Monitor for November 2003
Tracking current news on genocide and items related to past and present ethnic, national, racial and religious violence.
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World Council of Churches FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 17 Nov 2003 Diplomat and theologian offer principles for intervention to protect human rights and prevent genocide Two advocates for peace and human rights outlined principles for international intervention - including the possibility of military action - where violence or genocide threaten basic human rights at a 13 November public forum entitled "The responsibility to protect". The forum was part of a World Council of Churches (WCC) International Affairs and Advocacy Week in New York. For Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations minister councillor Gleyn Berry, preventing or ending violence and atrocities has been the theme of a "millennia-long conversation". The subject remains particularly relevant, Berry said, in view of such modern-day examples as the killing fields in Cambodia and the genocidal slaughter of innocents in Kosovo and Rwanda. "The goal of international efforts is to prevent such incidences of violence before they occur," he said, explaining that the underlying principle is to move nations and international bodies towards recognition of internationally recognized norms and laws so that neither prevention nor intervention is ultimately necessary. The proper role of government Although conversations are under way in international bodies and among nations, it is important to remember that they should remain centered within the context of the well-being of individual human beings, Berry reminded the forum participants. "Inherent in this notion is that it is the proper role and responsibility of government to protect all its citizens." For Berry, "there is such a jealous protection of the sovereignty of the nation state" in the modern world that the concept of international jurisdiction in areas of human rights and the prevention of atrocities "is extremely sensitive". The international community represented by the United Nations "is not ready for a serious debate on the obligations of sovereignty". Thus a "broader definition of sovereignty" that does not focus narrowly on military and political control of a specified territory, but rather "on the obligations of nation states to protect the human rights of their citizens" is needed. Acknowledging that the attempt to develop an international consensus on this subject will "require a long-term effort to change norms," he insisted that the conversation must be broadened beyond the UN to include civil society, NGOs, political parties and other interest groups, and communities of faith. 'Human security' Noting that "at present, there is no consensus among those responsible for international law or policy making" about when to consider international action, WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Konrad Raiser urged participants to employ the WCCs concept of "protection" over "intervention". This shift in terminology "broadens the perspective by adopting the wider principle of human security over against the narrow understanding of national security," he suggested. Raiser highlighted an inherent tension in the UN Charter between "the prohibition of intervention in the internal affairs of sovereign states, and the affirmation of the universal validity of human rights and recognition that the observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all is essential for international peace". Asserting that Christians "cannot escape making decisions involving moral and ethical uncertainties," Raiser noted that the ecumenical movement itself contains believers who differ about whether the teachings of Jesus allow the use of armed force. He noted that some uses of force are commonly accepted throughout the international community - such as the creation of police forces to defend individual rights and security, or the use of force in cases of individual self-defence. Yet, Raiser reminded his audience, such accepted uses of force are held with certain limits: nearly all nations distinguish between the roles of police and military, and most nations submit policing functions to judicial examination. Who decides? Raiser posed some crucial questions on the use of force on the international level. "Who makes the assessment that human security in a given state is endangered to such an extent that protection becomes a concern for the international community, and on the basis of what criteria?" he asked. "Who has the legitimate authority to take this decision on behalf of the international community?" A decision to intervene "cannot be based solely on moral arguments, or on grounds of political expediency; it should pass through the trustees of the rule of law," Raiser insisted. Since the UN Security Council currently acts "both as trustee of international law and as the enforcing authority," the current configuration is "politically and ethically unsatisfactory, and opens the door to selective and arbitrary decisions," he suggested. Principles for protection There is an emerging consensus around the globe to recognize such international tribunals as the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court. But until that consensus is universally accepted, some general principles are needed to protect endangered populations, Raiser said. "In a situation of a dramatic breakdown of public order and the inability or unwillingness of the existing government to protect citizens, the basic objective of any international intervention must remain to re-establish a functioning framework of government which can assume the responsibility to protect - however imperfectly," he said. However, a military intervention "causing disproportionate numbers of civilian casualties and vast damage to civilian infrastructure in violation of the Geneva Convention cannot be considered humanitarian," Raiser argued. Any military protection must be "proportional" to the scale and scope of the conflict, and "even military protection for humanitarian action can compromise its objectives," he warned. "Human rights cannot be enforced by military means. In contrast to military logic, it is precisely the purpose of international humanitarian law to protect the rights and dignity of people in situations of war," Raiser asserted. The text of Rev. Dr Raiser's presentation is available on our website: http://www.wcc-coe.org/wcc/what/international/kr-ny-03.html The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches, now 342, in more than 120 countries in all continents from virtually all Christian traditions. The Roman Catholic Church is not a member church but works cooperatively with the WCC. The highest governing body is the assembly, which meets approximately every seven years. The WCC was formally inaugurated in 1948 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Its staff is headed by general secretary Konrad Raiser from the Evangelical Church in Germany.
The Ukrainian Weekly 16 Nov 2003 (No. 46, Vol. LXXI ) 30 U.N. member-states sign joint declaration on Great Famine NEW YORK - Speaking on the morning of November 10 at an international conference on the Famine-Genocide of 1932-1933 held at Columbia University, Ukraine's ambassador to the United Nations reported that a joint declaration signed by the U.N. delegations of 25 states would be released later that day to mark the 70th anniversary of the Great Famine of 1932-1933 in Ukraine. By mid-week, the list of states signing the declaration had grown to 30, plus the European Union. The document describes the Famine as "a national tragedy for the Ukrainian people" that "took 7 to 10 millions of innocent lives," but stops short of calling it genocide. According to Ambassador Valeriy Kuchinsky of Ukraine's Permanent Mission to the United Nations, the declaration will be circulated as an official document of the United Nations and it is hoped the declaration will be read before the U.N. General Assembly by Secretary General Kofi Annan. Ambassador Kuchinsky noted that the declaration - which is signed by, among others, the Russian Federation, the United States and Canada - is "the result of hard work and strenuous efforts of Ukrainian diplomats who have spent many months in intense consultations and discussion within the United Nations, as well as within various capital cities. These efforts have informed many political activists and, in turn, their respective nations of the true nature of the Great Famine in Ukraine." He characterized the declaration as "unique in that it is the first of its kind within the United Nations to publicly condemn the Soviet totalitarian regime for the murder of millions of innocent victims." [In Kyiv, according to The Ukrainian Weekly's Kyiv Press Bureau, a source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, when asked whether the word "genocide" appears in the text of the joint declaration, explained: "I think you understand that the Russians would never have allowed for the word 'genocide' to be used. We agreed to this version because we realized that we could end up with nothing. If the Russians had blocked the statement, we might not even have had this.'] The joint declaration "On the 70th anniversary of the Great Famine of 1932-1933" was signed by the U.N. delegations of: Azerbaijan, Argentina, Bangladesh, Belarus, Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Egypt, Georgia, Guatemala, Jamaica, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Mongolia, Nauru, Pakistan, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Macedonia, Republic of Moldova, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United States and Uzbekistan.
International Campaign to Ban Landmines 24 Oct 2003 Africa gets two new treaty members: Burundi, Sudan Mine-affected countries Burundi and Sudan come on board Burundi and Sudan, both mine-affected countries, recently ratified the Mine Ban Treaty. Burundi submitted its ratification instrument to the United Nations on 22 October and Sudan completed its ratification on 13 October 2003. Now Somalia (which does not have a functioning government) is the only country in sub-Saharan Africa that is neither a State Party nor a signatory to the Mine Ban Treaty. Ethiopia is the only remaining signatory in the region. The ratifications bring to 141 the number of States Parties to the convention, with a further 9 countries having signed but not yet completed their ratification process. Treaty universalisation has gathered pace in recent months. Long-awaited ratifications and accessions have now been completed by Belarus, Greece, Guyana, Serbia & Montenegro and Turkey. Campaigners are pleased that Bujumbura and Khartoum have confirmed their commitment to a comprehensive ban on antipersonnel landmines by ratifying the treaty. However, they are concerned about allegations of ongoing mine use in Burundi and Sudan. Any allegations of use will now be subject to critical examination by fellow States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty. There are ceasefires in both countries at the moment, following years of bloodshed. Burundi Burundi joins the treaty amid troubling accounts of ongoing use of antipersonnel landmines inside Burundi by both rebel and government forces. "It is clear that antipersonnel mines continue to be used in Burundi. It is difficult, however, to determine with certainty who is planting the mines. Most observers believe that both the Army and rebels are using mines," notes the Landmine Monitor Report 2003: Toward a Mine-Free World. Last year, there were at least 114 new civilian mine/UXO casualties reported in Burundi, of which 26 were killed and 88 injured, including 23 children. Of the total casualties, 87 were caused by antipersonnel mines, eight by antivehicle mines, and 19 by UXO. Sudan Both sides to the conflict in Sudan, the government and the SPLM/A, have used mines in the past and accuse each other of ongoing use. Landmine Monitor Report 2003 notes that Sudan does not have "large defensive minefields contaminating whole areas, but rather a number of relatively random mines blocking access routes to key areas. Roads, especially in the Nuba Mountains, are blocked to humanitarian relief traffic." Landmine casualties run high in Sudan. As of June 2003, a total of 2,667 mine/UXO casualties had been reported to the National Mine Action Officer since 1998. The U.N. wire service reported that on 3 October 2003 a truck belonging to Danish Church Aid ran over a landmine near the town of Kauda in Sudan's central Nuba Mountains. Eight people were killed and two injured - the highest known fatality count from a landmine accident in Sudan this year, it was noted.
AFP 9 Nov 2003 Four people killed by soldiers in Burundi: witnesses BUJUMBURA, Nov 9 (AFP) - Four people were killed and seven wounded Sunday in a village outside the capital of war-torn central African country of Burundi Sunday after having been detained by army troops, witnesses said. All the victims were civilians, witnesses said, but the authorities suggested they were members of one of the largest rebel groups still opposed to the government in a 10-year civil war that has killed more than 300,000. "Soldiers came to the village of Kwigere early this morning and took a group of men with them and we later found four bodies and seven people injured," one witness who asked not to be named told AFP. Three other inhabitants of the village 30 kilometers (20 miles) east of the capital confirmed the account. The authorities said they were aware of the incident, but did not yet know all the details, while no military officials could be reached for comment. The governor of the Bujumbura rural region, Ignace Ntawembarira, said the incident apparently happened as an army patrol chased FNL rebels. "I've been told they had an engagement and four people were killed and a certain number wounded, but I don't know the details yet," he told AFP. "We don't know what happened exactly, but the residents accuse the military of systematically killing civilians even if they happen to be rebels," said Daniel Ndirahisha, administrator for the town of Isale, which includes Kwigere. The National Liberation Front (FNL), is the major rebel group which has yet to join the country's peace process, and is active in the west of the country near the capital where the population is almost exclusively Hutu. A FNL spokesman accused the military Sunday of burning hundreds of homes in eight villages outside of the capital, but Ntawembarira said there was no large-scale fighting in the area and he had reports of only several homes being burned. The main rebel group, the Front for Defense of Democracy (FDD), earlier this month initialled a peace deal and will join the transition government.
AFP 10 Nov 2003 Five dead in shelling attack on Burundi capital BUJUMBURA, Nov 10 (AFP) - At least five civilians were killed and another injured in an overnight mortar attack on Burundi's capital Bujumbura by rebels from the Hutu ethnic group, an army spokesman said Monday. The attack was claimed by the rebel National Liberation Forces (FNL), which has refused to take part in peace talks aimed at ending a 10-year civil war that has claimed more than 300,000 lives in the small central African state. "A number of shells fell on Bujumbura and we have already counted one death in Kiriri, four others in the Kamenge quarter and one injury in the Gihosha area," army spokesman Augustin Nzabampema told AFP. The renewed violence comes just a week after the country's main rebel group, the Forces for Defence of Democracy (FDD), agreed a peace deal in Pretoria which will see the group included in Burundian President Domitien Ndayizeye's transitional government. But the small but active FNL of Agaton Rwasa has continued military operations on the outskirts of Bujumbura, shelling the capital from hills overlooking the city to the east. "The army and the FDD are saying that they have chased us out of rural Bujumbura, it's a lie that we are denying through military action," FNL spokesman Pasteur Habimana said. "If the army sets fire to one more house in the hills or if the FDD rapes one more girl in rural Bujumbura we are going to come back down into the capital," he added. The civil war broke out in 1993 between rebels of Burundi's Hutu majority and the army dominated by minority Tutsis.
IRIN 11 Nov 2003 Nairobi Women and children continue to bear the brunt of human rights violations in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where, despite some progress towards peace, rape is still being used as a weapon of war, and children are still being recruited to fight these wars, according to two new UN reports. The UN special rapporteur on human rights in Burundi, Marie-Therese Keita-Bocoum, said she had found no improvement in the situation of economic, social and cultural rights during the months of March through August, UN News reported. She urged the international community to encourage humanitarian organisations to support the protection and promotion of human rights, especially those of women and the Batwa people, often referred to as pygmies, who are widely discriminated against in the region. Keita-Bocoum called on the international community to support the UN-sponsored conference on peace, security and stability in Africa's Great Lakes region, saying its success would "undeniably have a positive impact on the human rights situation in Burundi and central Africa". However, she warned that continuing clashes in the region were serious obstacles. "A ceasefire and cessation of hostilities must be quickly established, first of all because the complete implementation of the peace agreements depend on them, and also so that war can no longer be used to justify gross human rights violations," she said. Meanwhile, in neighbouring DRC, genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes serve to "create a frightening picture of one of the most serious human rights situations in the world", according to the UN special rapporteur on human rights in the DRC, Iulia Motoc. She highlighted the country's northeastern Ituri District as a source of particular concern, where she warned that "without effective intervention by the international community, Ituri will be turned into a bloodbath", UN News reported. She said the efforts of the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC, known as MONUC, to protect civilians in Ituri had been mostly insufficient, and that the civilian population remained in danger, UN News quoted her as saying. Motoc also raised the issue of "child sorcerers" - children accused of having mystical powers who suffer ill-treatment and even murder.
Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) 11 Nov 2003 - Violence and armed clashed increase in capital city Bujumbura Despite the signing of a Power Sharing agreement between the main Hutu armed group (CNDD-FDD) and the transitional government on 8 October in Pretoria, the political situation in Burundi remains uncertain, with many question marks remaining over still-unresolved though vital issues, reports JRS from Bujumbura. The power sharing deal includes details of the future shape and make-up of the armed forces and police, including the percentage allocation of officer corps and general staff positions, which will be shared out on a pre-agreed basis between the CNDD-FDD and the current transitional government. A similar arrangement was also worked out for the distribution of government ministerial posts and other influential political positions. However, several issues vital for the establishment of peace have not yet been tackled. On the one hand, the second most powerful Hutu armed group, FNL, remains outside the political peace process initiated in Arusha in 2000. Considered as the oldest and most radical armed group, FNL has been able to demonstrate its military strength on a number of occasions, including an attack on Bujumbura City in the second week of July 2003. The total absence of this group from the recent peace and power sharing agreements creates the risk of new and similar high-level attacks against the capital city, though no political alternative seems to have been offered to the FNL. In the last few days, fighting between the two main Hutu armed groups, CNDD-FDD and FNL, has affected the capital city, in particular the districts of Kamenge, Kinama (and most recently Kiriri). The most recent clashes between these two groups have taken place on almost a daily basis in Kamenge district, normally after sun down. The absence of an available political exit for FNL combined with the disproportionate level of military force suggests that a military solution is the course of action being pursued against FNL. Despite the increase in violence in the capital city, the signing of the 8 October agreement is starting to have a positive impact in other parts of Burundi. Both Government and CNDD-FDD leaders have been making concerted efforts to demonstrate to the international community that the security situation has improved as a result of the power sharing deal. CNDD -FDD forces are preparing to station their troops, a preliminary step to the demobilisation and integration of the former rebel soldiers into the new national army. The CNDD-FDD itself is expected to join the new government on 23 November. Other unresolved questions relate to the return of more than 600,000 Burundian citizens who are currently residing in refugee camps in neighbouring Tanzania. Access to land for this large group, should they return home, is an issue that the government has been slow to offer an adequate strategy or response to. The people of Burundi, who have suffered under the violence of years of civil war, have been slow to greet the news of a power sharing deal with outspoken optimism and hope. Promises broken following previous agreements have led the Burundian people to show caution and distrust towards hopes for a real and lasting peace. Ten years of war have completely ruined the Burundian economy. The state coffers are all but empty, the military effort having become an unbearable burden and drain, both for the Tutsi-dominated army and the CNDD-FDD. International pressure and economic breathlessness seem to be the main reasons that both sides have now decided to bring the long-running hostilities to an end. More than 300,000 people have been killed in Burundi since 1993, the majority of whom were civilians. War, poverty and the absence of funds to pay troops have also unleashed a lawless situation with total impunity onto much of the country, where civilians are systematically victims of looting, robbery and human rights violations at the hands of armed groups. The indifference shown by the international media towards this dramatic and cruel conflict and suffering, as well as towards a similar situation in neighbouring areas of North and South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), is a serious cause for concern that must be addressed if the humanitarian crisis in the Great Lakes region is to be addressed.
IRIN 12 Nov 2003 Fighting displaces 12,000 civilians in Bujumbura BUJUMBURA, 12 November (IRIN) - Some 12,000 civilians have fled their homes in Burundi's western province of Bujumbura Rural following the latest fighting between the army and fighters loyal to rebel leader Agathon Rwasa, Governor Ignace Ntawembarira told IRIN on Wednesday. "These people fled their homes in the last one-and-a-half weeks and are now gathered at the [southern] commune of Mutambu near the hydroelectric dam of Mugere," he said. Others have sought refuge in nearby villages. The latest fighting in the province brings to at least 60,000 the number of people displaced since fighting in September between Rwasa's Force nationales de liberation (FNL) and the Burundian army, and between the FNL and the country's largest rebel movement, the Conseil national pour la defense de la democratie-Forces nationales pour la defense de la democratie (CNDD-FDD) faction led by Pierre Nkurunziza. Ntawembarira said that at least 40,000 people who fled fighting in September between the CNDD-FDD and the FNl were in the northern commune of Mubimbi. These people have not returned to their homes but they are regularly receiving food assistance from the UN World Food Programme. Ntawembarira said the displaced people in Mutambu needed urgent relief aid. "I think there are preparations to assist them but the administration is also planning their return home," he added. He said another 5,000 to 6,000 residents of Bugarama and Muhuta communes were still displaced since two-and-a-half weeks ago. An information officer at the WFP Burundi office, Karine Strebelle, told IRIN that WFP was in contact with Ntawembarira to see how to help the displaced in Mutambu Commune. She said the governor had submitted to WFP a list of 12,000 displaced people at Mutambu Commune, and that the agency had planned to distribute food to them at the beginning of the week but it had to be postponed because there were no local authorities to organise the distribution. "WFP will soon resume the planned food distribution," she said. Bujumbura Rural Province, said to be an FNL stronghold, has been the most war-affected region in the country since war broke out in 1993. Local residents are often displaced in fighting between the army and the rebels.
AFP 27 Nov 2003 Comoros troops fire on protesters accused of trying to seize power Agence France Presse, 11/27/03 Comoran authorities alleged Thursday that protesters shot and wounded by troops in the capital Moroni were on their way to the office of the federal president to seize power. Fifteen people were injured, at least two of them seriously, on Wednesday when the troops opened fire on them as they marched in Moroni, capital of the three-island archipelago and main city on the largest island, Grande Comore. The Indian Ocean islands have been in political and economic crisis since 1997, when the two smaller islands, Anjouan and Moheli, unilaterally declared independence, despite a reconciliation process under which each of the three islands has become semi-autonomous. Abdou Soule Elbak, president of Grande Comore island, told AFP in Nairobi by telephone that he was leading a peaceful demonstration to protest the policies of the country's president, Colonel Azali Assoumani, when the troops opened fire. He said seven of the injured had suffered gunshot wounds. One of them, a 29-year-old woman, was shot in the head, while a 49-year-old man was in a coma. "I was walking in the first row, my hands crossed behind my head. The soldiers fired on innocent people," said Elbak, whose entourage said between 3,000 and 6,000 people took part in the march. But a spokesman for Azali told AFP that the protesters were marching on the federal president's office, where they intended to grab power. "Security services were informed that backers of the president of Grande Comore island wanted to march on the presidency of the union to seize power," said Mohamed Inoussa, referring to a statement issued late Wednesday by the defense and security ministry. The government "regretted that the situation should have taken such a bad turn", and called the shooting "an unfortunate event which left some 15 people injured," Inoussa said, quoting the statement. "But we avoided the worst," he said, before quoting the statement again as saying that federal government troops had opened fire "only after giving the usual warnings." France, the former colonial power, on Thursday voiced concern over the shooting. "We are worried about yesterday's (Wednesday's) events in Moroni. We call on all Comoran parties to show restraint ... and ask them to abstain from all provocation," foreign ministry spokesman Herve Ladsous told journalists in Paris. "It is now more important than ever that an agreement is quickly reached on holding legislative elections," he said, referring to long-delayed elections both for the union as a whole and for each of the islands. The Comoros, lying between the east coast of Africa and the island state of Madagascar, have a population of some 630,000, of whom some 250,000 live on Grande Comore. More than 85 percent of the people are Muslims, and the protest march was held after Eid el-Fitr ceremonies marking the end of Ramadan, the month of abstinence. The Comoros have been plagued by a score of coup attempts since independence from France in 1975. Azali, who came to power in a 1999 coup, was democratically elected president of the Comoros union last year, as were the presidents of the three semi-autonomous islands. The dispute between Elbak and Azali is over the distribution of powers -- notably over finance and internal security -- between the central government and the three islands under a new constitution adopted on December 23, 2001. Elbak said Thursday: "I had expressed (to the Eid rally) my regrets for my country, which is the victim of poverty and dictatorship, corruption and theft by the dignitaries of the Union's leadership," he said. The constitution came into effect 10 months after a national reconciliation pact, negotiated under the auspices of the Organisation of African Unity and the international association of French-speaking states in response to Anjouan's 1997 secession attempt. The legislative elections were to have been held by last December 23. Youssouf Said Soilihi, secretary general of the main island's presidency, warned: "If this conflict is not settled quickly, the people will demonstrate their discontent under a variety of forms, which is up to them." For his part the island's education minister, noting that an investigation had been announced, said "We know what that means," predicting arrests of Grande Comore officials, including ministers. .
Reuters 31 Oct 2003 No newspapers on sale after youth gangs attack distribution vans ABIDJAN, 31 Oct 2003 (IRIN) - Cote d'Ivoire was without newspapers on Friday after the country's only distributor suspended operations following several attacks on its distribution vans by gangs of youths who seized opposition titles and burned them. Internal Security Minister Martin Bleou, who recently imposed a three-month ban on street demonstrations, appeared on state television at lunchtime on Friday to warn that certain un-named people were planning illegal marches and urged them to desist. He added that the government had learned of a plot to kill Cardinal Bernard Agrey, the head of the Roman Catholic archbishop of Cote d'Ivoire and other prominent personalities. A church spokesman said a statement would be issued on the threats on Saturday. The country's only newspaper distribution firm, Edipresse, said it had suspended the delivery of all newspapers following attacks on distribution vans in Cote d'Ivoire's commercial capital, Abidjan, and several towns in the interior on Thursday. "The [distribution of] newspapers has given rise to security incidents, so our sub-distributors have decided not to work today," the distribution manager of Edipresse, who gave his name as Assomolly, told IRIN. Vans had been seized in the southern towns of Gagnoa, San Pedro, Divo, Agboville and Adzope and in Abidjan's large working class suburb of Yopougon, he added. "We received written threats last night saying the sale of newspapers would be prevented in Abidjan, so this morning we decided not to distribute newspapers in Abidjan," Assomolly said. These attacks on Cote d'Ivoire's independent media by hardline militants who demand that President Laurent Gbagbo's take an uncompromising stand towards rebels occupying the north of the country came barely a week after a uniformed policeman shot dead a French radio journalist in central Abidjan. Jean Helene, the Cote d'Ivoire correspondent of Radio France Internationale, was shot in the head at point blank range while he was waiting outside the main police station in Abidjan to interview a group of detained opposition activists who were about to be released. His self-confessed killer has been arrested and charged with murder. Newspaper editors held a crisis meeting with Prime Minister Seydou Diarra on Friday to discuss the interruption of newspaper distribution, the latest blow to freedom of expression in this divided country which is in danger of slipping back into civil war. Assomolly said the directors of Edipresse were meeting with senior officials of the prime minister's office and the defence ministry to discuss measures to guarantee the safe distribution of newspapers. Media sources said the main titles targeted by the gangs of pro-Gbagbo youths were Le Patriote, 24 Heures, Le Liberal, Le Front, Le Jour and Nouveau Reveil. These are all close to the Rally of Republicans (RDR) opposition party of former prime minister Alassane Ouattara and the Democratic Party of Cote d'Ivoire (PDCI) of former president Henry Konan Bedie. Leading figures in Gbagbo's Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) party have accused the RDR of supporting rebels who have occupied the northern half of Cote d'Ivoire since the country erupted into civil war in September last year. The youths who attacked the newspaper distribution vans are widely believed to belong to the pro-Gbagbo "Young Patriot" militia groups, which have made repeated threats to stop Le Patriote newspaper from appearing in the past. Its journalists were recently banned from covering events at the presidency. However, Charles Legray, a senior figure in COJEP, one of the main groupings of Young Patriots, denied that his members were involved in Thursday's attacks on newspaper distribution vans. "We have not given any orders for this to be done," he told IRIN. But Legray added: "Remember that in December 2000, Le Patriote published a map of Cote d'Ivoire divided in two with a flag of Burkinabe Faso shown flying in the north. The reaction of these young people is a result of the way these various opposition newspapers handle the news." The rebels signed a peace agreement with Gbagbo in January and joined a broad-based government of national reconciliation in April, but pulled out on 23 September, alleging that the president was failing to implement the peace accord in full. On Thursday, presidents Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and John Kufuor of Ghana paid a flying visit to Abidjan to press Gbagbo to urgently legislate reforms promised in the peace agreement in order to persuade the rebels to return to government and begin a delayed programme of disarmament.
IRIN 5 Nov 2003 Côte d'Ivoire: Main opposition party threatens to withdraw from government ABIDJAN, 5 November (IRIN) - The main opposition Democratic Party of Cote d'Ivoire (PDCI) has threatened to pull out of the government of national reconciliation established in January under the French-brokered Marcoussis peace accords. More than six weeks after the withdrawal of the new forces from the government of Prime Minister Seydou Diarra, the PDCI's Secretary-General, Alphonse Djedje Mady, called on PDCI ministers to be ready to suspend their activities. A source close to the Prime Minister's office said that the seven PDCI ministers had not been present at the last cabinet meeting on Tuesday. Djedje Mady told IRIN that the ministers were absent because they had been recalled for consultations with the PDCI's Political Bureau. In a televised statement on Tuesday, Djedje Mady denounced what he described as the terror of the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), the party of President Laurent Gbagbo. He accused the FPI of carrying out flagrant abuses of human rights, threatening members of his party and incitement to murder. The last straw for the PDCI appears to have been the arrest and detention of Political Bureau member Alphonse Kobenan Kossonou, now accused of "attempted destabilisation, association with criminals and conspiracy". He was transferred to prison in Abidjan on Tuesday. Kossonou's arrest coincided with the detention of 11 activists from another opposition party, the Rally of Republicans (RDR), all of whom were subsequently released. Reacting to the PDCI's boycott threat, President Laurent Gbagbo said on national television on Tuesday: "Blackmail has become the principal way of life for certain political parties". For years the PDCI dominated the political landscape in Cote d'Ivoire, first under President Félix Houphouet-Boigny and then under his successor, Henri Konan Bedié. The party still has the biggest block in parliament, with 98 seats. But despite the party's strong warning about leaving the government, some observers believe the PDCI will stay in. The PDCI reportedly sent two of its senior members to Prime Minister Seydou Diarra to announce its withdrawal from the cabinet, but no such message was delivered. The Marcoussis accords brought together the ruling party, other political parties and rebels who control the north of the country, to create government of national unity. But the rebels pulled out of the government accusing Gbagbo of failing to delegate effective power to the ministers. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has arranged a meeting between the warring parties in Ghana next Tuesday to try and kick-start the stalled peace process.
Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) 10 Nov 2003 More Ivorians displaced by ethnic violence, as African leaders meet to save peace process Norway Website: http://www.idpproject.org GENEVA, 10 November 2003 ? Ethnic violence continues to force large numbers of Ivorians and immigrants from neighbouring countries to flee their homes, as West African leaders are meeting at a special summit in the Ghanaian capital Accra tomorrow in an attempt to rescue C?te d?Ivoire?s collapsing peace process. The western, government-held part of the country has seen most of the recent displacements, according to a report published by the Global IDP Project of the Norwegian Refugee Council today. A total of 500,000-800,000 people have been internally displaced by inter-ethnic violence and the fighting that erupted following a coup attempt by rebel groups in September 2002. ?Until the current deadlock in the Ivorian crisis is resolved, there is little prospect of improvement in the already miserable conditions for hundreds of thousands of displaced people?, concludes the report. C?te d?Ivoire?s large immigrant community, as well as internal migrants from the Muslim north have been among the main victims of forced displacement. Recently, migrants from other parts of the country have been targeted as well. In a typical pattern, the victims receive an ultimatum to leave their houses and are chased away under death threats by the local population while their property is being looted, says the report. The humanitarian situation of the displaced is alarming, says the study. Camps are overcrowded, and there is insufficient food supply and medical assistance. There has been little international attention to the plight of C?te d?Ivoire?s internally displaced people, and assistance provided by aid agencies is severely hampered by international funding shortfalls. The full report is available at www.idpproject.org. The Geneva-based Global IDP Project, established by the Norwegian Refugee Council at the request of the United Nations, is the leading international body monitoring internal displacement worldwide. .
IRIN 12 Nov 2003 Côte d'Ivoire: Rebels hint at secession after failure of Accra summit BOUAKE, 12 November (IRIN) - Rebels occupying the north of Cote d'Ivoire sent out mixed signals on Wednesday about how they intended to proceed following the failure of a West African summit to achieve a breakthrough in the country's deadlocked peace process. Louis-Andre Dakoury-Tabley, the deputy leader of the rebel movement, officially known as "The New Forces," said in a speech that nothing more could be expected of the French-brokered peace agreement signed in January and the rebels might consider establishing a separate state in the area under their control. However, an official statement issued at the end of a three-day Economic and Social Forum in the rebel capital Bouake, said: "The New Forces reiterate their total and unconditional adherence to the Marcoussis agreement." Dakoury-Tabley said in a speech to the closing session of the forum, that the meeting of Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo with six other West African heads of state in the Ghanaian capital Accra on Tuesday had been a failure, because Gbagbo had refused to make any of the concessions that the other leaders had demanded of him. "Accra III failed, not because of wishes of the heads of state of ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States), but because President Laurent Gbagbo was summoned by his peers and refused to give ground to them," the deputy secretary general of the New Forces said. "Those who talk about secession will from now on be right, because there is nothing more we can expect from the Marcoussis agreement," he added. The forum was called to discuss ways of making the rebel-held zone, which mainly comprises their poorer rural areas of Cote d'Ivoire, more economically self-sufficient. The north has been financially cut off from the rest of the country since civil war broke out in September last year. Officials at the presidency and the office of Prime Minister Seydou Diarra were not immediately available for comment on the outcome of Tuesday's summit in Accra. It was called to find a way of bringing the rebels back into the peace process. They walked out of Diarra's broad-based government of national reconciliation on 23 September in protest at what they called Gbagbo's refusal to implement in full the terms of the Linas-Marcoussis peace agreement and froze plans to disarm. In particular, the rebels protested at Gbagbo's refusal to delegate effective power to ministers in Diarra's coalition government.The issue has also caused tension between Diarra, a former civil servant and politically neutral figure, and the head of state.
AFP 26 Nov 2003 Ivorian president arrives for fence-mending visit to Burkina Faso Bobo Dioulasso, Agence France Presse, 11/26/03 Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo arrived Wednesday in southern Burkina Faso for talks with his Burkinabe counterpart Blaise Compaore amid easing tensions between the two west African neighbors. The pair went straight into talks at the airport in Bobo Dioulasso, Burkina Faso's second city just across Ivory Coast's northern border. Gbagbo was due to fly straight back to Abidjan after the meeting at around 1:00 pm (1300 GMT), according to an official program, which did not detail an agenda for the talks. It will be the two presidents' second meeting in as many weeks after they met on the sidelines of a summit on November 11 in Ghana focusing on the power struggle crippling Ivory Coast. In October, Ivorian elements had been accused of involvement in an alleged plot to overthrow the Ouagadougou government. Last year, Ivory Coast accused an outside power -- widely held to be Burkina Faso -- of being behind the September 2002 rebel uprising that plunged the world's top cocoa producer into 10 months of civil war. Compaore is said to have tremendous influence with the former Ivorian rebels who reached a peace agreement with Gbagbo's administration in January this year, but abandoned a unity government in September. The tensions between the neighbors have had important economic repercussions. Notably, thousands of tonnes of goods from landlocked Burkina Faso have sat at the port in the Ivorian economic capital Abidjan since the war erupted in September 2002. The land border between Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast, where some three million Burkinabe nationals were working before the war, reopened only in September this year. Compaore said on the eve of the summit in Accra that Ivorians "are our first brothers." He told an Ivorian daily: "We must advance together. That is our destiny. We cannot do otherwise." A member of the Ivorian delegation to the talks here told AFP that a planned visit to Mali later Wednesday to meet with President Amadou Toumani Toure had been called off and would be rescheduled.
IRIN 3 Nov 2003 Congo pledges to arrest Rwandan Hutu rebels KIGALI, 3 Nov 2003 (IRIN) - The government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has vowed to root out Rwandan Hutu rebels in eastern Congo in a bid to normalise relations between the two countries. "We need to open a new chapter in terms of relations between our two countries," Mbusa Nyamwisi, the Congolese minister for regional cooperation, announced on Friday in the Rwandan capital, Kigali. "The Interahamwe [Rwandan Hutu militia] are equally a greater problem for the DRC that we do not need now. They are in fact at the moment more of a serious problem for the DRC than Rwanda itself," he added. Before joining the transitional government of national unity installed in June in the DRC capital, Kinshasa, Nyamwisi was a leader of Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie-Mouvement de liberation (RCD-ML), which in the past had been accused by Rwandan authorities of recruiting the Hutu rebels into the rebel group's headquartered in Beni town, eastern Congo. Nyamwisi denied that Rwandan Hutu rebels had been part of RCD-ML. He was in Kigali to deliver a message from Congolese President Joseph Kabila on the two countries normalising their relations. Regarding allegations that Rwandan troops were present in the Congo, Nyamwisi could neither deny nor confirm the claims. "I am not here to make any allegations. It's not my role to accuse Rwanda," he told reporters. Human rights groups and NGOs operating in eastern Congo have reported that Rwanda has continued to maintain troops in the Congo. But Rwanda has denied the claims, terming them fabrications not based on credible evidence and aimed at sabotaging reconciliation between the two nations. As the Congolese government expressed commitment to dealing with the Interahamwe, Rwanda also dropped its long-held claim that Kinshasa was still supporting the armed Hutu extremists responsible for the country's 1994 genocide. Nyamwisi's visit to Kigali follows that of Rwandan Foreign Minister Charles Muligande to Kinsahasa last week. Muligande also expressed optimism that the Congolese government was now serious about disarming the Rwandan Hutu extremists in its territory.
The Nation (Nairobi) 3 Nov 2003 Lawyer Out to Battle Looting of the Congo Chege Mbitiru Nairobi An Argentine lawyer has an idea that's so good it sounds crazy. But then thoughts once considered on verge of insanity turned out to be sprouts of genius. Luis Moreno Ocampo has some consolation. Mr. Ocampo isn't an ordinary lawyer. He's International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor. Back home he was involved during the 1980s in the prosecution of Argentina's military junta for crimes committed in that country's "dirty war", as if there ever was a clean one. The war was mostly one-sided. Government agents used, with impunity, all manners of human rights abuses, including torture, abduction, rape, murder and whatever tactic suited their whims in annihilating real and imagined enemies of the state. Now Mr. Ocampo isn't planning just to go after murderers, rapists and abductors. He's also after money people and their friends. According to Reuters news agency, Mr. Ocampo says foreigners who bought "blood diamonds" from the Democratic Republic of Congo could be charged with complicity in war crimes and genocide. "Follow the trail of money and you will find the criminals. If you stop the money then you stop the crime," Mr. Ocampo says. Pillage has accompanied wars from time immemorial. After all, fighting is over tangibles. Modern states hypocritically talk about protecting "national interests". They actually mean grabbing goodies other countries own. During World War II the Japanese didn't cause mayhem in the Far East and South East Asia solely for the love of Emperor. The Nazis didn't devastate Europe because they so much adored the Fuhrer. Much earlier Americans didn't all but wipe out Native Americans and buffaloes for sport. Pillage enthralled British monarch's so much that War Knights are beyond counting. Examples are as old as the human race. Mr. Ocampo says he's gathering information from prosecutors in countries where money people bought DRC blood diamonds. "This is the most important case since World War II," he said. That might turn out to be an understatement. Lawyers have a habit of whirling legal tentacles. Once he opens the floodgate, the list of blood commodities in the DRC will lengthen. Add other nations that have recently experienced armed conflict and legal hydras pop. Last week the United Nations gave Mr. Ocampo a helping hand. A UN panel investigating the plunder of gems and minerals produced a final report. It named 125 companies and individuals involved in the plunder of the DRC. The report noted "illegal exploitation remains one of the main sources of funding for groups involved in perpetuating conflict." Establish legality or illegality in a country where thugs totting all manner of weapons roam is tricky. Some human-caring groups have a plausible explanation. They include Human Rights Watch, Friends of the Earth, Oxfam and the International Human Rights Law Group. They argue some multinationals have developed networks of political, military and business elites to acquire the resources. The reasoning is that these networks are conduits of the goods, the money and weapons. Hence complicity. These groups can't be dismissed. Were they mere self-serving do-gooders, the Paris-based Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) wouldn't have issued guidelines on how multinationals should have behaved in the DRC. That business groups and political friends have engineered conflicts and wars for profit isn't news. That these interests have not only prospered but also remained unpunished is as much of a fact as daylight and darkness. So far there has been no machinery to say: Stop or else. A year ago the Worldwatch Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based research outfit issued a report on conflicts directly linked to commodities in various parts of the world. Figures of the estimated value weren't peanut. The author of the report said, and this is what will cause Mr. Ocampo real trouble, companies and nations that benefit from conflict-related supplies turn a blind eye. Consumers of goods derived from these commodities don't even know blood flowed. Examples of obstacles Mr. Ocampo faces already exist. The United States wishes his court would vanish in the Bermuda Triangle. The DRC report detailed how money accrued bought arms. That remains confidential. Some UN bureaucrats had a hand in the classification. The money people and political friends weren't just sipping whisky. Mr. Ocampo is unlikely to get a conviction in his lifetime. But the world wouldn't moan if some day it could be established in court that the likes of President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair concocted evidence just so their cronies might get a piece of Iraqi pie. Mr Mbitiru, a freelance journalist, is a former 'Sunday Nation' Managing editor
Reuters 4 Nov 2003 Quiet market unsettles locals in murky Congo peace By Nicholas Shaxson BRAZZAVILLE (Reuters) - The men in dreadlocks are missing from the normally busy level-crossing next to the main railway station in Brazzaville, and some locals are worried. The crossing in Congo Republic's capital is usually crowded with long-haired former rebels who arrive by train to sell products from their homes in the forested Pool region -- a volatile zone gripped by years of war. "When they are absent there is tension in Pool," said a local resident. "It is a worrying sign when this happens." Just a few days later, a gun battle between soldiers and rebels broke out on the rail line from Brazzaville to the coastal oil town of Pointe Noire, leaving 13 dead. The rebels, who call themselves "Ninjas" after Japanese warriors glamorised by Hollywood, agreed a peace deal in March but it now seems stuck -- a worrying prospect in this oil-rich central African nation ravaged by a brutal 1997 civil war. Sub-Saharan Africa's fourth biggest oil producer has seen sporadic explosions of violence since independence from France in 1960, including the war in which tens of thousands were killed and nearly a million displaced. The March agreement, effectively a restatement of a 1999 deal to end the civil war, calls on the Ninjas to disarm and reintegrate into the army and civilian life. An August amnesty cleared the way for the fighters to do just that, but although some have started to disarm, many remain in the dense Pool forests. Their leader, renegade pastor Frederic Ntoumi, has yet to come to Brazzaville as promised. He has cited security arrangements and other logistical problems for the delay. "Everyone is waiting for the next step: for Ntoumi to come here, and for disarmament," said Martin Merkelbach, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). "The longer this ambiguous situation goes on, the greater the chance things can go wrong." SHADOWY FORCES AT WORK Humanitarian organisations including the ICRC and Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) returned gingerly to Pool this year, along with several thousand civilians who fled earlier phases of fighting. The flow of people has slowed recently. "Armed forces and rebels are cohabiting in Pool," Merkelbach said. "For the humanitarian organisations and for the civilian population this is a very uncomfortable situation." Congo's conflict is rooted in a long power-struggle between the more densely populated agricultural south and President Denis Sassou Nguesso's north, a land of hunters and fighters. Sassou came to power as Marxist ruler in 1979. He lost elections in 1992 but seized power with the help of Angolan troops in the 1997 war, ousting President Pascal Lissouba and Prime Minister Bernard Kolelas. The deposed leaders are now in exile and have been condemned to death in their absence by a Congolese court. The Ninjas were originally loyal to Kolelas. Many locals and some diplomats believe hardliners in government are keen to stir up clashes in the Pool to divide the opposition and consolidate their influence in the clique-ridden upper echelons of power. Observers say the aim is to divide and rule by splitting opposition support between Kolelas, who is seen as the biggest threat to Sassou, and the renegade Ntoumi. "The people in power want to divide the Pool, against Kolelas," said Christian Mounzeo of the Congolese Observatory of Human Rights. The Lari people in Pool share ethnic links with Brazzaville's crowded southern suburbs, where Kolelas is popular -- so the two leaders are competing for similar support. Jacques Mouandapassi, a senior opposition spokesman, said this divide-and-rule policy was a key reason why Ntoumi was still active, despite having weak military forces. "Ntoumi was put in place, even if he is not exactly controlled by those in power," he said. "It is complex but one thing is sure: Ntoumi was fabricated by those in power, to make people forget Kolelas". And some analysts say this is a risky strategy. "The government is not doing anything in depth to deal with the problem of the Pool," said one diplomat, who declined to be named. "You have the Ninjas and the military living with each other...There could be a clash which could degenerate."
BBC 5 November, 2003, Rape legacy of DR Congo conflict This 12-year-old is trying to get over her ordeal by going to school The massive scale of rape in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is being uncovered, aid agencies say. "We have never come across as many victims of rape in a conflict situation," said a spokeswoman for the World Food Programme (WFP). Christiane Berthiaume said that thousands of women were going to health centres to receive treatment. After four years of war, the situation in DR Congo is improving, allowing aid workers further into rebel-held areas. According to WFP, doctors in the eastern city of Bukavu, near the border with Rwanda, are treating 150 new cases a month and the numbers are growing. 'Tortured' For each victim who sought treatment, often for severe internal wounds, aid workers estimated that there were 30 more women or young girls who had been raped, Ms Berthiaume said. "There are women, girls, as young as five and as old as 80, who have been systematically raped several times, tortured and injured by firearms." With fighting now decreasing in the North and South Kivu provinces, the World Food Programme said it had access to areas which were too dangerous to enter earlier. The two provinces border Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi, all of which were involved in DR Congo's war. The situation was said to be mirrored in other eastern towns. However, UN humanitarian affairs officials reported that fighting had resumed in parts of South Kivu province, displacing thousands of civilians. A UN mission is monitoring the ceasefire agreement under the peace process set up in April, ending a war that drew in half a dozen African countries at its height and claimed an estimated 2.5 million lives. Despite the establishment of an interim government in July, armed groups still roam across parts of eastern DR Congo.
WP 5 Nov 2003 Congo Practices A Wary Peace Former Enemies, Still Fearful, Try to Move Country Forward By Emily Wax Washington Post Foreign Service Wednesday, November 5, 2003; Page A19 KINSHASA, Congo -- One of Congo's new vice presidents, Jean-Pierre Bemba, keeps a helicopter on his front lawn in case the former Ugandan-backed rebel leader has to make a quick getaway from an assassination attempt. Another vice president, Azarias Ruberwa, the former leader of the Rwandan-backed rebel group and once the most despised man in Kinshasa, has young rebels armed with guns and binoculars peering out from his riverside office when they aren't wandering the neighborhood in faded T-shirts emblazoned with their leader's face. The two other vice presidents have their security quirks, too. They have to, they say, to stay alive during a peace process that has everyone afraid of war. No one can be cautious enough, in a country with four vice presidents, 60 ministers, 620 legislators and at least a dozen armed groups and factions all forming a two-year power-sharing government that brings enemies together. "In Africa, we say there is no room for two male crocodiles to live in the same place. Well, now as the situation stands, we have five male crocodiles -- including the president -- sharing the same swamp," said Arthur Z'Ahidi Ngoma, a vice president from an unarmed political opposition group. Earlier this year, two other vice presidents wanted him removed from the government. "I would, to be honest, call it a Congolese miracle that we are all committed to coexisting," he said, sitting in his home in the capital, with bodyguards roaming nearby. "Even if some of us wanted to see the others dead at certain points." This is the unwieldy theater of one of Africa's toughest peace deals. Yet it is clearly one of high stakes that could set the Democratic Republic of Congo, potentially Africa's richest country, on a path to peace and a prosperity for its 55 million people, who have attempted little more than survival for decades. The latest round in Congo's violent history was a five-year regional war that took an estimated 3.3 million to 4.1 million lives, mostly from disease and hunger, in a human catastrophe fought largely outside the view of the West. Pockets of fighting continue, and the country must form an army out of enemy fighters. But never before has there been this much hope for a lasting peace in the country formerly known as Zaire. It is in this atmosphere that President Joseph Kabila is visiting the United States this week, talking with World Bank officials and meeting with President Bush on Wednesday. Diplomats say he hopes to benefit from the pressure of the international spotlight. "Are we out of the woods yet? No. But we are headed to the savanna," Kabila said last week in an interview at the presidential palace here in Kinshasa. "This is quite an important moment. We are turning the page on a very dark chapter. It has given hope after 40 years of misrule. The process of unification is underway. People who at different times were shooting at each other on the front lines, who each believed they had their own kingdom, are now sitting together." But the complexity of making peace a reality in this vast country is a uniquely Congolese drama, he said. "We have been in more or less a confused state throughout modern history, with a century of abuse and foreign powers launching unjust wars on the Congolese people. Everyone all along has taken Congo's resources," said Kabila, 32, a soldier who came to power after the assassination of his father, President Laurent Kabila, two years ago. This central African nation is rich in diamonds, gold, coltan, cobalt and other minerals. After a period of rule by the Belgians, who were criticized for exploiting Congo's resources, the dictator Mobutu Sese Seko continued to squander the country's minerals for personal gain. Laurent Kabila overthrew Mobutu in 1997, and civil war erupted a year later. Rwanda invaded, saying Kabila was protecting Hutu fighters responsible for the 1994 genocide of some 800,000 Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus in Rwanda. Those fighters fled across the border into eastern Congo. Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia entered the conflict on the side of the Congolese government. Rwanda and Uganda joined forces to help rebels trying to seize power, but their cooperation soon disintegrated into a contest for control of the minerals of the northeast, fought largely by their local proxies. The plundering is reportedly continuing. Human rights groups say that the Rwandan government has permitted polishing plants to be set up in Kigali, the Rwandan capital, for diamonds taken from Congo. Recent reports say Rwandan troops have been reentering the country after withdrawing a year ago. Rwanda has been silent on the allegations. "To be very frank, a key issue in peace in the Congo is getting foreign-backed armed groups out of this country," said Lt. Col. Subhash Yadav of the U.N. peacekeeping mission here. After a failed mission in Bunia, the capital of Ituri province in eastern Congo where ethnic fighting in June led to thousands of deaths, the peacekeeping force added 2,000 troops and beefed up its mandate. Called the Mission of the Organization of the United Nations in Congo and now numbering 10,800, it has the right to use military force in response to any threat to peace. Pakistani-led peacekeepers in still-volatile Ituri province have recently been firing back, and this and similar actions by peacekeepers have served to slow the fighting. Standing before a map in Bukavu, an eastern city near the Rwandan border, Yadav admitted there were still areas that the peacekeepers were not reaching, and gave a snapshot of his organization's successes and problem areas. "There is still a lot of human suffering," he said. "There are still places where armed groups are operating, and all you see in a village are children and old people without even clothing." The task of uniting the vast country under a central government is daunting. Some regions haven't been visited by a government minister in 20 years. Information Minister Vital Kamerhe made a visit to the eastern town of Kindu -- the first by a central government official since the 1980s. He drew thousands of shocked residents when he distributed new radio transmitters to relay broadcasts of the government-owned station. Kamerhe has presented transmitters to towns throughout the east, the cradle of the civil war. For more than a decade, residents of the interior could not listen to the capital's radio station. The radios may help psychologically, but leaders hope they will also aid in preparing the country for elections in two years. The last time this nation voted was 1960. In Kabila's offices, the BBC news plays on a television and photos of every Congolese leader except Mobutu hang on the wall. The younger Kabila, who has been largely credited with cementing the peace process, says the Congolese people deserve a chance to vote. "I'm determined to have elections, whether there are roads or rain," Kabila said. "I think it's a pretty legitimate demand of the people at this point." Meanwhile, ordinary Congolese are in patriotic limbo. Moussa Bahiti stood on a street corner in the eastern town of Goma, more than a thousand miles from Kinshasa. He said he was a tax collector for the central government years ago but had not worked since the war began. Still, he proudly wore an orange shirt printed with swirling maps of the country, names of various rebels groups and the title "La Reunification." "The war is complete. I am Congolese. Slowly, slowly, the country is one," Bahiti said. "From Goma to Kinshasa, the country is uniting. I believe in it working out this time. Maybe. I hope."
