Copts and Muslims Clash

            There have been many clashes between the Muslims and the Copts throughout Egypt.  The recent conflicts between the two religious groups began on June 8, 2007. It began with rioting, and looting in the Coptic quarter of the city of Zwyet Abdel-Qader.  On June 12, 2007, another uprising broke out between two construction workers, culminating with vandalism of a Coptic church.  The next clash occurred at Saft Maidoum.  It arose over a bicycle accident between a Coptic man and a Muslim girl. After the accident, the girl fainted. Believing that their daughter was dead, the child’s parents attacked the Copt’s family.  Four people were injured and 35 were arrested.  A couple days later, 20 people were detained and 13 people were injured, over a controversial court ruling regarding the appropriation of land to some of the Copts.

            The Copts are a Christian sect.  They compose 10% of the Egyptian population.  They have had a rivalry with the Islamic militants.   The most deadly clash between the Copts and Muslims was in 2000, when 22 people were killed in once incident, 21 Copts and one Muslim. The tensions had been more relaxed in the past few years.

            The Copts have faced discrimination from the government. Until recently, they had to get approval from the government, for any minimal improvements done at a church. The children born into the Coptic Church are made to tattoo crosses on their wrists when they are very young. This separates those who were born into the Coptic Church, from those who convert to Christianity later.

            The Copts have not been protected by the Egyptian government, despite the fact that they have suffered greatly as the hands of militants. Yet the government is slow at capturing the Copts attackers. For example, no one involved  in the attack in 2000 where 21 Copts were killed  are still in prison.   It is possibly because the Egyptian government is looking for a way to excuse its aggressive crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood.  The problem with the government’s reasoning is the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood is a political group, while the Copts are a people group. 

Al-Ahram. Fanning the Flames. 21 June 2007.

IPSnews. Egypt: Clashes Could Bring Sectarian Conflict. 21 June 2007.

BosNewsLife. Egypt Detains Six After Clashes Between Muslims and Christians. 16 June 2007.

Gulf Times. 13 hurt in Egyptian sectarian conflict. 17 June 2007.

Afghan civilian death toll continues to rise

American and NATO forces in Afghanistan have killed at least 203 civilians so far this year.

In the past ten days, airstrikes and artillery fire targeting Taliban insurgents have killed more than 90 civilians.

Separate figures from the U.N. and Afghan and international aid groups show that the numbers of civilians killed by international forces is about equal to those killed by insurgents.

Accurate civilian death tolls are hard to come by because militants often wear civilian clothing and seek shelter in homes. Also it is not unusual for Afghans to have weapons in their homes.

The Associated Press count of civilian casualties is based on reports from Afghan and foreign officials and witnesses through Saturday, June 23. Of the 399 civilian deaths this year, 18 civilians were killed in crossfire between Taliban militants and foreign forces.

Earlier Saturday, a rocket hit a house in Pakistani territory killing nine civilians — during a battle in which NATO and American forces killed 60 suspected Taliban.

Other fighting on Saturday left some 20 militants and one coalition soldier dead.

For more information, please see:

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2007%5C06%5C21%5Cstory_21-6-2007_pg4_15

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070619/ap_on_re_as/afghanistan

http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1636551,00.html

http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/05/13/africa/taliban.php

New UN Report Says Sudan Conflict Fueled By Climate Change

By Impunity Watch Africa

A recent report by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has concluded that the conflict in Darfur is being driven and fueled by climate change and environmental degradation.  This report follows an eighteen-month study of Sudan and concludes that Darfur holds grim lessons not only for their own country, but for other countries at risk, particularly Chad and southern Africa.   The report also warns that the Darfur tragedy could be repeated throughout North Africa and the Middle East as the result of growing populations fighting over limited water supplies and resources.

The precarious peace signed between north and south Sudan in 2005 may be at risk, due to declining rainfall and the advancement of the Sahara.  The resulting tensions between farmers and herders over evaporating water holes and disappearing pastures threaten to reignite the half-century war.  The southern Nuba tribe has warned that they could “restart the war” because Arab nomads – themselves pushed south due to a drought – are cutting down their trees to feed their camels.

