31 July 2004

UN resolution on Darfur

The Security Council,

Recalling its Presidential Statement of 25 May 2004 (S/PRST/2004/16) and its resolution 1547 (2004) of 11 June 2004 and its resolution 1502 (2003) of 26 August 2003 on the access of humanitarian workers to populations in need,

Welcoming the leadership role and the engagement of the African Union to address the situation in Darfur and expressing its readiness to support fully these efforts,

Further welcoming the communique of the African Union Peace and Security Council issued 27 July 2004 (S/2004/603),

Reaffirming its commitment to the sovereignty, unity, territorial integrity, and independence of Sudan as consistent with the Machakos Protocol of 20 July 2002 and subsequent agreements based on this protocol as agreed to by the government of Sudan,

Welcoming the joint communique issued by the government of Sudan and the secretary general of the United Nations on 3 July 2004, including the creation of the Joint Implementation Mechanism, and acknowledging steps taken towards improved humanitarian access,

Taking note of the report of the secretary general on Sudan issued 3 June 2004 and welcoming the secretary general's appointment of a special representative for Sudan and his efforts to date,

'Grave concern'

Reiterating its grave concern at the ongoing humanitarian crisis and widespread human rights violations, including continued attacks on civilians that are placing the lives of hundreds of thousands at risk,

Condemning all acts of violence and violations of human rights and international humanitarian law by all parties to the crisis, in particular by the Janjaweed, including indiscriminate attacks on civilians, rapes, forced displacements, and acts of violence especially those with an ethnic dimension, and expressing its utmost concern at the consequences of the conflict in Darfur on the civilian population, including women, children, internally displaced persons, and refugees,

Recalling in this regard that the government of Sudan bears the primary responsibility to respect human rights while maintaining law and order and protecting its population within its territory and that all parties are obliged to respect international humanitarian law,

Urging all the parties to take the necessary steps to prevent and put an end to violations of human rights and international humanitarian law and underlining that there will be no impunity for violators,

Welcoming the commitment by the government of Sudan to investigate the atrocities and prosecute those responsible,

Emphasising the commitment of the government of Sudan to mobilise the armed forces of Sudan immediately to disarm the Janjaweed militias,

Recalling also in this regard its resolutions 1325 (2000) of 31 October 2000 on women, peace and security, 1379 (2001) of 20 November 2001, 1460 (2003) of 30 January 2003, and 1539 (2004) of 22 April 2004 on children in armed conflict, and 1265 (1999) of 17 September 1999 and 1296 (2000) of 19 April 2000 on the protection of civilians in armed conflict,

Expressing concern at reports of violations of the ceasefire agreement signed in N'Djamena on 8 April 2004, and reiterating that all parties to the ceasefire must comply with all of the terms contained therein,

Welcoming the donor consultation held in Geneva in June 2004 as well as subsequent briefings highlighting urgent humanitarian needs in Sudan and Chad and reminding donors of the need to fulfil commitments that have been made,

'Lives at risk'

Recalling that over one million persons are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, that with the onset of the rainy season the provision of assistance has become increasingly difficult, and that without urgent action to address the security, access, logistics, capacity and funding requirements the lives of hundreds of thousands of persons will be at risk,

Expressing its determination to do everything possible to halt a humanitarian catastrophe, including by taking further action if required,

Welcoming the ongoing international diplomatic efforts to address the situation in Darfur,

Stressing that any return of refugees and displaced persons to their homes must take place voluntarily with adequate assistance and with sufficient security,

Noting with grave concern that up to 200,000 refugees have fled to the neighbouring state of Chad, which constitutes a serious burden upon that country, and expressing grave concern at reported cross-border incursions by Janjaweed militias of the Darfur region of Sudan into Chad and also taking note of the agreement between the government of Sudan and Chad to establish a joint mechanism to secure the borders,

Determining that the situation in Sudan constitutes a threat to international peace and security and to stability in the region,

Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations,


1. Calls on the government of Sudan to fulfil immediately all of the commitments it made in the 3 July 2004 communique, including particularly by facilitating international relief for the humanitarian disaster by means of a moratorium on all restrictions that might hinder the provision of humanitarian assistance and access to the affected populations, by advancing independent investigation in co-operation with the United Nations of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, by the establishment of credible security conditions for the protection of the civilian population and humanitarian actors, and by the resumption of political talks with dissident groups from the Darfur region, specifically the Justice and Equality Movement (Jem) and the Sudan Liberation Movement and Sudan Liberation Army (SLM/A) on Darfur;

