Friday, April 30, 2010

Genocide Commemoration / Survivors of Genocide

April and Genocide
By Gerald Caplan
The Globe and Mail, April 30, 2010
"[...] Time after time the survivors told virtually identical tales: Being classified as some kind of filthy insect that needs to be eliminated in order to cleanse society, to make it pure. The sudden transformation of neighbour, friend or teacher into mortal enemy. Your physical separation from the larger whole. Losing track of other members of your family. Witnessing a beloved relative murdered before your eyes. The peculiarly gruesome, sadistic nature of the killings. The desperate escape to anywhere else. Hiding in the marsh, the forest, the hills. Living in holes in the ground like an animal. Taking refuge in disgusting outhouses. The numbing of the senses. The disappearance of everyone else of your kind. The terror. The isolation. The interminable wait for the victors -- the RPF, the Viet Cong, the Soviet or American armies. The miraculous appearance of one of the mob as a furtive protector. Being saved just when you were sure it was over. The complete disorientation of rescue.


Mexico Acknowledges Migrant Abuse, Pledges Changes
By Mark Stevenson
Associated Press dispatch, April 28, 2010
"Amnesty International called the abuse of migrants in Mexico a major human rights crisis Wednesday, and accused some officials of turning a blind eye or even participating in the kidnapping, rape and murder of migrants. The group's report comes at a sensitive time for Mexico, which is protesting the passage of a law in Arizona that criminalizes undocumented migrants. The Interior Department acknowledged in a statement that the mainly Central American migrants who pass through Mexico on their way to the United States suffer abuses, but attributed the problem to criminal gangs branching out into kidnapping and extortion of migrants. Rupert Knox, Amnesty's Mexico researcher, said in the report that the failure by authorities to tackle abuses against migrants has made their trip through Mexico one of the most dangerous in the world. 'Migrants in Mexico are facing a major human rights crisis leaving them with virtually no access to justice, fearing reprisals and deportation if they complain of abuses,' Knox said. Central American migrants are frequently pulled off trains, kidnapped en masse, held at gang hideouts and forced to call relatives in the US to pay off the kidnappers.

Israel / Palestine

Israeli Soldiers Given Minor Reprimands over Shooting of Palestinian Civilians
By Catrina Stewart
The Independent, April 28, 2010
"Israeli officers held responsible for the deaths of four Palestinians in the West Bank received only minor reprimands after an internal investigation concluded that the deaths could have been avoided. Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, Israel's military chief, admitted that the incidents last month 'could have ended differently' and could have 'avoided causing harm to civilians.' The two fatal shooting incidents, just 24 hours apart, marked the most serious escalation of tensions in the occupied West Bank in months, and threatened to destroy the fragile calm that has persisted there in recent years. In one case, Israeli soldiers fired on Palestinian protesters, killing two. In a second incident, a soldier killed two Palestinians who he claimed had tried to attack him. Mr. Ashkenazi reprimanded two senior officers -- a colonel and a lieutenant colonel -- and removed a squad commander from his post, a military statement said. The soldiers who fired the lethal rounds appeared to escape censure.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Russia / Ukraine / Holodomor

Russia's Duma Welcomes Ukrainian President's Opinion of Holodomor
By Alexei Drujinin
RIA Novosti dispatch in Kyiv Post, April 28, 2010
"Russia's State Duma has welcomed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych's opinion on the recognition of Ukrainian genocide during the 1930s, the speaker of the parliament's lower house, Boris Gryzlov, said on Wednesday. On Tuesday, Yanukovych told the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe's spring session that the famine could not be considered genocide as it was 'a common tragedy of the Soviet people.' 'We welcome the new constructive approach to historic problems, which was shown by [Ukrainian President] Viktor Yanukovych in Strasbourg yesterday. In return, the Russian parliamentarians are always open to a comprehensive dialogue, based on facts and historic truth, but not on emotions,' Gryzlov said.

Russia / Poland / Katyn Massacre

Secret Documents on Katyn Massacre Published Online
By Andrey Volkov & Juliana Kim
The Epoch Times, April 28, 2010
"The electronic copies of secret Katyn documents were published Wednesday on the Russian Federal archive website, revealing details on the 1940 massacre of Polish officers by the Soviets. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered the publishing of the documents, as he promised Poland following the tragic plane crash in Russia on April 10, which killed the Polish first couple and 94 others. During the incident, 20,000 Polish officers and members of the intelligentsia were murdered on Soviet territory by the People's Commissariat Internal Affairs (NKVD) with Stalin's approval.

United States / Srebrenica Massacre / International Tribunals

US Extradites Bosnian Serb
Reuters dispatch in The Irish Times, April 29, 2010
"The United States has extradited to Bosnia a Serb former soldier under investigation for genocide during the 1995 massacre of Muslims in Srebrenica, Bosnia's state prosecutor said today. Marko Boskic (46) was arrested in the United States where he was prosecuted for immigration fraud for lying about his military engagement during the Bosnian 1992-95 war, the prosecutor's office said in a statement. 'Boskic is under investigation by the prosecutor's office and is suspected of committing the criminal offence of genocide in Srebrenica in July 1995 as a former member of the 10th Commando Squad of the Serb Republic Army,' it said. It said Boskic is suspected of having, together with other members of the squad, 'personally participated in the shooting and killing of Muslim men and boys captured after the fall of Srebrenica.' Bosnian Serb forces, commanded by General Ratko Mladic, killed some 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys after they captured the eastern town which had been a United Nations-protected safe zone.

Canada / Indigenous Peoples

NB [New Brunswick] Aboriginal Group Sues over "Genocide"
CBC Online, April 29, 2010
"A New Brunswick-based aboriginal group and three native men are suing the New Brunswick and federal governments for $13 billion in damages for alleged "genocide" and loss of native lands over the past 400 years. They are also seeking a declaration that the two levels of government have no jurisdiction over aboriginal and Métis people in the province. The lawsuit also demands the province stop all hunting, fishing and forestry prosecutions against aboriginal and Métis people until the case is heard. The notice of action, filed in Moncton's Court of Queen's Bench, cites colonial actions dating back to 1610, saying they amount to genocide against native people. Aboriginals never ceded their land to European powers and they deserve compensation for their losses, the court document states.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

South Africa / Palestine / Israel

South Africa Judge Who Criticized Israel Won't Attend Grandson's Bar Mitzvah
By Robyn Dixon
The Los Angeles Times, April 23, 2010
Photo: Ashraf Amra (AP)
"The South African judge who led a United Nations fact-finding mission on Israel's assault on the Gaza Strip has decided to stay away from his grandson's bar mitzvah after a Zionist group threatened protests at the synagogue. The judge, Richard Goldstone, accused South Africa's chief rabbi, Warren Goldstein, on Thursday of politicizing the ceremony and making it difficult for him to attend. A spokesman for the South African Zionist Federation, Avram Krengel, said in a telephone interview Thursday that the federation had planned protests at the bar mitzvah, but had agreed with the family to drop them on condition that Goldstone not attend. He said both sides agreed not to comment further until after the bar mitzvah, which news reports say will take place in May at the Sandton Synagogue in Johannesburg. Goldstone's findings that the three-week Gaza military operation Israel launched in December 2008 was disproportionate and that both the Israeli military and Palestinian militants had committed war crimes were condemned by Israel and rejected as biased by the U.S. House of Representatives. It angered many Jews in South Africa. Goldstein wrote an article in October accusing Goldstone of reporting without integrity and care. The rabbi called the report a disgrace. In an article in Wednesday's Business Day newspaper, Goldstein wrote that the judge was welcome at the Sandton Synagogue. But he lambasted Goldstone over the report, which he said was factually and morally tainted.

