki was asked by local journalists about the killing by troops of a man named Abu Bakar in the area of Lawang in Bireuen district. Basuki said troops had to shoot Abu Bakar because he tried to escape during questioning about why he possessed several civilian ID cards. The military says GAM has been confiscating ID cards. "He (Abu Bakar) was a member of GAM," Basuki said. The journalists at the briefing also sought to address resident complaints about violence from troops. The residents claimed that a soldier had nicked an ear of a young man with a knife. Basuki confirmed that troops patrolling the area had carried out "acts of violence" but said he had no information on the knife incident. He said troops seized two crates loaded with explosives and home made guns and rocket launchers belonging to GAM following a skirmish in the Matangkuli area of North Aceh. One soldier was wounded in the incident. Up to 40,000 police and soldiers are confronting an estimated 5,000 rebels from GAM, which has been fighting for an independent state since 1976. Some 10,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in the past 27 years. Rights advocates Amnesty International, in a weekend report, said grave human rights abuses including the killing of children and other civilians were already being reported. The military, which has a record of rights abuses during past military operations in Aceh, has promised it would spare civilians this time. Police said they had arrested a soldier and a civilian who were trying to smuggle half a tonne of marijuana out of Aceh on Tuesday.

AFP 28 May 2003 Military sets up Aceh camps From correspondents in Banda Aceh, Indonesia May 28, 2003 INDONESIA authorities said today they were preparing camps for thousands of civilians displaced by war and would replace four million identity cards - signs the assault on separatist rebels is being stepped up. Sixteen tented camps in nine districts - including Bireuen, Pidie and North Aceh - had been erected, said martial law administrator Major General Endang Suwarya. Refugees will be provided with sanitation facilities and temporary classrooms, he said. Suwarya did not say how many people would be housed in the camps but said there are currently 18,000 refugees in the province. The social affairs ministry said last week it would provide enough tents for 60,000 people. The ministry said civilians would not be forced to leave combat zones but would be strongly advised to do so. The military, aided by provincial administrators, will next month issue new ID cards for some 4.2 million residents in Aceh, Suwarya said, which signals heightened efforts by the military to distinguish civilians from the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) rebels. The first step of the process will affect 1.7 million people. Suwarya said "there are no longer heavy concentrations of GAM" but troops will continue operations in several areas because most of them "have blended in with the public." As of this afternoon - the 10th day of Indonesia's biggest military operation in a quarter-century - troops had killed 82 rebels and arrested 54 others, Suwarya said. Four soldiers and three paramilitary policemen have been killed and dozens of rebels have surrendered, he said. "The result of the government evaluation today is that the integration operation is on the right track," said top security minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in Jakarta. "Some targets have been achieved in the first 10 days. Of course there's still so much to do." In the Aceh town of Lhokseumawe, operations spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Yani Basuki was asked by local journalists about the killing by troops of a man named Abu Bakar in the area of Lawang in Bireuen district. Basuki said troops had to shoot Abu Bakar because he tried to escape during questioning about why he possessed several civilian ID cards. The military says GAM has been confiscating ID cards. "He (Abu Bakar) was a member of GAM," Basuki said.

May 28, 2003 Mob attacks Kontras over Aceh stance Damar Harsanto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta About 100 members of a nationalist youth organization attacked on Tuesday the office of a local human rights watchdog, the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) here and assaulted five staff members for being critical of war in Aceh. Clad in green military-like fatigues, the gang arrived at noon ostensibly in search of Munir, Kontras' founder who now serves as executive director of another human rights watchdog, Imparsial, but he was not at the office. The mob identified themselves as the Pemuda Panca Marga, a staunchly nationalistic group whose members are children of veteran soldiers. The youth organization used to be affiliated with the Golkar Party. On Monday, about 30 members of the group went to the office, on Jl. Cisadane, Central Jakarta, looking for Munir, but could not find him so they became violent. Munir has lambasted the government for its war in Aceh, and alleged that it should be categorized as a gross human rights violation, which would thwart the development of peace in the province. As of Tuesday, at least 80 people have been killed in Aceh, according to military sources. Orie Rachman, chairman of the Kontras' presidium, said that during the attack on Tuesday, the group turned violent and vandalized the office, destroying chairs, desks and cabinets, as well as physically assaulting five people. None of the five were seriously injured. "This is the second time they came here this week. Yesterday, they threatened us and said they would come with a bigger mob," Orie said. After about half an hour, the group left the office in a total mess. "And, strangely, no police officers were present even after we had reported their threat," said Orie. He said that on Monday, four police officers from the Central Jakarta Police Precinct also witnessed the rally in front of the office. Orie insisted that the assault and vandalism would not affect Kontras' activities in promoting human rights. "We'll submit the case to the police as it is a police obligation to take legal action against the attackers," said Orie. Meanwhile, Central Jakarta Police chief Sr. Comr. Sukrawardi Dahlan, who arrived on the scene shortly after the group left, claimed that his personnel had failed to appear because they were all in a meeting. Sukrawardi then went on to say that the police were trying to apprehend members of the mob, but that they were outnumbered. However, he also revealed that he foresaw difficulties in arresting the suspects because the group was protected by the military. He said that instead of directly arresting them, he would formally ask their leader to hand over the suspects in the attack. Meanwhile, Imparsial's operational director Rusdi Marpaung said the attack on Kontras reflected the heightened political pressure and violence against all institutions promoting human rights and democracy in the country. "But, we won't stop fighting for human rights and democracy due to intimidation," he said. Separately, Purwandono, from the non-governmental organization Solidaritas Nusa Bangsa, condemned the attack and called it a form of terrorism. "We demand that the police catch those responsible for this attack," said Purwandono. Timeline of attacks on Kontras Year Incident 2000 A grenade explodes in front of the Kontras office, no injuries 2001 A bomb placed at Munir's family home in Malang, East Java but fails to explode. 2001 The car belonging to human right activist Jhonson Panjaitan was shot at while parked at the Kontras office, no injuries 2002 Mob attacks Kontras office destroys furniture and files 2003 Mob attacks Kontras office

AFP 28 May 2003 Indonesia pulls out 1,000 troops, police from restive Poso district JAKARTA, May 29 (AFP) - Indonesian authorities are withdrawing 1,000 soldiers and policemen from the Central Sulawesi district of Poso, the scene of many Muslim-Christian clashes in recent years, the official Antara news agency said Thursday. Central Sulawesi province's police chief, Brigadier General Taufik Ridha was quoted as saying the central government ordered the pull out of the forces that had been sent to quell the 1999-2002 sectarian clashes there. "What is important is that security in the former conflict zone has improved," Ridha said, adding the withdrawals were expected to be completed by end of June. Ridha said the gradual pull out would be closely monitored "to maintain the continuation of improving security." He did not say how many police and military troops remained in Poso district where sectarian clashes have killed more than 1,000 people and forced thousands to flee their homes since 1999. The government sponsored peace talks between representatives of the rival camps in December 2001 but the agreement they produced remained fragile and sporadic violence had continued the following year.

BBC 29 May 2003 Aceh death toll 'tops 100' Aceh's civilian population is living in fear Indonesia's military has said more than 100 people have now died as a result of the 11-day conflict with separatist rebels in the province of Aceh. At least 84 Free Aceh Movement (Gam) rebels, seven soldiers, three policemen and 14 civilians have been killed since Indonesia launched its offensive last Monday, according to Indonesian military figures. There was no immediate comment from Gam, but the rebels often dispute government casualty figures. The government said on Wednesday that the military operation was "on track", and was even moving faster than expected. "Some targets have been achieved in the first 10 days. Of course there's still so much to do," said senior security minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Military chief General Endriartono Sutarto said he expected his troops to be able to separate rebels and civilians within two months. According to the Jakarta Post newspaper, Mr Endriartono said the army had already found and reclaimed many Gam strongholds. "Our original plan was that within two months we would identify their locations and reclaim them; however we made it in only two weeks," he said. Further clashes Army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Yani Basuki reported fire-fights across the province on Wednesday. About 40,000 government troops are currently in Aceh, aiming to crush an estimated 5,000 rebel fighters. Despite the army's greater numbers and firepower, correspondents say they may find it difficult to identify Gam fighters, who can melt easily into the civilian population. The military offensive - now in its second week - began when talks to save last December's peace deal finally broke down. The deal was designed to bring an end to 26 years of fighting, in a separatist conflict that has killed more than 12,000 people. When the crackdown started, the Acehnese people saw the prices of staple foods increase dramatically as food distribution was disrupted and several trucks carrying food supplies were attacked en route to the province. More than 21,000 people are reported to have fled their homes as a result of the violence, especially in eastern areas which are experiencing heavy gunfights almost every day. Foreign medical supplies began arriving in the strife-ridden province this week, to help avert a humanitarian crisis. Three tonnes of emergency supplies from the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) and the World Health Organization were flown in late on Tuesday, according to Reuters news agency. Siddharth Chatterjee, head of Unicef's emergency section for Indonesia, said that educational supplies would also be sent soon - including books and temporary tented accommodation, after hundreds of schools were burned down in arson attacks last week.

Jakarta Post 29 May 2003 Acehnese flee their homes in fear of military sweep The Jakarta Post, Lhokseumawe Fatimah stopped a car carrying several journalists and begged them to load her belongings into the car. "Please take my stuff to the Meunasah (mosque); I will follow you by bicycle," pleaded a trembling Fatimah. Fatimah and her teenage daughter decided to abandon their village Krueng in Peudada district, Bireuen regency, on Wednesday after security conditions there worsened. Obviously shocked by the turn of events in her village, Fatimah packed her belongings and headed for a community mosque, located one kilometer from her house. As the journalists' car stopped, a villager named Ibrahim approached and asked if security in neighboring Lawang village had returned to normal. "Please tell me what's happening there. I wish I could go back to my house but I'm so afraid. I don't have an ID card ... I only have this ... an old one. Can I return to my house?" Ibrahim asked. As of Wednesday, more than 20,000 people had fled their homes and taken refuge in public buildings. Residents of Krueng and Lawang villages are living in fear due to rumors that the Indonesian Military (TNI) will launch a massive offensive in their village against the poorly organized separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM), which security officers believe have established bases in the area. On Wednesday, several journalists went to Krueng and Lawang after learning that local residents there were living in fear of TNI personnel, who apparently do ID checks on residents. Most residents there have failed to produce ID cards, claiming that separatists took their ID cards. Fearing a military raid, men in the villages have fled into the forests. Since Jakarta imposed martial law in Aceh two weeks ago, TNI personnel often do ID checks on villagers. Those failing to produce legitimate IDs are branded GAM members. "My assistant was shot by soldiers ... I'm so afraid. What can I do? Can I go with you to the city?" Ibrahim asked. Only after visiting journalists told him to calm down and stay at the mosque did Ibrahim stop asking questions. The Aceh Military Operation Command in Lhokseumawe has received a report describing violence committed by soldiers at Lawang village and has ordered a thorough investigation into the matter. According to Operation Command spokesman Lt. Col. A. Yani Basuki, 66 government troops led by Second Lt. Fuad Suparlan arrested GAM member Abu Bakar alias Abdul Rahman alias Arum, 35. "When soldiers tried to interrogate him, he tried to escape and kept running even though troops fired warning shots. "In this case, our soldiers indicated that GAM rebels took ID cards belonging to villagers there," Yani said in response to questions about the incident at a news conference. "We admit that soldiers were engaged in violence against villagers during a military raid there and we issued a strong warning about their behavior. We also ordered the soldiers' superior to take stern action against them," Yani said. Asked what punishment would be meted out to such soldiers, Yani said: "It will depend on the results of the investigation conducted by us (the military), as well as several other legal considerations."

Jakarta Post 30 May 2003 Rights body denounces Kontras attack Jakarta The attack on the office of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) on Tuesday was part of efforts to stifle the anti-war movement, the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) asserted. Komnas HAM also said on Wednesday that the attack was a serious crime as Kontras was a human rights organization with a legal mandate to participate in ensuring better rights protection for all people. "Regardless of their stance on an issue, a crime against them must be investigated in accordance with the law," Komnas HAM member M.M. Billah said during the commission's plenary meeting. A mob of 100 people claiming to be members of the Pemuda Panca Marga, a nationalistic group of soldier's kin, attacked the Kontras office on Jl. Cisadane in Central Jakarta on Tuesday, hoping to intimidate its founder, Munir. Clad in green military-like gear, the thuggish enforcers turned violent and broke furniture and windows at the office, as well as physically assaulting five people. Munir had criticized the war in Aceh, saying that it was a gross human rights violation that would prevent long-term peace in the province. Munir, who was in Bandung at the time, is no longer working with Kontras directly, and has established another organization, the Indonesian Human Rights Watch, or (Imparsial). Minister of Defense Matori Abdul Djalil expressed concern over the attack and called on all parties to respect dissenting opinions among the people. "This is a democratic country and people should respect other's opinions. Everyone should refrain from violence." President Megawati Soekarnoputri has repeatedly asked for the full support of her policy in Aceh, both from the Indonesian people and neighboring countries. National Police Chief Gen. Da'i Bachtiar pledged on Wednesday to pursue legal action against the perpetrators and suggested a ban on such paramilitary gangs, especially those in uniform. However, the Indonesian Military (TNI) chief Gen. Endriartono Sutarto seemed to dismiss their violence and imply that the dovish Kontras may have had it coming, as a result of their advocacy on behalf of victims of abuse. "This is a negative excess, perhaps, by people who just got tired of Kontras, who always have negative perceptions about the government's actions," Endriartono said. "While it may be true that attacking the organization is against the law ... maybe they (Kontras) should look at themselves in the mirror," he quipped.

Jakarta Post 30 May 2003 Police promise legal action against Kontras attackers Damar Harsanto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta Police revealed on Wednesday that it had detained two members of the nationalist youth group Pemuda Panca Marga (PPM), which attacked the office of the human rights watchdog Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) on Jl. Cisadane, Central Jakarta. "We are grilling these two PPM members, Furqon and William, as suspects in the attack," said City Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Prasetyo. They were charged with the Criminal Code Article 170 on violence. If convicted, they could face a maximum five years in jail. Prasetyo said in addition to the two suspects, police were interrogating 10 other PPM members. He said the police might also question the PPM leader over the incident. Prasetyo said police investigators had obtained video recordings of the incident, thanks to several private television stations that covered the attack. "We promise to take legal action against those who break the law, whoever they are," he said. About 100 PPM members stormed Kontras' office on Tuesday, vandalizing the property and assaulting five staff members. They were looking for Munir, Kontras' founder, who now servers as the executive director of another human rights watchdog, Imparsial, but he was not at the office. The groups also came to the office on Monday seeking Munir, and threatened that they would come in a larger group when they could not find him. Even though four police officers were present at the time and witnessed the threat made by the group, no police officer was at Kontras' office on Tuesday. Central Jakarta Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Sukrawardi Dahlan argued that his personnel failed to appear because they were all at an internal meeting. The motive behind the attack by the PPM, whose members are children of veteran soldiers, was Munir, who is known for his critical stance against the war in Aceh. Munir has been lambasting the government's military operation in Aceh, alleging that it was a gross human rights violation that could impede peace in the restive province. Meanwhile, a senior official of the West Java PPM, Helmi Sutikno, who was at the scene of the attack, admitted that the attack on the Kontras office was against the law. "We will accept any legal consequences resulting from our actions as a risk we have to bear in our fight for nationalism," Helmi told The Jakarta Post. Helmi said the mob turned violent after Orie Rachman, chairman of Kontras' presidium, was ordered to sing the national anthem, Indonesia Raya, and could not sing it well. Helmi added that many PPM members were insulted by Munir's critical statements against the military. Kontras has become the target of violence over the past few years. In 2000, an explosive blew up in front of Kontras' previous office on Jl. Mendut, Central Jakarta, damaging a few parked cars, but no injuries were reported in the incident. In March last year, the mob attacked Kontras' office and vandalized their files.

Jakarta Post 30 May 2003 Sweden unable to arrest Aceh rebels, ambassador says JAKARTA (JP) - Sweden is unable to arrest four Acehnese rebel leaders in exile and send them to face trial on terror charges in Jakarta because they are Swedish citizens, Stockholm's ambassador to Indonesia said on Friday. Indonesia has called on Sweden to arrest the four rebel leaders, who currently live in Stockholm, and send them to Jakarta for trial over their role in stoking a 27-year insurgency in Aceh province. The request comes as the Indonesian military is carrying out a massive offensive to crush the rebellion. The campaign was launched on May 19 after a five-month internationally mediated ceasefire collapsed. Swedish Ambassador to Indonesia Harald Sandberg told The Associated Press that it was not possible for the rebels to be sent to Jakarta. "It's not on the cards," he said. He said the Swedish government had met several times with the rebels to try and persuade them to give up their independence struggle, adding that Stockholm supported Indonesia's territorial integrity. On Monday, Indonesian police said they had sent a "red alert" to Interpol, asking for help in arresting the four exiled leaders, who fled Indonesia in the late 70s. They now live and work in Sweden, and maintain they are the Acehnese government in exile. Vice President Hamzah Haz Friday called on Stockholm to respond quickly to the government's request. "We hope that Sweden will take the initiative on the matter soon," Haz was quoted by state news Antara on Friday. "If Sweden does not pay full attention (to the request), the conflict in Aceh will continue," Haz said. Some 30,000 government troops began an offensive last week against about 5,000 poorly armed guerrillas in the oil- and gas-rich Aceh region. The military claims 87 rebels have been killed since the operation began on May 19. Seven soldiers, and 14 civilians have also been killed in the fighting.

Jakarta Post 30 May 2003 UN's Kofi Annan "deeply concerned" by hostilities in Aceh UNITED NATIONS (Agencies): UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on Thursday said he was "deeply concerned" over the impact on the civilian population of renewed hostilities in Aceh, Indonesia. "In particular, he is disturbed by reports of extra-judicial killings and widespread burning of schools" in the Indonesian province in the far west of the island of Sumatra," his deputy spokeswokman, Hua Jiang, was quoted by AFP as saying. Annan, she said, "urges all parties to the conflict to uphold their obligations to protect civilians in armed conflict." The secretary general also calls on Indonesia's government to "ensure the necessary security conditions to allow international aid organizations safe and unhindered access to affected populations."The government said Thursday that at least 84 Free Aceh Movement (GAM) rebels have been killed since it launched 11 days ago its biggest military operation for a quarter-century. Some 14 civilians have been killed, plus seven soldiers and three policemen, according to a military spokesman. Up to 40,000 police and soldiers are confronting an estimated 5,000 rebels from GAM, which has been fighting for an independent state since 1976. Some 10,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in the past 27 years.

AFP 31 May 2003 Jakarta sends aid for thousands of students in Aceh BANDA ACEH, Indonesia, May 31 (AFP) - Students in Aceh whose schools were burned down or destroyed during Jakarta's military offensive against separatist rebels were Saturday receiving 11,500 packages containing books, school bags, stationery and uniforms as part of a government aid programme. "The 11,500 aid packages were sent to support the learning process of the poor students," Education Minister Malik Fajar was quoted by the state Antara news agency as saying Friday. Fajar said his ministry had also sent 150 tents -- each big enough to house up to 60 students -- that would be used as makeshift classrooms. Jakarta and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) have blamed each other for arson attacks on classrooms, which education officials say have hit 450 schools and left 60,000 children with nowhere to study. The minister said Jakarta would rebuild these schools and he expected the process to be completed in August. The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) would send 300 aid packages for Acehnese students, an official with the agency's representative in Jakarta said Saturday. "The school-in-a-box packages also include recreational kits for the students and they are expected to arrive within three weeks," the official told AFP. UNICEF has also donated some 20.38 tons of emergency health kits to refugees in Aceh. Separately, troops on Saturday continued to hunt down GAM rebels in several rebel-dominated districts, including North Aceh. "The armed forces continue to corner GAM in remote areas, which they have used as their headquarters," Aceh military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Yani Basuki told AFP from the town of Lhokseumawe in North Aceh. Humanitarian workers evacuated Friday three bodies bearing gunshot wounds in the Lancok area of Bireuen district, a rescue worker said Saturday. District police chief Laksa Widiyana said the three were GAM rebels who died in a skirmish with security forces on Friday. In West Aceh, 23 rebels surrendered to authorities in the Tangan-tangan area on Friday, a military officer said. Troops also arrested Abu Taha, a Muslim cleric in West Aceh's Krueng Batee area, the officer said. Taha, who was arrested along with four of his men, was a local GAM police commander, the officer claimed. At least 92 GAM rebels have been killed since the start of the campaign, according to military figures. Twelve soldiers and police and 15 civilians have been killed. The military blamed most of the civilian deaths on rebels. The military, which has a record of serious rights abuses during past military operations in Aceh, has promised it would try to spare civilians this time. It vehemently denies claims by some villagers that troops killed several civilians during the first week of the operation. Aceh has been under martial law since May 19 after talks between GAM and the government to salvage a peace agreement broke down. At the same time, Jakarta launched an all-out offensive aimed at crushing GAM. The martial law status will be in force for six months. Up to 40,000 police and soldiers are confronting an estimated 5,000 rebels from GAM, which has been fighting for an independent state since 1976. Some 10,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in the past 27 years.

NYT 31 May 2003 May 31, 2003 U.S. Steers Indonesia Away From War Against Separatists By JANE PERLEZ SINGAPORE, May 30 — Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul D. Wolfowitz warned the Indonesian Army today that its war against separatist rebels in the northern province of Aceh could not be won militarily. In a second rebuke to Indonesia, Mr. Wolfowitz, who was the American ambassador there in the late 1980's, said the government had to be more forthcoming with the United States over who was responsible for the killing of two Americans who died during an armed attack in the eastern province of Irian Jaya last year. The Indonesian military began a large-scale offensive against separatist guerrillas in Aceh nearly two weeks ago, after peace talks collapsed. The government said it would no longer tolerate the demands for independence by the rebels, who have resisted successive army offensives for nearly 30 years. Mr. Wolfowitz, who is considered one of the staunchest supporters of the Indonesian military in the Bush administration, offered the criticisms after meeting with the Indonesian defense secretary, Matori Abdul Djalil, here. The two men were attending a conference on defense issues in Asia organized by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies. Mr. Matori stood beside Mr. Wolfowitz as he made his comments at a news conference. The Bush administration has been trying to find ways to restore financial aid to the Indonesian military, which lost American aid in the 1990's because of human rights abuses by the army in East Timor. In the past year, the Pentagon has offered the Indonesian Army training in counterterrorism and won Congressional approval to restart a prestigious, though limited, program of training in the United States for Indonesian officers. But Mr. Wolfowitz suggested today that these new measures might be in jeopardy, or at the very least would go no further, if the Indonesian military and its civilian overseers did not do more to meet the administration's expectations. A number of civilians have been killed already in the current campaign, which the government says will last for six months. The government has warned foreign aid organizations to leave the province. In one incident last week near the Bireuen regency, south of the provincial capital, Banda Aceh, the military said that 10 people, including a 13-year-old, were killed in a firefight. But witnesses said some of these people were summarily executed, an account that Western military experts in Jakarta said appeared to be correct. Mr. Wolfowitz said the United States understood the concern that Indonesia had for preserving its territorial integrity. "At the same time we believe very strongly the solution has to be a political one," he said. He urged the Indonesians to accept the offers of nongovernmental organizations to act as monitors in Aceh. "I told the minister that it would be helpful if actions of the armed forces are transparent," he said. The National Commission on Human Rights said this week that it would press ahead with sending observers to Aceh, despite the government's reservations. The offices of the rights group Kontras were attacked by a paramilitary group in Jakarta earlier this week. Indonesia's army chief, Gen. Endriartono Sutarto, warned the group after the attack that it needed to "self-evaluate itself." Mr. Wolfowitz took a particularly strong stand on the lack of progress on the investigation into the deaths last August of two American teachers whose vehicles came under fire as they returned from a picnic in Irian Jaya. They were employees of the New Orleans-based mining corporation, Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold. A report by the Indonesian police in Irian Jaya, headed at the time by the respected Gen. I Made Mangku Pastika, concluded there was a "strong possibility" that the Indonesian military was behind the killings. Some American officials agreed with General Pastika's findings at the time. "The issue of the Freeport killings is a very important issue," Mr. Wolfowitz said. "We have made it clear at the highest level we need satisfactory cooperation from Indonesia or it will affect our whole relationship." An American official familiar with the proceedings of Mr. Wolfowitz's meeting with the defense minister said the deputy secretary had made it clear that the Bush administration was demanding that the civilian and military branches of the Indonesian government be more forthcoming about the incident. F.B.I. agents have visited Irian Jaya on several occasions but have been frustrated in efforts to conclude an investigation by lack of cooperation by the Indonesians, a senior American official said. The deaths of the Americans, Ricky Spier of Colorado and Edwin Burgon of Idaho, have taken on a new urgency in recent weeks as Mr. Spier's widow, Patsy Spier, has traveled to Washington and lobbied Congress and the Bush administration to make a definitive investigation. Mrs. Spier met with Mr. Wolfowitz earlier this month. She made an impression with her arguments, Pentagon officials said. Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee also met with her. Last week, the committee voted unanimously to urge the Bush administration not to go ahead with spending $400,000 that was approved last year for training Indonesian officers in the United States.


WP 5 May 2003 Iraqis Break Silence About Secret Graves -- Frantic Search Begins for the Missing By Scott Wilson Washington Post Foreign Service Monday, May 5, 2003; Page A01 HILLA, Iraq, May 4 -- Iraqis began breaking years of frightened silence over the location of mass graves today, directing U.S. troops and neighbors with relatives who vanished during the rule of Saddam Hussein to two dusty pits holding scores of human remains. Near the city of Najaf and in this farming town 60 miles south of Baghdad, hundreds of Iraqis frantic for information about relatives missing for more than a decade began excavating graves previously known only to a few townspeople. Digging gingerly with spades and hands, they began pulling from the ground skulls stained brown after years in the earth, bits of clothing and sets of false teeth. More than 80 sets of remains were unearthed at the two sites, including those of women and children, and the number was climbing as darkness came. But international human rights workers, who say Hussein left scores of mass graves during 24 years in power, worried that the amateur search would destroy forensic evidence essential to identifying victims and recording the government's crimes. At a sun-scorched plot near a mosque on the edge of this city, Mohammed Abed arrived with a shovel at midday to begin searching. He was looking for the remains of three brothers he had not seen since the town's large Shiite population rose up against Hussein after the 1991 Persian Gulf War. The uprising was encouraged by the U.S. government, which promised support that never materialized. Like many here, Abed heard of the grave only the day before, after a Hilla man guided the region's governor and U.S. troops to a mound that he had known for more than a decade held the body of his son. Picking away at a small hill, Abed bent occasionally to remove chunks of bone from the ground. But he could not identify what he was finding. "I'm hoping I might recognize some clothes because what else can I do, really?" said Abed, with dust coloring his dark hair a shade of gray. "Otherwise, all I'm seeing is a pile of bones." The discoveries come as Iraqis search government archives, military bases and grave sites seeking to learn the fate of thousands of people who disappeared into Hussein's security apparatus. Already Iraqis have dug up large graveyards holding scores of his victims, identified only by numbered grave markers, and Kurdish groups have unearthed at least one mass grave near the northern city of Kirkuk. The graves that emerged today are among the first of what will likely be hundreds, according to human rights groups that have arrived in Iraq since the collapse of Hussein's government on April 9. Human Rights Watch, based in New York, has estimated that 200,000 Iraqis disappeared during Hussein's rule, with many of them likely ending up in secret graves. Like the millions of Iraqi security files surfacing haphazardly across Baghdad, however, the mass graves pose a challenge to human rights investigators hoping to keep a careful record of the discoveries. Peter Bouckaert, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch, said it was understandable that Iraqis were exhuming graves on their own after decades without word of missing relatives. Bouckaert said that Human Rights Watch would probably continue to search until it receives assurances that professional investigators intend to exhume the bodies, chart the findings and identify victims to the greatest extent possible. The organization has called on U.S. forces to protect the graves while forensic teams are organized for an investigation that may dwarf those that followed the recent wars in Kosovo and Afghanistan. He said the group knows of many far larger mass graves "all over Iraq," but it is waiting until forensic investigators are in place before announcing them. "Otherwise, this digging will only damage the evidence," Bouckaert said. In many Iraqi towns, especially those populated by the country's majority Shiites, who were oppressed by the Sunni-dominated Baath Party, only a few fearful townspeople appear to have been aware of the burial pits, even those like the one here just a few miles from town. In Hilla, a town of 50,000 people set among palm groves near the ancient city of Babylon, the grave across from the green dome of Al-Bakr Mosque was Jabbar Kareem's secret. Hilla's large Shiite population rose up for two weeks in March 1991 as part of a national uprising against Hussein's rule. Demonstrators clashed with government security forces in the streets, and many were killed before the military brought the town to heel on March 17. Far more vanished over the ensuing weeks as Hussein's security services moved house to house searching for protesters and hauling those they found to a nearby prison. Most never returned. Hilla residents say Hussein Kamil, the president's bodyguard and son-in-law, supervised many of the imprisonments and executions. Five of Kareem's eight sons were killed or disappeared during those weeks, including 21-year-old Mohie, who was shot dead during the demonstrations. The military took Mohie's body to the morgue where it was kept along with dozens of others for two months. During that time, Kareem, a devout Muslim, searched for Mohie's body to give him a proper funeral. By then, security agents had hauled off four other sons and thrown the whole family in jail for five days while pursuing the uprising's leaders. The sons have never returned. Kareem bribed a military official, who told him about the grave near the Al-Bakr Mosque. He went that night, carrying a shovel, but was arrested by security agents who did not believe his explanation that he was heading to the mosque. He spent five months in jail and was forced to sign a pledge not to return to the grave. Other townspeople were suspicious of the site, a dirt plain bordered by a swampy canal and a distant palm grove. A guard posted there would tell passersby it was a "heritage site." "Sometimes there would be a man who pretended to be crazy, just standing by the place," said Abed Ali, a 37-year-old driver visiting the swarming site today. "But we knew he was a security agent." Kareem, whose house was watched by the government for many of those years, found ways to visit the grave. "Every month I went to check it," said Kareem, who informed the Hilla governor and U.S. troops about the grave Saturday. He was sure, he said, that he would find Mohie there. Today, he took away Mohie's remains, wrapped in the green-and-white striped blanket the military official told him to look for years ago. A three-day funeral commemoration has been planned. But many others have had less luck. Clothes have become sticky brown clumps over the years, rendering them nearly useless for identification. The scene today was a swirl of weeping women in billowing black robes and men digging, all careful to avoid trampling piles of bones in two neat rows in a pit that grew throughout the day. A tiny green dress rested on bones the size of twigs, set on a brown cloth. Next to it sat a larger pile that belonged to the child's mother. An infant's bones rested on the next cloth, stained a deep chocolate brown. Other victims were older. An intact set of false teeth sat atop one pile, gathering dust in the warm breeze. Many of the skulls had been sawed open. Small clumps of hair and faded plastic identification bracelets sat inside each one. A series of mounds beyond the first graves may hold more victims. Rasmia Jasim's 12-year hunt for eight relatives, including two brothers and a son, brought her to the pit today from the village of Hashmia, 12 miles to the east, where a man passed through the mosques on Saturday announcing the discovery of a large grave. "We are looking for an identification card, some clothes, anything," Jasim said, peering down on a knee-high pile of bones. "I am very confused."

