Turkey Summons US Envoy Over ‘Armenian Genocide’ Recognition

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

 

Turkey on Wednesday summoned the US ambassador to Ankara over a resolution passed by the US House of Representatives officially recognising the “Armenian genocide”, officials at the Turkish foreign ministry said.

The US Ambassador to Ankara David Satterfield was summoned to the foreign ministry over “a resolution that lacks any historical or legal basis” and a bill that imposes sanctions over Turkey’s military operation in Syria, the officials said.

Turkey Rejects US Recognition Of ‘Armenian Genocide’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkey on Wednesday rejected the US House of Representatives’ official recognition of the “Armenian Genocide”, warning it risks harming ties “at an extremely fragile time” for international and regional security.

“As a meaningless political step, its sole addressees are the Armenian lobby and anti Turkey groups,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

“We believe that American friends of Turkey who support the continuation of the alliance and friendly relations will question this grave mistake and those who are responsible will be judged by the conscience of the American people,” it added.

Rwanda Marks 25 Years Since Genocide

(From L) African Union chief Moussa Faki, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, his wife Jeannette (2ndR), and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker light a remembrance flame for the 25th Commemoration of the 1994 Genocide at the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Kigali, Rwanda, on April 7, 2019.  Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP

 

Rwanda on Sunday began 100 days of mourning for more than 800,000 people slaughtered in a genocide that shocked the world, a quarter of a century on from the day it began.

President Paul Kagame started off a week of commemoration activities by lighting a remembrance flame at the Kigali Genocide Memorial, where more than 250,000 victims are believed to be buried, mainly from the Tutsi people.

They are only some of those killed by the genocidal Hutu forces, members of the old army and militia forces called the “Interahamwe”, that began their bloody campaign of death on April 7, 1994, the day after the assassination of President Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu.

Some were shot; most were beaten or hacked by machetes.

The killings lasted until Kagame, then 36, led the mainly Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) into Kigali on July 4, ending the slaughter and taking control of the devastated country.

READ ALSO: VP Osinbajo Departs Nigeria To Attend 25th Commemoration Of Rwandan Genocide

Kagame, now 61 and who has been in power ever since is leading the memorial to the dead.

After lighting the flame, accompanied by his wife Jeanette, African Union chief Moussa Faki and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Kagame is expected to make a speech.

He will speak at the Kigali Convention Centre, a dome-shaped auditorium in the centre of the capital, a modern building emblematic of the regeneration of Rwanda since the dark days of 1994.

Kagame will then preside over a vigil at the country’s main football ground. The Amahoro National Stadium — whose name means “peace” in Rwanda’s Kinyarwanda language — was used by the UN during the genocide to protect thousands of people of the Tutsi minority from being massacred on the streets outside.

 Deep Trauma 

In past years, ceremonies have triggered painful flashbacks for some in the audience, with crying, shaking, screaming and fainting amid otherwise quiet vigils.

For many survivors, forgiveness remains difficult when the bodies of their loved ones have not been found and many killers are still free.

A quarter of a century on, the east African nation has recovered economically, but the trauma still casts a dark shadow.

Kagame has kept an authoritarian hold as he steers the small, landlocked East African nation through the economic recovery. Growth in 2018 was a heady 7.2 per cent, according to the African Development Bank (AfDB).

Some 10 leaders are expected to pay their respects, mostly from nations across the continent.

Former colonial ruler Belgium is sending Prime Minister Charles Michel.

French President Emmanuel Macron is not attending but expressed his “solidarity with the Rwandan people and his compassion to the victims and their families” in a statement Sunday.

The statement said Macron would like to make April 7 a “day of commemoration of the genocide” in France, without giving further details.

At the ceremony, France is represented by Herve Berville, a 29-year old Rwandan-born member of parliament in Paris.

Rwanda has accused France of being complicit in the genocide through its support for the Hutu-led government and of helping perpetrators escape.

Paris has consistently denied complicity in the bloodshed, though former president Nicolas Sarkozy in 2010 acknowledged France had made “serious errors of judgement”.

On Friday, Macron appointed an expert panel to investigate France’s actions at the time.