AFP 6 Nov 2003 UN rights expert adds to alarm over rapes in eastern DR Congo, GENEVA, Nov 6 A UN human rights expert on Thursday said she was deeply concerned about a flare-up of fighting in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, adding to growing alarm over the horrific scale of rapes in the region. Iulia Motoc, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights for DRC, warned in a statement women and children were particularly at risk following recent clashes between the tribal Mai-Mai warriors and Rwandan rebels in South Kivu province. "Women and children are more and more the targets of attacks by militia. Sexual violence against them continues on a large scale and has reached a very alarming level," she said in a statement released by the UN human rights office. On Tuesday, the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) said thousands of women had come forward for medical help since aid workers moved deeper into rebel-held areas made accessible in recent months as the peace process in DRC took hold. "We have never come across as many victims of rape in a conflict situation as we have now," said Christiane Berthiaume, a spokeswoman for WFP. Motoc indicated that sexual violence was a crime that could be prosecuted by the recently-formed International Criminal Court. A UN mission is monitoring the ceasefire agreement under the peace process set up in April in DRC, ending a war that drew in half a dozen African countries at its height and claimed an estimated 2.5 million lives. But the east of DRC is overrun by a mass of armed groups and there has been sporadic fighting in northeastern DRC despite the establishment of an interim government in July. Motoc said thousands of people had been forced out of their homes and were in a "very precarious" humanitarian situation following the flare-up in fighting in the Mwenga region last week.
News 24 SA 13 Nov 2003 'Red Terror' death sentence Addis Ababa - An Ethiopian high court has sentenced to death a former military officer for his role in the killing of 13 inmates and the torture of 51 during the dictatorship of Mengistu Haile Mariam more than two decades ago, a court source said on Thursday. Solomon Yimsegan, chairperson of a revolutionary guard squad in Addis Ababa during Mengistu's "Red Terror" period that followed the overthrow of emperor Haile Selassie, was sentenced to death late on Wednesday for crimes committed between 1977 and 1979. Mengistu, who faces charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, is currently in exile in Zimbabwe. The presiding judge who sentenced Solomon to death said the killing and torture of the inmates had been a "premeditated and brutal act." Ethiopia has since 1994 been conducting trials of people accused of genocide and crimes against humanity, particularly during the Red Terror period, when tens of thousands of Ethiopians were killed or disappeared. Nearly 5 200 former soldiers and communist activists are due to be tried by the courts. Around 2 200 are currently in prison in Ethiopia but several of the key accused are to be or have been tried in absentia. Mengistu, who has lived in Zimbabwe since fleeing in 1991, was convicted in absentia. The Red Terror trials are due to be concluded next year, according to the Ethiopian judiciary.
AFP 4 Nov 2003 ACCRA Ghanaian opposition denounces ICC immunity deal with US Ghanaian opposition politicians Tuesday decried the ratification by parliament last week of a deal with the United States to protect US citizens here from prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC). "We feel disappointed that government is yielding to the US because of the financial inducement being offered," parliamentary minority leader Alban Bagbin said in reaction to the 101-53 vote to ratify the controversial accord last Thursday. Noting that Ghana was the second African country to sign and ratify the 1998 Rome treaty establishing the ICC, whose vice president Akua Kuenyehia is a Ghanaian, Bagbin said it was "the hallmark of double standards for Ghana to ... turn around to ratify an agreement that obviously undermines the integrity of the court." The small opposition Socialist Forum of Ghana also slammed the vote, accusing the ruling New Patriotic Party of having a "slavish mentality" while noting that Ghana does not receive much aid from the United States. "The total value of military support that the US might withhold if we refused to sign the impunity agreement is a paltry four million dollars," the forum said in a statement. The United States cut off military aid to 38 countries that refused to sign an accord known as a Bilateral Non-Surrender Agreement (BNSA) that effectively grants US citizens immunity from ICC jurisdiction. The ICC prosecutes charges of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity, with liability for such crimes beginning from July 2002. Washington fears the court could become a forum for politically motivated prosecutions of US citizens, especially soldiers deployed abroad, and has been on a worldwide campaign to sign bilateral immunity deals. On Saturday the United States lifted sanctions against Ghana and six other countries -- Antigua and Barbuda, Botswana, East Timor, Malawi, Nigeria and Uganda -- that had finalized such agreements. Ghana agreed to the BNSA, subject to parliamentary approval, in July, becoming the 24th African country to do so. Thursday's vote was held, following a heated debate, because a parliamentary sub-committee had failed to reach a consensus. Foreign Minister Nana Akufo-Addo told AFP on Tuesday that the accord was in Ghanas national interest, adding that the agreement does not prevent Ghana from prosecuting any individual on its soil for such crimes.
East African Standard (Nairobi) 2 Nov 2003 BOOK REVIEW Koigi Lays Bare the Monster of Negative Ethnicity Dennis Onyango Nairobi Koigi wa Wamwere is brutally honest in his latest book, Negative Ethnicity; From Bias to Genocide. In 200 pages, the Subukia MP tackles the monster of tribe with the cold detachment of an intellectual and the emotional engagement of a victim and witness to the curse. He goes deeper than other writers who have tried to capture how complex, real and intricate ethnicity is in the affairs of African nations. Negative Ethnicity goes deeper than David Lamb's The Africans or Blaine Harden's Dispatches from a Fragile Continent. For Wamwere, negative ethnicity is a monster, a tragedy that is already happening and a matter of life and death. He comes close to Chinua Achebe's treatment of the subject in The Trouble With Nigeria. But Wamwere has covered wider ground on the havoc negative ethnicity is wreaking on Africa, quoting numerous cases. Wamwere stops short of calling for a government policy on ethnicity that will define the role the tribe is expected to play in national politics. Readers will be tempted to agree that the writer should have gone out of his way to ask for a Ministry of Tribes or Ethnic Affairs. Nothing ruins national politics and governance like ethnicity, even if it is being used only as an excuse. It is a monster that sullied Kenyatta's reign and killed his relationship with his one-time defender Jaramogi Oginga Odinga. It caused the ethnic cleansing in the Rift Valley and at the Coast and nobody yet knows how ethnicity will fare in Kibaki's regime. But the signs are already there that ethnicity will play in this regime the roles it played in those of Kenyatta and Moi. Wamwere's hatred for negative ethnicity comes to the fore in this work, and he wants something done about it before it consumes Kenya. Ironically, in national politics, Wamwere is accused of perpetrating this monstrosity. In theory, there is no tribalist in Kenya. In practice, ethnic chauvinists have been the key men of Kenya's two past regimes. But there is no doubt that Wamwere has researched on and understands the psychology of negative ethnicity. "Negative ethnicity says that only we are perfect. Those who are different from us culturally and linguistically are less human than we are. They are our enemies and we are entitled to enslave, exploit and destroy them if they resist." Language plays a great role in perpetuating negative ethnicity, Wamwere says. Kikuyu tribalists call the Luo Kihii or uncircumcised boys. The Luo on their part call the Kikuyus Jamwa, which he says is derogatory as it means uncivilised or unpolished. The writer recalls that during the 1992 elections, most Kikuyu voters denied Jaramogi Odinga votes because he was believed to be uncircumcised. Animal images have been used across the continent to justify ethnically-driven actions, he says. Other tribes are referred to as nyoka (snakes), a characterisation, he says, played a major role in the ethnic cleansing of 1992 in the Rift Valley. "In the idiom of negative ethnicity, to be a snake is to deserve destruction. A snake need not bite, or even look about to strike, to deserve its fate. It is dangerous. It must die." The murder of its children is justified by the saying mtoto wa nyoka ni nyoka (a snake's offspring is a snake). "Kill the children before they grow, smash the egg before it hatches." "Any name provoking fear, stirring the desire to destroy and justify the death of the other, is used: hyena, rat, snake, lice and cockroach." Sometimes these negative images get so intertwined with reality that they become part of the everyday worldview that communities use without a sense of guilt. Negative ethnicity gets tricky when a threatened leader turns to his tribe to retain power. Wamwere confesses coming face-to-face with it in 1969. That year, Kenyatta's Government allegedly assassinated its own minister, Tom Mboya. Suddenly, the Kikuyu were being called upon to protect their Government from the Luo. The writer recalls queuing in Kairu Village to take an oath that was being administered on the Kikuyu, binding them to protect "their" Government. He asked a young school girl waiting in line why they had to take the oath. "Because we must protect the Government of black people," the girl replied. "Protect it from whom?" Wamwere asked. "Luo people," the girl replied. Asked whether she knew that the Luo were black, she asked, "Are they?" He says Kenyatta came to power as a popular democrat, but died as an ethnic despot. He details how Kenyatta resorted to negative ethnicity to discredit Odinga who had resigned as his deputy because of his disappointment with him. Wamwere writes: "Without Moi in power, Kenya has an extraordinary opportunity to root out this disease from the heart and body of the country. The fate of Kenya is in its own hands." I disagree. Kenya's fate is in the hands of its politicians.
AFP 3 Nov 2003 Fighting erupts in northeastern Liberia MONROVIA, Nov 3 (AFP) - Rebels have overrun a string of towns and villages in northeastern Liberia on the border with Ivory Coast, leaving scores of people killed or wounded, the defense ministry said here Monday. The rebels are also setting fire to villages in Nimba county, near the stronghold of the rebel Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL). A MODEL legislator in the transitional government installed in mid-October denied the group's involvement in the fresh fighting, the latest unrest to erupt despite an August 18 peace accord. News reports last week said the son of exiled former president Charles Taylor and the former deputy commander of the Liberian military were in Ukraine negotiating for arms to launch a fresh attack from Ivorian territory. The United Nations, which confirmed the reported fighting, has dispatched a fact-finding mission to the area. Meanwhile, peacekeepers Sunday arrested five rebels of the main Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) as they ferried a huge cache of arms into Gardnersville, a former stronghold of militia loyal to Taylor. Clashes have erupted sporadically in Liberia since the August power-sharing agreement to help ensure lasting peace in the west African state, which has been ravaged by two civil wars in the last 14 years.
Reuters 4 Nov 2003 UN gives Liberia's warring factions ultimatum By Alphonso Toweh MONROVIA (Reuters) - The United Nations on Tuesday ordered rebels and government fighters to pull back from a volatile frontline in the north of Liberia and end clashes that have threatened a fragile peace deal. "They have been given 48 hours to pull back to the various positions they were in," Margaret Novicki, a UN spokeswoman in Monrovia, said. Reports of fierce clashes in Nimba -- far from the thousands of UN peacekeepers deployed around the capital, Monrovia -- have cast doubt on a peace deal meant to end 14 years of war. The ultimatum came after a UN mission flew to northern Nimba county to check reports of fighting between Liberia's smaller rebel group, known as Model, and government soldiers. The mission met with the commanders of the warring factions. Novicki did not say what would happen if the fighters did not move back before the deadline expired. She said Model had been asked to retreat to Tappita, a town near the border with Ivory Coast, while government soldiers had been asked to withdraw to Saclapea, further north. A UN mission will visit the area again on Thursday. Earlier, military officials said the towns of Gray, Tappita and Kpetuo had been attacked by Model. After former warlord Charles Taylor stepped down as Liberia's president in August, the warring factions agreed to lay down their arms and form a power-sharing government meant to shepherd the country to elections in two years. Although security is returning to Monrovia, thousands of armed fighters, including many child soldiers, still roam Liberia's lawless interior, looting at will. All sides have accused each other of violating the peace deal. A VHF radio operator in contact with people in Nimba, which was a traditional stronghold for Taylor, said attacks were reported on Tuesday morning. "The Model team is using heavy weapons to destroy the cities. Most of the people in the areas have fled the towns," the operator told Reuters. Model and the larger rebel Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) still control swathes of the country, which was founded by freed American slaves. The UN force is due to reach 15,000 to become the world body's biggest mission since one that ended war in nearby Sierra Leone.
Africa News 7 Nov 2003 War Crimes Charges Hang Over Warring Parties, The NEWS There are indications that violators of the Accra Agreement would face the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the future. United Nations Under Secretary General Jacques Klein reminded belligerent parties that events in Nimba County where skirmishes between militias of the former Government and rebels of the Movement of Democracy In Liberia (MODEL) have been taking place may be a recipe to face the ICC in the future. Ambassador Klein statement was contained in a release issued Thursday in which he warned that "all those who continue to commit atrocities, as defined under the ICC statute, will accordingly be liable to face future prosecution." The UNMIL called on leaders of warring parties to honor their obligations under the comprehensive Peace Agreement and the Ceasefire Agreement, restrain their ground commanders and cease further hostilities. Ambassador Klein said he was concerned and dismayed over reports of skirmishes between warring parties in northern Liberia and the atrocities committed by combatants against civilians in Nimba, saying, "those actions must be condemned in the strongest term." He pointed out that recent skirmishes constitute grave violations of the Ceasefire Agreement of June 17, 2003, and the comprehensive Accra Agreement signed by all parties in Accra, Ghana. According to the statement, the UN Under Secretary General explained that since the outbreak of those hostilities, UNMIL patrols visited the area on November 2 and 3 to assess the situation. The statement said on November 4, a joint investigation team led by UNMIL and including the Ministers of Defense and Justice-designate and representative of MODEL visited Tapeta and Saclapea in Nimba at which time it was clear that the fighting was between militias of the former government and rebels of MODEL. Ambassador Klein said the UNMIL team made it clear to the MODEL fighters on the ground - who were on the offensive toward saclapea - to cease and withdraw to their base in Tapeta while militias of the former Government were told to disengage and remain in their Saclepea position. "I also want to state that those atrocities being committed against civilians constitute WAR Crimes for which all perpetrators will be held accountable, since there is no amnesty for such crimes, the UN envoy warned.
AFP 12 Nov 2003 UN quells new fighting in eastern Liberia MONROVIA, Nov 12 (AFP) - UN peacekeepers in eastern Liberia have quelled new fighting between rebels and militias loyal to former president Charles Taylor, the United Nations said Wednesday. Abou Moussa, deputy commander of the UN Mission to Liberia (UNMIL), told reporters that fighting in the port city of Buchanan, some 90 kilometers (55 miles) down the west African country's Atlantic coast from Monrovia, erupted Tuesday between the militia and the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL). The fighters commandeered several UN vehicles but they have since been returned, Moussa told a regular press briefing. MODEL, the country's second largest former rebel group, has a stronghold in the southeast of Liberia, which is seeking to emerge from two successive civil wars over the past 14 years. Despite a power-sharing agreement signed in the Ghanaian capital Accra on August 18, sporadic clashes continue between rebels and the militias. Taylor stood down as president on August 11 under international pressure, taking asylum in Nigeria, although he is still thought to be in contact with sympathetic elements in Liberia. The power-sharing pact, which set up an interim government led by businessman Gyude Bryant that is to lead the country to elections in 2005, gave positions to rebels and members of Taylor's government, the political opposition and civil society. Moussa called on all parties in the conflict to honor the peace, warning that ceasefire violations "will not be tolerated." "The former government of Liberia and (rebel groups) are all participating in the transitional government," he said. "It is time they put their act together in the interest of Liberia." Newly installed UNMIL police commissioner Mark Croker, meanwhile, told reporters Wednesday that a small group of officers from Jordan, Bangladesh, Turkey and Norway were already in the country laying the groundwork for a UN police force to eventually number 1,115. The civilian police force, to number 100 by the end of the year, is to "provide the support necessary to build a resourceful, fully functioning police service, national in scope, community-based, with sound leadership," he said. "They will be trained and so well-equipped that all Liberians will be happy with them." The United Nations is due on December 7 to begin a disarmament, demobilization, rehabilitation and reintegration program in Liberia at three sites in areas now under UN control.
East African Standard (Nairobi) 15 Nov 2003 Churches Unite to Make Schools Safer Ken Ramani Nairobi Churches have initiated a project that will ensure safety in learning institutions across Sub-Saharan Africa. The Schools Safety Zone (SSZ) , an initiative of the Church World Service (CWS), offers conceptual and programatic frameworks for implementing the resolve of the African ecumenical leadership and responding to calls made by regional and international organisations concerning children. The New York-based CWS has incorporated Kenyan churches of different denominations in the effort to ensure conducive learning environment in schools. The initiative also involves the Ministry of Education, Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) and National Agency for the Campaign Against Drug Abuse (Nacada), Undugu Society, Women's networks, and the Ministry of Home Affairs. Speaking at the SSZ stakeholders' forum at a Nairobi hotel yesterday, Education Minister, Prof George Saitoti said the initiative will provide an opportunity for all to work together to enhance and close the gaps in education. He said the initiative addresses factors that militate against access to education and thus safe learning environment in institutions. Saitoti noted that unrest and strikes in schools, as well as incidences of drug abuse are clear indications of inappropriate learning environments. "Any learning institution that shows signs of these factors becomes an unsafe learning zone," said Saitoti. He told the forum that his ministry was making every effort to streamline student discipline and address problems of insecurity in schools through various interventions. The CWS project co-ordinator in Eastern Africa, Ms Jane Machira says the idea is an invitation to a meaningful multi-sector partnership among those who have a stake in Africa to invest in its future. It is hoped that the SSZ interventions could help reduce social inequalities rooted in poverty by helping to provide pupils with a safe area even during their further education. "To create school safe zones is an enormous task that calls for radical, creative, comprehensive and innovative interventions by all stakeholders," said Saitoti. Noting that the SSZ concept is holistic and addresses the total learning environment of children, which will ensure improved access, retention and performance, Saitoti promised his ministry's full backing. Others at the function included church leaders such as Rev Jesse Kamau, Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi, Bishop Mark Kariuki, Education PS, Prof Karega Mutahi, Knut Secretary-General, Mr Francis Ng'ang'a and Nacada Co-ordinator, Mr Joseph Kaguthi. It is noted that children in Africa live with the ominous and ever-present danger of violence that might erupt at any time, and many are buffeted by floods and droughts in repetitive patterns. These expose children to risks that make it almost impossible for them to concentrate on studies. Educational institutions are frequently targets for control and attack by warring factions during civil strife. In the recent past, schools in the North Rift, were closed for several months following skirmishes between the Marakwet and Pokot herdsmen and cattle rustlers. In Rwanda, during the 1994 genocide that shocked the world, there were routine attacks against schools by the Interahamwe, killing large numbers of teachers. Also during the Kosovo war in 1999, both the Orthodox Serbs and Muslim Albanians struggled for control of schools as they fought over community and religious practices. It was argued that educational institutions are considered sites of ideological struggle and contestation where the values of a particular group can be cultivated and fostered. Thus controlling schools is seen as key to power and the way to capture the hearts and minds of the next generation. Machira says SSZ is predicated upon the active participation of multiple stakeholders including children, parents, community, business, and government throughout the conceptualisation, designing, and implementation of the programme.
News 24 SA 8 Nov 2003 Genocide prosecutor to visit 08/11/2003 14:17 - (SA) Print article email story Tanzania - The new chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Hassan Bubacar Jallow, is scheduled to make his first official visit to Rwanda next week, court officials said on Saturday. The visit comes at a time of tense relations between the tribunal and Rwanda that led to the highly political removal of Jallow's predecessor, Carla Del Ponte. The government of Rwandan President Paul Kagame refused to co-operate with the ICTR when Del Ponte threatened to investigate members of the Tutsi-led armed forces for atrocities they may have committed when they invaded Rwanda in the wake of the genocide. Court officials said Jallow would meet senior government officials during his five-day visit to Rwanda. Jallow, a former judge from Gambia, took up his post as prosecutor on September 15. Del Ponte continues to be the prosecutor for the ICTR's sister court that deals with war crimes in the former Yugoslavia. The ICTR was set up by the United Nations three months after the end of the 1994 genocide, in which up to a million Tutsis and their Hutu sympathisers were slaughtered, to try the alleged orchestrators and perpetrators of the genocide. The court is currently hearing a case against for former government ministers in Rwanda who are accused of genocide and crimes against humanity.
Telegraph UK 8 Nov 2003 Rwanda showcases its grim past for tourists By Steve Jones (Filed: 08/11/2003) Macabre trips to sites of mass murder are being offered in Rwanda as the country tries to rebuild its shattered tourism industry. Tourism to Rwanda collapsed in 1994 after a civil war in which nearly one million Tutsis were butchered in 100 days. Rwanda has recently opened a tourist office in Ascot, Berkshire, and is keen to promote the country's areas of natural beauty such as Volcanoes Park, home to mountain gorillas. But officials predict curious visitors will be drawn to the many sites of mass graves. Local guides will escort people to the sites and describe the story of the genocide. In a tour of a former school near Butare - where 60,000 people died - bodies have been preserved in formaldehyde and stacked on tables. At another location in the capital, Kigali, a monument displays bodies in glass cages. Despite the nature of the tours, Julie Brenner, the director of Rwanda Tourism Europe, described some of the sites as "incredibly moving", but added that they were not for everyone. Natalie De La Porte, the marketing co-ordinator in Europe for Rwanda Tourism, said she was escorted by a guide who had seen entire family murdered. "They want to show and explain to overseas visitors what happened," she said. "It is important for them to make people aware and to make sure it never happens again."
AFP 9 Nov 2003 Rwandans embrace Islam in wake of genocide - Muslim community represents 10% of total Rwandan population For long a marginalised minority, Rwanda's Muslims have grown considerably in number and stature in the 10 years since the genocide of 1994. Like many of his compatriots, Isaac, a lanky young stonemason, converted after the bloody events of that year when he was a soldier in the Rwandan Patriotic Front, a Tutsi-led rebellion that is now the dominant force in government. "I converted after my unit came into Kigali and I saw how many of my fellow Tutsis has been hidden, and therefore saved, by Muslims," he told AFP between sips of a soft drink in the populous Nyamirambo district of the capital. According to the current government, up to a million people were killed over 100 days in 1994 during an orchestrated campaign by the Hutu government to rid the country of its Tutsi minority. At the time, about 1.2% of the population were of the Islamic faith which was introduced to Rwanda in about 1900 by Arab traders and translators working with the German military. One of those to swell this proportion to the current estimate of 10% is former Roman Catholic Jean-Pierre Sagahutu, who now works as a taxi driver. "I was hiding in a septic tank behind the house of a Muslim called Idrissa. Only he knew where I was. If he had betrayed me I would have been killed," he said. "But he didn't betray me," said Sagahutu. Many Rwandans can tell similar stories. Generally, those who sought refuge in mosques were protected from the government soldiers and militias who sought out and killed Tutsis. Church's record The Catholic church, by contrast, has a sorrier record. There are many examples of mass killings inside consecrated churches and even of collusion between the clergy and the killers. The UN court in Tanzania trying leading genocide planners and perpetrators has charged several Christian clergymen. In February, the court convicted an Adventist pastor and his son of genocide and crimes against humanity. In 2001, a court in Belgium, Rwanda's former colonial power, sentenced two nuns to 15 and 12 years in jail for their roles in the genocide. Rush to Islam The spokesman for Rwanda's Muslims, Salih Habimana, is an unassuming, hospitable man, sometimes seen with his wife and children at one of Kigali's swimming pools. Mosques are built and financed by local communities He recalls a big rush to convert to Islam immediately after the 1994 genocide, sometimes for dubious reasons. He told AFP that some Hutus thought conversion would spare them from suspicion of complicity, while some Tutsis saw it as a way of protecting themselves in the event of another genocide. Habimana believes Islam maintains its independence in Rwanda because it is largely self-financing. The tiny mosques whose green and white minarets dot the Rwandan countryside, are all built and financed by local communities. 'Mentally free' "Rwandan people, poor as we are, we are mentally free... We know that any funding which comes from abroad comes with conditions," he said, conceding that Rwandan Muslims do receive small contributions from Libya and Saudi Arabia. The Zaidi bin Sabiti Quranic school in Kigali's Bilyogo district where 40 girls and boys aged between five and 17 - selected for their knowledge of the Quran - study for free, is financed by a Saudi individual. Rwandan Muslims, themselves extremely tolerant of other religious beliefs, are well perceived by other religions - and, since the coming to power of President Paul Kagame, himself a Protestant, almost 10 years ago - are well-represented in the administration. The Muslim community, unsurprisingly, is anxious to maintain its newly-gained status. After the September 11 attacks on the US, the Rwandan Muslim community was quick to align itself with the government position, condemning the attacks in the strongest of terms.
Hirondelle News Agency (Lausanne) 13 Nov 2003 ICTR Prosecutor and Genocide Survivors Promise to Resolve Differences The new prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Hassan Jallow, and genocide survivors' organizations on Wednesday said they had agreed on "channels" to start resolving long-standing differences. "We are establishing a new relationship", Jallow told reporters as he walked to his car after his first meeting with genocide survivors'organizations since his appointment in August. "They represent an important constituency (&). Their concerns on the process are of extreme importance to us", he said. "We are starting in better conditions", said François Ngarambe, president of the genocide survivors'umbrella organization IBUKA. "He promised to consider our concerns so we can resume our cooperation with the court" "This is just the beginning", said Dancilla Mukandori, the president of AVEGA, the organization of women survivors of the genocide. "He has promised to examine what went wrong in the past such that we can have a good start. But this will not stop us from continuing to highlight any malfunctions of the court", she added. AVEGA has been one of the strongest critics of the functioning of the court. The ICTR and genocide survivors have had a strained relationship since early 2002. Genocide survivors organizations then severed cooperation with the ICTR accusing it of mistreating witnesses before the court, employing genocide suspects and generally operating at a very slow pace. On the other hand, the ICTR accused the government in Kigali of masterminding the cooperation standoff in a bid to frustrate efforts by the court to investigate allegations of war crimes committed by its members in the 1994 war. Consequently, the court had trouble convincing genocide survivors to testify, leading to adjournments of some trials. Although genocide survivors resumed testifying at the ICTR, their organizations have never officially removed the ban on testifying at the ICTR. Jallow is due to meet Rwandan president Paul Kagame on Thursday. Political observers in Kigali say that Thursday's meeting is the most important in determining whether or not the relationship between the court and Rwanda improves. The prosecutor of the ICTR on Wednesday also met Rwandan prosecutor General, Gerald Gahima. He is also expected to meet ICTR staff in Kigali before returning to his base in Arusha, Tanzania, on Friday.
AFP 13 Nov2003 Rwandan genocide survivors again to cooperate with war crimes court KIGALI : Rwandans who escaped the country's genocide in 1994 are ready to resume cooperation with the UN war crimes court trying its alleged ringleaders, the leader of a group of widows said. "We shall shortly be announcing the resumption of cooperation," Dancille Mukandoli, president of the Association of the Widows of Genocide (Avega), told AFP after meeting the tribunal's new chief prosecutor, Hassan Bubacar Jallow of Gambia, making his first visit to Kigali. Advertisement "Since the new prosecutor is ready to work with us and shows good will we cannot refuse," she said. Jallow took over in September as ICTR prosecutor from Carla Del Ponte of Switzerland, whose relations with Kigali grew increasingly tense towards the end of her tenure. The court was established by the United Nations in November 1994, seven months after the start of the genocide estimated to have left a million Tutsi and moderate Hutus dead. Associations representing victims of genocide will encourage witnesses to go to Arusha in Tanzania where the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) sits, Mukandoli said. Victims' associations stopped cooperating with the court in early 2002 in protest against what they said was the bad treatment of victims who went to give evidence, and in particular of women who had been raped. They also condemned the slow pace of the proceedings. "The meeting went very well, he made us good promises and seems ready to improve the working of the ICTR," Mukandoli said. "We asked in particular for the creation in Arusha of a reception centre for victims so they can be prepared before they testify and he agreed," she said. "He also promised to take the necessary steps to speed up the trials in view of the 2008 deadline (when the court's mandate expires)." Rwandan State Prosecutor Gerard Gahima said he was optimistic that relations would improve with the court. "I believe the new prosecutor is determined to improve the workings of the tribunal," Gahima said after meeting Jallow. The two prosecutors talked about "general cooperation between Rwandan institutions and the ICTR," he added. The ICTR, which was set up in November 1994, got off to a very slow start and the boycott by the victims made the process even more laborious. It has handed down a dozen convictions and one acquittal. About 60 genocide suspects are currently detained at the tribunal's facility in Arusha, northern Tanzania.
BBC 15 Nov 2003 Rwandan rebel gives up the fight Many rebel soldiers are implicated in the genocide The leader of a Rwandan Hutu rebel group which includes some of those who took part in the genocide of 1994 has surrendered to the government. Militia leader Paul Rwarakabije arrived in the capital Kigali on a Rwandan army helicopter after nearly a decade in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Accompanied by about 100 militiamen, he said he realised that violence was not the answer to Rwanda's problems. He was embraced by the army chief, General James Kabarebe. We have decided to put down guns - war is not the best solution Paul Rwarakabije The group which he led, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, brought together members of the former Rwandan army and Interahamwe fighters. Many of the rebels are implicated in the genocide in which an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were murdered. The group is estimated to have between 15,000 and 20,000 troops fighting the Rwandan Government from bases in the jungle of the eastern DR Congo. 'Important moment' A smiling Mr Rwarakabije was given a cordial welcome on his return to Kigali after giving himself up in the southwestern town of Cyangugu. "We have decided to put down guns," he said. "War is not the best solution." "This is a very important moment for Rwanda," said General Kaberebe. "The people we have been fighting with have made a decisive decision to come back in peace and abandon fighting. This is very interesting and very welcome." Sharoah Sharif, head of the UN peacekeeping mission in the Congolese province where Mr Rwarakabije's troops were based, also called the surrender "a very positive development". Mr Rwarakabije was a major in the Rwandan police before the 1994 genocide. He rose to the rank of lieutenant-colonel in the old Rwandan army before it was defeated by the Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front headed by current President Paul Kagame. Around two million Hutus fled to DR Congo, then known as Zaire. More recently, rebels under Mr Rwarakabije fought alongside the troops of DR Congo President Laurent Kabila against Rwandan Government troops and Congolese rebels. But Rwandan troops pulled out of DR Congo earlier this year as part of a peace deal signed in July.
Reuters 2 Nov 2003 Sudan army says air raid not truce violation-paper KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudan's armed forces have admitted carrying out air strikes in western Sudan but denied rebel claims the attack had broken a two-month-old ceasefire, an army spokesman was quoted as saying on Sunday. Khartoum and the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) in September signed the truce to end fighting that began in February in the arid and poor western Darfur province. The SLM/A said Khartoum had launched air strikes against its bases in Darfur on Saturday, which they considered a "return to war". The group added it would respect the truce while peace talks between the sides continue in the Chadian town of Abeche, near the borders of the two countries. But the independent Akhbar Al-Youm newspaper quoted armed forces spokesman Mohammed Bashir Suleiman as saying the army had hit positions of a different rebel group, with which Khartoum has no truce. "Since midday yesterday we noticed suspicious movements of the armed groups belonging to the Justice and Equality group in...an area not covered by the ceasefire signed in Abeche with the SLM/A," the paper quoted Suleiman as saying. "The issue was resolved militarily through air strikes". The SLM/A said on Friday the Chad peace talks were deadlocked over Khartoum's rejection of rebel demands for international monitors in Darfur, which the rebels accuse Khartoum of marginalising. Separate peace talks between the Sudanese government and another southern rebel group to end a 20-year-old civil war are making progress in Kenya, with both sides pledging to reach a comprehensive peace deal by the end of December.
AFP 5 Nov 2003 Sudan government, Darfur rebels extend ceasefire NDJAMENA, Nov 5 (AFP) - The Sudanese government and rebels in Sudan's western Darfur region have agreed to extend a ceasefire while they pursue negotiations in neighboring Chad, the official radio said late Tuesday. It cited a joint communique saying that the ceasefire agreed September 3 would be extended another 10 days to allow the rebels of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) to prepare annexes to a projected overall peace pact. The government and the SLM resumed talks at Abeche in eastern Chad on October 26 in an attempt to stem a conflict that is estimated to have cost 3,000 lives and displaced hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom have streamed into Chad. The rebels demand economic development of the semi-desert Darfur region, which lies near the Chad border. A first round of talks in Abeche produced a 45-day ceasefire that took effect on September 6 and remained in force even after it expired on October 18. However, each side has accused the other of violating the truce, which would amount to a first step toward ending a rebellion that erupted in February. Sudanese newspapers said that with Chadian President Idriss Debe chairing talks late Tuesday in Abeche, delegations from both sides endorsed a continuation of the ceasefire and a resumption of negotiations on December 4. Sudan's official Al Anbaa daily, reporting from Abeche, said the ceasefire statement provided for freedom of movement of people through the region and for granting relief organisations access to people on both sides. The SLM leadership last month voiced fears that the group will be wiped out by government troops if Khartoum reaches an agreement ending its 20-year war with the southern rebels of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA). The government-SPLA negotiations are taking place in Kenya.
IRIN 6 Nov 2003 Religious leaders' efforts to promote peace NAIROBI, 6 November (IRIN) - The government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) have hailed recent efforts by muslim and christian leaders to promote peace and dialogue as part of efforts to end their country's 20-year civil war. The Sudanese deputy ambassador to Kenya, Muhammad Ahmad Dirdeiry, on Tuesday said any initiative by religious leaders to ease the tensions between Muslims and Christians was welcome. "We welcome all religious dialogue between Christians and Muslims. Religious leaders always have a very important role in societies such as ours," he said. "They should assist to ease the tensions and send a message of tolerance to their communities. The idea we have as a negotiating party is also to sensitise civil society and other groups," he added. He was commenting on recent remarks by the general secretary of the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC), the Rev Mvume Dandala, challenging Sudanese church leaders to gear themselves up for the task of "profiling and marketing peace" in their country. Dandala told a meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, that the church had a crucial responsibility in monitoring peace implementation, noting that a final peace agreement between the Sudanese government and SPLM/A was expected to be signed soon. He went on to say that the church needed to ensure that the Sudanese people were educated on the protection of human rights, which was a critical element in fostering peace in the country. "Signing the peace agreement is one thing, but the development of a harmonious society is another. Churches will have to play a leading role, as they have done in the past, to help create a harmonious society," he said. Samson Kwaje, the official spokesman of the SPLM/A told IRIN on Tuesday that the church was "better placed to promote peace in Sudan due to its credibility. When a priest preaches on the pulpit, nobody challenges him." The church in Sudan had often associated itself with the southern struggle, leading to its persecution by the government in the north, he said. "Somehow, the church has a stake in peace in Sudan, because with peace, freedom of religion would be better," he said. Earlier this week, a leading Sudanese Islamic leader, Hasan Abdullah al-Turabi, also called for the enhancement of inter-religious dialogue in Sudan. Turabi, who is the chairman of the opposition Popular National Congress (PNC), led a delegation to visit and congratulate the newly appointed Sudanese Catholic Cardinal Gabriel Zubeir Wako in the capital, Khartoum. Turabi said Muslims and Christians needed to continue working for peace in the country "through dialogue and coexistence". "As a cardinal, your voice will be heard and respected in Sudan, Africa and in the world," Turabi was quoted by the Catholic news service (CISA) as saying. Kwaje said Turabi, as an authoritative Islamic leader in Sudan, had a major role to play in promoting dialogue and peace in the country. "He [Turabi] has authority. Whatever he says can be taken seriously. Even those with a hostile attitude can believe in his pronouncements," Kwaje told IRIN. Kwaje added that the SPLM/A movement was already conducting awareness campaigns among its constituents in southern Sudan about progress in the peace process, and sensitising them on their roles in perpetuating peace in the country. "We ourselves are doing a lot. When talks adjourn, we go back to south Sudan and have consultative meetings with local governors, religious groups and women's groups on the peace talks, and sensitise them on their responsibilities," Kwaje added. The Sudanese peace talks, due to resume in Kenya at the end of November, have made promising progress in the past few months. Despite the outstanding issues of wealth and power sharing, and the disputed territories of Southern Blue nile, Abyei and the Nuba mountains, both negotiating parties have committed to signing a final peace agreement before the end of the year.
AFP 9 Nov 2003 US embassy in Sudan regrets ban on visit to troubled Darfur province KHARTOUM, Nov 9 (AFP) - The US embassy expressed regret that US officials were barred on Sunday from visiting South Darfur state in western Sudan to monitor humanitarian programmes. "The American embassy regrets that the charge d'affaires and other reporesentatives of the embassy and USAID were prohibited travel," the mission said in a statement. It said the visit was authorised by the Sudanese foreign ministry but barred by the Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC), a government agency. The embassy and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) had asked for the visit "to monitor ongoing programs and determine the need for other assistance", it said. It noted that USAID administrator Andrew Natsios had visited the region two weeks ago and found that hundreds of thousands of people were in need of assistance. "The embassy believes that the present climate, including a ceasefire agreement, should permit free travel throughout Sudan and encourage the government of Sudan to remove barriers to free movement," the statement said. Khartoum and Darfur rebels decided Tuesday to extend a Chadian-brokered ceasefire agreed in September for another 10 days while they pursue negotiations in neighboring Chad.
AFP 11 Nov 2003 15 killed in armed attacks in western Sudan: report KHARTOUM, Nov 11 (AFP) - Unidentified gunmen have killed 15 people and wounded many others in four separate attacks in Sudan's western province of Darfur, a Sudanese electronic newspaper reported Tuesday. The report on the privately-owned website Sudanile quoted an MP from the region, Bashir Ibrahim Yahyah. He did not specify the dates of the attacks nor the identity of the gunmen. Authorities here had no comment on the report. The last such attacks in the region, last week, were attributed by the Sudanese press to Arab militias known as Janjaweed. The Sudanese regime has said it stopped supporting these militias but that they had run out of control. Khartoum initially backed them to fight a Darfur rebel group, the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM), which demands a better economic deal for the neglected region. The Khartoum government and the SLM on November 5 decided to extend a ceasefire agreed in September for another 10 days while they pursue negotiations in neighbouring Chad.
Reuters 2 Nov 2003 Genocide trial for 4 ex-ministers DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) -- Four former ministers go on trial on Monday charged with playing key roles in Rwanda's 1994 genocide, including handing out weapons, travelling abroad to buy guns and inciting the slaughter of 800,000 people. The U.N. tribunal, based in the northern Tanzanian town of Arusha, is keen to show progress in trying former top officials to counter Rwandan government criticism that it has been slow to bring the masterminds of the massacres to justice. "The crimes they are alleged to have committed resulted in massacres against Tutsis and moderate Hutus," Roland Amoussouga, spokesman for the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) said on Sunday. The ministers belonged to an interim government that came to power in April 1994 after a plane carrying President Juvenal Habyarimana was shot down just before the killing started. The interim government was ousted by Tutsi-led rebels three months later, but by then government-sponsored Hutu militants had killed an estimated 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus. The ministers served under Prime Minister Jean Kambanda, who became the first head of government to be convicted of genocide when he was jailed for life by the tribunal in September, 1998. Among the defendants due to go on trial on Tuesday is former Health Minister Casimir Bizimungu, a 52-year-old former doctor who studied medicine in the United States. Bizimungu, who was arrested in Kenya in February 1999, denies charges of genocide, incitement to genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. He is accused of traveling overseas to buy weapons for the militias with government funds and of doing nothing to stop massacres of patients and staff at hospitals under his control. Appearing with him are former Trade and Industries Minister Justin Mugenzi, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Jerome Bicamumpaka and former Minister for Civil Service Prosper Mugiraneza. They also deny the charges. Prosecutors say that as early as April 9, two days after the massacres began, Mugenzi, a 54-year-old former businessman, openly expressed satisfaction that many Tutsis had been killed. Bicamumpaka, Mugenzi and Mugiraneza were arrested in Cameroon in April 1999 and later transferred to the ICTR. The tribunal, set up in November 1994, has sentenced 12 people so far, four of whom are appealing against their convictions. More than 40 suspects are in custody.
BBC 8 Nov 2003 'Scores killed' in Ugandan attack The army has been unable to end the LRA rebellion At least 60 people are reported to have been massacred in Uganda by members of the country's rebel forces. Gunmen from the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) killed dozens of civilians in violent attacks on villages, an army spokesman told Reuters news agency. Lieutenant Chris Magezi said the attacks seemed to be an act of revenge for the killing of a rebel commander. The rebels are responsible for abducting thousands of children during the country's 17-year civil war. 'Victims beheaded' "Scores of civilians were killed at around midnight on 6 November in Alanyi and Awayopiny villages in Lira district," Mr Magezi said. He said the attacks were probably sparked by the army's killing of LRA number two, Charles Tabuley, on 29 October. His death was widely seen as likely to weaken rebel operations. Catholic missionary, Father Sabbat Ayele, told the AFP news agency that witnesses had said the rebels had beheaded some of the victims while a number of grass-thatched huts were set on fire. The LRA rebels- based in southern Sudan, northern and eastern Uganda - have fought to overthrow President Yoweri Museveni since 1988. Thousands of civilians have been killed and more than a million others displaced by the fighting in northern Uganda alone. Humanitarian organisations say that about 20,000 children have been abducted by the rebels over the last five years, with many taken to LRA bases in southern Sudan, where they are trained as child soldiers while the girls are turned into sex slaves.
AFP 9 Nov 2003 Religious leaders call for UN intervention in Uganda war KAMPALA, Nov 9 (AFP) - Religious leaders based in the north of Uganda Sunday called on the UN Security Council to urgently address the "forgotten conflict" that has killed many people and displaced over a million others in that region. "We are aware that this is a war that has remained for long in the dark, and which fits in the category of the world's forgotten conflicts," the leaders told visiting UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Jan Egeland. "The war in Northern Uganda (should) be urgently addressed by the UN Security Council," they added, also calling on both the Ugandan government and the Lord's Resistance Army rebels to commit themselves to the peaceful option to end the war by negotiation. Egeland on Sunday met members of an interfaith peace initiative, the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI), which is seeking to end a 17-year onslaught through dialogue between Kampala and the rebel Lord's Resistance Army. "The United Nations (should) play a great role in scaling down the violence by placing peace observers in the conflict areas," the leaders added. A statement signed by ARLPI chairman, Catholic Archbishop of Gulu, John Baptist Odama, said food distribution in Northern Uganda also required adequate protection. About two weeks ago food was distributed in Kalongo in Pader district and the following night rebels attacked the camp and stole what they could, abducting a good number of the displaced people, according to the statement sent to AFP. Egeland met representatives of displaced people, including children.
AFP 9 Nov 2003 Lord's Resistance Army terrorizes northern Uganda KAMPALA, Nov 9 (AFP) - The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) has terrorized northern Uganda since 1988 in its attempt to bring down the government of President Yoweri Museveni and put in its place a regime based on the Biblical Ten Commandments. The LRA, the oldest and best known of the Ugandan rebel groups, is active along the frontier with Sudan and carries out most of its attacks in the northeast of the East African country. The war, marked by the mutilation of civilians and the abduction of thousands of children into the LRA's ranks, has caused tens of thousands of deaths and driven some 1.2 million people from their homes. After a couple of years of relative calm, the conflict has flared up again since 2002. The fighting broke out shortly after Museveni rose to power in 1986, when the voodoo priestess Alice Lakwena took up arms to topple the new regime. At the head of her Holy Spirit Movement, which mixed Christian and animist beliefs, she threatened the regime until the defeat of her followers by the army at the end of 1987. Kakwena was succeeded in 1988 by an acolyte and relative, Joseph Kony, who headed first the United Christian Democrat Army of Uganda and then the Lord's Resistance Army, composed of remnants of the Holy Spirit Movement. The army's principal means of recruitment is the abduction of village children. The adolescent males are forced to fight, while the girls are forced to become sex slaves for the army commanders. The UN Human Rights Commission denounced the LRA in 2001 for abuses including kidnapping, torture, forcible detention, rape, enslavement and the forced enrolment of children. In 2003, Human Rights Watch issued a report based on the accounts of numerous witnesses describing the brutality practiced by the army on children it used as soldiers, servants or sex slaves. But according to the New York-based rights group, the Ugandan army also recruits children as young as 12 to serve and sometimes fight in the ranks of village defense forces. In nearly 16 years of fighting, more than 20,000 children have been used as soldiers. The LRA and the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) have long been at the root of discord between Uganda and Sudan, which broke diplomatic relations in 1995. Kampala accuses Sudan of supporting the LRA, while Khartoum says Uganda has backed the SPLA since 1983. But in 1992, the two countries reestablished dipoomatic ties and signed an agreement, since renewed, authorizing the Ugandan army to deploy units in the south of Sudan to search for and destroy LRA bases.
Mail and Guardian 10 Nov 2003 Lord's Resistance Army kills 100 civilians Kampala: Rebels in northern Uganda have massacred more than 100 civilians in five consecutive days of raids, the head of the regional government alleged on Monday. The Lord's Resistance Army has been raiding villages in Lira district daily, and more than 100 bodies have been found between Wednesday and Saturday, Franco Ojur, the district chairman said by telephone on Monday. "Many more bodies are being discovered in the bushes and the death toll is about 100. Most people have fled the villages, but those remaining are discovering the bodies in the bushes," Ojur said. "They are killing almost 20 people per day in Lira." Lt. Chris Magezi, an army spokesperson based in Lira, 270km north of Kampala, said he could only confirm that about 40 people had been hacked to death with machetes and clubs since Wednesday in attacks by the rebels. The insurgency by the Lord's Resistance Army, a shadowy guerrilla force which took up arms 16 years ago to fight the government in Kampala, has displaced over a million people and killed thousands in attacks on mostly civilian targets. The group has also kidnapped thousands of children for use as soldiers or concubines. The raids in northern Uganda have intensified as government troops have attacked their bases in southern Sudan and have pursued them more aggressively inside Uganda. "The rebels have formed so many fronts and are abducting and killing people. They have changed their tactics to more to killing than abducting," Ojur said More than 3 000 people have abandoned their homes and fled by foot to the district headquarters in Lira town for protection, humanitarian groups said Monday.
AFP 11 Nov 2003 War in northern Uganda world's worst forgotten crisis: UN NAIROBI, Nov 11 (AFP) - A top UN official on Tuesday described the 17-year-old rebel war in northern Uganda as the worst forgotten humanitarian crisis on earth and pledged to beef up relief operations. "The conflict in northern Uganda is the biggest forgotten, neglected humanitarian emergency in the world today," Jan Egeland, UN under secretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, told a news conference in Nairobi after a two-day visit to the north of Uganda. "We have to increase our support. We will do things. We the United Nations have also done too little. The donors have done too little. The government has done too little, we have all done too little," the official admitted. "We must rectify that," he added. "I was shocked, it is a moral outrage what has happened and is happening," Egeland said, adding that the war waged by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and the Ugandan government had led to the displacement of 1.3 million people and the deaths of tens of thousands. "This is not a war where the civilian population is affected through collateral damage, it is a war targetting the civilian population, and especially children" said Egeland. "How can we as an international community accept that a war is continuing that is directed and targetted against children... who are abducted, brainwashed and made into child soldiers or sex slaves and forced to attack and kill their own families in their own villages?" he asked. "This senseless slaughter must end. It cannot and should not continue one day more," he declared. The LRA took over the leadership of northern Uganda's rebellion in 1988, two years into a conflict fuelled by the perceived economic marginalisation of the region by Kampala. The group distinguishes itself by its brutality and its total absence of a public political face, a characteristic that makes negotiating an end to the war all but impossible. The LRA has said it wants to overthrow President Yoweri Museveni's government and replace it with a regime based on the Bible's Ten Commandments. Few outsiders, government officials or journalists, have ever met LRA leader Joseph Kony, whose reputation for pseudo-mystical brutality was enhanced a couple of years ago when he reportedly issued and mercilessly enforced an additional, "divinely-inspired" edicts: thou shalt not ride a bicycle or eat pork. Offenders were beaten and even killed but not often given a clear reason for the new commandments. "I know of no place in the world where such a bad situation has so little international presence and so little international relief," Egeland said. Egeland said the UN's Organisation for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which he heads, and other UN agencies will increase their presence and actions in northern Uganda from one to four or five over the next few months. More would also be done, he said, to increase government protection for humanitarian convoys, which currently cannot move freely. "There is some hope," added Egeland, on the basis of meetings with donors in Nairobi and Kampala who said they were also keen to step up their response. When, on November 18, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan launches appeals for humanitarian operations around the world, Uganda will feature prominently. "We will appeal to the donors to fund our work generously," said Egeland, adding that he hoped actual money flows will be greater than the usual 50 to 60 percent of the total sought in the past. "I think Uganda will not longer be forgotten but it will continue to be a major emergency," he said.
Christian Aid 11 Nov 2003 Children in northern Uganda targeted by the Lord's Resistance Army Pius O has just walked three kilometres with his two younger brothers in order to go to bed. He lives with his parents in Ariaga but every night joins the streams of children known as 'night commuters' walking to the town of Gulu in northern Uganda to sleep in safety. Pius leaves home at six o'clock. An hour and a half later he has reached the safety of the Holy Rosary Catholic Church where about 2,000 boys and girls sleep. He repeats his 90-minute walk to get back home in the morning before going to school. 'I have been coming here for a year with my brothers. We would prefer to stay at home but because of the war, we cannot. I have friends who have been taken by the rebels.' Pius is a slightly-built thirteen year old who he takes the responsibility for his brothers, who are nine and ten, seriously. 'I am the one controlling them,' he says. At dusk the roads leading into Gulu are choked with the night commuters, it's estimated anywhere from 12-15,000 children come in every night. They have bedding on their heads or under their arms. Some are already wearing their school uniforms and have satchels are their backs, ready to go straight to school from their shelter. They sleep in makeshift shelters, in churches, warehouses and the local hospital, the bus park and, for those unlucky enough not to get into a locked shelter, on the street. The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) is the reason these children walk up to two hours every night in order to sleep. The LRA has a long history of abducting children and looting personal property. Parents send their children into town for their own security while they stay at home to protect their property. Since 1986, the LRA, led by the self-styled mystic Joseph Kony, has waged a brutal civil war against the Ugandan government. The Acholi people of the north have been the main victims; more than 80 per cent are internally displaced, living in camps with little food and poor sanitation. For more than a year now, the Concerned Parents Association (CPA), a Christian Aid partner, has been running four centres where children like Pius can seek safety. The CPA was set up in 1996 and now represents more than 3,400 families in 121 support groups. It advocates for the release of abducted children and works both with released children and their families. Phoebe Okello works with the CPA and knows what she is talking about. Her daughter was abducted in 1996 when she was 15 years old. 'We are powerless, the government does not want to talk to us and the rebels don't want to talk to us. We made the abductions public so we are now labelled as 'terrorists'. The government claims they have the LRA on the run, so the LRA in turn commits more atrocities so that the people will know the government is lying.' The CPA illustrates the dilemma in which the people in north find themselves. Ever since the US government put the LRA on its list of terrorist organisations in late 2001, the government has referred to the LRA and people who attempt to negotiate with them as 'terrorists'. According to Phillip Lutara, the branch coordinator of the CPA, there is no local support for the LRA, but 'you have to realise 85 per cent of the rebels are abducted children. They are our children. Just because we don't support military action does not mean we support the LRA.' This summer the LRA sent another signal that it was not defeated when it launched attacks in the north-eastern province of Teso. Terrified people flooded into the town swelling the population of Soroti from 40,000 to 120,000. Religious leaders in Soroti have been contacted by another Christian Aid partner in Gulu, the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI). They have been active in trying to find a peaceful solution in the north and want to pass on their expertise. Philip Okin, programme coordinator of ARPLI, says the military option has no future in Uganda. 'We have to build a culture of peace in the community. We want to be a bridge between the government and the LRA but unfortunately because the government insists it can defeat the LRA, we have not been able to achieve much.' Okin echoes what many Ugandans say - the government and the army are not interested in ending the war since too many people are benefiting from it. Okin says the government's attempt to dismiss the LRA as a 'northern problem' is shortsighted. He fears the presence of numerous government-sanctioned militias and the evident wealth - thanks to the war - accumulated by some people, could lead a 'Somalia situation with warlords.' Back at the Holy Rosary Catholic Church Joseph O is thankful he can find safety there every night, even though he has to walk for two hours to reach it. He knows firsthand the dangers faced by children in the north. 'In October 1999 I was abducted with two friends when we were on the way to school,' he says. 'They took us to the Aswa River. Some were killed there. One of my friends was killed in front of my eyes when he tried to escape.' Joseph was chosen to be a commander's escort, which meant he had to carry his chair and gun. He escaped a year later when the LRA was ambushed by government forces. But he has no illusions about his situation. 'Of course I am always afraid. If they get me for a second time they will definitely kill me.'
