Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Afghanistan / Violence against Males

Two-Thirds of Boys in Afghan Jails Are Brutalized, Study Finds
By Gareth Porter
Inter Press Service dispatch on Truthout.org, March 30, 2010
"Nearly two of every three male juveniles arrested in Afghanistan are physically abused, according to a study based on interviews with 40 percent of all those now incarcerated in the country's juvenile justice system. The study, carried out by U.S. defence attorney Kimberly Motley for the international children's rights organisation Terre des Hommes, reveals a justice system that subjects juveniles, many of whom are already innocent victims, to torture, forced confessions and blatant violation of their rights in court. ... The author personally interviewed 250 of the 600 juveniles in jails and rehabilitation centres across the country, including half the 80 girls and 40 percent of the 520 boys, as well as 98 professionals working in the system. Although only two of

South Africa / Violence against Whites

ANC Urges Followers to Defy Ban on Song
By Aislinn Laing
The Telegraph, March 31, 2010
"South Africa's ruling African National Congress has been accused of inciting the murder of white people after it urged the public to ignore a court ruling that an anti-apartheid song featuring the words 'Kill the Boer' was 'illegal hate speech.' The struggle song, entitled Ayesaba Amagwala (The Cowards are Scared), was sung at political rallies during the time of racial segregation but was recently resurrected by Julius Malema, the leader of the ANC's youth league at a student meeting. But with the word Boer meaning farmer in Afrikaans, the murder of white farmers in rural areas on the increase and talk by the government of nationalising productive farms raising fears of a new Zimbabwe, his choice of anthem provoked an outcry. A subsequent court ruling that the

Kenya / International Tribunals

International Court to Inquire into Kenya's Election Violence
By Michael Steen
The Irish Times, April 1, 2010
"Kenyan politicians face the possibility of indictment for crimes against humanity after the International Criminal Court in The Hague ordered an investigation into the country's post-election violence. More than 1,000 people were killed in unrest after a general election in December 2007. Allegations that Mwai Kibaki, the president, had rigged his way to victory triggered the violence, which escalated along ethnic lines and prompted more than 350,000 people to flee their homes. Two out of three judges in the ICC's pre-trial chamber yesterday ruled in favour of an application for a formal investigation made by Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the chief prosecutor. Several Kenyan cabinet ministers are believed to be among those suspected of orchestrating the violence. Their names were on a secret list compiled by Kenya's human rights commission and handed to Mr. Moreno-Ocampo in July. As a signatory to the Rome Statute which created the ICC,

China / Tibet












"The Sun Behind the Clouds": The Tibet Film China Loves to Hate
By Andrew O'Hehir
Salon.com, March 31, 2010
"It isn't literally true that there's a new documentary about Tibet every six weeks, but it does kind of feel that way. What sets apart 'The Sun Behind the Clouds,' made by the Tibetan-Indian filmmaking duo Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam, is both context and content. The film includes extensive interviews with the Dalai Lama, who is less circumspect than usual about the political and moral challenges facing his "Middle Way" strategy of arguing for greater Tibetan autonomy under Chinese rule. Sarin and Sonam also lift the veil on potentially explosive divisions within the Tibetan exile community, which is torn between spiritual and cultural loyalty to the Dalai Lama and a widespread longing for true independence. (The filmmakers clearly belong to the pro-independence camp.) This film also became the centerpiece of

Serbia / Srebrenica Massacre
















War Crimes: Is Serbia's Srebrenica Apology Genuine?
By Robert Marquand
Christian Science Monitor, March 31, 2010
"A resolution of apology by the Serbian parliament yesterday for the 1995 Srebrenica civilian massacre is seen by many in Belgrade as a landmark in the Balkan nation's often bitter attempt to deal with the worst mass murder in Europe since World War II. But outside Serbia, the apology-resolution, which passed by two votes, was seen by several Balkan analysts as too little too late, and more of a sop to the European Union in hopes of speeding up Serbia's integration with Europe at a time of financial woes. The resolution stopped short of calling the murder of more than 7,000 Bosnian Muslims who were fleeing a 'UN safe area' a genocide, saying, 'The parliament of Serbia strongly condemns the crime committed against the Bosnian Muslim population of Srebrenica in July 1995,' and extends 'condolences and an apology to the families of the victims because not everything was done to prevent the tragedy.' Belgrade has long been divided over

Sudan / Southern Sudan

Southern Sudan Prepares for Freedom -- and Puts Dream of Skyscrapers on Hold
By Xan Rice
The Guardian, March 30, 2010
"In the early days of the war, with weapons supplies short and the odds of achieving independence impossibly long, the southern Sudanese rebels composed songs to keep up morale. Some were battle anthems, designed to inspire bravery against the Arab enemy from the north. Others, like the one sung to the women worried about losing their husbands in combat, reflected hopes of life in a time of peace. 'It said that whoever survived the struggle would be driving cars and living in skyscrapers,' said Zalson Khor, an official with the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), which led the rebellion then took on the task of building from scratch what is expected to become the world's newest nation next year. Nowhere were the postwar expectations higher than in Bor, the capital of the largest state in Southern Sudan. It was in this Nile river town that the SPLM was born in 1983 when soldiers staged a mutiny against the government in Khartoum, kicking off one of Africa's longest civil wars. Bor was also the home of the rebels' revered leader, John Garang, who signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement with President Omar al-Bashir to end the conflict five years ago. The deal granted the south autonomy and mandated for the first time since Bashir seized power more than two decades ago that multiparty elections should be held, with the poll now scheduled for 11 April. Most importantly, however, the agreement also offered southerners the chance to realise their dreams of secession from the north through a referendum in 2011. That vote, which is certain to be in favour of independence, is nine months away. [...]"

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Netherlands / United States / Srebrenica Massacre

US General Apologises for Gay Dutch Troops Slur
By Bruno Waterfield
The Telegraph, March 30, 2010
"John Sheehan, a former US General and Nato commander, caused outrage two weeks ago when he alleged that open homosexuality in the Dutch ranks had so damaged military morale that the country's army was powerless to prevent genocide in Bosnia. He claimed, before a US Senate hearing, that Henk van den Breemen, the Dutch chief of the defence staff in 1995, had told him of problems related to gay troops. 'I am sorry that my public recollection of those discussions of 15 years ago inaccurately reflected your thinking on some specific social issues on the military,' he wrote in a letter to the Dutch general. Without explicitly referring to gay Dutch military, General Sheehan acknowledged that a weak United Nations mandate for troops was the problem facing peacekeepers. 'To be clear, the failure on the ground in Srebrenica was no way the fault of individual soldiers,' he wrote. A spokesperson for the Dutch Ministry of Defence said General Van den Breemen was satisfied with the apology. Up to 8,000 Muslim men and boys were massacred by Bosnian Serb forces after Dutch UN peacekeepers failed to prevent the fall of the Srebrenica enclave in July 1995, a legacy that has continued to haunt the Netherlands. Following the apology, the 'Pink Army,' a group representing gay Dutch soldiers, has withdrawn its threat to take Gen Sheehan to court for slander. 'It is quite something for a senior military man to admit he was wrong and say sorry,' said a spokesman. [...]"

Croatia / Serbia / Australia

Serbian 'War Criminal' Dragan Vasiljkovic to Face Trial in Croatia
By Anne Barrowclough
The Times, March 30, 2010
"An alleged Serbian war criminal is to be extradited from Australia to face a war crimes tribunal after the Croatian Government won an extradition appeal today. The ruling marks the end of a four-year-long battle by Dragan Vasiljkovic, 55, a former Serbian paramilitary leader, to avoid being returned to Croatia to face charges of murder and torture allegedly committed during the Balkans conflict between 1991 and 1993. Mr. Vasiljkovic was living in Perth and working as a golf professional when he was arrested by the Australian Federal Police in January 2006 after an extradition request by Croatia. The Australian Federal Court ruled in December last year that Mr. Vasiljkovic, who is an Australian citizen, could not be extradited because his political beliefs would result in his not receiving a fair trial. That decision was today overturned in the High Court in Canberra, clearing the way for him to be returned to Croatia. While in prison, Mr. Vasiljkovic attempted to sue The Australian newspaper for an article, published in 2005, which accused him of being a war criminal. The defamation trial backfired on the former soldier, turning into a de facto war crimes tribunal as witness after witness apeared in court to detail crimes including rape, torture and massacre allegedly committed by Mr. Vasiljkovic while he was commander of the paramilitary unit known as the Red Berets. [...]"
Now available for pre-order on Amazon.com: Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction, Second Edition, by Adam Jones (Routledge, forthcoming August 2010). The new edition of the leading textbook in genocide studies, extensively revised, expanded, and richly illustrated, with an up-to-the-minute incorporation of recent scholarship on genocide.

Serbia / Srebrenica Massacre / European Union

Serbia Apologizes for 1995 Massacre
Reuters dispatch in The New York Times, March 30, 2010
"Serbia's parliament apologised on Wednesday for the 1995 killing of thousands of Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica, but the process only highlighted how deeply polarised the country remains about its wartime past. The resolution expressed sympathy to victims and apologised for not doing enough to prevent the massacre, but stopped short of calling the killings 'genocide.' The ruling coalition of pro-Western Democrats and Socialists hopes to win EU and investor favour with measure, which was adopted after debate over nearly 13 hours broadcast on live television ending after midnight. 'We are taking a civilised step of politically responsible people, based on political conviction, for the war crime that happened in Srebrenica,' said Branko Ruzic, whose Socialist party was led by strongman Slobodan Milosevic during the 1990s. Bosnian Serb forces led by General Ratko Mladic killed about 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys after taking over the eastern enclave that was put under the U.N. protection. The massacre is Europe's worst atrocity since World War Two. One Western diplomat stationed in Bosnia when the Srebrenica massacre occurred said passing the resolution without arresting Mladic meant little. 'As a substitute, it's offensive, it's an insult. Done in tandem with a legal step, then it's significant,' the diplomat said. 'If they think they can let Mladic run free for another 15 years, it's a grave injustice.' Belgrade applied for European Union membership in December but must capture and send Mladic to the war crimes tribunal in The Hague before starting talks. The former general, hailed as a hero by many Serbs, is believed to be hiding in Serbia. [...]"

Serbia / Srebrenica Massacre / European Union

Serbia Condemns 1995 Srebrenica Massacre of 8,000 Muslim Men and Boys
The Times, March 30, 2010
"Serbia was poised tonight to turn decisively towards a future in the European Union as its MPs debated a landmark declaration condemning the massacre of 8,000 Muslims at Srebrenica in 1995. While stopping short of using the term genocide, the statement recognised that Serbia failed to prevent the killings carried out by its forces after seizing the UN safe haven in the ethnic conflict that followed the break-up of Yugoslavia. The declaration was driven by Boris Tadic, Serbia's pro-EU President but opposed by nationalists, who warned that it would 'turn Serbia into an eternal villain.' It was welcomed by the Netherlands, which is demanding the capture of Ratko Mladic, the general in charge of Serb forces in Srebrenica, before further progress can be made towards EU membership. About 400 lightly armed Dutch peace-keepers could not stop Mr Mladic's men after the UN refused to sanction airstrikes. It is an episode that left a scar on the Dutch conscience. Thousands of Muslim men and boys who had been sheltering in Srebrenica were murdered in the worst mass killings in Europe since the Second World War. 'What we should do with this declaration is provide peace and respect to those killed, to provide peace and condolences to those who survived,' said Nada Kolundzija, the head of the Serb ruling coalition's MPs. 'Thie is a milestone on Serbia's road to the construction of a modern European society.' The International Court of Justice and the Yugoslav Tribunal in The Hague classed Srebrenica as genocide but the term was dropped from the declaration to try to ensure wider support. [...]"

Death Penalty

Amnesty Releases Global Death Penalty Figures
Deutsche Welle, March 30, 2010
Amnesty International has released its annual report on the use of capital punishment worldwide, naming China, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the U.S. as the countries with the highest number of executions. In its latest report on the use of the death penalty worldwide, Amnesty International says at least 714 people were executed in 18 countries last year, and some 2,000 people were handed death sentences in 56 countries. However, Amnesty says these figures show a welcome move towards the abolition of the death penalty worldwide. But the report does not specify the number of executions in China, which Amnesty believes to be in the thousands. In addition to China, the report cites Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the United States as the countries with the highest number of executions in 2009. The estimated figures were 388 for Iran, 120 for Iraq, 69 for Saudi Arabia and 52 for the United States. The report claims that more people are put to death in China than in the rest of the world altogether, and that the statistics made public by the country 'grossly under-represent' the actual numbers. Information on the death penalty is a state secret in China, but authorities say that fewer executions are taking place. Last year, China's highest court called for the death penalty to be used less often and to be reserved only for the most serious offences. [...]"

Srebrenica Massacre / International Tribunals












"Bosnian Muslim women from Srebrenica hold a hand-woven carpet with the names of their killed relatives embroidered on it." (AFP/Getty Images)

Court: Srebrenica Women Cannot Sue U.N.
CNN, March 30, 2010
"The Court of Appeal at The Hague ruled Tuesday that a group of women cannot sue the United Nations for failing to prevent the massacre in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica in 1995. The court said it was impossible for the Mothers of Srebrenica to sue because of the immunity granted to the United Nations under international conventions. It said the women have other avenues to try to recover their losses. The mothers are surviving relatives of the men and boys who died in the massacre. They wanted to sue because they believe the Netherlands and the United Nations failed to prevent the killings, the court said Tuesday. They allege it was the Dutch UN peacekeepers who were to blame, the court said. In making its decision, the court said it tried to balance the UN immunity with the interests of the women. 'The Court of Appeal appreciates that the mothers and their relatives have suffered atrocities,' the court said. 'The Court of Appeal therefore comprehends entirely that they seek redress for their losses in a court of law. It ruled, however, that the interests of the UN must prevail in this case.' Lawyers for the women could decide to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. More than 7,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were killed at Srebrenica when ethnic Serb troops overran a UN 'safe area' in July 1995. It was the worst European massacre since World War II. The UN War Crimes Tribunal called the five-day slaughter 'the triumph of evil.' The men and boys were among thousands of Bosnian Muslims who had sought refuge in the spa town as the Bosnian Serb army marched toward them. They were protected by 100 lightly equipped Dutch peacekeepers who proved no match for the advancing, heavily-armed Serb army. Denied reinforcements, the Dutch were forced to stand aside while Serb troops intent on 'ethnic cleansing' did their worst -- the peacekeepers even witnessing the summary execution of civilians. [...]"

Monday, March 29, 2010

Rwanda / Aftermath of Genocide

Coping with Survival after Genocide
By Michelle
Humanrights.change.org, March 24, 2010
"The damage of genocide is permanent, not just in the lives lost, families decimated, and cultures destroyed, but in the individual lives of survivors. While society rebuilds, the scars of trauma persist, like an unseen undercurrent carried quietly by those who learn how to live in a new 'post' reality. A recent study in Rwanda revealed that over 28 percent of the population suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with over 58 percent of those being women. Similar studies in post-genocide Cambodia found extremely high levels of trauma among the population, but, as one reporter notes, 'the issue gets little outside attention, and precious little money.' Advocates in Sri Lanka are drawing attention to PTSD in children who lived through the devastating civil war between the government and rebel Tamil militants, which included large-scale displacement and attacks on civilians, or children who were abducted into the fighting forces themselves. ... The government of Rwanda is doing the right thing by confronting this issue head on, as challenging a problem as it is to tackle. The memory and scars of genocide can never be taken away, lost loved ones can never be returned, and life will never be the same as before, but providing support and assistance to survivors can provide mechanisms to manage their trauma, and hopefully, in time, to ease it."

Turkey / United States / Armenian Genocide

Clinton Makes Pledge on Genocide Resolution: Turkey
Reuters dispatch on Yahoo! News, March 29, 2010
"Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has assured Turkey that the White House opposes a congressional resolution labeling the World War One massacres of Armenians in Turkey as genocide, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said on Monday. The ministry issued the statement after a telephone call between Clinton and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Sunday. The United States is keen to smooth over relations with Turkey, NATO's only Muslim member, and a key ally in trouble spots from Afghanistan to the Middle East. Turkey recalled its ambassador in Washington after a U.S. House of Representatives committee approved a non-binding resolution on March 4 calling on President Barack Obama to refer to the killings of as many as 1.5 million Armenians almost a century ago as genocide. It is unclear whether the resolution will go to a vote of the full House of Representatives -- or whether it could pass. ... More than 20 countries recognize the killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks nearly a century ago as genocide. Turkey argues that both Turks and Armenians were killed during the chaos of war and the break-up of the Ottoman Empire. Turkey now wants to be sure that Obama will not use the term genocide in an address scheduled for April 24, underscoring its concerns with a halt on high-profile visits by its officials. Davutoglu told Clinton the congressional committee's resolution had hurt efforts to improve stability in the South Caucasus. While Turkey and Armenia are trying to normalize relations and open their shared border, progress is complicated by hostility between Armenia and Turkey's fellow-Muslim ally, Azerbaijan. [...]"

Canada / Bosnia and Herzegovina

Canadian Soldiers Depart Bosnia-Herzegovina
CBC.com, March 29, 2010
"The last of Canada's Forces are leaving Bosnia-Herzegovina after 19 years in the Balkans, the Defence Department said Monday. Six Canadians -- including five officers and one non-commissioned soldier -- serving at NATO headquarters in Sarajevo will be returning to Canada. 'Over the last two decades, Canadians have worked with the government of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and our UN and NATO partners, to secure a brighter future for the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina,' said Defence Minister Peter MacKay in a statement. 'Canada and the [Canadian Forces] can be proud of having helped make Bosnia-Herzegovina a safer and more stable place,' he said. Since September 1991, more than 40,000 Canadian soldiers served in the Balkans in a variety of missions and roles. Over the years, 23 Forces members lost their lives while serving in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Walter Natynczyk said that when Canadians first deployed in Bosnia-Herzegovina they were performing peacekeeping. 'Now members of the Bosnian armed forces are serving as part of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan,' he said. Canada still has a military presence in the Balkans -- five senior officers are serving with the NATO mission supporting the Kosovo Security Force."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch. A job well done, and RIP the brave 23. As a totally picky point, the name of the state today is "Bosnia and Herzegovina," not "Bosnia-Herzegovina."]

Turkey / Armenian Genocide

"There Can Be No Talk of Genocide" (Interview with Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan)
Spiegel Online, March 29, 2010
"[...] Erdogan: When a journalist uses the word genocide, he should take a careful look at the issue first. There can be no talk of genocide against the Armenians. Genocide is a legal term. In 2005, I wrote a letter to then-Armenian President Robert Kocharian, in which I told him that this is not a matter for politicians like us, but one that needs to be studied by historians. There are currently millions of documents on the subject in Turkish archives, of which more than 1 million have been examined since I wrote to Kocharian. If there are archives in your country, I wrote to him, then make them accessible. And if historians cannot clarify the subject sufficiently, then let lawyers, political scientists and archaeologists take part in the effort.
SPIEGEL: Armenians say that commissions of historians are just the best way to put off such disputes indefinitely. And we disagree with the notion that politicians should not talk about genocide. One person who has used this word is the current American president.
Erdogan: If he used the word, then he did so in error. A word doesn't become more correct because a president uses it. And besides, the United States is not a party to this matter. America, like other countries, is merely a bystander here. We and the Armenians are the only participants. This is our history. The Turkish Republic had not yet been founded in 1915. It was the era of the Ottoman Empire, which was allied with Germany at the time. [...]"

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sudan / Darfur / International Tribunals

"I Feel Completely Safe" (Interview with Omar al-Bashir)
By Susanne Koelbl and Volkhard Windfuhr
Spiegel Online, March 22, 2010
"According to United Nations estimates, about 300,000 people died and at least 2 million were forced to flee their homes in Sudan's Darfur region between 2003 and 2008. In the years of forced displacement and torture, the political responsibility lay with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, the first sitting head of state against whom the International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant. The court indicted Bashir on five counts of crimes against humanity and two of war crimes. The president of the largest African country, as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, stands accused of being responsible for the bombing of numerous villages. He is also accused of having armed and paid the Arab mounted militias known as the Janjaweed, so that, after the bombings, they could murder people in the settlements, drive them out and systematically rape the women. So far, however, Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo has not gained the support of a majority of the judges in The Hague in his efforts to prosecute Bashir for genocide. Bashir came to power in a non-violent coup about 21 years ago, and in 1993 he was formally confirmed as president. In 2005, he agreed to a treaty brokered by the West, which ended the decades-long civil war in the country's Christian and animist south. Under the agreement, the south will decide, in a January 2011 referendum, whether to secede from the rest of the country. The population is expected to choose independence. In the Muslim north, however, Bashir has in fact benefited from the arrest warrant. The Arab League and the African Union have come to his support, and the indictment has provided him with a defiant burst of sympathy within the population. Observers expect Bashir to be confirmed as president in the elections in mid-April. In an exclusive SPIEGEL interview, Bashir describes the accusations against him as 'baseless,' and 'conspiracy controlled from abroad.' [...]"

Congo













The Bleak Calculus of Congo's War without End
By Geoffrey York
The Globe and Mail, March 27, 2010
"[...] For millions of Congolese, the brutality that plagues their daily lives is all too real -- even if almost everyone else would just as soon forget about a conflict so devastating that some call it 'Africa's world war.' With a death toll surpassing that of Iraq and Afghanistan combined, it is one of the bloodiest and longest-running struggles anywhere. Nobody knows how many people have died since the latest fighting erupted, but estimates range as high as 5 million, including those who have died from the illness and hunger it has caused. As well, hundreds of thousands of women, many of them still girls, have been raped; soldiers on all sides use sexual violence like a weapon. The United Nations' largest active peacekeeping force -- 20,000 soldiers from dozens of countries -- has failed to halt the atrocities. In fact, there are those who argue that the peacekeepers sometimes make things worse. A year ago, hope for peace soared when the government of President Joseph Kabila signed a pact with a key rebel group. Yet the lush green hills and forests of this starkly beautiful land are still in turmoil -- caught up in an endless scramble for the vast mineral wealth that in little more than a decade has attracted invaders from seven nearby countries. Despite the continued fighting, the government is trying to shut the refugee camps scattered across Congo's eastern provinces, where 1.4 million are homeless, including 900,000 displaced in the past year alone. But most people are too fearful to go home -- with good reason. Human Rights Watch has reported that at least 1,400 civilians, including many women and children, were killed in 'horrendous abuses' by both government and rebel forces. In some cases, the attackers 'slit their throats like chickens' or gang-raped them so viciously that they bled to death from their injuries. Those who survive are often abducted as forced labour. And now there are fears that the situation will get worse. Not only is President Kabila trying to close the refugee camps, but June 30 will mark the 50th anniversary of Congo's independence -- an occasion he wants to observe with the UN's blue helmets, if not gone, packing their bags. [...]"
[n.b. Photo by James Aken/Reuters]

South Africa / Violence against Whites

White Farmers "Being Wiped Out"
By Dan McDougall
The Sunday Times, March 28, 2010
"The gunmen walked silently through the orchard. Skirting a row of burnt-out tyres, set ablaze months earlier to keep the budding fruit from freezing, they drew their old .38 revolvers. Inside his farmhouse Pieter Cillier, 57, slept with his 14-year-old daughter Nikki at his side. His 12-year-old son JD was having a sleepover with two teenagers in an adjoining room. As the intruders broke in, the farmer woke. He rushed to stop them, only to be shot twice in the chest. In his death throes he would have seen his killers and then his children standing over him, screaming and crying. The attackers, who were drug addicts, simply disappeared into the night. Cillier's murder, at Christmas, was barely reported in the local press. It was, after all, everyday news. Death has stalked South Africa's white farmers for years. The number murdered since the end of apartheid in 1994 has passed 3,000. In neighbouring Zimbabwe, a campaign of intimidation that began in 2000 has driven more than 4,000 commercial farmers off their land, but has left fewer than two dozen dead. The vulnerability felt by South Africa's 40,000 remaining white farmers intensified earlier this month when Julius Malema, head of the African National Congress's (ANC’s) youth league, opened a public rally by singing Dubula Ibhunu, or Shoot the Boer, an apartheid-era anthem, that was banned by the high court last week. Malema's timing could hardly have been worse. Last weekend in the remote farming community of Colenso, in KwaZulu-Natal, Nigel Ralfe, 71, a dairy farmer, and his wife Lynette, 64, were gunned down as they milked their cows. He was critically injured; she died. That same day a 46-year-old Afrikaner was shot through his bedroom window as he slept at his farm near Potchefstroom. A few days later a 61-year-old was stabbed to death in his bed at a farm in Limpopo. The resurrection of Dubula Ibhunu, defended by senior ANC officials as little more then a sentimental old struggle song, has been greeted with alarm by Tom Stokes, of the opposition Democratic Alliance. He said the ANC's continued association with the call to kill Boers could not be justified. [...]"
[n.b. I discuss this disturbing phenomenon in my chapter, "'When the Rabbit's Got the Gun': Subaltern Genocide and the Genocidal Continuum," in Nicholas A. Robins and Adam Jones, eds., Genocides by the Oppressed: Subaltern Genocide in Theory and Practice (Indiana University Press, 2009).]

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Congo

Fleeing Rebels Kill Hundreds of Congolese
By Jeffrey Gettleman
The New York Times, March 27, 2010
"Depleted by an American-backed offensive and seemingly desperate for new conscripts, the Lord's Resistance Army, one of the most infamous armed groups in Africa, has killed hundreds of villagers in this remote corner of Congo and kidnapped hundreds more, marching them off in a vast human chain, witnesses say. The massacre and abductions are a major setback to the effort to stamp out the remnants of the group, a primarily Ugandan rebel force that fielded thousands of soldiers in the 1980s and '90s. But in recent years it has degenerated into a band of several hundred predators living deep in the bush in Congo, Sudan and the Central African Republic with child brides and military-grade weaponry. The United States is providing the Ugandan Army with millions of dollars' worth of aid -- including fuel, trucks, satellite phones, night-vision goggles and contracted air support -- to hunt the fighters down. It is one of the signature programs of Africom, the new American military command for Africa, which is working with the State Department to employ what officials call 'the three D's' -- defense, diplomacy and development -- to help African nations stabilize themselves. These efforts appeared to be succeeding, eliminating up to 60 percent of the Lord’s Resistance Army fighters in the past 18 months, American officials said. But that may have been why the fighters tore off on their raid, late last year, to get as many new conscripts as possible, along with medicine, clothes and food. They also kidnapped nurses from hospitals, witnesses said, and stripped blood-splattered clothes off corpses for themselves, a sign they are increasingly desperate. Human Rights Watch, which sent a team to investigate the killings in February, said the LRA killed at least 320 people in this area, calling the massacre one of the worst in the group's 23-year, atrocity-filled history. Witnesses said that the number of dead could be several hundred more, and that most victims had been taken from their villages, tied at the waist and forced into the jungle, often with enormous loads of looted food balanced on their heads. Along the way, fighters randomly selected captives to kill, usually by an ax blow to the back of the head. 'They only scream once,' said Jean-Claude Singbatile, a high school student who said that he spent 14 days in captivity and witnessed dozens of killings. What the attack shows, said Anneke Van Woudenberg, a Human Rights Watch researcher who was recently in Congo, 'is that whether they are weakened or not, the LRA's capacity to kill remains as strong as ever.' The events expose another troubling reality: Even as Congo's leaders are pushing the United Nations to begin withdrawing peacekeepers, partly to make the government look more independent from the West, this immense nation of nearly 70 million people remains as vulnerable as ever. [...]"

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Zimbabwe / Africa / Persecution of Homosexuals

Zimbabwe Shrugs Off Gay Rights
By Barry Bearak and Alan Cowell
The New York Times, March 26, 2010
"Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, said Thursday that any thought of putting gay rights in the nation's new constitution was 'madness,' and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who often disputes almost everything Mr. Mugabe says, this time seemed to agree. Both men were appearing at a belated celebration of International Women's Day in a suburb of Harare, Zimbabwe's capital. The pro-Mugabe state-run news media in Zimbabwe reported Friday that the president was scornful of the very idea of gay rights, which the 86-year-old president said would make the nation's ancestors 'turn in their graves.' Mr. Tsvangirai's response, according to the news media, was, 'Why should a man seek to have a relationship with another man when women make up 52 percent of the population?' Mr. Mugabe's comments were unsurprising. In the past he has described homosexuals as behaving 'worse than pigs and dogs.' Gay bashing is one of his enduring themes. Mr. Tsvangirai, on the other hand, has won international awards for championing human rights. He was considered among the favorites to win last year’s Nobel Peace Prize. ... Homosexuality is illegal in Zimbabwe, but gay rights organizations have been allowed to operate openly. In nearby Malawi, such groups can work only clandestinely. Two gay men there could face 14 years in prison after they were arrested for holding an engagement party in December. Homophobia is the norm throughout Africa. In Uganda, a lawmaker has proposed harsh penalties for homosexuality, including the death penalty in some circumstances. In Kenya last month, the police broke up a gay wedding and arrested many of the guests; the police intervened, they said, to keep an irate mob from killing the participants. [...]"

United States / Maternal Mortality

Amnesty Report Condemns US Death Rates of Women in Childbirth
By Sarah Boseley
The Guardian, March 12, 2010
"The death rate of women giving birth in the US is worse than in 40 other countries, including nearly all the industrialised countries, Amnesty International said today in a report that describes the country's approach to maternity care as 'disgraceful and scandalous.' According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the likelihood of a woman dying in childbirth in the US is five times greater than in Greece. The US has some of the best medical care in the world, but Amnesty says the lives of poor, uninsured, African American and Native American women are put at risk by neglect. 'This country's extraordinary record of medical advancement makes its haphazard approach to maternal care all the more scandalous and disgraceful,' said US Amnesty executive director Larry Cox. 'Good maternal care should not be considered a luxury available only to those who can access the best hospitals and the best doctors. Women should not die in the richest country on earth from preventable complications and emergencies. Mothers die not because the United States can't provide good care, but because it lacks the political will to make sure good care is available to all women.' The US ranks 41st in the WHO's league table of maternal mortality, with a risk of women dying in childbirth at one in 4,800. Top of the league is Ireland with one in 47,600, which has partly to do with the small population, followed by Bosnia and Herzegovina and then Italy and Greece. The UK ranks 26th with a risk of one in 8,200. The damning report comes in a year of unprecedented international effort to reduce the death rate among mothers in developing countries, which will include a major conference called Women Deliver in Washington in the summer. The cause has been taken up by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as well as Sarah Brown in the UK. That context makes the Amnesty report all the more shocking. Death rates among women in pregnancy and labour have doubled in the US from 6.6 per 100,000 in 1987 to 13.3 per 100,000 in 2006. ... Amnesty says that the death rate in the US is probably even higher than it appears, because there is no federal requirement for the reporting of deaths in childbirth."
[n.b. Link to the full text of the Deadly Delivery report.]

Congo

The Bleak Calculus of Congo's War without End
By Geoffrey York
The Globe and Mail, March 26, 2010
"[...] For millions of Congolese, the brutality that plagues their daily lives is all too real -- even if almost everyone else would just as soon forget about a conflict so devastating that some call it 'Africa's world war.' With a death toll surpassing that of Iraq and Afghanistan combined, it is one of the bloodiest and longest-running struggles anywhere. Nobody knows how many people have died since the latest fighting erupted, but estimates range as high as 5 million, including those who have died from the illness and hunger it has caused. As well, hundreds of thousands of women, many of them still girls, have been raped; soldiers on all sides use sexual violence like a weapon. The United Nations' largest active peacekeeping force -- 20,000 soldiers from dozens of countries -- has failed to halt the atrocities. In fact, there are those who argue that the peacekeepers sometimes make things worse. A year ago, hope for peace soared when the government of President Joseph Kabila signed a pact with a key rebel group. Yet the lush green hills and forests of this starkly beautiful land are still in turmoil -- caught up in an endless scramble for the vast mineral wealth that in little more than a decade has attracted invaders from seven nearby countries. Despite the continued fighting, the government is trying to shut the refugee camps scattered across Congo's eastern provinces, where 1.4 million are homeless, including 900,000 displaced in the past year alone. But most people are too fearful to go home -- with good reason. Human Rights Watch has reported that at least 1,400 civilians, including many women and children, were killed in 'horrendous abuses' by both government and rebel forces. In some cases, the attackers 'slit their throats like chickens' or gang-raped them so viciously that they bled to death from their injuries. Those who survive are often abducted as forced labour. [...]"
[n.b. Thanks to Thomas Turner for bringing this source to my attention.]

Serbian edition of "Genocide, War Crimes & the West"

The only book of mine ever to have secured a foreign translation (in German) now has a second. I've just learned that Genocide, War Crimes & the West: History and Complicity will be published in Serbian translation by the Serbian State Company for Textbooks. I'm not quite sure how to read that. On one hand, I'm sure the emphasis on western perpetration of atrocities fits into the "victim" narrative in Serbia that David B. MacDonald has so well described in his book, Balkan Holocausts. On the other hand, it is none other than Dr. MacDonald who authors the chapter on Kosovo in 1999 for my own edited volume! David's is one of the most even-handed and nuanced treatments of western war crimes in Kosovo, and he generally lets NATO off the hook on the most serious charges (as I do). So that's interesting. My Facebook friends Peter Prontzos (on structural violence), Thomas Turner (on Congo), Steven Jacobs (on Kissinger), S. Brian Willson (on Indochina), and Peter Dale Scott (on "Indian wars" and Central America) can know that their excellent chapters will now appear in still another foreign tongue! And my persecuted pal Ward Churchill, who contributed the longest and probably most intense chapter in the book (on Indian residential schools in Canada), will reach a whole new audience. Overall, I'm glad to see that Genocide, War Crimes & the West has established itself in the literature -- how centrally is for others to decide.

Incidentally, in Googling around on a book I haven't paid much attention to in recent years, I found that my proposed neologism of democrisy has begun to be cited. (I define it as "the stain of hypocrisy that attaches to regimes that are avowedly democratic in character, that allow comparative freedom and immunity from naked state violence domestically, but that initiate or participate in atrocious actions beyond their borders.") I always thought it was a bit of an unsung contribution! - AJ

Russia / Nazism

Russia Bans Hitler's 'Mein Kampf' over Fears It Fuels Rise of Far-Right
The Telegraph, March 26, 2010
"Adolf Hitler's book 'Mein Kampf' has been banned in Russia in an attempt to combat the growing allure of far-Right politics. Russian prosecutors on Friday banned the 1925 semi-autobiographical book, saying its outline of racial supremacy encouraged extremist and violent behaviour. Despite including tracts that are both anti-Jewish and anti-Russian, it has become increasingly popular among Russia's far-Right groups. Russian extremists have attacked migrant workers from poor nations in Central Asia and the Caucasus who come to Russia and often have menial jobs and squalid living conditions. African and Asian students and Russians who do not look Slavic have also been targeted. At least 60 people were killed and 306 injured in hate attacks in Russia last year, according to Sova, a Moscow-based non-governmental organisation that tracks racist violence. The ban was initiated after a regional office of the prosecutor sought new ways to combat extremism and found the book was being distributed in the Ufa region. Hitler dictated the book to his aide Rudolf Hess while in prison in Bavaria after the failed Munich 'Beer Hall' putsch of 1923. It sets out his doctrine of German racial supremacy and ambitions to annex huge areas of the Soviet Union. 'Mein Kampf' has been banned in Germany since the Second World War. In Germany, it is illegal to distribute it except in special circumstances, such as for academic research."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