Estimates of casualties from the Darfur conflict range from 200,000 to 500,000.  The immediate cause was a regional rebellion, which the government responded to by recruiting Arab janjaweed militia members to ethnically cleanse the African population.  The UNEP study suggests that the actual genesis of the conflict is to be found in the decrease in rainfall and spreading desertification, and the resulting conflict between African farmers and Arab nomads fighting over water and land.

UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, stated to the Washington Post: “Almost invariably, we discuss Darfur in a convenient military and political shorthand – an ethnic conflict pitting Arab militias against black rebels and farmers. Look to its roots, though, and you discover a more complex dynamic. Amid the diverse social and political causes, the Darfur conflict began as an ecological crisis, arising at least in part from climate change.”

The Darfur crisis has in turn exacerbated the environmental degradation, sending more than two million refugees into camps.  Deforestation has accelerated and underground aquifers are being drained in order to support the large numbers.

The report contains recommendations and proposed measures that if implemented are estimated to cost $120 million over three to five years. The Sudanese GDP in 2005 was $85.5 billion.

For more information, please see:

The Age – Sudan war fueled by climate change: UN – 23 June 2007

Guardian – Darfur Conflict Heralds Era of Wars Triggered by Climate Change, UN Report Warns – 23 June 2007

All Africa.com – UN Report Says Environmental Degradation Triggering Tensions – 22 June 2007

BBC – Sudan ‘Must Address Climate Ills’ – 22 June 2007

VOA News – UN Program Finds Environment Degradation Triggers Conflict in Sudan – 22 June 2007

Mail & Guardian – UN: Environmental woes a cause of Sudan conflict – June 2007

Guilty Verdicts for Using Child Soldiers

By Myriam Clerge
Impunity Watch, Africa

The guilty verdicts were declared for three men accused of being co-conspirators and participants of war crimes in Sierra Leone. Alex Tamba Brima, Brima Kamara and Santigie Borbor Kanu were alleged leaders of the junta, the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), responsible for toppling Sierra Leone’s government in 1997. The group later formed an alliance with the notorious Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels to control the country until 1998.

The court found the three defendants, who pleaded not guilty to all charges, guilty of 11 of the 14 charges including terrorism, using child soldiers, enslavement, rape and murder. They were acquitted of sexual slavery and other inhumane acts. Sentencing is scheduled for July 16th.

These are the first verdicts made by the Sierra Leon UN-backed war crimes court. More importantly the verdicts mark the first conviction in an international court for enlisting children under the age of fifteen into armed forces or groups and using them to participate actively as soldiers.

Roughly 30,000 children, in Sierra Leone alone, were conscripted into the war. In Liberia, former President Charles Taylor’s men are accused of creating the Small Boys Unit that “enlisted” young boys whom they baptized Babykillers. Although children have been used in war, never before was their involvement more obvious.

Backed by Liberia’s former president Charles Taylor in exchange for “blood diamonds,” the AFRC and RUF held power from 1997 to 1998. During that period thousands of women were raped and turned into sex slaves. About half a million people were brutally murdered. Those not killed by the rebels’ trademark of hacking off limbs, were forced to work in the mines to fuel the devastation.

The Special Court for Sierra Leone was set up following the end of fighting in 2002 with the help of the United Nations. Although the convictions of the three leaders of the ARFC mark a vital step, many criticize the slow progression of trials. To date the court has indicted 12 people, including Charles Taylor, out of the thousands who committed these crimes and who continue to enjoy impunity. Of the 12 people indicted, three have since died before trial including the notorious leader of RUF Foday Sankoh.

Amnesty International said while Thursday’s verdict was a positive step, it should not be the closing chapter in the struggle to achieve justice for the terrible crimes committed against the people of that country. Thousands of others must be held criminally responsible and reparations must be provided to the victims.

Taylor’s trial is scheduled to resume next week.