BBC 8 May 2003 Iraq's Marsh Arabs battle for survival By David Loyn BBC developing world correspondent During several days travelling around Iraq's former marshlands, we did not meet anybody who still lived where their ancestors had. Saddam Hussein's regime killed perhaps 20% of the Marsh Arab population, and scattered most of the rest, leaving only small groups of people alive. Saddam Hussein drained the marshes as a tool of oppression The Marsh Arabs live in extended families, clustered around a 'mudith', a round-roofed hall made entirely from woven reeds. In earlier times these mudiths were often built on raised banks of mud which were often the only dry ground - as people lived in floating houses and moved around by boat, hunting and fishing and selling dairy products from water buffaloes. Now the survivors have moved to be close to the canals which Saddam Hussein dug, often living just on the stagnant water which leaches out from the canals, as until the government fell, Iraqi soldiers would shoot them if they came too close. In one mudith, a woman told me that most of the men in her family were shot, and their possessions stolen before they ran away. She said they were too poor to be refugees - they did not have a vehicle or boat to run across the border to Iran, the main haven for Marsh Arabs, so they had to survive as best they could in Iraq under constant harassment from soldiers. From a British Army Air Corps helicopter we could see nothing but desert as far as the horizon, with wide lanes harrowed across it by mechanical diggers, which destroyed what had been there. What Saddam Hussein did here amounts to genocide according to the British Euro MP Baroness Emma Nicholson, who is trying to put together a war crimes case against the ousted Iraqi leadership. Marshlands decline She did appear to find compelling evidence to support her claim that the acts of destruction were going on after July 2001. The date matters because the International War Crimes Court began its work then, and could investigate Saddam Hussein's regime. Baroness Nicholson is campaigning for the marshes to be restored British soldiers accompanying the Baroness found dams in areas which were shown as virgin marshland on their very detailed and recent maps. These are not huge constructions but a series of small dams, locks and canals diverting the water away from the traditional marshlands. Baroness Nicholson is trying to persuade the army to undo the damage. "The thing is a catastrophe," she said. "This simple harmless-looking dam is just one piece of a malevolent puzzle which was genocide against the marsh people." The Baroness secured a number of appeals from surviving Marsh Arab clan leaders, including some who have returned from exile in Iran. They all wanted the marshes re-flooded, providing that there was effort to restore the high points where families had their centre point to build a mudith. History of discrimination But General Tim Cross, the most senior British voice in the interim authority for Iran, the Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, said a decision on restoring the marshland would have to wait until an Iraqi administration was installed in Baghdad. "The longer-term restoration of the marsh land and Marsh Arabs is clearly an important issue and I think that's an issue for the future Iraqi Government and the people of this region themselves to decide how they want to set about doing that." he said. "Whilst my personal instinct is to support what the Baroness is saying, I think a bit of caution, patience and debate amongst people who understand the issues is going to be very important" Baroness Nicholson says there is a danger of drift, and finding excuses for inaction, such as concerns about the small number of farmers actually using the drained land to grow wheat. The Marsh Arabs have faced indifference and discrimination from Baghdad before, and can hardly expect to be a priority for the incoming Iraqi administration, whenever it is formed. If nothing is done, Baroness Nicholson says the ancient civilisation of the Mesopotamian marshlands will be gone forever: "The marsh people will be a footnote in history and we will be the guilty parties."

NYT May 17, 2003 'Disappeared' in Iraq o the Editor: "At Mass Grave in Iraq Marsh, an Open Secret Is Laid Bare" (front page, May 14) states that Amnesty International reported that 17,000 Iraqis disappeared over the last 20 years. This number reflects the Iraqi "disappeared" for whom the organization gathered names in the late 1980's. Sadly, Amnesty International in fact believes that several hundred thousand people "disappeared" in Iraq during the decade — more than 100,000 Kurds in a four-month period in 1988 alone — a decade during which the United States chose to strengthen its ties with Iraq. The pattern of abuse continued in the 1990's, when countless thousands of Shiites "disappeared" or were executed in southern Iraq in the aftermath of the Persian Gulf war. Through worldwide member campaigning, government advocacy and media outreach, Amnesty International worked to inform the public and policy makers about these atrocities and pressed for action to stop them. While others may be surprised now at what is being uncovered, certainly Amnesty International is not. WILLIAM F. SCHULZ Executive Director Amnesty International U.S.A. Washington, May 15, 2003

Reuters 19 May 2003 More than 10 die in Arab-Kurd clashes in northern Iraq KIRKUK, Iraq, May 19 (Reuters) - More than 10 people have been killed in clashes at the weekend between Arabs and Kurds in Iraq's northern oil city of Kirkuk, a local police official said on Monday. Senior officer Jwamma Kakey told Reuters Arabs and Kurds clashed in the mainly Arab district in the southern part of the city, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad. Most of the fatalities were reported on Saturday but violence also took place on Sunday. It was not clear what triggered the fighting. "The situation has calmed down and we are tightening security," Kakey said. "We are holding joint patrols with U.S. forces to control the situation." Looting and violence among the city's ethnically diverse mix of Arabs, Kurds, Turkmens and Assyrians first erupted after troops loyal to Saddam fled the city nearly six weeks ago. Tension between majority Arabs and the Kurdish minority has been a major concern, partly driven by disputes over land or property seized under Saddam's Arabisation campaign. Many Kurds demand the right to return to their homes from which they were expelled under Saddam. U.S. forces tightened security around Kirkuk's town hall, setting up fences and placing barbed wire around the building in a move planned before the weekend fighting. Kirkuk will elect a 30-member city council later this week.

AFP 19 May 2003 Marsh Arabs destroy Saddam's dykes to revive ancient way of life by Alexandre Peyrille BASRA, Iraq, May 19 (AFP) - The destitute Marsh Arabs of southern Iraq are destroying dykes built under Saddam Hussein's regime in a bid to revive the parched ancient marshlands which provided their traditional way of life. The unruly Shiite tribes, who made their living among the towering reeds and marshes, found themselves a target of Saddam by the 1980s. A series of dykes was ordered built, the marshes were drained and the reeds torched -- killing off a way of life unique in the Middle East, the Madan civilisation. "It's the Madan themselves who have destroyed several dykes with mechanical shovels since the regime fell," said Corrado Generelli, a water and environment specialist with the International Committee of the Red Cross. As a result, the water levels are rising again. Generelli explained that at the same time as they dykes were breeched, the marshes also began to receive unusual amounts of water from the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. Dams in far northern Iraq which are normally filled with melting snow water for the summer were abandoned during the US-led war that toppled Saddam. The water flowed down the rivers to the Gulf. "An enormous quantity of water flowed to the Persian-Arab Gulf and some of it came to irrigate the marshes," the water expert said, warning, "The summer reserves have been lost." Generelli expects the level of the Euphrates to fall again in the coming months but that the marshes will still be irrigated by the river. "The Euphrates flows naturally through the marshes," he said. The Baath regime hardened its attitude towards the Marsh Arabs when opposition militants found refuge among the reeds after an abortive Shiite uprising in the south followed the 1991 Gulf War. An ecological and human disaster developed as the water ran increasingly dry and salty, in a scorched region where rainfall is rare. Turkey's construction of two major dams on the Tigris and Euphrates in the 1990s -- despite Iraqi hostility -- did nothing to relieve the plight of the marsh dwellers. Many fishermen moved to the cities to work as labourers, others found refuge in surrounding villages and towns, eking out a miserable living. An Iraqi water expert said he feared serious water shortages this year in Iraq unless an agreement could be struck with Turkey. Baghdad was negotiating before the war in a bid to persuade Ankara to allow more water to head south, in exchange for oil, the expert said. Generelli said the Marsh Arabs "will come back to the marshes whatever: they have been dreaming only of that for years. "However the water will have to reach a certain level for them to settle in again ... once there is enough water the reeds will grow again quickly. They only need a few centimetres." Amin Awad, mission head for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said he expected the Madan to gradually return to their traditional ways and once again build reed homes on stilts to fish, hunt and breed buffalo. "It will take six months or a year before there is enough water for fish eggs to hatch," Awad said.

AFP 20 May 2003 Coalition envisages enlarged Kurdish region within Iraq BAGHDAD, May 20 (AFP) - The US-led coalition expects a new Iraqi constitution to grant the Kurds of the north autonomy over an area larger than the three rebel-held provinces that Western protection against Saddam Hussein, the top British civilian here said Tuesday. The pre-war limits of Kurdish autonomy had been "arbitrarily fixed by Saddam" Hussein, and their expansion to reflect the Kurds' demographic weight would have to be addressed in a new constitution, John Sawers told AFP. "There is widespread sympathy among Arab Iraqis for the notion that there should be a separate Kurdish entity within Iraq as part of a unified country," he said. "Quite what the boundaries of that would be is something that would have to be discussed quite carefully. It is our view that there should be no rigid dividing line." Successive Iraqi governments have baulked at giving the Kurds control of the northern oil city of Kirkuk or the regional capital of Mosul and, under Saddam, large numbers of Arab settlers were brought in to undermine the community's demographic weight in the two provinces. Large numbers of Kurds were also driven out and, with the last census dating back to 1970, there are no reliable statistics on the population, which includes smaller Turkmen and Christian communities. "There are some difficult restitution issues that will have to be addressed in the wake of Saddam's Arabisation policy," said Sawers. The Kurdish rebel groups that have ruled the three northern provinces have sought to make up for their lack of access to the revenues from Kirkuk's oil by monopolising customs duties levied at the northern and northeastern borders. "Customs receipts and oil revenues should be the property of the country as a whole and distributed in a just and fair way," said Sawers. "There are certain central institutions -- the army and control of borders -- that should be genuinely national." The process will be watched with concern in neighbouring Turkey, a longtime Western ally. It fears that an economically prosperous Kurdish regional government in northern Iraq could become a beacon for fresh discontent among its own much larger Kurdish minority.

BBC 20 May 2003 Glossing civilian atrocities Adam Porter They “just kept coming, just kept coming.” (BBC 10 O`Clock News/Sky TV news/BBC News 24) What could anyone do? They “failed to stop” (BBC Radio 5 Live) Everyone “feels sorry” for the 3rd Infantry soldiers being put in that position. (Major David Holly BBC Radio 5 Live). The “soldiers were right to shoot” and should be “given (the) backing” of Washington.And the tactics were direct result of the Iraqi military.” (BBC Radio 5 Live). The “soldiers were right to defend themselves.” (BBC Radio 4) These statements are the UK `media reality` of the seven women and children killed by American 3rd regiment soldiers on the night of 31 March as they approached a checkpoint on a bridge near the southern Iraqi city of Karbala. BBC news announced the incident from `Central Command` in Doha shortly after a news briefing. It was said the car had “kept coming a warning shot was fired, it kept coming, shots were fired into the engine, it kept coming...” Iraqi families like this one leaving Basra across a bridge manned by British soldiers are at risk of being killed. REUTERS/POOL/Dan Chung Some 20 minutes later Sky News was discussing the same incident with their studio presenters. When asked to explain its circumstances it was said that the car had “kept coming, a warning shot was fired, it kept coming, shots were fired into the engine, it kept coming…” The repeated phrase, presumably uttered by someone else, was not qualified in either case. Was the phrase from Central Command? Who said it first? Whatever the truth the phrase became a soundbite. Its message that warning shots were fired twice, was unequivocal. Until the morning the British event was reported as a tragedy rather than the unwarranted effects of a war many disagree with. Media discussion centred almost exclusively on the basic premise that the Iraqi women and children had contributed, fatally but unwittingly, to the incident. Then as the first presses appeared in the USA came denials of the “warning shot” theory. The Washington Post reported the comments of Captain Ronny Johnson. Johnson was the man in command at the Karbala bridge. "Fire a warning shot," he (Johnson) ordered as the vehicle kept coming. Then, with increasing urgency, he told the platoon to shoot a 7.62mm machine-gun round into its radiator. "Stop [messing] around!" Johnson yelled into the company radio network when he still saw no action being taken.” "Cease fire!" Johnson yelled over the radio. Then, as he peered into his binoculars from the intersection on Highway 9, he roared at the platoon leader, "You just [expletive] killed a family because you didn't fire a warning shot soon enough!"” From that point one may have thought the premise would have changed but instead a Central Command spokesman on BBC Radio 5 Live said the action was defendable “whether a warning shot was fired or not.” And the idea that the Iraqi women and children had been responsible for their own deaths continued to run. Pattern of behaviour There have been other events, now quite widely reported. This is what two 20-something US “sharpshooters” from the Marine’s 5th Division told The New York Times: “We had a great day. We killed a lot of people. We dropped a few civilians.” One of the marines, Sergeant Schrumpf, said Iraqis would use civilians as human shields. Sometimes if there were too many nearby he would not fire, but when “two or three” were around, that was different. He watched as one woman civilian was “dropped.” “I'm sorry,” said Schrumpf. “But the chick was in the way.” Then there are disturbing reports from The Times in London following the US Marines Alpha Company. Especially their guarding of a bridge near Nasiriya. “Genuine civilians were running for their lives. Many, including some children, were gunned down in the crossfire… this was the start of day that claimed many civilian casualties. A truck came down the road…the marines fired...four men were killed... 10 other civilians, mainly women and children who were evacuated, crying, their clothes splattered in blood. “Though civilians on foot passed by safely, the policy was to shoot anything that moved on wheels. Inevitably, terrified civilians drove at speed to escape: marines took that speed to be a threat and hit out. During the night, our teeth on edge, we listened a dozen times as the AVVs' machineguns opened fire, cutting through cars and trucks like paper. 15 vehicles blocked the road…riddled with bullet holes…I counted 12 dead civilians, all had been trying to leave this southern town overnight, probably for fear of being killed by US helicopter attacks and heavy artillery. Their mistake had been to run into a group of shell-shocked young American marines with orders to shoot anything that moved. One man's body was still in flames…down the road, a little girl, no older than five and dressed in a pretty orange and gold dress, lay dead in a ditch next to the body of a man who may have been her father. Half his head was missing.” So, not only have there been similar events but also orders issued to shoot anything “at speed”. Would it be possible to deduce that the seven Iraqi women and children at Karbala were in fact part of a wider policy of shoot first, ask later? And what of the general attitude to Iraqi civilians? “The Iraqis are sick people and we are the chemotherapy," said Corporal Ryan Dupre. “Wait till I get hold of a friggin' Iraqi. No, I won't get hold of one. I'll just kill him.” (The Times) None of these major reports in the mass media were examined by news outlets in the UK. And without that kind of scrutiny, it's a near certainty they will 'just keep on coming'. -- Al Jazeera

BBC 22 May 2003 Clashes erupt in flashpoint Iraqi town US forces have been involved in heavy clashes with Iraqi gunmen in the town of Falluja, a former stronghold of Saddam Hussein's regime. The fighting is said to have begun when a US armoured vehicle was attacked with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic gunfire. Eyewitnesses said the Americans responded with heavy fire. Some local residents accused the US troops of firing indiscriminately in the direction of the town centre, destroying several shops and killing two people in a pick-up truck travelling near the scene. "They went crazy, they fired everywhere," one witness told French news agency AFP. Locals have accused US forces of heavy-handed tactics Correspondents say Wednesday night's incident is likely to further raise tensions in Falluja, a predominantly Sunni Muslim town. The town, which lies 50 kilometres (30 miles) north-west of the capital Baghdad, was the scene of clashes between US troops and local demonstrators last month in which at least 15 Iraqis died. A subsequent grenade attack in the town wounded seven US soldiers. Captain Mike Riedmuller, the commander of the American unit occupying Falluja, said that in the latest incident, his soldiers had been attacked with grenades and AK-47 rifles while patrolling the city. "We were also sniped at from rooftops and returned fire for one to two hours," he said, adding that none of his soldiers had been injured. He also said that the pick-up truck had rammed a US Bradley fighting vehicle, and that his soldiers had then shot the Iraqis inside. Arab-Kurd clashes Tension is also high in the northern oil town of Kirkuk, where clashes between Arabs and Kurds have killed at least nine people over the last few days. US troops backed by tanks, armoured vehicles and helicopter gunships took on Arab fighters who set up checkpoints in the town earlier this week. One American was injured, while unconfirmed reports say several Arab fighters were killed. Meanwhile, 200,000 followers of the Baath party have reportedly been ordered to turn themselves in immediately to coalition troops. AFP quoted coalition radio as saying that the order applied to all "full members" of the party. The new head of the occupation administration, Paul Bremer, has reversed the policy of his predecessor, Jay Garner, of working with some senior Baathists.

Times of London May 22, 2003 Colonel in war crimes inquiry had 'bust up' with US accuser By Ian Cobain and Michael Evans A JUNIOR American officer triggered a war crimes investigation into the Iraq war’s most celebrated British soldier. The officer, thought to be a reservist, has accused Lieutenant Colonel Tim Collins of punching, kicking and threatening Iraqi prisoners of war and of pistol-whipping a prominent local civilian. The Ministry of Defence said yesterday: “We can confirm that an investigation is being conducted into allegations surrounding a British officer who served in Iraq. We cannot comment further.” Colonel Collins, 43, who was lauded for his inspirational leadership and his rousing eve-of-war speech, said he had not been told personally about the allegations and had no idea how they had come about. He pledged to restore his good name. The officer who made the allegations is believed to have been serving with a US team called Anglico which kept Colonel Collins informed of American attacks. According to British Army sources in Iraq, Colonel Collins and the American had a “bust-up” and the allegations followed soon afterwards. The officer made the allegations to his own commanding officer, who passed them to the British divisional headquarters in southern Iraq. They were then reported to London. As the investigation continued last night, Colonel Collins’s associates spoke of a colourful and complex man. Some talked admiringly of a caring and highly professional officer; others painted a picture of a man capable of volatility who scared some of those under his command. It also emerged yesterday that there have been allegations about a “culture of bullying” within his unit, the 1st Battalion, the Royal Irish Regiment. The parents of a teenage soldier who killed himself after accusing officers of being bullies, have said that the colonel failed to protect their son. The Royal Military Police also investigated an allegation that Colonel Collins physically assaulted the battalion’s padre, but the MoD said that no action was taken and the other officer later left the Army. Colonel Collins, a Belfast-born father-of-five and devout Presbyterian, came to national attention with his stirring eve-of-war speech urging his men to be “ferocious in battle and magnanimous in victory”. It so moved President Bush that a framed copy now hangs in the Oval Office. Now, however, he stands accused of breaches of the Army’s rules of engagement, including shooting out the tyres of a civilian’s car when there was no danger to troops, and firing into the ground to intimidate civilians. The first charge is understood to relate to an incident in which troops were attempting to prevent looting at an oil installation. He appears to have admitted to the second in an interview with the News of the World two weeks ago. Explaining how he marched into a regional Baath Party headquarters, he said: “Its chief, who was Lord God on High in these parts, is now considering his options in a prisoner-of-war cage. We knew they were threatening people who co-operated with us, so we paid some of them a visit. One man found that a shot through his kitchen floor somehow helped him remember where his weapon was hidden.”

Guardian UK 17 May 2003 Campaigners count bodies to ensure US compensation Rory McCarthy in Baghdad Saturday May 17, 2003 The Guardian When the first American tanks rolled past Hassan Karim Hassan's house he ran with his friends to peer over the fence at the end of the street and watch the army finally advance into Baghdad. Although unarmed, the three young men were immediately mistaken for enemy soldiers. One, Qasim Ali, was shot dead, another, Ali Jawad, was hit by a bullet in his left arm. Minutes later a man driving a taxi was killed in a burst of gunfire from a tank which turned his car into a fireball. On that morning, Monday April 7, when they rolled through the Hai al-Amal district of Baghdad after a punishing three-week push across the desert, perhaps the troops were more jittery than normal. "We didn't imagine they would shoot any civilians," Mr Hassan, 32, said yesterday. "I know this was a battlefield and maybe I was wrong to go and look at the American tanks. I don't know. But we are civilians. They could see through their sights we had no guns." Almost certainly the young soldiers who fired that morning will never be held to account for the death of Qasim Ali, the injury to Ali Jawad or the killing of the taxi driver, whose charred body lay untouched in his car for two days because people were too scared to leave their homes. America's generals stated publicly that as the troops rolled forward there would be no attempt to count the bodies of the dead left behind. On Sunday April 6, the day before the Hai al-Amal shootings, Brigadier General Vince Brooks, the deputy director of operations at the US central command in Qatar, was asked about casualties inflicted in Baghdad. "It just is not worth trying to characterise by numbers," he said. "And, frankly, if we are going to be honourable about our warfare, we are not out there trying to count up bodies. This is not the appropriate way for us to go." Despite his misgivings, the US government is now legally obliged to account for the thousands of Iraqi civilians killed or injured in the war, and those who had their homes destroyed, and give them financial compensation. Under the Iraq War Supplemental Appropriations Act, which became law last month, it has set aside $2.4bn to pay for this "assistance" (the word compensation, with its legal implications, is never publicly used) and other relief and reconstruction measures. But there are unlikely to be Washington officials in Iraq counting the dead. The only independent and properly researched count is being carried out by a small American human rights group. It is a painstaking process. Each hospital has a handwritten book which logs the patients who have died in hospital and the corpses brought in. At al-Kindi hospital in central Baghdad it show that 192 civilians were killed in the war up to April 9, when the statue of Saddam Hussein was toppled in Firdos Square. At al-Yarmuk hospital in western Baghdad the register is less meticulous but shows 99 civilian deaths up to the hospital's closure on April 6. But the staff at both hospitals admit that the logs do not give a full account: some recorded as civilians may have been militia out of uniform, others may have died at the hands of looters, and some of the dead were buried without being taken to hospital. "I don't know if we will ever know the total number," the records manager at al-Yarmuk Sebhan Hussain, admitted. The most accurate survey is being conducted by the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict, run by a Californian, Marla Ruzicka. She has 150 surveyors at work checking each report of a civilian death against several different sources. So far they have confirmed 620 civilian deaths in Baghdad and are studying reports of as many as 1,100 in Nassiriya. It will be at least another month before the survey is complete, but the tally seems likely to be several thousand. Ms Ruzicka, 26, ran a similar survey in Afghanistan last year, where her team confirmed 824 civilian deaths, although she believes that as many as 2,000 may have died in the war. Her lobbying and the support of the Democrat senator Patrick Leahy brought unprecedented changes in the law. Appropriations acts in the past year have allocated $3.75m for assistance to Afghan victims, although it has yet to be spent. They prepared the ground for the Iraq act, which was passed after Saddam's regime collapsed. "I want the US government to have a human response to policy for victims of conflict," Ms Ruzicka said. "People seem to think all soldiers in the US are, like in world war two, fighting a just war, but they don't understand that many of the people who die are innocent."

Times Uk May 20, 2003 Bodies of Kurds found at desert site From Stephen Farrell in al-Shinafiyah A MASS grave believed to contain the bodies of hundreds of Kurds killed after the chemical attack on Halabja has been found in a desert in southern Iraq. Villagers of al-Shinafiyah, 50 miles south of Najaf, led The Times to a site where they claimed that Iraqi soldiers had shot men and women in July 1988 and buried them in a trench. One said he saw the massacre, another that he had heard machinegun fire daily. What the site at al-Shinafiyah holds may be the latest evidence of Saddam’s Anfal campaign in the late 1980s, when tens of thousands of people disappeared as he sought to depopulate the Kurdish countryside and wreak revenge for the Kurdish guerrillas’ decision to side with Iranian forces during the Iran-Iraq War. Even as the Anfal genocide continued, Saddam’s most infamous atrocity was perpetrated in March 1988, when he dropped nerve gas on Halabja, killing 5,000 people. Four months later, al-Shinafiyah villagers say, buses arrived in the area and the killings began. Hadi Khadoum, a shepherd, said that he saw soldiers use a mechanical digger. The next day he saw three cars and 25 green buses, their windows painted out. “The buses were reversed to the trench and soldiers were pulling people by the arm and throwing them as far as they could into the ditch, while the soldiers around the trench started shooting. I just heard some women screaming and that was all.”

WP 20 May 2003 Iraqis Killing Former Baath Party Members U.S. Punishment Seen As Not Harsh Enough By Scott Wilson Washington Post Foreign Service Tuesday, May 20, 2003; Page A08 BAGHDAD, May 19 -- Iraqis have begun tracking down and killing former members of the ruling Baath Party, doubtful that the United States intends to adequately punish the mid-level government functionaries who they say tormented them for three decades. The assassinations appear to have picked up since the United States issued a decree last Friday that prohibits senior Baath Party officials from holding positions in Iraq's postwar government. A senior U.S. official said the order was intended to "drive a stake through [the Baath Party's] heart," but many Iraqis who continue to see party officials walking free believe it did not go far enough. The number of former Baath Party officials killed since the war ended is difficult to pin down in a city of 5 million people with only two functioning police stations, no recordkeeping and a destroyed government. Drawing on anecdotal evidence, however, former exile groups and Iraqis familiar with some of the killings say it could reach several hundred in Baghdad alone. Many of the killings have been carried out in the slum formerly known as Saddam City, a neighborhood on the eastern edge of the capital largely inhabited by Shiite Muslims, they say. Revenge killings on a smaller scale have been reported in the cities of Najaf, Karbala and Basra in the Shiite-dominated center and south of the country, where a bloody rebellion was put down in 1991 by the Sunni-controlled Baath government. At least three former Baathists have been killed over the past two days in just three of the former Saddam City's 80 sectors, residents said. Residents of the neighborhood, since renamed Sadr City for a Shiite cleric assassinated by the government in 1999, said the killings have increased in recent days partly out of a sense of discouragement that the United States is not doing more to punish members of the old order under then-President Saddam Hussein. The killers appear to be working from lists looted from Iraq's bombed-out security service buildings, which kept records on informants and victims alike. But others are simply killing Baathist icons or irksome party officials identified with the Hussein government. The singer Daoud Qais, known for his odes to Hussein, was shot dead on Saturday. So was the president of the Iraqi Artists Union. "We want the Americans to kill them, but we don't think they are going to," said Muntathar Mohammed, a 40-year-old unemployed Sadr City resident. "Why can Americans kill anyone they want? Why can't we? I will kill Baathists myself. This is my right." The United States has begun deploying more troops to Baghdad in an attempt to recover credibility lost in a crime wave that descended over the city after April 9. A looting spree has left large parts of the capital gutted, and the inability of U.S. forces to catch Hussein has given many Iraqis who suffered under Baath Party rule the impression that the mission is not a priority. L. Paul Bremer III, the chief civil administrator of U.S.-occupied Iraq, issued the Baath prohibition decree soon after arriving to show Iraqis that "we mean business," in the words of one senior U.S. official. The order prohibits former party members from occupying the top three tiers in ministries or other public institutions, meaning that roughly 2,000 people will immediately lose their posts. As many as 30,000 other senior Baath Party members could also be affected by the ruling. But the decree covers only government employment. Any potential criminal cases against former party members will eventually be handled by a justice system that is just now taking shape. The policy was hailed by the exile-dominated opposition parties that make up Iraq's government-in-waiting, but so far has struck many Iraqis as only a small step toward a full reckoning for the past crimes. Entifadh Qanbar, a spokesman for the Iraqi National Congress, an exile-led opposition group with supporters in the Pentagon, endorsed Bremer's decree but said he had heard that hundreds of former party officials have been killed in Sadr City since the end of the war. Founded on socialist principles with a pan-Arab foreign policy, Iraq's Baath Party was turned into a political control machine under Hussein. Party membership was required for many public jobs. In some restive neighborhoods it was the ticket to continuing education. Some people joined out of fear, others for the privileges. U.S. officials say 600,000 to 700,000 of Iraq's 24 million people were party members, although others say it might have been twice as many. Nowhere, perhaps, was the party loathed as intensely as it was in what is now Sadr City. "Oh Baath Party," reads some recent graffiti, "There is no place to hide." The Mohsin Mosque is the focal point for Sadr City's Jamila district, and the Shiite cleric Sayd Hasan Naji is one of its most influential leaders. Closed by Hussein, the mosque opened its doors for the first time in four years the day U.S. troops arrived. During a midday prayer today, Naji implored several dozen worshipers and the community beyond through minaret loudspeakers to "stop these hostilities." "I'm going to give you these lectures every day," said Naji, who wears the black turban signifying that he is a descendant of the prophet Muhammad. "If you do not follow the law of Islam, you are not a Muslim." The message at the mosque, however, was different last Friday when a visiting cleric from Najaf told worshipers that they should allow Baath Party members only a certain a period of time to leave office voluntarily. "If not, then we should kill them," Ali Nasir, 30, who sells aluminum on Sadr City's street, remembered of Sheik Kadhum Ubadi's sermon. A Baath Party official was gunned down two days ago near the traffic circle where Nasir spoke, as part of what Nasir said was an effort by "some people to pursue these Baathists until they are dead." The same day, a party official was shot dead outside a gas station several blocks from the traffic circle, according to residents, and the next day the principal of nearby Tenmya Elementary School was killed outside his home, also in daylight. "We don't know what the Americans will do with them," Nasir said of the Baathists. "The Americans don't show us the ones they have captured on TV, so we don't really know anything. This worries us." Residents here say the people doing the killing are working from Baath Party membership lists and security documents that include information about neighborhood informants. Much of this material has been filtering out of the abandoned ministries and security buildings in the weeks after the war, coming into the hands of a prisoners' rights group, political parties and U.S. officials. Others have been among the Baath Party's legion of small tyrants, which is how students and teachers described Falah Dulaimi. He was the assistant dean of the Mustansirya University's college of sciences. Students shot him as he walked to his campus office on the morning of May 10.

INFORCE 22 May 2003 (inforce.org.uk) FORENSIC SCIENTISTS AT WORK IN IRAQ WAR ZONE In response to the humanitarian need and to protect evidence, forensic scientists have begun work in Iraq while hostilities are still continuing. With two days preparation Inforce personnel flew to Baghdad on Wednesday May 21st . The team, led by Professor Margaret Cox, includes 8 forensic scientists covering geophysics, anthropology, archaeology, surveying, and photography. Over the last 11 days Inforce has worked at mass grave sites at Hilla and Musayib, south-west of Baghdad, in order to assess the situation and advise the local community leaders. We have been received warmly and have had many requests for assistance. Given the scale of their loss, we admire the communities’ will and their effectiveness in responding to a long awaited opportunity to recover the remains of their loved ones. We are impressed by what we have seen of the way in which local communities have taken charge of recovering their dead and are creating memorials. However, in order to recover all the evidence communities need advice, assistance and training. Inforce can help with this process. Without skilled assistance much evidence is, unfortunately, not recovered. At one site the Inforce team spent two hours in a grave that the locals had dug and revealed the remains of six more individuals. With assistance and training more human remains will be recovered and identified and many more families can be reunited with their dead. As well as this important humanitarian work we are supporting the Coalition Provisional Authority in providing informed forensic input into the development of policy recommendations designed to provide a structured international response to the mass graves legacy. This advice covers the recovery of evidence of the highest standard to be used in courts and developing an Iraqi owned and led capacity to take control of the mass graves that the new Iraq inherits. Professor Margaret Cox commented: “Since we arrived in Baghdad, the official number of suspected mass grave sites has climbed to over fifty. One of these sites alone, Musayib, has at least six mass graves and more may be discovered. We understand that approximately 300,000 people have been murdered. It would appear that the old regime was propped up with the bones of the Iraqi people buried beneath its sands.”

www.csmonitor.com 22 May 2003 Surveys pointing to high civilian death toll in Iraq Preliminary reports suggest casualties well above the Gulf War. By Peter Ford | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor BAGHDAD - Evidence is mounting to suggest that between 5,000 and 10,000 Iraqi civilians may have died during the recent war, according to researchers involved in independent surveys of the country. None of the local and foreign researchers were willing to speak for the record, however, until their tallies are complete. Such a range would make the Iraq war the deadliest campaign for noncombatants that US forces have fought since Vietnam. Though it is still too early for anything like a definitive estimate, the surveyors warn, preliminary reports from hospitals, morgues, mosques, and homes point to a level of civilian casualties far exceeding the Gulf War, when 3,500 civilians are thought to have died. "Thousands are dead, thousands are missing, thousands are captured," says Haidar Taie, head of the tracing department for the Iraqi Red Crescent in Baghdad. "It is a big disaster." By one measure of violence against noncombatants, as compared with resistance faced by soldiers, the war in Iraq was particularly brutal. In Operation Just Cause, the 1989 US invasion of Panama, 13 Panamanian civilians died for every US military fatality. If 5,000 Iraqi civilians died in the latest war, that proportion would be 33 to 1. US and British military officials insisted throughout the war that their forces did all they could to avoid civilian casualties. But it has become clear since the fighting ended that bombs did go astray, that targets were chosen in error, and that as US troops pushed rapidly north toward the capital they killed thousands of civilians from the air and from the ground. There are no figures at all for Iraqi military casualties, which Iraqi officials kept secret. One factor that led to many civilian deaths, and which complicates the task of counting them accurately, is that irregular fedayeen militia hid in civilian homes as they fought advancing coalition troops, and dressed as civilians. Nor are hospital records - kept in the heat of war under intense pressure on doctors and staff - necessarily accurate, some observers warn. That means they probably underestimate the real scale of civilian deaths, although at the same time they may have recorded some combatant casualties as civilian ones. "We had some figures from hospital sources but we realized very quickly that they were very partial," says Nada Doumani, an official with the International Committee of the Red Cross in Baghdad. "It is very difficult to keep track of everyone who was killed, and we were afraid the numbers could be misinterpreted, so we refrained from giving them out." "During the war, some people brought bodies to the hospitals to get death certificates; others just buried them where they were found in the street, or in schools," adds Faik Amin Bakr, director of the Baghdad morgue. "I don't think anyone in Iraq could give you the figure of civilian deaths at the moment." House-to-house survey The chaos of the war and the confusion that persists in Iraq, where central government is still not functioning, have led one US human rights group with experience in counting civilian casualties in Afghanistan to launch a nationwide house-to-house survey of areas where fighting was fierce. The Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC) has mobilized 150 surveyors to carry out detailed interviews with victims of the war; recording deaths, injuries, and damage to property with a view to securing assistance from US government funds. A full accounting could take months, says CIVIC coordinator Marla Ruzicka, and the group is still compiling its data. But its volunteers have already recorded more than 1,000 civilian deaths in the southern town of Nasariyah, and almost as many in the capital. "In Baghdad, we have discovered 1,000 graves, and that is not the final figure," says Ali Ismail, a Red Crescent official. "Every day we discover more" where local residents say civilians were buried. Researchers say they have found particularly high levels of civilian casualties along the Euphrates River, between Nasariyah and Najaf, where US Marines fought their way toward Baghdad. "The biggest contrast between Afghan- istan (where an estimated 1,800 civilians died during the US-led campaign there in 2001) and Iraq is that Afghanistan was predominantly an air war and this was a ground/air battle," says Reuben Brigety, a researcher for Human Rights Watch. "Air wars are not flawless, but if you have precision weapons you can do a lot to make them more accurate," he adds. "The same is not yet true of ground combat. It is clear the ground battle took a toll; ground war is nasty." A focus on cluster bombs Dr. Brigety and his colleagues in Baghdad say they are especially concerned by the wide use of cluster bombs during the war in Iraq. They say they have found evidence of "massive use of cluster bombs in densely populated areas," according to Human Rights Watch researcher Marc Galasco, contradicting coalition claims that such munitions were used only in deserted areas. Dispersing thousands of bomblets that shoot out shards of shrapnel over an area the size of a football field, such weapons become indiscriminate and thus illegal under the laws of war, if used in civilian neighborhoods, Human Rights Watch has argued during past conflicts. "At one level it is unhelpful to talk about large or small numbers" of civilian casualties, says Brigety. "It is more important to ask if the deaths were preventable." The combination of cluster-bomb use, inaccurate artillery fire at Iraqi troops concentrated near civilian areas, and street fighting in towns throughout Iraq means that the number of civilian deaths might be as high as 10,000, say two researchers from two different teams who asked not to be identified until the evidence was clearer. Also waiting for clearer evidence are US government agencies mandated by Congress to assist civilian victims of the war in Iraq. At the instigation of Sen. Patrick Leahy (D) of Vermont, the Iraq war supplemental bill, signed by President Bush April 16, directs that an unspecified amount of the $2.4 billion appropriated for relief and reconstruction in Iraq should pay for "assistance for families of innocent Iraqi civilians who suffer losses as a result of military operations." "Perhaps it is impossible to eliminate these kinds of mistakes, but you can do something for the victims after the fact," says Tim Rieser, an aide to Senator Leahy. Mourning his children But that is little comfort to Mahmoud Ali Hamadi. Hugging his 18-month-old son, Haidar, to his breast for comfort, he cannot hold back his sobs as he recounts how a US missile that landed by his front gate killed his wife and three elder children on the night of April 5. "My children were the brightest in the whole school," he recalls, looking fondly at an old family photograph through his tears. "Eleven years I spent raising them, and in one instant I lost them." Mr. Hamadi's family died in Rashidiya, a village of palm groves and vegetable plots on the banks of the Tigris, half an hour north of Baghdad. Nearly 100 villagers were killed by US bombing and strafing on April 5, including 43 in one house, for reasons that they do not understand. "There was no military base here," says Hamadi. "We are not military personnel. This is just a peasant village." The need to provide assistance Civilian victims of US military action in Afghanistan - identified by a team led by Ruzicka - are also supposed to receive assistance. So far, however, USAID has not disbursed any of that money, citing security risks and other problems in the parts of Afghanistan where the money is meant to be spent. "We have a responsibility to provide assistance, especially when we were the cause," says Mr. Rieser. "It is in our interest to make the point that this was not a war against the Iraqi people," he says. Senator Leahy's hope, he adds, is that the aid will "build goodwill for the US, which seems to be shrinking by the day in Iraq." That would appear to be a vain hope in the case of Hamadi, as he mourns the loss of his family. "The Americans are assassins," he says wearily, his face worn by grief. "I haven't complained to the Americans. What would I get if I complained to them? I have complained only to God." Iraqi civilian deaths • Nongovernmental and media organizations have produced widely varying figures on the number of Iraqi civilians killed during the recent conflict. The range is a result of incomplete, unconfirmable, and unavailable information. • Iraqbodycount.net, a website that draws on media accounts and eyewitness reports, estimates that between 4,065 and 5,223 Iraqi civilians have been killed as a result of coalition military action, both during and after the war. • A May 15 Associated Press report gives an estimate of 2,100 to 2,600 civilian deaths, without citing sources. • The US Department of Defense has refused to give any sort of estimate on deaths. • Two news organizations have produced estimates of civilian casualties in just the Baghdad area by canvassing hospitals and tallying their records. The Los Angeles Times reported on May 18 that probably between 1,700 and 2,700 civilians were killed in and around Baghdad. The Knight Ridder agency published an estimate of between 1,100 and 2,355 on May 4.

Glasgow Herald, UK 22 May 2003 Civilian deaths in Iraq could be as high as 10,000 Final body count could be biggest since Vietnam war, writes IAN BRUCE AMERICAN guns, bombs and missiles killed more civilians in the recent war in Iraq than in any conflict since Vietnam, according to preliminary assessments carried out by the UN, international aid agencies and independent study groups. Despite US boasts this was the fastest, most clinical campaign in military history, a first snapshot of "collateral damage" indicates that between 5000 and 10,000 Iraqi non-combatants died in the course of the hi-tech blitzkrieg. Organisations such as the Red Cross, the Muslim Red Crescent, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the UN are all still carrying out surveys and are reluctant to commit themselves to a final figure. All agree, however, the toll will exceed the 3500 civilians killed in the 1991 Gulf war and the 1800 to 2000 innocent Afghans known to have perished during the 2001 invasion to oust the Taliban and wipe out al Qaeda's training camps. US government figures for Vietnam claimed that 300,000 died in the south and 65,000 in the north of that divided country. Haidar Taie, who runs the Red Crescent's tracing department in Baghdad, said: "We just don't know for certain. But thousands are dead, thousands more injured or missing. It will take time to reach a definitive count. It was certainly a disaster for civilians caught in the fighting." A spokesman for the Red Cross said: "We are piecing things together slowly. Hospitals and doctors were overwhelmed by the numbers arriving for treatment, so records are patchy. The indicators from those records which were kept is a high civilian bodycount and many, many more injured." The independent US-based Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (Civic) has sent out 150 volunteers to interview victims' families and record injuries and damage to property. The group is also cross-checking stories with grave sites. Marla Ruzicka, Civic co-ordinator, said: "Our people have already found more than 1000 graves in the town of Nasariyah in the south, where fedayeen resistance meant days of heavy street fighting and air strikes, and at least another 1000 fresh graves in the Baghdad area." The Red Crescent says there are many more civilian graves between Nasariyah and Najaf along the Euphrates River. Pro-Saddam militia made a number of stands and ambushes in built-up areas to slow the US advance on the capital and tanks, bombers and artillery were all used to dislodge them from populated areas. Professor Mark Herold of New Hampshire University, who is also a spokesman for Iraqbodycount, a website dedicated to revealing the civilian cost of the war, says the running tally is "in excess of 5000 and still climbing". The site draws on media and witness accounts for its figures. Reporters for news agencies based in Baghdad during the invasion are fairly consistent in claiming between 2300 and 2600 civilian victims of the US-led air attacks on the city. There are no official figures for Iraqi military deaths, estimated at anywhere between 4000 and 7000. A Pentagon source said: "It was inevitable there would be regrettable civilian losses. Our forces made every effort to minimise innocent casualties, often to the point of putting their own lives at risk. "We have no hard facts and figures for such losses. Any non-governmental tally will include a lot of guesswork." - May 23rd

AFP 23 May 2003 Annan names human rights chief Vieira de Mello to Iraq for four months: diplomats UNITED NATIONS, May 23 (AFP) - UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has chosen Sergio Vieira de Mello, currently the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, as his special representative for Iraq for an initial four-month period, a diplomat said Friday. The diplomat said Vieira de Mello would retain his position as head of human rights, which he took up only eight months ago. Annan's spokesman, Fred Eckhard, said earlier that Annan was "very close" to naming a special representative and might inform the Security Council of his choice by the end of the day.

May 24, 2003 U.S. May Let Kurds Keep Arms, Angering Shiites By PATRICK E. TYLER AGHDAD, Iraq, May 23 — The American occupation authority in Iraq, apparently preserving the prewar distinction between Kurdish-controlled northern areas and the rest of the country, will allow Kurdish fighters to keep their assault rifles and heavy weapons, but require Shiite Muslim and other militias to surrender theirs, according to a draft directive. The plan has engendered intense criticism by Shiite leaders involved in negotiations with American and British officials who have met privately with the heavily armed political groups that have moved into the power vacuum here. "Maybe we didn't fight with the coalition, but we didn't fight against them," said Adel Abdul Mahdi, an official of the largest Shiite group, which is headed by Ayatollah Muhammad Bakr al-Hakim. "We want conditions where all militias are dissolved and we will not accept that other militias will be allowed to stay there with their weapons while we will not be there with ours." Under the draft order, obtained by The New York Times, "militias that assisted coalition forces who remain under the supervision of coalition forces" will be authorized "to possess automatic or heavy weapons." In a press conference today, Lt. Gen. David D. McKiernan, commander of allied land forces in Iraq, said that under the directive there "will be no militias inside of Iraq," but then added that the Kurdish forces, known as pesh merga, "are a different story." "The pesh mergas fought with coalition forces and we look to leave them with some of their forces north of the green line," he said, referring to the line that once divided the Kurds into two self-governing enclaves in the north from the parts of Iraq under the control of Saddam Hussein. The directive would allow ordinary Iraqis to retain some arms, including pistols, rifles and shotguns, but would ban AK-47 automatic assault rifles, machine guns, mortars, grenades and heavier weapons such as artillery, antitank weapons and armored vehicles. The top civilian administrator in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer III, issued a separate directive today formally dissolving Iraq's armed forces as they existed under Mr. Hussein. Mr. Bremer abolished the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Information, the Republican Guard and other security institutions "which constituted and supported the most repressive activities of Saddam Hussein's regime." A spokesman for Mr. Bremer said in a statement that the coalition planned to create "in the near future, a New Iraqi Corps." "Under civilian control, that Corps will be professional, nonpolitical, militarily effective, and representative of all Iraqis," the statement said. Besides the armed Shiite groups, the main militia in Iraq are the Kurds and the Free Iraqi Forces of the Iraqi National Congress under Ahmad Chalabi. General McKiernan said today that Mr. Chalabi's militia was being "demilitarized." When Mr. Chalabi's militia first surfaced in Iraq last month, it received training from under the supervision of an American Special Forces officer. On Thursday night, armed fighters from the Iraqi National Congress engaged in a running gun battle with unknown foes during what was described as a search by Mr. Chalabi's forces for senior Baath Party members in a Baghdad suburb. After the firefight, American troops raided Mr. Chalabi's headquarters at Baghdad's Hunting Club, arrested 35 of his militiamen and seized their weapons. They were released, Mr. Chalabi's group said in a statement, after an American military officer assigned as a liaison to the group intervened. Kurdish and Shiite Muslim leaders confirmed in interviews this week that senior military commanders, including Lt. Gen. John Abizaid, the deputy commander of American forces in the region, and General McKiernan had briefed them on the disarmament directive and issued some pointed warnings that they would be disarmed by force if they did not comply. In one meeting this week, General Abizaid implied that that one militia, the Badr Brigade, was controlled by a "foreign government," meaning Iran, according to several Iraqis who attended that meeting. The Badr Brigade is under the command of Ayatollah Hakim, who arrived in Iraq from exile in Iran earlier this month. The directive comes at a time when the strength of each group's militia has become a symbol of power and potential leverage for the Iraqis seeking to establish a provisional government. Some of these Iraqis are complaining that American and British leaders are pursuing a policy that will alienate the Shiites, who make up 60 percent of Iraq's roughly 24 million people. American civilian and military leaders insist they are trying to bring order out of chaos here and to begin a process of disarmament that will pave the way for building a professional Iraqi military force. The muscular posture against the Iranian-backed militia of Ayatollah Hakim is in accordance with recent sharp pronouncements by the Bush administration, which has accused Iran of giving support to leaders of Al Qaeda. Mr. Abdul-Mahdi of Ayatollah Hakim's Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq said the Badr Brigade had more than 10,000 soldiers under arms in Iraq. American officials are deeply suspicious of this force because it was financed and trained in Iran, where Ayatollah Hakim maintained his base of operations during Mr. Hussein's rule. The conflict over arms policy in Iraq was evident this week when allied forces clashed with militiamen whose ranks have been growing in strength and weaponry since the end of the war. In Baquba last Sunday, American forces ejected a Shiite militia force from a municipal building the group had seized about 50 miles northeast of Baghdad. American troops killed one militiaman and arrested dozens of others, a military official in the city said today. Kurdish forces also have had their arms confiscated by coalition troops in numerous incidents. But Jalal Talabani, the Kurdish leader whose forces have cooperated closely with the Americans in northern Iraq, said in an interview today that he had been assured that Kurdish forces would retain their heavy weapons, including tanks, armored personnel carriers, antiaircraft weapons, artillery and heavy machine guns. He estimated the size of those forces to be about 100,000, but other estimates are around 70,000. Saying he was loath to criticize his "friends and allies" in Washington, Mr. Talabani said that if the Americans "want to reduce the influence of others" like Iran, on the Shiites, "they must request that Hakim and his group" be integrated into the new Iraqi armed forces. It was not clear what the reaction of neighboring Turkey to the new directive would be. Turkey, a NATO ally, angered the Bush administration by refusing to allow American troops to move through Turkey to open a full-fledged northern front in the Iraq war. The Turks are suspicious of Kurdish nationalism in Iraq, fearing that will stimulate separatism among the sizable Kurdish minority in Turkey. Mr. Abdul-Mahdi challenged American suggestions that Kurdish forces were more trustworthy than other militia forces. "All Shiites are accused of being Iranians," he said. "I defy any person to find any Iranians" in the Badr Brigade, he added. He said that Kurdish militiamen had a long history of cooperating with Iran, and asserted that the Badr Brigade suffered as much or more from Mr. Hussein's repression as the Kurds. "Most of the mass graves they are finding are full of Badr Brigades and their families," he said. The new directive will be signed by Mr. Bremer and General McKiernan, according to the draft, which is dated May 18 and has been the basis for this week's private negotiations with Iraqi opposition figures. Under the draft policy, which is expected to be issued before June 1, "small arms may be possessed in homes." Such arms include rifles, shotguns, and pistols, but no automatic weapons. In order to carry such weapons outside homes, individuals or groups must have a "weapons authorization card." The directive also says that public arms markets will be prohibited.

BBC 30 May 2003 Iraq killings suspect freed 'in error' The mass grave at al-Mahawil contained bodies of missing Shiites A former Iraqi official suspected of killing thousands of Shia Muslims after the 1991 Gulf War has mistakenly been released by American forces. The US army admitted detaining Mohammed Jawad al-Neifus near the town of al-Mahawil, south of Baghdad, before releasing him when military checks uncovered nothing unusual. Mr Neifus is suspected of involvement in a mass grave, containing as many as 15,000 bodies, discovered in al-Mahawil last month. Human Rights Watch, which has just released a report into al-Mahawil, said the news of his release would anger locals already suspicious of US pledges to bring perpetrators to justice. The US army has said it is investigating the error and has offered a $25,000 reward for Mr Neifus' recapture. With one of the chief suspects gone, we may never know what happened [at al-Mahawil] Sam Zia-Zarife, Human Rights Watch He was released from the Bucca internment facility in Umm Qasr on 18 May, US Central Command said in a statement. He was captured on 26 April in the city of Hilla, not far from al-Mahawil, and turned over to the Army Military Police three days later. Central Command said he was screened by military lawyers - a regular procedure for all detainees - who found nothing unusual about his story and cleared him for release. "US military forces are solely responsible for his erroneous release and are conducting a thorough investigation to ensure no further recurrences," the statement said. Conspiracy theory "Coalition forces will use all means available to bring Neifus to swift justice and are offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to his capture." Mr Neifus is suspected of being involved in the murder of thousands of Shias when former President Saddam Hussein cracked down on a Shia rebellion in the south of the country as Iraqi forces retreated from Kuwait in 1991. MASS GRAVES IN IRAQ Kirkuk: Kurdish officials report discovery of 2,000 bodies Muhammad Sakran: Reports say more than 1,000 bodies found Babylon: Children's bones reportedly among remains found al-Mahawil: Up to 15,000 bodies feared buried Najaf: 72 bodies found Basra: Grave believed to contain about 150 Shia Muslims Abul Khasib: 40 bodies reportedly found Relatives of those who died have told New York-based Human Rights Watch that their loved ones "disappeared" after they were apprehended by Iraqi security troops at roadblocks or in house-to-house searches. The organisation's senior researcher, Sam Zia-Zarife, told BBC News Online that Mr Neifus was a prime suspect in the crimes at al-Mahawil and was seen as crucial to uncovering the truth of what happened. "The destruction of evidence at the site has already made it quite problematic to conduct a reasonable accountability. Now, with one of the chief suspects gone, we may never know what happened," he said. "It will go down extremely poorly with people around al-Mahawil. This will surely fan the conspiracy theories among those who believe the US is not serious about bringing people to justice in Iraq."

Reuters 31 May 2003 Blair envoy wants Iraqi mass graves preserved BAGHDAD, May 31 (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Tony Blair's special envoy on human rights Ann Clwyd said on Saturday it was vital to preserve mass graves in Iraq to gather evidence for possible war crimes prosecutions. She said Saddam Hussein's government, ousted by U.S. and British forces on April 9, had kept records of its killings. "If that documentation is preserved, then it can be used in future war crimes trials against some of the main perpetrators of those abuses," Clwyd told a news conference in Baghdad. Several mass graves have been uncovered in Iraq since the invasion. Many of the thousands of bodies they contain are believed to have been killed in failed Kurdish and Shi'ite Muslim revolts against Saddam after the 1991 Gulf War. At many sites, relatives have already dug up the graves and taken away the corpses for reburial. "We want to see...forensic scientists showing other people how you examine the evidence, and how important it is, if possible, to leave the bodies untouched, even though families obviously will want to find out if their husbands, sons, wives, children are in those graves," Clwyd said. The Labour party member of parliament, a veteran campaigner against rights abuses in Iraq, plans to visit a mass grave in Hilla, 100 km (63 miles) south of Baghdad, on Sunday. A team of British forensic scientists is now in Iraq to investigate such sites. Asked if Britain wanted a U.N. war crimes tribunal for Iraq, Clwyd said the matter was still under discussion. "I personally would like to see the U.N. set up a war crimes tribunal because people who are accused of war crimes, of crimes against humanity and genocide should be seen clearly by the rest of the world in somewhere like The Hague." The United States is debating how to deal with former Iraqi officials captured after the war. Experts say the most likely scenario was for Iraqi-led courts to try those accused of atrocities committed against Iraqis under Saddam's Baathist rule.


IRNA 30 Apr 2003 Human rights institute:Israel has killed 541 Palestinian children Dubai, April 30, IRNA -- Head of a Palestinian human rights institute Randa Sanyorah said on Wednesday the Israeli forces have killed 541 Palestinian children since the beginning of intifada in 2000. The Al-Haq human rights institute chief said since 2000 some 8000 Palestinians have been detained by the Israeli soldiers. Sanyorah said in the time of the US-led war on Iraq the Israeli troops intensified their criminal acts against the Palestinians as Israel believed that the world media circles have focused on the Iraq war and would not heed the Israeli killings of the Palestinians. The official said the human rights organizations and in particular the palestinian human rights institutions have a lot of documents revealing the criminal acts by the Israeli Zionists against the innocent Muslims. He commented on the roadmap plan set forth to allegedly settle the mideast crisis while expressing pessimism over the result of the roadmap plan. He said the plan has failed to consider the issue of the Palestinian refugees adding that despite the close links between Washington and Tel Aviv the plan is unlikely to secure their ideal demands. He said the Zionists have been since 36 years ago trying to portray their inhuman acts against Palestinians as a self-defense action but in fact the Zionist genocide of Palestinians goes in direct contradiction with the UN conventions. The comments came after envoys from the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia handed over to the Palestinian prime minister Mahmud Abbas the US-brokered international peace "roadmap" on Wednesday. The roadmap portrayed by the Western media as a way to form a Palestinian statehood and to halt the Palestinians' conflict with Israel, was also submitted by the US Ambassador Daniel Kurtzer to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Wednesday. The Palestinian Islamic movements said the plan was a new conspiracy to create divisions among the Palestinians. The movements said the "roadmap" plan has been in fact drawn up by the United States and the Zionist regime to transfer the problems in Israel into the Palestinian society. The Israeli regime is to take advantage of the US bullying tactics to gain political and economic benefits and it is drawing plans in this connection, the movements said. They elaborated on the Israeli criminal acts and genocide in Palestine which they said are done based on the racial policies and called for the international community to put pressure on Israel to end its atrocious actions in the Occupied Lands.