2. Endorses the deployment of international monitors, including the protection force envisioned by the African Union, to the Darfur region of Sudan under the leadership of the African Union and urges the international community to continue to support these efforts, welcomes the progress made in deploying monitors, including the offers to provide forces by members of the African Union, and stresses the need for the government of Sudan and all involved parties to facilitate the work of the monitors in accordance with the N'Djamena ceasefire agreement and with the Addis Ababa agreement of 28 May 2004 on the modalities of establishing an observer mission to monitor the ceasefire;

3. Urges member states to reinforce the international monitoring team, led by the African Union, including the protection force, by providing personnel and other assistance including financing, supplies, transport, vehicles, command support, communications and headquarters support as needed for the monitoring operation, and welcomes the contributions already made by the European Union and the United States to support the African Union-led operation;

4. Welcomes the work done by the high commissioner for human rights to send human rights observers to Sudan and calls upon the government of Sudan to co-operate with the high commissioner in the deployment of those observers;

5. Urges the parties to the N'Djamena ceasefire agreement of 8 April 2004 to conclude a political agreement without delay, notes with regret the failure of senior rebel leaders to participate in the 15 July talks in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia as unhelpful to the process and calls for renewed talks under the sponsorship of the African Union, and its chief mediator Hamid Algabid, to reach a political solution to the tensions in Darfur and strongly urges rebel groups to respect the ceasefire, end the violence immediately, engage in peace talks without preconditions, and act in a positive and constructive manner to resolve the conflict;


6. Demands that the government of Sudan fulfil its commitments to disarm the Janjaweed militias and apprehend and bring to justice Janjaweed leaders and their associates who have incited and carried out human rights and international humanitarian law violations and other atrocities, and further requests the secretary general to report in 30 days, and monthly thereafter, to the Council on the progress or lack thereof by the government of Sudan on this matter and expresses its intention to consider further actions, including measures as provided for in Article 41 of the Charter of the United Nations on the government of Sudan, in the event of non-compliance;

7. Decides that all states shall take the necessary measures to prevent the sale or supply, to all non-governmental entities and individuals, including the Janjaweed, operating in the states of North Darfur, South Darfur and West Darfur, by their nationals or from their territories or using their flag vessels or aircraft, of arms and related materiel of all types, including weapons and ammunition, military vehicles and equipment, paramilitary equipment, and spare parts for the aforementioned, whether or not originating in their territories;

8. Decides that all states shall take the necessary measures to prevent any provision to the non-governmental entities and individuals identified in paragraph 7 operating in the states of North Darfur, South Darfur and West Darfur by their nationals or from their territories of technical training or assistance related to the provision, manufacture, maintenance or use of the items listed in paragraph 7 above;

9. Decides that the measures imposed by paragraphs 7 and 8 above shall not apply to:

- supplies and related technical training and assistance to monitoring, verification or peace support operations, including such operations led by regional organisations, that are authorised by the United Nations or are operating with the consent of the relevant parties;

- supplies of non-lethal military equipment intended solely for humanitarian, human rights monitoring or protective use, and related technical training and assistance; and

- supplies of protective clothing, including flak jackets and military helmets, for the personal use of United Nations personnel, human rights monitors, representatives of the media and humanitarian and development workers and associated personnel;

10. Expresses its intention to consider the modification or termination of the measures imposed under paragraphs 7 and 8 when it determines that the government of Sudan has fulfilled its commitments described in paragraph 6;

'Constant engagement'

11. Reiterates its support for the Naivasha agreement signed by the government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, and looks forward to effective implementation of the agreement and a peaceful, unified Sudan working in harmony with all other states for the development of Sudan, and calls on the international community to be prepared for constant engagement including necessary funding in support of peace and economic development in Sudan;

12. Urges the international community to make available much needed assistance to mitigate the humanitarian catastrophe now unfolding in the Darfur region and calls upon member states to honour pledges that have been made against needs in Darfur and Chad and underscoring the need to contribute generously towards fulfilling the unmet portion of the United Nations consolidated appeals;

13. Requests the secretary general to activate inter-agency humanitarian mechanisms to consider what additional measures may be needed to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe and to report regularly to the Council on progress made;

14. Encourages the secretary general's special representative for Sudan and the independent expert of the Commission on Human Rights to work closely with the government of Sudan in supporting independent investigation of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in the Darfur region;

15. Extends the special political mission set out in resolution 1547 for an additional 90 days to 10 December 2004 and requests the secretary general to incorporate into the mission contingency planning for the Darfur region;

16. Expresses its full support for the African Union-led ceasefire commission and monitoring mission in Darfur, and requests the secretary general to assist the African Union with planning and assessments for its mission in Darfur, and in accordance with the joint communique to prepare to support implementation of a future agreement in Darfur in close co-operation with the African Union and requests the secretary general to report to the Security Council on progress;

17. Decides to remain seized of the matter.

Somehow it just doesn't read as all that imminent. If the crude mortality rate in Darfur is 10 000 each day then 30 days is a long time to give the Sudanese government, especially when their complicity with the Janjaweed is now beyond doubt.

Pity the pawns in this paella

Australia has become embroiled in a major diplomatic crisis after the foreign minister, Lord Downer of Baghdad, attacked the governments of Spain and the Philippines for what he described as treachery and cowardice in the war on terrorism.

Commenting on the decision by both countries to withdraw their troops from Iraq, Lord Downer said they had left the way open for Islamic terrorist groups to kill and maim Australians.

'If a bomb goes off in our country it will be Madrid and Manila we can blame,' he said.

'Frankly, the Spaniards have never been worth a pot of burnt paella since Sir Francis Drake sent the Armada packing in 1588. The only time they were a halfway decent lot was when General Franco got them by the scruff of the neck, but sadly that didn't last.'

Employing unusually blunt language, the Foreign Minister was equally critical of the Philippines Government of President Gloria Arroyo, claiming that her unprincipled refusal to allow a Filipino hostage to be beheaded by insurgents in Iraq was 'disappointing, and a grave and dangerous setback to hopes of world peace'.

'What is the life of one truck driver against the imminent victory of the coalition in Iraq?' he asked.

'I don't have to point out to you that there are a lot of people in the Philippines with Spanish-sounding names,' he added. 'I'm afraid that is more than a coincidence.'

Lord Downer said if it came to a choice between an Australian being executed in Iraq or 'cutting and running', then the decision was clear.

'We may lose heads, but we will not lose face with our good friends in Washington,' he said.

It's more than faintly weird that His Lordship seems to feel that the Spanish and Philippine governments should pay more attention to him than to the Spanish and Philippine peoples. Maybe if he worked a little harder at developing a sense of proportion. On a more serious note, go read The Terror Web for what actually happened in Spain.

In Darfur, help is not on the way

Darfur Mortality Update: July 15, 2004
So high are current mortality rates in Darfur, so great is previous human destruction, that the current (and static) UN figure of 10,000 deaths for the entire duration of this massive catastrophe must be regarded as both statistically irrelevant and morally slovenly (it was proffered by the UN in March 2004, without explanation or context). We certainly have no means of ascertaining with any precision what the number is; nor will we ever have a precise figure. But too much extant data and evidence suggest that a reasonable figure is already well in excess of 100,000 dead.

According to data authoritatively assembled by the US Agency for International Development, the present Crude Mortality Rate (CMR) is 7 per day per 10,000 for the affected population. Using as the basis for calculations the most recent UN figure of up to 2 million people "in need of emergency relief" (UN News Centre, July 13, 2004), the daily death toll is now approximately 1,400 human beings---or approximately 10,000 per week ("Projected Mortality Rates in Darfur, 2004-2005, at http://www.usaid.gov/locations/sub-saharan_africa/sudan/cmr_darfur.pdf ).

[The figure here of 2 million is at once lower than the total number of "war-affected" persons (now greater than 2.3 million if we use as a base figure the June 3, 2004 estimate contained in joint UN, US, and European Union communiqu� in Geneva) and higher than the number of Internally Displaced Persons (1.2. million) and the UN World Food Program estimate of Darfur's food-dependent population in June 2004 (1.2 million, though climbing to 2 million for October). The relation of these figures is discussed in a first appendix to this analysis.]

In other words, the current mortality figure offered by the UN for the past 17 months of extreme violence and displacement in Darfur is the equivalent of what US AID data suggest is the death toll for the past week. Such a gross disparity should be the occasion for serious and urgent re-thinking of a reasonable mortality figure for Darfur. Nongovernmental organizations concerned with Darfur should commit the resources necessary to synthesize all data and evidence available. To date there has been no such effort.

PM admits graves claim 'untrue'
Downing Street has admitted to The Observer that repeated claims by Tony Blair that '400,000 bodies had been found in Iraqi mass graves' is untrue, and only about 5,000 corpses have so far been uncovered.

The claims by Blair in November and December of last year, were given widespread credence, quoted by MPs and widely published, including in the introduction to a US government pamphlet on Iraq's mass graves.

In that publication - Iraq's Legacy of Terror: Mass Graves produced by USAID, the US government aid distribution agency, Blair is quoted from 20 November last year: 'We've already discovered, just so far, the remains of 400,000 people in mass graves.'

On 14 December Blair repeated the claim in a statement issued by Downing Street in response to the arrest of Saddam Hussein and posted on the Labour party website that: 'The remains of 400,000 human beings [have] already [been] found in mass graves.'

The admission that the figure has been hugely inflated follows a week in which Blair accepted responsibility for charges in the Butler report over the way in which Downing Street pushed intelligence reports 'to the outer limits' in the case for the threat posed by Iraq.

The missing people-shredder:
Nobody doubts that Saddam was a cruel and ruthless tyrant who murdered many thousands of his own people and that most Iraqis are glad he's gone. But did his regime have a machine that made mincemeat of men? The evidence is far from compelling.

The shredding machine was first mentioned in public by James Mahon, then head of research at Indict, at a meeting in the House of Commons on March 12. Mahon had just returned from northern Iraq, where Indict researchers, along with Clwyd, interviewed Iraqis who had suffered under Saddam. One of them said Iraqis had been fed into a shredder. 'Sometimes they were put in feet first and died screaming. It was horrible. I saw 30 die like this ...' In subsequent interviews and articles, Clwyd said this shredding machine was in Abu Ghraib prison, Saddam's most notorious jail. Indict refuses to tell me the names of the researchers who were in Iraq with Mahon and Clwyd; and, I am told, Mahon, who no longer works at Indict, 'does not want to speak to journalists about his work with us'. But Clwyd tells me: 'We heard it from a victim; we heard it and we believed it.'

The coalition has occupied Abu Ghraib prison since the collapse of the Saddam tyranny. A human shredding machine cannot be a small object and should be easy to identify. Somehow I missed the press conference where coaltion generals showed the thing to a shocked world. Where is it? And if it hasn't been produced did it ever exist?

Darfur: The case for intervention
We often, quite rightly, call the US to account for its expedient abuse of principles, and there are indeed very solid reasons, from Central America to East Timor and Iraq, why we should examine very critically any intervention that the US even hints at. It is indeed a good rule of thumb to doubt Washington's intentions, but sometimes finer measurements, and indeed nuances, are called for.

In this case, Iraq notwithstanding, US Secretary of State Colin Powell does indeed have a point, even if one could suspect that some of the US lobby groups pushing for action are more zealous in the case of Sudan than they would be if they could not characterize the perpetrators as "Arabs".

On the other hand, sadly, there is no shortage of countries that will support a rogue state for reasons of shortsighted or expedient "national interest". Security Council members Algeria and Pakistan, as representatives of Arab and Muslim states, not to mention their own state interests and domestic politics, would find it almost impossible to agree to US-led action against an Arab League member such as Sudan.

We should not be reassured just because some of the members opposing action against Sudan also opposed the war in Iraq. France springs to mind, as the patron of the former Rwandan regime, protector almost up to last moment of the Serbian ethnic cleansers in Bosnia, the defender of Morocco's occupation and repression in Western Sahara - and even if former French foreign minister (now Interior Minister) Dominique de Villepin did make an excellent case against attacking Iraq - previously a thoroughly expedient defender of French oil interests in Iraq. As we said, China and Russia all too often try to armor their domestic behavior behind a cloak of sovereign principle.

As a result of this objective alliance of the expediently supportive and the expediently opposed, it is sadly almost inconceivable that the Security Council or the General Assembly would authorize the robust military operation that would be necessary - or perhaps more usefully, the credible threat of a military operations, which in many such cases, from the Balkans to Rwanda, is all that it would have taken to preempt genocide.

