Commission on Syria: ISIS Committing Genocide Against the Yazidis

The UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic has today released a report establishing that the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) is committing genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes against Yazidis. The report entitled “They Came to Destroy: ISIS Crimes Against the Yazidis” focuses on violations committed against Yazidis inside Syria, where thousands of women and girls are still being held captive and abused, often as slaves.

Yazidi women in a refugee camp, August 2014

Yazidi women in a refugee camp, August 2014

“Genocide has occurred and is ongoing”, emphasised Paulo Pinheiro, Chair of the Commission. “ISIS has subjected every Yazidi woman, child or man that it has captured to the most horrific of atrocities.” ISIS sought – and continues to seek – to destroy the Yazidis in multiple ways, as envisaged by the 1948 Genocide Convention. “ISIS has sought to erase the Yazidis through killings; sexual slavery, enslavement, torture and inhuman and degrading treatment and forcible transfer causing serious bodily and mental harm; the infliction of conditions of life that bring about a slow death; the imposition of measures to prevent Yazidi children from being born, including forced conversion of adults, the separation of Yazidi men and women, and mental trauma; and the transfer of Yazidi children from their own families and placing them with ISIS fighters, thereby cutting them off from beliefs and practices of their own religious community”, the report says. Continue reading

Rwandan Politician Sentenced to Life Imprisonment for Genocide

Léon Mugesera

Léon Mugesera

Last Friday, Léon Mugesera has been sentenced to life imprisonment in Rwanda for inciting his countrymen to commit genocide.

Mugesera was accused of having delivered a fiery speech in Rwanda in 1992 in which he suggested that members of the Tutsi ethnic group should be exterminated. His speech is considered to have been a trigger for the massacre of 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 1994.

Some excerpts from the speech were played repeatedly on Rwandan radio stations, including Radio Mille Collines.

Mugesera was a political adviser to the party of then president Juvenal Habyarimana. He fled Rwanda in 1992 settling with his family in Canada as a refugee and working as a lecturer in linguistics at Laval University.

In 1995, the Canadian government initiated extradition proceedings to send him back to Rwanda, where he was wanted for genocide. Mugesera was extradited in January 2012. His trial began in November 2013 in Kigali.

According to his lawyer, the Canadian government made “a big mistake” in not being more wary of the Rwandan government led by Paul Kagame, claiming that Mugesera did not get a fair trial and was doomed from the start.

“His speech was a very harsh one but it was not an incitement to murder or genocide or hatred,” his lawyer said. He added that Mugesera is a “great democrat” who could have become president of Rwanda.

ICTY: Karadžić Convicted to 40 years in Historic Verdict

Radovan KaradzicRadovan Karadžić, the war-time President of Republika Srpska in Bosnia and Herzegovina has been convicted and sentenced to 40 years in prison by the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) today.

Karadžić, the ‘Butcher of Bosnia’, was charged with responsibility for atrocities including the siege of Sarajevo and the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Muslim men in the Srebrenica enclave.

The Yugoslav Court, sitting in The Hague, found Karadžić guilty in 10 of 11 counts, including genocide, crimes against humanity (in the form of persecution, extermination, murder, deportation, and inhumane acts) and violations of the laws and customs of war (including murder, terror, unlawful attacks on civilians and taking of hostages).

Presiding Judge O-Gon Kwon found that Karadžić had been responsible for genocide in Srebrenica, where close to 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were murdered in 1995, on the basis of his membership in a Joint Criminal Enterprise (JCE), but not in other Bosnian municipalities. He was further convicted of persecution, extermination, deportation, forcible transfer and murder in connection with a campaign to drive Bosnian Muslims and Croats out of villages claimed by Serb forces during the country’s 1992-1995 civil war.

Karadžić, currently 70 years, was sentenced to 40 years’ imprisonment, while receiving credit for the time already spent in detention (8 years).

Radovan Karadžić was a founding member of the Serbian Democratic Party of Bosnia and Herzegovina. He was President of the party from July 1990 to July 1996. He acted as Chairman of the National Security Council of the so-called Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (later Republika Srpska). He was President of the three-member Presidency of Republika Srpska from its creation in May 1992 until December 1992, and thereafter sole President of Republika Srpska and Supreme Commander of its armed forces until July 1996.

The verdict has been labelled as the most important moment in the 23-year existence of the ICTY. Ilawyer Dr. Guénaël Mettraux called the process exemplary in that it has demonstrated the ability of the international community to prosecute crimes of such magnitude while guaranteeing the fundamental rights of the accused. Continue reading

John Kerry: IS is Committing Genocide in Iraq and Syria

John Kerry delivering his statement on IS on 17 March 2016

John Kerry delivering his statement on IS on 17 March 2016

United States Secretary of State John Kerry today officially determined the Islamic State group (IS) is committing genocide and crimes against humanity against Christians, Yazidis and Shiite groups in Iraq and Syria. His statement meets a congressional deadline for a decision that was long expected. Though the declaration is not related to any obligation of the United States (US) to take further action against IS or to any prosecution against members of this group.

