Category Archives: Rwanda

Forever in Chains: The Tragic History of Congo

Nsala, of the district of Wala, looking at the severed hand and foot of his five-year old daughter, Boali, who was killed and allegedly cannibalized by the members of Anglo-Belgian India Rubber Company (A.B.I.R.) militia. Source: E. D Morel, King Leopold's rule in Africa, between pages 144 and 145

Nsala, of the district of Wala, looking at the severed hand and foot of his five-year old daughter, Boali, who was killed and allegedly cannibalized by the members of Anglo-Belgian India Rubber Company (A.B.I.R.) militia. Source: E. D Morel, King Leopold’s rule in Africa, between pages 144 and 145

FRIDAY 28 JULY 2006

The most blighted nation on earth goes to the polls this weekend – more in hope than expectation that stability and peace might result. In Congo, mass suffering has been a way of life ever since the Belgian King Leopold enslaved millions in the 19th century. Paul Vallely traces the story of a people for whom the horror never let up

One picture sums it up. It shows a man named Nsala sitting on the porch of a missionary’s house in the Congo. His face is a portrait of impenetrable sorrow.

Before him lie a small hand and foot. It is all that remains of his five-year-old daughter who has – together with his wife and son – been killed, dismembered, cooked and eaten by soldiers.

The photograph was taken during the biggest atrocity in recorded African history. And it was perpetrated not by Africans, but by Europeans.

No one knows how many people died, but it was at least three million men, women and children. Some historians say it was five million, or 10 million. The Encyclopaedia Britannica has said that as many as 30 million people may have perished.

It is but a single chapter in the long and bloody history of the Congo. This weekend, voters go to the polls in Democratic Republic of Congo for the first elections in 40 years, during which havoc has been wreaked by despotism and war. But will Sunday’s poll do anything to change lives there for the better?

The first that was written of the hot and humid river basin that straddles the Equator on the west of the great African continent came from Portuguese travellers in the 15th century. They had encountered a place called the Kingdom of Kongo and, with its capital city of Mbanza Kongo, it had a population close to half a million people. It was a highly developed state at the centre of an extensive trading network.

Merchants traded all manner of raw materials, the most precious of which was ivory, but which also included a wealth of manufactured goods such as copper and ironware, raffia cloth and pottery. It was also a centre for the buying and selling of individuals captured in war. Long before the arrival of the Europeans, the slave trade existed. The ruler was a king who rejoiced in the title of “Mother of the King of Kongo”.

Not much more was heard of the place in Europe until the great Victorian missionary explorer David Livingstone discovered that quinine was the key to unlocking the African interior. He became a hero and a household name in the second half of the 19th century, but then disappeared into the bush. The New York Herald sent another intrepid Briton to find him, and the young man, Henry Morton Stanley, walked into the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations with his greeting: “Dr Livingstone, I presume?”

Across the other side of the globe, King Leopold II of the Belgians read about it over breakfast in the The Times, which was thrown from the continental mail train into the grounds of his palace each morning. (His butler ironed it before the monarch read it.)

Leopold had been of the opinion for some time that “il faut à la Belgique une colonie”. He didn’t want to miss the chance of getting a good slice of what he called the “magnifique gâteau africain”. But he was having a hard time persuading the Belgian government to agree. So he decided to acquire a colony by himself. In doing so, he ignited what came to be called “the scramble of Africa”.

Stanley’s encounter with the Congo was being hailed as the most important geographical “discovery” ever made in Africa. The king summoned the Welshman and in 1878 commissioned him to go back – under the guise of an international scientific and philanthropic association, which he called the International African Society – to negotiate with the local chiefs.

Over the five years that followed, Stanley concluded some 400 “cloth and trinket” treaties with the Congo chiefs. The Africans thought they were signing friendship pacts, but they were in fact selling their land.

Leopold, who was devious as well as greedy, persuaded the world that he was acting from humanitarian motives. In 1884, the The Daily Telegraph, perspicacious as ever, opined: “Leopold II has knit adventurers, traders and missionaries of many races into one band of men under the most illustrious of modern travellers [Stanley] to carry to the interior of Africa new ideas of law, order, humanity and protection of the natives.”

That year, at the Berlin Conference called by Bismarck to carve up Africa – which no African attended, even as an observer – Leopold displayed some nifty footwork. He persuaded the Iron Chancellor that, in order to exclude Germany’s rivals, Britain and France, from the important new region, it would be best to declare it a free trade area and give it to him. Not to Belgium, not even to the Belgian crown, but to him personally.

Without ever setting foot there, Leopold II had become the owner of nearly a million square miles of unmapped jungle, 75 times the size of Belgium itself. Ivory was what the king had his eye on. And, though plenty of it was yielded, Leopold struggled to make a profit. In 1895, he tried to give the colony to the Belgian government because it was costing him too much.

But then a Scot called Dunlop invented the pneumatic tyre for his bicycle, and the worldwide boom in rubber began. In the Congo, wild jungle vines that yielded the stuff grew everywhere. The natives would slash them and lather their bodies with the rubber. All that Leopold needed to do was to persuade the natives to scrape it off into huge baskets for him.

He did this by setting quotas of both rubber and ivory for each village, for which they were paid a pitifully low fixed price set by his officials on the ground. Each community was told to provide 10 per cent of their number as full-time forced labourers, and another 25 per cent part-time. It was a form of slavery.

Stanley, who supervised all this, became known in Kikongo as Bula Matari (the Breaker of Rocks), a tag the people later transferred to the Congolese state itself. The scheme was a huge success; by 1902, the price of rubber had risen 15 times in eight years, and it constituted 80 per cent of the exports of “The Congo Free State”, as Leopold had dubbed it.

Free is what the people were not. The symbol of Leopold’s rule was the schicotte – a whip of raw sun-dried hippopotamus hide cut into long sharp-edged strips which could quickly remove the skin from a man’s back. The king established a Force Publique to enforce the rubber quotas. Its soldiers were black – many of them cannibals from the fiercest tribes of upper Congo – but they were led by white officers who routinely supervised the burning of non-compliant villages and the torture and rape of those who were struggling to fill quotas.

One local man spelt out what this meant. “Wild beasts – leopards – killed some of us while we were working away in the forest, and others got lost or died from exposure or starvation and we begged the white men to leave us alone, saying we could get no more rubber, but the white men and the soldiers said, ‘Go. You are only beasts yourselves. You are only snyama [meat].’ Many were shot, some had their ears cut off.”

But the routine penalty for failing to bring in enough rubber was the severing of a hand. Soldiers collected them by the basketload, from the living and the dead. A Baptist missionary wrote a letter to The Times about it: “The hands – the hands of men, women and children – were placed in rows before the commissary who counted them to see that the soldiers had not wasted cartridges.” Officers were worried that the men might waste their ammunition on hunting animals for sport, so they required soldiers to submit one hand for every bullet spent. Hands became a grim currency, traded to make up for shortfalls in rubber quotas. “This rubber traffic is steeped in blood,” the letter-writer said.

Other testimony disclosed how Belgian officers ordered their men “to cut off the heads of the men and hang them on the village palisades, also their sexual members, and to hang the women and the children on the palisade in the form of a cross”. This blood-curdling business carried on for more than 12 years before word leaked out. One of the first to blow the whistle was the captain of one of the riverboats that transported the ivory and rubber downstream to port. His name was Joseph Conrad, and eight years later he wrote a book that has shaped the emotional language in which white people discuss Africa.

It was called Heart of Darkness. The atmosphere it conjures is of fetid fever-ridden ports in an Equatorial river basin surrounded by dense tropical rainforest. It is a climate of persistent high temperatures and humidity, as enervating to the soul as to the body. It is a world of madness, greed and violence, centred on a charismatic ivory trader called Kurtz who turns himself into a demigod to the local tribes and gathers vast quantities of ivory. Eventually, he dies – “The horror, the horror,” his last words.

When the book was published in magazine serial form in 1899, it did not just expose what Conrad was to call “the vilest scramble for loot that ever disfigured the history of human conscience”. It also gave backing to the writings of a man whose campaigns on the Congo the public had been reluctant to believe.

ED Morel was a clerk in a Liverpool shipping office who began to wonder why the ships that brought vast loads of rubber from the Congo returned carrying no commercial goods, but only guns and ammunition. He began to investigate the Force Publique and concluded that Leopold’s well-publicised philanthropy was in fact “legalised robbery enforced by violence”. He wrote: “I had stumbled upon a secret society of murderers with a king for a croniman.”

In 1903, the House of Commons debated the Congo atrocities. The British consul in Congo, Roger Casement, was sent to investigate. The year after, he returned with a vivid and detailed eyewitness report, which was made public. His 1904 report, which confirmed Morel’s accusations and suggested that at least three million people had died, had a considerable impact on public opinion.

Even then, Leopold countered with a wicked publicity campaign to discredit the reports. He even created a bogus Commission for the Protection of the Natives to root out the “few isolated instances” of abuse. But he reckoned without another recent invention – the camera. Before long, horrifying photographs such as the one of the man with his daughter’s little hand and foot, were in circulation.

International opinion was outraged. In America, Mark Twain penned a savage piece of sarcasm called King Leopold’s Soliloquy. In Britain, Arthur Conan Doyle was inspired to write the book The Crime of the Congo, which he completed in eight days. Before long, the American President and the British prime minister were pressing the Belgian government to act.

Leopold offered to reform his regime, but few took him seriously. After two years of agonised deliberation, a further report (which confirmed Casement’s) and a general election, the Parliament of Belgium annexed the Congo Free State and took over its administration. It paid Leopold £2m to compensate him for his sacrifices.

Renamed the Belgian Congo (to contrast with the much smaller French Congo, now the Republic of Congo, to the west), the region became a “model colony”. In the decades that followed the transfer of responsibility to the government of Belgium, large amounts of the wealth produced in the Congo were spent there by the alliance of church, commerce and state.

The missionaries built hospitals and clinics to which large numbers of Congolese had access. Doctors and medics achieved great victories against disease, managing to eradicate sleeping sickness. Many villages had medical posts, and bigger cities had well-equipped hospitals. The church ran schools to which 10 per cent of the people were admitted, comparing favourably with the 6 per cent of the population in school in India and the much lower percentages elsewhere in Africa. The colonial authorities built railways, ports and roads. The mining companies built houses for their staff, provided welfare and technical training.

By the Second World War, production and profits had risen to the point where the Congo was Africa’s richest colony. In the 1950s, life expectancy was 55 years (today, it is 51). By 1959, the year before independence, the Belgian Congo was producing 10 per cent of world’s copper, 50 per cent of its cobalt and 70 per cent of industrial diamonds.

What was missing was the development of a Congolese elite to take over the running of the place. The Congolese had no rights to own land, to vote or to travel freely. There were curfews in towns and forced labour in the countryside. There was no higher education, except for those who wanted to become priests. The Congolese were encouraged to become clerks, medical assistants and mechanics, but not doctors, lawyers or engineers.

At independence, out of a population of 60 million, there were just 16 university graduates. Educated Congolese were given the status of Sévolués, but this won them few privileges when what they wanted, wrote Patrice Lumumba, who was to become the first prime minister of what became Democratic Republic of Congo, “was to be Belgians and have the same freedoms and rights as whites”.

It would come eventually, their colonial masters thought, in perhaps another 100 years. When a Belgian academic suggested a 30-year transition plan was needed, he was greeted with derision. But when the change came, on the back of the sudden tide of African nationalism that swept the continent, accompanied by riots, it happened in just 18 months. The Congo was perhaps the least well-prepared of any colony for independence.

