Zelensky calls on U.N. to expel Russia after atrocities during Russia occupation of Ukraine

Revelations 6:3-4 “ when he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.

Important Takeaways:

  • Zelensky says Russian soldiers ‘cut tongues out of civilians’ in Bucha massacre
  • The Ukrainian president made a virtual appearance at the UN Security Council meeting following a visit to Bucha – the site of alleged mass killings where mutilated bodies of civilians have been found lying in the streets or dumped into mass graves.
  • He said some victims of the Bucha massacre were ‘shot on the streets’ while others were ‘thrown into the wells..so they die in suffering’.
  • ‘Civilians were crushed by tanks while sitting in their cars in the middle of the road just for their pleasure.
  • ‘They cut off limbs, slashed their throats. Women were raped and killed in front of their children.
  • ‘Their tongues were pulled out only because the aggressors did not want to hear from them.’
  • ‘Russia’s leadership feels like colonizers in ancient times, they need our wealth, our people – Russia has already deported hundreds of thousands of our citizens to their country, they abducted more than 2,000 children.’
  • Zelensky did not use his address to call for more weapons or sanctions, instead focusing on Russian atrocities and role of the UN Security Council in stopping Putin.

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Crack down on anti-war sentiment Putin calls for ‘self-purification’ of traitors

Revelations 6:3-4 “ when he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.

Important Takeaways:

  • Putin’s inhumanity in Ukraine emerges as calls for ‘self-purification’ of ‘traitors’ results in mass graves
  • The assault on Mariupol has revealed the full extent of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s determination to take Ukraine as he claims that his country will undergo a natural and necessary “self-purification” of “traitors.”
  • “The Russian people will always be able to distinguish true patriots from scum and traitors and simply spit them out like a fly that accidentally flew into their mouths,” Putin said Wednesday. “I am convinced that such a natural and necessary self-purification of society will only strengthen our country, our solidarity, cohesion and readiness to respond to any challenges.”
  • But a fresh crackdown on anti-war sentiment – including a criminal case against a popular lifestyle blogger – pales in comparison to the horrors in Mariupol
  • Russia on Thursday bombed a theater in which thousands had taken refuge, even though satellite footage shows that the word for “children” in Russian was written on the ground near the theater, according to Ukrainian officials in the city.

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Bosnia’s Mladic orchestrated Europe’s worst atrocities since World War Two

By Ivana Sekularac and Anthony Deutsch

BELGRADE/THE HAGUE (Reuters) -Ratko Mladic was dubbed the “Butcher of Bosnia” for terrorizing the capital Sarajevo with a 43-month siege and presiding over the 1995 massacre of up to 8,000 Muslims in a U.N.-designated “safe area,” Europe’s worst atrocity since World War Two.

The Srebrenica slaughter was the grisly culmination of a 3-1/2-year war in which nationalist Bosnian Serb forces under Mladic pounded Sarajevo daily with artillery, tanks, mortars and heavy machine guns, killing 10,000.

The dead from Srebrenica were bulldozed into mass graves over four days in July 1995, some of which were dug up and relocated to remote mountains to hide evidence of the killings.

The goal, as determined by the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), was “ethnic cleansing” – the forcible expulsion of Bosnian Muslims, Croats and other non-Serbs to clear Bosnian lands for a Greater Serbia.

The tribunal, in a judgment upheld by appeals judges on Tuesday, ruled at his 2017 trial that Mladic was part of “a criminal conspiracy” with Bosnian Serb political leaders. It found Mladic was in “direct contact” with then-Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, who died in 2006 shortly before the verdict in his ICTY trial for genocide and crimes against humanity.

“I do not recognize this court,” Mladic said at a hearing in The Hague in 2018. When he was sentenced to life in prison in 2017 on charges if genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, he shouted: “This is all lies, you are all liars!”

Karadzic, who was convicted of genocide in 2016, and Mladic topped the ICTY wanted list for years after Western powers ended the war in 1995. Mladic lived securely, if discreetly, in Belgrade until a popular uprising toppled Milosevic in 2000.

Milosevic died in his prison cell of a heart attack at age 64, near the end of his four-year tribunal trial. Karadzic, now 75, is serving out his life sentence in a British prison.

“For me Mladic is a symbol of all the horrible crimes that happened during the war – our girls were raped, and boys killed, only because they were Muslim. Germans had Hitler, Serbs have Mladic,” said Munira Subasic, whose son and husband were killed by Bosnian Serb forces that overran Srebrenica.

