Investigation Reveals ‘Strong Evidence’ of Genocide against Rohingya

FILE - In this June 13, 2012 file photo, a Rohingya Muslim man who fled Myanmar to Bangladesh to escape religious violence, cries as he pleads from a boat after he and others were intercepted by Bangladeshi border authorities in Taknaf, Bangladesh. She is known as the voice of Myanmar's downtrodden but there is one oppressed group that Aung San Suu Kyi does not want to discuss. For weeks, Suu Kyi has dodged questions on the plight of a Muslim minority known as the Rohingya, prompting rare criticism of the woman whose struggle for democracy and human rights in Myanmar have earned her a Nobel Peace Prize, and adoration worldwide. (AP Photo/Anurup Titu, File)

Rohingya People who fled Myanmar to Bangladesh to escape violence (AP Photo/Anurup Titu)

According to a news article by Al Jazeera of Tuesday the 27th of October, there is ‘strong evidence’ that a genocide against the Rohingya people at the hands of the Myanmar government is, and has been, taking place.

The Lowenstein Clinic of Yale Law School, a clinic that undertakes a wide variety of projects involving students of Yale Law School and which is working on behalf of human rights organisations and individual victims of human rights abuses, spent eight months assessing evidence from Myanmar.

The clinic concluded that it was hard to avoid a conclusion that intent to commit genocide is present, given the scale of the atrocities and the way politicians in Myanmar talk about the Rohingya muslim minority of the country.

Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit and the advocacy group Fortify Rights provided documents and testimonies to the study. According to this evidence, “the government has been triggering communal violence for political gain by inciting anti-Muslim riots, using hate speech to stoke fear among the Myanmarese about Muslims, and offering money to hardline Buddhist groups who threw their support behind the leadership.”

Al Jazeera has also published a new documentary, Genocide Agenda, which consults legal and diplomatic experts on whether the governments campaign amounts to systematic extermination. Continue reading

Srebrenica Families Sue the Netherlands Before the ECHR

Srebrenica MassacreThe families of three Bosnian Muslims filed a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) against the Netherlands for failing to investigate whether its peacekeeping commanders in Srebrenica allowed Bosniaks to be killed.

The move came after a Dutch appeals court ruled in April that Dutch Battalion (“Dutchbat”) commander Thom Karremans, his deputy Rob Franken and personnel officer Berend Oosterveen should not be prosecuted.

The appeal was brought by Hasan Nuhanovic, a Srebrenica survivor and former translator for the UN peacekeepers, and the family of Rizo Mustafic, who was killed by Bosnian Serb forces.

The three former UN Dutchbat commanders led the Dutch soldiers during the fall of the Muslim enclave. About 8,000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered and buried in mass graves in mid-July 1995 at Srebrenica by Serb forces commanded by Ratko Mladic, now on trial for genocide and war crimes before the Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

When the Bosnian Serb Army overran Srebrenica, Nuhanovic’s relatives and Mustafic, along with several hundred others, sought refuge inside the Dutch peacekeepers’ base in Potocari.

Instead of finding safety however, they were handed to the Serbs by Dutch soldiers and subsequently killed.

Nuhanovic’s lawyer, Liesbeth Zegveld, said that she was optimistic about the case because the Dutch authorities should have at least brought the case before a criminal court, instead of just briefly dealing with it through a military prosecution.

“We think it is clear the Dutch authorities should have opened a criminal investigation and not just read historical records. The military prosecution said they read the historical records and found the three commanders were not criminally complicit. This was not at all for them to decide,” said Zegveld.

ECHR: Turkish Politician Had Right to Deny Armenian Genocide

Dogu Perinçek

Doğu Perinçek

Yesterday, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) delivered its judgment in the case of Perinçek v Switzerland. The Grand Chamber held by majority that there had been a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

Mr Doğu Perinçek, a Turkish politician, had been convicted in Switzerland for publicly expressing the view that the mass deportations and massacres suffered by the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in 1915 and the following years had not amounted to genocide. At a press conference in Switzerland in May 2005, he stated that the allegations of the ‘Armenian genocide’ were an international lie. In two further public events in Switzerland he made further statements of a similar nature.

