Daily World News Digest, 29 June 2015

Mothers of Srebrenica – the fight for truth and justice

Transconflict reported a story on 26 June saying that after 20 years, the Mothers of Srebrenica are continuing their fight for truth and justice. Chloé Gaillard and Marion Pineau met with Zumra Sehomerović, who shared her inspiring story and discussed the challenges that the survivors of the genocide in Srebrenica face. In July 2015, Bosnia-Herzegovina will commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide. The Balkan Diskurs team had the unique chance to talk to Zumra Sehomerović, member of the Mothers of Srebrenica association. She agreed to share with us her sad but inspiring life story: of her 20-year battle for truth, justice, and the ending of impunity for the perpetrators of genocide. “The toughest times are behind me, but it still hurts and it always will. I don’t have the words to express my pain,” says Zumra, who lost her husband, brothers and many close family members in the 1995 genocide. Originally from Srebrenica, the tragic city located in the eastern part of Bosnia-Herzegovina, she now lives and works in Sarajevo. Despite many difficulties, the Mothers of Srebrenica won its fight to establish a memorial for Srebrenica in Potočari. Founded in May 2001 as a nonprofit organisation, the Srebrenica-Potočari Memorial Center and Cemetery is dedicated to the 8,372 civilians murdered in the genocide between 11 to 16 July 1995. http://bit.ly/1Hrtboe

The Bosnia-based group that names the nameless

The Irish Times reports today that the conflicts in Bosnia and Croatia, and in Kosovo in 1998 and 1999, killed some 140,000 people; when fighting stopped, some 40,000 were missing. More than 6,000 marble steles stand in the village of Potocari, each marking the burial place of a Muslim murdered in July 1995 by Ratko Mladic’s Bosnian Serb forces when they overran the next town along the road – Srebrenica. They died because Mladic and his allies were bent on ethnically cleansing this part of Bosnia to create a racially pure “Greater Serbia”. The dead belatedly have the dignity of an individual resting place and headstone, their remains and identities rescued from the mass graves into which they were dumped. This is largely down to the work of a little-known organisation. The International Commission on Missing Persons was created in at a G7 summit in 1996, on the initiative of then US president Bill Clinton, to ensure the states of the former Yugoslavia accounted for people who had disappeared during the recently ended wars.

“It was quite revolutionary,” said the commission’s director-general, Kathryne Bomberger, at its headquarters in Sarajevo. “Before, you basically had the Geneva Conventions that defined what warring parties should do during conflict, but in the western Balkans and now Syria and elsewhere, we see that warring parties don’t protect people. Sometimes, they massacre them. So our mandate said what states should do after the war.” http://bit.ly/1ds0Y2k

Kosovo Vote on New War Crimes Court Fails

Balkan Insight carried a story on 26 June saying that a vote to change the constitution to allow the establishment of a controversial new special court to try Kosovo Liberation Army guerrillas failed because not enough MPs voted in favour. The long-delayed vote on constitutional changes to establish the new court to try alleged war crimes committed during the 1998-99 conflict failed on Friday to gain enough votes in favour to pass the legislation. After a heated debate, only 75 MPs voted for the changes – six short of the number required to approve the legislation. Seven voted against and two abstained but the remainder of the MPs in the 120-seat legislature refused to take part in the voting process. The proposed establishment of the EU-backed court has been highly controversial in Kosovo. Veterans’ associations and opposition parties have claimed that it is an insult to the KLA’s armed struggle to escape Serbian control during the 1998-99 conflict, and some demonstrated outside parliament during Friday’s session. At the beginning of the session, Kosovo’s Prime Minister Isa Mustafa told MPs that the court would try individuals and not the KLA’s war. “I invite all of you to vote for the proposed amendment,” Mustafa urged. Foreign Minister Hashim Thaci also told parliament that it was in Kosovo’s interests to create the special court. http://bit.ly/1FFkQpA

A year of violations: Rights groups review violations in first year of Al-Sisi’s presidency

Middle East – North Africa Financial Network reported on 28 June that The Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE), alongside El Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, published a report documenting human rights violations over the past year, in a press conference on Saturday. Both organisations issued two separate reports, with data collected through their monitoring and the cases they have personally provided assistance for. AFTE’s report covered violations at universities and violations against press freedom, while El Nadeem’s report covered violations inside detention facilities. The report documented three cases of students who were killed inside universities during the past academic year, at least 500 students who were expelled, and times where police forces stormed into campuses in clashes with student protests. In detention facilities, 48 deaths were documented for inadequate healthcare, at least 180 cases faced torture. In the press freedom field, 172 violations were documented from arrests, expulsion, detention, assault, and removal of content. ” “The enforced disappearances have increased 42% during January-June 2015” she said. http://bit.ly/1FJNTYX

India must ratify convention on enforced disappearance

Kashmir Media Service carried a story on 26 June saying that Kashmiri representative, Altaf Hussain Wani has said that India must ratify the convention on enforced disappearance and convention on torture and other inhuman treatment without further delay and end reprisals against human rights defenders and journalists.Altaf Hussain Wani, taking part in general debate under agenda item 5 in the 29th Session of UN Human Rights Council, demanded of India to facilitate the visits of UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Working group on Enforced Disappearances to the occupied territory and ratify without reservations the Convention on Enforced Disappearance and Torture. He said it is observed over the years there is an increase in the number of reprisals against the human rights defenders. These attacks are perpetuated in the form of smear campaign, death threats, physical assaults, kidnapping, judicial harassment, and intimidation and in some case murder, he added. Altaf Wani said the killing of noted human rights activist Advocate Jalil Andrabi, Aasiya Jilani, Farooq Ashaie and Dr. Abdul Ahmad Wani and attacks on Parvez Amroz and S.R Gilani and other defenders have become the cause for shrinking space for human rights defenders. http://bit.ly/1LQaw3l