For more information please see:

AllAfrica – Sierra Leone: Guilty Verdicts Not the End of the Story for Victims of War Crimes – 21 June 2007

BBC – First S Leone war crimes verdicts – 20 June 2007

BBC – Country Profile: Sierra Leone – 20 June 2007

Yahoo – Sierra Leone convicts 3 of war crimes – 20 June 2007

Namibia: Seeking Solutions to Gender-Based Crimes

By Myriam Clerge
Impunity Watch, Africa

Hundreds of stakeholders were prompted to meet at Windhoek for a four day national conference to seek solutions to the string of horrible and cruel forms of violence that is plaguing Namibia. 350 delegates representing government, civil society, traditional leaders and religious groups came together on Tuesday to find a solution to the thorny issue of gender-based violence.

The meeting came together two days after the latest incident in which a young woman was murdered and her head, legs and arms were savagely hacked off. The remaining parts of her body was dumped in a bin on the road between Okahandja and Windhoek.

Marlene Mungunda, Minister of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, says these incidents show that Namibia is fighting a vicious enemy. She stated that the problem called for “watertight strategies.”

The police have been criticized for failing to arrest perpetrators committing gender-based violence, especially those committing crimes that are gruesome and shocking to the public. The minister made a passionate appeal to the Namibian police and other law enforcers to assure that the perpetrators of gender-based violence, particularly those committing bizarre murders, are arrested.

Namibia is among countries in the SADC region that have good legislation on children and women’s rights. However, the effective implementation of these laws is being doubted in some regions.

Norman Tjombe, Legal Assistance Centre (LAC) Director, said, “Gender-based violence is Namibia’s main human rights problem.” Tjombe singled out rape and said 60 rape cases out of 100, 000 persons in the country are recorded every year. While society has viewed rape as an incident where the female is always the victim and the male the perpetrator, shockingly one out of 14 victims is a man or a boy.

The conference is being held under the theme “Unifying Action to Eliminating Gender-Based Violence in Our Society.”

For more information please see:

AllAfrica – Namibia: Meeting to Thrash Out Gender Violence – 19 June 2007

AllAfrica – Namibia: Mungunda Calls On ‘Supernatural’ to Help Fight Violence – 20 June 2007

AllAfrica – Namibia: Violence Conference Begins Huge Task – 20 June 2007

Iraqi orphans mistreated

On June 10, members of the US 82nd Airborne Division found 24 boys, between the ages of 3 to 15, were found in a Baghdad orphanage.  Some boys were found tied to their beds, while others were found lying in their own waste.  One of the boys was so emaciated that army medics did not believe that he would survive.  When he was found, he was so weak that the only thing that he could move was his eyes.

The boys were found in a government ran orphanage for boys with special needs (i.e. physical or mental disabilities).  The boys were found naked and emaciated while build held a fully stocked kitchen and shelves filled with new clothes.  It was thought that the supplies meant of the children were being sold at the local market.

The manager of the orphanage has fled and is believe to be on the run.  Two female caretakers have also fled.  So far, only two security guards have been arrested.

Currently, the boys are recovering in an orphanage located only minutes away from where they were abused.

For more information please see:
International Herald Tribune:  “Heavy fighting as US troops squeeze insurgents in Iraq city”  21 June 2007. 

CBS: “Recovering Iraqi Orphans Face Bleak Future”  20 June 2007. 

CNN:  “Two dozen orphans mistreated in Iraq, officials say”  20 June 2007. 

Middle East Online:  “Appalling scenes in Iraq orphanage”  20 June 2007. 

BBC:  “US finds neglected Iraqi Orphans”  19 June 2007. 

CBS:  “Iraqi Orphanage Nightmare”  18 June 2007.

Yemen Arrests Editor despite Ceasefire

    The suffering of the people in the Saada region has been detailed by online newspapers, such as Al-Shoura. The newspaper’s articles have brought attention to the region. Thus the Yemen government is seeking to settle with the rebels, in order to help the suffering people of the region. Despite the positive impact of Al-Shoura of bringing attention to the Saada conflict, the Yemen government has still  arrested the newspaper’s editor. He is charged with being connected with terrorists.

    The war between the Saada rebels and the Yemen government has finally come to a ceasefire. The rebels have decided to turn over military equipment to the government in exchange for the government releasing prisoners and also rebuilding the war-torn villages. The war destroyed the Saada region, and its people have suffered.

