Friday, March 06, 2009

Genocide Studies Media File
February 23 - March 7, 2009

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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"Karadzic Refuses to Plead to Genocide, War Crimes"
Agence France-Presse dispatch on Yahoo! News Australia, 4 March 2009
"Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic refused to plead to genocide charges Tuesday, rejecting the authority of a UN court and prompting an automatic not guilty plea on his behalf. 'I am not going to enter a plea at all,' Karadzic told presiding judge Iain Bonomy of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), based in The Hague. 'This tribunal does not have the right to try me.' Bonomy replied: 'I shall enter pleas of not guilty on your behalf' to each of the 11 counts. Judges last week approved the prosecution's third, amended indictment against Karadzic, which lists two genocide charges and nine of war crimes and crimes against humanity related to his role in Bosnia's 1992-1995 war. Dubbed the 'Butcher of Bosnia,' Karadzic was arrested on a Belgrade bus posing as a doctor of alternative medicine called Dragan Dabic in July 2008, 13 years after he was first indicted by the ICTY. The main allegations against the 63-year-old relate to the 44-month siege of Sarajevo that left 10,000 people dead, and the July 1995 massacre of around 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica. Among other things, the prosecution has charged Karadzic with having sought to 'permanently remove' Bosnian Muslims and Croats from Serb-claimed territory, and to 'eliminate' Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica. He also stands accused of spreading terror among the civilian population of Sarajevo through a sniping and shelling campaign from April 1992 to November 1995, and of taking hostage UN personnel to prevent air strikes against Bosnian Serb military targets. But Karadzic repeated his claim Tuesday that an agreement with top US diplomat Richard Holbrooke, currently US envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan , had given him immunity from prosecution. 'I am challenging the jurisdiction of this tribunal ... on the basis of my agreement with the international community whose representative at that point in time was Mr Richard Holbrooke,' Karadzic said. 'I am defending a principle here.' Karadzic maintains that Holbrooke, the US peace negotiator in Bosnia and architect of the Dayton peace agreement that ended the Bosnian conflict in 1995, had promised on behalf of the UN to shield him from prosecution in return for disappearing from the public eye. [...]"


"Cambodian Genocide Court Accused of Lack of Transparency"
DPA dispatch in, 4 March 2009
"Attorneys for a former Khmer Rouge leader on Wednesday accused judges at Cambodia's UN-backed genocide tribunal of undermining the court's transparency by ordering the defence team to remove legal documents from the defence's website. Attorneys for former Khmer Rouge foreign minister Ieng Sary said in a statement that judges had acted with 'flawed legal reasoning.' A court statement released a day earlier said defence lawyers Michael Karnavas and Ang Udom faced sanctions unless the documents were removed within 48 hours from the website on Ieng Sary's defence that the lawyers had set up. The attorneys said the documents had to do with Ieng Sary's health and the admissibility of a psychiatric assessment of the defendant. 'The Ieng Sary defence will not shy away from making a small but important contribution to public and transparent judicial proceedings,' Wednesday's statement said. 'Nor will we give in to attempts, deliberate or inadvertent, to limit our right to speak out publicly to protect our client's interests.' The judges called the documents confidential, but the statement argued otherwise but added the documents had been removed from the website. The website was accessible Wednesday evening, but the documents were not on it. According to the site's mission statement, it was set up because of the judges' unwillingness to make public \defence filings which may be embarrassing or which call into question the legitimacy and judiciousness of acts and decisions of the judges.' Ieng Sary, 83, is one of five former Khmer Rouge leaders facing trial for their roles in the deaths of up to 2 million people through execution, starvation or overwork during the ultra-Maoist group's 1975-1979 reign. The former schoolteacher has been hospitalized seven times since being arrested in August 2007 and was declared medically unfit to attend a pre-trial hearing in Phnom Penh last week. [...]"

"Judge: Cambodian Genocide Court Faces Funds Crunch"
By Sopheng Cheang
Associated Press dispatch on Yahoo! News Singapore, 3 March 2009
"Funding for some operations of Cambodia's genocide tribunal, already tarnished by corruption allegations, may dry up by the end of the month and cause local staff to walk out, a judge said Monday. The warning by Judge Kong Srim, president of the Supreme Court Chamber, raised the prospect of yet more disruption to the long-delayed U.N.-assisted tribunal, which is seeking justice for the estimated 1.7 million Cambodians who died during the brutal 1975-79 reign of the communist Khmer Rouge. Political and procedural disputes between Cambodia and the United Nations have delayed the tribunal's launch . It has been 13 years since Cambodia asked the U.N. to help establish the special court, which still has not heard any testimony, and many fear the defendants -- already old and infirm -- could die before they face justice. The judge's statement came as it was revealed that defense lawyers want to question the country's prime minister and former king, which could revive an uncomfortable debate about the roles each played during Cambodia's holocaust. Kong Srim told reporters the tribunal would not have sufficient funds to pay Cambodian staff salaries this month. 'It hardly seems reasonable for judicial officers and staff to be expected to continue working without remuneration,' Kong Srim said. He added, however, that Cambodian and U.N. officials 'are confident that this problem will shortly be resolved.' He did not explain how. The U.N. Development Program, which manages the funds contributed by international donors for the Cambodian side of the court, froze disbursements last July pending an investigation into allegations that the Cambodian personnel were forced to pay kickbacks to obtain their position. Aid donors have warned they will reconsider their pledges if the allegations of corruption are not satisfactorily resolved. [...]"


"Jewish Outrage over Union Boycott"
By Adelle Loiselle
Canadian Press dispatch in the Edmonton Sun, 23 February 2009
"Jewish groups are expressing deep disappointment after delegates at a Canadian Union of Public Employees conference of university locals voted in favour of a boycott of Israeli universities. 'It's got nothing to do with individual academics,' CUPE Ontario president Sid Ryan said at the conference in Windsor. He said the boycott is to protest the Israeli siege of Gaza, and will focus on university programs that research and develop weapons used against Palestinians. Ryan describes the move as an 'adjunct' to a resolution passed in 2006 that called for an economic boycott of Israel. The union will also look into its pension plan to make sure it's not funding the research and development of weapons. Ryan says his union's boycott is part of a bigger, worldwide campaign to boycott Israel with participants in Australia, Ireland and the United States. He told reporters hundreds of Canadian academics recently signed an open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper calling for some kind of sanction against Israel. The resolution is not binding and some within the union have threatened to leave CUPE Ontario if the boycott was passed. Local 1001 and local 1393 at the University of Windsor have both said they would not support it. Meir Weinstein, who heads the Canadian arm of the Jewish Defence League, called yesterday's vote a 'black day.' He condemns the boycott as 'anti-Semitic.'"
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Nazi Guard, Sick Old Man or Both?"
By Cordula Meyer
Der Spiegel Online, 6 March 2009
"German prosecutors believe that John Demjanjuk was a sadistic guard at the notorious death camp Sobibor. They would like to put him on trial in Munich, but his family says the 88 year old is too old and frail to be extradited -- and that he is innocent anyway. The wife of the alleged concentration camp guard is petite and rather friendly. She's wearing a blue-green checkered blouse, and her long hair is pulled back in a bun. Standing there at the door of her yellow farmhouse in Seven Hills, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, she seems a bit lost. Vera Demjanjuk speaks a mishmash of German and English. She looks exhausted as she explains that everything is starting over again and that, once again, she will have to fear for the fate of her 88-year-old husband, John. Her family, she says, has neither the energy nor the means for a new court case, especially not in far-off Germany. 'We are poor and have no money,' she says. It was 1977 when American Nazi hunters first set their sights on her husband. At that time, the retired Ford auto worker was stripped of his US citizenship and extradited to Israel. The Israelis wanted to hang him. They accused him of being 'Ivan the Terrible,' the barbarous operator of the gas chambers at the Treblinka concentration camp. In 1993, though, the Israelis released him after it became clear that "Ivan the Terrible" was likely someone else. Demjanjuk was allowed to return to the US. Since then, though, more and more clues have surfaced indicating that Demjanjuk may actually have been a guard at the Sobibor death camp in present-day Poland. Prosecutors in Munich want him to stand trial in Germany. They allege that he took part in the murder of 29,000 people. Demjanjuk is stateless. Last May, the US Supreme Court refused to hear his final appeal. Nothing now stands in the way of Demjanjuk's being extradited to Germany at any time to face the new charges. [...]"