Macron is not the only notable absence; former ally Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is also not attending, amid accusations by Kigali that Uganda is supporting Rwandan rebels.

See Photos Below:

AFP

France To Probe Role In Rwanda Genocide

French President Emmanuel Macron (R) meets French representatives of the Ibuka association for the memory of Rwanda’s genocide, two days ahead of the 25th anniversary of the 1994 genocide, at the Elysee presidential Palace in Paris on April 5, 2019. PHILIPPE WOJAZER / POOL / AFP

 

French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday appointed a panel of experts to investigate France’s actions in Rwanda during the country’s genocide 25 years ago, a subject that has dogged Franco-Rwandan relations since the 1994 massacres.

The commission of eight researchers and historians “will be tasked with consulting all France’s archives relating to the genocide… in order to analyse the role and engagement of France during that period,” the presidency said in a statement.

It will look at the period from 1990 to 1994 to “contribute to a better understanding and knowledge of the genocide of Tutsis,” the statement said.

The findings of the researchers, none of them Rwandaexperts, will be used in material used to teach people in France about the genocide, it added.

READ ALSO: British Pound Steadies As Theresa May Seeks New Brexit Delay

Rwanda has accused France of being complicit in the genocide of an estimated 800,000 mostly ethnic Tutsis through its support for the Hutu-led government of the day.

It also accuses the French forces who were stationed in Rwanda under a UN mandate of having helped some of the perpetrators to escape, with some seeking sanctuary in France, which critics say for years dragged its heels on bringing them to justice.

Macron announced Friday that the judicial unit in charge of prosecuting Rwandan genocide suspects would be boosted so that suspects “could be tried in a reasonable amount of time”.

The creation of the commission and announcement of extra legal resources for genocide cases aim to help further mend the ties between Rwanda and France, which the genocide left in tatters.

Paris has consistently denied claims of complicity in the bloodletting.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who led the Tutsi rebel force that eventually overthrew the genocidal Hutu regime, broke off ties with France between 2006 and 2009 but relations have improved over the past decade.

Confronting France’s past 

Macron had nonetheless caused disappointment among genocide survivors and experts by turning down an invitation to attend this weekend’s commemorations in Rwanda.

Macron’s office cited scheduling issues and announced that Herve Berville, a young MP of Rwandan origin who was orphaned during the genocide and adopted by a French family, would represent France instead.

The 41-year-old president, who came of age after France’s colonial era, has already gone further than his predecessor in lifting the lid on France’s murky past in Africa.

On Friday, he became the first French president to meet with representatives of Ibuka, the biggest association of Rwanda’s genocide survivors.

And last September he acknowledged that France had instigated a system that facilitated torture during Algeria’s 1954-1962 independence war, a conflict that also remains hugely sensitive in France.

He also announced that France would open up its archives on the thousands of civilians and soldiers who went missing during that war.

Franco-Rwandan relations hit their nadir in 2006 after a French judge recommended that Kagame be prosecuted by a UN-backed tribunal over the 1994 killing of Rwanda’s president Juvenal Habyarimana, a moderate Hutu whose death triggered the start of the genocide.

 ‘Errors of judgement’

The turning point came in 2010 when former president Nicolas Sarkozy acknowledged during a visit to Kigali that France had made “serious errors of judgement” in Rwanda.

While falling short of an apology it was seen as a breakthrough in Rwanda, a former Belgian colony which France jealously defended before the genocideas part of its sphere of influence in Africa.

The relationship hit turbulence again however under Socialist president Francois Hollande, before Macron’s election set the stage for a new chapter.

During a visit to Paris last year Kagame appeared impressed by his French counterpart, later praising him for taking a “fresher”, less paternalistic approach to Africa than his forerunners.

“It’s a change from the neo-colonial positions of the past,” he told Jeune Afrique magazine.

AFP

Facebook Bans Myanmar Army Chief Over Rights Abuses

Facebook Faces 'Oppenheimer Moment' Over Trump Scandal

Facebook on Monday banned Myanmar’s army chief and other top military brass after a UN investigation recommended they face prosecution for genocide for a crackdown on Rohingya Muslims.