    The war has also been a source of tension amongst the Yemen state sponsored media and its rival media outlets. The government has closed news networks which contradicted the message portrayed by the state sponsored networks. For example, recently it shut down www.al-shoura.net and www.aleshteraki.net for not following government regulations.  (see Yemen  Closes Two Rivals of the State News Network.)

    On June 20, 2007 the Yemen government arrested, Abdel Abdul Karim al-Khawinay, the editor of the online newspaper Al-Shoura. He is allegedly connected to terrorists. His home was raided by Yemen security agents. The International Herald Tribune reported that al-Khawinay was beaten “with fists and gun-butts, then dragged him bleeding from the ear and nose to the police station. ‘His face, pajamas were all stained with blood,’ said al-Khawinay’s wife.”

    Although the government has negotiated peace talks with the rebels, it is still seeking to control the media. The Yemen government believes that al-Khawinay has connections with the rebels. Al-Khawinay was arrested once before, but received a presidential pardon. Al-Shoura, al-Khawinay’s online newspaper, has continually attacked the government for favoritism and nepotism, instead of giving important government posts to the most qualified personnel. This continual barrage has culminated in the Yemen government trying to shut down the network.

    Although the peace talks bode well for the people in the Saada region, the arrest of the newspaper editor is a sign of greater Yemen censorship. This is disconcerting, because it was newspapers like Al-Shoura, which showed the suffering in the Saada region. If the plight of the Saada people had not been voiced, then the Yemen government may have been less motivated to quickly help in the Saada region who are suffering.

Committee to Protect Journalists.Editor detained on terrorism allegations. 20 June 2007.
International Herald and Tribune. Journalists protest after police arrest opposition editor accused of supporting Shiite rebels. 20 June 2007.
Yemen Observer. Sa’ada rebellion draws to a close. 17 June 2007.

Sierra Leone Court Hands Down First Convictions for War Crimes

By Impunity Watch Africa

The Special Court for Sierra Leone, a UN-backed court, issued its first verdicts today, convicting three former junta leaders of war crimes.  The court found the three defendants – Alex Timba Brima, Brima Bazzy Kamara, and Santigie Borbor Kanu – guilty of 11 of 14 charges, including terrorism, the use of child soldiers, enslavement, rape, and murder.  No judgments were issued on the charges of sexual slavery and inhumane acts related to sexual violence, and all three were acquitted of “other inhumane acts” related to physical violence.  The three defendants were commanders of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), former government soldiers who split from the army and sided with the RUF rebels during the conflict.

Corrine Dufka, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, said that today’s verdict marks a watershed.  “It’s the first time that an international court has issued a verdict on child recruitment.”  David Crane, the founding prosecutor for the Sierra Leone court agreed.  “It’s a huge moment for children around the world who have been oppressed in these conflicts.  This particular judgment sets the cornerstone forever – those who recruit children into armed force are criminally liable.”

The Special Court for Sierra Leone was established following the end of fighting in 2002 to prosecute the worst offenders.  It is estimated that half a million people were the victims of killings, systematic mutilation and other atrocities during the 1991-2002 conflict.  To date, the court has indicted twelve people, including former Liberian president Charles Taylor who is accused of backing the rebels.  Three of the suspects have since died and the location of one is still unknown.  Taylor is currently facing trial in The Hague due to fears that the case would trigger violence.  Taylor is also linked to abuses in his own country, but Liberia has opted for a truth and reconciliation commission rather than a court.

For more information, please see:

ABC – Sierra Leone court delivers first war crimes verdicts – 21 June 2007

CNN – Sierra Leone war crimes court convicts 3 – 20 June 2007

USA Today – 3 convicted of Sierra Leone War Crimes – 20 June 2007

Chronicle Journal – Sierra Leone court convicts three junta leaders of war crimes in civil war – June 2007

Mail & Guardian – Sierra Leone court delivers first war-crimes verdicts – June 2007

Yahoo NewsSierra Leone court to deliver first war crimes judgment – June 2007

Peru’s former president may run for office in Japan

Peruvian ex- president Alberto Fujimori has been asked to consider running for office in Japan. He is now in Chile under house arrest, and faces extradition to because of human rights violations charges.

The Japanese People’s New Party urged Fujimori to run in July elections for the upper house of Japan’s Diet.