March marks nine months of Ayotzinapa case

El Universal reported on 26 June that Relatives, dissident teachers and civil organizations mark another month after the forced disappearance of the student teachers in Iguala. Nine months after the enforced disappearance of 43 teachers in training in Ayotzinapa, social organizations have joined them in their demand of the return of the missing youngsters, taking to the streets to call for justice. Some relatives of the 16 “political prisoners” of the Regional Coordination of Community Authorities (CRAC) in Guerrero, as well as relatives of four professionals missing since last Friday in Xolapa, Acapulco, departed from the offices of the State Coordination of Education Workers of Guerrero (CETEG), calling for an effective search by the police, while the dissident teachers accompanied them, chanting in rejection to the educational reform. The contingents are using banners with complaints against the “the high military harassment” and the educational reform. Also, they are chanting slogans like “it was the State,” claiming that the authorities are involved in the disappearance of the students. In Mexico City, the parents of the 43 missing students, along with social organizations, gathered in Angel of Independence monument and are heading to the Zócalo. http://eluni.mx/1HrqkM2

‘Gov’t branches must work together to solve HR issues’

ABSCBN News carried a story on 28 June saying that Malacañang said the three branches of government must work together to address various human rights issues in the Philippines. The US State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2014 earlier said that the Philippines investigated and prosecuted only a limited number of reported human rights abuses, and concerns about impunity persisted. In a radio interview, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said the three branches of government must do their part to address the various human rights issues and problems cited in the report. The State Department’s report said the most significant human rights problems in the Philippines continued to be extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances undertaken by security forces and suspected vigilante groups; a weak and overburdened criminal justice system notable for poor cooperation between police and investigators, a meager record of prosecutions and lengthy procedural delays; and widespread official corruption and abuse of power. http://bit.ly/1RKJP1w

China Lashes Out at US for ‘Terrible Human Rights Record’ Citing Police Brutality and Racism

International Business Times reported on 26 June that After the United States released a report on human rights in China on Thursday, the communist country hit back with its own report on the “terrible human rights record” in the US. In a scathing report, titled ‘Human Rights Record of the United States in 2014′, China rebuked the US over its problems of “rampant use of guns, frequent violent crimes and the excessive use of force by police”. “Plenty of facts show that, in 2014, the US, a self-proclaimed human rights defender, saw no improvements in its existent human rights issues, but reported numerous new problems,” the report said. The Chinese report cited the Ferguson shooting of 18-year-old black youth Michael Brown that had led to national and international outrage and protests. The report also came down heavily on the US’ Central Investigation Agency (CIA) for its torture techniques, which were revealed through recently declassified reports and mentioned methods such as sleep deprivation, water-boarding and rectal feeding. China also accused the US of not fully protecting the rights of women and children.

“Each year, 2.1 million American women on average were assaulted by men. Three females were murdered by their partner each day, and four females died each day as a result of abuse,” the Chinese report said. http://bit.ly/1ee6p5V

More than 1,300 persons reported missing in Ukraine’s east – PACE

Interfax Ukraine carried a story on 25 June saying that The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has said that more than 1,300 persons have been reported missing in east of Ukraine.”Today PACE discussed a report on a very sensitive issue ‘Persons Missing for the Period of Conflict in Ukraine’. This list totals 1,200 people (according to Ukrainian Security Service), Red Cross gives a huge figure – 1,300 [people missing], taking into account losses of other [conflicting] side,” MP from Bloc of Petro Poroshenko faction Iryna Heraschenko wrote on her Facebook account on the results of the PACE sitting in Strasbourg. She stressed that Ukraine “doing its best to find missing people, to identify persons killed.” “We insisted on involving International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to the work [to find people missing]. And now the ICRC ready to join this work,” the parliamentarian said. According to the west media, UK PACE delegate Jim Sheridan said that under an official data, more than 1,300 persons have been reported missing, including soldiers, civilians and volunteers since the beginning of the conflict in Donbass in early 2014. He also said there is no official number of killed Russian soldiers in the east of Ukraine. http://bit.ly/1Hru68c

German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

The Independent carried a story on 30 May saying that archaeologist and historian Tony Pollard tweeted: ‘He was a soldier. He died in battle. He deserves a grave.’ He died fighting for Britain 200 years ago at the Battle of Waterloo, felled by a French musket ball that lodged in his ribs. But the remains of the German soldier, believed to be those of Private Friedrich Brandt, are not at rest. Instead, they are on display in a Belgian museum, part of an exhibition commemorating the bicentenary of the great battle. The decision to show the remains – discovered under a car park near the Lion Mound area of the battlefield in 2012 – has shocked historians, who are now campaigning for them to be reinterred. Military historian Rob Schäfer said: “It doesn’t have to be a military [funeral], just a dignified funeral. He can go home to Hanover … a burial in England would be great. Anything but being in a display box.” The remains were put on show on 23 May at the Waterloo Memorial 1815 in the Belgian province of Walloon Brabant. http://ind.pn/1NoalgB


Items in Daily World News Digest are summaries of published reports relevant to the issue of missing persons, compiled by ICMP staff.  These items do not necessarily reflect the position of ICMP.