Thursday, July 21, 2011

Kenya / United Kingdom / Mau Mau Uprising

"L-R: Ndiku Mutua, Jane Muthoni Mara and Wambugu Wa Nyingi claimed they were tortured."
Mau Mau Kenyans Allowed to Sue UK Government
By Dominic Casciani
BBC Online, July 21, 2011
"Four elderly Kenyans have been told they can sue the Foreign Office for their alleged torture by British colonial authorities 50 years ago. The High Court said the group could seek damages over their treatment during the 1950s and 60s. Mr. Justice McCombe said the claimants had an 'arguable case' and it would be 'dishonourable' to block the action. Ministers say the UK government is not responsible for the actions of the colonial administration. The decision means that the government will have to defend accusations of torture, murder, sexual assault and other alleged abuses at a full damages trial in 2012. The four Kenyans, Ndiku Mutwiwa Mutua, Paulo Muoka Nzili, Wambugu Wa Nyingi and Jane Muthoni Mara, all in their 70s and 80s, say ministers in London approved systematic abuse in special camps. A fifth claimant has died since the action began. The High Court heard that Mr. Mutua and Mr. Nzili had been castrated, Mr. Nyingi was beaten unconscious in an incident in which 11 men were clubbed to death, and Mrs. Mara had been subjected to appalling sexual abuse. Mr. Justice McCombe said in his judgement there was 'ample evidence' to show there may have been 'systematic torture of detainees during the Emergency.'

Cambodian Genocide

Cambodia's Muslims Seek Justice for Genocide
By International Justice Tribune
Radio Netherlands Worldwide, July 18, 2011
"Zakaria Bin Ahmad cannot forget the years of horror under the brutal Khmer Rouge when even praying was to risk death for Cambodia's persecuted minority Muslims. Many others in his community did not survive the late 1970s reign of terror by the hardline communist regime, which executed Islamic scholars, destroyed mosques, forced Muslims to eat pork and forbade headscarves. 'People tried all kinds of ways to pray. Sometimes while they were driving an ox cart ... sometimes in the jungle when we asked to use the toilet, and sometimes while we were washing,' the 61-year-old recalled. But mostly, he remembers people disappearing, never to be seen again. 'Many were killed,' he said quietly in his modest home in the shadow of a modern blue-domed mosque, a source of pride for the town of Chraing Chamres, whose earlier place of worship was destroyed by the Khmer Rouge. Cambodian Muslims, known as Cham, hope finally to see justice as the most senior surviving Khmer Rouge leaders stand trial for genocide at Cambodia's UN-backed court over the treatment of the ethnic and religious minority. 'Now we can tell our story,' said Sales Pin Apoutorliep, the religious leader, or hakem, of the Chraing Chamres mosque.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Serbia / Croatia / Genocide Tribunals

"A handout photograph of Serbian war crimes suspect Goran Hadzic being arrested in Fruska Gora national park, west of Belgrade. He was the last remaining fugitive sought by the UN war crimes tribunal." (Politika newspaper)
Goran Hadzic Capture a Milestone for Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal
By Ian Traynor
The Guardian, July 20, 2011
"The Yugoslav war crimes tribunal crowned 18 years of operations on Wednesday with the capture of the last of 161 suspects from the wars of the 1990s when Goran Hadzic, a leader of the Serbian insurgency in Croatia, was arrested by the Serbian authorities. The arrest, two months after Belgrade captured genocide suspect General Ratko Mladic and dispatched him for trial in The Hague, marked a turning point for Serbia in seeking to put a blood-soaked, criminalised past behind it and join the European mainstream. The arrest was also a big moment for the UN tribunal in The Hague. Every one of the 161 main war crimes suspects indicted for atrocities in Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, and Kosovo has now been apprehended and tried or is awaiting trial. 'This is a precedent of enduring significance, not only for this tribunal, but also for international criminal justice more generally,' said Serge Brammertz, the chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague. 'A milestone in the tribunal's history,' added Judge O-Gon Kwon, the acting head of the temporary court established in 1993 at the height of the wars in Croatia and Bosnia. Hadzic, a former warehouse worker from Slavonia, a region in east Croatia, was a political leader of the Serbian rebellion in 1991, armed and sponsored by Slobodan Milosevic's regime in Belgrade. He led ethnic pogroms and armed insurrection against Zagreb, after Croatia's secession from Yugoslavia in June 1991, resulting in partition of the country and the Serbian seizure of a quarter of the territory during the war.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Uganda / Rape of Males in Wartime

"Dying of shame: a Congolese rape victim, currently resident in Uganda. This man's wife has left him, as she was unable to accept what happened. He attempted suicide at the end of last year." (Will Storr/Observer)
The Rape of Men
By Will Storr
The Observer, July 17, 2011
"Of all the secrets of war, there is one that is so well kept that it exists mostly as a rumour. It is usually denied by the perpetrator and his victim. Governments, aid agencies and human rights defenders at the UN barely acknowledge its possibility. Yet every now and then someone gathers the courage to tell of it. This is just what happened on an ordinary afternoon in the office of a kind and careful counsellor in Kampala, Uganda. For four years Eunice Owiny had been employed by Makerere University's Refugee Law Project (RLP) to help displaced people from all over Africa work through their traumas. This particular case, though, was a puzzle. A female client was having marital difficulties. 'My husband can't have sex,' she complained. 'He feels very bad about this. I'm sure there's something he's keeping from me.' Owiny invited the husband in. For a while they got nowhere. Then Owiny asked the wife to leave. The man then murmured cryptically: 'It happened to me.' Owiny frowned. He reached into his pocket and pulled out an old sanitary pad. 'Mama Eunice,' he said. 'I am in pain. I have to use this.' Laying the pus-covered pad on the desk in front of him, he gave up his secret. During his escape from the civil war in neighbouring Congo, he had been separated from his wife and taken by rebels. His captors raped him, three times a day, every day for three years. And he wasn't the only one. He watched as man after man was taken and raped. The wounds of one were so grievous that he died in the cell in front of him. 'That was hard for me to take,' Owiny tells me today. 'There are certain things you just don't believe can happen to a man, you get me? But I know now that sexual violence against men is a huge problem. Everybody has heard the women's stories. But nobody has heard the men's.'


Argentine Torture Trial Ends with Life Sentences for Ex-military Leaders of Notorious Prison
Associated Press dispatch in The Washington Post, July 14, 2011
"Two former military officers were convicted Thursday of murder, kidnapping and torture at one of the most notorious prisons run by Argentina's former dictatorship. Both got life sentences for crimes against humanity. There were very few survivors among the 2,500 political prisoners who passed through 'El Vesubio' prison during the 1976-83 military junta's dirty war on dissidents, which officially claimed 13,000 lives in all. 'El Vesubio' was run by the army in La Matanza, a working-class suburb of the capital, said Rodrigo Borda, a lawyer for the Center for Social and Legal Studies, which has kept close track of Argentina's progress in prosecuting crimes comitted by the junta. 'The detainees were hooded and chained together, and the guards gave them almost nothing to eat,' Borda said in an interview. Witnesses testified that the prison's boss, Col. Pedro Alberto Duran, regularly raped female prisoners and forced them to live with him in rooms in the compound. Duran was charged, but died in June during the trial.

Friday, July 15, 2011


"Telmo Hurtado is accused of killing 69 peasants in the 1980s."
"Butcher of the Andes" Faces Trial in Peru
The Telegraph, July 15, 2011
"A Peruvian ex-army officer known as the 'Butcher of the Andes' and accused of killing 69 peasants in the 1980s, was extradited to Peru from the United States late on Thursday to face charges, police said. Telmo Hurtado is accused of commanding a military patrol in the southeast of the country that killed the peasants, including 30 children and 27 women, in 1985 during Peru's war against Shining Path Maoist guerrillas. He was to appear before a national criminal court on Friday, which will decide where he will be held while the case is developed against him, said Karim Ninaquispe, a lawyer for families of the victims. Hurtado is alleged to have taken part in the infamous 'Accomarca Massacre' on August 14, 1985, when army units entered the Quebrada de Huancayoc village, herded villagers into houses and set them alight, killing dozens. Hurtado was included in a blanket amnesty granted to military officers in the 1990s but lost his immunity when the Supreme Court nullified the law in 2002, at which point he moved to the US city of Miami, Florida. He was arrested by US authorities in 2007 and the following year was ordered to pay $37 million after a case brought by the Center for Justice and Accountability, a rights group representing two witnesses to the massacre. Around 70,000 people, mostly civilians, were killed during Peru's war on leftist Shining Path and Tupac Amaru rebel groups in the 1980s and 1990s."
[n.b. This is the full text of the dispatch.]

