The Rwanda genocide began in April 1994; within a few weeks, nongovernmental organizations there were estimating that 100,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus had been massacred. Yet two months later, Reuters correspondent Alan Elsner and State Department spokeswoman Christine Shelly had an infamous exchange:
Elsner: “How would you describe the events taking place in Rwanda?”
Shelly: “Based on the evidence we have seen from observations on the ground, we have every reason to believe that acts of genocide have occurred in Rwanda.”
Elsner: “What’s the difference between ‘acts of genocide’ and ‘genocide’?”
Shelly: “Well, I think the — as you know, there’s a legal definition of this. . . . Clearly not all of the killings that have taken place in Rwanda are killings to which you might apply that label. . . . But as to the distinctions between the words, we’re trying to call what we have so far as best as we can; and based, again, on the evidence, we have every reason to believe that acts of genocide have occurred.”
Elsner: “How many acts of genocide does it take to make genocide?”
Shelly: “Alan, that’s just not a question that I’m in a position to answer.”
As President Obama and his advisers look for “more conclusive evidence” that Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad has used chemical weapons against his people, he would do well to remember this shameful moment. The evidence Obama is reviewing first surfaced in December, when the U.S. consul in Istanbul sent a cable detailing interviews with victims and observers of an attack in Homs just before Christmas and concluding that it was likely that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons.
If this is how tea party Republicans hope to gain black votes they are going to fail. The anti choice activist tropes used by Van Zant were designed by zealots in Operation Rescue to give white southern evangelicals pretensions that liberals in planned parenthood are the real racists, not themselves. They were crafted by the same people who are comparing abortion clinics to the holocaust but in the Tea Party GOP it’s now become daily mantra - bandied about without any critical thought.
It’s an Orwellian inversion where liberty becomes genocide and it is symptomatic of the dysfunction of today’s GOP. Until they are willing to put aside some of these insane tropes and silence the tin eared loud-mouths among them they will never gain ground with minority groups.
A debate in Florida’s House of Representatives over a Republican-sponsored ban on race- and sex-selective abortions became extremely heated Thursday, causing several black women lawmakers to walk out in protest.
House Bill 845, sponsored by Rep. Charles Van Zant (R-Keystone Heights), would make it a third-degree felony in Florida to perform an abortion based on the race or gender of the fetus. In his closing statements on Thursday, Van Zant accused Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers of intentionally targeting black people. “The fact is, 80 percent of abortion clinics nationwide are located in minority neighborhoods where 43 percent of all black babies are aborted,” Van Zant said, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
“In America alone, without the Nazi Holocaust, without the Ku Klux Klan, Planned Parenthood and other abortionists have reduced our black population by more than 25 percent since 1973,” he said. “This is called discriminatory targeting.”
Several black lawmakers became insulted during the debate, and at least five women walked out. Rep. Barbara Watson (D-Miami), one of the members who left, told HuffPost in a phone interview that she felt as if Van Zant was manipulating information to reflect his personal beliefs about abortion.
THIRTEEN years ago, researchers at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum began the grim task of documenting all the ghettos, slave labor sites, concentration camps and killing factories that the Nazis set up throughout Europe.
What they have found so far has shocked even scholars steeped in the history of the Holocaust.
The researchers have cataloged some 42,500 Nazi ghettos and camps throughout Europe, spanning German-controlled areas from France to Russia and Germany itself, during Hitler’s reign of brutality from 1933 to 1945.
The figure is so staggering that even fellow Holocaust scholars had to make sure they had heard it correctly when the lead researchers previewed their findings at an academic forum in late January at the German Historical Institute in Washington.
“The numbers are so much higher than what we originally thought,” Hartmut Berghoff, director of the institute, said in an interview after learning of the new data.
“We knew before how horrible life in the camps and ghettos was,” he said, “but the numbers are unbelievable.”
The documented camps include not only “killing centers” but also thousands of forced labor camps, where prisoners manufactured war supplies; prisoner-of-war camps; sites euphemistically named “care” centers, where pregnant women were forced to have abortions or their babies were killed after birth; and brothels, where women were coerced into having sex with German military personnel.
Auschwitz and a handful of other concentration camps have come to symbolize the Nazi killing machine in the public consciousness. Likewise, the Nazi system for imprisoning Jewish families in hometown ghettos has become associated with a single site — the Warsaw Ghetto, famous for the 1943 uprising. But these sites, infamous though they are, represent only a minuscule fraction of the entire German network, the new research makes painfully clear.
Of course this will not stop the wingnuts from comparing the President to HITLER!!!! and calling firearm registration A HOLOCAUST!!!1111
For the first two months after fleeing Aleppo, Yaser Mohammad slept outside in an olive grove. When it rained, he crawled under a lorry.