The site is the prime source of news and information for many in a country that only recently came online following nearly half a century of military rule.

But it has also been a platform for the army and Buddhist hardliners to spread hate speech and incendiary posts against the stateless Rohingya and other minorities.

The site aired support for the military’s bloody “clearance operations” last year that forced some 700,000 Rohingya over the border into Bangladesh.

UN investigators lambasted the platform earlier this year, saying it had morphed into a “beast” in Myanmar.

In recent months the tech giant has embarked on a huge PR campaign, admitting it has often been too slow to take down inflammatory posts.

It blacklisted two firebrand Buddhist monks and an Islamophobic group notorious for spreading anti-Muslim propaganda.

But this is the first time it has touched the country’s military.

“We are banning 20 Burmese individuals and organizations from Facebook — including Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of the armed forces,” the platform said, adding that it wants to prevent them from using the service to “further inflame ethnic and religious tensions”.

Facebook has some 18 million accounts in the country of 51 million people and is also relied on heavily by the government to make announcements.

Millions of followers

Army chief Min Aung Hlaing had two active Facebook accounts, one boasting 1.3 million followers and the other 2.8 million.

Posts in both English and Burmese would refer to the Rohingya as “Bengali”, implying they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and helping reinforce the idea they do not belong in mainly Buddhist Myanmar.

His pages also featured denials of atrocities during the crackdown, which was justified by the army as a legitimate means of rooting out Rohingya militants.

Both accounts were taken down immediately as the explosive UN report circulated.

The accounts of five other top military leaders specifically mentioned in the report were also blacklisted.

A total of 18 Facebook accounts — not all the individuals listed in the ban had a presence on the network — one Instagram account and 52 Facebook pages were removed.

The accounts were followed by a total of almost 12 million people, Facebook said, adding that data had been preserved.

Rights groups have long criticised the platform for taking days to delete malicious posts, by which time many had gone viral. These include calls for the killing of a Muslim journalist and the spreading of messages to both Buddhists and Muslims saying that the other community was preparing to attack them.

The UN report singled out Facebook for its “slow and ineffective” response.

It also strongly criticised civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi for failing to use her position and moral authority to stand up for the Rohingya against the military.

Neither the commander-in-chief nor the president’s office could be reached for comment.

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has addressed the violence in Myanmar on several occasions including at a congressional hearing earlier this year.

He told lawmakers Facebook planned to hire more native speakers to help monitor the situation and had partnered with civil society groups to identify perpetrators of hate speech.

“We’re hiring dozens of more Burmese-language content reviewers, because hate speech is very language-specific,” he said at the April hearing in the US Senate.

“It’s hard to do it without people who speak the local language, and we need to ramp up our effort there dramatically.”

AFP

Former Guatemala Dictator Rios Montt, Accused Of Genocide Dies At 91

In this file picture taken on April 30, 2013, former Guatemalan de facto President (1982-1983) retired General Jose Efrain Rios Montt, gestures during his trial on charges of genocide during his regime, in Guatemala City. PHOTO: Johan ORDONEZ / AFP

 

Efrain Rios Montt, a former military dictator who ruled Guatemala between 1982 and 1983 and who was facing retrial on genocide charges, died on Sunday aged 91, sources close to his family said.

One of his lawyers, Luis Rosales, told reporters that Rios Montt “died in his home, with the love of his family and a clear conscience.”

Rios Montt is accused of being responsible for the murders of 1,771 indigenous Ixil-Maya people during his short reign, which came at the height of a brutal 36-year civil war.

A May 2013 trial delivered a conviction and an 80-year sentence against Rios Montt — the first time a Latin American ex-dictator had been convicted of genocide.

But that verdict was overturned just days later by Guatemala’s constitutional court because of a “procedural error,” and a new trial was ordered.

That trial of Rios Montt and his spy chief, Jose Rodriguez, was halted in 2016 after an appeals court ruled each man should be tried separately.

Rios Montt’s lawyers sought to block further proceedings against their client, arguing his health was too poor and he suffered from dementia.