Nigeria

Residents of Nigerian Village Live in Fear of Renewed Massacres
By Jonathan Clayton
The Times, March 26, 2010
"[...] Home to about 2,000 people, the village bears the scars of the attack. Many of the houses are burnt, the tin roofs caved in over charred beams. The carbonised wrecks of cars and motorbikes litter the dusty lanes where hens and goats scavenge in the dirt. In many places the sandy earth is stained dark by human blood. The trunks of the largest trees are covered black with charcoal. They were set ablaze with the husks of harvested corn to force children and adults hiding in the branches to fall to their deaths. People have returned but no one is working. Instead, they sit around in small groups comparing notes on the attack and the latest rumours. At least 100 Muslim families who lived among the Christians left before the attack. They have yet to return. 'They were warned the attack was coming,' said Daniel Jik, assistant village headman, who lost two children and eight grandchildren in the attack. He pointed to the mass grave where they lay together. 'They even beheaded one woman and we had to bury her body alone because they took the head as a trophy.' Across dusty, sun-baked fields, the village church, now a blackened ruin, still smoulders. The entire region is in a state of near panic as both sides wait for reprisals. At least 20 people have been killed in attacks since the raids, which were initially believed to be in revenge for an outburst of violence in January that left casualties on both sides. A strong military presence is now evident but frightened villagers say that a curfew after the January violence failed to prevent this month’s massacre. The tension on both sides is so palpable that local officials fear the army will be unable to prevent a fresh explosion, especially in areas outside the centre of Jos. The federal Government, beset by power struggles, appears incapable of giving the strong leadership needed to avert a full-scale crisis, analysts warn. [...]"

Australia / Police Violence against Minorities

Racist Email Scandal Engulfs Australian Police
By Kathy Marks
The Independent, March 26, 2010
"Accused of failing to investigate properly a string of attacks on Indian students, and of racially targeting African immigrants, police in Victoria must have thought their reputation could not sink any lower. Until yesterday, when the force announced that up to 100 officers were being investigated over racist emails that include a graphic image of a man of ethnic minority origin being tortured. The email scandal, which sent shockwaves across Australia, has already claimed one life: that of a long-serving police sergeant who shot himself in a suburban station on Monday after tendering his resignation three days earlier. Tony Van Gorp, 47, had been challenged by senior officers to give reasons why he should not be dismissed over his involvement in the affair. Another sergeant, who allegedly introduced the email containing the torture image into the police computer system, is also said to be facing the sack. According to the Melbourne newspaper The Age, 'sickening' racist comments were added to the email as it was circulated. The state's Chief Commissioner, Simon Overland -- who admitted last week that there was racism within the force, albeit, he said, confined to a small minority of officers -- said yesterday that the emails were too 'disturbing and gross' to be released publicly. Mr. Overland told a Melbourne radio station: 'It's extremely serious, it's offensive, and my view is that it would cause significant concern and alarm in the community if the material was made public.' The image of Victorian police has taken a battering over the past year, following claims that officers failed to acknowledge that attacks on Indian students living in Melbourne were, at least in part, racially motivated. In January one student, Nitin Garg, was stabbed to death in a suburban park after walking home at night from his job in a fast-food restaurant. Last week a damning report by three legal services concluded that young men from Sudan and other African countries were routinely targeted, verbally abused and even physically assaulted by police. Officers were accused of calling the youths 'monkeys' and 'black c--- s', of repeatedly arresting and questioning them, and, in one case, of removing their uniforms to beat up a group in a public park. ... It was not clear yesterday whether the torture image was based on a real incident, or was confected."

Thursday, March 25, 2010

NOW AVAILABLE: Evoking Genocide: Scholars and Activists Describe the Works That Shaped Their Lives, edited by Adam Jones (The Key Publishing House Inc., 2009; 309 pp., US $32.99 pbk). "Evoking Genocide comprises sixty brief essays, fascinatingly diverse, each deploying a particular textual or visual touchstone in an effort to reveal the author's struggle to confront the ultimate crime. The best of them bring us powerfully close to the singular agony that comes from taking genocide seriously, from refusing to turn away from evil even if it is unfathomable." (Mia Farrow, advocate and actor)

Rwandan Genocide / Art and Culture of Genocide

They Survived the Rwandan Genocide
By James Estrin
The New York Times (Lens blog), March 25, 2010
"As a teenager in Cairo 16 years ago, Myriam Abdelaziz was haunted by images of the Rwandan genocide. She had trouble comprehending the scope of the massacres, seeing them in photographs and on television. An estimated 800,000 people were killed by the Hutu, most of them Tutsi or Hutu moderates, many of them butchered with machetes. The rest of the world soon shifted its attention to newer conflicts and disasters. But Ms. Abdelaziz did not forget. She grew up to become a corporate marketer in France, then a photographer. She moved to New York and studied at the International Center of Photography, from which she graduated in 2005. Two years later, she traveled to Rwanda to see for herself what had happened in 1994. Though the killing had stopped, she learned, survivors were still living closely with the physical and emotional effects of the brutality. 'People lost their homes, lost their families and lost their limbs,' Ms. Abdelaziz said. Hearing their stories was deeply upsetting. Equally shocking to Ms. Abdelaziz was the lack of response from the world community to the plight of Rwandans. 'They need surgery and psychiatric help,' she said, 'and they're still not getting it. There is a lot of need.' Everyone she met had been affected, but most survivors rarely talked about their own experiences. To learn more from her subjects, to put them at greater ease and to earn their trust, she would spend hours listening to their life stories. From the beginning, she realized that their words would be an integral part of her project, 'Portrait of a Genocide.' 'Some scars are intimate and some of them find them ugly; they’re uncomfortable,' said Ms. Abdelaziz, who is now 34. 'To make them feel comfortable about having their picture taken, I really felt that I needed to listen to everything they had to say.' The simple, straightforward portraits were taken after the interviews, using just a reflector and a medium-format camera on a tripod. Often, she photographed for only a few minutes. [...]"

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bangladesh / "Social Cleansing"

Police in Bangladesh Close Photo Exhibit
By David Gonzalez
The New York Times (Lens blog), March 23, 2010
"Shahidul Alam had hoped his 'Crossfire' exhibit on extrajudicial killings in Bangladesh would 'shock people out of their comfort zone' and provoke a response. He got his wish. Minutes before the show was to open on Monday afternoon, the police shut down his gallery in the Dhanmondi district of Dhaka. But instead of stifling public debate, the government's action has had the opposite effect: art students have formed a human chain at the university and lawyers are preparing to bring legal action to reopen the show. 'It really has galvanized public opinion,' Mr. Alam said in a telephone interview on Tuesday from southern Bangladesh. 'People were angry and ready -- they just needed a catalyst. The exhibit has become in a sense iconic of the resistance.' The photography exhibit was a symbolic treatment of the wave of executions carried out by the Rapid Action Battalion, an anticrime squad whose many critics say that it engages in violent social cleansing. Rather than document actual killings -- something already done at great length by groups like Human Rights Watch -- Mr. Alam created a series of large, moody prints that touched on aspects of actual cases. ... Although the killings have drawn international condemnation, they have continued, despite promises by the government to rein in the battalion. Mr. Alam, a photographer, writer and activist, had hoped that his track record and international reputation would offer the 'Crossfire' show some protection. But the police and officials from the battalion began to put pressure on him around midday, according to a press release from the gallery, insisting that the exhibit did not have the necessary official permission. As the 4 p.m. opening hour approached, the police closed the gallery, saying the show would create 'anarchy.' [...]"

Germany / Nazism

Ex-Nazi Guilty in Wartime Murders
By Victor Homola and Alan Cowell
The New York Times, March 23, 2010
"As German authorities pursue suspected Nazi war criminals to the last, a court in Aachen convicted an 88-year-old former SS soldier on Tuesday on charges of killing three Dutch civilians in reprisal for attacks by Dutch resistance fighters in 1944. The case against the former soldier, Heinrich Boere, who is now a stateless person, was depicted by German analysts as one of the last major war crimes trials. Court proceedings began last November in another case, against John Demjanjuk, 89, who was accused of helping to force 27,900 Jews to their deaths during the Holocaust. The verdict in Aachen on Tuesday against Mr. Boere came more than six decades after he was found guilty by a Dutch court in 1949 and sentenced to death. That sentence, passed in his absence, was later commuted to a life imprisonment, but he fled to Germany after the war and did not serve it. The German court sentenced him to the maximum permissible sentence of life imprisonment on Tuesday, as the prosecution had demanded, rejecting a defense plea for the case to be dropped under European Union regulations covering due process. Defense lawyers said they would appeal the court findings, a process that could take years. Court-appointed doctors will also examine Mr. Boere to ascertain whether he is medically fit to serve a prison term. Before his trial he lived in a nursing home. [...]"

