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NEWS - Archive for April 2000

April 2000 Headlines

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Chinese and Indian restaurateurs suffer alot of abuse An undercover operation to stamp out racism among diners at Indian and Chinese restaurants has been hailed a success.
Pairs of plain-clothes officers joined other diners in Gloucestershire to observe their behaviour.
Operation Napkin saw one 51-year-old arrested and charged with racially aggravated harassment - although further attempts have failed to produce any more offenders.
Chief Inspector Dean Walker from Gloucestershire police said the results proved the scheme had been a success and denied the lack of arrests meant racist incidents were not taking place.
He said: "This has been going on for years. That is what restaurateurs have told us, but now the police are doing something about it. "Officers are not there to eavesdrop but to deal with racist behaviour if it happens." Police plan to keep the operation going in different venues across the city.
Undercover surveillance will be mounted at weekends to coincide with pub closing. Chief Insp Walker added: "We have no shortage of volunteers who are keen for a free meal."
© BBC News

Austrians have protested against the Freedom Party The Austrian chancellor, whose government has been ostracised by the European Union, has paid a one-day visit to Hungary.
Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel expressed support for Budapest's bid to join the EU, and offered $110,000 in aid to flood victims in Hungary.
It was the chancellor's second foreign visit since the EU imposed sanctions on Austria in February because of the presence in the government of the far-right Freedom Party.
But the Hungarian Government made it clear that it intends to maintain close and friendly relations with its neighbour, although the Freedom Party has long opposed expanding the EU eastwards.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said after the meeting that he supported the reforms introduced by Austria's coalition government.
"We are separating its decisions taken so far from the political storm," he said, in reference to diplomatic sanctions imposed by the EU.
Difficult position
Since Joerg Haider's Freedom Party joined the government as the junior coalition partner, only Switzerland and Hungary have extended invitations to the chancellor.
Journeys by top officials between Budapest and Vienna have become so frequent over the past decade that the visit would previously have passed almost unnoticed.
The BBC's Nick Thorpe in Budapest says that Hungary regards Austria as its most important economic and political bridge to the EU, and is loath to do anything to upset its people.
Hungarian officials insisted that, while they shared EU concerns about Austria, they had no choice but to remain friends.
But opposition politicians warned that welcoming the Austrian leader could dash Hungary's EU hopes.
"The move amounts to a provocation against the EU and can unfavourably influence international opinion about Hungary," said the leader of the socialist opposition, Laszlo Kovacs.
Some commentators suggested that the visit also allowed the Hungarian Government to exercise mild criticism of Brussels.
Hungarian, Polish and Czech officials are increasingly frustrated with what they see as foot-dragging tactics by the EU in enlargement negotiations.
The target date of full membership by the beginning of 2003 is looking less and less likely.
© BBC News

THE CALIBRE of a democracy does not depend on how well parliament functions but on the quality of public services provided to citizens. This is what Greece's first ombudsman Nikiforos Diamantouros stressed yesterday as he presented his office's 1999 annual report.
A total of 8,223 complaints were lodged by citizens throughout the country against the state and local authorities last year, according to the report which Diamantouros forwarded to Prime Minister Costas Simitis, parliament speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis and Interior Minister Vasso Papandreou on Tuesday. Today, just over a year since the ombudsman's office was established, Diamantouros and his assistants have come up against a plethora of complaints, ranging from the country's unwieldy civil service and inconsistency in the application of laws to healthcare- and migrant-related matters.
The report stated that the majority of complaints (2,683) involved maladministration on the government's part while some 2,260 stemmed from welfare issues, 2,068 concerned quality of life and 1,212 related to human rights. A total of 5,652 complaints were reviewed last year while another 2,571 were still in the process of being investigated at the end of 1999. Over 57 percent of complaints were settled in favour of the citizen. The majority of complaints reviewed last year concerned the ministries of public order, education and the interior while most complainants (57.9 percent) resided in Attica, 8.5 percent in Thessaloniki and 2.1 percent abroad. Most grievances (62 percent) submitted by Attica citizens related to quality of life. A steady increase in the number of people turning to the ombudsman was noted throughout 1999. Diamantouros has received an EU record number of complaints since the office was set up 15 months ago. He received as many complaints in his first year as France's ombudsman did in the period 1973-80.
Many economic migrants in Greece, faced with bureaucratic stumbling blocks in applying for a Green Card, also filed complaints with the ombudsman in 1999. The report indicated that the majority involved the refusal by offices of the Organisation for the Employment of Human Resources (OAED) to accept Green Card applications for reasons which seemed questionable. In many cases, the ombudsman's office had to remind employees at various OAED offices of their obligation to forward all applications to review committees.
One case cited in the report involved a Polish woman in Hania, Crete who turned to the ombudsman's office after local OAED officials refused to accept her Green Card application because she did not have the required Type A criminal record certificate from the justice ministry. Thousands of migrants were unable to obtain this document before the deadline due to a backlog in applications at the justice ministry. Following the ombudsman's intervention, the woman's Green Card application was finally accepted without the certificate.
Another case, which was also settled in favour of the complainant, concerned a migrant who was in the process of renewing his Green Card. The Social Insurance Foundation (IKA) refused to renew his health booklet because his Green Card had expired. After consultations with the ombudsman's office, IKA issued the man a temporary health booklet until his Green Card was renewed.

Marina Kirilyuk, a Russian lawyer, applied last month for a U.S. visa to go testify at a child custody trial in California. But she was told by consular officials that this was not reason enough to leave the country, as an affidavit could be filed through the embassy.
According to Kirilyuk's account, the documents she brought to her interview at the embassy - including court papers, bank statements and her international passport, which had two U.S. visas - was not even looked at.
Now Kirilyuk has joined forces with a group of Russians and expatriates in a grass roots effort to force Western embassies to review and improve their visa policy, which has often been called unclear, unfair, expensive and, at times, humiliating.
This week the group put together an outline of their "Charter for Dignity," or what is hoped to become a set of standards by which all embassies will abide when processing visa applications from Russian nationals. In an effort directed not "at the embassy per se but rather at the visa process," the group has thus far highlighted the following goals: transparency of the visa process; respect for the applicant; reasonable uniformity of the process among Western embassies; and sample application forms in Russian.
The public debate leading up to the group's formation started gaining momentum just over two weeks ago, after The Moscow Times ran a story about a survey of embassies conducted by the Russian Association for Travel Agencies. Ranking in the bottom dozen were the U.S. and several European Union countries, including England, France, Germany and Ireland.
The following Saturday, the paper published a response to the article from Michael O'Leary, an Irish expat who suggested creating a "charter that clearly spells out exactly what's required of the applicant, the inviting party and what the process involves."
Embassy spokesmen conceded some of the criticism had merit. At the same time, they said such complaints were only part of the story.
"The numbers speak for themselves," said a U.S. Embassy spokesman, who asked that his name not be used. "Seventy-five percent of Russian applicants receive the [non-immigration] visas for which they have applied, and well over half of them [recipients] are issued visas without an interview."
The British Embassy receives in excess of 300 applications every day, and over 97 percent of applicants get visas, said Jack Thompson, consul and head of the visa section of the British Embassy, adding that over 92 percent of visas are issued without an interview within 10 minutes of an officer's seeing the application documents.
"We are not about embassy-bashing," emphasized O'Leary, who has been based in Moscow for over 10 years. "If we want to get positive change, it will only be effected by the participation of Moscow's Western embassies."
Drumming up support for the Charter for Dignity has not been difficult. O'Leary has received a flood of responses from people dismayed by the visa process and the treatment they, family or friends have been subjected to at embassies. They spoke of long lines with few amenities and varying demands for evidence that the applicant is not going to flee the motherland for good - from bank statements to personal correspondence to proof of property ownership.
Another frequent complaint is that applicants are asked unduly intimate questions. Katya, a 24-year-old public relations executive with a British-owned firm, wanted to spend a long weekend in England. She went to the British Embassy to apply for a visa three weeks in advance; she brought a letter from her employer, vouching for her, and another letter from a friend in England. The friend, with whom she had worked in Moscow, was male. During the visa interview, she was asked whether she had intimate relations with him, and whether she could provide some personal correspondence between them. She could not. Now her passport bears the feared deferral-of-application stamp, which she suspects may act as a black mark against her should she apply for a visa again.
A dozen or so members of the charter group are now involved in compiling the details of each embassy's visa policy, proof or testimonies of inconsistencies and proposals for improvements. To facilitate the collection of responses, a web site is expected to be up and running within a few weeks. For now, information is displayed at
All embassies in Moscow have their own rules and procedures, Thompson of the British Embassy said. "So you're not comparing apples with apples." The Irish Embassy said it is not prepared to comment on the matter, but did admit that its visa application for Russians is provided in English only.
One of the main criticisms hurled at the U.S. Embassy has been the long wait applicants must endure outside the building, sometimes in awful weather and with no toilet facilities. "Our present layout lacks sufficient waiting room space to accommodate all of the applicants at one time," said the U.S. Embassy spokesman. "This is going to change. We're planning to remodel the waiting areas of the consular section at the end of the summer. Our goal is to bring everyone in from the street to a large waiting room with adequate seating and toilet facilities."
The standard requirements for a Russian citizen applying for a visa to an EU country or the U.S. are basically the same - an invitation, application form, three passport photographs, processing fee and passport. But embassies' interpretations of the rules can vary drastically, said Kirilyuk.
"The consular office is given very wide discretion in assessing the evidence," said Kirilyuk, recalling her experience at the U.S. Embassy.
Kirilyuk is writing the text of the charter, which will include references to specific cases as precedents, including her own case. The completed charter will be posted on the Internet, sent to the parliaments of the western countries in question and publicized in other ways. The charter group, which plans to hold its next meeting May 18, has also suggested organizing a letter-writing campaign to members of the parliaments and governments of these countries. "It is their [consulates'] right to deny a visa," said Kirilyuk, "but it does not remove their obligation to treat a human being with respect."
But the U.S. Embassy spokesman suggested that the group may be focusing more on the exceptions than the rule: "There is a silent majority of consular section customers who receive the services they expect expeditiously and courteously, and their stories never make it into print."
© The Moscow Times

Irish police are treating as suspicious a fire at a hotel in Tipperary which was supposed to receive 30 asylum-seekers, reports the Irish Times yesterday. The fire broke out early Tuesday morning in the Vee Valley Hotel in Clogheen. Villagers had voted to place a picket on the hotel after they were told that it would be used to accommodate the asylum-seekers.
Meanwhile Le Monde reports asylum seekers last week demonstrated against racism in Dublin following an attack on a Nigerian. "Yes there is racism in Ireland," confirmed Sarah McNeice of the Irish Refugee Council.
Anti-immigrant slogans are painted on walls, attacks against individuals are on the rise and a recent poll found that a third of people believe there are "too many foreigners." Meanwhile Ireland, a country usually associated with emigration, is facing a labour shortage.
The asylum seekers, from Africa, Romania, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria and other countries, today number about 14,000 people. They are arriving at a rate of about 1,000 a month.
The authorities would like to disperse them throughout the country because 80% of them are in Dublin. But villages throughout the country are refusing to accept them and UNHCR has expressed its concern.
© Refugees Daily

Approximately $17 million in State funds have been set aside in hopes of better assimilating the Gypsy community into Hungarian society.
The Government sees poverty and other problems prevalent among the Roma as one of Hungary's most pressing problems, said G·bor Horv·th, spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
"We have been facing a great problem with the situation of Roma in Hungary and we want to help pursue their development," Horv·th said.
The EU has stressed that while it supports the integration of Roma into Hungarian society, their desperate situation will not hamper Hungary's EU accession.
The Roma funding will be distributed through various departments. The Ministry of Justice, for example, will spend Ft100 million ($366,000) in the form of grants to Gypsy youths.
The Interior Ministry will provide Ft300 million ($1,098,000) to finance nurseries and schools involved in minority education. Justice Minister Ibolya D·vid said the nation's laws will be reviewed to see if they contain clauses that may discriminate against Roma.
The Cabinet, however, does not intend to make a separate law against Roma discrimination. Foreign Minister J·nos Martonyi recently unveiled a French and English translation of a publication entitled State Measures in the Interest of Gypsies.
It intends to provide a statistically accurate, realistic overview of the situation of the Roma in Hungary, as well as details of all the efforts made by the State to promote their social integration.
With international attention focussing on the situation of Roma in Hungary, addressing this issue is critical, Martonyi said at the book launch.
"The situation of the Roma communities, the largest minority living in Hungary, differs in many respects from that of the other minorities in our country," Martonyi said. "In the case of the Roma, social, employment, vocational training and educational problems are apparent to a greater extent. The social integration of the Roma is a question of both minority policy and social policy."
© The Budapest Sun

German police have arrested an eighteen-year-old youth in connection with an attempt to set fire to a synagogue last Thursday in the eastern city of Erfurt.
The attack by the youth, who is a neo-Nazi sympathiser, took place on the anniversary of Hitler's birth -- a date often used by Nazi supporters to stage demonstrations or criminal acts.
A BBC correspondent says that in recent months Jewish organisations have become alarmed at the rise in the number of violent assaults on Jewish graveyards, synagogues and other property. According to the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, which monitors extreme political movements, attacks on Jewish graveyards are now taking place at the rate of one a week.
© BBC News

