Isabella Castillo, who plays Anne in a Spanish theater troupe's version of "The Diary of Anne Frank," sat in the office of Otto Frank, Anne's father, at the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam. (Peter Dejong/Associated Press)
Anne Frank exhibit in church aims for message of tolerance
By Rob Harris, Associated Press, January 5, 2008
LIVERPOOL, England - This port city will unveil an exhibition dedicated to Jewish teenager Anne Frank today, placing a re-creation of her Amsterdam bedroom beneath the towering arches of Liverpool's neo-Gothic Anglican cathedral.
Organizers hope that using a church to house a replica of the room where Frank wrote her diary will convey a message of tolerance in a city afflicted by gang violence and crime. But Liverpool's Jewish schools have banned pupils from attending because the festival is being held in a Christian place of worship.
The exhibition, part of a series of commemorations in Liverpool this month to mark the Holocaust, "conveys a powerful message of hope from Anne Frank's diary in a world that needs it," Canon Anthony Hawley said.
Jerry Goldman, organizer, acknowledged that he had reservations about placing the exhibit in a church, but said he hopes the thousands of children who are scheduled to attend will take a look at their own behavior and ask themselves questions about the consequences of hatred and intolerance.
"Hopefully they will realize how ridiculous it is to hate people because they are from another neighborhood and support another gang," Goldman said. The exhibition "should really challenge the reasons and differences hatred is based on still today."
Adorned with postcards and pictures, the replica shows the hideaway as it appeared after it was discovered in August 1944, when Frank was seized by the Nazis along with her parents and sister.
The 15-year-old died of typhus in Germany's Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in March 1945. Her father, Otto, survived and published her diary in June 1947. It has since been translated in 65 languages.
The multimedia exhibition also includes Oscar-winning director John Blair's films of British teenagers discussing racial hatred and conflict. The replica of the attic bedroom has crossed the country since it was first displayed in 2005 and was also housed in London's St. Paul's Cathedral in 2006.
But organizers say the exhibit's message to children has special meaning for Liverpool, which has been troubled by gang violence. Among the most prominent crimes in recent months here was one that involved an 11-year-old boy, Rhys Jones, who was fatally shot and whose killer remains at large.
Police believe he was probably an innocent victim of a feud between street gangs.
"The last few months have been dominated by horrific headlines about teens killing each other," Goldman said.
"It's fantastic that in Liverpool the first thing we have done at the start of European Capital of Culture year is have an exhibition reaching out to young people and teaching a culture of tolerance and peace."
In Amsterdam, a Spanish theater troupe visited the actual rooms where Frank lived as it sought inspiration to put on a musical version of "The Diary of Anne Frank," in Madrid next month.
The Anne Frank Museum has endorsed the concept and guided the 22-member cast and directors through the space.
"If you're doing a musical of the family and how they lived and the house and everything, I think it's very special, and a very important detail to come to this house," said Isabella Castillo, 13, who plays the role of Anne.
THE BOSTON GLOBE: Op-Ed
STEPHEN P. COHEN AND A. LAWRENCE CHICKERING
"Two-pronged approach to peace"
By Stephen P. Cohen and A. Lawrence Chickering, January 9, 2008
AS GEORGE W. BUSH begins his first trip to Israel as president to follow up the international conference on Middle East peace in Annapolis, Md., he and his administration need to take into account a major dimension of conflict that all past efforts at forging an Israeli-Palestinian agreement have failed to consider. Their conflict is not only between the parties, but also within them, as recent fighting between Hamas and Fatah supporters in Gaza illustrates. Solving it, therefore, requires addressing this second level of conflict - within Israeli and Palestinian societies - and supporting activities inside both societies that might reduce internal conflicts, while fostering negotiations between their governments.
Both societies are deeply divided - left against right, religious nationalists against secularists. In Israel, this includes settlers and their supporters versus their opponents and the Israeli quiet majority. Among Palestinians, it is Islamic groups, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, against Fatah and the more passive majority. These internal conflicts reflect low social trust and limited, and sometimes prohibited, communication across loyalties. Thus, any push to negotiate an agreement at the government-to-government level generates reactions from hard-line elements on both sides. Peace initiatives have two contradictory results: changing government positions in a positive direction toward peace, while mobilizing the opponents of peace on both sides to intensify their opposition.
Without simultaneously working to reduce internal conflicts, peace initiatives will intensify Israeli settler activity, including their attacks on Palestinians and on Israeli soldiers trying to implement the closing of illegal outposts. Peace initiatives will also stimulate Hamas, the Al Aqsa brigades, and Islamic Jihad to redouble terrorism, including firing missiles into Israel.
Governments, including the United States, will not address these groups. Civil society organizations have proven records of success in a number of world conflicts by engaging citizens to address these internal conflicts organically. This is crucial to supporting diplomatic initiatives and creating an approach to peace that can succeed. These civil organizations' models of conflict resolution promote trust and reduce conflict by engaging citizens in sustained, personal contact - the only effective communication across loyalties that has succeeded in all regions of the world.
These lessons in Northern Ireland, South Africa, India, and other places are lost on the foreign policy community, but they must be pursued at sufficient scales to permit resolution of such issues as Israel-Palestinian peace.
Active, nongovernmental contacts with anti-peace forces may encourage them to consider nonviolent strategies. We are sympathetic to the unwillingness of the United States to interact with Hamas and other Islamic groups. But the choice is not between government contact and no contact at all.
The 1998 peace agreement in Northern Ireland illustrates how other forms of contact can accomplish major objectives of increasing trust and pacifying violent groups. Groups that had not renounced violence were excluded from the formal peace negotiations, but they participated in many informal engagements and dialogues that kept them within the communication system. This opened possibilities for peace that would otherwise have remained closed. As a result, when the peace agreement was signed, all of the major violent groups had given up their violence and participated in the agreement.
This must happen in the Middle East. Civil society must create dialogue between radical and more moderate groups on the Palestinian side to promote trust and reduce internal conflict.
On the Israeli side, we need to engage religious organizations that are not part of the settler movement and oppose their undermining of peace efforts. Again, the US government cannot do this. We must marshal our own religious civil society to work with Israeli religious groups to emphasize the powerful faith-based reasons for turning away from hatred and violence.
Experiences in India of conflict between Hindus and Muslims demonstrate that institutionalized connections build both trust and coping mechanisms that limit the appeal of radical religious groups.
At the same time that we vigorously pursue diplomatic approaches to reach a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we must also help the Israeli and Palestinian governments mobilize religious organizations and nonreligious civil society organizations to so engage radical, anti-peace groups within their societies. Otherwise, they will undermine the Bush administration's efforts to resolve this conflict.
Increasing participation of local groups in defining the terms of an Israeli-Palestinian agreement will increase their ownership of the final agreement and their determination to implement it in good faith.
Stephen P. Cohen, a national scholar at the Israel Policy Forum and president of the Institute for Middle East Peace and Development, is author of the upcoming "Beyond America's Grasp," a history of US involvement in the modern Middle East. A. Lawrence Chickering is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and co-director of the Institute for Middle East Peace and Development.
THE BOSTON GLOBE - SASHA CHANOFF
"Tribal hatred didn't cause violence in Kenya"
By Sasha Chanoff, January 19, 2008
FROM READING recent headlines about Kenya, one would think that the post-election violence is the result of tribal hatreds. But this assessment is wrong.
"Tribal violence spirals in Kenya," "tribal war," "tribal bloodletting" announced headlines around the world. A recent New York Times article said the mayhem in Kenya is a result of the "atavistic vein of tribal tension that . . . until now had not provoked widespread mayhem."
This is a facile explanation of Kenya's post-election violence. Yes, some people from different tribes are attacking one another. It's ugly and scary. But it's not inevitable; it's not part of the genetic makeup of the president's tribe, the Kikuyu, and the runner-up's tribe, the Luo or of any other tribes to both hate and kill one another.
Why the violence then? It's about politics and poverty. For their own gain, politicians exploit tribal differences and manipulate the poor and the destitute. It's no surprise that the perpetrators of "tribal violence" are usually idle young men who also loot and thieve while rampaging. Politicians often covertly hire or encourage them.
Don't think in terms of tribal violence. Consider, instead, "politically engineered violence," or "politically instigated violence." These are much more apt descriptions. And the difference is critical. To understand why, it's worth looking at some other places where the concept of ethnic hatred has been inaccurately and dangerously blamed as the trigger for mass atrocities.
After the Bosnian war broke out, the Clinton administration outlined a bold military plan of action to protect civilians. President Clinton had read "Balkan's Ghosts," the book by Robert Kaplan that depicts different people in the Balkans as destined to hate and kill one another. Influenced by this "ancient tribal hatreds" explanation of violence, Clinton turned fearful of a quagmire in what he perceived to be an unfixable region. His buy-in to thinking about Bosnia in terms of inevitable tribal animosity overlooked the commonness of interethnic life and intermarriage among Bosnians.
Serbian extremist and nationalistic rhetoric was a major trigger for the Bosnian war, not tribal hatred. Misunderstanding this cost lives as the United States and European powers shied away from military support. The consequences: More than 100,000 dead, the Srebrenica massacre, mass rapes, and destruction.
When the Rwandan genocide began, many journalists touted the same explanation - age-old tribal hatred - and in so doing gave the world more legroom not to act. In "A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide," author Samantha Power highlights this reporting and quotes the more nuanced and accurate perspective of an African studies professor who said, "Ethnic groups do have prejudices and people do tend to feel that they may be different from other groups. But it's not enough to make a person pick up a knife or a gun and kill somebody else. It is when politicians come and excite passion and try to threaten people" that violence can occur.
Kenya doesn't have a Slobodan Milosevic or Hutu extremists spreading propaganda of nationalism and hate to incite and justify killing. Comparisons to such extremes are out of place. They are also, unfortunately, emblematic of the pithy yet distorted media summaries.
Sure, there are differences and grievances between some of Kenya's 42 tribes, especially evident when politicking brought about violence in 1992 and 1997. More significantly, Nairobi hums with interethnic life. Intermarriage and people working and living alongside one another are the norm, not tribal tension.
But this election brought out unprecedented havoc. Many Kenyans felt cheated when election monitors reported vote-counting irregularities and the incumbent was sworn in for a second term. In the most impoverished and diverse areas, protests, riots, attacks, and looting broke out, mainly along tribal lines. The media quickly jumped on the "tribal hatred" explanation.
Kenyan intellectuals, such as Nobel Peace laureate Wangari Maathai and Binyavanga Wainaina, have countered this portrayal, writing about the political roots of the violence. Wainaina highlights power-hungry politicians exploiting ethnic sentiments. The result can be serious and spiraling violence, a Pandora's box of vengeance. The backdrop, though, is politics and poverty, not genetics or simmering tribal animosity. But it's easier to accept (and write about) this explanation than to examine the complexities of political violence. It's easy to buy into misleading stereotypes, throw up our hands, and think, "what can you do, that's Africa."
To do nothing because we believe nothing can be done, because it's easy to believe the violence is inevitable, is to turn our backs on a country that is teetering on the edge of real democracy. We can act, and act decisively. We must influence and support Kenya to institute fair and transparent political processes. That is in its best interest and ours.
Sasha Chanoff is cofounder and executive director of the humanitarian organization Mapendo International.
A Boston GLOBE EDITORIAL
"World's conscience on Burma"
February 22, 2008
THEY FLY no flag, they rule no territory, yet winners of the Nobel Peace Prize have earned the right to act, at certain times, as representatives of the world's conscience. This was never more true than in the statement on Burma issued this week by Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa and signed by eight of his fellow Nobel laureates.
After the ruling military junta shot and beat saffron-robed Buddhist monks and other citizens peacefully demonstrating for democracy last fall, most governments only dithered. The United Nations sent a special envoy to Burma to beg the despotic generals for some gesture of reconciliation with a population that despises them.
Predictably, the regime of General Than Shwe went on rounding up monks and other pro-democracy activists. In a show of disdain for their own people and the rest of the world, the generals announced this week that they will hold a vote in May on a new constitution - a phony referendum on a document that their hand-picked stooges have spent 14 years drafting. And they rubbed salt in their victims' wounds by decreeing that Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi will not be allowed to participate in elections envisioned for 2010.
Suu Kyi has been under some form of arrest for 12 of the past 18 years, since her National League for Democracy won 82 percent of parliamentary seats in a 1990 election the junta has refused to honor. In their appeal, the Nobel winners declared, "We stand firmly in support of our fellow Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and have repeatedly called for her release, as well as the release of Buddhist monks and all political prisoners in Burma." Because Suu Kyi, her National League for Democracy, and Burma's oppressed ethnic minorities have been excluded from the regime's "roadmap" to a new constitution and elections, the laureates said, the junta's version of reconciliation is "flawed."
Bishop Tutu, in his own accompanying statement, was more pointed.
"The election promised by the military regime is a complete sham," declared the courageous clergyman who headed South Africa's post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Just as an arms embargo was imposed on apartheid South Africa after police massacred black demonstrators in the 1960s and '70s, Tutu said, the UN and the nations of the world should "immediately impose arms embargoes and targeted banking sanctions on Burma following the Saffron Massacre."
Governments habitually act - or refuse to act - for reasons of state. By calling on those states to impose meaningful penalties on uniformed gangsters who murder and torture nonviolent monks and civilians peacefully petitioning for democracy, Tutu and his fellow peace prize winners are defending the interests of humanity.
The Boston Globe, Op-Ed: ERIC REEVES
"China's genocide Games"
By Eric Reeves, March 22, 2008
IN PREPARING to host the 2008 Summer Olympics, China has engaged in a massive campaign to dissemble its role in the Darfur genocide in western Sudan, now entering its sixth year. Such a task was unexpected by Beijing. The regime knew it would encounter strenuous protests over the continuing destruction of Tibet, although the recent violent crackdown in Lhasa suggests Beijing hadn't anticipated how deeply Tibetan anger runs. China's leaders also knew they would draw fierce protests over their callous support of the brutal Burmese junta. Condemnation of Beijing's own gross domestic human rights abuses was equally predictable. But the effectiveness of Darfur advocacy in highlighting China's role in Sudan took Beijing by surprise. Steven Spielberg's resignation as an artistic director for the Games - a decision of conscience stressing China's role in Darfur - sharply intensified China's dismay.
Thus Beijing has pulled out all the stops to counter advocacy success in emphasizing China's longstanding diplomatic protection and economic support for the Islamist regime in Khartoum. Though Khartoum's genocidal counterinsurgency campaign against Darfur's African tribes has been authoritatively documented for years, Beijing seeks to obscure this grim reality through distortion, half-truths, and outright mendacity. In turn, nothing encourages Khartoum more than China's refusal to speak honestly about violent human destruction in Darfur, where growing insecurity has brought the world's largest humanitarian operation to the brink of collapse.