Iraq / Torture

Iraqis Tortured at Secret Baghdad Prison, Says Watchdog
By Mark Tran
The Guardian, April 28, 2010
Photo: Karim Kadim, AP
"Iraqis held at a secret prison in Baghdad were routinely tortured using whips, electric shocks and rape, according to an investigation by Human Rights Watch. The organisation said it had interviewed 42 men who were among about 300 detainees transferred from the secret facility in the old Muthanna airport in west Baghdad to al-Rusafa into a special block of 19 cage-type cells over the past several weeks. The existence of the secret prison was revealed in the Los Angeles Times. All the detainees interviewed, Human Rights Watch said, described the same methods of torture. 'The jailers suspended their captives handcuffed and blindfolded upside down by means of two bars, one placed behind their calves and the other against their shins. All had terrible scabs and bruising on their legs. The interrogators then kicked, whipped and beat the detainees. Interrogators also placed a dirty plastic bag over the detainee's head to close off his air supply. Typically, when the detainee passed out from this ordeal, his interrogators awakened him with electric shocks to his genitals or other parts of his body.' Human Rights Watch called on the Iraqi authorities to hold a thorough investigation into the allegations, which come at a time of heightened political uncertainty and tension after close parliamentary elections last month.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sri Lanka / United Kingdom

British Candidate Calls Tamils Victims of Genocide
TamilNet, April 27, 2010
"Dr. Rachel Joyce, Conservative Parliamentary Candidate, Harrow West, UK, in a statement circulated to her constituents, said she believes that since Sri Lanka's independence 'the acts perpetrated the Government of Sri Lanka on Tamils including the burning down of Jaffna library ... disappearance of Tamil individuals ... and the use of concentration-style camps for internally displaced Tamils should be classed as Genocide.' Dr. Joyce further made a campaign promise to 'work with the Tamils to get the acts perpetrated on the Tamils classed legally as a genocide so that the UN Convention can be used to address the problems.' The text of Dr Joyce's full statement follows: 'Genocide is the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group. A legal definition is found in the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG). ... I believe that since independence the acts perpetrated by the Government of Sri Lanka on the Tamils including the burning down of the Jaffna Library, the refusal to act on the Vattakottai resolution, disappearances of Tamil individuals, refusal to allow Tamil to be an official language of Sri Lanka, firing on the so-called 'safe zone,' the relocation of Tamils and moving in of Sinhalese into traditional Tamil areas, and the use of concentration-style camps for internally displaced Tamils should be classed as Genocide. I will work with the Tamils to get the acts perpetrated on the Tamils classed legally as a genocide so that the UN Convention can be used to address the problems.


Iraq Today: Afflicted by Violence, Devastation, Corruption, and Devastation [sic]
By Stephen Lendman
Baltimore Chronicle, April 27, 2010
"After two decades of war, sanctions, and occupation, Iraqis have suffered horrifically from one of the greatest ever crimes of war and against humanity -- ongoing, destructive, devastating, unreported, and unaccountable. Seven years under occupation, Iraqis still cope with what Refugees International calls 'a dire humanitarian crisis that sees huge numbers of displaced (and other Iraqis) struggl(ing) to survive,' a situation 'for which the US bears special responsibility' but does nothing to correct. Recent UNHCR figures estimate around 4.5 million refugees, nearly 2.8 million internal ones (IDPs), a third of these in squatter slums in Baghdad, Diyala and Salah al-Din. Many fear returning home. Most are impoverished. Settlements lack basic services, including water, sanitation, electricity, and health care. Education is difficult where available.

Ukraine / Russia / Holodomor

Ukraine: No Genocide by Russia in "Great Hunger"
Associated Press dispatch on, April 27, 2010
"In a major turnabout in Ukrainian policy, new President Viktor Yanukovych says the 1930s Stalinist famine that killed millions should not be considered genocide against Ukrainians because it targeted its victims indiscriminately. Yanukovych told the Council of Europe on Tuesday that he considered the famine 'a shared tragedy' of all people who were all part of the Soviet Union, then led by Joseph Stalin. Yanukovych's stance is a complete shift from that of his predecessor, pro-Western president Viktor Yushchenko, who sought to have the famine recognized as genocide against Ukrainians. Since being elected in February, Yanukovych has sought closer ties with Russia."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch. Wow! Pretty craven stuff.]

Serbia / Srebrenica Massacre

Serbs Deny Srebrenica Genocide, UN to Press on for Arrests
DPA dispatch on, April 27, 2010
"A Bosnian Serb leader denied Tuesday that the killing of the men and boys in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica during the Yugoslavian wars of the 1990s amounted to genocide, even as a United Nations prosecutor said the arrest of the man accused of the crimes remains a 'top priority.' Bosnian Serb Premier Milorad Dodik said in an interview published Tuesday that the 1995 killings in Srebenica were not genocide, and also that the number of victims was lower than reported. 'We cannot and will never accept to qualify that event as genocide,' Dodik, the premier of the Serbian part of Bosnia, told the Belgrade newspaper Vecernje Novosti. He insisted that the number of Muslim boys and men killed by Serb forces at Srebrenica in July 1995, estimated at around 8,000, was 'manipulated.'

Iraq / Torture

Who's Talking about Torture in Iraq?
By Chris Ames
The Guardian, April 27, 2010
"A new report from Amnesty International highlights human rights abuses in present-day Iraq, mainly by armed groups, and the failure of the Iraqi authorities to take effective action to stop such abuses. It comes a week after revelations about a secret prison under the jurisdiction of the Iraqi prime minister, where detainees were allegedly tortured. How concerned is the UK government about these issues? Concerned mainly to play them down, it appears. Last Monday the Los Angeles Times reported that: 'Hundreds of Sunni men disappeared for months into a secret Baghdad prison under the jurisdiction of prime minister Nouri Maliki's military office, where many were routinely tortured.' The existence of the prison is not disputed, and the allegations of abuse -- including the death of one detainee -- were apparently substantiated by an internal US embassy report. The report received very little coverage in Britain. I asked the Foreign Office if it had any comment, or had taken up the allegations with the Iraqi government. A spokesman said the FCO would not make a statement because of pre-election purdah ...

Nigeria / Ecocide / Genocide and Structural Violence

Visible from Space, Deadly on Earth: The Gas Flares of Nigeria
By Daniel Howden
The Independent, April 27, 2010
"There is an ominous new arrival in the tropical forest outside Yenagoa in the southern Nigerian state of Bayelsa. It travels on black metal stilts above the green canopy before sinking into a concrete bunker where, when the bulldozers and cranes have finished work, millions of cubic feet of natural gas will be pumped before going up in smoke. Shell's Opolo-Epie facility is the newest gas flare in the Niger Delta. And it gives the lie to claims from oil multinationals and the Nigerian government that they are close to bringing an end to the destructive and wasteful practice of gas flaring. 'This is environmental racism,' said Alagoa Morris, an investigator with a local group, Environmental Rights Action, who regularly risks arrest to monitor activities at the heavily guarded oil and gas installations. 'What we are asking for is that oil companies should have to meet the same standards in Nigeria that they do operating in their own countries.' The Opolo-Epie plant is set to join at least 100 other flares burning across the swamps, creeks and forests of this oil-producing region, filling the atmosphere with toxins, seeding the clouds with acid rain and polluting the soil. The gas flares, some of which have been burning constantly since the 1960s, are visible from space. In a country where more than 60 per cent of the people have no reliable electricity supply, the satellite images show the flares burning more brightly than the lights of Nigeria's biggest city, Lagos. Medical studies have shown the gas burners contribute to an average life expectancy in the Delta region of 43 years. The area also has Nigeria's highest infant mortality rate -- 12 per cent of newborns fail to see out their first year. The process of burning off unwanted 'associated gas' brought up when oil is pumped out of the ground has been illegal in Nigeria since 1984. The government has set three separate deadlines for stopping the practice -- the latest of which falls due at the end of this year -- but still it continues. [...]"

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Turkey / Armenian Genocide

Turks, In First, Commemorate Killing of Armenians
Middle East Online, April 25, 2010
"Hundreds of rights activists and artists in Istanbul commemorated the 1915-17 killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks for the first time Saturday, breaking a near century-old Turkish taboo. The biggest rally was in Taksim Square, in the heart of modern Istanbul, where several hundred people staged a sit-in, holding red carnations and candles and listening to recordings of Armenian music. Police in riot gear guarded the event and kept at bay a group of counter-demonstrators, journalists saw. Earlier the Istanbul branch of the IHD human rights association organised a rally attended by about 100 people on the steps of the Haydarpasa train station from where the first convoy of 220 deported Armenians left on April 24, 1915. Under the slogan 'Never Again' and, again, the watchful eye of the police, demonstrators carried black and white photos of some of the deportees. Counter-protesters also gathered near the IHD demo, including former diplomats waving the Turkish flag. Forty-two Turkish diplomats were killed by the extremist Armenian Asala organisation in the 1970s and 1980s. Turkish intellectuals and artists signed a petition calling on 'those who feel the great pain' to show their sorrow. Avoiding the term genocide -- which the Turkish government fiercely rejects -- the petition speaks of the 'Great Catastrophe' of the massacres.'

Saturday, April 24, 2010

United States / Psychology of Genocide

Stabbed Hero Dies as More Than 20 People Stroll Past Him
By Ikimulisa Livingston, John Doyle and Dan Mangan
New York Post, April 24, 2010
"A heroic homeless man, stabbed after saving a Queens woman from a knife-wielding attacker, lay dying in a pool of blood for more than an hour as nearly 25 people indifferently strolled past him, a shocking surveillance video obtained by The Post reveals. Some of the passers-by paused to stare at Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax last Sunday morning and others leaned down to look at his face. He had jumped to the aid of a woman attacked on 144th Street at 88th Road in Jamaica at 5:40 a.m., was stabbed several times in the chest and collapsed as he chased his assailant. In the wake of the bloodshed, a man came out of a nearby building and chillingly took a cellphone photo of the victim before leaving.