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sudan / South Kordofan

"Comparison: 17 June - 4 July 2011."
Clooney's Satellites Capture Piles of Bodies, Mass Graves in Sudan
By Mark Benjamin, July 14, 2011
"George Clooney's Satellite Sentinel Project set up to monitor the spiraling violence in Sudan has a stunning report out today with convincing evidence showing ;a campaign of systematic mass killing of civilians in Kadugli, South Kordofan' in the south-central area of the country. ... The group combined eyewitness reports and DigitalGlobe satellite imagery to pinpoint what seem almost certainly to be piles of bodies in Kadguli and mass graves south of there. The group cites four eyewitness accounts of Sudan Armed Forces from northern Sudan and related militias searching houses in the town and 'systematically killing' civilians suspected of supporting southern Sudan forces. The report describes the slitting of one civilian's throat and sealing and burning homes with civilians inside. Eyewitnesses also describe the mass graves, shown above, dug by a yellow earth mover on June 8 less than a mile south of the Tilo School in Kadugli. The pits are about 26 meters long and 5 meters wide. Large green trucks were seen driving to the site and unloading around 100 bodies. Witnesses say before being buried in the mass grave, some of the bodies were wrapped in white plastic and piled up in Kadugli. The group captured what seem to be a pile of those bodies, too. [...]"

Wednesday, July 06, 2011


"Syrian forces enter a village near the town of Jisr al-Shughour, north of Damascus." (Associated Press)
Syrian Forces May Have Committed Crimes against Humanity
The Telegraph, July 6, 2011
"Syrian forces may have committed crimes against humanity when they crushed protests in the town of Tel Kelakh in May, Amnesty International have claimed. Urging the United Nations to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court, the human rights group said nine people died in custody after being captured during the operation in the town, close to the Lebanese border. 'Amnesty International considers that crimes committed in Tel Kalakh amount to crimes against humanity as they appear to be part of a widespread, as well as systematic, attack against the civilian population,' it said. In what it described as a 'devastating security operation,' scores of men were arbitrarily arrested and tortured, including people already wounded, in response to largely peaceful demonstrations against President Bashar al-Assad, it said. The military operation in Tel Kelakh, completed in a few days in mid-May, sent thousands of people fleeing for shelter into Lebanon, Amnesty said in a report compiled from witness testimony gathered in Lebanon and from phone calls into Syria. 'The accounts we have heard from witnesses to events in Tel Kelakh paint a deeply disturbing picture of systematic, targeted abuses to crush dissent,' said Philip Luther, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Srebrenica Massacre / National Tribunals

"Dutch UN peacekeepers watch while Muslim refugees from Srebrenica gather in the village of Potocari in 1995." (Associated Press)
Dutch State Responsible for Three Srebrenica Deaths, Says Court
By Ian Traynor
The Guardian, July 5, 2011
"Relatives of the victims of Europe's biggest massacre in decades won a landmark case, immense satisfaction, and the likelihood of substantial damages when a Dutch appeals court ruled for the first time that the Netherlands had to answer for the deaths of Muslim men at Srebrenica 16 years ago. The verdict stunned the Dutch government as well as the plaintiffs, who have campaigned on the issue for more than a decade and had almost given up. If the ruling is upheld by the supreme court, there could be hundreds of claims for damages from relatives from some of the estimated 8,000 Bosnian Muslim males butchered by the Bosnian Serb forces under General Ratko Mladic, on trial at the war crimes tribunal in The Hague on charges of genocide. The verdict also found for the first time that countries contributing to a UN peacekeeping mandate must answer for their actions and cannot enjoy immunity behind a UN cloak. The court rejected the Dutch government's argument that it was not responsible for its troops stationed in Srebrenica as they were under UN authority. 'It has been established that states who take part in UN peacekeeping operations cannot not be responsible for their actions. It's all about effective control,' Liesbeth Zegveld, the lawyer for the two Bosnian plaintiffs, told the Guardian. Hasan Nuhanovic, whose parents and brother were killed at Srebrenica, and the relatives of Rizo Mustafic, who worked as an electrician for the Dutch and was killed, have campaigned for years to get the UN and the Netherlands to bear partial blame for the atrocities on the grounds that at the time Srebrenica, in eastern Bosnia, was a UN-declared 'safe haven' manned by Dutch troops serving with the UN. The court ruled that the Dutch state was responsible for those deaths.