Thursday, June 30, 2011

Cambodia: UN-backed tribunal begins trial against four top Khmer Rouge figures

Three days ago a five-judge panel at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), a special Tribunal backed by the United Nations and based in Phnom Penh, began the trial against four of the most senior surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime, in power between April 1975 and January 1979.
UN-backed Tribunal begins trial in Cambodia

At least 1.7 million Cambodians are estimated to have died from starvation, forced labour, torture and execution during the rule of the Khmer Rouge, which was followed by a protracted period of civil war.
Wikipedia Khmer Rouge Rule of Cambodia

The ECCC was set up in 2006 and the UN provides assistance through the UN Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials (UNAKRT) and participates in the operations of the tribunal.
UNAKRT Webpage

Yale University Library has helped the Documentation Center of Cambodia in Phnom Penh to preserve records of the Khmer Rouge state police archives (Santebal)
Preserving Khmer Rouge Archives
Website Documentation Center of Cambodia
Cambodian Genocide Program Yale University

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

CRL and LAMP Support Digitization of Brazilian Human Rights Collection

CRL (Center for Research Libraries) and LAMP (formerly the Latin American Microform Project) are supporting the efforts of the Ministério Público Federal in Brazil to digitize nearly one million pages of the collection Brasil: Nunca Mais, which contains court documents (processos) from Brazil’s Military Supreme Court. These proceedings document the cases of over 7,000 persons arrested, convicted, and/or executed by the Court between 1964 and 1979. Copied in secrecy, the official records document human rights violations by the military government in Brazil during this period.
 Brasil: Nunca Mais

The Brazilian military government was the authoritarian regime which ruled Brazil from 1964 to 1985. It began after the 1964 coup d'etat led by the Armed Forces against the democratically elected government of left-wing President Joao Goulart.
Brazilian military government Wikipedia

Monday, June 13, 2011

UCLA's Armenian oral histories project

An interesting article on UCLA's Armenian oral histories project, led by the historian Richard Hovannissian. The Armenian Genocide conducted by the Ottoman Empire is considered the first modern genocide and resulted in at least 1 million deaths. Despite all the existing evidence, the turkish government continues denying the facts to this day...
Toward an expanded notion of the witness: the promise of armenian oral history collections
Armenian Genocide Wikipedia
Richard Hovannisian UCLA

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

SALALM Chronicles (I)

SALALM is the Seminar on Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials, that is an association of mainly University Librarians that deal with latin american collections.
SALALM Website

Despite this focus on Library materials SALALM groups together institutions with rich archives collections and under the leadership of active members like Marisol Ramos, from the University of Connecticut, has been moving steadily towards a greater emphasis on archives.
Marisol Ramos' blog

SALALM organized an excellent conference on archives last week at Philadelphia, under the title "Preserving Memory: Documenting and Archiving Latin American Human Rights"

Peter Kornbluh, the famed analyst from the National Security Archive and author of "The Pinochet File" , delivered an impressive keynote address on "Forensic Archivists and Active Archives: Advancing the Cause of Human Rights in Latin America through Archival Investigation", a harrowing visit to the dismal backyard of US politics in Latin America, from Guatemala's Truth Commission to the Terror Archives in Paraguay, passing through the dreaded argentinian Battallion 601 and their fumbled Operation Mexico. An awful truth that has only been revealed through the declassification of confidential US records in application of Freedom of Information legislation and the dogged persistence of institutions such as National Security Archive.
National Security Archive website

For those of you who haven't had the pleasure of hearing Peter, I've found in YouTube a complete video of the presentation he gave on a similar topic at the University of Oregon on August 2010. Really worth it!
Peter Kornbluh "Information is Power: Access to Archives and Human Rights in Latin America"

Quoting Peter: "Sunlight is the best disinfectant". Never more true...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Now it turns out that Franco was not a dictator...

At least if we pay attention to the biography of the infamous General just published as part of the Spanish Biographical Dictionary, a humongous effort that presents 43,000 biographies in 50 volumes and that has been published by the extremely conservative Spanish Royal Academy of History. The scandal increases because they received 6.4 million euros of public money for such a project...
Not much of a surprise if we consider that the entry on Franco was drafted by Luis Suarez, an specialist in medieval (!) history and also active member of the Francisco Franco Foundation, a private institution devoted to the memory of the dictator...
The biography qualifies Franco as authoritarian and lauds his military prowess. The cold-hearted General that took his time to complete an extermination war that guaranteed a virtual cleansing of Spain and established a fierce dictatorship that lasted nearly 40 years is nowhere to be seen in the pages of this dictionary. I'm afraid this is but the first of the attempts at vindicating his grisly memory that are sure to follow after the half-hearted application of the Law of Historical Memory and the nearly certain political change bound to happen after the incoming 2012 elections...
I enclose the link to the Francisco Franco Foundation just to illustrate the point that such a website would be forbidden in the majority of countries for fascist propaganda...
Website Fundacion Nacional Francisco Franco

Archival Policies in the Protection of Human Rights

This Report drafted by Antonio Gonzalez Quintana is an inescapable reference in the field of Archives and Human Rights. Antonio led the UNESCO/ICA group that produced in 1995 a first report on the manegement of the archives of the state security services of Former Repressive Regimes. This report was expanded into the more complete version launched in 2009, whose translation to english was completed by Margaret Turner.
Archival Policies in the Protection of Human Rights
Antonio Gonzalez Quintana is an spanish archivist with a long and illustrious career in the Spanish State Archives and Military Archives as well as the NATO Archives Committee. He is currently serving as Deputy Director General of Archives of the autonomous Community of Madrid.

The Inner Logic of Evil: from East Germany to Egypt

A very interesting article from "Der Spiegel" on how Herbert Ziehm, a german expert on the Stasi, is advising Egypt on how to deal with the trove of secret police records found at Amn al-Dawla HQ, the Egyptian State Security Investigations Service.,1518,754856,00.html
Wikipedia article on Egyptian State Security Investigations Service
Wikipedia Article on Federal Commissioner for the Stasi Archives
BStU (Bundesbeauftragte für die Stasi-Unterlagen) Website

Monday, June 6, 2011

Archivists without Borders

Archivists without Borders is an NGO created in Barcelona in 1998. It has been quite succesful and active in Europe, Africa and Latin America, but until now the language barrier (the majority of member countries share spanish as a language, except France) has prevented its expansion to english speaking countries. My canadian friends at ACA granted me a great opportunity allowing me to speak about this subject in the ACA Conference that just took place at Toronto and hopefully we will have soon good news in this respect...
Currently there are AwB branches in Spain, France, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay and Chile. Each branch is independent, but all operate with a common International Charter as reference and under the coordination of an International Coordination Council.
Website of AwB Spain
International Charter
Annual Report 2008