Rwanda has formally accused top French leaders of playing major roles in the 1994 genocide that killed some 800,000 people. A report from an independent Rwandan commission says French officials were instrumental in training and harboring the Hutus and then helped to cover up their crimes. The report names several senior French leaders, including former prime minister Dominique de Villepin and the late former president Francois Mitterrand. Rwandan Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama said Rwanda will try to press charges.
Tharcisse Karugarama: “This should be clear that this report is not just going to lie down, put into some store somewhere. It’s a report that’s going to be used. It’s a report that is going to help in bringing to justice, or in making attempts, very serious attempts, to bring to justice, people that were involved in committing genocide in this country.”
France has long denied the allegations and says the report has “no guarantee of independence or impartiality.”
Controversy is surrounding the case of a US-educated Pakistani woman arrested last month in Afghanistan. Aafia Siddiqui appeared in a New York court Tuesday, just two weeks after US troops shot and seized her. The FBI accuses Siddiqui of trying to open fire on several agents who had come to question her. The FBI also says she had documents on making chemical bombs and a list of potential targets in the United States. But Afghan police give a radically different account. They say Siddiqui was shot following a misunderstanding that saw her initially asking the US for help. Meanwhile, Siddiqui’s family is accusing the US of raping and assaulting her during her imprisonment at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. On Tuesday, Aafia Siddiqui’s sister, Fauzia, spoke out at a news conference in Pakistan.
Fauzia Siddiqui: “This is a story of much greater significance than just my sister or one woman. Her rape and torture is a crime beyond anything she was ever accused of.”
Aafia Siddiqui is a neuroscientist with degrees from MIT and Brandeis University. She faces decades in prison on multiple counts of attempting to kill US personnel.
Texas has executed a Mexican national despite a recent order by the World Court to halt the execution. Thirty-three-year-old José Medellín was put to death on Tuesday on a conviction of raping and murdering two teenage girls. Last month, the International Court of Justice said Medellin and some fifty other Mexicans on death row should have new hearings in US courts. Medellin’s attorneys contend he was denied the protections of the Vienna Convention, which calls for people arrested to have access to their home country’s consular officials. The Mexican government says it sent an official complaint to US officials.
New projections from US government auditors show high oil prices could leave the Iraqi government with a $79 billion surplus this year. Democratic Senator Carl Levin of the Senate Armed Services Committee is leading calls for the Iraqi government to begin paying a higher share of Iraq’s reconstruction costs. The US has already spent more than $40 billion on Iraqi reconstruction, with large amounts going to private American corporations.
In Israel and the Occupied Territories, a leading cabinet member and former Israeli army commander who once called for the mass killing of Palestinians has launched his candidacy for prime minister. Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz enters the race to replace Prime Minister Ehud Olmert just days after reports emerged he once instructed Israeli troops to kill seventy Palestinians a day during the Second Intifada. In May 2001, Mofaz reportedly gave a briefing to senior West Bank army commanders and said he wanted ten slain Palestinians a day in each of the seven territorial brigade areas. On Tuesday, Mofaz emphasized he is running on a platform of “security.”
Israeli Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz: “Everything interfaces with security, influences it and is influenced by it. We must remember that it will all be meaningless if Israel should be weak, vulnerable and surrounded by enemies.”
Mofaz recently emerged as the chief rival to Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to take over the Kadima party following Olmert’s resignation.
Meanwhile, the Bush administration has revoked student visas for three Gaza residents who had won Fulbright scholarships to study in the United States. The awards were first withdrawn and then reinstated after the US intervened in Israel’s decision to bar the students from leaving. But the US now says it agrees with Israel’s initial decision and that the students will remain in Gaza.
A new report is warning nearly half the world’s primates are facing extinction because of deforestation and hunting. The International Union for Conservation of Nature says 48 percent of monkeys and apes face a growing danger because of eroding habitats. The London Zoo’s conservation director, Jon Bielby, called the findings highly alarming.
Jon Bielby: “The report was aiming to assess the conservation status of all primates, so 634 species. And the findings of the report are very, very worrying for the conservation of primates: 48 percent were classified
as being threatened with extinction, and that’s an unprecedented rate among species and groups of species that have been assessed in the past.”
The 48 percent figure is an increase over five years ago, when 39 percent of primates were found to be at risk.
The Washington Post has revealed the Bush administration could likely possess thousands of hours of secretly recorded conversations between Guantanamo Bay prisoners and officials from their home countries. Newly disclosed documents show the US told all visiting foreign delegations their meetings would be recorded. The White House has long refused to acknowledge existence of any recordings. It finally confirmed holding one tape of Canadian officials interrogating the Guantanamo prisoner Omar Khadr after the Canadian Supreme Court ordered the release of the tapes.
On the campaign trail, Senator John McCain’s staffers are being accused of racial profiling after ordering an African American reporter to leave the media area outside McCain’s bus. Stephen Price of the Tallahassee Democrat was removed during a McCain stop in Florida. A McCain spokesperson says Price was told to leave because the area was reserved for national reporters. But Price says several journalists from other local papers were allowed to remain.
And today marks the sixty-third anniversary of the US atomic bombing of Hiroshima. An estimated 140,000 people were killed instantly or died within a few months after the bombing. Three days later, another US airplane dropped a plutonium bomb on the city of Nagasaki, killing about 80,000 people. Earlier today, some 45,000 people gathered and stood in silent prayer at 8:45 a.m., the exact moment the bomb dropped in 1945.