Fujimori was president of Peru from 1990 to 2000 and is a dual citizen of Japan and Peru. He lived in exile in Tokyo for five years, so he is technically eligible to run.

However, he is wanted by Peruvian prosecutors on several charges: ordering the murders of 25 people in 1991 and 1992, ordering the abduction and torture of opponents, and embezzling government funds. Critics say that he crushed civil liberties, rigged elections and abused human rights. If Fujimori is elected to parliament in Japan, that could affect his trial in Peru.

Fujimori resigned from office in November 2000.  He stayed in Japan until November 2005, until he flew to Chile and was arrested.

For more information, please see:

http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200706190598.html

http://www.livinginperu.com/news/4095

http://www.guardian.co.uk/japan/story/0,,2106439,00.html

Anti-Syrian MP slain in Beirut blast

On May 13, Walid Eido, a Lebanese MP and long time anti-Syrian lawmaker, was killed in a blast outside a Beirut health club.  A remote car bomb was detonated as Eido’s convoy passed an empty car.  Eido’s eldest son and two bodyguards were also killed in the explosions, along with seven other civilians.  This is the sixth bombing in Beirut in the last month.  However, it differs from the previous blasts in both size and destruction.  While the five prior attacks seem to focus on causing fear, this bomb is estimated to weigh as much as 175 pounds and was intended to cause damage.

Eido was a member of the anti-Syrian majority party and ally of the former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, who was assassinated in March 2005.  Eido is the sixth anti-Syrian figure to be assassinated since 2005.  Others include al-Hariri, journalist Samir Kassir, George Hawi, Gebran Tueni, and Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel.  Eido’s death and the resignation of an anti-Syrian coalition member last week reduced the margin of majority to just three in the parliament.

After the assassination of Gemayel in November 2006, the anti-Syrian coalition government attempted to hold by-elections to fill his seat.  However, President Lahoud did not give the constitutionally required approval.  But on June 16, the cabinet announced that it will hold by-elections on August 5 to fill the seats once held by Eido and Gemayel.  Lahoud’s recent comments suggest that he will not approve the elections.  However, the governing coalition stated that it will “press on” with the election, even without presidential approval. 

Eido’s allies and members of the anti-Syrian coalition, especially those of the Lebanese Future movement, stated that Syria is behind these attacks.  Saad al-Hariri, the son of the late prime minister and leader of the Future bloc, accused Syria and Syrian supporters, like Hezbollah, of the attacks.  al-Hariri claims that Damascus and pro-Syrian lawmakers are hoping to reduce number of the anti-Syrian ministers in hopes of increasing the pro-Syrian influence over the upcoming parliamentary elections for president. 

Syria has condemned the attack and denied any involvement. 

For more information please see:

Washington Post:  “Political battle looms in Lebanon”  16 June 2007. 

Al Jazeera:  “Beirut by-elections for slain MPs”  16 June 2007. 

The Daily Star:  “Eido funeral turns into rally against Syrians, opposition”  15 June 2007. 

The Daily Star:  “Syria denounces Eido assassination, bristles at accusations of involvement”  15 June 2007. 

BBC:  “Anti-Syrian MP mourned in Lebanon”  14 June 2007. 

The Daily Star:  “March 14 MP Walid Eido assassinated in Beirut bombing”  14 June 2007. 

ME Times:  “Angry mourners blame Syria at Lebanon MP’s funeral”  14 June 2007. 

Washington Post:  “Anti-Syrian bury slain Lebanese MP, blame Damascus”  14 June 2007.

Al Jazeera:  “Beirut bomb kills Politician”  13 June 2007. 

Washington Post:  “Recent killings of top Lebanese figures”  13 June 2007.

Child labor allegedly used for 2008 Beijing Olympics official merchandise

A report by an advocacy group entitled “No medal for the Olympics on labour rights” claims four firms making official Olympic merchandise for the 2008 Beijing Olympics were exploiting workers.  Playfair, an alliance of world trade unions, found abuses at factories including child labor, forced overtime, and low wages.  Additionally, it is alleged workers are being instructed to lie about wages, poor health, and safety conditions to inspectors. 