Denied charges

According to the UN, some 200,000 people died or were made to disappear during the Guatemala’s long, brutal civil war, which ended in 1996.

Rios Montt was accused of orchestrating an extermination policy against the indigenous population, which was perceived to be collaborating with left-wing guerrillas waging war against government forces.

He denied the charges in his original trial.

“I never authorized, never signed, never ordered an attack against a race, an ethnicity or a religion. I never did it!” he said at the time.

Short in stature and vigorous into old age, the former dictator had a humble beginning, with little to suggest a rise to national power.

He was born in Guatemala’s remote Huehuetenango province, near the border with Mexico.

He enlisted in the army as a teenager and rose through the ranks, receiving training courses at the US-run School of the Americas, where Latin American officers learned harsh tactics used in crackdowns on dissidents.

Politically, Rios Montt came to the forefront in 1974 when, as a brigadier general, he was put forward as a coalition presidential candidate.

Historians say he won an overwhelming victory, but electoral fraud prevented him from taking office. Another general, Kjell Eugenio Laugerud, took power instead.

As a consolation prize, Rios Montt was sent to Spain as the military attache.

US support

Upon returning home three years later, he turned away from Catholicism, his religion of birth, and became a fervent evangelical Christian.

On March 23, 1982, he took power in a bloodless coup, deposing Lucas Garcia.

During his 18-month rule, ruthless even by the standards of Latin American dictators, Rios Montt engaged in a “scorched earth” policy against dissidents, wiping out entire rural towns where leftists were suspected of living or having support.

He appointed so-called faceless judges who mounted summary trials and ordered numerous alleged criminals — often leftist rebel sympathizers or militants — executed.

Rios Montt also used his office to preach to his people: every Sunday night, dressed in a combat uniform, the dictator would take to the airwaves and talk about God, morality and politics.

He claimed in one such sermon that a “good Christian” lived their life “with a bible and a machine gun.”

As conflicts raged in nearby Nicaragua and El Salvador, then US president Ronald Reagan praised Rios Montt in 1982 as “a man of great personal integrity and commitment.”

Congressional immunity

But as evidence of gross human rights violations mounted, Rios Montt’s defense minister, General Oscar Mejia, ousted him from office in August 1983.

In 1989 Rios Montt founded the right-wing Guatemalan Republican Front (FRG), which reached national power with the election of Alfonso Portillo (2000-2004).

Portillo was arrested in 2010 on corruption charges and ended up being extradited to the United States, where he spent a little over a year in prison for money-laundering.

Rios Montt managed to avoid prosecution by entering Congress, where he enjoyed parliamentary immunity.

The ex-general served as a legislator between 1990 and 2003, including a stint as head of the chamber.

He also launched three unsuccessful presidential bids.

Courts blocked two of those attempts on grounds that he led a coup to take office, and by the time his lawyers won the right for him to run in 2003 his popularity had waned considerably.

When Rios Montt’s final term in Congress ended in 2012, along with his parliamentary immunity, he was slapped with charges of genocide and put under house arrest.

AFP

‘Mladic To Appeal Life Sentence’

Former Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic (R) enters the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), on November 22, 2017, to hear the verdict in his genocide trial. PHOTO: Peter Dejong / POOL / AFP
Former Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladic is to appeal his life sentence, his son said Wednesday, calling the judgement by a United Nations war crimes court “war propaganda”.
“This sentence is unjust and contrary to the facts and we will fight it on appeal to prove that this judgement is wrong,” Darko Mladic told reporters shortly after his father was found guilty of 10 charges, including genocide and war crimes in the 1990s Balkans conflict.

 

“Today justice has been replaced by war propaganda,” Darko Mladic said.

United Nation judges earlier today, November 22 sentenced former Bosnian Serbian commander Ratko Mladic to life imprisonment after finding him guilty of genocide and war crimes in the brutal Balkans conflicts over two decades ago.

The trial of the man dubbed “The Butcher of Bosnia” was the last before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and comes as the court prepares to close its doors next month.