The Government's asylum and immigration policies will receive an important boost today when the number of asylum cases is expected to fall by its biggest amount since Labour came to office. The total number of cases outstanding, including the backlog, is likely to drop below the 100,000 barrier after a record month of activity by the Home Office's immigration and nationality department.
With the Tories making asylum and immigration a key issue of their campaign for the local elections across the Home Secretary, Jack Straw, is keen to claim that his plans for a 'faster, fairer and firmer' asylum system are now producing results. More than 10,000 cases were cleared in March as up to 7,000 new cases were submitted, allowing the backlog to for the month. The fall will represent the biggest decrease in overall numbers since 1997. The asylum application backlog of almost 105,000 fell for the first time in two years last month, with faster processing reducing the total by 1,700 cases. The backlog for February stood at 103,095, down on January's 104,890, but the March figure is understood to be around 99,000, The Independent understands.
By the beginning of this year, the backlog had doubled from the 50,000 level Labour inherited from the Tories after the general election in May 1997, to nearly 105,000 at the start of 2000.
But Mr Straw has ordered a radical overhaul of the department and has installed more than 300 new case-workers in recent months. The 10,000 level of processed claims in March is the highest on record, four times the monthly average cleared during the last few months of 1999. The Government also claims that it has made inroads into the average time taken to reach an asylum decision.
In April 1997, the Home Office was taking 20 months to make an asylum decision, but by December 1999 that had fallen to 13 months.
Mr Straw has promised that by April next year asylum applications and appeals with be dealt with in six months.
© Independent

The Guardia Civil in the Campo de Gibraltar in different operations over a 48-hour period last week detained fifty illegal immigrants. The largest group of Moroccans were intercepted 3.5 miles off the coast of Tarifa on Friday morning, 31 of them travelling in a 7 metre by 2 metre inflatable boat. Among them were two teenagers, who are now being cared for in a children's centre in Algeciras.
A day previously, on Thursday, four other illegal immigrants were picked up by the police in Algeciras, trying to escape by heading into the mountains after arriving in another boat, and another ten Moroccans were detained as they were walking through Algeciras Port or along the N340 highway. The remaining five were hiding inside vehicles driven by fellow Moroccans. Four of them were caught as they travelled along the N340 in a car with Murcia registration plates, and the fifth was underneath the back seats of a foreign-plated van that had arrived from Tangiers. Other would-be illegal immigrants who tried to reach the Canary Islands over the weekend also failed in the attempt.
At least thirty people, most of them from Nigeria, were caught as they arrived at Fuerteventura and Lanzarote in the early hours of Saturday morning, again travelling in small boats.
©Town Crier

German regional authorities said yesterday that they may force thousands of refugees to leave the country if they do not accept a cash offer to depart voluntarily, reports Reuters. Germany is offering up to US$1,000 per family for Yugoslav citizens to return by land to Kosovo. Among those affected by the plan are 160,000 Kosovo Albanians.
Critics said that forcing them to return could have an explosive risk for the region. Germany took in some 350,000 refugees from Bosnia, as well as the thousands from Kosovo. A group of 100 parliamentarians have issued an open letter attacking the policy, accusing Federal Interior Minister Otto Schily of tacitly supporting it.
The letter urges physically weak, married couples of mixed ethnicity, conscientious objectors, and witnesses to war crimes. The Times reports German authorities are preparing to deport tens of thousands of Kosovo refugees, reflecting the new toughness of German regional states in dealing with immigration. Last year 32,929 refugees were deported from Germany. The 7,900 who resisted were taken home using methods including handcuffing, sticking plaster and tranquillisers.
Meanwhile the Guardian adds nearly 70 Kosovar refugees returned home from Britain yesterday.
© Refugees Daily

Following the revelation that the Internet bookstore is openly distributing the book "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion", the Israeli-based Internet newspaper is mounting an international boycott of The Protocols, developed by Czarist authorities at the beginning of the 20th Century, is a known forgery disseminating anti-Semitic propaganda. The Russian authorities used it as a pretext for mounting anti-Jewish pogroms and has served the cause of Jew-haters over the last hundred years.
Amazon is retailing the book for $20 hardcover and $8 paperback. has already removed all linkage to the Amazon site and has begun to urge other internet-based companies to do the same. This is coupled with a consumer embargo of the world-famous Amazon's services. is being assisted in its campaign by DG Communications, an Israeli-based PR consultancy. The company will provide media and communications support both in Israel and throughout the world, recruiting Jewish and non-Jewish organizations and leaders to join in this campaign.

Over 30 deputies representing all parliamentary floor groups filed an interpellation March 29, questioning the prime minister and the education minister about actions aimed at acquainting Polish students with the Nazi genocide against the Jews.
"The experience of the Holocaust shows how tragic consequences may result from prejudice, groundless fears, half-truths and lies," reads the statement. "In order to understand freedom and appreciate diversity and justice, it is extremely important to study the signs of the evil of the past." Andrzej Folwarczny, the youngest parliamentary deputy from the Freedom Union (UW) and chairman of the bilateral Polish-Israeli parliamentary floor group, initiated the challenge. "The education reform that has just started is a perfect opportunity to have a new look at curricula," says Folwarczny. He believes that a new approach to teaching history is necessary, and that without an improvement in Poland's relations with Israel and the Jewish diaspora, this will be difficult. He also points out that stereotypes, prejudices and non-cooperation affect both sides.
"However, the ignorance or even dislike displayed by the Jewish side does not mean that we are absolved from the duty to present the latest history of the two nations in an unbiased manner," he says. Folwarczny was born in 1970, 25 years after the war and two years after the March 1968 developments, when anti-Semitic actions were used in a power struggle between two factions of the communist Polish United Workers' Party.
He says that he heard such slogans for the first time during the presidential election campaign of 1990, when he worked for former Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki's election campaign staff. "His opponents referred to the fears of Jews, something completely unknown to me in the past," says Folwarczny. "I was also asked from time to time about my Jewish connections." After this experience Folwarczny became interested in the question of Polish-Jewish reconciliation. Ten years of Polish democracy have brought about many changes for the better.
Poles and Israelis can travel to each other's countries without problems-visa requirements were recently lifted. However, in Folwarczny's opinion, you can easily see that these are "travels into the past." Most Polish tourists go to Israel as pilgrims to the Holy Land. After returning they do not know much more about contemporary Israel than they knew before leaving Poland. On the other hand, Israeli youths come to Poland to see relics of Jewish culture and places connected with the Holocaust.
They leave the country without exchanging a word with their Polish peers. Decisions made five years ago by the Polish-Israeli commission on text-books have not been implemented either. "The fact that little has been done in this respect in Israel should not serve as an excuse for us," says Folwarczny. The deputies' interpellation touches upon a few problems. First of all, they cite absence of the Holocaust in the elementary school curriculum. Other problems relate to the presentation of Holocaust-related issues in high school curricula, funds from the Education Ministry for text-books and other publications, and for support of relevant research and teachers' training. "We have not received a formal answer yet, but we already have an initial success to our credit," says Folwarczny.
"The Education Ministry has provided funds for a previously approved school program: The Holocaust. Program for Teaching About the History and Extermination of Jews in Medium and High Schools, written by Robert Szuchta and Piotr TrojaÒski." In the opinion of the deputies, the Education Ministry should exploit the achievements of such institutions as the State Museum in Auschwitz, Jewish History Institute and Teachers' College in Cracow. All the institutions organize training courses and carry out research on the Holocaust. Folwarczny does not conceal that it isn't that easy. "In Poland, we have to make up for years of political manipulation and concealment," he says. "In the international arena, we have to fight established stereotypes."
Folwarczny admits that the latter task is not made easier by sporadic but publicized anti-Semitic excesses, like the provocative graffiti painted on the house of Marek Edelman, the last commander of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, or the denial of the Holocaust by ultra right-wing journalists or historians. "These are extremist actions that happen in other countries as well," says Folwarczny. "In other countries, however, the authorities and public opinion usually react to them quicker."
©The Warsaw Voice

An exhibition to mark the end of World War II that opens Wednesday will feature what officials claim is a fragment of Adolf Hitler's skull that was kept in a secret archive for decades.
The fragment - with a bullet hole through it - will be displayed at the Federal Archives Service in an exhibition called "The Agony of the Third Reich: The Retribution" to mark the 55th anniversary of the end of the war. Officials said Monday they also had Hitler's jaw, but it was too fragile to put on display and just a photograph will be displayed at the exhibition. Vladimir Kozlov, head of the Federal Archives Service, and officials from the Federal Security Service - the main successor to the KGB - did not say at a news conference Monday how the skull fragments came to be in Moscow.
Russia first announced it had the fragments in 1993, but the claims have been disputed. A Hitler biographer, Werner Maser, has argued that the fragments are fakes. The director of the exhibition hall, Aliya Borkovets, insisted Monday that "no doubts remain" about the authenticity of the skull fragments. She did not elaborate. The exhibition will include documents on Soviet work to identify the remains, the archives service said in a statement.
It will also display materials from a Soviet investigation into Hitler's suicide, some of his belongings and items from his bunker. After Hitler shot himself in his Berlin bunker on April 30, 1945, his body was taken outside by his staff, doused with gasoline and set ablaze, along with the remains of his long-time companion Eva Braun.
There have been unconfirmed, sometimes conflicting reports over the years about what happened to Hitler's remains. Soviet troops, who captured the Berlin bunker, dug up the remains in 1945 and reburied them in Magdeburg, East Germany, according to Russian reports. In 1970, then-KGB chief Yury Andropov ordered the bones dug up to "permanently destroy them through incineration," according to some reports. Other reports suggest that some skull fragments were found separately in Hitler's bunker by the KGB and may have been brought to Moscow. Five years ago, the government put on display at a Moscow museum some of Hitler's uniforms, boots and other relics of Nazi Germany taken from the ruins of Berlin by a Soviet unit charged with collecting war trophies.
The exhibition sparked criticism at the time from some war veterans, who said it was improper to put Nazi memorabilia on display. Others worried it would inspire the small fascist groups that have surfaced since the demise of the Soviet Union. Apparently seeking to reject such criticism, Borkovets said Monday that the exhibition "is not dedicated to Adolf Hitler, after all, but to victory."
©The Moscow Times

Daily Mail and London Evening Standard angry at the National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns (NCADC)
The Modem is Mightier than the Sword
Well done all you cyber activists
The electronic protest against the Daily Mail and London Evening Standard was a great success.
The letters editor of the Daily Mail in a reply to one of the protest e-mails said that they had received over 1,000 e-mails complaining about their coverage of asylum seekers. Many of you responded immediately to the request for action. The first batch of e-mails to the Mail & Standard got the usual reply "thank you for your letter but as we receive so many we regret we do not have room for yours".
As the protest grew both the Mail & Standard began to send snotty replies"

Dear ********,
I'm afriad that as you and a thousand others seem to have copied an internet site to send me a 'letter', you're all getting my standard reply. The more diligent correspondents took the trouble to at least change the crib-sheet a bit - and it's one of those I shall be publishing.
Now I know what teachers mean when they complain that the internet isn't helping them encourage children to think for themselves and produce work of their own.

Diana Clarke, replied
Dear Andy
Thank you for your reply and it's sarcastic tone. My second email asked for a response about the paper's attitude to immigrants, it was not a complaint that my letter did not get published. I am very glad th
at some people adapted the letter, but it was a campaigning tool, not an exercise in prose. It works in a similar way to petitions, the point is to show the weight of support, not a nice turn of phrase. While you may think that the internet does not encourage people to write interesting letters, it does encourage and enable people from all over the world to organise themselves cohesively to work against racism.
I am very glad that myself and a 'thousand others' are writing the same letters, this might just show the media that we don't accept it's hysteria over immigrants and asylum seekers. Diana Clarke

They also had to contend with a protest of around 100 people outside their offices on Thursday 13th April with constant chanting ("Daily Mail - Hate Mail, Evening Standard - racist standards").
There are currently ongoing discussions about future protests. At the moment we are deciding whether to go back to the Mail and Standard, or to go to the Conservative Party headquarters in Smith Square or to the Labour Party HQ at Millbank. Watch your email lists for future developments.
Hackney Migrant and Refugee Support Group, wish to thank all those who turned out for the picket and a special thanks to the cyber activists.
Even The Guardian took note, item below was into days Guardian dairy, Thursday 20 April: * Strange goings-on at the Daily Mail, which seems to be in retreat from its usual splenetic frenzy on right-wing causes like asylum seekers and section 28. Management at the paper have been rattled by the hostile response from readers over its asylum rantings, and staff are unhappy to find themselves targeted by protests.
National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns

Eight compact discs promoting fascism and racial intolerance have been seized by the police at the market place in Vojtanov, west Bohemia, West Bohemian police spokeswoman Milada Sucha told CTK today.
The CD and video-cassettes with fascist themes were being sold by a 39-year-old foreigner, she said.
"The goods have been seized and the man has been detained and accused of support and propagating of a movement aimed at suppressing the people's rights and freedoms," Sucha said.
©Czech News Agency

The question of immigration in Europe is always controversial. However, what if immigration were to be seen not as a problem to be solved, but as the solution to one of Europe's biggest dilemmas - how to replenish a shrinking population?
In Italy, birth rates are among the lowest on the continent. The community of Badolato, in particular, has been more than happy to welcome asylum seekers as saviours. It is a picture-perfect hill top town in southern Italy. It is beautiful and quiet - in fact, it is rather too quiet and that is because most of its inhabitants have left.
A dying village
Those who remain will tell you that Badolato is dying. Seven thousand people used to live in the town. Now that figure is closer to 400. Most of the young have fled unemployment - a feature of the south - but Badolato is also a symbol of a real problem across Europe. Birth rates are down, longevity is up. Italy has always been seen as the bastion of the big family but in fact its population is in steep decline. Now it is feared that there will not be enough workers in the future to support the elderly who are living longer than ever before.
For 10,000 years, the fortress town had repelled foreigners. Two years ago, they were welcomed with relief - at last some young blood was back in town.
Warm welcome
At the beginning of 1998, hundreds of Kurds, desperate enough to leave Turkey aboard an old rust bucket, were rescued off the southern coastline. Around 400 mostly young men were brought to this village.
The warm reception they found turned Badolato into a cause celebre. Television crews arrived and the talk was of a town being brought to life again by asylum seekers. Could this be the answer for Italy's other dying cities? Daniela Trapasso of the Italian Council for Refugees says she was surprised and impressed by the welcome the asylum seekers received.
"I thought the people from the village will be scared of them but it was not like this," she recalls "I was very emotional when I saw Italian people give food, bread and oil to the Kurdish neighbours." Two years later, that warmth has not diminished. Sitting around the piazza in weak spring sunshine, the old people are happy to talk about their visitors. "It's lovely to have them around," they tell me. "They never give us any problem and if there is something we can give them, we give it to them.
"We don't understand them and they don't understand us but they are good, and the more people we have around the better it is for everyone." The few who do not want them here are given short shrift. The Kurds were housed in the town's long-abandoned school. However, most of the original group have found work in Germany or elsewhere.
Nedim Palabiyik is one of the 50 or so who remain and they are frustrated. "The Italian people are very friendly," he says.
"Everything so far has been quite good, but what will happen to us in the future I just don't know." The promised funds from the government for housing and start-up businesses to encourage them to stay have never arrived.
The Badolato experiment, says Daniela Trapasso, is in bureaucratic limbo. "A lot of people came here," she says. "A lot of promises have been made but we have been waiting for this money for two years. "This is a big problem. If you talk with our government they will tell you - 'Ah yes! Badolato! - a very good experience. We must learn from Badolato. There, there is civilisation.' "But then - nothing."
Fewer babies
Yet the statistics are stark: too few people across Italy are having families. A recent UN report gave worse projections for Italy than Italian experts themselves, sounding an SOS in Rome - to 41 million. Without "replacement migration" as it is called, the retirement age would have to be raised to 77 to maintain the ratio of four workers to every pensioner.
The president of the Rome-based Eurispes Research agency, Gian Maria Fara, has watched the birth rate halve since the 1960s. It is not good enough, he says, for the government just to turn a blind eye to illegal immigration. "This will cause political problems but even the highest authorities of the Italian economy say that Italy needs at least 200,000 immigrants just to keep the status quo." There are analysts who believe that the crisis is exaggerated.
They say that there have been periods of low reproduction before which have not caused great social or economic disruption. Back in Badolato, there is good news according to Mayor Gerardo Mannello: the money to restore 20 houses for the Kurds has finally arrived. He believes that the government now understands the importance of immigrants in Italy and he is confident that soon they will be seen as essential to the economy - especially inthe South. For now, there are about 20 children - Italian and Kurdish - left in Badolato.
Cycling around the lanes and kicking a football around in the evening, they bring the piazza some much-needed life.
© BBC News

Gay workers say they suffer discrimination
The TUC is calling for a new law to protect lesbians and gay men from discrimination at work. And the organisation says pensions and other job-related benefits should be extended to the The Trades Unions Congress is publishing a report called Straight Up! Why the Law Should Protect Lesbian and Gay Workers.
The TUC has also revealed the results of a survey which showed more than three in four people think it is wrong for employers to treat lesbian or gay workers differently from heterosexual staff. Some 77% of the respondents thought bosses should not treat lesbian or gay staff any less favourably than heterosexual employees.
Of the 964 people questioned, 74% agreed that employers should not be allowed to sack a member of staff if they discovered the employee was gay and only 13% thought it would be acceptable. When asked whether employers should treat the long-term partners of gay and lesbian staff in the same way as partners and spouses of other employees, 71% of those questioned agreed and 11% disagreed.
Pension anger
TUC General Secretary John Monks said: "Good employers already treat all their employees with the same degree of respect.
"The voluntary code of practice proposed by the government is a welcome recognition of the problem, but it won't stop bad bosses discriminating against their gay employees." The report also features case studies of people who have suffered harassment. These include Ron Strank and his partner Roger Fisher, who have been together for 40 years and have paid into the NHS pension scheme all their working lives.
The Croydon-based couple, who are in their 60s, are angry that when one of them dies, the surviving partner will be denied access to the other's pension entitlement.
© BBC News

THE Belgian government is to deport up to 1,500 Slovak gipsies in an effort to control its immigration crisis.
Rejecting claims that they are the victims of persecution at home, the interior ministry has asked city mayors to instruct undocumented Slovak nationals to leave within 10 days. They can either accept a free airline ticket to the Slovak capital, Bratislava, sweetened with a small payment of cash, or face forced expulsion by the police.
The Slovaks, almost all gipsies or travellers, have been requesting political asylum on grounds of ethnic discrimination, even though Slovakia is a candidate for entry into the European Union and the Slovak government is now recognised as fully democratic. Vlaams Blok, which has emerged as the biggest single party in the Flemish bastion of Antwerp, with 30 per cent of popular support, but it exposes the government to charges of hypocrisy over the Haider affair in Austria.
Louis Michel, the Belgian foreign minister, has been a vehement critic of the Austrian government, calling for a boycott of Austria's ski resorts to protest the presence of J–rg Haider's Freedom Party in the coalition. Yet there is no longer any appreciable difference between the treatment of foreigners in Belgium and Austria.
© Telegraph

WILLIAM HAGUE was accused of exploiting the refugee crisis for political purposes last night by announcing that a Tory government would detain all asylum seekers.
Downing Street said it was further evidence that he was "stirring up" the issue in the run-up to next month's local elections in England. Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, claimed that Tories were more interested in "exploiting" the asylum issue than dealing with it. Charles Kennedy, the Liberal Democrat leader, said Mr Hague's plans could cost more than £2 billion a year and were "irresponsible party politics". Mr Hague rejected the criticism and went ahead with his speech setting out proposals to compel all newly-arrived asylum seekers to go to secure reception centres.
They would be held in "humane" conditions until their cases were settled and they were either allowed to remain or were removed. A Tory government would re-introduce a list of "safe" countries, from which asylum applications would not normally be accepted. He said that his proposals were not racist. "I heard the Labour Party the other day say that all pensioners are racists. People bandy these things about. It's becoming ridiculous."
Mr Hague, visiting Romsey, Hants, to campaign in the by-election, said the asylum system had to be reformed for the sake of genuine refugees. Politicians should have the "courage to do it and not be put off by a bit of name-calling" .Government policies had made Britain "the biggest soft touch in Europe" for asylum seekers.
Michael Portillo, son of a Spanish Civil War refugee, denied that his father would have been harshly treated had the new Tory policy been in force. "My father came in fear of his life. When he came here he dug ditches and built aerodromes." Ministers tried to portray Mr Hague's speech as an attempt to gain political advantage in the local elections while at the same time claiming that his proposals were costly and unworkable.
David Blunkett, the Education Secretary, said Mr Hague was attempting to divert attention from the real local election issues. Mo Mowlam, the Cabinet Office Minister, said: "We are trying to solve the problem. They are exploiting it. It is as simple as that."
Mr Straw, while claiming that Mr Hague was exploiting the issue, sought to show that Labour was tough on it. It was providing more detention spaces at a reception centre at Oakington, Cambridge, to deal with initial decisions in seven days. Removals of asylum seekers were at record levels.
Downing Street claimed that the Tories would need to set up 18 centres to deal with the refugees at a cost of £900 million in the first year. If they did not succeed in reducing the processing of initial applications to six weeks - instead of six months - up to 50 camps could be needed, at a cost of £2 billion.
In the House of Lords, Lady Scotland of Asthal, a junior Foreign Office minister, and a former member of the Commission for Racial Equality, said she was becoming increasingly concerned at the tone of some of the rhetoric about refugees.
© Telegraph

The council of Zandvoort, a town at the Dutch coast, is astonished about the commotion that has arisen about a 2.5 meter high concrete wall placed around a future camp for mobile homes. Future inhabitants have reacted furious and have asked of the regional Anti Discrimination Bureau. At this time there is a camp elsewhere in town with 12 mobile homes. In a couple of months 4 of them have to move to the new location. The council reacted very surprised about the protest: "we did tell them a fence would be placed, to limit the size of the camp", according to a spokesman. "I can imagine the future inhabitants don't like the present look of concrete slabs, but that's just the core of an embankment we are making. It will be finished off with lots of sand and shrubs, through which we give it a kind of beach feel."
Now that the mobile home inhabitants have voiced their anger, the council is willing to sit around the table with them. The Anti Discrimination Bureau also wants to meet with the council. "The future inhabitants have been frightened by the wall. How is it possible to put people behind a wall like that? We will investigate and listen to both sides depending on the outcome of that we'll decide if we take action and if it is a case of discrimination."

Bernard Kouchner, the UN administrator in Kosovo, has appealed to European governments not to accelerate the return of their Kosovo refugees to a rate the province's strained resources cannot absorb, reports the Financial Times. In an open letter to governments, Kouchner urged those that have hosted refugees since the Kosovo war last year to "minimise the practice of forced returns" - especially of those from minority communities or with a police record - and to help his UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (Unmik) cope with the reception of the refugees.
Unmik officials yesterday paid tribute to the generosity of countries such as Germany and Switzerland in giving temporary refuge to many Kosovo Albanians last year but complained that in recent weeks the countries have started to return refugees under duress. They included some former prisoners in handcuffs and a few Gypsy families. Unmik yesterday estimated that as many as 250,000 refugees might still be outside the country.
The Times reports 60 Kosovar Albanians refugees will fly home tomorrow from Britain on a specially chartered aircraft that will be only half full. BBC News adds the Scottish Refugee Council has expressed concern about the safety of over 300 Kosovar Albanians who return home later this year. A spokesman said the Kosovars in Scotland were a "particularly vulnerable" group.
Meanwhile AAP reports Kosovar refugees returned by Australia faced a "shambles," deprived of food, shelter or basic services in Kosovo, Albanian representative Erik Lloga said today in Pristina.
© Refugees Daily

Prime Minister Viktor Orb·n has invited Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schussel to visit Hungary on April 27. The move has sparked criticism by the Socialists for breaking the sanctions imposed by the EU on Austria. Since J–rg Haider's right wing Freedom Party came into power as part of a coalition in February, the EU have imposed diplomatic sanctions on Austria.
L·szlÛ Kov·cs, the Socialist Party's leader, said, "It is very unfortunate that Hungary, after receiving the Austrian foreign minister (in February), breaks the European Union's political embargo a second time."
The Government is adamant, however, that it is not doing anything against the EU's wishes, as Foreign Minister J·nos Martonyi explained last week.
"We fully associate ourselves with the 14 (EU members) as far as the substance is concerned, but the difference between our situation and the 14 is that Hungary is not yet a member of the Union. This means that we do not have any other possibility to contacts."
During Schuessel's visit, he and Orb·n are expected to discuss accession negotiations, internal reforms in the EU Europe (OSCE), over which Austria currently presides. The EU have not expressed objection to Orb·n's invitation, and Antonio Guterres, Prime Minister of Portugal, the country that currently holds the EU's rotating presidency, said he would not comment on the matter as Hungary is not an EU member.
Others are more outspoken. Hungarian-born pianist Andras Schiff recently cancelled four concerts scheduled to be played in Austria this summer as a protest to the Freedom Party's entrance into the government.
© The Budapest Sun

North Ossetia's Deputy Prime Minister Stanislav Baskaev told a cabinet session on 19 April that Ossetian refugees who fled to North Ossetia in the early 1990s to escape ethnic violence in Georgia's former South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast should be sent back to Georgia, Caucasus Press reported. Baskaev said that an estimated 15,000 refugees from Georgia have for eight years occupied sanatoria and tourist facilities in North Ossetia, thereby depriving the republic of millions of rubles in income. Participants at the meeting agreed on a program of financial incentives to expedite the gradual repatriation of the refugees.

The Budapest-based European Roma Rights Center on 18 April filed suit at the European Human Rights Court in Strasbourg on behalf of 18 Roma families complaining of discrimination, CTK and international agencies reported. The parents turned to the Strasbourg court after their complaint was rejected by a Czech court six months ago. They say their children, all from the Ostrava area, were placed in schools for the mentally deficient because of their race after failing tests that were biased against Roma. Romany school children outnumber non- Romanies in such schools by a 27 to 1 ratio. Lawyers told journalists in Prague that the lawsuit could be the first of many similar suits throughout Central and Eastern Europe.

Lithuania will not tolerate a recent rise of nationalism and extremism that has recently surfaced in Kaunas, its second largest city, President Valdas Adamkus said on Thursday. "By no means can we tolerate anti-Semitism or hatred of other cultures and differently thinking people," Adamkus told parliament in his annual state of the union address. "I am convinced that their manifestation in Kaunas, the former provisional capital, is a passing phenomenon and that our people reject them," he said. In a March municipal election in Kaunas, the small, radical Lithuanian Freedom Union led by populist Vytautas Sustauskas gained the most votes. Local media have in the past attributed public remarks to Sustauskas regarding Jewish property ownership in the city. Some of his supporters have also appeared at rallies bearing anti-Semitic signs. The Israeli Embassy for the Baltic states said earlier in the week it was "concerned over the statements made by the newly elected mayor of Kaunas". "We are sure the Lithuanian authorities will find a way to deal with that alarming situation," the embassy said. Lithuania is very sensitive to signs of anti-Semitism as its once-thriving pre-World War Two Jewish population of over 220,000 was wiped out during the Holocaust, sometimes with local Lithuanians assisting the Nazi death squads.

Police are continuing to question two men
Detectives in south Wales say they are treating the murder of an Asian man in Port Talbot as racially motivated.
Two men have been arrested after Santokh Singh Sandhu, also known as Peter Singh, was attacked outside a town centre pub on Saturday night.
Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy and Assembly First Secretary Rhodri Morgan have joined town leaders in condemning the attack. A South Wales Police spokeswoman said a 57-year-old man was being held in Neath and another, aged 48, was being questioned in Bridgend. Mr Singh, 42, died following an incident involving two others outside the Grand Hotel in Station Road - just yards from the town's police station - at around 2100 BST.
Detectives said family liaison officers were working with the dead man's family and officers from the Minorities Support Unit were working with the investigating team. An incident room has been set up at Port Talbot Police Station and a post-mortem examination will be carried out on Monday.
Mr Singh is understood to be a shopkeeper who had lived in Port Talbot for a number of years. His family were too upset to speak about his death but friends said they were "shocked and devastated".
© BBC News

65 illegal immigrants who want to remain in Spain but are unable to provide documentation demanded by the authorities are holding a sit-in and hunger strike in El Salvador parish church in Las Piramides area of M·laga.
The immigrants are all from North Africa, where they were living in conditions described as "inhuman". They have the backing of the priest and the Movement against Unemployment, Poverty and Social Exclusion, who are putting pressure on the Government to help the immigrants obtain the papers they need to live in Spain legally. The problem has arisen because although most of the immigrants have been in Spain for at least a year, they have no documentation to prove it, and this is one of the requirements of the recently introduced Foreigners Law.
The parish priest says the police will not evict the protesters from the church, as they did during a recent peaceful demonstration in the Cathedral gardens, and he is optimistic that none of the immigrants will be deported. Members of the Movement against Unemployment, Poverty and Social Exclusion, however, are more sceptical, and stress that a good deal of pressure will be necessary to enable the immigrants to obtain their legal papers and remain in the country.
© Town Crier

President-elect Putin issued a statement on 13 April calling for the prosecution of those guilty of human rights abuses in Chechnya, Russian news agencies reported.
He said that the situation in Chechnya is "our pain and misfortune," noting that the Dzhokhar Dudaev regime had "turned Chechnya into a criminal and terrorist enclave dominated by arbitrariness, lawlessness, and neglect of basic human rights." While not mentioning current Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov by name, the statement noted that criminal investigations have been opened into the killings of Russian civilians in the villages of Meken and Chervlennaya.
Maskhadov has been summoned by the Russian Prosecutor- General's North Caucasus office in connection with the Meken deaths. Putin said he will appoint a special presidential envoy for human rights and freedoms to work with experts of the Council of Europe.
© 2000 RFE/RL

France takes a further step towards squaring with its wartime past with the presentation monday of a 3,000-page report detailing the way tens of thousands of Jews saw their property seized before they were rounded up and sent to their death in Nazi concentration camps.
The Matteoli Commission, an independent task force set up three years ago, will present a series of recommendations aimed at redressing some of the wrongs committed under the 1940-44 Vichy regime when around a quarter of the Jews living in France were deported.
Since its creation by the conservative government of Alain Juppe and endorsement by the present centre-left coalition government headed by Lionel Jospin, the Commission has recommended the creation of a compensation committee for the victims of anti-semitic legislation that has already received 4,000 claims.
Jospin last year announced the setting up of a Memorial Fund into which unclaimed Jewish assets would be paid. Meanwhile the government has offered financial assistance to the 10,000 Jewish orphans created by the war, and declassified all state archives relating to the confiscation and restitution of Jewish properties. The spotlight on the plundering of Jewish assets comes at a time when several countries including Switzerland, Austria, Norway, Sweden, Britain and the United States have ordered probes into the fate of Jewish assets during the wartime occupation of Europe. In France the acceleration in efforts to clear the many skeletons from French cupboards dates back to a speech by President Jacques Chirac on July 16, 1995 when for the first time he admitted the complicity of the French state in Nazi crimes against the Jews.
The Matteoli Commission, headed by a former minister and concentration camp survivor Jean Matteoli, was charged with assessing the scale of the plunder, determining the fate of the plundered property, drawing up an inventory of Jewish assets still held by French or foreign public institutions, and making proposals on the future of these assets. It set up nine working groups to examine such issues as bank seizures of Jewish accounts, the withholding of royalties, looted art, the "aryanisation" of Jewish-owned enterprises, the confiscation of homes and apartments, and the shortcomings of French efforts at restitution. A series of interim reports have already given rise to embarrassing revelations about dormant bank accounts, artworks appropriated by the state and the frequent reluctance by officials in both the public and private sectors to inform Jewish families and inheritors of their entitlements.
At the same time the Commission stressed the major effort at restitution that was made at the Liberation, with around 90 percent of seized assets being restored to the original owners or their heirs.
The Commission's workings have occasionally given rise to friction among Jewish leaders, with the New York-based World Jewish Congress complaining that the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRIF), the umbrella organisation for France's Jewish groups, should not be the sole representative of Jewish interests on the body.
There were charges that banks, insurance companies and other state agencies were dragging their feet in handing over their archives, and threats by some Jewish members of the Commission to resign amid reports that the banks had struck a separate deal with CRIF president Henri Haijdenberg over compensation. But Commission members last week stressed that the Matteoli report would be not merely an account sheet of stolen assets, some restored, some lost for ever, but "a work of memory".
For vice-president Ady Steg, writing in the daily Le Monde, friday, the real loss for which no restitution could be made was the "75,000 living treasures, the men, women and children who were murdered". For a great many Jews, he noted, the confiscation of their property was the first step along the path that ended at Auschwitz.
© The Tocqueville Connection

The leader of Germany's Jewish community yesterday urged more companies to join a planned compensation fund for Nazi-era slave and forced labourers, claiming that most firms who profited from them have not pledged to pay.
Speaking on German radio Paul Spiegel appealed for payments to start soon, noting that most of the victims are old and ill. Even then, he said, the average former slave labourer stands to get only DM3,000(£950) from the planned DM10bn fund that the German government and industry set up last year.
"That is no more than symbolic recognition," said Mr Spiegel, who leads the Central Council of Jews in Germany.
A spokesman for the planned fund said at the weekend that 1,250 companies have joined, but they have raised only about half of the DM5bn German industry has pledged. The government is allocating the other half of the fund.
Mr Spiegel said more than 2,000 other German companies who profited from slave and forced labour during World War Two are "currently not even thinking about joining".Each firm is being asked tocontribute 0.1 per cent of its most recent annual sales figure.
© Independent

The Government's controversial measures to change the way asylum-seekers are dealt with will flood the courts with new cases, a report commissioned by the Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine of Lairg, warned yesterday. The new asylum support scheme introduced this year, which includes voucher payments instead of cash, is likely to be the subject of "frequent and early challenge" before the courts. Sir Jeffery Bowman, who was asked by Lord Irvine to propose changes to the Crown Office List, which deals with public and administrative law cases, including asylum and immigration appeals, said that this was also true of the new powers to disperse asylum-seekers throughout the country.
He concluded that the Immigration and Asylum Act would lead to a workload of between "substantial and a flood". He added that the removal of rights for "overstayers" and new rights for "illegal entrants" would also add to the pressure on the courts. Sir Jeffery warned the new asylum support arrangements could spark up to 2,000 extra judicial review cases by asylum-seekers challenging whether the support offered was "adequate and appropriate", putting a burden on an already overstretched court system. He called for a "blitz" to clear up the backlog before the autumn and recommended that judges sit during the long summer vacation.
In addition, the report warned that challenges could be brought under the Human Rights Act to the process of deciding who was eligible for support under the new rules. The adjudicators making these decisions were administrative appointments made by the Home Secretary, rather than judicial appointments made by the Lord Chancellor, which could call into question their independence. The Asylum and Immigration Act introduces new powers for ministers to certify that certain cases raise no asylum or human rights issues. Sir Jeffery said that this system had already proved unsuccessful in respect of asylum claims that the Government said were without foundation or should be heard in another country.
"We were told that it can complicate procedures at appellate level and it also provides an opportunity for judicial review," the report concluded.
Sir Jeffery said it was not the role of his review to "suggest how any perceived deficiencies or gaps [in the legislation] should be dealt with, and indeed it is too late to do so". But he said measures should be considered to beef up the system for appeals lower down to reduce the need for judicial reviews. He recommended greater emphasis on the settling of cases between asylum-seekers and government lawyers before they get to the High Court. Yesterday, Lord Irvine said: "Those changes will greatly enhance Crown Office performance for all cases, including the very large number arising from immigration and asylum claims.
Improving performance in this area is among the Government's highest priorities and I am grateful for Sir Jeffery's help."
© Independent

Court says parents, teachers and government agencies failed
A German court has sentenced the five young neo-Nazis who beat two Vietnamese last August, nearly killing one of them, to prison for periods between four and six years on multiple counts of attempted murder.
Federal prosecutors took the case because, they said, it involved a crime that was so serious that it endangered public security nationally.
The judges said that the government agencies in Eggesin, the small eastern German town where the crimes occurred and where the youths grew up, shared some of the blame for the attack, along with the youths' parents and teachers. They passively watched the repeated meetings of "skinhead fellowships" as the hatred of foreigners that ultimately spawned the attacks grew and grew, according to the judges.
On Tuesday, the court for the district of Rostock, sitting in Stralsund, sentenced the Eggesin Five, whose ages range from 16 to 20, to prison terms under German's juvenile criminal law. Long-smouldering hatred of foreigners gave birth to the violence, said Presiding Judge Rainer Dally.
The five young, combat-booted neo-Nazis beat and stomped the two defenceless Vietnamese on the outskirts of a local festival in Eggesin. One of the victims, a 30-year-old man, still suffers from injuries left by the beating.
A significant contributing factor to the assaults, said the court, was the skinhead music that local teenagers could hear in area youth clubs with names like Aryan Resistance Eggesin and National Resistance Eggesin. The music, said the judges, contributed to lowering the normal threshold of violence to the point where "a little spark was enough to start the fire."
Society in general, said the court, "failed to respond appropriately" to the young peoples' behaviour, adding that not even city authorities took action. Eggesin's council still sponsors the same old youth clubs. Teachers did nothing when the youths started showing up in school wearing leather bomber jackets and combat boots. Only one set of parents took their son to task, but he was able to soothe their fears.
"Things should never go so far that young people end up paying the price for their virulent hatred of foreigners by getting a stiff prison sentence in court," Judge Dally said. The court called the Eggesin skinhead clubs "typical meeting places" where hatred and violence against foreigners are bred and encouraged. The two clubs, said the judge, "are clearly very much like a whole series of clubs in other parts of Germany."
The fact that the convicted youths sang a little tune called "Fiji, Fiji, have a nice trip to Fiji" while they were beating and stomping the two Vietnamese underscores the fact that hatred of foreigners was the driving force behind the attack. The Fiji song is a ditty popular in neo-Nazi circles. It denies that Vietnamese have a right to be alive and, in the case of Eggesin, the "nice trip to Fiji" represented the journey out of this life and - perhaps - on to the next one.
One of the young thugs hates foreigners so deeply that, even in jail awaiting trial, he scratched his hatred into his cell walls, drawing Nazi symbols and little sayings like "the only good Jew is a dead Jew."
© Frankfurter Rundschau

Finance Minister Karl-Heinz Grasser, a member of Joerg Haider's Freedom Party, threatened on Sunday to delay payments to the European Union unless other members ended the political isolation of Austria. In an interview with Kurier newspaper, published on its website, Grasser said Austria should also threaten to block EU business, much of which requires unanimity from the 15 members. The other 14 EU countries froze bilateral political relations with Austria when Haider's far-right party entered a coalition government with Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel's conservatives on February 4 .
"Austria must show the EU more strongly that we cannot accept the dictates of the 14," Kurier quoted him as saying. "I do not want to push it so far that we could be condemned for violating the (EU) treaties. But there can be delays in payments of our contributions. Being unpunctual -- we can do that."
Grasser, at 31 Austria's youngest ever finance minister said his country was one of the four main net contributors to EU coffers.
Asked if a threat to veto EU decision-making would be an intelligent move, he replied: "Absolutely. The veto threat is appropriate. The EU needs Austria. That is why the Union should move away from prejudice and intolerance. It should not take the risk of the Austrian people becoming more Euro-sceptical. "The sanctions should be ended and we should return to normal. Everything else is damaging to Europe."
Grasser's comments were the strongest he has made so far since the Freedom Party entered government. Haider resigned as party leader last month but remains provincial governor in Carinthia and has not ruled out running for chancellor in future.
Schuessel and conservative Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner have previously ruled out using Austria's veto in retaliation against the sanctions. Grasser, widely seen as the most able Freedom Party minister in the government, said the EU contributions structure would have to be reviewed in connection with planned enlargement. "We always get too little back," he said. "The goal is to pay less and to decide more at national level what happens with our money."
Austria was a model in its use of EU funds but "there is massive misuse of EU money in southern Europe," Grasser added.
© Reuters

Germany launched an Internet Web site Monday listing thousands of works of art plundered by the Nazis from museums and victims during World War II.
The Web site includes unclaimed treasures amassed by Hitler for the lavish ``Fuehrer Museum'' he dreamed of building in the Austrian town of Linz near where he grew up.
``The Web site will let victims and their heirs advertise, search for, and find their cultural property,'' German Cultural Affairs Commissioner Michael Naumann said at the launch.
As the Third Reich grew, Hitler and officials like Marshal Hermann Goering charged Nazi dealers to tour Europe and plunder, or purchase at gunpoint, art works from museums and private collectors, such as the wealthy Rothschild family.
Hitler, a budding artist who was turned down by the Viennese Academy of Fine Arts, devoted an inordinate amount of time and resources to the collection, even in the final years of the war.
Acquiring works of art for him became a way for aides to secure favor in court. Looted pieces classified by Hitler as ''degenerate'' were sold by Nazi art dealers, many of whom became fabulously wealthy with private trade on the side.
The collection, which ultimately included celebrated works by Rembrandt, Rubens and Vermeer, fell into Allied hands at the end of the war and its contents were mostly handed back to their original owners.
A section, including some canvases by 16th- and 17th-century Italian and Dutch masters, went unclaimed and are now in storage in government depots in Berlin or on temporary loan to museums.
© Reuters

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) - A Swiss court on Monday gave a one-year prison sentence to a Holocaust revisionist who denied the existence of Nazi gas chambers and argued the extermination of 6 million Jews was ``impossible.'' Gaston-Armand Amaudruz was found guilty of racial discrimination in a three-day trial last week on charges stemming from 24 books and an article alleging no proof extermination chambers.
In the article in Amaudruz's magazine, Le Courrier du Continent, he said: ``For my part, I maintain my position: I don't believe in the gas chambers. ``Let the exterminationists provide the proof and I will believe it. But as I've been waiting for this proof for decades, I don't believe I will see it soon.''
In sentencing Amaudruz, the court in Lausanne said that he had dedicated his life to racist activity and showed few signs of remorse.
The court also noted that in the latest edition of Amaudruz's publication, he wrote, ``Long live revisionism!'' The publication has a circulation of about 500 in Europe.
Last week, Amaudruz claimed his ideas are not anti-Semitic but admitted that he was racist, repeated his denial of gas chambers ``for lack of proof'' and said it was ``impossible'' for 6 million Jews to have been murdered by the Nazis during World War II.
Amaudruz was charged under Switzerland's 1995 anti-racism law, which outlaws belittling the Holocaust and makes it a crime to ``deny, grossly minimize or seek to justify genocide or other crimes against humanity.'' The prosecution sought a 15-month prison term, while the defense argued for a fine or suspended sentence.
Amaudruz was ordered to pay court costs and damages of $610 each to four civil parties to the case - the Association of Sons and Daughters of Deported Jews of France, the International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism and the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities, and a concentration camp survivor.
The Swiss Federation welcomed the ruling as a signal that Holocaust revisionists and open racists ``must reckon with a clear punishment.''
© Associated Press

artikel hierThe sales are on Yahoo's US site, accessible worldwide A Paris-based anti-racism group is taking the internet media giant, Yahoo, to court in France for hosting auctions of Nazi memorabilia.
The International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism (Licra) said it was seeking an injunction to force the US-based company to make all such sales inaccessible to web surfers in France.
It also said it wanted Yahoo to be fined nearly $100,000 a day until it complies. France has strict laws against selling or displaying anything inciting racism, including Nazi-related items.
"Licra demands that Yahoo take the necessary measures to prevent the exhibition and sale on its sites of Nazi objects throughout the national territory," said a statement from the group, which called in February for a boycott of Yahoo sites for the same reason. "This sale of symbols of the greatest-ever crime against humanity trivialises Nazism in the extreme."
Online services
But the group did not say how access to a worldwide website could be blocked in France alone. A spokeswoman for Yahoo would not comment on the case. Yahoo - one of the most popular sites on the internet - is much more than a search engine. As well as auctions, it offers a variety of online services like e-mail, online calendering andnews.
A auction site puts hundreds of Nazi or neo-Nazi objects such as swastikas, uniforms and medals up for auction each day. On Yahoo's French website - - no such Nazi items are for sale.
The lawsuit is due to be heard in Paris on 15 May.
© BBC News

Police are investigating two "racially motivated" attacks on Turkish people living in Britain. Both attacks were carried out since the murders last week of two Leeds United supporters in Istanbul. A Turkish restaurant owner in Sheffield was injured and his business set alight in two separate incidents.
In the first attack on Ibrahim Erceylan on Saturday night, a man with a Leeds tattoo on his neck shouted abuse at customers in the Efes restaurant shortly before a missile was thrown through a window.
On Monday night a man went into the restaurant and struck Mr Erceylan over the head with a bottle. Two other men beat him about the head with a piece of wood. Mr Erceylan, a former Turkish policeman, attempted to follow his attackers, but returned to his shop when he noticed smoke. Firefighters were called and damage was confined to the kitchen and seating areas. Mr Erceylan was taken to the Northern General Hospital in Sheffield. He was discharged following treatment. A spokesman for South Yorkshire police said: "We are taking these claims very seriously and are treating them as racially motivated.
"There is an inference that they are connected with what happened in Turkey."
Detectives are also investigating an attack on a Turkish man in Laindon, Basildon. Yavuz Haman-Kaya, 33, was set upon when he opened his front door to two men, two nights after the Leeds fans' deaths in Istanbul.
Police say the pair hurled racist abuse at the man before the attack. Detective Sergeant Joel Henderson says he thinks the attack could be linked to the stabbings in Turkey last week. Leeds supporters Christopher Loftus and Kevin Speight were stabbed to death during street violence in Istanbul on the night before their club's Uefa Cup tie with Galatasaray.
© BBC News

Falling birth-rate makes immigration a necessity
Norbert Walter is 55 years old and in good health. "But when I get to be 82," the Deutsche Bank's chief economist said Monday in Berlin, "I don't want to be cared for by a 68-year-old nurse."
That may sound funny, but the base issue is more serious.
Fifty years from now at the latest, according to a United Nations' study released in January, a third of Germany's population will be older than 65. The hotly debated, controversial summary of the report, entitled Replacement Migration, says that Germany and other industrialised countries will require "relatively large migration streams" in the coming years to offset declining birth rates and aging populations.
Walter propounded the above thesis at a podium discussion of the German Society for the UN in Berlin. "Almost every German football manager knows that you can't build a franchise with Lothar Matthaeus anymore, you need young North Africans," the banker argued (referring to the German football hero who recently signed a contract to play out the twilight years of his career in the US). Walter sees an analogy in the German economy.
The UN study considered five migration scenarios for Germany with expected outcomes for each, ranging from zero migration to what would be needed to maintain the current ratio of the working-age to the retired-age population. Under one of the less extreme scenarios, around 207,000 additional foreigners per year would have to migrate to Germany between now and 2050. Given this level of migration, the study still envisions a decline in Germany's population from 82 to 73 million people. The zero-migration scenario foresees a mere 59 million people living between the North Sea and the Alps by the mid-century point.
In order to maintain its current population size to 2050, Germany would require 324,000 migrants per year. That figure becomes 458,000 if the desired outcome is to keep the size of the working age population constant. Only a stream of 3.4 million Auslaender per year crossing German borders can maintain the current, roughly four-to-one potential support ratio of working-age people to pensioners.
"Ludicrous," Charlote Hoehn calls the last projection. Hoehn is director of Germany's Federal Institute for Population Studies. According to Hoehn, other figures mentioned in the UN report also seem to indicate its authors lacked a "sense of the political explosiveness" of the immigration issue.
"The real level of social complexity is greater than that of model calculations," admits Marieluise Beck, a member of the junior coalition partner Green Party and the government's point woman on issues of concern to foreign nationals living in Germany. Yet Beck sides with the Deutsche Bank's Walter in seeing the study as an "important impetus" for an "overdue debate."
Whereas public debate in Germany on this issue generally centres around the national social security system, with projected shortfalls used as an argument for increased migration, Walter cites concrete economic concerns: A shrinking population spells shrinking economic demand. "Investment mistakes will then be dramatically punished." Besides, he says, older people "always buy the same suit and tie."
Walter says that this will result in a worrisome economic trend of reduced willingness to innovate and take risks. "In the end," Walter says, "the modern factories will be where the young people are" - outside of Germany. That is why Walter sees no alternative to a "well-administered" migration policy.
Walter's own estimate is that Germany needs around 450,000 migrants per year to avoid a bleak future. In past years, migration has hovered around 270,000 per annum. Beck, the government expert for foreigners' affairs, complains that German public debate on immigration has been "fraught with fear" and says she would welcome the introduction of logical economic arguments to the discussion. "We need social agreement on how to construct the process," she says.
The Deutsche Bank's Walter is already thinking in very practical terms: "If anyone builds any religious buildings in Berlin over the next 30 years, they should build mosques."
© Frankfurter Rundschau

Historian David Irving, who has outraged survivors of Nazi death camps by challenging the scope of the Holocaust, has lost the libel suit he launched to save his academic reputation. Irving had filed the lawsuit against American scholar Deborah Lipstadt and her publisher, Penguin Books, in connection with a 1994 book he said branded him a "Holocaust denier" and accused him of distorting the truth of what happened in Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany. Irving, the author of several books, including "Hitler's War," said he does not deny Jews were killed by the Nazis, but challenges the number and manner of Jewish concentration camp deaths. He claimed that after the publication of Lipstadt's book, "Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory," his academic work was increasingly shunned by publishers and agents.
After considering the case for almost four weeks, High Court Judge, Charles Gray ruled against Irving, Under British law, Lipstadt and her co-defendent were not able to rely solely on truth as a defence.
Shortly before the ruling, Irving said that whatever the outcome "my reputation is bound to be enhanced because of my ability to stand up to the experts to take them all on single-handed."
He said he will not appeal. Irving, who represented himself during the nine-week, non jury trial, is not new to controversy. His comments - some made while addressing neo-Nazi groups - have drawn fire from Jewish organisations around the world, and he has been banned from Germany, Canada and Australia.
Irving told the court he had been the victim of a 30-year international campaign to destroy his reputation "as a human being, as an historian of integrity."
Richard Rampton, the lawyer representing Penguin and Lipstadt, who holds the Dorot Chair in Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies at Emory University in Atlanta, contended during the trial that Irving perpetuated falsifications "for the sake of a bogus rehabilitation of Hitler and dissemination of virulent anti-Semitic propaganda." Irving portrayed himself as subjected to a campaign of vilification. Throughout the trial, Irving conceded that he had made some "mistakes of copying, mistakes of omission," but said he corrected those errors. He claimed that rather than deny the Holocaust, he drew attention to major aspects of the tragedy.
Irving questioned the use of large-scale gas chambers to exterminate the Jews, and claimed that the numbers of those who perished are far lower than those generally accepted. He said most Jews who died at Auschwitz did so from diseases such as typhus, not gas poisoning. In a sign of the international outrage directed at Irving, Israel even agreed to release the previously secret memoirs of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann for use by Lipstadt and Penguin's legal team, saying it was morally obliged to help them.
In the 1,300 handwritten pages penned in an Israeli prison, Eichmann plays down his own role in the mass killing but also provides methodical descriptions of the genocide, including timetables of death transports.

A former employee of a McDonald's restaurant in south-western France is taking his employer before an industrial tribunal after he was sacked for giving away food to a Roma woman.
The restaurant manager said in a statement he had to fire Remy Millet after the young man gave away food meant to be sold and refused to heed warnings to stop. But Millet, 23, said he used his lunch allowance to pay for five cheeseburgers he gave to a woman who came into the restaurant November to beg for money to buy food. Millet, who only worked at McDonald's for a month, told the communist daily L'Humanite he had asked a supervisor's permission to give away and thought the restaurant chain would see his gesture as positive for its image.
But a few weeks later, he said, his boss took his name off the work rota and told him: "for the sake of McDonald's image, we do not give to gypsies."

A PREVIOUSLY unknown anarchist group calling itself the Last Generation claimed responsibility for the pre-dawn firebombing of two cars in the east Athens suburb of Zografou yesterday. The group claimed they were Pontic Greeks from the former Soviet Union seeking to avenge the death of an 18-year-old ethnic Greek from Georgia killed by a police officer in Thessaloniki on March 25.
The Last Generation called for the officer, George Atmatzidis, who has been charged with murder, to be punished to the full extent of the law. Anti-racism organisations in Thessaloniki had condemned the alleged murder of the teen and claimed that the police use excessive force when dealing with repatriated Greeks. In a note that police found near the site of the firebomb attack, the Last Generation also protested against last year's imprisonment of a self-styled anarchist convicted of a terrorist attack. Nikos Maziotis is serving a 15-year sentence for planting a time bomb outside a government building in late 1997.
Dozens of arson and minor bomb attacks occur each year in Athens, most claimed by fringe left-wing or anarchist groups targeting the offices or cars of government agencies, banks and large foreign companies. The blasts usually take place late at night and rarely cause injuries.

The Norwegian version of the "Show racism the red card!" campaign was launched this Saturday at Nadderud stadium, as Stabek and Rosenborg kicked off the Norwegian Premier League in football.The campaign was also presented the next day at the games between Vaalerenga and Tromsoe as well as between Brann and Viking. All the players showed racism the red card during the line up before the game, and kicked racism out of footballs placed on the pitch.
The Trondheim division of the Labor Union has arranged a campaign to support cleaning help Sophia Baidoo who was arrested when an alarm accidentally was set off while she was doing her job in a local bank.
Despite having ID papers stating she works there and knowing the security code to shut off the alarm, she was handcuffed and arrested by the police. Sophia claims one policeman made racist remarks during the arrest.
Norsk Folkehjelp/Norwegian People's Aid

Labour has come under fierce attack from one of its most prominent supporters, who accuses the party of raising racial tensions.
Union leader Bill Morris lambasted the government - and the Home Secretary in particular - over Labour's policies on immigration. He accused ministers of fostering a "climate of fear and loathing" on asylum and immigration issues.
The government said it was mystified by Mr Morris's comments and that promoting race equality was a key priority.
Mr Morris, leader of the Transport and General Workers Union, told the BBC that government policies on controlling immigration "motivate those who don't need too many reasons to display the worst elements of their own prejudices".
For instance, fining lorry drivers for bringing in illegal immigrants would increase race hatred, he said.
"It's bound to make people suspicious of foreigners and develop xenophobic tendencies."
He continued: "The government has to do its job and the law has to be obeyed, but I am complaining about the culture that surrounds the law. "I am not saying we should open the floodgates to everyone who wants to come. We should have proper immigration laws, but we also have international obligations in terms of asylum seekers and all I ask is that we take the hype out of the debate and have a cool, rational debate."
Mr Morris' broadside comes as the whole issue surrounding asylum seekers in the UK becomes a political hot potato. Conservatives have accused Labour of allowing bogus asylum seekers to flood into the country - a remark which earned a rebuke from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
UNHCR also criticised Labour for doing nothing to combat the current climate of hostility towards asylum-seekers.
Now, immigration appears certain to be a key issue in the run-up to next month's local government elections.
'Institutional racism'
Mr Morris described a plan to charge some visitors from the Indian subcontinent a £10,000 bond as "repugnant".
And he questioned why black people should trust the Home Office, which minister Mike O'Brien last week admitted was institutionally racist. Mr Morris said: "If you are saying black people should trust a department that is institutionally racist and that none of the policies that come out of that department is infected by that sort of culture, that is insulting people's intelligence."
He also criticised the government for giving vouchers rather than cash benefits to asylum seekers.
He called the new initiative "utterly insane" and mocked a decision not to allow refugees change in cash when spending the vouchers. "The UN has charged the Tories with whipping up racial intolerance," he said.
"But the Home Secretary and the Home Office team must accept responsibility for creating the environment where this is acceptable. "By heralding measure after measure to stop people entering Britain, the Home Office has given life to racists."
The Home Office said: "We are mystified by these comments. "Promoting race equality is a key priority for the government. We have put in place a radical programme of reform on the back of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry which includes the Race Relations Amendment Bill. "This programme is well under way and will have a far reaching effect on our public services."
© BBC News