Three of the four firms have denied these accusations.  Interviews with workers of the three firms support the firms’ denial of labor abuse.  The fourth, however, Lekit Stationery has admitted children 12 and 13 years of age were employed by one of its sub-contractors, Leter Stationery.  They say the children were employed during the school holidays last winter and did not work on official Olympic merchandise.  Lekit also insists it was not aware of its sub-contractor’s employment of children.

Lekit had originally denied these allegations, but the company only found out when Dongguan officials released the findings of an initial investigation into the issue.

The International Olympic Committee said it supports ethical practices.  Additionally, they say more stringent regulations must be made so the 2012 London Olympics will not be tarnished by similar accusations.  The speed of the Dongguan investigation shows, however, China’s desire to avoid bad publicity in the time before the 2008 Olympics.

For more information, please see:

Olympic firms ‘abusing workers’

Olympic firm admits child labour

Chinese Olympic firms deny abuse

Land and People Misplaced in Ethiopia

By Myriam Clerge
Impunity Watch, Africa

Several weeks ago the UN Security Council received a letter from the Ethiopian government accepting the commission’s decision to award the town of Badme to Eritrea. The agreement arrives five years after Ethiopia initially promised to comply with the UN’s 2002 ruling.

Eritrea gained its independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after 30 years of guerilla war. For two and a half years the two countries fought over the town of Badme until they agreed to a truce to cease hostility in 2000.

Ethiopia’s letter to the UN Security Council required Eritrea to comply with the 2000 truce and if violated to be sanctioned by the commission. In response to Ethiopia’s conditional acceptance, Eritrea issued its own letter blaming the UN for failing to force Ethiopia to turn over the town.

The Security Council met with African Union and Ethiopian officials in Addis Ababa this past weekend to discuss border issues and possible resolutions.

The Security Council was greeted by thousands of Ethiopian Jews in Addis Ababa waiting to get to Israel. In 2005 Israel unofficially promised to relocate Ethiopian Jews who claim their families were forced to convert to Christianity in the 19th century, known as the Falashmura, by the end of 2007.

Under Israel’s “law of return” anyone who is Jewish or has a Jewish relative or spouse is granted automatic Israeli citizenship. However, Ethiopian Jews in Israel are claiming that the government is discriminately blocking their relatives’ immigration.

Instead, thousands of Ethiopian Jews, who have abandoned their home and livelihood, are living on little hillocks near the Israeli embassy in Addis Ababa, waiting in vain to get to the Promise Land.

For more information please see:

Yahoo – Ethiopian troops attacked in Somalia – 15 June 2007

Yahoo – Ethiopia agrees to give town to Eritrea – 15 June 2007

Yahoo – Ethiopian Jews in limbo, waiting to get to Promised Land – 14 June 2007

BBC – Country Profile: Eritrea – 09 March 2007

Chaldeans Targeted, Thousands have fled Iraq

        The Chaldean church has lived in fear since Iraq’s destabilization caused by Saddam Hussein’s removal from power.  The Chaldean church is a Christian sect, formerly known as Nestorians. They originated from Babylon, or modern day Iraq, and were recently united with the Catholic Church.  Reports show that over 1,000 Christian families have fled Baghdad, and more than 35,000 Christians have fled the country, with many fleeing to Syria. The Christians have been under attack since August 2004, when many Iraqi Christian churches were bombed.
        Christian missionaries have been the most targeted. The BBC reported a website about a Korean Christian worker who was executed because he was an “infidel pig.”  His crime was that he “studied Christian theology and was hoping to become a missionary in the Arab World.” Although the foreign missionaries may have been most targeted, the Iraqi Christian Church has also been attacked.
On June 3, 2007, Gunmen entered the Chaldean Church and demanded those inside to immediately convert to Islam. Father Ragheed Ganni and three of his deacons were killed in his church, because they refused to obey the gunmen.  On June 6, 2007, Father Hani and five of his male students were kidnapped. The six men were walking to a minor seminary in northern Baghdad. The next day four out of five of the boys were released by the kidnappers. The perpetrators seem to be common criminals. They sent a ransom note to Patriarch Emmanuel III Delly demanding money for setting free the captured priest and the remaining student.
        This is not the first occurrence of a priest being kidnapped. In October, the Pope remarked that some of teachings of Islam were “evil” and “inhuman” and that the religion spread by the sword. In response to the pope’s remarks about Islam being a violent religion, a Christian priest was kidnapped and ransomed for $350,000. He was later beheaded.
        The Chaldean church has been targeted and have suffered at the hands of their aggressors. Many have been forced to flee their homes to seek safety. The few who have remained live in fear of attack.

