Saturday, March 19, 2011

Sudan / South Sudan

"South Sudan has seen an increase in violence since its vote to secede from the North in January." (Gallo/Getty)
Deadly Clashes in South Sudan
Al Jazeera English, March 19, 2011
"Heavy fighting between rebels and the south Sudanese army in the oil-producing states of Unity and Upper Nile, has left at least 70 people dead, according to an army spokesman. At least 30 soldiers and 11 rebels died in clashes that broke out on Thursday morning in Mayom county, in Unity state, Philip Aguer, a spokesman for the south's Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), said. 'The fighting was very heavy, but the rebels are now being pursued,' Aguer said, who added that 34 SPLA soldiers were also wounded. ... Aguer said the fighting began after the breakdown of talks aimed at persuading the rebels, who totalled 'several hundred well-armed men,' to join the southern army. In neighbouring Upper Nile state, clashes between the army and a separate rebel group, which Aguer said was responsible for a bloody raid on the state capital Malakal last Saturday, killed 25 rebels and four SPLA soldiers. ... UN officials confirmed that heavy clashes had taken place, but they were unable to verify the casualty figures. South Sudan has seen a surge in bloody clashes between rebel groups and the army since a largely peaceful January referendum on independence, in which southerners voted almost unanimously to form their own nation. Unity and Upper Nile states are close to the south's border with the north -- its former civil war enemy who the southern government has repeatedly accused of supplying arms and providing bases for rebels. The leaders of north and south tentatively agreed on Thursday to resume talks aimed at resolving a host of outstanding issues before the international community recognises an independent south in July.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Czech Republic / Lidice Massacre / Porrajmos (Roma Genocide)

A Czech Town Memorializes Oft-Forgotten Victims
By Jacy Meyer
The Christian Science Monitor, March 10, 2011
"Deep in the peaceful Bohemian countryside 15 miles northwest of Prague sits the village of Lidice. The town itself has been transformed into a beautiful and haunting memorial with a museum and rose garden to commemorate a brutal Nazi retaliation that razed the original town after high-ranking Nazi official Reinhard Heydrich was assassinated in Prague in 1942. In the museum, a new traveling exhibit tells the story of another group terrorized under the Nazis -- the Roma. About half a million European Roma were killed during World War II. Ninety percent of the Roma living on Czech lands are believed to have been killed. Lety, the Roma internment camp, was originally a prison work camp. It housed more than 1,000 Roma, also known as Gypsies, from 1942 to 1943; about 500 of them went to Auschwitz. Lidice Memorial staff now manage the Lety site as well as Lezaky, a second Roma internment camp, and plans are to develop memorials there as well. 'Like with the Lidice Memorial, we are trying to bring history to young people through various exhibitions,' says Ivona Kasalicka, director of the Lidice Gallery. The traveling exhibition will remain at Lidice until March 29 and then will be displayed at the Museum of Romani Culture in Brno, Czech Republic."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

Tuesday, March 08, 2011


"Hundreds of African migrant workers, many from Ghana and Nigeria, live next to the airport in Tripoli, Libya, hoping to fly home." (Moises Saman/The New York Times)
Libya War Traps Poor Immigrants at Tripoli's Edge
By David D. Kirkpatrick and Scott Sayare
The New York Times, March 7, 2011
"As wealthier nations send boats and planes to rescue their citizens from the violence in Libya, a new refugee crisis is taking shape on the outskirts of Tripoli, where thousands of migrant workers from sub-Saharan Africa have been trapped with scant food and water, no international aid and little hope of escape. The migrants -- many of them illegal immigrants from Ghana and Nigeria who have long constituted an impoverished underclass in Libya -- live amid piles of garbage, sleep in makeshift tents of blankets strung from fences and trees, and breathe fumes from a trench of excrement dividing their camp from the parking lot of Tripoli's airport. For dinner on Monday night two men killed a scrawny, half-plucked chicken by dunking it in water boiled on a garbage fire, then hacked it apart with a dull knife and cooked it over an open fire. Some residents of the camp are as young as Essem Ighalo, 9 days old, who arrived on his second day of life and has yet to see a doctor. Many refugees said they had seen deaths from hunger and disease every night. The airport refugees, along with tens of thousands of other African migrants lucky enough to make it across the border to Tunisia, are the most desperate contingent of a vast exodus that has already sent almost 200,000 foreigners fleeing the country since the outbreak of the popular revolt against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi nearly three weeks ago. Dark-skinned Africans say the Libyan war has caught them in a vise. The heavily armed police and militia forces loyal to Colonel Qaddafi who guard checkpoints along the roads around the capital rob them of their money, possessions and cellphone chips, the migrants say. And the Libyans who oppose Colonel Qaddafi lash out at the African migrants because they look like the dark-skinned mercenaries many here say the Libyan leader has recruited to crush the uprising. 'Qaddafi has brought African soldiers to kill some of them, so if they see black people they beat them,' said Samson Adda, 31, who said residents of Zawiyah, a rebellious city, had beaten him so badly that he could no longer walk.

Monday, March 07, 2011


Black Men Face Death as Both Anti- and Pro-Gaddafi Bloc Hunt Them Down
The Star/Asia News Network, March 6, 2011
"It is a scary time to be a black man in Libya. The anti-Gaddafi protesters want to lynch you because they think you are a mercenary out to kill them, while the pro-Gaddafi forces want to kidnap you and force you to fight for them. Collins Daakqah from Ghana said he saw five dead Africans in Zawiyah, which is 30km from Tripoli. 'I saw a few Africans trying to leave but some armed men wouldn't let them and shot them. We were so afraid to stay inside if those people came after us, so we had to find a way to run away,' he said when met after crossing the border into Tunisia. Owusu Isaac also from Ghana was also relieved to make it out, but his heart is heavy. His face showed worry and he seemed preoccupied. His brother Stephen has been captured by the police in Tripoli and is being made to fight with the soldiers against the anti-Gaddafi protestors. 'They didn't know my brother still had his mobile phone with him. He managed to call me just to tell me that he was being taken away by the police and that he was given weapons and asked to fight. He was scared. A policeman spotted my brother talking to me on the phone and the line went dead,' he said. 'I want to try and help my brother but I can't. I need to run for my life,' he said. The men say they are not fighters or mercenaries and had merely come over to Libya to make a living. They were working in lowly-paid jobs, mostly plastering newly-built homes and half the time they didn't even get paid. In recent weeks, Libya has exploded into violence as anti-Gaddafi protestors have taken to the streets to try and oust their leader of 41 years, Muammar Gaddafi. But their leader has responded with heavy force to put down the uprising against him and even hired African mercenaries to do the killing and these men have been prowling the streets with weapons, shooting protestors indiscriminately In response, the anti-Gaddafi protestors have gone after the Africans and captured some of the mercenaries and even killed a few.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Kosovo / Serbia

"Serbian forces were accused of massacring 40 Kosovo Albanians in Racak in 1999." (Reuters)
Kosovo to Hold First Talks with Serbia since Independence
By Vesna Peric Zimonjic
The Independent, March 7, 2011
"Kosovo will tomorrow hold its first face-to-face talks with Serbia since declaring independence three years ago after insurgency and ethnic cleansing left 10,000 people dead and drove hundreds of thousands from their homes. The meeting in Brussels between senior officials will include discussions on the fate of 1,800 people still missing from the 1998-99 conflict and other complex humanitarian issues. Serbia has said that it will never recognise the independence of Kosovo but observers see the meeting as an opportunity for reconciliation despite obvious tensions that remain between Albanians and Serbs. The two sides agreed to the EU-sponsored talks last year to improve the lives of all those in Kosovo -- two million ethnic Albanians and a tiny Serb minority -- where unemployment stands at 50 per cent and many people are living in grinding poverty. 'We joined this process not to play a game of poker where one side will win and the other will lose, but to solve the problems of people,' said Belgrade negotiator Borko Stefanovic. But he added his team would not cross the 'clearly defined' lines regarding Serbia's refusal to accept Kosovo's independence. Serbia goes into the talks hoping to improve its international image, scarred by atrocities committed during the conflict in Kosovo when Serbia was run by Slobodan Milosevic, who died in 2006 while on trial for war crimes at The Hague. Serbia has come under heavy pressure from the EU to enter negotiations with the former province that Serbia claims as the historic birthplace of the Serb people. Serbia still refuses to allow any exports from Kosovo to pass through its territory and its stance has infuriated the EU as Serbia seeks to join the 27-nation bloc.

France / Anti-Semitism

"Orthodox Jews in the Marais district of Paris where John Galliano allegedly made his comments." (Alamy)
Jewish People in the French Capital Live in the Shadow of Hatred
By Kim Willsher
The Observer, March 6, 2011
"Like most Paris schools, the Ecole des Hospitalières-Saint-Gervais bears a sombre plaque. It reads: '165 Jewish children from this school, deported to Germany during the second world war, were exterminated in the Nazi camps. Do not forget.' In this district, known as the Marais, the heart of Paris's oldest Jewish quarter, gay bars rub shoulders with falafel cafés, kosher restaurants, synagogues and prayer rooms. Its labyrinthine streets have been home to Jews on and off since the 13th century. Ten days ago, however, it also played host to John Galliano. The alleged infamous outburst of the Dior designer, who has now been sacked, in which he is said to have abused a Jewish woman and her Asian boyfriend, was offensive on many levels -- not only because of what he allegedly said, but because of where he said it. It was in a bar just a few paces from the Hospitalières-Saint-Gervais that the couturier, who is British but has lived in the French capital for two decades, was arrested. And it was also where, last year, he was filmed telling two women he believed to be Jewish that he loved Hitler. His reported behaviour has shocked France and the fashion world. Yet in what locals call the pletzl -- "little place" in Yiddish -- it provoked little surprise. Local residents and traders say that the insult 'sale juif' (dirty Jew) is a fact of daily life; asking a local if they have suffered abuse provokes a quizzical stare as if you are trying to be funny. 'Bien sûr' ('of course') is the most common reply. 'It's stating the obvious,' says one kippah-wearing youngster in the Rue des Rosiers, the Jewish quarter's main street. 'We hear what Galliano said, or versions of it, every day, sometimes several times every day.' Like many I speak to, he prefers not to be named. Standing in the doorway of a grocery shop, Dan points to his wide-brimmed black hat. 'My 80-year-old neighbour told me that when she was growing up they used to say we Jews wore these hats to hide our horns, and long black coats to hide our tails,' he says, laughing. 'She would tell me not to let my boys wear their [skull] caps in case "they" come back. More than 50 years after the war, she still thought it could happen again.'

Argentina / National Tribunals

"Jorge Videla, left, and Reynaldo Bignone, right, are accused along with six other former military figures." (AFP/Getty)
Argentine Military Dictators on Trial over Baby Kidnappings
By Robin Yapp
The Telegraph, February 28, 2011
"Jorge Videla, who ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1981, and Reynaldo Bignone, the last leader of the military regime from 1982 to 1983, are accused along with six other former military figures. Federico Delgado, federal prosecutor, called the theft of children 'one of the darkest episodes in Argentina's history' as the case began in Buenos Aires. About 500 babies were stolen from their mothers during the dictatorship, according to the campaign group Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo. Pregnant female political dissidents were interned at secret maternity wards in centres used to torture opponents of the dictatorship. The babies were handed to military officers or their relatives after birth while the mothers were simply killed, many of them dropped alive from military planes into the sea. Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo has managed to identify 102 of the stolen babies so far, some of whom had become politicians or human rights activists. 'We were the regime's war spoils,' said 33-year-old Leonardo Fossati, who was adopted after his parents were abducted while his mother was pregnant, as he gathered with other demonstrators on the steps of the court. The eight on trial, who arrived at court in handcuffs, are accused of being responsible for 34 cases of kidnapping and falsifying children's identities.