Spain / Spanish Civil War

Charismatic Judge Who Pursued Spain's Fascist Assassins Finds Himself on Trial
By Giles Tremlett
The Observer, April 25, 2010
"The crowd gathered outside Madrid's national court was loud and angry. 'The world has been turned upside down,' they cried. 'The fascists are judging the judge!' Some carried photographs of long-dead relatives, killed by rightwing death squads in Spain's brutal civil war in the 1930s. Others bore placards bearing the name of the hero they wanted to save, the controversial 'superjudge' Baltasar Garzón. Pedro Romero de Castilla carried a picture of his grandfather, Wenceslao -- a former stationmaster taken away from his home in the western city of Mérida and shot by a death squad at the service of Generalísimo Francisco Franco's rightwing military rebels 74 years ago. The family have never found his body. Garzón, he explained, had dared to investigate the atrocities of 36 years of Franco's dictatorship and now, as a result, he faces trial for allegedly abusing his powers. 'My grandfather's case is one that Garzón wanted to investigate,' he said. 'He's a brave and intelligent judge, but now the right are out to get him.'

Armenian Genocide / United States

Obama Marks Genocide Without Saying the Word
By Peter Baker
The New York Times, April 24, 2010
"President Obama, who as a candidate vowed to use the term genocide to describe the Ottoman mass slaughter of Armenians nearly a century ago, once again declined to do so on Saturday as he marked the anniversary of the start of the killings. In Yerevan, Armenians on Saturday solemnly observed the 95th anniversary of the genocide that began in 1915 under the Ottoman Turk government. About 1.5 million Armenians were killed. Trying to navigate one of the more emotionally fraught foreign policy challenges, Mr. Obama issued a statement from his weekend getaway here commemorating the victims of the killings but tried to avoid alienating Turkey, a NATO ally, which adamantly rejects the genocide label. 'On this solemn day of remembrance, we pause to recall that 95 years ago one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century began,' Mr. Obama said in the statement, which largely echoed the same language he used on this date a year ago. 'In that dark moment of history, 1.5 million Armenians were massacred or marched to their death in the final days of the Ottoman Empire.' When he was running for president and seeking votes from some of the 1.5 million Armenian-Americans, Mr. Obama had no qualms about using the term genocide and criticized the Bush administration for recalling an ambassador who dared to say the word.

Armenia / Armenian Genocide / Azerbaijan / Nagorno-Karabakh

Armenians Mark WWI Killings, Ties with Neighbors Fray
By Matt Robinson and Hasmik Mkrtchyan
Reuters dispatch, April 24, 2010
"Armenia marked the 95th anniversary on Saturday of the World War One killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks, against a backdrop of failed peace with Turkey and fresh saber-rattling with enemy Azerbaijan. A deal between Turkey and Armenia to establish diplomatic ties and reopen their border collapsed on Thursday when Armenia suspended ratification over Turkish demands that it first make peace with Azerbaijan over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The roadmap was crafted to overcome a century of hostility since the massacres and deportations of WWI, marked on Saturday by a stream of thousands laying red tulips and white carnations at a hilltop monument in the Armenian capital. But its failure has only fueled further mistrust in the volatile South Caucasus. Key to its collapse has been a backlash in Azerbaijan, a close Muslim ally of Turkey and oil and gas exporter to the West, that diplomats say has forced Turkey to backtrack.

Bosnia and Herzegovina / United States

As U.S. Shrugs, Bosnia Lurches Toward Disaster Again
By Roy Gutman
McClatchy Newspapers, April 23, 2010
"Nearly a year after Vice President Joe Biden flew here to reassure Bosnians that the U.S. was back and would try to help overhaul their dysfunctional made-in-USA political system, ethnic tensions are rising again, morale has fallen and people are wondering: Whatever happened to Biden? For Bosnians, whose country was largely destroyed by the ethnic warfare in the 1990s that marked the breakup of Yugoslavia, with Christian Orthodox Serbs killing as many as 100,000 Muslim and Croat civilians, it's been a year of disappointment as the U.S. has become more disengaged and distant. 'I was encouraged by his coming here. Biden was always a man of principle,' an exasperated Haris Silajdzic, the Muslim chairman of the collective presidency that presides over this fractious, stagnating multi-ethnic state, told McClatchy. 'I do not know what his responsibilities are now.'
Genocide Remembrance Day

April 24, 2010
Remembering the Armenian, Assyrian, and Greek victims of the Ottoman genocides of Christian minorities, 1915-23

Armenian Genocide / Turkey

The Power of Memory: The Armenian Genocide
By Gabe Pressman, April 24, 2010
"It began on April 24, 1915, and went on until 1923 -- the systematic slaughter of about 1,500,000 Armenians by the Ottoman Turks. It's called: the Armenian Genocide. Throughout the world this week, Armenians are lighting candles in their churches. Here, in New York City, many candles are being lighted at St. Vartan's Cathedral on Second Avenue, the largest Armenian Church in America. It's a sad anniversary for the thousands of Armenians in the New York area, and for Armenians everywhere. They are linked by history to that horrible day in April, 1915 when the extermination began. For nearly every Armenian family that was their Kristillnacht. Though they did not witness the massacres, every family mourns grandfathers and grandmothers, aunts and uncles, the victims who died then. It began on that fateful day in April 95 years ago when the Ottoman Turks rounded up 300 Armenian leaders in Constantinople [now known as Istanbul]. These writers, philosophers and professionals were executed. And 5,000 of the poorest Armenians were butchered in the streets. Then the brutal executions spread to the whole Armenian community in Anatolia [present day Turkey]. Deportations and killings were carried out. There were death marches through the desert and a mass killing of people condemned by representatives of the British, French, Russian, German and Austrian governments stationed in Turkey.

Friday, April 23, 2010


Seven Honduran Broadcasters Slain since March 1
By Anne-Marie O'Connor
The Washington Post, April 24, 2010
"Honduran television reporter Jorge Alberto 'Georgino' Orellana had just left the station where he hosted his own show when a man stepped from the shadows, shot him dead and vanished. On Tuesday, Orellana became the seventh Honduran broadcaster to be gunned down since March 1 in a country where complaints about human rights abuses have increased since a military-led coup in June. Most of the victims had reported on organized crime in the northern coastal region of Honduras, a key transshipment point for U.S.-bound cocaine. Reporters Without Borders recently declared Honduras 'the world's deadliest country for the media.' 'This is unprecedented,' said Carlos Lauria of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists. 'Journalists are being targeted, and the state is almost absent. It's a green light for these people.' Lauria said the killings appeared to be 'the work of hit men, very professional.'

Atlantic Slavery / Slavery Reparations

Ending the Slavery Blame-Game
By Henry Louis Gates Jr.
The New York Times, April 22, 2010
"Thanks to an unlikely confluence of history and genetics -- the fact that he is African-American and president -- Barack Obama has a unique opportunity to reshape the debate over one of the most contentious issues of America's racial legacy: reparations, the idea that the descendants of American slaves should receive compensation for their ancestors' unpaid labor and bondage. There are many thorny issues to resolve before we can arrive at a judicious (if symbolic) gesture to match such a sustained, heinous crime. Perhaps the most vexing is how to parcel out blame to those directly involved in the capture and sale of human beings for immense economic gain. While we are all familiar with the role played by the United States and the European colonial powers like Britain, France, Holland, Portugal and Spain, there is very little discussion of the role Africans themselves played. And that role, it turns out, was a considerable one, especially for the slave-trading kingdoms of western and central Africa. These included the Akan of the kingdom of Asante in what is now Ghana, the Fon of Dahomey (now Benin), the Mbundu of Ndongo in modern Angola and the Kongo of today’s Congo, among several others.

Armenia / Turkey / Azerbaijan / Nagorno-Karabakh

Suspended Accords Highlight Deep Fissures in Turkey-Armenia Relations
Deutsche Welle dispatch, April 23, 2010
Photo: AP
"With the current set of peace accords designed to restore relations between Armenia and Turkey suspended, the US faces a struggle to reopen negotiations to end the long-standing conflict in the strategic South Caucasus. Washington's efforts to bury a century of hostility between the neighbours were dealt a hefty blow this week when Armenia suspended ratification of the US-brokered peace accords which were signed in October 2009 to establish diplomatic relations and open their shared border. With both sides seemingly unwilling to move on from nearly 100 years of deep mistrust, neither the government of Christian Armenia nor that of Muslim Turkey chose to ratify the agreement on Thursday amid claims of manipulation of the texts and the insertion of new unapproved conditions. Despite the obvious benefits of the agreement -- including huge economic gains for poor, landlocked Armenia and a boost to Turkey's EU credentials -- both Armenia and Turkey have instead chosen to postpone further negotiations, with the on-going feud over the World War I mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks and the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh at the heart of the dispute. The decision to suspend the peace accords came just two days before the 95th anniversary of the killings on April 24th, again highlighting the importance of the 1915-1917 massacres of Armenians in the history of hostile relations between the two countries. [...]"