Instead, the US's draft resolution is a tokenistic one reminiscent of the worst days of the Bosnian tragedy in that it pretends to be doing something, but in reality does nothing. It would mandate sanctions and travel restrictions against a motley paramilitary band of Sudanese brigands and militia who are unlikely to have many cosmopolitan world travelers in their ranks. One cannot help suspecting a gesture designed to cover the Bush administration's backside against the "if Iraq, why not Sudan" argument that is denting its already shredded ethical credibility.

So the question of support or opposition for intervention is a genuine quandary, but it is surely important that we do not let people die in Sudan just so we can feel vindicated in our stand against interventions. A credible threat of intervention has to be made soon - but kept within those "precautionary principles".

The United Nations itself is not designed to conduct robust operations that could involve serious fighting, which is why it often "franchises" them. Ideally, the Arab League should act, but it will not. The African Union has made a start, but it is hopelessly under-resourced, and similar regional operations in Sierra Leone and Liberia were much-mitigated successes.

It would be good if some of the stronger Asian powers, even if it involved North Atlantic Treaty Organization and US backup, could get involved, but Pakistan being Muslim - and India not being Muslim - could complicate that. Indeed, Japan and South Korea, not having any dog in the fight at all, as former US secretary of state James Baker once put it, would be ethically preferable, if their militaries were up to it.

Failing that, perhaps in this case, this is a matter on which the European Union could be given the blue-flag franchise, and especially Germany, whose clean credentials on the Iraq war clear it of the Crusader connotations.

But one thing is very clear: the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia and other active "coalition" partners should stay in the background, at best offering logistics and funding and the most discreet diplomatic support. And in a few years, maybe they will emerge from probation as good global citizens and be listened to once again.

Statement by the President on 1994 Rwanda Genocide
Ten years ago today, the world witnessed the beginning of one of the most horrific episodes of the twentieth century, the 1994 Rwanda Genocide. A 100-day campaign waged by Hutu extremists tore Rwanda apart and resulted in the murder of at least 800,000 Tutsi men, women, and children, as well as many moderate Hutus. This genocide also included systematic rape and sexual violence against countless Tutsi women and the orphaning of thousands of children.

The United States supports the people of Rwanda as they commemorate this horrific chapter in history. We urge all states, particularly those in the region, to work with Rwanda and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to bring to justice those responsible for the genocide and to repatriate the thousands of displaced Rwandans. We also urge the international community to assist the survivors of that great crime as they continue to heal. The United States will continue to assist Rwanda in the unification of families, the providing of scholarships, the combating of HIV/AIDS, and the promotion of the rule of law.

The United States joins Rwanda and members of the global community in this day of reflection.

Secretary-General Observes International Day of Reflection on 1994 Rwanda Genocide
It is good that we have observed those minutes of silence together.

We must never forget our collective failure to protect at least eight hundred thousand defenceless men, women and children who perished in Rwanda ten years ago.

Such crimes cannot be reversed.

Such failures cannot be repaired.

The dead cannot be brought back to life.

So what can we do?

First, we must all acknowledge our responsibility for not having done more to prevent or stop the genocide.

Neither the United Nations Secretariat, nor the Security Council, nor Member States in general, nor the international media, paid enough attention to the gathering signs of disaster. Still less did we take timely action.

When we recall such events and ask 'why did no one intervene?', we should address the question not only to the United Nations, or even to its Member States. No one can claim ignorance. All who were playing any part in world affairs at that time should ask, 'what more could I have done? How would I react next time -- and what am I doing now to make it less likely there will be a next time?'

Perhaps more than any others, those questions have dominated my thoughts, since I became Secretary-General. If there is one legacy I would most wish to leave to my successors, it is an Organization both better equipped to prevent genocide, and able to act decisively to stop it when prevention fails.

The Darfur genocide began in February 2003. Each and every day that the coalition fought in Iraq on the basis of unfound WMDs, trailers of mass destruction, inflated figures and missing shredders, 10 000 people were dying in Darfur. The next time is now. The people of Darfur do not need a minute of silence any more than they need the year of silence maintained by the United Nations Secretariat, the Security Council, the Member States in general, the international media since the onset of genocide. Why Iraq and not Sudan?

