Daily Archives: July 27, 2008

The French Fuhrer: Genocidal Napoleon was as barbaric as Hitler

The little tyrant displays the Masonic “Hidden Hand of Jahbulon”

Napoleon was responsible for thousands of executions

Hitler had a great respect for Napoleon – and perhaps his killing ways, it has now emerged

By Christopher Hudson

Daily Mail | Jul 24, 2008

Three days after the fall of France in 1940, Napoleon, lying in his marble tomb in Paris, received a visit from his greatest admirer.

Adolf Hitler, on his one and only visit to the French capital, made an unannounced trip to the tomb in Les Invalides.

In his white raincoat, surrounded by his generals, Hitler stood for a long time gazing down at his hero, his cap removed in deference.

He was said later to have described this moment as ‘one of the proudest of my life’.

The next day, during his official sightseeing tour of Paris, Hitler again visited Napoleon’s tomb to salute him.

Conscious that his hero was known to the world simply as Napoleon, Hitler boasted that he would not need a rank or title on his gravestone. ‘The German people would know who it was if the only word was Adolf.’

Throughout the war, Hitler had sandbags placed around Napoleon’s tomb to guard against bomb damage.

Wooden floorboards were laid across the marble floor of Les Invalides so that they would not be scarred by German jackboots.

Until recently, the French would have been incensed by any comparison between Napoleon and Hitler.

But to their rage and shame, new research has shown that France’s greatest hero presided over mass atrocities which bear comparison with some of Hitler’s worst crimes against humanity.

These reassessments of Napoleon have caused anguish in France. Top politicians backed out of official ceremonies to mark what was possibly Napoleon’s greatest victory, the battle of Austerlitz, when Napoleon’s Grande Armee defeated the combined armies of Austria and Russia in just six hours, killing 19,000 of their adversaries.

A street in Paris named Rue Richepanse (after Antoine Richepanse, a general responsible for atrocities in the Caribbean) has recently had its name changed to Rue Solitude.

During his reign as Emperor, concentration camps were set up and gas was used to massacre large groups of people.

There were hit squads and mass deportations. And all this happened 140 years before Hitler and the Holocaust.

Claude Ribbe, a respected historian and philosopher and member of the French government’s human rights commission, has been researching Napoleon’s bloodcurdling record for some years.

He accuses him of being a racist and an anti-Semite who persecuted Jews and reintroduced widespread slavery just a few years after it had been abolished by the French government.

The most startling of these findings, the attempted massacre of an entire population over the age of 12 by methods which included gassing them in the holds of ships, relate to the French Caribbean colony of Haiti at the turn of the 19th century.

In Ribbe’s words, Napoleon, then First Consul, was the man who, for the first time in history, ‘asked himself rationally the question how to eliminate, in as short a time as possible, and with a minimum of cost and personnel, a maximum of people described as scientifically inferior’.

Haiti around 1800 was the world’s richest colony, a slave-powered export factory which produced almost two-thirds of the world’s coffee and almost half its sugar.

The black slaves were lashed and beaten to work and forced to wear tin muzzles to prevent them from eating the sugar cane.

If the slaves were fractious, they were roasted over slow fires, or filled with gunpowder and blown to pieces.

When the slaves began to fight for their freedom, under the leadership of a charismatic African military genius called Toussaint L’Ouverture, Napoleon sent 10,000 crack troops under the command of his brother-inlaw, General Leclerc, to crush Toussaint and restore slavery.

In 1802, a vast programme of ethnic cleansing was put in place. Napoleon banned inter-racial marriages and ordered that all white women who’d had any sort of relationship with a black or mulatto (person of mixed race) be shipped to France.

He further commanded the killing of as many blacks in Haiti as possible, to be replaced by new, more docile slaves from Africa.

The French troops were under orders to kill all blacks over the age of 12. However, younger children were also killed – stabbed to death, put in sandbags and dropped into the sea.

The Haitians fought to the death for independence, which they finally declared in 1804.

Prisoners on both sides were regularly tortured and killed, and their heads were mounted on the walls of stockades or on spikes beside the roads.

Non-combatants, too, were raped and slaughtered. According to contemporary accounts, the French used dogs to rip black prisoners to pieces before a crowd at an amphitheatre.

Allegdly on Napoleon’s orders, sulphur was extracted from Haitian volcanoes and burned to produce poisonous sulphur dioxide, which was then used to gas black Haitians in the holds of ships – more than 100,000 of them, according to records.

The use of these primitive gas chambers was confirmed by contemporaries. Antoine Metral, who in 1825 published his history of the French expedition to Haiti, writes of piles of dead bodies everywhere, stacked in charnel-houses.

‘We varied the methods of execution,’ wrote Metral. ‘At times, we pulled heads off; sometimes a ball and chain was put at the feet to allow drowning; sometimes they were gassed in the ships by sulphur.

‘When the cover of night was used to hide these outrages, those walking along the river could hear the noisy monotone of dead bodies being dropped into the sea.’

A contemporary historian, who sailed with the punitive expedition, wrote that: ‘We invented another type of ship where victims of both sexes were piled up, one against the other, suffocated by sulphur.’

These were prison ships with gas chambers called etouffiers, or ‘chokers’, which asphyxiated the blacks, causing them terrible suffering.

Even at the time, there were French naval officers who were appalled at this savagery, claiming they would rather have braved a court martial than have forgotten the laws of humanity.

But from the Emperor’s point of view, gassing was a way of cutting costs. Ships continued to transport prisoners out to sea to drown them, but corpses kept being washed up on beaches or tangled in ships’ hulls.

Toussaint, who called himself the Black Napoleon, was kidnapped after accepting an invitation to parlay with a French general and shipped back to France in chains, where he died of pneumonia after being imprisoned in a cold stone vault.

Guadeloupe, an island to the east, suffered a similar fate to Haiti’s.

Once again choosing not to recognise France’s abolition of slavery, Napoleon in 1802 promoted a comrade of his, Antoine Riche-panse, to the rank of General, and sent him with an expeditionary force of 3,000 men to put down a slave revolt on the island.

During his purge, General Richepanse slaughtered any men, women and children he encountered on his route to the capital. Then he worked through a plan of extermination apparently approved by the First Consul.

A military commission was set up to give what followed a veneer of legality. Some 250 ‘rebels’ were shot in Guadeloupe’s Victory Square. Another 500 were herded down to the beach and shot there.

Richepanse and Lacrosse, the former colonial governor now restored to power, thought of piling up the dead in vast mounds to intimidate the islanders, but gave up the plan for fear of starting a disease epidemic.

Instead, using a technique which the French were to copy during the Algerian War, they sent death squads into every part of Guadeloupe to track down farmers who were absent from their homes.

These men were treated as rebels. A bounty was promised for each black man captured, and the rebels were summarily shot or hanged. The ferocity of the repression sparked another uprising, which Lacrosse subdued with the most barbarous methods yet.

‘Being hung is not enough for the crimes they have committed,’ he said. ‘It is necessary to cut them down alive and let them expire on the wheel [prisoners were bound to a cart wheel before having their arms and legs smashed with cudgels].

‘The jails are already full: it is necessary to empty them as quickly as possible.’ In this he was successful, hanging, garotting and burning the rebels and breaking their limbs on the wheel.

Lacrosse developed possibly the most fiendish instrument of slow execution ever created.

The prisoner was thrust into a tiny cage and had a razor-sharp blade suspended between his legs. In front of him was a bottle of water and bread, neither of which he could reach.

He was stood in stirrups, which kept him just above the blade, but if he fell asleep or his legs tired, he was sliced by the blade. Neither fast nor economical, it was pure sadism.