AFP 1 May 2003 Huge Israeli raid on Hamas chief in Gaza kills 12 in blow to peace "roadmap" GAZA CITY, May 1 (AFP) - The Israeli army killed 12 Palestinians, including a two-year-old child and its target, a wanted Hamas militant chief, Thursday in a major raid on Gaza City, the day after the release of a new peace plan. Hamas leader Yusef Abu Hin, 38, and his brothers Ayman, 30, and Mahmud, 29, also members of the hardline Islamic faction, died when troops dynamited the four-story building where they had held out for 15 hours under the fire of Israeli tanks, infantry and helicopter gunships that killed nine other people. The casualties included a two-year-old boy, a teenager and at least two other Hamas gunmen. Seven Israeli soldiers were wounded in the assault, which began before dawn and dealt a blow to peace hopes spawned the day before when international diplomats unveiled a long-awaited "roadmap" to ending the 31-month conflict. The army, which invaded Gaza City's densely populated Shajaiya district with 60 tanks and armoured vehicles, managed to evacuate dozens of other terrified people from the building before blowing it up. Tanks shelled the building where the wanted Hamas chief was holed up and Apache helicopters fired rockets, witnesses said. Another brother, Fadel Abu Hin, told AFP around 50 women and children had been trapped inside. Scenes of panic erupted, a resident on the third floor said by phone. Earlier, two other Palestinian men were killed south of Hebron in the West Bank during a night operation by the army searching for suspected militants. A third man was killed late Thursday in a shootout with Israeli soldiers after the man tried to infiltrate the northern West Bank settlement of Hermesh, military sources said. Hamas, together with an armed offshoot of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction, claimed joint responsibility for a suicide bombing at a Tel Aviv bar early Wednesday that killed three people in addition to the attacker. Israeli police said the bomber was a British citizen of Arab or Pakistani origin who had reached the crowded seafront bar from Gaza. Police were seeking another Briton who escaped after his explosives failed to detonate. Israeli Foreign Minister Sylvan Shalom pressed his British counterpart Jack Straw to crack down on extremist Islamic elements in Britain following the attack, a ministry spokesman said. Shalom told Straw he must act decisively "to prevent such attacks from happening again and to halt calls for violence by extremist Islamic elements in Britain," the spokesman said. Israeli officials said they were looking into a possible link with the Al-Qaeda terrorist network of Osama bin Laden, who masterminded the September 11 2001 attacks on New York and Washington. The Gaza raid was launched hours after US, UN, EU and Russian diplomats handed copies of the roadmap to new Palestinian premier Mahmud Abbas, who has vowed to tackle violence, and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who has expressed strong concerns about security issues arising from the plan. The plan aims to achieve peaceful coexistence between Israel and the Palestinians and a separate Palestinian state by 2005, through an end to violence, an Israeli pullback from Palestinian territories and a freeze on Jewish settlements. Radical anti-Israeli groups, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad have rejected the roadmap. Palestinian negotiation minister Saeb Erakat accused the Israelis of trying to derail the peace plan at its inception. "Israel has launched its tanks into the Gaza Strip as a response to the roadmap," Erakat told AFP. An Israeli official who spoke on condition of anonymity admitted that the raid's timing did not help create a climate conducive to the implementation of the plan. "That's true, but one could say the same about the terror attack in Tel Aviv. To tell you that it's the best timing and so on, probably not. But it's not related" to the roadmap, he told AFP. "If there is no major terrorist attack in the next few days, I would think that probably last night was one of the last preemptive actions that we will be taking," he added. On Wednesday, US President George W. Bush called on both parties to work with the United States, other powers, and "above all, directly with each other to immediately end the violence and return to a path of peace." Bush said the moderate Abbas, whose appointment was expected to weaken Arafat's grip on power and lead to a resumption of peace talks, was a man he could "work with". But Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak warned later it would be a "serious error" to ignore Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who Washington seeks to sideline against the will of many Palestinians. US Secretary of State Colin Powell is to arrive in Israel on May 8 for a three-day visit that will also take him to the Palestinian territories, Israeli officials said. Commenting on the situation, Powell said in Madrid: "We've got to get beyond this period of suicide bombings and retaliation. We can't let these sorts of incidents contaminate the roadmap." Despite the explosion of violence, Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz has created a special committee to negotiate with the Palestinians, his ministry said Thursday.

Haaretz 3 May 2003 Israel breaks policy on Turkish holocaust By Dalia Shehori One of the fourteen people who will light a torch at the state's official Independence Day ceremony Tuesday night has been described in a government brochure as "a third-generation survivor of the Armenian holocaust in 1915." This seems to represent a radical departure from previous Israeli policy. Hitherto, in response to heavy pressure from Ankara, Israel has always refrained from using words such as "holocaust" or "genocide" to refer to Turkey's killing of some 1.5 million Armenians between 1915 and 1918. Turkey says the killings were not a deliberate massacre, but the outcome of fighting in the region during WWI. But Doron Shohat, head of the government's information center, said the wording did not in any way represent an official statement by the government. Rather, it was requested by the torchbearer, Naomi Nalabandian.

Ha’aretz 22 May 2003 A License to Kill Civilians, Shulamit Aloni Despite international laws against the killing of civilians, the Israeli Supreme Court has ruled that the use of flechette shells is permissible within urban areas In its decision of April 27, Israel’s highest court has essentially issued a license to kill civilians by determining that the use of flechette shells fired from tanks is not prohibited by international law. The court has thereby done its duty by the occupation army, which uses flechette rounds in densely populated areas. The High Court of Justice (?)** knows that the killing of civilians is banned by international law and every other human law; that, evidently, didn’t bother the court. Flechette shells, in regular use by the IDF in densely populated Palestinian residential areas, spread out over an area with an average radius of 200 meters and cause mortal injury to civilians -- to women, men, children and old people, with no distinction whatever -- by scattering small, lethal metal darts. The supreme court, which at first scorned even to hear the petition on the grounds that it amounted to a demand to dictate to the IDF the means it could employ, forgot that its task is to protect human life. In relying on the idea that flechette rounds fired from tanks are not prohibited by international law, the court has entirely ignored the spirit of the law. The judges found grounds to permit, or more precisely did not find grounds to forbid [use of this weapon in this manner], as if the impermissible could be made permissible. The fact that these shells have killed women sitting in a tent, or in another instance killed three young people, made no impression on the High Court of Justice. Just as the court was not impressed when one-ton bombs fell out of the sky over a crowded residential area because the army sought to exterminate a wanted man and, in the process, killed “only” his wife along with him. The president of the supreme court, Justice Aharon Barak, once declared that everything is justiciable; except [the behavior of] the IDF, apparently. So the lives, dignity, property and rights of Palestinians may be trampled. Palestinians can be abused, robbed, tortured and killed, and there’s no court to offer justice to these people or to rein in the killing and the horror: not the supreme court, and certainly not the judge advocate general’s office, which knows just what to ignore, where to bestow immunity and whom to hound to the bitter end. I don’t think the supreme court justices have become jaded, but it appears to me that they feel themselves menaced by certain reckless members of Knesset who are trying to gnaw away at the authority of the court, as well as by a regime headed by three generals (the prime minister, the former chief of staff who is now defense minister, and the current chief of staff), all of them battle-happy right-wingers who are close to the settlers and the advocates of ethnic cleansing, if not their active partners. I write these words with great sadness and shame, because it’s not the case that our army is “the most moral army in the world.” In the name of the war against terror, acts of terror, acts of intolerable piracy and humiliation, are being committed. For a society with pretensions to democracy and humanism, when there’s no court with the courage to stand firm under fire, the next stop is the International Court at The Hague. The nonsense that any criticism of us is anti-Semitism, and the perverted use of references to the Holocaust, while it and its victims are cheapened, cannot help us when it comes to indefensible deeds. No justification is to be found there for permitting the firing of flechette shells from tanks against a civilian population. It doesn’t strike me as coincidental that the justices of the supreme court, before sitting in judgment on petitions like these, try to persuade the petitioners to withdraw their plea. They simply want nothing to do with the subject, given the popularity of the IDF, the populism of the present government, and the attacks on the court by right-wing members of Knesset. The courage has all run dry, apparently, and the implications demand that we take a very long, hard look at ourselves.

Haaretz 5 May 2003 Government brochure refers to 'Armenian holocaust' By Dalia Shehori, Haaretz Correspondent A Knesset spokesperson said Sunday that Naomi Nalbandian, the Armenian woman who will light a torch at the state's official Independence Day ceremony Tuesday night, has acceded to a Knesset request not to mention the Turkish killing of some 1.5 million Armenians between 1915 and 1918, during the ceremony. Nalbandian, one of fourteen people who will light a torch at the Tuesday night ceremony, has been described in a government brochure as "a third-generation survivor of the Armenian holocaust in 1915." This seems to represent a radical departure from previous Israeli policy. Hitherto, in response to heavy pressure from Ankara, Israel has always refrained from using words such as "holocaust" or "genocide" to describe the slaughter of the Armenians. Turkey says the killings were not a deliberate massacre, but the outcome of fighting in the region during WWI. But Doron Shohat, head of the government's information center, said the wording did not in any way represent an official statement by the government. Rather, he said, it was requested by Nalbandian.

Haaretz 5 May 2003 Knesset backs down on Armenian genocide tribute Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin intervened yesterday to find a compromise over mentioning the Armenian genocide at the torch-lighting ceremony on Mount Herzl tonight, after an outcry by the Turkish government. Instead of using the word "holocaust," Naomi Nalabandian, who will light one of the torches, will mention only the "suffering of the Armenian people." Nalabandian, a nurse at the Hadassah University Hospital in Jerusalem, is of Armenian descent and wanted to mention the genocide of the Armenian people during the ceremony. Rivlin also intervened in another crisis that had threatened the ceremony. He and the chairman of the Knesset's Symbols and Ceremonies Committee, Danny Naveh, ensured that the thousands of privately employed security guards are represented at tomorrow's ceremony. After talking to the Egged Bus Company, Rivlin arranged for a security guard to light a torch along with Shalom Drey, an Egged driver who averted a terror attack by stopping a suicide bomber from getting on his bus..

AFP 26 May 2003 Israel cannot keep 3.5 million Palestinians under occupation forever: Sharon JERUSALEM, May 26 (AFP) - Israel cannot keep 3.5 million Palestinians under occupation forever and should make every effort to reach a political settlement, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told members of his right-wing Likud party on Monday. "I think that the idea of keeping 3.5 million Palestinians under occupation is the worst thing for Israel, for the Palestinians and also for the Israeli economy," the website of Israeli daily Maariv quoted him as saying. Sharon was responding to a barrage of sharp criticism from right-wing Likud members a day after the cabinet's grudging approval of the Mideast roadmap for peace which envisions the creation of a Palestinian state by the end of 2005. "Today 1.8 million Palestinians are supported by international economic organisations. Do you want to take that on yourselves? Medicine, health and education?," Sharon asked the rebellious Likud members angered over Israel's unprecedented recognition of the Palestinians' right to statehood. "(Israel's) control over the Palestinians cannot continue without end. Do you want to stay forever in Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah and Bethlehem? That is not right," he said. He defended the cabinet's endorsement of the roadmap, which was coupled with a measure rejecting the right of return for Palestinian refugees. "We didn't give in to any terror. We didn't pay with our security ... I said a long time ago that Israel would have to pay a heavy price for a political process, for long-term peace," Sharon said who has submitted 14 reservations to the peace initiative. He vowed to reach a political agreement with the Palestinians and to that end, he would fight to achieve such a settlement, even if he fought alone. "I don't know if we will succeed but I will make every effort to reach a political agreement because I think is important for Israel," Maariv quoted him as saying. During the meeting, 11 Likud ministers and deputies made an unprecedented attack on Sharon, most of them slamming the roadmap as disastrous for Israel, army radio reported. Likud MP Michael Ratzon described the roadmap as "hell", while fellow MP Ehud Yatom said approval of the document showed "the government didn't give a damn about Likud ministers". "The roadmap is a document which includes all the secular evils that have ever been put before an Israeli government," railed MP David Levy. "Better that Israel should return to the 1967 borders than to implement this document. The left could have brought about an agreement like this a long time ago," he said. For her part, MP Naomi Blumental said: "The roadmap is a plan which will break up Israel and the vision of the full land of Israel is vanishing before our eyes." And Internal Security Minister Tsahi Hanegbi said the approval of the roadmap would motivate Palestinians to carry out more attacks on Israel.

VOA 29 May 2003 Amnesty Accuses Israel, Palestinians of Crimes Against Humanity Ross Dunn Jerusalem Israeli tank destroys building In its annual report issued this week, the human-rights group Amnesty International condemns abuses by Israel and by Palestinian militants. Amnesty International says that some of Israel's military actions in Palestinian areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip constitute what it describes as, war crimes. The group also says that attacks against Israelis by Palestinian militants, including suicide bombings, are crimes against humanity. The statements are contained in the group's annual report, which covers the year 2002, the second full year of Israeli-Palestinian violence. Amnesty says that last year at least 1,000 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces, "most of them unlawfully." Israeli victim of suicide bombing In addition to killing Palestinians, the report accuses Israeli forces of destroying Palestinian property, obstructing Palestinian medical teams, and torturing Palestinians. All of these activities, the report classifies as war crimes. The organization uses the same term to describe the Israeli army's use of Palestinians as human shields, the practice of forcing ordinary Palestinians to proceed ahead of Israeli soldiers in confrontations between the soldiers and Palestinian militants. Some Palestinians have been killed or wounded by Palestinian militants during such operations. Israel's foreign ministry has rejected the findings of the report as unbalanced. In a statement, the ministry said Israel took great care in order to balance the requirements of international humanitarian law and the need to protect human rights, and the need to take steps against Palestinian terrorism. The Amnesty report also accused the Palestinian Authority of carrying out and encouraging terror attacks against Israelis. But the report laid most blame on Palestinian militant groups, such as Hamas, which operate outside official channels. The report says, Palestinian armed groups killed more than 420 Israelis, at least 265 of them civilians during 2002. Amnesty described the deliberate targeting of Israeli civilians by Palestinian groups as crimes against humanity.


BBC 16 May 2003 Japan's landmark military move By Charles Scanlon BBC Tokyo correspondent The move by Japan's parliament to pass bills which strengthen the military is considered controversial in a country that renounced the right to wage war more than half a century ago. The three bills, which were passed by the lower house of parliament by an overwhelming majority, will give the government more powers to respond to an attack on Japan. Japanese governments have long talked about changing the military law. It was the terror attacks in the United States and the threat from North Korea that finally gave it the impetus. Japan's military is one of the world's most modern, but it is emasculated The Defence Minister, Shigeru Ishiba, was exultant. "This issue has been debated for the last 26 years. It's remarkable that it was passed with a 90% majority. In the past it was so hard to get military related bills approved, there was always a big fight. I'd like to express my admiration for all those responsible," he said. The government argues that red tape and arcane rules would prevent the military from responding effectively to an external threat. Tanks are currently required to wait at traffic lights, and military commanders need permission from regional governors for any action. The new bills will give the central government the power to take control during an emergency, and the armed forces will be allowed to commandeer civilian land and property and move more freely. Growing threat Left-wing parties have said that the legislation would undermine Japan's standing as a pacifist nation - enshrined in the post-war constitution. But the growing nuclear and missile threat from North Korea has led to a radical shift in opinion. Because of the North Korean threat (Japanese liberals) have swung to the other extreme and are very hawkish. And so there's a lot of commonality between the mood among the conservative circles here and the mood in Washington Gerald Curtis, Columbia University Calls are growing to further enhance Japan's military capabilities, according to Gerald Curtis, visiting professor from Columbia University. "You have the emergence of a group of Japanese that are very similar to the so-called neo-conservatives around George Bush. "There are these Japanese neo-conservatives - people who used to be fairly liberal, didn't talk much about military power and so on... now, because of the North Korean threat, (they) have swung to the other extreme and are very hawkish. And so there's a lot of commonality between the mood among the conservative circles here and the mood in Washington," Mr Curtis said. Liberal opinion remains deeply suspicious of the armed forces - a legacy of the 1930s, when a powerful military led Japan into a disastrous war. But the main opposition Democratic Party overcame strong objections within its own ranks and agreed to back the bills, after insisting on further guarantees that civil rights would not be compromised. That marks a big change after years of political deadlock over the role and capability of the military. Nuclear future? The debate is already moving on, with some calling for Japan to go nuclear if North Korea refuses to give up its nuclear programme. That's not likely any time soon, but Ichita Yamamoto of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party said other steps could be taken. Neighbouring North Korea is making Japan nervous "Even if we cannot possess a nuclear weapon, we can strengthen the capability of Japan's civil defence forces. For instance, at present, no fighter has the ability to attack missile bases on the soil of North Korea," he said. Mr Yamamoto and others have noted that Japan needs a credible military deterrent including long range attack aircraft and Tomahawk missiles. That would transform Japan's purely defensive posture - maintained for half a century - and would set alarm bells ringing across the region.


arabtimesonline.com 13 May 2003 Kuwait to sue 254 Iraqis for crimes against humanity 15,000 bodies found in mass graves KUWAIT, May 13, (Agencies): Kuwait will initiate legal actions against 254 Iraqi officials accused of committing crimes against humanity during the 1990 Iraqi invasion on the state of Kuwait, Assistant Undersecretary for Legal Affairs at the Ministry of Justice, Nasser Mohammed Al-Nasrallah declared as he spoke in a press conference held Tuesday on Kuwaiti-Egyptian legal and judiciary cooperation. Al-Nasarllah said Kuwait has prepared 30,000 declaration pleadings against the 254 Iraqi officials, whose names were found on Iraqi official documents the Iraqi forces have left behind, as they were defeated and ousted out of Kuwait in 1991. He added Kuwait would refer such pleadings to international courts. The remains of 15,000 people killed by the regime of Saddam Hussein have been found in mass graves discovered last week in the central city of Hilla, site of ancient Babylon, the Iraqi National Congress (INC) said Tuesday. "In the last week, four sites have been discovered in Al-Hilla city alone, with approximately 15,000 bodies," said Entifadh Qanbar, a spokesman of the group led by US-backed Ahmed Chalabi. "Citizens are excavating with great sadness and no assistance, collecting bones. Mothers and fathers are trying to identify their children with ID cards and scraps of clothes that they were last seen in," he told reporters. He appealed to the US-led coalition's Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA), non-governmental organisations and human rights groups "to help the Iraqi people account for hundreds of thousands of missing." A US army official here could not confirm the find in the graves, situated around 100 kilometers (60 miles) south of the capital Baghdad. Broad-based Iraqi Shi'ite Muslim leader Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim said on Tuesday Iraq needed a broad-based government to avoid a "social explosion," apparently backing away from past calls for an Iranian-style Islamic state. Hakim, who returned from two decades of exile in Iran last week, also said he wanted his group's militia integrated into a new Iraqi national army following last month's US-led overthrow of Saddam Hussein. "I will be working to set up a government which will represent all the people of Iraq, restore security, reconstruct it and take it out of its isolation," Hakim told a news conference in the holy Shi'ite city of Najaf. "The majority of Iraqi people are Shi'ite. They should have a political role but not to the exclusion of other Iraqi people," he said. "We want a political revolution and government including all the parties and people of Iraq or there could be some kind of social explosion." Hakim, leader of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), returned on Monday to Najaf, the seat of Iraqi Shi'ite clerical learning and place of his birth in 1939, to a tumultuous welcome. Efforts The new US boss in Iraq started work in Baghdad on Tuesday as US hopes of reshaping the region were overshadowed by anti-Western bomb attacks in Saudi Arabia and a harsh rebuke from neighbouring Iran. Paul Bremer, the new chief US administrator, expected to toughen US efforts to provide security to the anarchic capital and rebuild the shattered country hastily cancelled his first press conference after the bombings in Riyadh. Bremer is faced with the huge task of realising Washington's plan to building a model pro-western democracy in Iraq and winning back Iraqis' trust after a month of chaos following Saddam Hussein's fall. Bremer is expected to orchestrate a speedier approach to rebuilding Iraq. The man he replaces in the top slot, retired army general Jay Garner, is expected to stay on to help get public services back up and running. In addition to rebuilding a nation battered by three wars in 23 years and weakened over the past decade by crippling UN sanctions, Bremer must also oversee the country's transition to an interim government. In Brussels, relatives of victims of the war to oust Saddam were to file a lawsuit alleging war crimes against US General Tommy Franks, the commander of coalition forces during the conflict, a lawyer said. Harmed Washington's policy during the Iraq crisis has harmed its position on the world stage, the leading IISS international security think-tank said Tuesday. In its annual strategic survey, The International Institute for Strategic Studies also warned that the threat posed by the al-Qaeda network, blamed for the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, has not diminished. "The Iraq crisis has clearly damaged the United States' world standing," the IISS said. "Many of the US' allies and partners, and to an even greater extent their populations, perceive American leadership as dangerously arrogant in its exercise of the United States' superior military power," the report said. "Europeans and others feared that a kind of risky idealism had come to dominate US foreign policy since September 11," it said. IISS said that the stiffest challenges over Iraq were not military but the political difficulties that followed the war. Resignation The temporary Iraqi Health Ministry chief hand-picked by the United States resigned just 10 days on the job, after drawing widespread protests for his close ties to Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, coalition radio announced Tuesday. Dr Ali Shenan Al-Janabi had refused to renounce the party, the US-controlled Voice of New Iraq radio station said, quoting the ministry. Al-Janabi, an optometrist who was the ministry's No. 3 man under Saddam's regime, as temporary head of the ministry on May 3 triggered protests by hundreds of doctors and pharmacists. They marched last week to demand his removal. Stephen Browning, senior adviser to the Health Ministry from the US Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, had earlier praised Al-Janabi, describing him as a "Baath party member who is not associated with criminal activities."


NYT May 18, 2003 Video Game Mounts Simulated Attacks Against Israeli Targets By DANIEL J. WAKIN BEIRUT, Lebanon, May 17 — The introduction is an exploding Israeli tank. A row of burning Israeli flags marks time while the computer loads a "training session" in which shooting Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's electronic forehead on a target is worth 10 points. "Victory comes from no one but Allah," exhorts the screen before the mission begins. The hottest video game for the teenagers of Beirut's southern Shiite neighborhoods is "Special Force," a creation of Hezbollah, the strongly anti-Israel militant organization that is on the United States' terror list. "Special Force," with its simulated attacks on the Israeli military, was released in February, quickly took off and is to be followed later this month by a more sophisticated version that can link multiple players on a network. While not the first politically oriented video game to enter Middle Eastern cyberspace, "Special Force" is a sign of Hezbollah's elaborate propaganda efforts. Its popularity is also an indication of Hezbollah's success in permeating popular consciousness in Lebanon and in gaining political legitimacy here. Washington has implicated Hezbollah in terrorist attacks in the 1980's and says it remains a terrorist force with worldwide operations. With the removal of Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq, the United States has renewed pressure on Lebanon and one of Hezbollah's sponsors, Syria, to disarm the group and halt its activities. Hezbollah says it is focusing on resisting the Israeli occupation of a disputed patch of land on Israel's northern border and on providing moral support to the Palestinian struggle in the West Bank and Gaza. Its relentless attacks helped drive out Israeli forces from southern Lebanon in 2000, ending a 22-year occupation. That has given Hezbollah a certain stature here and elsewhere in the Arab world. Hezbollah has capitalized on that stature, entrenching itself in Lebanese society with the patronage of Syria, the power broker here, and with Iranian financing and arms, United States and Israeli officials say. A shrewd media presence has helped. Hezbollah operates a television and radio station and Web sites. The latest effort is the "Special Force" game. Segments are based on actual attacks on Israeli positions, the makers say, and include maps provided by Hezbollah's military wing. In one game situation, the player fires simulated pistols and Kalashnikov rifles, seeking to infiltrate an Israeli military position. The opportunities for martyrdom, from exploding land mines and snipers, are rife. "You must oppose, confront and destroy the machines of the Zionist enemy and remind them that entering Lebanese villages is not a stroll," the text reads. The session ends with a medal awarded by the leader of Hezbollah, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah. The packaging says the game seeks to show "the defeat of the Israeli enemy and the heroic actions taken by the heroes of the Islamic Resistance in Lebanon." A member of the game's design team, Bilal Zain, said "Special Force" was intended to disseminate Hezbollah's "values, concepts and ideas," as well as to give Hezbollah fans a chance to feel as if they were taking part in attacks they cheered from afar. Mr. Zain said the video game also served as a counterweight to other games on the international market that depicted Arabs as terrorists instead of as freedom fighters with legitimate grievances. He said "Special Force" was less bloody than many other games. "We want others to know our land is occupied, our people are imprisoned in Israeli jails, our houses are being demolished," he said. The border area controlled by Hezbollah is quiet for now, he said. "But we do not want the resistance concept to vanish," he said. "We want this idea to live among the Arab people, the Islamic people." He said about 10,000 copies of "Special Force" had been sold in Lebanon, Syria, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, Germany and Australia. It can be played in English, French, Arabic and Farsi. The game is often played at places like the Champions Internet Cafe in the Haret Hreik neighborhood in south Beirut, a predominantly Shiite area of rundown buildings where several computer stores said "Special Force" had sold out. The cafe's window is adorned with Hezbollah's yellow flag, depicting an upraised arm holding a Kalashnikov aloft, and one of the many posters advertising "Special Force" found in the area. The decor is combat chic. Bamboo partitions are intended to evoke the Vietnam war. Red sandbags line the walls, which are painted with camouflage designs and hold several rows of plastic Kalashnikovs. Photographs of Sheik Nasrallah and Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei sit on a display shelf. Ibrahim Tohmaz, 14, firing away on a mission, said he liked the game's realism. "Shooting at Sharon — it was nice to shoot at his head," he said. "He's a bad person." A dozen others were playing another violent game called "Counterstrike," in which generic terrorists fight generic commandos. Players can choose which to be. This was another of Ibrahim's favorites. He said he liked to take the part of the terrorist. "We have a better chance of killing our opponent," he said.


BBC 23 May 2003 Chinese leader stirs Malaysian politics By Jonathan Kent BBC correspondent in Kuala Lumpur There's been a major shake-up in Malaysian politics with the senior ethnic Chinese leader in the government resigning as head of his party. Ling Liong Sik resigned in an attempt to end in-fighting The move is seen as an effort to stem faction fighting amongst Chinese Malaysian politicians ahead of the retirement of the country's long-serving prime minister. The Malaysian Government has held power for 45 years by forging coalitions of parties, each representing different ethnic groups. But the largest Chinese party in the ruling National Front coalition has been riven for years by bitter squabbles. Ling Liong Sik, who led the Malaysian Chinese association for 17 years, quit late on Friday, together with his main rival, in an attempt to end the infighting. Important vote The resignations are widely believed to have been prompted by the Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad. His government only survived at the last election because of the support of ethnic Chinese voters, who make up almost 30% of the population. Dr Mahathir is due to step down in October after 22 years in power and another poll is on the horizon. Dr Mahathir is stepping down The prime minister clearly wants his successor to inherit an ally that can deliver the Chinese vote. The leadership of the Malaysian Chinese association now skips a generation to two junior ministers in their forties. It is unlikely the party will change direction. Its main concern is to promote the interests of the ethnic Chinese business community. But critics accuse it of being little more than a money gathering machine, which has failed to give the large Chinese population here a political voice commensurate with its size.


ICG 7 May 2003 Myanmar Backgrounder: Ethnic Minority Politics While the world's attention for the past decade has focused on the struggle between Myanmar's military government and the political opposition, the underlying conflicts between the central government and ethnic minority groups perhaps represent a more fundamental and intractable obstacle to peace, development and democracy. The basic grievance of ethnic minorities in Myanmar is their lack of influence on the political process. However, they also face a major challenge to build political and organisational capacity to ensure that they are not left out of potential negotiations on the future of the country and can continue to represent the interests of their communities. - For the full report, please see CrisisWeb - http://www.crisisweb.org

BBC 24 May 2003 Burma jails activists By Larry Jagan BBC Burma analyst The Burmese military authorities have sentenced 10 members of the pro-democracy movement to stiff jail terms for organising public protests and being involved in clandestine activities. The political activists were all members of Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) and included a member of parliament. Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest a year ago The sentences, ranging from two to 28 years, come just as the military government appeared to be trying to meet the opposition leader on her return from travelling to the north of Burma. Three senior members of Aung San Suu Kyi's party in the west of the country, including the elected MP, have been given two years' for helping farmers to write protest letters to the government demanding the return of their land that had been confiscated. The rice fields were impounded after the farmers had failed to pay their taxes. Six other party workers who were arrested with them earlier this week are still in detention. Fresh doubt Seven other NLD members in Rangoon were jailed for between five and 28 years for contact with an underground opposition group along the border with Thailand. The sentences come just as the military junta had hinted it wanted to meet Aung San Suu Kyi again after a seven-month interlude. This had raised hopes that the dialogue process between the opposition leader and the military government might resume, after being stalled for months. The UN envoy to Burma, Razali Ismail, who brokered the talks between the two sides, is also scheduled to return to Rangoon soon. But these fresh arrests cast doubt on how serious the military regime is about political dialogue. Rangoon recently released more than 20 political prisoners, giving the impression that it was prepared to compromise with the opposition.

North Korea

VOA 16 May 2003 Activists Accuse S. Korea of Covering Up N. Korean Atrocities Christine Elliott Washington After meeting with President Bush on Wednesday, South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun said the two would work closely to solve the nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula. But some activists are upset about what the leaders did not say. They are threatening legal action against the South for preventing defectors from exposing human rights violations in the North. One activist who spent time as a doctor in North Korea says there is possibly something more disturbing than the terrible human rights situation there. Norbert Vollertsen Dr. Norbert Vollertsen says he is upset that South Korean President Roh, who is a former human rights lawyer, did not publicly condemn the North's treatment of its people after meeting with President Bush. "It's genocide what's going on in North Korea," he said. "And as a former human right lawyer, I should expect even one comment about the situation in North Korea. There was nothing. We were very much disappointed." He says the South Korean government does not want to publicly recognize the atrocities committed in the North. He accuses the South of trying to silence Northern refugees who have defected to China, Vietnam and other countries. Dr. Vollertsen is not alone. Michael Horowitz of the Washington research organization, The Hudson Institute, says South Korea does not want the truth to come out because its economy cannot sustain the collapse of the North Korean regime. At a news conference, the two men stood with a veiled defector who called himself Bok Goo Lee. Mr. Bok described his fear of speaking out about his nine years as a missile scientist in North Korea. Dr. Vollertsen says what is so appalling is that Mr. Bok is not afraid of North Korean agents or Chinese agents; rather, he is terrified of the South Korean National Intelligence Service, or NIS. He says the NIS threatens refugees, warning them not to tell what they know about the atrocities in the North. "We are arguing about North Korean human right violations, but we will sue the South Korean government because of human right violations," said Norbert Vollertsen. "Because of the treatment of people like this poor guy, who is living under life threats in South Korea." First secretary at the South Korean Embassy in Washington, Choi Sangchol says the prospective law suit is ridiculous and that the National Intelligence Service has not engaged in any of the activities described. Seoul's policy is to usually accept North Korean refugees who want to live in the South after defecting through other nearby countries. Once in South Korea, the defectors are put in transition camps to become acclimated to a capitalist society, and then are given some money to start their new lives. But Mr. Vollertsen says the refugees are brainwashed during their time at the centers. Mr. Choi of South Korea's Washington embassy denies the charge. He says his country provides a lot of aid to North Korean refugees. He adds that in its talks with the North, South Korea addresses the issue of human rights violations. Apart from proposed legal action, Mr. Horowitz says groups are actively seeking to file a complaint with the U.N. Commission on Human Rights. "If South Korea's NIS is as hostile to refugees and defectors, if it continues to be that way, there will be church groups and political groups and members of [U.S.]Congress and international bodies that will be examining this matter very, very actively," he said. The activists hope they will be able to pressure the South into publicly denouncing the North's human rights record, a move they say would help bring about the end of Kim Jong-Il's regime.


BBC 31 May 2003 Pakistan militants attack circus By Adnan Adil BBC, Lahore The MMA has been rallying members Hundreds of people have been injured in a stampede at a circus in northern Pakistan after Islamic activists assaulted the spectators. The charge occurred after students from Islamic seminaries in Gujranwala, a northern city of Pakistan near Lahore, ransacked and torched the circus on Friday. Armed with sticks and clubs, the attackers denounced it as obscene and "un-Islamic". Eyewitnesses say the student attackers, who numbered over 100 were led by a local cleric, Qazi Hameedullah. He is a national assembly member and representative of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal or the MMA, an alliance of radical religious parties. The police resorted to using their batons as they tried to disperse the crowd. A fire brigade was called to put out the fire. The mobs attempted to attack another circus, but were prevented by the police, who closed it down and ordered the closure of eight theatres in the town to prevent further damage. No arrests Qazi Hameedullah said he had told the administration to shut down the circuses, which he described as centres of obscenity and gambling. So far the police have not made any arrests. Deputy Inspector General of Police Chaudhry Iqbal told the BBC that the law would be upheld. But he refused to say why the police had not opened a case against the attackers. The six-party religious alliance, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), is in opposition in the national parliament and in Punjab province. It runs a provincial government in the North West Frontier province. Last week, MMA activists destroyed advertising billboards in Peshawar which depicted women.


AP 10 May 2003 Philippines to report Muslim rebel atrocities to Islamic organization Saturday,May10,2003,6:55 AM Email to a Friend Printer Friendly Version Manila, Philippines-AP -- The president of the Philippines says government officials must now submit reports of attacks by Muslim separatist rebels to an international Islamic organization. It's part of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's battle against terrorism. Twenty-eight people have died in recent attacks blamed on the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Those attacks prompted the government to pull out of informal talks with the rebels scheduled for this weekend. The M-I-L-F is also linked to attacks that left another 51 people dead since March. Arroyo says the Philippines will not allow the M-I-L-F to "continue fooling the Islamic world." She claims the group is engaged in the "murder of innocent civilians." Arroyo is considering declaring the Muslim group a terrorist organization. The M-I-L-F says it assumes responsibility for the deaths of the civilians and apologizes to their relatives.

Solomon Islands

BBC 19 May 2003 Missionary beheaded in Solomons Gersbach and family had moved to Atoifi only six months ago An Australian missionary has been beheaded in the Solomon Islands. Lance Gersbach, 60, was from the Seventh-day Adventist church. He was working alone on a building site near a mission hospital, and there are reportedly no witnesses to the killing. The Solomon Islands has suffered serious civil unrest in recent years, due to ethnic rivalry between indigenous residents on the main island of Guadalcanal and new settlers from Malaita. A team of detectives has flown to the Atoifi mission in the East Kwaio district on Malaita, 130km (80 miles) east of the capital, Honiara. Local tribal chiefs have pledged full support for the investigation. 'Baffling' Gersbach moved to Atoifi, home to about 3,000 Seventh Day Adventists, in February with his wife and two young daughters. "Information we have is that he was beheaded with a sharp bush knife," said a police spokesman quoted by Reuters news agency. "The whole thing is horrific and completely baffling," said East Kwaio member of parliament Alfred Sasako. "It has taken the whole lot of us by shock and surprise. "He was a man of very few words, you would have to be straight out of a psychiatric hospital to attack him in the way he was." A local police officer said that the killing might be linked to local discontent about the church's expansion in the area. "There has been some bad feelings for a long time over the land the SDA had got," he told The Australian newspaper. Australian officials say Gersbach was working on foundations for a new shop. A New Zealander was stabbed to death while working on a building site in Honiara last year.

South Korea

Korea Times, Korea 24 April 2003 Seminar on Jeju Uprising Unfolds at Harvard By Soh Ji-young Korea Times Correspondent BOSTON _ Renowned scholars and historians from South Korea and the United States will gather here from Thursday to discuss the Jeju April Uprising which remains an obscured chapter in the intertwined history of the two countries. An international conference, titled ``Jeju April 3rd Uprising and East Asian Peace: International Legal Issues and Human Rights in 21st Century Korea,’’ will be held for three days until Saturday at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The conference is sponsored by six organizations, mainly the Jeju Sasam Institute, East Asian Legal Studies of Harvard Law School, Jeju Development Institute, Korea Institute of Harvard University, World Association of Island Studies and Peace Island Foundation. The Korea Times is the sole media sponsor. One of the most tragic incidents in Korean history, the Jeju April 3rd incident refers to a civilian massacre which erupted on the southern island while the country was under U.S. military rule. At least 25,000 to 30,000 islanders are estimated to have been killed by police and military forces in the process of quelling large-scale uprisings between 1947 and 1954, which past authoritative governments branded as threatening rebellions by communists. It wasn’t until recently, after decades of silence, efforts to uncover the truth about the massacre emerged. The conference will begin its six sessions by focusing on the historical aspects of the Jeju Uprising, and move on to examine the legal considerations of the incident. In another session, participants will touch on an issue which has been largely neglected _ the responsibility of the U.S. in the incident. Prof. Bruce Cumings of University of Chicago, Prof. Park Myung-lim of Yonsei University and Prof. Ko Chang-hoon of Cheju National University will take part as speakers. The fourth session will discuss how the Jeju Uprising affected the woman population at the time, while Prof. George Katsiaficas of Wentworth Institute of Technology and Prof. Donald Clark of Trinity University will speak on ``Korean Human Rights Movements: Jeju, Gwangju and Beyond’’ in the fifth session. The last session will shed light on how Korea was portrayed in the media, with American journalists such as Martha Mendoza of the Associated Press and Norman Thorpe of The Asian Wall Street Journal speaking on the issue. Prof. Lee Moon-young of Korea University will make a closing speech on ``The New Era Opened by Korean Ssi-al,’’ which will be followed by discussions among participants. Organizers are hoping the seminar will facilitate an active exchange of views on the Jeju Uprising and other human rights and security issues on the Korean peninsula. ``The conference is significant in the sense that it is the first time a seminar on the Jeju April 3rd Uprising is held in the U.S.’’ said Kang Chang-il, professor of PaiChai University and head of the Jeju Sasam Institute. Kang said that the U.S. cannot avoid responsibility, as the massacre took place while South Korea was under U.S. military rule. ``Although South Korea has legislated special laws to uncover the incident, no work is underway to inquire of the U.S.’s role in the incident, with very few Americans knowing such an event took place. I hope the conference will serve as an opportunity to relay the tragic incident to the U.S. people,’’ he said. jysoh@koreatimes.co.kr

Korea Times, Korea 27 April 2003 US Role in Jeju Incident in Spotlight By Soh Ji-young Korea Times Correspondent BOSTON, Mass. _ A small but meaningful conference drew to an end here Saturday aiming to mend the decades-old scars of the Jeju April Uprising, a tragic civilian massacre that erupted on the tropical island under U.S. military control. During the international seminar entitled ``Jeju April 3rd Uprising and East Asian Peace: International Legal Issues and Human Rights in 21st Century Korea’’ held April 24-26 at Harvard University, participants from South Korea and the United States discussed the series of civilian massacres that took place on the southern island of Jeju from 1947 to 1954 to quell uprisings that the then-government said were sparked by communists. Speakers commented on how the U.S. forces looked on as Korean police and right-wing groups brutally killed as many as 30,000 islanders _ about 10 percent of Jeju’s population at the time. While not all of the chairs were filled, the earnest manner of those that did take part left a lasting impression. Audience members included Americans in their 50s and 60s who first visited Korea in their youth, working as Peace Corps or stationed in the country as soldiers. Many of them have now become noted experts on Korean affairs, who still have fond memories of the country. John Merrill, division chief of the U.S. State Department’s Northeast Asia Bureau of Intelligence and Research, who took part in the discussion, said the conference is very significant in making people in the U.S. more aware of what happened. ``The conference is very important _ it is the first ever and it’s a starting point,’’ said Merrill, who was stationed in South Korea in 1968. ``The level of information on this is very, very low. Even many of the (U.S.) academic specialists on Korea know nothing about it.’’ In 1980, Merrill published a paper on the Jeju April 3 incident before entering government and stating the incident had resulted from a ``failure of U.S. occupation.’’ He said people of Jeju who took part in the uprisings were ``acting basically out of patriotic motives’’ and were ``unjustly accused of all being communists.’’ One of the speakers at the conference, Sungkyunkwan University history professor Seo Joong-seok, said, ``The Jeju incident and other civilian massacres which erupted before and during the Korean War are not affairs related to Korea alone but are also deeply linked with the U.S.’’ ``It is very notable that U.S. scholars and Koreans living in the U.S. came here to discuss this issue,’’ he said. Organizers agreed on the last day of the conference to hold seminars on the Jeju Uprising every year, starting from June of next year in Jeju. The conference was sponsored by the Jeju Sasam Institute, Harvard Law School’s East Asian Legal Studies department, Harvard’s Korea Institute, the World Association of Island Studies and the Peace Island Foundation. The Korea Times is the sole media sponsor.

Korea Herald 7 May 2003 'Korea's first President Rhee ordered 1948 Jeju massacre' South Korea's first president, Syngman Rhee, ordered the brutal crackdown on an armed uprising on the southern island of Jeju in 1948, which resulted in the killings of tens of thousands of people including innocent civilians, a government report said yesterday. The National Commission on Jeju April 3 Incident said that U.S. forces stationed here were also responsible for the violent suppression. The commission, whose chairman is Prime Minister Goh Kun, issued a 580-page report wrapping up its three-year investigation into one of the most tragic ideological conflicts in Korean history. The report is expected to add fuel to the fire in recent ideological debates triggered by President Roh Moo-hyun's appointments of liberal figures to key government positions. "The investigation has found that former president Rhee ordered the stern crackdown campaign. The ultimate responsibility lies with the former president," the report said. Rhee said in a cabinet meeting in January 1949, according to the report, the United States will provide active assistance to South Korea only after the government roots out the communist uprisings on the island and in South Jeolla Province. "We should demonstrate the stringency of the law by harshly oppressing rebels, thieves and wicked forces in provincial areas," he was quoted as saying. The report also said that the U.S. military administration and the U.S. military advisory group in South Korea "are not exactly innocent for what happened on April 3." It said a U.S. colonel directed the crackdown operations as the commander of the military unit on the island. The Jeju uprising took place during the U.S. military oversight, after World War II ended in August 1945. Some 1,500 armed civilians, supposedly led by communists, attacked police stations, U.S. facilities and other right-wing organizations in protest against the attempt to set up government in South Korea. Up to 30,000 people including innocent civilians are estimated to have been killed during the subsequent crackdown. The work to uncover the truth behind the incident began in 2000 when the National Assembly enacted a law to investigate the case and compensate the victims. (jjhwang@koreaherald.co.kr) By Hwang Jang-jin

Sri Lanka

BBC 22 May 2003 Tamil Tigers reject peace efforts The Tigers say they will not pursue a military solution The head of the Tamil Tigers' political wing says six rounds of peace talks with the Sri Lankan Government have been a "waste of time". SP Thamilselvan told a news conference on Thursday that the Tigers would only resume talks if their demand for an interim administration in the north-east was met. However, he ruled out a return to war and said the Tigers were still committed to peace despite the month-long deadlock. Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Tyrone Fernando remained upbeat despite the latest demands, saying there was no talk of returning to war. He told the BBC's Asia Today programme: "The door is still open to the peace process." We agree that it [the talks have] been a waste of time. Six rounds of talks have not achieved a basis for mutual understanding SP Thamilselvan The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) had called Thursday's special news conference in Kilinochchi, in northern Sri Lanka, to explain their position on the peace process. It came a day after the Tigers made public a letter they sent to Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe calling for the establishment of the interim administration. Such a body would give the LTTE legitimacy and authority over funds the government hopes will come from abroad. 'Highly committed' Mr Thamilselvan said the Tigers would not attend an aid donor conference in Tokyo next month unless the government responded favourably to their demand. "While appreciating the initiative by the international community we would like to reiterate that a peaceful environment must be established for the LTTE to participate," Mr Thamilselvan said. The Tiger's letter has put more pressure on PM Wickramasinghe "If the prime minister demonstrates that he could implement the decisions, it would be adequate for the LTTE to participate in talks." Mr Thamilselvan said the six rounds of peace talks held since a ceasefire in February last year had failed to build sufficient trust. "We agree that [the talks have] been a waste of time. Six rounds of talks have not achieved a basis for mutual understanding." However, he said the Tigers were still "highly committed" to peace. "Not for one moment do we think a military solution is possible," Mr Thamilselvan said. Mr Fernando praised the Tigers' continued commitment to the peace process and said he was sure differences could be ironed out through dialogue. However, he said the Tigers should appreciate the government's problems: "We have gone further than any government has gone before." Message clear The Tigers' letter to Mr Wickramasinghe was couched in polite language, with praise for his "indefatigable endeavour in seeking solutions to break through the current impasse in the peace process". But underneath the message was clear. The letter criticised the work of the Joint Task Force - set up at the start of the peace process to administer donor funds and work for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the north-east. It said nothing had been achieved to alleviate the suffering of the internally displaced Tamil people there. Mr Wickramasinghe may face strong criticism from the main opposition Peoples' Alliance if he grants interim administration status to the rebels. The opposition accuses him of having already made too many concessions. The peace process has been in deadlock since the Tigers pulled out of talks on 21 April. In previous rounds, the Tigers had given up their demands for an independent Tamil homeland in favour of regional autonomy. Since 1983, about 65,000 people have been killed in the civil war.

AFP 26 May 2003 Sri Lanka offers financial authority to rebels to save peace talks by Amal Jayasinghe COLOMBO, May 26 (AFP) - Sri Lanka Monday finalised new proposals granting greater financial authority to Tamil Tiger rebels in a bid to salvage a Norwegian-backed peace bid, officials said. The government's proposals are to be sent to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) through Norwegian peace envoy Erik Solheim who is using shuttle diplomacy to try to revive the stalled process. "The government proposals are a counter to the LTTE demand for an interim administration," a diplomatic source said. "What is being discussed is to grant more powers to the LTTE to speed up reconstruction work." The sources said it would address rebel concerns of slow reconstruction and rehabilitation work in the embattled northern and eastern regions of the island and ensure that the rebels rejoined peace talks, which they pulled out of on April 21. Solheim met Monday with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the government's chief peace negotiator G. L. Peiris after similar talks with them on Sunday, the sources said. "The Norwegians are working overtime to help narrow the differences between the government and the Tiger rebels," a diplomat said. "It is too early to talk about a breakthrough, but the process is on." "What is important at this stage is to have a meeting of minds of the LTTE and the government. There is much work to be done." Diplomats said Solheim was expected to meet members of the LTTE leadership in the island's rebel-held north on Tuesday before returning home, and would also discuss issues with the LTTE's London-based chief negotiator, Anton Balasingham. The Tigers have demanded an interim administrative council for the embattled northeast regions in exchange for ending their boycott of talks and attending a key aid meeting Japan is hosting on June 9-10. "Up to now, there is no indication from the Tigers that they will end the boycott or take part in the Tokyo meeting," a diplomatic source said. "There is a lot of brinkmanship on their part." President Chandrika Kumaratunga, whose support is vital to grant any interim council to the LTTE, has firmly ruled it out unless the rebels give up violence, de-commission weapons and renounce their demand for a separate state by "deed and by word." Her emerging political partner, the Marxist JVP or People's Liberation Front, said Monday they were also totally opposed to the concept of an interim administration by the Tigers. Kumaratunga, who has roundly criticised her cohabitation government's handling of the peace process as well as the Norwegian peace brokers, is moving to form an alliance with the JVP in a bid to topple the government. JVP spokesman Tilvin Silva said, however, they opposed Kumaratunga's offer of devolution to minority Tamils as envisaged in an August 2000 draft constitution. "We opposed it then, we oppose it now," Silva said adding that Kumaratunga would have to unveil a new proposal if they are to work together, though the two parties are close to clinching a political deal.

BBC 29 May 2003 Sri Lanka warned of cost of failure Sri Lanka's prime minister has warned that the country risks being consigned to the "backwaters of history" if peace talks fail. The government hopes talks can resume soon Ranil Wickramasinghe also asked the Tamil Tiger rebels to be "more understanding" if there was to be permanent end to Sri Lanka's long-running civil war. But he said the current deadlock in the Norwegian-backed peace bid would give both sides the chance to review their current positions. Last month, the rebels pulled out of a key donor conference because they said existing development projects were not being implemented properly. In his first public comments since the Tigers announced the boycott last month Prime Minister Wickramasinghe said he understood the frustration felt by the rebels at the slow progress being made towards reconstruction in the north of the country. Critical "Today we find ourselves in something of an impasse. What is being demanded is not what can be easily delivered," Mr Wickramasinghe said in a speech to the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats. The prime minister criticised the body entrusted with development work in the north east - the subcommittee on immediate humanitarian needs - for being slow and remote from the people. And he complained that an assortment of agencies trying to help the people of the north east in an uncoordinated manner was causing confusion and duplication of effort. Many more people will die in a conflict without meaning Ranil Wickramasinghe Sri Lankan PM But the prime minister said: "Frankly, the LTTE have to be a little more understanding of the issues involved. Demanding is one thing, delivering is never straightforward." Mr Wickramasinghe said the peace process had been moving forward at a steady pace but the government now found itself with one side refusing to participate. 'Impoverished' He said if both parties did not re-enter into negotiations the country would be consigned to "the backwaters of history for another 30 or 40 years." "Our people will become increasingly impoverished, our industries will struggle to compete in the world markets and many more people will die in a conflict without meaning," he warned. Proposals for an interim administration, which were finalised late on Monday, were sent to the Tigers, but government negotiator GL Peiris said the rebel leadership might well need some time to consider them. He said the whole thrust of the government move was to see if differences between the two sides could be resolved before a donors conference due to take place on 9 June in Japan. The president, who has the power to sack the government, has ruled out granting an interim administration to the Tigers unless they sign a peace deal and agree to decommission arms first.

AFP 29 May 2003 Norway envoy returns after talks salvage bid COLOMBO, May 29 (AFP) - A Norwegian peace envoy has left Sri Lanka with no immediate breakthrough in attempts to revive the island's stalled peace bid, officials here said Thursday. Erik Solheim left here Wednesday night following his latest mission to try and woo back the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to the peace negotiating table, officials said. They said Solheim was expected to keep up his efforts and contact the LTTE's London-based chief negotiator, Anton Balasingham. Norwegian diplomats Wednesday formally delivered to Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka's north a fresh government proposal to yield "speedy" results to address their demands in hopes of restarting the fragile peace process. Constitutional Affairs Minister G. L. Peiris said the proposal was handed over to Norwegian facilitators to be given to the LTTE hoping it would address concerns of the rebels who on April 21 suspended participation in talks. "What we have proposed is a development-oriented structure that is capable of achieving efficient, speedy and adequate results," Peiris told reporters here. Peiris said the government appreciated the LTTE's demand for speedy reconstruction and rehabilitation work in the island's embattled northeast where the minority Tamils are concentrated. The Tigers had demanded an interim council for the northeast regions in exchange for ending their boycott of talks and attending a key aid meeting Japan is hosting on June 9-10. Japan is hosting an aid donors conference to help drum up international financial support to rebuild Sri Lanka, which has suffered three decades of ethnic bloodshed that has claimed over 60,000 lives. Peiris said the government was working on the basis that the Tigers will attend the aid conference although there has been no formal announcement by the guerrillas that they had called off the boycott. There had been growing calls from the United States, the European Union, Japan and India for the Tigers to reconsider their stance and resume talks.

BBC 30 May 2003 Tamil Tigers reject peace move Mr Balasingham (right) expressed dismay at the government approach Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels have rejected a proposal by the government aimed at breaking the deadlock in the peace process. The government had proposed a new development body to oversee aid work in the country's north-east. But on Friday, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) said the body would be unable to carry out the work effectively. The Tigers suspended peace talks last month and pulled out of an aid donors conference in Tokyo, saying the government had not made progress in rebuilding the Tamil areas. The BBC's Frances Harrison in Colombo says the rejection comes as a surprise to many and the continued brinkmanship may undermine a government genuinely trying to find an end to the civil war. She says it looks more and more unlikely the Tigers will take part in the donor meeting in just over a week's time. 'Dismay' In a letter to Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe, the rebels' chief negotiator, Anton Balasingham, criticised the government for proposing a development body in which the Tigers' role was "left deliberately ambiguous". The people are losing confidence in us as if we are involved in a futile exercise that produces no dividends Tamil Tigers' letter Mr Balasingham expressed "surprise and dismay" that the government had not addressed the setting up of an interim administrative structure for the north-east as suggested by the rebels' leadership. The four-page letter accused the government of finding "refuge under the existing constitution to deny even an interim measure to the Tamils". The letter did not mention the donor conference in Tokyo where Sri Lanka hopes to raise $3bn to help rebuild the country. However, it accused unnamed "formidable international forces" of treating the Tigers' "shabbily". The Tigers blame Ms Kumaratunga for hampering Mr Wickramasinghe "The continuous hardline attitude adopted by powerful international governments against the LTTE under their proscription laws casts a negative impact in promoting peace," it said. The United States continues to outlaw the Tigers as a terrorist group. The rebels also accused President Chandrika Kumaratunga, who has opposed many concessions to the rebels, of being "an enraged president seeking revenge". The letter acknowledged Mr Wickramasinghe's efforts towards peace, but said the prime minister had to understand the rebels' position. "The people are losing confidence in us as if we are involved in a futile exercise that produces no dividends," the letter said. It concluded: "The leadership of our liberation movement regrets to inform you that the new proposal submitted by your government is unacceptable." A ceasefire has been in place since February last year and several rounds of peace talks have been held, with the Tigers agreeing to forgo an independent homeland in favour of regional autonomy.



Expatica 2 May 2003 Belgian war crimes law reaches Algeria BRUSSELS – A group of 30 Moroccan former prisoners in Algeria has lodged a complaint against military officials of the separatist Polisario group under Belgium’s controversial law of universal competence. Polisario chief Mohamed Abdelaziz and Polisario representative in Spain Brahim Ghali are among those to be sued by the former detainees. Print this article Email this article Write to the editor Start or join a discussion The 30 civilians spent more than 20 years in Polisario jails in southern Algeria and cite the inhumane conditions in which they were forced to live as well as details of their kidnappings. The complaint was lodged with the Office of the Public Prosecutor in Brussels in accordance with Belgium’s so called genocide law, which allows for foreign officials to be sued on accusations of war crimes. The US reiterated concerns over the law this week in response to a suit planned against US Central Command chief, General Tommy Franks, brought forward by 19 Iraqi civilians. The US State Department, although pleased with the screening process written into the law of universal competence after substantial diplomatic pressure, has signalled that more should be done in order to filter-out politically motivated cases. "We're pleased that the Belgian government has taken action to change the law, but we believe (it) needs to be diligent in taking steps to prevent abuse of the legal system for political ends," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told the Washington Times. Last month, after being named along with Dick Cheney and George Bush Snr. in a case pertaining to war crimes during the 1991 Gulf war, US secretary of State Colin Powell had labelled the Belgian law as seriously problematic. Belgian Foreign Affairs Minister Louis Michel reacted by pushing through changes to the legislation last month, narrowing the scope of the law. Several clauses were to be amended so as to avoid the law being used for political complaints in the current climate.

AP 20 May 2003 Belgian Liberals, Socialists Win BRUSSELS -- Belgium's Liberal and Socialist parties won Sunday's general election, despite the decimation of their Green coalition partners and record gains for the nationalist Vlaams Blok party. Big gains for the Vlaams Blok party, which has links to the French nationalist leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, raised concerns for Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt's Flemish Liberal Party. Analysts said the nationalists capitalized on popular concerns about high unemployment, Muslim immigration and crime.

Reuters 20 May 2003 Belgian far right rise puts exclusion in question By Katie Nguyen BRUSSELS, May 19 — The rise of Belgium's far-right Vlaams Blok in Sunday's general election has raised questions over whether its exclusion from forming coalitions can hold as the party's popularity grows among voters. The anti-immigration nationalist party made the biggest gains in its 25-year history, strengthening its score to 17.9 percent of the vote in Flanders from 15.4 percent in 1999. But the Blok, which has links to French far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, stands no chance of a place in the new coalition government. Parties like the election winners Liberals and Socialists have placed the Blok under a so-called ''cordon sanitaire'' or political quarantine and refuse to work with it, calling it racist and xenophobic. But this exclusion can only work to its advantage by giving the Blok the status of the perpetual underdog, observers say. ''It's the only party that will not enter government, so it benefits from opposition status,'' Xavier Mabille, director of political research centre CRISP, told Reuters. In an address to the party faithful on Sunday, Blok chairman Frank Vanhecke urged voters to demand an end to the quarantine. ''The Flemish want a right-wing government and I call upon the VLD and the CD&V to finally listen to their voters and get rid of the cordon sanitaire once and for all,'' he said, referring to the Flemish Liberals and Christian Democrats. ''Like the Berlin Wall, the cordon sanitaire will come down.'' Although the quarantine would probably hold at regional elections next year, it could come under pressure during municipal elections in 2006, according to political observers. ''Ultimately, it will be difficult to stay out of government if you have 20 percent of the electorate behind you,'' said Wilfried Dewachter at the Catholic University of Leuven. In the last municipal elections in 2000, one in three people voted for the Blok in the party's stronghold of Antwerp. The media have steadily increased their coverage of the party, helping leader Filip Dewinter become a household name. ''I think they should...say thank you to the media,'' Marc Swyngedouw, a political scientist at the Catholic University of Brussels, told De Morgen daily. ''Without that media effect, they would never have gained that much.'' IMAGE CHANGE The Blok's latest success in the polls comes after a big effort to soften its image and widen its electoral base. ''They are shifting towards being a conservative party and not the old extreme party,'' Dewachter said. The Blok's initial support came from a minority of voters favouring an extreme brand of Flemish nationalism, Mabille said. In the 1980s, it followed Le Pen's Front National party, embracing a hardline on immigration and focusing on family values. Tensions between Muslims and public authorities in Antwerp have also benefited the Blok. In November, young Muslims rioted in the streets and clashed with police after a white Belgian shot dead a Muslim teacher. ''With a simplistic discourse, they cracked the populist milieu,'' Mabille said. ''But in the last elections in 1999, they visibly penetrated bourgeois areas so their voter base has become much more diversified.'' Pundits said the Blok had also gained voters after the collapse of Flemish nationalist party, Volksunie. It split in 2001 when one of its members was forced to quit after attending a rally reuniting Belgian veterans of Adolf Hitler's Waffen SS.

Guardian Uk 28 May 2003 Belgian historians examine country's role in atrocities against Jews -- Government acts after 60 years of collusion as a taboo subject Andrew Osborn in Brussels Wednesday May 28, 2003 The Guardian More than 60 years after the first "death train" filled with Jews left Belgium for the gas chambers of Auschwitz an unprecedented investigation into the complicity of the Belgian authorities in the final solution is to be carried out. Government historians are for the first time to be given full access to public and private archives related to occupied Belgium and will look into episodes that many would rather forget, with a mandate to "establish the eventual responsibility of the Belgian authorities for the deportation and persecution of the Jews". A disused army barracks in the Flemish town of Mechelen - described by survivors as an antechamber of death - was where the majority were corralled before being forced on to the trains. According to official figures 30,544 Jews of mixed European nationalities were deported from Belgium to death camps such as Auschwitz between 1942 and 1944. Only 1,524 survived and at least a fifth of those who died were children. Historians working on the inquiry will consider the veracity of claims that the local authorities and police actively collaborated in rounding up Jews for deportation (especially in Antwerp), that they drew up a national register of Jews which was handed over to the Nazis, that they distributed, and enforced the mandatory wearing of, the yellow Star of David, and that in general they followed to the letter German orders relating to the country's Jewish community. Jewish groups also want an investigation into the role of the Catholic church, which stayed silent throughout the deportations, and clarification of the role of certain Jewish lobby groups whom they suspect of collaboration. Belgium was occupied from 1940 to 1944, and the king, Leopold III, opted to remain in place despite the government having fled to London. Much of the civil service and state apparatus also remained in place. Sensitivity about wartime collaboration and the fact that many Belgian officials who worked enthusiastically with the Nazis subsequently went on to become prominent politicians and civil servants ensured that the country has never before held a proper inquiry into the period. "The subject was taboo," says Jose Gotovitch, director of the Study and Documentation Centre on War and Contemporary Society, the institute charged with carrying out the inquiry. "We needed the example of France to act. Pressure [not to look at the past] was very strong. Belgium's image during the war was even angelic." A commission of inquiry set up after the liberation tried individuals for war crimes but did not deal with the deportation question, and a recent inquiry confined itself to the question of financial compensation for Belgian Jews who had their property confiscated. But now, Mr Gotovitch says, many of the officials accused of complicity in the final solution are dead and such an inquiry is finally possible. That, he adds, is why Guy Verhofstadt, the Flemish prime minister (before the elections on May 18), bowed to calls from the senate for an inquiry. A law sanctioning the inquiry and granting historians special access to the state archives was passed last month and work is due to begin on January 1 2004. According to Rudi Van Doorslaer, a historian at the institute, the next step is for the government to approve the requisite state funding. This is complicated by the fact that Belgium has just had a general election and a new government is not expected to be formed for several weeks. Its political hue, however, will be broadly the same as the previous one- liberal and socialist - and that, observers say, will ensure that the issue of funding will not be controversial. The inquiry, which will take two years, may lead to a full parliamentary investigation. Mr Gotovitch wants his historians to go beyond mere fact checking and to try to understand why some Belgians were so willing to go along with the Germans. "There's a desire to see through cliches," he said. "This will be the study of the formation of a mentality. We want to understand why people did what they did." For the survivors and their relatives an inquiry cannot come soon enough. "There are very few survivors left now - only around 150," says Judith Kronfeld, secretary general of the Union of Jewish Deportees, Sons and Daughters of the Deportation. "Deportees are people who have lived through so much and suffered so much that they are not bitter but they are waiting and the sooner this inquiry takes place the better. "We expect the truth - the truth must be stated and afterwards the prime minister should make some kind of declaration. There has never been an apology and the Belgian church has never said a word either." Ms Kronfeld, who lost much of her family in the deportation, concedes that many Belgians risked their own lives to hide Jews from the occupying Germans, but believes that it is imperative to look at the other side of the story too. "We need to know how all this was possible. We need to know in what climate these things took place and which authorities took part in this process which allowed [the Nazis] to isolate, deport and then annihilate an entire population."


Reuters 20 May 2003 NATO Forces Want Karadzic Before Leaving Bosnia By REUTERS Filed at 12:12 p.m. ET SARAJEVO (Reuters) - The NATO-led peace force in Bosnia hopes to arrest former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and 20 other indicted war crimes suspects before ending its mission, its commander said Tuesday. Gen. William Ward said the task of uniting and shrinking Bosnia's oversized, ethnically based armed forces was also incomplete. ``There is still some unfinished business. There are still persons indicted for war crimes who are out there that we want to apprehend -- Karadzic, Mladic and others,'' he said in an interview. Karadzic and Bosnian Serb Army commander Gen. Ratko Mladic have been indicted by the U.N. war crimes tribunal for the 1995 Srebrenica massacre and siege of Sarajevo. Both have been on the run since 1996. The European Union, which took over the alliance's much smaller mission of 350 troops in Macedonia two months ago, has hinted that it could take over NATO's 12,000-strong Bosnia mission next year. Ward said he did not know if his Stabilisation Forcewas going to be replaced by an EU-led force in 2004. The U.S. general said he did not expect cuts in SFOR this year or next but such a decision was subject to twice-yearly NATO review. The EU said this week that its new rapid reaction force, designed to field up to 60,000 troops for crisis management, was ready for peacekeeping and would consider a U.N. call for troops to quell fighting in eastern Congo. There was no mention of an imminent Bosnia role. ONE ARMY Karadzic has evaded at least two NATO attempts to arrest him and is widely believed to be hiding in eastern Bosnia or in neighboring Montenegro. Mladic is believed to live in Serbia. The war crimes tribunal's Chief Prosecutor Carla del Ponte, visiting Sarajevo Tuesday, called on Karadzic to voluntarily surrender or face arrest. ``I believe that NATO is doing a lot and there will be an imminent arrest and that is the reason why I'm calling for voluntary surrender,'' Del Ponte told reporters. SFOR is also supervising the process of restructuring and reducing Bosnia's ethnically-based armed forces as part of the defense and military reforms needed for the country's admission to the NATO Partnership for Peace program. The armies of the Muslim-Croat federation and Serb Republic, the two halves of postwar Bosnia, should submit their proposals on the future armed forces by the end of this week, Ward said. The total force for Bosnia should not exceed 12,000. Ward said substantial progress has been made with the adoption of a state-level territorial defense policy doctrine but admitted that military reforms have been slowed by ``political factors.'' The Muslim, Croat and Serb army components each have a different approach: Muslims want a single, multi-ethnic army, Serbs want to keep a separate force and Croats prefer one army consisting of three ethnic components. ``From NATO's prospective ... the structure has to be amended and controlled from a state-level organization that provides effective command and control down to the structures. And that is not negotiable,'' Ward said.


NYT 7 May 2003 France Envisions a Citizenry of Model Muslims By Elaine Sciolino (NYT) 1015 words PARIS, May 6 -- The French interior minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, was booed and whistled at when he said at the annual conference of one of this country's most important Muslim groups last month that Muslim women would have to go bareheaded when posing for pictures for their identity cards. He did not seem to notice -- or perhaps chose to ignore -- that a vast majority of the women in the audience were wearing head scarves. A few of them had even swathed their faces in black and hidden their hands under black gloves. And perhaps the law-and-order interior minister can be forgiven for overlooking the shopping bags on sale at a score of kiosks, the ones with the silhouette of a woman wearing a veil and the phrase ''I love my veil'' in English and Arabic. In a largely secular continent still trying to come to grips with Islam, France, with its large Muslim population and long colonial history with Algeria, is something of a bellwether. But even here, it is unclear how -- or even whether -- the tensions between secularism and Muslim piety will be resolved. In a sense, France's center-right government is trying to create a model Muslim citizenry. President Jacques Chirac has spoken about his vision of a ''tolerant'' Islam. Mr. Sarkozy said recently, ''There is no room for fundamentalism at the Republic's table.'' For them, model Muslims would be French-speaking and law-abiding. They would celebrate the 1905 French law that requires total separation between church and state. They would attend mosques presided over by clerics who are French-trained and avoid politics in their sermons. Model Muslim women would not try to wear head scarves in the workplace; model Muslim girls would not try to wear head scarves to school. Most important, model Muslims would call themselves French first and Muslim second. The thinking goes something like this: Muslims must be integrated into French society to avoid a culture clash that could contribute to terrorism. So the French government has embarked on a two-pronged strategy that will give Muslims what French leaders call ''a place at the table,'' but monitor and regulate their activities at the same time. This strategy lay behind Mr. Sarkozy's campaign to put together an official Islamic council led by a ''moderate,'' suit-and-tie-wearing mosque rector to interact with the French state. It also underlies Mr. Sarkozy's belief that the only way France can stop radical foreign clerics from preaching on French soil is to create a home-grown variety that identifies more with French culture and tradition. It is the reason French intelligence has assigned operatives to monitor sermons in mosques and prayer centers every Friday. The idea of the French state regulating a religious community is rooted in Napoleon's bold concordat concluded with the papacy in 1802. While the concordat recognized Catholicism as the ''preferred religion'' of France, it also forced the pope to accept nationalization of church property in France, gave the state the right to appoint bishops, police all public worship and make the clergy ''moral prefects'' of the state. A few years later, the French state sought to transform the Jewish population into better French citizens by controlling their behavior, going so far as to propose briefly that every two marriages between Jews be matched by a marriage between a Jew and a non-Jew. But in an era in which the French state enjoys less and less direct control over its citizenry, transforming a Muslim population into an ideal citizenry may be too much of a stretch. ''It is very difficult to say it openly but this is a very troubling situation, a crossroads,'' said Pierre Birnbaum, professor of politics and philosophy at the Sorbonne and author of ''The Idea of France.'' ''The state, which is no longer the center of the nation, may not be in a position to rule on religion from above,'' he said. ''It may not have the power to integrate.'' France is home to about five million Muslims, about 7 percent of the population. But that figure is hopelessly unreliable because under French law, people are not officially counted, polled or classified according to religion. Officials say they do not know whether there are any Muslims among France's 577 members of the National Assembly, although a Muslim cultural organization affiliated with the Paris Mosque says there are none. There are no Muslim ministers, although there are two Muslim state secretaries, one for long-term development, another for veterans affairs. The driving force behind France's campaign to make its Muslim citizens more French is to curb political radicalism and terrorism, both inside and outside the country. The problem is that mainstreaming Muslims into European society does not necessarily translate into an embrace of European ideals. France -- like the rest of Europe -- was stunned when the perpetrator of a suicide bombing in Israel late last month was identified as Asif Hanif, a 21-year-old middle-class Briton of South Asian origin. Another Briton, Omar Khan Sharif, the 27-year-old son of a successful businessman originally from Kashmir, reportedly fled the scene. Both came from comfortable, Westernized suburban neighborhoods. The French are aware as well of the power of a protest leader like Dyab Abou Jahjah, the Lebanese-born son of university teachers, who speaks five languages and founded an Arab pride movement for immigrants in Belgium. He demands affirmative action in schools, the workplace and housing, and calls assimilation ''cultural rape.'' So even as France struggles to ''integrate,'' as French officials call it, its Muslim population, the nightmare is that the strategy may fail. Radicalism and terrorism sometimes may have less to do with religion and more to do with an overwhelming sense of alienation and rage linked to economic and political realities, like discrimination, joblessness and the open-ended war between Israel and the Palestinians.

Reuters14 May 2003 Court dismisses French railways Holocaust case PARIS - A French court on Wednesday dismissed the case of an elderly man against national railway operator SNCF over its role in the deportation of Jews during the Holocaust, saying the facts were too old. Kurt Schaechter, 82, had charged that the SNCF played an active part in packing tens of thousands of Jews, including his parents, into cramped, airless trains and deporting them to Nazi death camps between 1942 and 1944. This was the first time a French court had examined SNCF's actions during World War Two. The court declined to judge on whether the company was partially responsible for the deportations or not. It said most of the facts in the case had been public since the 1970s and it was too late for a trial. Schaechter, Austrian by birth, had sought a symbolic one euro in damages from the SNCF for crimes against humanity. His parents were sent in 1943 and 1944 to the Nazi camps of Sobibor and Auschwitz and executed. "Why does the SNCF refuse to admit that its directors at the time applied the principle of collaboration with a cold, administrative logic?" Schaechter wrote in a statement. The terrible conditions and lengthy journeys meant thousands died even before reaching the camps. The SNCF maintains it was just obeying orders in occupied France. French President Jacques Chirac has acknowledged Vichy France's responsibility in helping the Nazis deport Jews. Estimates of the number deported vary between 72,000 and 85,000. Only a few thousand returned. As part of his evidence, Schaechter produced a bill from SNCF to the interior ministry for the deportation of Jews dated August 1944 - a time when liberation was in sight. SNCF declined to comment on the case.


Reuters 19 May 2003 U.S., Germany Sign Accord to Protect Holocaust Sites By Alan Elsner, National Correspondent WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States and Germany on Monday signed an agreement to work together to protect sites associated with the Nazi Holocaust of 6 million Jews. The agreement covers cemeteries, places of worship, memorials and other sites of importance associated with victims of genocide during the Second World War. Germany's U.S. ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger, who signed the agreement, said at the ceremony, "The preservation of memorial sites is of special importance to me personally and to my generation and future generations of Germans." The agreement was signed for the United States by Warren Miller, chairman of the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad, a body established by Congress. "The European Jews had everything taken from them, including their lives. Even in death, most were not afforded a burial place -- they were burned, their bones crushed, their ashes scattered," Miller said. Even before the agreement, the two governments had been cooperating. In 2002 the commission and German federal and local governments were involved in a partnership to build a new memorial at the Buchenwald concentration camp. They are partnering again to build a museum at the site of the Mittelbau Dora concentration camp. Holocaust survivors and historians remain concerned by the deteriorating state of key Holocaust sites, especially in Poland where the bulk of European Jewry was destroyed in mass extermination camps like Auschwitz and Treblinka. In Auschwitz, important remains such as two tons of hair shorn from victims and thousands of shoes are deteriorating. At other sites, including the extermination camp of Belzec where some 600,000 Jews are thought to have been murdered, there still is no proper memorial.


CICC 15 May 2003 (www.iccnow.org) For Immediate Distribution - Lithuania Becomes 90th State Party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Every EU Member State and All But One EU Accession State Has Ratified (New York, May 15, 2003) - The world's first permanent court capable of trying individuals accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide gained its 90th state party when Lithuania deposited its ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Monday. Every Baltic state, European Union member state and all but one European Union (EU) accession state, namely the Czech Republic, has formally joined the ICC's Assembly of States Parties. "The completion of the ratification process by Lithuania, as a nation slated for accession to the European Union next year, further strengthens EU solidarity in support of the ICC," said Ms. Irune Quijera-Aguirrezabal, European Coordinator of the NGO Coalition for the ICC. She added, "We are aware from news reports that Lithuania is under pressure from the United States government to agree never to turn U.S. nationals or contractors over to the court. We urge them not to sign these agreements." Since the Bush administration renounced the Clinton administration's signature of the Rome Statute last May, the United States has waged a multi-pronged campaign against the ICC. Most recently, the U.S. has approached countries - both States Parties and non-States Parties to the Rome Statute - around the world to request the signature of bilateral immunity agreements. Media reports and government sources indicate that a number of countries in Eastern Europe, have been threatened with the loss of U.S. military assistance should they resist signature. In August 2002, the European Union issued a set of "guiding principles" indicating its findings that the U.S. immunity agreements are contrary to numerous international laws including the Geneva Conventions and the Rome Statute, which 139 nations have signed. All 15 EU member states have resisted pressure to sign these agreements; the European Union has encouraged its candidate countries to do the same.


Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 19 May 2003 -- Macedonian town suffers violent night A dispute between ethnic Albanian and Macedonian youths in Tetovo late on 16 May escalated into an hour-long brawl during which two Albanian youths were wounded by gunshots, "Utrinski vesnik" reported. Police managed to end the street fighting but could not stop participants from destroying several shops, bars, and cars. Later the same night, unidentified individuals attacked an ethnically mixed police patrol and fired a hand-held rocket launcher at an army barracks in the town. Tetovo was the scene of fighting in May 2001 between ethnic Albanian guerrilla fighters and Macedonian security forces. Tensions between the town's Albanian majority and Macedonian minority have remained high ever since. UB


NYT 7 May 2003 Former Bosnian Serb Officer Admits Guilt in '95 Massacre By JOHN TAGLIABUE PARIS, May 6 — A former commander in the Bosnian Serb army agreed today to plead guilty to crimes against humanity in the massacre of more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys in the town of Srebrenica in 1995. The decision by the commander, Momir Nikolic, paves the way for his potentially crucial testimony at the war crimes tribunal in The Hague later this month, when three other commanders of the Bosnian Serb army are due to go on trial for the killings of the Muslim civilians at Srebrenica. Mr. Nikolic is the first former Bosnian Serb officer to agree to provide testimony. As part of the plea agreement, four other charges against Mr. Nikolic, an intelligence officer during the 1992-95 Bosnian war, will be dropped. He also agreed to testify against three other Bosnian Serb commanders, Vidoje Blagojevic, Dragan Obrenovic and Dragan Jokic, who led Serbian forces involved in separating the men and boys of Srebrenica from their families and killing them. Dutch peacekeepers for the United Nations who had been assigned to protect the Muslims failed to intervene. Mr. Nikolic, an officer in the Serbian brigade that encircled the Srebrenica area, acknowledged in the agreement, which the court released, that he "discussed the operation to transport the women and children to Kladanj and separate, detain and kill the able-bodied Muslim men in Potocari," referring to villages in the area. Mr. Nikolic pleaded guilty to the "widespread and systematic attack on the civilian population of Srebrenica," and to the murder of over 7,000 boys and men between the ages of 16 and 60. The tribunal's judges will now decide whether to accept Mr. Nikolic's guilty plea and, if they do, what his sentence will be. The prosecution recommended as part of the agreement that Mr. Nikolic receive 20 years in prison; his defense counsel has asked for a prison term of 10 years. Mr. Nikolic's sentencing will follow the trial of the other defendants. The trial of Mr. Nikolic and the three other officers was originally scheduled to begin today, but has been postponed until May 14 by the tribunal, created in 1993 to deal with the Balkan conflicts. NATO peacekeepers arrested Mr. Nikolic a little more than one year ago in Bratunac, in eastern Bosnia. During the war he was part of the Bratunac brigade, which was commanded by Mr. Blagojevic, one of the three other defendants. At his first court appearance in April 2002, Mr. Nikolic pleaded not guilty to the charge of genocide. Today's plea was on lesser charges of crimes against humanity. The other three defendants have all pleaded not guilty to the charges brought against them. A former Bosnian Serb general, Radislav Krstic, was found guilty of genocide in August 2001 for his role in the massacre at Srebrenica. It was the tribunal's first conviction on the charge of genocide in the war. The former general was sentenced to 46 years in prison, the longest sentence issued by the tribunal.

Reuters 7 May 2003 Ex-Officer Admits Role in Srebrenica Killings Bosnian Serb Enters Plea at Hague Tribunal, Agrees to Testify Against 3 Others By Paul Gallagher Reuters Wednesday, May 7, 2003; Page A32 AMSTERDAM, May 6 -- A former Bosnian Serb army commander has pleaded guilty to a charge of persecution in connection with the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of thousands of Muslim men and boys, the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague announced today. In a plea deal, Momir Nikolic, an assistant intelligence commander in the Bratunac Brigade that encircled a U.N.-declared "safe area" in Srebrenica, admitted attending army meetings in July 1995, at which plans to execute Muslim men were discussed. "I discussed the operation to transport the women and children to Kladanj and separate, detain and kill the able-bodied Muslim men in Potocari," Nikolic said in a signed statement released by the tribunal. Nikolic agreed to plead guilty to one charge of persecution -- a crime against humanity -- in return for prosecutors dropping four other charges. He also agreed to testify against three other former commanders in the Bosnian Serb army who are accused of crimes at Srebrenica during the 1992-95 Bosnian war: Vidoje Blagojevic, Dragan Obrenovic and Dragan Jokic. "Momir Nikolic agrees that he is pleading guilty to Count Five because he is in fact guilty and acknowledges full responsibility for his actions that are the subject of the indictment," the plea agreement said. Judges must decide whether to accept the agreement drawn up by prosecutors and defense before sentencing Nikolic. Prosecutors said they would call for a 15- to 20-year sentence. The defense said it would recommend 10 years. The tribunal's two most wanted men, the Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic and his military commander, Ratko Mladic, are also accused of responsibility for the Srebrenica massacre, the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II, as well as offenses related to the siege of the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo. The senior Bosnian Serb commander, Radislav Krstic, was sentenced to 46 years in jail for genocide at Srebrenica by the U.N. war crimes tribunal in 2001. The tribunal also announced today that it had indicted two former Serbian security chiefs on charges of committing war crimes in Bosnia and Croatia between 1991 and 1995. They are Franko Simatovic, former head of Serbian state security special operations, and Jovica Stanisic, who was Serbia's state security chief and is said by Hague prosecutors to have had overall responsibility for paramilitary units. Serb police had already arrested the two, who are in jail in Belgrade in a sweep after the assassination of Serbia's prime minister, Zoran Djindjic, in March. Simatovic -- who is also known as "Frenki" -- was the first commander of the Serbian Interior Ministry's Special Operations Unit, JSO, a shadowy paramilitary unit that secretly operated across the former Yugoslavia during its violent breakup in the 1990s. Before he was fired in 1998, Stanisic was the longtime chief of state security for Slobodan Milosevic, the former Serbian leader who is also standing trial in The Hague.

IWPR Milosevic Trial: The Propaganda War Former Serb president instructed the media to spread disinformation and propaganda, witness tells court. By Emir Suljagic and Stacy Sullivan in The Hague (TU 313, 12-16 May 2003) A media expert who testified in Slobodan Milosevic's trial told the court this week that he had no doubt that the ex-president had controlled the media in the former Yugoslavia. Milosevic used newspapers and broadcasters to spread fear, dehumanise Muslims and Croats, and induce Serbs to fight against their former countrymen, the witness claimed. Professor Renaud de la Brosse, a propaganda expert from the University of Reims in France, took the stand as part of the prosecution’s effort to prove a link between what the media said and war crimes perpetrated on the battlefield. De la Brosse said he had studied some 20,000 pages of newspaper articles, transcripts of television and radio broadcasts covering nearly a decade, to produce the 100-page report he prepared for the prosecution. He referred widely to "The Last Days of SFRY”, a book by Borisav Jovic, Milosevic's former friend and ally in the Yugoslav presidency in the early Nineties, which reveals how the former Serb leader used the media to promote his fervent nationalism. "For years, he paid the biggest attention to the media, especially television. He personally appointed editors-in-chief of the newspapers and news programmes - especially directors-general of radio and TV,” Jovic wrote. De la Brosse also collected a series of video clips from state-controlled television to show the court. One clip, which aired on Serbian television in November 1991, showed an old man holding a handful of teeth he claimed the Ustasha - Second World War Croatian fascists - had yanked from the mouths of dying Serbs. The pensioner was seen to say that, while he had not witnessed any atrocities himself, he “knew” that the Ustasha had disemboweled Serbian children and gouged their eyes out. De la Brosse also showed the court a Yugoslav national army, JNA, memo which ordered that all enemies be called “Ustasha”. A newspaper article from September 9, 1991, said that "a horde of butchers from [Croatian president Franjo] Tudjman’s Black Legion who are thirsty for Serbian blood are heading towards Banija". "This language created a historical amalgam," argued de la Brosse. “There was no longer any difference between the new Croatian state and criminal Nazi-backed regime from the Forties.” A clip, which aired on April 5, 1992, showed footage of devastated buildings and a reporter claiming that just before "peace talks and the Muslim holiday of Bajram, 300 Serbs were killed in an attack…planned by the Ustasha and carried out by the Jihad". He goes on to say that this is "the first time Jihad is being waged on European soil”. A clip showed footage of Mostar with a voiceover saying that “although it was relatively peaceful today, the Ustasha continued to mount occasional attacks. People are especially worried about what happened to Serbs in nearby villages where 200-300 people were brutally massacred, just like in 1944”. To illustrate how the Serbian media helped build the impression that the rest of the world was united in a conspiracy against them, de la Brosse presented several newspaper articles and video excerpts that claimed Albanians, Croats, Muslims, the United States, the Vatican, Germany and various non-governmental organisations, NGOs, had joined together to vilify the Serbs. In a clip aired on October 22, 1991, the then Yugoslav defence minister Veljko Kadijevic is shown saying that “Germany is attacking our country for the third time”. Another item showed a female announcer saying, “All able-bodied men must serve their nation and prevent the extermination of Serbs in Croatia." De la Brosse presented a newspaper interview of a Montenegrin soldier who had fought in the frontlines around Dubrovnik. In the article, the soldier claimed to have “found the bodies of foreign mercenaries among the dead enemy troops”. He said he and his fellow servicemen had feared falling into the hands of “Kurds, Germans and Africans who were fighting with the Ustasha”. Commenting on this item, de la Brosse said that as the international press had reported that the Serbs were shelling Dubrovnik at that time, "this was an example of someone being used to counter contradictory media reports - a classic procedure for spreading disinformation”. As another example of this, de la Brosse showed a clip of the Sarajevo National Library on fire. A female announcer stated that it was not clear what had caused the blaze, saying, “We looked for shell damage but could not see any. We saw that the flames were coming from within, which points to another Muslim manipulation similar to we saw in Dubrovnik, when car tyres were set on fire to create the illusion that Serbs were shelling the city.” One document de la Brosse included in his report was an order from the Serbian ministry of information during NATO’s 1999 bombing campaign. The document banned the media from reporting any JNA or Yugoslav police losses, and instructed journalists to refer all police and army activity as “defensive actions”. NATO was to be referred to as “the aggressor” and the Kosovo Liberation Army was to be referred to as a “gang of terrorists and criminals”. During his cross-examination, Milosevic echoed the claims put forth by the Serbian media and accused de la Brosse of being "in the service of the demonisation of the Serbs". He said that the collection of newspaper articles and video clips the court had seen were not pieces of propaganda, as de la Brosse would have the court believe, but rather journalistic reports that reflected the truth. “What if all of this is true?” Miloslevic said. “Do you not consider the KLA to be a gang of terrorists and criminals?” When de la Brosse said that he had presented the document instructing the media to refer to the KLA as terrorists as evidence to show that Milosevic controlled the media, the former Serb president snapped back, “I think calling the so-called KLA that is generous. I would also call them drug mafia.” The judges interrupted Milosevic several times during the cross-examination to instruct him to ask questions, not make speeches. De la Brosse will continue his testimony on May 26. Emir Suljagic is an IWPR reporter in The Hague. Stacy Sullivan is IWPR project director in The Hague.

BBC 20 May 2003 Prosecutor hails new Belgrade era By Nick Hawton BBC correspondent in Belgrade Del Ponte met Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic The chief prosecutor for the UN War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague has said the court is entering a new era of co-operation with the authorities in Serbia. Carla Del Ponte's comments followed meetings with government officials in Belgrade. She renewed calls for help in the arrest and prosecution of alleged war criminals from the former Yugoslavia. The Serbian Government has said it will do all it can to fulfil its international obligations. These were unusually positive words from The Hague Tribunal's chief prosecutor. Carla Del Ponte has been a constant thorn in the side of the Serbian authorities and has rarely has anything positive to say about their cooperation with the Tribunal. But now all the talk is of working together. Trials in Serbia The chief prosecutor met members of the new Serbian Government, which took over following the assassination of the former Prime Minister, Zoran Djindjic, in March. She again asked for information relating to the former Bosnian Serb commander, Ratko Mladic, who is at the top of The Hague's 'most wanted' list. She was told that if he was living in Serbia he would be arrested. The Serbian authorities also promised the chief prosecutor free access to archive materials which could help in prosecutions. In return, Carla Del Ponte said in the future some war crimes trials could take place in Serbia if the necessary laws were passed. Holding such trials in Serbia, rather than The Hague, has been a long-standing demand of those in power in Belgrade. These meetings may be a sign of improving relations between The Hague and Belgrade. The question is whether talks can be translated into concrete new steps to help cement this apparent new relationship.

