Friday, October 05, 2007

Genocide Studies Media File
September 17 - October 5, 2007

A compendium of news stories, features, and human rights reports pertaining to genocide and crimes against humanity. Compiled by Adam Jones. Please send links and feedback to

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"Argentine Church Faces 'Dirty War' Past"
By Alexei Barrionuevo
The New York Times, 17 September 2007 [Registration Required]
"A simple wooden cross hanging from his neck, the Rev. Rubén Capitanio sat before a microphone on Monday and did what few Argentine priests before him had dared to do: condemn the Roman Catholic Church for its complicity in the atrocities committed during Argentina's 'dirty war.' ... Father Capitanio's mea culpa came nearly a quarter century after the junta was toppled in 1983 and democracy was restored. But in some ways, it occurred at just the right time. Through the trial of Father von Wernich, Argentina is finally confronting the church's dark past during the dirty war, when it sometimes gave its support to the military as it went after leftist opponents. That past stands in stark contrast to the role the church played during the dictatorships in Chile and Brazil, where priests and bishops publicly condemned the governments and worked to save those being persecuted from torture and death. Officially, the church has maintained its silence throughout the trial, even knowing weeks in advance that Father Capitanio had been compelled by the tribunal to testify. The priest said in an interview that he was not ordered by the church to testify and was not speaking on its behalf. ... Some three months of often chilling testimony in the trial illustrated how closely some Argentine priests worked with military leaders during the dirty war. Witnesses spoke about how Father von Wernich was present at torture sessions in clandestine detention centers. They said he extracted confessions to help the military root out perceived enemies, while at the same time offering comforting words and hope to family members searching for loved ones who had been kidnapped by the government. [...]"
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Students Mingle -- Sort of -- in Postwar Bosnia's Only Integrated School"
By Sara Terry
The Christian Science Monitor, 27 September 2007
"In the hallways between classes, it seems like any other high school. The students jostle. They joke. There's some flirting, some girls huddled in a small group, some boys goofing off. In one form or another, they boast the uniform of every teen: cargo pants, sloppy sweat shirts, backpacks emblazoned with the names of hip-hop and rap stars. But take a closer look and you'll soon find that this isn't just another high school. In a rare social experiment in ethnically divided postwar Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Mostar Gymnasium is a Bosnian success story: Since 2004, students from the Bosniak (Muslim) and Croat (Catholic) sides of town have gone to school under the same roof, the only education institution in postwar Bosnia to have accomplished a mixed student body. But there is a hitch -- the students are taught in separate classes, divided by nationality. In other parts of the world, such a 'success' story might raise eyebrows. But in Bosnia, where much of the country remains divided along nationalist lines, the Mostar Gymnasium is one of the most visible signs of progress. 'The war brought changes, it changed the mentality of the people,' says Ankica Covic, the school's Bosnian Croat director. 'It's been very hard. We say it's a great step forward that we're all in the same school.' Just getting the students under the same roof took years. Prior to the 1992-95 war, the school boasted a multinational population of Bosnian Serbs (Orthodox), Croats, and Bosniaks. Built in 1898, during the rule of the Hapsburg Empire, the gymnasium, or high school, was one of the most important education facilities in the former Yugoslavia, with 2,000 students. But when war broke out, the Mostar Gymnasium found itself literally on the front line of some of the fiercest fighting between Bosniak and Croat forces. [...]"
[n.b. Readers interested in seeing my photo galleries from Mostar this summer, including the frontline zone which the school occupies (and other Bosnian destinations), can visit the galleries on my personal website.)


"Flaws in Genocide Tribunal"
SA dispatch in (South Africa), 2 October 2007
"An audit of Cambodia's genocide tribunal has highlighted serious hiring flaws and suggests that the UN's development agency UNDP, which oversees millions in donor funding, should quit the court. The audit was commissioned by the UNDP last year following allegations that some Cambodian staff had paid for their positions on the UN-backed court, which was established to try former leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime. But it was only made public late on Monday amid growing pressure for its release. The audit details a tangled bureaucracy inside the Cambodian side of the joint-court, rife with unqualified staff, bloated salaries and the creation of dozens of unnecessary jobs costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. 'If the Cambodian side does not agree to the essential measures that are, from UNDP perspective, necessary to ensure the integrity and success of the project, then serious considerations should be given to withdrawing from participation in the project altogether,' the audit said. It goes on to recommend that all Cambodian contracts be nullified, and new employees hired under closer UNDP supervision. The UNDP says the audit is a private document and would not comment, but tribunal staff maintain that they have nothing to hide and have responded to most of the findings. One official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the court, which posted the audit on its website, had always wanted the findings to be made public. But the official also dismissed the audit's recommendation that the UNDP withdraw from the court. 'Imagine if they were to leave this late in the game, 18 months on. It would be disastrous,' the official said. [...]"

"Khmer Rouge 'Brother No. 2' Charged with War Crimes"
By Ek Madra
Reuters dispatch, 19 September 2007
"Khmer Rouge 'Brother Number Two' Nuon Chea, Pol Pot's top surviving henchman, was charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity on Wednesday by the U.N.-backed 'Killing Fields' tribunal. A court spokesman said the octogenarian communist guerrilla had been placed behind bars in the compound of the $56 million court after a short hearing before Cambodian and international judges. Nuon Chea, who has been living as a free man since cutting a deal with Phnom Penh in 1998, was arrested at dawn by Cambodian special forces soldiers and Western security guards who surrounded his small wooden home in a forest on the Thai border. He was questioned inside the house for a short time before being taken away by military helicopter and flown to Phnom Penh. ... Papers and photographs were also seized from the house, Nuon Chea's home since he and the final remnants of Pol Pot's ultra-Maoist guerrilla army surrendered in December 1998. ... On his arrival in the capital, he was whisked to the tribunal compound on the western outskirts for the closed-door hearing. Nuon Chea is the surviving Khmer Rouge commander thought to be most responsible for the atrocities of the 'Killing Fields,' in which an estimated 1.7 million people died. In July, the long-awaited tribunal charged chief Khmer Rouge inquisitor Duch with crimes against humanity, the first formal indictment of any of the top cadres of the 1975 'Year Zero' revolution. [...]"