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Italy’s brutal crackdown on Gypsies echoes country’s fascist past

The bodies of Cristina, 12, and Viola, 11, were left on the sand after they drowned in rough seas as holidaymakers carry on sunbathing nearby. It was the week’s most shocking picture: gipsy girls dead on a beach ignored by sunbathers… Now there is more chilling evidence of how Italy’s brutal crackdown on the Roma has sick echoes of the country’s fascist past.

Thousands of migrants, many of them Roma gipsies from the old communist bloc and racially troubled Balkans, have poured into the country since the dismantling of border controls across a greatly expanded European Union in 2004.

Daily Mail | Jul 26, 2008

By Sue Reid

She looks like any teenager the world over. Wearing a denim skirt, pink designer T-shirt, and with long hair tied back from her face, Samantha is a child who would make any parent proud.

Yet just a few days ago, this bubbly 14-year-old found herself taking part in an excercise that would seem unthinkable in a modern, civilised European country.

She was ordered to line up at the local community hall near her home in Naples, Italy, and dab her right forefinger in black ink before placing it on a government census form.

Samantha was photographed and given an identity code – F43 – as officials asked for her full name, address, age, religion and where she was born.

Most controversially of all, she was told to state her ethnic background.

Every detail, including the fact that her parents are immigrant Roma gipsies from Serbia, was catalogued and put on a national computer system.

She was mortified. Her eyes bright with anger, Samantha said she felt like a villain in the only country she has ever known.

‘That same day, the Italian kids started calling me “gyppo” in the streets.

They pointed at me and laughed. I felt like shouting back and saying: ‘I am Italian just like you. I was born here too.

‘But I didn’t dare, in case I started a riot.’

Samantha was taking part in a compulsory new census of Italy’s 160,000 Roma people, promised by the inflammatory Right-wing premier Silvio Berlusconi in the run-up to his successful election this spring.

Anyone with a sense of the past would be forgiven for a strong feeling of foreboding about what is happening.

Thousands of migrants, many of them Roma gipsies from the old communist bloc and racially troubled Balkans, have poured into the country since the dismantling of border controls across a greatly expanded European Union in 2004.

The huge diaspora was political good fortune for 73-year-old Berlusconi.

In a country where fascism under dictator Benito Mussolini thrived until the end of World War II, Berlusconi warned of a ‘Roma emergency’ in big cities and produced a dossier of dubious figures alleging foreigners were involved in half of Italy’s attempted murders, muggings and robberies.

The interior minister went further. Roberto Maroni, a leader of the anti-immigrant Northern League aligned with Berlusconi’s nationalist Forza Italia party, claimed the controversial census and fingerprinting was essential to discover ‘who is entitled to be here and who is not’.

It would stop anonymous armies of Roma children being sent out begging or stealing by their families, 60 per cent of whom have no identity papers or passports, he claimed.

Gipsy people with the right to stay would be re-housed in ‘decent conditions rather than with rats’. The remainder, Maroni made clear, could expect deportation.

Many observers, including the Roman Catholic Church, the United Nations, Roma and Jewish leaders, condemned Berlusconi’s actions. Comparisons were made with the Nazi registration of Jews and gipsies introduced by Adolf Hitler with the support of Mussolini.

Only this week, the Italian parliament authorised six-year prison sentences for immigrants who lie about their identity, and instigated the deportation of foreigners who have been given any prison sentence of two years or more.

For the first time, simply living in Italy illegally is punishable by up to four years in prison.

But where will Berlusconi stop? Italy’s pledge to the EU that the census would not include a question about ethnicity has been blatantly breached, even for children such as Samantha.

While fingerprinting children under 14 has been abandoned (they are photographed instead) following international disquiet, there are now whisperings that gipsy camps not sanctioned by the authorities – and there are 50 of these in Rome alone – will be destroyed by the authorities.

Border controls are expected to be reintroduced to staunch the flow of migrants from Italy’s neighbours.

No wonder there is a growing sense of unease at the huge – and illegal – Rotunda gipsy camp in Naples, where Samantha Jevremovic underwent fingerprinting.