"German Car Firm 'Used Hair from Auschwitz'"
By Tony Paterson
The Independent, 3 March 2009
"One of the pillars of German industry, the giant but debt-crippled Schaeffler car parts supplier, was accused yesterday of using hair shorn from at least 40,000 Auschwitz death camp prisoners to make textiles at its factories in Nazi-occupied Poland during the Second World War. The highly disturbing allegations were contained in new evidence unearthed by Polish historians at the Auschwitz museum, who said they had found rolls of fabric made from camp inmates' hair at a former Schaeffler factory in Poland's southern region of Silesia. The discovery was the latest in a series of damaging blows for the ailing Schaeffler concern, which employs 200,000 people worldwide. The company is currently saddled with debts totalling €14bn (£12.6bn) and faces the prospect of bankruptcy. Last month, Maria-Elisabeth Schaeffler, the concern's flamboyant and usually fur-coated millionaire owner, appeared at a trade union rally and wept openly as she appealed to the government of the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, for a state-funded bailout. In an attempt to clear up rumours about the company's wartime role, Mrs Schaeffler recently admitted to using slave labourers at its factories during the Second World War. However, the company's officially published history still only begins in 1946. The company's own historian dismissed the allegations yesterday and said there was no evidence to support the theory that Schaeffler processed death camp inmates' hair industrially during the Second World War. But Dr. Jacek Lachendro, a historian at the Auschwitz museum, told Germany's Der Spiegel television channel that 1.95 tonnes of cloth made from inmates' hair had been discovered at a former Schaeffler textile and army tank parts factory in the town of Kiertz (formerly Katscher) after the Germans withdrew at the end of the war. The amount of cloth, which was pictured on Spiegel television as rolls of closely-woven brownish fabric, was said to have derived from the hair shorn from some 40,000 Auschwitz prisoners. Dr Lachendro said that subsequent analysis of the hair showed that some of it contained traces of the Zyklon B gas used by the Nazis to murder millions in the death camps. [...]"

"Facing German Suffering, and Not Looking Away"
By Nicholas Kulish
The New York Times, 26 February 2009
"The damp mud falls away easily from the long thighbone jutting out of the dirt wall of the trench at the gentle prod of the shovel's tip. Beyond the mass grave filled with the skeletal remains of some 2,000 people, presumed to be Germans who died in the closing months of World War II, stands the red-brick fortress of the Teutonic Knights that was once one of Germany’s greatest landmarks until it was forced to cede the territory to Poland after the war. Refugees passed through Malbork while fleeing the Soviets. Until then, Malbork was the German town of Marienburg, and the authorities believe the dead men, women and children buried together here were inhabitants of the city, along with refugees from places farther east, such as Königsberg, now Kaliningrad, fleeing the devastating Soviet counterattack that would eventually capture Berlin. Several dozen of the skulls have bullet holes, which prompted speculation of a massacre when the first bodies were found last October, whereas now the talk centers on cold, hunger and most of all typhus, which was rampant at the time. Europe has more than its share of mass graves, a reflection of the extraordinary scale of violence of the previous century. But throughout the Continent the public is far more used to Germans as perpetrators rather than victims, and perhaps nowhere is that more true than in Germany itself. Yet there are signs in the former German territories such as Malbork that an understanding of the human suffering, in particular of civilians, is beginning to gain traction, balancing slightly the long-held grudge of collective guilt toward the German aggressors who began the war. 'We cannot be indifferent to what has happened here,' said Radoslaw Gajc, 30, a native of Malbork and a city worker who right now is assigned to removing the bodies. ... After World War II more than 12 million ethnic Germans, and by some estimates up to 16.5 million, were uprooted across central and Eastern Europe, and more than 2 million are believed to have died or been killed in the often violent process. The mass grave here was dutifully reported in the German news media, but in the usual muted fashion, because discussions of German suffering provoke strong responses among the victims of Hitler’s aggression and smack of revanchism to a public sensitive to the complex web of memory and guilt. [...]"

"Leftist-turned-neo-Nazi Jailed for Denying Holocaust"
Agence France-Presse dispatch in European Jewish News, 25 February 2009
"A former extreme left-wing guerrilla turned neo-Nazi was sentenced to six years in prison Wednesday for calling the Holocaust 'the biggest lie in history,' a court said.
Horst Mahler, who in the 1970s co-founded the militant far-left Red Army Faction (RAF) and later swung violently far-right, was convicted of inciting racial hatred by the higher regional court in the southern city of Munich. The now 73-year-old on several occasions vehemently disputed the Nazis had systematically exterminated six million European Jews during World War II. Denying the Holocaust is a crime in Germany. Mahler was also found to have sent offensive CD-ROMs and a book by convicted Holocaust denier Germar Rudolf through the mail. 'I expect to be and am counting on being brought before a court for my efforts and that I will be sentenced,' Mahler wrote in a note sent with the packages, adding that the recipients would likely be called to testify. The court said the only mitigating factor in Mahler's case was his advanced age. 'Adding to the severity of his sentence were the defendant's unreasonable and intransigent stance as well as the public attention he intentionally drew to his behaviour,' the court said in a statement. Mahler, who was immediately taken into custody, has a string of convictions for similar offences as well as for crimes dating back to his time with the RAF, which carried out a bloody campaign against the West German government. Last April, he was convicted for giving a Hitler salute to a Jewish journalist in an interview and denying the Holocaust. He has also praised the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States and has accused Jews of seeking 'world domination.' [...]"


