Kosovo and ethnic cleansing

Are we seeing a new Holocaust?

"WE ARE confronting a regime which is intent on genocide." So said defence secretary George Robertson last week. Labour and the NATO generals it supports say the bombing of Yugoslavia is to stop Milosevic from unleashing a Holocaust against the Kosovan Albanians. The press repeats the argument. The Daily Mail says the lines of refugees are a "grim echo of the Jews herded aboard trains by the Nazis in 1942".

But however horrible the events in Kosovo are, they are not the same as the Nazi Holocaust. The Nazis did not attempt to drive the Jews out of Europe but held them within Europe to murder them. The Nazis drew up lists of every person of Jewish descent across the whole of occupied Europe. These lists were used to assemble Jews and put them on trains, but the Nazis did not dump the Jews at the border as refugees. They were sent to extermination camps like Auschwitz where they were murdered in gas chambers and their bodies incinerated.

Six million Jews died this way. The entire central European rail network was turned over to the process. It was production line killing using modern industrial methods. The gas chambers were built for the systematic liquidation of an entire people. The Nazis nearly succeeded in wiping out the Jews of Europe.

The press, politicians and NATO generals are using words like genocide, fascist and Holocaust lightly. It is wrong to do so. There have been a series of brutal wars throughout the 20th century involving all kinds of barbarity but there has only been one Holocaust. As a columnist in the Independent on Sunday wrote last week, "The sufferings of the Jews in the Second World War were special, effectively without parallel. Serb war objectives are depressingly commonplace." To use the term loosely is to demean the memory of the Holocaust and its victims' families.

There are fascists in Yugoslavia today but they are not in power. One of the terrible outcomes of the bombing is that these people have been strengthened, not weakened. And while Western politicians talk of "genocide" to justify their war aims, they remain stonily silent about parts of the world that are suffering a similar fate to Kosovo, if not worse.

West is silent on Kurds

CLINTON, Blair, Robertson and Cook are also silent about the crimes of the Turkish government in its own war against the country's Kurdish minority. The Turkish state has tried to force the 13 million Kurds living in Turkey to adopt Turkish culture over the last 70 years. The state does not recognise them as a minority group. Kurdish language is banned from schools and broadcasts.

Journalists who write about the repression of the Kurds are jailed. When four Kurdish MPs asked to take the parliamentary oath in Kurdish as well as in Turkish they were accused of treason and imprisoned for 15 years on trumped up charges. The Turkish state repeatedly crushes any resistance—over 30,000 people have been killed in the last 15 years. This repression is far wider than just attacks on the armed guerillas of the Kurdistan Workers Party, the PKK.

The Turkish army has conducted a scorched earth policy in the Kurdish areas of south east Turkey—over 3,000 villages have been burnt and bulldozed. Over three million Kurds have been driven from their homes, more than the total population of Kosovo. But there are no Western calls for intervention against Turkey because the country is one of the most important members of NATO and an important ally in the bombing of Serbia.

Divided island

MILOSEVIC COULD learn a few lessons from NATO when it comes to ethnic cleansing. Greece and Turkey, two founder members of NATO, divided the island of Cyprus between them in 1974 through violent ethnic cleansing. Both the Greek and the Turkish ruling classes claimed sovereignty over Cyprus. In 1974 the Greek junta—itself brought to power with the aid of NATO—staged a coup against the government in Cyprus. That was followed by attacks on the minority of Turkish Cypriots right across the island.

The Turkish army then invaded northern Cyprus and drove around 200,000 Greek Cypriots into the south of the country supposedly to "protect" the Turkish minority. Villages where Greeks and Turks had lived side by side were torn apart. Since then the island has continued to be divided, with the Turkish army still occupying 40 percent of northern Cyprus. Nationalism and hatred are stoked on both sides.

The US has backed UNITA in Angola. UNITA's landmines have crippled 65,000 people

NATO ignores the killing in Angola

"MY SISTER may have cholera and her children are starving. She has been in a shelter from bombs for weeks. The houses where they used to live were burned by the soldiers. Next door was an old man who has trouble walking. He could not run away. When the flames came to his house he begged the soldiers to carry him out but they laughed and shouted, 'Walk on your hands.' His daughter and her little son heard the screams but they could do nothing. Many people have died already and many more are going to die."

These are the words of a woman in Luanda, the capital of Angola in central Africa. As she spoke to Socialist Worker she was not sure whether her sister in the city of Kuito was still alive. There are 70,000 refugees in Kuito and the Save the Children UK charity says that 15 percent of the children are malnourished with many on the brink of starvation.

NATO governments have said nothing about this refugee crisis in Angola. The problem was created by the West and its horrors are even worse than what is going on in Kosovo. The UNITA movement has been carrying out a war for 20 years which has created 1.5 million refugees. UNITA is a brutally right wing armed force led by Jonas Savimbi. It wants to gain power and smash any sort of left wing government. It would not exist but for the money, weaponry and support of the West, particularly the US. Villages From the beginning the CIA channelled arms to UNITA. In 1981, when President Reagan took office, the US government began openly supplying guns and missiles.

The Angolan war has already claimed 750,000 lives. Two thirds of those killed were children. UNITA specialised in attacks on civilians and sowing landmines in villages. Over 65,000 people have had limbs amputated as a result. The slaughter is the responsibility of the Western leaders. They pretend to care about refugees only when it suits their interests. Their real motives are power and profit.


US war criminal

THE US's own arch war criminal Henry Kissinger has declared that he is in favour of NATO's assault on Yugoslavia. Kissinger was initially against the war in the Balkans but now says that "the cohesion of NATO is threatened". But he rejects the view that the war is because of the terrible suffering in Kosovo. He writes in the publication Newsweek that "this leaves open the question of why we do not intervene in East Africa, Kurdistan, Afghanistan, Kashmir and Sri Lanka, to name just a few of the places where infinitely more casualties have been incurred than in Kosovo. President Slobodan Milosevic is not Hitler, but a Balkan thug."