30 July 2004

The Poll Bludger - Federal Election Calendar

A House of Representatives election must be held on a Saturday prior to April 16, 2005. However the Prime Minister has strongly indicated it will be held during 2004 and he would be heavily criticised for breaking convention if the Government's term were to extend more than a few weeks beyond its three-year anniversary on November 10. The earliest date on which a normal half-Senate election may be held is August 7. A double dissolution election may be called at any time before August 11 for a date no later than October 16, but this is not anticipated. A House of Representatives election before August 7 and a separate half-Senate election at a later date deserves mention merely as a technical possibility. The announcement of the election must be between 33 and 67 days before it is held, but governments have kept campaign periods short since the Hawke Government performed disappointingly after a seven-week campaign in 1984.

I doubt there'll be a double dissolution. About the only thing I don't doubt is that the general election will be held before the US presidential election.

The Poll Bludger lays it all out, including various trigger dates. Assuming the Man of Steel does not indulge his taste for the crass with a 911 election the most likely dates remain 23 and 30 October.

We really, really need to move to fixed dates for federal elections.

Bone-devouring worms discovered

Two worm species discovered in the dark recesses of the deep sea could rival the macabre beasts of your childhood nightmares. Scientists have named a new genus, Osedax, which is Latin for 'bone devourer', for worms that thrive by excavating the bones of fallen whale carcasses.

The worms contain bacteria that help them digest the fats and oils of the whale skeletons. This type of symbiotic relationship has never been seen before, and may represent a completely new type of metabolism.

Researchers from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) in Moss Landing, California, discovered a whale skull that was 'carpeted with worms' while searching for clam beds in the trough of Monterey Canyon, some 3,000 metres deep.

But the worms were like nothing they had ever seen before. The females - roughly the thickness of a pencil and a few centimetres in length - lack eyes, mouths or stomachs. Instead they consist of a balloon-like egg sac, which branches into a greenish root system.

These branching roots grow into the whalebone to extract fats and oils from the marrow. Symbiotic bacteria that live inside the roots break down the lipids, but how nutrients are transferred from the bones to the bacteria and then to the worms is not yet known.

Where's Jerry Bruckheimer when you need him. Actually, considering the mess Bruckheimer invariably makes of the science underlying his flicks, let's feed him to the bone devourers.

Independence of the judiciary at stake, not the Bali bombers' fate

But the implications are more dire for the fragile rule of law that has begun to emerge in Indonesia since Soeharto's fall in 1998. It is easy to imagine a legislature dominated by another dictator issuing, for example, a law for the arrest and imprisonment of political opponents in clear breach of the human rights guarantees in the new Chapter XA of the constitution.

Even if the court later strikes out that law, innocent detainees would still be behind bars, serving out unconstitutional sentences, even for life. Asshiddiqie's position would leave Indonesia without the protection of a judicial check on government. In any case, neutering the Constitutional Court to keep Bashir and the Bali bombers in jail is unnecessary.

First, some of the anti-terrorism charges he now faces apparently relate to events after the introduction of the legislation. These should still be valid.

Second, he and the bombers should immediately be charged with the range of conventional Criminal Code offences they should have faced at the outset - murder, arson, conspiracy, etc. These would not be effected by the ban on retrospectivity, as the code existed at the time of the Bali blasts.

Suyitno Landung, head of police criminal investigations, says they are considering this in respect of Bashir but they should do the same for all the bombers. At the trial they could all raise double jeopardy arguments but they would be weak, and the prosecution would almost certainly prevail.

Bashir and the Bali terrorists would never leave jail and the constitution would not need to be mangled to keep them there. The dilemma Indonesia now faces is that in a frantic effort to keep the Bali bombers behind bars, it risks needlessly jeopardising the introduction of constitutional review.

The Bali bombings were a tragedy. It would be another tragedy if Indonesia's fledgling judicial independence - and thus its hard-won reform process - was destroyed so quickly.

The Coalition and Labor need to make a decision. They support the rule of law in Indonesia or they don't. If they do, they should stop pressing the Constitutional Court to reverse or subvert its own decision. If they don't, they should think about the unintended consequences of supporting the Suharto regime through thick and thin from 1965 to 1997.

No-one wants the Bali bombers released and according to this article they can be prosecuted for regular offences under the Criminal Code.