Bangladesh / National Tribunals

"Guerrillas beat people suspected of collaborating with pro-Pakistan militias in 1971 during Bangladesh’s war for independence, a conflict that may have killed more than one million people." (Horst Faas and Michel Laurent/Associated Press)
Bangladesh Faces Atrocities of Its Independence Era
By Lydia Polgreen
The New York Times, March 5, 2011
"In the last days of the bloody war that created this nation out of the eastern half of Pakistan in 1971, a gang of men abducted Dr. Alim Chowdhury, an eye surgeon and independence activist, from his home. Three days later, his battered body was found in a mass grave, his eyes gouged from his head. His killers, members of a pro-Pakistan militia, were never punished. Moulana Abdul Mannan, the man who confessed to orchestrating the killing, according to a government investigation, went on to become a cabinet minister and member of the Bangladesh Parliament. He died in 2006. Now, 40 years after Bangladesh's independence struggle -- one of the last century's most wrenching conflicts, whose death toll may have exceeded one million people -- the government here is seeking to prosecute individuals accused of atrocities like the one against Dr. Chowdhury. The effort has touched a raw political nerve here and illustrates a conundrum of international law: Can a country, particularly a young and poor one, fairly try its own citizens for crimes against humanity? Many of those accused of atrocities are not only still alive, but are also among the leading members of two of the main opposition political parties and have enjoyed long stints in power. Six men have been arrested in connection with various crimes of the era, all of them major political figures. The government hopes to try them in a tribunal of its own creation in the coming months.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Philosophy & Psychology of Genocide

A Philosophy of Genocide's Roots
Review of Less Than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave, and Exterminate Others, by David Livingstone Smith
By David Berreby
The New York Times, March 4, 2011
"Consider, as Americans are so wont to do these days, the zombie. Once, he was a person, just like you or me, but then he changed. Now, despite his outward resemblance to a human being, he is a different thing altogether. He cannot disguise himself. He cannot change back. Another minus: He yearns to sink his zombie-plague-spreading teeth into your brain. But no cloud lacks a silver lining: He is a convenient image for people you despise -- as in the Tucson gunman Jared Loughner's 'zombie grin,' as in the 'zombie children' whom Amy Chua's 'Tiger Mother' philosophy supposedly produces, as in the 'climate zombies,' right-wingers who question the science of global warming. In 'Less Than Human,' the philosopher David Livingstone Smith explains why this sort of talk is not superficial metaphor-slinging. Dehumanization -- representing people to be lesser, non­human creatures, as when police officers label crimes against criminals as 'N.H.I.' ('No Humans Involved'), or when Muammar el-Qaddafi calls his critics 'stray dogs' -- isn't just shabby rhetoric. Dehumanization is a mind-set, as Smith writes, that 'decommissions' our 'moral inhibitions' about mistreating fellow human beings. Encased in law and custom, this psychological process has often licensed slavery, genocide and countless other cruelties. And it is, Smith writes in this stalwart attempt to tame the mystery with philosophy, a moral and cognitive problem as old as history.


Black Men Mistaken for Mercenaries
By Jason Koutsoukis
The Sydney Morning Herald, March 6, 2011
"Thousands of African workers were attempting to flee eastern Libya last week in fear for their lives after facing accusations of being mercenaries Media reports have quoted countless eyewitness accounts of African men being paid by dictator Muammar Gaddafi to put down the February 17 uprising that has brought his regime to the brink of collapse But the international advocacy group Human Rights Watch has told The Sun-Herald that it is yet to confirm a single case of a mercenary being used in the conflict. Peter Bouckaert, the emergencies director for the group, said that, of the hundreds of suspected mercenaries detained in the east, all had turned out to be innocent workers or Libyans in the regular army. 'I cannot speak for the west of the country, in Tripoli, where reports of mercenaries being used are widespread, but of all the people interviewed by Human Rights Watch so far, we have not identified one mercenary,' he said. Mr. Bouckaert also condemned some media outlets for purporting to identify alleged mercenaries, saying the reports were untrue. He said rumours surrounding the alleged use of mercenaries had incited a level of hysteria that had led to people being lynched. The Sun-Herald has seen images depicting the bodies of alleged mercenaries killed in Bayda, a city in eastern Libya between Benghazi and Tobruk. In video taken on a mobile phone, a black man accused of being a mercenary is shown being harassed and then beaten by a crowd. On February 25 The Sun-Herald was taken to the morgue of Jalla Hospital, Benghazi, and shown the uniformed bodies of black men who had been killed in fighting in Benghazi between February 17 and February 21. Representatives of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said they knew of the difficulties faced by African workers and had helped hundreds leave."

Sudan / Southern Sudan

"The U.N. head of mission in Abyei (C) greets Ngok Dinka leaders returning from a conference with the Missereyi Arab tribe on January 14, 2011." (Trevor Snapp/AFP/Getty Images)
Could Border Clashes Throw Sudan Back into War?
By Alan Boswell
Friday, March 04, 2011
"Over 100 people were killed in days of fighting in Sudan's hotly contested Abyei area, while thousands have fled southward away from the carnage. When south Sudan voted in January to secede, many observers warned that the move could lead to violence that could destabilize the entire region. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called it a 'ticking time bomb' and New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof saw it as a 'genocide foretold.' With Sudan only months away from dividing formally into two new countries, some are now wondering: Is this the moment it all starts falling apart? Dubbed Sudan's Kashmir, Sudan's 22-year conflict killed 2 million people before a peace deal brought fragile calm in 2005. Observers have long warned that if conflict was to break out again, it would most likely start in Abyei, a tiny area of 4,000 square miles where Sudan's northern desert peters into the marshes of the south. Claimed by both the southern Ngok Dinka, who live there year-round, and the northern Misseriya, nomadic cattle-herders who move to the area in dry months, Abyei risks being torn apart as the nation splits along the divide between its Arab north and African south.  As originally envisioned by Sudan's peace deal, the Abyei dispute was to be settled through its own special poll alongside the southern independence vote. But the Abyei vote never happened. As southerners were voting for their freedom in January, Abyei whizzed with bullets -- three days of attacks left at least 41 dead. Then this week the clashes returned with a new ferocity.

Friday, March 04, 2011


World and Press Watch as Africans Are Lynched in Libya
by Farouk Martins Aresa
By Francis Tawiah
Modern Ghana (undated: March 2, 2011?)
"The whole world is watching, the whole world is watching, the whole world is watching as innocent Africans are being lynched in Libya. The time to act is right now since nobody acted yesterday or day before. It started as a rumor, then it was reported on social network and now we know it is real. The world must act and act quickly. There are men, women and children dying in the hands of Libyan mobs simply because they look Africans and must therefore be mercenaries because they cannot place their hands on Gadhafi. Mercenaries come in different colors and nationalities and these Africans are ordinary workers like the Egyptian and Tunisians. We are demanding a special meeting of United Nation to discuss the elimination of Africans by lynching in Libya. If it was any other group, the world will be crying genocide. Not only are African families in danger, Libyan blacks will be lynched before they open their mouths and speak Arabic. Most people watching the atrocities on face book would have seen Arabian features on some of the people caught and tortured to death. The press published stories of Anti-Gadhafi forces cutting Africans into pieces and posting it on internet but it is yet to catch world outcry or outrage. There is no mention of it at the United Nations by African leaders and countries getting first hand reports are silent. These are not collateral damages of war, these are brutalities of war that must be addressed.