AP 21 May 2003 MILOSEVIC TRIAL EXTENDED The United Nations war crimes tribunal gave prosecutors 100 extra days to make their case against the former Yugoslav president, Slobodan Milosevic, likely delaying a verdict until well into 2005. Prosecutors had asked for 200 more days. The trial, already in its second year, began in February 2002. Mr. Milosevic faces 66 charges for crimes, including genocide, allegedly committed during the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990's. (AP)

Reuters 21 May 2003 BOSNIAN SERB ADMITS SREBRENICA ROLE Dragan Obrenovic, a former Bosnian Serb army commander joined a former comrade in confessing to his role in the massacre of thousands of Muslims in Srebrenica in 1995, the war crimes tribunal said. Mr. Obrenovic said he would plead guilty to one count of crimes against humanity, and prosecutors said they would drop other charges and recommend a 15- to 20-year prison sentence. On May 6, another former commander, Momir Nikolic, agreed to plead guilty to a single count of crimes against humanity. (Reuters)


Reuters 31 May 2003 Bush Tours Auschwitz, Says 'Evil' Must Be Resisted By Adam Entous OSWIECIM, Poland (Reuters) - A grim-faced President Bush toured the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camps on Saturday, pausing at the ruins of a Nazi crematorium to state his case for standing up to "evil" dictators and terrorism. "Mankind must come together to fight such dark impulses," Bush said at the sprawling complex where Nazi German invaders committed genocide during World War II with assembly-line efficiency. "These sites are a sobering reminder of the power of evil and the need for people to resist evil," he said. Bush came to Poland citing the Holocaust as "one of the greatest lessons of the past" as he sought to justify the use of military force in Afghanistan and Iraq. The former Soviet bloc country backed the Iraq war at a time when European powerhouses France, Germany and Russia were leading the opposition to the U.S. and British invasion. Bush showed his gratitude by making Poland the first stop of his week-long European tour. Nearly 1.5 million people, mostly Jews, were murdered in the twin camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau at the edge of the town now known by its Polish name Oswiecim. Jews regard Auschwitz as their biggest graveyard and the main symbol of the Holocaust. Bush, the first sitting American president to visit the camp since Gerald Ford in 1975, led his entourage through the camp gate, which bears the sign: "Arbeit Macht Frei" (Work Sets You Free). That was the start of a march of death to the gas chambers of nearby Birkenau. Bush stood beneath a sign that read: "Jews are a race which must be totally exterminated" and passed the barbed-wire fence that separated guards and their dogs from the prisoners. In a squat brick building housing a gas chamber and crematorium, First Lady Laura Bush placed a long-stemmed rose on a cast-iron gurney used to load bodies into the ovens. The Bushes saw a room piled high with human hair shorn from Auschwitz victims and used during the war to make textiles. "So sad...very powerful," Bush said during the tour, his spokesman said. Like his father, who visited the camp when he was vice president, Bush placed a wreath at the "Wall of Death" where some 25,000 people were shot. The president and first lady paused for a moment of silence where the rail tracks came to a abrupt end in Birkenau. That is where prisoners were unloaded from railway cattle wagons by the thousands and sent to their deaths. "The civilized world must never forget what took place on this site," Bush said after walking around the ruins of a crematorium destroyed by the Nazis in the final days of the war.

US Dept of State - Washington File 31 May 2003 White House Details Bush Visit to Auschwitz, Birkenau (White House press briefing, May 31, 2003) (1860) White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer briefed reporters on President and Mrs. Bush's visit May 31 to the Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps in Poland. Following is a transcript of the briefing: (begin transcript) THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary (Krakow, Poland) May 31, 2003 PRESS GAGGLE WITH ARI FLEISCHER The Castle Krakow, Poland MR. FLEISCHER: Okay, I just wanted to give you a report on what the President saw at Auschwitz, and what he said. He walked in -- the first building he saw was the Extermination Building. The first thing as he was walking into the building, the guide told him that this is where Elie Wiesel was sent. And of course, the President had previously met the Elie Wiesel. And the President said, "He was a little boy when he was sent here." Then they walked into the Extermination Building -- this is the first stop, at Auschwitz -- then he walked in under a sign that read "Jews are a race that must be totally exterminated," which was said by the Nazi Governor General named Hans Frank, in 1944. Standing underneath that sign, the President and Mrs. Bush began their tour of the Extermination Building. The guide talked to him about the prisoners who were there, how within 15 to 20 minutes of their arrival they were suffocated by gas and they died. And then she started talking about the machinery of death and how they were transported out. The President saw actual cans which contained cyclone B, that were used for the killing in the gas chambers. And the guide talked to him and said how the Germans would describe this in code, that they would talk about it as the "special treatment" that the prisoners would receive. This is very moving. He saw the hair of murdered women which was then later sold to the German textile industry. Much of the hair still is there -- I shouldn't say "much," but a considerable amount of hair is still there behind a large glass partition which the President walked by. Q: Roughly how big was that partition area? MR. FLEISCHER: Oh, that probably extended some 30, 40 feet behind glass, and you just see hair. Women's hair. The guide talked about in the next room that Auschwitz was also a site of plunder because as the Jews were rounded up and sent there, they brought their belongings with them so they had their suitcases. They didn't know they were going to their death, so they carried their life's possessions with them, which was then quickly plundered, the guide explained. The President saw the Jewish prayer shawls that were hanging. And then another deeply moving part, he saw artificial limbs, actual artificial limbs, prosthesis, legs that were there and which she explained to the President, even these were plundered after people were killed, and then used back in Germany. The President would say things such as "Powerful." I just wrote down as I listened to him -- "powerful." When he saw the suitcases, he said, "So sad." And then at one point when he went by another display where there were teeny little shoes, the President looked at it and said, "All the little baby shoes." He told the guide, "You've done a good job recording history." The President talked about the current context of it, how many people come each year. He asked, where do they come from. He asked, "Do people challenge the accuracy of what you present?" And one cell -- Q: And what did the guide say? MR. FLEISCHER: She explained where people come from. They come from all over, she said. A lot come from Poland, from the United States, from Israel, from Germany. Q: Did she answer his question, do people challenge -- MR. FLEISCHER: I didn't get it. If she did, I don't remember, I didn't write it down. Then he saw some cells where the prisoners were kept. Now, these are not -- at Birkenau he saw the bunk cells. But this were actual prison cells with doors that swing open and bars, very, very small rooms. And in one small room, the guide explained, there were 39 people in a small cell with a teeny, teeny little bit of air that came in from a window up top. And this cell was very small. And she said to him, on the doors you can see signs on how to scratch the door to survive. And you could see it -- on the door they would just scratch to get air into the room. They tried to claw their way through a very thick wooden door. Q: Was this inside the Execution Wall, in that -- MR. FLEISCHER: Yes, it was in the basement of that, exactly right. Q: Roughly how big was this? MR. FLEISCHER: That one was -- I'm not good at this, but, gosh, 10 by 15 maybe. Q: We saw it yesterday -- it was sort of that size -- MR. FLEISCHER: Okay. Is that good a guess, 10 by 15? Then they took them to a room where scratched on the wall was the face of Jesus Christ. That was scratched in there by a Polish officer who was taken there. And the President said as he left that building -- walking now -- he said, "History is a reminder of what's possible." He asked how many people escaped. He was told, 800. Then at the second site, Birkenau, the guide explained that Birkenau was more efficient, that the Nazis designed a more efficient way to kill. She talked about how the Nazis needed trains for the war effort, but their desire to kill the Jews was so strong that they used the limited transportation resources they had for the purpose of killing the Jews. The President then saw the bunks, the classic picture, of course, of the concentration camps where people are in the bunks. The President -- this was right after he talked to the pool -- he went into that room. And the guide explained how crammed it was with corpses and rats. And the President said -- his words I wrote down were "Very powerful." I think that's all my verbatims on it. Q: Do you know the name of the guide? MR. FLEISCHER: You know what, I also have how he signed the inscription. Let me give you that, and her name might be on there. Q: Was it not possible for the pool to go on some of this? Wouldn't it have been easier for us to see it and actually videotape it? MR. FLEISCHER: No, I think something like this, they really want to keep it pretty solemn, just in person, no fanfare, let the President and Mrs. Bush see it. Q: Who was with them other than you, Ari? MR. FLEISCHER: The White House photographer, of course, Secret Service agents, and that's it. Everybody else -- Secretary Powell, Condi, they were in a separate tour behind. I went for the purpose of being able to provide you with what he saw. Q: We should say Powell, Condi -- MR. FLEISCHER: They all -- Andy -- they all were toured separately right behind the President. Here's how he signed the book, and I don't know who his guide was. "To Director Wrobleski, Krystyna Olesky, Dr. Swiebocka, and all the staff of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum: Thank you sincerely for a deeply moving tour, and dedicating your lives to preserving the memory of the Holocaust and the martyrdom of Poles. You honor all who are victims here. May your work inspire future generations to stand ever vigilant against the return of such unspeakable evil to our world. Never forget." Then he signed his signature. Q: Who wrote the inscription? MR. FLEISCHER: Who wrote it? The "thank you sincerely" up to "evil to our world" was calligraphied in, and then "never forget" he hand-wrote and signed. The tour was just the President and Mrs. Bush, because everybody else was so far behind. She was talking to the two of them. Q: How does this fit in with the overall tone of this trip? Why start with that as the first stop? MR. FLEISCHER: Well, the President wanted to go to Auschwitz and Birkenau because it's important to remember history and to come to this area -- it's important to visit the site of such horror, to visit the Holocaust. And that's why he came, because it, in and of itself, must be visited and must be remembered in his judgment. Q: And how does that relate to the war on terrorism or to what he will be doing in the Middle East? MR. FLEISCHER: I think in the President's speech he'll talk a little bit about that, he'll touch on that. Q: How long was he there? MR. FLEISCHER: I've got that. The tour began at approximately 8:00 a.m. They finished at 8:45 a.m. at the first Auschwitz. And then I have him departing at around 9:40 a.m. or so. He addressed the pool at about 9:20 a.m. Q: So an hour, 40 total? MR. FLEISCHER: Yes, that's about right. Q: Did you say he laid a wreath? MR. FLEISCHER: Two wreaths. Q: One at each place? MR. FLEISCHER: Correct. Okay, that's what I've got. Q: Where was the first wreath and where was the second? MR. FLEISCHER: The pool was there for all of those. Q: We weren't there for this part. MR. FLEISCHER: Yes, you were. Q: It was a different pool. MR. FLEISCHER: No, no, the pool was there. I couldn't tell you the specific -- well, maybe I can. Let me see if I can give you answer to the first question. Okay, here we go. He was escorted by Dr. Teresa Swiebocka, senior curator. The wreath at Auschwitz was laid at the Death Wall. And then he toured -- I can give you the actual names -- Block 4 is the extermination exhibit. Block 5 is the Material Proof of Crimes. Block 11 is Torture and Holding Cells. He visited the crematorium; he signed the guest book. Then he went to Birkenau. At Birkenau, he saw the railroad tracks. The wreath-laying was at the Memorial Wall. The crematorium is called K-2. And he went inside Barracks 27. Q: Of the men's barracks, right? MR. FLEISCHER: I don't recall a distinction between -- Q: He went into the barracks? MR. FLEISCHER: Yes, right after he talked to the pool. Yes, that's -- when you think of the pictures and the Holocaust, of people crammed into the barracks, on kind of two tiers, that's what that barracks was. Q: Have you ever seen that before? Have you ever been -- Q: Do you know if the President has been to the Holocaust Museum in Washington? MR. FLEISCHER: I had relatives there. They were Hungarian, that's where they were taken. Q: Do you know if he's been to the Holocaust Museum? MR. FLEISCHER: Oh, yes, he has. He went early in 2001. Okay. Thank you. (end transcript) (Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)


18 May 2003 Constantin Dascalescu, was Romanian premier Bucharest, Romania- Constantin Dascalescu, Romania's last communist prime minister under the late dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, died Thursday at 80. Dascalescu headed Romania's government from 1982 to 1989, when he and Ceausescu were ousted by a popular revolt. In the dying moments of the regime, he was sent by Ceausescu to Timisoara, the city in western Romania where the revolt began, to try to crush it. Dascalescu at first refused to talk to the demonstrators, declaring, "I won't speak to hooligans," but later changed his mind and met with representatives of the crowd. About 150 people who had been detained by the secret police were released on his orders during the negotiations, but Dascalescu failed in his attempts to stop the revolt. Dascalescu was arrested afterward and tried on genocide charges for allegedly contributing to hundreds of deaths during the anti-communist revolt. The charges were lowered later to first-degree murder. Dascalescu was sentenced to life in prison in 1991, but was later released on medical grounds.


ICRC News 13 May 2003 03/55 Russian Federation / Chechnya: ICRC provides vital assistance in the wake of bomb attack In coordination with the authorities and other humanitarian organizations, two medical teams from the ICRC's Grozny and Vladikavkaz offices today visited victims of yesterday's bomb attack being treated in Mozdok, Znamenskoye and Nadterechny hospitals in order to assess conditions and deliver surgical kits. In the wake of the attack, the ICRC is providing these facilities with medicines and other emergency medical supplies as needed. Local sources say that at least 54 persons were killed and some 230 injured – most of them civilians – in the attack carried out in Znamenskoye, in Chechnya's Nadterechny region. The ICRC condemns yesterday's blast. It is concerned by the situation of the civilian population, who must be spared from attacks and reprisals in accordance with international humanitarian law. During the first three months of this year the ICRC provided regional hospitals in Chechnya with medical aid worth more than 265,000 US dollars as part of the organization's regular monthly programme of support for 10 medical facilities in Chechnya, including the Nadterechny regional hospital. The ICRC is conducting a large-scale humanitarian operation in the northern Caucasus with 14 expatriate personnel and over 300 locally recruited staff, 100 of whom are based in Chechnya.

AP 16 May 2003 Amnesty Proposed for Chechens VLADIKAVKAZ, Russia -- President Vladimir Putin introduced legislation yesterday to grant amnesty to Chechen rebels who laid down their weapons over the decade ending on Aug. 1, 2003, despite two deadly suicide bombings this week in the restive southern republic. The amnesty does not apply to foreigners or Russian citizens who were guilty of murder, kidnapping, rape or other serious crimes. As many as 2,000 rebels might be eligible, the Interfax news agency reported. Associated Press

AFP 19 May 2003 90,000 Chechen refugees still outside republic: UN MOSCOW, May 19 (AFP) - Thousands of refugees from the war-torn southern Russian republic of Chechnya live in battered tent camps in neighbouring Ingushetia and refuse to return home because of continuing insecurity, a UN official said Monday. George Gyorke, an official with the UN High Commission for Refugees, told Echo Moscow radio that some 90,000 refugees were sheltering in the Russian minority republic of Ingushetia -- around 30,000 more than Russian official statistics. "The tent camps are in a bad state," Gyorke said, adding that between 15,000 and 17,000 Chechens live in the camps, while the rest live in private homes. "People want to go home, but don't because there isn't calm yet," he added. Russian authorities said last summer that they would close down the refugee camps in Ingushetia to demonstrate that the situation in Chechnya was returning to normal after three years of war between Russian federal government forces and separatist Chechen rebels. Most of the refugees fled Chechnya's capital Grozny soon after fighting broke out in October 1999. But they refuse to return because of continuing violence and the fact that Grozny remains without running water and indoor plumbing, with frequent electricity cuts, Gyorke said. Two suicide attacks that killed 78 people in Chechnya last week appeared to contradict an assertion by Russian President Vladimir Putin that the separatist conflict was over after Chechens adopted a new pro-Moscow constitution in March.

ICRC News 21 May 2003 03/59 Russian Federation: Essay competitions promote international humanitarian law In cooperation with the Russian Association of International Law (RAIL), the ICRC launched an essay competition on international humanitarian law last week for undergraduate and postgraduate students in law faculties of the Russian Federation. The aim was to spread knowledge of humanitarian law and encourage students to conduct independent research in this field of study. The essays submitted must focus on one of two major topics – the International Criminal Court or the applicability of international humanitarian law to the "war on terrorism". In December the ICRC and RAIL will convene a scientific conference in Moscow where the winners will be selected. All essays will be thoroughly examined by a jury of RAIL members, and the best works will be published as a collection of articles. Similar competitions are also being held in Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova and the southern Caucasus, where ICRC delegations are cooperating with national bodies helping to implement and promote humanitarian treaties, and with universities, international law associations and student organizations. The ICRC began promoting international humanitarian law in universities of countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States in 1995. Since then, international humanitarian law has become a mandatory subject in law and journalism faculties, and has also been widely taught in international relations faculties.

NYT 11 May 2003, Sunday BOOK REVIEW DESK The Other Killing Machine By Steven Merritt Miner GULAG A History. By Anne Applebaum. Illustrated. 677 pp. New York: Doubleday. $35. IN the introduction to this important book, Anne Applebaum, a columnist for The Washington Post, ponders why the Soviet and Nazi regimes are treated so differently in the popular imagination. Young people who would never purchase Nazi regalia think nothing of sporting T-shirts emblazoned with the Communist hammer and sickle. Yet, as Applebaum shows, the Soviet killing machine was certainly equal to its Nazi counterpart. Wisely, she avoids wandering into the muck of comparing the two totalitarian terror apparatus to decide which was worse, but she argues that ''at a very deep level, the two systems are related.'' Ever since Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn published his magisterial three-volume history of the Soviet concentration-camp network, ''The Gulag Archipelago,'' in the early 1970's, the grim details of life in what he called the Soviet sewage system have been well known. From arrest by the Soviet secret police through interrogation, to deportation and hard labor, the life-and-death cycle of the gulag is a familiar story. Other witnesses, like Varlam Shalamov and Evgeniya Ginzburg, have also brilliantly described prisoners' constant struggle against hunger, cold and disease. So a great deal of what Applebaum writes about in ''Gulag: A History'' has been told before. But that does not lessen her achievement. When Solzhenitsyn's volumes first appeared they had an enormous impact. Yet he soon fell from favor, dismissed by some as an anti-Communist crank, by others as a nationalist anti-Semite. As documents from the Soviet archives have now shown, much of this defamation campaign was financed and encouraged by the K.G.B. But the attacks had their effect: a group of so-called revisionist historians, who dominated the study of the Stalin years in the United States and Britain during the 1980's, waged a war against the portrayal of the Soviet Union by Solzhenitsyn and other anti-Soviet memoirists. Instead of the slave empire, these historians stressed the country's rapid economic development and urbanization under Stalin, which supposedly fostered widespread support for the regime. None questioned the existence of the gulag. Rather, they minimized its place in Soviet life and denied that the population as a whole was ever terrorized. Applebaum's book weighs in heavily in support of Solzhenitsyn on almost every point, and her account is backed not only by a careful use of the vast memoir literature but also by a thorough mining of the long-closed Soviet archives. Most important, she supports Solzhenitsyn's central argument: that the gulag was not some incidental Stalinist accretion to Lenin's visionary concept of Socialism. The cancer of police terror was embedded in the original DNA of Lenin's creation, ''an integral part of the Soviet system,'' in Applebaum's words. Under Lenin, the first concentration camps were created; the first mass executions were carried out. He bequeathed to his successor a well-functioning police state. Applebaum estimates that from 1929 through 1953 -- the years of high Stalinism -- more than 18 million people coursed through the camps, with a further six million being exiled to remote regions of the Soviet Union. The vast majority of these people were guilty of nothing. An Orwellian logic underlay the whole enterprise. As one police investigator explained to his victim: ''We never arrest anyone who is not guilty. And even if you weren't guilty, we can't release you, because then people would say that we are picking up innocent people.'' Particularly useful is Applebaum's account of the camps during World War II. It was precisely at this time that the system reached its peak of lethality. Fully a quarter of the inmates perished during 1942, but the appetite of the security forces was so insatiable that the gulag's population dropped less than 20 percent. Following the war, whole new categories of inmates flooded into the camps: German P.O.W.'s, anti-Communists from the western borderlands or from the new Soviet empire in Eastern Europe. Little known in the West, some 600,000 Japanese troops fell into Soviet hands, forced to labor for years after the cessation of hostilities; only a fraction ever returned home. Stalin also punished with deportation entire nationalities -- Chechens, Ingush and Crimean Tatars notably -- ostensibly for collaboration with the Nazis but, in fact, Applebaum argues persuasively, to eliminate nationalist resistance to Moscow. One great difference distinguished the Soviet and German systems: there was no Soviet equivalent of the death camps. People sentenced to death in the Soviet Union were generally shot before entering the camp network. Applebaum estimates these victims at just under one million during the Stalin years. Instead, Soviet prisoners were expected to earn their keep by contributing to the creation of Soviet Socialism. They mined gold, felled timber, dug canals or lay rails, most often in harsh areas to which free labor could never be enticed. By the outbreak of war in 1941, the gulag was the single largest employer in the world. Yet the Soviets never managed to make it pay for itself. Leon Trotsky had once defiantly stated that it was ''the worst sort of bourgeois prejudice'' to call slave labor inefficient; such labor could contribute mightily to the growth of the Soviet economy. Lenin believed him, as did Stalin -- with even greater zeal. Defenders of the Soviet system have all too often played Stalin's game, excusing -- or, rather, ''explaining'' -- the gulag as a direct descendant of the czarist Siberian exile system. But Applebaum's numbers tell their own story: on the eve of the 1917 revolution, under the czar, only 28,600 convicts were serving sentences of hard labor, compared with the millions committed to the gulag under Lenin and Stalin. At some point numbers matter; quantity becomes quality. It is simply wrong to maintain that the gulag was nothing more than a modernized version of its czarist predecessor. In the end, bourgeois economic realities defeated Bolshevik will and ruthlessness. Projects created with slave labor proved to be shoddily built and inefficient. One notable Stalinist showpiece, the White Sea canal, was designed to allow warships and commercial vessels to pass between the Baltic and the White Seas. Perhaps 25,000 people died digging this canal, yet despite the enormous human cost the canal was too narrow for warships; only shallow draft boats could navigate its course. Touted at the time as one of the great achievements of Stalinist planning, it stands instead as proof of its titanic moral and economic failure. Applebaum gives due consideration to the post-Stalin years of the gulag and to the way the memory of this vast crime against humanity has played out since the Soviet Union's collapse. It is all too easy to assume that Stalin's death in 1953 brought an immediate end to the camp system; in fact, it persisted and, though it wound down dramatically during Khrushchev's thaw, did not finally disappear until well into the Gorbachev years. A brave but small band of Russians, notably the organization Memorial, commemorates the victims of the gulag. But most of their countrymen seem uninterested. The revelations about the crimes of the Stalin era have all come too late, and life today in the former Soviet Union is so hard. Significantly, there have been no trials, no truth and reconciliation commissions. Many of the mass graves have been unearthed, but these attract little notice in Russia and scarcely more than a paragraph in Western newspapers. Irreconcilable versions of the past contend for the current Russian soul. An astonishing number of Russians -- perhaps as many as 15 or 20 percent -- reject Memorial's documentation of the terror and view Stalin as a positive historical figure. Applebaum cites Russians saying that the gulag was somehow a historical necessity; that without it Russia could never have tapped the vast resources of the Far East. Most worrisome, Russia's current leader is a product of the unrepentant and largely unreformed F.S.B., successor to the K.G.B. The talk in Moscow is of restoring the statue of Feliks Dzerzhinsky -- the first head of the secret police, and a man who can justly be called the Patriarch of the Gulag -- to its place in Lubyanka Square, right in front of the headquarters where so many innocent Soviets were swept into Solzhenitsyn's sewer system. This would be a historical obscenity. It is fervently to be hoped that people will read Anne Applebaum's excellent, tautly written and very damning history. Even more fervently, one hopes that it will soon be translated into Russian. Steven Merritt Miner, a professor of history at Ohio University, is the author of ''Stalin's Holy War.''

AFP 27 May 2003 - Russia has "two or three months" to make progress in Chechnya: deputy MOSCOW, May 27 (AFP) - Russia has just a few months to improve the situation in Chechnya if it is to capitalise on hopes raised by a March referendum, a Chechen deputy in the Russian parliament said Tuesday, charging Moscow had already broken its promises to the people. "If we do not progress in the next two or three months, people will lose hope once and for all," said Aslambek Aslakhanov, a former police general who represents the breakaway republic in the federal assembly. "Unfortunately, the promises made before the referendum, meaning the commitment to set up a political and electoral process and the withdrawal of federal forces, have not been carried out," Aslakhanov said. Chechens on March 23 massively approved a new constitution that cements the republic's place in the Russian Federation and paves the way for presidential and parliamentary elections. The Kremlin is presenting the strategy as proof that the Chechen conflict is over and peace has been brought to the republic. President Vladimir Putin last week proposed an amnesty to Chechen rebels despite two deadly suicide attacks a few days earlier that killed 78 people and shattered illusions of peace in the breakaway republic. Russian troops in Chechnya -- numbering about 80,000 since being sent in to quell a separatist insurgency in October 1999 -- "are persecuting the population simply because they don't know what to do," the deputy said. He added that "20,000 interior ministry troops would be largely sufficient to cope with the 2,000 or 3,000 rebels." Young male Chechens "are still being led away at dawn, never to return," he said, reiterating rights groups accusations that Russian troops are committing widespread abuses, in particular arbitrary arrests and summary executions. "We often receive precise information, such as the registration number of the armoured vehicle (on which the victim is taken away), but afterwards we are told that the inquiry has drawn a blank," Aslakhanov said. The deputy also criticised Putin's amnesty proposal, passed by parliament last week on first reading, which is conditional on the rebels laying down their weapons. The amnesty "will be no more effective than the four previous ones" if security is not ensured for the rebels who apply for it, he warned. "Most of the people who gave themselves up in the previous amnesty are no longer alive," he said, adding they had been killed either by federal troops, pro-Russian Chechen police or by separatist rebels. The amnesty, due to come into effect on August 1, has yet to be approved on second and third reading. It would exclude rebels considered guilty of "serious crimes." The human rights group Memorial meanwhile warned that Chechens who had fled the war in their homeland were being subjected to discrimination and deprived of their rights. "Russia says that the problem is Chechen separatism, but the truth is that Russia no longer wants to consider them as its own citizens," Svetlana Ganushkina told reporters as she presented the group's annual report. The situation of the more than 50,000 Chechen refugees living outside Chechnya and its neighbouring republics has deteriorated since the hostage seizure by a Chechen commando in a Moscow theatre in October, in particular in Moscow, the report said. Chechen residents in Moscow are frequently raided by police, and Chechens everywhere are subjected to identity checks or prevented from legally registering their residence, which renders them vulnerable to arrest and fines, it said.

BBC 29 May 2003 Russia plans northern exodus Some parts of northern Russia have eight months of winter The Russian Government has announced a plan to resettle up to 600,000 people from the country's remote far north. Inhabitants of such regions as Kamchatka, Yakutia, Chukotka and Evenkia will be moved to south or central Russia. Deputy economic development and trade minister Mukhamed Tsikanov said many towns and villages in the remote regions were based on failing single industries and there was no point in developing infrastructure there. Around $30m is being allocated from the central budget for the project, and the World Bank has provided a $50m loan. The far northern areas of Siberia and the Russian far east have some of the most inhospitable conditions on the planet. Eight months of winter, weeks of polar darkness and temperatures regularly as low as -40C cause exceptional hardship for inhabitants. Harsh economics Many people were taken there involuntarily as camp inmates when the Gulag system was extended to provide slave labour to extract minerals and other natural resources. Some chose to stay on after their release. Norilsk is an exception to the trend In the later Soviet era, others were enticed by massive pay incentives. But the system did not withstand the transition to a free market. Now many people have left, or would like to leave if they could afford to. One exception to the trend is the town of Norilsk, home to a thriving nickel industry. The town's inhabitants recently applied to Moscow for permission to reinstate a ban on visits by foreigners.

AFP 31 May 2003 EU pledges support for Russia's peace plan in Chechnya SAINT PETERSBURG, May 31 (AFP) - The European Union supports Russia's efforts to bring peace to its breakaway republic of Chechnya, Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis said here Saturday at an EU-Russia summit. "The European Union will continue to support the efforts of Russian leaders to carry out a policy aiming to bring peace back to Chechnya," said Simitis, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency. European observers have been the most critical of Russia's war in Chechnya, urging President Vladimir Putin to end the nearly four-year-old conflict that has killed thousands of Russian soldiers and an unknown number of civilians. Simitis praised the Russian president's peace plan, launched with a constitutional referendum in March and a subsequent offer of rebel amnesty. "The recent referendum, combined with the approved amnesty, is an important step forward," he said. Russia's lower house of parliament last week passed the proposed amnesty upon first reading, two months after Chechens overwhelmingly adopted a new constitution fixing the republic's place in the Russian Federation. But many observers have criticized the process, urging Putin to open peace talks with separatist rebels in the mainly Muslim republic. British Prime Minister Tony Blair also praised the controversial peace process, saying: "I think it is absolutely right that you resolve that through the political process and political dialogue that you have engaged in." Blair said the referendum result was "a very, very important step forwards." The final declaration issued after the summit's end mentioned the contentious Chechen issue despite initial opposition from Moscow. Russia and the EU "note the recent referendum and express the hope that the recently launched political process, as well as social and economic development, will bring back a state based on law that favorizes the protection of human rights and finally a real reconciliation in Chechnya," it said. The text condemned "all forms of violence, particularly terrorist acts, that can put in doubt the perspective of a political solution." Putin has insisted the political plan will continue, despite a spate of deadly rebel attacks that have killed more than 80 people in the last month alone. "We are working on granting the fullest autonomy to Chechnya possible," he said. "The political process will be continued." French President Jacques Chirac said European leaders wanted to underline "our common hope to see the March 23 referendum open the path to peace and reconciliation in the framework of a poiltical process." Yet Chirac also told journalists after the EU-Russia summit that several heads of state had urged the Russian leadership to allow for "a certain amount of transparency that allows important and recognized nongovernmental organizations" to work in the war-torn republic. Putin assured his Dutch counterpart Jan Peter Balkenende that the search would continue for a Dutch doctor kidnapped in Dagestan in August while working with aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctor Without Borders) in the southern republic, which neighbors Chechnya. "The case of Arjan Erkel is a manifestation of the terrorism that also threatens other countries. We will continue our search efforts," Putin said. Russian officials have said they know the Dutch doctor is alive, but have no idea of his whereabouts.