She lives there with her parents, two younger brothers and a toddler sister in a small white wooden hut.

The family share one bedroom and eat at a table outside, whatever the weather.

Samantha goes to school and hopes to train as a hairdresser. Her 32-year-old mother and itinerant metalworker father, 33, have no citizenship in Italy or anywhere else.

On the census form they declared themselves ‘Ethnic Serbs’, who slipped into the country illegally in 1993, just before their eldest daughter was born.

Her mother, Dani, says: ‘We didn’t want to co-operate. We are afraid.

‘But we hope by giving the information it will stop us being thrown out of Italy, which our children think of as home.’

The camp has 700 residents and was first established 25 years ago. It’s the size of a sprawling village under a four-lane expressway to the north of the city.

By any standards, it is a shabby place where potholes are filled with fetid water, toddlers run half-naked chased by cats around the alleys, and burnt-out cars outnumber brick houses.

Most of the residents live in corrugated shacks without either a tap or a lavatory, with only a towel or a duvet pinned up to serve as a front door.

Here, only two-thirds of the 300 children go to school, a pink-roofed building nearby. Their parents say they are afraid to send them because the appalling facilities in the camp mean they cannot wash the boys and girls each day.

‘They are scared that the Italian pupils will jeer at their dirty sons and daughters,’ explains 48-year-old Nihad Sajovic, one of the gipsy elders.

‘Would you send your child to class if that was going to happen?’

At a table in the community hall, where the census took place, he added: ‘No one can imagine our situation during the past few months.

‘There is a witch-hunt under way and people now believe that we are the only ones who commit crimes in Italy.

‘It is not easy for us. There have been incriminations and accusations against our community. We no longer know what the future holds.

‘We want to put down roots; we want to stop fleeing because our people have been doing that since the War began in 1939.

‘At the end, the Jews were given money and a new land. We still have nothing.’

Extraordinarily, the Red Cross of Italy has been persuaded by Berlusconi to help count gipsy heads and gather data on hundreds of families at 70 camps in Rome, an operation that will last until September.

Massimo Barra, the charity’s president, this week visited one pitiful group of gipsies who have been living under a dripping railway arch near international Leonardo Da Vinci airport for six years.

It can be reached only by a perilous walk along the main railway line between central Rome and the air terminus, then down a narrow gully.

On the brick walls hang a few pots and pans. Tents take up most of the floor space.

There is an acrid smell, and at night the rats come out. Surely this can’t be better than living in Romania, from where the 15 gipsies and their children had fled?

‘Yes it is,’ said Maria, mother of six. ‘There, we were accused and persecuted for being gipsies.

‘Up to now, we have lived in Italy in peace.’

The Red Cross’s Mr Barra said: ‘We know that people are pointing and saying that this is reminiscent of the Nazis. But that is collective paranoia.

‘We want to get these children vaccinated, give them health checks and medical cards.

‘That is all this census is about. We are building bridges and not walls.’

Whatever the truth of this, Italy’s history cannot be forgotten. It was as early as 1926 that Mussolini first expelled gipsies, calling them ‘sub humans’.

It is thought that in the next 20 years, more than one million Roma people were killed in the extermination camps of Europe, alongside the Jews.

The current wave of Italian xenophobia was given new impetus last November when an Italian admiral’s wife, a religious education teacher, was beaten with a rock in a sex attack by a Romanian migrant.

Dreadfully injured, she was dumped in a ditch in a suburb of northern Rome. She died two days later and suspect Nicolae Mailat, 24, from Transylvania, was arrested in a nearby gipsy camp.

National outrage followed.

Soon afterwards came a story of baby-snatching when a teenage Roma girl was alleged to have tried to kidnap a baby from its mother in a local apartment in Ponticelli, near Naples.

The girl is now in custody awaiting trial. But the case sparked an extraordinary backlash.

In May, several hundred local residents besieged the nearby Roma camp, hurling missiles and abuse.

