Annual Report Card: Human rights and history around the world

Historians in the News

The Network of Concerned Historians (NCH) forwards to its
participants news about the domain where history and human rights
intersect, as reported by:

**the American Association for the Advancement of Science [AAAS,
**Amnesty International [AI, London];
**Article 19 [A19, London];
**Human Rights Watch [HRW, Washington/New York];
**Index on Censorship [IOC, London];
**the Network of Education and Academic Rights [NEAR, London];
**International PEN Writers in Prison Committee [PEN, London];
**Scholars at Risk [SAR, New York];
**and other sources.

The fact that NCH presents this news does not imply that it shares
the views and beliefs of the historians and others mentioned in it.

Please send NCH a message if:

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**This is the twelfth Annual Report of the Network of Concerned
Historians (NCH). It covers 79 countries and is sent to more than 600
historians and others interested in the past all over the world.

**Previous reports cover the years 1995 to 2005. All can be consulted
on NCH's website.

**Please visit and bookmark the NCH website: or its mirror:

**For the current status of cases on whose behalf NCH campaigned, see
the NCH website section "Results".

**NCH is a founding member of the Network of Education and Academic
Rights (NEAR), a global watchdog for academic freedom. Please visit
and bookmark the NEAR website (, and
support NEAR's work.


**Last Annual Report entry: see NCH #38 (2005).

**In January 2005, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights
Commission published the results of its consultation with the Afghan
people about human rights violations during armed conflicts since
1979-80. In December 2005, the government passed the Transitional
Justice Action Plan, which calls for the commemoration of victims,
vetting of state employees to exclude human rights violators, the
creation of a truth-seeking mechanism, the promotion of national
reconciliation and the establishment of mechanisms to bring
perpetrators of past crimes to justice. Some regional officials and
commanders -- often called warlords -- continued to maintain links
with armed groups that were active in the conflicts.
[Sources: AI, Report 2006 (2006), 51; HRW, World Report 2006 (2006),


**Last Annual Report entry: see NCH #5 (1996).

**In April 2005, the Cold War International History Project reported
continued problems with access to files from the communist era,
including access to Communist Party records.
[Source: D. Banisar, Freedom of Information Around the World 2006: A
Global Survey of Access to Government Records Laws (2006) 5.]

**See also Serbia and Montenegro.


**Last Annual Report entry: see NCH #38 (2005).

**In March 2005, the authorities ordered a ban on import sales of
Afrique Magazine after they discovered that the March issue carried a
report on political disappearances in Algeria in the 1990s. In the
internal conflict (1992-2000), thousands of persons disappeared.
[Source: IOC 2/05: 86.]

**At the end of March 2005, the mandate of an official commission on
disappearances, set up with a narrow mandate in 2004, expired. The
head of the commission publicly excluded criminal prosecution of
those responsible for the disappearances and proposed compensation
payments to the families. He declared that the commission had
concluded that 6,146 individuals had disappeared at the hands of
security officers between 1992 and 1998. However, media reports later
quoted him contradicting this by saying that half of these were
"terrorists", rather than victims of state abuses. The commission's
confidential report to the President had not been made public by the
end of 2005. In September 2005, the government held a national
referendum to win support for its Charter for Peace and National
Reconciliation which would extend an amnesty to perpetrators of human
rights violations (security forces, state-armed militias and armed
groups) committed during the internal conflict (1992-2000). President
Abdelaziz Bouteflika officially stated that some 200,000 people were
believed to have been killed since 1992, but there was no commitment
to establishing the truth about these killings and other gross human
rights abuses. Regarding the amnesty, although perpetrators of
certain serious abuses were not to be exempt from prosecution, no
details were provided concerning the process of determining who would
be eligible. Similar measures introduced in 1999 were applied
arbitrarily and resulted de facto in wide-ranging impunity for abuses
committed by armed groups.
[Source: AI, Report 2006 (2006), 44, 54-56.]