Yudhoyono Would Win Indonesia�s Run-off

In the Jun. 5 election -- the first ever direct presidential ballot in Indonesia -- Yudhoyono finished in first place with 33.57 per cent of all cast ballots, followed by Megawati with 26.60 per cent. Since no candidate received more than 50 per cent of all votes, a run-off was scheduled for Sept. 20.

Before final first round tallies were published on Jul. 26, Yudhoyono and Megawati were already in talks with other political organizations to secure backing for the run-off. Megawati has reportedly offered eight cabinet posts to members of the Party of the Functional Groups (Golkar) in case she is re-elected.

Polling Data

What candidate would you support in the presidential run-off?

  • Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (PDI) 68%
  • Megawati Sukarnoputri (PDIP) 23%
  • Undecided / No opinion 9%

Source: Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI)
Methodology: Face-to-face interviews with 1,190 Indonesian adults, conducted from Jul. 17 to Jul. 19, 2004. Margin of error is 2.9 per cent.

LSI consistently overrated Yudhoyono before the first round, as did most other polls. Voters in Indonesia do not stick to the party line at all. The Asia Times reported on 16 July that:

However, according to a survey by the Institute for Research, Education, Economic and Social Affairs (LP3ES), a well-respected research company, voters in the July 5 election ignored party lines to vote for candidates of their own choice. According to the survey, conducted on voting day, only 55% of people who voted for Golkar in the legislative election endorsed the party's candidate Wiranto in the July 5 presidential election; the others went to Yudhoyono (31%) and Megawati (8%). Supporters of the PDI-P were divided as well - 74% chose to vote for Megawati, while 13% supported Yudhoyono and 7% backed Wiranto.

Megawati, despite her reformasi credentials, is a very traditional Indonesian politico. Whether Golkar can actually deliver enough votes for seats to stop the Yudhoyono juggernaut is an open question.

This Is Rumor Control | Howard Gets Reward (8)

1=Total Fiction

10=Metaphysical Certainty

The Bush Administration says it rewarded Australian Prime Minister John Howard with a free-trade agreement last week because of his unstinting support for the war on terrorism, but the real reason was to bolster his sagging reelection chances. (8)

I am just shocked, shocked, I tell you.

28 July 2004

El ministro australiano de Exteriores rechaza disculparse ante Espa�a

Las pol�micas declaraciones de Downer se produjeron despu�s de que el s�bado pasado un grupo que afirma ser el brazo armado de Al Qaeda en Europa, el Grupo Isl�mico Tawid, amenazara a Australia e Italia con atentados si no retiran sus tropas de Irak.

Downer subray� la importancia de que los pa�ses env�en un fuerte mensaje a los terroristas en el que afirmen que no se dejaran intimidar por ellos. 'Tienes que hacer frente a esta gente, si no, les har�s m�s fuertes', asegur�.

El Ministerio espa�ol de Exteriores convoc� ayer a la embajadora de Australia en Espa�a, Susan Tanner, para expresar el 'firme rechazo del Gobierno espa�ol' a las palabras de Downer, quien ha afirmado que no existe una crisis diplom�tica con Madrid.

'El Gobierno espa�ol, que ha establecido la lucha contra el terrorismo como una clara prioridad de su pol�tica exterior, considera inaceptables estas declaraciones, especialmente viniendo de un pa�s amigo como Australia', a�adi� Exteriores en un comunicado.

Downer dijo que el encuentro entre la embajadora y los funcionarios espa�oles fue �til porque permiti� a Canberra expresar su posici�n. El ministro reconoci� la 'complejidad evidente en lo que ocurri� en realidad en Espa�a en torno' a las elecciones legislativas del 14 de marzo, pero al final (...) los terroristas est�n usando constantemente el ejemplo espa�ol' para intimidar a otros pa�ses.

Por otra parte, el embajador espa�ol en Canberra, Jos� Ram�n Bara�ano Fern�ndez, traslad� ayer, lunes, a las autoridades australianas el malestar por las declaraciones del ministro y les explic� que Madrid 'nunca ha sucumbido' ante los violentos, indic� a Europa Press en una conversaci�n telef�nica.


The inflammatory statements by Downer came out last Saturday after a group which claims to be the armed branch of Al Qaeda in Europe, the Islamic group Tawid, threatened Australia and Italy with attack unless they withdraw their troops from Irak.

Downer underlined the importance of countries sending a strong message to the terrorists that affirms they will not let themselves be intimidated. 'You have to challenge these people, if not, they harass you more strongly', he said.