Kosovo / Serbia

Kosovo to be Divided?
By Barnaby Phillips, April 23, 2010
"It seems like a possible solution to an otherwise intractable problem. Could Kosovo be geographically divided, and a portion given back to Serbia? The question has been floating around for some time, of course. It seems like a possible solution to an otherwise intractable problem. The ethnic Albanian majority in Kosovo do not want to be part of Serbia, and declared independence unilaterally in 2008. But the Serb minority in Kosovo are adamant they will never accept the Albanian-dominated government in Pristina. Many of Kosovo's Serbs live in the north, in an area that is geographically contiguous with Serbia proper. So a possible solution would be for Serbia to accept Kosovan independence, in return for which Pristina would agree to relinquish its claim to that northern sliver of territory, (over which it has never had practical control, anyway). Another part of the bargain might include Kosovo’s border expanding a little bit to the east, to include the Presevo valley, which has a largely ethnic Albanian population.

Structural Violence / Global Food Crisis

Economic Crisis Adds Millions to Ranks of Poorest
By Ed Cropley
Reuters dspatch, April 23, 2010
"Last year's global slump will condemn 53 million more people to extreme poverty and contribute to 1.2 million child deaths in the next five years, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) said. Despite these setbacks, the joint report released on Friday said the overall number of people living on less than $1.25 a day, the definition of 'extreme poverty,' would fall to 920 million by 2015 compared to 1.8 billion in 1990. This puts emerging nations broadly on track to achieve a United Nations 'Millennium Development Goal' of halving 1990 rates of extreme poverty by 2015. However, the 2008-09 financial and economic turmoil and the food price crisis that preceded it in early 2008 mean the prognosis is not so good for a similar drive to cut global rates of hunger and malnutrition. More than a billion people, or one in six people on the planet, are still struggling to meet basic food needs, leading to increased instances of disease -- and ultimately death -- in young children and pregnant women, the report said. World Bank projections cited in the report said 1.2 million children were likely to die between 2009 and 2015 as a result of the two crises.

United States / Genocide Tribunals / Psychology of Genocide

Last Surviving US Prosecutor at Nuremberg Trials Dies
The Telegraph, April 22, 2010
"The last surviving US prosecutor at the Nuremberg war crimes trials of major Nazi figures after the second world war has died.  Whitney Harris, 97, suffered from cancer and was injured in a fall six months ago. He died on Wednesday at his home outside St. Louis, his family said. In 1945, Mr. Harris, then in his early 30s, led off the trials as prosecutor of Nazi SS Commander Ernst Kaltenbrunner, who played a role in the 1943 massacre of Jews in the Warsaw ghetto. The special court set up by the Allies tried 21 Nazis in the first set of trials, and Kaltenbrunner was among 11 sentenced to death by hanging. Hermann Goering, head of the Luftwaffe, committed suicide before he could be executed in October, 1946. Mr. Harris specialised in investigations of members of the Nazi secret services. He interrogated Rudolph Hoss, the captured commander of the concentration camp at Auschwitz, over three days. In a 2005 interview, Mr. Harris said Hoss calmly explained how SS leader Heinrich Himmler had told him to convert Auschwitz into a mass extermination camp in 1941.

Haiti / Genocide and Structural Violence

Unshakable Truth in Haiti: Reflections on Genocide
by Jesse Hagopian, April 23, 2010
"Since my family and I survived the te tromble -- Creole for the 7.0 earthquake that devastated Haiti -- I have returned home with unshakable thoughts of life and death. ... While this is the first time I have personally witnessed death, it is not the first time I have reflected on how mass death has played a role in shaping who I am. My family story -- on both sides -- is one of survival from some of history's most merciless chapters.  My mother's side of the family, on her father's side, came from Armenia.  Her grandfather, Ardash Hagopian, was out of the country on April 24th, 1915 when Turkey commenced its killing of 1.5 million Armenians. However, my great-grandfather’s first wife and kids were in Armenia at the time and did not survive what Armenians call 'The Great Calamity' -- a genocide widely recognized by scholars and nations alike, with the notable exceptions of the Turkish and U.S. governments. My father is African American and we trace our roots back to slaves on plantations in New Orleans, Louisiana and Natchez, Mississippi. My ancestors, then, at some unrecorded point in history, survived the middle passage between Africa and America -- a journey that inflicted the deaths of millions Africans. The natural disaster I lived though in Haiti was, of course, different than these willful acts of mass extermination my ancestors endured so many years ago.  The wreckage we saw was not the result of mortar shells.  The hundreds of thousands who perished were not beaten to death, thrown overboard, marched to their death, or rounded up for the firing squad. And yet I cannot help but appreciate the analogy between the slaughter that my forebearers survived and the bloodshed of the Haitian people. ...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Armenia / Turkey / Azerbaijan / Nagorno-Karabakh

Armenia Halts Ratification of Turkey Peace Deal
By Hasmik Mkrtchyan and Matt Robinson
Reuters dispatch, April 22, 2010
"Armenia on Thursday suspended ratification of peace accords with Turkey, setting back to square one U.S.-backed efforts to bury a century of hostility between the neighbors. Christian Armenia and Muslim Turkey signed accords in October last year to establish diplomatic relations and open their land border, trying to overcome the legacy of the World War One mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks. But the process was already deadlocked before Thursday's decision, with each side accusing the other of trying to re-write the texts and setting new conditions. Neither parliament has approved the deal, which would bring huge economic gains for poor, landlocked Armenia, burnish Turkey's credentials as an EU candidate and boost its clout in the strategic South Caucasus. Analysts said the Armenian decision, two days before the 95th anniversary of the killings, was not the end of the road, but an attempt to increase pressure on Turkey. Armenia was angered by Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan saying that ratification would depend on Armenia reaching terms with Azerbaijan, Turkey's close ally and energy trading partner, over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. 'We have decided ... not to exit the process for the time being, but rather, to suspend the procedure of ratifying the protocols. We believe this to be in the best interests of our nation,' Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan said.

Maternal Mortality

Dying: Millions of Women in Childbirth, Newborns and Young Children, April 22, 2010
"Widespread global use of known and proven maternal and childcare techniques, practices, and therapies could save the lives of millions of women, newborns and children each year, according to a new analysis prepared for a mid-April meeting of world leaders and technical experts on maternal and child health. The meeting is being held to focus attention on this toll and develop a plan of action to reduce it. Despite significant advances over the past decades, the detailed analysis shows that an estimated 350,000-500,000 women still die in childbirth each year, 3.6 million newborns fail to survive the first month, and an additional 5.2 million children die before the age of five. It shows progress has lagged mainly in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia where an estimated 82 percent of maternal, newborn, and child deaths take place.

Nigeria / Death Penalty

Hundreds to Die to Clear Prisons
Agence France-Presse dispatch in The Sydney Morning Herald, April 23, 2010
"Nigeria's state governors have backed the execution of more than 300 prisoners on death row as a way of clearing space in the overcrowded jails of Africa's most populous country. 'It was agreed that those people who have been condemned should be executed accordingly,' said Theodore Orji, the Governor of the south-eastern state of Abia, after a meeting of the 36 state governors in Abuja on Tuesday. A total of 330 prisoners are on death row in a country where capital punishment remains on the statutes despite rarely being implemented. The last official execution was in 2002 but Amnesty International, which campaigns against the death penalty, said it had found evidence of continuing secret executions in prisons. The governors, who have the power to sign execution orders, said also that 80 per cent of Nigeria's prison population was awaiting trial and efforts should be made to 'leave go' those serving lengthy remands, Mr. Orji said. Koyode Odeyemi, of the Nigerian Prisons Service, said 36,000 of the 40,106 inmates were awaiting trial.

Nazism / Jewish Holocaust / Islamic Fundamentalism

Roots of Islamic Fundamentalism Lie in Nazi Propaganda for Arab World, Book Claims
By Allan Hall
The Telegraph, April 21, 2010
"'Your only hope for rescue is the destruction of the Jews before they destroy you!' Hitler said in a 1942 message, one of thousands broadcast across the Middle East in an attempt to woo the Arab world. In a broadcast aimed at provoking an anti-Semitic uprising in Egypt, he said: 'A large number of Jews who live in Egypt, along with Poles, Greeks, Armenians and Frenchmen, have guns and ammunition. Some Jews in Cairo have even asked the British authorities to set up machine guns on the roofs of their houses,' he claimed. But the Nazi's wartime broadcasts had remained a largely hidden chapter in the history of the war until the transmissions were unearthed by a US scholar, who believes they have fuelled continuing unrest in the Middle East. 'The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians would have been over long ago were it not for the uncompromising, religiously inspired hatred of the Jews that was articulated and given assistance by Nazi propagandists and continued after the war by Islamists of various sorts,' said Jeffrey Herf, a history professor at the University of Maryland.

Bosnia and Herzegovina / Srebrenica Massacre / Genocide Tribunals

Radovan Karadzic Dismisses Srebrenica Survivor as a "Soldier Not a Victim"
By David Charter
The Times, April 21, 2010
Photo: Valerie Kuypers/AP
"Radovan Karadzic was admonished by judges at his genocide trial today for dismissing a Muslim survivor of the Srebrenica massacre as a 'soldier not a victim.' The former Bosnian Serb leader was warned by judges at the UN tribunal in The Hague not to make 'appalling' comments but stick to asking pertinent questions to the witness, who escaped from an execution squad by playing dead under the bodies of other Muslim men as they were shot. The court in The Hague heard how the witness was among a group of approximately 30 men who were blindfolded and taken to a meadow to be murdered but he miraculously survived and heard numerous other groups being brought to the site to suffer the same fate. Around 8,000 men died in the Srebrenica massacre. Dr. Karadzic, who is conducting his own defence on 11 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in the ethnic conflict of 1992-95 in the former Yugoslavia, failed in an attempt to have testimony stopped from the witness, whose identity was protected from the public. Judges ruled that he could continue even though prosecutors said earlier that evidence about Srebrenica would come later on in the trial. Just after the witness returned to court after a break, Dr. Karadzic said: 'You are not a victim, you were a soldier for the Bosnian army.' Judge O-Gon Kwon told Dr Karadzic to stick to questions, then later added: 'We have a witness who survived an horrendous massacre but you made an appalling comment that he was not a victim but a soldier.'


Stand Up for Democracy!

Judge Garzón is to be tried on charges that could end his career, inflicting a fresh blow to the credibility of Spain´s judicial system.

Garzon is accused of violating the 1977 amnesty law, but numerous legal experts say international law is clear: crimes against humanity cannot be amnestied.

A fierce political campaign aimed to discredit Garzón and bury these investigations and other inquiries into massive corruption scandals has been launched, and the Supreme Court is under enormous pressure to suspend him.

Only the power of public opinion can tip the balance in favor of justice, and avoid that ideology and impunity prevail over justice. Let's urgently deliver 100,000 signatures to the President of the General Council of the Judiciary and the Supreme Court. Take action now!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Iraq / United States

Secret Jail in Baghdad Held Sunnis from the North
By Steven Lee Myers
The New York Times, April 21, 2010
"An Iraqi security force under Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki's direct command held hundreds of detainees from northern Iraq in an undisclosed prison in Baghdad, torturing dozens of them, until the country's human rights minister and the United States intervened late last month, Iraqi and American officials said. Mr. Maliki ordered the prison closed and said he had been unaware it existed, according to the officials. His move brought the release of 71 detainees and the transfer of others to established prisons, but more than 200 remain in the place, on the grounds of the Old Muthanna military airfield, in northern Baghdad. All of the detainees were apparently Sunni Muslims. American diplomats visited the prison on Wednesday, the officials said, and pressed Mr. Maliki's government to investigate the circumstances of its creation and the treatment of detainees there, originally 431 in all. In an interview, the minister of human rights, Wijdan Salim, praised Mr. Maliki for moving to close the prison and to order an investigation of what happened inside. ... But the existence of the prison, first reported in The Los Angeles Times on Monday and widely repeated in the Iraqi media, enraged Sunni political leaders, who accused Mr. Maliki's government of trampling the rule of law.

Cambodian Genocide / Genocide Tribunals

UN Legal Chief Calls on Donors to Help Fund Cambodian Genocide Tribunal
UN News Centre dispatch, April 19, 2010
"The United Nations legal chief today called for donors to provide funds to support the UN-backed tribunal in Cambodia trying Khmer Rouge leaders accused of mass killings and other crimes during the country’s genocide in the late 1970s. Under-Secretary-General Patricia O'Brien, the UN Legal Counsel, voiced concern about the financial situation, including the cash flow, of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), after holding talks with the country's Deputy Prime Minister Sok An in the capital, Phnom Penh. Ms. O'Brien and the Deputy Prime Minister issued a joint statement after their meeting in which they urged the international community to provide contributions and pledges to national and international components of the tribunal. The ECCC was set up in 2003 by the UN and Cambodia and is tasked with trying senior Khmer Rouge figures and others responsible for the worst atrocities between 1975 and 1979. It is composed of both national and international judges and staff.

Canada / Rwandan Genocide

Michaelle Jean. Photo: Thomas Hubert (Reuters)
GG Apologizes for Canadian "Failure" during Rwandan Genocide
By Richard Foot
The Vancouver Sun, April 21, 2010
"Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean said during a state visit to Rwanda on Wednesday that Canada, along with other nations, failed to do enough to prevent the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Her remarks are being widely interpreted as an official government apology for Canada's response to the genocide. But it's unclear whether Jean's statement was formally approved in advance by the Harper government, or whether Jean was acting alone. Both the prime minister's director of communications, as well as Jean's own officials at Rideau Hall, declined to answer those questions on Wednesday. Jean's staff also said they would not be releasing a transcript of her remarks, even though the Governor General's other public statements, made during her nine-day trip to Africa, have so far been made available. 'The world's failure to respond adequately to the genocide is a failure in which Canada, as part of the international community, readily acknowledges its fair share of responsibility,' said Jean, reading from a statement as she sat beside Rwandan President Paul Kagame at a news conference in Kigali.


Presidential Candidate is Arrested in Rwanda
By Daniel Howden
The Independent, April 22, 2010
Photo: Victoire Ingabire (AFP)
"Rwanda's main opposition leader was arrested under the country's controversial genocide laws yesterday. Victoire Ingabire is the leading challenger to Rwanda's long-serving President Paul Kagame in elections due in August. An accountant who until recently lived in Europe, Ms. Ingabire has been questioned several times since she returned and declared she would run for president. The government says the laws are designed to prevent a repeat of the 1994 genocide but rights groups say they are used to harass political opponents and other critics. Mr. Kagame, who has been in power since the genocide, has become increasingly intolerant of his critics and is accused of seeking to strengthen his already tight control of the country ahead of voting. The former guerrilla leader has been accused of using international guilt over the 1994 killings to silence critics and establish an authoritarian state. Earlier this week there was a reshuffle among senior figures in the army followed by the arrest of two generals on charges of corruption and immoral conduct."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

Congo / Colonialism & Neo-Colonialism

Congo's Colonial Ghost
By Khaled Diab
The Guardian, April 21, 2010
"[...] Much as apologists for Europe's colonial legacy and those afflicted with selective amnesia would like to believe, the reality is that Congo's colonial experience, as in so many other post-colonial states, has caused deep and lasting scars, and very much handicaps the modern state. 'The situation of Congo today is a consequence of Belgian colonisation,' Nzau says, expressing a common Congolese perception. But this link between European colonialism and the current turmoil in much of sub-Saharan Africa is not just a case of Africans looking for someone else to blame, as is so often claimed. In fact, the same link was explicitly made in last year's European report on development. 'The scramble for Africa ... is a natural candidate for the historical origin of the fragility plaguing many sub-Saharan African countries,' the report stated. But why should such a relatively short sojourn have such a profound impact? In the case of Congo, part of the reason is that there was a centuries'-long prelude. Prior to direct rule, most of central Africa was depopulated as a consequence of the European slave trade to the west and, to a lesser extent, the Arab slave trade to the east. This, for example, helped accelerate the eventual collapse of the once-powerful indigenous kingdom of Kongo (which had different borders to the contemporary DRC). [...]"

Bosnia and Herzegovina / Switzerland / Srebrenica Massacre / Genocide Denial

Rights Group Sues Paper for Bosnia Genocide Denial
Associated Press dispatch on, April 20, 2010
"A human rights group is suing a Swiss newspaper for denying there was a Serb genocide of Bosnian Muslims in the town of Srebrenica in 1995. Fadila Memisevic, of the Bosnian branch of the Germany-based Society for Threatened Peoples, said her organization filed suit jointly Monday with the Swiss Association Against Impunity, TRIAL, in Lausanne. Swiss law prohibits genocide denial. The semimonthly La Nation recently published a series of articles claiming that 2,000 soldiers were killed in the "pseudo-massacre" in Srebrenica. Bosnian Serb forces overran the Muslim Bosniak town in July 1995 and executed 8,000 men and boys in the worst massacre in Europe since World War II. In 2007, the International Court of Justice ruled the executions were genocide."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Armenian Genocide / Genocide Memoirs

Book Review: Armenian Golgotha by Grigoris Balakian
By Tim Gebhart, April 19, 2010
"Given recent history, it would seem the term 'ethnic cleansing' is of late 20th Century origin. Armenian Golgotha, Grigoris Balakian's firsthand account of the Armenian genocide during World War I, disabuses any such notion. Balakian, an Armenian priest, notes several times that the Ottoman Empire embarked on an intentional campaign to 'cleanse' itself of Armenians. Even though this coming weekend marks the 95th anniversary of the beginning of this particular persecution of Armenians, whether to call what happened genocide or something else continues to be debated today. Given that Balakian relates the history from the perspective of someone persecuted by the Turks during that war, his book likely remains controversial today, more than 80 years after the first volume of it was first published. Balakian was one of some 250 Armenian intellectuals and leaders arrested by government order in Constantinople on April 24, 1915, the event commonly viewed as the beginning of the campaign against Armenians in Turkey. Calling what ensued 'cleansing' is perhaps the least blunt description used in his memoir. Perhaps that is because Balakian attributes its use to a police captain who escorted him during part of his trip into exile. According to Balakian, 'the Turks always used this term, especially the government officials, when referring to the massacre of Armenians.' Massacre is a term used far more often as Armenian Golgotha struggles to describe both Balakian's personal experiences and what was happening overall.

United Kingdom / Anti-Fascism

Musician Billy Bragg
Campaign Against British "Fascists" Heats Up
By Robert Mackey
The New York Times, April 20, 2010
"[...] Some Britons fear that the bleak national mood could also lead to the election of another sort of outsider candidate, the leader of the British National Party, Nick Griffin. As my colleague Sarah Lyall reported on Friday, Mr. Griffin -- who has expressed doubts about the Holocaust, and decried 'this nonsense about gas chambers' -- is trying to win a seat in the east London borough of Barking and Dagenham by tapping into discontent with both the incumbent Labor MP and the number of immigrants now living in a traditionally white, working-class area that has fallen on hard times. Mr. Griffin's BNP advocates an immediate end to immigration to Britain and the repatriation of people of foreign descent. On Saturday, one of the borough's favorite sons, Billy Bragg -- the musician who calls himself 'the big-nosed Bard from Barking' -- was involved in a confrontation with a BNP official, Richard Barnbrook, who has attacked the singer on his blog. ...


Last Argentine Dictator Jailed for 25 Years
Reuters dispatch, April 20, 2010
"The last leader of Argentina's 1976-83 dictatorship was sentenced to 25 years in prison on Tuesday for his involvement in the kidnapping, torture and murder of 56 people in a clandestine concentration camp. Reynaldo Bignone, 82, was convicted along with six other former military and police officers for ordering beatings and electrocutions of dissidents of the military regime. Dozens of relatives holding pictures of the dictatorship's victims cheered after a judge read out the ruling in a makeshift courtroom set up in a gymnasium. 'Justice was slow in coming but it has finally arrived,' said Estela de Carlotto, head of the human rights group Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo. More than 11,000 people died or disappeared during Argentina's 'Dirty War,' a systematic crackdown on leftists and other opponents of the military regime. Human rights groups say the number is closer to 30,000.

Spain / Genocide Tribunals / Universal Jursidiction

Latin America Feels the "Garzón Effect"
By Daniela Estrada
IPS News dispatch, April 19, 2010
"Latin America owes Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzón, who is facing prosecution in his country for trying to investigate Franco-era abuses, for the groundbreaking invocation of legal principles that have led to trials for crimes against humanity in Argentina, Chile, Guatemala, Peru and Uruguay, human rights lawyers say. Chilean lawyer Roberto Garretón coined the phrases 'the Garzón effect' and 'the Pinochet effect,' after the Spanish magistrate tried to extradite former Chilean dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet (1915-2006) from Britain in 1998 to try him for crimes against humanity committed during the 1973-1990 dictatorship he led. Pinochet, who was arrested while recovering from surgery for a slipped disc in a London clinic, ended up spending more than 500 days under house arrest in the British capital until the government of that country released him on humanitarian grounds. After the dictator returned to Santiago, he faced legal action for human rights abuses and embezzlement, but he was never convicted. In any case, prosecutions for murders, forced disappearances and torture committed by the dictatorship increased exponentially after 1998.


Iraqi Officials: Gunmen Kill Family of Awakening Council Leader, April 20, 2010
"Gunmen stormed a house north of Baghdad, killing the family of a local Awakening Council leader, police officials said Tuesday. The attackers killed the man's wife, their 22-year-old daughter and their three sons, who were beheaded, according to police. The father was not home when the attack took place Monday night in the Salaheddin province town of Tarmiya, about 30 miles (45 kilometers) north of Baghdad, police said. The attack is the latest targeting Awakening Council or Sons of Iraq members and their families. Earlier this month, gunmen wearing military uniforms stormed houses and killed 25 people in a Sunni village near Baghdad. Five of the dead were women. Most of the victims were shot in the head, and all were found handcuffed, police officials in Baghdad said. The attack, involving at least 20 gunmen, took place in a village in Arab Jabour, a predominantly Sunni region about 15 miles southeast of the capital, authorities said. The area was once a hotbed of insurgents until the birth of Awakening Councils or the Sons of Iraq, which were established to reduce violence and provide security for residents in certain areas of the country. Most of the victims in the April 2 attacks were local Sons of Iraq members. [...]"

South Africa

Two South African Farmers Killed Every Week
The Telegraph, April 20, 2010
"Since 1991, there have been 11,785 attacks and 1,804 murders, and the problem is getting worse, Andre Botha, the president of Agri SA warned. Mr. Botha told the South African parliament's police committee: 'We're talking about two attacks per day, we're talking about two farm murders per week, and it's increasing. What is a very worrying aspect is the brutality in which the murders are conducted.' It follows the recent killing of the far-Right leader Eugene Terreblanche, who was allegedly murdered by two farmworkers. His death inflamed South Africa's race tensions amid anger over a 'shoot the Boer [farmer]' slogan sung by Julius Malema, the ANC Youth League leader. Farm killings are a racially charged matter in South Africa with official reforms having failed to dent apartheid land patterns that left the bulk of farms in white hands 16 years after majority rule. Mr. Botha said one of the biggest challenges facing agriculture was irresponsible remarks from government officials and political leaders. 'The hate speech and the inflammatory remarks should not be tolerated,' he said.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Palestine / Israel / "Ethnic Cleansing" / Prevention of Births within a Group

"Condemning Kramer"
By Lori Allen, Vincent A. Brown, and Ajantha Subramanian
The Harvard Crimson, April 19, 2010
"Much has been made of Martin Kramer’s suggestion that Palestinians be denied food and medicine in order to weaken their opposition to the Israeli occupation. We, along with a group of 25 other professors, scholars, and Harvard alumni, add our voices to the chorus of condemnation directed towards Dr. Kramer and express our concern that the Weatherhead Center has lent him its credibility. As academics, we question both the ethical and scholarly basis of Dr. Kramer's public statements. We maintain that this is not a question of protecting Dr. Kramer's free speech, as was indicated by the Weatherhead Center’s response to criticism. Rather, it is about maintaining appropriate standards of ethical and intellectual conduct; Dr. Kramer’s repellent statements evince a clear failure to meet those standards. The speech in question was made at the 10th annual Herzliya conference, the single most important gathering of influential policymakers and commentators in Israel. Kramer’s talk was part of a panel held on Feb. 3, 2010 entitled 'Rising to the Challenge of Radical Indoctrination;' his Harvard affiliation was clearly identified in the conference program in connection with the talk. In Kramer's presentation, he suggested that Israel's current economic blockade of Gaza, now in its fourth year, represents a successful effort to 'break Gaza's runaway population growth.' He therefore argued against what he called 'pro-natal subsidies' of food, medicine, and humanitarian aid that help to reproduce the 'constant supply of superfluous young men' demanded by a so-called 'culture of martyrdom' in Gaza.

United Kingdom / Violence Against Homosexuals

"Clockwork Orange" Killers Beat Homosexual to Death
The Telegraph, April 19, 2010
"Two teenage girls kicked a gay man to death as he lay unconscious in Trafalgar Square in a shocking killing likened to a scene from the movie Clockwork Orange, the Old Bailey heard. Ruby Thomas and Rachel Burke, both 18, stamped on Ian Baynham's chest and kicked him in the head after their friend Joel Alexander, 19, punched him to the ground, jurors heard. As the dying man lay bleeding on the ground under a hail of kicks, he began fitting from the brain damage to his fractured skull. When Mr. Baynham's friend stepped in to save the dying man, Burke attacked him too, it was said. The three killers fled the scene and Mr. Baynham was rushed to hospital but he never woke up again and died 18 eighteen days later. Brian Altman, QC, prosecuting, had told jurors that Mr. Baynham and Philip Brown were walking through Trafalgar Square on the evening of September 25 last year, 'minding their own business.' The barrister explained: ... 'Fuelled by copious amounts of alcohol, all three jointly participated in a violent attack on a defenceless man in public. Mr. Baynham was openly homosexual and what led to his death began with Thomas hurling homophobic abuse at him and his friend Mr. Brown. She called them 'f***ing faggots.' Mr. Baynham grabbed and slapped her. Alexander intervened and lunged at him, punching him in the face. He fell to the ground.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Spain / Argentina / Spanish Civil War

Spain Mum on Franco-era War Probe by Argentina
By Daniel Woolls
Associated Press dispatch in Taiwan News, April 16, 2010
"A Spanish official refused to say Friday if the Madrid government will cooperate with a proposed investigation by Argentine courts of atrocities committed in Spain during its civil war. Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega said it is too early to say because a suit seeking such a probe was filed only this week in Argentina and courts there have to deliberate and decide whether to start investigating. 'This issue is at a very preliminary phase,' she told reporters after a weekly Cabinet meeting. Human rights groups in Argentina say they presented their petition in part because Spain's Judge Baltasar Garzon tried a few years ago to probe wartime atrocities by forces loyal to Gen. Francisco Franco, got nowhere and is now indicted on charges of overstepping his jurisdiction for launching the investigation in the first place. He tried to probe tens of thousands of executions and disappearances of civilians in the 1936-39 war and the early years of the Franco dictatorship. Such crimes were covered by a 1977 amnesty and this is one of the reasons Garzon was indicted last week by a judge at the Supreme Court.

