Monday, 7 April 2014

Why coexistence doesn’t equal reconciliation in Rwanda

Filed under: Human Rights,International Law: War,Rwanda,Transitional Justice — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 10:58 PDT

… fragments from a series of first-person accounts … collected to mark the 20th anniversary of Rwanda’s 100 days of slaughter. Taken together, they give extraordinary insight into the psychology of atrocity: how so many ordinary people – friends, neighbours, doctors, teachers, priests – could take part in the bloodletting.

They also hint at the moral complexity underlying Rwanda’s efforts to balance truth and reconciliation, justice and forgiveness…

Twenty years later, old resentments fester alongside new.

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Rwanda: Portraits of Reconciliation

Filed under: Human Rights,International Law: War,Rwanda — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 10:15 PDT

Last month, the photographer Pieter Hugo went to southern Rwanda, two decades after nearly a million people were killed during the country’s genocide, and captured a series of unlikely, almost unthinkable tableaus. In one, a woman rests her hand on the shoulder of the man who killed her father and brothers. In another, a woman poses with a casually reclining man who looted her property and whose father helped murder her husband and children. In many of these photos, there is little evident warmth between the pairs, and yet there they are, together. In each, the perpetrator is a Hutu who was granted pardon by the Tutsi survivor of his crime.

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Sunday, 6 April 2014

From Fear to Freedom: Shedding light on a lesser known chapter of the Rwanda genocide

Filed under: Africa files,Human Rights,International Law: War,Rwanda — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 10:03 PDT

Beatha Kayitesi’s story, From Fear to Freedom, on Global’s 16×9, sheds light on a lesser-known chapter of that nation’s tragedy. It is a living account of the years before the genocide and the attempts to which one person will go to achieve peace.

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UN chief urges CAR govt to prevent genocide

Filed under: Africa files,Human Rights,International Law: War,Rwanda — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 09:53 PDT

BANGUI (Central African Republic): UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Saturday urged the leaders of the strife-torn Central African Republic to prevent a new genocide on the continent, 20 years after Rwanda.

“It is your responsibility as leaders to ensure that there are no such anniversaries in this country,” said Ban, in Bangui for a brief visit.

The UN secretary general will meet transitional president Catherine Samba Panza to discuss ways to end the deadly cycle of intercommunal violence that has laid waste to the country for a year and led senior UN figures to raise the spectre of genocide. Ban, who will spend just a few hours in Bangui before heading to Rwanda for the 20th anniversary of that country’s genocide, said ahead of his visit he was “deeply troubled by the appalling atrocities” against civilians in the Central African Republic.

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The 1915 Armenian genocide: Finding a fit testament to a timeless crime

Filed under: Human Rights,International Law: War — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 09:49 PDT

The very last Armenian survivors of the 1915 genocide – in which a million and a half Christians were slaughtered by the Ottoman Turks – are dying, and Armenians are now facing the same fearful dilemma that Jews around the world will confront in scarcely three decades’ time: how to keep the memory of their holocausts alive when the last living witnesses of Ottoman and Nazi evil are dead?

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Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Death toll in Syria’s civil war above 150,000

Filed under: children and youth,Dispute resolution and negotiation,gender,International Law: War — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 16:40 PDT

BEIRUT – At least 150,000 people have been killed in Syria’s three-year-old civil war, a third of them civilians, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Tuesday.

The UK-based Observatory, which monitors violence in Syria through a network of activists and medical or security sources, said that real toll was likely to be significantly higher at around 220,000 deaths.

Efforts to end the conflict by bringing together representatives of President Bashar al-Assad’s government and the opposition have so far failed. The United Nations peace mediator for Syria said last week that talks were unlikely to resume soon.

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Sunday, 23 March 2014

A Canadian genocide?

Filed under: Human Rights,Indigenous Peoples,International Law: War,Middle East,Rwanda — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 09:44 PDT

There is something inherently perverse about the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the as-yet-unfinished landmark rising from the plain between a parking lot and a baseball stadium at Winnipeg’s Forks. When you get right down to it, this $351-million dream of the late media mogul Izzy Asper is being built to document evil…

The museum, which opens in September and is one of only two national museums located outside Ottawa-Hull, has been taking shape for more than a decade. In that time, disputes have almost constantly overshadowed what its promoters would prefer to highlight…

The Ukrainian community, for example, lamented that exhibits on the Holodomor (the 1932-33 starvation engineered by Soviet Union leader Joseph Stalin) were going to be too close to the washrooms; Palestinians objected to being left out entirely; even Jews — whom Asper envisioned as central to the museum — were reportedly upset that the founding of the state of Israel was not going to be commemorated.