"India Makes a Place for Dirty Harry"
By Daniel Pepper
The New York Times, 28 February 2009
"Madkam Deva walks about 20 paces off a dirt footpath in a verdant forest, finds the place where large, orange ants crawl over a dark maroon stain, then points to another bloodstain a few yards away. This, he says, is where he saw one villager cut down by police bullets, and then a second. 'I'm scared they'll come after me now,' says Mr. Deva, who is about 20. He says a bullet grazed his right forearm while he fled the barrage. His account of what happened in this remote and undeveloped corner of eastern India on Jan. 8 boils down to this: the police rounded up 24 tribal villagers, told them they were going to a station for questioning, then lined them up for execution en route. Five, including Mr. Deva, escaped. ... Numbering in the thousands every year, 'encounters' or 'encounter killings' are shootouts between the Indian police or army and any criminal element, from terrorists to petty thieves. Many Indians believe that at least some are stage-managed -- with, say, a police officer placing a gun in the hands of a dead person -- leading to the popular phrase, 'fake encounter killing.' The Singaram encounter was part of a long-running campaign to stem an insurrection in impoverished and isolated parts of eastern India by Maoist-inspired rebels known as Naxalites. Other cases, elsewhere in India, have involved Muslim militants and gangsters in Mumbai. In almost all, India's limited forensics capabilities make investigating the claims of either side hard to verify. But the national news media often accept the police's version, which puts them in harmony with many in their middle-class audience who fear rising crime and terrorism. Meanwhile, Bollywood and Indian media lionize 'encounter specialists' -- soldiers or policemen who, like Dirty Harry, specialize in shootouts. ... On that count, at least, the forest killings on Jan. 8 have been an exception. Perhaps because the toll was so large, the highest court in Chhattisgarh has ordered an investigation, starting with autopsies of the 12 bodies that were buried rather than cremated. Whatever else it concludes, the inquiry is bound to reveal an enormous gap of empathy between rich and poor India. [...]"


"Israel Annexing East Jerusalem, Says EU"
By Rory McCarthy
The Guardian, 7 March 2009
"A confidential EU report accuses the Israeli government of using settlement expansion, house demolitions, discriminatory housing policies and the West Bank barrier as a way of 'actively pursuing the illegal annexation' of East Jerusalem. The document says Israel has accelerated its plans for East Jerusalem, and is undermining the Palestinian Authority's credibility and weakening support for peace talks. 'Israel's actions in and around Jerusalem constitute one of the most acute challenges to Israeli-Palestinian peace-making,' says the document, EU Heads of Mission Report on East Jerusalem. The report, obtained by the Guardian, is dated 15 December 2008. It acknowledges Israel's legitimate security concerns in Jerusalem, but adds: 'Many of its current illegal actions in and around the city have limited security justifications.' 'Israeli "facts on the ground" -- including new settlements, construction of the barrier, discriminatory housing policies, house demolitions, restrictive permit regime and continued closure of Palestinian institutions -- increase Jewish Israeli presence in East Jerusalem, weaken the Palestinian community in the city, impede Palestinian urban development and separate East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank,' the report says. The document has emerged at a time of mounting concern over Israeli policies in East Jerusalem. Two houses were demolished on Monday just before the arrival of the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, and a further 88 are scheduled for demolition, all for lack of permits. Clinton described the demolitions as 'unhelpful,' noting that they violated Israel's obligations under the US 'road map' for peace. The EU report goes further, saying that the demolitions are 'illegal under international law, serve no obvious purpose, have severe humanitarian effects, and fuel bitterness and extremism.' The EU raised its concern in a formal diplomatic representation on December 1, it says. It notes that although Palestinians in the east represent 34% of the city's residents, only 5%-10% of the municipal budget is spent in their areas, leaving them with poor services and infrastructure. Israel issues fewer than 200 permits a year for Palestinian homes and leaves only 12% of East Jerusalem available for Palestinian residential use. As a result many homes are built without Israeli permits. About 400 houses have been demolished since 2004 and a further 1,000 demolition orders have yet to be carried out, it said. [...]"

"Israel Boycott Movement Gains Momentum"
By Mel Frykberg
Inter-Press Service on, 3 March 2009
"'Standing United with the People of Gaza' is the theme of this week's Israel Apartheid Week (IAW), which kicked off in Toronto and another 39 cities across the globe Sunday. A movement to boycott Israeli goods, culture and academic institutions is gaining momentum as Geneva prepares to host the UN's Anti-Racism Conference, Durban 2 next month amidst swirling controversy. Both Canada and the U.S. are boycotting the Durban 2 conference in protest over what they perceive as a strongly anti-Israel agenda. The first UN Anti-Racism conference, held in the South African city Durban in 2001, saw the Israeli and U.S. delegates storm out of the conference, accusing other delegates of focusing too strongly on Israel. U.S. and Canadian support might have offered some comfort for Israel. However, international criticism of Israel's three-week bloody offensive into Gaza, which left more than 1,300 Palestinians dead and thousands more wounded, most of them civilian, has breathed fresh life into a Boycott, Divest, Sanctions (BDS) campaign. The BDS campaign followed a 2005 appeal from over 170 Palestinian civil society groups to launch a divestment campaign 'as a way of bringing non-violent pressure to bear on the state of Israel to end its violations of international law.' In the wake of the BDS campaign, critics of Israel have lashed out at what they see as parallels between South Africa's former apartheid system and Israeli racism. They point to Israel's discriminatory treatment of ethnic Palestinians within Israel who hold Israeli passports, and the extensive human rights abuses against Palestinians in the occupied territories by Israeli security forces. During the apartheid era, ties between Israel and South Africa were extremely strong, with the Jewish state helping to train South Africa's security forces as well as supplying the regime in Pretoria with weapons. [...]"

"Israel May Face War Crimes Trials over Gaza"
By Peter Beaumont
The Guardian, 2 March 2009
"The international criminal court is considering whether the Palestinian Authority is 'enough like a state' for it to bring a case alleging that Israeli troops committed war crimes in the recent assault on Gaza. The deliberations would potentially open the way to putting Israeli military commanders in the dock at The Hague over the campaign, which claimed more than 1,300 lives, and set an important precedent for the court over what cases it can hear. As part of the process the court's head of jurisdictions, part of the office of the prosecutor, is examining every international agreement signed by the PA to decide whether it behaves -- and is regarded by others -- as operating like a state. Following talks with the Arab League's head, Amr Moussa, and senior PA officials, moves have accelerated inside the court to deliver a ruling on whether it may be able to insist on jurisdiction over alleged war crimes perpetrated in Gaza, with a decision from the prosecutor's office expected within 'months, not years.' The issue arises because although the ICC potentially has 'global jurisdiction' to investigate crimes which fall into its remit no matter where they were committed, Israel - despite having signed the Rome statute that founded the court and having expressed 'deep sympathy' with the court's goals -- is not a party. The ICC, which has 108 member states, has not so far recognised Palestine as a sovereign state or as a member. The latest moves in The Hague come amid mounting international pressure on Israel and a growing recognition in Israeli government circles that it may eventually have to defend itself against war crimes allegations. The Guardian has also learned that a confidential inquiry by the International Committee of the Red Cross into the actions of Israel and Hamas during the recent conflict in Gaza is expected to accuse Israel of using 'excessive force' -- prohibited under the fourth Geneva convention. ... Sources at the ICC say it is considering two potential tracks that would permit it to investigate what happened in Gaza. As well as determining whether the PA is recognised internationally as a sufficiently state-like entity, the head of jurisdictions in the office of the international criminal court's prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, is looking at whether the court can consider war crimes allegations on the basis of the dual nationality of either victims or alleged perpetrators whose second passport is with a country party to the court. The court's deliberations follow more than 220 complaints about Israel's actions in Gaza. [...]"