"Fujimori to Be Extradited to Peru to Face Charges"
By Monica Vargas and Erik Lopez
Reuters dispatch, 21 September 2007
"Former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori lost his fight on Friday to avoid extradition from Chile and was to be taken to Lima to face charges of human rights abuse and corruption dating from his 1990-2000 rule. In a surprise decision that contradicted an earlier ruling by one of its own judges and which cannot be appealed, Chile's Supreme Court said it accepted most of the arguments made by Peruvian prosecutors who want to put Fujimori on trial. The court was unanimous in accepting evidence from two notorious massacres -- known as Barrios Altos and La Cantuta -- in the early 1990s, when Peru was at war with the feared Maoist rebel group the Shining Path. Students, a professor and a child were among the two dozen killed in the massacres, which Peruvian state prosecutors blame on death squads run by Fujimori's government. '(The vote) was much easier than we thought and the important thing above all was Barrios Altos and La Cantuta,' said Alberto Chaigneau, one of five judges who heard the case. 'The voting was unanimous,' he told Chilean, Peruvian and Japanese reporters outside the court. Fujimori, 69, remained under arrest in a rented house just outside Santiago. [...]"


"Maintained in China -- Burma's Foul Regime Depends on Beijing"
By Christopher Hitchens, 1 October 2007
"[...] I thought President Bush was quite correct in listing his least favorite regimes during his address to the United Nations last week and in trying to ramp up the international pressure on the goons in Rangoon. The governments that he singled out were the uniquely repellent ones that consider the citizen to be the property of the state and the uniquely boring ones that have remained in power until their citizens are positively screaming for release. I do not need to specify these senescent gangster systems individually, except that they all have one thing in common. They are all defended, from Cuba to Zimbabwe, by the Chinese vote at the United Nations. Those who care or purport to care about human rights must start to discuss this problem in plain words. Is there an initiative to save the un-massacred remains of the people of Darfur? It will be met by a Chinese veto. Does anyone care about Robert Mugabe treating his desperate population as if it belonged to him personally? China is always ready to help him out. Are the North Koreans starved and isolated so that a demented playboy can posture with nuclear weapons? Beijing will give the demented playboy a guarantee. How long can Southeast Asia bear the shame and misery of the Burmese junta? As long as the embrace of China persists. The identity of Tibet is being obliterated by the deliberate importation of Chinese settlers. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a man who claims even to know and determine the sex lives of his serfs (by the way, the very essence of totalitarianism), is armed and financed by China. ... If Beijing had had its way, Saddam Hussein would still be in power. Iran is being supplied with Chinese Silkworm missiles. Most horribly of all, China buys most of the oil of Sudan and in return provides the weaponry -- and the diplomatic cover at the United Nations -- for the cleansing of Darfur. ('Blood for oil' would be a good description of this bargain, though I have not seen the expression employed very often.) [...]"


"Ex-Serb Colonel Gets 20 Years for Vukovar War Crimes"
By David Batty
The Guardian, 27 September 2007
"The UN war crimes tribunal today jailed a former Yugoslav army colonel for 20 years for his involvement in the massacre of hundreds of people in the Croatian town of Vukovar in 1991. Mile Mrksic, a former colonel in the Serb army, was found guilty of aiding and abetting the torture and murder of 194 people sheltering in a hospital in Vukovar, a town which became synonymous with one of the most notorious cases of mass murder in the 1991-95 wars across the former Yugoslavia. A second officer, Veselin Sljivancanin was jailed for five years for torture but cleared of the most serious charges against him. A third officer, Miroslav Radic, was cleared of all charges. The verdicts generated indignation in Croatia, which had hoped for far more severe sentences. State-run radio called the outcome 'shocking,' while the prime minister, Ivo Sanader, said the verdicts were 'shameful.' 'The whole world witnessed the suffering of civilians in Vukovar. The victims did not deserve such verdicts,' Mr. Sanader said. Prosecutors at the Hague tribunal had sought to prove the trio were responsible for the killing of at least 264 people who had fled to Vukovar's hospital expecting to be evacuated by international observers when the town fell to Yugoslav forces after a siege. Several hundred were taken from the hospital by Serb-dominated army units and militias and taken to a farm where they were beaten and shot dead. Prosecutors had sought to prove that those killed were largely civilians, but the court ruled they had been initially selected as suspected Croatian fighters. Accordingly, all charges of crimes against humanity against the three men -- known as the 'Vukovar Three' -- were dismissed, including the charge of extermination. [...]"