Why does China airbrush away Darfur's genocidal realities? Why has Beijing been Khartoum's largest weapons supplier over the past decade? Why has China repeatedly wielded a veto threat at the UN Security Council as the world body vainly struggles to bring pressure to bear on Khartoum? The answer lies in China's thirst for Sudanese crude oil.
Since the beginning of serious oil development in the 1990s, China has been the dominant player in an oil production consortium located mainly in southern Sudan. China was also complicit in the scorched-earth clearances that were part of oil development until the north-south peace agreement of 2005. What China got for its ruthlessness was prime access to the 500,000 barrels of crude that Sudan now produces daily. Given the voracious growth in China's oil consumption, Beijing has determined that ignoring gross human rights abuses in Sudan is simply a cost of doing business.
This is why China has offered unstinting diplomatic protection to Khartoum, most consequentially at the Security Council. And now in defense of this destructive protectionist policy, China offers up deliberate distortions of Darfur's terrible truths. Thus Khartoum's adamant refusal to accept desperately needed non-African troops and specialists for a UN-authorized peace support operation becomes a mere "technical" problem, according to Liu Guijin, China's Darfur envoy. But this is false. The regime's refusal to accept the UN-proposed roster of troop-contributing countries has largely paralyzed deployment of the UN/African Union Mission in Darfur, authorized by the Security Council last July. Britain's UN ambassador spoke for many when he declared this year that Khartoum had made a "political decision" to obstruct the deployment. China blames the "international community" for not pressuring rebel groups in Darfur to negotiate an end to the conflict. While there is some justification to this charge, the real problem lies in China's refusal to countenance sanctions that might pressure Khartoum to engage in good-faith diplomacy. China will not allow even targeted sanctions against regime officials most responsible for flagrant violations of international humanitarian law.
Confident that China will block punitive actions, Khartoum recently resumed savage civilian clearances in West Darfur, deploying regular military forces and Arab militia proxies. Tens of thousands of African civilians were displaced by ground and air attacks, and hundreds were killed; towns, villages, and camps for displaced persons were destroyed; humanitarian aid was blocked. Only immense confidence in China's diplomatic protection emboldened the regime to resume such large-scale genocidal destruction. If China is to be a legitimate host of the 2008 Olympics, the preeminent event in international sports, it cannot be complicit in the ultimate international crime - genocide. The world community must respond more forcefully to this intolerable contradiction.
Eric Reeves is author of "A Long Day's Dying: Critical Moments in the Darfur Genocide."
In the news: Early-April, 2008
HUMAN RIGHTS - China
Hu Jia JAILED. He is a buddhist chinese dissident who was outspoken on Tibet. His defense lawyers were: Li Jinsong, and Li Fangping. He has a wife named Zeng Jinyan, and a 4-month-old daughter, who are both under house-arrest. Also, Yang Chunlin Jailed.
China - March 18, 2008
Hu Jia’s trial called "parody of justice"
Reporters Without Borders is outraged by the way human rights activist Hu Jia was tried today on a charge of inciting subversion of state authority. The Beijing court did not issue a verdict at the end of a single hearing lasting just a few hours. The international community must react by continuing to demand his unconditional release and an end to the harassment of his family, the organisation said.
“Prime Minister Wen Jiabao vainly claimed today that dissidents are not repressed,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Hu Jia’s trial is a dramatic example of how the rule of law is flouted in China. International condemnation has failed to stop the steamroller that has been given orders to silence one of Beijing’s most courageous human rights activists.”
Hu’s trial was held the same day that Reporters Without Borders issued a call for a boycott of the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics.
Hu’s friends and his wife, Zeng Jinyan, were not allowed to attend this morning’s trial before a Beijing people’s intermediate court. One of his lawyers, Li Fangping, was pessimistic when he left the court at the end of the hearing, saying his client faced the possibility of a five-year prison sentence.
Teng Biao and five other Beijing lawyers including Han Yicun, Li Xiongbin and Jiang Tianyong were prevented from going to the court on the day of Hu Jia’s trial. Teng spent the day surrounded by police officers. He could be reached by phone but said he was “not in a position to talk.” He later said Hu’s trial was conducted in an illegal manner because it should have been open to the public.
Although Li Xiongbin had been authorised to attend the trial, he was arrested on his arrival at the courthouse and was taken to the Babaoshan police station. When Jian and four other lawyers who are his friends tried to obtain his release, they were detained and handcuffed. Hu’s wife, Zeng Jinyan, and Hu’s father were prevented from entering the courtroom despite being designated defence witnesses. Accompanied by their baby girl, Zeng was able to talk to Hu for a few minutes after the trial.
Li Fangping told Agence France-Presse that the court was expected to issue its verdict later this week. “Since we are now trying to establish a harmonious society, we should allow different voices to be heard,” Li said. “We hope the government will become more tolerant.”
European diplomats and foreign reporters told Reporters Without Borders that they were prevented from attending the trial. “The court told me that the room was too small,” one journalist said. “Our requests were refused on the grounds that the courtroom was too small,” a Beijing-based European diplomat said.
The prosecution case focused on articles about the human rights situation in the run-up to the Olympics which Hu wrote for overseas Chinese websites such as Boxun, and on the interviews he gave to many foreign news media and embassies. Aged 34, Hu is a well-known activist on behalf of people with HIV and AIDS.
Hu has often written about other imprisoned activists such as Chen Guangcheng ( ) and Guo Feixong ( ) in articles for Boxun or in blog entries.
Asked about Hu’s case today, Premier Wen Jiabao denied that China was stepping up arrests of dissidents. “As for the individual case you have raised now, I want to make it very clear, China is a country under the rule of law and all those cases will be dealt with in accordance with the law,” Wen said.
Slovenia, the current holder of the European Union presidency, yesterday said the EU was “deeply concerned” about Hu’s continued detention.
Hu was at his Beijing home with Zeng and their then six-week-old daughter on 27 December when about 20 policemen burst in, disconnected their Internet connection and phone lines and left with Hu. He has been detained ever since.
This artist's rendering depicts the sculpture that will recognize the immigrant experience and the Armenian genocide. (TELLALIAN ASSOCIATES ARCHITECTS & PLANNERS, LLC)
"Greenway park to remember genocide horror: Armenian foundation gets final go-ahead for project"
By Noah Bierman, (Boston) Globe Staff, June 26, 2008
After eight years of debate, the Armenian Heritage Foundation has cleared the final major hurdle in its effort to transform a prime space on the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway into a park that commemorates the victims of the Armenian genocide.
To win over detractors, who opposed using the Greenway for memorials, the designers have planned a subtle and universal sculpture that pays homage to the general immigrant experience while recognizing the 1.5 million Armenians who died between 1915 and 1923 in the genocide. A plaque on the central sculpture praises Boston and Massachusetts for offering "hope and refuge for immigrants seeking to begin new lives" and offers the park as a gift from the Armenian-American community.
The Massachusetts Turnpike Authority granted final approval last week, meaning that construction can begin this year, near Faneuil Hall, and the park could open next summer, though no timeline has been set. The Armenian Heritage Foundation is raising all the money for construction and upkeep, as well as for a related human-rights lecture series, estimated to cost a total of $4.5 to $5 million. The park will be four-tenths of an acre.
"To have a place in such a prominent area is so moving to our people," said state Representative Peter Koutoujian, an Armenian-American whose grandparents fled the genocide. Koutoujian has advocated a memorial since 2000.
The Greenway has been more than 15 years in the making, with extensive planning meetings progressing while the city of Boston was torn up during the Big Dig. Many planners and community members have long held that the strip of parks above the highway tunnels should be free of memorials, to avoid becoming a collection of monuments like those dotting The National Mall in Washington, D.C.
In 2006, Mayor Thomas M. Menino called the Armenian proposal, which was supported by the Turnpike Authority, "a dangerous precedent."
"We could have 44 out there," Menino said at the time.
Others supported a five-year moratorium on monuments to give planners time to create a vetting process.
Menino declined several interview requests for this article. His spokeswoman, Dorothy Joyce, said Menino has always supported an Armenian memorial somewhere in the city and now backs the Greenway location because the foundation has demonstrated community support through a public process.
State and Turnpike Authority officials have long supported the Armenian proposal, in large part because the foundation had agreed to pay for it. "At a time that we're looking for private resources to share public obligations, it's hard for us to say no to a gift," said Jeff Mullan, undersecretary for transportation. Mullan said support from local residents was also important in gaining Governor Deval Patrick's support.
Under the deal approved last week, the Turnpike Authority will oversee the construction, using a public bidding process, and the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Conservancy will monitor maintenance. The Armenian Heritage Foundation will reimburse the authority for construction costs and establish a $500,000 endowment for upkeep. The foundation will also set aside $500,000 to endow the lecture series on human rights.
James K. Kalustian, the foundation's president, said his group has raised enough money to build and maintain the park, but is seeking more in hopes of building a larger endowment.
The park's central sculpture is a 12-sided geometrical shape. . The dodecagon will be built so that it can be reconfigured every year, a symbol of how immigrant communities are reshaped once they establish themselves in America, Kalustian said.
"It's very subtle," he said. "It's not kind of in your face."
Kalustian said the design committee wanted a space that could be appreciated on different levels: a calming, lush park with a reflecting pool; an interesting piece of sculpture; and a memorial to remember victims of genocide.
"This is our community's way of saying thank you to the state," Kalustian said.
The conservancy that will eventually maintain the Greenway, though initially opposed to the park, is no longer resisting.
"This is going to happen," said Peter Meade, chairman of the conservancy's board. "It's clearly coming. The Turnpike Authority has approved it, so we'd be foolish not to welcome the Armenian community and congratulate them on the work they've done. And clearly, the Armenian genocide has very important lessons for everybody on this earth."
Rob Tuchmann, cochairman of the mayor's completion task force on the Greenway, said he would like to see more details from the Armenian Heritage Foundation. "We just haven't seen anything or heard from them in months," Tuchmann said. Still, his group is no longer resisting the park.
Meade said the conservancy has received dozens of other proposals to recognize historical events on the Greenway, but will not have time to evaluate them in the near term. "Frankly, it's something at some point we'll have to look at," he said.
Noah Bierman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Boston GLOBE EDITORIAL
"Indictment for genocide"
July 15, 2008
WHEN THE chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court presented evidence yesterday in support of an arrest warrant for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan, he touched off a clash between two principles. The bedrock of the ICC is the pursuit of justice for genocide and crimes against humanity. That differs from the mission of the peacekeeper, the humanitarian aid worker, and the peace negotiator, who must often overlook past crimes in order to end wars and save lives in the future.
Responsibility for the murder, rape, and dispossession of black African villagers in the Darfur region of Sudan originates with Bashir. What makes the moral balance between justice and conflict resolution difficult is the near certainty that Bashir, far from turning himself over to the court in The Hague, is more likely to retaliate by increasing the suffering of more than 2 million uprooted Darfurians.
Seven members of an undermanned United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force were killed and 22 wounded last week. The regime claims the attackers were rebels, but the UN believes them to be members of the Janjaweed, an Arab militia backed by Bashir. If a three-judge ICC panel decides this fall that the evidence assembled by chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo of Argentina justifies a warrant for Bashir's arrest, the Sudanese ruler could declare open season on the peacekeepers. International aid workers in Darfur will probably be in greater jeopardy than ever. Last month, before a gathering of militiamen loyal to his regime, Bashir had already threatened to call for a jihad against "the foreigners."
The most nettlesome questions about an ICC indictment of Bashir come from diplomats and area specialists who say the only way to protect the millions of people still at risk in Darfur is to make peace between the regime and the disparate rebel groups. They warn that if Bashir is indicted for genocide and crimes against humanity, his government cannot be party to desperately needed peace talks.
This argument against the court's work would have more weight if Bashir had ever shown the slightest inclination to make the concessions required for a resolution of the Darfur conflict. But he hasn't. So despite the risk that indicting Bashir for his crimes may induce new dangers for Darfur, holding him accountable is the right thing to do. It might persuade African and Arab leaders to pressure him to call off his forces in Darfur, and it could conceivably deter future criminals in power from murdering hundreds of thousands of their own people.
"Solzhenitsyn, chronicler of Soviet gulag, dies at age 89"
By Douglas Birch, Associated Press, Monday, August 4, 2008
MOSCOW -- Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the Nobel Prize-winning Russian author whose books chronicled the horrors of dictator Josef Stalin's slave labor camps, has died of heart failure, his son said Monday. He was 89.
Stepan Solzhenitsyn told The Associated Press his father died late Sunday in Moscow, but declined further comment.
Through unflinching accounts of the eight years he spent in the Soviet Gulag, Solzhenitsyn's novels and non-fiction works exposed the secret history of the vast prison system that enslaved millions. The accounts riveted his countrymen and earned him years of bitter exile, but international renown.
And they inspired millions, perhaps, with the knowledge that one person's courage and integrity could, in the end, defeat the totalitarian machinery of an empire.
Beginning with the 1962 short novel "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich," Solzhenitsyn (sohl-zheh-NEETS'-ihn) devoted himself to describing what he called the human "meat grinder" that had caught him along with millions of other Soviet citizens: capricious arrests, often for trifling and seemingly absurd reasons, followed by sentences to slave labor camps where cold, starvation and punishing work crushed inmates physically and spiritually.
His "Gulag Archipelago" trilogy of the 1970s shocked readers by describing the savagery of the Soviet state under the dictator Josef Stalin. It helped erase lingering sympathy for the Soviet Union among many leftist intellectuals, especially in Europe.
But his account of that secret system of prison camps was also inspiring in its description of how one person -- Solzhenitsyn himself -- survived, physically and spiritually, in a penal system of soul-crushing hardship and injustice.
The West offered him shelter and accolades. But Solzhenitsyn's refusal to bend despite enormous pressure, perhaps, also gave him the courage to criticize Western culture for what he considered its weakness and decadence.
After a triumphant return from exile in the U.S. in 1994 that included a 56-day train trip across Russia to become reacquainted with his native land, Solzhenitsyn later expressed annoyance and disappointment that most Russians hadn't read his books.
During the 1990s, his stalwart nationalist views, his devout Orthodoxy, his disdain for capitalism and disgust with the tycoons who bought Russian industries and resources cheaply following the Soviet collapse, were unfashionable. He faded from public view.
But under Vladimir Putin's 2000-2008 presidency, Solzhenitsyn's vision of Russia as a bastion of Orthodox Christianity, as a place with a unique culture and destiny, gained renewed prominence.
Putin now argues, as Solzhenitsyn did in a speech at Harvard University in 1978, that Russia has a separate civilization from the West, one that can't be reconciled either to Communism or western-style liberal democracy, but requires a system adapted to its history and traditions.
"Any ancient deeply rooted autonomous culture, especially if it is spread on a wide part of the earth's surface, constitutes an autonomous world, full of riddles and surprises to Western thinking," Solzhenitsyn said in the Harvard speech. "For one thousand years Russia has belonged to such a category."
Born Dec. 11, 1918, in Kislovodsk, Solzhenitsyn served as a front-line artillery captain in World War II, where, in the closing weeks of the war, he was arrested for writing what he called "certain disrespectful remarks" about Stalin in a letter to a friend, referring to him as "the man with the mustache." He served seven years in a labor camp in the barren steppe of Kazakhstan and three more years in internal exile in Central Asia.
That's where he began to write, memorizing much of his work so it wouldn't be lost if it were seized. His theme was the suffering and injustice of life in Stalin's gulag -- a Soviet abbreviation for the slave labor camp system, which Solzhenitsyn made part of the lexicon.
He continued writing while working as a mathematics teacher in the provincial Russian city of Ryazan.
The first fruit of this labor was "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich," the story of a carpenter struggling to survive in a Soviet labor camp, where he had been sent, like Solzhenitsyn, after service in the war.
The book was published in 1962 by order of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, who was eager to discredit the abuses of Stalin, his predecessor, and created a sensation in a country where unpleasant truths were spoken in whispers, if at all. Abroad, the book -- which went through numerous revisions -- was lauded not only for its bravery, but for its spare, unpretentious language.
After Khrushchev was ousted in 1964, Solzhenitsyn began facing KGB harassment, publication of his works was blocked and he was expelled from the Soviet Writers Union. But he was undeterred.
"A great writer is, so to speak, a secret government in his country," he wrote in "The First Circle," his next novel, a book about inmates in one of Stalin's "special camps" for scientists who were deemed politically unreliable but whose skills were essential.
Solzhenitsyn, a graduate from the Department of Physics and Mathematics at Rostov University, was sent to one of these camps in 1946, soon after his arrest.
The novel "Cancer Ward", which appeared in 1967, was another fictional worked based on Solzhenitsyn's life. In this case, the subject was his cancer treatment in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, then part of Soviet Central Asia, during his years of internal exile from March 1953, the month of Stalin's death, until June 1956.
In the book, cancer became a metaphor for the fatal sickness of the Soviet system. "A man sprouts a tumor and dies -- how then can a country live that has sprouted camps and exile?"
He attacked the complicity of millions of Russians in the horrors of Stalin's reign.
"Suddenly all the professors and engineers turned out to be saboteurs -- and they believed it? ... Or all of Lenin's old guard were vile renegades -- and they believed it? Suddenly all their friends and acquaintances were enemies of the people -- and they believed it?"
The Stalinist era, he wrote, quoting from a poem by Alexander Pushkin, forced Soviet citizens to choose one of three roles: tyrant, traitor, prisoner.
He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1970, an unusual move for the Swedish Academy, which generally makes awards late in an author's life after decades of work. The academy cited "the ethical force with which he has pursued the indispensable traditions of Russian literature."
Soviet authorities barred the author from traveling to Stockholm to receive the award and official attacks were intensified in 1973 when the first book in the non-fiction "Gulag" trilogy appeared in Paris.
"During all the years until 1961," Solzhenitsyn wrote in an autobiography written for the Nobel Foundation, "not only was I convinced that I should never see a single line of mine in print in my lifetime, but, also, I scarcely dared allow any of my close acquaintances to read anything I had written because I feared that this would become known."
The following year, he was arrested on a treason charge and expelled the next day to West Germany in handcuffs. His expulsion inspired worldwide condemnation of the regime of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev.
Solzhenitsyn then made his homeland in America, settling in 1976 in the tiny town of Cavendish, Vermont, with his wife and sons.
Living at a secluded hillside compound he rarely left, he called his 18 years there the most productive of his life. There he worked on what he considered to be his life's work, a multivolume saga of Russian history titled "The Red Wheel."
Although free from repression, Solzhenitsyn longed for his native land. Neither was he enchanted by Western democracy, with its emphasis on individual freedom.
To the dismay of his supporters, in his Harvard speech he rejected the West's faith "Western pluralistic democracy" as the model for all other nations. It was a mistake, he warned, for Western societies to regard the failure of the rest of the world to adopt the democratic model as a product of "wicked governments or by heavy crises or by their own barbarity or incomprehension."
Some critics saw "The Red Wheel" books as tedious and hectoring, rather than as sweeping and lit by moral fire.
"Exile from his great theme, Stalinism and the gulag, had exposed his major weaknesses," D.M. Thomas wrote in a 1998 biography, theorizing that the intensity of the earlier works was "a projection of his own repressed violence."
Then-Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev restored Solzhenitsyn's citizenship in 1990 and the treason charge was finally dropped in 1991, less than a month after a failed Soviet coup. Following an emotional homecoming that started in the Russian Far East on May 27, 1994, and became a whistle-stop tour across the country, Solzhenitsyn settled in a tree-shaded, red brick home overlooking the Moscow River just west of the capital.
While avoiding a partisan political role, Solzhenitsyn vowed to speak "the whole truth about Russia, until they shut my mouth like before."
He was contemptuous of President Boris Yeltsin, blaming Yeltsin for the collapse of Russia's economy, his dependence on bailouts by the International Monetary Fund, his inability to stop the expansion of NATO to Russia's borders, his tolerance of the rising influence of a handful of Russian billionaires -- who were nicknamed "oligarchs" by an American diplomat.
Yeltsin's reign, Solzhenitsyn said, marked one of three "times of troubles" in Russian history -- which included the 17th century crises that led to the rise of the Romanovs and the 1917 Bolshevik revolution. When Yeltsin awarded Solzhenitsyn Russia's highest honor, the Order of St. Andrew, the writer refused to accept it. When Yeltsin left office in 2000, Solzhenitsyn wanted him prosecuted.
The author's last book, 2001's "Two Hundred Years Together," addressed the complex emotions of Russian-Jewish relations. Some criticized the book for alleged anti-Semitic passages. But the author denied the charge, saying he "understood the subtlety, sensitivity and kindheartedness of the Jewish character."
Yeltsin's successor Putin at first had a rocky relationship with Solzhenitsyn, who criticized the Russian president in 2002 for not doing more to crack down on Russia's oligarchs. Putin was also a veteran of the Soviet-era KGB, the agency that, more than any other, represented the Soviet legacy of repression.
But the two men, so different, gradually developed a rapport. By steps, Putin adopted Solzhenitsyn's criticisms of the West, perhaps out of a recognition that Russia really is a different civilization, perhaps because the author offered justification for the Kremlin's determination to muzzle critics, to reassert control over Russia's natural resources and to concentrate political power.
Like Putin, Solzhenitsyn argued that Russia was following its own path to its own form of democratic society. In a June 2005 interview with state television, he said Russia had lost 15 years following the collapse of the Soviet Union by moving too quickly in the rush to build a more liberal society.
"We need to be better, so we need to go more slowly," he said
Following the death of Naguib Mahfouz in 2006, Solzhenitsyn became the oldest living Nobel laureate in literature. He is survived by his wife, Natalya, who acted as his spokesman, and his three sons, including Stepan, Ignat, a pianist and conductor, and Yermolai. All live in the United States.
"Americans detail imprisonment in China: Massachusetts natives were held during Games"
By Brian R. Ballou, Boston Globe Staff, August 27, 2008
The group of six Americans, including Bedford native Michael Liss, had found the perfect canvas to carry out their protest in China last week. The Beijing Digital Building, a huge structure, had flat walls and stood next to the busiest venues of the Olympic Games, the iconic Bird's Nest track stadium, and the translucent National Aquatics Center.
The group's plan was simple: use a green laser to beam the phrase "Free Tibet" onto the most visible side of the Digital Building. They conducted a successful test run Aug. 18, projecting the phrase "Free Beer" onto the wall. They retreated to a local bar and, after a few drinks, Liss decided to call it a night. He left and hailed a taxi to drive him to his hotel, but just as he moved to open the door, at least a dozen Chinese officials surrounded him and took him away for a 24-hour grilling and six days of imprisonment, Liss said yesterday.
Liss, a 35-year-old freelance projects manager who now lives in New York, had prepared for the likelihood of arrest for protesting China's alleged human rights violations in Tibet, he said yesterday in a telephone interview. He became involved in the cause through a friend who is a board member of the New York-based Students for a Free Tibet. At least 50 members or friends of the organization were in Beijing. By the time Liss was apprehended, Chinese authorities had already deported dozens of protesters after holding them for about a day, he said. But he didn't expect the six-day ordeal he says he endured.
Liss was whisked through the bustling city to a makeshift interrogation room in an undisclosed restaurant, where he was questioned for 24 hours, he said. "They asked a ton of questions over and over, one of which was what did 'Free Beer' mean."
After the barrage of questions, Liss and the five other Americans were transported to a detention center in the countryside, where they said they were locked up in a common cell of approximately 320 square-feet with a hand-sized window. They shared the cell with prisoners from other countries, some of whom had been locked up for months.
"When we came to this place, there were these huge doors to a gate that swung open. That was our this-is-not-looking-good moment," Liss said
The Americans were ordered to strip to their underwear, and prison guards took their clothing and gave them red terry cloth shorts, shirts, and flip-flops and plastic dishes to eat from.
"At that point, we pretty much were certain that we weren't going to be released anytime soon, that the one-day-and-out thing was not going to be a part of any of our plans," Liss said.
The men were sentenced to 10 days and had to approve their sentences.
On the fourth day of their imprisonment, two other American men - including Jeremy Wells, a native of Andover who also lives in New York - were thrown into the cell. Wells and John Watterberg were arrested Aug. 21 after attempting to hang a "Free Tibet" banner near the stadium.
A photograph of the men struggling with plainclothes police was published in many newspapers around the world.
Wells, 38, a private school administrator in New York City, said in a telephone interview yesterday, "It all happened in a split second. We held the flag up for just a couple of seconds before they got to us. We already knew that we were being followed around our whole time there."
Liss said that while he was in jail, he befriended a 19-year-old Chinese prisoner who spoke fluent English. The man told Liss that he was imprisoned for practicing Tai Chi and meditating. He said he was scheduled to be transferred within days to a hard-labor camp to serve out a two-year sentence.
The prisoners were served meatballs with gravy and potatoes and rice, Liss said, but they mostly ate just the rice. "Everything else was awful," Liss said.
The activist organization required its members to check in several times a day while in Beijing, and when the group of six men failed to do so on the day they were detained, the organization alerted the US embassy in China, triggering a series of meetings between officials of the two countries that received widespread news coverage.
A representative from the embassy visited the detention center Aug. 22. Two days later, on the final day of the games, the prisoners were released.
"It was all very traumatic, very intense," Wells said.
"Tribal fighting displaces thousands in south Darfur"
By Alaa Shahine, October 25, 2008
KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Tribal fighting killed more than 40 people and displaced thousands of civilians, mostly women and children, in the state of South Darfur in Sudan this month, aid workers and a rights group said.
In North Darfur, rebels said on Saturday that government forces clashed with a faction of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) a day earlier. The Sudanese military could not confirm the incident but said it has forces operating in the area.
The fighting in South Darfur broke out early in October between the Arab Maaliya tribe and the African Zaghawa over cattle and other livestock around the town of Muhajiriya, an international aid source said on Saturday.
Analysts who follow Darfur say the Zaghawa and Maaliya tribes are in dispute over land ownership rights in areas that include Muhajiriya.
"Fifty-one men from both sides were killed," the source told Reuters on Saturday, speaking on condition of anonymity. The U.S.-based Human Rights Watch said on Friday night more than 40 "civilians" were killed in the fighting.
The violence in Darfur threatens efforts to end the conflict which international experts estimate has claimed the lives of 200,000 people and forced 2.5 millions to flee their homes since 2003. Khartoum estimates the death toll at 10,000.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it provided sleeping mats, clothes and tarpaulins last week to more than 4,000 people "displaced by communal clashes" around Muhajiriya.
"People were left without the bare necessities," said Juan Carlos Carrera, the head of the ICRC sub-delegation in Nyala, the capital of the South Darfur state.
The majority of the displaced sought shelter under trees and on a nearby seasonal river where water was readily available but their living conditions could "quickly deteriorate" with winter approaching, the ICRC statement added.
The conflict in Darfur that started in 2003 by mainly non-Arab rebels against the government has turned into a free-for-all crisis, with insurgents, bandits, government forces and tribes vying for everything from power to cattle and land.
Human Rights Watch said Khartoum-backed Arab militia attacked more than 13 villages between October 5 and 17, burning homes and stealing livestock.
"Once again, civilians are bearing the brunt of fighting in Darfur," said Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at Human Rights Watch.
Officials from South Darfur Governor Ali Mahmoud's office were not immediately available to comment.
But a spokesman for the Sudanese military denied that government forces were involved, and said on Saturday that the fighting was between the Maaliya tribe and a faction of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) rebel group.
Two aid sources confirmed the fighting was tribal and that government troops were not present.
At the time of the fighting, a rebel leader said pro-government Arab militias ambushed fighters from an SLA faction and the United Resistance Front east of Muhajiriya.
In October 2007, at least 30 civilians were killed and 100 houses torched when militias with apparent army support attacked Muhajiriya, a U.N. report says. Khartoum denied any involvement.
The latest fighting in North Darfur erupted on Friday between the government and an SLA faction headed by Abdel-Wahed el-Nur, said Suleiman Jamous, a leader of the SLA/Unity faction. He said the clashes started "by accident" on a road near the area of Anabaji. He had no details of casualties.
Noureddine Mezni, spokesman for the United Nations/African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur, confirmed he had preliminary information of fighting in North Darfur but gave no details.
(Writing by Alaa Shahine; editing by Jon Boyle)
A BOSTON GLOBE EDITORIAL: "Guantanamo's final days", November 4, 2008
FEW ACTIONS by a new president would draw a clearer distinction with President Bush than a pledge on Inauguration Day to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center and to adhere to the Geneva Conventions in the handling of war on terror prisoners.
During the campaign, both John McCain and Barack Obama called for closing Guantanamo, which has become a symbol of the Bush administration's human-rights abuses. McCain proposed a sensible alternative: the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Even Bush has said he wants to shutter the Cuban prison, but he has made no progress toward doing so.
Simply duplicating the legal conditions of Guantanamo on US soil would do little to restore America's reputation as a human-rights leader, however. The new president must also act quickly to return to prisoners the rights denied by Congress in 2006.
That is why it would be so important for the new president to repledge US adherence to the Geneva Conventions. Common Article 3 holds that trials of both prisoners of war and of captured combatants not granted that status must adhere to judicial guarantees "recognized as indispensable by all civilized peoples." The Supreme Court has already ruled that Congress acted unconstitutionally in stripping prisoners of their habeas corpus rights. The 2006 law also permits evidence gained through coercive methods, and limits inmates' rights to confront witnesses.
About 255 prisoners remain at Guantanamo of the more than 700 brought there. Most have returned to their home countries. In the almost seven years since the military began sending detainees there, just two have been convicted of any criminal offense. Federal criminal courts in the United States, on the other hand, have successfully tried and convicted such major terrorists as shoe-bomber Richard Reid and the Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, as well as other foreign and domestic terrorists from the pre-Sept. 11 era.
Human-rights advocates disagree on whether a new president could switch prisoners to federal courts from the military commission tribunals by executive order. Some believe he would need Congress to repeal or drastically amend the 2006 law.
Whatever the case, the new president should make closing Guantanamo and shifting its inmates to federal court jurisdiction a priority for his first 100 days.
"China steps up control in Tibet: At meeting, exiles ponder strategy"
By Mark Magnier, Los Angeles Times, November 22, 2008
DHARAMSALA, India - China has further tightened control in its ethnic Tibetan region in recent weeks, exile groups say, even as it was ostensibly negotiating in good faith with the Dalai Lama's envoys.
Stepped-up patrols and increased paramilitary presence in Lhasa, the regional capital, and along major transport arteries coincide with a strategy meeting attended by exiles in northern India this week, members of exile groups say.
"We've monitored an even more intense crackdown in the past couple of weeks," Kate Saunders, communications director with the advocacy group International Campaign for Tibet, said Thursday.
The group said a source inside China this week reported seeing three convoys of as many as 15 Chinese military vehicles west of the town of Kangding in Sichuan province, an area of significant unrest, along with roadblocks, bunkers, and armed forces around bridges and government buildings.
Chinese officials and envoys of the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, this month wrapped up several days of talks, the seventh inconclusive round in six years, after widespread unrest in the nation's ethnically Tibetan region in March.
More than 500 delegates from around the world have descended on Dharamsala, a mountain village near the Chinese border, home of the self-declared Tibetan government in exile, for six days of meetings on Tibet's future.
After supporting the Dalai Lama's "middle way" approach for two decades, which acknowledges Beijing's right to sovereignty amid hope of securing greater autonomy over Tibetan religious and cultural affairs, a growing number of exiles have concluded the strategy is not working.
This week's meetings are designed to explore a new approach amid concern that the Dalai Lama, 73, might not have too many years of good health left. Last month, he was hospitalized and had an operation to remove gallstones.
One of the biggest challenges for the exile community is communicating with the 6 million Tibetans in their homeland, given Chinese restrictions on information and travel.
China seized control of Tibet in 1951, and since the government has invested billions of dollars in roads, schools and other infrastructure, but it has fallen short in winning over hearts and minds.
Beijing is bracing for the 50th anniversary of its March 1959 crackdown that saw the Dalai Lama flee to India.
"Comedian gets 45-year term as Burma punishes activism"
By Associated Press, November 22, 2008
RANGOON, Burma - Burma's courts continued a crackdown on activists yesterday, giving a 45-year prison sentence to a comedian who went to the delta to help cyclone victims and criticized the junta's slow relief response.
Comedian and activist Zarganar, whose birth name is Maung Thura, was among at least 100 people to receive sentences of two to 65 years since early November. Many of the trials were held in closed sessions, sometimes without defense lawyers or family present.
The military government's wave of harsh sentences has been condemned worldwide by Western governments and human rights groups. They contend that the sentences make a mockery of the ruling junta's professed plan to restore democracy with a 2010 election.
The government holds more than 2,100 political prisoners, up sharply from nearly 1,200 in June 2007 - before last year's prodemocracy demonstrations, according to international human rights groups.
Monks inspired and led protests that the army violently suppressed in September 2007. The authorities began their crackdown by raiding several monasteries in Rangoon in the middle of the night and hauling away monks.
Among those sentenced yesterday was Buddhist monk Ashin Gambira, who helped organize the protests, said a lawyer, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of antagonizing the government. The monk's 12-year sentence and prison terms for earlier charges brought his total to 68 years in jail.
Burma's military, which has held power since 1962, brooks no dissent. It frequently arrests artists and entertainers regarded as opposing their regime.
Zarganar, whose comedy routines are banned for their jokes about the junta, and several other activists delivered donations of relief supplies to the Cyclone Nargis-shattered Irrawaddy delta. The May cyclone killed more than 84,000 people.
Zarganar was arrested in June after he criticized the junta in interviews with foreign news outlets. He was sentenced for violating the Electronics Act, which regulates all forms of electronic communication, said his lawyer, Khin Htay Kywe. He still faces other charges.
Three associates were tried with him. Sportswriter Zaw Thet Htwe and video journalist Thant Zin Aung were given 15 years each and face further charges, while Tin Maung Aye got 29 years, Zarganar's lawyer said.
The Boston Globe, Op-Ed, November 28, 2008, PHILIP HEYMANN AND MARTHA MINOW
"Genocide in Darfur? Let the court decide"
By Philip Heymann and Martha Minow, November 28, 2008
IS THERE a legal basis for the International Criminal Court to issue an arrest warrant for President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan for genocide?
The crime of genocide has been widely accepted as the most heinous offense against human dignity. Although the term can sometimes be used loosely in political debates, it has a very precise and narrow legal definition. And rightly so.
According to the Genocide Convention of 1948, the crime of genocide is "any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group."
These definitional requirements are more than mere legal formalities. If the crime of genocide is deemed to occur, the Convention triggers mandatory prosecution requirements. The particular opprobrium that is attached to genocide should be reserved for those who have unquestionably violated its terms. Meanwhile, mass atrocities that do not satisfy the precise definition of genocide can still be prosecuted as crimes against humanity or war crimes.
A public dispute exists over whether the situation in Darfur meets the legal definition of genocide. In 2005, a Commission of Inquiry established by the Security Council concluded that while mass crimes had been committed against protected groups, there was insufficient evidence that the intent of the perpetrators was to destroy that group - as opposed to driving them from the territory in question.
But then, earlier this year, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court announced that he would seek an arrest warrant for Bashir for, among other crimes, genocide. How can the apparent contradiction between the two determinations be explained?
The answer lies in the law and facts considered by each body and the different standards applied. The Commission of Inquiry found that it could not conclude that there was genocidal intent in part because the perpetrators did not kill all the members of the targeted groups they attacked. Instead, in some cases, they drove survivors to camps for internally displaced persons where they received humanitarian relief. However, as the Commission acknowledges, the selective killing of certain members of a protected group may be consistent with genocidal intent.
Moreover, in his application for a warrant the prosecutor emphasizes that the perpetrators also subjected the targeted groups to systematic rape, torture, the destruction of their basic means of life, and mass displacement. Taken together, these acts justify an inference of genocidal intent.
The prosecutor has since gathered evidence of the horrendous conditions of life in the camps, as well as the Sudanese government's obstruction of humanitarian relief aimed at the camps. This is fully consistent with the conclusion that the Sudanese government, acting together with the Janjaweed, sought to destroy the targeted groups in whole or in part.
The prosecutor also has a different standard of proof at this stage. The Commission of Inquiry acted as a "fact-finding body" and sought to reach conclusions of fact and law based on the available evidence. To obtain an arrest warrant under the criminal court statute, the prosecutor is obliged only to establish that "reasonable grounds" exist to believe that the perpetrators have committed the crime of genocide.
This standard, which is comparable to a probable cause showing in the United States, requires inferences to be drawn in favor of the prosecutor and is satisfied if the supporting evidence is consistent with the alleged crime. Only at trial, the prosecutor would have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Bashir committed the crime of genocide - that the only reasonable inference to be drawn from the evidence is that Bashir intended to destroy the targeted groups in whole or in part.
So do the findings of the commission undermine the prosecutor's request for an arrest warrant for Bashir for genocide? No. The factual allegations in the prosecutor's request are, if supported by the evidence provided confidentially to the court, sufficient for a warrant of arrest to issue.
Through its referral of the Sudan case, the Security Council placed its confidence in the prosecutor of a court that has been joined by 108 countries around the world. Whether the International Criminal Court will find Bashir's liability for genocide beyond a reasonable doubt is an open question.
To answer it, the prosecutor, like Bashir himself, should be given his day in court.
Philip B. Heymann and Martha Minow are professors of law at Harvard Law School.
Wo Weihan put to death by gunshot. (AP)
"China Abruptly Executes Convicted Spy: Family Is Denied Chance to Say Goodbye"
By Lauren Keane, Washington Post Foreign Service, Saturday, November 29, 2008; A08
BEIJING, Nov. 28 -- China on Friday executed a man convicted of passing sensitive military and political information to Taiwan a day after notifying his relatives through diplomatic channels that they would have a second chance to visit him, his daughter said.
Austrian Deputy Ambassador Stefan Scholz relayed the news of the execution late Friday afternoon to the family of Wo Weihan, 60, according to Wo's daughter Ran Chen. Chen is an Austrian citizen and had been appealing for clemency through diplomatic channels since arriving in Beijing on Monday. She said she had been told her father was executed by gunshot.
Wo was put to death even as Chinese and E.U. officials were wrapping up a summit on human rights here in Beijing. The sequence of events raises the question of whether the Chinese government had merely waited until the summit ended to carry out the execution. Capital punishment is at the top of the European Union's human rights agenda with China, Scholz said Friday morning, before he learned of Wo's execution.
The news shocked Wo's family members, who at a Thursday afternoon news conference had praised China's willingness to grant them a second visit and said they had not lost hope that Chinese officials would commute Wo's sentence based on what they said were numerous legal flaws in the case against him.
Chen said that her father had not been told of his impending execution when she met with him Thursday morning and that she never received written confirmation that his final appeal to the Supreme People's Court had been turned down.
"Our father was a Chinese citizen and is subject to Chinese law," Chen wrote in a statement released Friday evening. "But the Chinese law also says that death row prisoners deserve the right to see their families before execution, to say goodbye and to go in peace."
Chen said her parents had raised her and her sister to respect Chinese values of gratitude to and love for their parents. "The legal procedures in China, which we experienced in these last traumatic days, show no regard for these values," she said.
The family expressed outrage at the breakdown in communication. "We're extremely frustrated," said Chen's husband, Michael Rolufs, after hearing word of the execution from private contacts but before receiving confirmation through official channels.
Calls to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Austrian Embassy on Friday night went unanswered.
John Kamm, executive director of the Dui Hua Foundation, a human rights group in San Francisco who has worked closely with Chen on the case, reacted with anger and disbelief when reached by phone Friday evening.
"I have been doing this work for 19 years, and this is the absolute lowest point of those 19 years," he said. "I am devastated."
"Prosecutor warns against Sudan coverup: Cautions UN to be united"
By Patrick Worsnip, Reuters, December 4, 2008
UNITED NATIONS - The International Criminal Court prosecutor told the United Nations yesterday to prepare to arrest Sudan's president if he is indicted on genocide charges, and not to protect him in a "coverup."
ICC judges in the The Hague are considering a request by the prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Campo, for a warrant to arrest President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for crimes in the war-torn Darfur region. A decision is expected next month.
Moreno-Ocampo told the 15-nation UN Security Council it "must be prepared. If the judges decide to issue an arrest warrant against President Bashir, there will be a need for united and consistent action to ensure its execution."
Moreno-Ocampo said Bashir had ignored UN calls to halt the violence in Darfur. He accused him of promising ceasefires then ordering bombing raids, denying that mass rape was taking place, and promising justice while torturing witnesses.
"Genocide continues. Rapes in and around the (refugee) camps continue. Humanitarian assistance is still hindered. More than 5,000 displaced persons die each month," he said. Sudan's UN envoy dismissed the allegations as "blackmail".
Bashir would try to win Security Council protection but his "criminal actions should not be ignored," the prosecutor said. "The international community cannot be part of any coverup of genocide or crimes against humanity."
Moreno-Ocampo was apparently taking aim at Article 16 of the ICC statute whereby the Security Council can delay investigations for a year or more.
African and Arab states have proposed invoking the article, saying Moreno-Ocampo's attempt to bring Bashir before the ICC is likely to damage attempts to halt the five-year-old conflict in Darfur, western Sudan.
The council is divided. "Article 16 . . . was contemplated for precisely the kind of situation we face," South African Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo said. China and Russia also voiced misgivings about the indictment, but British envoy Karen Pierce said there was "no justification at present" for Article 16.
In a separate, written report to the council, Moreno-Ocampo called on UN member states to back up any arrest warrants by cutting nonessential contact with indictees and imposing travel bans and asset freezes on them.
The prosecutor has also requested warrants against three Darfur rebel commanders whose names have not been made public.
A BOSTON GLOBE EDITORIAL
"Still to do on human rights"
December 10, 2008
THE Universal Declaration of Human Rights is being commemorated at the United Nations today, the 60th anniversary of its signing. Still, UN officials need to be reminded that the declaration's promise remains unfulfilled. To their credit, 112 former presidents and prime ministers did just that when they signed a letter this month urging UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to obtain the release of 2,100 political prisoners held by the military junta that rules Burma.
A similar letter from 241 Asian legislators reminded Ban Ki-moon that he was tasked more than a year ago by the General Assembly with a mandate to achieve the freedom of the political prisoners by Dec. 31, 2008.
That benchmark has not been met. On the contrary, the junta recently sentenced human rights activists, cyclone relief workers, and defense lawyers to long prison terms in inaccessible locations. These characteristic acts of repression and intimidation are also gestures of defiance toward the UN.
Like Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe, Burma under General Than Shwe presents a nontraditional threat to peace and security. Just as Mugabe's misrule engendered the cholera epidemic now spilling into South Africa, Burma's junta is responsible for 2 million displaced people, the export of heroin and methamphetamine into Thailand and China, and the deaths of 100,000 people in the aftermath of May's Cyclone Nargis.
The former presidents and prime ministers act in the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights when they ask that the Security Council take "concrete action" to free Burma's political prisoners. In the same spirit, council members should tell Than Shwe to release those prisoners or face a UN arms embargo.
Gabriel Bol Deng, a Sudanese refugee, speaks to a group of students at Wahconah Regional High School Thursday, 1/8/2009.
"Sudanese refugee offers first-hand account of a crisis"
By Jenn Smith, Berkshire Eagle Staff, Friday, January 09, 2009
DALTON — From a ceaseless hotbed of hostility come new hearts for hope.
Wahconah Regional High School is a new ally in the movement to stop genocide and rebuild the schools and lives of the villagers of Sudan.
On Thursday, the school's junior class was visited by Gabriel Bol Deng, one of the thousands of youths which became collectively known as the "Lost Boys of Sudan."
These youths were either displaced or orphaned during the Second Sudanese Civil War, which began in the early 1980s. Its effects have rippled into what is currently known as the Darfur Conflict in a still hostile African nation of Sudan.
Earlier in the day, Deng also visited Lenox Memorial Middle and High School, which has been active in the international Save Darfur campaign for the past couple of years.
He spent about an hour at each school, sharing his story through slides about fleeing his homeland, coming to America to become a teacher and to raise awareness and donations through his foundation Hope for Ariang.
"(The violence) is something I have lived through but is something that is still happening in Sudan. It makes me very happy to see people like you trying to make a difference," said Deng, speaking to about 120 Wahconah juniors.
"That's what the world needs, that's what our country needs," he said.