"Israel Planning Mass Expansion of West Bank Settlement Bloc"
By Akiva Eldar, 27 February 2009
"Despite the [Israeli] state's formal commitment not to expand West Bank settlements, a government agency has been promoting plans over the past two years to construct thousands of housing units east of the Green Line, Haaretz has learned. The plans, which have not yet been approved by the government, were drawn up by the Civil Administration, the government agency responsible for nonmilitary matters in the West Bank. Details of the plans appear in the minutes of the agency's environmental subcommittee, which were obtained by the B'Tselem organization under the Freedom of Information Act. The plans propose the initial construction of 550 apartments in Gva'ot, located near Alon Shvut in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, followed by construction of another 4,450 units at a later stage. At present, Gva'ot is inhabited by 12 families. The neighboring settlement of Bat Ayin, which has about 120 families, is slated to receive another 2,000 apartments, according to the plans. Rimonim will get another 254 apartments if the plans are approved, and expansion plans are also in the works for Einav and Mevo Dotan. All three of these settlements are east of the separation fence. Ma'aleh Adumim has included planned construction in the E-1 corridor in its sewage treatment plans. That corridor, which links Ma'aleh Adumim to Jerusalem, is eventually slated to hold some 3,500 apartments. Nearby Kfar Adumim's sewage treatment plan predicts that the settlement will double its population 'in the coming years,' to 5,600 inhabitants. And in Eshkolot, the Civil Administration instructed the settlement to draw up a sewage plan adequate for a population five times its current one. A Civil Administration spokesman said that its 'environmental subcommittee does not discuss approval for housing units at all, but deals with the professional aspects of the area's environmental needs, sometimes at the theoretical level.' [...]"
[n.b. Memo to Haaretz: in lieu of "separation fence," try "apartheid wall."]


"Murder of Activists Widens Rift in Kenya"
By Xan Rice
The Guardian, 7 March 2009
"Kenya's coalition government fractured further yesterday after the assassination of two human rights activists who gave evidence to a senior UN investigator over execution-style murders by police. Kamau Kingara, director of the Oscar Foundation, which runs free legal aid clinics for the poor, and its programmes coordinator, John Paul Oulu, were shot in a busy Nairobi street near the presidential residence on Thursday evening. Only a few hours earlier a government spokesman, Alfred Mutua, had publicly accused their organisation of being a fundraising front for the feared Mungiki criminal gang. The killings caused shock and anger, with suspicion immediately falling on police death squads. 'These were very decent men who had done more work than anybody in examining police killings,' said Cyprian Nyamwamu, the executive director of the National Convention Executive Council, which advocates social and economic reform. 'I have no doubt that is why they were killed.' The prime minister, Raila Odinga, whose power-sharing agreement with President Mwai Kibaki has soured because of corruption scandals and a lack of key reforms, called for an independent inquiry into the 'murder most foul.' He said Mutua, seen as a Kibaki loyalist, did not speak for the coalition, and called it 'bizarre' that the activists died hours after being accused of links to Mungiki. 'It is worrying and I fear that we are flirting with lawlessness in the name of keeping law and order,' Odinga said. 'In the process, we are hurtling towards failure as a state.' Police attributed the killings to 'rivalry or thuggery.' The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and the UN demanded an independent investigation, with the US offering help from the FBI. The Oscar Foundation made its name investigating police abuses. Since 2007 it has reported 6,452 "enforced disappearances" by police and 1,721 extrajudicial killings. Many of those killed were alleged members of the Mungiki gang, which runs mafia-like networks but was also used by members of Kibaki's party for retaliatory attacks during 2008 election violence. Kingara, a 37-year-old lawyer, recently presented his dossiers on the police killings to two parliamentary committees. He and Oulu met and briefed Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, when he was conducting an investigation in security force abuses in Kenya last month. Alston's scathing report, which criticised Kibaki and called for the sacking of the police chief and the attorney general, deeply angered the authorities. [...]"


"For Rwandans, Fragile Acts of Faith"
By Stephanie McCrummen
The Washington Post, 24 February 2009
"The 958 Express arrived at last. In the early-afternoon sun, Leonard Hakorimano, with his wife and two sons, squeezed into a crowded bus that was soon winding down the road, delivering them to an uncertain new life. 'Where are you coming from?' a passenger asked. 'Congo,' Hakorimano said quietly, referring to the neighboring country where he had become a rebel. 'When did you leave Rwanda?' the passenger asked. Hakorimano studied the passing countryside, his face -- at once boyish and tough -- betraying little emotion. '1994,' he said, naming the year he turned 16, the year he last saw his family, and the year of the Rwandan genocide, when an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed by Hutu extremists in 100 days of well-planned violence. 'It's a long time since I left.' Like thousands of other Hutus who fled into eastern Congo fearing retaliation, Hakorimano joined Rwandan Hutu rebels whose leaders promised they would return to Rwanda someday to overthrow the Tutsi-dominated government. To keep their recruits in the bush, the rebel leaders -- some of whom are accused in the genocide -- spread harrowing stories about life back home, saying that returning Hutus would be jailed or killed and that there was no justice in Rwanda. But this month, Hakorimano, 30, was among several hundred rebels who decided to return home anyway, not knowing whether their families had survived or whether the stories their commanders had told them were true. Their decisions amount to fragile acts of faith that they will be able to let go of the divisive creed of the bush and find a place in a nation struggling to overcome the legacy of genocide. The effort also reflects a broader struggle within Rwandan society to forge a national identity stronger than the ethnic ones that pulled it apart. [...]"


"Looking to the Future, But Haunted by the Horror"
By Jonathan Pearlman
The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 March 2009
"Igiraneza Bonus, 6, lay mistaken for dead for two days, surrounded by the corpses of his mother, father, three sisters and brother, neighbours, cousins and classmates. Death was everywhere, even the roof -- strewn with bits of bodies blown up by grenades. Having taken refuge in a small Catholic church in Nyamata, Rwanda, 2500 people were massacred in one day. Most were stabbed -- cut, as Rwandans say. The crimes of that night in April 1994 are known because seven survivors were accidentally left alive. They told of killers raping women who had knelt to pray, how hands were cut from the dead and waved at the next round of victims, and how a pregnant woman was killed at the altar. The shroud, draped in blood, is still on the altar. At the entrance to the church, now a memorial, Igiraneza sits on a bench near a sign reading 'Never again.' As he recalls these terrible events, his voice drops and his head sags. 'The blood of the bodies was going into my face and everywhere. They thought I was dead also. After two days, I was hungry and went out to the fields to find sweet potatoes. After five days, some survivors came and helped me to hide in the village.' Fifteen years later, Igiraneza lives near the church and attends college, where he studies engineering. Like millions of Rwandans, his memories are fresh but there are things of which he cannot speak. 'How they killed some members of my family I cannot talk about.' Since the genocide, in which an estimated 800,000 Rwandan Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed by Hutu militias in a 100-day killing spree, the country has largely been at peace. Billions of dollars in international aid have mostly been well spent -- by African terms. The President, Paul Kagame, a Tutsi and former guerilla leader, brooks little opposition but has been praised for his fight against corruption and AIDS. [...]"