"Getting to the Very Roots of Genocide"
By Graeme Wood
The New York Sun, 3 October 2007
"How much murder is too much? Ethnic cleansing is a crime, but what qualifies? Does slaughtering a village count, or do you have to lay waste to a larger polity, perhaps with some torture thrown in? How many people do you have to kill before graduating from mere mass murder to full-on genocide? The legal answer, strangely enough, is zero. In Ben Kiernan's 'Blood and Soil' (Yale University Press, 606 pages, $40), a meticulous new study of this most slippery of criminal categories, he points out that the standard definitions of genocide -- those offered by the U.N.'s Genocide Convention and International Criminal Court Statute -- require not even a single death, or indeed any physical harm at all. In fact, the génocidaire need not even target a whole ethnic group. To win a place in the defendant's chair -- or a mention in Mr. Kiernan's book -- requires only the attempt to cause that group 'serious mental damage.' The extermination of European Jewry counts, but so does a single British colonial officer's efforts to take away an Australian aboriginal child from her parents, involving, as it did, the intent to 'breed out the color.' ... This 600-page volume plumbs the mens rea of the ethnic cleanser, from the Punic Wars to Darfur. The exhibits range from the well-known (Tutsis in Rwanda, Jews in World War II) to the more obscure (the brutality against the Herero by colonists in 1904 German Southwest Africa) to the forgotten (the Chams whose 15th-century empire was annihilated by the Vietnamese). The chapters on the least known of the genocides offer particular value as introductions to overlooked regional histories, and the material on the Nazis and Ottoman Turks nicely situate both those groups within larger contexts of ethnic violence. Each case is written sharply enough to escape the aroma of potted history that sometimes afflicts comparative studies of this type or political accounts, such as Samantha Power's 'A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide.' [...]"


"Iran Accuses Israel of Palestinian 'Genocide'"
By Reza Derakhshi
Reuters dispatch on Yahoo! News, 5 October 2007
"Iran's president accused Israel on Friday of using the Holocaust as a pretext for 'genocide' against Palestinians. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who outraged the West in 2005 by calling Israel a 'tumor' to be wiped off the map, said the truth should be told about World War Two and the Holocaust. Six million Jews were killed in the Nazi genocide. 'Iran condemns fabricating such a pretext (the Holocaust) for the Zionist regime to commit genocide against the Palestinian nation and occupy Palestine,' Ahmadinejad said in a live broadcast to mark the annual Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day in the Islamic Republic. 'The Iranian nation and countries in the region will not rest until Palestine is free and criminals punished,' he said in the speech before Friday prayers. Ahmadinejad has questioned the Holocaust but denied during a visit last month to the United States he was saying it never happened, only that the Palestinian issue was entirely separate. Opposition to Israel is one of the cornerstones of belief of Shi'ite Iran, which backs Palestinian and Lebanese Islamic militant groups opposed to peace with the Jewish state. Ahmadinejad repeated calls for Canada to accept Jews. 'Europeans cannot tolerate the Zionist regime's presence in their own region but want to impose it on the Middle East. Give them (the Jews) this vast land of Canada and Alaska to build themselves a home and resettle there,' he said. [...]"
[n.b. All I can say is that it's appropriate that this guy is on Yahoo! News, for a yahoo he surely is.]


"How Many Civilians Have Died?"
By Haroon Siddiqui
The Star (Toronto), 20 September 2007
"How many civilians have been killed, maimed and displaced in Iraq and Afghanistan? I spoke to four leading experts on this grim topic, which governments avoid and the media don't seem to care much about. Gen. Tommy Franks, who oversaw the U.S. invasions of both Afghanistan and Iraq, famously said: 'We don't do body counts.' His words now headline the website of Iraq Body Count, the U.K.-based non-profit group that does count the Iraqi dead. Others do as well, albeit periodically. The latest is a British polling firm that puts the Iraqi dead at 1.22 million. That's roughly five times the number killed in the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. Opinion Research Business conducted face-to-face interviews last month with a representative sample of 1,461 Iraqis. Nearly one in two said their households had suffered at least one death by violence. Many reported multiple deaths. Projecting the findings on to Iraq's 4 million households, ORB estimated the death toll at more than a million. The methodology is not universally accepted, though variations of it have been used to measure mortality figures in the conflicts in Congo, Kosovo, Sudan, etc. Questions were also raised last year about a study by Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, done in partnership with Al Mustansiriya University in Baghdad. Surveyors knocked on 1,849 doors asking if the household had suffered a death by violence. Projecting the responses nationally, the study put the toll at 654,965. About a third of the deaths were attributed to coalition forces. Responsibility for 45 per cent of the deaths couldn't be determined. The Iraq Body Count count, updated daily, stood yesterday at 'between 72,596 and 79,187.' ... The estimate is 'irrefutable,' says John Sloboda, professor of psychology at Keele University, and a co-founder of IBC. 'Nobody can say that fewer people have died. There are many deaths that go unrecorded -- kidnappings, assassinations, disappearances, etc. The death toll could be twice our number, but it could not possibly be 10 times higher,' he told me, referring to the other studies. [...]"

"Iraq Death Toll Rivals Rwanda Genocide, Cambodian Killing Fields"
By Joshua Holland, 17 September 2007
"According to a new study, 1.2 million Iraqis have met violent deaths since the 2003 invasion, the highest estimate of war-related fatalities yet. The study was done by the British polling firm ORB, which conducted face-to-face interviews with a sample of over 1,700 Iraqi adults in 15 of Iraq's 18 provinces. Two provinces -- al-Anbar and Karbala -- were too dangerous to canvas, and officials in a third, Irbil, didn't give the researchers a permit to do their work. The study's margin of error was plus-minus 2.4 percent. Field workers asked residents how many members of their own household had been killed since the invasion. More than one in five respondents said that at least one person in their home had been murdered since March of 2003. One in three Iraqis also said that at least some neighbors 'actually living on [their] street' had fled the carnage, with around half of those having left the country. In Baghdad, almost half of those interviewed reported at least one violent death in their household. Before the study's release, the highest estimate of Iraqi deaths had been around 650,000 in the landmark Johns Hopkins study published in the Lancet, a highly respected and peer-reviewed British medical journal. Unlike that study, which measured the difference in deaths from all causes during the first three years of the occupation with the mortality rate that existed prior to the invasion, the ORB poll looked only at deaths due to violence. The poll's findings are in line with the rolling estimate maintained on the Just Foreign Policy website, based on the Johns Hopkins data, that stands at just over 1 million Iraqis killed as of this writing. These numbers suggest that the invasion and occupation of Iraq rivals the great crimes of the last century -- the human toll exceeds the 800,000 to 900,000 believed killed in the Rwandan genocide in 1994, and is approaching the number (1.7 million) who died in Cambodia's infamous 'Killing Fields' during the Khmer Rouge era of the 1970s. [...]"

"Archivists Chronicle Iraqis' Pain"
By Alexandra Zavis
The Los Angeles Times, 17 September 2007 [Registration Required]
"Staring directly at the camera, Zahra Badri begins: 'I have not had one good day in my life.' Saddam Hussein's regime imprisoned and killed 23 of the Shiite woman's relatives, including her husband, her son and her pregnant daughter. To save two other sons, she kept them hidden inside her home for more than 20 years. As Iraq is swept up in new bloodshed, a small team of archivists and videographers has begun the painstaking work of collecting, classifying and preserving evidence of such atrocities. Some of it is newly recorded, a cataloging of terrible memories, but much of it was documented in obsessive and chilling detail by Hussein's vast bureaucracy. Each one of the more than 11 million yellowing pages and more than 600 hours of footage amassed by the Iraq Memory Foundation is witness to a family's pain, says its founder, Kanan Makiya, a longtime Iraqi exile in the United States and author of 'Republic of Fear,' the book that brought Hussein's savagery to international attention in 1989. Many of those interviewed donate photographs and other personal mementos -- Badri gave the foundation her daughter's wedding dress. Inspired by South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Makiya had hoped the material would be used to help Iraqis face their past, heal their wounds and make a fresh start after U.S.-led forces toppled Hussein in 2003. Instead, he watched as the country slid into a nightmarish cycle of revenge, and as the memories that were supposed to help reconcile a tortured people became the subject of bitter dispute. [...]"


"100,000 Flee Violence in Kenya as Tribal Conflict over Land Worsens"
By Steve Bloomfield
The Independent, 21 September 2007
"The scenic slopes of Mount Elgon belie Kenya's hidden crisis. Aid agencies believe more than 100,000 people have been displaced -- the vast majority of the population of the mountain's Chepyuk area -- by a slow-burning conflict that has intensified in recent weeks. They are Kenya's ghost villages, where only the most vulnerable remain. Many huts have been burnt to the ground and others abandoned in haste with cooking pots still lying on long-cold embers. Near by, fields full of maize lie untended, the much-needed harvest left to rot. At least 250 people have been killed, countless women have been raped and dozens of civilians have been disfigured. In one incident 13 people had their ears chopped off. Remi Carrier, the head of mission for Médecins Sans Frontières, the only international aid agency currently working in the area, said the situation had deteriorated 'below human dignity.' He said: 'People are suffering and their human needs are not being met.' The clashes were sparked by a controversial resettlement scheme in August 2006 when 3,000 families were granted land in the Chepyuk area of the Mount Elgon region. It caused the displacement of thousands of families who had been squatting in the area. Many of those displaced were from the Soy tribe, a farming clan, while most of the beneficiaries were Ndorobo, a traditional pastoralist clan. ... After months of conflict the government sent a special police unit to Mount Elgon at the beginning of the year. But rather than quell the violence, people say it has increased. Civilians now find themselves caught between two armed groups -- the SLDF and the police. Criminals are also trying to profit from the chaos. [...]"


"In the Shadow of Horror, SS Guardians Frolic"
By Neil A. Lewis
The New York Times, 19 September 2007 [Registration Required]
"Last December, Rebecca Erbelding, a young archivist at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, opened a letter from a former United States Army intelligence officer who said he wanted to donate photographs of Auschwitz he had found more than 60 years ago in Germany. Ms. Erbelding was intrigued: Although Auschwitz may be the most notorious of the Nazi death camps, there are only a small number of known photos of the place before its liberation in 1945. Some time the next month, the museum received a package containing 16 cardboard pages, with photos pasted on both sides, and their significance quickly became apparent. As Ms. Erbelding and other archivists reviewed the album, they realized they had a scrapbook of sorts of the lives of Auschwitz's senior SS officers that was maintained by Karl Höcker, the adjutant to the camp commandant. Rather than showing the men performing their death camp duties, the photos depicted, among other things, a horde of SS men singing cheerily to the accompaniment of an accordionist, Höcker lighting the camp's Christmas tree, a cadre of young SS women frolicking and officers relaxing, some with tunics shed, for a smoking break. ... The photos provide a stunning counterpoint to what up until now has been the only major source of preliberation Auschwitz photos, the so-called Auschwitz Album, a compilation of pictures taken by SS photographers in the spring of 1944 and discovered by a survivor in another camp. Those photos depict the arrival at the camp of a transport of Hungarian Jews, who at the time made up the last remaining sizable Jewish community in Europe. The Auschwitz Album, owned by Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust museum, depicts the railside selection process at Birkenau, the area where trains arrived at the camp, as SS men herded new prisoners into lines. [...]"


"Wave of Killings Fuels Fear of a Second Chechnya"
By Tom Parfitt
The Observer, 30 September 2007
"The Kremlin may have largely pacified its rebel Chechnya region through a local hardman, the 30-year-old tiger-owning Ramzan Kadyrov, but neighbouring Ingushetia is on the brink of a crisis. While Chechnya -- first a cauldron of separatist sentiment in the Nineties and then a new outpost in the global jihad -- boasts safe streets and new apartment blocks, in recent weeks Ingushetia has suffered a wave of brutal executions of people of non-Ingush nationalities. A poor and rural republic about the size of Suffolk, Ingushetia is now the epicentre of terrorism in Russia. And some analysts are warning of a 'second Chechnya' in the making. The killing began last July when an ethnic Russian schoolteacher and her two children were shot dead in their beds by an intruder. At their funeral a few days later a bomb exploded, injuring several people. Unidentified assailants then murdered Vera Draganchuk's family on 1 September. Soon after, armed men assassinated a Russian doctor outside her apartment block. A gypsy man and his two sons were the next to be shot dead at home. There are few signs that the killing will stop and no one can be quite sure who is carrying out the murders. ... The fear and uncertainty created by killing innocent civilians may be just another weapon in the armoury of the boyeviki, or rebel fighters, who aim to carve out an Islamic power base in the North Caucasus. Yet many believe that darker forces are at work. The respected Caucasus expert Alexei Malashenko suspects there is a pact between the militants and Zyazikov's political opponents, who may include elements of the security services that resent the President's weakness and want him ousted. [...]"