**See also France.


**Last Annual Report entry: see NCH #32 (2003).


**Last Annual Report entry: see NCH #38 (2005).

**On 14 June 2005, the Supreme Court of Justice declared the Full
Stop (1986) and Due Obedience (1987) laws unconstitutional, by a 7-1
majority, with one abstention, upholding an earlier decision by
Congress from August 2003. The laws attempted to institutionalize
impunity in cases of human rights violations committed during the
military governments (1976-83). The ruling allowed the reopening of
dozens of trial proceedings in Argentina.
[Sources: AI, "Argentina: Historical Ruling Opens the Way for Justice
in the Country" (Press Release; 15 June 2005); AI, Report 2006
(2006), 32, 59; HRW, World Report 2006 (2006), 162, 164-66.]

**On 18 November 2005, Mariano Saravia, journalist of the Córdoba
daily newspaper La Voz del Interior and author of a book on police
brutality during the military dictatorship (1976-83), complained of
death threats. He also said to be a victim of "judicial persecution"
because he was sued by former members of the military.
[Source: IOC 1/06: 104.]

**See also Chile, Cuba, Uruguay.


**Last Annual Report entry: see NCH #38 (2005).

**In January 2002, Turkish born Armenian journalist Murad Bojolyan
(1950-) was arrested and charged with espionage. A historian and
oriental specialist graduated at the Department of Oriental Studies
of Yerevan State University (1972) and author of a book about the
Ottoman Empire (published in Russian), he worked at the Institute of
Oriental Studies of the National Academy of Sciences (1972-91) and
for the public radio as an announcer and translator into Turkish
(1980-91). In 1991-98, he worked at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
the National Assembly and in the administration of President Levon
Ter-Petrossian as chief translator for the President (1991-98). He
was dismissed due to a staff reduction shortly after Robert Kocharyan
became President in 1998. Since 1998, he had been working as a
journalist, reporting for a number of Armenian and Turkish mass
media. He was charged with spying for the Turkish National
Intelligence Organization MIT and communicating to them information
in exchange for payment concerning Armenia's and Nagorno Karabakh's
military, economic and political affairs, particularly about the
Russian troops based in Armenia. Retracting an earlier confession,
Bojolyan said that any information he had, were public press reports.
In December 2002, a court in Yerevan found Bojolyan guilty of treason
and sentenced him to ten years' imprisonment with confiscation of all
property. His various appeals were dismissed. In October 2005, the
European Court of Human Rights rejected most of Bojolyan's complaints
but wanted to look into the charge that his freedom of expression had
been violated.
[Source: European Court of Human Rights, Partial Decision as to the
Admissibility of Application no. 23693/03 by Murad Bojolyan against
Armenia (Strasbourg, 6 October 2005).]

**On 17 June 2005, Yektan Turkyilmaz (?1972-), a Turkish citizen of
Kurdish origin, a doctoral student of cultural anthropology and a
fellow at the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute, Duke
University, Durham (North Carolina, United States), was arrested at
Yerevan airport and imprisoned for attempting to smuggle culturally
valuable antique books out of Armenia. On his fourth research trip to
Armenia, Turkyilmaz had conducted research on the history of Eastern
Anatolia during the interwar period. He had acquired around 88 books
dating from the 17th to the 20th century from Armenian second-hand
bookstores, an open-air market, and as gifts, in order to build up a
research collection and a library of Armenian books that would
otherwise be lost. However, he was apparently unaware that he was
required to declare seven of the 88 books, which were over fifty
years old, at customs. Turkyilmaz was questioned on his archival work
and political beliefs, and digital copies of his archival research
were confiscated. His official request to be released on bail until
his trial date (9 August 2005) was rejected. He faced up to eight
years' imprisonment. On 16 August 2005, Turkyilmaz, was released but
given a suspended sentence of two years' imprisonment. The judge
upheld the confiscation of all 88 books, though ordered the return of
his electronic research materials. The court had convicted Turkyilmaz
on charges of smuggling, but commuted the sentence, as he was
cooperative during investigations and partially admitted his guilt.
Turkyilmaz was the first Turkish scholar to ask for and receive
access to the Armenian National Archives, where he did research in
May and June 2005. He was one of the few Turkish scholars who had
critically examined the events of 1915 and Armenian claims of
genocide, and other instances of political violence in Anatolia and
the South Caucasus. He received several foreign scholarships. His
dissertation "Imagining 'Turkey', Creating a Nation: the Politics of
Geography and State Formation in Eastern Anatolia, 1908-1938" won him
several awards. Turkyilmaz also studied in the Masters Program at the
Atatürk Institute for Modern Turkish History at Bogazici University,
Istanbul. (See NCH #39.)
[Sources: AAAS Case, ar0510-tur (5 & 18 August 2005); HRW, World
Report (2006) 327; PEN, Rapid Action Network 31/05 (4 & 5 & 22 August
2005); Social Science Research Council, "Yektan Turkyilmaz" (2005).]