It didn’t help that on Independence Day in 1960, King Baudouin arrived to make a speech praising the “genius” of Leopold II, listing the sacrifices that Belgium had made for the Congo and doling out patronising advice. Prime Minister Lumumba responded with an off-the-cuff speech about the “terrible suffering and exploitation” that had been experienced by “we niggers” and promising: “We shall make of the Congo a shining example for the whole of Africa.” It was not to be.

Lumumba was charismatic, with extraordinary powers of oratory, but he was volatile. Within days of the independence ceremonies, rebellions and violence broke out. The province of Katanga declared independence. Belgium moved troops in. So did the United Nations. Feeling betrayed, Lumumba requested Soviet military aid.

The local CIA chief telegrammed back to Washington that the Congo was “a Cuba in the making” and that Lumumba was a “Castro or worse”. President Eisenhower allegedly authorised that Lumumba be assassinated and a CIA hit man came from Paris with poison to be, bizarrely, injected into the prime minister’s toothpaste. (The local CIA man refused to do it.)

The plot thickened with Dag Hammarskjold, the UN Secretary General, dying in a plane crash in uncertain circumstances while trying to negotiate a ceasefire in Katanga. Letters recently uncovered by South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission suggested that South African agents planted a bomb in the aircraft’s wheel-bay. And, not long afterwards, the Marxist guerrilla leader Che Guevara appeared in the Congo with 100 men in a plot to bring about a Cuban-style revolution.

Amid all that, Patrice Lumumba had fallen out with the Congo’s first president, Joseph Kasavubu. As the pair engaged in a power struggle in September 1960, a military coup overthrew Lumumba in favour of the president. The putsch was staged by the 29-year-old army chief of staff, Colonel Joseph-Désiré Mobutu. Five years later, he staged another one, ousting Kasavubu and beginning his own bizarre 32-year rule.

Lumumba was shot in the bush at the command of a Belgian officer. His body was hacked to pieces and dissolved in sulphuric acid, his skull ground to dust and his bones and teeth scattered – some say by a witch doctor from an aircraft along the country’s borders, to make sure he could not come back from the dead.

Things did not get better. Mobutu sent the Russians packing, which greatly pleased the Americans. So did almost everything else he did, for he staunchly followed US foreign policy in all key matters. It was the height of the Cold War and Africa had become a proxy battlefield. Keeping the Soviets out was more important than anything else. As long as Mobutu did that, and supported anti-Communist rebels in neighbouring countries, Washington would turn a blind eye to anything else.

Mobutu made the most of that. He set up a one-party state that tolerated no dissent. In the early years, he consolidated power by publicly executing political rivals. One rebel leader had his eyes gouged out, his genitals ripped off and his limbs amputated one by one before he died.

Later, Mobutu switched to a new tactic – that of buying off political rivals rather than killing them. He did so by elevating theft to a form of government. A new word was coined to describe it – kleptocracy. At first, he had tried simply printing more money to pay the bills for his schemes. He issued new stamps, coins and currency notes with his portrait on.

There were posters and billboards everywhere. His personality cult reached its peak every night when the television news began with an image of him descending through clouds from the heavens. He put the story about that even his walking stick had magic powers.

In the early years, he launched an African Authenticity campaign. He renamed the country Zaire in 1971. He ordered everyone to drop their Christian names for African ones, rebranding himself Mobutu Sese Seko Nkuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga (“The all-powerful warrior who, because of his endurance and inflexible will to win, will go from conquest to conquest, leaving fire in his wake”). He outlawed hair-straightening, skin bleaching, the wearing of ties and listening to foreign music. He nationalised foreign-owned firms and handed them to relatives and associates.

When the economy slumped, he printed more money. Hyperinflation followed, and even the central bank bought its hard currency on the black market. But he was a Cold War warrior, so the West bailed him out. The more they gave him, the more he stole. Of the $73m education budget one year, schools got only $8m; he pocketed the rest. So it went with every area of government.

Mobutu’s extravagance was legendary. He had villas, ranches, palaces and yachts throughout Europe. Concorde was constantly hired. He didn’t just have Swiss bank accounts; he bought a Swiss bank. He didn’t just get his wife a Mercedes; he bought a Mercedes assembly plant for her. He stashed away nearly $5bn – almost the equivalent of the country’s foreign debt at the time.

Still, the West smiled and paid up to the man Ronald Reagan called “a voice of good sense and good will”. The US gave him a total of $2bn over 30 years. The CIA trained and armed his bodyguards. When rebels attacked him, France airlifted in 1,500 elite Moroccan paratroopers. When that wasn’t enough, a year later Belgium and France deployed troops (with American logistical support).

All the while, the Congo became Africa’s haven for mercenaries, money launderers and diamond smugglers – while its public infrastructure rotted and child mortality rose. Mobutu became the longest-surviving despot of the Cold War era. It was either “Mobutu or chaos”, the US said. But the hapless people of the Congo got both.

Then it was over. The Berlin Wall fell. The Cold War ended. The IMF experts who had been brought in to reform his finances – and left after a year in despair – pulled the plug on his loans. The US would lend no more. Mobutu declared an end to one-party rule, but it was too late.

What finished him off was the decision to back the perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide. After the Hutu genocidaires were chased from Rwanda in 1994, Mobutu gave them shelter in Zaire. More than that; he issued an order forcing Tutsis to leave Zaire on penalty of death. They erupted in rebellion. Rwanda and Uganda joined in, invading eastern Congo in pursuit of the genocidaires. When they met no resistance – the Congolese army being more used to suppressing civilians than fighting – they marched on the capital Kinshasa.

Mobutu – the “all-powerful warrior”, the fifth-richest man in the world, who bled the Congo even more efficiently than King Leopold, and who looted the state into paralysis – escaped on a cargo plane with bullets ripping into the fuselage as it took off. After 20 years of Mobutist dictatorship, in the words of the African historian Basil Davidson: “Zaire remained a state without a nation, a geographical concept without a people.” And Kinshasa la belle had become Kinshasa la poubell – the dustbin.

The new man was Laurent-Désiré Kabila. He presented himself as the heir to the murdered Lumumba. Outsiders hailed him as one of the “new breed” of African leaders. Nelson Mandela paid tribute. The US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, stood next to Kabila early on and said that the Democratic Republic of the Congo (or Democratic Republic of Congo as it was re-re-named) would now emerge as “an engine of regional growth”. Those who knew Kabila thought differently.

His critics sneered that all he had ever run was a brothel in Tanzania. Others recalled the judgement of Che Guevara who had concluded three decades earlier that Kabila was “not the man of the hour”. He was too interested in drinking, bedding women and showing up days late. The lack of co-operation between Kabila and Guevara was what had led to the Cuban-style revolution foundering in the Sixties.

He had not, it seemed, improved with age. Kabila turned out to be another petty tyrant. Secretive and paranoid, he had no political programme and just doled out jobs to family and friends. He made his cousin chief of the armed forces, gave his son a top army job and made his brother-in-law the police chief. Worse, he was as cruel as Mobutu, jailing and torturing opponents, but lacking his skill in playing the ethnic card. He promised elections but never held them.

And he did not learn from Mobutu’s mistakes. Put in power by the Rwandans and Ugandans, he decided to distance himself from them by again supporting the Hutus and allowing them to regroup on Congolese soil. Rwanda had learnt the lessons of the past; it immediately flew 2,000 troops to within striking distance of the capital. Uganda joined in. Kabila was only saved because Angola and Zimbabwe came to his rescue, the former fearing that a power vacuum in the DRC would allow Angolan rebels to flourish, the later trying to play the statesman and grab some mining contracts.

The fighting soon stalemated. But no one was bothered; all involved just used the bases they had established inside the DRC to plunder. The war became self-financing as all sides scrabbled for diamonds, gold and timber.

Suddenly, 70 per cent of the Congo’s coltan – an essential component in making mobile phones – was being exported through Rwanda. And Congo gold turned into a major Ugandan export. Rwanda and Uganda even began to fight each other at one point over control of Kisangani and its diamond fields.

What broke the stalemate was a coup in 2001. The plot failed, but Kabila was assassinated. His son, Joseph Kabila Kabange, became President. The Congo’s warlords were happy, assuming that junior would be a pushover.

But Kabila II had done his military training in China and turned out to be an operator. Within a year, he had successfully negotiated an international peace deal that saw Rwanda withdraw and all the remaining warring parties agree to end the fighting and establish a government of national unity.

Peace has returned to two-thirds of the country – there are factions fighting in the east – and Kabila has delivered the referendum he promised and now, on Sunday, the elections. He is, of course, standing and is, of course, the favourite of the 33 candidates.

The country is still in a dire state. Aid organisations say about 1,200 people die daily due to the effects of the conflict, hunger and disease. The DRC has Aids, low life expectancy and a high rate of child deaths. More than two million Congolese are internal refugees. National output and government revenue slumped – and external debt increased – during the five years of fighting, in which perhaps four million people died.

Even so, this weekend’s elections – the first multiparty elections in 40 years – are the biggest and most costly the UN has organised. Another eastern warlord yesterday agreed to lay down arms. Last month, the world’s largest mining company, BHP Billiton, said it would open an office in Kinshasa once the election is over. Other big mining groups may follow.

The prospects look a little brighter. It may be too soon – in the two-steps-forward, one-step-back world of contemporary Africa – to be optimistic. But, in their terrible story, the people of the Congo hope that, at last, it may be that a corner is being turned.

The horror: from Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’

Paths, paths, everywhere; a stamped-in network of paths spreading over the empty land, through the long grass, through burnt grass, through thickets, down and up chilly ravines, up and down stony hills ablaze with heat; and a solitude, a solitude, nobody, not a hut. The population had cleared out a long time ago. Well, if a lot of mysterious niggers armed with all kinds of fearful weapons suddenly took to travelling on the road between Deal and Gravesend, catching the yokels right and left to carry heavy loads for them, I fancy every farm and cottage thereabouts would get empty very soon. Only here the dwellings were gone, too. Still I passed through several abandoned villages. There’s something pathetically childish in the ruins of grass walls. Day after day, with the stamp and shuffle of 60 pair of bare feet behind me, each pair under a 60lb load. Camp, cook, sleep, strike camp, march. Now and then a carrier dead in harness, at rest in the long grass near the path, with an empty water gourd and his long staff lying by his side. A great silence around and above. Perhaps on some quiet night the tremor of far-off drums, sinking, swelling, a tremor vast, faint; a sound weird, appealing, suggestive and wild – and perhaps with as profound a meaning as the sound of bells in a Christian country. Once a white man in an unbuttoned uniform, camping on the path with an armed escort of lank Zanzibaris, very hospitable and festive – not to say drunk. Was looking after the upkeep of the road, he declared. Can’t say I saw any road or any upkeep, unless the body of a middle-aged negro, with a bullet-hole in the forehead, upon which I absolutely stumbled three miles farther on, may be considered a permanent improvement.

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French Government Exposed in Rwanda’s Genocide

The Imperialist government of France played a heinous role in the Genocide. The painting on wall says France = Killer

By Maryam

Newly evidence documents the role of the French regime in the 1994 Rwanda genocide — and has, once again, put the spotlight on this tragic event and the role of foreign imperialists in it.

In early August 2008, the Rwandan government released a report based on eyewitness accounts that the direct cooperation between the French state and the government of Rwandan Hutus that was in power during the 1994 genocide. This report is consistent with the results of investigations performed by various other organizations, including human rights groups.

According to the Rwandan government, 33 politicians and French army officers are implicated in the infamous genocide in Rwanda, either by giving orders or by their direct actions. The late president Francois Mitterrand, his son Jean Christophe, Prime Minister Edouard Balladur, Alain Juppe and his foreign minister at the time were among the indicated responsible parties.