But the nascent museum’s most heated controversy is the growing insistence that exhibits depicting the story of First Nations peoples carry the word “genocide” in their titles. So far, the museum has resisted doing that…

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Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Central African Republic: Ethnic cleansing and sectarian killings

Filed under: Africa files,children and youth,Human Rights,International Law: War,Religion and peacebuilding — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 12:30 PDT

International peacekeepers have failed to prevent the ethnic cleansing of Muslim civilians in the western part of the Central African Republic, Amnesty International said in a report issued today.

To protect the country’s remaining Muslim communities, international peacekeeping forces must break the control of anti-balaka militias and station sufficient troops in towns where Muslims are threatened.

“Anti-balaka militias are carrying out violent attacks in an effort to ethnically cleanse Muslims in the Central African Republic,” said Joanne Mariner, senior crisis response adviser at Amnesty International.

“The result is a Muslim exodus of historic proportions.”

Amnesty International criticized the international community’s tepid response to the crisis, noting that international peacekeeping troops have been reluctant to challenge anti-balaka militias, and slow to protect the threatened Muslim minority.

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Saturday, 15 February 2014

Where is the public outrage on Syria?

Filed under: Human Rights,Humanitarian work,International Law: War,Media and Conflict,Middle East — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 10:38 PDT

Visiting Damascus last week I saw for myself how local and international relief workers are engaged in heroic, dangerous and often life-saving work in Syria. However, the successful evacuation of civilians from some neighbourhoods of Homs will not end the continued provocation against basic human decency that is happening on our watch. Of Syria’s many besieged civilians, 99% are not in Homs. The conflict in Syria has put back the clock on humanitarian progress by decades, and if the UN security council cannot agree on a basic resolution on humanitarian access then the future is even bleaker.

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Monday, 3 February 2014

Uganda: President’s NRA apology late, says Bigombe

President Yoweri Museveni should have long rendered his apology for the spate of abuses committed during the anti-insurgency campaign in the north and north-eastern part of the country by some reprobate elements in NRA/UPDF, state minister for water resources, Betty Bigombe has said.

Museveni made the apology at the NRA/NRM 28th Liberation Day anniversary in Mayuge district headquarters, expressing shock at the “shameful” atrocities that sullied the reputation of an army whose near impeccable disciplinary record had been integral in its successful guerrilla war…

When asked what the apology meant given her role in various peace initiatives, Bigombe said the move is a good gesture because those affected by the atrocities “always demand for justice to be done”.

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Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Despite conflicts, the bells ring on in Bethlehem

Filed under: Art of Peacework,Human Rights,International Law: War,Middle East,Religion and peacebuilding — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 08:32 PDT

BETHLEHEM, West Bank — A Palestinian college student is one of the last keepers of a fading tradition: ringing the bells of Bethlehem.

Twice a week, Khadir Jaraiseh climbs to the roof of the Church of the Nativity, built over the grotto where tradition says Jesus was born. He pulls the ropes of four bells in a rooftop tower a total of 33 times, the number of years Jesus was believed to have lived…

His rooftop perch offers a view of old stone houses and cobblestone alleys in the center of Bethlehem.

On Sunday, patches of snow were left on rooftops, remnants of a rare storm that hit earlier this month. Much of the church was covered in scaffolding, as part of urgent repairs of a leaking roof — the first facelift in 600 years. Below, Manger Square was filled with tour groups, including visitors from India and Africa.

But the postcard-like vista is disrupted by Israel’s West Bank separation barrier in the background.

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Saturday, 9 November 2013

This year, I will wear a poppy for the last time

Filed under: International Law: War,Peaceworkers in the news — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 01:50 PDT

I will remember friends and comrades in private next year, as the solemnity of remembrance has been twisted into a justification for conflict.

Over the last 10 years the sepia tone of November has become blood-soaked with paper poppies festooning the lapels of our politicians, newsreaders and business leaders. The most fortunate in our society have turned the solemnity of remembrance for fallen soldiers in ancient wars into a justification for our most recent armed conflicts. The American civil war’s General Sherman once said that “war is hell”, but unfortunately today’s politicians in Britain use past wars to bolster our flagging belief in national austerity or to compel us to surrender our rights as citizens, in the name of the public good.

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Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Syria’s nonviolent resistance is dying to be heard

Filed under: Human Rights,International Law: War,Middle East,Nonviolence — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 13:12 PDT

Many civil society activists who continue to defy the Assad regime are not convinced by the case for U.S. air strikes.

The Syrian Non Violence Movement continues, despite being largely ignored in the conversation about Syria.