"Outrage at 'Fake' Circassian Anniversary"
By Marina Marshenkulova and Azamat Bram
Institute for War and Peace Reporting, 5 October 2007
"[...] The decision to celebrate the anniversary -- and by implication go back to the older view of history -- was taken last year, and sanctioned by Russian president Vladimir Putin. It coincided with a campaign by Circassian organisations for the killings and deportations that marked the end of the 19th century war to be recognised as 'genocide.' Circassian groups are also angry that the way the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi are being advertised has written them out of history as the area’s original inhabitants. 'The celebration of the "voluntary accession of Circassia to Russia" is supposed to erase the truth about the genocide of an indigenous people in the Caucasus -- the Circassians -- by the Russian state,' said Murat Berzegov, the leader of Adygeia's Circassian Congress. 'The fact that the authorities have reverted to the myths of Soviet times indicates that they have lost their way and are not prepared to address the issues we have.' He concluded, 'The best foundation for strengthening friendship between nations would be recognition of the Circassian genocide as a historical truth, and rehabilitation for a nation that has suffered so much on its own lands. In May, the Circassian Congress held a rally in Adygeia to mark the day that Circassians commemorate those who died in the Caucasian war, and called for the 'accession' celebrations to refer instead to a 'military and political union' between Russia and the Circassian people. By way of compromise, the local authorities offered to use the word 'union' more frequently than 'voluntary accession.' In Kabardino-Balkaria, things were further complicated by a boycott by the Balkar people, who give the republic the other half of its double-barrelled name. Balkar representatives argued that they joined Russia 180 years ago, and proceeded to hold their own celebrations in May this year. [...]"


"Rwanda: Church Must Confess Genocide Crimes -- Archbishop"
Rwanda News Agency dispatch on, 1 October 2007
"Despite Rwanda being 90 percent Christian the 1994 Genocide occurred amidst a failure of the Church to prevent it, the Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Rwanda Emmanuel Kolini has said. 'How could this Genocide have happened?' he asked at an international clergy conference in Kigali this week. 'It is easy to be religious, but very difficult to be the people of God. What went wrong was a problem of the soul. The Lord is calling us to be a blessing.' Clergy representing 17 provinces have in Kigali for the triennial meeting that will be concluded in Burundi on October 3. The meeting is seeking to explore the role of violence in societies throughout the world. Archbishop Kolini told the Anglican Peace and Justice Network (APJN) delegates on Friday that Rwanda has embarked on a process to reconcile its people but that would not come easy. 'For justice to be done in Rwanda, two things are required: repentance and forgiveness,' said Kolini. 'There must be both, but, up to now, there has not been enough repentance. We have a long way to go.' Mr. Kolini said the church, the United Nation, colonial history and Rwandans themselves were to blame for the 100-day mayhem that left over a million lives destroyed. 'The Church must confess its sins first,' he said. 'Hope begins there.' Several clergy are believed to have been part of the killing machine and stand accused of aiding the killers. Some have been indicted by the Tanzania-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, ICTR, other some by the traditional village courts called 'Gacaca.' Some -- especially nuns -- are in national courts in Belgium. More than 50 churches in Rwanda have been turned into museums. [...]"

"Rwanda Joins Push for Moratorium on Executions"
By Lily Hindy
Sapa-AP dispatch in The Mail & Guardian (South Africa), 30 September 2007
"Rwanda joined other countries on Friday in appealing for a global moratorium on executions, saying that if its government could abolish the death penalty while perpetrators of the 1994 genocide still await sentences, no country should use it. Diplomats and human right organisations met at the United Nations to push for a global moratorium on executions with the goal of ending the death penalty altogether. Rwandan Minister for Cooperation Rosemary Museminali said that her country, which passed a Bill outlawing the death penalty earlier this year, should serve as a model for others. 'Those who killed in Rwanda ... some of them are still littered in our neighbourhoods, in our region and in the rest of the world. But we still feel it is our moral obligation to preserve the right of life,' said Museminali. Rwanda got rid of capital punishment earlier this year in part to encourage European and other countries to extradite suspected masterminds of the genocide. [...]"

"Bernard Kouchner Defends French Intervention in Rwanda"
Rwanda News Agency dispatch on, 4 October 2007
"French Foreign Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner maintains that France deserves credit because it was the only country that intervened during the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda as others just looked on, RNA reports. 'We were over there, I was over there, the genocide was committed before our eyes, televised and no one intervened, except France,' Mr. Kouchner said on Tuesday, according to excerpts of an interview with privately-owned radio network 'Europe 1'. The senior French diplomat also refuted any suggestion that his country's military was in any way involved in the massacres in Rwanda. According to numerous accounts from people that faced the carnage, French soldier raped Tutsi girls and often just looked on as militias killed. Testimonies given to the commission that probed the French involvement in Rwanda show that that the soldiers were often working under orders from Paris. The commission report is expected within the coming days. Information available also indicates that France sabotaged the decision making mechanism at the UN Security Council by controlling the follow of information to the council about Rwanda -- as the mass slaughter rolled on. Fingers have been pointed to former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros Ghali and his Cameroonian envoy for Rwanda Dr. Jacques Roger Booh Booh to keep council member in the dark. Numerous experts that testified in the Rwanda commission note that Dr. Boutros Boutros Ghali worked closely with French president François Mitterrand -- who it is said knew everything that was going on the ground. 'I believe there were errors of policy, of political analysis, I've always said that. I've never said, and will never say, that there was any involvement of the French armed forces in any murder whatsoever,' said Kouchner. 'I've never said that and I was there, so I know what I'm talking about.' Mr. Kouchner -- who essentially remains the only senior French official at talking terms with Kigali, said he wants the two countries reconciled to 'put an end to the misunderstandings between the two countries.' [...]"

