Entries in Genocide (8)


At Holocaust Memorial, Obama Unveils New Sanctions on Syria, Iran

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama announced new steps Monday aimed at preventing authoritarian regimes from using mobile phone and Internet technologies to perpetrate mass atrocities against their people.

In a somber address at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial and Museum in Washington, his first visit as president, Obama said he had signed an executive order authorizing new sanctions on Syrian and Iranian companies and individuals that use the tools to monitor, track and target dissidents.

“These technologies should be in place to empower citizens, not to repress them,” Obama said. “And it's one more step that we can take toward the day that we know will come, the end of the Assad regime that has brutalized the Syrian people, and allow the Syrian people to chart their own destiny.”

Obama also said he was extending the mission of a group of U.S. military advisers in Uganda who have been helping that country combat the Lord’s Resistance Army, led by Joseph Kony.

The president also announced that he has directed U.S. intelligence agencies to prepare the first-ever National Intelligence Estimate on the potential for mass killings in countries around the world and the potential impact of the events.

The Atrocities Prevention Board, a new advisory panel which Obama established in August, will convene for the first time Monday, Obama said, and would play an integral role in indentifying and addressing what the White House calls “atrocity threats.”

The administration said it would also begin offering “challenge” grants to encourage the private sector to develop new technologies to allow citizens at risk of being victims of genocide or mass killings better share information and communicate with the rest of the world.  

“We need to be doing everything we can to prevent and respond to these kinds of atrocities, because national sovereignty is never a license to slaughter your people,” Obama said.

The president’s visit to the Memorial was billed as an opportunity to formally mark Holocaust Remembrance Day -- officially last Thursday – and to highlight the administration’s record on preventing a similar atrocity from ever happening again.

After touring the museum’s exhibits – an experience Obama described as “searing” – he outlined U.S. diplomatic and military efforts in South Sudan, Cote d’Ivoire, Libya and Uganda to stem human rights abuses and violence against groups of people.

“I made it clear that preventing mass atrocities and genocide is a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United States of America.  That does not mean that we intervene militarily every time there's an injustice in the world.  We cannot and should not,” Obama said.

“It does mean we possess many tools, diplomatic and political and economic and financial and intelligence and law enforcement, and our moral suasion.  And using these tools over the past three years, I believe, I know that we have saved countless lives.”  

Obama was introduced by Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Weisel, who joined Obama on a 2009 visit to the Buchenwald concentration camp, which Obama’s great uncle helped liberate.

“One thing we do know is that it could have been prevented. The greatest tragedy in history could have been prevented, had the civilized world spoken up, taken measures,” Weisel said. “In this place we may ask, have we learned anything from it? If so, how is it that Assad is still in power?”

For his part, Obama said he would keep up the pressure on Assad and other authoritarian regimes until they cease violence on their people.

“Awareness without action changes nothing,” Obama said, adding that the world must not allow the “seeds of hate” to take hold again.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Khmer Rouge Trial for Cambodia’s 'Killing Fields' Gets Underway

Hemera/Thinkstock(PHNOM PENH, Cambodia) -- Thirty-three years after the end of the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror in Cambodia left more than a million people dead at the hands of the communist group, three of its former leaders will go on trial Monday.

Some 1.7 million people were either executed or died of starvation in Cambodia from 1975-1979 when the ultra-Maoist Khmer Rouge forced millions from Cambodia’s cities and tried to turn the country into an agrarian society.  Professionals and the well-educated were considered threats to the regime and were imprisoned, tortured and often slain and dumped into mass graves that became known as the killing fields.

Nuon Chea, the right-hand man of Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot, Khieu Samphan, the head of state during the group’s reign, and Ieng Sary, the Khmer Rouge’s foreign minister, face charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.  The defendants are all in their 80s.

The U.N.-backed tribunal hearing has been moving at a snail’s pace. The judges on the panel were sworn in more than five years ago and the defendants have been in custody since 2007.  Pol Pot died in 1998.

Youk Chhang, the director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, tells the BBC the survivors of the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror want an explanation of why they killed fellow Cambodians.

Chhang says the trial is important because, “People just want to confirm that the Khmer Rouge leadership was guilty of crimes against their own population.”

“That’s going to be very important for the whole country to move beyond victimhood and develop,” he adds.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


ICTR Convicts First Woman in History for Rwanda Genocide

Photos dot com/Jupiterimages(ARUSHA, Tanzania) -- The first woman to be tried and convicted by the International Crime Tribunal for Rwanda was sentenced to life in prison Friday. Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, 65, is considered one of the key instigators in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, which took place in Butare, according to the BBC.

Nyiramasuhuko had long been friends with the wife of President Juvenal Habyarimana, whose assassination, the New York Times reports, incited a mass-slaughter lasting 100 days in 1994.

A once powerful Rwandan politician, Nyiramasuhuko ordered the then-governor to organize mass killings.  When the governor resisted, he was immediately killed, reports say.  Nyiramasuhuko, then ordered the mass-execution of the Tutsi population in her home region.

Nyiramasuhuko's son Arsene Shalom Ntahobali, who she often told to organize the kidnappings and rapes of women and girls in Butare, was also convicted and handed a life sentence.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Ratko Mladic Appears Before Tribunal; Declines to Enter Plea

Serge Ligtenberg/Getty Images(THE HAGUE, Netherlands) -- Former Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic appeared before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague Friday, where prosecutors outlined the 11-count indictment against him for genocide and war crimes.

After the charges were read to him, Mladic, speaking through a translator, said he was a "gravely ill man" and needed more time understand them.  He refused to enter a plea to the charges, which he called "monstrous" and "obnoxious."