Just prior to the December school break, world history teacher Bryan Patton introduced the topic of Sudan and its long history of conflict to his students.
"It's intense. I mean we have killing in our country, but it's not pure genocide," said junior Tomas Overbaugh.
Patton and the junior class met with Lenox students about their efforts. The Wahconah group then began developing a service-learning project to raise awareness and begin to raise funds for Sudan's civilian victims.
They've watched documentaries about the issues and created posters to hang up around the school.
"It doesn't take much to learn what's going on," said Brittany Corbett.
Her classmate Zach Tank agreed, "You've just gotta get a group of people to see what you can do to help."
This week, they began fundraising and raised more than $150 during lunchtime collections on Monday and Tuesday alone.
"The more you know about it and see what's going on, you can't help wanting to help out," said junior Samantha Snyder.
Deng's story in particular seemed to tug at the students' heartstrings.
By the time he was their age, he had already fled his home and cattle range, crossed fields, desert and the Nile River and was living in a refugee camp.
Deng earned his U.S. citizenship in 2006 and was reunited with his family in 2007 after spending years thinking they had died in the war.
Today, he lives in the Central New York area and is pursuing a master's degree in education at LeMoyne College.
Meanwhile, he works as a substitute teacher in Syracuse public schools and does tours to talk about his life and his foundation's philosophy: "Education is my mother and my father."
Currently without space, the foundation's goal is to build, furnish and supply a school in Deng's village of Ariang.
"He makes you open your eyes," said junior Michaela Rivers after Deng's presentation.
"I thought it was really inspirational. I almost cried," said Jordan Schnopp.
The girls' classmate Darcey Sullivan agreed, "Knowing this, I can't complain about anything anymore."
The Boston Globe, Op-Ed, LINDA MASON
"A stronger UN role is needed in the Congo"
By Linda Mason, January 28, 2009
THE SEEMINGLY endless turmoil in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo took another turn last week. Thousands of Rwandan troops entered the country, apparently by invitation of the Congolese government, to rout Hutu military forces that had fled Rwanda after the genocide 14 years ago. They arrested General Laurent Nkunda, the leader of the Congolese Tutsi rebel group who up until last week was an ally of Rwanda and reportedly received arms, supplies, and soldiers from the Rwandan military.
These moves took the world by surprise, including the UN peacekeeping forces stationed in the Congo.
Experts are weighing in on whether these moves will eventually stabilize eastern Congo. But it is clear that the military build-up and shifting alliances mean more brutal fighting in the short-term and more suffering for countless Congolese families that simply want a safe place to live.
Civilians in Congo continue to pay the price in this long war - despite protections from the United Nation's largest peacekeeping force. Over 5.5 million Congolese have died in this conflict. To put the death toll in perspective, 400,000 people have died in Darfur in its six-year conflict, and 800,000 people died in the 100-day Rwandan genocide. In addition to the death toll in Congo, rape is pervasive - 23 percent of the population in eastern Congo have reported witnessing acts of sexual violence. Rape happens with impunity.
I just returned from Congo and found a heartbreakingly beautiful country that has been ripped apart by brutality and lawlessness. International media portray the conflict in eastern Congo as a proxy war between Congo and Rwanda. Unfortunately, it is far more complex. The conflict is primarily a fight over resources - vast amounts of minerals and rich arable land. To gain advantage, militias of all stripes attack villages, raping and slaughtering all who are in their way. Many soldiers, men and boys, have no political loyalty but are either forcibly conscripted or join a militia in order to survive. If they want to eat, they fight. Congo is in desperate need of jobs, functioning markets, and agriculture - in short, economic alternatives to war.
One million civilians - out of a population of 6 million in eastern Congo - have fled to displacement camps. As I traveled throughout the countryside, I was shocked on two accounts. First, eastern Congo is a beautiful, resource-rich land. It is lush and green, with forests of giant Eucalyptus trees, rivers and waterfalls, and areas rich in minerals. But I was also shocked to see that this land is uncultivated, crops are idle, and no commerce or trucks are on the roads. Instead there are displacement camps and armed militias roaming the roads and villages.
There are also many bases for the MONUC, the UN's peacekeeping force of 17,000 soldiers. These bases are enclosed, well-protected, and set away from the villages. I saw UN patrols but I never saw a soldier outside his vehicle or mingling with civilians. Few soldiers speak the local language, and many do not know the local communities, and have rarely used force to protect civilian communities, the key element of their mandate.
After numerous displaced Congolese were attacked last November, the UN Security Council voted to send in an additional 3,000 troops. This recognition of the enormity of the problem and the UN's willingness to augment existing troops is laudable. But to be effective, MONUC needs additional support and resources from the international community, including the United States, and must focus intensely on two objectives.
First, it must be willing to use deadly force to protect civilians. Without a credible military threat, attacks on villages will not stop. Second, MONUC needs to gain the confidence of the civilians it is protecting. Swahili-speaking soldiers need to be visibly present on the roads and in the villages in conflict areas. They need to break up roadblocks, allow freedom of movement, provide local stability and security, and report abuses from any of the military groups.
The UN's peacekeeping role is a vital one - both armed protection and local confidence-building. The Congolese people deserve both now.
Linda Mason is chair of Mercy Corps and founder of Bright Horizons Family Solutions.
"Anne Frank 'Helper' marks 100th birthday"
By Arthur Max, Associated Press, February 15, 2009
AMSTERDAM - Anne Frank called them the Helpers. They provided food, books, and good cheer while she and her family hid for two years from the Nazis in a tiny attic apartment.
Today, the last surviving helper, Miep Gies, celebrates her 100th birthday, saying she has won more accolades for helping the Frank family than she deserved.
"This is very unfair. So many others have done the same or even far more dangerous work," she wrote in an e-mail to the Associated Press last week.
It was Gies who gathered up Anne's scattered papers and notebooks after the hiding place was raided in 1944. She locked them - unread - in a desk drawer to await the teenager's return.
Anne died of typhus in the German concentration camp Bergen-Belsen seven months after her arrest. British and Canadian troops liberated the camp two weeks later.
Gies gave the collection to Anne's father, Otto, the only survivor among the eight people who hid in the concealed attic. He published it in 1947, and it was released in English in 1952 as "The Diary of a Young Girl." Retitled "The Diary of Anne Frank," it was the first book about the Holocaust to win popular appeal, and has sold tens of millions of copies in dozens of languages.
As she looked forward to a quiet birthday with her son and three grandchildren, Gies paid tribute to the "unnamed heroes" who helped Dutch Jews escape the net during the five years of Nazi occupation.
"I would like to name one, my husband, Jan. He was a resistance man who said nothing but did a lot. During the war he refused to say anything about his work, only that he might not come back one night. People like him existed in thousands but were never heard," she said.
Jan Gies, who was not one of the four office workers who supplied the Frank family with their daily needs, died in 1993.
Such people fought a lonely battle in the Netherlands. Historians say collaborators were many and anti-Nazi resistance was light. Of the prewar Jewish population of 140,000, some 107,000 were arrested and deported. The Red Cross says only 5,200 of them survived the war.
Like the Franks, about 24,000 Dutch Jews went into hiding, of which 8,000 were hunted down or betrayed in exchange for a bounty.
After the war, Gies worked for Otto Frank as he compiled and edited the diary, then devoted herself to talking about the diary and answering letters from around the world.
After Frank's death in 1980, Gies continued to campaign against Holocaust-deniers and to refute allegations that the diary was a forgery.
Miep Gies kept Anne Frank's diary safe before its publication
Miep Gies, the last surviving member of the group who helped protect Anne Frank and her family from the Nazis, has died in the Netherlands aged 100.
Anne Frank died in a Nazi concentration camp in 1945
Mrs Gies, bottom left, and Otto Frank, next to her, were reunited after the war
"Anne Frank diary guardian Miep Gies dies aged 100"
news.bbc.co.uk - 12 January, 2010
Miep Gies, the last surviving member of the group who helped protect Anne Frank and her family from the Nazis, has died in the Netherlands aged 100.
She and other employees of Anne Frank's father Otto supplied food to the family as they hid in a secret annex above the business premises in Amsterdam.
Anne's diary of their life in hiding, which ended in betrayal, is one of the most famous records of the Holocaust.
It was rescued by Mrs Gies, who kept it safe until after the war.
Miep Gies died in a nursing home after suffering a fall just before Christmas.
Speaking last year as she celebrated her 100th birthday, Mrs Gies played down her role, saying others had done far more to protect Jews in the Netherlands.
She and her fellow employees kept Anne and the seven others supplied for two years, from 1942 to 1944.
When the family were found by the authorities, they were deported, and Anne died of typhus in the German concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen.
It was Mrs Gies who collected up Anne's papers and locked them away, hoping that one day she would be able to give them back to the girl.
In the event, she returned them to Otto Frank, who survived the war, and helped him compile them into a diary that was published in 1947.
It went on to sell tens of millions of copies in dozens of languages.
Mrs Gies became a kind of ambassador for the diary, travelling to talk about Anne Frank and her experiences, campaigning against Holocaust denial and refuting allegations that the diary was a forgery.
For her efforts to protect the Franks and to preserve their memory, Mrs Gies won many accolades.
Memories of Anne
In an interview from 1998, published on the annefrank website, Miep Gies says she thought it "perfectly natural" to help Anne and the seven others despite the penalties she could have suffered under the Nazi occupation.
"They were powerless, they didn't know where to turn..." she says. "We did our duty as human beings: helping people in need."
Her role was, she recalls, to fetch vegetables and meat while others supplied bread or books.
Her memory of Anne is of having the feeling she was "speaking to an adult".
"I'd say to myself, 'My goodness, child, so young and talking like that already'," she says in the interview.
She believes that she once came across Anne writing the diary.
"It was a very uncomfortable situation," she says.
"I tried to decide what to do. Should I walk away or go to her? At that moment she glanced at me, with a look that I'll never forget.
"This wasn't the Anne I knew, that friendly, charming child. She looked at me with anger, rage. Then Anne stood up, slammed her diary shut and glared at me with great condescension. 'Yes,' she said, 'I'm writing about you, too.'
"I didn't know what to say. The only thing I could manage was: 'That ought to be interesting.'"
Mrs Gies also remembers the day the Franks were taken away and how she went up into the empty annex to find the pages of the diary lying on the floor.
Removing the pages, she did not read them immediately, telling herself at the time: "These may belong to a child, but even children have a right to privacy."
January 11, 2010
Re: Miep Gies
The one issue that matters the most to me in my life, that motivates me to participate in politics, and is a dream I want to fulfill in my life is HUMAN RIGHTS for all Peoples and people, past, present and future. Those with no rights have rights under me. Those who violate the rights of others have my deepist dissent. I believe that politics, business, and religion without entitlement to universal rights is evil, wrong and must be stopped. Our nation was founded on rights.
I wish to remember Miep Gies, who passed away at 100 years of age, for her bravery in the face of Nazi hegemony and persecution of the Jewish People. Miep Gies led where I only stand. She helped shelter the Frank family from the Nazi military until they were tragically betrayed. Miep Gies saved the young adult girl Anne Frank's papers in hopes that she would return for them. When only her father, Otto Frank, survived, she helped to make Anne Frank's papers into a diary, which has been published world-wide for over 6 decades.
A Boston Globe Op-Ed, BRUCE FEIN
"Genocide in Sri Lanka"
By Bruce Fein, February 15, 2009
THE BARRAGE of media reporting of the grim conflict in Sri Lanka has captured popular imagination, but has overlooked the grisly Sinhalese Buddhist genocide of innocent Hindu or Christian Tamil civilians by a US dual citizen and US green card holder. The two should be investigated and prosecuted in the United States.
Acting on behalf of Tamils Against Genocide, I recently delivered to US Attorney General Eric H. Holder a three-volume, 1,000 page model 12-count genocide indictment against Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Sarath Fonseka charging violations of the Genocide Accountability Act of 2007. Derived from affidavits, court documents, and contemporaneous media reporting, the indictment chronicles a grisly 61-year tale of Sinhalese Buddhists attempting to make Sri Lanka "Tamil free."
Rajapaksa and Fonseka assumed their current offices in December 2005. They exercise command responsibility over Sri Lanka's mono-ethnic Sinhalese security forces. On their watch, they have attempted to physically destroy Tamils in whole or in substantial part through more than 3,800 extrajudicial killings or disappearances; the infliction of serious bodily injury on tens of thousands; the creation of punishing conditions of life, including starvation, withholding medicines and hospital care, humanitarian aid embargoes, bombing and artillery shelling of schools, hospitals, churches, temples; and the displacements of more than 1.3 million civilians into camps, which were then bombed and shelled. This degree of mayhem inflicted on the Tamil civilian population because of ethnicity or religion ranks with the atrocities in Bosnia and Kosovo that occasioned genocide indictments against Serbs by the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.
During the past month, a virtual reenactment of the Bosnian Srebrenica genocide of more than 7,000 Muslims has unfolded. Sri Lanka's armed forces employed indiscriminate bombing and shelling to herd 350,000 Tamil civilians into a government-prescribed "safety zone," a euphemism for Tamil killing fields. There, more than 1,000 have been slaughtered and more than 2,500 have been injured by continued bombing and shelling.
As a preliminary to the horror, roads and medical aid were blocked, and humanitarian workers and all media were expelled. During a BBC radio interview on Feb. 2, Rajapaksa declared that outside the "safety zone" nothing should "exist." Accordingly, a hospital has been repeatedly bombed, killing scores of patients. Rajapaksa further proclaimed that in Sri Lanka, any person not involved in fighting the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam is a terrorist.
The United States assailed and sanctioned Serbia for noncooperation in apprehending genocide defendants Slobodan Milosevic, Radovan Karadzic, and Ratko Mladic. The United States should be no less scrupulous in prosecuting suspected genocide by its own citizens or permanent residents. Further, under Article 5 of the Genocide Convention of 1948, ratified by the United States Senate in 1986, the United States is obligated to provide "effective penalties" for genocide. That imposes an obligation on signatory parties to investigate and to prosecute credible charges - a benchmark that has been satisfied by TAG's 1,000-page model 12-count indictment of Rajapaksa and Fonseka.
The predictable defense of counter-terrorism will not wash. Not a single Tamil victim identified in the model indictment was involved in the war between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The lame excuse of defeating terrorism was advanced by Sudanese President Omar Bashir to a genocide arrest warrant over Darfur issued by chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo of the International Criminal Court. The chief prosecutor retorted that although Bashir's pretense was counterterrorism, his intent was genocide.
The State Department lists Sri Lanka as an investigatory target in the Office of War Crimes. The New York-based Genocide Prevention Project last December labeled Sri Lanka as a country of "highest concern." President Barack Obama has made the case for military intervention in Sudan or elsewhere to stop genocide. All the more justification for the United States to open an investigation of the voluminous and credible 12 counts of genocide against a United States citizen and permanent resident alien assembled by Tamils Against Genocide.