"Dallaire Blames France at Genocide Trial"
CanWest News Service dispatch in The Province (Vancouver), 4 October 2007
"Retired Canadian general Romeo Dallaire slammed France Wednesday during testimony at a landmark war crimes trial, saying the country helped those responsible for Rwanda's genocide escape to freedom. Dallaire, who was commander of the ill-fated United Nations peacekeeping force in the Central African country in 1994, said he vehemently opposed France's offer to bring a humanitarian force separate from the UN. Now a senator, Dallaire argued that it would have been more helpful if the French reinforced the under-equipped troops already on the ground, but he was overruled by the UN headquarters in New York. Testifying at the trial of Desire Munyaneza, a failed refugee claimant on trial for participating in the genocide, Dallaire said the French 'push-back' force ended up helping the killers escape into neighbouring Congo. An estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered in 100 days by extremist members of the majority Hutu ethnic group."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Serbia to 'Offer Kosovo Autonomy'"
Associated Press dispatch on, 28 September 2007
"Serbia is prepared to offer its secessionist province of Kosovo the 'largest autonomy in the world' in upcoming talks on the future of the independence-seeking region, the nation's president said Thursday. Serbian President Boris Tadic addresses the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Thursday. Serbian President Boris Tadic described as 'unhelpful' statements by President Bush and other members of his administration to the effect that Kosovo will gain independence at the end of the current negotiating process which is set to conclude on December 10. 'This is not very useful,' Tadic said. 'Saying that Kosovo has to become an independent country by the end of negotiations on December 10. These statements are not encouraging Kosovo Albanians to show flexibility in the talks.' Tadic is due to meet in New York on Friday with ethnic Albanian leaders of Kosovo for the first face-to-face talks between the two sides. They will be mediated by negotiators from the United States, Russia, and the European Union. Over the past year, the issue of Kosovo's future status has become one of the main irritants in the increasingly tense relationship between a resurgent Russia and the United States. Washington strongly supports eventual independence for the province, but Moscow backs Belgrade in its insistence that Kosovo must technically remain part of Serbia. ... Tadic warned that independence for Kosovo against Serbia's will could create a precedent which separatists around the world would use to justify their struggle. [...]"


"AU: No Threat of Troop Withdrawal from Darfur"
Reuters dispatch in The Mail & Guardian (South Africa), 2 October 2007
"The African Union denied on Tuesday that troop-contributing nations had threatened to pull their forces from a mission to Darfur after a rebel attack on an AU peacekeeping base. The AU says 10 soldiers were killed and 10 others wounded after the weekend raid -- the worst assault on AU forces since 2004 when the 7 000-strong mission was deployed to western Sudan. AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Said Djinnit said a joint United Nations-AU team would begin an inquiry into the attack, adding that the AU agreed its mandate in Darfur should be reviewed to allow its forces to respond if they are attacked. 'Member states are deeply angered about the killing and wounding of the troops in Darfur. We will not rest until they [the perpetrators] are found out and brought to swift justice,' Djinnit told reporters. 'The ambassadors who represented troop-contributing countries in the council meeting have expressed their commitment and determination to remain in Darfur until peace was restored,' he added. Nigerian Ambassador to the AU and Ethiopia Obioma Opraha said Nigerian soldiers would remain in Darfur. 'Nigeria is not a coward country. We will not runaway when such things happens. Nigeria is determined to remain in Darfur,' he said. 'We are committed to do our best to bring peace to Darfur. [...]"

"U.N. Condemns Deadly Darfur Attack", 1 October 2007
"United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed outrage after rebels killed at least 10 African Union soldiers in an unprecented attack on a peacekeeping base in the troubled Sudanese region of Darfur. An African Union spokesman told CNN the casualties were the heaviest suffered by the peacekeeping force since its deployment in 2004. Some 30 peacekeepers were still missing from Saturday's assault on the Haskanita base and a further 10 wounded, Assana Ba told CNN. Condemning the attack 'in the strongest possible terms,' Ban urged all parties to 'recommit' to a peaceful resolution to the conflict and to prepare for peace talks in Libya in October. The attack coincided with the arrival in Sudan on Sunday of Nobel laureates Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter among a peace delegation seeking to help negotiate a lasting settlement ending the regional conflict. The initiative is the first mission by Nelson Mandela's 'Elders' group since its foundation to mark the former South African president and anti-Apartheid campaigner's 89th birthday in July. Mandela's wife, Graca Machel, and former U.N. envoy to Iraq Lakhdar Brahimi are also among delegates. [...]"