The background for these events (which annihilated a generation) was the country’s severe economic crisis caused by actions of the International Money Fund and the World’s Bank. For example, in the name of economic reform, the value of the Rwandan currency was sharply devalued. This, in turn, caused changes in the world trade market that triggered a severe drop in Rwanda’s export of key crops like coffee.

On April 4,1994, the Tutsis forces of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), operating with direct US support, shot a missile at a plane, causing the death of the Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana. In the wake of this, the Rwandan regime, urged on by Hutu extremists, unleaded a campaign of vendetta.

The Interahamwe paramilitary force was mobilized to slaughter innocent Tutsi tribespeople and Hutus caught protecting Tutsis. Meanwhile, the French regime sent 2,550 air and ground forces to support the Rwandan state against the RPF. The Rwandan report cites numerous instances of the French forces involved in the killing or giving orders to those who did the killing.

Tutsis and the Hutus, who allegedly were suspected of hiding Tutsis, were executed and their wives raped. From the time of Rwandan occupation, raping women prisoners has been done routinely and systemically by the French soldiers.

Based on direct testimony, some of the atrocious crimes that occurred during the Rwandan genocide had French help. French forces made their bases in the Niaroshishi area. Those foreign bases were protected by Rwandan military forces and the local pro-government paramilitaries.

In one incident three unarmed youth were chased out of a local tea farm and ran toward a French camp. The police and paramilitaries followed the three youth into camp and arrested them with the help of French soldiers and they were never heard from again.

A former member of the Hutu pro-government paramilitaries testifies:

“We rounded up the Tutsis who had exited their camps to gather some wood (including Charles, the teenager who was son of Sambaba,) and killed them. We then buried them in mass graves near guard postings. The French companies came over to check out what we were doing and praised us, gave us meals to express their appreciation and sometimes went out with us during nightly patrolling.”

This genocide went on until over 800,000 Tutsis and Hutu moderates were slaughtered. Finally. Returning Tutsi forces caused over two million of the Hutu population to flee for their lives into adjacent countries.

After the publication of this Rwandan report, the French state has deceitfully denied its role and tries to ignore the report. Those French politicians named in it have counter-charged that the report authors falsified evidence. For example, Harry Maurine, (who was French Minister of Defence during the1994 genocide) declared that this report is unacceptable and that the soldiers of France have done nothing to be ashamed of.

Even after gathering the evidence and producing this report, the Rwandan state has been complacent in holding the French army accountable for their actions. Instead of making the main perpetrators liable for those crimes, the Rwandan state has busied itself arresting Tutsi villagers. Instead of highlighting the roles of imperialists in the mass killing, the country instead arrested over 50,000 people of the Tutsi tribe.

But, due to prison overcrowding, the state had to release about 40 thousand from their jails. The first group to be freed included the sick and the elderly in 2003. Though the government said that their freedom was temporary and conditional and that their final fate would be announced in their local courthouses (called GAKAKA.) Since March 2005, about 12,000 local courthouses were established in villages all over Rwanda to try the released. Most of them were declared innocent.

Historical discords among Tutsi and Hutu Tribes

Before imperialism’s encroachment, the Tutsi and Hutu were living alongside each other in villages and houses of Rwanda country. Tutsi pastoralists and Hutu agriculturalists were organized into small Bantu-speaking states. At the end of World War 1 the Belgium colonizers secured their domination over Rwanda’s people by dividing the two tribes from each other through the use of the eugenics movement in Europe and the United States. They declared the Hutus and Tutsis were two different “races” and issued them a racial identification card which defined each person legally as either Hutu or Tutsi.

By the end of the 1950s, growing political instability ensued rebellions that caused the deaths of between 20,000 and 100,000 Tutsis. By 1959, the royal regime of Tutsi tribe was overthrown and many of this tribe’s people escaped to neighboring states or were expelled to Uganda and the first Tutsi Refugee camps were established.

In 1962 Belgium let go of Rwanda, and that country supposedly became independent. But the civil wars between various imperialist-dependent groups and tribes continued for many years. These wars naturally caused citizens to flee and take refuge in neighboring countries. Uganda applied some of the most inhumane laws and regulations on those refugees. Refugees in Ugandan camps were confined in conditions with less than the basic means of survival. The status of “refugee” was bequeathed on the children that were born in Ugandan refugee camps and they were not recognized as any country’s citizens. Eventually the number of refugees in Ugandan camps had risen so much that the state was forced to let children out of the camps. And in some cases they were able to use opportunities under the United Nations refugee organization to leave Uganda and settle in other countries.

During the political crisis of the late 1960s, the Ugandan administration of Milton Obote passed a bill called the Control of Alien Refugees Act, which declared Rwandese to be a special class subject to arbitrary detention. In 1969 Obote deported all foreigners (this included the descendants of Hutus who had come as migrant laborers in the mid-1920s, and the more recent Tutsi refugees) from Uganda.

This article was originally published in Payam Fedaee #115. We Thank comrade Behrooz Navaii, for translating and telling us about this.

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Forbidding the “G-Word”: Holocaust Denial as Judicial Doctrine in Canada by Ward Churchill

“Where scholars deny genocide, [they] contribute to the deadly psychohistorical dynamic in which unopposed genocide begets new genocides.”

—Roger W. Smith, Eric Markusen and Robert Jay Lifton, “Professional Ethics and Denial of the Armenian Genocide” (1995)

Denial of genocide has become a matter of increasing concern in recent years, primarily as a result of efforts by a relative handful of neo-Nazi “scholars” to rehabilitate their ideological heritage by advancing arguments and “evidence” that the Hitlerian Holocaust of the early 1940s never occurred. (1) So insidious has Holocaust denial been considered by many governments that they have criminalized it, and prosecutions of deniers have occurred in France, Canada and elsewhere. (2) The United States bars known deniers from entering the country, and has supported civil litigation against individuals and institutions engaging in such activities. (3)

A related but far less noticed phenomenon has been the efforts of a significant number of ostensibly more reputable scholars to indulge in a sort of reverse denial. According to this group, the Holocaust undoubtedly occurred, but it was something experienced exclusively by Jews. (4) Here, the fates of the Gypsies, Slavs, homosexuals and others at the hands of the Nazis are routinely minimized and consigned to the ambiguous category of “non-genocidal suffering.” (5)

In their more extreme formulations, proponents of Jewish exclusivism hold not only that the Holocaust was a uniquely Jewish experience, but that it is history’s sole instance of “true” genocide. Exclusivists have gone on record, explicitly and repeatedly, denying that everything from the extermination of the Pequots in 1637, to the Turkish slaughter of more than a million Armenians between 1915 and 1918, to the more recent genocides in Cambodia, East Timor, Bosnia, Rwanda and Kosovo aren’t really examples of genocide at all. (6) Hence, while neo-Nazis deny a single genocide, exclusivists deny many.

There are of course other distinctions to be drawn between Holocaust deniers and those championing the exclusivity of suffering embodied in the Nazi Judeocide. Although their influence often exceeds their actual numbers, (7) the propagandists of neo-Nazism are by any definition a tiny fringe group. Those promoting ideas of Jewish exclusivism, on the other hand, comprise substantial majorities at the very hearts of the academic and media mainstreams. Moreover, their outlook has been adopted as official or quasi-official policy by numerous governments, including most prominently those taking the strongest stands against neo-Nazi deniers. (8) In sum, the Holocaust uniqueness postulations of Jewish exclusivism have assumed the status of an orthodoxy in historical/sociological interpretation, while those of neo-Nazism have not (and hopefully never will).

The reasons for this are not especially mysterious. The magnitude of their people’s catastrophe has generated among Jews an understandable need to find spiritual meaning in the experience, a matter which had led many to an unfortunate perversion of their own tradition in which they, a “chosen people,” were uniquely selected by God to endure the Holocaust. (9) More pragmatically—or cynically—others have realized that such suffering can be translated into a kind of “moral capital” and used to political advantage, particularly in garnering support for the Israeli state. (10) There is thus a clear, and often quite overtly expressed, desire among many Jews to claim an absolute monopoly in terms of genocidal suffering. (11)

For the elites of gentile societies, meanwhile, affirming the pretensions of Jewish Holocaust exclusivism carries with it an automatic absolution: If only the Nazi Judeocide can be qualified as genocide, it follows that only Nazis have ever been perpetrators or beneficiaries of the crime. The point is not insignificant. Genocide has been all but universally decried as a not merely “incomparable,” but an “unthinkable” offense, (12) one defying any possible redemption of those committing it (which is of course why neo-Nazis seek to “prove” their ideological forebears did not engage in it). As the Germans have long since discovered, the citizenry of no nation can take pride in a history besmirched by genocidal comportment. (13) Nor can any citizenry be counted upon to conveniently acquiesce in contemporary policies of genocide carried out in their name.

Far more than mere conceptions of “national honor” are at stake. Among those wishing to see themselves as “good people”—which is virtually everyone—the very term “genocide” provokes such deep and generalized revulsion that any official admission of its descriptive applicability to the national character, even historically, might threaten the hegemony upon which systemic stability largely depends.14 Genocide must therefore be denied at all costs, most often by explaining it away as being or having been something else altogether. For this purpose, constraining perceptions of genocide to the terms set forth by Jewish exclusivism serves non-Jewish interests as readily as Jewish.

Definitional Distortions

Genocide is not an old word, having “naturally” evolved over time to hold meanings contrary to its own. Nor was it meant to serve as a synonym for mass killing. When Raphaël Lemkin coined the term in 1944, he went to considerable lengths in explaining that it was intended to describe policies and processes designed to bring about the dissolution and disappearance of targeted human groups, as such. He wrote “Genocide has two phases, one, destruction of the national pattern of the oppressed group; the other, the imposition of the national pattern of the oppressor.” (15) If these two conditions have been fulfilled, a genocide has occurred, even if every member of the targeted group has survived the process in a physical sense.

Generally speaking, genocide does not necessarily mean the immediate destruction of a nation, except when accomplished by mass killings. It is intended rather to signify a coordinated plan of different actions aimed at the destruction of the essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves. The objectives of such a plan would be a disintegration of political and social institutions—of culture, language, national feelings, religion, and the economic existence of national groups, and the destruction of personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and even the lives of the individuals belonging to such groups. Genocide is directed at the national group as an entity, and the actions involved are directed at individuals, not in their individual capacity, but as members of the national group (emphasis added). (16)

In 1946, Lemkin was retained by the United Nations Secretariat to draft an international convention codifying the crime. Therein, genocide—that is, “policies aimed at eradicating targeted ethnical, racial, national, religious or political groups”—was defined in a twofold way: “(1) the destruction of a group,” and “(2) preventing its preservation and development.” (17) The offending policies were themselves grouped in three categories, all of equal gravity:

· Physical Genocide, meaning outright extermination as well as the imposition of “slow death measures (i.e., subjection to conditions of life which, owing to lack of proper housing, clothing, food, hygiene and medical care or excessive work or physical exertion are likely to result in the debilitation and death of individuals; mutilations and biological experiments imposed for other than curative purposes; and deprivation of livelihood by means of looting or confiscation of property).

· Biological Genocide, meaning the prevention of births among the target group (i.e., involuntary sterilization or abortion, as well as compulsory segregation of the sexes).

· Cultural Genocide, meaning destruction of the specific characteristics of the group (i.e., forced dispersal of the population; forced transfer of children to another group; suppression of religious practices or the national language; forced exile of writers, artists, religious and political leaders or other individuals representing the culture of the group; destruction of cultural/religious shrines or monuments, or their diversion to alien uses; destruction or dispersion of documents and objects of historical, artistic or religious value, and objects used in religious worship). (18)

The draft was then turned over to a committee composed of nation-state delegates to be “revised and condensed” before its submission to the U.N. General Assembly. During this process, the United States and Canada, acting in concert, were able to arrange deletion of almost the entire provision on cultural genocide, as well as all explicit references to slow death measures.19 As the matter was finally framed in international law on December 9, 1948, “genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:”

(a) Killing members of the group;

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on members of the group conditions of life calculated to bring about physical destruction in whole or in part;

(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. (20)

Strikingly, even in this greatly-truncated delineation, only one in five criteria pertain to direct killing. Eighty percent of the legal definition of genocide thus devolves upon nonlethal policies and activities. The responses of the U.S. and Canada to this are instructive. The United States simply refused for forty years to accept the result. Finally, in 1988, embarrassed at being the only country so openly rejecting the rule of law, it attempted a ratification in which it claimed a “right” to exempt itself from compliance whenever convenient. (22)

Canada also submitted an invalid ratification, but much earlier, in 1952. The subterfuge in this case was to write domestic implementing legislation in such a way as to excise from the country’s “legal understanding” those classifications of genocidal policy in which Canada was actually engaged, retaining only those involving “physical destruction… killing, or its substantial equivalents” (that is, Article II(a), (c) and (d) of the 1948 Convention).

For purposes of Canadian law, we believe that the definition of genocide should be drawn somewhat more narrowly than in the [already much narrowed] international Convention so as to include only killing and its substantial equivalents…The other components of the international definition, viz, causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of a group and forcibly transferring children of one group to another group with intent to destroy the group we deem inadvisable for Canada. (23)

In 1985, the parliament went further, removing the prohibition on involuntary sterilization (1948 Convention, Article II(d)) from Canada’s genocide statute. (24) No country, of course, whether it be Canada or the U.S. or Nazi Germany, holds a legitimate prerogative to pick and choose among elements of international law, electing to abide by some and not others. It possess even less of a right to unilaterally “revise” the Laws of Nations in conformity with its own preferences. As the Nazis were informed at Nuremberg, the requirements of customary law are binding, irrespective of whether individual sovereignties wish to accept them. (25)

Nonetheless, taking the cue from their governments, a range of “responsible” scholars shortly set themselves to the task of deforming Lemkin’s concept even further. In 1959, Dutch law professor Pieter Drost published a massive two-volume study wherein he argued that usage of the term “genocide” should be restricted to its physical and biological dimensions, and that cultural genocide should be redesignated as “ethnocide,” a term he erroneously attributed to “post-war French scholars.” (26) Thereafter, biological genocide was also quietly dropped from discussion as writer after writer defined genocide exclusively in terms of killing. (27) Forty years of this continuous “genocide equals mass murder” distortion has yielded an altogether predictable effect, not only on the popular consciousness but on that of many otherwise critical activists and intellectuals. This last is readily evident in the recent release of a book by Native Hawaiian sovereigntist and professor Haunani-Kay Trask, wherein genocide is defined as simply the “systematic killing of a people identified by ethnic/racial characteristics.” (28)

Friends of the Lubicon

Questions arise as to whether, after all this, Lemkinesque understandings of genocide still prevail at all, and if so, whether they retain the capacity to galvanize public sentiment. The answers rest, to some extent, in a handful of examples. In 1968, as part of the Russell Tribunal’s verdict condemning U.S. aggression in Vietnam, Jean-Paul Sartre concluded not only that was the policy itself genocidal, but that colonialism as a system inherently produces genocidal results.29 Considerable support was lent to the latter of Sartre’s findings in 1980, when the Tribunal published a report on conditions imposed upon the indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere.30

Still further expansions on the theme have accrued through publications like Cultural Survival Quarterly, and in the Native resistance movements which emerged during the 1980s in places like Wollaston Lake, James Bay and Big Mountain, Arizona.31 Perhaps the most potent example, however, concerns the experience of a tiny Cree band at Lubicon Lake, in northern Alberta, who have been confronted with sociocultural eradication as the result of maneuverings on the parts of both the federal and provincial governments to allow the Daishowa Corporation, a transnational manufacturer of paper products, to “deforest” their traditional territory (within which government-sanctioned oil and gas exploration had already wrought a noticeable degree of havoc).32

After fruitlessly attempting to negotiate a resolution with both the corporation and participating governmental entities, the band, working through a non-native Toronto-based organization calling itself Friends of the Lubicon (FOL), announced a boycott of Daishowa products in 1991. The FOL made the genocidal impacts of the corporation’s planned clearcutting of Lubicon territory the centerpiece of its effort, developing a well-conceived media campaign to put its message across. As a Canadian court later put it, the “results of the Friends’ campaign against Daishowa…were, in a word, stunning.”33 Not only did typical Canadians prove quite capable of understanding nonlethal modes of genocide, they displayed a pronounced willingness to decline to trade with businesses complicit in such processes. On this basis:

Approximately fifty companies using paper products (mostly paper bags) from Daishowa were approached by the Friends. The list of these companies reads like a Who’s Who of the retail and fast food industries in Ontario—Pizza Pizza, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, Cultures, Country Style Donuts, Mr. Submarine, Bootlegger, A&W, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Woolworth’s, Roots, Club Monaco, Movenpeck Restaurants and Holt Renfrew, to name but a few. Every one of the companies approached by the Friends joined the boycott of Daishowa products. All but two did so…before their stores were picketed…Pizza Pizza was subjected to picketing outside its store on two occasions; Woolworth’s had a single store picketed on two occasions…Both Pizza Pizza and Woolworth’s joined the boycott.34

By 1994, the boycott was costing Daishowa millions of dollars annually in lost sales.35 Under such circumstances, it stood to lose money rather than profiting by cutting timber on Lubicon land. One result was that, although Daishowa had indicated that it would commence logging operations “as soon as the ground freezes over” in the fall of 1991, not a tree was felled.36 As FOL leader Kevin Thomas observed in 1997, the success of the boycott demonstrated clearly that there are viable alternatives for those genuinely opposed to genocide. Rather than simply bearing “moral witness” to what is happening half-a-world away in Tibet or Kosovo, it is entirely possible “to actually make a difference by focusing attention mainly on what our own government is doing right here at home and undertaking direct action to stop it.”37

“This can have a precedential effect,” Thomas suggests. “Halting genocide in one place helps lay the groundwork for halting it in all places. But, for this to happen, it’s essential that people be made aware of what genocide actually is. We’ve all been pretty systematically misled on that score, but if we’re confused, if we can’t recognize genocide for what it is when it’s happening right in front of us, there’s no way in the world we can change anything for the better. That’s why there’s been so much effort expended on keeping everybody confused about it: business as usual pretty much depends on an ability to perpetrate genocide more-or-less continuously, without its being recognized as such and, as a result, without its encountering significant opposition from average citizens.”38

Judicial Repression in Canada

The lesson was lost on neither the corporate nor the governmental sectors of Canada’s status quo. Consequently, naming Thomas and two other key organizers as principle defendants, Daishowa filed a SLAPP suit against the FOL on January 11, 1995. Citing millions in lost revenues and a steady erosion in its client base as damages, the corporation contended that the three men had conspired to employ illegal tactics such as an illegal secondary boycott, and were guilty of defamation by using the word “genocide” in their public outreach efforts.39

Even before the defendants had an opportunity to file a response to the allegations against them, a temporary injunction was issued to prevent them from engaging in boycott activities of any sort for ninety days. By then, Daishowa’s attorneys had requested an interlocutory injunction to extend the prohibition for the duration of the suit. This motion was “substantially dismissed,” but the FOL was ordered not to describe Daishowa’s planned activities as genocidal until a final ruling had been made.40 The following trial ended with one of the more brilliantly obfuscatory rulings in Canadian history.

At one level, Judge J.C. MacPherson’s lengthy verdict was a study in liberal legal scholarship, rejecting in an almost contemptuous tone each of Daishowa’s claims that the FOL’s boycott techniques had been in themselves unlawful. On the contrary, he concluded, “the manner in which the Friends have performed their picketing and boycott activities is a model of how such activities should be conducted in a democratic society.”41 All of this progressive cant, however, was simply a gloss meant to disguise the unmistakably reactionary core of what the judge had to say: that the FOL’s characterization of Daishowa’s corporate policy as genocidal constituted “an enormous injustice…bordering on the grotesque…cavalier and grossly unfair to Daishowa.”42 Having thus found that the FOL had indeed defamed the corporation, he forbade them—and everyone else in Canada—from ever again employing such accurate terminology to describe what the corporation was doing.43

It was not that MacPherson was unaware of the “plight” in which Daishowa’s activities had placed the Lubicons. Indeed, he remarked upon it at some length.

The essential subject matter of everything the Friends say and do is the plight of the Lubicon Cree…There can be little doubt that their plight, especially in recent years, is a tragic, indeed a desperate one…The loss of a traditional economy of hunting, trapping and gathering, the negative effect of industrial development on a people spiritually anchored in nature, the disintegration of a social structure grounded in families led by successful hunters and trappers, alcoholism, serious community health problems such as tuberculosis, and poor relations with governments and corporations engaged in oil and gas and forest operations on land the Lubicon regard as theirs—all of these have contributed to a current state of affairs for the Lubicon Cree which deserves the adjectives tragic, desperate and intolerable.44

Nor was he unaware that imposition of such conditions by “governments and corporations engaged in oil and gas and forest operations” conforms quite precisely with both the etymological and legal definitions of the crime of genocide, even under Canadian law. In his verdict, the judge quoted Raphaël Lemkin, the 1948 Convention and the relevant Canadian statute all three, only to disregard them, along with testimonies of a whole series of expert witnesses,45 in favor of the “plain and ordinary meaning of the word ‘genocide’” contained in Webster’s Dictionary. This, he insisted—although the dictionary actually didn’t—was “the intentional killing of a group of people.”46

MacPherson never specified the point at which he believed the content of abridged dictionaries had come to outweigh black letter legal definition in Canadian jurisprudence.47 Less did he explain how, using his “common sense” approach, anyone is supposed to distinguish between the Nazi extermination of the Jews and such relatively trivial phenomena as the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre (both involve the “intentional killing of a group of people,” and would thus seem to be equally genocidal under the judge’s “plain, ordinary” and utterly absurd interpretation).48 Nevertheless, he went on to assert that characterizations of genocide deriving from other definitions—those found in international law, for example—do not constitute “fair comment” about perpetrators and their activities.49

It follows that organizations like the FOL, devoted not only to direct action but to what even the judge described as a broader “educational” purpose, are left with an ability to confront genocidal processes only by referring to them as something else (which is to say, in effect, by implicitly denying that they are genocide).50 In the alternative, should such groups—or, presumably, the victims themselves—insist upon calling things by their right names, perpetrators have been perfectly positioned by MacPherson’s judicial prevarications to claim “damages” and/or take other legal action against them.

The Wages of Denial

As prominent exclusivist Deborah Lipstadt has noted, the “general public tends to accord victims of genocide a certain moral authority. If you devictimize a people, you strip them of their moral authority,” and thus a substantial measure of their ability to attract public support.51 Lipstadt was writing from an explicitly Jewish perspective, of course, and of her own people’s natural desire to be compensated in various ways for the horrors of the Nazi Judeocide. Her point, however, is equally valid with respect to any genocidally victimized group. Moreover, where genocide is an ongoing process—as with the Lubicons—the need for public support goes not to securing compensation, but survival itself.

This is by no means an academic consideration. Cumulatively, one result of a half-century of “scholarship” by people like Lipstadt has been the functional devictimization of literally hundreds of indigenous peoples, even as their very existence has been systematically extinguished. Refused moral authority by those better stationed to monopolize it for themselves—and thus unable to command public attention, much less support—a truly staggering number of Native societies have been pushed into oblivion since 1950.52 It is in some ways a perverse testament to the effectiveness of exclusivist propaganda that most such passings—whether physical or “merely” cultural—have gone not only unprotested but unnoticed by the general populace.

In this, the convolutions of legalism have played their role. Arcane preoccupations with the standards of proof required in establishing perpetrator intent, and exactly what scale, mode, tempo or proportionality of killing should be necessary for instances of mass murder to be considered “genuinely” genocidal, have done far more to mask than to reveal the realities of genocide. (53) Small wonder that there has never been a concerted attempt by the international community to enforce the 1948 Convention. Now J.C. MacPherson places his personal capstone on the whole sordid situation, entering a ruling which by implication transforms law from its potential as a weapon against genocide into one with which those engaged in it can shield themselves from any sort of effective exposure and intervention.

Denial of genocide, insofar as it plainly facilitates continuation of the crime, amounts to complicity in it. This is true whether the deniers are neo-Nazis, Jewish exclusivists, renowned international jurists or provincial Canadian judges. Complicity in genocide is, under Article III of the 1948 Convention, tantamount to perpetration of genocide itself. It is formally designated a Crime Against Humanity, those who engage in it criminals of the worst sort. There is no difference in this sense between a J.C. MacPherson, a Deborah Lipstadt and an Adolf Eichmann. (54)

And what of the victims? Unquestionably, any group faced with the prospect of systemically-imposed extinction holds not only the right but the obligation to defend and preserve itself by the best means available to it. Afforded the moral currency attending its circumstance, it may well be able to undertake this task both nonviolently and successfully. This, surely, is a primary lesson of the recent collaboration between the Lubicons and the FOL. Denied such currency, however, the victims can hardly be expected to simply “lie down in a ditch and die.” (30) To paraphrase Martin Luther King, Jr., those who endeavor to make the success of peaceful resistance to genocide impossible only make violent resistance inevitable. They can have no complaint, morally, ethically or otherwise, when the chickens come home to roost.

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Endnotes:

1. Pierre Vidal-Niquet, Assassins of Memory: Essays on the Denial of the Holocaust (New York: Columbia University Press, 1992); Deborah Lipstadt, Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory (New York: Free Press, 1993).

2. In France, there was the 1981 trial of Robert Faurisson, the country’s leading denier, for defaming Holocaust witnesses and scholars. In Canada, the most notable cases have been the 1985 prosecutions of James Keegstra, an Alberta school teacher who’d spent fourteen years indoctrinating his students that the Holocaust was a “hoax,” and Ernst Zundel, a Toronto-based publisher who is one of the world’s leading purveyors of such tripe. See Nadine Fresco, “Denial of the Dead: On the Faurisson Affair,” Dissent, Fall 1981; Alan T. Davies, “A Tale of Two Trials: Antisemitism in Canada,” Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Vol. 4, 1989.

3. The primary case in the U.S. was Mel Mermelstein v. Institute for Historical Review, et al., Superior Court of California, Civ. No. 356542 (Feb. 1981); British “historian” David Irving is among those barred from entering the United States because of his record as a denier.

4. See, e.g., Martin Gilbert, The Holocaust: A History of the Jews of Europe During the Second World War (New York: Henry Holt, 1985); Leni Yahil, The Holocaust: The Fate of the European Jewry, 1932-1945 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990).

5. This happens by way both directly and by way of omission. In Deborah Lipstadt’s Denying the Holocaust, for example, there is not so much as an index entry for Gypsies, despite the fact that this smaller people was subject to exactly the same Nazi racial decrees as Jews, were exterminated in precisely the same manner and in the same places as Jews, and, proportionately, suffered equivalent or greater population losses; Ian Hancock, “Responses to the Porrajmos: The Romani Holocaust,” in Alan S. Rosenbaum, ed., Is the Holocaust Unique? Perspectives in Comparative Genocide (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1996). For direct assertions, see, e.g., Michael Berenbaum, ed., A Mosaic of Victims: Non-Jews Persecuted and Murdered by the Nazis (New York: New York University Press, 1990).

6. Although there are literally hundreds of iterations of the notion available from other authors, the most comprehensive assertion that the Nazi Judeocide is “phenomenologically unique” has been that advanced by Steven T. Katz in his massive The Holocaust in Historical Context, Vol. 1: The Holocaust and Mass Death Before the Modern Age (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994).

7. A poll conducted in Italy during the fall of 1992, for example, revealed that nearly 10 percent of the country’s adult population have been convinced that the Holocaust never happened; Jewish Telegraph News Agency, Nov. 11, 1992.

8. Examples of official policy include the quid pro quo entered into between the governments of Israel and Turkey by which the Israelis ban public characterizations of the Armenian genocide as genocide. In exchange, the Turks pronounce the Nazi Judeocide as the “real” genocide. Working together, the two governments were able to prevent the Armenians from being listed as victims of genocide in the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.; Roger W. Smith, Eric Marusen and Robert Jay Lifton, “Professional Ethics and the Denial of the Armenian Genocide,” Holocaust and Genocide Studies, No. 9, 1995. Insofar as it has received not inconsiderable governmental support and endorsement, the Holocaust Memorial Museum itself, though nominally private, may be viewed as an example of quasi-official policy.

9. See, e.g., Arthur A. Cohen, The Tremendium: A Theological Interpretation of the Holocaust (New York: Holmes & Meier, 1981); John Roth and Michael Berenbaum, The Holocaust: Religious and Philosophical Implications (New York: Paragon House, 1989). For critique, see John Murray Cuddahy, “The Holocaust: The Latent Issue in the Uniqueness Debate,” in Philip F. Gallagher, ed., Christians, Jews and Other Worlds: Patterns of Conflict and Accommodation (Landham, MS: University Press of America, 1988); Arno J. Mayer, Why Did the Heavens Not Darken? The Final Solution in History (New York: Pantheon, [2nd ed.] 1990).

10. The term “moral capital” is taken from exclusivist writer Edward Alexander, The Holocaust and the War of Ideas (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 1994) p. 195.

11. E.g., Yehuda Bauer, “Whose Holocaust?” and Edward Alexander, “Stealing the Holocaust,” both in Midstream, Vol. 26, No. 9, 1980.

12. Roger Manvell and Heinrich Fraenkel, The Incomparable Crime; Mass Extermination in the 20th Century: The Legacy of Guilt (London: Hinemann, 1967); Israel W. Charney, How Can We Commit the Unthinkable? Genocide, the Human Cancer (Boulder, CO, Westview Press, 1982).

13. See generally, Richard Evans, In Hitler’s Shadow: West German Historians and the Attempt to Escape from the Nazi Past (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1989).

14. As the Italian theorist Antonio Gramsci described it, hegemony functions by way of a master narrative designed to convince the great mass of people that the prevailing order is natural, right and thus inevitable. Any concession by ruling élites that there is anything fundamentally wrong with the order over which they preside would of course undermine the very belief system upon which their own ascendancy depends; Walter L. Adamson, Hegemony and Revolution: A Study of Antonio Gramsci’s Political and Cultural Theory (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980) esp. pp. 170-9.

15. Raphaël Lemkin, Axis Rule in Occupied Europe: Laws of Occupation, Analysis of Government, Proposals for Redress (Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1944) p. 79.

16. Ibid.

17. U.N. Doc. A/362, June 14, 1947.

18. Ibid. For further discussion, see Robert Davis and Mark Zannis, The Genocide Machine in Canada: The Pacification of the North (Montréal: Black Rose Books, 1973) pp. 15-21.

19. On Canada’s role, see Canada and the United Nations (Ottawa: Dept. of External Affairs, 1948) p. 191. Overall, see M. Lippman, “The Drafting of the 1948 Convention and Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide,” Boston University International Law Journal, No. 3, 1984.

20. U.S.T. _______, T.I.A.S. _______, 78 U.N.T.S. 277 (1948), Article II. The Convention’s third article makes it a crime not only to perpetrate genocide, but to conspire or attempt to commit it, to incite it, or to be otherwise complicit in its perpetration; for text, see Ian Brownlie, ed., Basic Documents on Human Rights (Oxford: Clarendon Press, [3rd ed.] 1992) pp. 31-4.

21. Lawrence LeBlanc, The United States and the Genocide Convention (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1991) pp. 7-12.

22. There can be no question whether parliament was aware its Native residential school policy violated Article II(e) of the Genocide Convention, the prohibition on forced transfer of children. The issue was raised repeatedly during the debates on ratification; Canadian Civil Liberties Association, “Brief to the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, “April 26, 1969, p. 6. Yet this is one of the provisions deleted from the Canadian genocide statute, ostensibly because it had “no essential relevance to Canada where mass transfers of children to another group are unknown”; Special Committee on Hate Propaganda in Canada (1948); quoted in Davis and Zannis, Genocide Machine, p. 23. For background, see J.R. Miller, Shingwauk’s Vision: A History of Native Residential Schools (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1996).

23. Special Committee on Hate Propaganda in Canada (1948); quoted in Davis and Zannis, Genocide Machine, p. 23.

24. Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46.

25. As the matter was put by a principle advisor to the chief U.S. prosecutor at Nuremberg, many of the charges brought against the Nazis were based in upon their violation of “customary international law—a system [evolving] under the impact of common consent and the demands of world security. Acquiescence of all members of the Family of Nations is not necessary for this purpose. All that is needed is reasonable proof of the existence of widespread custom”; Sheldon Glueck, “The Nuremberg Trial and Aggressive War,” Harvard Law Review, No. 59, Feb. 1946, pp. 396-456. This rule was affirmed by the International Court of Justice with respect to the Genocide Convention in an Advisory Opinion issued on May 28, 1951: “The principles inherent in the Convention are acknowledged by civilized nations as binding on [any] country, even [those] without a conventional obligation.” In effect, “reservations” to the Convention like that attempted by the U.S., or attempts to limit its scope by deleting portions of it in domestic implementing statutes, as Canada has, have no legal validity at all; see generally, Robert K. Woetzel, “The Eichmann Case in International Law,” Criminal Law Review, Oct. 1962, pp. 671-82.

26. Pieter N. Drost, Genocide (Leyden: A.W. Sythoff, 1959); The Crime of State (Leyden: A.W. Sythoff, 1959). In actuality, Lemkin himself coined the term “ethnocide” in a footnote on page 79 of Axis Rule—the same page on which the neologism “genocide” itself was invented—explaining therein that the two words are synonyms. Interestingly, subsequent researchers have simply repeated without further investigation Drost’s false attribution of “ethnocide” to French scholarship, as well as his unfounded contention that it describes something other than genocide; see, e.g., Kurt Jonasohn and Frank Chalk, “A Typology of Genocide and Some Implications for the Human Rights Agenda,” in Isador Walliman and Michael Dobkowski, eds., Genocide and the Modern Age: Etiology and Case Studies of Mass Death (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1987) pp. 7, 37.

27. Frank Chalk, “Definitions of Genocide and Their Implications for Prediction and Prevention,” in Yehuda Bauer, et al., eds., Remembering for the Future: Working Papers and Addenda, 2 vols. (Oxford: Pergammon Press, 1989) pp. 76-7.

28. Haunani-Kay Trask, From a Native Daughter: Colonialism and Sovereignty in Hawai’i (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, [rev. ed.] 1999) p. 251.

29. Jean-Paul Sartre and Arlette El Kaim-Sartre, On Genocide and a Summary of the Evidence and Judgments of the International War Crimes Tribunal (Boston: Beacon Press, 1968). Although he was highly critical of Sartre’s “overgeneralized” formulation, Leo Kuper, one of the more astute analysts of genocide, by-and-large incorporated it into his own books: Leo Kuper, Genocide: Its Political Uses in the Twentieth Century (New Haven, CT, Yale University Press, 1981); International Action Against Genocide (London: Minority Rights Group, [rev. ed.] 1984); The Prevention of Genocide (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1985).

30. Russell Tribunal, Report of the Fourth Russell Tribunal on the Rights of the Indians of the Americas (Nottingham: Bertrand Russell Foundation, 1980).

31. Cultural Survival Quarterly is the journal of Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Cultural Survival, Inc. On the resistance movements, see Miles Goldstick, Wollaston: People Resisting Genocide (Montréal: Black Rose Books, 1987); Boyce Richardson, Strangers Devour the Land: The Cree Hunters of the James Bay area versus Premier Bourassa and the James Bay Development Corporation (Post Mills, VT: Chelsea Green Publishers, [rev. ed.] 1991); Ward Churchill, “Genocide in Arizona: The ‘Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute’ in Perspective,” in my Struggle for the Land: Native North American Resistance to Genocide, Ecocide and Colonization (Winnipeg: Arbiter Ring, [rev. ed.] 1999).

32. The story of the Lubicon is quite complex; see John Goddard, Last Stand of the Lubicon Cree (Vancouver/Toronto: Douglas & McIntire, 1991).

33. Daishowa Inc. v. Friends of the Lubicon, Ontario Court of Justice (Gen. Div.), File No. 95-CQ-59707, Verdict of Judge J. MacPherson (Apr. 14, 1998) p. 21.

34. Ibid., pp. 21-2.

35. Thomas Claridge, “Judge to Rule May 19 on Lubicon boycott: Daishowa says $3-million annual sales lost,” Toronto Globe and Mail, May 1, 1995.

36. FOL briefing paper distributed by the Sierra Legal Defense Fund, beginning in 1996 (copy on file).

37. Conversation with Kevin Thomas, June 14, 1997 (notes on file).

38. Ibid.

39. Christopher Genovali, “Multinational Pulp Company SLAPPs Suit Against Activist Group,” Alternatives Journal, Vol. 22, No. 3, 1996.

40. Daishowa Inc. v. Friends of the Lubicon (1995), 30 C.R.R. (2d) 26 (Gen. Div.). The corporation immediately filed an appeal which resulted in reinstatement of the injunction against the FOL’s boycott activities more generally. This higher court ruling was later expanded to prohibit the defendants, their attorneys, and even selected expert witnesses from publicly discussing the case; Christopher Genovali, “Daishowa Tries to Gag Critics,” Alternatives Journal, Vol. 23, No. 2, 1997.

41. Verdict, p. 50.

42. Ibid., pp. 72, 68, 76.

43. Ibid., p. 76.

44. Ibid., pp. 42-3. MacPherson’s description of the situation in which the Lubicon have been placed should be compared with the explanation offered by the Saudi delegate to the drafting committee of what was/is meant by the language contained in Article II(c) of the 1948. This includes not only the “planned disintegration of the political, social or economic structure of a group or nation,” but the “systematic debasement of a group, people or nation”; quoted in Davis and Zannis, Genocide Machine, p. 19.

45. Among the expert witness submissions MacPherson ignored were an article, “Modern Genocide,” prepared by the McGill University law faculty and published in Quid Novi on November 30, 1987 (submitted in evidence as Defense Exhibit 30; Thomas Affidavit); a 1990 letter to Prime Minister Brian Mulroney prepared by the late James J.E. Smith, Curator of North American Ethnography for the Museum of the American Indian/Heye Foundation, in which it is concluded that “social and cultural genocide” is being perpetrated against the Lubicons (Defense Exhibit 4; Ominiyak Affidavit); a 1995 affidavit prepared by Dr. Joan Ryan, an anthropologist who combined 15 years experience documenting the destruction of Lubicon society with the very dictionary definitions the judge relied upon in arriving at an diametrically opposing conclusion. Both Dr. Ryan and I presented direct testimony during the trial. None of this is so much as mentioned in the Verdict.

46. Verdict, p. 71. MacPherson in fact quotes three different dictionaries, none of which posits “intentional killing” as synonymous with genocide. Webster’s refers to “the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political or cultural group (emphasis added).”

47. MacPherson claims to have followed the dictum that “defamatory meaning must be one which would be understood by an ordinary and reasonable person”; Verdict, pp. 70-1. He neglects to mention, however, that the rule pertains only to instances where the terms at issue are not defined in law; R.E. Brown, The Law of Defamation in Canada (2nd ed., Vol. 1, p. 52).

48. Even MacPherson seems a bit uncomfortable with his definition. He suggests at one point that “physical destruction” rather than direct killing alone might add up to genocide. But then, apparently realizing that the sorts of conditions he’s already conceded the Lubicons are suffering would all too obviously fit this description, he simply drops the subject; Verdict, p. 71.

49. Ibid., p. 76.

50. Ibid., p. 39. This clearly goes to compelling the employment of euphemisms, the purpose of which is well-known. The Nazis, after all, referred to their Judeocide as the “Final Solution,” the transport of Jews to Auschwitz and other extermination centers as “Resettlement,” the literal killing therein as “Special Handling.” Such innocuous terminology was designed to obscure genocidal reality and thus constrain the probability of popular revulsion and unrest.

51. Lipstadt, Denying the Holocaust, pp. 7-8.

52. In the United States alone, nearly a hundred such peoples have been declared “culturally extinct” by the federal government during this period; Raymond V. Butler, “The Bureau of Indian Affairs: Activities Since 1945,” Annals of the American Academy of Political Science, No. 435, 1978, pp. 50-60.

53. The implications were brought out clearly in March 1974, when, in one of the few instances where charges of genocide were filed with the U.N. Secretariat, the International League for the Rights of Man, the Inter-American Association for Democracy and Freedom and several other organizations accused the government of Paraguay of physically exterminating the Aché Indians. Paraguay’s formal response to these allegations was that, “Although there are victims and victimizer, there is not the third element necessary to establish the crime of genocide—that is ‘intent.’ As there is no ‘intent,’ one cannot speak of ‘genocide’”; Paraguayan Minister of Defense, quoted in Norman Lewis, “The Camp at Ceclio Baez,” in Richard Arens, ed., Genocide in Paraguay (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1976) pp. 62-3.

54. Those who experience a visceral reaction to my “overstated” comparison should recall that Eichmann was not accused of actually killing anyone. Rather, he was convicted of having devoted his bureaucratic and technical expertise—that is, his intellect—to organizing the delivery of Jews and others to extermination centers; Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (New York: Penguin, 1964).

55. Unidentified Lubicon, quoted in Thomas Affidavit, p. 24.

Liberal Holocaust: Imperialism and the Democratic Party

This is a good article from a website that is now down. I disagree with several parts, particularly the labeling of North Korea as a “Stalinist dictatorship,” referring to the Soviet Union as an “empire,” saying that Titoite Yugoslavia was a “Leninist revolution” and denying the genocidal actions of the Milošević government. Regardless, this article makes a very important point about the Democratic Party, and exposes their true imperialist warmongering nature.

 — Espresso Stalinist 

Many people involved in US anti-war movement(s) have this naive belief that Democrats are not imperialists, that US imperialist policies, such as those pursued by the Bush administration, are just a recent deviation or limited to Republican administrations. In fact, the Democratic Party has a long and bloody history of imperialism. Democrats are imperialists and mass murderers. Nor is this limited to the more conservative democrats; left-liberals have done the same. Liberal governments have slaughtered millions.

Starting shortly before the end of World War Two, Democrats began recruiting many Nazi war criminals and using them to help expand the American Empire. Hitler’s intelligence chief in East Europe Reinhard Gehlen was used by the US, after the war, to build an intelligence network against the Soviets in East Europe. They also dropped supplies to remnants of Hitler’s armies operating in Eastern Europe, to harass the Soviet bloc. Other Nazi war criminals employed by the US included Klaus Barbie, Otto von Bolschwing and Otto Skorzeny. Some of these Nazis later made their way to Latin America, where they advised and assisted US-backed dictatorships in the area.

Harry Truman kicked up anti-communist hysteria, which lead to McCarthyism (which occurred during his administration) and helped start the Cold War. He supported numerous dictatorships, including Saudi Arabia. US involvement in Vietnam started under Truman with the US providing support for the French invaders and the CIA carrying out covert actions. In 1950 his administration issued the ultra-hawkish NSC 68. The subversion of Italian democracy was done by his administration – fearing electoral victory in 1948 by the Italian Communist party, the CIA funded various leftover Mussolinite Brownshirt thugs and other former Nazi collaborators, successfully manipulating the results to ensure pro-US candidates won. A secret paramilitary army was formed to overthrow the government just in case the Communists managed to win anyway.

In the years after World War Two a rebellion against the British puppet government in Greece broke out. This client state was largely staffed by former Nazi collaborators who the British had put back in power. The UK was unable to defeat the left-wing insurgency (which had previously fought an insurgency against the Nazi occupation during World War Two) and asked the US for help. In 1947 Truman invaded Greece and proceeded to crush the revolutionaries, keeping the former Nazi collaborators in power. Truman attempted to justify this by portraying the guerillas as mere pawns of Moscow and therefore a form of covert aggression, but he had no real proof of this. The claim is also based on a double standard: when the USSR (allegedly) covertly supports revolutionaries in another country it constitutes “aggression” and is wrong, but when the US (or UK) send actual military forces to another country in order to prop up unpopular dictatorships this is somehow perfectly just.

At the end of World War Two Japan withdrew its forces from Korea, resulting in a brief period of self-rule. A provisional government was set up in Seoul, but it had little power. Across Korea, workers took over their factories and peasants took over their land. Self-managed collectives were organized. This did not last long, as the US and USSR quickly partitioned the country into a North and a South, under the occupation of each power. In the south Truman installed a brutal military dictatorship, run mainly by former Japanese collaborators, complete with death squads, torture chambers and suppression of all opposition. The United States and its client state suppressed an insurgency, leveled whole villages and massacred thousands of innocent Koreans. The Soviets followed a similar policy in the north, where a Stalinist dictatorship was imposed. Forces from each empire repeatedly clashed until war broke out in 1950. Truman & his propagandists tried to portray the war as an attempt to defend South Korea from Soviet/Northern aggression, but the very existence of South & North Korea was the result of aggression by the US & USSR. The Korean War was an inter-imperialist war between rival empires fighting for territory, rather like a turf war between rival mafia dons, in which lots of ordinary people (who had no real stake in the war) were sent to die for their elite.

These policies of mass murder continued in both the subsequent Eisenhower administration and the next democratic administration, Kennedy. Like every other president since World War Two (and many prior to that) he supported numerous puppet dictatorships that slaughtered thousands – Mobutu, the Shah, etc. Kennedy backed a coup against the democratically elected government in the Dominican Republic because it was too independent. And lets not forget the Bay of Pigs and the many terrorist campaigns against Cuba.

Kennedy also escalated US involvement in Vietnam. During Eisenhower’s term the Vietnamese defeated US-backed French invaders and the war with France was brought to an end. The country was partitioned in two, with the Vietnamese nationalists/Communists taking over the north and the French puppet government temporarily ruling the south. Elections were to be held to reunite the two, but the US intervened to prevent this (because the Communists would have won free elections) and put in power a right-wing dictatorship headed by Ngo Dinh Diem which relied on a reign of terror in order to stay in power. In the late ’50s popular rebellions erupted against this dictatorship. By the time Kennedy came to power the survival of Diem’s dictatorship was increasingly precarious and so Kennedy escalated the situation from state terror to outright aggression. The US military, mainly the air force, was sent to crush the resistance. This failed to defeat the resistance, so Johnson fabricated a bogus attack on US destroyers by North Vietnamese forces and used this as an excuse to escalate the war, launching a full-fledged ground invasion of the south and began bombing the north. US forces set up concentration camps (called “strategic hamlets”) and committed numerous atrocities during the war. Even John Kerry testified:

“Several months ago in Detroit we had an investigation at which over 150 honorably discharged, and many very highly decorated, veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia. These were not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command. … They relived the absolute horror of what this country, in a sense, made them do. They told stories that at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Ghengis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country. … We rationalized destroying villages in order to save them. … We learned the meaning of free fire zones, shooting anything that moves, and we watched while America placed a cheapness on the lives of orientals. … We fought using weapons against those people which I do not believe this country would dream of using were we fighting in the European theater.”

Kerry has since claimed that Vietnam was an exception to the norm, but the evidence presented in this article shows otherwise. This testimony is corroborated by numerous other primary sources, including many Vietnam veterans. Colin Powell admitted these atrocities occurred and defended them, writing in his memoirs (My American Journey):

“If a helo [helicopter] spotted a peasant in black pajamas who looked remotely suspicious, a possible MAM [military-aged male], the pilot would circle and fire in front of him. If he moved, his movement was judged evidence of hostile intent, and the next burst was not in front, but at him. Brutal? Maybe so. But an able battalion commander with whom I had served at Gelnhausen, Lt. Col. Walter Pritchard, was killed by enemy sniper fire while observing MAMs from a helicopter. And Pritchard was only one of many. The kill-or-be-killed nature of combat tends to dull fine perceptions of right and wrong.”

In addition, Powell defends the torching of civilians’ huts in his memoirs. There are also many Vietnam veterans who strongly deny that the United States committed any kind of atrocities or wrongdoing in Vietnam at all, but they are not the first murderers to strongly deny murdering anyone. These are the kinds of atrocities the Democrat’s foreign policy leads to.

Democrats (and Republicans) tried to portray the war as a result of Chinese (or even Soviet) aggression that had to be stopped or else it would cause a “domino effect” leading to “Communist” conquest of the globe. This is shear fantasy.

Vietnam became independent in 1945 and for a brief period of time the whole country was united under the rule of Ho Chi Min and his fellow nationalists and Marxists. Then France invaded, with US support, leading to the creation of “South Vietnam,” which was a foreign puppet from day one. Attacks on it by Vietnamese were no more “aggression” than attacks on the Vichy government by the French resistance. Communists in China didn’t come to power until 1948, whereas Vietnam declared independence in 1945, so portraying the war as “Chinese aggression” is particularly absurd. Eventually, China did provide weapons, money and advisors to Vietnam (as did the USSR), but merely giving supplies to people fighting for independence hardly constitutes “aggression.” If China giving some weapons and supplies to a Vietnamese movement with substantial popular support constitutes “aggression” then what are we to make of the US, which went well beyond sending weapons and sent over 100,000 troops to keep in power a deeply unpopular puppet government? By this kind of logic, the American war for independence constituted French aggression because France gave the rebels support, just as China & Russia gave the Vietnamese support, except France went even further and sent warships to fight the British and help the US win the war. The Vietnam War was a brutal colonial war, started mainly by democrats, against a people struggling for national liberation.

Even if we ignore Vietnam, Johnson was still a murderous warmonger. In 1965 Johnson launched a secret war on Laos, which would eventually drop more bombs on it then were dropped during World War Two, in order to defeat the leftist Pathet Lao. When a popular rebellion erupted against the US-backed dictatorship in the Dominican Republic, LBJ invaded and defeated it, keeping a US puppet government in power. In Brazil LBJ supported and encouraged a fascist coup against the mildly reformist Goulart administration. Johnson also backed a right-wing coup in Indonesia. The previous ruler, Sukarno, committed the crime of trying to stay neutral in the cold war and desiring to build a strong Indonesia independent of foreign powers. So he was removed and general Suharto seized power. The US helped Suharto liquidate dissent and gave him lists of “subversives” to kill. Between 500,000 and a million people were massacred by Suharto in the period following the coup, with the covert help of the Johnson administration. When the Greek ambassador objected to the President’s plan for a resolving a dispute over Cyprus LBJ told him:

“Fuck your Parliament and your Constitution. America is an elephant. Cyprus is a flea. If these two fleas continue itching the elephant, they may just get whacked by the elephant’s trunk, whacked good. … We pay a lot of good American dollars to the Greeks, Mr. Ambassador. If your Prime Minister gives me talk about Democracy, Parliament and Constitutions, he, his Parliament and his Constitution may not last very long.”

In 1965 the Greek king, aided by the CIA, removed Prime Minister George Papandreou (who’s foreign policy was too independent for Washington) from power. In 1967 the Greek government was forced to finally hold elections again, but when it looked like George Papandreou was going to win again a military coup prevented him from coming to power. George Papadopoulos, leader of the coup and head of the new military dictatorship, had been on the CIA payroll for 15 years and was a Nazi collaborator during World War Two.

Carter, the so-called “human rights” president, was also an imperialist warmonger. He continued US support for brutal tyrants in Argentina, El Salvador, Guatemala, etc. Carter supported Pol Pot’s forces after they were thrown out of power due to a war with Vietnam. Under Ford Indonesia invaded East Timor and proceeded to slaughter 200,000 people. Although this invasion occurred under Ford, the worst atrocities happened under Carter’s reign. As atrocities increased, he increased the flow of weapons to the Indonesian government, insuring they wouldn’t run out and could continue massacring Timorese. Carter also backed the massacre in Kwangju by the South Korean military dictatorship. Many of the things which liberals like to blame Reagan for were actually started under Carter. Deregulation began under Carter, as did US support for the Contras in Nicaragua. Six months before the Soviets invaded he also initiated US support for the Islamic fundamentalist terrorists/”freedom fighters” in Afghanistan which would later include Bin Laden.

Bill Clinton was a mass murderer and war criminal, too. He backed numerous dictatorships, continued the proxy war against Marxist guerillas in Columbia and bombed more countries than any other peacetime president, including Iraq, Yugoslavia, Sudan, Somalia and Afghanistan.

Clinton laid siege to Iraq with sanctions, “no fly zones” and bombings, killing 1.5 to 3 million people. UN-approved sanctions on Iraq were originally imposed at the start of the Gulf War in response to the invasion of Kuwait, but continued after the end of the war at US (and UK) insistence. The United States used sanctions as a weapon against Iraq. One military intelligence document titled Iraq Water Treatment Vulnerabilities noted:

“Iraq depends on importing-specialized equipment-and some chemicals to purify its water supply … With no domestic sources of both water treatment replacement parts and some essential chemicals, Iraq will continue attempts to circumvent United Nations sanctions to import these vital commodities. … Failing to secure supplies will result in a shortage of pure drinking water for much of the population. This could lead to increased incidences, if not epidemics, of disease and to certain pure-water-dependent industries becoming incapacitated, including petrochemicals, fertilizers, petroleum refining, electronics, pharmaceuticals, food processing, textiles, concrete construction, and thermal power plants. Iraq’s overall water treatment capability will suffer a slow decline, rather than a precipitous halt … Unless water treatment supplies are exempted from the UN sanctions for humanitarian reasons, no adequate solution exists for Iraq’s water purification dilemma, since no suitable alternatives … sufficiently meet Iraqi needs. … Unless the water is purified with chlorine epidemics of such diseases as Cholera, Hepatitis, and Typhoid could occur … Iraq could try convincing the United Nations or individual countries to exempt water treatment supplies from sanctions for humanitarian reasons. It probably also is attempting to purchase supplies by using some sympathetic countries as fronts. If such attempts fail, Iraqi alternatives are not adequate for their national requirements. … Some affluent Iraqis could obtain their own minimally adequate supply of good quality water from northern Iraqi sources. If boiled, the water could be safely consumed. Poorer Iraqis and industries requiring large quantities of pure water would not be able to meet their needs. … Alternatives are not adequate for their national requirements.”

This and other documents show that the United States intentionally used sanctions to destroy Iraq’s water supply with full knowledge of the consequences. In addition to water problems, the sanctions also interfered with the importation of basic necessities like food and medicine. The UN itself, the organization that implemented the sanctions (due to US/UK insistence), reported that they resulted in mass death. UNICEF found that on average 5,000 children died every month as a result of sanctions. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported in 1995 that 567,000 children in Iraq had died as a result of the sanctions. Those sanctions continued until the invasion in 2003, killing even more. This began under the first Bush administration, but most of it occurred under Clinton’s administration.

In 1996, faced with mounting humanitarian concerns that threatened to end the sanctions, an “oil for food” program was implemented. Officially, this was supposed to allow Iraq to import a limited amount of food and supplies in exchange for limited amounts of oil but in practice it did little to alleviate the suffering of Iraqis caused by the sanctions. Everything imported by Iraq had to be approved by a UN sanctions committee that, due to US/UK influence, frequently stopped or delayed importation of needed supplies. All money Iraq made from the sale of oil was kept by the UN in an escrow account with the bank of Paris and was not at the discretion of the Iraqi government. Some of this was used to pay for administrative costs related to the sanctions and about a third were used to pay reparations to Kuwait, the remainder was inadequate for Iraq’s needs. In 1998 Dennis Halliday, the first head of the UN’s “oil for food” program resigned because the sanctions continued to result in a humanitarian catastrophe. In 2000 Hans Von Sponeck, the new head of the “oil for food” program, resigned for the same reason. On the May 12, 1996 edition of “60 minutes” journalist Lesly Stahl asked Madeleine Albright, Clinton’s secretary of state,

“We have heard that a half million children have died [from sanctions on Iraq]. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?” Albright’s response was, “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it.”

Clinton attacked and dismembered Yugoslavia, using a “divide and conquer” strategy to install US/NATO puppet governments ruling over its corpse. During and after World War Two Yugoslavia underwent its own Leninist revolution, independent of Soviet tanks, and eventually evolved a market socialist economy based on a limited form of worker self-management. Most of the economy was run by enterprises that were officially worker owned, with elected managers, and sold their products on the market. Yugoslavia was a federation of different nationalities in southeastern Europe, with six different republics united under a federal government.

As the Soviet empire declined and fell western financial institutions such as the IMF and World Bank began pressuring Yugoslavia to implement neoliberal capitalist reforms such as privatization, austerity measures and so on.

Yugoslavia implemented these on a limited basis. These programs lead to a declining economy that opened the door for opportunistic politicians to whip up nationalism for their own benefit, scapegoating other nationalities for economic problems. They also stressed relations between the federal government and the republics because money that would have gone to the republics instead went to servicing Yugoslavia’s debt. The United States and Western Europe took advantage of this to encourage the breakup of Yugoslavia into NATO protectorates.

In 1990 separatists won elections in Slovenia, Bosnia and Croatia. The new Croatian government began to persecute the Serb minority living in Croatia, even bringing back the flag and other symbols from when it had been a World War Two Axis puppet government (run by a fascist organization called the Ustase) that attempted to exterminate the Serbs (who were regarded as “subhuman”). Croatian President Franjo Trudjman refused to condemn the Ustase and claimed, “the establishment of Hitler’s new European order can be justified by the need to be rid of the Jews.” Croatia and Slovenia declared independence in 1991. West Europe and then the US recognized Slovenia and Croatia as independent states despite warnings from the UN that this would encourage Bosnia to declare independence and bring about a civil war, which it did.

The Yugoslav federal government fought a small ten-day war with Slovenia, after which Slovenia was allowed to leave Yugoslavia. Croatia and Bosnia fought bloody civil wars with the Yugoslav government. In Bosnia the main forces fighting against the federal government were Croat fascists, supported by Croatia, and Islamic fundamentalists, led by Alija Izetbegovic, who aimed to turn Bosnia into a theocracy similar to Iran or the Taliban. Most of Bosnia’s Serb minority sided with the Yugoslav federal government. The US covertly backed the Islamists and fascists by secretly supplying them with weapons and even flying in Muslim ‘holy warriors’ from Afghanistan so they could join the Jihad. Initially the Islamists and fascists in Bosnia worked together against the Serbs and Yugoslav government. Later they started fighting each other, but US & West European pressure eventually put a stop to that. When the Yugoslav government started winning the war NATO sent in the air force to bomb them and support the separatists. Many atrocities were committed on both sides of the war, but Western governments and media emphasized and exaggerated Yugoslav and Serb atrocities while downplaying or ignoring atrocities committed by the separatists.

In 1995 the war came to an end, in a defeat for Yugoslavia. Under a UN fig leaf, NATO “peacekeeper” troops occupied much of the former Yugoslavia while Bosnia was made into a de-facto NATO colony, occupied by NATO troops and with a “high representative” responsible to foreign powers in charge of the country. Yugoslavia was dramatically shrunk, with only two out of six Republics, Serbia and Montenegro, remaining in the union (Macedonia had been allowed to peacefully leave the union in the early ’90s but at this time was still largely outside the Western sphere of influence).

The next phase of Clinton’s conquest of Yugoslavia began in the late ’90s when the CIA began covertly supporting the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), a terrorist organization that has been linked to Osama Bin Laden. The KLA launched a guerilla war in the Kosovo province of Serbia, advocating independence for Kosovo. In 1999, under the guise of “peace negotiations,” the US/NATO issued an ultimatum demanding Yugoslavia allow NATO troops to occupy the entire country. Yugoslavia obviously refused this unreasonable demand and Clinton used this refusal as an excuse to begin a major bombing campaign against Yugoslavia. After several months of bombing pulverized the country a peace deal was reached allowing NATO “peacekeeper” troops to occupy Kosovo (but not the rest of Yugoslavia), effectively turning the province into a NATO protectorate. A year later a revolt led by US-funded groups and politicians overthrew the Yugoslav government, putting pro-US/NATO leaders in charge. The new government abolished Yugoslavia and became a Western puppet. This conquest was completed shortly after Clinton left office, when KLA forces attacked Macedonia. Macedonia saw the writing on the wall and allowed NATO troops to occupy it. Clinton succeeded in not only ripping Yugoslavia apart, but in achieving US/NATO domination over the Balkans and in forcing an economic system favorable to Western investors on the region. A wave of privatization has swept over the former Yugoslavia, transforming it into a corporate capitalist economy colonized by Western capital.

The standard excuse Clinton used to justify the military interventions in Yugoslavia was that it was supposed to stop “ethnic cleansing”/”genocide” allegedly being perpetrated by the Serbs/Yugoslav government. This is obviously bogus because the US helped instigate the conflicts that lead to the various massacres in the war and also because Clinton largely turned a blind eye towards atrocities committed by separatist forces (like the massacres in Gospic and Krajina). It is also not credible because Clinton ignored other genocides (such as Rwanda) and even funded Turkey’s genocide against the Kurds, which occurred at roughly the same time and resulted in the slaughter of tens of thousands of Kurds.

The death toll of the democrats is quite large:

Greek Civil War: 160,000 (Truman)
Korean War: 3 million (Truman)
Assault on Indochina: 5 million (started under Truman, accelerated under Kennedy & LBJ)
Coup in Indonesia: 1 million (LBJ)
East Timor: 100,000 (Carter)
Kwangju Massacre: 2000 (Carter)
Argentine Dirty War: 30,000 (mostly Carter)
Iraq sanctions: 1.5 million (mostly Clinton)
Turkish Kurdistan: 40,000 (mostly Clinton)

That’s at least 10,8022,000 killed by democrats, 9,292,000 if one only counts the liberal governments (Clinton wasn’t really a liberal). For comparison, the Nazi holocaust killed roughly 6,000,000 Jews. And this is just the tip of the iceberg; these are only the most famous incidents over the last couple of decades. If you add up the total from periods preceding this and the less famous incidents the number get much, much higher. If you add in starvation (a direct result of capitalism) it gets even higher.

Democrats could have stopped the congressional authorization for the Iraq war (via filibustering) but instead lots of them defected to the warmongers’ side. They could have stopped many of the nasty things the Republicans are doing by filibuster but choose not to. Many democrats actively supported the war. Most of those who did oppose it offered little opposition, chickening out when the shooting started and either abstained or voted in favor of the pro-war “support our troops” resolution in March. Even Dennis Kucinich, leader of the “anti-war” opposition in the house, abstained from the vote instead of voting against it. It was only after Bush’s war started going sour that vocal criticism began to come from democrats, which is completely opportunistic. Bush’s lies and fabrications about the Niger Uranium had already been exposed prior to the war, but it wasn’t until after the invasion was completed and the democrats needed an issue to attack Bush with that they started whining about it.

The Democratic Party, the party of slavery, has a long history of mass murder and empire building. They are not an alternative to the American Empire. Especially on foreign policy, there is remarkable consistency between republican and democratic administrations. If the Nuremberg standards were applied every President since World War Two, both democrat and republican, would have to be hung. Both parties have the same basic goals; they just disagree on minor details. It would have been much harder for Bush to conquer Iraq (perhaps politically impossible) if Clinton hadn’t been waging war against it for his entire term. The policies implemented by the US government have more to do with the specific circumstances of the time period then with which particular individual happens to occupy the white house. If a democrat is elected he will inherit this Pax Americana and it is unlikely that he would dismantle it (or even be capable of dismantling it). A vote for the democrats is a vote for imperialism and war (as is a vote for the Republicans).

French Government Exposed in Rwanda’s Genocide

By Maryam

Newly evidence documents the role of the French regime in the 1994 Rwanda genocide — and has, once again, put the spotlight on this tragic event and the role of foreign imperialists in it.

In early August 2008, the Rwandan government released a report based on eyewitness accounts that the direct cooperation between the French state and the government of Rwandan Hutus that was in power during the 1994 genocide. This report is consistent with the results of investigations performed by various other organizations, including human rights groups.

According to the Rwandan government, 33 politicians and French army officers are implicated in the infamous genocide in Rwanda, either by giving orders or by their direct actions. The late president Francois Mitterrand, his son Jean Christophe, Prime Minister Edouard Balladur, Alain Juppe and his foreign minister at the time were among the indicated responsible parties.

The background for these events (which annihilated a generation) was the country’s severe economic crisis caused by actions of the International Money Fund and the World’s Bank. For example, in the name of economic reform, the value of the Rwandan currency was sharply devalued. This, in turn, caused changes in the world trade market that triggered a severe drop in Rwanda’s export of key crops like coffee.

On April 4,1994, the Tutsis forces of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), operating with direct US support, shot a missile at a plane, causing the death of the Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana. In the wake of this, the Rwandan regime, urged on by Hutu extremists, unleaded a campaign of vendetta.

The Interahamwe paramilitary force was mobilized to slaughter innocent Tutsi tribespeople and Hutus caught protecting Tutsis. Meanwhile, the French regime sent 2,550 air and ground forces to support the Rwandan state against the RPF. The Rwandan report cites numerous instances of the French forces involved in the killing or giving orders to those who did the killing.

Tutsis and the Hutus, who allegedly were suspected of hiding Tutsis, were executed and their wives raped. From the time of Rwandan occupation, raping women prisoners has been done routinely and systemically by the French soldiers.

Based on direct testimony, some of the atrocious crimes that occurred during the Rwandan genocide had French help. French forces made their bases in the Niaroshishi area. Those foreign bases were protected by Rwandan military forces and the local pro-government paramilitaries.

In one incident three unarmed youth were chased out of a local tea farm and ran toward a French camp. The police and paramilitaries followed the three youth into camp and arrested them with the help of French soldiers and they were never heard from again.

A former member of the Hutu pro-government paramilitaries testifies:

“We rounded up the Tutsis who had exited their camps to gather some wood (including Charles, the teenager who was son of Sambaba,) and killed them. We then buried them in mass graves near guard postings. The French companies came over to check out what we were doing and praised us, gave us meals to express their appreciation and sometimes went out with us during nightly patrolling.”

This genocide went on until over 800,000 Tutsis and Hutu moderates were slaughtered. Finally. Returning Tutsi forces caused over two million of the Hutu population to flee for their lives into adjacent countries.

After the publication of this Rwandan report, the French state has deceitfully denied its role and tries to ignore the report. Those French politicians named in it have counter-charged that the report authors falsified evidence. For example, Harry Maurine, (who was French Minister of Defence during the 1994 genocide) declared that this report is unacceptable and that the soldiers of France have done nothing to be ashamed of.

Even after gathering the evidence and producing this report, the Rwandan state has been complacent in holding the French army accountable for their actions. Instead of making the main perpetrators liable for those crimes, the Rwandan state has busied itself arresting Tutsi villagers. Instead of highlighting the roles of imperialists in the mass killing, the country instead arrested over 50,000 people of the Tutsi tribe.

But, due to prison overcrowding, the state had to release about 40 thousand from their jails. The first group to be freed included the sick and the elderly in 2003. Though the government said that their freedom was temporary and conditional and that their final fate would be announced in their local courthouses (called GAKAKA.) Since March 2005, about 12,000 local courthouses were established in villages all over Rwanda to try the released. Most of them were declared innocent.

Historical discords among Tutsi and Hutu Tribes

Before imperialism’s encroachment, the Tutsi and Hutu were living alongside each other in villages and houses of Rwanda country. Tutsi pastoralists and Hutu agriculturalists were organized into small Bantu-speaking states. At the end of World War 1 the Belgium colonizers secured their domination over Rwanda’s people by dividing the two tribes from each other through the use of the eugenics movement in Europe and the United States. They declared the Hutus and Tutsis were two different “races” and issued them a racial identification card which defined each person legally as either Hutu or Tutsi.

By the end of the 1950s, growing political instability ensued rebellions that caused the deaths of between 20,000 and 100,000 Tutsis. By 1959, the royal regime of Tutsi tribe was overthrown and many of this tribe’s people escaped to neighboring states or were expelled to Uganda and the first Tutsi Refugee camps were established.

In 1962 Belgium let go of Rwanda, and that country supposedly became independent. But the civil wars between various imperialist-dependent groups and tribes continued for many years. These wars naturally caused citizens to flee and take refuge in neighboring countries. Uganda applied some of the most inhumane laws and regulations on those refugees. Refugees in Ugandan camps were confined in conditions with less than the basic means of survival. The status of “refugee” was bequeathed on the children that were born in Ugandan refugee camps and they were not recognized as any country’s citizens. Eventually the number of refugees in Ugandan camps had risen so much that the state was forced to let children out of the camps. And in some cases they were able to use opportunities under the United Nations refugee organization to leave Uganda and settle in other countries.

During the political crisis of the late 1960s, the Ugandan administration of Milton Obote passed a bill called the Control of Alien Refugees Act, which declared Rwandese to be a special class subject to arbitrary detention. In 1969 Obote deported all foreigners (this included the descendants of Hutus who had come as migrant laborers in the mid-1920s, and the more recent Tutsi refugees) from Uganda.

This article was originally published in Payam Fedaee #115. We Thank comrade Behrooz Navaii, for translating and telling us about this.

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