NYT 5 May 2003 For Partying Mobsters, the Morning After: Prison By PETER S. GREEN BELGRADE, Serbia — They line up most days outside Central Prison in Belgrade dressed in elegant finery, the women in faux Chanel or tailored Italian slacks, the men in dark glasses and dark suits over black T-shirts. They clutch Louis Vuitton purses and mobile phones, the men perhaps chain-smoking Marlboro Reds and the women puffing nervously on Davidoff Lights, a local favorite. These are the remnants of Belgrade's former elite — the wives, girlfriends and lawyers of some of the thousands of suspected organized crime figures and war criminals jailed since the killing of Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic on March 12. So far, at least 45 people have been charged in the killing, including former government officials and members of the Red Berets, a police unit linked to some of the worst atrocities of the Balkan wars. The people lined up here are loath to talk to strangers as they clutch gym bags and plastic sacks of the clothing, food and medicine they are allowed to leave at the prison gate. "I'll tell you how bad it is, they're arresting the lawyers!" shouted one tall young man clutching a tiny cellphone. For the decade under Slobodan Milosevic, the Serbian strongman, and well into Serbia's democratic transition, Belgrade was a playground for what locals came to call the "Mafija." These were the thugs, gangsters and paramilitary goons who oscillated between running their own criminal networks and murdering, raping and looting in the orchestrated frenzy of ethnic cleansing that rent apart what was Yugoslavia. The trademarks of these mafiosi were flashy cars, short haircuts and clothing somewhere between Nike warm-ups and the Italian Riviera. They paraded down Belgrade's main streets in luxury sedans and S.U.V.'s, hung their coats at top nightclubs and traveled with retinues of ripple-muscled bodyguards. The airwaves and the covers of the gossip magazines were ruled by women like Svetlana Raznatovic, the widow of Zeljko Raznatovic, a k a Arkan, leader of the Tigers, a notorious paramilitary group. Ms. Raznatovic, nicknamed Ceca, was a star of turbo-folk, a cacophonous blend of Serbian folk tunes and contemporary electro-pop. "Everything was in one house," said Veran Matic, editor in chief of B-92, an independent radio and television network. "Politics was criminalized and crime was politicized. Arkan was a criminal, a war criminal — and president of a political party, a member of Parliament and owner of the biggest music star in the country. They determined the values of Serbian society." Even after Mr. Milosevic, now on trial for war crimes in The Hague, was ousted in October 2000, the mafia and suspected war criminals held Belgrade in their sway, running extortion rackets and drug rings, kidnapping businessmen who opposed them and often taking over nightclubs at gunpoint on Belgrade's lively after-hours scene. Their world collapsed in March after Prime Minister Djindjic was shot. In the post-assassination crackdown, the police arrested 10,111 people and jailed more than 4,500 of them. The biggest fish still out of jail is the Red Berets' former leader, Milorad Lukovic, also known as Legija. "We can say today that we have dealt a crucial blow to organized crime," Natasa Micic, Serbia's acting president, said on national television. "We have dismantled Milosevic's criminal apparatus and severed a spiral of crime that has ravaged our country for more than a decade." With so many big spenders behind bars, local wags have taken to calling the Central Prison the Central Business Center, after the suburban New Belgrade Business Center, a shopping mall often frequented by gangsters. At the Sava Center, another convention hall whose indoor shopping mall was a mafia favorite, the shops are now virtually empty. "Business is not good," noted Natasa, a sales clerk, who said infamous war criminals and gangsters were among the customers who had stopped coming by for the latest in Italian suits and silk ties. Business, she said, is down 20 percent or more. In another shop, Bojana Jakovljevic, selling leather jackets, said: "It's a big loss for the store, but, paah, it's better now. I can walk at midnight wherever I want." The pressure on the mob has apparently also created a panic among Belgrade's drug users. Since the police began their crackdown in March, rehabilitation clinics have been full. At Sova, an elegantly modern downtown nightclub, the goons and their girlfriends were noticeably absent on a recent Saturday night as a young woman gyrated on the bar and youngsters in fashionably tight clothes moved to a pounding techno beat. Sova's owner, Djordjije Stajkic, said business was down 10 to 15 percent since the movements of some of his more illustrious clients had been restricted. That is an improvement on the old days, he said, even though the gangsters were often big spenders. "When Legija came, 50 percent of the club would leave," Mr. Stajkic said. "It was not very good for business. It used to be a curse in my business — `I hope that Legija comes to your place.' " Now, he said, the gangsters have been replaced by a new group of free spenders. "There are young people opening up Champagne and whiskey bottles who didn't use to," Mr. Stajkic said. "Now they feel it's their territory." In fact, Mr. Stajkic said, he has already laid off half the bouncers who used to guard his bar. "People were openly terrorized in Belgrade by Legija and the others," said Jovan Dulovic, chief crime reporter for the weekly magazine Vreme. "He would walk into a cafe and force everyone to do push-ups. They would close whole streets when he went out." Now, Mr. Dulovic said, the climate has changed. "We can breathe again," he said.

BBC 26 May 2003 Serbs detain 23 over massacre Suspects in the Vukovar killings may soon go on trial Serbian police have detained 23 people in connection with the 1991 Vukovar massacre, Interior Minister Dusan Mihajlovic has announced. Serb-led troops are suspected of taking more than 200 Croat civilians and prisoners of war from a hospital in the besieged Croat town of Vukovar to Ovcara farm outside the town. The Croats were then killed and their bodies dumped in a mass grave. No other details were given about the detainees, but the announcement coincides with indications that a trial of some of the suspects involved in the massacre could be the first big war crimes trial in Serbia since the Balkan wars. The UN war crimes tribunal's chief prosecutor, Carla del Ponte, is reported to have handed over files related to the case during a recent visit. The tribunal in The Hague has indicted three former Yugoslav army officers for their roles in the massacre. General Mile Mrksic and Colonel Miroslav Radic have both turned themselves into the tribunal. Serbian authorities are under intense pressure to detain and extradite the remaining officer, Colonel Veselin Sljivancanin, who remains at large. He has reportedly been given protection by hardliners loyal to former President Slobodan Milosevic in the Serbian military and in paramilitary bodies. The trials of all major suspects will be held at The Hague.

ICG28 May 2003- Kosovo's ethnic dilemma: UNMIK must lay the foundation for a 'civic contract' Pristina/Brussels, 28 May 2003: A report Kosovo's Ethnic Dilemma: The Need for a Civic Contract published today by the International Crisis Group recommends that the UN move beyond its current vague and unrealistic policies for multiethnicity and integration and begin urgently and concretely to address the competing aspirations of Albanians and Serbs for their future lest Kosovo face renewed conflict and possible partition. ICG recommends that the international community set up the basis for a 'civic contract' in Kosovo in which the majority Albanians accept and encourage enforcement of special rights for minorities through government institutions, and the Serb and other minorities acknowledge the authority of the government. This should include a Charter of Rights, tough anti-discrimination mechanisms, and a strong enforcement mechanism with concrete incentives to treat minorities as equal citizens and penalties for violations. The status issue is being played as a zero-sum game. Albanians will accept nothing less than independence. Kosovo's Serbs firmly want to remain part of Serbia. Both threaten new conflict if their demands are not met. Belgrade acts as spoiler, threatening a partition in the event of an independent Kosovo that could destabilise the entire region. ICG's Kosovo Project Director Valerie Percival said: "Albanians are reluctant to support enhanced rights for the Serb minority, and the Serbs do not fully recognise the authority of Kosovo's institutions. Moreover, Kosovo is not a state, its future status is unresolved. It is time for the UN in Kosovo to ensure that the foundation for this contract -- and for sustainable peace -- are laid". The International Crisis Group argues in addition that services in minority communities must be improved, and Serb parallel structures dismantled. The electoral system should be reformed and local government restructured to increase accountability of institutions to all communities. ICG Europe Program Director Nicholas Whyte said: "UNMIK's present policies, some of which go down a dangerous road toward de facto acceptance of partition, cannot build this foundation. Real institutional space, with credible guarantees must be secured for Serbs and other minorities. And this has to happen before the initiation of status discussions". The international community should also deliver a clear message to Albanian leaders that their goal of independence within existing boundaries can only be realistic if they ensure that minority communities can live in Kosovo as free and equal citizens and to the Serbs in Kosovo and Belgrade alike that cooperation with the UN and the majority Albanian community is the best way to improve the practical situation and enhance their standing without prejudicing final status decisions.

Turkey (see Israel, United States)

Anadolu Agency 17 May 2003 New Mass Grave Of Turks Killed By Armenians Found In Igdir ERZURUM - The new mass grave belonging to Turks killed by Armenians in 1919 in Tuzluca town of eastern Igdir province will be opened on May 27. The mass graveyard will be opened by the participation of scholars from various countries. Prof. Dr. Yusuf Hallacoglu, the Chairman of the Institution of Turkish History told A.A correspondent on Friday that they would bring onto world public opinion's agenda the mass graveyard found in the region in return to the claims of so-called genocide on Armenians. He said they had information in the archives confirming that 150 Muslims were killed in Gedikli village in Tuzluca town of eastern Igdir province in 1919 by Armenians. Prof. Dr. Hallacoglu said that the place where 96 persons killed by Armenians and buried in a mass graveyard was found by getting information from the children of persons who saved themselves from Armenian massacres. Prof. Dr. Hallacoglu said that Armenian gangsters later demolished the house where they brought together 96 persons and killed them, adding that they buried the dead persons in that house. Hallacoglu added that they would also invite Armenians to Gedikli village where the graveyard was found. ''We will particularly invite the chairman of Dashnag organizations in Armenia to the opening of the mass graveyard,'' he noted.

AP 21 May 2003 SUICIDE BOMB IN ANKARA A suicide bomber blew herself up in a cafe in Ankara, the capital, injuring one other person. The police said they believed that the woman's explosives had detonated by accident and linked her to a far-left group, the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front or DHKP-C, a banned Marxist group. (AP)

Reuters 21 May 2003 Three Die in Kurd Rebel Clashes with Turk Soldiers Wed May 21, 2003 09:38 AM ET TUNCELI, Turkey (Reuters) - Two Turkish soldiers and a Kurdish guerrilla were killed in clashes in eastern Turkey, officials said Wednesday, amid fears the guerrillas may use upheaval in neighboring Iraq to re-enter Turkey. Fighting between security forces and a group of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebels erupted late Tuesday in mountainous Tunceli province, governor Ali Cafer Akyuz said. One soldier was killed Tuesday, while the second died in further gun battles Wednesday. A PKK fighter was also killed Wednesday. The military operation was continuing, Akyuz said. Two Turkish soldiers were killed and three others were wounded in April in clashes with PKK guerrillas in the mountains of nearby Bingol province. Some 5,000 members of the PKK are based in northern Iraq after withdrawing from Turkey following the capture of their commander, Abdullah Ocalan, in 1999. The PKK has signaled a willingness to cooperate with the United States after the war which toppled Iraq's former president Saddam Hussein. Washington has not yet responded to a group it lists as a terrorist organization for its campaign in the 1980s and 1990s to carve out a Kurdish homeland in southeastern Turkey. At least 30,000 people, mainly Kurds, died during more than 15 years of violence, but the fighting has dropped off sharply since Ocalan was tried and jailed. A military official in Tunceli told Reuters close to 500 guerrillas had crossed over from Iraq in recent weeks, worried about a possible stand-off with U.S. forces. Of those at least 50 militants had come to Tunceli, where around 100 PKK fighters were already based, he said.

AP 29 May 2003 Kurdish Rebels Kill Turkish Soldier Wound Eight Others in Southeastern Turkey By Selcan Hacaoglu ANKARA, Turkey -- Kurdish rebels attacked a Turkish military outpost Thursday, killing one soldier and wounding eight, a military official said. It was the first raid on an army post since Kurdish rebels declared a unilateral cease-fire in 1999 after a 15-year armed struggle for regional autonomy in Turkey's predominantly Kurdish southeast. A group of rebels with automatic weapons attacked the outpost near the southeastern Bingol province, about 480 miles from the capital Ankara, the official said on condition of anonymity. Some intelligence sources speculated that the attack might have been the work of a splinter rebel group opposed to the cease-fire. The fighting between the military and rebels with the Kurdistan Workers Party has largely been reduced to sporadic clashes since 1999. Turkish troops launched a counteroffensive after Thursday's attack, authorities said. It was not clear if any Kurdish insurgents were killed.

Zaman.org 20 May 2003 (Turkey) Sweeping Change in Criminal Law Finally at Hand Ankara, TURKEY, May 20, 2003 - After 19 years of preparation, a project report to modernize the Turkish criminal code (Türk Ceza Kanunu -TCK) has finally reached the agenda of Parliament. The project, which makes sweeping changes in the laws of crime and punishment, began in 1984 under the leadership of Jurist of Punishment Ord. Prof. Dr. Sulhi Donmezer. In 1926, Turkey instigated a criminal code that used the Italian Zanardelli Criminal Code as a template. The Turkish system is still based on this code, even though the Italians have since modified their own system. The new reforms present a modern view of crime and punishment, ending the perception of the "holy state" and focusing on the crimes of individuals rather than those of the state. The report incorporates modern legal language into the code, balancing the length of sentences to the severity of the crime. The differentiation between "major imprisonment" and "imprisonment" has been eliminated and the distinction of "minimum imprisonment" has been maintained only to clarify the difference between the crime and responsibility. The report enlarges the scope of torture crimes by designating a specific section of the code to cover such crimes, while also increasing the punishment severity. The new code incorporates new criminal concepts such as "genocide" and "crimes against humanity." Also, the report grants judges much greater authority involving their determinations in matters pertaining to known negligence in crimes involving traffic accidents. Murat Aydin / Ankara / TURKEY

Turkish Press Review 23 May 2003 DIFFICULT WITHOUT THE PENTAGON BY ZEYNEP GURCANLI (STAR) Columnist Zeynep Gurcanli comments on allegations of a so-called Armenian genocide and the stance of both Turkey and the US towards these. A summary of her column is as follows: “The tension between Turkey and the US due to our Parliament’s rejection of US troop deployments has started to bear fruit – rotten fruit. A new resolution on the so-called Armenian genocide has been presented to the US Congress through the pressure of the Armenian lobby. What’s more, this time the Armenians are following a clever strategy. Past resolutions covered the Armenian genocide alone, but this new one denounces all genocides worldwide, throughout history, including the Armenian allegations. Of course the resolution mentions the ‘Armenian genocide’ clearly and explicitly. The sections which interest Turkey are in the sixth and seventh paragraphs. Besides the Holocaust and genocides in Cambodia and Rwanda, the ‘Armenian genocide’ is mentioned in the sixth paragraph. The seventh paragraph remarks that in spite of the worldwide consensus against genocide, ‘genocides are still being denied.’ This remark is meant to refer to Turkey diplomatically without directly naming it. The pretext for passage of this resolution has been found: it is supposed to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the UN Convention on Preventing and Punishing Genocide, ratified by the US Congress in 1987. A previous ‘Armenian genocide’ bill brought before the US Congress in the fall of 2000 was stopped by a letter written by then US President Bill Clinton to the House speaker and by last-minute intervention by the US Defense Department. However, the situation has since changed. The Jewish lobby on which we have long depended is holding its tongue this time, because the bill prominently condemns the Holocaust. In addition, the US State Department, which still considers Turkey a valued friend, lobbied to stop the US House Judiciary Committee from considering the resolution but failed in this effort. However, we shouldn’t forget that the US State Department was also unable to halt the previous resolution. At that time, the US Defense Department saved its ‘reliable ally’ Turkey from the Armenian resolution. It told congressmen about the pricey weapons which Turkey buys from the US and added that crossing Ankara wasn’t a good idea. It also stated that Ankara shared common interests with the US in such complex regions as the Middle East, the Balkans and the Caucasus. However, the idea that Turkey and the US share common interests in the region was completely trounced by our rejection of the US troop deployments. Thus, it seems Turkey will be denied the Pentagon’s support just when it needs it the most. Clearly, things will be difficult this time without the Pentagon.”


The Ukrainian Weekly Parsippany, NJ Verkhovna Rada declares Famine of 1932-1933 act of genocide by Roman Woronowycz Kyiv Press Bureau KYIV - With little fanfare and no Communist protest, Ukraine's Parliament passed a resolution on May 15 declaring the Great Famine of 1932-1933 "an act of genocide against the Ukrainian nation." The resolution, which was formulated as an address to the Ukrainian people in conjunction with the 70th anniversary of the artificially created famine, came a day after the Verkhovna Rada had held its first parliamentary hearing dedicated to the subject. National Deputy Hennadii Udovenko, chairman of the parliamentary Committee on Human Rights, explained that it was the first time that a Ukrainian state body had officially debated and passed judgment on the tragic events of 1932-1933. "With this document we noted for the first time that we discussed openly and condemned the politics of genocide," Mr. Udovenko said. The resolution that the Ukrainian Parliament barely managed to pass states that "in an independent Ukraine the terrible truth of those years must be publicized by the state inasmuch as the Famine of 1932-1933 was organized by the Stalin regime and should be publicly condemned by the Ukrainian nation and the international community as one of the largest genocides in history in terms of the number of victims." It goes on to state that the Verkhovna Rada "recognizes the Famine of 1932-1933 as an act of genocide against the Ukrainian nation, based on the hellish plans of the Stalinist regime." Finally, the resolution expressed the need for Ukraine to have the international community recognize the Great Famine as genocide, in order that the country could finally "be considered a fully worthy, civilized nation." While it took two votes to find the minimum 226 ayes required for passage, no lawmakers voted against the proposal, even though 183 of the 410 present abstained. The resolution passed with no prior discussion and, most surprisingly, without storms of protest from the Communist side of the gallery. Also, unexpected and even perplexing, there were practically no broadcast or print accounts of the landmark vote. Only one press agency of note, UNIAN, reported the decision, as did the newspapers Ukraina Moloda and Chas.

United Kingdom

NYT May 4, 2003 Britain Holds 6th Person in Tel Aviv Blast By WARREN HOGE with GREG MYRE ONDON, May 3 — Scotland Yard announced today that its antiterror branch had arrested the sixth person in two days in connection with the suicide bombing on Wednesday in Tel Aviv, which was carried out by a Briton. A man was arrested early today in London after two men and two women were taken into custody on Friday in Derbyshire and a third woman was arrested in nearby Nottinghamshire in the British Midlands. None of the people were identified, and the only further detail released by the police was a statement saying that the six were being detained "as part of ongoing inquiries being carried out following a terrorist incident in Tel Aviv on Wednesday." All were being questioned in an unidentified police station in central London, held under Britain's two-year-old terrorism act, which permits the police to detain suspects for up to seven days before releasing or charging them. Three people were killed and 55 were wounded in the attack, at Mike's Place beachfront bar in Tel Aviv near the American Embassy. The bomber was identified as Asif Hanif, 21, from Hounslow, a West London suburb with a large Asian population. Another man, Omar Khan Sharif, 27, from Derby, is being sought by the Israeli police after he reportedly fled the scene when he failed to detonate his own bomb. Britain has pledged to help Israeli security forces catch Mr. Sharif and anyone who might have helped him and Mr. Hanif. Neighbors say Mr. Sharif was seen near his home in Derby within the past month. The discovery that Britons were involved in the Tel Aviv attack has raised concern that British Muslims, operating out of several mosques in London and the Midlands, have extended to the Middle East their associations with militant groups in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen. In Israel, officials have made plans to deport members of the International Solidarity Movement, a group of Western activists sympathetic to the Palestinians, and were investigating reports that Mr. Hanif and Mr. Sharif recently attended a memorial service held by the movement. Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon, the chief of staff for the Israeli Army, announced last month on army radio that he had given an order to remove the activists from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, where they have acted as human shields to prevent military operations against the Palestinians, such as house demolitions. The issue resurfaced this week after it was revealed that Mr. Hanif and Mr. Sharif apparently attended an April 25 memorial service in the Gaza Strip for Rachel Corrie, a 23-year-old American with the International Solidarity Movement. She was run over by an Israeli Army bulldozer while trying to prevent a house demolition on March 16. The Israeli military has been sharply critical of the group, saying members are interfering with army operations, making confrontations even more dangerous. The International Solidarity Movement said that Mr. Hanif and Mr. Sharif had never sought to join the group. "We didn't know them, and we don't know why they were there," said Tom Wallace, a spokesman for the group. "They have no connection with I.S.M. and they never tried to make any contact with our group." In Britain, the police are investigating links the two men may have had with Al Muhajiroun, a hard-line Islamic group here. Its founder, Sheik Omar Bakri Mohammed, said Friday that he had taught religion to both men, though they were not formal members of his organization. "To be honest," he told the BBC, "I do know both of them, but I don't know them except at the level of student and teacher." He declined to condemn the suicide attack. The Muslim Council of Britain, which says it represents more than 350 Islamic organizations and mosques in the country, criticized Al Muhajiroun for what it called inflammatory comments. "Let us be absolutely clear," said its spokesman, Iqbal Sacranie. "The loss of innocent life is against the laws of humanity." Both Mr. Hanif and Mr. Sharif are from comfortable suburban backgrounds and grew up fully Westernized. Mr. Hanif, whose parents are from Kashmir, took business studies at his local high school. Mr. Sharif is the youngest of six children of a successful Derby businessman who owned food stores and a launderette and died eight years ago. Mr. Sharif attended the private Foremark Hall of Repton Preparatory School, located in a Georgian mansion surrounded by 45 acres of woods and playing fields. Neighbors say he experienced a religious transformation in London, returning to Derby with an Arabic-speaking wife who was dressed in a full-length burka. The couple have two daughters. Both mens' British bank accounts were frozen Friday night at the orders of Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown. In a statement, he said, "We have taken immediate action today to insure that no U.K. funds belonging to those suspected of being responsible for this atrocity can be used to support terrorism." The men are believed to have entered Israel separately and to have claimed to be traveling with the Alternative Tourism Group, a church-related organization and tourism agency. The group said it had no connection with the pair.

BBC 11 May 2003 Brothers to build 'genocide memorials' James Smith wants to open education centres in Rwanda Two brothers from Nottinghamshire want to raise £1m to build genocide memorial centres in Rwanda to mark the slaughter of Tutsis in 1994. Stephen and James Smith, who run the Beth Shalom Holocaust Memorial Centre in Laxton, north Nottinghamshire, are determined to use their model to set up similar centres in Rwanda. "The Rwandan genocide was a defining event of the end of the 20th Century and we hear so little about it," Dr James Smith told BBC News. "One million people died there in 100 days - five times the rate that Nazis killed Jews and we failed to act." Churches and schools The holocaust centre has a museum telling the story of the holocaust and a memorial garden. Dr Smith, director of the Aegis Trust, which runs the centre and co-ordinates projects to help genocide survivors in Rwanda, said both the Rwanda Government and survivors were supporting the project. Education centres If we don't do this, it will be shame on all of us James Smith Aegis Trust "We were invited to come by the Rwandan Government to help rebuild the economy, but we also talked to some survivors and they asked us to help them build a centre there." "It is very important that we give some dignity to survivors and they have somewhere they can go to remember their families that were murdered. He said the Aegis Trust's Rwanda Fund would help preserve memorial sites in Rwanda and open education centres so that people can learn lessons from the genocide. "There are six sites in Rwanda, including churches and schools where tens of thousands of people were killed." Dr Smith said the United Nations "had little interest in what was happening over there at the time". He said the UN pulled out its peacekeeping force because the member states did not have the will to prevent the genocide from happening. "This is a chance to show solidarity and we need to raise £1m by next spring to pay for the project - and we will eventually need £3m to complete it. "If we don't do this, it will be shame on all of us."

BBC 14 May 2003 Yard investigates Mau Mau 'atrocities' The Mau Maus are fighting for compensation Scotland Yard is to investigate claims that British officials were responsible for a catalogue of atrocities during the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya 50 years ago. At the beginning of May, officers from the anti-terrorist branch of the Metropolitan Police began making preliminary inquiries into the claims. The allegations, made in the BBC's Correspondent programme White Terror last year, include rape, torture, murder and theft of property, in the 1950s, when the Mau Mau movement fought against the colonial power in a battle for land and freedom. A police spokesman said: "Officers from the anti-terrorist branch are investigating - or making a preliminary assessment - of the information received. "Inquiries are continuing to see whether there is enough evidence to pursue it - at this stage it is too early to say." If it decides there is enough evidence to support the claims, a full-scale inquiry will be launched, which may mean officers going out to the east African country. What went on in the Kenya camps and villages was brutal, savage torture Former colonial officer John Nottingham The BBC Correspondent programme claimed more than 6,000 statements have been taken from veterans of the uprising, all claiming human rights abuse. The programme also claimed murder occurred on a daily basis at the slave labour camp Embakasi, where slaves allegedly built the foundations of Kenya's main airport. Professor Caroline Elkins of Harvard University told the programme more than 50,000 people could have been killed by British security forces. If the atrocities prove to be true, the British Government could be liable for vast sums of compensation. 'Ashamed' John Nottingham, a district colonial officer during the 50s, stayed on in Kenya after the uprising, told Correspondent that compensation should be paid immediately as most of the victims are now in their 80s. "What went on in the Kenya camps and villages was brutal, savage torture," he said. "I feel ashamed to have come from a Britain that did what it did here." London based human rights law firm Leigh Day has taken up the Mau Mau's case and is seeking legal aid to fight their cause.

AP 14 May 2003 Police investigate claims of British atrocities in Kenya The Metropolitan Police are investigating claims that British officials committed murder, rape and torture in putting down the Mau Mau uprising 50 years ago. The claims were made in the BBC TV programme White Terror broadcast last year, which said more than 6,000 statements have been taken from survivors of the uprising, all claiming human rights abuses. Anti-terrorist officers are making preliminary inquiries into the claims. "Inquiries are continuing to see whether there is enough evidence to pursue it - at this stage it is too early to say," he said. If the officers decide there is enough information to support the claims, a full-scale inquiry will be launched. "This would include taking statements, examining documents and possibly going out to Kenya," the spokesman said. The Mau Mau was a poorly equipped peasant movement that waged a rebellion in the 1950s in an attempt to regain land taken by settlers when Kenya was a British colony. Although defeated militarily, the uprising ultimately led to independence for the East African nation in 1963. Most of the movement's followers were members of the Kikuyu tribe, the largest in the country, and many had served in the African regiments of the British army during World War II. From 1952 to 1956, Mau Mau fighters spread terror among whites, killing 32 settlers and 167 British soldiers. But British troops and African homeguards killed at least 11,502 alleged rebels and more than 1,800 African civilians. Thousands were imprisoned. The London-based legal firm Leigh Day said it is representing a number of clients "who are claiming to have been ill-treated by the British authorities while in detention" in the 1950s and '60s.

news source abbreviations

AFP - Agence France-Presse
All-Africa - All-Africa Global Media
AI - Amnesty International
Al Jezeera - Arabic Satellite TV news from Qatar (since Nov. 1996, English since 2003)
Anadolu - Anadolu Agency, Turkey
ANSA - Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata - Italy
Antara Antara National New Agency, Indonesia
AP - Associated Press
BBC - British Broadcasting Network
DPA - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
EFE - Agencia EFE (Spanish), www.EFEnews.com (English)
HRW - Human Rights Watch
ICG - International Crisis Group, CrisisWatch, monthly bulletin since Sept. 2003
ICRC - International Committee of the Red Cross
Interfax - Interfax News Agency, Russia
IPS - Inter Press Service (an int'l, nonprofit assoc. of prof. journalists since 1964)
IRIN - Integrated Regional Information Networks (UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Africa and Central Asia)
IRNA -Islamic Republic News Agency

IWPR Institute for War & Peace Reporting (the Balkans, Caucasus and Central Asia, with a special project on the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal)
JTA - Global News Service of the Jewish People
Kyodo - Kyodo News Agency, Japan
LUSA - Agência de Notícias de Portugal
NYT - New York Times
UN-OCHA - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (ReliefWeb)
OANA - Organisation of Asia-Pacific News Agencies
Pacific Islands Report - University of Hawai‘i at Manoa
PANA - Panafrican News Agency
PTI - Press Trust of India
Peace Negotiations Watch
 (PILPG) Weekly News monitor since Sept. 2002
RFE/RL - Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty ( private news service to Central and Eastern Europe, the former USSR and the Middle East funded by the United States Congress)
Reuters - Reuters Group PLC
SAPA - South African Press Association
UPI - United Press International
WPR - World Press Review,
a program of the Stanley Foundation.
WP - Washington Post
Xinhua - Xinhua News Agency, China

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