"Another Disaster Brews in Darfur"
By Edmund Sanders
The Los Angeles Times, 1 October 2007 [Registration Required]
"Wells at this giant Darfur refugee camp are drying up. Women wait as long as three days for water, using jerrycans to save their places in perpetual lines that snake around pumps. A year ago, residents could fill a 5-gallon plastic can in a few minutes, but lately the flow is so slow it takes half an hour. 'The water is running out,' said a breathless Mariam Ahmed Mohammed, 35, sweating at the pump with an infant strapped to her back. 'As soon as I fill one jerrycan, I put another at the back of the line.' Water isn't the only endangered resource. Forests were chopped down long ago, and the roots were dug up for firewood. Thousands of displaced families are living atop prime agricultural land, preventing nearby farmers from growing food. As the Darfur conflict approaches its fifth year, the environmental strain of the world's largest displacement crisis is quickly depleting western Sudan's already-scarce natural resources. And experts say that is exacerbating chronic shortages of land and water that contributed to the fighting in the first place. ... In the struggle to bring peace to Darfur, where an estimated 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million more have been displaced, questions about dwindling natural resources have largely been brushed aside as the emergency effort focused on saving lives and feeding the hungry. But with reports bubbling up from Darfur camps about water shortages, over-stressed land and increasing deforestation, aid workers and Sudanese activists say finding long-term solutions to the region's environmental woes is just as crucial as restoring security and reaching a political compromise. 'The clashes could all stop tomorrow and we won't have moved any closer to solving the real problems of Darfur, which I think come down to the environment,' said Cate Steains, acting head of U.N. humanitarian operations in El Fasher, capital of the region's northern province. [...]"

"France Calls for Protection Force in Darfur Neighbours"
Sapa-AFP dispatch in The Mail & Guardian (South Africa), 20 September 2007
"France on Wednesday called for a joint force of United Nations and European Union peacekeepers to protect civilians in parts of Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR) bordering Sudan's war-torn Darfur region. It tabled a resolution at the UN Security Council for a mixed force in eastern Chad and the north-east of the CAR, where the refugee crisis caused by a brutal civil war in Darfur has spilled over. The text approves a year-long 'multidimensional presence intended to help create the security conditions conducive to a voluntary, secure and sustainable return of refugees and displaced persons.' It would consist of 300 UN police officers tasked with training 850 Chadians to police the displacement camps, and an EU military force of up to 4,000 to protect the areas -- a proposal approved in principle by the Europeans in July. This European contingent would also back up the 26 000 troops of the joint peace force agreed by the UN and the African Union and due to be fully deployed in Darfur by mid-2008. The French military would play a major role in the EU force for Chad and the CAR, two of France's former colonies, with the operation headquartered in Paris, according to the text of the resolution. Chad alone harbours 236,000 refugees from Darfur and 173,000 Chadians internally displaced. The CAR has seen an influx of 10,000 refugees and more than 200,000 of its own people displaced in the north and north-east. France's ambassador to the UN, Jean-Maurice Ripert, said he hoped the resolution would be adopted by the end of the month."

"Prosecutor Wants Justice on Darfur Agenda"
By Maggie Farley
The Los Angeles Times, 20 September 2007 [Registration Required]
"The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court challenged world leaders Thursday to put criminal justice on the agenda as they convene at the United Nations to discuss Darfur. Sudan has refused to hand over a government minister and a militia leader accused by the ICC in May of orchestrating mass killings in Darfur. Months later, prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo says he is more frustrated by the refusal of top U.N. officials and others to push for the arrests because they fear it would jeopardize pending peace talks and the deployment of peacekeepers. Foreign ministers from 26 nations and officials from the European Union and Arab League are to meet in New York on Friday to discuss efforts to bring peace to Darfur, where four years of conflict has resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths and has displaced more than 2 million people. The leaders plan to discuss peace talks set for Oct. 27 in Tripoli, Libya, arrangements for the deployment of 26,000 peacekeepers, and efforts to help victims recover their homes and livelihoods. Legal proceedings are not on the agenda. 'When nobody is talking about the criminals and pressing for their arrest, Khartoum interprets that as a lack of resolve,' Moreno-Ocampo said in an interview. 'We must break the silence. Justice in Darfur must be on the agenda, at the top of the agenda,' the prosecutor said. 'There can be no political solution, no security solution, no humanitarian solution as long as alleged war criminals remain free in the Sudan.' [...]"

"Bleak Advice for U.N. Darfur Commander"
By Colum Lynch
The Washington Post, 18 September 2007 [Registration Required]
"Retired Canadian army Lt. Gen. Roméo Dallaire, a former U.N. commander whose warnings of Rwandan genocide in the early 1990s went unheeded by U.N. leaders, advised the newly appointed leader of U.N. forces in Darfur to expect little backing from his political masters as he struggles to halt mass violence. Dallaire, a Canadian senator who led U.N. forces in Rwanda in 1993-94, sent a letter congratulating Nigerian Gen. Martin L. Agwai on his appointment as commander of the joint U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force for Darfur, a region in western Sudan where as many as 450,000 people have died from violence and disease and about 2.5 million have been displaced since an armed secessionist revolt began there in 2003. But he warned Agwai to prepare for the worst. 'You can anticipate being let down by everyone on whom you depend for support, be that troops, funding, logistics or political engagement,' Dallaire wrote. 'Only by shining a spotlight on those failures in every possible way can you mobilise the attention necessary to get the action you need. Bear in mind that whoever fails you will, in the end, be the most active in blaming you for whatever goes wrong.' ... Dallaire told Agwai that his mission would have the "historic opportunity" to bring peace to Darfur but that he would face squabbling rebel groups, unreliable donors and interference by the Khartoum government, whose commitment to peace he called 'deeply uncertain.' 'This is a daunting mandate, and you enter into this mission facing long odds,' Dallaire wrote. [...]"