Much of the debate over U.S. intervention in Syria boils down the conflict there to a clash between the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and an armed rebellion in which al-Qaeda affiliates play a significant role. Typically ignored in that conversation are the voices of the non-violent opposition movement that took to the streets to challenge Assad in March 2011, and which has persisted against great odds.

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Friday, 6 September 2013

Netherlands Supreme Court hands down historic judgment over Srebrenica genocide

Filed under: Human Rights,International Law: War,Transitional Justice — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 08:37 PDT

A Dutch Supreme Court judgment finding the state liable for the deaths of three Muslim men amid the Srebrenica genocide marks a significant victory in the decades-long search for accountability, Amnesty International said today.

“Nearly two decades on from Srebrenica, this Dutch case marks the first time an individual government has been held to account for the conduct of its peacekeeping troops under a UN mandate,” said Jezerca Tigani, Deputy Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International.

According to the court, Dutch troops serving as UN peacekeepers in Srebrenica sent three Bosniak Muslim men away from a “safe area” on 13 July 1995. This effectively handed them over to Bosnian Serb forces, who went on to kill some 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys; many of their bodies have still not been found.

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Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Syria: with samples en route to labs, Ban calls on Security Council to develop response | Video

Filed under: International Law: War,Middle East — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 13:45 PDT

With the United Nations chemical weapons team working “around the clock” to expedite analyses of samples taken in Syria, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on Security Council members to unite and develop an appropriate response should allegations regarding the use of such weapons prove true…

“I take note of the argument for action to prevent future uses of chemical weapons,” the UN chief said. “At the same time, we must consider the impact of any punitive measure on efforts to prevent further bloodshed and facilitate a political resolution of the conflict.”

He appealed that any decision that is made is done so within the framework of the UN Charter.

The use of force is lawful only when in exercise of self-defense in accordance with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter and/or when the Security Council approves such action, said Mr. Ban…

Mr. Ban reiterated that the use of chemical weapons by anyone under any circumstances would be a serious violation of international law and an outrageous war crime.

“Any perpetrators must be brought to justice. There should be no impunity,” he stressed.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Military Intervention in Syria is a Bad Idea | Stephen Zunes

Filed under: International Law: War,Middle East — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 17:16 PDT

Although the impulse to try to end the ongoing repression by the Syrian regime against its own people through foreign military intervention is understandable, it would be a very bad idea.

Empirical studies have repeatedly demonstrated that international military interventions in cases of severe repression actually exacerbate violence in the short term and can only reduce violence in the longer term if the intervention is impartial or neutral. Other studies demonstrate that foreign military interventions actually increase the duration of civil wars, making the conflicts longer and bloodier, and the regional consequences more serious, than if there were no intervention. In addition, military intervention would likely trigger a “gloves off” mentality that would dramatically escalate the violence on both sides.

 

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Op-Ed: Don’t repeat the Iraq mistake

Filed under: International Law: War — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 14:02 PDT

The drums of war are beating and we should be deeply concerned…

It is deeply distressing to see the toll that the Syrian civil war has taken and continues to take on the Syrian people and the country. We all want to see that ended. But, the question one has to ask is whether attacking the Syrian regime will do that.

Sadly, it will not.

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Strikes on Syria feared to destabilise region

Filed under: International Law: War,Middle East — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 08:16 PDT

The Syria conflict has already destabilised neighbouring countries and there is a genuine fear that Western strikes against the regime could engulf the region in even more violence.

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Wednesday, 28 August 2013

ICC: Could the Security Council Refer Only Assad’s Use of Chemical Weapons? | Kevin Jon Heller, Opinio Juris

Filed under: Human Rights,International Law: War,Middle East,Transitional Justice — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 10:48 PDT

An interesting discussion recently broke out on twitter about whether the Security Council could refer the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons — and only the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons — to the ICC…

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Syria: War is looming, but is justice possible?

Filed under: Human Rights,International Law: War,Middle East — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 10:41 PDT

Despite two years of an incessant civil war that has claimed at least 80,000 people, the United Nations Security Council has been mired in deadlock on how to respond to the violence in Syria. Yet the images and videos of civilians attacked with chemical weapons in the outskirts of Damascus has rocked the Syrian status quo. As Jon Western suggests, the chemical weapons attack may constitute “Syria’s Srebrenica,” galvanizing the international community into taking action in a war they can no longer afford to ignore…

In the case of Syria, however, there have been no calls from the Security Council for chemical weapons attacks to be investigated by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Even as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declared that the use of chemical weapons in Syria constituted an “outrageous crime” that could not be met with impunity, there were no calls for the Council to refer Syria to the ICC. This begs the question: if the use of chemical weapons against thousands of civilians is a crime, why the silence on Syria and the ICC?

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