"3 Sierra Leoneans Guilty Of Multiple War Crimes"
By Clarence Roy-Macaulay
Associated Press dispatch in The Washington Post, 26 February 2009
"A United Nations-sponsored war crimes court on Wednesday found three top rebel leaders in Sierra Leone guilty of multiple crimes against humanity in the West African nation's disastrous civil war. The rebels, known for maiming their victims with machetes, left Sierra Leone with a population of amputees, as well as countless thousands of orphans and widows. Issa Sesay, an interim leader of the Revolutionary United Front, or RUF, and one of his battlefield commanders, Morris Kallon, were convicted on 16 of 18 counts. Another battlefield commander, Augustine Gbao, was found guilty on 14 of the 18 charges he had faced. The charges against all three include amputation, murder, enlistment of child soldiers and sexual slavery. They also include forced marriage, the enslavement that countless young girls suffered when their villages were raided and they were forced to 'marry' a rebel. Wednesday's convictions marked the first time that the forced-marriage charge was successfully handed down in an international court of law. ... It is estimated that about a half-million people were victims of killings, systematic mutilation and other atrocities in the 11-year civil war, which ended in 2002. ... While Wednesday's verdicts marked the end of the special tribunal in Freetown, the court has unfinished business with former Liberian president Charles Taylor, who is being tried in a special session of the court for Sierra Leone in The Hague on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. [...]"


"Generalísimo Francisco Franco Is Still Dead -- And His Statues Are Next"
By Thomas Catan
The Wall Street Journal, 2 March 2009
"Every Nov. 20, for the past dozen years, Sinforiano Bezanilla has visited a pigeon-covered statue of Gen. Francisco Franco to pay homage to Europe's longest-serving fascist dictator. This year, the sculpture won't be there. Acting on a law passed by Spain's Socialist government, authorities uprooted the statue of the Generalísimo in December from the city square of Santander in northern Spain and banished it to the local museum. 'The left is attempting to rewrite our country's history. They base it on a series of half-lies, half-truths and outright lies,' says Mr. Bezanilla. The 44-year-old municipal worker was just 11 when Franco died. But he has read volumes on the former dictator's ideas and is nostalgic for his regime. More than three decades after Franco died and 72 years after he seized power, Spain is on a controversial mission to expunge the many emblems of its painful past that are still on public display. While monuments to Franco have lingered long in Spain, other leaders' statues have been toppled soon after their regimes fall -- and each time, the monuments become battlegrounds of history. The Socialist government says the assorted icons of the Franco regime still on view -- fascist-style eagles, yokes and arrows -- have no place in modern Spain. A year ago, it passed a law to eliminate them. But the drive -- part of a broader law aimed at redressing Franco-era injustices -- has raised hackles among conservatives who say Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero is reopening wounds they say were healed after the dictator's death. ... Nazi symbols are illegal in Germany. No statues of former Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini are on display in Italian streets. But in Spain -- today a modern democracy at the heart of the European Union -- monuments to Franco have remained to this day. 'This is the only fascist regime that has seen its symbols survive into the 21st century,' says Alejandro Quiroga, a Spanish history professor at Britain's University of Newcastle. The emblems have lasted so long partly because Spain's dictatorship, which began in 1936 after Franco's forces won a bloody civil war in which 500,000 were killed, lasted far longer than similar authoritarian states. Spain stayed out of World War II, which toppled Hitler and Mussolini, and Franco managed to rule until he died in 1975. [...]"

"Families Search for Truth of Spain's 'Lost Children'"
By Victoria Burnett, 2 March 2009
"The truth, if ever it emerges, will come too late for Emilia Girón. For 65 years, Ms. Girón, a hard-bitten mother of seven, ached to know what had become of her son Jesús. Born in the early 1940s during the vengeful first years of Gen. Francisco Franco’s 36-year dictatorship he was taken from her to be baptized shortly after his birth. She never saw him again. 'To her last, my mother bore the anguish of not knowing what had happened to Jesús. She yearned to meet the child that they had stolen,' said Antonio Prada Girón, 69, the oldest child of Ms. Girón, who died in 2007 at the age of 95. Sifting through family documents and photographs in the slate-roofed cottage where his mother once lived, Mr. Prada said his parents were persecuted in the years after Franco took power by the police, who were hunting for his uncle, a fugitive guerrilla. Mr. Prada’s parents, who farmed the vine-covered hills around this northwestern hamlet, were jailed when he was 2. His mother gave birth to Jesús soon afterward. The story is part of a dark and long overlooked chapter of the repressive decades under Franco that has drawn fresh attention since November, when Judge Baltasar Garzón ordered provincial judges to investigate the 'disappearance' of children taken from left-wing families as part of an effort to purge Franco's Spain of Marxist influence. Historians and associations that represent Franco's victims say hundreds of children were taken from families who had supported Franco’s Republican opponents during the Spanish Civil War from 1936 to 1939 or who were suspected of ties to left-wing groups. The children were adopted or sent to religious schools and state-run homes. Some were baptized with new names, their birth records hidden or destroyed, they say. Others, sent into exile during the war by the Republicans and brought back by Franco, were given new identities. 'In a sense, this is the most symbolic crime of the Franco era,' said Emilio Silva, head of the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory, an organization that has excavated the remains of hundreds of people from Franco-era graves. 'To steal a child and take away his identity -- that's what Franco did to the country as a whole.' [...]"


"Sudan's Aid Purge May Be a War Crime"
The Independent, 7 March 2009
"The UN human rights office will examine whether Sudan's decision to expel aid groups constitutes a war crime or a breach of human rights, a spokesman said. Rupert Colville said the expulsion of 6,500 workers from 13 aid groups including Care, Oxfam and Save the Children was a 'grievous dereliction' of duty that put thousands of lives at risk. The WHO said it would compromise disease-monitoring efforts and could lead to unchecked outbreaks of disease. The agencies were told to leave after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for President Omar al-Bashir for war crimes and crimes against humanity."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch. And this was precisely my thought when I read of the Sudanese government's decision.]

"U.N. Says Millions Endangered by Sudan Aid Group Expulsions"
By Jonathan Lynn
Reuters dispatch on Yahoo! News Singapore, 7 March 2009
"Geneva issued an arrest warrant for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir on Wednesday for atrocities in Sudan's western Darfur region. The 'deplorable' move could also be a breach of international humanitarian law, U.N. officials suggested. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on Bashir to reconsider the expulsion, saying the NGOs help 4.7 million people in Africa's biggest country. This includes 2.7 million internally displaced persons , or people forced to flee home within the country, most of whom are now in refugee camps. 'To knowingly and deliberately deprive such a huge group of civilians of the means to survive is a deplorable act. Humanitarian assistance has nothing to do with the ICC proceedings,' U.N. human rights spokesman Rupert Colville said. 'To punish civilians because of a decision of the ICC is a grievous dereliction of the government's duty to protect its own people,' he told a news briefing. Sudan has accused some of the aid groups of passing evidence to the ICC and making false reports of genocide and rape. Aid groups deny working with the Hague-based court and U.N. agencies said it would be almost impossible for them to carry out their work without key units of NGOs such as British-based Oxfam and Save the Children and French medical aid group Medecins sans Frontieres on the ground. Of the 76 NGOs in Darfur with which the U.N. is working, the 13 that have been expelled account for half the aid that is distributed in the region, said Elisabeth Byrs, spokeswoman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. [...]"