Eventually, the police evacuated the gipsy residents. Within a short time, the shanty town was in flames.

The response of the Berlusconi government? ‘This is what happens when gipsies steal babies,’ shrugged Maroni of the Northern League.

Sporadic vigilante attacks on gipsies have continued. Only this week there was another mysterious fire at an encampment on the outskirts of Rome.

At 10pm on Tuesday, a swathe of trees surrounding the officially sanctioned site, again near the airport, suddenly burst into flames.

As police investigated, the Roma residents said that they heard three loud bangs as if Molotov cocktails had been hurled into the undergrowth.

‘What do you expect us to think? We are scared and dispirited,’ said Lordache Cortizon, a 40-year-old who came to live in Italy from Romania six years ago.

‘We came to escape racism. Yet in the past few months since the government changed, we have lived in fear. On the streets we are given filthy looks.

‘The census is nothing short of racism. If they come here and ask that my four children are fingerprinted I will say no.’

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Russia slams Bush for linking Nazi and Soviet evils

Russia | Jul 26, 2008

By Tanya Mosolova

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia said on Saturday that U.S. President George W. Bush had insulted veterans of World War Two by equating the evils of Soviet communism with Nazi fascism.

The Foreign Ministry said Bush had coupled Nazi fascism and Soviet communism as “a single evil” and thus “hurt the hearts” of World War Two veterans in Russia and allied countries, including the United States.

“While condemning the abuse of power and unjustified severity of the Soviet regime’s internal policies, we nevertheless can neither treat indifferently attempts to equate Communism and Nazism nor agree that they were inspired by the same ideas and aims,” the ministry said in a statement to mark Captive Nations Week, an annual event.

Bush signed a proclamation published on July 18 in which he called on the American people to reaffirm their commitment to advance democracy and defend liberty around the world.

“In the 20th century, the evils of Soviet communism and Nazi fascism were defeated and freedom spread around the world as new democracies emerged,” the proclamation said, according to a copy posted on the White House’s http://www.whitehouse.gov Web site.

Russia’s foreign ministry said Bush’s comments were part of an attempt to rewrite history in the United States.

“Such assessments simply feed the efforts of those, who for political and selfish ends are striving to falsify the facts and rewrite history,” the ministry said.

Russia is extremely sensitive to what the Kremlin says is a rewriting of history about the Soviet Union’s role in World War Two, which Russians call the Great Patriotic War.

Continued…

Brazil’s Lula Wishes to Integrate Latin America and the Caribbean

brazzilmag.com | Jul 26, 2008

The President of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, extended an invitation to Latinamerican and Caribbean leaders to discuss regional integration and development in a meeting scheduled for December 16 and 17 in the northeastern Brazilian city of Salvador, in the state of Bahia.

The announcement was made during a banquet to honor Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister, Patrick Manning.

“We believe integration must extend to include Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean,” said Lula. “South America’s integration is a strong tool for Latinamerican and Caribbean integration, to help us overcome the burdensome legacy of inequalities.”

The Brazilian president has made regional integration one of the pillars of his administration’s foreign policy, “I’d do everything possible,” to achieve the union of South American countries has become a constant phrase in his speeches.

The coming meeting in Salvador “is an excellent opportunity for Latinamerica and the Caribbean to discuss how to best coordinate the different integration efforts to which we all belong.”

Addressing PM Manning Lula da Silva said that this process needs an association agreement between Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) and the Caribbean Community, CARICOM, which includes the English speaking countries of that region.

He advanced that during the second half of 2008, when Brazil holds the pro tempore Mercosur chair he will propose a technical meeting between the two blocks to get discussions going.

Finally Lula praised Trinidad and Tobago for hosting the V Summit of the Americas to be held next year and which will address the issues of human development, energy security and environmental sustainability.

Big Brother Bluetooth is watching

Covert monitoring system raises privacy issues

Signals can be used to track mobile phone users

The Guardian | Jul 21 2008

By Paul Lewis

Tens of thousands of Britons are being covertly tracked without their consent in a technology experiment which has installed scanners at secret locations in offices, campuses, streets and pubs to pinpoint people’s whereabouts.

The scanners, the first 10 of which were installed in Bath three years ago, are capturing Bluetooth radio signals transmitted from devices such as mobile phones, laptops and digital cameras, and using the data to follow unwitting targets without their permission.

The data is being used in a project called Cityware to study how people move around cities. But pedestrians are not being told that the devices they carry around in their pockets and handbags could be providing a permanent record of their journeys, which is then stored on a central database.

The Bath University researchers behind the project claim their scanners do not have access to the identity of the people tracked.

Eamonn O’Neill, Cityware’s director, said: “The objective is not to track individuals, whether by Bluetooth or any other means. We are interested in the aggregate behaviour of city dwellers as a whole. The notion that any agency would seriously consider Bluetooth scanning as a surveillance technique is ludicrous.”

But privacy experts disagree, pointing out that Bluetooth signals are assigned code names that can, to varying degrees, indicate a person’s identity.

Many people use pseudonyms, nicknames, initials, or abbreviations to identify their Bluetooth signals. Cityware’s scanners are also picking up signals that are listed using people’s full name, email address and telephone numbers.

Contacted about the Cityware project, the office of the information commissioner said in a statement that the public should “think carefully” before switching on their Bluetooth signals. A spokesman said the government watchdog would “monitor” the experiment.

“This is yet another example of moronic use of technology,” said Simon Davies, director of Privacy International, an independent campaigning group defending personal privacy. “For Bath University to assert that there aren’t privacy implications demonstrates an astonishing disregard for consumer rights. If the technology is as safe as they claim, then all the technical specifications should be published and people should be informed when they are being tracked.”

He added: “This technology could well become the CCTV of the mobile industry. It would not take much adjustment to make this system a ubiquitous surveillance infrastructure over which we have no control.”

Although initially confined to Bath, Cityware has spread across the planet after the software was made freely available on the internet sites Facebook and Second Life. Thousands of people downloaded the software to equip their home and office computers with Cityware scanners.

More than 1,000 scanners across the world at any time detect passing Bluetooth signals and send the data to Cityware’s central database. Those with access to the database admit they do not know precisely how many scanners have been created, but there are known to be scanners in San Diego, Hong Kong, Australia, Singapore, Toronto and Berlin.

In Bath alone scanners are tracking as many as 3,000 Bluetooth devices every weekend. One recent study used the scanners to monitor the movements of 10,000 people in the city.

About 250,000 owners of Bluetooth devices, mostly mobile phones, have been spotted by Cityware scanners worldwide.

O’Neill, who described his project as “public observation” rather than surveillance, said the data would improve scientific understanding of the privacy and security threats posed by Bluetooth technology. A “potentially immensely valuable side-effect”, he added, was that data about people’s movements could help research into the spread of biological epidemics.

“Just as we continue to research forms of defence against other more traditional threats, we must research forms of defence against new digital threats,” he said, adding that the database eventually would be destroyed.

However Vassilis Kostakos, a former member of Cityware who now does Bluetooth experiments on buses in Portugal for the University of Madeira, accepted such tracking was a problem.

“We are actually trying to fix this,” Kostakos said. “If a person’s phone is talking to a scanner, then they should be told about it. Any technology can have good and bad consequences. In many ways, I think the role of a scientist is to point out both. I agree this is complex and I agree there are harmful scenarios.”

The technique has echoes of the thriller Enemy of the State in which the character played by Will Smith is followed by satellite surveillance.

Kostakos said he could foresee complex ways in which criminals could exploit the technology, adding: “I recently tried to look at people’s travel patterns across the world, and we [saw] how a unique device which showed up in San Francisco turned up in Caracas and then Paris.”

Bluetooth tracking technology is already being used to aim advertisements at people, for example as they walk past shops or billboards.

Bluetoothtracking.org, a website based in the Netherlands, is using the same technology to publish live data about people’s movements across the town of Apeldoorn. The facility allows people to search the whereabouts of friends and associates without them knowing about it.

Some scientists using the technology describe a future scenario in which homes and cars adapt services to suit their owners, automatically dimming lights, preparing food and selecting preferred television channels.

In Cambodia, Land Seizures Push Thousands of the Poor Into Homelessness

Like tens of thousands of people around the country, those living here are victims of what experts say has become the most serious human rights abuse in the country: land seizures that lead to evictions and homelessness.

NY Times | Jul 27, 2008

By SETH MYDANS

ANDONG, Cambodia — When the monsoon rain pours through Mao Sein’s torn thatch roof, she pulls a straw sleeping mat over herself and her three small children and waits until it stops.

She and her children sit on a low table as floodwater rises, bringing with it the sewage that runs along the mud paths outside their shack.

Ms. Mao Sein, 34, was resettled by the government here in an empty field two years ago, when the police raided the squatters’ colony where she lived in Phnom Penh, the capital, 12 miles away.

She is a widow and a scavenger. The area where she lives has no clean water or electricity, no paved roads or permanent buildings. But there is land to live on, and that has drawn scores of new homeless families to settle here, squatting among the squatters.

With its shacks and its sewage, Andong looks very much like the refugee camps that were home to those who were forced from their homes by the brutal Communist Khmer Rouge three decades ago.

Like tens of thousands of people around the country, those living here are victims of what experts say has become the most serious human rights abuse in the country: land seizures that lead to evictions and homelessness.

“Expropriation of the land of Cambodia’s poor is reaching a disastrous level,” Basil Fernando, executive director of the Asian Human Rights Commission in Hong Kong, a private monitoring group, said in December. “The courts are politicized and corrupt, and impunity for human rights violators remains the norm.”

With the economy on the rise, land is being seized for logging, agriculture, mining, tourism and fisheries, and in Phnom Penh, soaring land prices have touched off what one official called a frenzy of land grabs by the rich and powerful. The seizures can be violent, including late-night raids by the police and military. Sometimes, shanty neighborhoods burn down, apparently victims of arson.

“They came at 2 a.m.,” said Ku Srey, 37, who was evicted with Ms. Mao Sein and most of their neighbors in June 2006.

“They were vicious,” Ms. Ku Srey said of the police and soldiers who evicted her.

“They had electric batons” — and she imitated the sound made by the devices: “chk-chk-chk-chk.” She said, “They pushed us into trucks, they threw all our stuff into trucks and they brought us here.”

In a report in February, Amnesty International estimated that 150,000 people around the country were now at risk of forcible eviction as a result of land disputes, land seizures and new development projects.

These include 4,000 families who live around a lake in the center of Phnom Penh, Boeung Kak Lake, which is the city’s main catchment for monsoon rains and is being filled in for upscale development.

“If these communities are forced to move, it would be the most large-scale displacement of Cambodians since the times of the Khmer Rouge,” said Brittis Edman, a researcher with Amnesty International, which is based in London.

That, in a way, would bring history full circle.

Like other ailments of society — political and social violence, poverty and a culture of impunity for those with power — the land issues have roots in Cambodia’s tormented past of slaughter, civil war and social disruptions.

The brutal rule of the Khmer Rouge, during which 1.7 million people are estimated to have died, began in 1975 with an evacuation of Phnom Penh, forcing millions of people into the countryside and emptying the city. It ended in 1979 when the Khmer Rouge was driven from power by a Vietnamese invasion, sending hundreds of thousands of refugees into Thailand.

Many of the refugees returned in the 1990s, joining a rootless population displaced by the Khmer Rouge and the decade of civil war that followed in the 1980s. Many ended their journeys in Phnom Penh, creating huge colonies of squatters.

Now, many of these people are being forced to move again, from Phnom Penh and from around the country, victims of the latest scourge of the poor: national prosperity.

Whichever way the winds of history blow, some people here say, life only gets worse for the poor. If it is not “pakdivat,” revolution, that is buffeting the poor, they say, it is “akdivat,” development.

The Cambodian economy has at last started to grow, at an estimated 9 percent last year. And Phnom Penh is starting to transform itself with modern buildings, modest malls and plans for skyscrapers. It is one of the last Asian capitals to begin to pave over its past.

From 1993 to 1999, Amnesty International said in its report in February, the government granted commercial development rights for about one-third of the country’s most productive land for commercial development to private companies.

In Phnom Penh from 1998 through 2003, the city government forced 11,000 families from their homes, the World Bank said in a statement quoted by Amnesty International.

Since then, the human rights group said, evictions have reportedly displaced at least 30,000 more families.

“One thing that is important to note is that the government is not only failing to protect the population, but we are also seeing that it is complicit in many of the forced evictions,” Ms. Edman, of Amnesty International, said.

The government responded to the group’s report through a statement issued by its embassy in London.

“Just to point out that Cambodia is not Zimbabwe,” the statement read. “Your researcher should also spend more time to examine cases of land and housing rights violations in this country, if she dares.”

Here in Andong, the people have adapted as best they can.

Little by little, they have made their dwellings home, some of them decorating their shacks with small flower pots. A few have gathered enough money to buy concrete and bricks to pave their floors and reinforce their walls.

But this home, like the ones they have known in the past, may only be temporary. The outskirts of Phnom Penh are only a few miles away. As the city continues to expand, aid workers say, the people here will probably be forced to move again.

Pakistan puts spy agency under civilian control

Related

Afghan Government Says Pakistan’s ISI Behind Recent Terrorist Acts

Critics say it played a major role in the creation of the Islamist Taliban movement which took control of Afghanistan in the 1990s and harboured al Qaeda until it was forced from power by U.S.-led forces in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.


Reuters | Jul 27, 2008

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani put the military’s main spy agency under the control of the Interior Ministry on Saturday, a move seen as asserting civilian authority over the intelligence network.

The Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) agency is known to have wielded great influence on foreign and security policies, especially towards India and Afghanistan.

Critics say it played a major role in the creation of the Islamist Taliban movement which took control of Afghanistan in the 1990s and harboured al Qaeda until it was forced from power by U.S.-led forces in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Last month, Pakistan denied accusations by Afghan authorities that the ISI was behind an attempt by Taliban militants to kill Afghan President Hamid Karzai in April.

“The Prime Minister (has) approved the placement of Intelligence Bureau and Inter Services Intelligence under the administrative, financial and operational control of the Interior Division with immediate effect,” the Pakistani government said in a statement on Saturday.

The Intelligence Bureau is Pakistan’s main civilian security agency.

Security analysts said the decision was the first move by the civilian government formed after February elections, led by the party of slain former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, to assert its authority over Pakistan’s intelligence network.

“Undoubtedly, it’s a good decision. It will ensure better coordination between the intelligence agencies,” former general turned analyst Talat Masood said.

“It’s an effort to assert civilian oversight on the affairs of the intelligence agencies.”

The government announcement came hours after Gilani embarked on his first official visit to the United States.

Pakistan dropped support for the Taliban and joined the U.S.-led campaign against terrorism after the Sept. 11 attacks organised by Osama bin Laden, a guest of the Taliban.

But it has been unable to completely dispel suspicion that for various national security reasons, some elements of its security forces are still helping the Taliban.

Military issues are always closely watched in Pakistan, which has been ruled by generals for more than half of its 60 years of independence.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who seized power as a general in 1999, stepped down as army chief in November to become a civilian leader.

General Ashfaq Kayani, who succeeded Musharraf as army chief, has taken several steps to take the army out of politics, including ordering all army officers out of civilian posts and barring them from meeting politicians.