New Vision (Kampala) 24 Nov 2003 President Tours Massacre Scenes Kampala PRESIDENT Yoweri Museveni on Friday toured the scenes of the gruesome massacres in Lira district and vowed that the UPDF would rid the district of banditry, reports Henry Mukasa. A statement from State House said Museveni visited Alero village in Nyakachi parish of Adokokwok sub-county where 12 people were murdered by the Lord's Resistance Army rebels. It said Museveni also visited Adur parish and Rachele Children's rehabilitation centre in Lira municipality. The centre counsels and rehabilitates children rescued from rebel captivity. The centre, set up last month, has so far rehabilitated 370 children. Museveni assured the residents that the army would end the 17-year-long rebellion "given the goodwill exhibited by the political, religious and cultural leadership in Lango region." He, however, called for 'calm and patience' as the Government tackles the problem. MPs from Lango and Acholi with support from individual MPs from Teso and West on Wednesday announced they are quitting Parliament until peace was restored in their area. The president met Lango cultural leaders led by their paramount chief, Odor Yosam.
Oxfam 7 Nov 2003 Zimbabwe's food crisis deepens By: Kevin Pepper/Oxfam An estimated five million Zimbabweans - more than a third of the population - will need food aid by the end of the year. Why is the food crisis in Zimbabwe continuing to worsen? A host of factors - erratic rainfall on the heels of a drought, a widespread shortage of seeds, a deteriorating economy - are contributing to the country's current food crisis. There is a critical shortage of maize (corn) seed countrywide. An estimated 730,000 rural households are in need of seed, and there is no contingency plan in place to import the seed to meet this shortfall. It is estimated that Zimbabwe will be able to produce only 30 percent of its food requirements in the 2003/2004 agriculture season. Annual inflation in Zimbabwe rose to 455 percent by the end of September, one of the highest inflation rates in the world, and one of the fastest shrinking economies in the world. Zimbabwe is struggling with extreme shortages of foreign currency which means that it cannot buy enough of its much-needed resources and products from other countries such as gas, electricity, and essential medicines. Unemployment is over 70 percent in a country that five years ago had one of the best employment rates in Sub-Saharan Africa. Manufacturers and suppliers have been raising prices to keep up with the rising costs of production. The agricultural sector has been particularly hard hit by the price increases. For example, the price of 25 kilograms of maize seed has risen from $10,000 (Zimbabwe dollars) in August to $52,000 in September, while fertilizer prices have gone up by about 300 percent within the last month. Given the deteriorating economic environment and the shortage of essential commodities such as food, seed, fertilizers, fuel, and agricultural machinery, there is a real danger that Zimbabwe will continue to suffer a major food crisis. In the rural areas, worsening poverty levels have forced many households to adopt survival strategies, such as selling off their livestock and other assets such as furniture, farming equipment and other items of value. The Consortium for Southern Africa Food Emergency (CSAFE) estimates that 68 percent of Zimbabwe's rural population is asset-poor, or has nothing of any significant value left to sell, and cannot cope with further food shortages. What is Oxfam doing in response to the food crisis? Oxfam is working with local partners in Southern Africa to provide emergency food aid and to address long-term development needs in the region. Association of Women's Clubs (AWC) The Association of Women's Clubs (AWC), with more than 60,000 members, operates in rural areas throughout the country. In order to empower people to recover their independence from food assistance, AWC has recently shifted their program from direct food distribution to seed distribution. AWC provides maize, sugar bean, groundnut, and pumpkin seeds for more than 2,200 families in the Mashonaland East Province, in the Seke District. This seed pack is designed to provide the essential ingredients in the common rural Zimbabwe diet. Beans and groundnuts are essential sources of vegetable protein, and mature pumpkins are a vital source of carbohydrate and protein. AWC concentrates on getting the seeds to the people who need them most. Beneficiaries for food aid are selected based on their vulnerability, with priority given to the elderly, the chronically ill, widows, orphans, and child-headed households. Seeds are distributed in the presence of the community, and people are encouraged to speak up if they feel that there is a discrepancy or injustice in the allocation system. The system is extraordinarily successful because it places a priority on transparency, on-going involvement by the community, control of the distribution process by women, and monitoring by AWC staff who are not local residents. AWC is expanding its relief program, adding additional rehabilitation measures such as water pumps and micro-finance programs. Management Outreach Training Service for Rural and Urban Development (MOTSRUD) In the Chikomba District, Oxfam partner Management Outreach Training Service for Rural and Urban Development (MOTSRUD) is operating a parallel seeds distribution program to AWC's food aid project. In addition to providing seeds to 2,250 rural families, MOTSRUD has introduced another vital component to their program - HIV/AIDS education. The MOTSRUD staff is offering voluntary HIV/AIDS testing, preventative education, and counseling and additional food aid for AIDS orphans. The organization works through local youth - via schools and community groups - to disseminate HIV/AIDS educational materials.
Telegraph UK 13 Nov 2003 New resistance movement challenges Mugabe A new Zimbabwean resistance has been created to overthrow current leader Robert Mugabe's regime by force. The Zimbabwe Freedom Movement is a network of underground cells made up of guerilla fighters, soldiers and spies who believe Mugabe should be deposed and then tried for genocide. In its first statement, the organisation said: "ZFM believes that since we have not achieved democracy by peaceful means, it is necessary to place the illegitimate president and government of Zimbabwe on notice that they are about to be removed by the judicious use of appropriate force." The ZFM statement was released through British human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who has twice attempted a citizen's arrest of Mugabe. The statement stressed that Mr Tatchell was only a messenger for ZFM and had no involvement with the organisation "in any way". The ZFM statement said: "ZFM requires that Robert Mugabe step down immediately as President and that the present government be dissolved in its entirety. If Mugabe refuses to go, the ZFM will remove him and his cronies by 'force'." After Mugabe has stepped down or been removed, ZFM said a constitution would be drawn up, followed up by free and fair elections. ZFM said it did not harbour any desire to take power or to engage in any form of political activity. Mr Tatchell campaigned in the 1970s in support of Mugabe's liberation struggle against white minority rule, believing it to be a just struggle against racism and colonialism. He said: "As the ZFM recruits more supporters within the defence and security forces, the noose is slowly tightening around the Mugabe regime. From now on, President Mugabe can never relax or sleep peacefully."
Zimbabwe Independent (Harare) 14 Nov 2003 Government Halt to Food Imports Will Hit Towns AS foreign currency shortages continue to bite, government has stopped food imports, threatening disaster for many poor urban households in the new year. The Zimbabwe Independent understands that government, through the Grain Marketing Board (GMB), has for the past five months not floated tenders for food imports. Food provided by donor agencies is mainly fed to people in communal areas while food imported by government is processed and sold in urban areas. It is believed Zimbabwe will run out of food by December unless fresh supplies are secured. Information provided by aid agencies last week said government had not floated tenders to import grain. There was also no ship at sea bringing in fresh supplies. What they call the aid "pipeline" was therefore ruptured. In its letter of appeal to donors for food assistance in July this year, the government said the country would face a deficit of 700 000 tonnes. It also indicated that it did not have the US$142 million needed to import food. Donors this week said food shortages in January were likely to be more severe than those experienced last year due to government's failure to import grain. The WFP two weeks ago announced that there would be a pipeline break in food aid at the end of the year unless new donor support was secured. Aid agencies also said government had not landed adequate stocks of maize seed for planting in the 2003/4 season. The agencies said the GMB and the Agricultural Rural Development Authority, who were given the mandate to import seeds and other inputs, had so far managed to bring in a paltry 13 500 tonnes of fertiliser. "The parastatals are currently negotiating with Zambia and South African seed houses," officials in the agriculture ministry said. "The seed will not get into the country in time for the current planting season because of the bureaucracy in government and the fact that government has no money." The World Food Programme last week said government had appealed to the international community to assist with maize seed imports to cover the projected deficit.
Institute for the Study of Genocide 17 Nov 2003 www.isg-iags.org ISG ACTION ALERT: FOOD USED AS A POLITICAL WEAPON IN ZIMBABWE The Institute for the Study of Genocide is issuing an action alert on Zimbabwe based on the following background information. November 17, 2003 BACKGROUND: Human Rights Watch issued a report on October 24, 2003 charging Zimbabwean authorities with discrimination against perceived political opponents by denying them access to food. Their finding reinforces previous reports of such denial. In 2002, it was also reported not only by South African organizations but by Physicians for Human Rights--Denmark-- the report was summarized by THE GUARDIAN (London) on May 26, 2002. Later and more comprehensive reports by PHR-Denmark are listed at web-links at the end. This denial should be seen in the context of the failure of Zimbabwe's food supply and rampant inflation which is a result of political decisions taken by the government. These include the violent confiscation of land from white farmers (using racism as an appeal)--land on which an ample supply of food, providing a surplus for export, was grown-- giving it to cronies of Pres. Robert Mugabe who do not farm rather than to the farm workers employed on it. For a good review of such policies, see Samantha Power, "How to Kill a Country," ATLANTIC, December 2003, available on newstands Nov. 18. Food denial supplements direct killings and torture (documented by many human rights organizations) of perceived opponents representing the majority, the Movement for Democratic Change, believed by many observers to have actually won the last election. At present half the population relies on food aid, a greater percentage than in Ethiopia during the famine. Most food is distributed through the Government Marketing Board. HRW observes that "Any perceived political adverseries of ZANU-PF [government party] or the government encounter difficulty gaining access to food. Known members of the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), are top-most among perceived enemies. This category also encompasses teachers, former commercial farm workers and urban residents--groups generally considered to favor the MDC. In effect, without a ZANU-PF party card, a Zimbabwean cannot register for or receive government-subsidized grain." There are other reports of discrimination against the elderly, AIDS patients, and white farmers. Peter Takirambudde, executive director of the HRW Africa division says, "Select groups of people are being denied access to food...This is a human rights violation as serious as arbitrary imprisonment or torture." HRW views this as a violation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1948) guaranteeing the right to food. In 1999, a UN Committee on this Covenant stated that "any discrimination in "access to food, as well as to means and entitlements for its procurement" on any grounds was a violation of the Covenant. The use of food as a weapon is not uncommon among authoritarian countries and may be related to broader destructive policies. Such destructive policies include "genocide by attrition," starvation of a targeted group. Gregory Stanton, director of Genocide Watch, earlier termed Pres. Mugabe's policies as potential "politicide"--destruction of a political group. Power and Stanton note Pres. Mugabe's earlier use (1982-83) of genocidal massacres against the Ndebele people of Matabeleland, killing 2,000-8,000 people. FOR DETAILS see ICG ACTION ALERT
BBC 17 Nov 2003 Mugabe seeks Commonwealth invite Obasanjo will not want a huge row over Zimbabwe at the summit Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo is holding talks in Harare over next month's Commonwealth summit in Abuja. Zimbabwe has been suspended since presidential elections last March which Commonwealth observers said were marked by violence and intimidation. President Obasanjo is meeting President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. Press reports suggest Mr Mugabe is lobbying to be invited by Mr Obasanjo, who is hosting the summit. Nigeria says it will be seeking evidence to indicate Zimbabwe has addressed human rights concerns. President Mugabe says he is being excluded from the summit because of objections by Britain and other Western governments to his land redistribution programme. On Sunday Mr Obasanjo's spokeswoman Remi Oyo said they could not be definitive on the issue. "Every new day presents its challenges," she told AFP news agency. Back door Nigeria also sits on a special committee on Zimbabwe, alongside South Africa, which favours quiet diplomacy to resolve Zimbabwe's political crisis, and Australia, which has taken a more combative stance against President Mugabe. Mr Mugabe is furious at his exclusion from the summit A BBC correspondent says that despite widespread speculation recently that Nigeria was trying to sneak President Mugabe in the back door for the summit, it is thought the Nigerian leader is likely to confirm Robert Mugabe's exclusion. When President Obasanjo last spoke about the issue in September, he said that there would have to be a sea change in Zimbabwe for President Mugabe to be invited. On Friday the Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Don McKinnon, said efforts by the Commonwealth to have a dialogue with Zimbabwe had been in vain. The suspension was extended to December this year after Australia, South Africa and Nigeria said there had been no progress in addressing human rights issues.
Oct. 14, 2003 Argentine team excavates graves of famous, infamous, anonymous By KEVIN G. HALL Knight Ridder Newspapers Agustin Di Toffino observes the pit left by a mass grave. His father, Tomas, was kidnapped in 1976 by an army commando and never seen again. DIEGO GIUDICE, Knight Ridder Tribune. CORDOBA, Argentina - The Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team, which excavated the mass grave in the San Vicente cemetery near Cordoba, was the first of its kind in Latin America when launched in 1984, a year after the fall of a brutal military regime that had ruled since 1976. Since then, the team has worked for the United Nations, the Red Cross and other organizations in Kosovo, Bosnia, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Mexico, northern Iraq and several other nations where people have been killed by their governments. Co-founder Luis Fondebrider recently trained workers in Kenya for a dig near the border with Somalia that's intended to uncover the bodies of 2,000 civilians believed to have been massacred by troops loyal to President Daniel Arap Moi. Fondebrider then flew to Indonesia to provide training on how to get information from witnesses about troop massacres without putting their lives at risk. Team members trained in Argentina under Clyde Collins Snow, an American forensic anthropologist who identified remains found in southern Brazil in 1985 as those of Nazi war criminal Josef Mengele. The team doesn't shy from controversy. Its work in El Salvador in 1992 helped corroborate witnesses' accounts of the massacre of more than 500 villagers by U.S.-backed Salvadoran troops at El Mozote on Dec. 10, 1981. In 1997, it unearthed the remains of Ernesto "Che" Guevara in Bolivia. Discovery remains the job's reward, said team member Dario Olmo. "Finding a body is the fight against permanent denial by the powerful, which is the essential element in genocide," he said.
Edmonton Sun 10 Nov 2003 Rwanda slaughter vital to remember By DOUG BEAZLEY, EDMONTON SUN In this country, Remembrance Day is usually an occasion for looking backward. Cenotaph ceremonies across the country gather together the few Second World War vets still living, so we can all tip our hats to the days when Canada was a force in the world. Red and black poppies for blood and sacrifice - and, hopefully, a reminder that this planet is still a dangerous place. In the decades since, two models for our military and foreign policy - Cold War containment and "peacekeeping" - have been shot out from under us. We're adrift in a world of ever more savage conflicts over race, religion and resources. And we still don't have a plan to cope. Anyone wondering whether the United Nations still has a role to play ought to be reading Romeo Dallaire's long-awaited account of the Rwandan massacre. Shake Hands with the Devil is a harsh, uncompromising account of a great catastrophe - one the great powers saw coming and chose not to prevent. This is an important book, particularly for an army town like Edmonton. Our people are routinely sent to distant lands to keep or make peace in political climates they only dimly understand, frequently without the equipment and intelligence needed to do the job safely. To do this work, we need to be able to trust the UN. The Rwandan experience proved that we can't. The facts of what happened in Rwanda are familiar enough by now. What was supposed to be an orderly transition to demobilization and all-party government after a grisly civil war degenerated quickly into genocide. Roughly 800,000 people were slaughtered in just 100 days. Dallaire, the Canadian military commander of the UN mission, was in the middle, trying to enforce a peace process that all sides appeared to have secretly abandoned before he even showed up. Warned of the Hutu paramilitaries' plans to target Tutsi civilians, he begged his masters in New York for another 2,000 soldiers to support the 3,000 peacekeepers on the ground. He was turned down. After 10 Belgian peacekeepers under his command were murdered, the UN scaled the mission back to a force of 500 - effectively washing its hands of the unfolding horror. Dallaire points the finger at several players, including senior UN diplomats and the members of the Security Council. One of the more telling accusations in the book is his claim that western nations with well-staffed diplomatic missions in Rwanda, among them the U.S. and the rest of the Security Council "permanent five," had access to intelligence that might have predicted the massacre, intelligence apparently withheld from the UN mission. That's typical of a Security Council that views the UN as an ugly stepchild to be starved, said retired Canadian major-general Lewis MacKenzie, a veteran of many UN missions. "I wasn't even allowed to refer to intelligence in dispatches back to New York, because of concerns that it might be considered 'spying,' " he said. "That's a Cold War worry grafted onto a hot war situation. Absolutely, the Security Council knew what was happening before it happened." The Rwanda mission attracted almost no political support because the nation is far-removed from the political interests of the permanent five - there is no oil there. Sadly, the UN is routinely tasked with military interventions in parts of the world the great powers don't care about, a situation that guarantees these missions will be small, under-equipped, dangerous and doomed to fail. Before Canada signs up for another Rwanda, we ought to consider a few facts. The Security Council is a Cold War construct that was designed to keep the superpowers from each other's throats; it's supposed to maintain deadlock. It can't deliver force in areas where no council member has a strategic interest or where the interests of one member contradict those of another. And as Iraq proved, it can't prevent a war with pale appeals to "multilateralism." The only hope for future third-party interventions are the sorts of smaller-scale treaty arrangements used in Iraq and the former Yugoslavia, such as NATO and the G-8. For Canada, this means partnering with the Americans - wedding our personnel to their resources. The alternative is chaining ourselves to the UN's culture of apathy and waiting patiently for the next Rwanda to roll over us.
Reuters 13 Nov 2003 Canadian general won't let Rwanda genocide die By Gordana Knezevic TORONTO (Reuters) - As the general in charge of U.N. peacekeeping forces in Rwanda, Canada's Romeo Dallaire was unable to halt the massacre of some 800,000 people. Now, as a retired military man coming to terms with his own suicide attempt brought on by the trauma of the conflict, Dallaire is doing his best to make sure the genocide will never be forgotten with a book "Shake Hands with the Devil." "The book essentially is part of my whole life strategy of never letting the genocide die," Dallaire told Reuters in a recent interview. The book, some 500 pages extracted from a manuscript that originally ran to 4,000, is a sobering and detailed account of the hell that was Rwanda in 1994, when majority Hutus set on the Tutsi minority and on moderate members of their own Hutu tribe, killing, maiming and raping their way across the landlocked African country. The book highlights the reluctance of the world community to get involved, and the inability of a small U.N. peacekeeping mission to halt the carnage. "Not wanting to be too graphic, I can say that the most haunting are the scenes where we would find girls and young women who had been raped and then mutilated and then killed," said Dallaire, who witnessed such atrocities and was distressed by his inability to help. "I think the inhumanity of it is just beyond what one can accept as a norm ... So many children were killed and slaughtered. A number of them, a large number, were killed by other youths. The use of children as instruments of hate in war came blasting in front of my eyes." THE DEVIL HAS BLOOD ON HIS SHIRT Dallaire, who now works with organizations active in protecting children from war, said the title of his book came from a meeting with three extremists in May 1994. One of the men had blood on the collar of his white, open-necked shirt, a chilling reminder of what was going on. "I know now that there is a God, because I just shook hands with the devil," Daillaire said at the time. Dallaire said in the interview that he removed the bullets from his gun before meeting with the three extremists to take away any temptation to take the law into his own hands. "I had tried to anesthetize myself to the ethical and moral dimensions of meeting with 'genocidaires,' recognizing that if they refused to assist in the transfers (of refugees) I might not ever get anyone out," he said. "There was no humanity left inside these people ... It was an absolute takeover by the evil that exists, generated by a whole variety of components that actually blew their mind as humans and filled it with the darkest perceptions and actions that can be imagined." Dallaire, 56, is credited with saving some 30,000 people from the massacres, and he was one of a small number of people to emerge from the genocide with at least some praise -- an independent inquiry from the Organization for African Unity recognized his efforts to warn his superiors in New York of the impending mass murders. The report singled out the U.N. Security Council, the United States and France, as well as the Catholic and Anglican churches in Rwanda, as bearing the greatest responsibility. During his year in Rwanda, Dallaire at one point defied U.N. orders to abandon the operation and stayed. EVEN LAUGHING IS DIFFERENT NOW But Dallaire still blamed himself for failing to protect civilians caught up in the inter-ethnic conflict and that experience changed him so drastically that he says sadly that even laughing is different for him now. He resigned his military commission in 2000 due to his struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder and attempted suicide by taking an overdose of prescription drugs. "It's the ones who felt, who couldn't figure out what was happening and how this happened to them, that I remember the most. Those are moments when I get an enormous sense of guilt and responsibility", he said. Dallaire lives with the memory of the people staring at blue-bereted U.N. troops, with a total lack of understanding. "They would look at me with my blue beret and it would be bewilderment ... like asking me how come I'm dying here... And those pairs of eyes would haunt me continuously," he said. Dallaire said writing the book allowed him to give a voice to people who can no longer speak for themselves, the slaughtered Rwandans and the peacekeepers who were killed while serving under his command and to whom his book is dedicated. But it could not end the memories, which were both an inspiration and an obstacle to writing the book. After he opened for the first time the notepad he used in Rwanda the mere smell of it brought back memories of the horror. He was unable to put pen to paper for three weeks. "I realized that Rwanda would be with me forever," he said. "It cannot be washed away with time."
Reuters 7 Nov 2003 Chile Ex - Dictator Pinochet in Hospital After Fall By REUTERS Published: November 7, 2003 Filed at 8:03 p.m. ET SANTIAGO, Chile (Reuters) - Augusto Pinochet, Chile's 87-year-old former dictator, was taken to a hospital on Friday evening after he fell and broke his wrist, a friend of the Pinochet family told Reuters. The retired general, who ruled Chile from 1973 to 1990, was taken to the navy hospital in the coastal city of Valparaiso and then flown by helicopter to a military hospital in Santiago, said the friend, who asked not to be named. Radio stations reported that Pinochet, who suffers from a heart condition and diabetes, fell in the bathroom of his apartment in Vina del Mar, a resort city near Valparaiso. Pinochet came to power in a 1973 military coup that toppled democratically elected socialist President Salvador Allende. His rule was marked by human rights abuses and the deaths or disappearances of some 3,000 people. Pinochet lost a referendum in 1988 and stepped down in 1990. A center-left coalition has governed since then. In 1998-1999, Pinochet spent 17 months under house arrest in London on genocide charges brought in Spain. Efforts to try him on human rights charges in Chile have failed as courts have ruled that he is mentally unfit to stand trial. Pinochet has retired from public life.
Reuters 9 Nov 2003 [excerpt] Chile ex-dictator Pinochet leaves hospital SANTIAGO, Chile, Nov. 9 — Augusto Pinochet, Chile's 87-year-old former dictator, left a military hospital on Sunday after doctors treated him for a broken wrist caused by a fall at his home, his spokesman said. The retired general, who ruled Chile from 1973 to 1990, was taken to a navy hospital in the coastal city of Valparaiso on Friday and then flown by helicopter later that day to a military hospital in Santiago. Pinochet, who suffers from diabetes and has a pacemaker, was in stable condition after doctors set the fracture but was kept him in observation until mid-day on Sunday. ''The doctors decided the general was in condition to leave the hospital after spending a very good night ... he is leaving the hospital at this moment,'' Pinochet's spokesman and friend, retired Gen. Guillermo Garin, told Reuters. Pinochet broke a toe in a similar accident last April, at which time he was also hospitalized for bronchitis.
Falkland Islands / Malvinas
MercoPress 19 Nov 2003 www.falkland-malvinas.com Fear of massacre of Falklands civilians As the 1982 Falklands War was coming to its abrupt end, Islanders were in imminent danger of being massacred by fanatical ill-disciplined Argentine soldiers when they realised they faced defeat. Brig. T. Wilson This is revealed by Brigadier General Oscar Jofre, Commander of Argentine Land Forces, responsible for the defence of Stanley, who suggests that the end of the war was hastened by fears of an imminent potential bloodbath involving Falklands civilians. General Jofre is quoted as saying that as surrender became inevitable, after the last battle of the war on Sapper Hill, his Brigade Operations Officer, Coronel Eugenio Dalton told him: “Many soldiers are in a strange state and the kelpers are bound to get hurt. One 3rd Regiment Platoon has been told to go into the houses by a fanatical lieutenant, who has ordered the men to kill the kelpers – something awful is happening”. General Jofre is quoted as saying: “I’ll never forget that moment. It was like a lightning bolt had hit me. I was no longer in control. We’ve had it. The lives of the kelpers are being risked. I told General Menendez and he realised that there was no question of fighting any further. Menendez told me he wanted to talk to (President) Galtieri to arrange a ceasefire. I agreed. It was all over”. “Neglected” 5th Infantry Brigade These dramatic revelations of the last hours of the conflict are contained in the latest of more than 200 books on the Falklands War, entitled “5th Infantry Brigade in the Falklands”, co-authored by a former Intelligence Corps soldier who served in the South Atlantic and a Chilean- born author living in Australia. It fills a neglected gap by tracing the campaign by 5th Infantry Brigade, whose role was has been largely overlooked compared with the favourable publicity for 3rd Commando Brigade and the Royal Navy. It argues that “no other brigade in modern times could have been so badly prepared and the blame should not be levelled at its Brigadier Commander, Tony Wilson”, who “was conspicuously overlooked in the post-war honours”. 5th Infantry Brigades made a key contribution to the campaign with its Scots and Welsh Guards’ and Gurkha battalions, reinforced with 2 Parachute Battalion. The Scots Guards fought one of the toughest battles of the war on Tumbledown, nick-named by one Argentine Officer “the panthers in the dark”. Ill-discipline and disorganisation in defeat The Brigade Operations Officer, Colonel Dalton, who warned General Jofre that Argentine soldiers had been ordered to kill Falklands civilians, “was seen in the pre-dawn darkness of June 14 driving around in a jeep marshalling tired, panicky and dazed soldiers from various units into a company and led them into Stanley’s western sector under heavy fire…..As with many defeated armies, ill-discipline and disorganisation took hold of the defeated troops and 181st Military Police Company and 5th Marine Infantry Battalion Regimental Police Detachment were instructed to restore order and ensure an orderly withdrawal to Stanley. The book says that when negotiations for a ceasefire got under way, “no one in Stanley was sure what was happening. The ceaseless firing had been replaced by a windy. Defeated units streamed into the town and consequently the Argentine military authorities advised residents to stay indoors for their own safety. “”John Smith (curator of Stanley Museum) was having a cup of tea in West Store when the British Commander, Major General Jeremy Moore walked in and with masterly aplomb and reserve, said: ‘Hello, I’m Jeremy Moore and I’m sorry it took us three weeks to get here’. “Seventy four days of occupation were over and one of the most pointless wars of the twentieth century ended. But as a member of the Press remarked: ‘Have we come all this way to see this? The town look so insignificant’”. In fact, no civilians were killed by the Argentine occupation forces. The book says: “The Falklands campaign was a unique war of the 20th Century. There were no atrocities and both sides respected the rules of war governing the treatment of prisoners- of- war and of casualties. The book is at times a confusing narrative, crammed with detail of units and names, both British and Argentine, with their personal recollections. But it does focus fresh light on some of the most controversial aspects and personalities of the war, and carries interesting pictures of troops on both sides. It sympathises with Brigadier Wilson’s predicament under pressure, as he drew up his battle plan for opening up the southern flank by advancing to Fitrzroy and Bluff Cove and taking Tumbledown and Mount William in a swift advance upon Stanley. His ideas did not command complete confidence. Near disasters from “friendly fire” The Brigade was to press ahead in both glorious and tragic circumstances, courting near disaster on several occasions from friendly fire through failures of communication. 3rd Commando Brigade, commanded by Brigadier Julian Thompson, had no idea of Brigadier Wilson’s plan to leap forward by helicoptoring paratroops to seize Fitzroy and Bluff Cove. Disaster was narrowly avoided when withering British fire was about to be brought down on the paratroops. A break in the clouds enabled recognition that they were British not Argentine troops. What could have been by far the most disastrous and costly disaster of the whole war involved 600 Scots Guards and others, commanded by Major (later Major General) Iain Mackay-Dick, being ferried ashore to Fitzroy in four landing craft, which were nearly blown out of the water by two British warships, HMS Cardiff and HMS Yarmouth, whose captains had been mistakenly told there would be only enemy forces in the area. “Cardiff’s commander, Captain Michael Harris, and his gunnery officer flipped a coin to decide whether to load his guns with high explosive or illumination”. Fortunately, they chose star shells which identified the landing craft as British. In other incidents, a Scots Guards patrol on Mount William nearly machine- gunned another; a Harrier strike was narrowly averted when a Gurkha patrol thought a British radio unit was Argentine; and a missile from HMS Cardiff shot down a British helicopter. Fate conspires against “bold move” With his swift advance to occupy Fitzroy and Bluff Cove, “Wilson had taken a huge risk and had pulled of a bold move worthy of far more credit than was given to him”. But his luck ran out with the disaster of the Argentine air strike on the landing craft Sir Tristram and Sir Galahad, with heavy loss of life among the Welsh Guards. The book re-tells how a Royal Marines Major, Ewen Southby-Tailyour, with vast knowledge of Falklands' waters, ordered that the Welsh Guards, kept aboard Sir Galahad for several hours, should immediately be ferried ashore. But two Army Majors, unable to grasp the vulnerability of the anchorage to air attack, rejected his orders and demanded that the Welsh Guards be taken by sea to Bluff Cove. The Welsh Guards offer to defend the ship against air attack with machine guns was surprisingly rejected by Sir Galahad’s captain, in the belief there was effective defence by ground-based Rapier missile batteries and air combat patrols. But the Rapiers were malfunctioning and the Harrier strip at San Carlos had been rendered non-operational by a crash landing, forcing the air combat patrols to revert to the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes, far out to sea, so reducing their effectiveness. “Fate was conspiring against 5th Infantry Brigade”. So was the weather, which cleared to facilitate the Argentine air attack. Commodore’s strength of character and Admiral’s signals The book tells how Commodore Mike Clapp, Commander of Amphibious operations and Inshore Operations Combined Task Group Commander, as “the man on the spot”, had to take many critical and difficult decisions. He was sceptical of Wilson’s southern flank plan, and of transporting troops by sea close to enemy-held territory. But “Clapp had the strength of character not to be bludgeoned by his fellow Combined Task Force Commanders and remained determined to help the Army … Commodore Clapp has never really been given the credit due to him in making a major contribution to speeding up the military advance and hastening victory”. Clapp, although anxious, never really liked the idea of a sea move and hoped that it could be avoided. Critical of subsequent events off Fitzroy, he acknowledges that, while warfare ‘requires dash and initiative’, combined amphibious operations are unable to accept unplanned and uncoordinated moves along a sea flank, and he is right…. Nevertheless, to their great credit, Clapp’s staff quickly set about solving the problem. ”. The book is critical of what it suggests were meddlesome signals from the Task Force naval commander, Admiral “Sandy” Woodward. Impatient that the army should get on with their advance, Admiral Woodward is quoted as calling them “ceremonious duffers with no room for initiative or imagination”. The authors say that Admiral Woodward, like his illustrious predecessor, Lord Nelson, fails to acknowledge that fighting a land war with minimum casualties takes great skill and flair. He appeared not to appreciate just how slow land warfare is … Those ‘ceremonious duffers’ had considerably more combat experience since 1945 than most naval officers, most recently in Northern Ireland. A major factor faces by the ‘ceremonious duffers’ was that settling into a watery disposal yard on the bottom of the South Atlantic was the (transport vessel) Atlantic Conveyor with several thousand tons of much-needed supplies, including helicopters, all condemned by the Royal Navy’s failure to protect a defenceless ship. The six Wessex and three Chinook helicopters could have lifted half a battalion at a time and thus it was no wonder the ground forces were slow”. As Major General Moore told Admiral Woodward: “Only the land forces could win the war, but the Navy could always lose it”. Brigadier Wilson retired from the army amid criticism centred on what happened at Fitzroy “over which he had little control”. Brigadier Wilson has hinted to the authors he will one day give his version of events, as all the other front-line British commanders have done so in various books. Tributes to Islanders In several tributes to the Islanders, the book describes how, at Fitzroy, Ron Binnie told the paratroops in a telephone call there were no Argentine forces there, and how the paratroop Commander, Lieutenant Colonel David Chaundler joined Ron and Linda Binnie for “tea and cakes”, a welcome repeated over and over again, as the book describes. “The Kilmartins of Bluff Cove did much to rejuvenate the soldiers with mutton, hot meals, somewhere to dry socks and transport to move men and equipment. The kindness of the civilians is often overlooked… Those who came into contact with them are unlikely to forget their generosity in raising spirits and maintaining morale. It started with the Millers at Port San Carlos and the Shorts at San Carlos opening their houses and farm buildings, and carried right through Goose Green, Teal Inlet, Fitzroy, Bluff Cove and other settlement to the end in Stanley. Their contribution to the campaign was significant”. There is also tribute to former Councillor and police chief Terry Peck who escaped from Stanley and proved a useful source of intelligence to the British forces, being awarded a medal (MBE) for his contribution to the defeat of the Argentines. Co-author Van der Bijl, who in his previous book “Nine Battles to Stanley”, wrongly accused the Islanders of barring Argentine relatives from visiting the Argentine war cemetery at Darwin, makes amends in this book by correcting that error and paying tribute to the Islanders’ consideration and compassion for visiting Argentine relatives. Harold Briley – London Book details: “5th Infantry Brigade in the Falklands” by Nicholas van der Bijl and David Aldea published by Pen & Sword Books Limited, 47 Church Street, Barnsley, South Yorkshire, S70 2AS Telephone 01226 734222 / 734555 Fax: 01226 734438 e.mail: email@example.com. Hardback 233 pages. Price £19.95. ISBN: 0 85052 948 4 MERCOPRESS is a news agency concentrating in Mercosur countries which operates from Montevideo, Uruguay, and includes in its area of influence the South Atlantic and insular territories.
Denvert Post November 02, 2003 perspective Guatemala's election choice: democracy or genocide By Billie Stanton GUATEMALA CITY - A momentous presidential election one week from today will show the world whether Guatemala is poised to take new strides toward democracy or possibly revert to the genocide and atrocities of yesteryear. Although two credible candidates appear to be in the lead, no one truly can measure the quiet country support for former dictator Efrain Rios Montt, whose brief hold on power during the 1980s was a field day for war crimes, murders and torture. While polls show wealthy businessman Oscar Berger and industrial engineer Alvaro Colom well ahead of retired general Montt in popularity, such polls depend on telephones, a scarce luxury in outlying regions that may support Montt. "Rios Montt should definitely not win this election," says Joel Edelstein, who retired from the University of Colorado at Denver after decades of teaching Central American studies. "The Republicans are saying we can't have normal relations with Guatemala if Rios Montt becomes president," notes Rick Clifford, a member of the Denver Justice and Peace Committee who spent the first half of this year in Guatemala. "Democrats don't want him either. Even (President Bush) says Rios Montt is not the answer to Guatemala's problems." "Clearly, his record is abominable," agrees Dr. Eric Popkin, an immigration expert and assistant sociology professor at Colorado College. "Under his reign, more people were killed - particularly indigenous people - than at any other time in Guatemalan history." Yet along roadsides from the poor pueblo of San Antonio Aguas Calientes to the tourist magnet of Coban, boldly painted rocks promise "Seguridad, Bienestar, Justicia - FRG - Rios Montt." "Security, the good life, justice" - promises dripping irony, considering the record racked up during Montt's 18-month presidency after he seized power in a coup d'etat in 1982. More than 60,000 people were killed or disappeared in his scorched-earth campaign, which laid waste to 440 indigenous Mayan villages, according to documentation by human rights groups worldwide. Memories are long. Many blue-collar Denver Guatemalans, as well as a local university professor from Guatemala, politely declined to comment on Rios Montt. "We still have family in Guatemala ... and our family could easily be identified," one said, summarizing fears expressed by the others. The exception was Dr. Alvaro Arias, a math professor at the University of Denver who immigrated in 1985: "I remember the time of Rios Montt. And I don't know a single person who likes him." Nonetheless, Montt "definitely" could win the election, Popkin says. The fallout from a Montt victory would hit the U.S. and Guatemala hard: Guatemalan migration to the U.S. quickly would escalate, predicts Popkin. The U.S., Canada and many European nations have vowed to end trade with Guatemala if Montt ascends to the presidency. Guatemala's coffee industry, suffering already amid worldwide price drops, could sustain another severe blow. So could tourism, which surpassed coffee last year as the nation's leading industry. Native weavers, whose vividly hued textiles keep them afloat, would face a struggle to survive, as would other impoverished rural folk who flow into tourist towns to hawk their hand-crafted wares. Without tourists, who will buy? Still, few dismiss Montt's ability to win. Popkin cites the former dictator's fierce anti-crime stance for his appeal among rural campesinos entrenched in "horrible poverty" and rampant crime. "He tends to win even in villages that had been decimated under his rule. A perceived 'strong leader' appeals to people who feel vulnerable. They don't connect the dots." In addition, Montt's evangelical Christian beliefs seem to have prompted "a substantial rise in evangelical and Pentecostal sects," Popkin notes. "I remember in the early '80s on late-night TV watching Pat Robertson try to raise money for 'Brother Rios Montt.' His (evangelicalism) is a motivation for some to vote for him as well." More startling was the leak of "Plan Lazaro," the secret, three-pronged election strategy of Montt's party, Frente Republicano Guatemalteco (FRG) or the Republican Guatemalan Front, which is in power today under President Alfonso Portillo: Secure the Constitutional Court's vote to let Montt run, or use force, if necessary, to ensure his candidacy. (The court gave Montt's campaign the nod July 30, amid an international outcry. The ruling came one week after "Black Thursday," when more than 5,000 Montt supporters stormed this capital city, wielding machetes and rocks, killing one Guatemalan journalist, injuring bystanders, burning buildings and bringing downtown business to a halt.) Using resources supplied by the current FRG government, make threats or commit violence against the opposition. (Amnesty International reported Sept. 18 that intimidation and threats against opposition leaders, journalists and human rights activists have escalated as the election nears. In June, 12 armed men forced their way into the home of Jose Ruben Zamora, editor of El Periodico newspaper, held a gun to his head and beat his sons. U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala John R. Hamilton urged the government to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of the "violent and barbaric" attack.) Ensure high voter absenteeism on election day. Says Arias, the only Denver Guatemalan willing to speak on the record, "Montt was not supposed to be able to run (under the constitution), yet he's running. They can always resort to fraud in the end. They are the party in power." In addition, the government made payments in April to about 2,000 former Civil Defense patrollers (Patruilleros de Defensa Civil, known as the ex-PACs). These civilian, supposedly unpaid "volunteers" were assigned by the former Montt regime to patrol villages. The government insisted they would prevent crime; human rights defenders and massacre survivors say the PACs worked as unpaid thugs. Now, Portillo's government vows that more of approximately 1 million ex-PACs will get payments after the election, provided the FRG retains control. Human rights activists fear that surprise payments may even be made in late October, to ensure more FRG votes Nov. 9. In a nation of 11 million people, with about 4.5 million registered voters, the impact of votes from the newly reorganized ex-PACs could prove significant. Any candidate receiving 50 percent or more of the votes Nov. 9 - an unlikely scenario - wins the election. A runoff election Dec. 28 is more likely. The FRG, meanwhile, repeatedly has denied any involvement in the July 24-25 protests that rocked the capital or in any threats, intimidation or violence. Montt, likewise, consistently denies culpability for genocide and war crimes. Montt told The Washington Post recently, "I was president, not a platoon commander," and thus wouldn't have known about atrocities. Known as "Guatemala's Pinochet," the 77-year-old Montt was trained at the much-criticized, U.S.-funded School of the Americas, where U.S. experts trained Latin American "anti-Communist" strongmen and their army officers in anti-guerilla combat, psychological warfare and mass coercion. Montt ruled with covert U.S. support during the Reagan era. Educated Guatemalans don't think twice when asked how Montt can muster support from the very people whose villages were decimated. He feeds them, they say. And he pays them. In Guatemala, seemingly, poverty promotes power. If poverty and illiteracy spawn power in Guatemala, Montt is in the right place. At least 80 percent of Guatemalans live in extreme poverty, and the illiteracy rate exceeds 30 percent, according to studies by Harvard and Stanford universities. Many urban residents back Berger (pronounced Ber-shay), saying his wealth will preclude him from corruption. Many also insist that Montt's support springs from those too young to remember or too unsophisticated to know better. Several mature poor people, however, belie that simplistic analysis. Teodoro Hernandez, 52, says he is poor but cannot support Montt. As the dusty road from Antigua to San Antonio morphs into a smooth highway, Hernandez dismounted his bicycle to reflect on Montt's politics. "The past governments began to build this road. But the FRG stopped construction. Now, with the election coming up, they've started again," says Hernandez, a stout but hardy cyclist who rides this stretch daily. "And the farmers who owned this land don't get paid for the land that was taken (to build the road). They went together to the capital because the road has environmental and construction problems, too. But they got no solution. I tried to work construction on this road, but I wasn't with the right party, the FRG." His views on Montt are echoed by many in the international tourist center of Antigua and in Guatemala City, bastions of urban sophistication compared with the rest of Guatemala. Says Elena deAragon, 42, a mop- topped Spanish teacher in Antigua, "He has an obsession to govern the country. He does not accept failure. So he wants to be president, and he doesn't care how. If it's necessary to murder, to sell our resources, whatever - he's oppressive." Says ex-patriate restaurateur Jesper Nielsen, 24, "I'm sad to say, but I think he has a chance to become president because of his manipulation of the current government and the people in the country. He masterminded a coup before, and he may do it again." As world attention once more swings southward, the educated middle-class of Guatemala can't help but remember that Montt's first term brought a massive exodus of the country's dispossessed. Most fought desperate odds seeking illegal sanctuary in the kitchens, ski resorts, farms and gardens of Colorado and other states. Many found richer, safer lives elsewhere in "El Norte." But the world is a far more dangerous place since September 2001. American borders and immigration laws, which never welcomed Central America's huddled masses, could prove a more daunting barrier if "the troubles" loom closer. At least Nielsen, a four-year Guatemala resident and Danish member of a large and entrenched European and American population, has an exit strategy. If Montt takes office, he says, "A lot of us will leave the country."
WP 8 Nov 2003 Party To Mass Murder? By Daniel Wilkinson Saturday, November 8, 2003; Page A27 A presidential election is being held tomorrow in which one of the leading candidates stands accused of genocide. Efrain Rios Montt, a retired general, is seeking the presidency of Guatemala. In the early 1980s he headed a military regime that carried out hundreds of massacres of unarmed civilians and -- according to a U.N.-sponsored truth commission -- "acts of genocide." Now Rios Montt is attempting to return to power, and as part of his campaign has even displayed a picture of himself with Ronald Reagan that was taken in the '80s. The U.S. Embassy has pointed out that this photo was taken in a different context, and indeed it was. The context was the Cold War, and the Reagan administration, concerned about leftist insurgencies in Central America, was seeking congressional approval to restore direct military aid to Guatemala. Reagan posed with Rios Montt, praised him as "a man of great personal integrity" who was "totally dedicated to democracy," and dismissed charges of atrocities in Guatemala as a "bum rap." As Reagan spoke, Rios Montt's troops were preparing to march on a village called Las Dos Erres for a counterinsurgency operation that was to include the rape of young women, smashing of infants' heads and the interment of more than 160 civilians -- some while still alive -- in the village well. Now the skeletons have been exhumed from the well in Las Dos Erres, as well as from hundreds of other clandestine cemeteries scattered throughout the countryside. A truth commission has documented tens of thousands of abuses committed by the Guatemalan state, as well as a much smaller number committed by leftist guerrillas. And in 1999 President Clinton issued a public apology in Guatemala for the U.S. role in supporting that country's abusive regimes. The apology came backed by aid -- millions of dollars that the U.S. government has invested in efforts to promote the rule of law in Guatemala, including the truth commission, an extensive U.N. peacekeeping mission and the litigation of human rights cases. And what does Guatemala have to show for these efforts? Only two major human rights cases have resulted in convictions of senior army officers. And these came only after witnesses were assassinated and investigators, judges and prosecutors forced to flee the country. (Both convictions were subsequently overturned on dubious grounds and remain under review in the courts.) Neither Rios Montt nor his fellow officers have been tried for the massacres of the 1980s. Although the public prosecutor's office has opened a formal investigation into charges that they committed acts of genocide, it has moved at a snail's pace. Meanwhile, the general is running for president and stands a decent chance of forcing a runoff with the rightist politician who is the frontrunner. Whoever wins the election, the country's most pressing problem will remain its perilous journey toward the rule of law after the years of repressive violence that peaked under Rios Montt's previous rule. The biggest obstacle to recovery is the existence of a shadowy network of private, illegally armed groups that appear to have links to both government officials and organized crime. They are powerful, ruthless and apparently responsible for scores of threats and attacks against rights activists, justice officials, journalists and others. Given these groups' ability to corrupt and intimidate, it would be easy to conclude, as many have, that the situation in Guatemala is hopeless. But it isn't. At least not yet. A new initiative has emerged that could offer Guatemala its last best opportunity to restore the rule of law. This year the Guatemalan government and civil society leaders agreed to support the creation of a special U.N.-sponsored commission to investigate and promote the prosecution of these groups. To be successful, this commission will require substantial support -- political and economic -- from the United States and the rest of the world. Without adequate resources and personnel, the commission is likely to fail, a failure that could make things in Guatemala even worse, with half-baked investigations leading to the acquittal of dangerous criminals and reinforcing the climate of impunity in which they thrive. Given Guatemala's position as both the largest economy in Central America and a major transshipment point for the illegal drug trade, any further deterioration of the country's rule of law could have implications far beyond its borders. If, on the other hand, the commission succeeds, it could serve as a useful model for other countries in the region. Two decades after supporting Rios Montt, the United States should do all it can to help Guatemala clean up the human rights disaster it helped create. The context may have changed, but the wounds have not healed. The writer is counsel for the Americas Division of Human Rights Watch and author of "Silence on the Mountain: Stories of Terror, Betrayal, and Forgetting in Guatemala."