Serbia / Croatia

"Solution for Genocide Suits to be Found"
B92, April 17, 2010
"Boris Tadic and Ivo Josipovic said that they are convinced that Serbia and Croatia would be able to find an out-of-court solution for their genocide suits. The Vojvodina village of Backi Monostor was the site of the first meeting between the two presidents in Serbia. They confirmed that Serbia and Croatia are ready to build good neighborly relations. Before heading to Vojvodina, the two presidents were in Hungary meeting with President Laszlo Solyom. Tadic and Josipovic met with officials of the Croatian national community in Vojvodina and visited the primary school in Backi Monostor. At the press conference following the meeting, the two presidents said that their governments would be searching for a solution that would enable both Serbia and Croatia to pull the pending genocide suits each country has filed against the other before the International Court of Justice. 'If Serbia and Croatia agree on their united future, and if they are able to gather the strength to look at the problems of the past in a way that is not traditional, if the governments have joint sessions and if one day they share the same history text books, this will show the honest desire and readiness for us to take new responsibilities in this new era, in order to project the future of the entire region,' Tadic said.

Turkey / Armenian Genocide

Turkey's 95 Years of Denial
By Olivia Ward
The Toronto Star, April 18, 2010
"Some were thrown into the Black Sea and drowned, while thousands of other men, women and children were forced to march through the blistering Syrian desert without food or water, dying en route to concentration camps. The 1915 killings of up to 1.5 million Armenians by extremists in the Ottoman Empire's 'Young Turk' movement during the turmoil of World War I has been exhaustively documented by scholars, diplomats, journalists and the testimonies of survivors. Henry Morgenthau, the U.S. ambassador to the empire, cabled Washington about a 'systematic plan to crush the Armenian race.' After the war, a Turkish court held war crimes trials and concluded that the leaders of the massacre were guilty of murder -- though they were never jailed. Ninety-five years after the onset of what has been labelled the 20th century's first genocide, Turkey has not come to terms with the dark event, whose ghosts still haunt relations with neighbouring Armenia. The months-long massacre is marked on April 24, the date when hundreds of Armenian intellectual leaders were deported and killed.

International Tribunals / Genocide on Film

Justice and Therapy in Yugoslav War-Crimes Trials
By Charles Crawford
RFE/RL dispatch, April 18, 2010
"I recently attended a London presentation of the film 'Storm' which centers on the unlikely theme of a war-crimes trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Directed by Hans-Christian Schmid, 'Storm' stars Kerry Fox as a feisty, but pedantic ICTY prosecutor and Anamaria Marinca as a key Bosniak victim of wartime rape in 1990s Bosnia-Herzegovina. (The trailer for the film is available here) In the film, the case against a Bosnian Serb military officer wobbles when a key Bosniak witness is shown to have lied. The prosecutor struggles to keep the case alive and finds a new, deeper horror: a hotel where systematic rapes of Bosniak women prisoners by Bosnian Serbs were carried out. But how to bring to the courtroom credible evidence of what happened? Will a victim who survived the ordeal testify so many years later? The film is being marketed as a 'thriller.' While it is not scary or even dramatic, the Bosnian scenes convey bleak black menace, all the more effective for being understated. The plot turns on ICTY procedural maneuvers. The court is under pressure to end overly long trials. A senior EU official (the prosecutor's lover) leads the intrigue aimed at ending the trial (in effect, abandoning justice in general and Bosnia's war-crimes victims in particular) for the sake of achieving the cooperation of Republika Srpska (the ethnic Sebian entity of the Bosnian federation) in expediting Bosnia's progress toward EU membership. As a dramatic device this gives the viewer a subtle and interesting (if pessimistic) movie experience. The court scenes and technical insights bring out some legal and procedural themes not obvious to the general public.

Iraq / United States / United Kingdom

Howling Wind: The Unrepented Genocide
By Chris Floyd, April 18, 2010
"The other day I was reading the New York Review of Books in a bookstore café. I saw a large ad in the bottom corner of a page; it began with this quote, in bold capitals: 'WHY IS IT A CRIME FOR ONE MAN TO MURDER ANOTHER, BUT NOT FOR A GOVERNMENT TO KILL MORE THAN A MILLION PEOPLE?' My first reaction, before I read further, was a feeling of surprise that someone had articulated the case against the Iraq war so clearly -- and had bought expensive space in the magazine to bring this unpunished, unrepented -- indeed, unacknowledged -- war crime to the national consciousness again. A moment later, I saw that it was actually an ad for an exhibition in New York City about Raphael Lemkin, the Polish-Jewish exile and US government advisor who first coined the term and developed the concept of 'genocide.' Under a picture of Lemkin's wartime government ID card, the ad goes on: 'Before Raphael Lemkin, that kind of killing had no name. Today we know it as genocide.' Then comes the title of the exhibition: 'Letters of Conscience: Raphael Lemkin and the Quest to End Genocide.' The life and work of Raphael Lemkin is a worthy topic for an exhibition, of course, and I wish it all success. But still, I was struck by how aptly his words described our own situation. For by the same scientific measurement tools used by the U.S. and UK governments to determine the extent of mass slaughters in Rwanda, Darfur and other places around the world, the war of aggression launched by those two governments against Iraq in 2003 has by now resulted in the death of more than one million Iraqis. ...


Violence Highlights Fears of Iraqi Security Forces Taking Over after US Leaves
By Leila Fadel
The Washington Post, April 18, 2010
"Raw welts and purple bruises run down the backs of dozens of Sunni Muslim men in a small village west of Baghdad -- evidence, local residents say, of abuse by the Iraqi army that threatens to widen a sectarian rift. The wounds came from beatings administered last month by soldiers from the predominantly Shiite force charged with protecting the Sunni community here, villagers said. One by one, they said, the Sunni men were questioned, beaten and shocked with electricity in a roundup by mostly Shiite Iraqi soldiers, who were reeling from the killing of five comrades at a checkpoint. The violence comes at a time when the performance and professionalism of Iraq's security forces are facing a crucial test. With US troop levels scheduled to drop to 50,000 by summer's end, Iraqi security forces control the streets. But they face deep mistrust in particular from Iraqi Sunnis, who in some areas consider the Army a less-than-neutral instrument of a Shiite-dominated government. In Radwaniyah, Sunni tribal leaders say the beatings have cemented fears about what might happen when the U.S. military leaves for good. They worry about being caught between the Sunni insurgents they turned against and a Shiite-led government they do not trust. ... Lt. Col. Gregory Sierra, the commander of the 2nd Battalion of the 7th Infantry Regiment, which advises the Iraqi division, said the US military could not comment on 'what we did not see.' But he said his Iraqi counterparts assured him that no mistreatment had occurred. While 140 men were rounded up, all were released except for two who confessed involvement in the soldiers' killings, Sierra said. But villagers and tribal leaders interviewed on the vast farms of Radwaniyah, once a hotbed of the Sunni insurgency, provided detailed accounts that appeared to corroborate the physical evidence of wounds that some men willingly displayed.

Bosian Genocide / Witnessing Genocide

McClatchy's Roy Gutman Honored in Sarajevo
McClatchy Newspapers dispatch, April 15, 2010
"The city of Sarajevo has bestowed honorary citizenship on Roy Gutman, the foreign editor in McClatchy's Washington Bureau, and awarded him the key to the city to honor his reporting on the ethnic cleansing of Bosnia by ethnic Serbs during the 1992-1995 war. Sarajevo mayor Alija Behman presented the award in the Bosnian capital at a televised ceremony on April 6, the 65th anniversary of the city's liberation after World War II. 'The investigative work of Roy Gutman had a decisive impact on directing American and world attention to wartime events in Bosnia and Herzegovina,' said the citation, which the Sarajevo City Council approved unanimously in mid-March. The coverage 'provided additional arguments for (international) intervention and establishing peace in the region.' The inscription accompanying the key said: 'The citizens of Sarajevo hereby express their respect and gratitude' for Roy Gutman's 'contribution to the truth and the facts about the events of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina and its capital city in the period of 1992-1995.' Gutman, at the time Newsday's European correspondent, was the first reporter to expose a network of concentration camps run by Bosnian Serbs, where mostly Muslim civilians were held, beaten, starved and often killed.