"Iran, Hamas Send Envoys to Back Sudan Leader"
By Philip Dhil, 7 March 2009
"Iran and the Palestinian militant group Hamas showed their support for Sudan's president Friday, sending top officials to the Sudanese capital and denouncing the international warrant for his arrest on charges of war crimes in Darfur. Their visit came as the U.N. human rights group warned that Sudan's expulsion of 13 aid organizations from Darfur could also constitute a war crime. Sudan took the step in retaliation after the Netherlands-based International Criminal Court issued a warrant against President Omar al-Bashir on Wednesday. The expulsion raised fears of a humanitarian crisis in the large, arid western region, where war has been raging for six years. Some 2.7 million people have been forced from their homes, and many rely on aid groups for food, water, shelter and medical care. The government also ordered the closure of SUDO, the largest Sudanese non-governmental aid organization operating in Darfur, said SUDO's head, Ibrahim Mudawi. He said the order came late Thursday, accusing the group of 'violations' of the law, without providing specifics. SUDO, with about 300 staffers, distributes food and drills water wells in Darfur, as well as operates 13 clinic and provides psychological help, Mudawi said. 'We will take legal procedures against this decision,' he said. 'We are worried (about our staff). We don't know what they are going to do with them.' The ICC accuses al-Bashir of leading a counter-insurgency campaign against Darfur rebels that included atrocities against civilians. Al-Bashir denies the charges against him and his government refuses to cooperate with the ICC, calling it part of a 'colonial' conspiracy to destabilize Sudan. [...]"

"Peace v Justice: The ICC's Dilemma"
By Afua Hirsch
The Guardian, 6 March 2009
"Two things can be said with certainty about the international criminal court's track record to date. One: since the Rome statute establishing the court came into force on 1 July 2002, the court's activity has been African. Four African countries, and no others, have now seen individuals indicted for their role in its conflicts. And two: in all these exercises of the court's jurisdiction -- to prosecute individuals who bear the greatest responsibility for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes -- each has involved a dilemma. The dilemma is often described in simple terms; peace versus justice. Ironically for an institution whose mandate is to strengthen peace by providing an avenue for justice, these two objectives have frequently been described as competing -- the threat of prosecution disincentivising military and political leaders from relinquishing power and negotiating peace. This dilemma is not new. In 2003, before any ICC indictments had been issued by the ICC, then-sitting Liberian president Charles Taylor was indicted by the special court for his role in Sierra Leone's conflict. At the time, his indictment triggered the collapse of Ghana-based peace talks and the escalation of violence in Liberia. It was blamed for causing the death of 1,000 more people before Taylor eventually resigned and was later arrested. Taylor's trial -- also being held in The Hague though not by the ICC – still rumbles on. The most publicity it gets these days is from lawyers complaining it is underfunded. But nevertheless there is consensus (except among the persistent group of Taylor's staunch supporters) that indicting him was an important step towards accountability for all leaders accused of the most serious crimes. The ICC has built on this legacy, and inherited the same dilemmas. In Uganda, where Lords Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony and his associates were the first to be indicted by the court, their demands for immunity from war crimes prosecution have been a permanent and obstructive feature of the peace negotiations. [...]"

"Briefing: A Rocky Start for War Crimes World Court"
By Kristen Chick
The Christian Science Monitor, 6 March 2009
"The International Criminal Court's indictment Wednesday of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir prompted Sudan to expel more than a dozen aid groups, and some African leaders warn that the arrest warrant will damage fragile peace negotiations. The court's first trial, which began in January to try Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga, was postponed after the star witness recanted his testimony. It's a rocky start for the young tribunal set up to try the most serious international crimes. The court, the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal, faces mounting pressure to show results in the face of logistical hurdles and harsh opposition to both its very existence and its attempts to carry out justice. Why did the international community decide to set up a permanent court? Until the establishment of the ICC, no permanent court existed for trying individuals accused of war crimes or genocide. The International Court of Justice only has jurisdiction over conflicts between states. But nations have been prosecuting war crimes since after World War II, when the Allied powers created international tribunals to try Nazi and Japanese war crimes. In more recent decades, the United Nations has established tribunals to prosecute war crimes in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Cambodia. But these tribunals are expensive, and experts say they are less efficient and less of a deterrent than a permanent court. 'The ad-hocs are wonderful institutions, but they're a stopgap, temporary sort of measure,' says Leila Nadya Sadat, a law professor at Washington University School of Law and a delegate to the diplomatic conference at which the ICC was established. 'Each one of the ad hocs we've seen has a huge learning curve, so you waste a lot of time.' [...]"

"Int'l Court Issues Warrant for Sudanese President"
By Mike Corder
Associated Press dispatch on Yahoo! News, 4 March 2009
"The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant Wednesday for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur. He is the first sitting head of state the court has ordered arrested. The three-judge panel said there was insufficient evidence to support charges of genocide in a war in which up to 300,000 people have died and 2.7 million have fled their homes. 'He is suspected of being criminally responsible ... for intentionally directing attacks against an important part of the civilian population of Darfur, Sudan, murdering, exterminating, raping, torturing and forcibly transferring large numbers of civilians, and pillaging their property,' court spokeswoman Laurence Blairon said. Hundreds of Sudanese waving pictures of the president and denouncing the court quickly turned out in a rally at the Cabinet building in Khartoum. Security was increased around many embassies, and some diplomats and aid workers stayed home amid fears of retaliation against Westerners. Al-Bashir's foreign affairs adviser suggested the court's decision was linked to an effort to destabilize Sudan. But Blairon said the decision was made purely on legal grounds and was not political. Al-Bashir denies the war crimes accusations and refuses to deal with the court, and there is currently no international mechanism to arrest him. The main tool the court has is diplomatic pressure for countries to hand over suspects. Sudan does not recognize its jurisdiction and refuses to arrest suspects. U.N. peacekeepers and other international agencies operating in Sudan have no mandate to implement the warrant, and Sudanese officials have warned them not to go outside their mandates. If al-Bashir is brought to trial and prosecuted, he faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Sudanese TV did not carry the Hague news conference, but at one point broke in to programming with a brief news report that the warrant had been issued. The broadcaster on state radio announced the decision, and added, "a new chapter now begins" but did not elaborate. Asked why judges, in a 2-1 split decision, did not issue the warrant for genocide, Blairon explained that genocide requires a clear intent to destroy in part or as a whole a specific group. 'In this particular case, the pretrial chamber has not been able to find there were reasonable grounds to establish a genocidal intent,' she said. [...]"

"Darfuris Flee on Eve of Bashir Case"
By Rob Crilly
The Christian Science Monitor, 3 March 2009
"Six years after the start of Darfur's messy conflict and days before Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is expected to be charged with war crimes, the steady stream of people arriving at the region's aid camps is a reminder of the scale of humanitarian crisis in Darfur. A United Nations-led military force is on the ground. Government officials are subject to international sanctions and the world is demanding action. Yet people like Yacoub Suleiman Hari are still staring death in the face, forced to flee their homes after recent attacks by the notorious government-backed Arab janjaweed militia. He is one of 50,000 people displaced from the town of Muhajiriya in South Darfur after a rebel advance followed up by government and janjaweed reprisals in February. More than 23,000 have trudged and trucked their way to the capital of North Darfur, filling already overstretched aid camps to the breaking point. Thousands more have been arriving in Otash, on the outskirts of Nyala, the capital of South Darfur. 'We knew something like this was going to happen. We had been afraid for a long time,' said Mr. Suleiman, as he put the finishing touches on his new home, a simple hut built from sticks covered with reed mats -- a gift from his brother. 'Things had been very difficult with lots of small fighting,' he says. 'Then the janjaweed came and attacked our home.' More than 300,000 people have died and more than 2.5 million people have been displaced since the conflict in Sudan's troubled Darfur region broke out after rebels took up arms against the government in 2003. [...]"


"Harrow Tamils Meet to Discuss Sri Lankan Civil War"
By Tristan Kirk
Harrow Times, 2 March 2009
"A former high ranking US official has called on Harrow Tamils to document their experiences in their home country as he seeks to have Sri Lankan leaders charged with genocide. Bruce Fein, who served in the administration of Ronald Reagan as deputy attorney general, addressed a meeting of the Tamil community this weekend in Harrow. He explained how he and fellow members of action group Tamils Against Genocide are building a case against Sri Lanka's Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse, and the country's army commander Sarath Fonseka. He told the packed Sree Ayyappan Temple, in Masons Avenue: 'We want these guys to be serving time in prison. In fact under our law there is the sentence of death. It is a privilege to fight such a difficult but honourable battle. We want to cast light on the horrors going on in Sri Lanka, and to deter the current government from continuing the atrocities.' Mr. Fein likened the current situation in Sri Lanka to past genocides in Rwanda, Bosnia, Serbia, and Sudan, and explained that a 1,000 page indictment has been handed to the US Justice Department about the alleged alleged atrocities in the war-torn country. He said the tactics of the Sri Lankan government, which has been embroiled in a 25-year civil war with separatist group the Tamil Tigers, is to group civilian Tamils in a safe zone and then bomb that area, killing innocent people. He said: 'They will bomb indescriminately in the Tamil area, and drive the refugees into a safe zone. That's exactly where they intend to bomb and kill people.' Mr. Fein asked the 200-strong audience to write an affidavit detailing their experiences in their home country, to be used as evidence to support the indictment which is currently being looked at by the US Justice Department. He said: 'Something has to be done to the government of Sri Lanka. You as Tamils know victims, you know what the government is doing, and the US needs to take the lead.' The situation in Sri Lanka was brought to the world's attention a couple of weeks ago when Murukathasan Vanakulasingam, a Harrow resident, burned himself to death outside the gates of the United Nations headquarters in Geneva. [...]"


"The Wallenberg Curse"
By Joshua Prager
The Wall Street Journal, 28 February 2009
"In neat script, blue ink on white letterhead, Fredrik von Dardel began writing to the stepson he had long been told to leave for dead: 'Dear beloved Raoul.' It was March 24, 1956. He always wrote at his living-room table, his wife, Maria, looking on from a corner of the couch by the phone. On a chest, a spray of flowers she kept fresh stood beside a picture of her son, Raoul Wallenberg. Mr. Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who safeguarded 20,000 Jews in Budapest in the waning months of World War II, vanished into the Soviet penal system in 1945. But the couple, then 71 and 65 years old, believed their son was alive and readied a letter for Sweden's prime minister to take to Moscow. 'We have been sustained by the hope of one day seeing you among us and again being able to kiss you and hold your hands and hear your beloved voice,' his stepfather wrote in an old and elevated Swedish. 'There's a room here waiting for you.' Mr. Wallenberg did not come home then, or ever. His end remains unclear. The world now knows the missing Swede as a symbol of humanitarianism -- an honorary citizen in four countries, commemorated with stamps in eight and monuments in 12, the subject of scores of films and books. Unknown, however, is the price his family paid as it tried in vain to bring him home. For six decades, his parents and siblings battled Moscow and their native Stockholm, mounting a search for answers that cost them their savings, careers, relationships, health and, concealed until now, two of their lives. Also unknown, even to the Swedish foreign ministry -- whose file on Mr. Wallenberg dwarfs its record of any king, colony or war -- is that the family documented its struggle. Mr. Wallenberg's late mother and stepfather, who died two days apart in 1979, kept a diary. His half-brother, Guy von Dardel, now 89, compiled a 50,000-page archive. Together with hundreds of interviews, the family's thousands of journal entries, letters and documents -- most read for the first time by The Wall Street Journal -- lay bare the toll of an unending quest. 'It's a bestial thing,' says Nina Lagergren, who at 87 still spreads her half-brother's name. 'If you don't know if somebody is dead or if they are alive, you have to go on to look for the truth.' [...]"
[n.b. A lengthy and fascinating feature.]


"Holocaust Row Bishop Lands in Britain"
The Telegraph, 25 February 2009
"Bishop Richard Williamson, who was asked to leave Argentina after making 'deeply offensive' comments about the Holocaust, has arrived back in Britain. The British-born Roman Catholic bishop flew into London's Heathrow airport from Buenos Aires where he was met by a crowd of international media and an armed police guard. The bishop, who was given 10 days to leave Argentina by the country's government, declined to answer questions from the press as he was taken to a waiting car by police officers. Those meeting him, including other Roman Catholic priests, also declined to comment before the vehicle sped away. The bishop had been resident in Argentina until this week at the St Pius X seminary in the capital. But after remarks he made in a Swedish television interview were broadcast, the government branded his view 'deeply offensive.' He claimed in the interview last month that historical evidence was 'hugely against six million having been deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler ... I believe there were no gas chambers.' ... The bishop would not discuss his plans now he has returned to the UK and no one from the Catholic Church was available to comment on whether he would be allowed to work. The church and Pope Benedict XVI has come under severe criticism for the decision -- taken before the comments were broadcast -- to lift an excommunication on him. He was ordained in the late 1980s by renegade French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and has angered many groups with his hard-line traditionalist views on women and the direction of the church. The Catholic bishops of England and Wales have already condemned Bishop Williamson's views on the Holocaust as 'totally unacceptable' and have stressed that the lifting of his excommunication was for unrelated matters. ... Also there to meet the bishop was documentary-maker Michele Renouf, who said she wanted to represent and support him in getting his views across to the public. She said: 'The Holocaust has become a religion and to deny its central tenets and saints is blasphemy.' She said it was 'a disgrace' that there could be no reasoned debate on the issue in this country. The former socialite has become increasingly known in recent years for an association with those who deny the Holocaust and supported historian David Irving during his trial in Vienna for Holocaust denial. Last year she helped put together a legal team for Australian academic Frederick Toben after he was arrested at Heathrow airport. [...]"