Reuters 11 Nov 2003 Guatemala ex-dictator's party accepts defeat - Human Rights Situation Remains Bleak, UN Reports By Frank Jack Daniel GUATEMALA CITY, Nov 11 (Reuters) - Former dictator Efrain Rios Montt's Guatemalan Republican Front accepted defeat on Tuesday in the country's presidential election, ending his hopes of regaining power through the ballot box. The ruling party, known by its Spanish initials FRG, had remained quiet since Sunday's vote, only Guatemala's second presidential election since the end of its 36-year civil war. That had raised fears its supporters might protest results showing Rios Montt finishing third, out of next month's runoff between the top two candidates. Edin Barrientos, who was Rios Montt's vice presidential running mate, said on Tuesday the party accepted defeat. "Of course we accept the results. The election is an expression of the people and the people didn't vote for us," Barrientos told Reuters. "We know the people are the judges and if they say no, it's no. What are we going to do? We go back to the opposition," he said. "The people did not vote for us because the media spoke badly of us throughout the campaign." With 85 percent of votes counted, conservative businessman and landowner Oscar Berger led with 35 percent support. A former Guatemala City mayor backed by the country's wealthy elite and the main newspapers, Berger fell short of an outright majority. He now faces a runoff on Dec. 28 against leftist politician Alvaro Colom, who won about 26 percent of the vote. Rios Montt, who ruled this impoverished Central American nation with an iron fist in the early 1980s, trailed with 17 percent. His share was expected to rise only slightly as returns came in from Guatemala's most remote rural areas. CRUSHING DEFEAT It was a crushing defeat for the fiery 77-year-old former general, who spent the past few years planning a return to power at the ballot box. The FRG also lost its control of Congress. Rios Montt's 1982-1983 dictatorship was the bloodiest period of Guatemala's 36-year civil war. Survivors and rights groups accuse him of ordering massacres of civilians in Maya Indian villages as part of a "scorched-earth" campaign against leftist rebels. They are building a genocide case against him, and Rios Montt, who is the FRG's secretary-general and leads it in Congress, could face trial once his parliamentary immunity ends at the end of his legislative term in January. Analysts said Guatemalan voters rejected Rios Montt because of his civil war legacy and because the outgoing FRG government of President Alfonso Portillo had been plagued with corruption allegations and a rise in organized crime. Portillo was barred from seeking a second four-year term. Although Berger came in first on Sunday, he is linked to a traditional elite many poor Guatemalans despise, and some analysts say Colom could pull ahead in the runoff by winning smaller parties' support. Berger has accused Colom of seeking an alliance with Rios Montt's FRG, but Colom said on Monday he had no plans to meet with Rios Montt. "We're not interested in that," he said.
rightsaction.org 10 Nov 2003 ELECTIONS DEMONSTRATE DESIRE FOR PARTICIPATION, SOVEREIGNTY AND END TO IMPUNITY: Rios Montt eliminated, Berger and Colom face off in a Second Round -- by Annie Bird (Rights Action co-director) In the November 9, 2003 Guatemalan presidential elections the biggest news is who did not win. The ruling party, the Guatemalan Republican Front (FRG) presented Efrain Rios Montt, a former military dictator who presided over the massacre of tens of thousands of unarmed men, women and children in a State-sponsored genocide between 1982 and 1983, as its presidential candidate. After widespread repudiation during his campaign, having been stoned, protested, and denied entry to towns during his campaign, and even booed while he voted, Rios Montt was eliminated in the first round. In loosing his candidacy, Rios Montt will also lose the immunity he has enjoyed during his term as President of Congress, possibly expediting efforts to bring him to trial for the crimes against humanity committed during his rule. Oscar Berger and Alvaro Colom will face off in a December 28 run off election, given no candidate captured more than 50% of the total vote. Berger is the candidate for the GANA coalition and Alvaro Colom is candidate for the UNE party. Colom had previously run in the 1999 elections for the ANN coalition that included the URNG party composed of the former revolutionary movement. The URNG had little presence in these presidential elections, and their performance may have been further affected due to internal party administrative problems that left at least two mayoral candidates favored to win in Rabinal and San Miguel Chicaj, Baja Verapaz off the ballots. The millions of Guatemalans who voted did so in spite of tremendous difficulties. Late opening and early closing of voting tables caused unrest. Problems with the voter registry caused mass confusion, with voters waiting in line for hours then being told they had to go to another voting center or were not registered. In Chajul, Quiche two elderly women were crushed to death in line when voters pressed in to the late to open polling center. Some voters had to walk for hours, bus drivers refusing to transport voters in two municipalities known to lack support for the ruling party. According to the official numbers, virtually every adult Guatemalan was registered to vote. This extraordinarily high number of voters led to suspicion that the ruling FRG party had manipulated the registries. Many suspect that false citizen identification cards were issued, especially given a well-publicized robbery of the blank cards from the national printer over a year ago and the lack of control of the private companies that produce the cards. Others suspect the reason for the high turn out was corrupt use of State resources by the ruling party in conditioning payment for having served as a paramilitary during the war and participation in development programs on voting for the FRG. There were widespread reports that the supposedly indelible ink that marked people who already voted was easily removed. Several false citizen cards were detained, trucks with ballots marked in favor of the FRG were detained and people intending to vote in municipalities to which they were not residents were stopped. In months leading up to November 9, there were many reports of people carrying two citizen cards and that others were voting in the place of dead people. Though corruption did not bring Rios Montt to power as some had feared, it is unclear to what degree municipal and congressional elections may have been effected. VIOLENCE OVERSHADOWS ELECTIONS – VOTERS WANT END TO IMPUNITY Many feared more violence, given that violence has been ever present during the campaign and during the elections. Reported elections-related violence has included killings, threats, violent attacks, rape, kidnapping, rioting and arson. Violence was particularly targeted against journalists, in hopes of limiting citizens’ access to information. However, opposition party activists were the principal victims. Elections day violence was relatively limited; more than 9,000 votes were burned in El Quetzal, San Marcos and 11 tables of votes were burned in Cuyotenango, Suchitepequez by mobs of former Civil Defense Patrolers (PAC) discontent at not having received the promised payment for their services during the war. Even today, 17 years after the formal shift from military to civilian rule and seven years after the signing of the peace accords, Guatemala lives in the shadow of the massive State sponsored violence that peaked between 1981 and 1983 with widespread massacres in the highland Mayan villages. More than 200,000 Guatemalans lost their lives, 93% of those as a result of US and western-backed military repression against a largely civilian population in what the United Nations sponsored truth commission called “State-sponsored genocide”, those responsible for the violence continue to hold positions of power in local and national government. Human rights organizations combat the clandestine networks of occult power which continue to maintain impunity and control resources through corruption and violence. The FRG government has been considered the maximum expression of the marriage of State and mafia and most reporting of these elections has focused on the nefarious role of Rios Montt in the elections. GANA, IMPUNITY & WAR CRIMES However, little has been reported on the wide spread presence of military actors implicated in human rights violations in most of the political parties. This includes the GANA coalition which is favored to win. GANA, a party led by the economic elite, has been billed as the “clean” alternative to Rios Montt. However, the GANA coalition includes the Partido Patriota, a new party formed by former military officers, and allies such Otto Perez Molina, who served as an intelligence officer during the genocide. Harris Whitbeck, another PP leader, was in charge of the social programs during the period of genocide which formed the Beans of the “Beans and Bullets” strategy. In this infamous social control strategy, peasants were given the choice of forming paramilitary organizations commanded by the military and receiving development aid, or being massacred. This spawned the widespread support of the FRG by these paramilitaries who still form the party’s principal base. Unfortunately, the electoral process appears to offer little possibility of ending the impunity enjoyed by the ongoing alliance between the military, the local economic elite and their international business partners. A DEEP DESIRE FOR DEMOCRACY AND SOVEREIGNTY – DENIED Irrespective of how much violence and corruption have tainted the elections, what was made clear today and in the months leading up to the elections was the tremendous desire by the majority of Guatemalans to participate in the governance of their country, a basic right denied to them throughout Guatemalan history, beginning with the Spanish colonies, followed by the interests of competing colonial-imperial powers and then by a century of constant direct and covert military and economic interventions by the United States. While civil society struggles to rebuild itself and foster the ability of the people to exercise self-governance, international financing institutions (World Bank, Inter American Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund) have pushed through programs and legislation that weaken Guatemalan citizens’ ability to exercise control over their own nation, its resources, and basic social services such as education, healthcare and energy. These institutions have promoted the privatization of basic services to transnational corporations, the concession of natural resources to multinationals with little or no benefit to the population or control of environmental damages, free trade policies that undermine small producers and destroy local economies and the dedication of State resources to creation of infrastructure needed by corporations rather than investing in promoting local markets, social services, better conditions for small producers, and guaranteeing fundamental human rights. “THE US EMBASSY CANDIDATE” Both Berger and Colom are promoting agendas favorable to international economic interests. Indeed, Berger is known as the US embassy candidate. Widespread reports indicate that US embassy officials and USAID funding has openly supported GANA through both political support and financial resources for GANA-dominated non governmental organizations which, among other things, have promised easier access to US travel visas for those who participate in their activities. Guatemala’s ability for self-governance is further undermined given that policies related to two of the largest sources of income for the nation, remittances sent by undocumented workers in the United States and profits from drug trafficking, are entirely determined by the United States. Though very different in nature, migration and drug trafficking have led to increased militarization and human rights violations. Drug profits appear to be controlled by many of the same mafia that maintain influence in the government, and have led to the increased violence, arms and death squads freely operating in sections of the country. The ability of the United States to act directly in military and policing operations to control drug trafficking and migration has increased, especially in the context of the “War on Terrorism”. Just how “clean” the elections were is difficult to determine, despite the presence of thousands of Guatemalan elections monitors and many international observer delegations. Over the next few days, much will be reported about the electoral process. However, there is little discussion of the global structural conditions that undermine self-determination in a small, former colonial nation like Guatemala and the efforts of thousands of organized Guatemalans struggling to make a decent life for their family and their community and in the process build a better nation. Over the next few weeks, Rights Action will be distributing information related to the possibility of democracy and self governance, impunity and social control, and information produced by volunteers accompanying community based organizations, RA partners, struggling to transform their society and their planet.
WP 8 Nov 2003 Mexico Prosecutor to Indict Ex-Officials Cascade of Charges Vowed in Disappearances of Activists in 'Dirty War' By Mary Jordan Washington Post Foreign Service Saturday, November 8, 2003; Page A16 MEXICO CITY, Nov. 7 -- The special Mexican prosecutor investigating the disappearance of anti-government activists during Mexico's "dirty war" said he would begin filing a "cascade of charges" against former government officials next week. The prosecutor, Ignacio Carrillo Prieto, said his decision followed a Supreme Court ruling this week that said there was no statute of limitations on cases from the 1960s and 1970s involving the kidnapping and killing of activists whose bodies have never been found. Carrillo Prieto said he expected to name and charge eight former government officials as early as Tuesday. At least one of the charges will be genocide, he said. "The heart of the matter is that the past should answer to the present generations," Carrillo Prieto said. The crimes against the disappeared were committed by "state design," and police agents or soldiers were not acting on their own when they kidnapped leftists, he added in an interview with foreign reporters on Thursday. "This was not an operation invented in the basement -- well, maybe it was -- but it was designed in the penthouse," he said. President Vicente Fox created the office of the special prosecutor in 2001, a year after he took office, ending the one-party rule of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, which had held a monopoly on power since 1929. But with few concrete results in two years, the prosecutor's office has been criticized for lacking the will and resources to delve seriously into the dirty war. Carrillo Prieto said his office had been recently reinforced, with 50 lawyers now working on 532 cases of people who disappeared. He said international forensic scientists have surveyed two presumed mass grave sites; one near Atoyac, just northwest of Acapulco, and the other in Culiacan in the western state of Sinaloa. Carrillo Prieto said there were other suspected mass grave sites in Mexico City, Jalisco and Michoacan. "Today is a day for looking at things in a new way," Carrillo Prieto said. "A road has been opened, not a paved road -- maybe it has some pot holes, but it has been opened. Some thought this was not going to happen." Sergio Aguayo, one of the Mexico's most well-known human rights activists, hailed the decision to prosecute the cases. "This is the first time in a century that officials can be indicted for politically motivated crimes under the orders of the federal state," he said. "It's that important." Carrillo Prieto, 55, said justice had been delayed, with parents left not knowing what happened to their sons and daughters. His own cousin was a guerrilla who disappeared in 1974. He promised he would continue working until officials responsible for the disappearances "spend many, many years" in prison. Such public reckoning could only happen in the new "democratic regime, not in an authoritative regime which committed, perpetuated and covered up these atrocities," he said. There are still doubts about how high Carrillo Prieto's probe will go and whether officials will serve prison time. It has long been assumed that top officials ordered the interrogation, torture and secret burial of anti-government agitators. Carrillo Prieto was asked if he was preparing a case against former president Luis Echeverria, who was a cabinet member in charge of domestic security forces during a time of brutal repression, including the 1968 massacre of students during a protest in Mexico City. Echeverria was president from 1970 to 1976. "The law reaches to the highest levels, and that is where we are going to go," Carrillo Prieto said. After he files charges, he must rely on local judges and courts to execute the arrest warrants and carry out the trials, a formidable task for this country's weak judicial system. The prosecutor acknowledged the difficulties ahead. "We have to proceed with the pessimism of intelligence and the optimism of will," he said. Reynaldo Ortega Ortiz, a professor of politics at the Colegio de Mexico, said he believed the criminal trials ahead will be difficult: "The people accused also have very good lawyers, and it is not going to be that simple." Newly opened national archives have given Carrillo Prieto what he termed "crucial pieces of evidence" to pursue convictions. He said one uncovered official document directly links a high level official to the abduction of one of the disappeared. Carrillo Prieto said he will soon seek additional charges against two former federal police chiefs, Miguel Nazar Haro and Luis de la Barreda, who once headed a now defunct federal security agency and are already facing special prosecutors charges in the disappearance of Jesus Piedra Ibarra in 1975. Piedra, 21, was a medical student and guerrilla whose body has never been found. The Supreme Court ruling Wednesday cleared the way for Nazar and de la Barreda to be tried for Piedra's disappearance. Aguayo said Prieto's announcements were the result of his team "systematically searching through mountains of documents, piecing together legal cases for two years." Aguayo said he hoped that in those cases without sufficient evidence for a trial, there would be at least an airing of "the historic truth" about a dark era in Mexican history. Researcher Bart Beeson contributed to this report.
AP 8 Nov 2003 Mexican 'dirty war' architects facing arrest for genocide MEXICO CITY Authorities are preparing an array of charges that include genocide and kidnapping against 10 former government officials implicated in the disappearance of hundreds of activists in the 1960s and 1970s, the special prosecutor investigating Mexico's past crimes said Thursday. Ignacio Carrillo said that beginning next week, his office would ask judges to issue arrest warrants against ex-domestic spy chiefs Luis de la Barreda and Miguel Nazar Haro, the men who led a feared but now-defunct government intelligence agency from 1970 to 1977 and 1978 to 1982, respectively. Carrillo said eight other ex-government officials would also be charged in the forthcoming warrants, but he refused to say who they would be. "There will be military officials and civilians charged," Carrillo said. Former President Luis Echeverria, whose tenure in office spanned from 1970 until 1976, has been called to testify in the cases of missing leftists, but would not be among those officials charged next week, Carrillo said. The special prosecutor said at least one of the former government officials would be charged with genocide and that others would be accused of kidnapping, but he refused to elaborate and wouldn't say what other charges those named in the arrest warrants will face. Hundreds of people disappeared between the early 1960s and the late 1970s during government campaigns to crack down on activists, which Carrillo's office has characterized as a state-sponsored effort to crush a leftist free-speech movement. Two years ago, President Vicente Fox appointed Carrillo to investigate crimes committed during what has become known as Mexico's "dirty war." The office eventually gave Fox a list of 275 leftists who were disappeared at the hands of government forces. Several former police officers and government and army officials have been called by Carrillo's office to answer questions or hear charges read against them that state forces illegally detained, tortured and killed leftist leaders for nearly two decades. Those implicated include de la Barreda and Haro, as well as Echeverria, who served as interior secretary before becoming president. Carrillo's comments came a day after Mexico's Supreme Court cleared the way for the possible arrest of former officials implicated in dirty-war cases by ruling that kidnapping or political disappearances were not subject to the statute of limitations. The unanimous ruling by a four-justice committee of the 11-member court allows arrest warrants to be issued over the 1975 kidnapping of the son of a renowned Mexican human rights activist. "After the court's decision, we are going to see a cascade of charges," Carrillo said.
AP 1 Nov 2003 7 more nations agree not to hand over Americans to international court, GULFPORT, Miss. The White House on Saturday announced agreements with another seven countries to exempt American personnel from prosecution by the International Criminal Court, which it staunchly opposes. The 1998 Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court has been ratified by 90 countries, but the court faces opposition from the United States. Washington says it fears that Americans, particularly soldiers abroad, could fall victim to politically motivated prosecutions. The Bush administration has signed bilateral treaties with more than three dozen countries that have agreed not to hand over American citizens to the court. The latest, according to a statement released by the White House Saturday, are Botswana, East Timor, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda and Antigua and Barbuda. Also Saturday, President Bush added Romania to the list of countries exempted from U.S. warnings of a cutoff in military or humanitarian aid for not entering into agreements on troops and prosecution. Non-governmental organizations have complained that Washington has pushed countries into signing the deals by saying it will withhold humanitarian aid or military support or even by blocking NATO membership. The White House made the announcements as Bush was on a campaign trip to Gulfport, Miss.
www.whitehouse.gov 1 Nov 2003 Memorandum for the Secretary of State Presidential Determination SUBJECT: Waiving Prohibition on United States Military Assistance to Parties to the Rome Statute Establishing the International Criminal Court Consistent with the authority vested in me by section 2007 of the American Servicemembers' Protection Act of 2002 (the "Act"), title II of Public Law 107-206 (22 U.S.C. 7421 et seq.), I hereby determine that: Antigua and Barbuda, Botswana, East Timor, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, and Uganda have each entered into an agreement with the United States pursuant to Article 98 of the Rome Statute preventing the International Criminal Court from proceeding against U.S. personnel present in such countries, and waive the prohibition of section 2007(a) of the Act with respect to these countries for as long as such agreement remains in force; and It is important to the national interest of the United States to waive, for a period of 6 months from the date of this determination, the prohibition of section 2007(a) with respect to Romania, and waive that prohibition with respect to this country for that period. You are authorized and directed to report this determination to the Congress, and to arrange for its publication in the Federal Register. GEORGE W. BUSH
AP 3 Nov 2003 Former Ind. Rep. Frank McCloskey Dies BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) - Former Rep. Frank McCloskey, an outspoken champion of Bosnia during his 12 years in Congress, died Sunday after a year-long battle with bladder cancer. He was 64. McCloskey, who represented southwestern Indiana's 8th District in Congress from 1983 to 1995, died at his Bloomington home Sunday afternoon with relatives and friends at his bedside, said Dan Combs, chairman of the Monroe County Democratic Party. He had been released from a Bloomington hospital Oct. 28 after an 11-day stay as his health worsened. ``Frank always wanted to do good,'' Combs said. ``I honestly wouldn't say that he was a good politician. He wasn't tricky, slick or deceitful. He fought for things he thought were right. If something sounded good that's what he did.'' Combs said McCloskey's interest in the Balkans began in the early 1990s as the former Yugoslavia disintegrated and violence escalated in the region. ``There's almost no benefit for a politician from southern Indiana becoming involved in the affairs of the Balkans, but he did it because he thought he could help those people,'' Combs said. McCloskey, who made several trips to Bosnia during his years in Congress, called in 1992 for selective air strikes against Serb forces if they continued their siege of Bosnia-Herzegovina. He later criticized the Clinton administration's handling of the Bosnian conflict, and called for the resignation of then-Secretary of State Warren Christopher, warning that Serbs were committing genocide in Bosnia. McCloskey also called for war crime trials for Serb leaders, specifically Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, who was ousted in 2000 and is currently on trial in The Hague, Netherlands. Born in Philadelphia in 1939, McCloskey went to high school in Norristown, Pa., and entered the Air Force immediately after graduation. He served until 1961 before coming to Indiana University in Bloomington. McCloskey worked as a reporter for The Indianapolis Star, the Herald-Telephone in Bloomington and the City News Bureau in Chicago before graduating from IU in 1968 with a bachelor of arts. He was elected mayor of Bloomington in 1972, a year after he graduated from law school at IU. McCloskey served as mayor for 10 years before being elected to Congress in 1982. He won re-election by just four votes two years later after five recounts in a race against Republican Rick McIntyre. He lost in the 1994 race that swept Republicans back into power in Congress. In 2002, McCloskey was named director of Kosovo programs for the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, where he was teaching leaders how to govern democratically. Combs said McCloskey had been on the job only a few weeks in that post when he fell ill last year. McCloskey is survived by his wife of more than 30 years, Roberta, and their two adult children. Funeral arrangements are pending.
WP 4 Nov 2003 WASHINGTON IN BRIEF Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton accused the European Union of using pressure to make it difficult for countries to exempt American personnel from prosecution by the International Criminal Court. Bolton said yesterday that the EU is imposing an unfair choice upon U.S. friends and allies that want to join the 15-nation political and economic union but are urged to reconsider cooperating with the United States. In a speech to the American Enterprise Institute, a private research group, Bolton said the court "is an organization that runs contrary to fundamental American precepts and basic constitutional principles." He said the United States, in soliciting agreements from countries not to surrender U.S. citizens to the court's jurisdiction, was trying to protect American soldiers, contractors, students, journalists and others from "the illegitimate assertion of authority over them." Bolton said the United States has concluded exemption agreements with 70 countries and hopes to have agreements with every country. The Article 98 agreements exempt the countries that sign from a threatened cutoff in U.S. military or humanitarian assistance.
NYT 4 Nov 2003 OP-ED COLUMNIST A Burden Too Heavy to Put Down By DAVID BROOKS Um Haydar was a 25-year-old Iraqi woman whose husband displeased Saddam Hussein's government. After he fled the country in 2000, some members of the Fedayeen Saddam grabbed her from her home and brought her out on the street. There, in front of her children and mother-in-law, two men grabbed her arms while another pulled her head back and beheaded her. Baath Party officials watched the murder, put her head in a plastic bag and took away her children. Try to put yourself in the mind of the killer, or of the guy with the plastic bag. You are part of Saddam's vast apparatus of rape squads, torture teams and mass-grave fillers. Every time you walk down the street, people tremble in fear. Everything else in society is arbitrary, but you are absolute. When you kill, your craving for power and significance is sated. You are infused with the joy of domination. These are the people we are still fighting in Iraq. These are the people who blow up Red Cross headquarters and U.N. buildings and fight against democracy and freedom. They are the scum of the earth. And they are being joined in their lairs by the flotsam and jetsam of the terrorist world. Their scumminess is our great advantage. People like this will never lead a popular insurgency. They have nothing positive to offer normal, decent people. They survive only by cruelty and the power of intimidation. The only question is who is going to eliminate them. Members of the Bush administration hope that a vast majority of honorable Iraqis will rise and do the job. That's why the administration is moving so quickly to train and arm 200,000 Iraqi security officers. That's why the administration is working aggressively to convince leading Sunnis that they have a lot to gain from the destruction of these sadist bands. It would indeed be grand if the Iraqis would hunt the killers. They know the territory. They can get the intelligence sources. But the administration would be making a mistake if it sent the signal to the American people that the hard work from here on out would be done by the Iraqis themselves. After all, is it realistic to think barely trained policemen can, over the next six months, deliver blows against bands of experienced mass murderers? Is it realistic to think that a local Iraqi mayor will take on the terrorists and so risk his own death, when the most powerful army in the history of the earth is camped just nearby? No. Iraqification is a strategy for the long haul, but over the next six months, when progress must be made, this is our job. And the main challenge now is to preserve our national morale. The shooting down of the Chinook helicopter near Fallujah over the weekend was a shock to the body politic. The fact is, we Americans do not like staring into the face of evil. It is in our progressive and optimistic nature to believe that human beings are basically good, or at least rational. When we stare into a cave of horrors, whether it is in Somalia, Beirut or Tikrit, we see a tangled morass we don't understand. Our instinct is to get out as quickly as possible. It's not that we can't accept casualties. History shows that Americans are willing to make sacrifices. The real doubts come when we see ourselves inflicting them. What will happen to the national mood when the news programs start broadcasting images of the brutal measures our own troops will have to adopt? Inevitably, there will be atrocities that will cause many good-hearted people to defect from the cause. They will be tempted to have us retreat into the paradise of our own innocence. Somehow, over the next six months, until the Iraqis are capable of their own defense, the Bush administration is going to have to remind us again and again that Iraq is the Battle of Midway in the war on terror, the crucial turning point where either we will crush the terrorists' spirit or they will crush ours. The president will have to remind us that we live in a fallen world, that we have to take morally hazardous action if we are to defeat the killers who confront us. It is our responsibility to not walk away. It is our responsibility to recognize the dark realities of human nature, while still preserving our idealistic faith in a better Middle East. The murderers of Um Haydar cannot be permitted to beat the United States of America.
NYT 11 Nov 2003 Avoid War Crimes To the Editor: In "A Burden Too Heavy to Put Down" (column, Nov. 4), David Brooks writes, "Inevitably, there will be atrocities" committed by our forces in Iraq. Did he forget to add that they must be prosecuted? War crimes are indeed more likely if influential commentators foreshadow impunity for perpetrators of the "brutal measures our own troops will have to adopt." The choice is not between committing war crimes and retreating "into the paradise of our own innocence." A third option is for the United States to strive to avoid complicity. It is untrue that "we have to take morally hazardous action." Those who choose it, or urge others to, cannot evade or distribute responsibility by asserting that "we live in a fallen world." BEN KIERNAN New Haven, Nov. 4, 2003 The writer is director of the Genocide Studies Program at Yale University.
Rocky Mountain Collegian www.collegian.com To the Editor: November 12, 2003 I find it disturbing that on the one day a year dedicated to those who have defended this nation with their blood and tears your newspaper has chosen to completely ignore America's veterans. The only mention in The Collegian came from a comic. How you can find space for every conceivable issue of the day yet ignore those who gave you the very ability to discuss such trivial things as what the football team will do after their latest defeat or that a fraternity has shown insensitivity to Wyoming. Yet you could not find even one line to thank those who do what you will not. Veterans defend this nation, its constitution and its people from all enemies. Currently hundreds of thousands of American fighting persons are overseas on every continent working to end famine and epidemic (in places like Africa), prevent genocide (in Kosovo and Bosnia), ensuring the security of nuclear materials (all over the former Soviet republics), enforcing United Nations treaties (South Korea) and freeing the oppressed. Forgetting these men and women on their day is unforgivable especially during a time of great danger for our armed forces. Veteran's Day is for soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen it is not there to support anything besides their sacrifice, so please set aside your political agendas and thank these people for their service. Chris McConnell Colorado State University Political Science / ROTC
Reuters 19 Nov 2003 Strict terms for Clark's Milosevic trial testimony AMSTERDAM, Nov 19 (Reuters) - U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Gen. Wesley Clark will testify behind closed doors at Slobodan Milosevic's trial next month with his evidence made public only days later, The Hague tribunal said on Wednesday. The former NATO commander directed the alliance's 11-week bombing campaign in Kosovo in 1999 in response to a Serbian crackdown against ethnic Albanian separatists during Milosevic's rule in Belgrade. The retired four-star general, who joined the White House race two months ago, is to testify at the former Yugoslav president's war crimes trial on December 15-16 under strict conditions requested by Washington and agreed to by the court. A recording of the testimony will be available to the media 48 hours later -- at the earliest. The U.S. has the right to ask for the recording and transcript of his testimony to be edited to protect its national interests before it is made public. "The protective measures requested by the U.S. government are sought to protect its national interest and the Trial Chamber has granted these protective measures on that basis," the U.N tribunal said. Milosevic has been on trial since February 2002 charged with ethnic cleansing in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s. He is defending himself against 66 charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes and cross examining witnesses. As part of the tribunal's rules of procedure and evidence, governments can request the non-disclosure of evidence to protect national interests. Other governments have also asked the court to apply the rule, the tribunal said.
BBC 19 Nov 2003 Genocide suspects bounty renewed The US says it will patiently pursue all genocide suspects The United States has relaunched its $5m campaign to capture suspected leaders of the Rwanda genocide. Four suspects have been caught after the reward was first offered last year. But 10 others named on a 'wanted' poster remain at large, as US envoy Pierre-Richard Prosper revived the initiative in Rwanda. Between April and June 1994 militias killed 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus in the space of 100 days. Mr Prosper urged Kenya to do more to apprehend Felicien Kabuga accused of funding the genocide. He is due to discuss the case with officials in Kenya, where Mr Kabuga is believed to be hiding. "These people need to understand that justice will pursue them aggressively and is patient," Mr Prosper told the BBC. He also welcomed Saturday's surrender of leading Rwandan Hutu rebel Paul Rwarakabije, who has been based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo since the genocide. "It helps to show that the environment is changing in the region and in Rwanda," Mr Prosper said. Rwandan President Paul Kagame said Mr Rwarakabije would be treated "in a manner that will encourage others to come".
The Guardian UK 28 Nov 2003 Rights The US supreme court agreed earlier this month to hear arguments from lawyers for a group of prisoners, including Mr Iqbal and Mr Rasul, demanding access to civilian lawyers and other rights enjoyed by defendants in civilian trials. That hearing is due in spring, but the British government will have to decide by Christmas whether to file an amicus brief, a written argument, laying out its position. There was little in what Mr Powell said to give much comfort to the government, which had been hoping to win concessions from the Bush administration during this month's presidential state visit. The secretary of state, who is due in Maastricht on Monday for a meeting of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said Mr Bush had not yet decided whether to lift US tariffs on European steel."The president is waiting for some more information and reports," he said. As for the new international criminal court, the permanent war crimes tribunal supported by Britain and Europe but fiercely opposed by Washington, he said the US had not changed its policy of threatening signatories with economic reprisals if they did not pass laws excluding Americans from the court's jurisdiction. "We're not going to yield on our ICC policy," Mr Powell said. "We made it clear that we would not be any longer bound by any of the terms of the ICC, even though President (Bill) Clinton signed it just before he left office, knowing at the time he signed it it would never go to our Senate for ratification." In an unapologetic and at times heated performance, Mr Powell also defended his presentation to the UN on February 5, in which he laid out the evidence that Saddam Hussein had stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. None has been found. Asked if there were any claims in his speech that he now regretted, he mused for a few seconds before replying: "None." However, he put the responsibility for the speech squarely on the CIA. "What I presented on the 5th of February was not something that I made up here in the state department," he said. "And it was not something that was given to me by people who are not competent to provide such information. It represented the best work of our intelligence community, and I spent several days - I think from Thursday through Monday - with the director of central intelligence, with the deputy director of central intelligence, well into the night - almost midnight every night - and all of the analysts who have responsibility, the senior analysts, and we went over every single item."
www.newsday.com 15 Nov 2003 'Forgotten Famine' Remembered Lasting Memories Putting Focus on 'Hidden Holocaust' By Elizabeth Cady Brown Staff Writer November 15, 2003, 6:08 PM EST It is sometimes called the "hidden holocaust" or the "forgotten famine," but 3,000 people marched Manhattan's streets Saturday to show the world they remember. This week marked the 70th annual commemoration of the eight million to 10 million Ukrainians who were starved to death by Joseph Stalin's Soviet regime between 1932 to 1933. It was crisp and sunny for the marchers gathered at noon in front of St. George Catholic Church in the East Village. The procession, a sea of blue and gold Ukrainian flags and colorful embroidered head scarves, moved slowly up Third Avenue to Bryant Park, ending at St. Patrick's Cathedral for a requiem Mass. It was at once a celebration of Ukrainian culture and a time of collective mourning. Paul Makovski, 54, lives in Sheepshead Bay but was born in Ukraine. He remembers clearly his mother's stories about surviving the famine as a young girl in Ukraine's capital, Kiev. "My mother and her sister ate anything to stay alive," he said. "They would make bread with bark or grass. It was terrible for them." Another marcher, Sonia Kachorowsky, 52, from Kolomya, Ukraine, recalled the stories her mother had shared of the '32 famine. "After the Soviets came and took everything, my mother would go to the fields and try to find edible plants in the ground," said Kachorowsky, who lives in Salem, Conn. "She told me the horror of small children dying because their mothers' breasts had nothing, no milk." Stalin imposed harsh policies against the Ukrainian province in the early 1930s, to crush its growing nationalist movement and organized opposition to collective farming practices. By withholding grain, blocking external aid and destroying Ukrainian infrastructure and farmland, Stalin engineered the deaths of millions of Ukrainians by starvation, including nearly one million children. Ukraine's permanent representative to the United Nations, Valeriy Kuchynsky, said he hoped Saturday's demonstration would increase international awareness of the genocide. "We don't want to avenge the history," he said. "The main thing is that mass human rights violations must never be repeated. For that, we must remember." Kuchynsky expressed optimism that after 70 years the world was finally beginning to understand what had occurred. A U.N. joint statement denouncing Stalin's genocidal policies was signed Friday by more than 50 member states. The Ukrainian delegation was joined by prominent American politicians, including John Negroponte, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY). Mayor Michael Bloomberg issued a proclamation this week honoring the victims of the Ukrainian holocaust and declaring the week of November 10th "Ukrainian Famine Remembrance Week" in the city. Addressing the congregation at St. Patrick's, Schumer said, "When one seeks to remember something of this dimension, it is awfully hard to get one's arms around it. But, if we forget, somewhere on the face of the globe it will happen again. It is our job to let people know what happened to prevent it from ever happening again." Olha Oloch, 18, moved to Bensonhurst with her parents from Ukraine five years ago and now works at the Ukrainian Museum in Manhattan. She said that visitors often know nothing of the famine or Stalin's repressive policies. "I want Americans to recognize something like this happened," she said quietly. "The loss of millions of people is tremendous and should be recognized."
Columbia Journalism Review www.cjr.org Issue 6 Nov/Dec 2003 Should This Pulitzer be Pulled? Seventy years after a government-engineered famine killed millions in Ukraine, a New York Times correspondent who failed to sound the alarm is under attack BY DOUGLAS McCOLLAM If you get off the elevator on the eleventh floor of the New York Times building, and head down a long hall leading toward the executive dining rooms, you pass under the fixed gaze of some of the finest journalists in American history. Along the walls hang portraits commemorating all eighty-nine Pulitzer Prizes awarded to the Times to date, including those given to such notable lights as Thomas Friedman, Anthony Lewis, J. Anthony Lukas, and David Halberstam. As you enter the hall, just past the portrait of Russell Owen, whose dispatches from Admiral Byrd's 1928 Antarctic expedition riveted the nation, you come to the picture of Walter Duranty, a balding Englishman who served as the Times Moscow correspondent from 1922 to 1934. In 1932, at the age of forty-seven, Duranty was awarded the Pulitzer for a series of stories that the board thought showed a "profound and intimate comprehension of conditions in Russia," consistent with "the best type of foreign correspondence." Next to Duranty's portrait appears the following note: "Other writers in the Times and elsewhere have discredited this coverage." Revoking a vintage Pulitzer seems a tricky matter. Indeed they have, and this year, more than seventy years after Duranty won the prize, both Arthur Sulzberger Jr., publisher of The New York Times, and members of the Pulitzer board have found themselves inundated with letters, postcards, faxes, e-mails, and phone calls demanding that Duranty's prize be returned or revoked. The campaign has left some of its targets mystified. "The whole thing is just odd," says Andrew Barnes, chairman and chief executive officer of the St. Petersburg Times, who has served on the Pulitzer board for seven years. David Klatell, who was on the board for a year as interim dean of Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism, also was a bit stumped when he began receiving the letters last fall. "It's been a fairly massive writing campaign," says Klatell, who estimates that he and Sig Gissler, administrator of the prizes, have received tens of thousands of cards and letters. "Whoever funded it has spent a good deal of money," Klatell says. The ongoing effort is actually a joint project of several Ukrainian groups worldwide, spearheaded by Lubomyr Luciuk of the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association. A principal architect of the campaign in America is thirty-five-year-old Michael Sawkiw Jr., president of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, a nonprofit advocacy group based in Washington, D.C. Sawkiw, an American whose parents emigrated from Ukraine after World War II, says he recommended the campaign to his board of directors as a way to commemorate the seventieth anniversary of the 1932-33 Ukrainian famine, an event some historians consider the greatest man-made disaster in history. When we met for drinks in Washington (vodka, of course), Sawkiw was adamant that Duranty and the Times were coconspirators in what he calls the Ukrainian "famine-genocide." Well-groomed and affable, Sawkiw nonetheless exuded intensity when he spoke of his determination to see Duranty stripped of his honor. "It's a cop-out just to say 'others dispute' Duranty's reporting," Sawkiw said with just a hint of a Ukrainian accent. "That doesn't get the Times off the hook!" Other Ukrainian activists I spoke with were even more blunt: "Duranty and the Times have blood on their hands and the only way they can wash it off is to return that prize and apologize for what they did," says Peter Borisow, whose parents survived the famine. Both Arthur Sulzberger Jr., and his father, Arthur Sulzberger Sr., the previous publisher, declined to be interviewed for this article, but a Times spokesman, Toby Usnik, did e-mail a statement, saying, in part, that the Times has "reported often and thoroughly on the defects in Duranty's journalism, as viewed through the lens of later events." Among the Times's reports on Duranty's failings was a 1990 editorial that chided him for his "indifference to the catastrophic famine . . . when millions perished in the Ukraine." Max Frankel, who was the executive editor when that editorial ran, recalls consulting with the senior Sulzberger, then the publisher, on returning Duranty's prize, but says the feeling was "it was history and what was done can't be undone, but if the evidence was he didn't deserve the prize or was wrong with his coverage we'd give it back." In the end, Frankel says, the decision was made to put the disclaimer on Duranty's portrait in the Pulitzer gallery and leave it at that. In its statement the Times seems to put the onus for revoking the prize on the Pulitzer board, noting that it has reviewed the Duranty award in the past and taken no action. In April the board voted to consider the question again, forming a special committee to investigate, a step it hasn't taken in the past. Gissler, who became administrator of the prizes in 2002, says the committee was not formed in response to the letter-writing campaign, which he says didn't start in earnest until around May of this year, but because the board views the allegations against Duranty as serious enough to merit an in-depth inquiry. The special committee is scheduled to make a report to the full board at its November meeting. The committee's preliminary findings were being circulated as I worked on this article, but Gissler declined to make it available, nor would he comment on the substance of the controversy. Most of the twenty-two other present and past board members I contacted were similarly mum, including William Safire, the Times columnist who currently co-chairs the Pulitzer board, and Richard Oppel, the editor of the Austin American-Statesman, who heads the special investigative committee. Rena Pederson, editor at large of The Dallas Morning News, who co-chairs the Pulitzer board with Safire, would say only that the Duranty controversy is "a serious issue that we are looking at in the most thoughtful way possible." Nicholas Lemann, who joined the board in September as a nonvoting member by virtue of his new position as dean of Columbia's journalism school, said he has definite views about the Duranty matter, but couldn't comment because the board, in its private deliberations, might ask for his opinion. Not everyone was reticent. Barnes of the St. Petersburg Times said he feels strongly that reopening the Duranty case is a bad idea. "There have been many prizes during my tenure where you could look back and ask 'Is that the best we could do?'" says Barnes. "I can't imagine what good this will do." In the eighty-seven-year history of the Pulitzer Prizes, no award has ever been revoked. In 1981 The Washington Post declined to accept a Pulitzer that had been awarded to reporter Janet Cooke after it became clear that her story about an eight-year-old heroin addict had been made up. The Pulitzer board then withdrew the prize. But revoking a vintage Pulitzer seems a trickier matter. "It's an extraordinarily difficult thing to recreate the historical and intellectual context in which many of the Pulitzer jurors were working," says David Klatell. To get a clearer idea of the issues facing the board, I spent some time at the Library of Congress researching Duranty and his work. In addition to the thirteen stories he wrote in 1931 that were the basis for his 1932 Pulitzer, I also read dozens of other dispatches he filed before, during, and after the Ukrainian famine, as well as accounts of Duranty by colleagues and historians, and a good deal of his autobiographical writing. The picture that emerged was sufficiently complex to make me not envy the Pulitzer board's task. While it's clear that much of Duranty's reporting was suspect, it's also clear that he and other correspondents in Moscow operated under censorship rules akin to those governing reporters at the front lines of a war — which was exactly how the Soviets viewed their revolutionary struggle. Later Times Moscow correspondents, such as Harrison Salisbury (who resides in Pulitzer Hall with Duranty), would defy Communist minders and be barred from the country for their trouble. Duranty worked within the system, trading softer coverage for continuing access. Deciding whether that exchange ended up with the Times substantially whitewashing Soviet atrocities requires a closer examination of Duranty's work. When Walter Duranty left the Times and Russia in 1934, the paper said his twelve-year stint in Moscow had "perhaps been the most important assignment ever entrusted by a newspaper to a single correspondent over a considerable period of time." By that time, Duranty was a journalistic celebrity — an absentia member of the Algonquin Roundtable, a confidant of Isadora Duncan, George Bernard Shaw, and Sinclair Lewis. He was held in such esteem that the presidential candidate Franklin Roosevelt brought him in for consultations on whether the Soviet Union should be officially recognized. When recognition was granted in 1934, Duranty traveled with the Soviet foreign minister, Maxim Litvinov, to the signing ceremony and spoke privately with FDR. At a banquet at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York held to celebrate the event, Duranty was introduced as "one of the great foreign correspondents of modern times," and 1,500 dignitaries gave him a standing ovation. In Moscow, Duranty was known as "the dean of foreign correspondents," and was renowned for his lavish hospitality. In an austere city, he enjoyed generous living quarters and food rations, as well as the use of assistants, a chauffeur, and a cook/secretary/mistress named Katya, who bore him a son named Michael. Duranty, who had a wooden left leg caused by a train accident, was driven through the streets in a giant Buick outfitted with the Klaxon horn used by the Soviet secret police. His competitors gossiped that these perks were allowed because of his cozy relationship with the Soviet government. Eugene Lyons, a United Press correspondent, even suspected that Duranty might be on the Soviet payroll, but no evidence of that seems to exist. Still, many then and later wondered if the status Duranty enjoyed in Moscow led him to curtail his coverage of the Soviets. Malcolm Muggeridge, a correspondent for the Manchester Guardian, would later call Duranty "the greatest liar of any journalist I have met in fifty years of journalism." Joseph Alsop would tab him a "fashionable prostitute," in the service of Communists. And S. J. Taylor's 1990 biography of him would be titled Stalin's Apologist. This was all a long way from where Duranty started. Before going to Russia — as he later wrote — he was "viciously anti-Bolshevik." In fact, when he arrived in Moscow in 1921 (to cover a famine, ironically enough), the Soviets almost denied Duranty a visa because of his record of antagonizing them in print. But soon after his arrival, Duranty's attitude changed. He came to see the Soviets as "sincere enthusiasts trying to regenerate a people who had been shockingly misgoverned." He was hardly alone in this view. In the early 1930s, capitalism was at a low ebb, with depression-era unemployment in most industrialized countries approaching 25 percent. For many, especially among the educated elite, communism became a fashionable alternative to capitalism, as well as a bulwark against the rising tide of fascism. The nascent Soviet Union was seen as a grand, romantic experiment, one that carried the best hopes for the mass of humanity. Unlike many writers and journalists who went to Moscow at the time, Duranty was not a communist or even blind to the Soviet excesses; he simply excused the forced labor camps, property seizures, and political purges as measures necessary to drive a backward country into the twentieth century. "You can't make an omelet without breaking some eggs," was a phrase many remembered Duranty using to excuse Soviet tactics, but in his 1935 book I Write As I Please, he gave a fuller account of his thinking: "Even to a reporter who prides himself on having no bowels of compassion to weep over ruined homes and broken hearts, it is not always easy or pleasant to describe such wreckage, however excellent may be the purpose . . . . But what matters to me is the facts, that is to say whether the Soviet drive to Socialism is or is not successful irrespective of the cost. When, as often happens, it makes me sick to see the cost, I say to myself, 'Well, I saw the War and that cost was worse and greater and the result in terms of human hope or happiness was completely nil.'" This perspective is evident in the 1931 series of articles that won him the Pulitzer. The stories sought to explain the impact of the first five years of "Stalinism" (a term Duranty is credited with inventing). In the series, Duranty explained that Stalin was focused on domestic progress, as opposed to Lenin's earlier emphasis on achieving a world worker revolution. Stalinism, Duranty wrote, was marked by unprecedented invasion into every aspect of life in the country. "The Stalinist machine is better organized for the formation and control of public opinion than anything history has hitherto known," Duranty wrote in one piece. In another, about the forced collectivization movement in agriculture, he noted that while it was based in theory on producing more food to feed a hungry nation, the reality "is that 5,000,000 human beings, and 1,000,000 families of the best and most energetic farmers are to be dispossessed, dispersed and demolished, to be literally melted or 'liquidated' into the rising flood of classless proletarians." In general, Duranty wrote, Stalinism was not unlike the iron rule of the tsars, and was "an ugly, harsh, and cruel creed . . . flattening and beating down with, so far, no more than a hope or promise of a subsequent raising up. Perhaps this hope is vain and the promise a lie. That is a secret of the future." Taken together the thirteen articles (eleven were part of a series, datelined from Paris, that ran in June of 1931; the two others were separate stories), are a sometimes prescient exploration of a kind of totalitarian government the world had never seen before. Duranty's writing style is often stilted, and the stories are flawed in many respects, but overall seem sound, and even include notes of moral condemnation rarely found elsewhere in his work. The same cannot be said about Duranty's coverage — or lack of coverage — of the 1932-33 famine in Ukraine. After five years of brutal agricultural collectivization, Stalin increased the grain quotas due from Ukraine despite a poor harvest year. When it became evident that the quotas would not be met, Soviet troops and party activists swept through Ukraine tearing apart peasant farms looking for secret grain hordes. They stripped the people clean and the result was catastrophic. Though no reliable census data are available, most historians now estimate at least 5 million people starved to death. Ukrainian groups put the figure at 7 million to 10 million and passionately believe it reflects a deliberate campaign by Stalin to break resistance to the Soviets in Ukraine and obliterate the Ukrainian identity, though not all historians agree with that interpretation. Duranty's stories begin to describe the food problem in August 1932. By October, he reported that Ukraine's harvest was coming in at only 55 percent of 1931 levels, and in November he wrote a series on the food shortage "crisis." But the articles largely parroted the government line about lazy peasants and "kulak" class enemies in the provinces being the cause of the problem. All the stories are datelined in Moscow, and Duranty goes to some lengths to play down the crisis. "There is no famine or actual starvation, nor is there likely to be," Duranty wrote in words that are now used against him. But just a couple of lines later in the same story he notes, "but it is a gloomy picture, and as far as the writer can see, there is small sign or hope of improvement in the near future." Even these toned-down reports, however, were apparently enough to draw the ire of the Soviet government. In a meeting with the British ambassador to Moscow, William Strang, Duranty said government officials had threatened that his food shortage stories could result in "serious consequences" for him because they endangered recognition of the Soviet Union by the United States. Duranty told Strang he was afraid his visa would not be renewed. About a week after the series ran in November, Duranty filed a story from Paris about the censorship issue, saying his position had grown "delicate and difficult." But, he hastened to add, the censors were generally reasonable. It's clear he was trying to serve two masters. By early 1933 word of the famine in Ukraine was leaking into the Western press. In March Malcolm Muggeridge bought a train ticket from Moscow to Kiev (without informing the Soviet press office) to check out famine rumors. There he found the population starving to death. "I mean starving in its absolute sense; not undernourished," he wrote in reports that were smuggled past the censors. Worse, Muggeridge found grain supplies that did exist were being given to army units brought in to keep starving peasants from revolting. Upon his return to Moscow, Muggeridge informed the British embassy that the situation was so bad he wouldn't have believed it if he had not seen it in person. Embittered, the idealistic Muggeridge left the Soviet Union, convinced he had witnessed "one of the most monstrous crimes in history, so terrible that people in the future will scarcely be able to believe it ever happened." Confined to Moscow and perhaps alarmed at being scooped, Duranty began to openly criticize the famine reports. Muggeridge's stories were followed by a similar one from Gareth Jones, a secretary to the former British prime minister David Lloyd George, who had made a three-week walking tour of Ukraine. Duranty attacked Jones in the Times as naive and dismissed his article as another in a long line of failed predictions of doom for the Soviets. Duranty wrote that he had made his own "exhaustive" inquiries around Moscow. Based on those he could report there was a serious food shortage but "no actual starvation or deaths from starvation, but there is widespread mortality from diseases due to malnutrition." While conditions were bad, Duranty went on to write, there was no famine. As S.J. Taylor notes in Stalin's Apologist, the Timesman was "cutting semantic distinction pretty slim" and his downplaying of the famine was "the most outrageous equivocation of the period" — one that Gareth Jones did not let Duranty get away with. In a long letter to the Times published in May 1933 Jones wrote that during his weeks in the countryside he visited twenty villages and talked with hundreds of peasants. In Moscow, he discussed the tragedy with consuls from twenty or thirty countries, all of whom supported his view that a massive famine was under way. Further, Jones said, censorship in the Soviet Union had turned correspondents into "masters of euphemism and understatement" so that "famine" became "food shortage" and death from starvation became "widespread mortality from diseases due to malnutrition." When travel restrictions were eased, Duranty finally made his own tour of Ukraine. In late August of 1933, at the start of a bumper harvest, he was able to report that "any report of a famine in Russia is today an exaggeration or malignant propaganda." In the same story, however, he noted that the food shortage had previously caused "heavy loss of life" in the region, at least trebling the normal death rate. In an editorial the next day, the Times noted that Duranty's figures suggested that the "famine must have taken at least 5,000,000 lives and perhaps twice as many," an estimate very much in line with what historians would later conclude. The editorial goes on to note that the United States in 1933, despite the Depression, had a surplus of 350 million bushels of wheat that could be used to offset the famine. But it was already too late. Do these failings mean that Duranty should be stripped of the Pulitzer? That was certainly the conclusion of Mark von Hagen, a Columbia University history professor the Times hired to analyze Duranty's work. In an eight-page report that leaked to The New York Sun in late October he blasts Duranty's reporting as uncritical and unbalanced. In a July 29 letter to the Pulitzer board, forwarding the report, Arthur Sulzberger Jr. wrote that the Times had often acknowledged Duranty's slovenly work, but argued that the board might set a bad precedent by revoking the award. Sulzberger wrote that the Times would respect whatever decision the board made, but cautioned that revoking the award was somewhat akin to the Stalinist urge "to airbrush purged figures out of official records and histories." Von Hagen's report examined the totality of Duranty's reporting in 1931, and found that he frequently hewed to the party line and excused or explained away Soviet excess. In this, von Hagen notes, Duranty was not unique. But his report does not focus on the thirteen stories cited by the Pulitzer committee as the basis for the prize (he cites only six of the thirteen and one of them favorably). If the case for revoking the prize is based solely on the series that Duranty won for, then it is less compelling. If it is based instead on the totality of his reporting, then the prize should probably be revoked. Duranty did not simply write watered-down stories about the famine. Others, including later critics like William Henry Chamberlain of The Christian Science Monitor and Eugene Lyons of UP, filed similarly bland reports, correcting the record only after they were out of the country. No one, it appears, both reported the depths of the famine and managed to stay inside the Soviet Union. But Duranty did more than equivocate; he repeatedly cast doubt on whether the famine was taking place, relying on scarcely more than official Soviet press reports. In so doing he allowed himself to become a vehicle of Soviet propaganda. When he was finally allowed to tour the region in September of 1933, Duranty played up the big harvest that was by then under way, and wrote that "the populace, from the babies to the old folks, looks healthy and well nourished." But writing of the same trip years later, in 1949, Duranty recalled that he had driven "nearly two hundred miles across the country between Rostov and Krasnodar through land that was lost to the weeds and through villages that were empty." That was also the image Duranty gave to the British ambassador, Strang, and others shortly after his return to Moscow. "The Ukraine has been bled white," Duranty is reported as saying to Strang in a diplomatic dispatch to London dated September 30, 1933. Duranty ventured to Strang that it was "quite possible that as many as 10 million people may have died directly or indirectly from lack of food in the Soviet Union during the past year." These sentiments, needless to say, never appeared under Duranty's byline. Researchers who have investigated Duranty's career have found that certain editors at The New York Times did have doubts about his coverage of the Soviet Union, but never acted to recall him. Times editors were aware of famine reports in other newspapers, and even ran editorials and stories contrary to Duranty's coverage in the Times. Those who wish to see Duranty's Pulitzer revoked point to a 1931 State Department memo from the American ambassador to Germany on a meeting he had with Duranty in which Duranty supposedly said that by agreement between the Times and the Soviet government, all his dispatches reflected the Soviets' official position. Though the report appears genuine, it's hard to know how much weight to give it given the lack of other supporting evidence and the tone of the Times coverage. Certainly Duranty's dispatches were contorted to get past the censors, but the Times headlines on his stories were often harsher in tone than the articles under them. The paper had a long record of anti-Soviet coverage and took a much harder editorial line against the Soviets than Duranty did, leading to a somewhat inconsistent picture during Duranty's tenure. That tenure ended in early 1934, when Duranty stepped down as the Times Moscow correspondent, just months after his triumphal trip with Litvinov to the White House. He continued as special correspondent for the Times through 1940 and wrote several books on the Soviet Union, never altering his view of Stalin as a cruel but necessary figure in Russian history. He died in Florida in 1957 with both his bank account and his reputation severely diminished. Given his cynical world view, Duranty might be mystified by the outrage still surrounding his career. Then again, perhaps he anticipated the questions to come about his reporting from the Soviet Union. In his bestselling 1935 memoir, I Write As I Please, he discusses whether the "noble" objectives of the Soviets justified the harsh means they employed. In deciding, he recounts an incident that occurred while he was a cub reporter for the Times's Paris desk in 1917 during World War I. George Creel, the head of the U.S. military's public information office, had relayed a tale about how American sailors on their maiden voyage to Europe sank a pack of German submarines. Duranty believed the story to be war propaganda meant to bolster flagging morale, but he filed the story anyway. Did the end justify the means, a troubled Duranty wondered? His answer took the form of a poem written in the style of e.e. cummings. In long stanzas he tells of the sailors' heroic tale and his decision to write about it despite doubting its truth. The final stanza concludes: well i ask you does a reporter not mean someone who reports / reports exactly what he sees verbatim what he hears / and did I not report it to my full two thousand words / and did it LEAD THE PAPER or not / and if Saint Peter asks unpleasant questions about it i shall / appeal to Saint Athanasius / and if Saint Athanasius lets me down i'll shout for citizen / Creel / and if they can't / find him in heaven then I fear we'll meet in / HELL
www.venezuelanalysis.com LEGAL UPDATE – November 17, 2003 Why The Case Against Chávez Will Not Be Heard In The Hague Monday, Nov 17, 2003 Print format By: Eva Golinger-Moncada Recent reports regarding the November 11, 2003 decision by the Criminal Chamber of the Spanish National Court (Sala Penal de la Audiencia Nacional) to forward a case brought against President Chávez to the International Criminal Court in the Hague merit clarification. The complaint, brought last January 2003 by Venezuelan lawyers Williams Cárdenas Rubio and Luis García Perulles on behalf of approximately fifty individuals[i]who allegedly suffered injuries during the April 2002 coup d’etat against President Chávez, charges Chávez and 24 other governmental officials with crimes against humanity and acts of terrorism. Spanish law recognizes the concept of universal jurisdiction for criminal offenses and codifies international crimes in its domestic statutes.[ii]Cases have been brought under the universal jurisdiction doctrine in Spanish courts against former Chilean dictator Augustus Pinochet and former Argentinean Generals Miguel Cavallo and Adolfo Scilingo, who were charged with the torture and forced disappearance of thousands of Argentinean and Spanish citizens.[iii]Yet the cases of Chile and Argentina deal with years of notorious torture, forced disappearance, persecution and extrajudicial killings executed under repressive dictatorial regimes. The complaint brought against Chávez, et al., alleges such severe charges as crimes against humanity and terrorism. But these terms cannot be thrown around lightly, and the International Criminal Court (“ICC”) is apt to agree. The Spanish National Court decided to forward the complaint against Chávez, et al. to the ICC after the overseeing judge, Magistrate Fernando Andreu Merelles, ordered the remission of the case to the international arbitrator in March 2003. Eight months later, a three-judge panel in the Spanish National Court ruled that there would be no jurisdiction for appeal of this decision in the Spanish courts, primarily based on President Chávez’s immunity as an acting head of state. The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court entered into force on July 1, 2002. The eighteen judges representing nations around the world were elected in February 2003 by the Assembly of State Parties and sworn in on March 11, 2003 at The Hague. On April 21-21, 2003, Luis Moreno Ocampo of Argentina was elected as Prosecutor. In September 2003, at the Assembly of State Parties meeting at the United Nations headquarters in New York, Prosecutor Ocampo announced the first case brought before the ICC would involve recent atrocities committed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Both Spain and Venezuela are member states to the ICC. Spain ratified the statute in October 2000 and Venezuela ratified in June 2000. On a side note, the United States is not a party to the ICC and has tried to undermine its efforts. Cases sent to the ICC will be subject to an extensive review process. First, the charges alleged must have occurred after July 1998, when the Rome Statute was completed and opened for signature by States. The ICC will not accept jurisdiction of those cases containing frivolous allegations, claims with no merit, or cases currently in progress in other nations with proper jurisdiction. All claims alleged must fall within the crimes set forth in Articles 6, 7 and 8 of the Rome Statute, which include Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes. The Crime of Aggression has not yet been defined by the Member States and therefore is not applicable at this time. The complaint filed on behalf of self-proclaimed victims of the April 2002 coup alleges President Chávez, et al. are responsible for the injuries and deaths caused by the events surrounding the coup. The complaint is further grounded on the baseless allegation that Chávez is a dictator running a repressive regime that utilizes terror tactics to violate human rights and impose its totalitarian agenda. While the coup did result in numerous deaths and injuries of civilians, solid evidence directly linking Chávez and the other implicated government officials is not presented in the complaint. Rather, the complaint alleges Chávez created, funded and armed Bolivarian Circles to carry out terrorism tactics against those opposing his administration and that Chávez invoked Plan Avila on April 11, 2002, with the intention of violently eliminating the opposition movement. In fact, evidence uncovered during investigations in Venezuela by human rights organizations and international groups has found that extremist factions of the opposition movement in Venezuela conspired and executed the coup, planning the resulting deaths and injuries as their justification for the illegal usurpation of power. The ICC will most likely reject the complaint filed against Chávez, et al., primarily because none of the alleged crimes fall within the jurisdiction of the Court, and the complaint itself lacks merit. Terrorism is not a crime recognized by the ICC and therefore is inapplicable. That leaves only crimes against humanity. But crimes against humanity are subject to the highest standard in the Rome Statute. Crimes against humanity include acts such as murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation or forcible transfer of population, arbitrary imprisonment, torture, rape, sexual slavery and other forms of sexual violence, persecution, forced disappearance, apartheid and other inhumane acts intentionally causing great suffering or bodily injury.[iv]In order to constitute crimes against humanity, these acts must be committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against a civilian population. A one-time act resulting in the death of 25-50 civilians will not meet that standard. Examples of crimes against humanity include the mass murders and atrocities committed in Rwanda, Bosnia, Chile, Argentina and Germany during World War II. Those claiming Chávez will become a convicted war criminal by The Hague had better sit tight and rethink their conclusions. It took decades of grueling work by advocates and practitioners of international human rights to build the International Criminal Court, which today has been ratified by 90 Member States in the international community. The ICC will not become the forum of baseless complaints by extremists groups seeking credibility for wayward agendas. [i]The “victims” include Mohamed Merhi, Rubén Amor, Isabel Vásquez, Amelia Gamallo and others. [ii]Ley Orgánica del Poder Judicial, Ley orgánica 6/1985, de 1 de julio, Art. 23.4 (a) and (b). That statute permits the exercise of Spanish criminal jurisdiction, "although the offense may have been committed outside of national territory, if committed by a national or foreigner" and if specifically codified in Spanish law. Genocide and terrorism are listed specifically in the statute. [iii]The case against Pinochet was dismissed once England refused to expedite the former dictator, citing health concerns. The cases against the Argentinean Generals are in process. [iv]See Article 7 of the Rome Statute to the International Criminal Court
IRIN 12 Nov 2003 UN sends staff home after car bombing KABUL, 12 November (IRIN) - The United Nations in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar has told its staff to stay home and banned all street movements in the city until further notice after a car bomb exploded outside the office of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) on Tuesday. "All UN international staff are now in their guesthouses and local staff have been sent home. They will remain there until further notification," David Singh, a UNAMA media relation's officer told IRIN, on Wednesday, noting, however, that UN operations had not stopped and were not relocating outside of Kandahar. The attack comes less than three months after an explosion ripped through the UN's Iraq headquarters in Baghdad, killing 22 people, including the UN's Senior Envoy in Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello. Singh said all UN agencies and NGOs [national and international aid agencies] staff [in Kandahar] were also being asked to stay home until further advice. "There will also be no movement of UN personnel on the streets or road missions in the city until further instructions," he underlined, adding that movements within the city were temporarily suspended. According to UNAMA the bomb exploded Tuesday afternoon when a vehicle packed with explosives parked outside the UN office. "At about 3:50 [local time] a vehicle parked between the north side of UNAMA/Kandahar and south side of the United Nations main electoral/United Nations Office for Projects Services building exploded," Singh explained. The United Nations said it did not have any further details of the explosion so far, pending an investigation. "At this stage we have no confirmation of the strength of the explosives used; the type of vehicle; injuries or whether anyone has claimed responsibility for the act," he said. However, according to the state-run Bakhter Information Agency, at least one person was injured as a result of the incident. Earlier that day a demining vehicle ran over an anti-tank mine on the Kandahar airport road, a UN demining agency confirmed to IRIN. "A Handicap International Belgium vehicle was driving on the airport road when it hit an anti-tank mine and the vehicle was destroyed. I am not sure about casualties but the initial investigations say it was a newly planted mine not an old one," Takuto Kubo, an external relations associate for United Nations Mine Action Centre for Afghanistan (UNMACA) said. Unconfirmed reports from the area indicate that two people were injured in that blast. According to UNAMA, Tuesday's explosion was the second attack against a UN compound in the southern city after a grenade was thrown into the FAO [UN Food and Agriculture Organisation] in the summer of 2002 causing minimal damage, but no deaths or injuries. On 5 November, a bomb exploded outside the offices of aid agencies, Save the Children USA and Oxfam in the capital, Kabul. There were no casualties in that incident.
www.thestatesman.net 15 Nov 2003 CA’s ‘indigenous’ development programmes no-balled Mario Rodrigues Statesman NEws Service Cricket Australia’s dynamic vision and pioneering initiatives to promote the game at all levels have elicited praise Down Under and across the globe. In fact, riding on Cricket Australia’s solid all-round administrative performance, the ‘baggy greens’, currently in Kolkata, have become world leaders in international cricket and reaped rich rewards on the field and off it. But not all initiatives have drawn unstinting praise. CA’s much-touted “indigenous cricket” development programmes have been no-balled by an expert on aboriginal issues who feels they are more “hype” than substance, more “feel good” than practical – in sum, mere tokenism. The aborigines are the early heroes of Australian cricket. Ten years before the first official cricket team from Australia visited Britain, a fully aboriginal team toured the mother country in 1868 with great success. However, due to a variety of factors, including racist obstruction by the cricket establishment, aboriginal cricket decayed and withered away. To atone for the sins of the past, as it were, the CA in the recent past went into overdrive to “raise the profile of cricket in indigenous communities and promote a pathway for aspiring indigenous players to be involved in the game around the country.” The noble mission to take the game to the “indigenes” has propelled the launch of several schemes, like the establishment of a National Indigenous Cricket Advisory Committee, deployment of Indigenous Cricket Development Officers (akin to BCCI’s own TRDOs) in several states and coaching courses conducted around the country. The diamond in CA’s developmental necklace is the Imparja Cup – a national indigenous cricket competition – in which every Australian territory and state participated this year. Indeed, CA chairman Mr Bob Merriman scored a “symbolic” run for Australian cricket when he visited the Bungalows – a sacred indigenous site – for the tournament’s opening ceremony. The annual Prime Minister’s XI versus the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) Chairman’s XI match for the Johnny Mullagh Trophy (one of the stars of the 1868 team) is another symbolic commitment to the indigenous cause. “This match continues to provide a focus to build a profile for indigenous cricket,” Mr Ross Turner, GM of CA’s game development cell, has enthused. However, Professor Colin Tatz, director, Australian Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Shalom College, University of New South Wales, Sydney, is not impressed. Professor Tatz says merely sending Jason Gillespie (reportedly the only indigenous cricketer to represent Australia) to remote communities, who disappears in half-a-day after showing them grips and techniques, or having the likes of Lillee, Chappell, Marsh and Mallett bringing occasional cricketing light to aboriginal lives, barely addresses the issue at all. “In 98 per cent of remote and rural communities, there are no ovals, no grass, no pitches, no lights, no change rooms, no coaches, often no bats and no stumps, no umpires if they do play, no money for cricket clothing or for travel to matches against other teams. Cricket is an non-event in Aboriginal lives,” Professor Tatz told The Statesman. He also said that even where a few communities have grass ovals, they are used mainly for rugby league, and those which could be used for cricket, such as at Palm Island, are unused because there are no teams to play against. “There is simply no money to travel to the mainland. Football scrapes through with minor sponsorships, but attracts the aboriginal people, not cricket,” he reiterated. Author of books such as Obstacle Race: Aborigines in Sport, One-Eyed: A View of Australian Sport and Black Gold, Prof. Tatz feels that the annual match between the Prime Minister XI’s and an Aboriginal XI has now turned into “a burlesque carnival to commemorate the 1868 team”. Another moot point is whether aborigines really care for the game despite CA’s spin – as Peter Roebuck has written, cricket is still an Anglo-Saxon game in Australia – even in the 21st century. (TO BE CONCLUDED)
ft.com 10 June 2003 Visual arts: Survivors of a holocaust By Robert Turnbull Published: June 10 2003 19:35 | Last Updated: June 10 2003 19:35 During Pol Pot's four-year reign of terror, up to 80 per cent of Cambodia's artists perished in a purge of the intelligentsia more far-reaching than anything wrought by Mao or Stalin. With them went much of the performance repertory of classical theatre and dance, as well as an enormous variety of folkloric arts. But the Khmer Rouge failed to extinguish Khmer culture. From the early 1980s Cambodia's fledgling ministry of culture appealed to surviving artists to come forward and reveal the skills they had kept hidden during the murderous years. Every day in the cavernous dance hall of Phnom Penh's Royal University of Fine Arts young students wearing amethyst and gold sarongs practise the complex, elegant and sinuous gestures of the classical dance style, or robam borann, under the eye of the masters who survived the holocaust. Today, much of the Reamker, the Khmer version of the Hindu Ramayana which forms the kernel of the classical repertory, has been rescued. Other, less prominent, disciplines - such as yike, a hybrid form of musical, and Lakahon Bassac, a richly costumed version of Chinese opera - are also beginning to make a comeback. Now Sovanna Phum, a 15-member troupe of actors, dancers, musicians and puppeteers, has brought together some of the diverse performing genres to introduce them to western audiences. Next week, they perform Rousey Dek at the Battersea Arts Centre as part of the London International Festival of Theatre. Conceived in the company's wooden theatre in the Cambodian capital, the show - which translates as "bamboo - scrap metal" - brings together the drumming of hill tribes, Buddhist prayer rituals, Herculean acrobatics and stylised classical dance and shadow puppetry, using motifs drawn from the incredibly detailed and elegant bas-reliefs of Angkor Wat. The vast temple's walls are covered with exquisite images of dancers, notably the mythical heavenly nymphs or apsaras. Sovanna Phum is the brainchild of Delphine Kassem. A former circus artist from Evian-les-Bains in France, Kassem set the company up in 1994 - the year after the UN installed a fragile but short-lived democracy in Cambodia. The theatre's proximity to Toul Sleng, the Khmer Rouge's infamous prison, serves as a constant reminder of the magnitude of her task: to revive, preserve and promote this artistic heritage. Sovanna Phum's greatest achievement has been to bring shadow puppetry back into the mainstream. The company's artistic director and the inspiration behind Rousey Dek is Mann Kosal, a survivor of the "killing fields", who as a student in the early 1980s stumbled upon a leather effigy gathering dust in a shed. He spent the next four years recreating the puppet from scratch by a trial and error process of tanning, scraping, drying and dying. The two-metre tall sbaek tom puppets (literally, large leathers) retell the Ramayana stories using both dance and chanting. Traditionally dusted off only for special occasions, performances once ran for 10 hours straight. With their moving mouths and menacing eyebrows, the smaller sbaek touch are closer in spirit to the Javanese wayang wang, from which they derive. Typically, the boisterous slapstick comedy features brawls between drunken farmers or argumentative puppets vying for power. Some have beer bellies, others smoke. Along with the gilded classical apsaras, Cambodia's shadow puppets make a deep impression on tour abroad. Rather as No and Kabuki helped improve Japan's tarnished reputation after the second world war, audiences in North America and Europe seem genuinely surprised that a country still tainted with genocide can create works of such beauty. However, artists are still struggling in the face of economic difficulties. The ministry of culture can barely pay its employees, let alone subsidise regular performances. Artists struggle daily against poverty and corruption. To make matters worse, the capital's only functional theatre burned down in 1994, leaving the core company destitute. Princess Norodom Buppadevi's appointment as culture minister in 1998 brought high expectations. King Sihanouk's oldest daughter and a former apsara dancer, she seemed perfectly placed to raise the international profile of the artists and to improve matters at home. By prioritising the reconstruction of seminal dances, the classical repertory and its research component have expanded incrementally. However, three years into her tenure, the theatre remains derelict. Artists, many of whom have trained from the age of seven, remain among the poorest civil servants. When opportunities to leave Cambodia come up, many do. The huge growth in tourism to Cambodia has brought mixed blessings. Artists enjoy greater opportunities, but audiences unaccustomed to the ponderous rhythms have undermined the quality of the dance. "What will it be tonight," quips former minister of culture Chheng Pohn, "the $15 dance, or the shorter one at $10?" The presence of apsaras at a recent gala dinner featuring José Carreras was considered sacreligious - the dances desecrated by the clanking of cutlery. Alone in mounting regular performances in the capital, Sovanna Phum is giving regular work to artists who might otherwise be driving cycle rickshaws. Meanwhile a group of international bodies has been laying the foundations of more permanent artistic activity. Sporadic seasons invariably sell out, belying the claim that Cambodians have lost sight of their traditional culture amid a cacophony of Thai pop and karoake. But a return to the days of the pre-war years still seems a long way off. June 17-June 19, Battersea Arts Centre, London
PTI 1 Nov 2003 Godhra case has a conspiracy but no accused AMIT MUKHERJEE AHMEDABAD: The trial in the Godhra carnage case of February 27 of last year has began with the 69 people who are currently in custody being tried under Pota. But ironically most of these accused were just a part of this mob who probably had a passive role to perform in the whole episode of gruesome genocide in which 59 persons were killed. In reality, say sources in the prosecution, most of the key accused criminals who actually formed the 20-member core group of the conspiracy are still missing. Except for Haji Bilal Ismail Sujela and Abdul Razzak Kurkur, at least 15 prime accused who had allegedly masterminded and executed the planned assault on S-6 compartment of Sabarmati Express, are still at large. The special Pota court, however, has been issuing directions to the police every fortnight asking them to file status report as to what has been done to arrest the 48 absconders including the 15 key accused. According to sources in the police, the Pota court so far at least issued five such directives to the police. The special investigating team,which is at the moment absolutely clueless of the whereabouts of the absconders have been frantically issuing notifications to police authorities of all states to try and trace out the accused. Some of the absconders include Farooq Bhana, Mehboob Ahmed Latika, Salim Haji Badam alias Salim Panwala, Salim Zarda, Shaukat Ahmed Charkha, Hassan Ahmad Charkha, Siraj Bala, Rafiq Kalander alias Babho, Sidiq Ibrahim Bakar, Babu Patadia, Yakub Patadia, Qadir Patadia, Yunous Abdul haq Samol, Imran Ahmed Batuk, who had conspired and planned the attack. According to the prosecution most of these accused were present at Kurkur’s guest house on February 26 at Signal Falia to plan out the assault and Bhana had given a go to the assault by conveying that the “Maulvi has given a clearance”. They had gathered again at the guest house but dispersed around 1:30 am on February 27 on information that the Sabarmati Express was running hours late. As the train arrived Panwala and and Latika shouted slogans and spread rumours about Muslims being beaten up and a girl being molested by the kar sevaks, to mobilise the hawkers into a mob. They also got three people into the compartments to pull the chain. Later Kurkur and Panwala went to procure the stocked fuel and subsequently use it. Though the prosecution has a story to tell now, but there are not many accused in their custody who they could actually attribute the genesis of the Godhra carnage.
PTI 10 Nov 2003 Violence erupts in Ahmedabad, 1 killed AHMEDABAD: In fresh eruption of violence, people of two communities pelted stones at each other even as one person was stabbed in sensitive Kalupur area of the city on Sunday night, police said here. "One youth was stabbed and rushed to hospital here and officials had to lob at least two tear gas shells to quell the mob," joint commissioner of police P C Thakur said. The trouble broke out following the stabbing of a minority community youth in Juhapura area in the city on Sunday evening, Thakur said. The situation in the area was tense but was gradually coming under control, he added. As per preliminary information, the incident occurred as word spread about the stabbing of a man, identified as Rasool Ghanchi, by Nazir Vora in Juhapur area in the evening, Thakur said, adding the stabbing had no communal angle and it was the outcome of a personal feud between the two. Meanwhile, curfew has been clamped in Kalupur following the eruption of violence.
AP 11 Nov 2003 AHMADABAD, INDIA Tuesday, Nov 11, 2003,Page 5 A Muslim man was hacked to death and a Hindu youth fatally burned in new sectarian violence overnight in India's Gujarat state and a curfew was imposed yesterday to try to stem the violence, police said. The fierce rioting took place in Ahmadabad, the business hub of Gujarat and one of India's leading trading centers. More than 1,000 people were killed in sweeping religious clashes between Hindus and Muslims in Gujarat last year and the state has witnessed frequent clashes between the two sides -- often over matters as small as arguments at a tea shop or a cricket match. The latest clashes began on Sunday night in the city's Muslim-dominated area of Chuhapora soon after Muslim resident Rasool Ghanchi was hacked to death outside a local theater, said P.C. Thakur, the joint commissioner of police in Ahmadabad. As word spread, a riot broke out in another Muslim-dominated area, Kalupur, the city's main business district, Thakur said. Two Hindu youths on a motorbike were dragged down and one was burned to death a few meters from the local police station, he said. The other was stabbed and later admitted to a hospital. People from both communities hurled rocks at each other, and burned vehicles and shops. Police imposed an indefinite curfew after midnight in the Kalupur area. "Since last night, we have raised security in the ... city and four people have been rounded up in connection with burning alive the Hindu youth," Thakur said. "These two boys who were attacked were not involved in the riots. Unfortunately, the Muslims got their hands on them while they were passing by," he said. Religious tensions have been high in Gujarat since February last year, when a Muslim mob set fire to a train carrying Hindu activists. That attack set off a wave of reprisal killings and riots in which Muslims were the main victims. .
BBC 13 Nov 2003 Scores hurt in rail mob attacks By Subir Bhaumik BBC correspondent in Calcutta Assamese passengers complain to the police (photo: Abhijit Choudhury) At least 50 train passengers have been injured in attacks by armed mobs in the northern Indian state of Bihar. The youths were protesting over alleged discrimination against Biharis who had tried for jobs with Indian Railways in the neighbouring state of Assam. The attacks happened at five stations where trains bound for Assam had stopped, officials from the state-owned railway network said. Competition for government jobs often ignites regional rivalries in India. Police escorts for passengers Railway officials said some trains bound for the north-east were being diverted from Bihar to stop youths beating more passengers with sticks, rods and belts. Other trains had been provided with armed police escorts. Wounded passengers were sent to hospitals in West Bengal state, which lies between Bihar and Assam, according to the railway officials. The attackers targeted passengers from Assam and other states in India's north-east, and officials said even women and children were beaten up. At least five passenger trains were attacked, at train stations in the towns of Jamalpul, Munger, Kishanganj and Katiahar. Letter to president The violence was triggered by reports that Bihari candidates who had travelled to Assam to take a job test with the north-eastern railway network were forcibly turned away. However, the All Assam Students' Union says Assamese applicants, not Biharis, have been the real victims of discrimination. In a letter sent to India's prime minister and president, they said very few locals took the test, and most of the candidates were from Bihar. The letter also pointed out that the minister in charge of India's railways, Nitish Kumar, was from Bihar.
Times of India 17 Nov 2003 Vadodara's wanted man surfaces in A'bad TIMES NEWS NETWORK[ MONDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2003 09:58:42 PM ] VADODARA: Notorious criminal Salim Golawala, dubbed as Vadodara's most wanted, seems to have surfaced Ahmedabad. Police sub-inspector M Vaghela, in charge of the Detection of Crime Branch police station here, said Ahmedabad police had confirmed that Golawala was involved in the Rasul Ghanchi murder. has been named as one the prime suspects in the Ghanchi murder. Ghanchi was stabbed to death near the Sonal cinema in Ahmedabad on Sunday over suspected rivalry over real estate. For the city police, nabbing Golawala has become a prestige issue. Wanted in connection with a series of offences, he was nabbed by a police party, but freed by a mob which attacked the police party in the Vhorwad locality of Wadi area on October 14. One policeman was seriously injured in the incident and a women died due to a teargas shell injury. At that time police commissioner Sudhir Sinha had announced a reward for any information about Golawala. Sources said Golawala is an accused in about a dozen cases and wanted in six of them. He was allegedly involved in arson and wanted in offences of rioting in Wadi and Karelibag police stations. The crime branch here was also on his lookout over alleged involvement in illegal arms trade. Golawala was also involved in an incident of private firing in Panigate area some months ago along with notorious Lala Andawala. The police is also probing his connection with the Latif gang of Ahmedabad and particularly his relation with Abdul Wahab. Golawala was nabbed in Mumbai 10 years ago along with Wahab and one Salim Tola. However, at that time it was found that Golawala did not have a criminal background and was allowed to go after questioning. It is believed that Golawala came in contact with the underworld around 1991. He is suspected of having harboured criminals on the run.
BBC 19 Nov 2003 Bihari settlers killed in Assam Assamese train passengers were targeted by the Bihar mobs last week Six members of the same family have been killed in the north-east Indian state of Assam. A police spokesman said all six were Hindi-speaking settlers from the state of Bihar. In an earlier incident, five Biharis were shot dead by gunmen at a hotel in the remote Dhubri region. Violence between Assamese and Biharis has been escalating since Indian Railways began a recruitment campaign in Assam earlier this month. More than 100 houses belonging to the settlers have been burnt down. Indian army troops have now been deployed in parts of the state to control the violence. 'Hacked to death' Early on Wednesday, armed men stormed a Bihari home in the northern district of Dibrugarh. Six members of a family, including four women, were hacked to death. Late on Tuesday, five Biharis were shot dead in the western district of Dhubri late on Tuesday. Eight others were injured in Tuesday's attack which took place at the Sagolia check gate in Dhubri, not far from Assam's border with West Bengal. "All the five killed in Dhubri district were Hindi-speaking truck drivers who were... watching the India-Australia cricket finals on television," Khagen Sarma, Assam's inspector general of police, was quoted as saying by the Associated Press. Job row It is not clear who carried out either attack. But police are blaming rebels of the United Liberation Front of Assam which has told Hindi speakers to leave the state. The rebels are angered by attacks last week in Bihar on train passengers from Assam by Biharis protesting at alleged job discrimination in Assam. The Bihar mobs were angry that youths in Assam had physically prevented candidates from Bihar from taking recruitment interviews for jobs at the state-run railways. Assamese people say the jobs should be reserved for them.
AP 22 Nov 2003 Report: Fifteen killed in ethnic violence in India NEW DELHI (AP) ? Unidentified attackers killed 15 workers in a northeastern Indian state torn by ethnic violence, news reports said Saturday. The Assam province has been plagued by clashes between people native to the region and those from the neighboring region if Bihar. The dispute has been chiefly about access to government railroad jobs. The workers killed in the overnight attacks were all residents of Bihar, the private Aaj Tak and NDTV channels reported. The attacks brought to 40 the number of Hindi-speakers from Bihar who have been killed this week. The outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom, a militant group seeking independence for ethnic Assamese, issued a statement last week to the local media telling Hindi-speaking people to leave the state or face retaliation. Since then, sporadic attacks against Hindi-speakers have taken place across the state. Around 100 houses have been burned in eastern Assam. In Bihar, meanwhile, some mobs have attacked trains carrying Assamese to and from their home state. .
PTI 29 Nov 2003 Six killed in fresh ethnic violence in Assam Press Trust of India Diphu, November 29 After a brief lull, ethnic violence erupted again in Assam on Saturday with six Karbis killed in firing and arson by Kuki militants in Karbi Anglong district, while sheds at a weekly market in Tinsukia district were set ablaze by unidentified persons. At Karbi Anglong, the Kuki Revolutionay Army militants, swooped down on two interior Karbi-inhabited villages, Rongkimi and Jelangso, at 4:30 am and opened fire from sophisticated weapons and set ablaze 185 huts, the police said. Six, including a woman and three-year-old girl died in the firing and the arson, they said. The 185 huts destroyed in the blaze belonged to 106 Karbi families in the two villages. Reinforcements headed by senior police officials and the Army have rushed to the villages. The attack by the KNA was one in a series that has been continuing since October. The KNA militants came over from Manipur about two to three years ago and have been trying to create discord between local Kukis inhabiting the Singhasan hill and Karbis with an eye to the lucrative ginger trade there.
WP 3 Nov 2003 Indonesian Massacre of 1984 Recounted at Trials In Atmosphere of Threats, Survivors of Military Assault Testify for First Time By Alan Sipress Washington Post Foreign Service Monday, November 3, 2003; Page A11 JAKARTA, Indonesia -- Husen Sape was leading the protest, demanding that the military release four Muslims detained a few days earlier, when soldiers abruptly opened fire from yards away. He felt a searing pain in his right ankle and crumpled to the ground, felled by one of the first bullets, he recalled. Within an instant, gunfire had killed a man to his right and three more to his left. "There was no warning," he said, moving his fists back and forth as if raking the crowd with rifle fire, as he recounted the incident from 19 years ago. Soldiers listened for moans, turning their guns on the survivors, he said. Sape played dead. When the shooting subsided, he was heaved into an army truck with at least a dozen corpses. He begged for help only when the bodies were delivered to a hospital. "I still remember everything so well," Sape, 54, said in an interview, his eyes reddening. "It feels like it just happened yesterday." Sape is among the survivors giving testimony for the first time about the Sept. 12, 1984, massacre at the impoverished Jakarta port of Tanjung Priok. The opportunity for Indonesians to explore this bloody chapter emerged only after President Suharto was ousted in 1998 and a law was enacted in 2001 that allowed a court to hear allegations of atrocities by the security forces. The Tanjung Priok tribunal is the second special human rights court empaneled by the government under the new law. In August, the first such court finished trying 18 defendants, mainly Indonesian military and police officers, for their role in the wave of killings, lootings and rapes in East Timor following its vote four years ago for independence from Jakarta. Six were found guilty and given light sentences. Foreign governments and human rights monitors called the proceedings deeply flawed. At least 24 people were killed during the violence in Tanjung Priok, according to an investigation by Indonesia's official human rights commission. Families of the victims put the death toll at almost 400. During the past two months, prosecutors have brought 14 active-duty and retired soldiers before the special tribunal on charges of crimes against humanity, most notably the current commander of the Indonesian army's special forces, Maj. Gen. Sriyanto Muntrasam. He went on trial two weeks ago, facing allegations that as a young captain he failed to stop his men from firing on several thousand Muslim marchers. Sriyanto has denied the accusations. His attorneys have questioned the authority of the tribunal to hear the case so long after the event. No verdicts have been reached yet in the Tanjung Priok cases. In addition to Sriyanto's trial, there are separate proceedings involving two retired major generals and a combined case against a captain and his 10 subordinates at the time. Col. Nachrowi, a military spokesman, criticized what he called the retroactive application of the human rights laws and warned that some people may try to manipulate the proceedings to undermine Indonesia's unity. "To build the nation, it's very important for us to share the spirit of togetherness and there's no need for revenge," he said. During the latest session of Sriyanto's trial on Thursday, scores of uniformed soldiers wearing the red berets of the Kopassus special forces crowded into the third-floor courtroom of the Central Jakarta courthouse to demonstrate support for their commander. Scores more arrived from other army units. The soldiers, many transported to the courthouse in military trucks and vehicles triple-parked out front, packed the aisles, overflowing through the French doors into the hallway. Some were barely old enough to recall the 1984 massacre. Witnesses to the Tanjung Priok killings and human rights activists have called this intimidation. Moreover, they say they have been threatened with death or kidnapping if they appear in court. Sape said he received an anonymous telephone call at 3:30 a.m. last week asking whether he would give testimony against the military and warning him to be careful. Sape said he hung up, scared. "If they keep threatening me, I might not give my testimony at all. It'd be better for my safety," said Sape, who has already provided evidence in several other cases and is scheduled to give more. The witnesses and human rights activists complained last week to both the regular and military police, asking for protection. An Indonesian police spokesman said the department had received a report about the threats but would not comment on what steps would be taken. After the hearing Thursday, Sriyanto told reporters that soldiers had a right like anyone else to attend the trial, adding that he did not understand why their presence was perceived as intimidation. But Yusron Zainuri, 39, another massacre survivor, said that in the face of continuing threats, he would "feel afraid to tell the truth about what I experienced and what I still feel inside." Like Sape, Zainuri said he had joined the ill-fated march after attending an evening Koran reading session at a neighborhood mosque. Led by Muslim activists, several thousand sympathizers tried to march to the local military headquarters to demand the release of four Muslims. Some accounts say the four had been arrested because they were suspected of political subversion for opposing Suharto's government. An activist handed Sape a green banner emblazoned with an Islamic slogan and told him to lead the way. As they advanced through the darkened streets, the protesters were met by a phalanx of soldiers with bayonets drawn, and halted, according to Sape, Zainuri and other witnesses. When the soldiers unexpectedly opened fire, many of the marchers dropped to the pavement, cowering, the witnesses said. But one man next to Zainuri jumped back up to run and drew fire. Zainuri said he suddenly noticed he was covered with blood. He realized he had been hit in the chest and right arm. More troops arrived, he recounted, and began to move up the street hunting survivors. One soldier stood over Zainuri. "He shouted, 'This one's still alive!' He tried to shoot me once more. The bullet came very close to my head but missed," he said. The soldiers dragged his limp body by the arm and hurled him into the open bed of an army truck. The corpses were four deep, Zainuri said. "It was impossible for me to count the number of bodies," he recalled, "because of the conditions and the fear and the pain."
Laksamana.net 4 Nov 2003 Military hails Aceh martial law extension Laksamana.Net - The Indonesian Defense Forces (TNI) has praised President Megawati Sukarnoputri's decision to extend martial law in Aceh province, where about 1,300 people have been killed since a massive military operation was launched against separatist rebels five months ago. TNI commander General Endriartono Sutarto said Tuesday (4/11/03) the extension will enable the military to "arrest" the remaining leaders of the outlawed Free Aceh Movement (GAM). "We need the extension to arrest all GAM leaders," he said. The government on Monday announced that it would extend the martial law, which had been imposed on May 19 and was initially scheduled to last for six months. Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said Megawati is due to discuss the exact duration of the extension at a cabinet meeting on Thursday. Reports said it is likely to last for four to six months and could again be extended. The government placed Aceh under martial law after abandoning an internationally sponsored truce with the rebels and commenced an all-out offensive to eradicate the separatist movement. About 40,000 troops and police were deployed to crush an estimated 5,000 rebel fighters. According to official data, more than 900 rebels, 300 civilians and 67 police/soldiers have been killed since May 19. Also, more than 1,800 rebels have been arrested or have surrendered, according to the military. The figures have been difficult to independently verify, as severe restrictions have been imposed on foreign journalists and aid workers seeking to enter the province. Furthermore, foreign human rights groups have been banned from entering Aceh, while domestic rights activists have reportedly been attacked and intimidated. More Carnage Aceh military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Ahmad Yani Basuki on Tuesday said troops had killed five suspected rebels and arrested five others in separate incidents over recent days. He said two GAM members were killed in gunfights in South Aceh on Monday, while another two were arrested in a raid at Kuala Leugo in East Aceh. Soldiers killed a rebel and arrested three others in a raid on a house at Peudada in Bireuen district on Sunday, while two more rebels were shot dead in South Aceh and Pidie districts, he added. Integrity Aceh Jaya district chief Zulfian Ahmad on Tuesday welcomed Megawati's decision to extend martial law, saying it would help to maintain the integrity of the Indonesian republic and restore security in the province. In Jakarta, parliament speaker Akbar Tanjung, who is also a convicted corruption felon, called on the government to consult the House of Representatives on the extension. He said the House had earlier stated that six months of martial law in Aceh would be sufficient to restore security in the province. Rights groups say an estimated 13,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed since GAM began fighting for an independent state since 1976. Although foreign governments officially oppose the separatists' struggle for independence, they have encouraged Indonesia to seek a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
Reuters 5 Nov 2003 No end in sight for Indonesia's Aceh campaign By Jerry Norton BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (Reuters) - It looks like its going to be a long haul for Indonesian security forces fighting separatist rebels in Aceh. The government is expected to announce on Thursday an extension of martial law in the province, and security officials in the provincial capital of 400,000 are careful to avoid predicting when it and the military campaign will end. That was not supposed to be the scenario when 45,000 military and police began a six-month offensive in May against about 5,000 Free Aceh Movement (GAM) fighters in the resource-rich, staunchly Muslim province on the northern tip of Sumatra island. Indonesian military (TNI) chief Endriartono Sutarto told his troops their job was "to destroy the armed forces of GAM through to their roots", reducing it to its "smallest unit" in six months, a target that coincided with the planned end of martial law in the province. But in September, Sutarto said: "We can't pinpoint when we can paralyse GAM," adding that whether martial law was extended was up to President Megawati Sukarnoputri. It seems nearly a certainty that she will. Does that mean the campaign, launched with a parachute drop of hundreds of troops, has had no successes? Not according to Sutarto, who said it had reduced GAM's strength. Conditions have become safer, the Aceh military spokesman, Colonel Ditya Soedarsono, said this week in the provincial capital, Banda Aceh, 1,700 km (1,060 miles) northwest of Jakarta. "Transportation in Aceh is running very well and the food supply is not upset," he said. Certainly there is no sense of danger at the military headquarters where Soedarsono is based. More soldiers have cell phones than sidearms holstered on belts. A single sentry guards the drive to the main door. "RELATIVELY GOOD" Banda Aceh as a whole resembled an armed camp in May, with armoured vehicles, rifle-toting soldiers and checkpoints, but now there is little to suggest anything but normality. In contrast, hotels and office buildings in Jakarta, where Muslim militants have launched bomb attacks, have more guards and barricades. Many citizens say they feel safer now, and a human rights activist critical of martial law said improvements were not confined to the capital. "We have to concede the situation is relatively good now outside of Banda Aceh," the activist said. But TNI spokesman Soedarsono said problems remain. "There are key persons from GAM who are not captured yet, and these key persons will make problems in the future because they will seek revenge." Soedarsono's police counterpart, Colonel Sayed Hoesainy, said GAM fighters had stashed weapons. "And if the security operation stops, then the GAM will return and they will take the guns back." Security officials also spoke of GAM members "melting into society" ready to strike again, as well as maintaining fighting units in remote and rugged parts of the mountainous province, harassing farmers and fishermen. A Jakarta-based Western diplomat who declined to be identified said the campaign had achieved some success. "That said, the government has not destroyed GAM as a military force and has not captured major GAM military figures." HEARTS AND MINDS GAM has been fighting the government for 27 years, surviving numerous offensives. Before the latest, about 10,000 people, most of them civilians, had been killed. In this campaign, official counts say the military has killed more than 1,000 rebels and captured nearly 900, while security forces have suffered dead in double-digits. GAM has told a different story, and has also said the government was responsible for significant civilian casualties. Soedarsono denied that, saying military tactics were designed to avoid civilian deaths. Casualty figures are hard to verify. The government restricts entry and movement in the province of four million by media and other observers. Security officials said they were working to win public support and backed non-military elements of the offensive such as improving humanitarian and political conditions. The Western diplomat said that while military pressure might eventually force a negotiated peace, it could backfire by creating more alienated Acehnese and rebel recruits. Fachry Ali, an analyst at a Jakarta-based think-tank, told Reuters: "From the start I'm against the military operation, but now we are at a point where pulling out completely is not feasible." Comparing the situation to the U.S. position in Iraq, he added: "I'm afraid if troops pull out now there will be more chaos because those who have been suffering from the operation may take revenge against those who have been siding with the troops."
BBC 7 Nov 2003 Jakarta angry at Aceh 'meddling' Hundreds of combatants and civilians have been killed already The Indonesian Government has hit back at criticism of its extension of martial law in troubled Aceh province. A foreign ministry spokesman said a statement of concern issued by the United States, Japan and European Union was "leading to meddling". The joint statement came after Jakarta extended martial law for six months, in a bid to suppress separatist rebels from the Free Aceh Movement (Gam). Hundreds of fighters and civilians have died since a crackdown began in May. The decision to authorise an extension was made during a meeting between President Megawati Sukarnoputri and ministers and generals in Jakarta on Thursday. Security Minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said the situation would now be slightly more flexible, with the operation evaluated monthly so that it could either be "extended or shortened". The government seems determined to press ahead with its plan to crush the rebel movement Rachel Harvey BBC, Jakarta Rebels who voluntarily surrender will be given amnesty, and a special economic recovery package for the province is planned, but no details have been given. Hours later, a joint statement from the US, Japan and EU said they hoped "the state of military emergency is ended as soon as possible". Human rights Our correspondent in Jakarta, Rachel Harvey, said that these additional measures may be in part a response to critics who say that the government has failed to deliver on promised humanitarian assistance. Human rights groups have called on the Indonesian Government to end the offensive and resume talks with the rebels who want independence. They have been fighting for a separate state since 1976. In a joint statement, local and international organisations said: "Continued fighting will only result in increased civilian and military casualties, internal displacement, and widespread destruction of livelihoods and property." But our correspondent says the government seems determined to press ahead and crush the rebel movement, even if it takes longer than military leaders predicted. The campaign began on 19 May, after a five-month truce collapsed. It is thought that the government has 45,000 troops and police, against an estimated 5,000 rebels. The military claims it has killed or captured nearly 2,000 Gam rebels, and that around 60 police and military personnel have died since the offensive began. But with restricted media access in the province, independent information is difficult to obtain. The military and human rights groups say 300 civilians have also been killed.
ICG 7 November 2003 The Perils of Private Security in Indonesia: Guards and Militias on Bali and Lombok Untrained, unaccountable, and politically-affiliated private security forces in Indonesia have the potential to cause conflict in the run-up to the 2004 elections. Civilian security groups on the neighbouring islands of Bali and Lombok arose to carry out protection and crime-fighting functions that the police were unable or unwilling to undertake. However, these private security forces often exacerbate rather than reduce security problems, especially when they are linked to particular religious, ethnic, or political groups. The lack of any system of control, supervision, or regulation over them means they all too easily become a law unto themselves, and their existence serves to weaken police credibility and undermine the state as the final guarantor of security in a democratising country. The Indonesian government and donors interested in assisting police reform should work toward the disbanding of these priv ate security organisations.ICG reports and briefing papers are available on our website: www.crisisweb.org
AFP 12 Nov 2003 Indonesian president to visit war-torn Aceh next month JAKARTA, Nov 12 (AFP) - Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri will next month visit Aceh province where the military is waging a bloody war against separatist rebels, an official said Wednesday. "The president has expressed her willingness to visit Aceh," Aceh governor Abdullah Puteh told reporters after meeting the president. An exact date has yet to be decided but Puteh said he had proposed December 21 or 23. She is expected to attend a meeting of 4,000 Muslim clerics and inaugurate several government projects, he said. Megawati has made several presidential visits to Aceh. During her first one in September 2001, she apologised tearfully for the mistakes of the past. But the Indonesia Human Rights and Legal Aid Association said last week that her administration is now recycling the Aceh policies of disgraced dictator Suharto. The government in May scrapped a peace pact with the Free Aceh Movement (GAM), which has been fighting for independence since 1976, saying the rebels were cheating on it. On May 19 it imposed martial law in the province and launched a military operation involving 40,000 troops and police to crush the guerrillas. That campaign was extended for six months last week, despite international protests. Puteh said Megawati also promised immediately to discuss with the cabinet his proposal to give amnesty to separatist rebels who have surrendered and pledged allegiance to Indonesia. Seven more suspected rebels have been killed, three have been captured and four have surrendered in the province on Sumatra island, said military spokesman Ahmad Yani Basuki. Troops shot dead four guerrillas in a clash in North Aceh district on Tuesday, he said. The three others died in separate clashes in Pidie, West Aceh and South Aceh districts on the same day. The army says more than 1,800 rebels have surrendered or been arrested since May, while more than 900 guerrillas and 67 police or soldiers have been killed. But top rebel leaders are still at large. The military also says some 300 civilians have also been killed but does not say by whom.
Jakarta Post 15 Nov 2003 Komnas accuses TNI of abuses in Papua Fabiola Desy Unidjaja, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) said on Friday that based on preliminary findings the Indonesian military (TNI) committed gross abuses in Papua in 2001 and 2003, and says it is launching a legal probe into the incidents. Sa'afroedin Bahar, head of Komnas HAM's Papua investigation team, said after a meeting with President Megawati Soekarnoputri that the team would look into the possible gross rights abuses by TNI and police in Wasior in 2001 and Wamena regency in 2003. "There were extra judicial killings and torture by military and police personnel," Sa'afroedin said in a press conference here Friday. The inquiry would be led by Anshari Thayib, also a member of the rights commission. According to Sa'afroedin, TNI personnel tortured 48 people, killed seven and forcibly evacuated some 7,000 residents in Wamena between April and June 2003. The incidents took place during raids by the Army after alleged Free Papua Movement (OPM) members broke into a TNI armory in Wamena regency on April 4, 2003, and escaped with 29 riffles. Meanwhile in Wasior regency, 16 people were tortured, three killed and dozens of homes were burned down by police during raids carried out after six troopers from the police's paramilitary force, the Mobile Brigade (Brimob), who were guarding a logging company were killed by a group of Papuan rebels. The troopers' killings took place on June 13, 2001, and the raids were launched in the surrounding areas immediately after the incident and lasted for more than two months. "We got indications (of abuses) after our meetings with witnesses and victims during our preliminary probe from Sept. 8 through Sept. 15," Sa'afroedin said. He said the commission had informed President Megawati about its plan to investigate the incidents during Friday's meeting and asked the government to assist it with the inquiry. During the meeting, President Megawati was accompanied by Coordinating Minister of Political and Security Affairs Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Minister of Justice and Human Rights Yusril Ihza Mahendra, and National Police chief Gen. Da'i Bachtiar. "We will summon possible suspects, whose names we already have. We have asked the government to support the probe," Sa'afroedin said. "We had a good discussion with the government side. Please note that we do not hate the military, but we need to find the perpetrators of these sort of cases," he added. Under the Law No. 39 on human rights tribunals, the commission's findings can be used as evidence before a rights tribunal. Commenting on the Komnas HAM plan, senior security minister Susilo said rights abuses by soldiers "cannot be justified" even if they were only doing their jobs. In an apparent contradiction, he also said, however, that rights abuses in conflict areas such as Papua and Aceh were "unavoidable." "In conflict areas such as in Papua or in Aceh ... it cannot be avoided that there are clashes and action taken beyond acceptable levels, including human rights violations. However, that cannot be legitimized," Susilo said. He expressed the hope that the team would not immediately jump to conclusions that human rights abuses had taking place in the incidents that were probed by the commission. "Some cases are merely criminal cases that can be handled by conventional courts, rather than a human rights tribunal," he said. The OPM has waged a sporadic low-level revolt since Indonesia took control of Papua, a mountainous jungle-clad territory, from the Dutch in 1963. A controversial U.N.-organized plebiscite in 1969 of leaders of the local population resulted in a decision to join Indonesia.
Jakarta Post 16 Nov 2003 Mob burns down courthouse after priest sentenced Jemris Fointuna, The Jakarta Post, Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara Thousands of local residents set ablaze a district courthouse on Flores Island on Saturday, shortly after a judge declared guilty a local Catholic leader in a defamation case. The angry mob also set fire to several buildings belonging to the Larantuka Prosecutor's Office. No fatalities were reported in the incident. The incident began when thousands of residents of Larantuka, the capital of the predominantly Catholic East Flores regency, attended a trial against Father Frans Amanuen, a local charismatic priest. Amanuen was taken to court after he accused Felix Fernandez, East Flores regent, of being involved in marking up the price of a multipurpose boat, which was purchased for the local government. The boat is said to be worth Rp 3 billion (US$352,941). In a local publication, Amanuen lashed out at the regent, saying that the regent had only enriched himself in the purchase of the boat. Regent Felix Fernandez expressed his displeasure over comments made by the Catholic priest, and sued the outspoken priest for libel. Presiding judge I Wayan Suparta sentenced the priest to two months' imprisonment and five months' probation. This means Amanuen will remain free unless he commits a crime within the five-month probationary period. His supporters, however, were angered by the verdict, and went on a rampage. "(His supporters) were calm during the court session, but became violent after the judge handed down the sentence to Father Amanuen," East Nusa Tenggara Police chief Brig. Gen. Edward Aritonang told The Jakarta Post. The angry mob quickly set ablaze the courthouse and also buildings of the prosecutor's office. "The court was completely engulfed by the fire," Ersa Wowor, a local resident, was quoted as saying by DPA news agency. The dozens of police guarding the trial were unable to block the mob from setting the court on fire, and so moved to protect the judges and prosecutors. Aritonang said the provincial police force had immediately deployed reinforcements to the area to keep the incident from escalating. Similar cases of arson involving courts have occurred in Indonesia, including a 1985 case in Lubuk Pakam, Sumatra. However, the attack in Larantuka is thought to have greater repercussions as it has sectarian implications. Larantuka was last rocked by sectarian violence in 1995, when an angry mob killed Taman, 47, a resident of Banyuwangi, East Java, at the Reinha Rosario Cathedral. Taman, who was a Protestant, was accused of insulting the church during a sermon. According to the 2000 census by the Central Statistics Agency, 154,903 out of the 199,586-strong population of East Flores are Catholic. As of Saturday, police were still standing guard at vital government facilities, including the residence of regent Felix Fernandez.
