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Serendipitous Serenity

June 10, 2010

Serendipitous Serenity

As I read

You spun in

Took note

And climbed back

Up your thread.

The two of us






Blog Highlight: Local Dirt

May 28, 2010

Photo (Computix via Flickr, 2005)

High fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, and unnecessary added ingredients have been something that has been taken off my children’s menu (but feel free to pass me a Pepsi).  Slowly, processed flours are being replaced with whole multi grains, and organic foods are overtaking my cupboard and fridge.  No easy task for a girl who used to live on cheese popcorn, chocolate milk, and Hostess treats every day for lunch – can you imagine I still managed anorexia at the time, if only I could find some happy middle now 🙂  But, shhhhh don’t tell.

However, since my environmental science class I’ve become more aware of the challenges we face in terms of food supply for a growing population.  I’ve also learned how buying local foods is important to reducing negative environmental impacts as well as the economic advantages of buying local foods.

And so, without further hesitation this post is dedicated to a friend of mine who was featured a few weeks back in an NPR feature which you can read here.  Please make a point to say hello to Renee and read up on some wonderful Afghan food that she’s been preparing with food from her local market.  Also, Local Farm blog is a group blog, so roam around a little and be sure to check out Local Dirt’s main page which can help you find local foods in your area – check it out.

Ganic Arrest – The Politics Involved

March 6, 2010

Approximately 3,000 Sarajevans protested Ejup Ganic’s arrest today.  Avdo Hebib, President of the Patriots League of Bosnia and Hercegovina is summarized by Bosnian newspaper Oslobodenje to have said that the time of Beograd’s command over Bosnia Hercegovina has passed and that he would request of the Bosnian government to break all ties with Serbia and Great Britain.  While Serbia’s political motivations may be clear in serving an arrest warrant, one might ask why the animosity towards Great Britain?  While on the surface Great Britain’s intentions may have a flawed legitimacy when considering the Tzipi Livni fiasco last month, Great Britain’s treatment of Ganic and its continual errors in the proceedings involving Ganic are cause for concern that have been reviving Great Britain’s role in the Bosnian war amongst Bosnians.

First, I’d like to remind everyone that the arrest warrant that is issued for Ganic are for events that took place on the day that Alija Izetbegovic was kidnapped by the Yugoslav National Army.  Aside from that, in order to truly grasp the situation, we need to consider some of the basic boundaries that have been crossed by the Serbian Interpol (not to be confused with the International Interpol) warrant.  First, the Rome Agreement has been breached.  The Rome Agreement states:

“Persons, other than those already indicted by the International Tribunal, may be arrested and detained for serious violations of international humanitarian law only pursuant to a previously issued order, warrant, or indictment that has been reviewed and deemed consistent with international legal standards by the International Tribunal. Procedures will be developed for expeditious decision by the Tribunal and will be effective immediately upon such action.”

Second, an agreement was reached between Bosnia Hercegovina and Serbia last week in which it was agreed that acts committed upon Bosnian soil by Bosnian citizens will be tried by the sovereign country of Bosnia Hercegovina. 

Additionally, attempts by Serbia to take legal action against Ganic have been tried and failed.  Serbia has already brought before the International Tribunal charges against Ejup Ganic in which the Tribunal found insufficient evidence.  Last year when Serbia put through warrants through International Interpol against Ganic and 18 other Bosnians, those warrants were withdrawn by International Interpol due to their political nature.  As a result new regulations for international warrants were implemented (para. 18).  Serbia’s last resort was to put out a Serbian Interpol arrest warrant in which Great Britain has found itself in a position to oblige.

Serbia’s desperate acts for revisionism and equalizing blame can be explained with trying to appease Serbian nationalists while tensions flare over steps being taken towards joining the European Union, such as Karadzic’s arrest and trying to pass a resolution regarding Srebrenica (whose words originally included the term genocide but is now still being hotly debated with the replaced words of criminal actions) more information can be found here.  Great Britain’s violations of Ejup Ganic’s rights are becoming increasingly concerning.  For starters, Ejup Ganic had spent three days in confinement without being allowed to see counsel, family, or visiting diplomats.  On the first court action, Ganic was not at the hearing due to court “error”.  Ejup Ganic has been denied bail as a flight risk on Wednesday.  Again, today after still no evidence of his crimes has been presented by Serbia to the court, Ganic’s appeal for bail has been denied.  And finally, once again Ejup Ganic was not at court for his appeal – Great Britain citing lack of security for such a high-profile figure ~sigh~.