AFP

‘Butcher of Bosnia’ Found Guilty Of Genocide

This combination of pictures created on November 22, 2017, shows (L) Ratko Mladic then Bosnian Serb General looking on in Sarajevo on February 15, 1994, and (R) Mladic smiling as he enters the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), on November 22, 2017, to hear the verdict in his genocide trial. PASCAL GUYOT, Peter Dejong / AFP

 

 

United Nation judges on Wednesday sentenced former Bosnian Serbian commander Ratko Mladic to life imprisonment after finding him guilty of genocide and war crimes in the brutal Balkans conflicts over two decades ago.

The trial of the man dubbed “The Butcher of Bosnia” was the last before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and comes as the court prepares to close its doors next month.

The court found him guilty on 10 counts including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the 1992-1995 war that killed 100,000 people and displaced 2.2 million as ethnic rivalries tore apart Yugoslavia. But they found him not guilty of genocide in the municipalities.

“For having committed these crimes, the chamber sentences Mr Ratko Mladic to life imprisonnement,” presiding judge Alphons Orie said, adding the crimes were “amongst the most heinous known to human kind”.

After rumours he would not attend the hearing, the former general, 74, who once cut a swathe of fear against Bosnia, gave a thumbs-up as he entered the courtroom in The Hague.

But in extraordinary scenes he was ordered to be dragged from the court, when in an outburst he accused the judges of lying, after they refused to adjourn because he had high-blood pressure.

“The circumstances were brutal. Those who tried to defend their homes were met with ruthless force. Mass executions occurred and some victims succumbed after being beaten,” Orie said, outlining the facts of the case against Mladic.

“Many of the perpetrators who had captured Bosnian Muslims showed little or no respect for human life, or dignity.”

‘Guilty of all’

Wednesday’s verdict has been long awaited by tens of thousands of victims across the bitterly-divided region, and dozens gathered early outside the courtroom in The Hague, many clutching photos of loved ones who died or are among the 7,000 still missing.

“Bosnia and Herzegovina: No impunity for war criminals!”, read one banner, while another had a picture of Mladic with a human skull saying: “Guilty of all!”

“We will see today. Will he be found guilty or will he be seen as a hero?” Munira Subasic, president of the Mothers of Srebrenica, told AFP before the verdict.

Prosecutors said Mladic and his political counterpart Radovan Karadzic sought through ethnic cleansing to “permanently remove” Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats from areas claimed by Bosnian Serbs.

Darkest episode

Caught after 16 years on the run, Mladic was found guilty of the 1995 massacre in northeastern Srebrenica, where troops under his command slaughtered almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys.

The killings, in which the victims were marched away, shot in the back and dumped in mass graves, was one of the darkest episodes in the conflict, and has been called the worst atrocity on European soil since World War II.

Once a brutish military commander who strode around in combat fatigues, Mladic was also found guilty of “personally directing” a 44-month campaign of sniping and shelling to terrorise citizens in Bosnia’s capital Sarajevo, which left about 10,000 dead.

Mladic was also found guilty of taking hostage more than 200 NATO military personnel and keeping them as human shields to prevent NATO air strikes against the Bosnian Serb army.

Prosecutors had called for a life sentence, after a five-year trial in which almost 600 witnesses testified and more than 10,000 exhibits were presented.

‘Time for justice’

But defence lawyers — who in the past few days filed a flurry of requests to have their ailing client’s health assessed — have slammed his trial as “political”, had called for an acquittal.

After suffering at least three strokes, Mladic has been left with “part paralysis of the entire right side of his body,” lawyer Dragan Ivetic said.

For victims of the atrocities committed by the Bosnian Serb army however, it was time for Mladic to face justice.

Subasic, who said she had begged Mladic to spare her son at Srebrenica, told AFP the truth had to be unveiled.

“We need truth, we need justice. Without justice there’s no trust, without trust there’s no reconciliation,” she said.

For Fikret Alic,a survivor of a Bosnian Serb camp, told AFP: who was in “I hope justice will be done by this verdict, so that people will stop suffering. It will send a message to the world.”