Jakarta Post 19 Nov 2003 Survey finds Muslim voters favor pluralism Moch. N. Kurniawan, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta Muslim voters in Indonesia tend to favor moderate, pluralistic and democratic parties rather than those parties fighting for Islamic law or an Islamic state, a poll conducted by the Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI) found. The survey was conducted by the LSI between Aug. 1 and Aug. 20 and involved 2,240 respondents, of which 89.1 percent, or 1,996, were Muslim. Of the Muslim respondents, 49.8 percent, or 994, categorized themselves as devout. Over 51 percent of the devout Muslims said in the 2004 elections they would vote for secular, nationalist-oriented parties, represented by Golkar (34.6 percent) and the Indonesian Democratic Party for Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) (14 percent), while 21.4 percent preferred parties that are steadfast in struggling for sharia, namely the United Development Party (PPP), the Crescent and Star Party (PBB) and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS). Among the 1,002 secular Muslim respondents, 38.9 percent favored Golkar and 30.5 percent picked PDI Perjuangan, compared to 11.2 percent for PPP and 7.8 percent for the National Awakening Party (PKB), a political party that claims to represent traditionalist Muslim group Nahdlatul Ulama. The survey also found that a coalition of PKB, PKS and the National Mandate Party (PAN), which would emulate the Axis Force's success in foiling PDI Perjuangan chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri's presidential bid in 1999, had the support of just one-third of devout Muslim respondents and 16.2 percent of secular Muslim respondents. The PKB, PKS and PAN had the support of 19.2 percent of the total number of respondents, the poll revealed. When it came to supporters of parties that clearly fight for sharia -- PPP, PBB and PKS -- the level of support fell as low as 14 percent, according to the survey. "The (Muslim-based) parties do not have enough support to win the majority of the vote in the 2004 elections," Denny J.A. of LSI said on Tuesday. The current behavior of Muslim voters is in stark contrast to those who participated in the landmark 1955 elections where Islamic parties that struggled for sharia won 45 percent of the total vote, the survey noted. Similar voting behavior was reflected in the results of the 1999 elections. It said Muslim leaders like PAN chairman Amien Rais and PBB chairman Yusril Ihza Mahendra were less popular than nationalist figures like Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono with Muslim voters. According to the survey, Susilo topped the list with 13 percent of support from devout Muslim voters, followed by Megawati with 11.6 percent, Abdurrahman Wahid of PKB with 11.1 percent, PPP chairman Hamzah Haz with 9.2 percent, and Yusril and Amien with 7.9 percent and 7.7 percent, respectively. The survey differentiated between devout Muslims and secular Muslims by the frequency with which they prayed, fasted, read the Koran and attended religious discussions and mass prayers. LSI researchers found that the three decades of authoritarian rule under former president Soeharto played a pivotal role in suppressing the demand for sharia in the country. They also discovered that moderate and pluralistic thinking had emerged in the country's two largest Muslim organizations, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah. There is a common understanding among NU and Muhammadiyah leaders and activists that Islam is compatible with democracy and does not require an Islamic state, they added. Moderate Muslim scholars also played an important role in creating the present situation, including Nurcholish Madjid, Abdurrahman Wahid and the Liberal Muslim Network, the survey said. It also underlined the presence of extremist groups that the researchers labeled as "anti-democracy and anti-nationalism", but they accounted for less than 2 percent of the country's population of 214 million. "They are not only Muslim groups but non-Muslim groups as well," the survey said. Extremism, it conclude, is not the characteristic of developing countries like Indonesia.
Jakarta Post 28 Nov 2003 Over 40 Papuans held for flying separatist flags Nethy Dharma Somba, The Jakarta Post, Jayapura, Papua Police in the West Papuan town of Manokwari arrested 42 people on Thursday for raising an independence flag on the anniversary of one of the province's self-declared independence days. Manokwari Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Dedy Kusnady said a group raised the Morning-Star flag in the compound of an elementary school in Amban, while another flag was hoisted at a transmitter belonging to state-owned Radio Republik Indonesia in Reremi. "Led by a man named Yohakim Mensi, these people raised the flag at the elementary school at dawn on Thursday. We lowered it hours later, or at around 7:00 a.m., when these suspected people were still there." He said no arrests had been made in connection to the second incident as "no one was there when we arrived." Dedy said the incidents were related to the declaration of the state of West Papua by Michaeil Kareth on Nov. 27, 1997 in Port Moresby, the capital of neighboring Papua New Guinea. "By questioning these people, we hope that we can find those who sponsored the flag raising," Dedy told The Jakarta Post by phone from Manokwari. "They can be charged with treason as stipulated by Article 106 of the Criminal Code." The article carries a maximum sentence of life in jail. It was the second time that Yohakim had allegedly raised the independence flag. Last Saturday, he allegedly flew a flag inside the compound of another junior high school in Manokwari. "I'm glad that the hoisting of the flags did not affect local people doing their daily activities. Most local people were not provoked by the action," Dedy said. A low-level secessionist group called the Free Papua Movement (OPM) has been fighting for independence for the resource-rich province since the 1960s. It celebrates its independence anniversary on Dec. 1. Calls for independence ebbed when Jakarta, in January 2002, introduced special autonomy that gave greater authority to the Papuan administration. However, the government has failed to initiate any real change and resistance to the government in perhaps the least developed part of Indonesia is again mounting. Local officials, many from outside the province, prohibited Papuans from hoisting the flag or celebrating independence during a meeting last Monday. Attending the Monday meeting were, among others, Papua governor J.P. Salossa, Trikora Military Commander Maj. Gen. Nurdin Zainal, Papua Police chief Insp. Gen. Budi Utomo and speaker of Papua council John Ibo. "Papua has been part of the unitary Republic of Indonesia since 1963, therefore the hoisting of a flag other than the red-and-white national flag is not allowed across this land, and those who violate the law should be punished under the Indonesian legal system," Salossa said Monday, adding that security personnel would be on alert for any Dec. 1 commemorations. Indonesia, which took control of the mountainous, jungle-clad territory from the Dutch in 1963, has warned that it would not tolerate any celebration of the anniversary. Under the administration of former president Abdurrahman "Gus Dur" Wahid, Papuans were once allowed to raise the flag, arguing that it was a cultural symbol and did not reflect political sovereignty. He, nevertheless, said the Morning-Star should not be raised higher than the Indonesian flag. Later on, the administration banned the hoisting of the Morning-Star because "it had been misused as a symbol of the separatist cause."
Jakarta Post 29 Nov 2003 Inter-religious marriage defended Dewi Santoso, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta Over the last three decades, marriages between couples of different religions have generally sparked controversy as the state does not recognize inter-religious marriage. A graphic designer with a foreign advertising company said he "converted" to Islam and the next day his Muslim girlfriend took an oath before a priest in a Catholic church to officiate their marriage. They said they deliberately followed both Islamic and Catholic rituals as a compromise and in order to respect each other's beliefs, which is generally thought to be unacceptable from a religious point of view. Since then, both have practiced their respective religions. Activist Zoemrotin K. Susilo said the Law No. 1/1974 on marriage was a violation of the freedom of religion and belief -- which has been recognized as a basic human right -- for preventing people from obtaining legal status for inter-religious marriages. The law stipulates that the state legalizes only marriages between people of the same religion, conducted according to their religion. This means that a couple of different religions have to pick which religious ritual they will follow in order to obtain a legal marriage. The state currently acknowledges six major religions and beliefs: Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism, although in reality there are many traditional beliefs. "This is unfair. The law is against the right to freedom of religion and belief," Zoemrotin, who is also a member of the National Commission on Human Rights, told The Jakarta Post on Thursday. She said the law did not matter to those who could afford to get married abroad. But those who could not, would not be listed with the civil registration office. "As a result, their children will be considered to be born out of wedlock," she said. A lecturer at the University of Indonesia (UI), Harkristuti Harkrisnowo, agreed with Zoemrotin, saying the law had resulted in hypocrisy as people were prone to seeking formality. "People are only looking for a legal marriage when they decide to follow the rituals of a certain religion. After the ceremony they practice their religions of choice," said Harkristuti. Harkristuti also said that children and women were most affected by the law. "Children born out of an inter-religious marriage are considered illegal, thus, they have no legal right to inherit their parents' wealth," said Harkristuti, who teaches at UI's school of law. The law also prevents women from getting alimony should they divorce. "Thus, in most cases, people formally change their religions only to obtain a legal marriage, so that women will receive financial support from their spouses and their children will secure their rights," she told the Post. Women activists' outcry for justice and gender equality has forced the House of Representatives Commission VI on education and religious affairs to propose a revision of the law. "It has now been included in our plan, however, we do not classify it as urgent," said Chodidjah H.M. Saleh, a member of the House commission. The government is also drafting a bill on religious courts concerning marital affairs, which will enhance the ban of inter-religious marriage. Activists from the Indonesian Conference on Religion and Peace (ICRP) and the Society for Inter-Religious Dialogue joined the chorus of criticism against the prohibition of marriage between people of different religions. "It is such an irony that the state pays so much attention to regulating the private lives of its citizens -- religious affairs in particular -- but fails to address more urgent issues such as corruption, which is still so rampant," said Lies Marcoes-Natsir, the Asia Foundation's program officer for Islam and civil society affairs. Key articles: Article 2: A marriage is legal if it is conducted according to the joint religion or belief of a couple. Article 34 (1): A husband is obliged to protect his wife and provide daily household needs. Article 34 (2): A wife is obliged to administer household affairs. Article 42: A child obtains his/her legal status when he/she was born of a legal marriage. Article 43: A child born out of wedlock has a relationship only with his/her mother, and his/her legal rights are determined by a government regulation. Source: Law No. 1/1974 on marriage
AFP 4 Nov 2003 Judge behind anti-Saddam probing commission killed in Iraq: prosecutor NAJAF, Iraq : The judge behind the creation of a judicial commission to probe former officials of Saddam Hussein's ousted regime was shot dead, as insurgents stepped up their campaign against pro-US public figures. Muhan Jabr al-Shuwaili, the top judge in the central governorate of Najaf, was kidnapped along with Najaf prosecutor general Aref Aziz, from the judge's house in the city early Monday, Aziz said. The two were taken in cars to a desert area eight kilometers (five miles) north of Najaf, he said. "One of the assailants said 'Saddam has ordered your prosecution.' Then they fired two shots into his head," Aziz said. "As for me, they told me 'this does not concern you'. They released me," he added. Shuwaili had signed onto the decision to create the Baath Investigative Commission, made up of four attorneys who probe complaints before raising them with an investigative judge. The commission, created on August 10 upon a decision by the municipal council, was meant to prosecute former regime loyalists, mainly members of the former ruling Baath party. It has so far received 400 complaints. The commission -- unique in Iraq -- has issued 160 arrest warrants, upon which 50 people have been detained. Last month, a member of Iraq's interim Governing Council said an Iraqi Special Tribunal (IST) would shortly be set up for judges to try Saddam-era crimes against humanity, war crimes and charges of genocide and torture. Also in Najaf, the president of the city's municipal council, Sheikh Khaled al-Numani, said he had escaped an assassination bid late Sunday when assailants opened fire on his house, triggering retaliatory fire by his guards. "Two of the three assailants were caught. One of them is an Egyptian named Rabih al-Masri who has been living in Najaf for a long time," Numani told AFP. "The attempt was carried out by remnants of the former regime and parties collaborating with them," he said. "It is time for the American occupation forces to give back the security file to the Iraqis who know better the issues of their own country." Numani is an official of Iraq's top Shiite political party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). He is also one of the most vocal supporters of prosecuting former regime loyalists. In Baghdad, a member of a neighborhood council sponsored by the Americans was killed in a drive-by shooting late Sunday, the US-led coalition said in a statement on Monday. "Mustafa Zaidan al-Khaleefa, the chairperson of the Karkh Neighborhood Council, was killed on Sunday evening ... while he was walking alone on Haifa street near his home" in central Baghdad, said the statement. A white Toyota Corolla with no license plates drove up and one of its occupants shot him, it said. The deadly shootings of the judge and the neighborhood council member were the third assassinations to be carried out against anti-Saddam figures in the past eight days. On October 26, Baghdad's deputy mayor, Faris Abdul Razzaq al-Assam, was gunned down near his home in the conflict-riven city. On August 29, prominent Shiite spiritual and political leader Ayatollah Mohammed Baqer al-Hakim, who opposed armed resistance to the US occupation of Iraq, was killed in a car bombing in Najaf along with 82 others. Akila al-Hashimi, a member of the US-installed Governing Council, was also shot dead by assailants near her Baghdad home on September 20.
NYT 4 Nov 2003 OLD WOUNDS Iraqis Seek Justice, or Vengeance, for Victims of the Killing Fields By SUSAN SACHS AGHDAD, Iraq, Nov. 3 — Until justice is done and Saddam Hussein is dead, Sadri Adab Diwan will carry with him the handwritten accusation that condemned his little sister to death. The sister, Hanaa, a high school student, "is conducting backward religious activity inside the school," a security agent wrote in black ink in October 1980, a time of widespread persecution of Shiite Muslims. "Please open a secret investigation." Soon afterward, Hanaa, a devout girl of 17, was arrested. She never returned home. It was only six months ago, after locating her yellowing case file in a government office, that her family finally learned why she had been taken. Hanaa, an informer reported, gave a Koran to a classmate. "The case of this girl, this pure-hearted girl, has been living with me for 20 years," said Mr. Diwan, who was the eldest of 10 children of whom Hanaa was the youngest. "If I catch Saddam, I won't kill him. That won't be enough. I'll suck his blood. And if he escapes, I'll follow him to the ends of the earth." Rage of such intensity courses through Iraq, where the dead, the maimed and the missing consume the thoughts of the living. Six months after President Bush declared that major combat was over, countless problems crowd in on Iraqis, not least unemployment and the absence of security. But nothing seems to preoccupy them quite as much as the urge to settle accounts with the old government. Suspected mass graves continue to come to light, replenishing the stores of grief and anger. Aided by forensic specialists and satellite imagery, American legal experts in Baghdad say they have found 262 sites that may contain multiple human remains. Some people have already extracted their vengeance for the killing fields in blood. Most recently there has been a wave of apparent revenge killings in Basra. While there is no official tally of vigilante actions, accounts from the police and monitoring groups suggest that perhaps several hundred former Baath Party officials have been killed since the fall of President Hussein's government. Yet there has been no orgy of bloodshed as was feared, given the scale of state-sponsored killings and expulsions that Iraqis say they have suffered in the last 25 years. The concept of compensatory justice was born here nearly 4,000 years ago. An eye for an eye, decreed the rulers of ancient Mesopotamia, and a tooth for a tooth. But Iraqis have mostly shown a willingness to set aside immediate vengeance for the relentless pursuit of justice. Counseled by leading Muslim clerics and most political figures to seek justice through the courts, many people appear to have focused their energies on assembling, case by case, a damning indictment of the ousted government. The existing legal system is already groaning under the weight of demands. The bar association in Baghdad alone has received 50,000 claims against the old government for property confiscated and lives broken. Civil and criminal courts are trying to process individual lawsuits filed against Mr. Hussein and his coterie, while thousands more cases of political repression are being amassed by groups of survivors and political parties. In fact, the desire for some sort of retribution has also fueled much of Iraq's exuberant new brand of social activism. Among the dozens of citizens' groups registered with the American-led occupation administration, a vast majority say they are human rights organizations seeking compensation or recognition for victims of the old order. Some of the survivors are already pressing their cases, lobbying local governments to give preferential treatment in housing and jobs to former political prisoners. "We have to let every single Iraqi file his case," said Qais Abbas Ridha, a district court judge in Baghdad. "We should broadcast these trials to the whole world. Who knew before about the mass graves? Who knew that these criminals had taken half of Baghdad as their private property?" A few months ago, a merchant went to Judge Ridha's office asking for help. He said he had been robbed and tortured in the mid-1990's on orders from Izzat Ibrahim, a top aide to the former Iraqi leader who is still at large. The judge examined the man's documents. He ordered a forensic doctor to examine the marks on the man's body. He interviewed witnesses. Then he issued an arrest warrant for Mr. Ibrahim and sent it to all of the police stations in Iraq. Of course, the difficulty in all this is finding the appropriate balance between claims for justice arising from the past and Iraq's future needs. "All the oil revenues of generations of Iraqis won't be sufficient," said Malik Dohan al-Hassan, a director of the bar association, if Iraq's new leaders bankrupt the state to redress past wrongs. Then, he suggested, "the new government becomes another victim of Saddam Hussein." Mr. Diwan soothes his own demons by making the rounds of human rights groups and lawyers' offices, showing them a tattered pink folder containing the record of his sister's persecution and death. The folder contained a list of people executed in one prison on a certain date. Her name was there. He lost two of his brothers to the prisons of the old government. They, too, were arrested and executed in the roundup of suspected religious activists in the 1980's. But he has concentrated his anger on a single objective. "If it had been one, I could forgive," he said. "If it had been two, I could forgive. But three — three including this young, innocent girl — no, I cannot forgive. Someone has to pay for the slaughter." When Mr. Hussein's government collapsed in April, many Iraqis like Mr. Diwan ran to the ministries and intelligence service offices to grab up secret files containing the names of informers and the names of the dead. Before long, alarmed Shiite clerics and political leaders quietly intervened to take control of incriminating documents. "People want to take their revenge, but these acts are not allowed," said Sheik Ali al-Waid, a Baghdad representative of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the country's most influential Shiite religious leader. "They will lead to chaos, to houses being burned, to whole families being killed. We don't want chaos." Sheik Waid says he has tried to counsel by example. "I was imprisoned for three years with my family — even my old mother was detained with us — even though none of use had anything to do with politics," he said. "It was because I refused to go to a rally for the Baath Party." He knows who denounced him. "He knows that I know what he did," the cleric added. "Now he lives like a leper, exiled from the whole community, and he will get his judgment from God on judgment day." The clerics' action to shield the names of informers and intelligence officers probably averted a bloodbath in some parts of the country. But neither Iraqi political leaders nor the occupation administrators believe that the public's demand for punishment can be delayed for long. Members of the transitional Iraqi Governing Council have said repeatedly that the 40 senior officials now in American custody should be turned over to Iraqis for trial. Several thousand lower-level officials are also believed to be in the hands of American forces. The Iraqis have already written a draft proposal for a special tribunal that would judge senior members of the Baath Party. It envisions an all-Iraqi panel of judges with power to sentence the guilty to death, a provision that troubles European nations and international human rights groups. But few, if any, Iraqis express any ambivalence toward use of the death penalty in cases involving Mr. Hussein and his aides. It may be the only issue on which all political and religious groups in postwar Iraq agree. "They should die, several times over," said Hashem Abdulrahman al-Shebli, the interim justice minister. Such feelings are not unusual in wounded nations emerging from the trauma of dictatorship or civil war, according to human rights experts. But in advising the Iraqis, the experts have also prodded them to look beyond punishment to national healing, perhaps through a process similar to the Truth and Reconciliation commissions set up by post-apartheid South Africa. "It's important that there be a public acknowledgment of what happened," said Sandra L. Hodgkinson, a State Department official overseeing a transitional justice program here. "And they need to learn that there were others like Saddam Hussein in the world, that they were brought to justice and that reconciliation is possible."
AFP 11 Nov 2003 Basra bomb kills four Iraqis, wounds nine as violence rises in south by Omar Hasan BASRA, Iraq, Nov 11 (AFP) - Four Iraqis died, two of them policemen, and nine people were hurt, when a bomb exploded in the centre of Basra on Tuesday, police said, as British forces acknowledged that violence had surged in the south. "Four people, including two policemen, were killed in the blast, while nine other civilians were wounded," said Police Colonel Mohammed Khazim al-Ali told AFP. "Some of the injured are schoolchildren. Boys and girls use this road early in the morning to go to school," said Ali, the head of internal security forces in Iraq's main southern city. For his part, British spokesman, Major Charlie Mayo said the bomb blew up prematurely at 8:30 am (0530 GMT), killing the man planting it and wounding his three accomplices. Two civilians passing in a car were also wounded in the blast, he said, while adding that it was possible more people were killed or injured. British forces had cordoned off the area of the blast, in which at least one school was located. A second blast echoed over downtown Basra about midday (0900 GMT), an AFP correspondent reported, but it was not immediately known if there were further casualties. Ali blamed loyalists of ousted president Saddam Hussein for the first attack. Witnesses said two unidentified men, one in Iraqi police uniform, placed the explosive on the road just minutes before it went off. "The two waited in a car not far away. When a car came by the explosive went off, badly damaging it and seriously wounding the passengers and a policeman who was close," one witness said. After the attack, Mayo said there has been a surge of violence in Basra over the past week, blaming Saddam loyalists. Widespread unrest has largely been confined to the north, where the ousted president had his power base. "Yes, there has been (a rise) in the last week and not before. Some bombs or small explosive devices, a number of which we have defused," Mayo told reporters. He said that two explosions took place in the past few days and that five other devices were defused. Mayo discounted reports that the Al-Qaeda terror network could be involved. "I see a lot of information and I have seen no information which refers to al-Qaeda coming into Basra or into southeast Iraq," Mayo said. He declined to comment if any arrests had been made. Ali however told AFP that "police are searching for four men, three Iraqis and a foreigner," who had been seen around the area after the two explosions. A high-ranking security source in Basra told AFP that at least three dozen women saboteurs arrived in Basra from the north a week ago. "They are linked to Saddam Hussein's people and they are here to carry out sabotage," said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity. Last week suspected terrorists hurled hand grenades on a school in a Basra suburb but no casualties were reported. Ali told AFP on Sunday a group of Saddam loyalists were arrested and shipped to Baghdad.
BBC 4 Nov 2003 Israel floats first UN resolution Annan has criticised both the General Assembly and Israel Israel is to introduce a resolution to the United Nations General Assembly for the first time ever. The resolution - calling for Israeli children to be protected from violence by Palestinians - is Israel's way of testing the waters at the UN. The world body, which has a large Muslim and Arab contingent, passes more than 20 resolutions criticising Israel each year. UNGA resolutions are not binding, unlike Security Council measures. Israel's relations with the United Nations are tense and often openly hostile. The country ignores the dozens of resolutions the General Assembly passes condemning it each year. But Israel decided to introduce its own resolution, which seems closely based on an Egyptian one in defence of Palestinian children, after a suicide bomber killed 21 people in Haifa last month. Child victims "After the attack in Haifa, we can't just let it be," Ariel Milo, a spokesman for Israel's UN mission, told the Reuters news agency. Four of the dead in the Haifa attack were children. The US blocks anti-Israel resolutions in the Security Council Israel says it would prefer that neither the Egyptian resolution nor its own win approval - or, failing that, that both are passed. "The test will be if they pass the Palestinian one but not ours," deputy Ambassador Arye Mechel told the Associated Press. The UN has not always been so critical of Israel - in fact, the country was created by a UN vote in 1947. The UN moved to partition the British mandate of Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab. The Arab part was divided among Israel, Egypt and Jordan in the wake of war in the region in 1948. A solid anti-Israel bloc emerged at the UN after Israel's victory in the 1967 war left it in control of swathes of Arab territory. Infamous resolution In 1975, the General Assembly passed a resolution equating Zionism with racism, severely rupturing relations. The resolution was repealed in the 1990s but many Israelis still view the UN with bitterness. The United States blocks anti-Israel resolutions at the Security Council if Washington does not consider them "balanced". Un Secretary General Kofi Annan has criticised both the General Assembly's anti-Israel resolutions and the present Israeli Government.
AFP 5 Nov 2003 Settlers destroy hundreds of olive trees on Palestinian farmland JERUSALEM, Nov 5 (AFP) - Extremist Israeli settlers have chopped down hundreds of olive trees grown on Palestinian farmland in the West Bank, sources on both sides said Wednesday. Residents of the northern West Bank village of Sawiya said they discovered that hundreds of their trees had been sawn down just as they were about to begin harvesting. The villagers had not been able to access their land near the settlement of Eli earlier as they needed authorisation from the Israeli army. Villagers in Hawara, close to the town of Nablus, also said hundreds of their olive trees had been destroyed by Israelis in nearby settlements. Uri Ariel, an MP for the right-wing National Union bloc who is close to settlers' organisations, said it was not known who was behind the destruction, adding that: "We are completely opposed to this type of action." During a meeting with US ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer, President Moshe Katsav "sharply condemned the uprooting of olive trees belonging to Palestinians", an official government statement said. "While the struggle with the Palestinians is harsh, it must be conducted with good sense and integrity. We have a major interest in easing restrictions on the civilian population, who must be distinguished from the terrorists," Katsav was quoted as saying. Almost simultaneously, the army announced that it was relaxing its blockade on several West Bank towns after it tighetened its grip on the occupied territories following a suicide attack in Haifa a month ago.
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 8 Nov 2003 9 Palestinians killed by Israeli occupying forces in the last 48 hours PCHR strongly condemns the escalation of crimes perpetrated by Israeli occupying forces in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, which have left dead 9 Palestinians, including 1 child, in the last 48 hours. PCHR is concerned that the number of dead may increase due to ongoing military operations in Jenin town and refugee camp. According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 7:30pm on Thursday, 6 November 2003, following clashes between members of the Palestinian resistance and Israeli occupying forces positioned on the eastern border of the Gaza Strip, east of Khuza'a village in Khan Yunis, a number of Palestinian civilians went to the area fearing that there may be casualties. As they approached the area, an Israeli tank fired 3 shells at the civilians, wounding 6 and killing 2: 1. Mohammed Tawfiq al-Najjar, 19; and 2. Nazhmi Fawzi al-Najjar, 20. Israeli fire prevented ambulances from reaching the area until the following morning. On Friday morning, 7 November 2003, Israeli occupying forces moved into al-Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, under cover of intense shelling. A number of members of the Palestinian resistance clashed with Israeli forces, during which time 1 Palestinian, Mouayed Omar Ahmed Al Mughari, 21, was killed by shrapnel. In addition, 5 Palestinian civilians were injured while inside their houses and a number of houses were damaged. Also on Friday morning, in an apparent instance of willful killing, Israeli occupying forces shot dead a Palestinian child and injured another, while they were hunting for birds, approximately 2km from the border with Israel, to the east of Gaza City. According to investigations carried out by PCHR, at approximately 8:30am, while Mahmoud Mohammed Ali Al Qayed, 11, from Al Sabra in Gaza City, was hunting for birds with his father and his friend, Israeli soldiers opened fire at them while they were approximately 2km away from the border with Israel. Al Qayed was killed by 2 live bullets in the chest and his friend was wounded by a live bullet to the foot. At approximately 11pm on the same day, Israeli soldiers fired at 2 Palestinian men who were attempting to infiltrate into Israel through the border located south east of Beit Hanoun. The 2 men were reportedly seeking employment in Israel. They were killed instantly by several live bullets. PCHR's field worker in the northern Gaza Strip reported that Palestinian medical personnel who were permitted to access the area following coordination with Israeli forces, found the victims' bodies at approximately 11am on Saturday 8 November 2003. The victims were identified as: 1. Shadi Rafiq Habboub, 19, from Beit Lahia 2. Mahmoud Omar Abu Shekal, 20, from Beit Lahia. In the West Bank, 3 Palestinian civilians were killed in 2 separate incidents. According to PCHR's investigations, on Thursday afternoon, a number of Palestinian civilians were returning home to Tulkarm, to spend the weekend with their families. At approximately 3.30pm, some of the civilians arrived at an iron gate positioned by Israeli occupying forces on the Tulkarm-Nablus road. As they were about to cross the gate, which is often left unmanned, Israeli soldiers positioned in a military location overlooking the gate, opened fire, forcing the civilians to enter Tulkarm via a dirt road. A number of the civilians were able to avoid the gate, but they were fired upon by Israeli soldiers, while they were in a taxi. The taxi driver stopped the car, but Israeli soldiers continued to fire. During this attack, 1 civilian, Fayez Ahmed Moustafa Salama, 44, from Anabta village, was killed by a live bullet to his left side. In addition, another civilian Median Abdul Karim Jabr, 30, from Denaba village, was injured by a live bullet in the left leg. Salama was an engineer with the Palestinian Ministry of Housing and lived in close proximity to the gate with his wife and 6 children. At approximately 5.30am, on Saturday, 8 November 2003, 7 Israeli tanks, 15 military jeeps, a military ambulance, 2 helicopters and 1 surveillance aircraft, moved into Jenin town and refugee camp, under cover of intense shelling. During this attack, 2 Palestinian civilians, including 1 child, were killed by Israeli fire: 1. Mohammed Abdul Rahman Salah, 18, hit by a live bullet in the head; 2. Moatez Wasif Mustapha Arouri, 16, hit by 2 live bullets in the chest and the shoulder. In addition, 4 Palestinians were wounded, 2 of whom sustained serious injuries. PCHR reiterates its call to the international community to fulfill their legal obligations in accordance with the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949. PCHR demands an immediate to halt to all willful killings and injuries of Palestinian civilians and other grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention perpetrated by the Israeli military in the OPT. PCHR further repeats its calls to the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to take immediate steps to ensure the protection of Palestinian civilians in the OPT.
AdvocacyNet 12 Nov 2003 News Bulletin - Number 12, November 12, 2003 ISRAEL'S SECURITY FENCE WILL VIOLATE PALESTINIAN RIGHTS AND WEAKEN ISRAEL'S SECURITY, ARGUES ISRAELI HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP Washington DC, November 12, 2003: Israel's 'separation barrier' will violate the rights of 210,000 Palestinians and will not provide Israelis with guaranteed protection from Palestinian suicide bombers, according to researchers from B'Tselem, the Jerusalem-based Israeli human rights monitoring group. Speaking recently at a meeting of the Georgetown human rights forum in Washington DC, Jessica Montell, the Director of B'Tselem, and Yezekhel Lein, a senior researcher, said the separation barrier appears to be aimed at reinforcing Israeli settlements and creating further obstacles to any peace process, rather than keeping Palestinian militants out of Israel. The forum is jointly sponsored by the Institute for the Study of International Migration (ISIM) of Georgetown University, and the Advocacy Project (AP). Ms. Montell pointed out that the route of the barrier will take it well inside the so-called 'Green Line,' which separates Israel from the territories occupied in the 1967 war. As a result, it will leave over 115,000 Palestinians living on the Israeli side of the barrier, as well as 210,000 Palestinians in East Jerusalem, which Israel considers to be part of Israel. This makes nonsense of the claim that the barrier is aimed at preventing Palestinians from entering Israel, she said. In addition, said Ms. Montell, the barrier will split off 185,000 acres of land, including some of the richest agricultural land on the West Bank, and isolate entire Palestinian communities. This, she said, will create resentment and further impoverishment. 60% of all Palestinians already live below the poverty level. 'How will Palestinian life be viable?' asked Ms. Montell. 'When I first saw the barrier I was filled with dread.' Ms. Montell called for construction on the wall to be halted, and said that this would probably only happen as a result of pressure from the US government. If Israeli is sincere about wanting to control the influx of terrorists, she said, it should deploy more troops along the Green Line instead of sending them to protect settlements. If a barrier has to be built, at least let it be along the 1967 border. 'It is still not too late.' Construction on the barrier began in June 2002, following a rash of suicide bombings, and Israel's incursion into the West Bank cities (Operation 'Defensive Shield'). The barrier is between 60 and 100 meters wide. The barrier takes the form of a concrete wall along approximately 10 kilometers of its route. Along the rest, it is a combination of electronic and barbed wire fences, trenches, and service, patrol, trace and armored vehicle roads. According to Ms. Montell and Mr. Lein, the barrier is being constructed in stages. Stage 1 has been nearly completed and stretches over 78 miles through the West Bank, while an additional 28 miles are to be completed by the end of this year. An additional stage, known as the 'Jerusalem Envelope,' is comprised of another 43 miles, of which 12 miles have already been completed. In October, the Israeli government approved Stages 3 and 4, comprising another 150 miles of barrier through the West Bank. It is currently considering a 'Jordan Valley barrier' that would stretch through the east of Israel, many miles east of the Green Line. The total estimated cost of the approved stages is $1.5 billion, making it, in Ms. Montell's words, 'easily the largest infrastructural project in Israel's history.' Ms Montell said that a total of 210,000 Palestinians will be directly harmed by the first stage of the barrier alone. She said their human rights were being infringed in four key areas: * FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT: The barrier isolates 13 communities from the West Bank. In order to pass through, Palestinians must obtain a permit to pass through one of some 30 agricultural gates which are open two to three times a day for a short period of time and closed during security alarms. Some communities, like the town of Qalqilya are completely walled-off. Those who live in such enclaves can leave through nine main gates. However, permits are very difficult to obtain, as the permit offices have been closed for many weeks. The restrictions will make it exceptionally difficult for farmers to move and market their goods, and the result could be devastating for the coming olive harvest. Over 72,200 people in 36 communities have been separated from their farmland. * THE RIGHT TO WORK: The barrier prevents thousands of Palestinians from working their farm lands, which Ms. Montell described as the 'bread basket of the West Bank,' or from reaching their jobs. * THE RIGHT TO HEALTH: Many of the isolated villages lack their own health facilities, such as clinics, and are dependant on hospitals which they can no longer reach easily. * THE RIGHT TO EDUCATION: Students and teachers are unable to get to schools, without going many miles out of their way to attempt to pass through the barrier. Ms. Montell used a detailed Power Point presentation to show that the real intention of the barrier is to reinforce and insulate Israeli settlements, (which are illegal according to international law). She cited the case of the Palestinian town of Qalqilya, which was originally intended to remain open to the West Bank. After a nearby settlement argued successfully for a direct link to Israel, the barrier was re-routed to enclose Qalqilya completely. The barrier has also been built to preserve antiquities and to ensure access to Israeli holy sites like Rachel's Tomb. It was even built around a field of iris flowers. Several in the audience expressed sympathy for Israel's security dilemma, but B'Tselem's message is that the specific route chosen for the barrier may worsen, not improve, Israel's security. In the short term, the barrier has created such resentment that Palestinians are refusing to even claim compensation for their losses, in order not to seem to legitimize the process. Many feel the barrier can only create more potential suicide bombers. One recent suicide bomber from the Palestinian town of Jenin managed to pass through the barrier and penetrate into Haifa. 'There is no security logic behind this,' said Ms. Montell. 'The barrier won't protect us.' Mr. Lein agreed. 'How does making life harsher for Palestinians improve security for Israel?' he asked. In the long term, the barrier will weaken international recognition of the Green Line and, in the words of Mr. Lein, 'create new facts on the ground which will have to be negotiated away in any future peace process.' It will also eat away at the borders of a Palestinian state, which were agreed during the Oslo peace process. All this undermines the prospects for peace and for an independent Palestinian state - which ultimately is Israel's best hope for peace with the Palestinians. Because the barrier is Israel's largest public works project, the B'Tselem team rejected the government's position that the barrier is a temporary solution. Instead, they said, it is being built in exactly the same way as the settlements - through seizure orders of 3 to 5 years. Many of the settlements now have the look of permanence. Recent polls in Israel have shown that as many as 80% of Israelis support the barrier. But, said Mr. Lein, this is largely as a result of ignorance. He said that there had been an 'alarming' lack of public debate or disclosure about the barrier or its implications. In spite of the enormous cost 'most Israelis don't know or don't care.' Ms. Montell and Mr. Lein both insisted that there are alternatives, which Israel has the obligation to examine. * For more on AP's Middle East work visit: www.advocacynet.org * For a report on the Human Rights Forum meeting visit: http://www.georgetown.edu/sfs/programs/isim/israels-barrier.htm * For the April 2003 B'Tselem briefing paper 'Behind The Barrier: Human Rights Violations As a Result of Israel's Separation Barrier' visit: http://www.btselem.org/ * For a Palestinian view of the barrier visit: http://www.miftah.org/Doc/Reports/WallReport.pdf
Arutz Sheva 17 Nov 2003 www.israelnationalnews.com Transfer Means Peace by Boris Shusteff Nov 17, '03 / 22 Cheshvan 5764 E-mail This Print Homepage The verdict is in. An unprecedented majority of Israelis support transfer for the purpose of achieving peace between the Arabs and the Jews. In case you missed them, let us briefly recapture the highlights of the events that must inevitably bring us to this conclusion. Polls conducted in February 2002 in Israel demonstrated that 46% of respondents supported the transfer of Arabs from Judea, Samaria and Gaza, while 60% were inclined towards the transfer of Arabs from Israel proper. In October 2003, the Israeli Left announced the drafting of the so-called “Geneva Initiative”, which is supposed to be officially signed on December 1. The core idea of the document is to facilitate the transfer of 4.5 million Arabs and half a million Jews in an attempt to separate Jewish and Arab populations for the sake of peace. Yossi Beilin, the ideologist of the Geneva transfer initiative, plans to distribute the document to every Israeli household. According to the latest polls, 25% already support the initiative. Since most of them are situated on the Left flank of Israel’s political spectrum, knowing the ratio between Left and Right in Israel, it is safe to assume that the number will grow to 30-35%. That means that more than 90% of Israelis, in one way or another, support the transfer idea. The only difference is that the majority of them prefer for the transferees to be only Arabs, and the minority sees both Arabs and Jews among the transferees. Disregarding for a moment the ethnic origins of the people subject to relocation, let us stress again the great importance of this point. Israelis - both Left and Right - are overwhelmingly keen on the idea of transfer. Moreover, if Jews are included in the population group that must be transferred, the world community immediately weighs in with its wholehearted support for transfer. Even prior to the news of the “Geneva Initiative”, the international community eagerly endorsed all the plans that were in the works, including the “Road Map”. And it is no secret that the “Road Map” has as its endpoint the transfer of several hundred thousand Jews (as a result of dismantling Jewish “settlements” in the disputed territories). Clearly, those who claim to oppose the transfer of Arabs because it is wrong to forcibly move people out of their homes, cannot truly believe in this principle if they simultaneously support forcibly transferring Jews out of primordial Jewish lands. Let us pause for a moment in order to clarify some misunderstandings in terminology and misconceptions associated with the word “transfer”. In his article on November 11 in The American Conservative, Doug Bandow criticizes American syndicated columnist Ben Shapiro for stating that “if you believe that the Jewish state has a right to exist, then you must allow Israel to transfer the Palestinians and the Israeli-Arabs from Judea, Samaria and Gaza and Israel proper.” As is typical of those who oppose this sort of policy, Bandow claims that Shapiro is “advocating forced ethnic cleansing.” The term “ethnic cleansing” is relatively new. As Drazen Petrovic demonstrates in his article “Ethnic Cleansing - An attempt at Methodology”, it did not exist before 1992, and was introduced in order to describe the military operations conducted during the civil war in former Yugoslavia. He writes that the term “has its origin in military vocabulary. The expression ‘to clean the territory’ [literal translation from Serbo-Croatian] is directed against enemies, and it is used mostly in the final phase of combat in order to take total control of conquered territory. ...The word ‘ethnic’ has been added to the military term because the ‘enemies’ are considered to be the other ethnic communities.” The word “ethnic” was added, the military aspect of the operations was dropped, and the usage of the term became much looser, meaning any action that had as its goal the expulsion or relocation of any ethnic majority or minority group of people from a certain location. This kind of action is not new in world history. It was employed by nearly all modern democracies at some stage of state-building, and later with their approval, toward the successful resolution of several international conflicts [between Greece and Turkey, India and Pakistan, Germany and Poland, etc.]. Since the term is not defined in international law it appears that it receives a negative or positive connotation only in the context of its usage. For example, it is negative when the Jews consider the transfer of the Arabs out of Judea, Samaria and Gaza. At the same time, it is positive when the world community supports the proposal to transfer several hundred thousand Jews, as envisioned by the “Road Map”. Although, in this case, the term “ethnic cleansing” is shyly replaced with some politically correct synonym such as “dismantling settlements”. Even more telling is the fact that the world democracies are ready to support the transfer of the Arabs as well. This can be perceived from their approval of the “Geneva Initiative”. The document envisions a forced transfer, within a certain period of time, of 4.5 million Arabs from the so-called “refugee camps” into several Arab and other countries. One must realize that the transfer of the Arabs that Yossi Beilin, Amram Mitzna, Amos Oz and other authors of the document have in mind will be involuntary. The Arabs’ “permanent place of residence” will be “determined by the International Commission” and the Arabs will have only two years to submit an application for the selection of the place to which they will be relocated. Even the people who do not submit such applications will be forced to move from the refugee camps somewhere else in search of a means of sustenance. In language void of political correctness, this is called a mass relocation (i.e., transfer) of 4.5 million Arabs. This means that the negative connotation assigned to the term “ethnic cleansing” by Bandow is of a purely political nature. If the “ethnic cleansing” of Jews from Judea, Samaria and Gaza - transferring hundreds of thousands of them - is viewed by the world community as totally acceptable, the transfer of the Arabs from the same land must be considered acceptable, as well. It should not matter whether one “cleanses” territory of Arabs or of Jews. The connotation of the meaning of the word should stay the same. If one differentiates between them, only one possible explanation suggests itself - anti-Semitism. In addition to “ethnic cleansing”, another label commonly attached to the word “transfer” is “genocide”. One does not have to spare a lot of effort to squarely reject any connection between the terms. Article 2 of the 1948 Genocide Convention defines as genocide, “Any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.” This definition is absolutely inapplicable to the transfer of the Arabs envisioned by the Jews. Especially since the main purpose of the Arab transfer from Judea, Samaria and Gaza is to save as many lives as possible, and not to destroy them. The existence of so many misrepresentations and misinterpretations of the transfer idea proves that the time is long overdue to approach the issue in a serious and responsible manner. Since the supporters of transferring Jews have an open forum all over the world in advocating their case, it would be only fair to allow the voices of those who support the transfer of Arabs from Judea, Samaria and Gaza, for the sake of peace in the Middle East, to be heard too. It is time to hold an International Transfer Conference where proponents of both options will openly bring forward their arguments in support of their respective positions. It is also important to remember that transfer should not be an idea in itself. Its main purpose must be the achievement of peace between the Arabs and the Jews. This, in its turn, raises many questions that must be objectively answered. For example, those who advocate the transfer of several million Arabs into Judea, Samaria and Gaza must honestly prove that the Arab state, which they want to create on a meager 2,200 square miles of land can be viable. It is the world community that will foot the bill for any population transfer operations, and it must wisely choose between investing the money and throwing it into a sewer. One must understand that an Arab state on the minuscule land areas of Judea, Samaria and Gaza will be the most densely populated country in the world, with millions of people living in dreary substandard conditions, with rapidly dwindling last available resources of drinking water, in a surrogate semi-state that will not be independent. This option does not even deserve a comparison with Jordan, a real state of Palestinian Arabs (who comprise more than 65% of its population), which is not only 20 times bigger in size, but is already a full-fledged independent country. Another, even more poignant point that nullifies the main incentive for transferring Arabs into Judea, Samaria and Gaza must also be considered. The transfer idea, with all hardships that it involves, makes sense only if it leads to a decrease in tensions between the two ethnic communities. However, the exact opposite will be achieved if more Arabs are relocated into Israel’s backyard. The unanimous conclusion of the American Joint Chiefs of Staff that a majority of Judea, Samaria and Gaza must remain in Israel’s possession in order for her to defend herself is well known. An Arab state, if created there, will rob Israel of vitally needed strategic military assets. Instead of increasing Israel’s defensibility, this will severely hamper it, making Israel much more vulnerable in the eyes of the Arab world, thereby further delaying any chances for real peace. At the same time, it is easy to demonstrate that the transfer of the Arab population from Judea, Samaria, and Gaza will substantially increase Israel’s defense capabilities, achieving true separation between the Arabs and the Jews, and giving realistic chances for lasting peace in the region. The raging fire of the Israeli-Arab confrontation can indeed be extinguished by means of population transfer. Instead of running away from this option, it is time to look at this legitimate mechanism of achieving peace in the Middle East. The suggested International Transfer Conference must commence a series of deliberations on serious issues. Freedom of speech does not prohibit any kinds of discussions, especially with peace between the Arabs and the Jews as the incentive. The blood of the victims on both sides of this continuing conflict demands that all people of good will work to start the ball rolling. It is a task of the utmost urgency.
Korea Herald, South Korea - Oct 31, 2003 www.koreaherald.co.kr Roh apologizes for 1948 Jeju massacre President Roh Moo-hyun yesterday made a formal apology to the victims of a 1948 massacre on the southern island of Jeju. "I want to express words of apology and consolation for the surviving families and people of Jeju," Roh said in a meeting with social leaders in the resort island. It is the first time the president has formally apologized on behalf of the Korean government for the April 3 massacre. Roh said the government would take every possible measure to compensate victims of the tragic incident by reviewing a flurry of suggestions, including the establishment of the April 3 Peace Park. He added that the incident should no longer occasion resentment, but instead should be an opportunity to contribute to reconciliation, peace and harmony in the nation. The work to clarify and put to rest the April 3 incident began in 2000 when the former President Kim Dae-jung administration enacted a law to resurrect the case and supply the victims with due compensation. The uprising occurred during a transitional time when U.S. military peacekeepers replaced the Japanese colonial rule after World War II ended in August 1945. Some 1,500 armed civilians attacked U.S. police stations and other political organizations in opposition to setting up a right-wing government in South Korea. A large number of innocent civilians were killed during the suppression of the uprising, led by core members of the Namro Party, a communist faction established after Korea's liberation from Japan. By Sim Sung-tae
BBC 4 Nov 2003 PM vows to 'crush' Maoists The army has been on high alert since a rebel ceasefire collapsed Nepal's prime minister has said his government must "crush" an insurgency by Maoist rebels, before it can hold national elections. Surya Bahadur Thapa was at his first news conference since King Gyanendra made him prime minister in June. He said some preparations would be made for early elections in the country, but he did not set a date for these. The king sacked the elected government in December 2002, amid a Maoist rebel struggle to abolish the monarchy. Government 'unconstitutional' Prime Minister Thapar said the government would set up defence forces in villages to tackle a rise in Marxist violence in rural Nepal. The BBC's Naveen Khadka in Kathmandu says there had been speculation that Mr Thapar would also announce dates for early elections in Nepal. However, Mr Khadka said on Tuesday that parliamentary and local elections would only take place if there was an improvement in the security situation. The political groups which formed the government dismissed by King Gyanendra last year say Mr Thapa's administration is "unconstitutional". Peace talks between the government and Maoist rebels collapsed in August this year, because of disagreement over the continued influence wielded by Nepal's monarch. The Maoists want a new constitution for Nepal to remove the monarch's authority, the government is not prepared to accept this. Skirmishes between Maoist rebels and the army have become increasingly frequent and bloody since the collapse of the peace process. The rebels have spent the best part of the last eight years in a struggle that has claimed around 8,000 lives.
AFP 10 Nov 2003 Thirty-four killed in fresh bout of Maoist violence in Nepal KATHMANDU, Nov 10 (AFP) - At least 34 people, including eight members of the security forces and a civilian, have been killed in a fresh outbreak of clashes with Maoist rebels, an army source said Monday. One army serviceman was killed and four seriously injured Sunday when an army truck carrying 45 soldiers was destroyed by a boobytrap set up by Maoists at Sanbarsa in Parsa district, south of Kathmandu Sunday, the source said. The Maoists had observed a day-long strike in the Birgunj district, south of here, to protest against the kidnapping of 15 rebels by the army last week, a Maoist source said. The Maoists also bombed and completely destroyed an office building of the state-run District Cooperative at Birgunj. "Two army men were killed and one policeman was severely injured in an ambush laid by the Maoists in Betini forest of Bhojpur district (in eastern Nepal) on Saturday," the source said. Security forces killed seven guerrillas in the western Bajhang district, six in southeastern Mahottari and two each in eastern Panchthar and southwestern Nawalparasi districts. One rebel was also killed in the in the eastern Sindhupalchok, another two in Sankhuwasabha and Ilam districts and one each in the western Dang district and the southwestern Bardiya district on Saturday, the source said. Three security personnel who were severely injured last week in an ambush laid by the rebels at Milanchok in the southern Parsa district died in hospital on Saturday, he said. Six security personnel were severely injured in a Maoist ambush and two rebels were killed at Pahalmanpur in the southwestern Kailali district on Sunday, the source added. A rebel, a policeman and a civilian were killed at Binaghat in the southeastern Biratnagar district, also on Sunday. Meanwhile, the Maoists abducted an 80-year-old woman from Machhepokhari in the Sankhuwasabha allegedly because she refused to give them 100,000 rupees (7,400 dollars), the source said. "The Maoists abducted Bhadra Maya Gurung, 80-year old wife of an ex-serviceman, from her home on Sunday," the source said. There has been a surge in violence in Nepal since August 27, when the rebels ended a seven-month ceasefire. More than 1,100 people have died since then, according to figures compiled by human rights activists here. The seven-year rebellion has claimed more than 8,200 lives, according to official figures, or some 8,900 according to Kathmandu-based rights group Informal Service Sector Centre.
AFP 11 Nov 2003 Maoists abduct 29 school children in western Nepal KATHMANDU, Nov 11 (AFP) - Maoist rebels abducted 29 children from a school in western Nepal last week, state-run radio announced Tuesday evening. "The Maoists have abducted 29 school children from Riba High School in Mugu district (far west) on November 5 and taken them to an unknown destination," the radio said Tuesday, quoting the Defence Ministry. "The kidnapped 29 children were students of class nine and 10," the radio report said. "It is not known why they were abducted." Detailed reports on the incident were being sought from officials, the report said. The rebels have been fighting for a communist republic in Nepal since 1996 and the uprising has so far claimed mor ethan 8,200 lives.
