Showing posts from May, 2009

Genocide by any other name

Federal Nigerian troops walk along a road near Ikot Expene, Nigeria, with Biafran forces in this 1968 file photograph. On the roadside are two emaciated Nigerian boys. (Photograph: AP) By Percy Zvomuya The first half-century of black Africa's independence was especially notorious for three reasons: coups, corrupt dictatorships and genocides. Just seven years after Nigeria's independence in 1960, more than a million Igbos died of starvation or were slaughtered in the Biafran war in Nigeria; in the 1980s a million people died of starvation in Ethiopia as the government was busy buying weapons, and more than 20 000 Ndebele were slaughtered by the Zimbabwean army's Fifth Brigade. In 1994, in just three months, a million Tutsis died in Rwanda at the hands of their Hutu compatriots and, more recently, up to four million Congolese people have died as an indirect result of 10 years of war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. And in the Sudanese provinces of Darfur, massacres

The appalling silence and inactivity of the British Left as Biafrans face death and starvation ...

Peter Sedgwick on the grim meaning of ‘The Wilson Syndrome’ The people of Biafra once again face annihilation despite talk of resuming relief flights. Until last month, international charities had secured the passage of vital protein foods into the war area, and ended the famine in which more than a million people, of both sexes and all ages, died of hunger and deficiency diseases. Now the famine is be to be repeated – especially since a number of spokesmen for the Federal Nigerian government have at last admitted that their policy is to use starvation as a weapon to subjugate Biafra. The British government continues to support the Federal campaign, diplomatically and in the massive supply of arms. In the hospitals and mortuaries of Biafra, the causes of starvation and death are inscribed in the victims’ records officially ‘The Wilson Syndrome’. Total surrender The issues in the war are fairly simple. The demands of General Gowon’s Federal Nigerian government are for the total surrende


Rabbi Tanenbaum STATEMENT BY RABBI MARC H. TANEN3AUM, NATIONAL DIRECTOR OF INTERRELIGIOUS AFFAIRS, AMERICAN JEWISH COMMITTEE; CHAIRMAN OF THE INTERRELIGIOUS LIASION COMMITTEE OF THE AMERICAN JEWISH EMERGENCY EFFORT FOR BIAFRAN RELIEF, AND PRESIDENT OF THE INTERRELIGIOUS FOUNDATION FOR COMMUNITY ORGANIZATION Today is the Jewish Sabbath. Traditionally the Sabbath is an oasis in time for retreat from the turmoil of the world, for calm reflection, meditation, and study. By superficial standards, a Jew, and certainly a rabbi, should not be taking part in a public meeting such as this on the Sabbath Day. However, from the deepest perspectives of the humanism of the Jewish faith and the historic experience of the Jewish people, I can do no other but lend my voice and my presence on this Sabbath in sorrowful and bitter protest against the bestiality that is taking place against innocent men, women and children, victims of the civil war in Nigeria. Rabbinic tradition affirms (Ketubah 19a), &quo

Bodies stacked in street as genocide grips Biafra

The Times Online Archives May 12, 1968: Frederick Forsyth, at this time a freelance reporter, finds the breakaway region is now a charnel house THE war raging between Nigeria and her breakaway eastern region of Biafra has just ended its 10th and bloodiest month. After 10 weeks in the bush with the Biafran army commandos, I have emerged sickened by the senseless violence that this war has wreaked upon a west African nation that could have been an example of harmonious progress to the whole of the continent. The most disturbing aspect is that inside 10 months it has deteriorated steadily from a war in which the original motivation was the reincorporation of the breakaway east into Nigeria into a spectacle of racial hatred run amok. General Yakubu Gowon, the head of the federal government, in unleashing a war that he thought could be ended within 48 hours, has let loose forces that white men do not understand and that the Nigerians cannot control. The Lagos government, to judge from its p

Nyerere Was Africa's True Man Of The People

Julius Nyerere By James N. Kariuki Afro-pessimists of the world once glorified Tanzania's Julius Kambarage Nyerere by musing that he should not have been born African. More sincere admirers saluted him simply as 'one of the planet's best and brightest'. When he died in 1999, practically the entire world, including the General Assembly of the UN, grieved a terrible loss. An American Afro-optimist simply lamented tearfully: I would have followed him anywhere! To many, Nyerere was the pride of Africa. He was the embodiment of the finest to be found in a leader, not only in Tanzania and Africa, but also for the entire world. Yet, for all his atrocities, Uganda's Idi Amin is better known than this remarkable son of our continent. But Nyerere does have a hardcore following. Some of the diehards were attracted by Nyerere's intellectual output. Others cite oratory skills and charisma as his 'talent' as a politician. Still others point to his brillianc

No regrets for the Asaba massacre of Igbo -Haruna

By Sufuyan Ojeifo & Lemmy Ughegbe, Vanguard ABUJA — GENERAL Officer Commanding (GOC) Two Division of the Army during the civil war, Maj.-Gen. Ibrahim Haruna said yesterday that he had no regret for the Asaba massacre in which over 500 Igbo men were killed by his troops. Testifying for the second day running for the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) at the Oputa panel sitting, Gen. Haruna also revealed that Nigeria’s late Prime Minister, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa-Balewa had a foreknowledge of the 1966 coup that claimed his life. He said the late Prime Minister even turned down an invitation from the British government to pass the night of January 14, 1966 at the British High Commission in Lagos to escape from the coup plotters. Gen. Haruna who was under cross-examination by the Ohanaeze Ndigbo’s counsel, Chief Anthony Mogbo (SAN) said whatever action he or his troops took during the war was motivated by a sense of duty to protect the unity of the country. "As the commanding officer a