"'Genocide' Law Threatens US Ties with Turkey"
By Daniel Dombey and Delphine Strauss
Financial Times, 5 March 2009
"The US Congress is renewing a push on legislation that Turkey has warned could devastate Washington’s ties with one of its staunchest Nato allies. Sponsors of a resolution branding the Ottoman empire’s 1915-1923 massacres of Armenians as genocide have begun gathering backers for the measure, which has long been supported by Barack Obama, US president. Ankara, which has frequently warned that the legislation could endanger both Turkish-US and Turkish-Armenian relations, halted an attempt to pass the legislation in 2007 after calling into question US use of its Incirlik airbase. Mr. Obama is confronted with a choice between breaking a campaign pledge or risking long-standing defence ties with a strategic ally. Ali Babacan, Turkish foreign minister, said this week that Ankara would take a 'positive' approach if Washington asked for help in its exit from Iraq. The US also wants more assistance from Turkey in Afghanistan. A Turkish delegation is in Washington to hammer home the message that the genocide resolution is 'unacceptable' and would inflame public opinion. Turkey's leaders are expected to raise the issue with Hillary Clinton, US secretary of state, when she visits Ankara on Saturday. They are likely to argue that passing the resolution would also derail a drive to mend relations between Turkey and Armenia, including moves to open the border. Mr Babacan says settlement is closer than at any point since 1915. Members of Congress say US frustration with recent Turkish behaviour raises the chances of the resolution going through. In particular, the denunciation by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's prime minister, of Israel’s Gaza offensive has angered Jewish and pro-Israel groups that supported Turkey behind the scenes in 2007. Mr. Obama promised during his election campaign 'to recognise the Armenian genocide' were he to become president -- a step that would have more impact than the House of Representatives’ resolution. A key moment will come on April 24, the official day of remembrance, which in previous years has seen former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush refer respectively to 'the deportations and massacres' and the 'annihilation' of 1.5m Armenians. [...]"

"How to End a Genocide Debate"
By Grenville Byford
Newsweek, 28 February 2009
"It's almost April, so Washington is gearing up for another performance of the 'Armenian Genocide Resolution Spectacular,' a regular event since 1984. Here's the historical plotline: the Armenian-American lobby gets a few U.S. congressmen to sponsor a resolution recognizing the 1915 massacre of Armenians in what is now Eastern Turkey as a 'genocide.' ... Before staging this year's performance, however, Congress should note that hitherto frozen relations between Armenia and Turkey are now showing signs of melting, and that this may be the first step toward reconciling the Turkish and Armenian peoples. In September, Turkish President Abdullah Gül attended a Turkey-Armenia football match in Yerevan at the invitation of Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, who recently met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Davos. The two foreign ministers, Turkey's Ali Babacan and Armenia's Eduard Nalbandian have also been meeting. Both have made optimistic noises. Progress has been possible because the Armenians have focused on the concrete issue of opening the Armenian-Turkish border -- a vital matter to them since none of their other neighbors (Azerbaijan, Georgia and Iran) can offer a viable trade route to the West. Both sides have wisely avoided the genocide dispute, surely recognizing it will have to be dealt with eventually but that developing economic ties will make it easier to do so. ... In all probability, Turkey and Armenia can only resolve the genocide dispute if they recognize that 'was it a genocide?' may be the ultimate question, but it is not the most important one today. To those aiming for reconciliation, two questions outrank it: what common facts can Turks and Armenians be brought to accept, and is the common ground sufficient for both sides to start binding up the wounds? To this end, Erdogan's proposal to establish a joint historical commission should be pursued. Though Armenia has rejected the idea so far—largely because it is winning its argument on the world stage -- the government has softened its stance recently. If the aim is reconciliation, persuading the Turks to abandon the blanket denial they are taught as schoolchildren is what counts. [...]"


"Obama Releases Secret Bush Anti-terror Memos"
By Devlin Barrett and Matt Apuzzo
Associated Press dispatch on Yahoo! News, 3 March 2009
"The Obama administration threw open the curtain on years of Bush-era secrets Monday, revealing anti-terror memos that claimed exceptional search-and-seizure powers and divulging that the CIA destroyed nearly 100 videotapes of interrogations and other treatment of terror suspects. The Justice Department released nine legal opinions showing that, following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Bush administration determined that certain constitutional rights would not apply during the coming fight. Within two weeks, government lawyers were already discussing ways to wiretap U.S. conversations without warrants. The Bush administration eventually abandoned many of the legal conclusions, but the documents themselves had been closely held. By releasing them, President Barack Obama continued a house-cleaning of the previous administration's most contentious policies. 'Too often over the past decade, the fight against terrorism has been viewed as a zero-sum battle with our civil liberties,' Attorney General Eric Holder said in a speech a few hours before the documents were released. 'Not only is that school of thought misguided, I fear that in actuality it does more harm than good.' The Obama administration also acknowledged in court documents Monday that the CIA destroyed 92 videos involving terror suspects, including interrogations — far more than had been known. Congressional Democrats and other critics have charged that some of the harsh interrogation techniques amounted to torture, a contention President George W. Bush and other Bush officials rejected. The new administration pledged on Monday to begin turning over documents related to the videos to a federal judge and to make as much information public as possible. [...]"


"Genital Mutilation: Women Fight Africa's Taboo"
By Katrina Manson
The Independent, 27 February 2009
"The female journalist was snatched by members of a secret society, forcibly stripped and made to parade naked through the streets. It might sound like an atrocity from the time when Sierra Leone was ripped apart by a bloody civil war, but in fact the public humiliation was exacted in the diamond-rich eastern town of Kenema just this month. The woman's alleged crime was reporting on female genital mutilation. While the attack was condemned by media watchdogs as 'disgraceful behaviour worthy of a bygone age,' one woman who was not surprised was Rugiatu Turay. When she was 12 Ms Turay was stolen away by family members and underwent what some politely refer to as 'circumcision.' She calls it 'torture.' For the past six years, she has been waging a war against the practice, which many in Sierra Leone, including senior politicians, see as an initiation rite. Her organisation, the Amazonian Initiative Movement, tries to protect young girls from the knife. 'I picked the name because I am trying to talk about strong, powerful women,' she says Ms Turay, who works with her 20-strong staff in and around the northern town of Lunsar. So far, she has persuaded about 400 practitioners of female genital mutiliation (FGM), who are often called soweis, to lay down their blades and stop their role in the traditional bondo ceremony. 'Silence means consent. But if you say the truth people listen ... We go to the schools, mosques, everywhere.' As reward for her tenacious efforts, she has received death threats and been attacked by juju men, sometimes armed with magic, sometimes with machetes. ... Ms. Turay was mutilated at her aunt's house where she was staying with her three sisters and her cousin. 'We didn't even know that we were going to be initiated,' she says. 'They called me to get water and then outside they just grabbed me.' She was blindfolded, stripped, and laid on the ground. Heavy women sat on her arms, her chest, her legs. Her mouth was stuffed with a rag. Her clitoris was cut off with a crude knife. Despite profuse bleeding she was forced to walk, was beaten and had hot pepper water poured into her eyes. [...]"

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