Amnesty International 11 Nov 2003 Civilians sucked into ongoing conflict AI Index: ASA 31/072/2003 (Public) Plans to set up 'Rural Volunteer Security Groups and Peace Committees' can place the civilian population in grave danger by seriously compromising their neutrality, said Amnesty International in a letter written to prime Minister Surya Bahadur Thapa. "Without appropriate supervision, training and clearly defined mechanisms for accountability, there is a clear risk that the creation of these groups could lead to an increase in human rights violations carried out with impunity. Those refusing to join are likely to be seen as tacitly supporting the armed opposition," the organization continued. Plans to introduce "Rural Volunteer Security Groups and Peace Committees" were made public on 4 November. The Committees are being set up as a way "to promote the role of the general citizens in maintaining peace and security" in the context of the ongoing conflict between the security forces and the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) (Maoist). "The introduction of such groups affects the sense or interpretation of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, in relation to the state's responsibility at all times to clearly separate civilians from combatants," Amnesty International said today. "We have already seen the effects of civil defence groups in countries like Guatemala, where in the 1980s, the Patrullas de Audodefensa Civil (Civil Defence Patrols) were responsible for atrocious human rights abuses." "The creation of such groups could also have a negative effect on reconciliation efforts when the two sides lay down their arms and peace negotiations resume, since they have the effect of setting neighbours and communities against each other", Amnesty International added. The organization also asked for clarification of the government's plans to institute a Human Rights Promotion Centre and how this would relate to the mandate and work of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). Amnesty International is concerned that human rights violations are being carried out with impunity and that the incidence of such violations appears to be increasing as the country slides towards militarization. Background On 29 January 2003, the government and CPN (Maoist) declared a cease-fire. Three rounds of peace talks were held - in April, May and August - between the government and representatives of the CPN (Maoist). The CPN (Maoist) had listed among their central demands a round table conference, the formation of an interim government and elections to a constituent assembly to draft a new Constitution. The CPN (Maoist) announced they were withdrawing from the cease-fire agreement on 27 August. Since then, fighting between the two sides has resumed throughout the country, and Amnesty International has received reports of human rights abuses committed by both sides to the conflict Amnesty International has publicly condemned the deliberate and indiscriminate attacks on civilians by members of the CPN (Maoist) which occurred during the cease-fire period. Some of these attacks were investigated by the NHRC and included the killing of a civilian truck driver who had given a lift to five army personnel in a landmine explosion in Nagi village, Panchthar district, on 5 August. The organization has repeatedly appealed to the CPN (CPN) (Maoist) to abide by the principles of international humanitarian law as reflected in Article 3, common to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949. Amnesty International continues to call upon the government and the leadership of the CPN (Maoist) to sign a Human Rights Accord which would give the NHRC a mandate to set up five regional offices to monitor human rights with technical assistance provided by the UN.
AFP 12 Nov 2003 3.7 million Nepalese affected by Maoist insurgency: rights group KATHMANDU, Nov 12 (AFP) - Some 3.7 million people have been affected by the seven-year Maoist insurgency in Nepal including 18,000 who have been displaced from their homes, a human rights group said Wednesday. The privately run Informal Sector Service Centre said 3.7 million people have suffered physically or economically or known someone killed or wounded in the conflict that has torn the Himalayan kingdom of 24 million people. The figure includes 239 children killed by both sides since the Maoists declared their "people's war" in 1996 to overthrow the monarchy. The group said 18,000 Nepalese were currently displaced and that since 1996 around 400 people have "disappeared", including a number of non-Maoist local leaders abducted by the rebels, it said. But the Kathmandu-based group's president, Subodh Pyakurel, accused the army of also increasingly turning to kidnapping. "People have begun to disappear at the hands of the royal army just as has happened at the hands of the Maoists," he told reporters. Nepal has seen a surge of violence since the rebels on August 27 ended a seven-month ceasefire after the government refused to call a special assembly to redraft the constitution. The rights group said 1,213 people have died in fighting since the collapse of the truce: 876 killed by government forces and 337 killed by the rebels. Most of the deaths have been in small-scale skirmishes across the kingdom. "Maoist rebels have not been able to make any effective armed attacks on military barracks within or outside Kathmandu," army spokesman Colonel Dipak Gurung told AFP. He credited the increasingly strong role of the army, which the cabinet authorised to head counter-insurgency operations after the end of the truce. King Gyanendra deployed the army against the Maoists only in late 2001. Sources said a top adviser who advocated dialogue to resolve the conflict, Military Secretary Lieutenant General Bibek Kumar Shah, resigned last week due to the policy disagreement. The insurgency has claimed more than 8,200 lives since 1996, according to official figures.
Manila Standard 7 Nov 2003 RATIFY ROME TREATY, RP URGED An umbrella of human rights organizations has urged Asian governments including the Philippines to ratify the 1998 Rome Statute that created the International Criminal Court (ICC) and help put a stop to rampant crimes against humanity. The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (AFHRD) said violations of human rights go on unchecked and this should be reason enough for the ratification of the statute. "It is one compelling reason why Asean should join the community of nations in consensus over the need for the International Criminal Court," the forum stated in its position paper posted at the ICC Web site. ICC was established in July last year after 92 states ratified the 1998 Rome Statute. While the Philippines signed the statute that seeks to prosecute war crimes, genocide and other crimes against humanity, it refuses to ratify it owing to pressure from the US government. "We regret to recall that East Timor, Cambodia, the Philippines, and Thailand have concluded Bilateral Immunity Agreements (BIA) with the United States of America, designed to exempt American personnel from the Court's jurisdiction, hence securing immunity for US citizens who commit these crimes," AFHRD said. Washington said it would block military and economic aids to poor countries that would ratify ICC. Under the BIA signed by the Philippines with the US in May last year, US soldiers would be granted immunity from ICC prosecution. AFHRD said these immunity agreements violate the spirit and intention of the Rome Statute and breach the international law on treaties. "We urge Asean not to succumb to further pressures by the United States to enter into similar agreements." Abuses against Asian people include involuntary disappearances, torture, arbitrary arrests and detention, rape, politically motivated attacks against civil society, curtailment of civil liberties and extrajudicial killings or "salvage." The forum also stressed that these violations are committed on a sustained and massive scale that cause regional instability and civil unrest. Joyce Pangco Panares
BBC 31 Oct 2003 Tigers hand over peace proposals By Frances Harrison BBC correspondent in Colombo The Tigers want to dominate an interim administration Tamil Tiger rebels in Sri Lanka have handed over their first proposal for power sharing aimed at resolving two decades of ethnic conflict. The 12-page document has taken months to draft and is said by the Norwegian peace process mediators to be the most detailed statement of the rebels' political aspirations for 17 years. The proposals envisage the setting up of a rebel-dominated interim administration in the areas of conflict. The head of the Tamil Tigers political wing presented the proposal to the Norwegian ambassador, who will hand it to the Sri Lankan Government. Talks pledge The document, which has yet to be made public, outlines the general principles for the interim administration in the north-east. It comes in response to suggestions from the government for development councils and other bodies that have been rejected by the Tigers as lacking sufficient power. The Tigers have said they will resume peace talks suspended in April on the basis of their proposal. The government is hoping the rebel document does not make too many politically sensitive demands and leaves the difficult details of implementation to be discussed in private at the negotiating table. Controversy is likely to arise over who controls key areas such as revenue, land and security, which the government has so far been reluctant to grant the Tigers. And opponents of the peace process are likely to say it is wrong to hand over any powers, even interim ones, to the rebels without some promise of disarmament. The Tigers have ruled this out until there is a final political settlement.
BBC 2 Nov 2003 Analysis: Sri Lanka's uncertain future By Frances Harrison BBC correspondent in Colombo The move by President Kumaratunga to seize control of the security apparatus of the country has taken most Sri Lankans completely by surprise. Kumaratunga - will she be more careful about avoiding a military confrontation? From many there were gasps of horror when they heard the news - followed by concern about what this unprecedented step will mean for the peace process. The most immediate worry is whether this will result in some sort of military confrontation with the Tamil Tigers rebels. They have said they are still committed to the peace process and the country's ceasefire. But there must be doubts in their minds given there is now a new defence minister - the president herself. Highly critical One concern is that a situation might arise at sea - as it has in the past - where the navy gets intelligence about a suspicious boat they believe is smuggling arms to the rebels. The last time this happened the president was very critical of the ceasefire monitors for informing the Tigers that one of their boats was under surveillance. The sea seems the most vulnerable part of the truce and the rebels say they told the government of Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe some time back that if there were another sinking of one of their ships they would seriously reconsider their adherence to the cease fire. How will the Tamil Tigers react to Kumaratunga as defence minister? But there is also another school of thought that says since President Kumaratunga will be in charge of defence, the main opposition party which she heads will be engaged in the peace process in a way they were not before. The argument is that this is a good thing and will make her more careful about avoiding a military confrontation. There is also now an odd situation where Prime Minister Wickramasinghe's supporters are left rather uncertain about what to do in his absence. He issued a statement whose tone seemed to be - "wait till I come back and remain calm". For those in the state run media who now have to decide whether to submit to the takeover by the president's men, the prime minister's words have hardly been morale boosting. He has left people to decide what to do on their own and many may now want to wait and see which party gains the upper hand before they take sides. Perfectly poised It is not clear what constitutional options the prime minister has at his disposal. Lawyers say he can argue that in a government of cohabitation the ministers were appointed by the president in consultation with the prime minister and therefore should be removed in the same way. Some diplomats say it may also be to Ranil Wickramasinghe's advantage that he is in the United States at the time of this crisis. He is perfectly poised to win international support for his efforts for peace. It has to be remembered that the US Embassy in Colombo responded fairly positively to the Tamil Tigers recent proposals for power sharing. There is however some fear that the president's decision to suspend parliament for two weeks may push political protest onto the streets. Cynics say the United National Party of Mr Wickramasinghe may be counting on some unrest which they will hope to blame on the president's action - but it could work both ways. Then there is the question of whether this crisis will ultimately result in fresh parliamentary elections - which would be the third in four years. There is also uncertainty about the public reaction to the president's move which she has so far justified on the grounds of national security. The government had been planning a populist budget and the stock exchange had reached new highs even if the peace dividend was yet to be felt in everyone's pockets. Elections would be an uncertain prospect and one Sri Lanka can ill afford so frequently.
BBC 2 Nov 2003 Unsung hero of Sri Lanka turmoil Frances Harrison BBC correspondent in Vanni While countries like Afghanistan and Iraq continue to seek foreign aid for reconstruction, Sri Lanka is in the unusual position of having billions of dollars pledged for re-building after the long years of civil war but of not being able to spend the money. International donors want to see progress in the peace talks, which began last year but are currently suspended, before they will part with the funds. But while the politicians try to sort out their differences, children in the north-east of the island are going hungry. After a while it became unpleasantly intrusive to inquire into a mother's inability to care for her children in the most basic way It is a situation in which individuals can make all the difference. "I have job satisfaction even if I don't have electricity." I am still haunted by the words of a Tamil doctor struggling to run "well baby" clinics in the jungles of northern Sri Lanka. Man of the people Dr Gunaratnam is one of the unsung heroes of his country's civil service - a man truly dedicated to serving his people. Displaced from his home town of the former Tamil Tiger stronghold of Jaffna by fighting in 1995, he fled to rebel territory with half a million other refugees. He proudly tells me how he fought off cholera epidemics - how he reduced the malaria rate from 70% to 4% and today has a higher immunisation coverage than in the south where the war has not devastated the health infrastructure. Many of the children are chronically underweight "I trained a battalion of volunteers," he jokes - describing the village women he has turned into nurses. During the war it was not uncommon for doctors in rebel territory to treat up to 1,000 patients in one sitting and be forced to operate without anaesthetic. By some strange bureaucratic quirk health department employees continued to be paid their salaries by the central government although they worked in rebel territory where there is a parallel administration. I asked Dr Gunaratnam how that worked out in practice and he explained that as long as you did your job conscientiously the rebels would never set foot in your office. Not that you could call it an office - his clinics take place under a large tree. Now there is a ceasefire Dr Gunaratnam's family has returned to Jaffna, but he is still living in his thatched jungle hut. He says he thought about getting solar panels now they are available and even buying a fridge. "But then what's the point," he adds, "when nobody else here can afford these things. Why should I have them?" Malnutrition Like many people in northern Sri Lanka Dr Gunaratnam wants desperately to tell his story. It has nothing to do with boasting - it is about venting deep-seated trauma. In a place where BBC radio has been a friend through years of war I find total strangers suddenly opening up to me - recounting their personal histories in a way that leaves an indelible mark. It is almost as if they do not know when they will have the chance again to speak to outsiders - having endured nearly a decade of total isolation - and they want to grab the opportunity. It is traumatic indeed to be a doctor and have to explain that the main health problem in your area is hunger, not disease. Baby weights are laboriously marked on growth charts where there's a grey shaded area for acute malnutrition, but many of Dr Gunaratam's patients' weights fall beneath even the shaded area - off the chart. With horror I realise my three-year-old child - who is not immensely large - weighs double a child of the same age here. A mother's choice In the local school I meet 12-year-old Vivek, but he looks no more than eight. His growth has been stunted by years of hunger. For the best part of a decade the central government used food as a weapon of war. Rebel controlled jungles were sealed off and very little food and medicine allowed in lest in fall in the hands of the Tigers. The rebels survived fine but half a million civilians went without life-saving drugs and enough to eat. I have job satisfaction even if I don't have electricity Dr Gunaratnam We went to interview Vivek's mother who said she'd been told to feed her children eggs but if she bought eggs she wouldn't have money left to buy rice. After a while it became unpleasantly intrusive to inquire into a mother's inability to care for her children in the most basic way. In Colombo I had bought crayons and paints to give the children we met. There they seemed simple, unostentatious toys. In Vivek's tiny shack they stood out as alien objects of little use in a place where there was no money to buy paper. My gift seemed crass in a place where filling empty stomachs are the priority. Just as Dr Gunaratnam's solar-powered fridge seemed an inappropriate luxury to him. Jeeps and offices But people like Dr Gunaratnam have spoiled the local population - who now see his missionary zeal as the norm for humanitarian workers. People are shocked to see an army of NGO and United Nations workers moving into rebel territory, driving around in expensive four-wheel-drive jeeps and sitting in comparatively smart offices. They complain that for the outsiders aid work is just a job like any other - and a rather well-paid one at that, they suspect. I can't help thinking Dr Gunaratnam's reaction would be - they may have electricity, but do they have job satisfaction?
BBC 4Nov 2003 Fears over Tamil autonomy plan By Frances Harrison BBC, Colombo The opposition fears the Tamil Tigers are preparing the ground for a separate state The main Sri Lankan opposition party has said it is gravely concerned about proposals from the rebels for an interim power-sharing deal to resolve the country's ethnic conflict. But the Sri Lanka Freedom Party does not say whether the rebel document should be the basis for discussions or should be rejected outright as hardline opposition groups have advocated. It looks as if there are serious divisions over the issue within the party, which has twice postponed a news conference where it was to explain its position. In a lengthy statement, the opposition says it fears the Tamil Tiger rebels are using the interim administration to prepare the legal ground for breaking away and creating a separate state. On Saturday, the Tigers proposed a self-governing authority for the north-east, with powers over finances, law and order, and land. 'Security threat' It was welcomed internationally because it was the first time the rebels had spelt out in writing the details of a compromise after years of shedding blood for a separate Tamil state. But the proposed interim administration would almost certainly require constitutional change and that needs the support of the opposition. The statement of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party complains that the Tigers want unqualified and absolute powers of governance without any organic link to the Sri Lankan state. It warns that the Tigers' demand to control access to the sea would be a grave threat to international shipping and Indian security. The party also says Sri Lanka's Muslim minority in the east would be relegated to a subservient role in the rebel-dominated administration. But the opposition statement does not say what the prime minister's response to the rebels should be - it merely points out the dangers and problems.
BBC 2 Nov 2003 Sri Lanka in political crisis - The PM was in Washington when Kumaratunga sacked his ministers Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga has thrown the country into a political crisis by sacking three senior government ministers. The information, defence and interior ministers were removed. The sackings came as the prime minister - her political rival - was preparing to discuss the country's peace process with US President George W Bush. Days ago, Tamil Tiger rebels submitted a power-sharing proposal to resolve Sri Lanka's ethnic conflict. Mrs Kumaratunga's Sri Lanka Freedom Party, which is the parliamentary opposition, said in a statement it was concerned about the Tigers' proposals, for a self-governing authority in the north-east of the country. Explaining the dismissals, the president's office quoted an order from her saying they were intended to prevent further deterioration of the security situation in the country. The president has an uneasy relationship with the government of Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe, who defeated her party at parliamentary elections in December 2001. The BBC's Frances Harrison in Colombo says the sackings seem to have ended any hope of further co-habitation. Correspondents say Mrs Kumaratunga was at odds with Defence Minister Tilak Marapuna, Interior Minister John Amaratunga and Information Minister Imthiaz Bakeer Markar over their handling of the peace process. The US Government said on Monday it believed it was possible for both sides to reach agreement on the issue of an interim administration. But Washington has failed to comment on the details of the Tigers' proposal.
AFP 4 Nov 2003 Sri Lankan PM claims mandate for peace talks: FM WASHINGTON, Nov 4 (AFP) - Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's government on Tuesday claimed a mandate for talking peace with the Tamil Tigers, despite absorbing a fierce blow to its authority from President Chandrika Kumaratunga. Kumaratunga sacked three key ministers, suspended parliament, put troops on alert and rejected a blueprint for peace issued by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) -- with the prime minister, her sworn rival, here for talks with President George W. Bush. "She was elected in the year 1999 as president, but we were elected in 2001 on a clear mandate to negotiate with the LTTE," said Foreign Minister Tyronne Fernando, in an interview with AFP. Kumaratunga's Sri Lanka Freedom Party has been in opposition in parliament since 2001, but the president, who was elected separately, retains the power to dismiss cabinet ministers. Wickremesinghe belongs to the United National Party. Fernando said that although Kumaratunga had acted within her constitutional rights in sacking the defence, interior and information ministers, she should have informed the prime minister first. "This is the unfortunate point where there is this unnecessary crisis," he said. "Really, these changes require if not legally, but by convention, consultation with the prime minister." He said that Wickremesinghe had had no contact with the president since arriving in Washington on Sunday. Sri Lanka's ambassador to Washington had been in touch with members of the US and other governments to appraise them of developments, he said. Wickremesinghe earlier pledged to go ahead with the talks with Bush scheduled for Wednesday, and planned to leave for home, as scheduled, later in the day.
AFP 4 Nov 2003 Sri Lanka president slams Tiger peace bid, warns against forced solution COLOMBO, Nov 4 (AFP) - Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga Tuesday rejected a Tamil Tiger peace plan as a foundation for partition and warned the international community not to force a solution on the war-torn island. Kumaratunga's Sri Lanka Freedom Party, which is the main opposition in parliament, said the proposal for a de facto federal structure unveiled by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was unacceptable. The party "views with grave concern the proposals released by the LTTE for the establishment of an ISGA (Interim Self-Governing Authority) which lays the legal foundation for a future, separate, sovereign state," a 14-page statement said. "The proposals clearly affect the sovereignty of the Republic of Sri Lanka and violate its constitution." Kumaratunga had invited Norway to broker peace in 1999 but the process was put on hold in April 2001 amid an escalation in fighting. The peace bid was revived in December 2001 when Ranil Wickremesinghe defeated her party at parliamentary elections and became prime minister. The president has since accused the government of making too many concessions to the rebels. Any constitutional concession to the Tigers would need the support of Kumaratunga's party as the government lacks the two-thirds parliamentary majority to re-write the constitution. Wickremesinghe, who is due to hold talks Wednesday with US President George W. Bush at the White House, has been drumming up support for an "international safety net" in case the country returns to fighting. But Kumaratunga's party warned the international community not to pressure Sri Lanka to accept a solution at any cost. The statement said the party "will not allow any international consortium or 'safety net', in the name of a spurious, unjust peace, to foist on the people of Sri Lanka any extra constitutional arrangement that is not acceptable to all the people, all the communities that inhabit our land." US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said Monday after talks with Wickremesinghe that the Tiger peace plan was "significant" and "comprehensive" but overstepped internationally endorsed guidelines that insisted on a federated Sri Lanka in any settlement.
BBC 5 Nov 2003 Sri Lanka's bitter political rivals The decision of Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga to impose a state of emergency is the latest incident in the bitter rivalry between her and Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe. The divisions between the pair have driven Sri Lankan politics for more than a decade, but have become even more apparent since the last general election in December 2001. The PM and president struggle with the division of power Mr Wickramasinghe's United National Party (UNP) won that election, partly on a mandate to curb the powers of the president. Mr Wickramasinghe had lost to Mrs Kumaratunga in the presidential elections two years earlier, a result many believe was swayed by a sympathy vote. A Tamil Tiger suicide bomber had blown himself up close to Mrs Kumaratunga on the last day of the election campaign, seriously injuring her and killing more than 30 others. Co-habitation The new president quickly invited Norway to act as peace mediators, but her approach to Oslo - and the Tigers - gradually hardened. However, at the same time the Sri Lankan people, tired of the civil war, began to demand a fresh impetus to the peace process, and support for the UNP grew. When Mr Wickramasinghe defeated the president's People's Alliance in the general election, the pair were forced into an intensely difficult period of co-habitation. Sympathy votes after a suicide blast helped sway the presidential poll As Mr Wickramasinghe pushed forward the peace moves, Mrs Kumaratunga consistently railed against giving too much ground to the rebels. As soon as the ceasefire was announced in February last year, the president accused the prime minister of rushing into a truce that compromised national security and sovereignty. As peace talks got under way, her party said it was unacceptable for a prime minister's envoys to sit at the same table as the Tamil Tigers. The People's Alliance has at regular intervals also attacked the role of the Norwegian mediators - on one occasion this year calling them "salmon-eating busybodies". The president has sent letters of complaint to Oslo, ranging from accusations of bias against Norwegian monitors to discontent over the handing of radio equipment to the Tigers. On the latter occasion, Mr Wickramasinghe warned Mrs Kumaratunga publicly not to antagonise Norway. The BBC Sinhala service editor, Priyath Liyanage, says animosities between the two leaders were simmering below the surface even as they shook hands in public. Mr Wickramasinghe's policy has been to continue his work ignoring the president where possible. At the same time, members from both sides have been working to oust their leader's rival. Snap election? Mrs Kumaratunga has always said she supports peace moves, but her fear of granting too many concessions means that her power dissolve parliament and call new elections is always hanging over the process. Mr Wickramasinghe has not had it easy with the Tigers either; they accused him of dragging his feet over peace promises in the north and east - so much so that they pulled out of talks in April. In trying to bridge the gap, Mr Wickramasinghe can probably call on the support of the business sector, following his successes in the economic sphere. But with the possibility of a snap election now looming, he may have to obtain a new mandate from the people to press on with the peace process. Even if he does, Mrs Kumaratunga's presidency will continue until 2005, so there is little sign the rivalry is about to end soon.
PTI 6 Nov 2003 Wickremesinghe wins Muslim support COLOMBO: Sri Lanka's main Muslim leader on Wednesday pledged his party's support to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe even as the political crisis precipitated by President Chandrika Kumaratunga's sacking of three ministers intensified. Rauf Hakeem, leader of the minority Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), said he had signed a document reiterating support for Wickremesinghe's beleaguered government. "We have signed a document pledging our confidence in the prime minister and his cabinet," Hakeem, who is also the ports minister, said. The support of Muslims is seen as crucial for the success of any peace deal with the rebel Tamil Tigers that Wickremesinghe is trying to hammer out at direct talks. Muslims are the island's second largest minority after the Tamils. Hakeem's SLMC, increasingly gaining in influence at successive polls, helped Wickremenghe cobble together an alliance after the December 2001 election, helping him to lead the legislature with a thin two-seat majority. Hakeem has been a member of the government's negotiating team at the Norway-brokered peace talks which opened in September 2002, but is now demanding a separate delegation for his minority community to address their own concerns. Meanwhile, Norway was set to arrange a direct meeting between Sri Lanka and the rebels, a senior minister said. Constitutional Affairs Minister G L Peiris said that Oslo was asked to go ahead with plans to arrange a preliminary round of direct talks with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) either this month or early next month. "There are no changes in our plans and we are going ahead to arrange that preliminary meeting," Peiris told reporters here. The LTTE pulled out of peace negotiations in April but said they were now ready to resume the process after unveiling their controversial formula for sharing power with the government last week. Peiris, who is also the government's chief negotiator, admitted that with the sacking of defence minister Tilak Marapana on Tuesday, the government had no control over the implementation of the truce with the rebels. The ceasefire signed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and LTTE supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran in February 23 last year is the cornerstone of the peace process aimed at ending decades of ethnic bloodshed that has claimed over 60,000 lives.
AFP 10 Nov 2003 Sri Lanka peace talks postponed indefinitely, govt ready to face polls by Amal Jayasinghe COLOMBO, Nov 10 (AFP) - Sri Lanka's government Monday said it was ready to face polls to head off a power struggle with the president as the political crisis led to peace talks with the Tamil Tigers being postponed indefinitely. The government's chief peace negotiator, G. L. Peiris, said it would discuss the crisis with Norwegian peace brokers following President Chandrika Kumaratunga's sacking of three ministers and suspension of parliament. But he made it clear that face-to-face talks which the government had expected to hold with the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) later this month or in early December will not go ahead until the political turmoil is resolved. "Given everything that has happened in the past few days, it is logical to assume that we have to resolve this threshold issue before anything else," Peiris said. He was referring to the power struggle with Kumaratunga who took over the key portfolios of defence, interior and information from the government of her arch-rival, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, on Tuesday. On Sunday Wickremesinghe dropped a bombshell, offering to step down from leading the peace initiative and transfer the responsibility to Kumaratunga. Wickremesinghe said he could not be responsible for maintaining a truce with the Tamil Tigers while a hostile president held onto vital levers of power. Norwegian envoys are due to arrive in Sri Lanka Monday night and had been expected to arrange a preliminary meeting between the government and rebels to discuss a blueprint for peace unveiled by the Tigers on October 31, when they also announced they were ending a seven-month boycott of formal peace talks. Peiris said the government would have "a candid discussion" with Norwegian special peace envoy Erik Solheim and Deputy Foreign Minister Vidar Helgesen. Diplomats said the peace process was not over, but the political crisis in the cohabitation government had put negotiations on hold. "The prime minister has made a tactical move, but you may not see (Kumaratunga) either giving the portfolios back or taking over the peace process," an Asian diplomat here said. Wickremesinghe also told his cabinet that he was ready to face a snap election to end the bitter stand-off which is affecting the markets and has threatened the island's foreign investment and aid prospects. Peiris said the government would welcome a snap poll, four years ahead of schedule, as it was confident of increasing its majority in parliament. "Given everything that has happened in the past four days we have absolutely no doubt that the people will endorse what we have been doing and we have no problems going before the people," he said. Meanwhile Kumaratunga sent a letter to the premier inviting him for talks on forming a government of national unity. "In view of the current political situation in the country and my proposal last week to form a government of reconstruction and reconciliation, I would like to meet you in order to discuss your views on this matter," she said. Kumaratunga, who narrowly survived a Tamil Tiger assassination attempt in 1999, has repeatedly criticised the government for its concessions to the rebels. But political analysts believe Kumaratunga would not be able to start talks with the Tigers as she has already rejected the rebel's blueprint for a political settlement saying it would lead to a separate Tamil state. "One cannot expect the Tigers to make another proposal for the president's benefit," said Jayadeva Uyangoda, head of the political science department of Colombo university. Wickremesinghe's government signed a ceasefire with the Tigers in February last year in an attempt to end a conflict which has claimed more than 60,000 lives since 1972. The LTTE has made no official statement on the latest crisis and its peace secretariat website, lttepeacesecretariat.com, has had no update since November 4 when Kumaratunga sacked the ministers and suspended parliament. However a Tiger negotiator known by his nom de guerre Karuna accuse Kumaratunga of sabotaging the peace process.
BBC 10 November, 2003 Timeline: Sri Lanka crisis Saturday, 1 November 2003 A spokesman for the Tamil Tigers discusses their draft proposal The Tamil Tiger rebels submit a detailed draft for a power-sharing administration in Tamil-dominated zones in the north and east of Sri Lanka. They announce they are ready to restart peace talks which stalled in April 2003. Sri Lanka's Government says it will discuss the draft with the Tigers, and asks Norwegian mediators to arrange fresh dates for peace talks. Monday, 3 November Washington says it supports recent peace moves on the island, as it prepares to welcome Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe for talks with George Bush. Tuesday, 4 November President Chandrika Kumaratunga dismisses three top government ministers and suspends parliament, while the prime minister is in the US. President Kumaratunga addresses the nation... She says the government's soft stance on the Tigers has jeopardised national security. Troops are ordered onto the streets to secure key installations in the capital. Mrs Kumaratunga appoints her nominees to replace the sacked defence, information and interior ministers. Mr Wickramasinghe attacks the president's "desperate and irresponsible" actions from Washington, but urges his supporters to stay calm. Wednesday, 6 November President Kumaratunga declares a state of emergency. ...while the prime minister stands shoulder to shoulder with George Bush Government ministers criticise the president for imperilling the peace process, despite her televised assurance that the ceasefire with the Tamil rebels will remain in place. Mr Wickramasinghe insists he is still in control after a meeting with George Bush. Thursday, 7 November Supporters mob Mr Wickramasinghe at Colombo airport upon his return from the US. President Kumaratunga declares the state of emergency over. She calls for a cabinet of national unity that would include ministers from her own party, currently in opposition. Sunday, 9 November Mr Wickramasinghe says he may hand over the reins of the peace process to the president, as he no longer controls the key ministries. Monday, 10 November A spokesman for the prime minister says he is ready for snap elections to resolve the political crisis. Until then, he says, the peace process with the Tigers is on hold. President Kumaratunga invites the prime minister and leading members of his party to discuss her proposal for a new cabinet.
AFP 3 Nov 2003 Aid donors line up in Australia to help rebuild Solomon Islands SYDNEY, Nov 3 (AFP) - Aid donors met in Australia on Monday to discuss how to help rebuild the economy and infrastructure of the Solomon Islands, ruined by years of civil war and militia violence. Some 14 nations and institutions met in Sydney to hear a report from Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer on the progress made after the first 100 days of the Australian-led intervention force which arrived in the Pacific nation in July. "We have to help the Solomon Islands rebuild their institutions, their economy and indeed rebuild their nation as a whole," Downer said. As well as Australia and the Solomon Islands, other participants included the United States, Japan, France, Britain, New Zealand, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the United Nations Development Program. A follow-up meeting is due to be held in Honiara on November 20. Australia led an international intervention force to the Solomon Islands in July to end five years of militia violence. Last week it announced it was starting to bring some of its troops home.
AFP 5 Nov 2003 Forgotten isolated Pacific island pleading for food in face of famine by Bruce Edwards HONIARA, Nov 5 (AFP) - A Pacific island that won global attention nearly a year ago when it was left isolated for a week after a cyclone is pleading for emergency food supplies to fend off famine in the wake of another storm, authorities said here Wednesday. In December last year Cyclone Zoe hit the volcanic island of Tikopia, in the Solomon Islands, destroying much of its food crop. What they managed to re-grow was decimated by Cyclone Gina in early June. Australia, New Zealand and France took more than a week to send in planes to find out what had happened to the island. Its fate was also clouded by the fact that the Solomons were mired in an ethnic conflict. Solomon Islands National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) director Loti Yates said the 3,000 residents of Tikopia, 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) from Honiara, are now desperate for relief food. "They have less food now than when Zoe hit the island," Yates said. "Everything had started to be re-grown after Tropical Cyclone Zoe, only to be flattened again by Tropical Cyclone Gina." Now the people have only sago palm to roast, which is considered a last resort, in addition to fishing in the surrounding waters. "They can't stockpile anything now," Yates said. "They eat everything we land on the island." On Saturday, the Church of Melanesia hopes to send a boat to Tikopia, two and a half days sailing from Honiara, and Yates said the NDMO would load it with food supplies. A food security assessment conducted in September concluded that Tikopia still requires assistance and the the NDMO has appealed to donors to provide emergency food supplies. "This assessment further justifies the need for us to keep supporting these people with food until they are back on their feet," Yates said. So far, however, the NDMO has no offers of help.
NYT 12 Nov 2003 Cyla Wiesenthal, 95, Survivor of Holocaust With Nazi Nemesis, Dies By WOLFGANG SAXON Cyla Mueller Wiesenthal, the wife of the Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal, died Monday in Vienna, where the couple lived after surviving concentration camps and separation in World War II. She was 95. Her death was announced yesterday by Vienna's Chief Rabbi, Paul Eisenberg. The Wiesenthals were married for 67 years; they were apart for three of them during the war as he came close to death as a concentration camp inmate and she did forced labor in Germany. Between them, they lost 89 family members in the Holocaust. Cyla Mueller and Simon Wiesenthal, who will be 95 next month, were married in 1936. He was an architectural engineer at the time in Lvov, Poland, now Lviv in Ukraine. With the Soviet-German nonaggression pact of 1939, Soviet forces occupied Lvov and purged the region of what it considered bourgeois elements. Members of the Wiesenthals' families were arrested, and Simon Wiesenthal — who narrowly escaped deportation to Siberia — was forced to close his business. When the Germans drove the Soviet authorities out in 1941, the couple were forced into a labor camp servicing the railroad system in the Lvov region. After Hitler unleashed his policy of genocide against Jews in 1942, Mr. Wiesenthal managed to obtain false papers for his wife and arrange for her escape; he was eventually taken to the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria. With the help of the Polish underground, Cyla Wiesenthal assumed the identity of Irene Kowalska. She lived in Warsaw until she was sent for forced labor for the Germans in the Rhineland. Mr. Wiesenthal, near death, was liberated from Mauthausen by an American armored unit at the end of the war. The couple, each believing the other was dead, were reunited in late 1945. They had a daughter, Pauline, in Vienna the following year. Besides her husband, Mrs. Wiesenthal's survivors include their daughter, who lives in Israel. Mr. Wiesenthal, working from an office in Vienna, has been credited with bringing about 1,100 Nazi criminals to justice. He retired earlier this year, saying his job was done.
www.expatica.com 10 Nov 2003 Srebrenica mothers lodge damages claim 10 November 2003 AMSTERDAM — The Mothers of Srebrenica pressure group has submitted a EUR 875 million compensation claim against the United Nations and the Dutch government for the massacre of about 7,000 Muslim men and boys in the Bosnian enclave in 1995 Dutch peacekeeping troops were dispatched to protect Bosnian Muslims sheltering in UN-designated safe area of Srebrenica, but surrendered to the heavily-armed Serbian invaders without firing a shot in July 1995. In the confusion that followed, the Serbs separated all of the males from the women and slaughtered the men and boys. The Srebrenica massacre was the worst case of genocide since World War II and a report from the Dutch Institute for War Documentation (NIOD) placed much of the blame for the bloodshed on the Dutch government, military commanders and the UN. The report led to the fall of the Wim Kok coalition cabinet in April 2002. Meanwhile, lawyers representing the Srebrenica survivors said in Sarajevo on Saturday that the complaint against the UN had been lodged with US courts, while the compliant against the Dutch government had been submitted to the Dutch judicial system. They are demanding USD 1 billion (EUR 875 million) in compensation. One of the lawyers representing the Srebrenica survivors, US international rights professor Francis Boyle, previously tried in vain in the Yugoslavia War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague to have the commander of the Dutchtbat troops, Tom Karremans, held accountable for the massacre. Another lawyer, Semir Guzin, said that a large amount of material had been prepared for possible court cases. Evidence and legal foundations of the compensation claim have been prepared, he said. The Mothers of Srebrenica will be represented by a team of international lawyers, including American and Dutch nationals.
Transitions Online 10 Nov 2003 www.tol.cz Reluctant Confessions SARAJEVO, Bosnia and Herzegovina--In a 3 November broadcast, Alternative Television (ATV) in Banja Luka, the capital of the country’s Serb-dominated Republika Srpska entity, reported some of the contents of a classified government report which admitted to the mass slaughter of Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica in 1995. It was the first time that authorities in Republika Srpska have admitted that the Bosnian Serb Army was responsible for the killings in Srebrenica in July 1995. Between 7,000 and 8,000 Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims), mostly men and boys, were massacred and then buried--and reburied--in mass graves. “We have evidence that between 14 and 17 July, the majority of the captured Bosniaks were transported to Zvornik in trucks, and later separated on several locations, where they were executed and buried,” ATV journalists said, citing the report. “We have information that later, those mass graves were dug up, and the bodies moved to other locations.” Government authorities in Republika Srpska have confirmed that the document is authentic. The leaked report is a revision of an earlier report issued by Republika Srpska authorities at the request of the international community in Bosnia, under the authority of the Office of the High Representative (OHR). In October, High Representative Paddy Ashdown gave Republika Srpska authorities six months to revise the report and include specific information about the victims, including the names of the dead and the locations of their bodies. The revised report still falls short of what the OHR demanded. According to ATV, the document does not provide any detailed information concerning the number of Bosniaks captured and later killed and buried in mass graves. It also fails to name those responsible for ordering the mass killings. The revised report was leaked to ATV before its official completion. NEW, OLD EVIDENCE The revised report is partially based on information contained in the indictment of Radoslav Krstic, the former Bosnian Serb Army general who led the attack on Srebrenica. In 2001, Krstic was found guilty of genocide and sentenced to 46 years in prison by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in the Hague. The report also draws on information from the confession of Momir Nikolic, the assistant commander of security and intelligence for the Bosnian Serb Army’s Bratunac Brigade. Nikolic recently pleaded guilty to the ICTY of Srebrenica-related crimes. Witness testimonies and information from the Republika Srpska Defense Ministry, Interior Ministry, and Intelligence Security Service (OBS) were also utilized. The defense and interior ministries took statements from some 30 army officers, police officers, and soldiers who were involved in the attack on Srebrenica, codenamed “Operation Krivaja ’95.” According to ATV, new information in the report includes lists of the police and Bosnian Serb Army Drina Corps units that were involved in the operation, but there is no mention of who gave the orders. Only the statement of Mirko Jankovic, the wartime commander of the Bratunac Military Police Platoon, names someone responsible. “I remember that … Momir Nikolic ordered me to send military police patrols, whose mission was to control the Srebrenica-Bratunac road. The road was used for moving bodies from mass graves to other locations,” Jankovic said in his statement to police. According to Jankovic, Nikolic had told him that mass-grave relocation was under the supervision of Colonel Ljubisa Beara, the wartime chief of security for the Bosnian Serb Army. Beara has been indicted by ICTY and is currently in hiding. PRESSURE FOR MORE INDICTMENTS After the report was leaked to the media, Republika Srpska Prime Minister Dragan Mikerevic said that Bosnian Serbs need to know the truth about Srebrenica because what happened there is not the collective responsibility of Bosnian Serbs. “Incomplete information about the Srebrenica case is doing great harm only to Republika Srpska. But responsibility must be determined only by evidence, not by emotion,” Mikerevic told the Federal News Agency (FENA) on 5 November. Mikerevic said that the government is not intentionally hiding information from the public, but that some information must remain classified for the sake of the investigation. If the prosecutors will allow it, he said, the government will publish parts of the report on its official website. Officials from the Bosniak and Bosnian Croat-dominated Federation entity, and non-Serbs from Republika Srpska, however, do not believe that any new information or new evidence led to the additions in the revised report. Srdjan Dizdarevic, president of the Bosnian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, said that authorities in Republika Srpska--as well as outside the country--have always known that the Bosnian Serb Army was responsible for Srebrenica massacre. But now that Bosnian Serb authorities have admitted to the massacre, the game has taken a new turn, and the entity must try to punish all those responsible for war crimes, Dizdarevic said. “The war crimes court will have a lot of work to do,” he added. "The admission of genocide came after constant pressure from the international community in Bosnia and from The Hague," Dizdaravic told TOL. "I am sure that the government of Republika Srpska did not admit to genocide of its own free will. They have no conscience for the Srebrenica victims and their families.” COMMISSION TO INVESTGATE FURTHER Sefket Hafizovic--the Bosniak vice president of Republika Srpska Parliament, and a member of the Bosniak nationalist Party of Democratic Action (SDA)--shares Dizdarevic’s opinion. Hafizovic told TOL on 9 November that the Republika Srpska government is trying to prevent the disclosure of the truth for as long as possible. “But they couldn’t hide the truth any longer, especially since all international and local institutions have collected a million pieces of evidence that genocide was committed in Srebrenica,” he said. Hafizovic called it a shame that even he, a high-ranking official in Republika Srpska himself, has not seen the latest report. Nor has any Bosniak or Bosnian Croat member of the entity’s government or parliament. Thus far, no one--aside from those who compiled the report and the journalists to whom it was leaked--has seen it. The public only heard a brief synopsis of its content on ATV. Bosniak Ahmet Sadikovic, a member of Republika Srpska Parliament and a survivor of the Srebrenica massacre, told TOL on 9 November that if ATV was correct in its report that the classified parts of the new document don't name the people responsible for ordering the mass killings, then the report is not new at all. “Why give credit to Republika Srpska officials for telling the truth when the truth has been known for seven years?” he asked. “Everyone knows how many people are missing and their names, how many mass graves there are. It is known who ordered the killings, whose vehicles were used to transport the bodies, whose machines were used to relocate mass graves,” Sadikovic said. Further information from the Republika Srpska government about the Srebrenica massacre is expected in the next six months. At the request of the government of Republika Srpska, Bosnia’s human rights judicial body, the Human Rights Chamber, has ordered the formation of a special commission to collect evidence about the Srebrenica massacre. Entity officials said their recommendation for the new commission was based on their lack of information about what happened at Srebrenica. “Some institutions do not have archives. Some of the evidence is in The Hague and we just have no idea where the other evidence is,” Prime Minister Mikerevic told ATV. Local analysts, however, believe that Bosnian Serb authorities would save face with voters if an independent commission, rather than the government itself, was the one to finally name names. --by Anes Alic
WP 12 Nov 2003 Truth in the Balkans By Sheri Fink Wednesday, November 12, 2003; Page A23 Keeping the peace that the United States and its allies brokered in Bosnia-Herzegovina eight years ago depends in large part on closing the gaps between what Bosnia's various ethnic populations believe happened in the brutal war there. The most gaping perceptual divide concerns the town of Srebrenica, where in 1995 Serb forces carried out Europe's largest massacre in a half-century under the noses of Dutch U.N. forces. Despite considerable forensic, DNA and documentary evidence of the killing of more than 7,500 Srebrenicans, Bosnia's Serbs -- who represent more than a third of the country's population -- have been in denial about the Srebrenica massacre. Last year a Bosnian Serb governmental bureau reported that the only deaths in Srebrenica were of 2,000 Muslim soldiers who were killed, or killed one another, while fighting their way out of the enclave. But denial is finally giving way to acknowledgment. This month Bosnian Serb television broadcast details of a leaked government report that is said to confirm the mass slaughter of Muslims at Srebrenica. It follows recent testimony of two senior Bosnian Serb officers involved in organizing the killings, brigade commander Dragan Obrenovic and intelligence chief Momir Nikolic. At the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in the Hague, they provided astounding details about the role of Bosnian Serb forces in planning and carrying out war crimes in Srebrenica. Their testimony begins to lay bare the truth of what happened in Srebrenica to both Serbs and non-Serbs. The implications reach beyond the long-suffering people of Bosnia-Herzegovina to the success of the first post-Cold War experiment in nation-building, which is doubtless being watched by the citizens of Afghanistan and Iraq. Nearly eight years after the Dayton peace accords ended Bosnia's war, the country resembles an international protectorate, overseen by a foreign "high representative" whose decisions trump those of local politicians. Bosnia-Herzegovina is dependent on both an international stabilization force and financial assistance. Significant obstacles are preventing the tribunal from realizing its full potential in helping cement the peace. Leaders of the former Yugoslavia -- particularly those in the Serb entity of Bosnia, as well as in Serbia and Croatia -- must turn over both the suspected criminals they've harbored and the documents long sought by the tribunal. A burden also falls on the United States, which, as an initiator of the tribunal, needs to step up to its responsibilities to help uncover the truth and end impunity in the Balkans. International stabilization forces, including U.S. soldiers, should arrest the indictees still believed to be at large in Bosnia, chief among them Radovan Karadzic, the former Bosnian Serb political leader. Beyond that is a need to exercise flexibility in the phasing-out of the tribunal that has been ordered by the U.N. Security Council. Ending the tribunal's work too soon could bury the past prematurely, leaving agitated ghosts to haunt Bosnia's future, just as the ghosts of Yugoslavia's civil war of the 1940s helped set the stage for the 1990s genocide. The Security Council's emphasis on attaching dates to a "completion strategy" has already dampened cooperation from governments in the Balkans, according to chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte. Allowing the recent war's most notorious fugitives -- Karadzic and Ratko Mladic -- to evade justice "would be a joke," Del Ponte said recently in New York. Most important, when it comes to cooperation, the United States must set a better example. U.S. officials involved in wartime Bosnia should be allowed to testify with maximum transparency about what they knew. The U.S. government needs to release crucial imagery and signals -- intelligence information it collected during the capture of Srebrenica and the several days afterward, during which Serb forces committed the massacre. Intelligence experts such as Cees Wiebes of the Netherlands, who spent years investigating the fall of Srebrenica for a Dutch government-sponsored report, believe that the United States has such information. If it is not forthcoming, Congress should order an investigation of what our country knew about the massacre and when. Failure to do so would suggest that the leaders of the world's only superpower in the 1990s fear being held accountable for failing to act to stop the genocide. Indeed, Srebrenica survivors this week announced plans for a lawsuit seeking compensation of nearly $850 million from the United Nations and the Netherlands, whose peacekeepers failed to protect the enclave the U.N. Security Council had declared a "safe area." "States won't cooperate," Del Ponte said recently. "They don't want the real truth to come out. It's politically disturbing." What's more disturbing is the idea that the truth about Europe's modern genocide will remain hidden. Knowing the full truth will help not only Bosnians but also the rest of the world to prevent future genocides. Sheri Fink, a physician, is the author of a book on the Srebrenica massacre: "War Hospital: A True Story of Surgery and Survival."
www.tol.cz 17 November 2003 Marovic Apologizes to Bosnians printer friendly reprint article email this article discuss article SARAJEVO, Bosnia and Herzegovina--The president of Serbia and Montenegro, Svetozar Marovic, surprised everyone on 13 November during his first official visit to Sarajevo when he made an apology to the citizens of Bosnia for the suffering caused by the 1992-1995 war. All of those present in the Bosnian Presidency building when Marovic offered his unexpected apology appeared shocked into silence. The Bosnian Serb member of the country’s rotating, tripartite presidency, Borislav Paravac, was visibly unnerved. “I have a duty to apologize, on behalf of myself and those I represent, for every misfortune and evil anyone in Bosnia and Herzegovina suffered because of anyone from Serbia and Montenegro,” Marovic said. Marovic’s agenda for his first official visit to Sarajevo, as far as everyone knew, was to discuss mostly economic cooperation between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia and Montenegro. Bosnian Croat member of the Presidency Dragan Covic explained to BHTV1 that the Bosnian side was “not prepared for such a statement, but we have understanding for his intentions for such a move.” But during a press conference following a meeting with the Interstate Cooperation Council, Marovic said that he had come to Bosnia with another agenda: forgiveness and reconciliation--the preconditions for building a better future for the entire region, which hopes to be reunited in Europe. The apology, said Marovic, is not only a matter of courtesy, but an “expression of honest intentions.” Those individuals responsible for the evils committed against Bosnians should be brought to justice, he said. An estimated 200,000 people were killed during the war in Bosnia. In response to a journalist’s question, Marovic later clarified, however, that his apology did not translate into a confession that the Belgrade authorities were involved in the war in Bosnia. Nor is it connected with the lawsuit that the wartime administration of Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) leader Alija Izetbegovic filed in 1993 against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SRJ), whose successor is Serbia and Montenegro, for genocide and aggression at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague. “I apologized because 10 million people [of Serbia and Montenegro] cannot be responsible for warfare--and those individuals who are responsible should be prosecuted and sentenced,” Marovic said, adding that he hopes the apology will improve bilateral relations, particularly economic relations, between the two countries. According to Marovic, trade between Serbia and Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity of Republika Srpska is declining and it is time for Bosnia’s other entity--the Bosniak and Croat-dominated Federation--to put its wartime grudges aside and step in to fill the gap. Serbia and Montenegro is interested in investing in Bosnia, and Bosnian companies are welcome in Serbia and Montenegro, Marovic said. In September, Marovic and his Croatian counterpart Stjepan Mesic exchanged similar apologies during Mesic’s visit to Belgrade. MIXED REACTIONS Following Marovic’s statement, Presidency member Dragan Covic commended Marovic on his courage. “The future is most important and this apology will help Bosnia’s mental and physical pain to heal,” Covic said. Bosnia’s Serb politicians insisted that others, too, should apologize. Presidency member Paravac said Marovic’s gesture will gain more weight if and when other statesmen in the region do the same. Republika Srpska President Dragan Cavic said Bosnia needed “three Willy Brandts” for apologies to have an effect. Even though Cavic stressed that he didn’t believe Marovic’s apology reflected the feelings of all the Serbia and Montenegro, he said it represented “a good signal to move toward reconciliation and prosperity” in Bosnia. Milorad Dodik, president of the moderate Union of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD), was not enthusiastic about Marovic’s apology. In a party press release, Dodik said that it should not be viewed as a confession of responsibility for the war in Bosnia. “Instead, the apology should be a call for other officials to do the same,” said Dodik, referring to Bosniak and Bosnian Croat officials. Bosnia’s Foreign Minister Mladen Ivanic, who is one of the leading Bosnian Serb politicians, made a similar point. “I believe that [Bosnian] politicians should use this example to say something similar themselves, since crimes were committed on all sides,” Ivanic said. Momcilo Novakovic, an official of the ruling nationalist Serb Democratic Party (SDS), told local media in Banja Luka that he expected Marovic’s apology to result in Bosnia withdrawing its lawsuit against Belgrade. However, Paravac clarified that the lawsuit was not discussed during Marovic’s visit. Political forces in Republika Srpska, led by SDS, have been arguing for the withdrawal of the lawsuit, claiming it represented the position only of the ethnic Bosniaks. Sefik Dzaferovic, a senior official in the nationalist Bosniak Party of Democratic Action (SDA), said the apology would not influence the party’s position regarding the lawsuit. But SDA leader Sulejman Tihic, who is also the Bosniak member of the country’s presidency, welcomed the apology, saying: “I see [Marovic’s] statement as a contribution toward a better understanding, and toward the development of neighborly relations between our states.” Tihic responded to calls that Bosnians should also apologize, saying that Bosnia did not commit aggression on Serbian territory, nor was it in war with Serbia. There were fewer reactions in Serbia and Montenegro. Those who bothered to comment largely welcomed Marovic’s gesture. Among those who were most welcoming was the Crown Prince Aleksandar II. “I most sincerely congratulate you on this wonderful gesture of international reconciliation; and on your courage to turn a new page in our history and development of good relations with our neighbors,” said the prince in a statement. THE PUBLIC’S VOICE In a random telephone poll survey of 15 people conducted by TOL, citizens from the Federation mostly applauded Marovic’s apology, while citizens from Republika Srpska expressed varying attitudes. A woman from Mostar, in the Federation, said that Marovic’s apology was an act of great moral character. A 60-year-old man from Sarajevo agreed; saying, however, that “we can never forget what happened in Bosnia during the war and who is responsible for that.” One 72-year-old Bosnian Serb man from Banja Luka was less accepting of the apology, saying: “I don’t think that we have to apologize to them. We were in a civil war,” he said, refusing to comment on his use of “we.” Another woman from Banja Luka was more positive, saying that she has nothing against reconciliation. “I believe it is time to live like normal people, like we used to. I have nothing against the apology,” she said. Though the original purpose of Marovic’s visit was overshadowed in the media by the apology, its accomplishments were indeed positive steps toward reconciliation. Bosnian Foreign Minister Ivanic and his counterpart from Serbia and Montenegro, Goran Svilanovic, signed an agreement on academic and technical cooperation, as well as an agreement on visa-free travel between the two countries. Both agreements are scheduled to be implemented by the beginning of next year. --by Anes Alic
AFP 12 Nov 2003 Croatian nationalists call on ethnic Serb refugees to return ZADAR, Croatia, Nov 12 (AFP) - Croatia's former ruling nationalist party called Wednesday on all ethnic Serb refugees who fled the country during the 1990s war to return. "I invite all Serb refugees to return to Croatia. We will guarantee them all their rights, including property rights," Ivo Sanader, head of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), said in an interview with AFP. Sanader's statement, which comes as HDZ is struggling to retake power in November 23 legislative elections, marks a turning point in his party's rhetoric and attitude to ethnic Serbs. According to the United Nations refugee agency, some 280,000 Serbs fled Croatia during the 1991-95 war between Zagreb and Belgrade-backed rebel Serbs, who opposed the country's bid for independence from the former Yugoslavia. So far some 100,000 Serbs have returned to Croatia, according to the UN.