**Last Annual Report entry: see NCH #32 (2003).

**See also Japan.


**Last Annual Report entry: see NCH #38 (2005).

**On 21 February 2006, British writer David Irving (1938-) was
sentenced to three years' imprisonment after pleading guilty to
charges of Holocaust denial. The charges stemmed from two lectures he
delivered in Austria in 1989. In Austria Holocaust denial is
punishable by up to ten years' imprisonment. While in custody, Irving
reportedly found a copy of his Hitler's War (1977), banned for
defending the thesis that Hitler had no knowledge of the Holocaust,
in the prison of Graz.
[Sources: IOC 1/06: 104; IOC 2/06: 178.]


**Last Annual Report entry: see NCH #10 (1998).


**Last Annual Report entry: see NCH #37 (2004).


**Last Annual Report entry: see NCH #38 (2005).

**In August 2005, the High Court declared the Fifth Amendment to the
Constitution unlawful. The amendment had legitimized the imposition
of martial law in 1975-79. Following an appeal by the government, the
Supreme Court suspended the High Court ruling.
[Source: AI, Report 2006 (2006), 65.]


**Last Annual Report entry: see NCH #38 (2005).

**In April 2005, special forces of the police beat and detained
peaceful demonstrators who had gathered on the 19th anniversary of
the Chernobyl nuclear accident.
[Source: AI, Report 2006 (2006), 67.]


**Last Annual Report entry: see NCH #37 (2004).

**Although the law on universal jurisdiction was amended in 2003 so
that victims could lodge complaints directly with an investigating
magistrate only if the case had a direct connection with Belgium, a
limited number of cases were pursued. One of these was the case of
former President of Chad, Hissène Habré (see under Chad).
[Source: AI, Report 2006 (2006), 69.]

**See also Chad.


**Last Annual Report entry: see NCH #27 (2002).

**See United States.


**Last Annual Report entry: see NCH #38 (2005).

**Under a "completion strategy" laid down by the United Nations (UN)
Security Council, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former
Yugoslavia (ICTY) was expected to conclude all cases, including
appeals, by 2010. Between February and April 2005, the last
indictments before the closing down of ICTY were confirmed and
unsealed. Impunity for war crimes and crimes against humanity during
the 1992-95 war was widespread. Thousands of disappearances were
still unresolved. According to estimates of the International
Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), between 15,000 and 20,000
people who went missing during the war were still unaccounted for. In
August, the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina became the
co-founder, with the ICMP, of a federal Missing Persons Institute.
Lack of full cooperation with ICTY, particularly by the Republika
Srpska (RS), remained an obstacle to justice. Efforts to tackle
impunity in proceedings before domestic courts remained largely
insufficient, although some war crime trials were conducted. The
first convictions for war crimes committed by Bosnian Serbs were
passed by RS courts.
[Sources: AI, Report 2006 (2006), 14, 71-73; HRW, World Report 2006
(2006), 342.]

**In July 2005, the tenth anniversary of the massacre of around 8,000
Bosnian Muslims after the UN "safe area" of Srebrenica fell to the
Bosnian Serb Army in 1995 took place. While crimes committed in
Srebrenica have been recognized as amounting to genocide by the ICTY,
the women of Srebrenica whose husbands and sons were killed were
still waiting for most of the perpetrators to be brought to justice.
During an anniversary ceremony, the remains of 610 victims were
buried at the Potocari Memorial. At the end of 2005 the remains of
approximately 5,000 victims had been recovered and over 2,800 victims
had been identified. In January 2005, implementing a decision by the
High Representative, the RS had appointed a working group to study
documentation produced by the Srebrenica Commission (established by
the RS authorities to investigate the massacre), with a view to
identifying those implicated. In its first report in March 2005, the
working group had presented a list of 892 suspects reportedly still
employed in RS and national institutions. The High Representative,
however, expressed concern at the failure to provide specific data on
individuals deployed in Srebrenica in July 1995, and urged the
ministries involved to provide all information necessary to complete
the list so that it could be forwarded to ICTY and the Prosecutor of
Bosnia and Herzegovina. A further report and list were presented by
the working group in September 2005, by which, according to the High
Representative, the obligations of the RS were met.
[Source: AI, Report 2006 (2006), 14, 72-73.]