On 14 March, the US House of Representatives passed by 393 to 0 a non-binding resolution that declared that “the atrocities perpetrated by ISIL against Christians, Yezidis, and other religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq and Syria constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.” Continue reading

General Zdravko Tolimir Passed Away in Jail

Zdravko TolimirZdravko Tolimir passed away last night in the United Nations Detention Unit in The Hague.

In April last year, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) upheld the Trial Chamber’s convictions and found Tolimir, the former intelligence chief of the Bosnian Serb Army’s Main Headquarters, guilty of involvement in genocide against thousands of Bosniak men and boys from Srebrenica after the UN-protected ‘safe area’ was overrun by Bosnian Serb forces in July 1995.

Gen Zdravko Tolimir, 67, was given a life term in jail. The cause of his death has not yet been made public.

ICTR Delivers its Final Appeal Judgment

The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) delivered its judgment of the appeals in the trial of The Prosecutor vs. Nyiramasuhuko et al. (Butare Case) on the 14th of December in the Courtroom of the ICTR in Arusha, Tanzania.

ictrThis is the final judgment issued by the Tribunal, which was established by the UN Security Council in 1994 with the mandate to try those responsible for genocide and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of Rwanda and neighbouring States, between 1 January 1994 and 31 December 1994.

The appeal was lodged by Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, Arsène Shalom Ntahobali, Sylvain Nsabimana, Alphonse Nteziryayo, Joseph Kanyabashi, Élie Ndayambaje, and the Prosecution. The six accused in the case were, on 24 June 2011, variously convicted of crimes of genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, incitement to commit genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes for their role in crimes committed against Tutsis during the 1994 genocide. Continue reading

Rwanda Genocide: Arrest of Ladislas Ntaganzwa

Ladisla NtaganzwaOne of the last suspects wanted for alleged involvement in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, Ladislas Ntaganzwa, has been arrested in Democratic Republic of Congo.

Ladislas Ntaganzwa, 53, is accused of organising mass rapes and the massacre of thousands.

He was one of nine suspects still wanted by the United Nations for their alleged role in the genocide, which left about 800,000 people dead. The others are still at large.

The genocide saw militias from the majority Hutu ethnic group killing Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

The indictment of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) describes his involvement in 1994 in the killing of more than 20,000 Tutsis between 14 and 18 April.

It says he “substantially participated in the planning, preparation and execution of the massacre”.

He told a group including Hutu civilians to surround Cyahinda parish, in southern Rwanda, “so that no Tutsis could escape and told them to kill Tutsis”, the indictment adds.

The ICTR has transferred his case to Rwanda.

ECCC: New Suspect Charged with Genocide in Case 004

ECCCThe International Co-Investigating Judge Michael Bohlander of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Court of Cambodia (ECCC) has charged Ta Tith, or Yim Tith, with crimes including genocide in Case 004.

A statement released today shows that the accused has been charged with genocide against the Khmer Krom, an ethnic minority from Southern Vietnam, as well as with the crimes against humanity of murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, imprisonment, torture, and forced marriage, and grave breaches of the 1949 Geneva Conventions.

Ta Tith was a secretary of the Khmer Rouge’s Northwest Zone at the time of the genocide which took place in the country from 17 April 1975 to 6 January 1979.

The Cambodia Daily reported that Ta Tith had been charged in person at the Court, after which he returned home with his lawyers.

Im Chaem and Maes Muth, suspects in Cases 003 and 004, had been charged with crimes allegedly committed during the Democratic Kampuchea regime earlier this year on 3 March 2015. Maes Muth was a high ranking navy commander in the Revolutionary Army of Kampuchea. Im Chaem was allegedly secretary of Preah Net Preah District in the North-West Zone. Ta An, or Ao An, the former deputy secretary of the Central Zone during the Democratic Kampuchea regime, had been charged on 30 March 2015.

As a result of the formal charges, Ta Tith and his lawyers now have access to the complete case file and are able to participate in the investigation.

Cases 003 and 004 are opposed by the Cambodian government, with Cambodian police having refused to execute arrest warrants issued by the International Co-Investigating Judge last year for suspect Meas Muth and Im Chaem.

Publication: The Armenian Genocide Legacy

The Armenian Genocide LegacyOn the centennial of the acts commonly referred to as the Armenian Genocide, academics and professionals from a variety of disciplines discuss the impact of the Genocide in their respective fields.

In this volume, they assess why it still remains relevant to discuss the Genocide today, as well as its global ramifications and its equally long-lasting mark.

Some contributions make the case for the use of aspects of the Armenian Genocide for comparative studies, in order to study the emergence of patterns between conflicts. Others focus on the impact of the Genocide on their specific fields of study.

Tackling this theme from the perspective of history, law, sociology, anthropology, political science, literature, education and media studies, The Armenian Genocide Legacy relies on an interdisciplinary approach to expose the complexity of the genocidal process, while marking the centennial of the Armenian Genocide.

To order the book, please click here.

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