“I watched him in the courtroom and he was proud of everything he had done, I saw no regrets on his face.”

The army Mladic created to fight against Bosnia’s 1992 secession from Serbian-led Yugoslavia was a model of ruthlessness and brutality.

Some of its prisoners suffocated in the heat after being forced to eat salt and refused water. Others were starved and raped in prison camps, made to jump off a bridge and shot or gunned down at night by the hundreds after being driven out of detention with gas.

Mladic had a cameraman film his blitz on the encircled enclave of Srebrenica, to show him extolling his “lads” and haranguing Dutch U.N. peacekeepers who misguidedly accepted his solemn word that the inhabitants would be safe in his hands.

“We give this town to the Serb people as a gift,” he said to the camera, claiming the victory as revenge against Muslim Turks, who once held the area as part of the Ottoman Empire.

The next day, Mladic’s forces were filmed handing out sweets to children, promising their safe passage, while at the same time thousands of men and boys were being readied for execution.

When NATO tried in 1995 to rein in his forces with the threat of air strikes, his troops defiantly seized U.N. peacekeepers as human shields, chaining them to likely targets.

SON OF PARTISAN FIGHTER

The son of a World War Two Serb partisan fighter killed in 1945, Mladic was an officer in the old communist Yugoslav Federal Army (JNA) when the country began to break up in 1991.

When Bosnian Serbs rose in 1992 against Bosnia’s Muslim-led secession, Mladic was picked to command a new Bosnian Serb army that swiftly overran 70 percent of the country.

Towns were besieged with heavy weapons that once belonged to the JNA. Villages were burned as 22,000 troops of a U.N. Protection Force stood by, with orders not to take sides.

Some of his supporters say Mladic had become even more ruthless after his daughter Ana killed herself with Mladic’s trophy gun in 1994.

A combination of Western pressure and covert American arms and training for Bosnian Muslims and Croats gradually turned the tide against Mladic’s army. Precision NATO strikes did the rest.

Yet many nationalist Serbs still regard him as a hero for cutting casualties on their side and trying to unite their people in one country.

“Ratko Mladic remains a legend for Serb people and a man who has put his professional and human capabilities in the service of the freedom of the Serb people,” current Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik said.

SICK AND FRAIL

When arrested in 2011, Mladic looked nothing like the burly general who ruffled the hair of a Srebrenica boy in July 1995.

He seemed older than his years. In his few court appearances, he wavered between maudlin self-pity, smiling defiance and vague distraction.

“I am a very sick man,” Mladic pleaded to the court.

In June 2019, Mladic’s lawyer said his client was suffering from deteriorating brain function and cardiovascular trouble after a heart attack in 2013. “There is a great risk of a new stroke and a new heart attack,” Branko Lukic said.

In convicting him for the siege of Sarajevo and Srebrenica, the 2,500-page war crimes verdict said Mladic’s acts were “so instrumental to the commission of the crimes that without them, the crimes would not have been committed as they were.”

(Reporting by Ivana SekularacEditing by Mark Heinrich)

Romania finds ‘many’ more human remains near site of Jewish mass grave

FILE PHOTO: Rabbis from England and the United States prepare a grave to bury the remains of dozens of Jews in a cemetery in Iasi, Romania, April 4, 2011. REUTERS/Bogdan Cristel/File Photo

BUCHAREST (Reuters) – Archaeologists have unearthed “many human remains” in northeast Romania near an area where in 2010 they discovered a mass grave for more than 100 Jews killed by Romanian troops during World War Two, military prosecutors said on Tuesday.

The archaeologists, who are supported by the Elie Wiesel Institute and have been scouring the area since 2010 for possible other mass graves, also discovered a grenade and an 82 mm caliber gun mortar at the site.

“Notified by the Elie Wiesel Institute… we launched a criminal probe regarding the June 29 unearthing of many human remains during archaeological research work in the proximity of an area where a mass grave was found in 2010,” the prosecutors said in a statement.

The site has been cordoned off but no further details were immediately available.

The mass grave discovered in 2010 was located in a forested area called Vulturi, some 400 km (250 miles) north of Bucharest, through which Romanian and German troops advanced at the start of their invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941.

An international commission headed by Nobel laureate Wiesel had concluded in 2004 that between 280,000 and 380,000 Romanian and Ukrainian Jews were killed in Romania and areas it controlled during World War Two as an ally of Nazi Germany.