So what’s with Britain?  I’m not sure, but the minute I mention Ganic and Great Britain, my Bosnian hommies are quick to point out – “yeah, it’s their fault we couldn’t defend ourselves with the whole arms embargo, and now they, like Serbia, want to make it our fault”.  I basically agreed with Owen who had mentioned on a discussion board that it was more likely the government trying to save face with the Tzipi Livni incident, but am now seriously questioning this reasoning due to the manner in which Ejup Ganic has been treated since his arrest.  If the goal is to save face, then why the mistreatment of Ganic?

Perhaps then, Ganic’s involvement in one particular instance during the Bosnian war does play some role in all of this.

Professor Francis A. Boyle sent out an email upon Ganic’s arrest in which he stated:

 “The arrest of Ejup Ganic by the British government is all political. . . . Indeed, it was Ganic who personally helped me get the legal authorization from President Izetbegovic to sue Britain at the World Court for aiding and abetting genocide against Bosnia, as explained in the attached Note. This British persecution of Ejup Ganic is simply a continuation of the genocidal policies that Perfidious Albion has always pursued against Bosnia and the Bosnians.”

More information from the note:

“During the early morning hours of 14 September 1993, the author rose to fly to Geneva for further consultations with President Izetbegovic, Vice President Ejup Ganic, and then Foreign Minister Silajdzic.  It was my advice to all three that the next step for Bosnia and Herzegovina at the World Court would be to sue the United Kingdom for aiding and abetting genocide against the Bosnian People in order to break the genocidal Security Council arms embargo of Bosnia and to stop the genocidal carve-up of the Republic pursuant to the proposed so-called Contact Group Plan.

. . . a Spokesman for the British Foreign Office said that this announcement “would make it difficult to sustain the morale and commitment of those [British troops and aid workers] in Bosnia in dangerous circumstances.”  This story continued:  “ForeignOffice sources said there were no plans to remove the Coldstream Guards, who have just begun a six-month deployment to Bosnia.  But Whitehall would take account of whether the Bosnian threat of legal action was in fact taken to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.”

 . . . several European states threatened the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina over the continuation of Bosnia’s legal proceedings against the United Kingdom  . . .   The basic thrust of their collective threat was that all forms of international humanitarian relief supplies to the starving People of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina would be cut-off if my Application and Request for Provisional Measures against the United Kingdom were to be actually filed with the World Court.  For these reasons of severe duress and threats perpetrated by the United Kingdom, other European states, and David Owen, the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina was forced to withdraw from those proceedings against the United Kingdom by means of concluding with it a coerced “Joint Statement” of 20 December 1993.”

To summarize the rest of the note, Professor Boyle still went before the judge and explained that those filing the suit were under duress to withdraw the allegations.  The judge still dismissed the case.

I’d still like to think it’s all just a part of the often messy legal system, but I’m having a hard time accepting that right now.  For more information, Srebrenica Genocide Blog has a post which describes Ganic’s exemplary credentials and you can access it here.

Karadzic, “Just and Holy” Actions, and The Muslim Fundamentalists

March 3, 2010

Karadzic is back to his drama, and perhaps he actually believes his war was “holy and just”, but his threat regarding the extermination of Muslims before Bosnia and Hercegovina seceded from Yugoslavia is self explanatory:


Karadzic: Don’t think that you won’t take Bosnia and Hercegovina into hell and the Muslim people maybe to extinction.  Because the Muslim people cannot defend themselves if there is a war here.

And now speaks the fundamentalist (heavy sarcasm) …

Izetbegovic:  His actions, his manner of action, his advice .. maybe best describes the reasons why we probably do not want to stay a part of Yugoslavia.  That is what I’m speaking about tonight.  (Applause)

And one more thing, his mannerism and suggestions explain why even others do not want to stay part of Yugoslavia.  That kind of Yugoslavia, which Mr. Karadzic wants, nobody else wants – except for maybe Serbian people.  That kind of Yugoslavia is in the eyes of Yugoslavian people -Slovenians, Croatians, Macedonians, Albanians, Hungarians (?), Muslims – simply detested .. and in the eyes of Europeans and everyone.  This is the tactic and this is what Karadzic is employing.  However, Karadzic is just one expression of thought, one action.  We all hoped, and still hope that our hope would be realized, that the Serbian people would come to their democratic tradition; that the Serbian people would reach a democratic stock that they could perfect – that they would become known for throughout the world.  This, what is going on today does not serve for the honor of the Serbian people but this form of action, these visible threats  …  the Muslim people will not become extinct.