AFP

Krzysztof Krauze’s Rwanda Genocide Film Premiers Three Years After His Death

Polish film director Joanna Kos-Krauze showed her film ‘Birds are singing in Kigali’ at the 52nd International film festival in the western Bohemian spa of Karlovy Vary.

Kos-Krauze started working on the Rwandan genocide drama together with her husband and longtime co-operator, director Krzysztof Krauze, who died in 2014. Three years after his death the film now premiered in the main competition of the Karlovy Vary film festival.

Three years after his death the film now premiered in the main competition of the Karlovy Vary film festival.

The film tells the story of Polish ornithologist Anna, who goes to Rwanda in 1994 – just as the Hutu majority unleashes genocide against the smaller population of Tutsis.

Anna manages to save the daughter of a local colleague whose entire family has been murdered and takes her to Poland.

Later, Anna follows Claudine back to Africa and there she observes the Tutsi woman’s search for traces of her former life and graves of her family members.

“It was natural for us because the Holocaust happened in Poland, we are dealing with the consequences till today. We cope in different ways, sometimes Poles cope very well, sometimes very badly, as shown with the Jedwabne case where dialogue is still very difficult,” Kos-Krauze said of the film.

“We were aiming to do a film about the Holocaust for a long time, but we couldn’t find a story where we could tell the story using a new language. In the end, we decided, after spending almost six years in Africa and after arriving in Rwanda that we will try to join these two elements. And that’s how it started. Also, looking at what is going on in Europe at the moment.”

Polish actress Jowita Budnik said she had an unusual experience in Rwanda.

“In reality filming in Rwanda took place at the end of the making of the film. They comprise around one-third of the film, the whole story,” she said. “But we spent a lot of time in Rwanda, I spent around three months there, it’s an unusual experience, totally different country and culture. We also remembered we are making a film about a terrible genocide and despite the beauty of the country and wonderful people it was hard to forget.”

Rwandan actress Eliane Umuhira said playing a role in a film that tells a story of that magnitude was scary at first.

She said, “It is a big responsibility, it’s a very big responsibility because the story I tell is the story of million people who died but also another million people who survived them and who went through the same process, the same trauma and have to heal.

“At first I was a bit afraid when I took the role that I may not do justice to the story and then, later on, I realised that actually it is a good opportunity to share with the world what we went through but also how we came up and now we are living.”

More than 300 film makers will be introduced at this year’s edition of the Karlovy Vary film festival and some 200 films from around the world will be shown. The festival is intended for both film professionals as well as the general public. It runs until July 8.

Saudi To Probe Deadly Air Strikes On Yemen Funeral House

Yemen Blast, Saudi Arabia, US, Houthi Rebels
Since 2014, thousands have been killed in the conflict between the Houthi Rebels and the Saudi led coalition

The coalition fighting Yemeni rebels led by Saudi Arabia says it will investigate how more than 140 people died in air strikes at a funeral in Sanaa, the country’s capital.

The investigation as announced by Saudi authorities will start immediately and would involve American forensic experts.

Earlier, the Saudi Arabian government debunked the allegations made by the rebel Houthi-run government that the coalition was responsible for the deaths following its air strikes.

The air strikes targeted the funeral of the father of country’s Minister for Interior, Galal al-Rawishan.

In a statement released by the Saudi-led coalition, the Joint Incidents Assessment Team in Yemen and experts from the United States will lead the investigations.

It added that though the situation is regrettable, its troops have been instructed not to target civilian populations.

Meanwhile, the United States is set to carry out its own independent investigation into the air strikes.

The spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, Ned Price said the collaboration of the US with Saudi Arabia over investigations is “not a blank cheque”.

Allegations of Genocide

The spokesman of the Houthi spokesman, Mohammed Abdul-Salam said an attack of such magnitude amounts to “genocide”.yemen bomb expolsionjpg

Mr Abdul-Salam also revealed the aid workers who were first responders at the scene of the air strikes were “shocked and outraged”.

UN humanitarian co-ordinator for Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, condemned Saturday’s strikes on the funeral as a “horrific attack”.