A genocide indictment would probably deter Rajapaksa and Fonseka from their ongoing atrocities against Tamil civilians. There is no time to tarry.
Bruce Fein is counsel for Tamils Against Genocide and former associate deputy attorney general under President Reagan.
GLOBE EDITORIAL: Short fuse, February 18, 2009
"Dubai: Not ready for the world stage"
Once a sleepy Persian Gulf outpost, Dubai has transformed itself into an international finance and transportation hub. And by hosting a major women's sporting event, the city could have been a beacon of openness in a conservative region. But hold the applause. The United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is part, refused an entry visa to Israeli tennis player Shahar Peer, who had qualified for this week's Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships. The WTA Tour, the governing body for women's professional tennis, is going forward with this year's event anyway. But the Tennis Channel, to its credit, is refusing to televise it. Let's hope that in the future, the WTA will refuse to hold events in countries that don't welcome all its players.
The Boston Globe, Op-Ed, REBECCA HAMILTON
"An inkling of hope, justice for Darfur"
By Rebecca Hamilton, February 21, 2009
THE PRE-TRIAL chamber of the International Criminal Court is soon expected to formally announce an arrest warrant against the president of Sudan, Omar Al Bashir, for crimes in Darfur. When word reaches Darfuri refugees over short-wave radio, a rare cry of jubilation will echo across their sprawling camps. As 33-year-old Amira of Oure Cassoni camp told me: "Only if Omar Al Bashir is arrested can there be peace in Sudan."
In the short term, Amira's hope is unlikely to be fulfilled. It is the Sudanese government's responsibility to execute the arrest warrant, and it will not hand over its own president anytime soon. And yet the court's announcement should not be dismissed as (yet more) words in lieu of action.
Khartoum is terrified of the court. In the seven months since the ICC prosecutor announced he was seeking an arrest warrant against Bashir, Khartoum has gone to extraordinary lengths to stop the case. It has promised to allow jurists from neighboring countries to oversee prosecutions it claims to be conducting in relation to crimes in Darfur. This week, it even signed a "confidence-building agreement" with one of the Darfur rebel groups. These apparent concessions are unlikely to reflect any genuine shift in Khartoum's approach to Darfur. However, they speak volumes about the power the Sudanese government attributes to the ICC.
The court began its first trial only last month. It has no police force, and depends on states to carry out its orders. Why does an embryonic institution with no independent enforcement mechanism instill such fear in one of the world's most brutal regimes? Because in at least the 108 states that have signed up to the court, and in several more that have not yet joined, the ICC's judicial authority is seen as legitimate.
Despite multiple condemnations by human-rights groups and the US government's determination that the situation in Darfur was genocide, law-abiding states have not united against the actions of the Sudanese government. Many governments have been unwilling to jeopardize their economic and diplomatic relationships with Khartoum by pointing the finger. China, for instance, has feared the disruption of its oil contracts with Sudan. And Khartoum has masterfully exploited the resulting divisions in the international community.
An arrest warrant against Bashir can change all this: No longer does the dividing line have to be between those who criticize the Sudanese government and those who do not. Instead it can be about those who want to align themselves with legally punishable behavior and those who reject it. Overnight, the costs of lining up silently alongside Khartoum have increased.
Ahead of the court's announcement, even those who have perpetrated some of the massive crimes in Darfur have started to abandon Khartoum. In video footage released by the Aegis Trust last week, one former commander begins his testimony about the atrocities by stating: "The Sudanese Government, all time said, no genocide there, no rape there. I am from the PDF -- Janjaweed -- I want to tell the world the truth."
Following the announcement, we may see allegiances shift away from Bashir within Sudan's ruling National Congress Party. Of course a power struggle alone is no solution; those who would vie for the leadership of the party have as bad, if not worse, human rights credentials than Bashir himself. However, the warrant may at least deter anyone with leadership aspirations from the behavior that led to Bashir's indictment.
Even a small increase in the vigor with which the crimes in Darfur are condemned could lead to behavioral change in Khartoum. No one in the ruling party wants their government to be an international pariah. If the price for avoiding this is to ensure that Sudanese citizens are not the victims of mass atrocity in the future, then it is a price that Khartoum's current and aspiring political leaders may well be willing to pay - even before Bashir is in the dock.
Rebecca Hamilton is a fellow at the Open Society Institute. She has worked with displaced populations in Sudan and is writing a book about the impact of citizen advocacy on Darfur policy.
"How to Speak Human Rights"
By Anne Applebaum, washingtonpost.com, Tuesday, February 24, 2009; A13
"We pretty much know what they're going to say." -- Hillary Clinton, on the Chinese reaction to discussions of human rights, religious freedom and Tibet
Amnesty International is "extremely disappointed," and rightly so; Human Rights Watch's Asia advocacy director fears that America's human rights discussions in China will become "a dead-end 'dialogue of the deaf,' " and she has a point. As for the founders of the new Chinese "Charter 08" dissident movement -- the biggest political protest group in years -- we don't know what they thought, because they were all under house arrest during Clinton's visit to Beijing. I'm sure, though, that they, too, were disappointed by our new secretary of state's failure to discuss human rights with her hosts during her stay in China.
Yet, while I sympathize with these critics, I find I increasingly don't care what Hillary Clinton says about human rights to the leaders of China. Neither should they: Hillary Clinton is right; these exchanges have become ritualized. I also don't care what she says about human rights to the leaders of Iran, Zimbabwe or North Korea, if those words will have no meaning in practice. Grandiloquent human rights speeches that amount to nothing have been a hallmark of American foreign policy since at least 1956, when we didn't come to the aid of Hungarians taking part in a rebellion we helped incite. Fifty years of broken promises is quite enough, and if we're abandoning that habit now, good riddance.
I do, however, care quite a lot about what the new administration is going to do about human rights, on the ground, and so far, both Clinton and President Obama have been silent on that score. Politicians often talk about "morality" in foreign policy as if it were a choice between all or nothing. In fact, there is a vast middle ground between mouthing empty slogans in high-level negotiations -- let alone threatening to invade -- and doing nothing whatsoever. Many nations do overthrow dictatorships and become more democratic, or at least more open, as a result. In the past, we have sometimes helped this process along. The Obama administration, if it starts now, can do so again -- though it needn't start by lecturing the foreign minister of China.
Certainly, we can help by directing small, even tiny, amounts of money at the people who promote debate, not armed rebellion, inside repressive countries. One could argue that the pennies we spent funding Radio Free Europe or anti-communist magazines such as the now-defunct Encounter during the Cold War were far more effective than the billions we spent on military equipment. Although the modern equivalent, Radio Free Afghanistan, reaches more listeners in Afghanistan than any other broadcaster, we aren't increasing its funding; to the contrary, we've been slashing its budget in real terms. Nor have we yet found a creative way to promote a real discussion of radical Islam in the moderate Muslim world, as Encounter once promoted a discussion of communism among social democrats.
We could also use traditional tools of public diplomacy to greater effect. Instead of appointing cronies and fundraisers to ambassadorships, Obama could, over the next few months, appoint people with the talent to act as real spokesmen for U.S. policy -- on local television, speaking the local language, writing in the local press. For that matter, Obama himself could directly address the Chinese, or the North Koreans, if not on local television then on CNN and the BBC. It might indeed be pointless to bargain over human rights with the Chinese government, but public statements about democracy and human rights -- of the sort Clinton herself made in Indonesia last week -- would be heard by some if not by all. In China, a country where religious believers are harassed, all prominent visiting Americans should make a point of going to church -- as Hillary Clinton did. In Russia, a country that is ambivalent about its repressive past, all prominent visiting Americans should make a point of visiting a memorial to the victims of Stalin. Without even using the phrase "human rights," many people would get the point.
Though they might not achieve much quickly, these kinds of policies are not only likely to be more effective, in the long run, they are also more realistic than any of the alternatives. Decades of American friendship with the authoritarian rulers of Saudi Arabia did not prevent the emergence of al-Qaeda. A cozy relationship with China's current rulers won't guarantee everlasting Asian stability either. President Obama was right, in his inaugural address, when he told "those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent" that they should know they are "on the wrong side of history." Now, he and his secretary of state need to enact practical policies to drive home that rhetorical lesson.
"Not So Obvious: The secretary of state underestimates the power of her words."
www.washingtonpost.com/opinions, Tuesday, February 24, 2009; A12
HILLARY RODHAM Clinton says she was only "stating the obvious" when she played down the importance of U.S. pressure on China about human rights issues during a visit there over the weekend. In fact, her comments understated the significance of what a secretary of state says about such matters, and how those statements might affect the lives of people fighting for freedom of expression, religious rights and other basic liberties in countries such as China.
When reporters asked whether she intended to raise human rights questions during her first visit to Beijing as a Cabinet secretary, Ms. Clinton affected a world-weary air. "We know what they are going to say because I've had those kinds of conversations for more than a decade with Chinese leaders," she said. "We have to continue to press them. But our pressing on those issues can't interfere with the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis and the security crisis."
No doubt there is a predictable rhythm both to U.S. protests and to Beijing's responses. That hardly makes them unimportant. By publicly stating its objection to the imprisonment of peaceful dissidents or the crushing of opposition in places such as Tibet, the United States reinforces the principle that such practices are unacceptable anywhere in the world. It gives hope to those who are bravely fighting for change and causes average Chinese to question their government. It also can produce results -- as has been demonstrated time and again when Chinese political prisoners have been released thanks to American pressure.
Ms. Clinton's suggestion that U.S. advocacy for human rights might "interfere" with cooperation on other issues is equally misguided. Over many years China has proved ready to work with the United States on issues where it sees an interest in doing so, regardless of disputes over human rights. Playing down those concerns won't change Beijing's stance on North Korea or increase its willingness to reduce carbon emissions. But it will cause the regime to feel less restrained in cracking down on movements such as the newly formed Charter 08, whose manifesto in favor of democratic change has been signed by more than 8,000 Chinese from all walks of life.
Liu Xiaobo, a literary critic suspected of helping to organize the charter, was jailed shortly after its release in December and remains in prison. If Ms. Clinton had publicly praised his movement and called for his release, Beijing might have shrugged -- but average Chinese would have taken note. Instead she sent Mr. Liu a message: He can't be allowed to "interfere" with appeals to China to buy more U.S. Treasury bonds or build fewer coal plants. Ms. Clinton's statement won't have the slightest effect on such matters; China will make decisions about coal plants on the merits as it sees them. But Ms. Clinton's statement will have an effect: It will demoralize thousands of democracy advocates in China, and it will cause many others around the world to wonder about the character of the new U.S. administration.
The Darfur Tragedy: Sudan in Crisis - A WASHINGTON POST SPECIAL FEATURE
The Boston Globe, Op-Ed, MERLE GOLDMAN
"Clinton's missed opportunity in China"
By Merle Goldman, February 26, 2009
DURING HER recent trip to China, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did not give much attention to human rights issues. The major focus was on economic policies and global warming. As important as these issues are, China's policies on human rights and its treatment of grassroots political movements could have a greater impact on the United States and international relations than economic or climatic issues.
In December, a group of Chinese citizens launched a movement called Charter 08, which presented a blueprint for fundamental legal and political reforms with the goal of achieving a democratic political system.
Patterned on Vaclev Havel's Charter 77 movement in the former Czechoslovakia, China's Charter 08 criticizes its government for failing to implement human rights provisions to which it had signed onto, such as the United Nations Covenant on Political and Civil Rights, and amendments to China's constitution in 2004 that included the phrase "respect and protect human rights."
Charter 08 points out that "unfortunately most of China's political progress has extended no further than the paper on which it is written." The political reality, Charter 08 states, "is that China has many laws but no rule of law; it has a constitution but no constitutional government." It calls for a political system based on democratic institutions of checks and balances.
What makes Charter 08 different from past protests is that it crosses class lines. Past demonstrations were usually carried out by specific classes focused on particular economic issues, such as peasant protests against confiscation of their land by local officials or worker protests against nonpayment of salaries.
Even during the 1989 demonstrations in Tiananmen Square, students at first linked arms to keep workers and other urbanites from participating, because they knew that the party feared an alliance between intellectuals and workers. When other social classes forced their way into the 1989 protests and the movement spread to other cities and classes, Deng Xiaoping, fearing a threat to the party's rule, ordered the army to suppress the movement.
Charter 08 was initially signed by more than 300 intellectuals. Then, as it circulated on the Internet and elsewhere, Chinese citizens from all walks of life signed their names - entrepreneurs, professionals, local officials, workers, farmers, housewives, and street venders. So did a number of lawyers who defend those accused of political crimes.
Despite the movement's call for human rights reforms, the Chinese Communist Party began arresting signers of Charter 08. More than 8,000 people had managed to sign their names to Charter 08 before the goverment shut down its website in January.
The Charter 08 episode in China reveals widespread dissatisfaction with China's authoritarian market economy, including those who are the supposed beneficiaries of China's political model. Their participation in the Charter 08 movement may be attributed not only to worsening economic conditions in late 2008 because of the increasing closure of China's export industries due to slackening demand for Chinese consumer goods in the West, but also questioning of the political system on which the Chinese Communist Party has based its legitimacy. Despite the crackdown, Charter 08 represents a multi-class movement for political change in China that is likely to continue.
Such a movement needs the support of the international community. The worldwide outcry over the crackdown on the Charter 77 movement in Czechoslavakia marked the beginning of the unraveling of the Communist system in Eastern Europe. Clinton's recent visit to China would have been the appropriate venue for criticism of China's suppression of Charter 08.
Demands for political change in China will continue. The Obama administration should give more attention to human rights issues in China and support those who advocate peaceful political reforms. Clinton's trip to China was a missed opportunity.
Merle Goldman is Emerita Professor of History at Boston University and an associate of the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard. Her most recent book is "From Comrade to Citizen: The Struggle for Political Rights in China."
A BOSTON GLOBE EDITORIAL
"[Hillary] Clinton's stumbling start"
February 27, 2009
SECRETARY of State Hillary Clinton did well to make her first trip abroad last week to Japan, Indonesia, South Korea, and China - nations vital to global security and prosperity. But [Hillary] Clinton made disturbing remarks about human rights in China, Tibet, and Burma.
She gave the impression that the Obama administration is preparing to downgrade human rights and freedom of expression in American foreign policy. She also made it seem she is unaware of the delicate balance the nation's top diplomat needs to strike between idealism and Realpolitik.
Clinton's most obvious misstep was to muse in public about a failure of both sanctions and engagement to modify the dictatorial behavior of the junta that rules Burma. The analysis may be accurate. Yet Clinton's job demands an acute awareness of the implications of her public words. She seemed oblivious to the European Union's commitment to a sanctions policy and unaware that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations is sensitive about having Burma's pariah regime in its midst. She also seemed forgetful of President Obama's comparison of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to Nelson Mandela.