There is gowing controversy in Britain about the way the main political parties have been handling the issue of asylum seekers. The third largest party, the opposition Liberal Democrats, say they are complaining to the Commission for Racial Equality against the Labour government and the main opposition Conservatives for using inflammatory language likely to increase hostility towards asylum seekers.
Both have rejected the complaint, which echoes criticisms at the weekend by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.The BBC European Affairs analyst says that -- with some three hundred thousand asylum-seekers in western Europe each year -- there is a European trend towards harsher asylum policies and he says, most asylum seekers are now having to enter the EU illegally to make a claim at all.
Parties defend asylum comments
The Tories view of immigration was criticised by UNHCR Conservatives and Labour have both defended themselves against accusations that they could be damaging race relations by politicising the asylum seekers debate. Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Simon Hughes has referred both parties to the Commission for Racial Equality over the language they have used over immigration.
Mr Hughes' move comes after the Tories were criticised by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for comments in its local elections manifesto which says that racketeers are "flooding our country with bogus asylum-seekers". Home Secretary Jack Straw said that he was "mystified" by Mr Hughes' action while his Tory shadow, Ann Widdecombe, said the comments were "positively dangerous". But Mr Hughes denied that the move was a political gimmick.
"Last year all three parties signed an agreement drawn up by the Commission for Racial Equality not to use problems in the immigration and asylum system to damage community and race relations," he told the BBC.
He accused the Tory manifesto's comments on asylum seekers of being misleading as Home Office figures showed that at most only 50% of those applying for asylum were allowed to remain in the UK.
He also refuted claims that asylum seekers cost the average tax payer £160 per year, saying that the latest official figures showed that they cost £21 per tax payer in the 1999-2000 year.
Turning to Mr Straw, Mr Hughes attacked his comments in the wake of the Stansted hijack crisis when Afghani hostages applied for asylum in the UK.
Mr Hughes accused the home secretary of having suggested that he would put sending the asylum seekers home ahead of international obligations. "Again the phrase is often used, whether they be beggars or others, that a lot of these people are criminals or are bogus. "We must not use those words, we must judge each individual on their merits and each individual separately."
'Selective and inaccurate'
But Mr Straw accused Mr Hughes use of his Commons comments was "selective and inaccurate". The Home Secretary has already sought to stress that his comments in February would not prejudice any asylum case.
"On Friday, the entirely non-partisan UNHCR commented on the Conservatives language which they thought, and I think probably rightly, was outside the spirit of the Commission for Racial Equality," he said.
"What we have sought to do here is to be both firm and fair and to meet properly our obligations under 1951 refugee convention which says we have to give asylum to those with well founded fear of persecution.
"But those who have an unfounded claim are dealt with quickly and returned." Defending the Tories, Miss Widdecombe said that the manifesto was "reflecting the gravity of the situation". "We have a very serious problem in which the asylum system is out of control and everybody can see it is out of control," she said.
"It would be a deeply irresponsible politician who denied that it was out of control." On the use of the phrase "flooding the country with bogus asylum seekers", she said that most applicants were not genuine cases.
"We have no objections to genuine asylum seekers, what we object to is the bogus ones." Miss Widdecombe also defended the use of the word "flooding", saying that the UK was facing a situation where "a flow is out of control."
"I always thought a flood was a flow which was out of control but I may be wrong," she said.

By MELISSA EDDY, Associated Press Writer
VIENNA, Austria (AP) - Gathered in Austria, where Adolf Hitler was cheered in 1938 and a far-right party now shares power, European Union representatives denounced racism Friday and called for tolerance across the continent.
The ongoing clash between Austria and the 14 other EU partners colored comments at the opening ceremony for the European Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia. The other countries have declared sanctions against Austria to protest the far-right Freedom Party's participation in its government.
``Unfortunately there is a party in the Austrian government that has used racism as propaganda,'' Jean Kahn of France, head of the center's management board, said in his address. ``The poison of this racism is atrocious. Xenophobia, racism and anti-Semitism present a danger for Europe.'' Austrian Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner, showed up at the ceremony, although she and other government representatives had not been invited. Ferrero-Waldner is a member of the conservative People's Party, the Freedom Party's coalition partner.
``We did not invite (European) governmental representatives for the reason that it would have meant including members of the Austrian government,'' the center's vice chairman, Bob Purkiss, said before the ceremony.
European Parliament President Nicole Fontaine, European Commission President Romano Prodi and Austrian President Thomas Klestil addressed the opening ceremony. Unlike heads of government, Klestil and other heads of state were invited.
In his speech, Klestil urged Europeans to remember Austria's history as a crossroad of Slavs and other Eastern Europeans who settled and sought refuge here.
``Especially today, given the accusations being brought against Austria, this country's traditional humanitarian role is often overlooked,'' Klestil said.
For this reason, choosing Vienna as the base for the center was a good idea, he said. The EU decided to base the monitoring center in Austria several years before the elections last November that brought the Freedom Party into power.
The center's aim will be to observe and combat racism and other forms of discrimination across Europe.
For two years now, the center has already been gathering statistics and information on racism and establishing a network of human rights organizations and other groups. Based on this data, the center hopes to set standards of tolerance for education, societal norms and legislation across the European Union.
``Racism and xenophobia mean different things to different people,'' Purkiss said, stressing that the center's main goal will be to ``set targets'' of tolerance and human rights protection and make sure governments measure up. ``We have to learn, we have to work with victims,'' he said. ``It's not just a question of exposing.''
While the intentions are good, the reality of European views on tolerance and racial equality today provides a rather grim picture, acknowledged Beate Winkler, the center's director.
``We have to face the fact that on the one hand, we have an increase in racism and on the other, the interest of societies in this issue is decreasing,'' she said.

Slovak citizens travelling to Belgium will have to apply for visas starting next week after an increase in asylum seekers, the Slovak Foreign Ministry said yesterday, reports AP. Belgium said it will enact a temporary visa requirement for Slovaks next Thursday, due to an increase in asylum applications, Boris Gandel, a foreign ministry spokesman said. Slovak President Republic Rudolf Schuster expressed his surprise over the move and said he hoped it would not last for a long time.
Slovak Radio Twist said 191 Slovaks applied for political asylum in Belgium last month. During the first few days of April, another 51 Slovaks also did. Several European countries have been threatening to impose visa requirements on Slovaks, as well as Czechs, after hundreds of Gypsies have used visa-free travel to reach Western Europe and apply for political asylum. Reuters adds Slovak newspaper SME said the other Benelux countries will most probably follow suit.
Refugee Daily

Security guards sealed off an Australian detention camp Monday after around 170 Kosovo refugees, some on hunger strike, refused to return home and were declared illegal immigrants. About half of the 501 Kosovo refugees in Australia had been due to return to the Yugoslav province after their temporary safe-haven visas expired at midnight (1400) GMT Sunday.
Of those due to leave, only about 50 Kosovo refugees voluntarily boarded a flight late Sunday bound for the Bulgarian capital of Sofia via Colombo.
Some 170 refugees refused to board buses Sunday at the Bandiana Army Base near the border of New South Wales and Victoria states. Some began a hunger strike. The Bandiana camp was declared a temporary detention center and guards moved in immediately after the refugees' visas expired, an Immigration Department official said. The guards from a private security firm carried no visible arms.
Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock said the Bandiana refugees might be moved to detention centers used to house illegal immigrants -- usually boatpeople from the Middle East and China -- in remote areas of Western Australia or South Australia. He hoped the refugees would voluntarily agree to leave but did not rule out the use of force. "I would rather people would leave... without any difficulty but, if it is necessary for people to be removed otherwise, that will occur," Ruddock told reporters.
The number of refugees who must leave swelled by 81 later Monday when Australia's High Court ruled against an application for an injunction by some refugees against their orders to leave.
They were among 259 refugees who Ruddock's department ruled must return home. All had been handed leaflets Sunday which said they must leave and would be liable for the costs of their further detention and removal if they stayed. Refugees in the Bandiana camp warned immigration officials would have to use force to make them leave.
"None of us here is getting on a bus," refugee Ali Jahiu said. "Only if they use force, we don't have a choice." He said some in the group were still refusing food and water. A family of four Kosovo refugees were arrested in Tasmania state Monday. Another 14 -- 10 in New South Wales and four in Tasmania -- were missing.
Australia took in about 4,000 ethnic Albanian refugees in May as part of an international relief effort after Serb forces tried to clear Kosovo of ethnic Albanians. Around 3,500 have returned home from Australia since December. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has declared that apart from witnesses to Serb atrocities or those whose homes were in areas dominated by Serbs, it is safe for the ethnic Albanians to return home.
Ruddock has said he was convinced that all those due to return could do so without fear. Of the 501 refugees, 121 had been allowed to apply to extend their visas and 147 were allowed to remain for medical treatment.
© Reuters

Internet bookstore defended selling a fraudulent text that describes an international Jewish conspiracy, saying that while it disagreed with the book, it would not act as a censor.
Israeli Minister of Social and Diaspora Affairs Michael Melchior appealed in a letter to to remove from its sales list ``The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion.'' He called it a forgery and a distortion of history.
The protocols, written in 1897, are the supposed minutes of meetings between Jews and Freemasons during which they plotted to bring down Western civilization and rule the world.
Widely regarded as fake, the text has been cited by anti-Semites as proof of Jewish machinations for global control.
In a special note posted below the books' listing on the Web site Thursday, the company said:
`` believes it is censorship not to sell certain books because we believe their message is repugnant.... Therefore, we will continue to make this book and every other controversial work available in the United States and everywhere else, except where they are prohibited by law.
`` obviously does not endorse 'The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion.' This is one of the most infamous and tragically influential examples of racist propaganda ever written,'' it wrote.
Melchior's media adviser, Moni Mordechai, said the minister would wait for a formal reply from Amazon before responding to the company's decision. denied what it called a ``hoax e-mail'' claiming that the Web shop had favorably reviewed the book. The site lists scholarly works refuting the protocols' authenticity on the same catalog page.
© Reuters

The Interior Ministry disputed Friday a human rights organization's report that raised allegations of police brutality during raids of Gypsy settlements. Last month's Amnesty International report described "punitive police raids" at Gypsy, or Roma, settlements, during which residents were beaten and police dogs were used to search dwellings.
The report specifically mentioned a December raid in the eastern Slovak village of Zehra, in which 50 officers descended on seven homes. Police allegedly used truncheons to beat some residents and rubber bullets were fired. One teen-ager was shot in the leg.
The Interior Ministry did not explain why the teen was shot. "A 15-year old boy was wounded for so-far unknown reasons," the statement said. Police ended their shooting investigation in January. After the boy's mother - whose name was not released - filed a complaint, police said they would resume the investigation and wrap it up by April 20.
The Interior Ministry said the raid was conducted to locate seven people accused of inflicting bodily harm, robbery and breach of peace. Police said the seven used baseball bats and firearms to "brutally" attack people at a disco in the village of Dravce in November. Three people were severely injured.
The court approved a search of the houses where the suspects were living, the statement said. Seven people were taken in for questioning. Police had to fend off an attacking dog, and a family who was protesting the search of their home, the statement said. During the search, police found a shotgun, tear gas, bats, iron bars, a machete and a bayonet, the statement said. "Because of these reasons, the participation of the police and the means it used were adequate," the statement said. Pal Csaky, deputy prime minister for minorities and human rights, said police might have been unusually harsh, but it was not his place to comment on their techniques.
Csaky also said the fact that weapons were found showed the incident wasn't racially motivated. Gypsies make up almost 10 percent of the country's population. Most are unemployed and live in squalid conditions.
Rom News

Ashia Hansen is one of the UK's leading female athletes A car belonging to triple jumper Ashia Hansen has been broken into raising fears the incident could be linked to a racist attack on her boyfriend.
The international athlete's Vauxhall Corsa car was broken into on the driveway of her home on Friday night. West Midlands police said the break-in may have been linked to the attack on athlete Chris Cotter, 28, who was stabbed by a gang outside Ms Hansen's Birmingham home on 21 March. Ms Hansen received racist hate mail related to the attack and police revealed several days later that three other high-profile black athletes had also received hate mail.
Police appeal
In the latest incident property, including training equipment, was taken from the car, but most of it was recovered near the athlete's home by a milkman doing his rounds in the early hours of Saturday morning. But a distinctive black fleece jacket with the letters DKNY is still missing, police said. Detectives want to talk to a taxi driver believed to have dropped off customers near the athlete's house early on Saturday, but said he was not suspected of any offence.
Detective Inspector Mike Treble said: "We are very keen to hear from anybody who can help in this matter, particularly the taxi driver. "We cannot rule out the possibility this matter is connected with other incidents involving Ms Hansen, although it could also be an opportunist theft."
Olympics threat
Ms Hansen is one of the UK's leading female athletes and a bright hope for a medal at the Sydney Olympic Games. She holds the Commonwealth Games gold medal, the World Indoor Championships title and the World Indoor triple jump record.
Mr Cotter, now a financial adviser, was formerly an international long-jumper and triple jumper but retired from competition due to injury last year. The couple moved to a new, secret address outside Birmingham following the stabbing, and were said to be keeping a low profile. The three other athletes who received hate mail were male and compete in different disciplines in track and field. West Midlands Police said the content of the letters were in the same "poison pen" style and referred to the sportsmen competing at this summer's Olympics.
© BBC News

TODAY is Panhellenic Day for Refugees but for most refugees in Greece, this is just another 24 hours full of trials and tribulations. Starved and exhausted, hundreds of refugees arrive in the country each year to escape persecution for reasons of race, religion, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, and other human rights violations in their homelands. The majority of refugees in Greece come from Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Afghanistan. Most asylum seekers enter the country illegally through the northern border or in boats which head mostly to northeastern Aegean islands such as Samos. This dangerous odyssey usually involves walking for several weeks through Turkey. Once in Greece, however, most refugees - mainly Kurdish men from Iraq - are forced to seek shelter in abandoned buildings, parks and other open spaces as there is only one reception centre in Greece. According to the Greek branch of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there are 6,300 refugees in this country. A total of 1,528 asylum seekers registered with Greek authorities in 1999 but only 146 applications were approved.
Some 2,950 applied for asylum in 1998 and 156 were recognised. Greece has the lowest rate of refugee recognition in the European Union. More than 100 homeless Kurdish refugees currently live in makeshift homes of cardboard and plastic in a vacant lot in the southern Athens suburb of Agios Dimitrios. They settled there last year. The mayors of Agios Dimitrios and neighbouring suburbs of Dafni and Nea Smyrni have turned to the ministries of the interior and public order for a solution.
At the other end of the city, some 270 Kurdish refugees, including entire families, are residing in a settlement in Mount Pendeli, north of Athens, operated by the Greek branch of the Doctors of the World volunteer group. There are 44 young children living with their parents at the settlement, which comprises dozens of tents and 16 pre-fabricated homes. "The people here are mainly from Turkey and northern Iraq," Stephanos Sofoglou, of Doctors of the World, told the Athens News. "When they came to the settlement they were very tired and some suffered from skin diseases. We care for them here." More than 22,000 refugees have been treated at the volunteer medics' central Athens free polyclinic since 1997. According to Elpida Efthymiatou, the clinic's director, the vast majority of refugee patients are Kurds and most of them are homeless. "They live in parks and in squares around the city," she said. "There are men, women and children. Whole families live in parks. The most common health problems they suffer are colds, respiratory problems and skin diseases such as scabies." Meanwhile, some 280 refugees, including 80 children, have found temporary shelter at Greece's only state-run refugee reception centre in Lavrio. The refugees at the centre, which is operated by the Greek Red Cross and the Greek branch of International Social Services (ISS), are mainly Kurds from Turkey and Iraq, as well as Iraqis, Iranians and Afghanis. ISS Greece offers psychological and social support as well as lessons in Greek, English and native languages for both children and adults.
"The refugees usually stay at the centre in Lavrio for around 12 to 15 months because the asylum procedure is so time-consuming," said the director of ISS Greece Chrysoula Kontoyianni. "This is something that we are trying to change so that the applicants will not have to wait such a long time for a decision on their asylum application. It is also very important for refugees to have access to the asylum procedure and for the state to create additional reception centres for refugees." In collaboration with the UNHCR, ISS has published a guide to applying for asylum in 10 different languages. The public order ministry recently agreed to hand out these booklets to asylum seekers at border crossings around the country.
The Greek branch of Amnesty International took the opportunity yesterday to call on the government to implement a 1999 presidential decree concerning the asylum application procedure, which was evaluated positively by human rights organisations. Meanwhile, the Greek Council for Refugees (GCR) has organised various events for today at its cultural centres in the central Athens district of Exarhia and the suburbs of Dafni and Peristeri. Events include an art and photography exhibition as well as music performances by refugees.
For more information on GCR's events telephone 380-2508.

Ireland could repatriate up to 5,000 Romanian asylum seekers within the next year under new "fast-track'' measures being considered by the government, reports Reuters.
Romanian nationals account for nearly 30% of the 20,000 asylum seekers who have flooded into Ireland since 1992. But of the 2,670 cases processed so far only 15 have had their requests granted and there are legal complications in repatriating the unsuccessful ones. Justice Minister John O'Donoghue is expected to sign an agreement with the Romanian government next month which would allow him to repatriate unsuccessful Romanian asylum applicants immediately, a ministry spokesman said.
Faced with swelling refugee numbers and a worsening accommodation crisis, O'Donoghue plans to speed up identification of those with genuine grounds for asylum and reduce the processing period to six months from, in some cases, up to two years at present. The ministry spokesman emphasised that all applications would be subject to the same process.
© Refugees Daily

Canadians appear divided on how refugees and immigrants should be treated on Canadian soil, making it hard to tell how people will respond to a tough new Immigration Act to be introduced this week, reports CP.
Canadians opened their arms and homes last year to 5,000 Kosovars airlifted to escape horrors back home. Soon after, many frowned on some 600 Chinese who tried to reach Canada by boat. Immigration laws came under scrutiny and calls grew louder for a system to better protect Canada's integrity.
The way refugees are processed is slow and complicated. The legislation would make it simpler and faster. But it is expected to include some tough measures to keep out undesirables and criminals.
A government poll suggests many will like the legislation, but advocates and immigration lawyers say most Canadians would not knowingly approve of draconian measures that deter legitimate immigrants and refugees. "It will probably sound good, but as lawyers we're very concerned about process,'' said Toronto immigration lawyer Ben Trister. "It's going to take a few days for people to figure out what's really going on.'' Of greatest concern are measures, outlined in a draft copy of the law leaked last month, that would allow government to detain migrants upon entry, and others that would eliminate a level of appeal for some immigrants.
© Refugees Daily

Experts recommend 'less ideological approach' to Nazi past It seems that the way society, in particular in Germany, deals with Auschwitz is due for a change after Hanno Loewy, director of the Frankfurt-based Fritz Bauer Institute, a study and documentation centre on the history of the Holocaust, this week called for a "less ideological approach" to the subject. He stressed the need for a reassessment of the "critical approach toward the perpertrators and our sympathy for the victims". At the same time, he said, it was important for society to address the issues arising from the multicultural nature of a society in which both economic migrants and the descendants of concentraton camp victims, for example Jews and Sinti, have to "find their way." Loewy believes modern socio-cultural trends are altering perspectives on the Nazi past. Since the reunification of Germany, the subject of the Holocaust has been closely linked to the question of the German search for a new national identity, an example being the debate which surrounded the construction of a central monument for murdered Jews in Berlin. At a symposium entitled "Topography of the Nazi Period" held in Frankfurt, Loewy was keen to stress that the past had already been witness to several such changes of approach in the treatment of this particular chapter in German history.
With a period of collective silence following the end of the war, it was not until the early 1960s and the first Auschwitz trials that the German population was directly confronted with the perpertrators and their crimes. The 1970s were dominated by attempts to establish a "positive continuity" in German history and the it was during this decade that the role of the resistance to Nazi rule came to be seen as increasingly important. The television show "Holocaust" was broadcast, generally seen as a watershed in the nation's relationship to the crimes committed by the Nazis.
Loewy, however, puts forward an alternative interpretation: "Germans chose to look back at the victims because they had developed a stronger sense of their own German nationality." In the 1980s, he claims, contoversy, such as that surrounding the Fassbinder play "Garbage, the city and death", similarly had a significant role to play. The cultural anthropologist, Silke Wenk, sees this debate as indicative of "shifts in the culture of memory since 1945." Speaking at the Frankfurt symposium, Wenk declared it was important to continue this process of change by means of written documentation. She urged organisers of exhibitions and memorials to address other periods than only that extending from 1933 to the end of the war.
© Frankfurter Rundschau

Asylum seekers suffer frequent abuses, the report says Torture, deaths while in custody and other abuses of human rights are still occurring in a number of European countries, according to a report by Amnesty International. The report, published on Thursday, cites torture and death in detention, systematic police ill-treatment, and ethnic and religious repression among the abuses discovered in the 34 countries which were surveyed between July and December 1999. Amnesty International urges European countries to end the impunity enjoyed by the police in many cases.
According to the report:
torture and ill-treatment were reported in 27 countries political prisoners, including prisoners of conscience, were held in 14 countries Among the cases cited by Amnesty International:
In France, police implicated in the torture of Moroccan-Dutch national Ahmed Selmouni remained in their posts years after the case began. In Bosnia-Herzegovina, a businessman was reportedly beaten and kicked by three Bosnian-Croat police officers after apparently refusing to pay protection money.
Belgium, Switzerland and other countries have used dangerous methods of restraint, "including deliberate blocking of the breathing passages," during forcible deportations. Finland and Greece imposed prison sentences for conscientious objection to military service. In the United Kingdom asylum and immigration laws that came into effect in November are said to have been "severely detrimental to refugee rights". "While many people in Europe enjoy basic human rights, some people, including asylum-seekers and ethnic and religious minorities, continue to experience a side of Europe that runs contrary to its image as a bastion of human rights and freedom," an Amnesty statement says.
Police brutality
"Nothing demonstrates this more than the spread and frequency of allegations of police brutality.
"From the United Kingdom to Azerbaijan, individuals have suffered beatings, sexual abuse, mock hangings, electric shock treatment, racist abuse and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment at the hands of police," it says.
"European countries should work harder to uphold international human rights standards and end the blight of statement concludes.
© BBC News

Illegal Albanian immigrants arrested on Greek border
By Shirin Wheeler in Northern Greece
On Sunday, 9 April, Greek voters will go to the polls in what is expected to be one of the most closely fought elections for years. The latest opinion polls have put the ruling Socialists neck to neck with the opposition New Democracy Party. One of the issues that has dominated the campaign is the question of the number of illegal immigrants coming into Greece from neighbouring countries like Albania.
Human rights groups are concerned that politicians from all parties have injected a distinctly xenophobic note into the campaign. Border arrests
At midnight on the Albanian border, Greek patrol guards have just made their first arrests of the night. Eight Albanians have been stopped.
As we arrive the police are looking for guns. This route is used by heavily armed drug smugglers. The officers are edgy as they have come under fire on some occasions. These men though, like thousands of others, have come to Greece to find work. However, more and more of these journeys end here. Once the men have been searched, I ask one of them, says.
"There's nothing for us in Albania." They had been walking for a day and would have walked another five to find work. However, this visit will be a short one - a night spent in a police cell.
Each morning busloads of Albanians caught the night before are sent back home - to Europe's poorest country - across the official border. However, many of these men will be back as they are determined to finish their journey. One man says: "I'll go back to Albania for four days or so and then I'll come back."
These mountains stretch for more than 100km.This border is where the European Union meets one of its mosts unstable and least developed neighbours. Standing here, you can see the sheer scale of the task facing those trying to keep unwelcome vistors out. Since passport controls with other EU countries were relaxed, security has been strengthened with more helicopter flights and more patrols.
The police chief, Fotios Bouradas, insists his units are winning the battle. "We used to have only a few small patrols," he says."That wasn't enough to stop the migrants from getting over. "Since we've tripled the resources, almost sealed now."
Political issue
But not everyone agrees the situation is under control. Makis Voridis is one of a new breed of right wing politicians who are fighting the election on an anti-immigrant ticket. His party, The Hellenic Front, is fighting a general election for the first time in Greece. He is funding his own campign but he thinks he speaks for the majority.
"Polls show that more than 80% of Greeks want repatriation of illegal immigrants," he says. "It's also clear that the most important issue in this campaign is crime, unemployment and insecurity." At election rallies across Greece, both main parties have been promising a crackdown on illegal immigrants.
However, human rights groups are alarmed that even mainstream politicians are making the link between crime and immigration. Panayiotis Dimitras is from the group Helsinki Monitor based in Athens.
He speaks of a "mainstream extremism". The views that are spoken blatantly by the far right are now being expressed by politicians from all parties. The politicians have charged guards with tracking down the migrants and keeping them out.
However, the Albanians living over the hills have nothing.
While the European Union has already promised millions of dollars for countries like Albania, the border guards will carry on working fulltime until conditions improve and Albanians have more reason to stay at home.
© BBC News

German industry wants more foreign computer workers The German Chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, has described as indecent a campaign opposing a plan to ease immigration restrictions to allow thousands of foreign computer experts to work in the country.
His remarks were directed at a leading opposition politician, who coined the controversial slogan "Kinder statt Inder" (children instead of Indians) to imply that Germany should train its own computer workers instead of recruiting them from countries such as India. A body set up by the European Union to monitor racism has also expressed concern about the slogan.
The head of the Vienna-based EuropeanMonitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia, Jean Kahn, said German politicians should have learned more than others from history.
The so-called "green card" proposal has provoked a heated debate about immigration policy and about Germany's ability to compete in the internet economy.
Under the green card plan, up to 20,000 temporary work permits will be issued to skilled computer experts from outside the European Union.
Mr Schroeder wants legislation ready for cabinet approval by next month. But his initiative has re-opened a highly-charged debate about Germany's willingness to assimilate foreigners. Mr Schroeder's remarks in parliament were directed at Juergen Ruettgers, leader of the Christian Democrat opposition in the industrial state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
Mr Schroeder said his campaign against the green card plan was both indecent and economically damaging.
Mr Ruettgers faces important regional elections in May, and most leading Christian Democrats, while distancing themselves from his more controversial remarks, have supported the thrust of his campaign.
Unions critical
German industry believes tens of thousands of foreign workers are needed urgently to stop the country falling behind in the internet-based economy.
But with four million out of work, the idea of giving jobs to outsiders is proving hard to sell. Trade unions, for instance, say the jobs should be filled by retraining suitably qualified unemployed people. The most outspoken opposition however has come from the Right. Mr Ruettgers' populist style has prompted critics to compare him to the Austrian nationalist Joerg Haider. But he appears to have struck a chord with many ordinary Germans.
© BBC News

Amaudruz has demanded proof for the gas chambers The trial has begun in Lausanne of one of Switzerland's most notorious fascists. Gaston Armand Amaudruz, 79, is accused of publicly denying the Holocaust in an article written five years ago.
In a monthly newsletter, Mr Amaudruz denied the existence of the Holocaust, demanded proof of the gas chambers in Nazi death camps and blamed Jews for having too much influence in Switzerland. Under Swiss anti-racism laws, these remarks carry a jail sentence of up to three years.
Nazi links
Amongst those bringing the prosecution are the Nazi-hunter, Serge Klarsfeld. Mr Amaudruz, who is considered the main spokesman of Switzerland's fascist groups, is well-known to the Swiss authorities. He is suspected of having had close links with Nazi sympathisers in the Swiss wartime government. After the war, he set up right-wing extremist groups who believed in the segregation of non-Europeans and strict rules for inter-racial marriages.
He also campaigned actively against the introduction of the anti-racism laws which he is now accused of breaching.

As the UK Government prepares for a radical shake-up in the way it deals with asylum-seekers, thousands of people continue to seek refuge in the UK. BBC Radio 5 Live's Chris Ledgard follows the route that many such newcomers take across Europe. He describes what he saw when he picked up the migrant trail from Italy through to the French port of Calais.
3 April, Calais
To the day-tripper from Dover, Calais means booze. To the refugee it means lorries, and the chance of clandestine entry to the UK. Clive, from York has been in Italy picking up a lorry load of shoes to take back to Leicester.
From Monday, he faces a £2,000 per head fine if refugees are found in his vehicle when he gets to Dover. Clive carries a baseball bat in his cabin, and one or two other deterrents. His tarpaulin is ripped thanks to his most recent unwanted passengers who he discovered the other day. He is incensed by the decision to fine drivers, saying asylum seekers are geniuses at the art of concealment.
But he says there are lighter moments.
The other day, a friend driving through Belgium became aware of passengers. He stopped, threw open the tail door and shouted: "Look, England!" and out they tumbled.
I tell Clive that his association bosses are worried about violence. He says someone is going to get killed. A few miles up the coast at Sangatte, 500 asylum seekers stay in a huge hangar-style shed preparing for the journey to England.
The French Government funds and the Red Cross runs this departure lounge for a flight the British are trying to prevent. Vive L' Europe!
Augustina, a Bulgarian Red Cross worker, says Britain is referred to as Eldorado, or Treasure Island. She admits she has never been to Dover. We find a Palestinian at Sangatte, stealing his nerves to make the trip on Monday night. I don't mention Clive.

French Interior Minister Jean-Pierre Chevenement on Sunday described an incident in which a policeman was filmed apparently punching a pregnant woman of Moroccan origin in the throat as "regrettable." "It is an unfortunate incident, very regrettable," he said in a televised interview. A 12-minute amateur video, broadcast on television on Friday, showed the policeman assaulting a 28-year-old woman, who asked to be identified only as Hayat, despite his colleagues' attempts to prevent him hitting her. Hayat, who is four months pregnant, was then handcuffed after supposedly insulting an officer and taken into custody until the following evening. Chevenement said the three officers present had tried to make an arrest which had degenerated into an "altercation," and added that the police team were coming to the end of their shift but still had to attend seven incidents -- family squabbles, muggings and neighbourhood disputes.
The minister said he had carefully read two conflicting accounts of what had happened. The young woman had admitted swearing at the policeman before he attacked her, Chevenement said, but "his reaction was without a doubt excessive." Chevenement said the video, which was taken by a 17 year-old from a window in a nearby building, included a 10- or 15-minute gap between the opening of the incident and Hayat's arrest. Following the incident the officer, identified only as Vincent P., has been "disarmed and given administrative work to do" pending an investigation by the police's own internal inspection unit, a police union official said Saturday.
The incident is another embarrassment for the public image of the French police, which frequently faces charges of being racist, most recently in January when a popular Moroccan-born comedian, Jamel Debbouze, alleged he was badly beaten by police officers who dragged him out of his car.
In the latest incident, police pulled over the woman's car in Ris-Organis in the Paris suburbs in the early hours of March 26, saying it had cut across the path of their patrol car.
The woman said that shortly before being pulled over, she had made a gesture after the police car had let her pass. The members of the police patrol have told investigators they considered the gesture to be offensive. When the officers discovered Hayat did not have her driving licence and vehicle documents with her, they tried to arrest her and a struggle took place.
©The Tocqueville Connection

Worsening conditions for Gypsies throughout Eastern Europe have caused thousands to try to emigrate, quickly wearing out any welcome from Western Europe, reports the New York Times. Their flight has created new pressure, most recently in Britain, to tighten visa, immigration and asylum rules to keep them out.
Slovakia is notorious for its treatment of Gypsies, who make up some 10% of its five million population. Discrimination, including police mistreatment and beatings, has been reinforced by the post-Communist rise of skinheads and other neo-fascist groups who, as in the neighbouring Czech Republic and Hungary, single out the Gypsies and are rarely punished.
Separately, the New York Times reports the treatment of the Roma - including a denial of asylum in countries like Britain, Belgium, Denmark and Sweden - raises serious questions about the basic principles of postwar Europe that the European Union says it holds dear. Even in NATO-occupied Kosovo, some 100,000 of the 125,000 Roma have fled or been forced to flee by the victorious ethnic Albanians, who say the Roma collaborated with the Serbs.
The Czech president, Vaclav Havel, once noted, "The Gypsies are a litmus test, not of democracy but of civil society." If so, the post-Communist world is failing the test. Slovakia and Romania are particularly vile to this minority, which represents about 8% of Romania's population.
©Refugees Daily

The UN's top human rights official Mary Robinson was mobbed by crowds of Chechen refugees Saturday when she visited Sputnik refugee camp in Ingushetia, reports AFP. In what appeared to be a carefully organised protest by the refugees, children brandished placards with slogans such as "stop the genocide of the Chechen people" and "put the guilty in the Chechen war on trial."
Screaming women surged up to the UN human rights commissioner as she made her way around the camp, surrounded by a security phalanx and television cameras. Robinson, clearly flustered, stopped for a moment to listen to one old woman who had broken past the armed soldiers. She then went into a tent to speak to refugees. Robinson also visited a nearby refugee settlement in a train, with 54 people packed into each carriage.
AFP adds Robinson said Chechen civilians told a consistent tale of human rights abuses by Russian troops. "I was certainly very dismayed by the depth of suffering, pain, resentment and frustration that I met in the camp here in Ingushetia," she said.
AFP reports Robinson called Saturday for an investigation into alleged Russian atrocities after hearing testimony from Chechen civilians in the refugee camp. Robinson said she believed a "pattern of violence" existed that implicate Russian commanders.
Le Monde adds Robinson also warned of deteriorating sanitary conditions in the camps as summer approaches.
©Refugees Daily

The Hackney Refugee & Migrant Support Group have called a protest outside the offices of the Daily Mail and London Evening Standard to show opposition to those newspapers consistent inflammatory attacks on asylum seekers and migrants coming to the UK.
The Mail and the Standard have consistently been at the forefront of the media mis-reporting of the plight of those who seek asylum in the UK and so-called aggressive begging. Conveniently for protesters they are based in the same building.
The protest will be between 5.00 - 7.00pm on Thursday 13th April at Daily Mail and London Evening Standard 2 Derry Street Kensington London W8 (next to High Street Kensington tube station).
Supporters of the protest include the National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns and the National Assembly Against Racism.

Spanish police have stopped 233 people from entering the country since Wednesday in an effort to counter new wave of illegal immigration inspired by an amnesty for those without papers, police said Friday.
Spain has promised to issue 80,000 illegal immigrants with valid working papers by July 31, but only if they can prove continuous residence in Spain since at least June 1, 1999, and have filed for a residence or work permit or for refugee status during the last three years. Many Pakistanis and some Romanians, unaware of these restrictions, have been crossing into the northeastern region of Catalonia on trains from France in hopes of benefitting from the offer, according to police. On Wednesday, police stopped 97 Pakistanis at Portbou and Barcelona and immediately sent them back to France.

Roma Center for Social Interventions and Studies asks the intervention of the international institutions of protection of human rights regarding the last points of view published in mass-media concerning the Roma from Romania. We let you know that, during this electoral year, the Roma are about to become a tool for manipulating the public opinion from Romania. Certain leaders of some Romanian political organizations promote a nationalist speech, connected to a supposed danger that would be represented by the Roma people, in order to gain a favorable position in front of the electorate.
In this idea, we bring to your knowledge the declarations of the deputy Mugurel Vintila, vice-president of the party Alliance for Romania, published in the newspaper "National", from 28th of March, 2000, in page 4, under the title "The Occidental chanceries want to transform Romania in a state of Gypsies". In an interview given to that publication, Mr. Mugurel Vintila inform the public opinion about a "shocking problem"which the Roma from Romania would represented, existing the possibility of transforming our country in a "state of Gypsies", by the Occidental chanceries' intervention. This allegations are based on the information obtained by Mr. Vintila from "a friend diplomat in West". The diplomat would have communicated to the deputy of A.f.R. that the Occident intends to bring all the members of Roma ethny from Europe on Romanian territory, in order to create a state of Gypsies. Mr.Mugurel Vintila, also sustains the the Roma leaders from Romania, even if they don't have political experience, are financially sustained from outside in order to get access to the structures of power, from where they will take decisions favorable to their ethny. The politician, also says that "Roma ask for their rights as ethny, fact that never happen before". This are few of the most serious allegations of the vice-president of A.f.R., with a nature that might make an attempt on Roma security in Romania. We consider that the extremist attitude of the deputy Mugurel Vintila and his allegations with a high level of racism require an intervention from the international institutions, in order to fight against and to eliminate, in future, this kind of acts.
In this idea, we ask that the governmental and inter-governmental institutions organize a dialog with the representatives of the Romanian state's institutions, the leaders of the political parties, Roma associations and mass-media. From our point of view, this dialog should have as objective the fight against racism, discrimination and intolerance regarding the Roma from Romania. A first of this kind of dialog was launched under the title "Strengthening of the Democratic Frame regarding the Ethnical Minorities in Romania", by the Commission for European Integration-Romanian Government-Romanian Parliament, Department for National Minorities Protection and Romani CRISS, on 21st-22nd of March, 2000. At our invitation answered only a small number of representatives of political organizations and mass-media. We would like to organize again such kind of meetings, with the support of the national and international institutions, which will mediate the relations between the political forces and Roma from Romania, in this electoral year.
Hoping that our message will find understanding from you, we wait for an answer. We annex our reaction next to the declarations made by Mr.Mugurel Vintila, the press communicate being published in the newspaper "National", from 30th of March, 2000, page 5.
With respect,
Costel Bercus,
Executive Manager
Romani CRISS
Buzesti no.19 sector 1 Bucharest - Romania
tel/fax: 004 01 659 78 13
004 01 231 41 44

by Sruti Bala
More than 54 community and free radio stations contributed programmes to the global broadcast of AMARC on March 21st, International Day Against Racism, which was co-ordinated in Rome and re-distributed via the Internet and satellite to radio stations in four continents.
A broadcast continuity team with a range of lingual, technical and journalistic skills put together the programmes in sixteen different languages. Special features of the broadcast included: a live Portuguese link between radios in Portugal, Brazil, East Timor, Angola and Mozambique in a panel discussion on the manifestation of racial discrimination in each of these continents, a joint production of South African community radios from Johannesburg, with a review of the state of the media and its relation to racism, as well as a telephone link with human rights activists in Djarbakir in Kurdistan, to celebrate the Kurdish New Year.
The aim of the broadcast was to empower blacks, migrants and beleaguered minority communities through the medium of radio and to bring radio broadcasters together to join voices against racial discrimination.

Italy's main opposition leaders began campaigning Thursday for a national referendum to stem an influx of illegal immigrants but Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema immediately branded their proposals "folly."
Key points of the project, which must be signed by at least 500,000 people before it can be submitted to a popular vote, were published by the press on Thursday. D'Alema called on Italians "to reject appeals to selfishness and isolation." The project, submitted by rightist Forza Italia leader and media magnate, Silvio Berlusconi, and Umberto Bossi, the leader of the separatist Northern League, was "sheer folly," he said. It was "needlessly ferocious in its inapplicability, confused and demagogic." If approved in a referendum, the new legislation would impose prison sentences of up to 18 years for abetting illegal immigration. Illegal immigrants expelled from Italian territory would be barred from the country for 10 years. Termed by its authors a "bill for a popular initiative", the project also amends criteria under which non-EU citizens would be allowed to settle in Italy. Non-EU nationals would need a work permit before entering the country and would have to have a valid tax pass, or "codice fiscale," needed by all residents, Italians or foreigners. Berlusconi and Bossi also want stricter conditions for the granting of Italian citizenship and permitting families to be reunited. "The project aims at helping immigrants to remain in their home country," said Bossi, whose party has long favored strict anti-immigration laws.
But Industry Minister Enrico Letta, without referring directly to the opposition plans condemned what he said were "barbaric proposals" to change existing legislation. Other political leaders said existing legislation wassufficient and only needed to be enforced properly.
Former president Oscar Luigi Scalfaro also warned against egotism calling on Italians "to welcome those who are looking for jobs" while making sure that public order is ensured. At the end of last year, the number of legal immigrants in Italy stood at about 1.5 million. Even though this represents a 19-percent rise from the previous year, the figure was still lower than in Germany, France, or Britain, the Caritas group said last month. Moroccans make up the bulk of immigrants with 11.7 percent, followed by Albanians (9.2 percent) and Filipinos (4.9 percent). Immigration from eastern Europe rose 30 percent over the year from 1998.
For 2000, the interior ministry has set an immigration quota of 63,000, after 58,000 arrived in the country in 1998 and 27,000 in 1997.
Figures provided by the United Nations forecast that Italy's total population would drop to 41 million by 2050 from 57 million if low birth and immigration rates persist. Given the projected demographic decline, the opposition project was met with scorn by the ruling center-left government, whose leaders have warned that Bossi and Berlusconi were following in the footsteps of Austria's controversial far-right leader Joerg Haider. Social Affairs Minister Livia Turco called the referendum project "shameful maneuvering ahead of the elections." "This project would throw us out of Europe," concurred Walter Veltroni, leader of the main government party, Democrats of the Left. Berlusconi and Bossi have struck an alliance ahead of regional and local elections due April 16. They said voters could sign up for their referendum project as of April 9.

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