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spain / Genocide and Memory

Burying Myths, Uncovering Truth
The Economist, March 11, 2010
"The 15 boxes of bones were wrapped in the red, yellow and purple flag of the Second Republic. Each held the remains of a man whose support for a brief political experiment in the 1930s had proved fatal. At a ceremony in Madrid on March 6th the bones were given to descendants: mostly middle-aged grandchildren, but sometimes already aged sons or daughters. ... This story is just one of hundreds of tales of Francoist repression that have emerged as the result of a citizens' movement to disinter and identify victims. It started when a journalist, Emilio Silva, penned an article about his grandfather's death at the hands of a Francoist death squad. He went to his grandfather’s home region of El Bierzo, in north-western Spain, in 2000. People pointed him to the spot where the body was buried. Mr. Silva dug up a mass grave containing not just his grandfather but a dozen other victims. News of the exhumations spread and imitators appeared. Suddenly Spaniards found that thousands, or tens of thousands, of Francoist victims lay in unmarked graves scattered around the countryside. Years of official silence, in Franco's time, were followed by an unofficial pact of forgetting as Spain's young democracy agreed to look forward, not back. The grave-diggers broke the silence. Their effort to find the truth has snowballed; now Mr. Silva heads a group called the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory, with branches all over Spain. Some 5,000 sets of remains have been recovered so far from 170 grave sites. The association has a list of 12,000 families who are now searching for the remains of lost relatives. In places across the world whose recent past has been scarred by repression, war or both, attempts have been made by the authorities (from governments to warlords) to lay down rules about what must be remembered and what must be forgotten. Often, it seems too risky to give free rein to the investigation and commemoration of the past. But people's patience has limits; sooner or later ordinary citizens will challenge the prevailing wisdom and demand a fuller account. And unearthing the past often means literally that: digging [up] graves and studying the evidence. [...]"

Jewish Holocaust / Cultural Representations of Genocide

Life Isn't Beautiful
By Cynthia Ozick
Newsweek, March 15, 2010
"[...] Consider a handful of movies that profess to render the Holocaust. Life Is Beautiful, a naive, well-intentioned, preposterous, painfully absurd, and ignorant lie. Inglourious Basterds, a defamation, a canard -- what Frederic Raphael, writing in Commentary, calls 'doing the Jews a favor by showing that they, too, given the chance, coulda/woulda behaved like mindless monsters,' even as he compares it to Jew Süss, the notorious Goebbels film. The Reader, like the novel it derives from, no better than Nazi porn, and drawn from the self-serving notion that the then most literate and cultivated nation in Europe may be exculpated from mass murder by the claim of illiteracy. As for Schindler's List, its most honest moment, after its parade of fake-looking victims, comes at the very close of the film, and in documentary mode, when the living survivors appear on screen. So where can the truth be found? In Anne Frank's diary? Yes, but the diary, intended as a report, as a document, can tell only a partial and preliminary truth, since the remarkable child was writing in a shelter -- precarious, threatened, and temporary; nevertheless a protected space. Anne Frank did not, could not, record the atrocity she endured while tormented by lice, clothed in a rag, and dying of typhus in Bergen-Belsen. For what we call 'truth' we must go into the bottom-most interior of that hell. And as Primo Levi admonishes, only the dead went down to the Nazi hell's lowest rung. In Theresienstadt, the Potemkin village designed as a way station to the chimneys -- which the International Red Cross allowed itself to be bamboozled by -- doomed children painted brightly remembered scenes and wrote yearning poems ('I Never Saw Another Butterfly'), but they were not yet in darkest extremis. Out of the Vilna Ghetto came the Yiddish 'Partisaner Lied' ('Partisan's Song'), a bugle call of (futile) desperation and defiance. Fleeing to Villefranche, France, in 1940, Berlin-born Charlotte Salomon, already an advanced painter, in two years created an expressionist series called Life, or Theater? Her extraordinary work, again the product of ephemerally protected space, survives; she did not. [...]"

Palestine / Israel

Tensions Rise as Israeli Soldiers Kill 2 Palestinians
By Edmund Sanders
The Los Angeles Times, March 22, 2010
"Hours before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu embarked Sunday on a trip to Washington to mend U.S.-Israeli ties, tensions built in the West Bank when Israeli soldiers shot dead two Palestinian teenagers they say threatened them with a pitchfork and ax. The shootings brought the Palestinian death toll to four during the last two days in the Nablus region. On Saturday, two Palestinian teens were shot by soldiers after a clash with Jewish settlers over a water well. 'This escalation by Israel and the killing of Palestinians every day is going to sabotage efforts by the U.S. and others to restart peace talks,' said Nabil abu Rudaineh, a spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Sunday's violence erupted after an Israeli military patrol stopped to question two Palestinians they deemed suspicious, Israeli military officials said. 'When they got out of their vehicle, the Palestinians tried to stab a soldier with a pitchfork and an ax,' an army spokeswoman said. Palestinian officials said the two were farmhands, both 17, who were shot as they sat on the ground in military custody. Meanwhile, human rights groups challenged Israeli army assertions that the two teenagers at the well Saturday were shot with rubber bullets. Mohamed Qadus, 16, died Saturday of chest wounds. Asaud Qadus, 19, believed to be a cousin, died Sunday of a shot to the head, hospital officials said. Officials with B'Tselem and the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee, two groups that work on behalf of Palestinians, released photos of the teenagers' injuries that they said show the army used live rounds. The photos included an X-ray image of a bullet they said was lodged in one teen's skull and an entrance and exit wound from the other's chest. 'There's no way rubber bullets could cause that kind of damage,' said Jonathan Pollak, a spokesman for the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee. Israeli officials insisted that only rubber bullets were used, but said they are investigating the case. [...]"

Sunday, March 21, 2010

United States / Genocide Prevention

How Genocide Became a National Security Threat -- and What Barack Obama Should Do About It
By Michael Abramowitz and Lawrence Woocher
Foreign Policy, February 26, 2010
"Deep into his Feb. 2 congressional testimony on the U.S. government's annual threat assessment, Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair raised the specter of an unfamiliar threat -- far from the terrorism, nuclear proliferation, and cyberattacks that the rest of his discussion focused on. 'Looking ahead over the next five years, a number of countries in Africa and Asia are at significant risk for a new outbreak of mass killing,' Blair told Congress. 'Among these countries, a new mass killing or genocide is most likely to occur in Southern Sudan.' Blair's testimony was an underappreciated breakthrough. Genocides and mass atrocities have traditionally been seen by the U.S. government as tragedies, but little more. President Bill Clinton never seriously contemplated intervening in Rwanda. George W. Bush's administration insisted that the violence in Darfur was genocide, but made little mention of any threat to U.S. interests arising there. Now, Blair has tacitly acknowledged what human rights groups and humanitarians have long insisted -- that mass killings are not only moral issues, but are threats to the national security of the United States. And in the world of politics, that subtle shift could make a big difference. Genocide's negative consequences for the United States are increasingly plain. Mass violence destabilizes countries and entire regions, threatening to spread trafficking in drugs, arms, and persons, as well as infectious disease pandemics and youth radicalization. When prevention fails, the United States invariably foots much of the bill for post-atrocity relief and peacekeeping operations -- to the tune of billions of dollars. And even as Washington is paying, America's soft power is depleted when the world's only superpower stands idle while innocents are systematically slaughtered. [...]"
[n.b. Thanks to Jill Mitchell for bringing this source to my attention.]

Germany / Second World War / Holocaust Denial

In Dresden or Darfur, The Numbers Are Important
By Peter Beaumont
The Observer, March 21, 2010
"Before David Irving's failed libel case against author Deborah Lipstadt a decade ago -- she accused him of Holocaust denial -- Raul Hilberg, Holocaust scholar and author of The Destruction of the European Jews, was asked by DD Guttenplan why the arithmetic of mass murder remains so important. 'There is,' said Hilberg, 'if you don't want to surrender to nihilism entirely, the matter of a record. Does the record matter? In my judgment it is not discussable, it is not arguable.' I mention Hilberg because of the final unravelling of another of Irving's poisonous 'facts': the claim in Irving's 1963 book The Destruction of Dresden that 135,000 people died in the firebombing of the German city. In truth, Irving's Dresden numbers have long been under assault. They were challenged at the Lipstadt trial by the historian Richard Evans, who later accused Irving of 'consistent' and 'deliberate' falsification. Other historians have concluded over the years that the death toll was much lower. Now, in what seems likely to be the last word on the matter, a German historical commission set up to examine the precise numbers of those who died has reported. After five years' work it has established that the toll was around 25,000 ... a shocking number, but -- without diminishing the scale of the death -- of quite a different order. ... Why this matters is because an accurate accounting -- whether of the deaths in Darfur, Dresden or Dachau -- supplies real meaning to the narrative of memory and history. It allows us to accurately define events; make comparative judgments both morally and politically, to understand the intention behind acts and the weight of suffering. [...]"

Saturday, March 20, 2010

North Korea / United Nations

North Korea Spurns UN push to Stop Executions and Torture
By Donald Kirk
Christian Science Monitor, March 19, 2010
"North Korea is spurning United Nations demands to stop public executions, torture of prisoners, and other endemic violations of human rights in the aftermath of the reported execution of the senior official responsible for disastrous economic reforms. Ri Chol, North Korea's ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, on Thursday denounced the council's recommendations as reflecting historic hostility toward the North's long-ruling leadership. He issued his rejoinder in response to demands that also included calls to stop training children for military service and forcing citizens to perform hard labor against their will. The verbal exchange came on the heels of the reported execution of Pak Nam-ki, the former chief of economic planning for the ruling Workers' Party. A firing squad executed Mr. Pak last week in Pyongyang as punishment for harming the country's currency, according to Yonhap, the South Korean news agency. ... North Korea has persistently refused to admit the UN's special human rights rapporteur into the country. Nonetheless, hopes had been high that the North might be willing to put on a show of understanding of concerns about its human rights record. 'Those who wanted to find some silver lining in the gray clouds of North Korea’s human rights record had pointed to North Korean participation in Geneva at least as evidence that North Korea wanted to put its side of the story,' says Mr. Fitzpatrick. Given the record, he adds, 'it's hard to think' that North Koreans 'could persuade anyone of their bona fides.' [...]"