Many of them were slaughtered in pogroms such as the 1941 killing of almost 15,000 Jews in and around the city of Iasi, or died in labor camps, or on death trains.

Wiesel, an American activist, writer and Holocaust survivor, was born in Romania in 1928. His mother and one of his sisters were killed at Auschwitz and his father at Buchenwald. Wiesel won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 for his human rights work and died in 2016.

Vulturi was the second place in Romania where a mass grave has been discovered since the war. In 1945, 311 bodies from three mass graves were exhumed in Stanca Roznovanu in Iasi.

Romania has only recently started to come to terms with its role in the extermination of Jews, admitting for the first time in 2003 that it had taken part.

Romania switched sides in the war in 1944 as the Soviet Red Army swept down into the Balkans. The Communist regime which then took power did little to uncover the killings.

Romania was home to 750,000 Jews before the war, but only 8,000-10,000 remain today.

(Reporting by Radu Marinas; Editing by Gareth Jones)

Remains of hundreds of Jews unearthed in Nazi-era mass grave in Belarus

A soldier from a special "search battalion" of Belarus Defence Ministry takes part in the exhumation of a mass grave containing the remains of about 730 prisoners of a former Jewish ghetto, discovered at a construction site in the centre of Brest, Belarus February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko

BREST, Belarus (Reuters) – Soldiers in Belarus have unearthed the bones of hundreds of people shot during World War Two from a mass grave discovered at the site of a ghetto where Jews lived under the Nazis.

The grave was uncovered by chance last month on a construction site in a residential area in the center of Brest near the Polish border.

A soldier from a special "search battalion" of Belarus Defence Ministry takes part in the exhumation of a mass grave containing the remains of about 730 prisoners of a former Jewish ghetto, discovered at a construction site in the centre of Brest, Belarus February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko

A soldier from a special “search battalion” of Belarus Defence Ministry takes part in the exhumation of a mass grave containing the remains of about 730 prisoners of a former Jewish ghetto, discovered at a construction site in the centre of Brest, Belarus February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko

Soldiers wearing white masks on Tuesday sifted through the site with spades, trowels and their gloved hands to collect the bones. They also found items such as leather shoes that had not rotted.

Dmitry Kaminsky, a soldier leading the unit, said they had exhumed 730 bodies so far, but could not be sure how many more would be found.

“It’s possible they go further under the road. We have to cut open the tarmac road. Then we’ll know,” he said.

Some of the skulls bore bullet holes, he said, suggesting the victims had been executed by a shot to the back of the head.

Belarus, a former Soviet republic, was occupied by Nazi Germany during World War Two and tens of thousands of its Jews were killed by the Nazis.

The site of the mass grave served from December 1941 to October 1942 as part of a ghetto, areas created by the Nazis to segregate Jews and sometimes other minorities from other city dwellers. Brest was part of Poland before the war.

The remains were discovered when builders began to lay the foundations for an apartment block.

Local authorities want to bury the bodies in a ceremony at a cemetery in the north of the city.

“We want to be sure that there are no more mass graves here,” said Alla Kondak, a local culture official.

(Reporting by Reuters TV; writing by Tom Balmforth; editing by Robin Pomeroy)

Reuters report on Myanmar massacre brings calls for independent probe

Ten Rohingya Muslim men with their hands bound kneel as members of the Myanmar security forces stand guard in Inn Din village September 2, 2017.

(Reuters) – A Reuters investigation into the killing of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar prompted a demand from Washington for a credible probe into the bloodshed there and calls for the release of two journalists who were arrested while working on the report.

The special report, published overnight, lays out events leading up to the killing of 10 Rohingya men from Inn Din village in Rakhine state who were buried in a mass grave after being hacked to death or shot by Buddhist neighbors and soldiers.

“As with other, previous reports of mass graves, this report highlights the ongoing and urgent need for Burmese authorities to cooperate with an independent, credible investigation into allegations of atrocities in northern Rakhine,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

“Such an investigation would help provide a more comprehensive picture of what happened, clarify the identities of the victims, identify those responsible for human rights abuses and violations, and advance efforts for justice and accountability,” she said.

The Reuters report drew on interviews with Buddhists who confessed to torching Rohingya homes, burying bodies and killing Muslims in what they said was a frenzy of violence triggered when Rohingya insurgents attacked security posts last August.