The International Committee of the Red Cross confirmed that it had prepared 300 body bags, adding that there were a lot of people in the building before the strikes.

Thousands of people, especially civilians, have been killed in clashes since 2014 when the Saudi-led coalition gave its backing to the internationally-recognized government of Yemen.

Minority Killings By ISIS ‘Should Be Recognised As Genocide’ – British MPs

British MPs on genocideOver 60 British parliamentarian in a letter to Prime Minister, David Cameron, have said that the killing of minorities by the Islamic State (ISIS) should be recognised as genocide.

The lawmakers urged Mr Cameron to use his influence to reach an agreement with the UN that the term genocide be used.

The letter said that this would send the message that those responsible would be caught, tried and punished.

The MPs claimed that ISIS had been systematically killing minority groups including Iraqi and Syrian Christians and Yazidis.

The UN has cited the Yazidis’ treatment by ISIS, as evidence that the Jihadist group may have committed genocide and war crimes in Iraq.

The Jihadist group has also been trying to eradicate minority groups from large parts of the country, human rights organisations have warned.

The letter, written by MPs Rod Flello and David Alton, said there was clear evidence of ISIS assassinations of church leaders, mass murders, torture, kidnapping for ransom in the Christian communities of Iraq and Syria and “the sexual enslavement and systematic rape of Christian girls and women”.

It also said that the group was carrying out “forcible conversions to Islam”, the destruction of churches, monasteries, cemeteries, and Christian artifacts and theft of lands and wealth from Christian clergy.

The letter read: “This is not simply a matter of semantics.

“There would be two main benefits from the acceptance by the UN that genocide is being perpetrated.

“It would send a very clear message to those organising and undertaking this slaughter that at some point in the future, they will be held accountable by the international community for their actions; they will be caught, tried and punished.

“It would also encourage the 127 nations that are signatories to the convention to face up to their duty to take the necessary action to ‘prevent and punish’ the perpetrators of these evil acts”.

Congo Arrests Rwandan Former Mayor Wanted For Genocide

rwanda mayorDemocratic Republic of Congo has arrested a former Rwandan mayor accused of orchestrating the killing of tens of thousands of people during the 1994 genocide, Rwanda’s prosecutor general said on Thursday.

Ladislas Ntaganzwa, who headed the commune of Nyakizu in southern Rwanda, was indicted in 1996 and is accused of genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide as well as extermination, murder and rape, Prosecutor General Richard Muhumuza said in a statement.

“The National Public Prosecution Authority is pleased to announce the recent arrest of Ladislas Ntaganzwa, one of the last fugitive suspects sought by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda,” Muhumuza said.

The tribunal’s indictment, updated in 2012, accuses Ntaganzwa of plotting to exterminate Rwanda’s Tutsi population and personally ordering the massacre of more than 20,0000 Tutsi civilians in one parish in April 1994.

The United States has offered up to $5 million for information leading to his arrest.

Ntaganzwa was arrested on Sunday in the town of Nyanzale in North Kivu province during an operation against the headquarters of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a Rwandan Hutu militia, said Congo’s army spokesman, Leon Kasonga.

The FDLR is based in eastern Congo. Its leaders include senior figures in the genocide who fled into Congo after overseeing the slaughter of some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda between April and July 1994.

Ntaganzwa is not a member of the FDLR, the group’s spokesman, La Forge Fils Bazeye, told Reuters.

In a statement on Thursday, the U.N. Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals urged Congo to immediately transfer Ntaganzwa to Rwanda for trial.

Muhumuza said in his statement that Rwanda was prepared to prosecute Ntaganzwa before a specialised international crimes chamber of its High Court.

The Tanzania-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has convicted 61 people for involvement in the genocide, including leading military and government officials. New cases are expected to be heard by Rwandan courts or a separate tribunal backed by the United Nations.

Kasonga said Ntaganzwa is being held in the eastern city of Goma and would soon be transferred to the capital Kinshasa before any decision was made about extradition.

More than 20 years after the genocide, Rwanda is still pursuing perpetrators at home and internationally.

Ntaganzwa is one of nine high-profile fugitives identified by the tribunal.