AFP 19 Nov 2003 Break-away Georgian region vows to guard independence Agence France Presse, 11/29/03 Georgia's breakaway region of Abkhazia is determined to stay independent irrespective of the recent overthrow of Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze but is ready for dialogue, a top Abkhazian official said here on Saturday. "We've been independent for 10 years ... Abkhazia's armed forces are strong enough to maintain our independence," Abkhazia's self-declared prime minister Raul Hadzhimba told reporters. Shevardnadze's non-violent overthrow by a Western-oriented opposition led by Mikhail Saakashvili has prompted fears for the stability of Georgia, a strategically important Caucasus republic which was rocked by civil conflict in the early 1990s. Hadzhimba's comments came after talks in Moscow involving representatives of three regions at odds with Georgia's new leaders: the break-away republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and the autonomous region of Adjara, which formally acknowledges Tbilisi's primacy but mostly runs its own affairs. While the talks have prompted concern from Saakashvili's grouping, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov stressed Saturday that Moscow respected Georgia's territorial integrity and views Abkhazia "as part of Georgia" in comments reported by Interfax. Russia was closely involved in South Ossetia and Abkhazia's struggles for independence in the 1990s, providing covert military backing, and maintains peace-keepers in the region. The conflict between Georgia and Abkhazia, which lies between the Caucasus Mountains and the Black Sea, left several thousand people dead and sparked an exodus of 250,000 Georgians from the region. Earlier the self-proclaimed leader of pro-Russian South Ossetia, Eduard Kokoity, said here that Moscow was considering his request for South Ossetia to join the Russian Federation. Shevardnadze, a former Soviet foreign minister credited with having helped end the Cold War, was forced from office last Sunday after weeks of angry protests at alleged fraud in November 2 parliamentary elections which returned his government to power.
BBC 31 October, 2003 German MP defends Jewish remarks The Nazis killed nearly six million Jews across Europe A German parliamentarian has refused to apologise for remarks that appeared to compare Jews during the Bolshevik Revolution to Nazis in World War II. Conservative Martin Hohmann had said many Jews were active in execution squads during the Russian Revolution. Members of Mr Hohmann's CDU party responded angrily and Jewish leaders have threatened to take legal action. The Christian Democrats have faced allegations in the past about members having links to the extreme right. 'Perpetrators' Mr Hohmann's comments, made in a 3 October speech, have only surfaced now. He compared the killings in Russia's violent 1917 revolution, which he said were orchestrated by Jews, with the murder of Europe's Jews during the Holocaust of World War II. According to a transcript of his speech on the website of his local CDU branch in Neuhof, Mr Hohmann said: "Jews were active in great numbers in the leadership as well as in the Cheka [Soviet secret police] firing squads. There is no place for anti-Semites in the German parliament Dieter Wiefelspuetz "Thus one could describe Jews with some justification as a Taetervolk [a race of perpetrators]. "That may sound horrible. But it would follow the same logic with which one describes the Germans as a race of perpetrators." However, he went on to say: "Neither the Germans nor the Jews are a race of perpetrators." The speech has since been taken off the site. The BBC's Ray Furlong in Berlin says Mr Hohmann went further in defending his remarks on national television. He said the MP demanded "justice" for Germans and that they should not define themselves as the nation who caused Auschwitz. In a brief statement on Friday, without apologising or directly retracting his comments, Mr Hohmann said: "I describe neither the Jews nor the Germans as a nation of perpetrators." "It wasn't and isn't my intention to hurt anyone's feelings." Taboo The head of Germany's Jewish community, Paul Spiegel, called Mr Hohmann's speech "a reach into the lowest drawer of disgusting anti-Semitism". He said he had spoken to CDU leader Angela Merkel and assured reporters "she shared my views". Neither the Germans nor the Jews are a race of perpetrators Martin Hohmann Friday statement Ms Merkel said Mr Hohmann's words were "completely unacceptable and intolerable, and we distance ourselves from them absolutely". She has spoken to the lawmaker on the telephone, but has not said the party will expel him. Our correspondent says any criticism of Jewish people is still a taboo in Germany, which makes this incident extremely embarrassing for Mr Hohmann's party. Dieter Wiefelspuetz, a senior parliamentarian for Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats, took a harder line. "There is no place for anti-Semites in the German parliament," he said.
JTA 31 Oct 2003 German party tries damage control as anti-Semitic speech roils nation By Toby Axelrod BERLIN, Oct. 31 (JTA) — A politician’s anti-Semitic speech has erupted into a scandal in Germany as his party scrambles to contain the damage and Jewish leaders consider a lawsuit. At the center of the storm is a speech in which Parliament member Martin Hohmann of the conservative Christian Democratic Union called Jews a “nation of perpetrators” comparable to the Nazis, and defended Henry Ford’s notorious anti- Semitic tract, “The International Jew.” Wolfgang Benz, director of the Center for Research on Anti-Semitism in Berlin, called it a “unique case” in the post-war era because it was “not merely a slip of the tongue or a slogan. No, it is a complete argument, a whole anti-Semitic speech using old stereotypes,” he told JTA. While the stunned CDU leadership struggled to control the damage to their party, observers found themselves asking yet again whether taboos against old anti-Semitic canards were weakening in Germany. Paul Spiegel, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said Friday that Hohmann’s words threatened to undermine the fragile relationship between Jews and non-Jews in Germany. The council is considering suing Hohmann for inciting hatred. Within hours of being informed about the speech Thursday, CDU party head Angela Merkel sharply criticized Hohmann, calling his words “intolerable” and distancing the party from him. Sources close to Merkel said she had called Hohmann and found that he “did not understand what all the fuss was about.” Hohmann, 55, known for ultra-conservative views on everything from gay rights to reparations for Nazi victims, delivered the speech on Oct. 3, German Unity Day, to constituents in the city of Neuhof in the western German state of Hessen. The speech later appeared on Hohmann’s website, but it went largely unnoticed until neo-Nazis picked it up, according to observers of the extreme-right-wing scene. Among other statements, Hohmann said Jews had influenced the communist revolution in Russia and that, “because of the millions of people killed in the first phase of the revolution, one might be justified in calling the Jews ‘ perpetrators.’ ” He also said Jews were leaders of the Russian secret service and were involved in executions, and therefore “one could be justified in describing Jews as a ‘ nation of perpetrators.’ ” “That might sound shocking,” he continued. “But it follows the same logic according to which Germans are described as a ‘nation of perpetrators.’ ” He added that “those Jews who were committed to Bolshevism and to the revolution had already cut themselves off from religion. They were Jews according to background and upbringing, but their outlook was that of burning hatred against all religion. It was similar with the National Socialists.” Hours after the speech became the subject of a TV news show on Thursday, CDU General Secretary Laurenz Meyer publicly demanded an apology from Hohmann. Hohmann said in a press statement Friday that “it was and is not my intention to hurt anyone’s feelings,” adding that he “called neither Jews nor Germans a ‘ nation of perpetrators.’ ” But a member of the board of Frankfurt’s Jewish community said Hohmann’s clarification was not enough. “What he said was racist and anti-Semitic, and a man holding views like this doesn’t really belong in the German Parliament,” Dieter Graumann told JTA. The first to take notice of Hohmann’s speech were neo-Nazi Holocaust deniers, said Alfred Schobert, a researcher at the Duisburg Institute for the Study of Linguistics and Society. Until Monday, almost nobody had seen the speech, he told JTA. On Monday, German neo-Nazi Horst Mahler sent a mailing with the speech to a network of Holocaust deniers. Observers of the right-wing scene also received the mailing, and were “ astonished. They could not believe this was the authentic speech by a member of the CDU,” Schobert said. “We looked at the homepage of the CDU in Neuhof and we saw that this text was exactly what Hohmann said. So Horst Mahler reproduced it, and that is where it belongs, in the camp of neo-Nazis,” Schobert said. By Wednesday, the speech had become a topic of discussion on the German-Jewish Web site HaGalil, with members considering what they could do to draw public attention to it. German TV picked up the story on Thursday. “The speech is further evidence of a trend in Germany in which old taboos against anti-Semitic speech are breaking down,” Graumann said. He cited the examples of German author Martin Walser, who in 1998 accused Jews of using Auschwitz as a “moral cudgel” against Germany, and Juergen Mollemann, the late politician from the Free Democratic Party who in 2001 accused German Jewish leader Michel Friedman of provoking anti-Semitism. “I am sure Hohmann is reflecting a mood,” Graumann said. But Benz said he did not think a direct line could be drawn from Mollemann to Hohmann. Hohmann “is stupid and crazy, he is a real right-wing guy, but this is a unique case in recent history, maybe even since 1945,” he said. Benz said he hoped the CDU would kick Hohmann out of the party, adding that he was unlikely to leave on his own. “He is stupid enough to think he would be a hero,” Benz said. “Hohmann cannot say, ‘I am extremely sorry about this,’ ” Benz added. “The speech was well-prepared and he gave his sources. And the reaction of the German media is quite clear: Everyone is upset about this guy.” Perhaps most upset is the CDU leadership. Arne Delfs, the party’s deputy speaker, described Hohmann’s remarks as “unbelievable,” and told JTA that Hohmann “was absolutely speaking for himself alone. There is absolutely no support in the CDU for such viewpoints.” Furthermore, Delfs said, the failure of Mollemann’s controversial statements to gain votes for the FDP in 2002 elections showed that Germans are not susceptible to such propaganda.
IslamOnline.net 31 Oct 2003 Jews Are "Race Of Perpetrators": German MP “"Jews were active in great numbers in the leadership as well as in the Cheka (Soviet secret police) firing squads," Hohmann By Khaled Schmitt, IOL Correspondent BERLIN, October 31 - A German member of parliament caused a political furor, expected to increase in coming days, for a speech in which he played down the Holocaust and described Jews as a "race of perpetrators". On its website Thursday, October 30, the weekly news magazine Der Spiegel reported that lights were shed on Hohmann’s speech – almost a month later – after a transcript of the speech was published on the web site of the CDU in his hometown of Neuhof. Deputy Martin Hohmann of the conservative opposition Christian Democrats (CDU) said in a speech to constituents on the 13th anniversary of German reunification October 3 that “primarily Jewish Bolsheviks were responsible for crimes against civilians during the Russian revolution”. "Jews were active in great numbers in the leadership as well as in the Cheka (Soviet secret police) firing squads," Hohmann said according to a transcript of the speech on the web site of the CDU in Neuhof. "Thus one could describe Jews with some justification as a Taetervolk (roughly translated by Agence France-Presse (AFP), race of perpetrators). His speech is ““a reach into the lowest drawer of disgusting anti-Semitism," Spiegel "That may sound horrible. But it would follow the same logic with which one describes the Germans as a race of perpetrators." The head of Germany's Jewish community, Paul Spiegel, fiercely attacked Hohmann calling his speech "political disgrace” and “a reach into the lowest drawer of disgusting anti-Semitism". Spiegel said he had spoken to CDU leader Angela Merkel and "she shared my views", according to AFP. Dieter Graumann, a leading member of the Jewish community in Frankfurt, the largest city in Hohmann's home state, said he was appalled by the remarks. "Anti-Semitism in Germany has gone beyond the pub tables and arrived at the German Bundestag," he told public radio Hessischer Rundfunk. The Hesse state chapter of the CDU was quick to distance itself from Hohmann's views. The chapter's general secretary, Michael Boddenberg, demanded that Hohmann "refrain from such unhistorical, false and unacceptable comments". Deputies from Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats called for Hohmann's dismissal from the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament. Hohmann now faces anti-Semitism charges and his speech was removed from the Internet soon after the story broke, according to AFP. Hohmann defended himself by asserting that his speech about the Jews was no more “a reproduction of similar statements by the late U.S. industrialist Henry Ford. It is widely expected, though, that the Jewish Community in Germany – about 100,000 and enjoys overwhelming influence and unusual advantages within the German society – would launch a tense campaign against Hohmann. During the first half of this year, the Jewish community has mobilized all their potentials and waged a fierce campaign against former Economy Minister and Head of the Arab-German Society Jurgen Moellemann for his anti-Israel views. Moellemann, who died Thursday, June 5, in a controversial parachute jump, has always accused Israel of “state terrorism” and defended the Palestinians’ legitimate rights. It is not yet known whether Moellemann committed suicide or has been murdered.
Deutsche Welle 1 Nov 2003 www.dw-world.de The head of Germany's Jewish community has called Martin Hohmann's comments "disgusting anti-Semitism." Nearly four weeks after making a speech in which he described Jews as a "race of perpetrators," a German member of parliament faces charges of anti-Semitism from the Jewish community. Martin Hohmann of the opposition Christian Democrat Union has come under fire from party leadership and the country’s Jewish community for anti-Semitic comments he reportedly made during a speech on the 13th anniversary of German reunification. On Oct. 3 the parliamentarian from the state of Hesse referred to the Jews as a "race of perpetrators" and compared the Russian revolution with the Holocaust. Hohmann said that primarily Jewish Bolsheviks were responsible for crimes committed against civilians during the Russian revolution. He then went on to compare what he claimed was bloodshed orchestrated by Jews in Russia in the early 1900s with the murder of Europe’s Jews by the Nazis in the Third Reich. "Jews were active in great numbers in the leadership as well as in the Soviet secret police firing squads," Hohmann told constituents in his hometown of Neuhof. "Thus one could describe Jews with some justification as a Tätervolk [roughly translated as race of perpetrators]." Although he admitted in his speech that such a comparison "may sound horrible," Hohmann said it followed the "same logic with which one describes the Germans as a race of perpetrators." Jewish leader: 'Disgusting anti-Semitism' The content of Hohmann’s speech, which until Thursday (Oct. 30, 2003) was available for all to read on the Internet, lay dormant for nearly a month before Hesse's public broadcaster aired a report about the speech late Thursday evening. By Friday morning the media was quoting outraged politicians and community leaders. The head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Paul Spiegel, said Hohmann’ s comments delved "into the lowest drawer of disgusting anti-Semitism." He told the national public broadcaster ARD that the parliamentarian was "brutally trampling on the fragile seeds of reconciliation between Jews and non-Jews." Dieter Graumann, a leader of the Jewish community in Frankfurt, the largest city in Hesse and one of the largest such communities in Germany, said he was appalled by the remarks and worried that it demonstrated a shift toward anti- Semitism. "Anti-Semitism in Germany has gone beyond the pub tables and arrived at the German Bundestag," he told Hessischer Rundfunk. Politicians from across the board have criticized Hohmann and called for an immediate retraction of his statements. The Hesse state chapter of the CDU was quick to distance itself from Hohmann’s views and removed the speech from its Neuhof Web site. Michael Boddenberg, the party’s state general secretary, demanded that Hohmann "refrain from such unhistorical, false and unacceptable comments." On the national level, CDU General Secretary Laurenz Meyer said Hohmann’s statements were entirely unacceptable. He said he could only hope that Hohmann follows the party’s good advice and apologizes immediately. The ruling Social Democrats were much harsher in their criticism and went so far as to demand Hohmann’s resignation. The parliamentary spokesperson for interior affairs, Dieter Wiefelspütz, said the speech was an unbelievable breech of parliamentarian behavior. "There is no room for anti-Semitism in the German Bundestag," he said. Populism and anti-Semitism Intended as criticism of the federal politics of the ruling Social Democrats and Greens, critics said Hohmann’s speech was loaded with demagoguery, anti- foreigner sentiment and insensitive interpretations of the Holocaust. Hohmann heated up his rhetoric with descriptions of how the German state gives extra privileges to foreigners by granting them benefits the ordinary German does not receive. "Unfortunately, we cannot get away from the suspicion that we in Germany no longer enjoy the advantages of being German," he told his listeners. He then preceded to give examples of how Germany insists on paying out the full sum for reparations for forced laborers and victims of the Holocaust while calling on its own citizens to tighten the belt and except hard economic reforms which cut out all benefits. At the end of his long speech he concluded saying Germany needed to focus more on the Germans and he called upon his followers to live according to the motto, "justice for Germany, justice for the Germans." A repeat performance The Oct. 3rd speech is not the first time Hohmann, a former terrorist expert in Germany’s federal crime agency, has struck controversy. A year ago he made the news with pejorative statements against gays and their rights to adopt a child. He referred to it as the "de-naturalization of the family," and called on people to show "civil courage" in opposing such a trend. Back in November 2000 he again directed several slurs against homosexuality while speaking in the Bundestag about the need to counteract homosexuality. The three monotheistic religions all would castigate gays, he said. www.cdu-neuhof.de
Telegraph UK 1 Nov 2003 Fury at 'guilty Jews' remark by German MP By Kate Connolly in Berlin (Filed: 01/11/2003) A German MP faced calls for his resignation yesterday after playing down the Holocaust and referring to Jews as a "guilty people". Martin Hohmann, a member of the opposition Christian Democrat Union, said Bolsheviks of Jewish descent were the main perpetrators of mass executions during the Russian Revolution of 1917, and compared the bloodshed of that time to the Holocaust, in which millions of European Jews were murdered. "With regard to the millions of dead from the first phase of the revolution, one is considerably justified in looking at the Jews as a nation of perpetrators," he said in his constituency of Neuhof, western Germany. "Jews were in large numbers at the leadership level of as well as in Cheka execution squads. That is why it is to a certain extent justified to characterise Jews as a guilty people. That might sound alarming, but it would follow the same logic by which one characterises the Germans as a guilty people," he said. He added that Germans' self-confidence had been damaged by the country's "association with the Holocaust", and said it was time the country stopped regarding itself as "the one that caused Auschwitz". Mr Hohmann's comments met a barrage of protests. Paul Spiegel, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, described the remarks as "the worst I have heard in years". They were, he said, "rasping at the lowest drawer of disgusting anti-Semitism". Dieter Graumann, of Germany's largest Jewish community in Frankfurt, said: "Anti-Semitism has moved from the beer halls and into the Bundestag." The CDU leader, Angela Merkel, said Mr Hohmann's words were "completely unacceptable and intolerable". But she stopped short of demanding his resignation. What Mr Hohmann, who has a reputation for far-Right outbursts, described as a "retraction" of his remarks last night only served to worsen the row. "I did not characterise either the Jews or Germans as a nation of perpetrators," he said. "It was and is not my aim to hurt people's feelings." Mr Hohmann stressed that it was not the Germans who should be blamed for the Holocaust nor the Jews for the crimes of the Bolsheviks, but "the godless with their godless ideologies".
Guardian UK 5 Nov 2003 The Germany fires top general Luke Harding in Berlin The head of Germany's equivalent of the SAS was sacked last night after he expressed support for a rightwing German MP at the centre of a growing row over an anti-semitic speech. The German defence minister, Peter Struck, announced that the commander, Brigadier General Reinhard Günzel, had been relieved of his duties. Gen Günzel, the head of the country's prestigious special forces unit, the Kommando Spezialkräfte, was apparently fired after writing a letter of support to a backbench MP Martin Hohmann. In a recent speech Mr Hohmann described Jews as a "nation of perpetrators", and said it was unfair to single out Germans for their role in the Holocaust given that Jews also had a "dark side". Yesterday Mr Struck said Gen Günzel's views were not those of the army. "This is about a lone, confused general who agreed with an even more confused statement made by a conservative member of parliament." The row over Mr Hohmann's remarks has dominated the German press since last week. The MP has refused to apologise for a speech on October 3, in which he compared what the Nazis did during the Holocaust to the "crimes of Jews" during the Russian revolution. At the weekend he appeared on Germany's state-run ZDF television brandishing a letter of support from Gen Günzel. In it, the 59-year-old commander apparently wrote: "An excellent speech... of a courage, truth and clarity that you rarely hear or read in our country." He also complained that anybody who expressed nationalistic views was immediately labelled a rightwing extremist. He told the MP: "You can be sure that you speak for the majority of Germans... Don't let the accusations from the dominant left camp put you off." Jewish groups are furious and have consulted lawyers. Mr Hohmann's party, the opposition Christian Democratic Union, has distanced itself from the MP but not thrown him out.
WP 8 Nov 2003 OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR The Price of Forgiveness By THANE ROSENBAUM When it comes to the Holocaust, the Germans just can't catch a break. With the 65th anniversary of Kristallnacht tomorrow and a memorial to the victims of Nazi genocide under construction in Berlin, the discussion in Germany has suddenly shifted from broken glass to purified gas. Degussa, a German chemical company with an exemplary record of supporting Holocaust restitution programs, had been chosen to provide an anti-graffiti coating for the memorial. That was until the foundation that oversees the memorial's construction decided that the use of Degussa's product would itself be a desecration. It seems that one of Degussa's affiliated companies had once supplied Zyklon B, the poisonous gas that killed millions of Jews in concentration camps. For critics, this exposed an unseemly moral contradiction: in protecting the building from graffiti, Degussa would simultaneously profit from the memorial and wash the stain from its own tainted past. And the drama has improbably worsened in the last few days. It was discovered that a Degussa subsidiary had supplied a product that had already been used in the cement foundation, which prompted discussion of whether to tear out whatever work contains Degussa's material. But many Germans want to know this: Why must Degussa, which has acted so admirably in the postwar era, still be punished for the collaborationist activities of an affiliate 60 years ago? After all, the company that once supplied the chemical agent that came to symbolize the skull and crossbones of the Nazi murder machine was now, in an act of corporate contrition, using its chemicals to guard a building that will memorialize all that mass death. This matter raises the difficult question of whether continuous acts of national atonement and corporate redemption must necessarily lead to forgiveness. Indeed, over the years, Germany has been desperate in its desire to be forgiven. And, to some extent, it has a point. No other nation has undergone a greater degree of self-examination about its direct role and complicity in mass murder than it has. There have been endless acknowledgments of the atrocity, and meaningful gestures of restitution. The nation has been in an arrested state of moral inquiry, continually examining its character, seeking some clarity about the madness it once so mindlessly saluted. Given their good faith, the Germans are understandably left wondering: is forgiveness ever forthcoming, or is our guilt eternal? We live in an era when it is fashionable for people and nations to confess to crimes and express remorse. Indeed, the South African experience is one model of this reconciliatory atmosphere. Yet, while forgiveness is desirable, it isn't necessary as a moral gesture and, sometimes, is not even appropriate. The Germans seem to be confusing legal guilt with moral responsibility. Guilt is a legal term; responsibility is a moral one. Acknowledgment, truth and apologies are moral imperatives; forgiveness is not, precisely because it suggests starting over with a clean slate, which, in this case, only the ghosts are empowered to grant. And while there are Holocaust survivors still living, we must respect their revulsion at Degussa's involvement, in any way, with the memorial. It may be true that the majority of contemporary Germans are legally innocent of crimes committed under the Third Reich, which is why there is such collective frustration about not being able to shake the stigma of genocide. But regardless of redemptive impulses and achievements, everyone in Germany remains morally responsible. This was a crime that took place on German land. The soil and soul of Germany are fated to have long memories, and Degussa, despite its commendable recent deeds, should not be profiting from its newfound virtue. It is not German guilt that must be eternal, but the acceptance of moral responsibility — no matter how many years have passed since Zyklon B was last used to claim lives, and no matter how many other life-protecting chemicals have replaced it. Thane Rosenbaum is the author of "The Golems of Gotham," a novel, and the forthcoming book "The Myth of Moral Justice: Why Our Legal System Fails to Do What's Right."
AFP 15 Nov 2003 German opposition expels deputy in anti-Semitism row BERLIN : After weeks of soul-searching debate Germany's conservative opposition Christian Union alliance voted to expel a member of parliament from its ranks over an allegedly anti-Semitic speech. The parliamentary faction of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its small sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), voted by 195 for to 28 against, with 16 abstentions, to expel back bench MP Martin Hohmann. Advertisement A two-thirds majority of at least 166 votes was needed to remove him. "It's a clear result," CDU leader Angela Merkel said after the vote, the first time the alliance has expelled a member of the group holding a seat in the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament. But she admitted: "It has been a hard day for everyone." The decision does not mean Hohmann will lose his parliamentary seat as he can remain in the Bundestag as an independent. In a speech to constituents on October 3, the national holiday, Hohmann said Jews could, with some justification, be seen as a "race of perpetrators" for their alleged crimes against civilians in the 1917 Russian revolution. But he then went on to say Jews were in fact not a race of perpetrators -- and neither were Germans. In a brief written statement after the vote, he apologized for his speech -- without retracting it -- and promised to continue to work for his electorate in Neuhof, in the central state of Hesse. "The public pressure" had an impact on the CDU, admitted the vice-president of the group, Wolfgang Bosbach, but he said that "Hohmann's refusal to withdraw his insufferable remarks" was the last straw. "Why can't we debate calmly and objectively in Germany," he lamented. The head of the parliamentary faction of the Greens, the junior partner in Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's governing coalition, praised the decision to expel him. While CDU leaders had been confident of getting the majority they wanted to throw him out of the parliamentary group, the vote showed he has some support. A separate process to exclude him from the party altogether is underway in his home state and a decision is expected later this month. CDU leaders have been desperate to end an embarrassing debate over their stance on Germany's troubled past and Hohmann's refusal to officially retract his speech has not helped. They were also put on the back foot when the government quickly dismissed the general at the head of Germany's special forces troops after he sent Hohmann a letter of support. Criticism of the CDU mounted, including from Jewish leaders, who said they were astonished he had only be reprimanded and dropped from a parliamentary committee rather than removed altogether. CDU leaders have acknowledged there is a ground swell of support for Hohmann, some of it tacit, and have sought to avoid it breaking into the open. Privately, some CDU deputies have told newspapers they are concerned he is being discarded for the sake of political correctness. Even the public seems undecided about the row. A survey released on Wednesday showed 41 percent of Germans thought the remarks by Hohmann were enough grounds to expel him. Another 41 percent thought he should stay in the party. The figures changed when people were asked if he should be thrown out of the parliamentary group -- 43 percent said yes, 38 said no. Meanwhile, the CDU mayor of Recklinghausen, western Germany, has been told he faces possible exclusion for hanging a sign in the party's local office lamenting: "No one is allowed to tell the truth in Germany any more."
BBC 28 Oct 2003 Italian Muslims fear 'crucifix' fallout By Tamsin Smith BBC News, Rome This week Italy is hosting an EU conference on inter-religious dialogue to promote peace between religions in Europe. The Italian far right has entered the fray But a story of religious conflict is dominating the Italian press. A radical Muslim leader has won a court battle to remove the crucifix from a state school where his children attend - a decision which has shocked political and public opinion and caused deep concern within Italy's Muslim community. The symbol of the crucifix is not just in every Italian church, it still looks down on pupils from classroom walls in every school even though Catholicism is no longer a state religion. "I think we need the crucifix in our schools," says Lorena, picking her children up from a primary school in Rome. "I remember it from when I was a child and I think its an important Catholic symbol to help guide our children today." But now a court in L'Aquila in central Italy has ordered a primary school in the town of Ofena to take down its crucifix - a legal victory for radical Muslim Adel Smith, leader of the Italian Union of Muslims. I've won this case - the law is on my side Adel Smith He went to the courts when the school refused to display a symbol from the Koran alongside the crucifix in his children's classroom. "My children are still Italian so why should they feel inferior to the others because the symbol of their religion is not nailed on the wall like a cult?" he says. "I've won this case - the law is on my side." 'Crazy Muslim activist' The law may be on his side, but Italy's political establishment definitely is not. There is universal condemnation of a decision they say is an insult to Italy's cultural heritage. "It's ridiculous," says Rocco Buttiglione, Italy's Europe minister. HAVE YOUR SAY In state schools there is no place for one religion over another John, France Send us your comments "In my opinion the cross should stay and, in any case, whether it stays or goes, it's not up to a crazy Muslim activist to forbid it. It's our business, not his." Italy's moderate Muslim community is keen to distance itself from the court's decision. Outside Rome's grand mosque after prayers, people gather round stalls to buy sweet tea and pastries. There is little support here for Adel Smith and his court case. Italian Muslims feel uncomfortable about the row People here like Mohammed from Egypt worry that if the crucifix issue turns into a national debate, the Muslim community will be blamed, increasing tensions between Christians and Italy's rapidly growing Muslim population: "I'm worried, very worried for us. This issue might be an excuse for racial hatred. It's bad news, very bad news." As Italy tackles complex immigration issues which still inflame far-right sentiments, this is also something which also worries Europe Minister Rocco Buttiglione. "This decision by the court to remove the crucifix confirms the worst fears of those who have a xenophobic attitude in this country," he says. "It's a defeat for everyone who works for inter-religious dialogue and peaceful integration of immigrants." But a debate within Italian public opinion about the secular character of education has already started. Secular age The main schools union, CGIL Scuola, has voiced unequivocal support for the removal of crucifixes from classrooms. At one primary school in Rome's city centre, many parents like Alessandra are asking whether classrooms should perhaps be completely free from religious symbols. "Everybody should be free to decide their religion," she says. "So why have a religious symbol from one religion in every class in every school? I think it should be removed." Now grabbing front-page headlines and dominating TV and radio talk shows, the debate about removing the crucifix from Italian classrooms is gathering pace but it is a debate Italy's Muslim community would rather not be associated with.
BBC 10 Nov 2002, Italy's royals condemn Mussolini laws The family was tainted by its collaboration with Mussolini By Frances Kennedy BBC correspondent in Rome Members of Italy's former royal family, the Savoys, have issued a clear condemnation of Mussolini's race laws, which marked the start of the persecution and deportation of Italian Jews during World War II. In a statement, the family said the laws approved by the wartime Savoy monarch had left an indelible stain. The comment coincides with the lifting of a constitutional ban which has kept the male heirs in exile for more than half a century. The royals are delighted at the ending of their exile The Italian parliament voted this year to change the constitution and allow the Savoy descendants to return from their affluent exile in Switzerland. While there is to be no triumphal homecoming just yet, as 64-year-old Vittorio Emanuele is recovering from injuries received in a motor rally accident in Egypt, his son Emanuele Filiberto, a young banker with movie star good looks, has said the family will return before Christmas. The ban expired on Sunday, which is also the anniversary of the implementation of the 1938 race laws. All Jewish students were expelled from schools, Jews were banned from public office and forbidden to marry outside their race. The laws led to the eventual deportation of Italian Jews, many of whom died in concentration camps. Gaffes The statement is the clearest condemnation yet from a family whose lobbying to lift the ban has been marred by a series of gaffes, in particular by Vittorio Emanuele, who said in a 1997 television interview that the racial laws were not so bad. He later criticised the Berlusconi government and has refused to swear an oath of loyalty to the Italian Republican constitution. Opinion polls show that most Italians think the Savoys should no longer have to pay for the sins of their fathers, but not everyone is happy about them becoming celebrities. Precisely what role the ex-royals might play in Italian public life is unclear. They have sworn they have no interest in politics, but the Italian media is hungry for the glamour factor: young Emanuele Filiberto is reportedly being courted by state television to host a television series on a journey around Italy.
Recent: BBC 26 Sept 2003 Jewish communities split over Berlusconi By Irene Peroni BBC Monitoring US Jews praise Mr Berlusconi - but Italian Jews are less enamoured A US Jewish lobby this week gave Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi its annual award - only days after he said Mussolini was a benign dictator. The remark sparked a wave of outrage among Italy's Jewish community. But the New York-based Anti-Defamation League said Mr Berlusconi deserved its Distinguished Statesman Award for his help to fight a revival of anti-Semitism in Europe, his support for Israel and his commitment to the war on terror. Berlusconi is a friend - he is a good friend. But he's a flawed friend Abraham Foxman, Anti-Defamation League "Berlusconi has sided with the USA against Iraq while the other countries were keeping quiet," the lobby's director, Abraham Foxman, told Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera. "Few countries in Europe understand Israel's problems, and when anti-Semitism exploded again in Europe, he did not hesitate to brand it as unacceptable," Foxman added. Apology Some renowned Jewish intellectuals protested against the award. In a letter to the New York Times, economists and Nobel laureates Franco Modigliani, Paul A. Samuelson and Robert L. Solow said that the award was "bad for Jews, for Italy, the United States and Israel". "Mussolini was responsible for the deportation of almost 7,000 Jews, who died in Nazi camps," the letter said. The controversy surrounding Mr Berlusconi's remarks about Mussolini focused on his claim that the dictator "did not murder anyone" and would at the most "send someone on holiday in internal exile". He later explained that he was reacting to a parallel drawn by the interviewer between Mussolini and Saddam Hussein. "As an Italian, I did not accept his comparison of my country to another dictator and dictatorship - that of Saddam Hussein - which caused millions of deaths," he explained. The prime minister later paid a visit to the head of Italy's Jewish communities, Amos Luzzatto, to apologise, but some members were still asking for a proper and formal retraction. Israel's friends Despite the premier's gaffe on Mussolini, many Italian pundits believe that the country has never been as pro-Israeli as under Mr Berlusconi's leadership. The Berlusconi Government is characterised by a marked pro-Israeli, in addition to pro-USA, stance Corriere della Sera He has often said that he would like Israel to join the European Union, and during last year's trip to Israel, he snubbed Yasir Arafat by choosing not to meet him. Finally, the Palestinian militant group Hamas has been added to an EU list of international terror organisations during Italy's six-month tenure of the chairmanship of the EU Council of Ministers. "You may or may not agree with the [Italian] centre-right government's foreign policy. But the fact remains, that it is characterised by a marked pro-Israeli, in addition to pro-USA, stance," a recent commentary in daily newspaper Corriere della Sera said. Asked about the gaffe on Mussolini, Abraham Foxman said: "[Berlusconi] is a friend. He is a good friend. but he's a flawed friend". Mr Modigliani, one of the intellectuals who signed the letter to the New York Times protesting against the award to Mr Berlusconi, died this week at the age of 85.
Netherlands (see Bosnia)
AFP 3 Nov 2003 International permanent war crimes court deputy prosecutor sworn in, THE HAGUE, Nov 3 Belgian Serge Brammertz was sworn in as deputy prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Monday, marking another important step in getting of the new permanent war crimes court fully operational. Brammertz, 41, has worked as a federal prosecutor in Belgium. Most recently he was involved in the prosecution of Islamic militants convicted for planning an attack on a US military base in northwest Belgium. As the deputy prosecutor of the Hague-based ICC he will be in charge of the investigations started by the ICC. In July of this year chief prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo announced that the newly created permanent war crimes tribunal had chosen the crisis in the Ituri region in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as the first case to be tackled by the court. No official investigation has been opened but the prosecutor's office is gathering information from the region to determine whether to launch an official legal probe. "For the Ituri situation the boss has now arrived," Moreno Ocampo said of Brammertz's appointment. The deputy prosecutor is expected to spend the next three months collecting open source information about atrocities in DR Congo and planning how to organise a full scale investigation, the chief prosecutor said. The ICC, which became a legal reality in July of last year, is the permanent tribunal mandated to try war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. Moreno Ocampo was elected its chief prosecutor in April after the first judges of the court were sworn in last May.
AFP 12 Nov 2003 Fierce battle rages for third day in Chechnya GROZNY, Nov 12 (AFP) - Russian special forces engaged Chechen guerrillas in a fierce gun battle for the third day Wednesday, officials said, in a standoff that locals report has claimed civilian lives. The battle in the southwestern region of Shali was provoked by a guerrilla attack on a convoy of gunmen who work in the security service of the republic's newly-elected pro-Moscow president, Akhmad Kadyrov. The interior ministry of Chechnya said two rebel guerrillas have been killed in the fighting. Meanwhile locals who fled the fighting report that up to six civilians have also been killed, while four Russian soldiers died when their armored personnel carrier was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. Russian officials refused to confirm the report. Rebels fled toward the southern village of Avturi after attacking Kadyrov's security forces on Monday, and locals report that Russian troops have since blocked off all road access to the village. Exchanges of gunfire between the Russian forces and the rebels could be heard on the outskirts of the village Wednesday. Kadyrov, who was appointed as head of the pro-Moscow administration of the war-torn Muslim republic more than three years ago, was elected its president in a controversial October 5 election that guerrilla leaders have refused to recognize. Russia hopes that Kadyrov can establish order in Chechnya by consolidating the republic's numerous factions of gunmen under his single control, while remaining loyal to Moscow. But locals accuse Kadyrov's men of being involved in human rights violations, alongside the Russian troops. Russian troops rumbled into Chechnya in a self-declared "anti-terror" operation that has claimed the lives of thousands of federal troops and guerrillas, although the civilian toll from the war remains unreported.
B92 Serbia 5 Nov 2003 Serbia launches probe against top Kosovo Albanians BELGRADE Serbia’s special war crimes prosecutor has launched investigations against four prominent Kosovo Albanians, including the leaders of two of the main parties in the province, on suspicion of genocide and terrorism. A statement from the Serbian Justice Ministry said that Vladimir Vukcevic had taken over cases against Hashim Thaqi, Agim Ceku and the Haradinaj brothers, Ramush and Daut. All four are former senior members of the Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA. Thaqi now heads the province’s second largest political party, the Democratic Party of Kosovo, Ramush Haradinaj is leader of the third largest, the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, and Agim Ceku commands the Kosovo Protection Corps, a civil protection unit set up by the United Nations mission from the ranks of the disbanded KLA. The statement said that Thaqi and Ceku are suspected of committing genocide, while the Haradinaj brothers are under investigation for terrorism. Vladimir Vukcevic became Serbia’s first ever war crimes prosecutor under legislation adopted in July this year. The justice ministry noted today that he is authorised to prosecute anyone suspected of war crimes, crimes against humanity and violations of international law committed in the former Yugoslavia, regardless of nationality or citizenship. Agim Ceku was arrested in Slovenia last month on a warrant issued by the current authorities in Belgrade. He was swiftly released on the intervention of the UN governor in Kosovo, Harri Holkeri. The ministry statement said that Justice Minister Vladan Batic had asked Holkeri to take possession of a number of documents containing evidence of crimes committed by the KLA against Serbs so that they can eventually be prosecuted by the UN judiciary in the province.
AP 12 Nov 2003 Serbia Vote Front-Runner Vows Cooperation By DUSAN STOJANOVIC BELGRADE, Serbia-Montenegro -- The front-runner in this week's Serbian presidential elections pledged Wednesday to cooperate with the U.N. war crimes tribunal and put an end to the ghosts of the Slobodan Milosevic era. "If I become the president, I would absolutely remove the remnants of Milosevic's regime," former dissident Dragoljub Micunovic told The Associated Press in an interview at his campaign headquarters. Micunovic held his final election rally in Belgrade Wednesday. Serbia has been without a president since Milan Milutinovic, a Milosevic ally, stepped down in January and surrendered to the U.N. tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands. Several other Milosevic proteges, however, remain influential in Serbia. Milosevic is being tried by the tribunal for his alleged complicity in atrocities committed in the Balkan wars over the last decade as president of Serbia and later Yugoslavia, Serbia-Montenegro's predecessor. Micunovic, 73, is a veteran politician who has often served as mediator between feuding factions within the Serbian reformist bloc that ousted Milosevic. His main rival at the polls Sunday is Tomislav Nikolic, an ultranationalist ally of Milosevic. "I believe I can win," Micunovic said. "Serbia has a clear choice: democracy and reforms, or the restoration of the old regime." Pre-election polls had Micunovic as a clear favorite Sunday with 56 percent of those surveyed supporting him and 28 percent backing Nikolic. Candidates from three minor parties are also running. Micunovic said he would urge cooperation with The Hague tribunal, which is seeking more than two dozen Serb war crimes suspects still at large. Among those suspected of hiding out in Serbia is Gen. Ratko Mladic, who served Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb leader indicted in 1995 for genocide in neighboring Bosnia and who is still believed to be in hiding there. "Every crime has to be punished," Micunovic said. "That's the only way to reconcile these regions." The government has been faced with dwindling support since ousting Milosevic in 2000. It also has been been under pressure from nationalists and Milosevic supporters to move up elections from the end of 2004. At Wednesday's rally, sources in Serbia's Cabinet told the AP that the government planned to announce early parliamentary elections for December or January. Two presidential elections in Serbia, the pivotal republic in Serbia-Montenegro, failed last fall because turnout was below the 50 percent minimum required by law. Polls indicate Sunday's election could again founder because of boycott calls by the opposition and widespread voter apathy. Political instability, slow reforms and reports of corruption among top government officials three years after the ouster of Milosevic have soured voter sentiment. The assassination of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic early this year, apparently by underworld figures opposed to a crackdown on crime, has further shaken confidence in democracy. The Strategic Marketing polling agency said that turnout could be as low as 45 percent. But it also said that about 23 percent of the electorate has not decided whether to vote. The margin of error was about 3 percent. Micunovic said he was optimistic. "This time, people want to elect their president to stop the paralysis of the government and the parliament," he said. "It is a crucial time for Serbia."
www.slovakspectator.sk 10 Nov 2003 "Slovakia's English language newspaper" Cabinet considers affair completed, human rights activists continue to question investigation Sterilizations unresolved By Martina Pisárová Spectator staff THE AUTHORS of a controversial report on the illegal sterilization of Roma women in eastern Slovakia said that the matter was far from being closed after the cabinet's investigations into the allegations found that no genocide had taken place in Slovakia. The Slovak cabinet recently discussed a report submitted by Deputy PM for Human Rights Pál Csáky that stated that illegal sterilization of Roma women had not taken place. However, summarising an investigation that lasted months, the report stated, "all administrative procedures were not always adhered to" during individual sterilizations. It therefore recommended that Slovak legislation on sterilizations be changed so that no doubts could arise in the future over the lack of the informed consent of women to their sterilization. In January this year, the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), a non-profit organization that promotes and defends the reproductive rights of women worldwide, and the Slovak Centre for Civil and Human Rights (POLP) non-profit advocacy group, released a report called Body and Soul that documented 110 cases of Roma women who were sterilized against their will in public hospitals in eastern Slovakia It also exposed other violations of Roma women's rights, such as verbal and physical abuse, segregation in maternity wards , misinformation in health matters, denial of patient access to medical records, and other racially discriminatory standards of care. Many cases documented in the report stated that women were never explained the consequences of sterilization and that some of them were made to sign documents that enabled the operation only minutes before the sterilization was carried out, and while some of them were already under anaesthetics. The allegations caused a massive stir in Slovakia and abroad. EU officials, human rights organizations, and members of the US congress expressed concern over the allegations. The Slovak cabinet launched a large-scale investigation into the matter through the Health Ministry. Police undertook a separate investigation under the suspicion of genocide by unknown perpetrators. In late October, Csáky's report stated that the allegations were not confirmed. "[The] Slovak cabinet considers this issue and this case a closed matter," Csáky said on October 29. As part of the report, a cabinet statement was approved condemning all forms of intolerance and racial hatred. But the authors disagree with the cabinet's conclusions. "It was positive to see that the cabinet launched the investigation, but the way the investigation was carried out raised doubts about the cabinet's willingness to reimburse the victims and punish the actors [of coerced sterilization]," Barbara Bukovská from POLP said to The Slovak Spectator. According to POLP and CRR, investigators intimidated Roma women throughout the investigation. EU officials were not completely convinced by the cabinet's findings. Alvaro Gil-Robles, the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights, suggested, in a statement issued on October 29, that the Slovak cabinet should accept "objective responsibility in the matter for failing to put in place adequate legislation and for failing to exercise appropriate supervision of sterilization practices, although allegations of improper sterilizations have been made throughout the 1990s and early 2000s". Csáky disagreed with the comments. In a November 4 interview with The Slovak Spectator he said, "in no case can we agree with such a statement". "Illegal sterilizations did not take place in Slovakia and so there is no failure to admit or take responsibility for something that did not take place. There really is not a reason to doubt the results of the investigation," Csáky said. Gil-Robles' report stated that "in view of the difficulties encountered during the investigations, and limitations surrounding them ... it is unlikely that they will shed full light on the sterilization practices". It also said that "it can reasonably be assumed that sterilizations have taken place, particularly in eastern Slovakia, without informed consent," although the commissioner said that it was never confirmed that an active or organized government policy of improper sterilizations has existed. EU ambassador to Slovakia Eric van der Linden told The Slovak Spectator on November 3 that his delegation in Bratislava had not yet received a copy of the cabinet's final report and he therefore could not comment on it. "I do not doubt that the cabinet has made an in-depth examination, but I am convinced that here and there such a case has happened. But I must underline that I am also convinced that it has not been the government's policy but the acts of individuals," Ambassador van der Linden said. Bukovská said that the victims would continue to seek legal redress in their individual cases. "The matter is certainly not closed. Some of the women are filing complaints against the investigation and they are determined to go to the Constitutional Court with their complaints, as well as to the European Court [of human rights] in Strasbourg," Bukovská said. The Slovak Constitutional Court is the highest court institution in the country that resolves legal disputes and also rules in cases where parties complain that their constitutional rights to a fair and objective trial were violated. Apart from introducing new legislation that would make sure no future sterilizations are carried out without a patient's informed consent, Gil-Robles said, the Slovak cabinet "ought, consequently, to undertake to offer a speedy, fair, efficient, and just redress". "The redress should include compensation and an apology," he stressed. Csáky responded, "if we are to take the word redress then it would only be in the sense of approving new legislation dealing with the terms under which sterilizations are carried out". "The terms will be much stricter as opposed to the current situation. That, however, does not mean that in Slovakia a process of illegal sterilizations took place, but rather that we will adjust our legislation in this area to a more modern system of perception of this issue," Csáky said.
BBC 13 Nov 2003 Hunt under way for Turkey bombers The blast left a crater outside the Neve Shalom synagogue Turkish and Israel officials have launched an investigation into who was behind twin bomb attacks on synagogues in Istanbul, which killed at least 20 people and injured 250 others. Turkish police are reported as saying the attacks were carried out by suicide bombers who blew themselves up in cars. The Turkish Government says it believes the bombers had international links. Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom flew to Istanbul on Sunday morning and visited the scenes of the attacks. Joint probe Israeli security agents and Turkish police picked through debris outside the Neve Shalom and Beth Israel synagogues in a search for clues. The bombs, which went off minutes apart on Saturday morning, badly damaged both buildings and scattered wreckage over a wide area. The BBC's Richard Galpin in Istanbul says police sources have been quoted as saying the attacks were carried out by suicide bombers. If confirmed, he says, this would strengthen the theory that an international group may have been involved. Turkish officials are treating with scepticism a claim by a Turkish Islamist group, the Great Eastern Islamic Raiders' Front, that it carried out the attack. The Associated Press news agency quoted an unnamed Israeli Government official as saying the bombs were probably "the making of al-Qaeda or Hezbollah", the Lebanese militant group backed by Syria and Iran. Although some officials are blaming suicide bombers for the attacks, footage from a security camera outside Neve Shalom synagogue reportedly shows a person park a car and leave shortly before the vehicle blows up. Victims mourned The Israeli foreign minister visit the bombed synagogues in the districts of Beyoglu and Sisli, accompanied by the mayor of Istanbul and the city's chief rabbi. TURKISH JEWISH COMMUNITY About 20,000 Jews, mainly in Istanbul Influx after expulsion from Spain in 1492 17 synagogues in Istanbul In pictures: car bombings Turkey attacks: your reaction Mr Shalom laid wreaths at the sites as Turks threw down white carnations in a sign of condolence. Most of those killed in the attacks were Muslim Turks, who lived, worked or were passing by the synagogues when the explosions occurred. Six Jews were also among the dead and accounted for about half of those injured. The Italian embassy said an Italian citizen, 57-year-old Romano Jona, was killed in one of the blasts, AP reported. Turkish and world leaders have condemned the attacks, which happened as the synagogues were holding Sabbath morning prayer services. Turkish Prime Minister Recip Erdogan, who cut short a visit to Turkish northern Cyprus, said: "This is a bomb aimed at stability and peace in the Turkish republic. We're definitely condemning this, no matter which group planned it." US President George W Bush denounced the attacks "in the strongest possible terms" and telephoned Mr Erdogan to express his condolences.
BBC 13 Nov 2003 Tense times for Turkey's Jews By Stephen Cviic BBC News Turkey's small Jewish community has generally co-existed peacefully with the Muslim majority. The country has a Jewish population of about 20,000 - a small community which, as elsewhere in the Muslim Middle East, has shrunk steadily since the state of Israel was created in the late 1940s. Turkey's Jews are not immune from rising tension in the Middle East Turkey's Jews have not been immune from sectarian or political violence. In 1986, the Neve Shalom synagogue in Istanbul was attacked by gunmen believed to be Palestinians, who killed 22 worshippers during a Sabbath service. Six years later, the synagogue was hit again, this time by a bomb planted by the Shia Hezbollah movement. On that occasion, no-one was hurt. Israel links In general, however, the country's Jews have co-existed more peacefully with the Muslim majority than is the case elsewhere in the Middle East - and there are few, if any, reports of persecution. This is helped by the fact that Turkey's Islamists tend to be relatively moderate. In recent years, the government in Ankara has had good relations with Israel. However, Turkey's geographical location means that it cannot be totally immune from the rising tension in the region. It does have a violent Islamist guerrilla group called the Great Eastern Islamic Raiders' Front, which says it carried out the latest bombing. And there is, of course, also the possibility that foreign militants are operating in the country..