India / Gujarat Genocide

India's 'Modern-day Nero' to be Grilled over Muslim Bloodbath
By Andrew Buncombe
The Independent, March 19, 2010
"With his face gazing from posters celebrating the 600th anniversary of the founding of this historic city, Narendra Modi -- chief minister of the Indian state of Gujarat -- likes to present himself as a man of destiny. Yet slowly but surely history may be catching up with India's most controversial politician. Eight years after perhaps the worst episode of religious violence since Partition, a frenzy of brutality in which hundreds of Muslims were raped and murdered by sword-wielding mobs, the slow-turning wheels of Indian justice have finally stopped outside Mr. Modi's door. A special investigation team set up by the country's Supreme Court has summoned him to appear and answer allegations that he should be held responsible for the violence. ... No one alleges Mr. Modi, a member of the right-wing, Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), personally took part in the wave of killings that engulfed several Gujarati cities in the spring of 2002, an orgy of violence triggered by the deaths of dozens of Hindu activists in a train fire. But it is said that at the very least he did insufficient to stop it, even when he was contacted by those whose lives were fatally threatened. Others say he actively seized on the violence for political reasons and allowed it to burn for several days. He has always denied the allegations. [...]"

United States / Netherlands / Srebrenica Massacre

Dutch Furious at Claim Gays in Military Caused Massacre
CTV.ca, March 19, 2010
"Dutch officials are reacting angrily to a retired U.S. general's assertion that having gays in the military led to Dutch forces being overrun in 1995, leading to the massacre at Srebrenica. At a U.S. congressional committee meeting on Thursday, John Sheehan, a former NATO commander who retired from the military in 1997, spoke out against the proposal to get rid of the controversial 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy in the military. Bosnian Serb forces overran light-armed Dutch peacekeepers in Srebrenica, and killed more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys. Sheehan said the Dutch were overrun because of European efforts to 'socialize' their militaries in the 1990s and 'that includes the unionization of their militaries, it includes open homosexuality.' 'That led to a force that was ill-equipped to go to war. The case in point that I'm referring to is when the Dutch were required to defend Srebrenica against the Serbs,' he said. The battalion was under-strength, poorly led, and the Serbs came into town, handcuffed the soldiers to the telephone poles, marched the Muslims off, and executed them.' Dutch Defence Ministry spokesperson Roger Van de Wetering called the retired general's claims 'nonsense.' 'For us it is unbelievable that a man of this rank is stating this nonsense, because that is what it is,' Van de Wetering told The Associated Press. [...]"

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Now available for pre-order on Amazon.ca: Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction, Second Edition, by Adam Jones (London: Routledge, forthcoming August 2010). The new edition of the leading textbook in genocide studies, extensively revised and expanded, with an up-to-the-minute incorporation of recent scholarship on genocide.

Turkey / Armenia / Armenian Genocide

Turkey Threatens to Expel 100,000 Armenians over 'Genocide' Row
By Damien McElroy
The Telegraph, March 17, 2010
"Turkey has threatened to expel 100,000 Armenians from the country in response to the US branding the First World War killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks as 'genocide.' Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, said the position of the immigrants, many of whom have lived there as refugees for a generation, was being reviewed in the wake of the row. Armenia claims more than 500,000 of its countrymen died in bitter in-fighting as the Ottoman Empire disintegrated at the height of the First World War. Turkey concedes that tens of thousands died in ethnic fighting but vehemently disputes accusations that massacres were systematically planned. Tensions with Armenia have recently escalated as a well-organised worldwide campaign has persuaded the American Congress and Swedish parliament to adopt resolutions condemning the incidents as 'genocide.' An Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day Bill has also been put before the House of Commons and Mr Erdogan has warned Gordon Brown that relations would suffer if parliament passes it. Turkish law already makes discussion of genocide an offence punishable by imprisonment. 'There are currently 170,000 Armenians living in our country. Only 70,000 of them are Turkish citizens, but we are tolerating the remaining 100,000,' said Mr. Erdogan. 'If necessary, I may have to tell these 100,000 to go back to their country because they are not my citizens. I don't have to keep them in my country.' The suggestion has proved controversial in Turkey with Ahmed Davutoglu, Turkey's foreign minister, rejecting any calls to drive out Armenians. Mr. Davutoglu said the move would put Turkey in the 'hot seat' as it attempted to fend off charges of ingrained racial prejudice. [...]"

Israel / Palestine

Gaza Rocket Attack Into Israel Kills a Thai Worker
By Fares Akram and Isabel Kershner
The New York Times, March 18, 2010
"A foreign worker in Israel was killed Thursday by a rocket fired from the Hamas-controlled Palestinian territory of Gaza, according to the Israeli military, soon after the European Union's top foreign policy official arrived here on a rare visit by such a high-ranking official. The foreign agricultural worker, who the Israeli military said was from Thailand, was the first fatality from Gaza rocket fire since the end of a three-week Israeli military offensive into Gaza in January 2009. Israel said the primary purpose of its military campaign was to halt years of rocket fire from Gaza against southern Israel. The rocket on Thursday struck an Israeli cooperative farm called Nativ Haasara, near the Gaza border. Jund Ansar al-Sunna, a small, fiercely anti-Western jihadist group that challenges Hamas, claimed responsibility for the attack. The European Union's high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, Baroness Catherine Ashton, is the most senior European official to visit Gaza since the Islamic militant group Hamas took power there in 2007. ... Israel and Egypt have imposed a strict economic embargo on the area, allowing in only basic supplies. [...]"

Psychology of Genocide / Milgram Experiments

Game of Death: France's Shocking TV Experiment
By Bruce Crumley
Time Magazine, March 17, 2010
"Is a crusading French documentary maker striking a blow at the abusive powers of television -- or simply taking reality TV to a new low of cynicism and bad taste? That's the question viewers across France are asking in light of Christophe Nick's new film Game of Death, which aired on French television Wednesday night. The documentary has generated a massive amount of attention -- and naturally, courted controversy -- because of the dilemma that faced contestants on a fake game show in the film: Would they allow themselves to be cajoled into delivering near-lethal electrical charges to fellow players, or rather follow their better instincts and refuse? 'Game of Death' is an adaptation of an infamous experiment conducted by a team led by Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram in the 1960s. In order to test people's obedience to authority figures, the scientists demanded that subjects administer increasingly strong electric shocks to other participants if they answered questions incorrectly. The people delivering the shocks, however, didn't know that the charges were fake — the volunteers on the other end of the room were actors pretending to suffer agonizing pain. The point was to see how many people would continue following orders to mete out torture. (See the world's most popular TV shows.) Milgram found that 62.5% of his subjects could be encouraged, browbeaten or intimidated into seeing the test through to its conclusion by delivering scores of shocks of increasing intensity to the maximum of 450 volts. In Game of Death, 81% of contestants went all the way by administering more than 20 shocks up to a maximum of 460 volts. Only 16 of the 80 subjects recruited for the fake game show refused the verbal prodding from the host -- and pressure from the audience to keep dishing out the torture like a good sport -- though most expressed misgivings or tried to pull out before being convinced otherwise. [...]"

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Genocide Controversy at Harvard

The following message was submitted to the mailing list of the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS), and in slightly different form to the International Network of Genocide Scholars (INoGS) listserv. It may be freely republished and reposted with credit to the author. - AJ



March 17, 2010

IAGS members should be aware of a controversy that has erupted at Harvard over the university's relationship with Martin Kramer, Visiting Scholar at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, and Kramer's views on "superfluous" Palestinians. Kramer has explicitly and repeatedly called for anti-natal measures against the Palestinian population of Gaza, specifically the withdrawal of food aid and other humanitarian assistance rendered by UNRWA, the UN refugee authority. I do not need to remind IAGS members that the UN Genocide Convention cites "Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group" as a strategy of genocide, and also outlaws "Direct and public incitement to commit genocide."

The most recent op-ed in the Harvard Crimson (March 11, http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2010/3/11/center-mr-weatherhead-harvard/) is a forceful call to action from representative groups in the Harvard student body: "first, we ask that the Weatherhead Center not renew Mr. Kramer's fellowship or affiliation with the NSSP. Second, we call on the center to establish a committee of faculty and students to recommend the adoption of a set of vetting practices for incoming fellows that uphold a set of principles unified on non-racism, in concert with Harvard University's own commitment to non-discriminatory practices and diversity of viewpoints. We are concerned that the defence of Mr. Kramer's statement reflects a violation of basic principles to which the Weatherhead Center and Harvard University claim to adhere. The above measures are an effective way for the center and the University to make amends."