Home is now a leaking plastic tent on the Syrian side of the Turkish border. “We don’t have bread. Fuel is very expensive. There is no electricity, no water,” Mohammad said.
Another 6,500 Syrians are living in similarly dismal conditions, most having fled the war just down the road in Aleppo. Freezing temperatures and relentless rain over the past week have turned the Bab al-Salam refugee camp into a muddy swimming pool. “See for yourself: our tent contains centimetres of water. We can’t sleep at night. We’re exhausted. Everybody is exhausted. Our kids have lice.”
Mohammad, his wife and six children are a tiny part of a much larger catastrophe now enveloping Syria. After 21 months of war, at least two million Syrians have been forced to leave their homes. Hundreds of thousands have fled abroad, where they live in dire conditions. But most are displaced inside Syria - camping in tents, sharing overcrowded rooms with relatives, renting private flats, or squatting in shivering school buildings.
This largely invisible exodus has pushed Syria’s already strained infrastructure close to collapse. The cardinal problem is bread - Syria’s most important food staple. There is not enough to go round; bread is disappearing. In the 21st century, and under the nose of the international community, a nation is sliding into starvation and medieval hunger.
In the northern town of Azaz, queues form outside bakeries in the dull sepia hours of early morning; by mid-afternoon hundreds of men, teenaged boys and women are still waiting in the cold outside. Over the past month the situation has got dramatically worse. “I’ve been waiting here since 4am. I’m still waiting,” said Ahmed Yusuf, a nurse with the relief charity Doctors Without Borders. “I’ve skipped work to find bread. My son queued up yesterday. He spent so long outside he’s now sick.”
The pain that erupted 17 years ago in Srebrenica ripped open again Wednesday as tens of thousands of Bosnian Muslims came to bury their dead in the town whose name is now synonymous with genocide.
In a ceremony broadcast live on television across the country, 520 coffins were placed in the ground as tears flowed like water from family and friends.
On the anniversary of Europe’s worst massacre since World War II, 30,000 Muslims traveled to a memorial center in Srebrenica to honor the thousands of Muslim men and boys slaughtered in July 1995 by Serb forces.
Izabela Hasanovic, 27, sobbed over one of the coffins before it was lowered into a freshly dug pit.
“My father, my father is here,” she sobbed. “I cannot believe that my father is in this coffin. I cannot accept it!”
Another woman dropped on her knees next to a coffin, pressing her lips against the green cloth covering the wood.
“It’s your sister kissing you. It’s me,” she whispered, caressing the coffin with both hands until others lowered it.
Then the valley echoed with the sound of dirt landing on the coffins from thousands of shovels, as a voice read out the names of the victims and their ages from loudspeakers.
WHEN a government devours its own people, as in Syria or Sudan, there are never easy solutions. That helps explain President Obama’s dithering, for there are more problems in international relations than solutions, and well-meaning interventions can make a crisis worse.
Yet the president is taking prudence to the point of paralysis. I’m generally an admirer of Obama’s foreign policy, but his policies toward both Syria and Sudan increasingly seem lame, ineffective and contrary to American interests and values. Obama has shown himself comfortable projecting power — as in his tripling of American troops in Afghanistan. Yet now we have the spectacle of a Nobel Peace Prize winner in effect helping to protect two of the most odious regimes in the world.
Maybe that’s a bit harsh. But days of seeing people bombed and starved here in the Nuba Mountains have left me not only embarrassed by my government’s passivity but outraged by it.
The regime of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir is dropping anti-personnel bombs full of ball bearings on farming villages. For one year now, Bashir has sealed off this area in an effort to crush the rebel force, blocking food shipments and emergency aid, so that hundreds of thousands of ordinary Nubans are now living on tree leaves, roots and insects.
The Bible has thousands of passages that may serve as the basis for instruction and inspiration. Not all of them are appropriate in all circumstances.
The story of Saul and the Amalekites is a case in point. It’s not a pretty story, and it is often used by people who don’t intend to do pretty things. In the book of 1 Samuel (15:3), God said to Saul:
“Now go, attack the Amalekites, and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.”
Ratko Mladic Led Ethnic Cleansing, War Crimes Trial Told
May 16, 2012
Mr Groome said crimes of sexual violence had played an integral part of the process of “taking over and ethnically cleansing Bosnia”.
Former Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladic intended to “ethnically cleanse” Bosnia, the opening day of his war crimes trial has heard.
Gen Mladic faces 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including genocide, in connection with the brutal 1992-95 Bosnian war.
Prosecutors in The Hague said they would show his hand in the crimes.
He has called the accusations “monstrous” and the court has entered a not guilty plea on his behalf.
Gen Mladic is accused of orchestrating the massacre of more than 7,000 Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) boys and men at Srebrenica in 1995.
He is also charged in connection with the 44-month siege of Sarajevo during which more than 10,000 people died.