On interview techniques

After being found guilty and sentenced to 40 years by the ICTY today, David A. Graham over at The Atlantic’s Notes highlights a 1993 interview conducted with Radovan Karadzic —

In January 1993, still relatively early in the Bosnian war, [CBC’s] As It Happens scored an interview with Karadzic. In a retrospective segment years ago, former host Michael Enright reminisced about preparing for the interview and his plan to ask standard questions. But he decided that wasn’t going to cut it, so he took a more direct approach when the tape started rolling:

“Mr. Karadzic, generally how—in your view, how is the ethnic cleansing going?” Enright deadpanned.

Karadzic was unsurprisingly annoyed.

“Ethnic cleansing was not part of our policy any time,” he fumed. “Ethnic cleansing was on all sides, and it was sort of ethnic shifting of the people, because Serbs have escaped from Muslim surroundings and the Bosnians have escaped from Serbian surroundings.”

Enright kept rolling, maintaining a studiously detached tone.

[…] It’s a remarkable interview: A reporter asking extremely tough questions of a leader, with great authority and command of facts, about a faraway conflict. You don’t hear this sort of exchange often. For one, few war criminals will talk to the media. For another, few reporters have the chops to pull it off live like this. They might worry about losing access, too—although when the interview ended, Karadzic signed off with a cheery, “Welcome, any time!”

[links in original; click through for further transcript and audio]


On past as prologue [2]

Arthur C. Helton, The Price of Indifference: Refugees and Humanitarian Action in the New Century (2002), p. 23:

The common thread, then, is fear: fear that gives rise to refugee flight, fear that but for good fortune one could be a refugee oneself, and fear that keeps people from offering haven to those in need. The combinations and permutations of insecurity that emerge in particular situations shape fundamentally the policy responses, whether generous or grudging. In the new century, ordinary people, intellectuals, and decision makers will increasingly grapple with this personification of fear, instability, and failure.

On godhetstyranniet

Here’s a concept new to me: godhetstyranniet.

In an article published 3.11.2015 at NRK that discusses the (then, debated) proposals for the Norwegian government’s refugee budget (flyktningbudsjett), Silvi Listhaug responds to critics of a more restrictive set of policies —

Listhaug mener meningsmotstanderne framstiller ønsker om kutt og innstramminger som slemme og kalde, mens de som ønsker en mer liberal politikk er gode og rause.

– Jeg reagerer på dette godhetstyranniet som rir det norske samfunnet som en mare, sier hun.

(emphasis in original text)

On push factors [2]

Via the International Crisis Group,

Burundi again faces the possibility of mass atrocities and civil war. Escalating violence, increasingly hardline rhetoric and the continued stream of refugees (more than 200,000) indicate that divisions are widening, and the “national dialogue” is doing little to relieve the mounting tensions. According to Crisis Group’s sources as well as media reports, it appears that President Pierre Nkurunziza and those around him intend to use force to end the protests that have been held in Bujumbura since April. The president made public an ultimatum giving the “criminals” seven days to lay down arms. Révérien Ndikuriyo, the Senate president, cryptically warned on 1 November that the police would soon go to “work” and asked district heads to identify “elements which are not in order”. The language is unambiguous to Burundians and chillingly similar to that used in Rwanda in the 1990s before the genocide.

The one national institution capable of arresting the slide, the army, is fracturing and nearing breaking point. Firm and decisive diplomatic intervention at a minimum is required to prevent a civil war and its inevitable massacres.

U.S. President Barack Obama’s 27 October decision to exclude Burundi from the “African Growth and Opportunity Act” is an important signal of his country’s growing concern, but it is not enough. The African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) issued a strong communiqué on 17 October but is still deferring to the East African Community. However, that regional body may be too divided, and its chief mediator, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, may be too preoccupied with forthcoming elections at home and the implementation of the struggling peace deal in South Sudan. The AU PSC, with the active support of the U.S., UK, and European Union, should, therefore, follow through on the decision expressed in its communiqué and convene a meeting of Burundian government and opposition representatives in Addis Ababa, if such a meeting cannot be quickly convened in Kampala under the chairmanship of President Museveni. It should make clear that the current situation is unacceptable and that it will intervene if President Nkurunziza does not change course.