Mr Perinçek was finally convicted by the Swiss Federal Court on 12 December 2007. He lodged an application to the ECtHR to complain about his criminal conviction in June 2008. In a judgment of 17 December 2013, a Chamber of the Court held that there had been a violation of Article 10 of the Convention. The Swiss Government requested the case to be referred to the Grand Chamber. In the Grand Chamber proceedings, third-party comments were received from the Turkish Government, the Armenian Government, and the French Government.

The Court concluded that it had not been necessary, in a democratic society, to subject Mr Perinçek to a criminal penalty in order to protect the rights of the Armenian community at stake in the case. According to an official press statement of the Court, the Grand Chamber particularly took into account the following elements: Continue reading

Serbia Charges Eight Men over Srebrenica Massacre

Srebrenica MassacreProsecutors in Serbia have charged eight people over the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

The men charged today belonged to a special Bosnian-Serb police unit that was operating in the eastern village of Kravica when the killings took place.

According to the prosecutors, they herded the mainly Muslim victims into a warehouse where they were killed with machine guns and grenades in an assault that lasted all night.

Those charged included the unit’s commander, Nedeljko Milidragovic, also known as Nedjo the Butcher, who was accused of giving the order for the killings and saying that “nobody should get out alive”.

Nedeljko Milidragovic was already facing genocide charges in Bosnia but has been able to live freely in Serbia because of the lack of an extradition treaty. However, the situation has changed in March when he and the seven other suspects were arrested as a result of co-operation between the war crimes court in Belgrade and its counterpart in Sarajevo.

The eight men could face a maximum sentence of 20 years.

Russia Vetoes UN Resolution to Call Srebrenica Massacre as ‘Genocide’

Srebrenica MassacreRussia has vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution that would have described the Srebrenica massacre as “genocide”.

Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said adopting it “would be counter-productive, would lead to greater tension in the region”.

Four members of the Security Council abstained while the remainder voted in favour.

The motion had angered Serbia, which rejects the term. Serbia does not have a seat on the Security Council, and had asked ally Russia to block the resolution.

The Serbian President, Tomislav Nikolic, called it a “great day” for his country.

The resolution had been drafted to mark the 20th anniversary of the atrocity, which came amid the bloody break-up of Yugoslavia into independent states.

During the Bosnian War, which saw Serbia-backed Bosnian Serb forces fighting the Muslim-led Bosnian government, thousands seeking shelter at what was supposed to be a UN refuge were slaughtered.

The resolution said that “acceptance of the tragic events at Srebrenica as genocide is a prerequisite for reconciliation”.

Ambassador Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations criticized Russia’s veto, qualifying Russia’s veto as heart-breaking for the families and saying that “it is a further stain on this council’s record.” She argued amongst other things that the crime of genocide is “the crime that the United Nations Genocide Convention was written and ratified to prevent and punish. The crime of genocide in Srebrenica is what the genocide convention — which all of us have ratified — exists to prevent and punish. Reconciliation cannot be built by burying the dark parts of one’s history, however unsettling they may be.”

The Ambassador also highlighted the numerous testimonies which took place before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), describing the atrocities and leading the Yugoslavia Tribunal to convict numerous people of genocide in relation to the Srebrenica killings.

Twenty Years Since Srebrenica: No Reconciliation, We’re Still At War

by Refik Hodzic*

Image: TOPSHOTS-BOSNIA-WAR-SREBRENICA-ANNIVERSARYRight now, people in the Balkan region are still living a war, this time for the ‘truth’ about ethnic superiority that will shape the attitudes of future generations.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is about to mark the twentieth anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide – a somber moment of remembrance, seen by many as an opportunity to promote the notion of reconciliation between the country’s ethnic groups. The United Kingdom seems to be the leading proponent of such an approach, with a draft resolution commemorating Srebrenica already circulating among the Security Council members and the ‘interested states,’ primarily Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia.

However, a brief glance at the public discourse around the anniversary paints a very different picture, one of no political agenda for reconciliation, of no social project aimed at overcoming the legacy of the conflict from the ‘90s, of a continuing struggle for ethnic dominance. Indeed, can we constructively talk about reconciliation in a country still gripped by war?

It is not a war for territory anymore, with the cannons having fallen silent 20 years ago with the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords, but it is a war nonetheless. A war fought by ‘other means,’ a vicious fight for the dominant narrative of the past, for the ‘truth’ as the foundation of political projects largely rooted in wartime goals of ethnic separation and dominance. This war is mainly fought out in political arenas, but also in the media, in classrooms, churches and mosques, at family dinner tables, and its consequences are bound to have a lasting impact on the region’s stability. Continue reading

Rwanda’s Intelligence Chief Arrested under European Arrest Warrant

General Karake ©Getty Images

General Karake ©Getty Images

General Karenzi Karake, director general of Rwanda’s National Intelligence and Security Services, was arrested on Saturday, 20 June at Heathrow Airport on the basis of a European Arrest Warrant. The warrant, issued by Spain in 2008, indicts Gen. Krake, along with 39 other current or former high-ranking Rwandan military officials for alleged war crimes committed during the 1994 genocide. At the time, Gen. Karake, who is also a member of Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), was the head of military intelligence.

Rwandan officials reacted after the arrest, Foreign Minister Mushikiwabo calling it “an outrage” and Rwanda’s High Commissioner to the UK “an  insult”. The warrant issued by Spain has been criticized as highly politicised by Rwandan and US diplomats. It questions the responsibility in the killings of the RPF, the Tutsi-led rebel movement that put an end to the killings and seized control of Rwanda in 1994.

General Karake remains on remand ahead of a court hearing on Thursday. He is also accused of ordering the killing of three Spanish nationals working for Medicos del Mundo.

South African Court Grants Order Preventing al-Bashir’s Departure

Omar Al Bashir

Omar Al Bashir

Pretoria High Court Judge Hans Fabricius has granted the Southern African Litigation Centre (SALC) a temporary order to prevent Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir from leaving South Africa until the urgent application to have him arrested has been heard.

The application has been brought by the SALC on behalf of a group of human rights organisations.

Yesterday, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has called on South Africa to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir who is in the country for an African Union (AU) summit.

Omar al-Bashir Bashir is wanted for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide over the conflict in Darfur.

University of Amsterdam: Summer Course on “Hidden Genocides”

uva-logo_enThe Graduate School of Social Sciences of the University of Amsterdam is known for its high academic standards. Its summer programme: “Hidden Genocides: Overshadowed by the Holocaust” is another example of a unique course with esteemed lecturers. Professor Alex Hinton and Professor Devon Hinton both will give a guest lecture in this programme. Academic director Anthony Holslag has managed to line up an impressive group of people presenting in this important course.

The summer course ‘Hidden Genocides’ will exist of lecturers, seminars, international guest lecturers specialised in genocide, analysing documentaries and eye witness accounts, discussions and excursions.

The course will not only look at familiar cases of genocide, like the Holocaust, Rwanda and Srebrenica, but also “hidden” and unknown genocides and the mass atrocities happening right now in South Sudan, Central Africa and Syria/ North Iraq. This course will give you an analytical model to understand and study genocide and measure proper interventions.

This three week programme is intended for students who have completed at least three years of a Bachelor’s programme in the social sciences. Master’s students and professionals are also welcome to apply.

The deadline for application is 15 June 2015. The summer course will be held between 12-31 July 2015.

Canadian Governments and Churches Pursued a Policy of “Cultural Genocide”

March First Nations Canada

Representatives of First Nations peoples took part in a march in Ottawa last Saturday

Canadian governments and churches pursued a policy of “cultural genocide” against the country’s aboriginal people throughout the 20th century, according to an investigation by the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission into a long-suppressed history that saw 150,000 Native, or First Nations, children forcibly removed from their families and incarcerated in residential schools rife with abuse.

From the 19th century until the 1970s, more than 150,000 aboriginal children were forced to attend Christian schools to rid them of their native cultures and integrate them into Canadian society.

Children inducted into residential schools were forbidden from speaking their native languages, subjected to routine physical abuse, inadequate nutrition and neglect. Sexual abuse was common, according to the survivors who testified at commission hearings throughout the country.

More than 3,000 children died and were often buried in unmarked graves without any identification or notice to their parents. Continue reading