**See also Greece, Serbia and Montenegro.


**Last Annual Report entry: see NCH #38 (2005).

**The federal government made efforts to open files from the military
archives and opened a reference center on political repression during
Brazil's military government (1964-85), which would contain
documents, films, and victims' statements from the period. Human
rights groups protested against the fact that only selected archives
relating to disappearances and killings of political prisoners would
be opened.
[Sources: AI, Report 2006 (2006), 76; HRW, World Report 2006 (2006),


**Last Annual Report entry: see NCH #27 (2002).

**In 2005, an Italian parliamentary investigation into communist
Bulgaria's role in a 1981 attempt to assassinate Pope John Paul II
claimed that the Bulgarian authorities had censored 75 percent of the
information on the case held in the former secret police's files.
Declassified East German files suggested that the Bulgarian secret
police indeed recruited the assassin, the Turkish right-wing gunman
Mehmet Ali Agca.
[Source: IOC 3/05: 99-100.]

**In January 2005, the government proposed to amend the Law for the
Protection of Classified Information to make it easier to destroy
documents including the files of the former secret police without
declassifying or releasing them. The provisions were withdrawn
following public criticism that the amendment would allow the mass
destruction of important files about Bulgarian history.
[Source: D. Banisar, Freedom of Information Around the World 2006: A
Global Survey of Access to Government Records Laws (2006) 24-25.]

**In five different rulings (October 2001, October 2005, January
[twice] and February 2006), the European Court of Human Rights ruled
that the ban on the commemorative meetings of the Obedinena
Makedonska Organizatsiya "Ilinden" (United Macedonian Organization
Ilinden) was not necessary in a democratic society and, hence, that
the authorities had violated Ilinden's right of peaceful assembly and
association. (See also NCH #5, #27.)
[Sources: European Court of Human Rights, Case of Stankov and the
United Macedonian Organisation Ilinden versus Bulgaria: Judgment
(Strasbourg, 2 October 2001); Case of the United Macedonian
Organisation Ilinden and Ivanov versus Bulgaria: Judgment
(Strasbourg, 20 October 2005); Case of the United Macedonian
Organisation Ilinden and Others versus Bulgaria: Judgment
(Strasbourg, 19 January 2006); Case of the United Macedonian
Organisation Ilinden-Pirin and Others versus Bulgaria: Judgment
(Strasbourg, 20 January 2006); Case of Ivanov and Others versus
Bulgaria: Judgment (Strasbourg, 24 February 2006).]


**Last Annual Report entry: see NCH #38 (2005).


**Last Annual Report entry: see NCH #38 (2005).

**Legislation establishing a National Truth and Reconciliation
Commission (NTRC), passed in December 2004, mandated the NTRC to
establish the truth about acts of violence committed in the course of
the conflict since 1962 (including those which occurred in 1972 and
1988 and in the violence following the 1993 assassination of former
President Melchior Ndadaye), specify which crimes had been committed,
other than genocide, and identify both perpetrators and victims of
such crimes. In a report published in March 2005, the United Nations
(UN) Secretary-General raised doubts about the credibility and
impartiality of the NTRC and addressed the feasibility of
establishing an international judicial commission of inquiry. It
recommended amending the composition of the NTRC by including an
international component (originally it was to comprise 25 members,
all Burundians) and setting up a special chamber within the court
system of Burundi. This chamber would be competent to prosecute those
bearing the greatest responsibility for genocide, crimes against
humanity, and war crimes, and would be composed of national and
international judges. In November 2005, the new government designated
a delegation of eight members to establish an NTRC in collaboration
with the UN.
[Sources: AI, Report 2006 (2006), 80; HRW, World Report 2006 (2006),

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