In particular, the AU PSC’s threat of an African-led peace implementation mission in the event of further deterioration must be made more credible through member-state support and public pledges of donor support by the U.S. and others. In addition, the AU, the U.S., UK and other concerned members of the international community should quietly stress to the Rwandan and Tanzanian government that they are needed to play more constructive roles.

(links in original.)

Related: see Ambassador Power’s statement, here.

See also: Burundi’s crisis, explained via Vox; 12.11.15 update: Joint NGO statement urging coordinated global response to the escalating human rights crisis in Burundi; 10.11.15 HRW report, President’s Speech Instills Fear as Killings IncreaseShould we be using the G-word in Burundi? by Kate Cronin-Furman and Michael Broache; 24.11.15 ICG update; 22.01.16 In the shadow of genocides past: can Burundi be pulled back from the brink? by Rene Lemarchand

On a crisis of values

From Volker Türk’s remarks at the 133rd Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union General Debate —

Yet the single-most important challenge to the protection of refugees, as well as to reaping the development potential of migration more broadly comes from populist politics and uninformed public debates. They engender a climate of fear. In some countries there has been a proliferation of xenophobic and Islamophobic narratives, hate speech, fear-mongering, and inflammatory statements both at the political and civil society levels. In some instances this has even led to arson or other violent attacks directed against refugees as well as migrants.

We have also noted with concern that the terms “refugee” and “migrant” have in many instances been used interchangeably in the media and public discourse. The two terms have different meanings, and conflating them has serious consequences for the lives and safety of refugees. Both migrants and refugees are protected under international human rights law, but the failure to mention refugees specifically is a failure to recognise their unique predicament  their lack of national protection, the risks they face should they return to their home countries, and our obligations to protect them under a legal framework crafted specifically for them. This can undermine public support for the institution of asylum at a time when more refugees need such protection than ever before.

Preserving the institution of asylum is critical. Asylum is literally life-saving, and has ensured the survival of millions of people for decades. This is not to say that the problems and challenges of today’s large-scale mixed migration movements are not real, particularly in relation to adequate shelter, reception, security concerns, as well as burden- and responsibility-sharing. However, the situation is manageable and needs to be addressed in a manner that is consistent with obligations under international law to protect asylum-seekers and refugees.

All of this suggests that the more fundamental crisis that we are facing today is perhaps one of values the same values that we had sworn never to forget after the atrocities of the Second World War and that are embodied in the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

On smuggling and securitization

In a discussion posted to Asylum Corner, Pamela DeLargy made an interesting point about smuggling and securitization —

Asylum Corner: What is your opinion about the EU determination to focus on fighting the smugglers?

Pamela DeLargy: The smugglers are only providing services, there is a demand for their services and they are just offering them. Some smugglers are very bad and exploitative but some others are just providing the services that people request. Why do we think of Oscar Schindler as a good person, or people that smuggled children out of Germany during Second World War, and we call them heroes, but we think of all these smugglers who are bringing Africans and Syrians as bad people?

The fight against the smugglers is a securitization move, and securitization goes hand in hand with the criminalization of the migrants. We have made them into criminals. Because it is “illegal” to come without a visa, and these words have a major impact on the popular imagination, especially since most media boost such ideas. It is a fine line between calling people “illegal” and calling people “criminals”, and it is confused in the average person’s mind.

In general, I think the European countries are facing a big dilemma: Europe as a whole sees itself as the human rights champion, humanitarian champion, champion in women’s rights, and sells that abroad. We are victims of our own marketing. If the British go into Sudan and talk about human rights and the importance of free speech, then they should not be surprised if a bunch of guys from Darfur show up in Calais trying to get into the UK. They do that because they have always been taught that Britain is the beacon of respect for rights. It should be a compliment for the British people that there are people in Calais who want to enter Britain. It should be a compliment to Europe if people come here because this is not only a place of safety but is a place where you can be yourself, where you can educate your children, you can be free. We are the best marketers of freedom but then when people come and say “I wasn’t free and now I want to be free”, then we get confused because we never sincerely promised that. We are very confused, aren’t we?

(bold in original text)

On catching up

After two weeks in the US, there is lots to catch up on: