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

Auschwitz Bookkeeper Nazi War Crimes Trial

Today started what should be one the final trials for Nazi war crimes in Lueneburg, Germany. Oskar Groening, former guard at Auschwhitz, is facing charges of accessory to the murder of about 300,000 Jews from May to June 1944.

Image:

Mr. Groening leaves the court building after the first day of the trial against him ©Markus Schreiber/AP

Now 93 years old, Mr. Groening was 21 when he arrived in Auschwitz and describes his role as purely executive. Mr. Groening was repsonsible for collecting the belongings of the deportees and counting money confiscated at their arrival. The “bookkeeper” nonetheless admitted his moral guilt, which for him differs from his legal guilt. “If you can describe that as guilt, then I am guilty, but not voluntarily. Legally speaking, I am innocent,” he told Der Spiegel in 2005.

In a documentary to the BBC in 2005, Mr. Groening has decided to come forward and testify about what he witnessed in Auschwitz. His objective, he said, was to fight Holocaust deniers: “I saw the gas chambers. I saw the crematoria.”

Charges were first brought against Mr. Groening in the 1980s, but they had to be dropped because of a lack of evidence. Following more recent jurisprudence, prosecutors now believe Mr. Groening could be convicted just for having worked at the camp. If found guilty, he could face three to 15 years in prison.

2015 International Criminal Court Summer School

Date: 15-19 June 2015

Location: Irish Centre for Human Rights, National University of Ireland, University Rd, Galway, Ireland.

Default_conf_Topstrip

The annual International Criminal Court Summer School at the Irish Centre for Human Rights is the premiere summer school specializing on the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Summer School comprises a series of intensive and interactive lectures over five days given by leading academics and legal professionals working at the ICC. Participants are provided with a detailed working knowledge of the establishment of the Court, its structures, operations, and applicable law. Specific topics covered include international crimes (genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity & aggression), jurisdiction, modes of liability, the role of victims and prosecutorial discretion.

This year’s Summer School will include a special session on Palestine and the International Criminal Court, which will involve the participation of the Palestinian Ambassador to Ireland, Ambassador Ahmad Abdelrazek.

The summer school is attended by legal professionals, academics, postgraduate students, journalists and staff of civil society or intergovernmental organisations. A limited number of scholarships are available. To register and for more information regarding the 2015 ICC Summer School, please visit the conference website or send an email. Registrations will close on 30 May 2015.

The Armenian Genocide Legacy 100 Years On

ArmeniaTHE HAGUE – On 5, 6 and 7 March 2015, 22 experts gathered for a conference at The Hague Institute for Global Justice to look at the legacy of the Armenian Genocide from the perspective of law, humanities, media, arts and letters, politics and education. Speakers focused on the influence that this event and its denial have had on research and practice in their disciplines. This event was organized by Alexis Demirdjian (Centennial Project Foundation), the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies (NIOD) and the University of Southern California Institute of Armenian Studies (USC IAS).

“On the centennial of the Armenian Genocide, organisations and State agencies around the world will acknowledge, reflect and consider its impact and relevance today. Discussions will ignite in academic institutions, classrooms, around dinner tables, in community centres and church halls, in centres of government and in the press. Much of these discussions in the past have focused on the Genocide itself, leaving little space to consider its relevance today. Addressing this issue, therefore, was the contribution of this conference and of the upcoming book to be published by the end of 2015,” said Alexis Demirdjian, an attorney who has many years experience working in the various criminal justice institutions located in the city of The Hague. Continue reading

Event: Hidden Genocides – Summer Course

Date: 12 – 31 July 2015

Venue: Graduate School of Social Sciences, University of Amsterdam

UVA logo

The Twentieth Century was considered, by many scholars who study political violence, “the century of genocide” with the Holocaust as the epitome of industrial and mechanical violence. Yet there were many genocides before and after that.

The question rises “what is genocide”? How does it differ from other forms of collective violence? What triggers genocide? Why are the acts during genocide so gruesome? What is the cultural of genocide? What are the consequences of its legal definition? Why do people perpetuate genocide?

These and more questions will be answered during this course. We will thereby not only look at familiar cases of genocide, like the Holocaust, Rwanda and Srebenica, 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. Continue reading

ICJ Dismisses Croatian and Serbian Genocide Claims

International Court of Justice

The International Court of Justice

Today, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has rejected the claim of Croatia that Serbia committed genocide in Croatia in 1991, as well as the counter-claim by Serbia that the expulsion of more than 200,000 Serbs from Croatia constituted genocide.

Judge Peter Tomka, president of the ICJ, said that although both sides had carried out violent acts during the war, neither side had provided sufficient evidence to demonstrate the specific intent required for acts of genocide.

Both countries relied on the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Genocide Convention) for contending that the other country had committed genocide. The fact that the claims were based only on the Genocide Convention, implied that the Court had no power to rule on alleged breaches of other obligations under international law, not amounting to genocide, particularly those protecting human rights in armed conflict. Continue reading