Clinton made another kind of gaffe when she said pressing China on human rights "can't interfere with the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis, and the security crisis." Even if these were her priorities in talks behind closed doors with Chinese officials, her comment sent the wrong message to those officials, to Tibetans and Chinese democrats, and to human rights defenders in China.
Worse yet, Clinton justified her intent to soft-pedal human rights by saying, "We know what they're going to say, because I've had those conversations for more than a decade with Chinese leaders." This remark betrays two stunning assumptions: that American protests about human rights abuses have no effect on Chinese authorities, and that US-Chinese cooperation is possible only if the United States kowtows to Beijing's insistence on what it calls non-interference in its domestic affairs.
This year, China confronts two telling anniversaries - of the 1959 invasion of Tibet by the People's Liberation Army and of the murderous suppression of the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy movement. Communist Party bosses are all the more anxious about those memories because they coincide with protests at factory closings and revolts against corruption.
In short, Chinese leaders are more vulnerable than ever to an argument that free speech and a free press are the safest remedies for the ills that beset China's autocratic system. The US secretary of state must never downplay those human rights.
"International Court issues arrest warrant for Sudanese president"
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (CNN) -- The International Criminal Court at the Hague issued an arrest warrant Wednesday for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for a five-year campaign of violence in Darfur.
It is the first arrest warrant ever issued for a sitting head of state by the world's only permanent war crimes tribunal.
Bashir is charged with seven counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes. The warrant does not mention genocide, but the court may issue an amended warrant to include that charge later, ICC spokeswoman Laurence Blairon said.
But Sudan's minister of information and communications said the country does not plan to cooperate with the "white man's tribunal."
Kamal Obaid said: "Sudan perceives those decisions as an insult directed at (Sudan's) nationalism and sovereignty ... The government relies on the strong will of the people and on a national consensus not seen before and (stands) by decisions taken by its council of ministers and parliament and restates what it always confirmed."
Speaking on Sudanese TV, he added: "The Security Council and international community must bear full responsibility toward any escalation produced by those clumsy decisions."
Five of the counts against Bashir are for crimes against humanity and include murder, extermination, forcible transfer, torture, and rape, Blairon said. The other two are for war crimes, for intentionally directing attacks against civilians and for pillaging.
"Bashir's official capacity as head of state does not exclude criminal responsibility or get him immunity," Blairon said in announcing the warrant.
The ICC's chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, filed genocide charges against al-Bashir in July last year, accusing him of masterminding attempts to wipe out African tribes in the war-torn region with a campaign of murder, rape and deportation. Watch more on the verdict »
The violence in Darfur erupted in 2003 after rebels began an uprising against the Sudanese government. To counter the rebels, Sudanese authorities armed and cooperated with Arab militias that went from village to village in Darfur, killing, torturing and raping residents there, according to the United Nations, Western governments and human rights organizations. A man describes how he was told to rape children »
The militias targeted civilian members of tribes from which the rebels drew strength.
Moreno-Ocampo told CNN's Nic Robertson last year that he had "strong evidence that al-Bashir is committing a genocide." But Blairon said the evidence submitted to judges so far doesn't support that charge. Watch Christiane Amanpour's reaction to the verdict »
"In order to speak about a genocide, you need to have a clear intent that a person wishes to destroy, in part or as a whole, a targeted group, a specific group," Blairon said. "In this specific case, the (judges of the) Pre-Trial Chamber 1 has not been able to find that there were reasonable grounds to establish the genocidal intent."
Prosecutors may still return to the chamber if new evidence of genocide emerges, and the court may then decide to issue an amended warrant, she said.
Moreno-Ocampo said Wednesday he would have to review the court's decision not to include genocide in the arrest warrant, but he pointed out it is possible to appeal.
Al-Bashir bears responsibility for the crimes committed in Darfur, Moreno-Ocampo said last year, because he sat at the apex of the government.
"For such crimes to be committed over a period of five years and throughout Darfur, al-Bashir had to mobilize and keep mobilized the whole state apparatus; he had to control and direct perpetrators; and he had to rely on a genocidal plan," Moreno-Ocampo wrote as background for arrest warrant request.
The Sudanese government has long rejected the authority of the ICC, saying Sudan is not a signatory to the court's creation so there is no legal obligation to turn al-Bashir over to the court. Sudan: 'Process is unlawful' »
U.S. State Department spokesman Gordon Duguid issued a statement on the arrest warrant, saying "the United States is strongly committed to the pursuit of peace in Sudan and believes those who have committed atrocities should be held accountable for their crimes."
The statement urged all groups "to exercise restraint in responding to this development and to ensure the safety and security of vulnerable Sudanese populations, international civilians, and peacekeepers on the ground."
Germany and the UK both urged Sudan to cooperate with the ICC.
"We deeply regret that the government has not taken these allegations seriously or engaged with the court, and we repeat today our call for its cooperation," British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said.
The ICC said the obligation to surrender al-Bashir falls on all countries that are also members of the U.N. Security Council and to "any other state as may be necessary." And the judges have ruled that additional arrest warrants may be issued for Al-Bashir and served on any state as required, said court registrar Silvana Arbia.
Al-Bashir is scheduled to attend an Arab summit in Doha, Qatar, later this month. Moreno-Ocampo said Wednesday that al-Bashir stands the chance of being arrested should he travel.
"The judges were clear: There is no immunity for head of states before the ICC," the prosecutor said. "As soon as Omar al-Bashir travels through international air space, he can be arrested."
"Omar al-Bashir's destiny is to face justice," he added. "It will be two months or in two years, but he will face justice."
About 300,000 people have died in Darfur, the United Nations estimates, and 2.5 million have been forced from their homes.
"His victims are the very civilians that he, as a president, was supposed to protect," Moreno-Ocampo said.
CNN's Nic Robertson contributed to this report.
Find this article at:
. Sudan says it will not cooperate with International Criminal Court
. ICC charged Sudan president Omar Hassan al-Bashir with Darfur war crimes
. It is first the first arrest warrant ever issued for a sitting head of state
. About 300,000 have died in Darfur, U.N. says; 2.5 million forced from homes
All About: Sudan • Genocide • Darfur • International Criminal Court
"Make the commitment to peace"
The Berkshire Eagle, Letters, Friday, March 13, 2009
In January of this year, as part of an outreach ministry project at First Church of Christ, I began serving hot chocolate to the peace vigilers on Thursday evenings in Park Square. Some of our members were impressed with the level of commitment of this peace group which leads them to be visible public supporters of peace on a weekly basis.
Among the several things I have learned from this experience are: This group has been holding its weekly vigil non-stop for seven years. They provide a biweekly movie night, showing films around issues of peace, justice and world ecology. They hold a circle at the end of each vigil where they meditate and lift up all soldiers and their families; all civilians who have been killed, injured or displaced due to war and political unrest, especially the children; all those who are marginalized or who suffer prejudice in the world; all those imprisoned and their families; all women who suffer from brutality and sexual abuse worldwide; among many others.
The peace group has been very appreciative of our hot chocolate ministry and our willingness to stand with them on some incredibly cold and nasty winter evenings. What we have received in return has been a valuable experience.
As a citizen, mother and fellow human being, I know in my heart that war is wrong and peace is essential for life to flourish on our planet. I have begun to realize that there are ways as individuals that we can take a stand on issues that affect the future of our children and the world. I have two suggestions for people who feel similarly to try. One is to join the peace vigil on Park Square any Thursday from 5 to 6 p.m. and hold a sign if you are so inclined. See what the experience says to you. The other is to visit your church, synagogue or mosque and listen for the voice of God. That voice will point you in the direction of peace, justice and love for all creation.
Wouldn't it be great to see a hundred or more people taking an hour out of their week to gather together publicly and meditate on peace?
MERRILYN J. WOJTKOWSKI
Displaced Sudanese women wait to consult a doctor at the maternity department of an International Commitee of the Red Cross clinic in Abu Shouk IDP camp in Al Fasher, northern Darfur, March 16, 2009. (REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra)
"NGO expelled from Darfur considered ICC cooperation"
By Louis Charbonneau, March 16, 2009
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - A humanitarian aid group expelled by Sudan said on Monday it had considered cooperating with the International Criminal Court investigation of crimes in Darfur but promptly dismissed the idea.
The International Rescue Committee is one of 13 foreign humanitarian non-governmental organizations that were expelled by Sudan's government for allegedly cooperating with the court in its investigation of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.
Since 2003 the United Nations has been using NGOs as part of a massive humanitarian aid effort it oversees for internally displaced persons in Sudan's conflict-torn western Darfur region. It provides food and other aid for some 4.7 million people and says its operations are neutral and impartial.
U.N. humanitarian affairs chief John Holmes told reporters on Monday that NGOs had to decide for themselves whether or not to cooperate with the ICC. But he said the world body encouraged aid groups to follow the U.N. example and subscribe to principles of "neutrality, independence and impartiality."
The NGOs say that they have refused to assist the ICC because it would undermine their humanitarian goals.
Earlier this month the Hague-based ICC issued an arrest warrant for Bashir after its judges indicted him on seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Sudan's U.N. Ambassador Abdalmahmoud Abdalhaleem singled out the New York-based IRC, established in 1933 at the suggestion of Albert Einstein to help Germans under the Nazis, as one of the top collaborators with the criminal court.
Not only has the group helped the court's prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo but it signed a "memorandum of understanding" with the ICC to solidify its cooperation, he said.
IRC spokeswoman Melissa Winkler denied the organization had signed any agreement with the Hague court but acknowledged that the organization had weighed a proposal to assist the ICC.
In a July 2005 internal memorandum, seen by Reuters, an IRC protection programs coordinator named Joseph Aguettant, who later headed IRC operations in Chad, wrote to IRC management outlining guidelines for cooperating with the court.
He said cooperation could be justified because the ICC's work would help Sudan's people and bring criminals to justice.
"The draft document was reviewed by IRC senior management and rejected as IRC policy," Winkler said. "The policy that was later adopted specifically directs IRC staff members not to communicate in any way with the ICC and not to support ICC investigations."
In a later email, Winkler played down the review of the unsolicited proposal, saying the group's management never seriously entertained cooperation with the ICC. They read the memo "and immediately rejected its suggestions," Winkler said.
Sudan got the memo and "has inappropriately used excerpts of it as a basis for accusing the IRC of providing information to the ICC," she said. "The claim is baseless and false."
Other well-known NGOs expelled from Darfur include the French aid organization Medicins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), Britain's Oxfam and U.S.-based CARE.
Accusations against them by Sudan's U.N. envoy Abdalhaleem ranged from assisting the ICC investigation to "first-class espionage." He declined to specify charges against the NGOs and has declined to produce evidence he says he has against them.
Like the IRC, the other groups denied straying from a purely humanitarian mandate in distributing aid in Darfur.
The U.N. has said expulsion of the NGOs would cripple aid activities in Darfur. Bashir said on Monday that he wants all foreign aid groups to halt activities in Sudan within a year.
(Editing by Eric Walsh)
The Boston Globe - Op-Ed: JODY WILLIAMS
"Ban land mines and cluster bombs"
By Jody Williams, April 13, 2009
PRESIDENT OBAMA is demonstrating that his willingness to tackle the horrors of nuclear weapons has teeth. He and President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia announced earlier this month new talks on a treaty to replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty that expires in December. Negotiations will include permanent reductions of their nuclear arsenals beyond any previously agreed upon numbers.
In addition, Obama has put Vice President Joe Biden in charge of the effort for the ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty by the Senate. Russia has already ratified that important nuclear treaty.
For this bold leadership - especially coming on the heels of an administration for whom international treaties were an anathema - the president must be applauded. Some of us actively involved in arms control, disarmament, and international humanitarian law also believe that Obama can take further steps to underscore his commitment to a multilateral approach to arms control and disarmament.
The most obvious would be joining both the Mine Ban Treaty and the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The United States did not play a fundamental leadership role in the process that resulted in the Mine Ban Treaty and walked out of the final treaty negotiations. Ten years later the country stood outside the process - officially at least - that created the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
The international instruments banning land mines and cluster bombs are hybrids of disarmament and international humanitarian law - the laws of war. Each bans an entire class of weapons. Each rests on fundamental principles of the laws of war about the illegality of indiscriminate weapons and that the "means and methods" of warfare must not have an effect on civilian populations disproportionate to their immediate military gain.
This year is the 10th anniversary of the international treaty banning antipersonnel land mines. The treaty has been called a "gift to the world." Today 156 nations - 80 percent of the governments in the world - are party to it. Its implementation and compliance has been remarkable - again a tribute to government-civil society partnership and cooperation. A similar model of "new diplomacy," closely following the template of the Mine Ban Treaty, negotiated a treaty banning cluster munitions in Dublin in May. In December, it was signed in Oslo 94 nations; now it stands at 96.
Obama could show important leadership in joining both treaties; Russia hasn't joined the treaties either. Why move so boldly on nuclear weapons issues without also eliminating these other weapons that violate the same principles of international law?
Tackling the Mine Ban Treaty first should be easy. The United States has been in virtual compliance with the treaty since long before it entered into force. We have not used antipersonnel land mines since 1991 - the first Gulf War. We stopped their export in late 1992. No production has taken place since the mid-1990s and the US military has forsworn their future production. Some 3 million stockpiled land mines have already been destroyed. Even the argument that we "need them for Korea" holds little weight, since the mines in the DMZ belong to South Korea. Given the above, it would seem that joining the Mine Ban Treaty is essentially all benefit at very little cost.
While the United States does not have the same record on the (non)use of cluster munitions that it has on antipersonnel land mines, that is not a reason for the president to avoid signing the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Obama made a good first step last month when he signed a law permanently banning nearly all cluster bomb exports from the United States. Some of our closest military allies have already signed the cluster convention, including Germany, Japan, France, and the United Kingdom.
During the invasion of Baghdad, some US commanders refused to use the weapon, recognizing it both as a violation of the laws of war and a weapon that would threaten their own troops as they rapidly advanced through areas already littered with the weapon by cluster munitions strikes.
Reconciling the needs and desires of the military with achieving and advancing larger policy goals is no easy matter. But if Obama is as determined as he says to take on the huge issue of eliminating nuclear weapons, surely he can get rid of land mines and cluster bombs now. These weapons - often described as weapons of mass destruction in slow motion - are reviled by tens of millions around the world. The majority of the countries in the world have already banned them. Surely, it is more than time for the United States to join their ranks.
Jody Williams served as founding coordinator of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, with which she shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997. She is chairwoman of the Nobel Women's Initiative.
President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the former Nazi concentration camp at Buchenwald yesterday (6/5/2009) with Bertrand Herz (left) and Nobel Peace laureate Elie Wiesel, both of whom were imprisoned at Buchenwald. (Jens-Ulrich Koch/AFP/Getty Images)
"At Buchenwald, Obama urges stand against evil: He challenges those who deny the Holocaust"
By Scott Wilson and Debbi Wilgoren, Washington Post, June 6, 2009
BUCHENWALD, Germany - President Obama drew on the grim backdrop of a Nazi prison camp and the moral authority of Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel yesterday to denounce "the spread of evil" based on ethnic hatred, and called on both Israelis and Palestinians to make "difficult compromises" to achieve a lasting peace.