Harvard professor Stephen Walt, also cited in the op-ed, has added his voice to concerns over Kramer's remarks. In a post on his blog, he asks: "What if a prominent academic at Harvard declared that the United States had to make food scarcer for Hispanics so that they would have fewer children? Or what if someone at a prominent think tank noted that black Americans have higher crime rates than some other groups, and therefore it made good sense to put an end to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and other welfare programs, because that would discourage African Americans from reproducing and thus constitute an effective anti-crime program?" (http://walt.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/02/27/kramer_versus_kramer)

A March 11 opinion piece in the Harvard Law Record, written by Jessica Corsi, is highly critical of the response thus far from the Weatherhead Centre: "For a Center founded on the interconnectedness of ideas and their relevance and impact on the world, it is perplexing to say the least that they would take the position that Kramer's statements were merely an opinion, denying the broader impact such opinions have. The influence of such statements is particularly enhanced when made by someone with the clout of the Harvard name behind him and who has self-reported on the Center's website that his research interests are 'U.S. policy options in the Middle East.'" (http://www.hlrecord.org/features/cambridge-usa-don-t-let-scholar-call-for-gaza-genocide-in-harvard-s-name-1.1265252)

Kramer's views are typical of an "eliminationist" rhetoric toward Palestinians (Daniel Goldhagen's term) that is evident also in the pseudo-scholarship of German professor Gunnar Heinsohn, who propounds a theory of a "youth bulge" of Palestinian males and a resulting generation of "superfluous sons." See, e.g., Heinsohn's January 2009 op-ed in The Wall Street Journal at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123171179743471961.html, and the interview posted at http://www.sappho.dk/interview-a-continent-of-losers.htm. (The fact that such proposals can be aired on the op-ed page of The Wall Street Journal is itself revealing.) Remarkably, Heinsohn claims to head something called the Raphael-Lemkin Institut for Comparative Genocide Research (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gunnar_Heinsohn; http://www.raphael-lemkin.org/). Could there be a more obscene appropriation of Raphael Lemkin's name than to promote measures that Lemkin might well have considered genocidal, and which seem to run counter as well to the Genocide Convention?

This eliminationist trend is present in our own field, in a widely cited work, Andrew Bell-Fialkoff's "Ethnic Cleansing" (1999). After surveying ethnic cleansing throughout history, Bell-Fialkoff considers the case of Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied territories, and proposes -- ethnic cleansing! ("... All fundamentals suggest the transfer of the Palestinian Arabs from western Palestine [i.e. the West Bank]" and their "resettling ... in Gaza" (p. 264)).

If we are to be attuned to genocidal ideologies and potential outbreaks, Israel/Palestine should command our attention -- and not just with Palestinians as possible victims, obviously. What action, if any, might the IAGS take in the present instance? For example, would a statement of protest to the Weatherhead Centre, issued by the executive, be appropriate? Might Heinsohn and the broader pseudo-scholarly trend also be condemned in such a statement?

Sincerely,

Adam

===================================

Adam Jones, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Political Science
University of British Columbia Okanagan
3333 University Way
Kelowna, B.C., Canada V1V 1V7
"Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction," Second Edition
Forthcoming August 2010 -- see www.genocidetext.net

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Palestine / Israel

Children of Gaza: Scarred, Trapped, Vengeful
By Rachel Shields
The Independent, March 14, 2010
[...] Like hundreds of displaced Gazans, Omsyatte's family have spent more than a year living in a tent on a site near their home. Little rebuilding work has been done during this time -- with supplies unable to pass into Gaza because of the ongoing blockade imposed by Israel in 2007 -- and groups of children now pick their way through piles of rubble, kicking footballs around the bombsites which used to be local landmarks. Homelessness is just one of the issues facing the 780,000 Gazan children in the aftermath of the conflict, problems that are explored in a revealing new documentary Dispatches: Children of Gaza, to be screened tomorrow at 8pm on Channel 4. Perhaps the most disturbing of these is the emotional scars borne by children who have survived the conflict; the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme reports that the majority of children show signs of anxiety, depression and behavioural problems. Small boys build toy rockets out of drinks bottles, and talk about the fake guns they are going to buy with their pocket money. While boys the world over are preoccupied with fighting and weapons, this takes on a more sinister significance when the game isn't Cowboys vs Indians, but Jews vs Arabs, and the children's make-believe warfare is chillingly realistic. These games may reflect the children's desire for revenge against their neighbours, of which many speak openly. 'I think we are seeing a growing desire for violence, and it saddens me,' said Jezza Neumann, the Bafta-winning director of the programme. 'If they could get revenge legally, or saw someone saying sorry, then perhaps they could come to terms with it, but there has been no recourse. What you're seeing now may only be the tip of the iceberg.' [...]"

Monday, March 15, 2010

France / Rwandan Genocide

France Looks to Put Ghosts of Rwandan Genocide to Rest
By Edward Cody
The Washington Post, March 14, 2010
"[...] After years of estrangement, the leaders of France and Rwanda have sought to reconcile despite lingering resentment over France's close military and diplomatic ties to the Hutu-run government that was blamed for the massacre of an estimated 800,000 Tutsis during a civil war in 1994. For Rwanda, now controlled by Tutsis, the rapprochement has meant an opportunity to deal normally with one of the main diplomatic and economic actors in Africa, where France retains numerous allies and considerable influence among its former colonies. For France, renewal of relations has carried another message as well: hope for an end to the accusations at home and in Africa that French soldiers and political leaders stood by while Tutsis were being slaughtered by the thousands. An official Rwandan investigation concluded two years ago that France had been 'politically and militarily complicit' in the genocide. But a French parliamentary investigation in 1998 affirmed that the government at the time, headed by President François Mitterrand and Prime Minister Edouard Balladur, did nothing wrong. Against that uneasy background, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, during a landmark visit to Kigali, the Rwandan capital, and Rwandan President Paul Kagame vowed last month to put the blood-soaked debate behind them -- or at least to act as if the chapter were closed. Using carefully negotiated language, Sarkozy acknowledged for the first time that France and its troops in Rwanda at the time committed 'errors' as the Tutsis were being killed by France's Hutu allies. In return, Kagame, a former Tutsi rebel leader, dispatched an ambassador to Paris and promised to work with France in pacifying Congo and other areas of Central Africa's war-racked Great Lakes region. [...]"

Friday, March 12, 2010

Nigeria

"They Herded Us into One Place and Started Chopping with Machetes ..."
By Daniel Howden
The Independent, March 13, 2010
"[...] Mark Lipdo, who works for the evangelical Christian organisation the Stefanos Foundation, was among the first to reach the villages after the violence. He says that at least 370 people are buried at Dogo Nahawa. Others say that 100 bodies lie in the mass grave. The state governor's office have said that at least 500 people were killed but the Red Cross puts the toll closer to 200. Sadly, in Jos these numbers matter. For Mr. Lipdo, the villagers are the face of a 'new Darfur' -- victims of a 'violent Muslim expansion.' He is among those who see this as part of a world-wide Islamic advance. But this is only his truth. Jos is the capital of Nigeria's fertile 'middle belt,' a highland plateau where missionaries converted animist farmers to Christianity. Tin deposits were later found in the area and the colonial government brought Hausa Muslim labourers from further north. Jos and its satellite villages have been mixed and metropolitan ever since. It is -- as the local police commissioner Ikechukwu Aduba says -- 'a mini Nigeria.' Like Jos, Africa's most populous nation is thought to be evenly split between the two faiths, with Muslims predominant in the north and Christians in the south, but everywhere a mixed picture. In Jos, population growth and economic decline has increased competition for land and other resources, heightening tension between communities. Politics here have been poisoned by the distinction between the longer-standing Christians, or 'indigenes,' and Muslim 'settlers.' The former are favoured in land rights, the latter denied the opportunity to stand in elections. This has caused resentment, which has erupted in 2001, 2004 and 2008, leaving thousands dead, many more displaced and the city polarised. The truth depends on where you are in Jos. [...]"

Germany / Jewish Holocaust

Germany Fights to Keep Holocaust Organiser's Files Sealed
By Allan Hall
The Telegraph, March 12, 2010
"Those hoping to have a 50-year secrecy order overturned believe the government is embarrassed by details within that may prove German and Vatican officials colluded in his escape and freedom. The secrecy order is being challenged in a benchmark court case against the BND, Germany's domestic intelligence service, which wants the 4,500 pages of documents on Adolf Eichmann to remain out of the public domain. The service claims that intelligence agencies in other countries will be 'frightened off' in future data-sharing if they are disclosed, Der Spiegel reported. Critics believe this is a smokescreen designed to avoid official embarrassment both in Berlin and the Vatican. It is well documented that German Bishop Alois Hudal in Rome operated postwar 'Ratlines,' getting passports for wanted Nazis to allow them to escape justice. Franz Stangl, commandant of the Treblinka extermination camp, admitted to British Nazi expert Gitta Sereny that Hudal helped him get away after the Nazi defeat in 1945. Eichmann also escaped. [...]"