The Humanitarian Times

April 12, 2000


-UN SEC. COUNCIL CONDEMNED VIOLATIONS OF WOMEN'S RIGHTS IN AFGHANISTAN under Taliban rule, including restricting women & girls from health care, free movement, education & employment. Monday's statement also advised Afghanistan's neighbors against forcibly returning Afghan refugees, a violation of intl. refugee law. The same day, UN rights expert R Coomaraswamy reiterated her findings that large-scale persecution against Afghan women has not declined, & it violates intl. law. Last week, the Swedish Comm. for Afghanistan's office in Ghazni was looted. MSF reports that drought & a shortage of drinking water may lead to an increase in infectious disease incidence in Kandahar in southern Afghanistan.

-NEW E.U. RAPID REACTION FACILITY: CIVILIAN CORPS TO MITIGATE CONFLICTS the European Council (Commissioner Chris Patten) unveiled yesterday.

It will nimbly establish judiciary, customs, police, election monitoring, border management, human rights, finance & other civilian functions in urgent post-conflict settings like E Timor & Kosovo.


-BRITAIN'S PARLIAMENT DISCUSSED WAR CRIMES TRIAL AGAINST BURMA'S JUNTA last week when MP Edward Leigh proposed that the UK advocate within the UN to create a new Intl. Tribunal to investigate atrocities in Burma, based on alleged genocide by the Burma military against Shan & Karen minorities. (PA News) UK Foreign Off Minister John Battle formally asked the British petroleum comp, Premier Oil, to disinvest its $200M from Burma. Oil services corp. Baker Hughes (Texas) announced it would withdraw from Burma in late March, after share-holders pressed human rights concerns. This week, EU foreign ministers made economic & travel sanctions more strict, freezing the overseas funds of Burma's military junta.

-SWISS COURT SENDS HOLOCAUST HISTORIAN TO JAIL FOR WRITING BOOKS this week. Gaston-Armand Amaudruz was found guilty under Swiss anti- racism law for his allegations that WWII genocide did not occur.


-CONF: INTERFACE BETWEEN INTL. HUMANITARIAN & HUMAN RIGHTS LAW will be discussed July 13-15, with numerous speakers, including barristers, military officers & Intl. Comm. of the Red Cross scholars. Conference is co-organized by the Australia Red Cross & the ICRC, in Perth Australia. See:




Digging by forensics experts resumes today in El Salvador's El Mozote area where almost 1,000 civilians, women, children & elderly (who could not flee) were massacred by Salvador's govt army in 1981. In Cambodia the long-delayed genocide trial of Khmer Rouge officials will be discussed this week by Cambodia's Prime Minister & UN Sec. Gen. Annan.

This week the Eur. Union stated it supports the UN's indep. role in the proposed Khmer Rouge tribunal. National Public Radio's reviews 20th century war crimes:

The Intl. Criminal Tribunal in the Hague began trial (including testimony this week on 1995 Srebrenica killings) of its most important- yet defendant, Momcilo Krajisnik, charged with genocide, extermination, murders, deportation & religious persecution against Bosnian Muslims.

But Prosecutor C Del Ponte wants his former military boss, Radovan Karadzic (indicted in 1996), also arrested. Newsweek reports that NATO commander Gen. W Clark seeks Karadzic's capture before Clark's May retirement. Last week the Serb Rep. of Srpska cooperated with the Tribunal, for the 1st time. This week the Croatian govt said investigators could examine a grave site where ethnic Serbs, killed in a Croatian offensive, were buried.

- "SREBRENICA: RECORD OF A WAR CRIME", BY JW HONIG, N BOTH (1996 NY: Penguin Books, ISBN 0 14 02.6632 1), recounts the events around the July 8-20, 1995 Serb assault that overwhelmed Dutch peacekeepers (expecting air support that never came). Serb forces captured, tortured & executed 6,000-8,500 unarmed Muslim male Srebrenican civilians (of a 11,000+ total of Bosnians recorded missing in the course of the war). The authors document that the massacres were pre-organized & methodical: "the terror was kept at a constant level.. beating & yelling.. the final horror that faced the Muslim men was thus dulled. ...Virtually all the captured men ...were executed, an act that constituted the most serious single war crime in Europe since the Second World War...the Serbs' intention was a genocidal one." The authors show that the Yugoslav Army colluded. UNHCR's Ogata recognized the vulnerability of Srebrenica when she asked that Srebrenica be reinforced, or its civilians evacuated. Other peacekeeping nations didn't respond, fearful of their troops being taken hostage. Other recent texts on war crimes include H Ball's 1999 "Prosecuting War Crimes & Genocide: the 20th Century Experience" (Univ Kansas Press) & Mark Osiel's 2000 "Mass Atrocity, Collective Memory & the Law" (London: Transaction Pub).

- RAPE INCREASINGLY RECOGNIZED & PURSUED AS CRIME OF WAR, as 3 Serb defendents are now on trial for organizing mass rapes (gang rapes, rape camps) in Foca, Bosnia. 3 generations of a single family (woman, her mother, her grandmother) testified of rape so far. In Dec. 1998 the tribunal sentenced A Furundzija, a Croat officer, to prison for failure to prevent the rape & torture of a woman by a soldier under his command; the conviction was based solely on the testimony of the raped woman. Yesterday's Washington Post gave front-page attention to Human Rights Watch & Intl. Rescue Comm. reports about the systematic & widespread rape of women in Sierra Leone, by rebel groups during the last few years. It adds that alhough transmission of sexual diseases is high, HIV/AIDS is not tested for, primarily because the population is much too poor to afford any treatments anyway. A bibliography on Sexual Violence in armed Conflict (treaties, law, & analysis, up to 1998) by Allyson Gould is on the web: See also: Kelly Askin 's 1997 "War Crimes Against Women: Prosecution in Intl War Crimes Tribunals" (Martinus Nijhoff Pub.); A Stiglmayer (ed.) 1994 "Mass Rape: The War Against Women in Bosnia Herzegovina" (Univ of Nebraska), & Beverly Allen's 1996 "Rape Warfare: The Hidden Genocide in Bosnia-Herzegovina & Croatia" (Univ of Minnesota Press).


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