Nigeria / Extrajudicial Killings

In Nigeria, No Peace from Police Officers
By Robyn Dixon
The Los Angeles Times, April 18, 2010
"Abdul Wuraola knelt in the dust, pleading for mercy. He'd offended the men with guns. They screamed at him in fury. Nothing he said appeased them. It took one downward thrust of a rifle butt into his skull to fell him. The gunmen weren't criminals. They were the police. His crime: He'd parked carelessly on the roadside in the northern Nigerian city of Kaduna to buy oranges for his breakfast. Police and security forces in Nigeria routinely engage in random violence that results in hundreds of killings annually, according to human rights groups. There was the truck driver who drove past a police roadblock in February in the town of Kazaure because of poor brakes. Police dragged him from the vehicle and beat him to death. Or the student shot and killed that month in Gwarzo when police opened fire during a peaceful protest at a police station claiming that the authorities failed to properly investigate a homicide. Or the motorcyclist killed in January for getting in the way of a police convoy in Kaduna state. 'They got out and shot him,' said lawyer Shehu Sani of the Civil Rights Congress, a nongovernment group. In a rare admission, last monththen-Police Minister Ibrahim Lame condemned the violence in a meeting with federal police commanders. 'The current rate of crime across the nation, rising cases of extrajudicial killings, human rights violations, robberies, high-profile assassinations and deliberate failure to comply with government directives are testimony to the sheer incapacity or willful defiance of police high command,' Lame said. ...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Poland / Katyn Massacre

Smolensk Crash Passengers' Connections to Katyn Victims
By Emine Saner
The Guardian, April 17, 2010
"When the plane carrying the Polish president, Lech Kaczynski, and 95 other people went down in fog last Saturday, near the site where an estimated 22,000 Poles were massacred 70 years earlier, there were terrible echoes in those who died. In 1940, it was army officers, lawyers, intellectuals, academics, historians, engineers, priests; among those who died last week were General Franciszek Gagor, the army chief of staff, Aleksander Szczyglo, the head of the national security service, and Slawomir Skrzypek, the president of the national bank. The party also included political activists, such as Anna Walentynowicz, and historian Janusz Kurtyka. But there were others on board who had personal connections to the massacre in Katyn. Wojciech Seweryn, 70, was an artist who lived in Chicago; his father, a Polish infantryman, died at Katyn when Seweryn was just a few months old. He emigrated to the US in 1976, and was a prominent member of his adopted city's Polish community. His sculpture commemorating the Katyn massacre -- the Virgin Mary cradling a wounded soldier -- stands at St Adalbert cemetery in Niles, Illinois. Also travelling was Leszek Solski, 75, a retired civil engineer, who lost his father and uncle in 1940, and spent his life trying to uncover documents about the massacre. Ewa Bakowska, 48, the library curator of Kraków's Jagiellonian University, was the granddaughter of Mieczyslaw Smorawinski, one of only two Polish generals identified among the victims of the massacre.


In India, Religious Violence Leaves Long Trail of Refugee Camps
By Ben Arnoldy
The Christian Science Monitor, April 15, 2010
"Many Christians displaced by deadly religious riots two years ago in the Indian state of Orissa remain in camps today, a delegation of German parliamentarians discovered this week, highlighting the enduring aftermath that often follows sporadic violence. 'We saw the miserable situation of people without proper homes and livelihood opportunities. Most of them are yet to be compensated adequately,' they said. In a press release cited here, they also noted that 'even after two years, police have not registered several complaints and justice is not done to the community. Only a few of the responsible have been convicted for the communal violence.' Two years, however, is relatively short compared with India's overall track record in reintegrating the victims of periodic religious rioting. Eight years after deadly riots in Gujarat, displaced Muslims remain in ghettos where religious aid groups have been accused of imposing Taliban-style rules. And Kashmiri Hindus remain in refugee camps outside Kashmir some two decades after being targeted in the Muslim-majority state. India prides itself as a religiously diverse, secular state -- and sometimes reacts defensively to international criticisms about the treatment of religious minorities. Last year, New Delhi denied entry visas to a United States government delegation tasked with monitoring religious freedom abroad.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Commemorating the Onset
of the Cambodian Genocide
April 17, 1975

Cellblock in the Tuol Sleng prison/torture center, Phnom Penh
Photo by Adam Jones

Bosnian Genocide / International Tribunals

Ex-Prosecutor: Accused War Criminals Use Trials to Appeal to Fringe
By Tom Evans, April 15, 2010
"A top former international prosecutor has said that Serb leaders who face war crimes trials often use the proceedings to try to enhance their reputations among 'fringe groups.' 'They realize that this is the only -- quote -- "benefit" they can get ... and that is to use it for their own selfish political purposes rather than to face seriously the charges which are being put to them,' said Richard Goldstone. Goldstone, in an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, added, 'They want to use the trial to the extent they can as a platform for speaking to their own fringe groups who are still unfortunately around in Serbia in particular.' But Goldstone, who is a former chief prosecutor of the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, said the trial of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic -- currently under way in the Hague -- is very important to lay the ghosts of the past to rest. He was speaking as Karadzic faced prosecution witnesses for the first time in his trial. Karadzic faces 11 counts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Turkey / Armenia / Armenian Genocide

Turkey PM Says Not to Open Border with Armenia Unless Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict Solved
People's Daily Online, April 15, 2010
"Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday the border between Turkey and Armenia would remain closed unless a solution was reached in the conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, the semi-official Anatolia news agency reported. Turkey is ready to open the border as soon as Armenia ends 'occupation of Azerbaijan's territory,' Erdogan was quoted as telling reporters upon his arrival in Turkey from the Nuclear Security Summit held in the United States from April 12 to 13. Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1993 to support Azerbaijan, which had a territorial conflict with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Ankara has said the border could be opened only after the withdrawal of Armenian troops from the disputed land. Turkey and Armenia have no diplomatic or economic ties. The two neighbors signed protocols to normalize relations and open long-sealed borders last October but the move has stalled since then. The reconciliation process suffered a further blow after a U.S. congressional panel and the Swedish parliament last month passed resolutions that recognize killings of Armenians under Ottoman rule during the World War I as 'genocide.'

Nazism / Jewish Holocaust

Hero or Traitor? Film Asks Why Jew Dealt with Nazis
By Marilyn H. Karfeld
Cleveland Jewish News, April 16, 2010
"The man who saved more Jews in the Holocaust than any other is a name you’ve never heard. His story is morally complex, twisted, and filled with intrigue, conspiracy and murder. In 1944, Rezso (sometimes called Rudolf) Kasztner, a Hungarian Jew who was part of a Zionist rescue group, negotiated face-to-face with Adolf Eichmann to save thousands of Hungarian Jews from deportation to Auschwitz and near-certain death. A decade later, tarred as a traitor and Nazi collaborator in his adopted Israel, Kasztner was assassinated in Tel Aviv by a right-wing Jewish extremist. His daughter Zsuzsi, only 9 at the time of her father's trial, and her three daughters have crusaded for years in Israel to resurrect him as a hero. In the engrossing documentary 'Killing Kasztner: The Jew Who Dealt with Nazis,' filmmaker Gaylen Ross investigates the story of the enigmatic Hungarian, digging beneath the slander, mythology and rumor to raise some fundamental questions about heroism, morality and patriotism. In the final months of World War II, desperate for supplies, Eichmann offered to sell one million Jewish lives for trucks and war materiel. The Western allies were not interested, but stalling for time, Kasztner assured the architect of the Final Solution that trucks would come if Eichmann kept the Jews alive.

Cambodian Genocide

Khmer Rouge Legacy Lingers 35 Years after Phnom Penh's Fall
By Robert Carmichael, April 16, 2010
"Thirty-five years ago, Cambodia's capital, Phnom Penh, fell to the Khmer Rouge, Pol Pot's ultra-Maoist movement, which over the preceding years had taken control of most of the country. Many in the capital were relieved, believing now, after years of war, they could rebuild their lives. But as history has shown, they were terribly wrong. The Khmer Rouge immediately began emptying the cities of their inhabitants and putting them to work in rural agricultural collectives, a policy that had deadly consequences. Up to 2 million people died from execution, starvation, disease and overwork under the four-year Khmer Rouge state known as Democratic Kampuchea. ... Emptying the cities was the first step in the Khmer Rouge's bid to refashion Cambodian society. The movement outlawed family and religion, and its paranoid nature meant that class enemies -- intellectuals, politicians, those in the military -- were swept away. Most were killed. When the regime had eliminated its perceived external enemies, it turned inward and began to consume itself in a rage of paranoia and blood.