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WAR CRIMES & GENOCIDE
October 12, 1998
BOSNIA'S BIGGEST MASS GRAVE EXHUMED
Victims are believed to come from local villages
Teams of forensic experts have finished exhuming
the mass grave found last week near the town of Zvornik in eastern Bosnia-Hercegovina.
They say it is the biggest discovered in the country,
containing the bodies of 274 victims. The bodies are now being transported
to Tuzla for identification.
Officials say the victims - some of whom were
found in plastic bags bearing the insignia of the Yugoslav army - appear
to have been local Muslim civilians.
They are believed to have been killed in 1992
when Bosnian Serb forces were carrying out a brutal policy of ethnic cleansing.
Since 1996 around 1,800 bodies have been recovered from mass graves in
the area but few have been identified.
Smaller graves nearby
Officials said on Sunday the newly found mass
grave, located a few hundred metres outside the village of Glumina, is
51 metres long and nine metres wide.
Amor Masovic, head of the Missing Persons Commission,
said some victims were handcuffed, indicating that they had been detained and
The area, part of Bosnia's post-war Serb republic,
is now populated almost entirely by Serbs, some of them refugees from Sarajevo
or other federation areas dominated by Muslims.
Mr Masovic earlier said he believed there were
other smaller graves nearby and that his team would start work there soon.
He said there were still 1,500 persons from the area reported missing.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
says that altogether nearly 20,000 people are unaccounted for from the
brutal three-year conflict.
In a grisly museum in Tuol
Sleng, the Khmer Rouge prison in
Phnom Penh, piles of prisoners' clothes recall Cambodians
who were stripped and trucked out of the capital
to be executed in the killing fields in the 1970's.
SORRY IN CAMBODIA
Defecting Khmer Rouge Leaders Khieu Samphan [L] and
Nuon Chea [R] listen to questions at a news conference on Tuesday.
They said they were sorry for helping to engineer a genocide that killed
as many as two million of their countrymen in the 1970's.
very sorry," Khieu Samphan said, looking red and sullen. "We would like
to apologize and ask our compatriots to forget the past so our nation can
concentrate on the future. Let bygones be bygones."
July 21, 1998
Cambodia's recent history has been violent and
its politics complex. Hundreds of thousands of people met their deaths
in war, and in the killing fields of one of the most murderous regimes
of the 20th century. Below is News online's guide to the turbulent history
of the last 50 years:
Cambodia attained full independence from France
in 1953. Prince Norodom Sihanouk was elected head of state in 1960.
From 1964, the government faced an underground
Marxist insurgent movement, the Khmer Rouge.
Prince Sihanouk was deposed in a right-wing coup
in 1970 led by Lt-Gen Lon Nol, whose government pledged to remove foreign
communist forces and appealed to the United States, engaged in the war
in neighbouring Vietnam, for military aid.
The prince left the country and formed a government
in exile, which was supported by the Khmer Rouge. In 1972 Lon Nol was elected
president of a newly-proclaimed Khmer Republic, but his government's control
became limited to a few enclaves.
The Khmer Rouge
Forces loyal to Prince Sihanouk, mainly comprising
Khmer Rouge fighters, gained control of Phnom Penh in April 1975.
Cambodia was renamed Democratic Kampuchea and,
under the Khmer Rouge, the country was subjected to a radical attempt at social
re-engineering. Towns were evacuated, intellectuals were rounded up and
killed and the rest of the population was subjected to forced labour in
More than a million people died from torture, disease and starvation.
In 1977, it was officially acknowledged that the
country was being run by the Communist Party of Kampuchea, led by Pol Pot.
Prince Sihanouk had been placed under house arrest.
After a campaign of cross-border raids by the
Khmer Rouge into Vietnam, the Vietnamese army launched an invasion of Cambodia
in 1978, capturing Phnom Penh in January 1979.
Under Heng Samrin, a People's Revolutionary Council
pledged to restore basic freedoms, and the country was renamed again, as
the People's Republic of Kampuchea.
But the Khmer Rouge remained active, especially
in the west of the country, near the Thai border. The Vietnam-backed Phnom
Penh government sentenced Pol Pot to death in absentia, saying he was responsible
for the deaths of three million people.
Vietnam launched offensives against a coalition
of anti-Vietnamese resistance groups formed in 1982 by Prince Sihanouk,
his son Prince Norodom Ranariddh and former premier Son Sann. These had
the backing of the Chinese government. Thousands of Cambodian refugees
fled into Thailand.
In 1987, as a result of international diplomatic
pressure, in particular from the Soviet Union and China, Prince Sihanouk
met Hun Sen, chairman of the council of ministers in Heng Samrin's Phnom
Penh government, in Paris.
A series of subsequent meetings resulted in the
withdrawal of Vietnamese forces from Cambodia in 1989.
It was agreed to change the name of the country
back to Cambodia, introduce a new flag and reintroduce Buddhism as the
But fighting continued between forces of the resistance
coalition, led by Prince Sihanouk, and the Phnom-Penh government.
In 1990 the UN Security Council endorsed a framework
for a comprehensive peace settlement in Cambodia, with a UN supervised interim
government and free elections.
Cambodian factions signed the UN peace accord
in Paris in October 1991. Prince Sihanouk returned to Phnom-Penh later
A United Nations Transitional Authority of Cambodia
(UNTAC) began operating in 1992. It was rejected by the Khmer Rouge, who
launched attacks on its operations.
Elections under the UN
The Khmer Rouge also boycotted UN-supervised general
elections in May 1993 which brought Hun Sen and Prince Ranariddh as co-prime
ministers into an uneasy coalition government.
Prince Ranariddh accused Hun Sen of going back
on a power-sharing agreement as Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party took
the upper hand in government. Hun Sen in turn accused Prince Ranariddh
of building up a guerrilla force with defecting Khmer Rouge rebels.
He surrounded Prince Ranariddh's military bases
and, following fighting in the capital, Prince Ranariddh left Cambodia
for France in July 1997, accusing Hun Sen of staging a coup.
The government in Phnom Penh sentenced Prince
Ranariddh to imprisonment in his absence in 1998 on charges of plotting
to overthrow the government with the help of the Khmer Rouge, charges which
He was pardoned by his father, King Sihanouk,
and returned to Cambodia in May 1998.
In the jungle of northern Cambodia, Pol Pot was
denounced by his former Khmer Rouge comrades in a show trial in July 1997,
and sentenced to house arrest for life.
He died in April 1998. Film footage of his cremation
was shown around the world
November 11, 1998
MASSACRE IN BURUNDI
Violence has devastated the entire region in recent
Details are emerging from Burundi of the killing
by government soldiers last week of about 100 people - apparently in retaliation
for a raid by Hutu rebels on a camp for displaced Tutsis.
Witnesses said the soldiers attacked villages
around the camp at Maramvya east of the capital, Bujumbura, during their
search for the rebels who had killed five Tutsis and stolen cattle at the
end of last month.
THE ARMY IS PREDOMINANTLY MADE UP OF MEMBERS OF
THE TUTSI MINORITY, WHICH ACCOUNTS FOR LESS THAN 15% OF BURUNDI'S POPULATION
OF SIX MILLION.
Hutu rebels are fighting to topple the military
government of Pierre Buyoya, a Tutsi.
"They burned many houses and killed 70 persons,
most of them were children and women," said one.
Others, refusing to be identified, said more than
100 were killed.
The local administrator has confirmed that dozens of villagers were killed
- including women and children. A military spokesman in Bujumbura said
it appeared that some civilians had been killed but refused to comment
on who was to blame.
BBC Africa reporter Jane Hawley said the INCIDENT
IS THE BLOODIEST TO BE REPORTED IN THE CIVIL WAR IN BURUNDI SINCE PEACE
TALKS BEGAN LAST JUNE.
MORE THAN 200,000 PEOPLE HAVE BEEN KILLED IN ETHNIC
VIOLENCE IN BURUNDI SINCE 1993 WHEN TUTSI SOLDIERS ASSASSINATED THE COUNTRY'S
FIRST ELECTED HUTU PRESIDENT, MELCHIOR NDADAYE.
A peace process was launched in June, under the
mediation of the former Tanzanian President, Julius Nyerere to try to halt
the vicious cycle of violence.
Three rounds of talks have now been held in the
northern Tanzanian town of Arusha. But a ceasefire agreed in Arusha in
the summer has not been implemented.
September 3, 1998
Amnesty accuses Taleban
of mass murder
Taleban fighters on the front line
The human rights organisation, Amnesty International,
has accused Afghanistan's Taleban movement of systematically killing thousands
of ethnic Hazara civilians in northern Afghanistan.
In a report issued on Thursday, Amnesty said the
killings occurred in the three days immediately following the Taleban's
capture of the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif on 8 August.
Amnesty says its information is based on testimony
from witnesses and surviving members of the victims' families.
Correspondents say there have been persistent
but unconfirmed reports of reprisal killings by the Taleban of ethnic Hazaras
who had supported the Afghan opposition in the first few days after the
capture of the city.
Taleban officials deny all the reports and say
the Amnesty report is based on propaganda by the purist Islamic militia's
The Taleban maintain that all Hazaras who died
were killed in fighting for control of the city.
Iranian diplomats "buried in mass grave"
The Amnesty report also says that a group of Iranian
diplomats who disappeared in Mazar-e-Zarif were reportedly killed and their
bodies buried in a mass grave.
It quotes eyewitnesses as saying that their bodies
were left in the consulate for two days before being buried in a mass grave
at a girls' school.
Taleban authorities have denied having any information
about the whereabouts of the diplomats.
The Taleban leader, Mullah Omar, previously told
the BBC that the diplomats may have been killed by Taleban soldiers without
the leadership's knowledge.
Taleban authorities have released five other Iranian
prisoners, who were arrested when Mazar-e-Zarif was captured, and they
have arrived in the Pakistani capital Islamabad.
Their release followed negotiations involving
the Taleban and Pakistani and Iranian diplomats.
Iran has welcomed the move, but continues to demand
the safe return of a further 45 Iranians that it says the Taleban are still
holding - including the 10 diplomats who Iran says it believes are still
Eyewitnesses report atrocities
The Amnesty International report follows a series
of allegations that the largely Pashtoon Taleban have targeted the Shi'ite
Hazara community in the city.
The organisation says that new information from
eyewitnesses and relatives of victims suggests that the majority of the
killings were carried out in three areas of Mazar - Zara'at, Saidabad and
According to eyewitnesses, Taleban guards ordered
ethnic Hazaras to stay indoors and then entered their houses one by one,
killing older men and children and taking away young men.
Other Hazara victims, allegedly including women,
children and elderly people, were reportedly killed deliberately and arbitrarily
on the streets, as they tried to flee the city.
Amnesty says that in one incident prisoners were
reportedly executed in front of local villagers
Wreaths serve as a small
memorial to 10 Belgian soldiers who were killed by Hutu
members of the former regime's army in 1994. The
Belgians were protecting the Rwandan Prime Minister, a
Tutsi who was also killed. (AP Photo)
September 3, 1998
U.N. COURT ISSUES FIRST GUILTY VERDICT FOR
By JAMES C. McKINLEY Jr.
ARUSHA, Tanzania -- A U.N. tribunal investigating
mass killings in Rwanda handed down the first guilty verdict by an international
court for the crime of genocide Wednesday, and FOR THE FIRST TIME DEFINED
RAPE AS A GENOCIDE CRIME.
The decision, against a small-town mayor, Jean-Paul
Akayesu, was the first verdict after a trial by the Rwanda tribunal, which
has been plagued by mismanagement and corruption since its inception in
The 300-page decision by a three-judge panel,
a result of nearly four years of proceedings, marked a pivotal moment in
and laid the legal groundwork for future prosecutions in U.N. courts. "It
gives us a road map of how we are to proceed," the lead prosecutor, Pierre
Akayesu, the former mayor of Taba, in central
Rwanda, winced once, but then betrayed little emotion as the president
of the tribunal, Judge Laity Kama of Senegal, asked him to stand and then
pronounced him guilty on 9 of the 15 counts in the indictment.
Akayesu faces a maximum penalty of life in prison
when he is sentenced later this month, court officials said. Nicolas Tiangaye,
a lawyer for Akayesu, said his client would appeal the decision to a five-judge
chamber at The Hague. "There are some points we can criticize," he said.
THE JUDGES DISMISSED SEVERAL CHARGES AGAINST AKAYESU
THAT HE HAD VIOLATED THE GENEVA CONVENTIONS ON THE TREATMENT OF VICTIMS
OF WAR, SAYING HE WAS NOT A MILITARY FIGURE WHO COULD BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE
UNDER THOSE TREATIES.
But the judges ruled that Akayesu, as mayor, was
responsible for the killings of more than 2,000 people and the rape of
dozens of Tutsi women in Taba after April 19, 1994, even though police
officers, soldiers and Hutu militiamen had committed the actual crimes.
The U.N. Security Council set up the tribunal
in November 1994 to prosecute top Rwandan officials for one of worst mass
killings in recent history, the slaughter of an estimated 500,000 Tutsi
and moderate Hutu during three months in 1994.
It set up a similar court in The Hague to try
war-crimes cases after the Balkans war. While that court initiated a genocide
trial, the defendant died this summer before the case could be completed.
Before Wednesday, the most important victory for
prosecutors at the Arusha tribunal came May 1, when former Rwandan Prime
Minister Jean Kambanda pleaded guilty to genocide and promised to testify
against other defendants. Kambanda, the first person to accept culpability
for genocide in an international court, is to be sentenced Friday.
Genocide was first defined legally in the Genocide
Convention, which was adopted in 1948 after the Nuremburg and Tokyo trials.
The statute setting up the Arusha court allows
prosecutors to charge people with violations of the Genocide Convention
and with several internationally accepted crimes against humanity -- torture,
murder, rape and extermination -- that were first set down in the Nuremburg
charter. The tribunal is also empowered to charge defendants with violations
of the Geneva Convention on the Treatment of War Victims.
Judge Kama said the evidence was overwhelming
that Akayesu ordered the deaths of several Tutsi intellectuals in his commune,
as well as eight Tutsi from another town who had sought refuge in his office.
The judges also found Akayesu guilty of inciting
villagers to commit genocide in an inflammatory speech on April 19, a harangue
in which he urged people to eliminate Tutsi civilians.
The judges said they were also convinced that
Akayesu had overseen the torture of several Hutu residents in Taba in an
effort to find out where Tutsi residents were hiding.
Throughout the 17-month trial and the testimony
of 42 witnesses, the defense argued that Akayesu had at first tried to
protect the Tutsi in his commune, but found that he was powerless to stop
the Hutu militiamen, whom he maintained were not under his command.
Defense lawyers portrayed Akayesu as a victim
of circumstances, a decent man who continued to try to save Tutsi until
he was forced himself to flee in May 1994. Akayesu lost control of the
town to Hutu killers and has been made a scapegoat for massacres he could
not prevent, his lawyers said.
But the judges accepted the prosecution's version.
Prosper, the prosecutor, argued that Akayesu had
first resisted calls to kill Tutsi neighbors but two weeks later succumbed
to pressure from hardliners in the Hutu-led government and, after April
19, wholeheartedly joined the effort to exterminate Tutsi civilians.
The judges also rejected defense arguments, often
heard among Hutu apologists in Rwanda, that the massacres were an ugly
but unavoidable consequence of the civil war being waged at the time between
Tutsi rebels in the north and the Hutu-dominated government and army.
The evidence proved conclusively a genocide had
taken place, as defined under the 1948 Genocide Convention, Judge Kama
said. Government officials had planned the killings in advance and overseen
them, the judges ruled, and the attackers had killed innocent Tutsi civilians,
not combatants, with an eye toward wiping out all Tutsi in the country.
Judge Kama pointed out that Hutu militiamen had
killed women and children, including infants. They often cut the Achilles
tendons of their victims to prevent them from escaping before they were
"It is clear that the massacres that occurred
in Rwanda in 1994 had a specific object, namely the extermination of the
Tutsi," the judge said. "It was indeed genocide that was committed in Rwanda
In another important ruling, the court held that
the systematic rapes of Tutsi women in Taba also amounted to an act of
genocide. The ruling says rape and sexual aggression fall under a clause
in the 1948 convention defining genocidal acts as those causing "mental
or physical harm to members of a group," lawyers said.
"In the chamber's opinion, they constitute genocide
the same as any other act," Judge Kama said.
During the trial, several witnesses painted a
brutal picture of Akayesu orchestrating horror, ordering murders, condoning
mass rapes and overseeing the killing of children.
They described how Akayesu, who was elected mayor
in 1993, had exhorted Hutu in a speech to ferret out Tutsi neighbors to
kill them, even urging them to rip babies from mother's wombs.
"He said the person who kills a rat never spares
the one who is pregnant, you never spare a pregnant rat," one witness said.
At one point in his month-long reign of terror,
Akayesu ordered all Tutsi children to be stripped and the boys killed.
Later, children of both sexes were murdered on his orders, witnesses said.
Akayesu, a former teacher and school inspector
born in 1953, also led house-to-house searches for certain Tutsi intellectuals,
torturing people for information, witnesses said. In one instance he threatened
to run over a elderly Hutu woman with a car unless she disclosed the whereabouts
of a particular woman.
Witnesses also said Akayesu sanctioned the rapes
of dozens of young Tutsi women who were held at a Cultural Center next
to his office and repeatedly violated. One witness described how he had
allowed militiamen under his control to parade the naked women up and down
and brutalize them sexually before clubbing them to death.
Another witness reported that Akayesu had commented
to militia members after the rape of several women: "So never ask me again
what a Tutsi woman tastes like. Tomorrow they will be killed." The women
were killed the next day.
For many Rwandan survivors of the genocide, Akayesu's
conviction is no comfort. Several said they had come to expect little from
the tribunal, which has spent over $100 million since it was established
and has just this year begun finishing trials.
"People in Rwanda can't be satisfied and it's
understandable," said Chantal Kayitesi, a spokeswoman for a group of Tutsi
widows who survived the genocide. "The survivors are the people who need
justice the most. But we don't know about or understand the procedures
of the tribunal."
In contrast, Rwandan courts have tried at least
330 people for genocide and have sentenced 116 to death, though foreign
lawyers have said the trials do not meet international standards of fairness.
In April, Rwandan firing squads executed 22 people convicted of taking
part in the massacres.
It is still unclear where Akayesu will spend his
sentence, assuming the conviction is upheld on appeal. Norway and Denmark
have both offered to house the tribunal's prisoners.
The tribunal is now holding 26 defendants in Arusha,
four of whom are on trial. Another suspect, Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, is
being held in a Texas prison and has successfully fought extradition to
Arusha. Eight others are under indictment but have not been apprehended.
The tribunal has been criticized by judges and
Rwandan officials for being slow and incompetent. One of the judges who
wrote Wednesday's decision, Lennart Aspegren, has said he will resign this
year in protest, citing bad management and poor working conditions.
But court officials insist they have improved
the tribunal's efficiency. Prosecutors are also seeking approval from judges
to hold mass trials, which would speed the process.
The Akayesu trial took a long time partly because
it was the first, they said, and almost every legal question had to be
decided with no precedents.
"We believe the next set of trials will be faster
than the ones we are about to conclude," a spokesman for the court, Kingsley
Moghalu, said Wednesday. "It's not really that we are slow. It is a problem
that is inherent in the nature of what we are doing."
September 2, 1998
TRIBUNAL CONVICTS RWANDAN GENOCIDE SUSPECT
Jean-Paul Akayesu: found guilty of genocide
A former mayor has been found guilty of genocide
by the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda for his part
in the mass killings of ethnic Tutsis in 1994.
It is the first verdict reached by the tribunal
since it was set up four years ago, and the first ever conviction by an
international court on charges of genocide.
Jean-Paul Akayesu, the former Mayor of Taba commune
in Rwanda, sat impassively behind his defence lawyers
as the court president, Laity Kama of Senegal, said he had been convicted
on nine of the 15 charges against him.
The three judges, sitting in Arusha, Tanzania,
found Akayesu guilty of genocide, crimes against humanity and violations
of the Geneva Conventions relating to the Rwanda massacres of 1994.
The international tribunal will hold a pre-sentencing
hearing on 28 September.
The maximum sentence allowed by the international
tribunal is life imprisonment. In Rwanda itself, those accused of genocide
have been executed by the authorities there.
During the trial, which began 19 months ago, prosecutors
said the defendant had instigated massacres, torture and acts of sexual
THE CRIMES WERE SAID TO HAVE TAKEN PLACE IN MID-1994
WHEN ABOUT ONE MILLION ETHNIC TUTSIS AND MODERATE HUTUS WERE MURDERED IN
Akayesu was alleged to have been in a position
of responsibility when the killings took place.
The court was told that in his area, some 2,000
people were murdered and that he was present at many killings, beatings
DEFENCE CASE REJECTED
The judges rejected defence arguments that Akayesu
was helpless to prevent the massacres because the soldiers and militia
who carried out many of the killings were more powerful than he was as
Judge Laity Kama said that in Rwanda a mayor "was
treated with a lot of deference by the people and had a lot of power."
The killings, he said, had been "meticulously
In its judgement, the tribunal cleared Akayesu
of several charges relating to specific incidents such as the alleged killing
of five teachers in front of a village office.
However, it convicted him on the more general
charges of genocide, inhuman acts, torture, extermination and murder.
MORE TRIALS TO FOLLOW
More than 30 suspects are currently being held
by the tribunal.
On Friday, the tribunal will sentence the former
Rwandan Prime Minister, Jean Kambanda, who, after entering a guilty plea,
has promised to testify against those chiefly responsible for the killings.
***31 August 1998
JAPAN - WWII
RAPE OF NANKING
Bodies were dumped in mass graves at Nanking
August 19, 1998
JAPANESE WAR CRIMINALS MAKE WEB APOLOGY
In an emotional webcast, a group of Japanese war
criminals have recounted their roles in some of the most gruesome events
in military history.
December 13, 1997
THE RAPE OF NANKING - 60 YEARS ON
Thousands of bodies were buried in ditches
Four elderly veterans spoke from Tokyo about atrocities
committed during Japan's occupation of China. A global Internet audience
was able to monitor the event which was beamed to the Simon Wiesenthal
Center's Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.
Shiro Azuma, who took part in what became known
as the RAPE OF NANKING, confessed he had killed 37 women, children and
"We were able to kill them because we despised
them," he said. "We didn't respect their rights. The Japanese army in general
did not respect human rights at all."
As many as 300,000 people were killed as the then-capital
Nanking was looted and burned after its capture in 1937.
"I am so sorry, I would like a judge to punish
me. That is the only way I can repent," said a comrade, Hakudo Nagatomi.
GERM WARFARE EXPERIMENTS
Another soldier, Yoshio Shinozuka, told how he
helped to develop germ warfare while stationed with a medical unit in occupied
He had raised infected fleas on rats and cultivated
typhoid, anthrax, plague and cholera to be used against the Soviet army.
AN HISTORIAN TAKING PART IN THE EVENT, SHELDON
HARRIS, SAID MORE THAN 10,000 PEOPLE HAD BEEN KILLED IN LAB EXPERIMENTS
AND PERHAPS 250,000 IN BIOLOGICAL ATTACKS IN CHINA.
Questions were e-mailed to the veterans or posed
by the audience in Los Angeles.
The organiser of the event, Rabbi Abraham Cooper,
praised the moral courage of the men in speaking out and the presence of
members of the Japanese media after some of their politicians had insisted
atrocities had never taken place.
"We hope that it serves as the education for young
people who don't have to worry about whether NHK [Japan's national broadcaster]
will cover it and can just go to the Website and listen to it for themselves,"
Sixty years ago this weekend, one of the worst
massacres in modern times took place. Japanese troops captured the Chinese
city of Nanking and embarked on a campaign of murder, rape and looting
which lasted for several weeks.
Based on estimates made by historians and charity
organisations in the city at the time, between 250,000 and 300,000 people
were killed, many of them women and children. The number of women raped
was said by Westerners who were there to be 20,000, and there were widespread
accounts of civilians being hacked to death.
The nature of the atrocities is reflected by the
official statue which is being unveiled this weekend. It is simply a severed
Yet, many Japanese officials and historians deny
that there was a massacre on such a scale. They admit that deaths and rapes
did occur, but say they were on a much smaller scale than reported. And
in any case, they argue, these things happen in times of war.
The Sino-Japanese Wars
In 1931, Japan invaded Chinese Manchuria following
a bombing incident at a railway controlled by Japanese interests. The Chinese
troops were no match for their opponents and Japan ended up in control
of great swathes of Chinese territory.
The following years saw Japan consolidate its
hold, while China suffered civil war between communists and the nationalists
of the Kuomintang. The latter were led by General Chiang Kai-shek, whose
capital was at Nanking.
Many Japanese, particularly some elements of the
army, wanted to increase their influence and in July 1937 a skirmish between
Chinese and Japanese troops escalated into full-scale war. The Japanese
again had initial success, but then there was a period of successful Chinese
defence before the Japanese broke through at Shanghai and swiftly moved
on to Nanking.
Chiang Kai-shek's troops had already left the
city and the Japanese army occupied it without difficulty.
"One of the great atrocities of modern times"
At the time, the Japanese army did not have a reputation
for brutality. In the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5, the Japanese commanders
had behaved with great courtesy towards their defeated opponents, but this
was very different.
Japanese papers reported competitions among junior
officers to kill the most Chinese.
One Japanese newspaper correspondent saw lines
of Chinese being taken for execution on the banks of the Yangtse River,
where he saw piles of burned corpses.
Photographs from the time, now part of an exhibition
in the city, show Japanese soldiers standing, smiling, among heaps of dead
Tillman Durdin of the New York Times reported
the early stages of the massacre before being forced to leave. He later
wrote: "I was 29 and it was my first big story for the New York Times.
So I drove down to the waterfront in my car. And to get to the gate I had
to just climb over masses of bodies accumulated there. The car just had
to drive over these dead bodies. And the scene on the river front, as I
waited for the launch ... was of a group of smoking chattering Japanese
officers overseeing the massacring of a battalion of Chinese captured troops.
They were marching about in groups of about 15, machine-gunning them."
As he departed, he saw 200 men being executed
in 10 minutes to the apparent enjoyment of Japanese military spectators.
He concluded that the rape of Nanking was "one of the great atrocities
of modern times."
"The memories cannot be erased"
A Christian missionary, John Magee, described Japanese
soldiers as killing not only "every prisoner they could find but also a
vast number of ordinary citizens of all ages. Many of them were shot down
like the hunting of rabbits in the streets." After what he described as
a week of murder and rape, the Rev Magee joined other Westerners in trying
to set up an international safety zone.
Another who tried to help was an American woman,
Minnie Vautrin, who kept a diary which has been likened to that of Anne
entry for December 16 reads: "There probably is no crime that has not been
committed in this city today. Thirty girls were taken from the language
school [where she worked] last night, and today I have heard scores of
heartbreaking stories of girls who were taken from their homes last night
- one of the girls was but 12 years old...
Later, she wrote: "How many thousands were mowed
down by guns or bayoneted we shall probably never know. For in many cases
oil was thrown over their bodies and then they were burned. Charred bodies
tell the tales of some of these tragedies. The events of the following
ten days are growing dim. But there are certain of them that lifetime will
not erase from my memory and the memories of those who have been in Nanking
through this period."
Minnie Vautrin suffered a nervous breakdown in
1940 and returned to the US. She committed suicide in 1941.
Also horrified at what he saw was John Rabe, a
German who was head of the local Nazi party. He became leader of the international
safety zone and recorded what he saw, some of it on film, but this was
banned by the Nazis when he returned to Germany. He wrote about rape and
other brutalities which occurred even in the middle of the supposedly protected
Confession and denial
After the Second World War was over, one of the soldiers
who was in Nanking spoke about what he had seen.
Azuma Shiro recalled one episode: "There were
about 37 old men, old women and children. We captured them and gathered
them in a
square. There was a woman holding a child on her right arm ... and another
one on her left. We stabbed and killed them, all three - like potatoes
in a skewer. I thought then, it's been only one month since I left home
... and thirty days later I was killing people without remorse."
Shiro suffered for his confession: "When there
was a war exhibition in Kyoto, I testified. The first person who criticized
me was a lady in Tokyo. She said I was damaging those who died in the war.
She called me incessantly for three or four days. More and more letters
came and the attack became so severe...that the police had to provide me
Such testimony, however, has been discounted at
the highest levels in Japan. Former Justice Minister Shigeto Nagano denied
that the massacre had occurred, that it was a Chinese fabrication.
Professor Ienaga Saburo spent many years fighting
the Japanese government in the courts with only limited success for not
allowing true accounts of Japanese war atrocities to be given in school
There is also opposition to the idea among ordinary
Japanese people. A film called Don't Cry Nanking was made by Chinese and
Hong Kong film-makers in 1995 but it has taken until this week to get it
shown in Japan. One cinema in Nagoya, Japan's third largest city with a
population of around two million, has begun screenings. Only around 200
people have been to see it so far.
A family in the ruins of their house in al-Jumhuriya, outside
Basra, Monday. Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, gulf forces commander, expressed
regret but added, "These exchanges have been initiated by Saddam Hussein."
U.S. ADMITS MISSILE MISFIRE MAY
HAVE HIT IRAQ CIVILIANS
By Steven Lee Myers January 26, 1999
WASHINGTON -- American warplanes on Monday attacked
several air-defense sites in northern and southern Iraq, and the Pentagon
said that at least one missile misfired and might have killed several civilians
in a residential neighborhood.
Iraq, eager to rally international opposition
to the American and British control of most of its skies, asserted that
11 civilians died and 59 others were injured in an unprovoked attack by
American jets in an area called al-Jumhuriya, near the southern port city
In previous clashes, Iraq has claimed scores of
civilian casualties and damage to residential and commercial areas from
American raids that later proved unfounded. After Monday's clashes, foreign
journalists in Iraq reported seeing several damaged or destroyed homes
in the area and interviewed civilians who had been injured.
Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, the commander of American
forces in the Persian Gulf region, said the Pentagon had not yet determined
if one of the American jets involved in Monday's clashes was responsible,
but he confirmed that at least one missile had gone astray, missing its
At the Pentagon on Monday afternoon, Zinni said
that American planes patrolling the skies over southern Iraq had attacked
Iraqi air defenses after four Soviet-built MiG fighters flew into the southern
"no flight" zone in what he described as an effort to lure the Americans
into range of surface-to-air missiles.
"We deeply regret any civilian casualties, regardless
of what the cause may be, but these exchanges have been initiated by Saddam
Hussein," he said. "This has been a deliberate set of repeated attacks
against our forces." One defense official said that pilots try to
avoid military targets Iraq has put in residential areas, something Zinni
accused Hussein's military of doing.
The Vatican on Monday criticized the latest air
strikes, going so far as to call them aggression. Clinton is expected to
meet with Pope John Paul II during his visit to St. Louis on Tuesday and
Vatican officials have said Iraq will be among the topics of discussion.
to houses near Iraqi regional intelligence headquarters
CIVILIANS CAUGHT IN THE WAR
1991 Their propaganda success in the baby milk factory controversy delighted
the Iraqis, who took CNN reporter Peter Arnett on field trips to see more
"collateral" damage to civilian sites. With tens of thousands of sorties
flown, Baghdad only managed to produce a half dozen compelling cases of
major civilian damage. Some were errors in bombing, others were the unavoidable
damage that comes with air attacks. Each publicized example resulted in
increased pressure on the Bush administration to end the hostilities.
No matter how smart the bombs, the realities are that some of
them missed their targets but still exploded and that civilian casualties
and collateral damage occurred.
Iraq's radio and television establishment in Baghdad was a high
priority target; planners wanted to shut down the regime's communication
with the people.
The evidence suggests that errant U.S. bombs were not the only
explanation. The Air Force blames Iraqi surface-to-air missiles, which
were fired by the hundreds. Many are thought to have destroyed civilian
housing when they fell back to Earth. Other possibilities include both
Navy and Air Force decoy drones (a total of 77 were fired at Baghdad in
the opening days of the war) as well as anti-radiation missiles fired at
Baghdad radar sites.
During Desert Storm, the Air Force discussed none of these possibilities
and made no comparisons to the devasation of World War II bombing. The
bombing of the Amiriyah shelter in Baghdad killed more than 400 Iraqi civilians
on the night of Feb. 13. It was the worst single incident of civilian carnage
in the war, exceeding all of the casualties in Baghdad over the previous
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