"US Should Not Talk of Armenian 'Genocide': Bush"
Agence France-Presse dispatch on Yahoo! News, 5 October 2007
"US President George W. Bush Friday opposed moves to legally term the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Armenians during the Ottoman Empire a "genocide," backing Turkey's stand on the issue. 'The president has described the events of 1915 as "one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century," but believes that the determination of whether or not the events constitute a genocide should be a matter for historical inquiry, not legislation,' said White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe. The comments came after Bush talked with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and discussed legislation before the US Congress, which describes the deaths of Armenians from 1915 to 1923 as genocide. 'The president reiterated his opposition to this resolution, the passage of which would be harmful to US relations with Turkey,' Johndore said. Turkey is a key Muslim ally for the United States and a fellow member of NATO. And then Turkish foreign minister Abdullah Gul warned after a visit to Washington in February that passing the draft would 'poison' ties and 'spoil everything' between the two countries. A similar draft to the resolution before Congress was pulled from the House floor in October 2000 following an intervention by then president Bill Clinton. Turkey categorically rejects Armenian claims that 1.5 million of their kinsmen died in systematic deportations and killings during 1915-1918 as the Ottoman Empire was breaking up. Bush commemorates the massacres each year in a speech, but stops short of calling them genocide. The parliaments of many countries have recognised the killings as genocide, and Turkey has responded by temporarily downgrading its political and economic ties with some of them. In rejecting the genocide label, Turkey argues that 250,000 to 500,000 Armenians and at least as many Turks died in civil strife when Armenians took up arms for independence in eastern Anatolia during World War I."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Australia a Top Spot for Vanishing Languages"
By Will Dunham
Reuters dispatch on, 18 September 2007
"Linguists alarmed at the increasing extinction of many indigenous languages identified five global 'hot spots' on Tuesday where the problem is worst, led by northern Australia and a region of South America. The linguists are part of the Enduring Voices project that seeks to document and revitalize languages slipping toward oblivion, often spoken by indigenous peoples like Australia's aborigines whose cultures were trampled by settlers. David Harrison of Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, the project's co-director, said there are 6,992 recognized distinct languages worldwide. He said on average one language vanishes every two weeks, often as its last elderly speakers perish. ... A region of central South America covering Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Brazil and Bolivia was second on the list of "hot spots," with indigenous languages being overcome by Spanish, Portuguese or other indigenous languages. The linguists said Bolivia has twice the language diversity of the nations of Europe combined, but many of the smaller tongues are being smothered by Spanish or other languages. Placing third and fifth on the list were regions of North America where the languages of native peoples are imperiled -- an area including British Columbia in Canada and the U.S. states of Washington and Oregon, and an area covering the U.S. states of Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico. Eastern Siberia, also with endangered native languages, was the No. 4 'hot spot.' ... Over the years, some languages have been deliberately exterminated by colonizers or aggressors taking over territory or waging genocide, the linguists said. Children now often decide a language's fate, Harrison said, by abandoning an ancestral tongue for another language they see as more widely used, for example, on television or in school. [...]"


"As Prices Soar, U.S. Food Aid Buys Less"
By Celia W. Dugger
The New York Times, 29 September 2007 [Registration Required]
"Soaring food prices, driven in part by demand for ethanol made from corn, have helped slash the amount of food aid the government buys to its lowest level in a decade, possibly resulting in more hungry people around the world this year. The United States, the world's dominant donor, has purchased less than half the amount of food aid this year that it did in 2000, according to new data from the Department of Agriculture. 'The people who are starving and have to rely on food aid, they will suffer,' Jean Ziegler, who reports to the United Nations on hunger and food issues, said in an interview this week. Corn prices have fallen in recent months, but are still far higher than they were a year ago. Demand for ethanol has also indirectly driven the rising price of soybeans, as land that had been planted with soybeans shifted to corn. And wheat prices have skyrocketed, in large part because drought hurt production in Australia, a major producer, economists say. The higher food prices have not only reduced the amount of American food aid for the hungry, but are also making it harder for the poorest people to buy food for themselves, economists and advocates for the hungry say. ... Some advocates for the poor say rising food prices could benefit poor farmers in developing countries, providing them with markets and decent prices for their crops. But others warn that the growing use of food crops to make fuel, especially if stoked by large subsidies in rich countries, could substantially increase food prices. That could push hundreds of millions more poor people into hunger, especially landless laborers and subsistence farmers, according to a recent article in Foreign Affairs magazine. The authors were Benjamin Senauer and C. Ford Runge, food policy analysts and professors at the University of Minnesota. [...]"


"Women and Children for Sale"
By Caroline Moorehead
The New York Review of Books, 11 October 2007
"[...] What is clear is that the conditions surrounding trafficked women and children include all the classic elements traditionally associated with slavery: abduction, false promises, transportation to a strange place, loss of freedom, abuse, violence, and deprivation. Those involved are isolated, controlled by various emotional and physical techniques, made dependent on drugs and alcohol, duped and terrorized into submission. Smuggling of migrants, with which trafficking is too often confused, is fundamentally different: smuggled people have consented to travel, and when they reach their destinations they expect to be free; the trafficked, even if they have initially consented, remain victims of continuing exploitation at the hands of their traffickers. Sold on from owner to owner in a long cycle of abuse, women make excellent commodities: the profits are immense, the chances of being caught small, the penalties derisory, and the women can also be forced to pay back the costs incurred in their purchase and transport, their supposed 'debt' a further device to enslave them. ... Globalization and free markets have led to increased movement of capital and labor; but while borders have opened for trade, for investors and visitors from the richer countries, those from the poorer countries may not move so freely. Stringent restrictions and prohibitive immigration laws are effective in keeping out those seeking asylum or economic migration. It is within this subworld of failing economies, poverty, discrimination, corrupt governments, and new technology that trafficking flourishes. Not all of it involves sex: large numbers of people are trafficked each year -- perhaps a third of the total -- to meet demands for cheap, slavelike labor for agriculture, domestic service, and industry; but its most visible and pernicious manifestation is the sex industry. [...]"

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