Al-Jazeera. Iraq priest ‘killed over speech’. 13 August 2006.
AsiaNewsit.com. Four Christians abducted yesterday are released. 7 June 2007.
AsiaNewsit.com. Chaldean Priest captured in Baghdad. 6 June 2007.
BBC News. Analysis:Iraq’s Christians under attack. 2 August 2004.
BosLifeNetwork. Iraq Priest remains kidnapped, as thousands flee. 15 June 2007.
New Advent. Chaldean Christians.

Working Out the Details on Darfur Peacekeeping Force

By Impunity Watch Africa

This week Sudan agreed to a hybrid AU-UN force of 19,000 troops, however details over control has continued to be an issue of debate.   Currently the plan is for the UN to have overall control of the mission with the AU having responsibility for the day-to-day responsibilities.  Similar agreements in the past have failed due to Khartoum’s opposition.  Both the US and UK have warned that if Sudan continues to resist peacekeepers, sanctions will be imposed.

UN Security Council envoys are due to hold talks with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on deployment soon.  Western diplomats are looking for an exact timetable for deployment of peacekeeping force.  A Sudanese diplomat stated that troops could be in Darfur by October, depending on the time it takes the two organizations to get troops and funds.

Meanwhile, British aid agency Oxfam has stated that they are leaving Darfur due to safety concerns for its workers.  Three aid agencies based in Geneva were attacked by a rebel group in December.  One aid worker was beaten, another was raped, and several were subjected to mock executions.  Oxfam has stated they are withdrawing due to a lack of prosecution for the crime and a lack of assurances that such an attack would not happen again.   Oxfam has been supplying water, sanitation and healthcare to 130,000 people in refugee camps outside Gereida town.

Violence in Darfur has killed more than 200,000 people and turned 2.5 million people into refugees.  Much of the violence has been the cause of clashes between government-sponsored Janjaweed militias and Darfur rebel groups.

For more information, please see:

BBC – UN Talks Darfur detail with Sudan – 18 June 2007

Kenya Broadcasting Corporation – UN, Sudan to discuss Darfur plan – 17 June 2007

Sudan Tribune – Hybrid peacekeeping force could be in Darfur by October – 13 June 2007

Cambodian, international judges announce rules for genocide trial

Special tribunal investigators cleared the last major delay of trials of former Khmer Rouge leaders. Cambodian and international judges for the United Nations-backed special court agreed on rules for the judicial process, paving the way for Khmer Rouge leaders to be held accountable for the atrocities committed during their rule. The announcement ends six months of debate.

Foreign lawyers will be allowed to represent defendants and victims may file complaints to the courts as long as they do so as a group. Cambodian judges will hold the majority but will need one supporting vote from a foreign counterpart to prevail in any decision.

The prosecution will refer their first cases to the investigating judges, who will determine whether there is sufficient evidence against Khmer Rouge leaders to bring them to full trial. The process is expected to start within a few weeks and last three years.

In 2004, after years of negotiations with UN representatives, Cambodia agreed to try a handful of Khmer Rouge leaders who were considered to be most responsible for the atrocities.

But since its establishment almost a year ago, the court has been stalled by bitter disputes between the Cambodian and foreign judges over many procedural issues, including court etiquette and registration fees for foreign defense lawyers.

The investigating judges will begin the judicial process as soon as they receive their first case from prosecutors.

 

 

For more information, please see:

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/499fdcce-1a14-11dc-99c5-000b5df10621,_i_rssPage=7f5f6b12-2f66-11da-8b51-00000e2511c8.html

http://edition.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/asiapcf/06/13/khmer.trial.ap/index.html

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_asiapacific/view/281933/1/.html

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/6747143.stm