The account marked the first time soldiers and paramilitary police have been implicated by testimony from security personnel in arson and killings in the north of Rakhine state that the United Nations has said may amount to genocide.

In the story, Myanmar said its “clearance operation” is a legitimate response to attacks by insurgents.

Asked about the evidence Reuters had uncovered about the massacre, Myanmar government spokesman Zaw Htay said on Thursday, before publication of the report: “We are not denying the allegations about violations of human rights. And we are not giving blanket denials.”

If there was “strong and reliable primary evidence” of abuses, the government would investigate, he said.

There was no comment from the government following the publication of the report.

“A TURNING POINT”

Nearly 690,000 Rohingya have fled their villages and crossed the border of western Myanmar into Bangladesh since August.

British Labour Party lawmaker Rosena Allin-Khan told BBC’s Newsnight that the Reuters report was consistent with accounts she had heard while working as a doctor at Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh last year.

“We’ve been bystanders to a genocide,” she said. “This evidence marks a turning point because, for the first time since this all started to unfold in August, we have heard from the perpetrators themselves.”

She said that, as well as an international probe, there needed to be a referral to the International Criminal Court.

Human Rights Watch said Myanmar’s military leaders should be held accountable in an international court for alleged crimes against the Rohingya population.

“As more evidence comes out about the pre-planning and intent of the Myanmar armed forces to wipe out Rohingya villages and their inhabitants, the international community … needs to focus on how to hold the country’s military leaders accountable,” said HRW’s deputy Asia director Phil Robertson.

Campaign group Fortify Rights also called for an independent investigation.

“The international community needs to stop stalling and do what’s necessary to hold accountable those who are responsible before evidence is tainted or lost, memories fade, and more people suffer,” said the group’s chief executive Matthew Smith.

United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, said in a tweet: “During the reporting of this article, two Reuters journalists were arrested by Myanmar police. They remain held & must absolutely be released.”

Yanghee Lee, the U.N. human rights investigator for Myanmar who has been barred from visiting the Rohingya areas, echoed that call and added in a tweet: “Independent & credible investigation needed to get to the bottom of the Inn Din massacre.”

Police arrested two Reuters reporters, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, on Dec. 12 for allegedly obtaining confidential documents relating to Rakhine and have accused them of violating Myanmar’s Official Secrets Act. They are in prison while a court decides if they should be charged under the colonial-era act.

(Writing by John Chalmers; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Alex Richardson)

Hurricane Matthew toll in Haiti rises to 1000, dead begin buried in mass graves

Destroyed houses are seen after Hurricane Matthew passes in Corail, Haiti

By Joseph Guyler Delva

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) – Haiti started burying some of its dead in mass graves in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, a government official said on Sunday, as cholera spread in the devastated southwest and the death toll from the storm rose to 1,000 people.

The powerful hurricane, the fiercest Caribbean storm in nearly a decade, slammed into Haiti on Tuesday with 145 mile-per-hour (233 kph) winds and torrential rains that left 1.4 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.

A Reuters tally of numbers from local officials showed that 1,000 people were killed by the storm in Haiti, which has a population of about 10 million and is the poorest country in the Americas.

The official death toll from the central civil protection agency is 336, a slower count because officials must visit each village to confirm the numbers.

Authorities had to start burying the dead in mass graves in Jeremie because the bodies were starting to decompose, said Kedner Frenel, the most senior central government official in the Grand’Anse region on Haiti’s western peninsula.

Frenel said 522 people were killed in Grand’Anse alone. A tally of deaths reported by mayors from 15 of 18 municipalities in Sud Department on the south side of the peninsula showed 386 people there. In the rest of the country, 92 people were killed, the same tally showed.

Two girls play amid the rubble after Hurricane Matthew in a street of Port-a-Piment, Haiti,

Two girls play amid the rubble after Hurricane Matthew in a street of Port-a-Piment, Haiti, October 9, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares

Frenel said there was great concern about cholera spreading, and that authorities were focused on getting water, food and medication to the thousands of people living in shelters.

Cholera causes severe diarrhoea and can kill within hours if untreated. It is spread through contaminated water and has a short incubation period, which leads to rapid outbreaks.

Government teams fanned out across the hard-hit southwestern tip of the country over the weekend to repair treatment centres and reach the epicentre of one outbreak.

(Reporting by Joseph Guyler Delva; Writing by Christine Murray; Editing by Diane Craft and Paul Tait)