I thought these videos relayed some of Karadzic’s general sentiments regarding “just and holy” actions; they also display the nature that folklore plays in conveying history, awaking nationalism within society, and brewing resentment.   Some Serbian folklore was taught in the school curriculum in the form of poetry, prose, and literature.  Many of these stories concentrated on Albanians taking over Kosovo and Ottoman influences on Bosnia.  Other forms of folklore meant to convey history were forms of music, film, art, and dance – some of which will be seen in the videos.

 It is important to note that in this video Karadzic speaks about Sarajevo Serbs (and all converts in Bosnia) who converted to Islam during the Ottoman Empire in order to gain favors from the Ottoman rulers, nowhere does Karadzic state that these converts forcefully took land from Serbs and further statements show a complete abhorrence towards Islam.  You might want to skip the phone footage, but ummmm, you can see the Russian journalist shooting (presumably towards Sarajevo) at the end of the clip – that seemed odd to me.

This video is footage from during the war in which Karadzic is visiting his family in Serbia.  His brother comments that no one would want to risk their lives to save the Muslims (in reference to the international community).  Pay particular attention to 7:07 where soldiers are singing about “beautiful Turkish daughter” as well as “Sarajevo we have encircled you”.  

Bosniaks faced years of not only terrorism but of ethnic cleansing and genocide because people like Karadzic inspired it, planned it, lead it, and implemented it.  May he be sentenced to the most severe punishment that this court can hand out so as to send a message to all those who choose expansionist, ethnic cleansing, genocidal actions.

Bill Shein on Citizens United

January 27, 2010

h/t to my brother-in-law Jim:

Bill Shein answers Pamela Harris’s question about what’s to come next.

This one was my favorite:

“May 30, 2034 – In what a spokesperson for “Humans are People, Too” called “deeply troubling,” the Supreme Court today ruled that the Constitution allows gay corporations to marry – under the broad power of the Commerce Clause – even though human homosexuals and lesbians may not. Within hours, Barneys New York and Banana Republic said they would soon make ‘a big announcement.’ (Shein, 2010)”

Read the timeline here.

All I can say about the subject is – I’m not too surprised.  I mean we enthusiastically gave up so many of our freedoms since 2001, ehhh how’s a little corporate marketing strategy going to influence elections?  Relax, have a coke and smile.

In light of that how about one of my own for the list:

March 30, 2047: Halliburton divorces The Pentagon Corporation for the young War for Oil, Inc.  Halliburton gets custody of Bush love child Iraq (which Pentagon adopted), as well as all of Pentagon’s assets, child support and maintanence payments from Pentagon.  Rumor has it that Halliburton and War for Oil are expecting their own child.  Favored names are Saudi for a boy, and Arabia for a girl.

Quick note on Identity

January 12, 2010

I’m a second generation Bosniamerimuslim.

Hehe – I like it.  See, I did not put my religion before my ethnicity folks, but hmmm, I guess there is still room for complaint that I put one ethnicity in front of another but it’s just more fun in being a meri Muslim than to be a bosni Muslim which could be mixed up with bossy Muslim.  I think I definately am a bossy American but I’m more of a passive Muslim (you know the moderate who is supposed to get along with her co-religionists) – huh, that’s going to require some thought.  I don’t know – a bossy American + a passive Muslim.  Oh wait, I got it: bossy American + passive Muslim = Democrat.  Okay, wait, I think I have to change my identity.

I’m a Bosniamerimuslicrat.

Uh oh.  What have I done now?

Okay this is going to take more thought and I have no time for this … back to my Race and Ethnicity classwork.

Chomsky’s Implication with Revisionism Regarding Bosnia: A Response to the Edward S. Herman and David Peterson Article “Smearing Chomsky” – Part I

November 24, 2009

Perhaps it was easier for Herman and Peterson’s article Vulliamy’s Smears at Counter PunchMonthly Review, and Media Lens to link to a blog that receives little attention from its creator because they just might pass under the radar in that manner or perhaps it was due to the post’s Google rank, but either way it has come to the point where I cannot ignore the attempt to dismiss the valid issues that Ed Vulliamy raises in his open letter.  Also, I am perplexed that Herman and Peterson would go so far as to have everyone believe that through my blog Vulliamy’s Open Letter to Amnesty International was started and further circulated.  I doubt that my semi-moribund blog, which receives occasional spurts of informational CPR, has that much influence. 

More importantly though, the real issues within the letter are being circumvented with ad hominem attacks and fallacies as well as being used to propagate revisionist views.  Through this analysis (and another to follow) I hope to dispel some of these fallacies and revisionist views and hope that some common ground or resolve can finally be reached.

First, let us discuss the issue of Brockes’ Guardian article that Ed Vulliamy refers to in his open letter.  While it is true that article was retracted and The Guardian issued an apology to Chomsky for the misrepresentation within the article, the issues regarding Chomsky’s support of revisionist views and his opinion that Ed Vulliamy was “probably wrong” in regards to the Trnopolje have not been dispelled by Chomsky in his formal complaint to The Guardian (however, it should be noted that Chomsky did object to the whole article based on the one misrepresentation that he does defend).  Nor are the issues solely based on the Brockes’ article, but are also based on Chomsky’s own confirmations about defending Johnstone’s free speech. 

Certainly, Chomsky has the right to defend Johnstone’s freedom of speech.  He has the right to agree with her and reflect that agreement in his public opinions, which he certainly does as will be demonstrated later.  However, Chomsky cannot be afforded the luxury of having opinions that go both ways.  In Chomsky’s formal complaint, located on Chomsky’s own site, he states:

“In the open letter, readily available on the internet (and the only source), I went through the charges one by one, checked them against the book, and found that they all ranged from serious misrepresentation to outright fabrication. I then took — and take — the position that it is completely wrong to withdraw a book because the press charges (falsely) that it does not conform to approved doctrine. And I do regret that “I didn’t do it strongly enough,” the words Brockes managed to quote correctly. In the interview, whatever Johnstone may have said about Srebrenica never came up, and is entirely irrelevant in any event, at least to anyone with a minimal appreciation of freedom of speech.”

Further, The Guardian states in its own retraction:

“Both Prof Chomsky and Ms Johnstone, who has also written to the Guardian, have made it clear that Prof Chomsky’s support for Ms Johnstone, made in the form of an open letter with other signatories, related entirely to her right to freedom of speech.”

 Interestingly, Chomsky’s own site which offers several hyperlinks in his reprint of the Brockes’ article offers no link to the “readily available on the internet” open letter which is at the heart of the issue.  It is 2009, 4 years later, and through extensive digging I came up with no open letter defending Johnstone on my own, but was forwarded this link.  These are some highlights with my commentary from what I am told is the formal complaint to Ordfront (italics bold: Chomsky; italics: commentaries; normal font: Samaha):

 “I have known her for many years, have read the book, and feel that it is quite serious and important.”

In my personal opinion that statement goes above and beyond defending Johnstone’s freedom of speech and is an introduction to endorsement of Johnstone’s work which is highlighted in other portions.

“(1) ‘According to her it cannot be a matter of genocide when women and children are spared. But to me it is obvious that genocide and crimes against humanity have been committed in Srebrenica…’”

“Reference is apparently to Johnstone’s statement (p. 117) refuting the claim that the charge of “genocide” is demonstrated by the fact that the Serbs who conquered Srebrenica offered safe passage to women and children. In response to this absurd claim, she writes: “However, one thing should be obvious: one does not commit `genocide’ by sparing women and children.

I do not see how her entirely appropriate comment justifies the charge in (1)”

Can someone explain to me how Johnstone’s comment does not justify the charge in (1)? It certainly appears to me that Johnstone is at the very least insinuating genocide denial and that Chomsky’s referral to Johnstone’s quote as “appropriate comment” has the appearance of supporting that insinuation. 

Furthermore, I am not aware of any definition of genocide that exempts an action from genocide because one gender was spared.  Instead, an act of genocide has taken place if one gender of the target population is specifically targeted for extermination and the other is left alone.  The reason for this is: if one gender is eliminated procreation amongst the target group is hindered which is part of a systematic plan and recognized by the UN.  Furthermore, Lemkin, who coined the word genocide further details that complete destruction of a group does not need to take place.  This faulty logic of genocide being exempt because women and children have been spared has been attempted at the Krstic genocide trial and has failed.  The court has ruled that the females and children being spared has no bearing on whether or not genocide took place.

 “3) ‘Johnstone asserts that more effort has gone into exaggerating the number of dead than into identifying and caclulating the actual number of victims, that there was never any real wish to find out how many were killed and who they were. She suggests that several thousand hade fled and survived.’”

“I read that section too. I am aware of no evidence — of course, meaning evidence available to her at the time she wrote — that the statements she actually made in this regard (as distinct from those attributed to her) are incorrect.”

Chomsky should have the academic integrity to distinguish the actual statements that Johnstone made as opposed to the statements that were “attributed to her”.  We should keep in mind that these statements are made in November of 2005.  If Johnstone has suggested that thousands fled and survived, then the onus is upon Johnstone to prove those allegations since during the time of her writing thousands of bodies had already been discovered in mass graves.  Evidence and trials have already established the contrary.  At this point it is not a matter of innocent until proven guilty since a record of the event has been established.  The burden of proof lies with Johnstone – it is simply not acceptable to place this burden of proof on others and reflects poorly on the academia that insists otherwise.

“’… the revisionist author Diana Johnstone, foreground figure in the slander-convicted magazine “Living Marxism”. She insists that the Serb atrocities – ethnic cleansing, torture camps, mass executions – are western propaganda. That is also what Slobodan Milosevic and his ilk profess. Thus the Ordfront left is suddenly travelling in the same compartment as postcommunist fascism.’”


“But putting that aside, let’s now consider his reasoning. Johnstone argues — and, in fact, clearly demonstrates — that a good deal of what has been charged has no basis in fact, and much of it is pure fabrication. For van Reis, this is outrageous.”

Again, this certainly appears to be a clear endorsement of Johnstone’s revisionist views.

“A final comment on “genocide.” People are free to use the term “genocide” as they please, and to condemn Racak and Srebrenica, say, as genocidal if they like. But then they have a simple responsibility: Inform us of their bitter denunciations of the incomparably worse “genocide” carried out with the strong backing of the US and UK at the very same moment as Racak. Say, the massacre at Liquica, with perhaps up to 200 civilians murdered, one of many (unlike Racak), in a country under military occupation and hence a grave war crime (unlike Racak), and in this case simply a massacre of civilians, without even a pretext of resistance (again unlike Racak).”

This is circumstantial rhetoric that has no place within the defense of freedom of speech.  More so, I find it extremely disturbing that an academic would use sarcasm by saying that the term “genocide” can be used liberally, to refer to Racak and Srebrenica as  “say, as genocidal, if they like”, implying otherwise, and then refer back to “200 civilians” and imply that Liquica does qualify as a genocide. 

Mr. Chomsky, I have lost friends and family due to Serb aggression on Bosnia and I am not an academic, however I have always been careful in the way I use the term genocide in terms of the aggression that took place on the Bosnian population.  This is not a term to be taken lightly, nor is it a term that should lose all meaning due to academic inclinations or political tactics.  Perhaps the 200 civilians that were killed in Liquica qualifies as a genocide, to be honest I am not informed of the matter to the same extent that you are informed, but myself and the whole of Bosnia are aware of the over 8,000 that lost their lives at Srebrenica.  Perhaps you feel the need to incorporate Srebrenica into your global power and media package, but realities usually have no perfect boxes to fit into.  Instead we are left to sorting the pieces and trying to make sense of it all.

Certainly, the examples and quotes provided here demonstrate that the issues Ed Vulliamy presents in his Open Letter to Amnesty International are valid regardless of the lack of citations and quotations within his letter.  It should also be noted that I do not believe that the letter was intended to read as a new media format with hyperlinks. 

To conclude part I, Chomsky claims to be simply defending freedom of speech on one hand and supporting revisionist views on the other; this is problematic.  Perhaps though, common ground lies in the very issue of revisionist views.  Chomsky clearly demonstrates his own dislike of misrepresentation and fabrications in his own open letter to the Guardian regarding the Brockes article.  In this case though, the accuracy or inaccuracy puts history at issue, which in turn discourages or facilitates future atrocities on the Bosnian population.  I can’t imagine that anyone would want to facilitate another “massacre” (quotes are mine for emphasis – I consider the worldview of Srebrenica as genocide to be acceptable).

Although, I feel that the issue of Trnopolje, one of many camps of the war, and the ITN/LM/Knightly fiasco brought up by Herman and Peterson with all of its misrepresentations and fabrications is a red herring which has repeatedly been debunked and is irrelevant to the issue of Amnesty International inviting Chomsky to speak at a human rights event – I will focus on the issue for the purposes of personally recording the continued propagation of these fallacies, along with the facts that disqualify the argument for my blog in part II.

Open Letter to Amnesty International Regarding Chomsky’s Invitation to Speak, By Ed Vulliamy

October 29, 2009


Update: For those of you visiting from Counterpunch, National Review, and Media Lens, I have replied in part to Herman and Peterson here.  Additionally, regarding the ITN/LM/Knightley issue, as Owen points out in the comments, there is further commentary about the issue at David Campbell’s site that you can find here and here.

Background on this post is here with email contacts from Amnesty International for letter writing.  Letter writing guide is here.  For those of you joining the campaign to protest Amnesty International’s invitation to Chomsky – feel free to cut and paste the letter into your own blogs or to past into emails for distribution.  I have updated the letter, as it seems that I posted a draft earlier.

Open Letter to Amnesty International 

To whom it may concern: 

I have been contacted by a number of people regarding Amnesty International’s invitation to Professor Noam Chomsky to lecture in Northern Ireland. 

The communications I have received regard Prof. Chomsky’s role in revisionism in the story of the concentration camps in northwestern Bosnia in 1992, which it was my accursed honour to discover.

As everyone interested knows, a campaign was mounted to try and de-bunk the story of these murderous camps as a fake – ergo, to deny and/or justify them – the dichotomy between these position still puzzles me. 

The horror of what happened at Omarska and Trnopolje has been borne out by painful history, innumerable trials at the Hague, and – most importantly by far – searing testimony from the survivors and the bereaved. These were places of extermination, torture, killing, rape and, literally “concentration” prior to enforced deportation, of people purely on grounds of ethnicity. 

Prof. Chomsky was not among those (“Novo” of Germany and “Living Marxism” in the UK) who first proposed the idea that these camps were a fake. He was not among those who tried unsuccessfully (they were beaten back in the High Court in London, by a libel case taken by ITN) to put up grotesque arguments about fences around the camps, which were rather like Fred Leuchter’s questioning whether the thermal capacity of bricks was enough to contain the heat needed to burn Jews at Auschwitz.  But Professor Chomsky said many things, from his ivory tower at MIT, to spur them on and give them the credibility and energy they required to spread their poisonous perversion and denials of these sufferings. Chomsky comes with academic pretensions, doing it all from a distance, and giving the revisionists his blessing. And the revisionists have revelled in his endorsement. 

In an interview with the Guardian, Professor Chomsky paid me the kind compliment of calling me a good journalist, but added that on this occasion (the camps) I had “got it wrong”. Got what wrong?!?! Got wrong what we saw that day, August 5th 1992 (I didn’t see him there)? Got wrong the hundreds of thousands of families left bereaved, deported and scattered asunder? Got wrong the hundreds of testimonies I have gathered on murderous brutality? Got wrong the thousands whom I meet when I return to the commemorations? If I am making all this up, what are all the human remains found in mass graves around the camps and so painstakingly re-assembled by the International Commission for Missing Persons? 

These people pretend neutrality over Bosnia, but are actually apologists for the  Milosevic/Karadzic/Mladic plan, only too pathetic to admit it.  And the one thing they never consider from their armchairs is the ghastly, searing, devastating impact of their game on the survivors and the bereaved. The pain they cause is immeasurable. This, along with the historical record, is my main concern.  It is one thing to survive the camps, to lose one’s family and friends – quite another to be told by a bunch of academics with a didactic agenda in support of the pogrom that those camps never existed. The LM/Novo/Chomsky argument that the story of the camps was somehow fake has been used in countless (unsuccessful) attempts to defend mass murderers in The Hague. 

For decades I have lived under the impression that Amnesty International was opposed to everything these people stand for, and existed to defend exactly the kind of people who lost their lives, family and friends in the camps and at Srebrenica three years later, a massacre on which Chomsky has also cast doubt. I have clearly been deluded about Amnesty. For Amnesty International, of all people, to honour this man is to tear up whatever credibility they have estimably and admirably won over the decades, and to reduce all they say hitherto to didactic nonsense. 

Why Amnesty wants to identify with and endorse this revisionist obscenity, I do not know. It is baffling and grotesque. By inviting Chomsky to give this lecture, Amnesty condemns itself to ridicule at best, hurtful malice at worst – Amnesty joins the revisionists in spitting on the graves of the dead.  Which was not what the organisation was, as I understand, set up for.  I have received a letter from an Amnesty official in Northern Ireland which reads rather like a letter from Tony Blair’s office after it has been caught out cosying up to British Aerospace or lying over the war in Iraq – it is a piece of corporate gobbledygook, distancing Amnesty from Chomsky’s views on Bosnia, or mealy-mouthedly conceding that they are disagreed with. 

There is no concern at all with the victims, which is, I suppose, what one would expect from a bureaucrat. In any event, the letter goes nowhere towards addressing the revisionism, dispelling what will no doubt be a fawning, self-satisfied introduction in Belfast and rapturous applause for the man who gives such comfort to Messrs Karadzic and Mladic, and their death squads.  How far would Amnesty go in inviting and honouring speakers whose views it does not necessarily share, in the miserable logic of this AI official in Belfast?  A lecture by David Irving on Joseph Goebbels?

Alistair Campbell on how Saddam really did have those WMD? The Chilean Secret Police or Colonel Oliver North on the communist threat in Latin America during the 70s and 80s?  What about Karadzic himself on the “Jihadi” threat in Bosnia, and the succulence of 14-year-old girls kept in rape camps? 

I think I am still a member of AI – if so, I resign. If not, thank God for that. And to think: I recently came close to taking a full time job as media director for AI. That was a close shave – what would I be writing now, in the press release: “Come and hear the great Professor Chomsky inform you all that the stories about the camps in Bosnia were a lie – that I was hallucinating that day, that the skeletons of the dead so meticulously re-assembled by the International Commission for Missing Persons are all plastic? That the dear friends I have in Bosnia, the USA, the UK and elsewhere who struggle to put back together lives that were broken by Omarska and Trnopolje are making it all up? 

Some press release that would have been. Along with the owner of the site of the Omarska camp, the mighty Mittal Steel Corporation, Amnesty International would have crushed it pretty quick.  How fitting that Chomsky and Mittal Steel find common cause. Yet how logical, and to me, obvious.  After all, during the Bosnian war, it was the British Foreign Office, the CIA, the UN and great powers who, like the revisionists Chomsky champions, most eagerly opposed any attempt to stop the genocide that lasted, as it was encouraged by them and their allies in high politics to last, for three bloody years from 1992 until the Srebrenica massacre of 1995. 

Yours, in disgust and despair, 

Ed Vulliamy,

The Observer.

On the heels of its announcement of the Chomsky lecture Amnesty published a report on the ongoing search for justice by the victims of rape in Bosnia.

Nicola Duckworth, Amnesty International’s Europe Programme Director, acknowledges that “During the war, thousands of women and girls were raped, often with extreme brutality. Many were held in prison camps, hotels and private houses where they were sexually exploited. Many women and girls were killed. To this day, survivors of these crimes have been denied access to justice. Those responsible for their suffering – members of military forces, the police or paramilitary groups – walk free. Some remain in positions of power or live in the same community as their victims.”

Alisa Muratcaus of the Association of Concentration Camp Torture Survivors, Canton Sarajevo, insists that people who deny that the mass rape of Bosnian women was a strategic element of the war are talking “nonsense”. Her Association, composed of Muslim, Croat, Serb, and Romani members, many of them victims in camps and prisons throughout Bosnia of atrocities including rape and other forms of sexual torture, works closely with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague which has established beyond doubt that rape was used in Bosnia as a weapon of war.

Prelude to an Open Letter to Amnesty International

October 29, 2009

This is background information regarding the Open Letter to Amenesty International by Ed Vulliamy.  Owen, a commentor that often contributes additional information and discussion here has emailed me the background and letter to post on the blog.  I greatly appreciate the background information since I am so pressed for time and could not possibly have written a background post.  Thank you, Owen.

For those of you that are planning on taking action in this matter, I have a guide to writing letters here.  The open letter by Ed will be posted after this post and you can find it here.

Noam Chomsky has been invited to give the annual Amnesty International Lecture in Belfast. This is second time in four years that Chomsky has been invited to give an Amnesty International Lecture (following Dublin in 2006). To celebrate Chomsky’s forthcoming Lecture appearance Amnesty gives him a respectful and uncritical platform for his views over three pages of the latest Amnesty (UK) Magazine. 

Amnesty appears oblivious to the controversies that surround some of Chomsky’s views on human rights, and in particular the support that he has offered and continues to offer to polemicists who deny the substance, scope and authorship of the worst atrocities perpetrated during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war. 

In recent years Chomsky has caused particular controversy through his support for the author Diana Johnstone, known for her “revisionist” views on Bosnia concerning the Prijedor concentration camps, the Srebrenica genocide and the existence of the Bosnian rape camps.  Chomsky salutes her “outstanding” scholarship and defends her “serious, honest work”. 

He represents his support for Johnstone as a defence of her right to freedom of speech while at the same time he denigrates the eyewitness testimony of The Guardian’s reporter Ed Vulliamy whose account of the reality of the Omarska and Trnopolje camps forced the horror of what was happening in Bosnia onto the attention of the rest of the world and in so doing saved the lives of many of the prisoners detained in them. 

Without explanation Chomsky characterises Ed Vulliamy’s description of Omarska and Trnopolje as “probably” wrong while at the same time he endorses the claim by Thomas Deichmann and LM magazine that Vulliamy, Penny Marshall and Ian Williams gave a false account of the situation in the Prijedor camps as “probably” correct.  Chomsky disregards the finding of a High Court libel action which – following the evidence of a doctor detained in one of the camps – confirmed that Vulliamy and his colleagues had told the truth. 

When asked why Amnesty offers a platform to a man who challenges the reporting of human rights abuses that Amnesty itself substantiated and champions the seriousness and honesty of individuals who try to deny those abuses, Amnesty’s response was to observe that invitees are not representatives of Amnesty International nor expected to deliver an Amnesty International policy position within their lecture, but rather they have been invited as having something interesting and thought-provoking to say about human rights in the world today and Amnesty International does not necessarily endorse all their opinions.

When Ed Vulliamy was asked to comment on Amnesty’s invitation to Chomsky he wrote the open letter below.  The language expresses his depth of feeling, not only on his own behalf but also on behalf of the friends forced to suffer “the ghastly, searing, devastating impact” of Chomsky’s denial of their experience. 

Anyone who shares these concerns can express their views for the attention of Irene Khan, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, at

or Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK (AIUK), at

Letter Writing Campaigns for Action Alerts

October 29, 2009

I have a few forthcomming posts that ask readers to email an organization in order for the organization to take corrective action.  I am not posting a sample letter, but may post links to sample letters as guides at a later time – and I do encourage readers to post links to samples for this purpose.

What many people do not take into account when composing an email campaign that requests corrective action is how these organizations view these email campaigns.  For example, in some organizations, any messages that are received with the same subject line and in some cases even the same body are considered to be 1 complaint – even if hundreds or thousands of complaints have been sent.

For this reason, I am posting a best practices guide for readers to use when constructing a message of action.  This is a bare bones basics of what I know.  Please feel free to add to the list by posting your suggestion in the comments area and I will update the content of the post with suggestions I feel will be beneficial to the best-practices guide.  Thank you!

  • Subject lines should be unique, concise and include key words.
  • Subject lines should be written in lower and uppercase letters – never use all caps.  All caps is the equivalent of yelling and hostility and therefore the recipient may disregard it.
  • The body of the email or letter should be unique and concise.  For example if someone has a personal experience that makes this situation hurtful, they should include that experience in their letter without making their experience overtake the intended message.  The experience can be one or two sentences but should not be one or two paragraphs.  The latter is appropriate for op-eds in news papers but does little to get the message across in letter writing campaigns.  
  • The letter should explain why the sender is writing the letter in the first paragraph. 
  • It should include positive statements as well as address the issue. (this is more often possible than we think) 
  • It should include actions that the sender would like to see take place (reasonable actions – include your best-case action and your at the very least recommendation).   
  • It should conclude with bridge building, positive, forward looking statements. (when possible)