The Spanish foreign ministry yesterday called in Australia's ambassador in Spain, Susan Tanner, to express the 'firm rejection of the Spanish government' to Downer's words. Downer has affirmed there is no diplomatic crisis with Madrid.

'The government of Spain, which has made the struggle against terror a clear priority of its foreign policy, considers these statements unacceptable, especially coming from a friendly country such as Australia', the ministry noted in a communiqu�.

Downer said the meeting between the ambassador and Spanish officials was useful because it allowed Canberra to express its position. The minister recognised the 'complexity evident in what happened in Spain during' the parliamentary elections of 14 March, but in the end (...) the terrorists are constantly using the Spanish example' to intimidate other countries.

For his part, the Spanish ambassador in Canberra, Jos� Ram�n Bara�ano Fern�ndez, conveyed yesterday, Tuesday, to the Australian authorities the unhappiness of the minister's statements and informed them Madrid 'never has succumbed to violence,' the ambassador told Europa Press by telephone.

Downer's cafuffle is really about domestic politics rather than getting the Spanish or Philippine governments to change their policies. It's also a really bad way to do foreign policy. If Howard is re-elected and finds himself dealing with a Kerry administration Australia is going to find itself needing a new foreign policy fast.

HM Department of Vague Paranoia

In an effort to worry the public and convince them to vote for us again next year, and because George Bush asked us to, this website includes the common sense advice found in the Preparing for Emergencies booklet, and information on what the government is doing to protect the country as a whole. (Hint: we're praying really, really hard.) National editions of the booklet will be available here when we can be arsed to get translators to put them into your crazy moon languages.

From 2nd August, translations of the booklet into 16 languages will be available on this website. They will be in : Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, English, Farsi, French, Greek, Gujarati, Hindi, Kurdish, Punjabi, Somali, Turkish, Urdu, Vietnamese and Welsh. In the meantime, just assume that we don't care about you.

You will also be able to order copies of the booklet in audio tape, large print, and Braille formats. We wouldn't have bothered, but Blunkett insisted.

An alert, but not alarmed Boing Boing managed to register this name in the co.uk domain. HM Government are presumably less alert but more alarmed, because they only secured the name in the .com domain.

Fortunately HM Britannic Government has not adopted HM Australian Government's devastating tactic of issuing fridge magnets of mass protection

Coming soon, The Pillow Book of John Winston Howard or How to entertain really disturbing fantasies about the person of the President of the United States. I'd recommend getting in a good supply of ship's biscuit.

27 July 2004

The Pillow Book of Sei SHonagon

A blogger named Simon Cozens is translating the classic Japanese text The Pillow Book (Makura no Soshi) by Sei Shonagon into English and republishing it as a blog. It's easy to forget the fact that these words were written in the tenth century, because the results in this format read -- well, rather like a blog. Some dates are fictitous, and some liberties have been taken to produce a coherent narrative stream in blog format -- but the content is purported to be a faithful translation of the original. Since I speak neither contemporary nor classical Japanese, I'll have to take this blogger (or someone wiser)'s word for it. And no, I'm sorry -- Ewan McGregor has nothing to do with this one. Link (Thanks, Andrew)

I'm still ploughing through the Butler report. Meanwhile we get a blog version (blersion? reblogging? blelease?) of the Pillow Book. Japanese literature in the Heian period is written almost exclusively by women, most famously the Genji Monogatari by Lady Murasaki Shikibu. Women were thought too stupid to ever learn Chinese, the language of 'serious' Heian writing. Sadly for the forgotten male authors they wrote either bad Chinese or Sino-Japanese. No-one reads the male authors.

Contact with China was intermittent. Even when regular it ran only to one embassy ship every five years. When China fell into one its periodic disunions, or the Japanese offended the Chinese court the ships would stop for a while. One embassy appeared at Qangan with a letter from the (ahem) Son of Heaven in the Land of the Rising Sun to the Son of Heaven in the Land of the Setting Sun. Yang Di, the second Sui emperor, was more than mildly unimpressed with these pretensions and stopped the embassies. The Japanese state of that time occupied about a third of its current territory and the court language (along with the origins of the ruling dynasty) may have been Korean.

The Heian elite was too small, too remote and too dependent to sustain a literature written in a foreign language. Someone should email the URL to Alexander Downer.