Walking among barbed wire fences and foreboding watchtowers a day after his call for a new relationship between the United States and the Muslim world, Obama turned his attention to a dark and disturbing chapter of European history: the extermination of 6 million Jews.
Obama, whose great-uncle was part of an Army unit that help liberate one of Buchenwald's sub-camps, toured the site with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Wiesel, who was imprisoned at Buchenwald as a teenager and painfully recalled lying in a triple-decker bunk one night as his father died of starvation and disease few feet away.
"He called my name, and I was too afraid to move. All of us were," said Wiesel, now 80. "And when he died, I was there, but I was not there."
After laying white roses along with the president at two memorials, Wiesel questioned how a world that has borne witness to such destruction can continue to perpetuate it.
"Had the world learned, there would have been no Cambodia and no Rwanda and no Darfur and no Bosnia," Wiesel said. "Enough going to cemeteries, enough weeping for orphans. It's enough. There must come a moment - a moment of bringing people together."
During his remarks on Islam on Thursday in Cairo, Obama called the Holocaust part of "a tragic history that cannot be denied" and a reminder of the importance of the modern state of Israel.
He said those who would question the enormous loss of Jewish life at Nazi hands - an implicit reference to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a frequent Holocaust denier - are obstacles to Middle East peace.
But yesterday Obama immersed himself more deeply in the emotional and symbolic aspects of what in Hebrew is called the Shoah.
He greeted survivors of the camp as well as the German volunteers who maintain it as a memorial site, saw the ovens of the crematorium, and examined the foundation stones of the barracks where tens of thousands were held in what Obama described as "the most unimaginable conditions."
"More than half a century later, our grief and our outrage about what happened have not diminished," Obama said. "This place teaches us that we must be ever-vigilant about the spread of evil in our own times."
Again appearing to refer to Ahmadinejad without using his name, Obama described how then-Army commander Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered the horror of the Nazi camps to be fully documented so that no one would ever be able to forget what unfolded there.
"We know this work is not yet finished," Obama said. "To this day, there are those who insist that the Holocaust never happened - a denial of fact and truth that is baseless and ignorant and hateful. This place is the ultimate rebuke to such thoughts, a reminder of our duty to confront those who would tell lies about our history."
In addition to Merkel and Wiesel, the president was accompanied at Buchenwald by Bertrand Herz, another aging former camp inmate who heads the international committee of Buchenwald survivors. After the president left the camp, he headed for an Army hospital where he was to visit with US soldiers.
Earlier in the day, Obama and Merkel held private talks in Dresden, a city destroyed by Allied bombing in World War II.
Obama's stop here begins two days of commemoration of the 65th anniversary of the Allied landing at Normandy, France, where he will travel to today.
A BOSTON GLOBE EDITORIAL
"Disillusioned in Burma"
July 10, 2009
TRUE TO form, Burma’s military dictator, General Than Shwe, showed only disdain when UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visited that tortured land last weekend. Than Shwe and the other four generals in the ruling junta denied Ban’s requests for a democratic evolution. To his credit, Ban spoke out afterward, asking, “How much longer can Burma afford to wait for national reconciliation, democratic transition and full respect for human rights?’’
Now that he has seen experienced the junta leader’s inflexibility firsthand, Ban must confront the question: What can the world body do to help liberate the people of Burma? The narco-trafficking regime there has forced people into labor, used systematic rape as a weapon of war, and conducted brutal army offenses that uprooted hundreds of thousands of people from minority ethnic groups.
Ban had the right idea. Upon arriving in Burma, he planned to ask for the release of Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and 2,100 other political prisoners. He would call for reconciliation with Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, landslide winners of Burma’s last free election in 1990, a mandate the junta never honored. Ban also wanted to foster humanitarian aid and economic development.
But after Than Shwe refused to cede to any of these requests, Ban got the message. “Neither peace nor development can thrive without democracy and respect for human rights,’’ he told diplomats and aid agencies.
Ban is mistaken, however, if he thinks that proper monitoring will legitimize an election scheduled for 2010 - an exercise rigged to perpetuate military rule with a civilian patina. Burmese democratic activist Win Tin has observed that the true barrier to democracy in Burma is not the mechanics of next year’s balloting but the junta’s “unjust constitution.’’ That document bars Suu Kyi from participating, reserves 25 percent of seats in Parliament for the military, and practically guarantees the generals and their cronies an overwhelming majority.
If Ban really wants to help the people of Burma, he should side with the 55 members of the US Congress who recently signed a letter to President Obama urging him “to take the lead in establishing a United Nations Security Council Commission of Inquiry into the Burmese military regime’s crimes against humanity and war crimes against its civilian population.’’ Such commissions were instituted for Rwanda and Darfur. Nothing less is needed if the UN, that would-be parliament of nations, is to fulfill its commitment to protect the peoples of the world from criminal rulers.
Just days after the kidnapping and murder of prominent human rights activist Natalya Estemirova, another civil rights activist in Russia has been buried after being found dead. The body of Andrei Kulagin, head of Spravedlivost ('Justice'), was discovered in a quarry on July 10, roughly 600 miles north of Moscow. (AP Photo)
"Another Human Rights Activist Dead in Russia: Andrei Kulagin Buried Days After the Killing of Natalya Estemirova"
By ALEXANDER MARQUARDT and JOEL STONINGTON, ABCNews.com - July 24, 2009
Just days after the kidnapping and murder of prominent human rights activist Natalya Estemirova, another civil rights activist in Russia has been buried after being found dead. The body of Andrei Kulagin, head of Spravedlivost ('Justice'), was discovered in a quarry on July 10, roughly 600 miles north of Moscow.
Although Kulagin's body was discovered two weeks ago near Petrozavodsk, capital of the Karelia region, his family didn't want his death publicized until after the funeral last weekend, according to radio station Ekho Moskvy.
His death, known now, is the latest in a string of attacks and murders on activists, journalists and lawyers seeking to expose wrongdoing and win human rights in Russia. Estemirova was murdered last week in Ingushetia after she was kidnapped from her home in Grozny.
"It's another illustration of the continuing of lawlessness in the Russian Federation," said Thomas O. Melia, Deputy Executive Director of the civil rights advocacy group Freedom House. "Local human rights activists trying to document or lobby for changes are somehow considered second-class citizens and fair game for thugs."
Spravedlivost's director, Andrei Stolbunov, told Interfax there is no doubt that Kulagin was murdered but, as of now, there is no indication of how he died.
The website of Spravedlivost stated that a second member of the organization, Andrey Karasev, was assaulted. Nothing was stolen and Spravedlivost concluded that it was another attack in what was referred to as the "silent war," in which activists are frequently threatened and assaulted.
Stolbunov wrote on the organization's website that Kulagin was last seen leaving his home late on May 14 after receiving a phone call, and the taxi driver who drove him to a local café was the last person to see him. Stolbunov speculates that Kulagin knew the person who called him.
Human Rights Activists in Russia
Local authorities told Interfax that they don't have any information about his work as an activist but they claim to have him connected with several cases of hooliganism. Little personal information about Kulagin was listed on Spravedlivost's website, such as age or hometown, though it did state he had a wife and daughter.
There have been numerous slayings of Russians working on civil rights and human rights in the past few years. Prominent deaths prior to Estemirova's include human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov, who was killed in Moscow in January and Anna Politkovskaya, a journalist, who was killed in 2006.
Rights activists and international rights organizations have called on Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to set up an independent investigation committee to look into Estemirova's murder. Preliminary hearings in the retrial of Anna Politkovskaya's murderers are set to begin Aug. 5, according to her family's lawyer.
Joel Stonington is a 2009 Carnegie Fellow with the Brian Ross Unit and recently graduated from Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism.
"Redefining human rights"
The Washington Post, Editorial, Sunday, December 27, 2009; A22
THE OBAMA administration's commitment to the traditional American cause of promoting democracy and human rights has been widely questioned, and not without reason. So some rights advocates were pleased by an address that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered at Georgetown University, in which she laid out "the Obama administration's human rights agenda for the 21st century." We're not so happy.
Ms. Clinton said that the administration, "like others before us, will promote, support and defend democracy." She pledged that it would publicly denounce abuses by other governments and support dissidents and civil society groups. While saying that "principled pragmatism" would govern human rights discussions with "key countries like China and Russia," Ms. Clinton went on to spell out specific U.S. concerns with those nations, including Beijing's persecution of peaceful reformers and the murders of journalists in Russia.
As Ms. Clinton herself suggested, such pledges have been the common currency of American governments. But she did not limit herself to past principles. She offered an innovation: The Obama administration, she said, would "see human rights in a broad context," in which "oppression of want -- want of food, want of health, want of education, and want of equality in law and in fact" -- would be addressed alongside the oppression of tyranny and torture. "That is why," Ms. Clinton said, "the cornerstones of our 21st-century human rights agenda" would be "supporting democracy" and "fostering development."
This is indeed an important change in U.S. human rights policy -- but the idea behind it is pure 20th century. Ms. Clinton's lumping of economic and social "rights" with political and personal freedom was a standard doctrine of the Soviet Bloc, which used to argue at every East-West conference that human rights in Czechoslovakia were superior to those in the United States, because one provided government health care that the other lacked. In fact, as U.S. diplomats used to tirelessly respond, rights of liberty -- for free expression and religion, for example -- are unique in that they are both natural and universal; they will exist so long as governments do not suppress them. Health care, shelter and education are desirable social services, but they depend on resources that governments may or may not possess. These are fundamentally different goods, and one cannot substitute for another.
Ms. Clinton said that in adding "human development" to human rights and democracy, "we have to tackle all three simultaneously." But there are two dangers in her approach. One is that non-democratic regimes will seize on the economic aspect of her policy as an substitute for political reform -- as dictators have been doing for decades. Another is that the Obama administration will itself, in working with friendly but unfree countries, choose the easy route of focusing on development, while downplaying democracy.
Judging from Ms. Clinton's own rhetoric, that is the approach the State Department is headed toward in the Arab Middle East. In a major speech last month in Morocco, she said that U.S. engagement with Islamic countries would henceforth focus on education, science and technology, and "entrepreneurship" -- all foundations of "development." She made no mention of democracy. If the Obama administration believes that liberty is urgently needed in the homelands of al-Qaeda, Ms. Clinton still has offered no sign of it.
"Truman grandson visits Hiroshima A-bomb memorial"
By MARI YAMAGUCHI | Associated Press – August 4, 2012
TOKYO (AP) — A grandson of ex-U.S. President Harry Truman, who ordered the atomic bombings of Japan during World War II, is in Hiroshima to attend a memorial service for the victims.
Clifton Truman Daniel visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park on Saturday and laid a wreath for the 140,000 people killed by the Aug. 6, 1945, bombing authorized by his grandfather. Another atomic blast in Nagasaki three days later killed 70,000 more.
"I think this cenotaph says it all — to honor the dead to not forget and to make sure that we never let this happen again," Daniel said after offering a silent prayer.
Daniel, 55, is in Japan to attend ceremonies next week in Hiroshima and Nagasaki marking the 67th anniversary of the bombings. His visit, the first by a member of the Truman family, is sponsored by the peace group Sadako Legacy, named after Sadako Sasaki, an A-bomb victim who died of leukemia at age 12. While in the hospital, Sadako folded hundreds of paper cranes after hearing a legend that people who make 1,000 origami cranes can be granted a wish. Origami cranes have since become a symbol of peace.
Daniel, a former journalist, met Sadako's 71-year-old brother, Masahiro Sasaki, who survived the bombing, at a peace event in New York in 2010. They agreed to work together to deepen understanding between the two countries, which are still divided over the question of the legitimacy of the atomic attacks.
"There are other opinions, there are other points of view, and I don't think we ever finish talking about that," Daniel said after visiting a museum at the memorial. "The important thing is to keep talking, to talk about all of it."
Daniel said in a statement that he decided to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki because he needed to know the consequences of his grandfather's decision as part of his own efforts to help achieve a nuclear-free world. He said he hoped to hear stories from survivors about how they overcame their adversity.
Daniel also is to meet with the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and participate in discussions with students.
Susumu Miura, a 78-year-old Hiroshima native, wrote in the newspaper Tokyo Shimbun that he was enraged when he learned that many Americans still support the decision to drop the atomic bombs.
"But when I heard on the news that former President Truman's grandson is visiting Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I felt as if I lost some weight from my chest," Miura wrote in an op-ed article.
The peace group also invited the grandson of a radar operator who was on both of the planes that dropped the atomic bombs.
Ari Beser's grandfather, Jacob Beser, was only person who directly took part in both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings.
"I hope we can bring a true reconciliation to atomic bombing survivors, many of them still caught in animosity toward the United States, as well as other survivors of war and their families, and help instill a strong sense of peace among young people," Sasaki said in a statement.
The U.S. government sent a representative — the American ambassador — to the annual commemoration of the atomic bombings for the first time two years ago. Ambassador John Roos also is to attend the Hiroshima ceremony on Monday.
A picture released in 1959 shows a portrait of Anne Frank who is said to have died of typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp at least a month earlier than her official date of death.
"Anne Frank died earlier than thought, new study says"
AFP, March 31, 2015
The Hague (AFP) - Jewish teenager Anne Frank died in a Nazi concentration camp at least a month earlier than her official date of death, a new study said on Tuesday.
"New research... has shed fresh light on the last days of Anne Frank and her sister Margot," the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam said on Tuesday, until now her official death date.
"Their deaths must have occurred in February 1945," the foundation said in a statement.
The deaths of Anne Frank and her younger sister Margot in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in northern Germany were noted as between 1-31 March by the Red Cross at the time.
Dutch authorities later set the official date as March 31.
Frank and her family went into hiding in 1942 from the Nazis in a secret annexe at the back of a building owned by her father Otto Frank's company in Amsterdam, two years after German troops occupied the Netherlands.
There Anne penned her dairy -- which became world-famous after the war -- until the family was betrayed in 1944 and sent to Germany.
The new study attempts to trace the sisters' terrible journey, first to Auschwitz-Birkenau in central Poland, then to Bergen-Belsen in November 1944, as the Russian army closed in from the east.
It uses archives from the Red Cross, the International Tracing Service and the Bergen-Belsen Memorial, together with "as many eyewitness testimonies and survivors as possible."
Four survivors reported that Anne and Margot showed symptoms of typhus by late January 1945.
"Most deaths of typhus occur around 12 days after the first symptoms appeared," the new study said, quoting the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment.
"It is therefore unlikely that they survived until the end of March," the Anne Frank House said.
The exact date is unknown but one of the surviving witnesses, Rachel van Amerongen said: "One day they simply weren't there anymore."
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