"I was just defending my country," Mladic said.

Mladic was indicted by the United Nations tribunal for war crimes that include the 1992 campaign of ethnic cleansing in eastern Bosnia, the establishment of concentration camps in northwest Bosnia, the three-year siege of Sarajevo, the taking of U.N. hostages in 1995 during NATO airstrikes, and the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

He now has 30 days to review the charges and enter a plea.  If he does not, the tribunal's judges will enter not guilty pleas for him.

The next hearing is scheduled for July 4.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Ratko Mladic to Appear Before War Crimes Tribunal Friday

GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images(THE HAGUE, Netherlands) -- Ratko Mladic, the former Bosnian Serb military commander who faces genocide and war crimes charges, will appear before judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia on Friday, according to a spokeswoman for the tribunal.

During his appearance, Mladic will be asked to formally confirm his identity and enter a plea to each of the 11 charges against him.

Mladic was indicted by the United Nations tribunal in The Hague for war crimes that include the 1992 campaign of ethnic cleansing in eastern Bosnia, the establishment of concentration camps in northwest Bosnia, the three-year siege of Sarajevo, the taking of U.N. hostages in 1995 during NATO airstrikes, and the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Ratko Mladic's Extradition Appeal Rejected

GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images(BELGRADE, Serbia) -- Ratko Mladic's appeal to be transferred to a United Nations court, where he faces genocide and war crimes charges, was rejected by Serbian judges on Tuesday.

Serbia's deputy war crimes prosecutor, Bruno Vekaric, told ABC News that Mladic's extradition is expected to come shortly.

Upon arriving at The Hague, Mladic will be taken to a holding cell located on a different floor from where other war crimes suspects awaiting trial are being held, Nerma Jelacic, a spokeswoman for the war crimes tribunal, told ABC News.  He will be given his indictment in Serbian and a list of possible defense lawyers.

The former Bosnian Serb military commander will then undergo a standard medical checkup, at which time the court will issue an official health bulletin and "provide Mladic with adequate care if needed," Jelacic said.

Within 24 to 48 hours of his arrival, Mladic will appear before the court to enter his plea before the three-member panel of judges.

The president of the tribunal, Mehmed Guney, said "the trial could last between a year-and-a-half and two years."

Mladic was indicted by the War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague for war crimes that include the 1992 campaign of ethnic cleansing in eastern Bosnia, the establishment of concentration camps in northwest Bosnia, the three-year siege of Sarajevo; the taking of U.N. hostages in 1995 during NATO airstrikes, and the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Serbs Protest Arrest of Ratko Mladic on Genocide Charges

Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images(BELGRADE, Serbia) -- Clashes between Serbian police and protesters broke out in downtown Belgrade Sunday as up to 10,000 ultra nationalists protested against the arrest and proposed extradition of Ratko Mladic on charges of genocide.

The protest rally was called by the Serbian Radical party, whose leader Vojislav Seselj is himself in The Hague, also facing war crimes charges.  It is the only major party to criticize the arrest of Mladic.

The demonstrations were aimed at Serbian President Boris Tadic's government, which orchestrated the arrest of Mladic in his cousin's house in the northern Serbian village of Lazarevo, after 16 years on the run.

The protests in front of Serbian parliament came as the 69-year-old former Bosnian Serb general denied, through his son, responsibility for the 1995 massacre at Srebrenica, the worst atrocity Europe has witnessed since the Holocaust.

The War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague has indicted Mladic on charges of committing a range of war crimes -- from the 1992 campaign of ethnic cleansing in eastern Bosnia to the establishment of concentration camps in northwest Bosnia to the three-year siege of Sarajevo to the taking of U.N. hostages in 1995 during NATO air strikes and, the most terrible of all, the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

Despite calls for calm from the event's organizers, towards the end of the protests, groups of young demonstrators threw rocks, bottles and sticks at some of the estimated 3,000 riot policemen.

Hundreds of police operatives, some in full riot gear, some on horseback, moved in against the crowd.  Some beat protesters with batons and kicked them.  One policeman was seriously wounded, dozens of demonstrators were injured, while 100 protestors were detained, according to police.

Mladic's lawyer, Milos Saljic, meanwhile, is fighting extradition on the grounds of Mladic's mental condition, arguing he is not fit to stand trial.

Jurists at The Hague tribunal are carefully reviewing 11 indictments against Mladic, as they await his imminent extradition.  Mladic could be transferred to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in the Hague on Monday or Tuesday, according to the acting president of the Tribunal, Mehmet Guney.

His trial on charges of genocide, including the massacre at Srebrenica, other war crimes and crimes against humanity, could take 18 months to two years to complete.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Former Serbian Military Leader Wanted for War Crimes Arrested

GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images(BELGRADE, Serbia) -- Ratko Mladic, the former Serbian military leader wanted by the Hague Tribunal on genocide and war crimes charges, was arrested in Serbia Thursday, Serbian President Boris Tadic confirmed.

According to an interior ministry official, Mladic was taken into custody in the village of Lazarevo, located about 93 miles outside the capital of Belgrade.

Mladic has been wanted by the tribunal since 1995 for violent actions he is charged with committing -- including murdering close to 8,000 Bosnian men and boys -- during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war.

Following the arrest, Ben Rhodes, President Obama's deputy national security advisor for strategic communications, said the U.S. was "delighted to hear" of Mladic's capture and he congratulated the Serbian police.

Speaking from Deauville, France, where President Obama is for the G8 summit, Rhodes said White House officials look forward to Mladic's trial in the Hague, and that their thoughts and prayers are with those who suffered in the region.

He added that the arrest shows "justice will come to those who carry out these types of crimes against humanity."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio