November 2nd, 2007 13:06 EST
November 2nd, Around the World
KIGALI, Rwanda. Amnesty International, a British human rights organization based in London, has asked European governments not to extradite Rwandan nationals since the trials they will face back home may not be fair. A number of suspects for the 1994 genocide, which claimed around 800,000 people in three months, have left their homeland after Tutsi-led rebel groups came to power. They settled in Great Britain, France or the Netherlands, fearing the death penalty that could await them in Rwanda.
To prosecute those responsible for inciting the genocide, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) was established in 1995 by a United Nations resolution. Based in Tanzania, the tribunal consists of 25 international judges and has successfully ended 21 trials so far; eleven more are still in progress.
According to Amnesty International there are some “serious concerns” about Rwanda's capability to conduct fair trials since “universal jurisdiction laws allowing for prosecutions do not exist there.” The organization also asked the ICTR not to send any convicts to Rwanda.
WASHINGTON, DC, USA. Although comparing Iraq to Vietnam is certainly premature, American diplomats may soon learn what their predecessors in the State Department felt in the tumultuous years of the war in Indochina. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is going to send notes to American embassies around the world explaining why she has decided to staff the offices in Iraq with diplomats even without their consent. Today she has received considerable support from the American Ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, who said that those who refuse to accept a post in the war-shattered country were “in the wrong line of business.” The embassy in Baghdad is the biggest such post in the world– the settlement spread on 104 acres, costing $592 million and operated by approximately 8,000 people which includes diplomats, security forces, cooks and maids. According to the State Department spokesman, Sean McCormack, there are 48 vacancies for the diplomatic corps.
TOKYO, Japan. Political deadlock in Japan continues as the government has still been unable to reach a compromise with opposition parties and resume a refueling mission in the Indian Ocean. Japanese ships, which served as petro stations for American frigates operating in the region, had to retreat back to base yesterday since opposition parties refused to extend the permission which ended on Thursday. Although the ruling Liberal Party holds a safe majority in the lower house of parliament, its main rival, the Democratic Party, controls the upper house. Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, who assumed the office only a month ago, has held talks with opposition leaders twice already; however, neither conference brought change.
If the government does not break the deadlock soon, then the prime minister's meeting with US President George W. Bush will be far from courteous. Experts predict that the country may expect an early parliamentary election, only four months since the Japanese cast their votes the last time.
MOSCOW, Russia. Although very few Russians know what their new national holiday is about, the main streets of Moscow are bound to be packed with thousands of people on November 4. After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the government has been in desperate need to come up with a new holiday which could replace the old and politically incorrect anniversary of the October Revolution. The choice fell on November 4, when in 1612 the Russian people expelled Polish forces occupying the Kremlin. The Day of National Unity will be celebrated only for the second time; but, in its short history, it has created a great deal of controversy. As people are not sure what they are to celebrate, different groups celebrate different things. Communists take to the streets to hail their old leaders– Lenin and Joseph Stalin. Human rights defenders will hold a manifestation against the Kremlin's brutal policy towards democratic opposition. The most numerous, however, will probably be a march organized by fascist and nationalist groups, protesting against the influx of immigrants who “are stealing jobs from good Russians.”
In the 16 years of the Russian Federation, democracy has regressed while nationalist organizations have grown in power. In 2006 there were more racial murders committed in Russia than in the entire Western Europe. Foreign experts are alarm that President Putin's imperialistic policy fuels anti-western sentiments.
WARSAW, Poland. After a Polish soldier was killed in Iraq early Friday morning, some prominent politicians have called for the removal of 1,000 Polish troops from Iraq. The incident occurred when a Humvee ran over a land mine, south of Baghdad. Additionally, three other soldiers were injured, but they are now in stable condition. The 31-year-old Andrzej Filipek is the 22nd Polish soldier to have been killed since Poland joined the US-led coalition forces in 2003.
Although Warsaw has been one of Washington's staunchest allies, more and more Polish politicians begin to question the righteousness of the country's participation in the Iraq War. Leaders of the liberal Civic Platform, which won a parliamentary election two weeks ago, have been calling for the troops’ withdrawal by the end of the year. According to the latest opinion polls, 81 percent of Poles are against the war; only 16 percent support the mission.
If the new Polish government, which is to be formed early next week, decides to end the military mission, it will be a serious blow to the Bush administration. With almost 1,000 troops on the ground, Poland remains an important military and political force in Iraq
TIBILISI, Georgia. From 50,000 to 100,000 people marched through the streets of the capital city, demanding the incumbent president to resign and for new elections to be called. Mikhail Saakashvili came to power in 2004 following a peaceful revolution which ousted communist apparatchiks. Educated at American universities, Saakashvili promised his people the American standard of life, but instead his tenure will be remembered as a period of political arrests and economic stagnation. Although Tbilisi has been developing fast– the majority of foreign investment in Georgia is located in the capital city– people in the provinces still have to struggle for much less than $1000 a year.
ANKARA, Turkey. After weeks of skirmishes between the Turkish military and Kurdish rebels, a chance for a slight mitigation has appeared today. After a meeting with Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that any Kurdish attack on Turkish or Iraqi forces would be repelled with the help of the United States. The Associated Press quotes Rice as saying, “we have a common enemy and we are going to act as if we have a common enemy.” Such a strong position by Washington may stop Kurdish rebels from continuing their violent incursion.
Today's meeting was held amid a difficult period in the mutual relations. Although Turkey has been a long-time American ally, Ankara has been angered with Washington since a group of Democratic Senators pursued a resolution condemning Turkish massacres of Armenians at the end of the First World War. The resolution died in commissions' debates, but it spurred the government in Ankara to begin questioning American policy in the Middle East. After today's talks, however, it seems that both countries are back on a friendly track.