I CARE - Newsarchive August 2000

Six people were rescued including the captain At least eight people have been killed and 18 are still missing after a boat carrying illegal immigrants capsized near the island of Kos in Greece.
The boat was sailing from Bodrum in Turkey when it went down.
Six people were rescued including the captain, but coastguards in Turkey say they have given up hope of finding any more survivors.
The search was launched after the eight metre (26.4 foot) long Turkish boat with 32 immigrants capsized at about 0530 local time (0230 GMT).
Bodrum governor Cumhur Guven Tasbasi told a TV station that the immigrants on board included 18 Iraqis, five Afghans, eight Iranians and a woman of yet undetermined nationality.
One of the rescued immigrants, an Afghan national, told reporters in Bodrum that they had paid $1,000 per person to unidentified human traffickers to be smuggled into Greece.
Accidents at sea have become commonplace in the region, where hundreds of immigrants from poor Asian countries have flocked in a bid to sneak into Europe in search of a better life.
Entering Turkey illegally from its eastern border, most immigrants then either set sail for Europe on dilapidated ships or try to cross the land border into Greece.

The Irish government is planning a campaign to promote racial tolerance after recent xenophobic attacks which have sullied Ireland"s modern image as a flourishing and fun place to work and play.
The violence has led to a bout of soul searching as a country which prides itself on its hospitality struggles to deal with tensions prompted by a rise in the number of asylum seekers and foreign workers heading for its shores.
The Irish Times issued a stark warning on the perils which Ireland faces as it develops into a multi-racial society after generations of mass emigration during which its own people often suffered discrimination and abuse.
"Unless there is a concerted and urgent national response, the poisons of racism and xenophobia are set to spread through this society," the paper said in an editorial.
"Irish people of mixed race, or whose families have come from abroad, confirm that they now encounter hostility which was not there three or four years ago," it added.
Irish republican leader Gerry Adams recently urged Prime Minister Bertie Ahern to make a public stand against racism.
"He is in a position to bring together...the political and church leaders, trade union and community networks, media personalities and music, cultural and sporting heroes in a public event declaring our united stand against racism," the Sinn Fein leader wrote in Ireland"s tabloid Star newspaper.
Ahern"s government is expected to announce a public awareness campaign next month.
The first of its kind in Ireland, it will seek to preach a message of tolerance through television and billboard advertising.
Drawing on similar campaigns in Canada and Australia, the initiative will also target schools and the workplace as it seeks to dispel the fear and ignorance which commentators believe are at the root of the problem.

Widely publicised attacks on foreign exchange students and tourists have highlighted the race issue in Ireland. In one of the most serious incidents, Englishman David Richardson was badly wounded after he was stabbed in Dublin in June.
Richardson, who is white, was attacked as he walked along a city centre street with his black wife.
The couple were visiting their son Christian, who was working in Ireland. Christian subsequently quit his job and return to England after he was chased by a gang shouting racial abuse.
Philip Watt, director of Ireland"s National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism (NCCRI), says such cases have forced the Irish to face up to the race question.
"Racism has been highlighted in a way that has never been done before. Until recent years, racism wasn"t considered an issue," Watt told Reuters, adding, however, that black Irish people and the country"s nomadic "traveller" community had long been victims of discrimination.
Watt believes the authorities are starting to take the problem seriously. "It has the potential to damage Ireland"s image abroad, if it"s not handled well," he said.
"But I think that the government are beginning to take strong leadership on this issue." Watt said he would be pressing the government to introduce tougher sentences for racially motivated assaults. "We will be advising the (justice) minister to look at our criminal legislation to see if it"s adequate to tackle such crime and to consider bringing in, as you have in Britain and America, so-called higher tariffs for hate crimes," he said.
He bemoans the fact that there are no reliable figures for the size of the ethnic minority population in Ireland, estimating that the best guess for the figure is probably around two percent, including travellers.
That figure is set to rise as foreign workers come in to fill the gaps created by a buoyant labour market.

Ireland has seen generations of its sons and daughters leave its shores to seek their fortunes overseas but history is being reversed as a flourishing, hi-tech economy creates great job opportunities at home.
Irish politicians and business leaders estimate the country will need up to 200,000 workers to keep the boom going over the next seven years or so.
It is seeking to lure emigrants back home but has also streamlined immigration procedures to allow non-EU citizens to take up jobs in nursing, construction and the IT sector.
Brendan Butler, director of social policy at the Irish employers" group IBEC, says an influx of foreign workers and their dependants will have profound social consequences.
"You are looking at a changing society and it"s going to come on us really quickly," he said.
IBEC is working closely with trade unions to promote racial equality and the groups plan a week-long initiative in November to combat racism in the workplace. The "Celtic Tiger" economy has also led to a rapid rise in the number of asylum seekers coming to Ireland.
Tougher asylum policies in larger European countries have also driven more people to seek entry into the European Union via Ireland. The system has struggled to keep pace with as many as 1,000 people a month seeking asylum, many from Nigeria and Romania. There are now some 12,500 foreign nationals waiting to learn their fate.
Many of the asylum seekers settle in the poorer parts of Dublin, prompting friction with local people in what remains one of Europe"s least ethnically mixed countries. Attempts to disperse some of the asylum seekers around the country prompted initial opposition in the chosen locations amid scare stories about disease and crime.
However, the NCCRI"s Watt said that feedback was now more positive from the provincial towns involved. "There was strong opposition in about six of the 26 places they were located to. But the latest information we"re getting is that a lot of people are now rowing in to support the new arrivals," he said.
© ABC News

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said on Sunday right-wing extremism was plaguing all of Germany and vowed his government would fight neo-Nazis with all available means.
Schroeder said he would not allow a relatively small number of extremists to darken Germany"s reputation that has been painstakingly been rebuilt over the last half century.
"Right-wing extremism and racism is not a problem limited to eastern Germany," Schroeder said of the formerly communist region where many of the recent attacks on foreigners have occurred.
"It is a problem in Germany, but there is more to our nation... Germany is open to the world and welcomes its guests."
In an interview with ZDF television, Schroeder said the government would launch a three-pronged campaign against the right-wing extremists. "We have to be tough and decisive against those who use violence," he said.
"We have to give young people perspectives for training and jobs, and we have to have more civilian courage." Germany"s Nazi past has left the country acutely sensitive to racism and xenophobic violence, said to have claimed 30 lives since 1990 despite tough laws against it. Foreign rights groups have said more than 100 have been killed.
Schroeder, halfway through his four-year term, said the neo-Nazi problem was also a risk to the country"s image abroad. It was important, he said, that foreign customers and investors had confidence the government was on top of the problem. "I want the government to be tough in fighting it and ending it," Schroeder said.

German concern about the far-right has escalated since a Mozambican father was kicked to death in June by three neo-Nazis in the eastern town of Dessau. Police said he was attacked because he was black.
About 100 neo-Nazis marched through Halle, a town south of Berlin where the three are on trial for murder, on Saturday ahead of a verdict expected on Wednesday.
They were accompanied by 1,000 riot police and hundreds of counter-demonstrators. A bomb blast which injured 10 people, including six Jews, earlier this month also heightened fears of racism.
President Johannes Rau said on Sunday that Germany must do more to protect foreigners from racist attacks and make far-right groups less appealing to youths.
"We absolutely have to do something against this trend," Rau told Der Spiegel newsweekly. "Even though there have been more incidents reported in the east, no one should believe that it is a purely eastern phenomenon...
We have a lot of work to do." Nearly 10 percent of Germany"s total 82 million population is foreign-born. But in the formerly communist east, where unemployment is near 20 percent and many attacks happen, less than two percent of the population is foreign. The violence has stained the country"s reputation abroad, although most Germans embrace or at least welcome the diversity foreigners bring to the country.
Germany"s top-selling newspaper, Bild, has run dozens of profiles of foreigners who say they enjoy living in Germany. But Roland Koch, arch conservative CDU state premier of Hesse, said the issue was being blown out of proportion.
"We need to take a more relaxed approach to the right-wing extremists. They aren"t going to destabilize the nation."
© ABC News

Slovak police arrested six men for a racist attack on a family of Roma Gypsies that came days after the brutal murder of a Roma woman, SITA news agency reported on Friday.
It quoted police as saying two family members required hospital treatment after the assault late on Thursday.
The six men, ranging in age from 21 to 24, shouted racial abuse during the attack, the report added. Police were not immediately available to confirm the report. The funeral of Roma woman Anastazia Balazova was due to took place later on Friday.
She was beaten to death on Sunday as she tried to defend her children from assailants wielding baseball bats.
The case has triggered national outrage, but police have hesitated to say the killing was racially motivated, noting that no arrests have been made and there are several versions of what happened during the attack.
Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda has said he will personally ensure the case is thoroughly investigated.
Over 500 mourners were expected at Balazova"s funeral, which was to be guarded by police. Racial attacks are not uncommon in Slovakia.
The Roma population, estimated at hundreds of thousands in this country of five million, suffers from high unemployment, poor education, and squalid living conditions.
In recent months, an increasing number of Roma have sought political asylum abroad, which has led to a review of visa policy for Slovak citizens in some Western European countries.
Earlier on Friday, a United Nations human rights body urged Slovakia"s neighbour the Czech Republic to amend its laws to end pervasive discrimination against gypsies in housing, education and employment.
© ABC News

Shadow home secretary Ann Widdecombe has been trapped in a taxi and surrounded by protesters enraged by her stance on allowing refugees into the UK.
The incident happened as she left an event in Edinburgh where she had been reading from her novel at the Edinburgh Book Festival.
As she left a marquee in Charlotte Square by a back entrance accompanied by police officers and security staff, waiting protesters spotted her and quickly surrounded her group as it tried to get to a waiting taxi.
Miss Widdecombe was able to get into the vehicle without incident but as it drove off it only got some 30 yards before it had to come to a halt because of a traffic jam.
The protesters quickly surrounded the vehicle. Some struck it with placards and others thumped the windows and door panels.
Police officers tried to restore order but struggled to get other vehicles out of the taxi's way. They eventually managed to clear a route and some protesters were detained by police.
© Ananova

Tory London mayor candidate Steve Norris has launched an attack on the party's blue-rinse brigade, accusing elderly Conservative women of stopping gays, ethnic minorities and other women becoming Parliamentary candidates.
Mr Norris, who is now the Tory vice-chairman responsible for trying to attract young and ethnic minority recruits to the party, said he detected "a polite form of racism and homophobia" amongst some Tory supporters.
He said the time had come to consider again all-women shortlists for some Parliamentary seats and quotas for ethnic minority candidates.
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Mr Norris said: "We have to decide whether we are a national, inclusive party or not. No party can be a national party which excludes one in 10 because they are from an ethnic minority or one in 10 because they are gay."
Mr Norris blamed the Tory women over 50 who dominated selection panels - the so-called blue-rinse brigade - for the problem.
"The party overwhelmingly selects white, heterosexual, middle-aged, male professional people as its parliamentary candidates, and the people doing the selecting are likely to be female and more than 50.
"It's always been a great irony that it's women who select men and who say to the women 'What will your husband do if you're not there to make his dinner?' ."
He said: "They are looking for a husband for their daughter and they don't particularly want to vote for Asian candidates or gay candidates or black candidates. This is something we have to deal with."
Mr Norris has clashed in the past with the groups of elderly Tory women. He was labelled unfit for public office during the London mayor campaign by some women in his old constituency of Epping Forest after being labelled the five-mistress minister during his time in office under John Major.
He has previously condemned his critics as part of a "monstrous regime of harpies" in the party.
© Ananova

Between 25,000 and 30,000 gypsies gathered here for an annual meeting beginning Thursday which has raised the hackles of local authorities at a time of strained racial tolerance across Europe.
"Most of the participants have now arrived, though more are still probably on their way," said pastor Joseph Charpentier of the evangelical Life and Light association, which organised the event in this northern French town.
More than 130 hectares (320 acres) of land around a former NATO airbase in Chambley have been cordoned off for the gypsy gathering.
But the fact that the meeting has taken place without incident in previous years has not prevented local authorities from reacting angrily to the four-day event, which runs until Sunday.
In protest at the gathering, around 40 mayors in the region have refused to organise a referendum on changes to the French constitution that would shorten the presidential term from seven to five years, and tight security measures have been put in place.
"It is the community of travelling people which they are rejecting, not the gathering," Charpentier said.
The reaction of local officials flew in the face of recent laws passed in France which recognised the cultural integrity of travelling people, the French Protestant Federation said in a statement earlier this week.
Four hundred policemen will be present in and around the site, which will have its own temporary police station. Emergency services have also set up a first aid centre.
Local public services have provided electricity, drinking water and sanitary services, essentially creating a temporary town at the Chambley air base. The gypsy gathering takes place against a backdrop of strained racial tolerance across Europe, with the rise of neo-Nazi activity in Germany, race riots and attacks against North African immigrants in Spain, and anti-gypsy sentiments emerging in eastern Europe.
In the northeastern French city of Strasbourg, Nazi swastikas and anti-Semitic graffiti targeting the Jewish manager of the city's football club were daubed on the stadium walls last weekend.
© The Tocqueville Connection

Food giant Nestle said Monday it is paying $14.6 million toward a settlement with Holocaust survivors and Jewish organizations to meet possible claims over the use of slave labor during World War II.
``It is either certain or it may be assumed that some corporations of the Nestle Group that were active in countries controlled by the National Socialist (Nazi) regime employed forced laborers,'' the group said in a statement.
It said it would contribute to a $1.25 billion settlement agreed upon by Switzerland's two largest banks.
``Nestle expects this contribution to cover all possible legal claims that might be raised against it both in Switzerland and abroad,'' the statement added.
Nestle companies operating in Germany and Austria will make voluntary contributions to those countries' foundations to compensate slave laborers, it said, but did not specify amounts.
Some Swiss companies allegedly used slave labor in German subsidiaries or subsequently took over implicated German companies. Nestle has said that it acquired a company in 1947 that was suspected of using forced labor during the Nazi era.
The two banks - Credit Suisse and UBS AG - reached their out-of-court settlement in August 1998. This provided for the release of all claims not only against the two banks but also against the Swiss government, the central bank, other commercial banks and Swiss industry.
But when U.S. District Judge Edward Korman approved the settlement July 26, he said that Swiss entities which seek releases from slave labor claims should identify themselves within 30 days.
Switzerland's main employers' organization urged any company which might have used forced labor to come forward.
Nestle said that in many instances, it did not own the corporations that used forced labor at the time, and it was ``often not possible to exercise effective control'' over those that it did.
``As the legal successor of such corporations, Nestle nevertheless accepts its moral responsibility to help alleviate human suffering,'' the company said.
© Associated Press

IN THE latest move to bring those who exploit children to justice, police yesterday raided two run-down homes in the neglected Athens district of Kolonos. Thirty-five young Albanian Gypsy street kids were taken into custody, together with 20 Gypsy men and women identified as their parents.
Five of the adults - four women and a man - were brought before a court and given a suspended jail sentence of three months and 20 days. All of the children and adults were to be deported today.
Investigating authorities said that the children were being forced to beg at street corners and that they apparently earned an estimated total of 60,000 drachmas a day. Neighbours reported that the children were physically abused by their parents. The youngest child was three months old and the oldest 11.
Young boys and girls, many of them Albanian and Gypsies, can be seen at busy intersections around the capital cleaning car windshields for motorists stopped at traffic lights in exchange for a few drachmas. Many more youngsters in ragged, dirty clothing, often without shoes even in winter, beg on street corners or sell tissues and flowers at cafes and restaurants.
There are at least several thousand street kids who are driven to beg either by their parents or by so-called guardians. Many of the children are victims of abuse. Child smuggling from Albania to Greece is a thriving racket, according to local children rights group A Child's Smile.
"It is impossible to estimate how many children beg on the street," the president of A Child's Smile, Costas Yiannopoulos, told the Athens News yesterday. "But a large number of them are from Albania and they have been 'rented out' by their parents."
Based on the findings of a study carried out by the group in Thessaloniki, the majority of Greece's street kids are between the ages of eight and 14. Sixty percent of the children are from Albania and most have been separated from their parents, who remain in their native country.
These youngsters are brought to Greece by someone posing as their guardian or parent. In most cases, their biological parents, faced with mounting financial difficulties in Albania, agreed to send their child to Greece in exchange for a small percentage of their child's earnings each month.

Charges against Turkish journalist Nadire Mater should be dropped immediately, Amnesty International said today.
"If she is convicted she would be considered to be a prisoner of conscience."
Nadire Mater will stand trial on 24 August and could be sentenced to several years in prison. Her publisher Semih Sökmen also faces a fine. Her sole "crime" is to have conducted and published interviews with former conscripts who were deployed in the region mainly inhabited by Kurds and thus participated in the armed conflict there.
In her defence statement in the first trial session on 29 September 1999, Nadire Mater said: "Indeed, those who are being tried in this court room are not myself and my publisher but the 42 veterans who for the first time after 15 years of bloody fighting were provided a channel to express themselves, their frustrations, fears and hopes.
All I have done, as a genuine journalist, is to hold a microphone for these young men and reflect their words truthfully. The indictment is ironic in the sense that not even a single word of mine is presented as an evidence for my 'guilt'."
Nadire Mater has been charged with having insulted and vilified the Turkish military with the publication of her book Mehmedin Kitab - Mehmet's book ("Mehmet" stands for the Turkish soldiers).
Nadire Mater intended to look at the armed conflict in southeastern Turkey from the perspective of its participants and to present a picture of what the "Mehmets" experienced.
For this purpose, she conducted a total of 42 interviews with young men who did their military service in the region under emergency rule between 1984 and 1998, and with two relatives of soldiers. She took special care to include in her sample the different ethnic, religious, confessional and cultural groups, rightists as well as leftists, nationalists as well as Islamists, supporters and opponents of the conflict.
The indictment refers solely to the interviews, not to her own introductory text.
The quotes from the book with which the author allegedly insulted the army contain references to deliberate intimidation of civilians; accounts or criticism of human rights violations; war crimes and extreme brutality against PKK militants; brutality of senior soldiers against conscripts; allegations of drug abuse or smuggling; and the existence of Islamists in the army.
Amnesty International urges the Turkish authorities to conduct a thorough review of Turkish law and the constitution in order to lift any restrictions on the right to express opinions peacefully.
"Charges like those against Nadire Mater and her publisher should be dropped," Amnesty International said. "All prisoners of conscience should be immediately and unconditionally released."
© Balkan Human Rights Web Pages

Three German skinheads have denied they intended to kill a Mozambican man although they have admitted the brutal attack that led to his death three days later, court officials said on Wednesday.
Two 16-year-olds, Frank Mietbauer and Christian Richter, and Enrico Hiltricht, 24, went on trial on Tuesday for the racist murder of 39-year-old Alberto Adriano, who died on June 14, three days after they allegedly beat him unconscious.
The three youths admitted that they had attacked Adriano, saying they had been drunk at the time, but told the court they had not intended to kill him, a court spokesman said on Wednesday.
After the charges were read out on Tuesday, the proceedings were closed to the public as two of the accused are minors.
A judgment is expected as early as next Monday.
A murder conviction carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment in Germany, but prosecutors will have to prove intention to kill and the defence is expected to argue the men were very drunk.
The charge sheet says the three skinheads were walking through the centre of the eastern town of Dessau late at night on June 11 singing neo-Nazi songs when they crossed paths with Adriano, who was on his way home after visiting friends.
It says they shouted racist slogans at Adriano and blocked his way. Adriano tried to pacify the youths, telling them he had lived in Germany for years and had a family, but to no avail.
The three beat the Mozambican to the ground and kicked him repeatedly with their lace-up army-style boots before stripping him naked. Hiltricht is accused of stamping on Adriano"s head at least 10 times. The youths then dragged his inert body about 40 metres (130 feet) before continuing the attack.
They stopped only when they heard police arriving, and tried to flee, but were apprehended near the scene.
Adriano"s murder, as well as a mystery bomb attack last month in Duesseldorf that injured 10 immigrants including six Jews, has prompted a new wave of soul-searching about persistent extremist violence in a country still haunted by its Nazi past.
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, currently on a meet-the-people tour of impoverished east Germany, where the far right has found many new recruits with unemployment twice as high as in the west, has said he is sick of racist attacks and the harm they do to Germany"s international image.
© ABC News

Britain said on Wednesday that the United Nations" human rights watchdog was "grossly lacking in courtesy" after it expressed concerns at continuing racist attacks and treatment of asylum seekers.
Home Secretary Jack Straw said the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination announced its findings without giving a copy of its report to the British government.
"I am profoundly concerned about the way this matter has been handled," Straw told BBC radio, saying he had only seen a two-page press summary of the committee"s report. "It seems to me, at best, grossly lacking in courtesy to issue a press notice of a major report to a member state where the member state itself has complied fully with reporting obligations."
Straw also said the U.N. committee had ignored some steps Britain had taken to toughen up laws against racist attacks. The committee expressed concern on Tuesday about what it called continuing racist attacks in Britain and urged it to do more to protect asylum-seekers.
Ethnic minorities in Britain felt increasingly vulnerable, it said. The issue came to the fore in Britain last year when an inquiry concluded that institutional racism had led to the failure of police officers to convict the killers of black teenager Stephen Lawrence, murdered by a gang of white youths.
A political row over record numbers of asylum seekers last year also fuelled a public backlash against immigrants.
Straw said Britain provided the committee with "massively comprehensive" information on its battle against racism, while other European nations and the United States submitted no information at all.
The committee"s reports were little use unless they could help countries compare their records with other states, he said.
"It seems to me to be an abnegation of the responsibilities of this committee if they are saying "All we are doing is looking at the situation in one country"," Straw said. Straw insisted race relations were his "first priority" and that overall Britain had a better record than most countries in Europe and North America.
He said the rise in reported racist incidents was due to increased confidence in police to follow them up.
Laws against racist attacks had been toughened and legislation to strengthen laws on race relations had been put before parliament. "People can"t have it both ways.
The simple fact of the matter is that the number of people seeking asylum in this country is at the moment in numerical terms higher than quite a number of other European countries," he said.
"Insofar as those people are concerned, they reckon there is something they seek here which is not available elsewhere."
© ABC News

A Sikh police officer who was sacked after being accused of sending racist hate mail was himself racially discriminated against by the Metropolitan Police, an employment tribunal has found.
There was no evidence to show that Sergeant Gurpal Virdi was responsible for racist letters distributed within the Ealing division of the Metropolitan Police in December 1997 and January 1998, the tribunal said.
It found that Sgt Virdi was the subject of racial discrimination by the police force during its investigation of him.
Mr Virdi was dismissed after a four-week internal disciplinary hearing earlier this year in which it was alleged that he sent racist hate mail to 13 of the 15 non-white officers, including himself, in the Ealing division on December 24, 1997.
The letters, delivered by the Met's internal mail system, carried a message telling the officers to leave the force and were signed with the initials of the National Front.
Six more letters were received by civilian workers on January 19, 1998 which carried a similar message and were again accompanied by the initials of the National Front.
Mr Virdi had given evidence on racism in the Metropolitan Police force to the Stephen Lawrence inquiry and had 16 years unblemished service in the Met.
It was suggested that he had been turned down for promotion and was planning a claim of racial discrimination against the force.
Some of the messages were allegedly linked to his computer. In April 1998 his home was searched by police investigators looking for more evidence and he was suspended.
© Ananova

Police have detained 164 would-be immigrants who tried to enter Spain illegally by sea.
The detentions brings to nearly 600 the number of African citizens caught entering southern Spain illegally by boat over the past week.
In separate operations between midnight and dawn, police found most of the would-be immigrants aboard open boats in the Strait of Gibraltar, off the southern coast of Spain.
In one incident, 31 of the would-be immigrants had to be rescued from the sea after their single-motor, open boat had capsized, said a police spokeswoman in the nearby provincial capital of Cadiz.
Sixty-two men and women were picked up on the road outside the southern coastal town of Tarifa shortly after they had arrived by boat, said the spokeswoman.
The detained were mostly from Morocco although more than 50 appeared to be from other African countries, she said.
Each year, especially in summer, thousands of Africans pay relatively large sums of money to be taken across the Strait by night in the hope of entering Spain, and Europe, illegally to find work.
Many are known to die making the hazardous journey.
Once the men and women are identified, police look to deport them back to their respective countries. The matter is often complicated as many of the would-be immigrants come without identity papers.
Police say they have arrested some 7,000 illegal immigrants trying to reach Spain's coasts so far this year.
© Ananova

Dutch police investigating the deaths of 58 Chinese illegal immigrants whose bodies were found in a refrigeration truck at Dover docks have arrested three more suspects.
Gerard de Haas, of the Unit of Alien Smuggling, said arrests were made in Rotterdam. The transport company which shipped the immigrants across the English Channel operated out of the Dutch port.
Mr de Haas said: "In the interests of the inquiry, this is all we can say."
English and Dutch officials have made 13 arrests since the immigrants were found in the back of a Dutch-owned truck in June.
© Ananova

The UN's top human rights official Mary Robinson welcomed here Tuesday a move by a French football club to take legal action against some of its supporters for incitement to racial hatred.
The decision by Racing Club of Strasbourg is "particularly opportune in drawing attention to the importance of mobilising support for the fight against bias" ahead of the World Conference against Racism, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a statement.
The Conference is due to take place in South Africa from August 31 until September 7 next year.
"The High Commissioner considers it deeply encouraging to see that the club is receiving support from the authorities and from civil society organisations in France," the statement said.
Following the club's defeat to Rennes on Saturday, the fourth defeat in four matches, anti-semitic and Nazi graffiti insulting the team's trainer Claude Le Roy was sprayed on a wall at the stadium.v It sparked criticism from the French Youth and Sports Minister Marie-George Buffet and the town's mayor Catherine Trautmann who has lodged an official complaint.
© The Tocqueville Connection

The European Roma Rights Center (ERRC) welcomes the thematic discussion held last week by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) concerning racial discrimination against Roma.
Upon release of the CERD's general recommendation at the conclusion of the discussion, outlining a number of measures that governments should take to improve the situation of the Roma, Dimitrina Petrova, Executive Director of ERRC, stated, "This event properly underscores the international community's concern about widespread government failure to combat racism and discrimination against Roma.
The numerous shortcomings identified by the Committee require urgent action by many European governments to bring their legislation and practice into compliance with international law." The CERD is a United Nations body charged with responsibility for overseeing compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
It has been ratified by virtually all European governments (the only exceptions are Andorra, Ireland, San Marino and Turkey).
Composed of eighteen internationally-recognised experts, the CERD reviews states' compliance with the Convention through a reporting procedure which obliges governments to submit reports on a periodic basis.
The August session marks the first time in the Committee's 30-year-long history that it has held a discussion on a thematic issue and adopted a general recommendation dedicated to a specific ethnic group. According to Michael E. Sherifis, Chairman of the Committee, "during the consideration of periodic reports of several contracting parties, it had emerged that the Roma people were discriminated against in many countries [...].
The standards of the Convention were not met and in fact many of its provisions were directly and constantly violated." Among the specific violations highlighted by Sherifis were "Roma children being placed in special schools for mentally disabled pupils, depriving them of dignity and opportunities for the future in terms of higher education and employment;" "forced relocation of Roma" and "the existence of Roma settlements or camps in isolated locations, sometimes close to rubbish deposits or contaminated industrial sites, surrounded by walls or fences and lacking the very basic sanitary facilities;" "excessive use of force by the police against Roma, and physical violence by members of racist organisations against them," and that "discriminatory acts against Roma often went unpunished."
The Committee was "painfully aware" that "for centuries," the Roma had been subjected to "ill-treatment, rejection, exclusion and discrimination of various forms. [...] It was distressing to know that at the beginning of the third millennium, the problem was still there," Sherifis said.
In its general recommendation addressed to states parties to the Convention, the Committee called on governments to undertake a number of specific measures, including the following:

  • "review and enact or amend legislation [...] to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination against Roma;"
  • "take appropriate measures to secure to members of Roma communities effective remedies and to ensure that justice is fully and promptly done in cases concerning violations of their fundamental rights and freedoms;"
  • "adopt and implement national strategies and programmes and express determined political will and moral leadership, with the view to improving the situation of Roma and their protection against discrimination by state bodies, as well as by any person or organisation;"
  • "develop and encourage […] dialogue between Roma […] and central and local authorities;"
  • "ensure that legislation regarding citizenship and naturalization does not discriminate against members of Roma;"
  • "take all necessary measures […] to avoid any form of discrimination against immigrants or asylum seekers of Roma origin;"
  • "acknowledge wrongs done during the Second World War to Roma communities by deportation and extermination and consider ways of compensating for them;"
  • in the field of racial violence, "ensure protection of security and integrity of Roma, without any discrimination by adopting measures for preventing racially motivated acts of violence against them;" "ensure prompt action by the police, the prosecutors and the judiciary for investigating and punishing such acts and [...] that perpetrators, be they public officials or private persons, do not enjoy any degree of impunity;" "take measures to prevent use of illegal force by the police against Roma, in particular in connection with arrest and detention;" "encourage [...] communication and dialogue between the police and Roma;" "encourage recruiting members of Roma [...] to the police and other law enforcement agencies;"
  • in the field of education, "act with determination for eliminating any discrimination or racial harassment of Roma students;" "prevent the segregation of Roma students, while keeping open the possibility for bilingual or mother tongue tuition;" "cooperate actively with Roma parents, associations and local communities;" "include in text-books, at all appropriate levels, chapters about history and culture of Roma;" "recruit school personnel from among members of Roma [...] and [...] promote inter-cultural education;"
  • in the field of employment, "adopt and make more effective legislation prohibiting discrimination in employment, and all discriminatory practices in the labour market affecting members of Roma [...] and [...] protect them against such practices; take special measures for promoting employment of Roma in public administration and institutions, as well as in private companies;"
  • in the field of housing, "develop and implement policies and projects aimed at avoiding segregation of Roma [...] in housing;" "act firmly against local measures of denying residence to, and unlawful expulsion of Roma, and [...] refrain from placing Roma in camps outside populated areas, isolated and without access to health care and other facilities;"
  • in the field of health care and social protection, "ensure equal access of Roma to health care and to social security services and [...] eliminate any discriminatory practices against them in this field;" "initiate and implement programmes and projects in the field of health for Roma" and "involve Roma associations and communities and their representatives, mainly women, in designing and implementing health programmes and projects concerning Roma groups;"
  • in the field of access to public accommodations, "prevent, eliminate and adequately punish any discriminatory practices concerning access of members of the Roma communities to all places and services intended for the use of the general public, including restaurants, hotels, theatre and music halls, discotheques and others;"
  • in the field of media, "act as appropriate for the elimination of any ideas of racial or ethnic superiority, of racial hatred and incitement to discrimination and violence against Roma in the media, in accordance with the provisions of the Convention;" raise awareness among media professionals "of the particular responsibility to not disseminate prejudices and to avoid reporting incidents involving individual members of Roma communities in a way which blames the community as a whole [and] encourage methods of self-monitoring by the media, such as respect for a code of conduct for media organisations, in order to avoid racial, discriminatory or biased language;" "develop educational and media campaigns and educate the public about Roma life, society and culture and the importance of building an inclusive society [...] respecting their human rights and their identity;" "encourage and facilitate Roma access to media [...] and the establishment of their own media, as well as the training and formation of Roma journalists;"
  • in the field of participation in political life and policy-making, "take the necessary steps, including special measures, to secure equal opportunities for the participation of Roma minorities or groups in all central and local governmental bodies;" "develop modalities and structures of consultation with Roma political parties, associations and representatives, both at central and local levels, when considering issues and adopting decisions on matters of concern to Roma;" "involve Roma […] at the earliest stages in the development of Roma policies and programmes and in their implementation and ensure [...] transparency about such policies and programmes;" "organise training programmes for Roma public officials and representatives, as well as for prospective candidates to such responsibilities."
    The Committee further recommended that governments "include in their periodic reports [...] data about the Roma communities within their jurisdiction, including statistical data about Roma participation in political life and about their economic, social and cultural situation, including from a gender-perspective, and information about the implementation of this General Recommendation."v Finally, in three final recommendations not addressed to governments, the Committee requested that:
  • "intergovernmental organisations address, in their projects of cooperation and assistance to different States parties [...], the situation of Roma communities and favour their economic, social and cultural advancement;" v
  • "the High Commissioner for Human Rights consider establishing a focal point for Roma issues within the Office of the High Commissioner;"
  • "the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance give due consideration to the above recommendations, taking into account the place of the Roma communities among those most disadvantaged and most subject to discrimination in the contemporary world."
    ERRC and other non-governmental organisations contributed with written and oral information to the Committee's thematic discussion. ERRC's written submission, as well as other information concerning the human rights conditions of Roma and the activities of ERRC, are available on the Internet at http://errc.org or from ERRC upon request.

    It has become painfully clear in the decade since reunification that there are in fact two Germanys, linked by language and currency but with precious little mutual goodwill. Now, however, Gerhard Schröder'simage makers have discovered that there are two East Germanys as well.
    Yesterday the Chancellor set off from the pretty spa town of Bad Elster in the southern state of Saxony towards the beaches of the Baltic coast. For 12 days he will be on the road, touring one prosperous pocket after another. He wants to find out what conditions in the East are really like, say the spin-doctors.
    The map showing his planned stopovers has little relevance to average German newspaper readers. They are more familiar with the place names that figure in the daily dispatches, such as Potsdam, Magdeburg or Eberswalde. These are the cities and towns where foreigners are regularly beaten up or killed, and where blackshirts with pit bulls patrol the drab concrete housing estates. These are towns that Mr Schröder will not see.
    In his defence, the Chancellor might say that the tour was drawn up long before the latest far-right violence flared up. He will certainly be calling in Dessau, the town where a Mozambican man, Alberto Adriano, was kicked to death by neo-Nazis two months ago.
    And he has not shirked from addressing the issue. "We will not allow rightist thugs to destroy the reconstruction [of the East]," Mr Schröder said yesterday at his first port of call.
    Repeating his intention to ban the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD), the Chancellor threatened neo-Nazis with the "force of the state" and promised more help for the region's disadvantaged youth. But in the setting of the splendid gardens surrounding Bad Elster's bath house, such pronouncements seemed a little surreal.
    Things are not likely to get much better. Critics say the Chancellor's entourage will get the same treatment accorded to previous visiting dignitaries - right down to the villages being given a swift makeover in their honour. Whenever Erich Honecker, the last East German leader with truly regal powers, was scheduled to visit, local officials would temporarily fill the potholes in the streets and the empty shelves in the shops. The same trick was played on Helmut Kohl, who was so moved, that he promised a "flourishing landscape" within a few years. This is the landscape Mr Schröder will now behold.
    He will be taken to Wolfen, for instance, a town whosepopulation of 43,000 has shrunk by a quarter in the past decade. Or, to be precise, he will visit a modern photographic laboratory in Wolfen employing 56 people.
    More characteristic of Wolfen, where one in four people is out of work, are the empty warehouses and abandoned factories. About 40,000 jobs have disappeared in the region since reunification. The Chancellor will not see the wreckage of this, nor will he travel to the housing estates in the northern half of Wolfen, where nearly one in five voted for neo-Nazis in the last elections. Two of Mr Adriano's killers came from Wolfen.
    Right at the end of the tour is the intriguing village of Eggesin, close to the Polish border. Unlike all the "success stories" Mr Schröder will be hearing along the journey, Eggesin has little to boast of and much to be ashamed of.
    Two Vietnamese inhabitants were severely beaten up there last summer by skinheads, with the locals looking on. Even today the people of Eggesin are adamant that the Vietnamese had been in the wrong, because they had no place at a "German" fête.
    The Chancellor, however, will not be going into the village. He will merely be visiting the Bundeswehr barracks 10 kilometres outside Eggesin, where no Vietnamese in his right mind would venture.
    Still, the trip, which at its conception had looked like an easy public relations jaunt, threatens to turn into a nightmare. After his tax-cutting budget and the suicidal antics of the opposition, the Chancellor and his party are riding high in the polls. But all this could be lost if he is seen to be spending too much time on photo opportunities, and not enough fixing the country's problems.
    Another flare-up of violence in one of the places left off Mr Schröder's itinerary might give the impression that he is touring the wrong country.
    © The Independent

    The Yugoslav army is investigating whether two of its soldiers were involved in a plot to smuggle a group of Chinese illegal immigrants into Italy, Belgrade media said on Monday.
    Police in neighbouring Montenegro arrested the two Yugoslav soldiers -- Corporal Zeljko Modosan and Captain Aleksandar Todorovic -- along with 25 Chinese people and another man in a van on Saturday, the Blic daily reported.
    "The Montenegrin police on Saturday night at the Stanisici (police) checkpoint near Budva discovered in a Yugoslav army van...a group of 25 Chinese citizens and a certain Dragoljub Vlaovic, from Podgorica, who were being transported for the purpose of an illegal transfer to Italy," the newspaper said. Vlaovic was the organiser of the illegal transport scheme, it said.
    The report said the two Yugoslav soldiers were suspected of having forged travel documents and putting military licence plates on the van transporting the migrants.
    "The Chinese were very exhausted by the trip and had to be given immediate medical assistance," the newspaper said, adding that the group had paid 500 German marks each.
    "Modosan and Todorovic have admitted that they transported the Chinese group from Podgorica with the intention to bring them to the coast, where a speedboat was supposed to wait to transfer them to Italy," the report said.
    The Yugoslav army said it would undertake its own investigation following the one conducted by police in Montenegro, Serbia"s smaller sister republic in the Yugoslav federation.
    Army units in Montenegro controlled by Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and police loyal to pro-Western Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic have over the past few weeks been involved in a number of smuggling incidents.
    © ABC News

    After decades of seeing its workers leave in droves for a better life elsewhere, Spain is now encountering the problems of being on the receiving end of the immigration equation.
    Spain"s conservative government is presiding over rapid economic growth and closing the gap with its richer European Union partners.
    Even if from northern Europe, Spanish salaries still look modest, seen from North Africa, those same salaries represent a fortune within reach for a growing number of immigrants.
    The rise in numbers -- and recent outbreaks of race-related violence -- has prompted the Spanish government to announce controversial plans to tighten a newly approved immigration law.
    Spain"s 14 percent unemployment rate is officially Europe"s highest but the country is widely acknowledged to have a black economy in which illegal immigrants can find a living. But for those who attempt to do so, the price is high.
    Coastguards almost daily haul corpses from the sea as immigrants struggle to make it to Spanish shores.
    In the first four months of this year, 120 people died trying to cross the Strait of Gibraltar from Morocco in makeshift boats, according to the Dutch migrant support group UNITED. Other estimates put the death toll higher.
    Many Africans are now attempting the longer sea crossing from the African mainland to Spain"s Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean. The government says it wants to stem the flow by making it harder to qualify for residence and easier to expel illegal immigrants.
    Bolstered by a new parliamentary majority after a general election in March, it plans to revise the immigration law which was introduced earlier this year.
    But trades unions, human rights experts and economists say Spain could be wasting a chance to boost the country"s poor birth rate, which is currently the lowest in the world. More than 225,000 immigrants have requested residency since an amnesty period was launched in March, far more than expected.
    Around 175,000 are likely to qualify for residency. Another 50,000 immigrants who failed to register by the July deadline now face expulsion.
    "There"s no doubt that Spain, with a low birth rate and high life expectancy rates, will need people from outside," said Manuel Pimentel who quit as labour minister this year, amid reported differences with the government over immigration. Spain"s quota of 30,000 immigrant workers per year was "clearly not enough," he told newspaper El Pais, adding that the government saw immigrants as simply a law-and-order problem.
    Spain"s birth rate of 1.07 children per woman threatens to stifle the economy.
    Fewer workers will mean longer hours and more wage pressure, with a knock-on effect for inflation which is already among the highest in Europe.
    The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development has warned of a "significant deterioration" in Spain"s generous social security system because of an ageing population, and said higher pension contributions threatened competitiveness. The Spanish savings bank Caja de Catalunya has predicted that by 2011 the size of Spain"s workforce will have fallen by 1.8 percent, helping cut registered unemployment to five percent from about 10 percent to tighten the labour market.
    However, Spain was the European country which turned back most foreigners in 1999 -- nearly one million. The number of legal foreign residents in Spain remains small as a percentage of its 40 million population -- 800,000 in 1999 compared with 600,000 in 1997, according to the Interior Ministry.
    But the flow of illegal immigrants is picking up. In the southern Andalucia region, which is closest to Africa, police have arrested about 7,000 would-be immigrants so far this year compared to 5,500 in all of 1999 and 4,700 in 1998.
    Spain"s government opposed the existing version of the immigration law which when it was pushed through parliament by opposition and regional parties earlier this year. But after winning its new majority, the government made a tightening of the law one of its priorities and the cabinet recently approved a series of changes to its text. The reform will go to parliament in September.
    The government plans to introduce new criteria for admitting workers based on their skills and willingness to work in places where labour is in shortest supply, rather than moving to areas where family members already live.
    It will also be more difficult for families of immigrants already in Spain to gain residency. But legal experts say parts of the planned reform may be unconstitutional and the changes to speed up expulsion do not respect basic human rights. "We don"t want the current law changed...it"s flexible and has been positively assessed by the European Union," said Paloma Lopez, social affairs representative at Spain"s biggest trade union Comisiones Obreras.
    Despite the protests, the government has gone ahead.
    Racism appears to be on the rise in this country where only two to three percent of people in the most-densely populated regions are foreign, one of Europe"s lowest rates.
    In particular, the growing number of North Africans have trouble integrating, although there is ample work for them picking fruit, sweeping streets and doing other jobs that Spaniards no longer want. Gangs of local men and North Africans fought pitched battles for three days in the southern farming town of El Ejido earlier this year after a Moroccan man who was believed to be mentally disturbed stabbed a Spanish woman to death.
    Last summer, there were race riots in a suburb of Barcelona. Analysts say it could take a generation before Spain gets used to the idea of a multicultural society.
    "We have room for more people because there are fewer immigrants here than in other countries.
    But only when people can come here with their children does the real possibility of integration arise, through the second generation," said BBVA economist Manuel Balmaseda.
    © ABC News

    Nigerian political activist Akubuo Anusonwu Chukwudi, prominent in the 'Caravan for the Rights of Refugees and Migrants' is facing imminent deportation.
    Only the naive will believe that the decision of the German authorities to deport him, just after he had organised a very well publicised campaign about the diabolical conditions in the refugee camp where he lives, is unrelated.
    This is not the first time that Akubuo has faced the vengeance of the German authorities. In Autumn 1998, immediately after the five week protest demonstration through 44 German cities by the 'Caravan for the Rights of Refugees and Migrants', Akubuo, who took part throughout this protest, was whisked into a deportation prison with obscene haste.
    His deportation was prevented at the very last minute by energetic protests, which included an international fax campaign driven by publicity on the internet, demonstrations and the intervention of Nigerian human rights activists.
    This was possible because Akubuo had won the respect of many people because of his strong political commitment to fight for the rights of refugees and migrants in Germany and for justice and democracy in Nigeria.
    A matter of hours before Akubuo was to be deported, the responsible Administrative Court in Schwerin decided to suspend his deportation and conceded that deportation of the political activist could endanger his life.
    If they are successful in deporting Akubuo now, it is not only a massive blow to the 'Caravan for the Rights of Refugees and Migrants', it is also an attack on all those who oppose racism in Germany. We ask all those with an interest in justice to join this emergency campaign. More information in different languages will be available on the internet.
    Urgent and wide support is necessary to stop the deportation of Akubuo.
    There is a full background to the case on NCADC's web site , which has many points that could be incorporated into a letter.

    A Government-funded multi-million-pound anti-racism campaign is due to start by early autumn.
    The public awareness campaign will include anti-racism training with statutory and State bodies, school programmes aimed at promoting tolerance and extensive advertising and information initiatives.
    The campaign will be coordinated by the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism (NCCRI), set up under the aegis of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform.
    The strategic plan for the campaign was delivered to the Department by the NCCRI last month and will be considered at next month's Cabinet meeting. The NCCRI's director, Mr Philip Watt, said a very detailed evaluation of the proposed campaign had been carried out, including consultation with relevant groups and case studies of similar programmes in Canada and Australia.
    The NCCRI has already drawn up an anti-racism protocol for political parties, and Mr Watt said the campaign would highlight the need to ensure major policy documents were produced.
    He said the role of statutory bodies and State agencies and how they interfaced with ethnic minorities would also be examined. "Stronger action needs to be taken by companies, and also staff need to be drawn from ethnic groups," he said.
    "We need very strong leadership on this issue with a range of different people involved at local community as well as national level," Mr Watt added.
    © The Irish Times

    British Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, has asked the Czech Government to stop gypsies from arriving in Britain. In a meeting with President Havel near Prague, Mr Cook said that Britain would not be a "soft touch" for gypsies arriving in Britain, hoping to live on state benefit payments.
    After his 45 minute meeting with the Czech President, Vaclav Havel, Mr Cook emerged to say "Britain does not have an open door policy for those who claim asylum and who can not then prove it."
    He also said that Britain had no active plans to restore visa requirements for travellers from the Czech republic, and urged the Czech authorities to tackle internal problems which have left the gypsies as unrecognised citizens in their own land.
    The gypsies have been coming to Britain since a television programme broadcast in the Czech republic claimed they would get more in social security benefits in a week in Britain than they would in a month at home.
    Many of the gypsies have been sent home. Others remain in detention whilst their applications for asylum are checked. The Czech government has agreed to provide one million crowns for repatriating them.
    The gypsies claim they are discriminated against at home, and unemployment in their communities is much higher than the Czech average.
    Vaclav Havel has since appealed to Czechs to be more sympathetic to "latent racism" in his country, and the plight of gypsies.

    Gypsies living in squalid conditions remain victims of racism and violence across Europe, a United Nations report said Tuesday. Rights groups, including Medecins du Monde (Doctors of the World), endorsed the report"s call for European governments to boost protection of the minority, known by various names including Roma, numbering eight to 10 million.
    Persecution in Central and Eastern Europe is rife, including reprisal attacks on gypsies in Kosovo and raids on their slum settlements near Athens to clear space for facilities for the 2004 Olympic Games, the groups said.
    They took the floor in Geneva at the start of a two-day debate on gypsy rights, the first of its kind, at the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
    "Scarcely anything has been achieved and today Roma across the whole of Europe are still generally poor, uneducated, discriminated against in practically every sphere of activity," the report by South Korean jurist Yeung Sik Yuen said.
    "They"re frequently subjected to persecution and are victims of open acts of racism. Many...live in constant fear of violence being perpetrated against them because they are Roma," it said. "The Roma are often barred from restaurants, swimming pools and discos and are often the victims of violent racist acts by skinheads...," the report said. In Kosovo, gypsies were accused of collaborating with Serb forces and suffer attacks by ethnic Albanians. They need "around the clock" protection from KFOR international peacekeeping troops, the Society for Threatened Peoples, based in Goettingen, Germany, said.

    Gypsies are also being evicted from their dwindling settlements near Athens to clear the way for sports facilities for the 2004 Olympic Games, according to two rights groups, the Greek Helsinki Monitor and Minority Rights Group-Greece. They accused Prime Minister Costas Simitis"s government of failing to live up to pledges on minority rights and reported five raids on Roma settlements in the Aspropyrgos and Ano Liosia settlements near Athens since 1996.
    "Will the international community, including the International Olympic Committee, tolerate a cleansed, Roma-free Greater Athens as the host of these Games?," they asked. The Roma people, subjected to ill-treatment and discrimination for centuries, originated in northwest India.
    Many still lack access to health care and education, although only 20 percent are regularly on the move, according to Yeung. Yeung submitted his report to the U.N. Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights at its annual meeting in Geneva this month, and is one of its 26 independent experts.
    "The health indicators are particularly alarming: maternal and infant mortality rates are very high, respectively eight and five times as high as those observed in the main populations; life expectancy is considerably shorter," said Paris-based Medecins du Monde, aiding Roma in France, Greece and Spain. Of the minority"s original 150,000 members in Kosovo, only 10,000 to 20,000 still remain there, the Society for Threatened Peoples said.
    Greek Helsinki Monitor

    The German cabinet has approved additional funds to combat far-right extremism following a series of incidents this summer which has raised concern about neo-Nazism and racist attacks.
    The money will be added to the nearly two-hundred million dollars already spent on countering right-wing extremism, and in particular go towards rooting out far-right internet sites.
    Meanwhile, a court in Berlin has banned a march planned this weekend to mark the anniversary of the death of Rudolf Hess, the Nazi-era deputy leader. In an interview to be published Thursday in the German newspaper, Bild, the new Israeli President, Moshe Katzav has called on Germany to do all it can to fight neo-Nazism.
    He says the country has a special responsibility to ensure that persecution of Jews doesn't recur.
    © BBC NEWS

    MOSCOW (AP) - The Russian Orthodox Church's highest body on Wednesday closed a meeting highlighted by the decision to canonize Czar Nicholas II.
    The Bishops' Council also adopted a social doctrine that denounces the use of force in international affairs and that calls for the end of the death penalty, according to Russian news reports.
    The church opposes the death penalty not only because it can make a judicial error irreparable but also because the penalty causes controversy in society, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency.
    In the decision to confer the lowest level of sainthood on Nicholas, his wife Alexandra and their five children, the bishops said the family died as martyrs to their faith when they were executed by a Bolshevik firing squad on July 17, 1918.
    © Associated Press

    The Ukrainian captain of a ship and four of its officers (three Ukrainians and a Russian) were detained in Pasajes, in Guipúzcoa, last week, after 46 North African illegal immigrants were found to be travelling on board.
    As the vessel arrived in Pasajes port, 45 of them threw themselves into the water, although it is not known why they did so, and one man remained on board.
    Those in the sea were rescued, and all were taken to San Sebastián, where some needed medical treatment for dehydration.
    The immigrants were all from Morocco and Algeria, and the adults are being deported while those under the age of majority are being cared for in special centres.
    © Town Crier

    Oxford United defender Ross Weatherstone was fined for his part in a terrifying racist attack on an Asian taxi driver in which their cab overturned.
    Taxi driver Zafran Naeem's passengers called him "Bloody Paki" before kicking in the glass partition and strangling him over a fare dispute.
    Fearing for his life, Mr Naeem, who was driving the second division footballer and his friends home, lost consciousness as he was hauled into the back of the taxi and the cab careered into a lamp-post.
    The attack started when Mr Naeem, 22, turned his cab around because they were hurling racial insults at him.
    The driver - who suffered cuts and bruises to his neck - said that when he came to, some young men were kicking in his windscreen and shouting: "It was your fault, you stupid bloody Paki. You caused the accident."
    Magistrates in Reading ordered Weatherstone, 19, of Hagbourne Close, Woodcote, Oxon, and two other defendants to each pay a £500 fine and £200 costs.
    The footballer and his student friends were convicted of racially aggravated disorderly conduct.
    The court earlier heard that the four friends, who had been out drinking, hailed the cab at 3am at the railway station on January 23.
    Weatherstone denied hurling racist abuse at the driver and claimed he only ever used the word "Paki" once in his life when police questioned him about the aftermath of the incident.
    He told the officer: "All of a sudden - not being racist - we were surrounded by a lot of Paki drivers."
    The professional footballer claimed he only used the racial slur under pressure after a night in the cells.
    He added: "The use of racist abuse is not acceptable, especially in my profession."
    Weatherstone and Oxford United refused to comment on his conviction.
    © Ananova

    TAYSIDE POLICE have welcomed the introduction of a guidance manual to tackle racist crime and hope to attract more minorities to the force and start a training course dealing with the issue in the near future.
    The manual was published by the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland and will provide the force with advice on recording and investigating racist crime along with new training and recruitment measures.
    Superintendent Jon Miller, of the community affairs department, welcomed the manual, which was distributed to every police force in Scotland following the findings of the MacPherson report into the Stephen Lawrence inquiry.
    He praised the manual and admitted that it would help the existing strides that the force was making to tackle racist crime across Tayside.
    "We welcome this manual, which is a means of ensuring that all Scottish forces treat allegations of a racial manner with the same degree of consistency," he said.
    "It provides advice on a number of issues and sets out a standardised way of recording and investigating racist crimes that will reassure the community and we are delighted to have it.
    "We are in the final stages of designing a course for officers related to racist crime but we were already in the process of doing this before the manual was published, but that can also help with specific issues.
    "We also have a working group which meets monthly and includes the Assistant Chief Constable and senior personnel support staff and all areas are working through the recommendations of the MacPherson Report.
    "We have also established an advisory group with input from people from every minority community in Tayside to give us an external view of the situation.
    "We hope that the new manual will not only help us respond to racist crimes more sensitively and effectively but every form of crime in Tayside," he added.
    Superintendent Miller was also buoyed by the number of minority residents who attended a recent uniformed services recruitment day, wishing to become involved in various sectors of Tayside Police.
    "For several months we have been actively looking to attract minorities to the force as the MacPherson report laid stress to a diverse recruiting practice and we were delighted with the response," he added.
    © Ananova

    A man whose father was stabbed and critically injured in a attack in Dublin has left Ireland after a racist incident this week.
    Mr Christian Richardson (24), originally from Bristol, handed in his notice and left Ireland on Tuesday after the incident on the same day at North Strand, just outside the city centre, when he was challenged by a group of teenagers.
    Mr Richardson's father, Mr David Richardson, was stabbed seven times in June at Pearse Street as he walked with his wife to his son's home in Ringsend after a meal in a city-centre restaurant. A man has since been charged in connection with the incident.
    The couple, on their first trip together to Dublin, had been celebrating their wedding anniversary and their son's 24th birthday. Mr Richardson is white and his wife and son are black.
    He was stabbed three times in the chest, three times in the back and once in the hand and at one point it was feared he might die.
    However, he has now returned to Bristol and is making a good recovery, although doctors are concerned about his hand.
    Mr Christian Richardson has been living in Dublin for almost a year, and until the attack on his father it was "probably one of the best years in my life". He said he had many friends in Ireland and he believed those involved in racist attacks and abuse were only a very small minority.
    However, since the attack on his father, he had felt "a lot more aware and scared, in a way" about attacks. On Tuesday, while cycling to work at the Eastpoint Business Park, Clontarf, he passed a group of teenagers - three youths and a teenage girl pushing a pram - on the bridge over the railway at North Strand.
    Speaking from his home in Bristol, he told RTÉ Radio's Today With Pat Kenny that one of them said something to him as he passed. "I didn't hear it and I looked back, because I thought I might know him because I know a lot of people in Dublin now."
    One of them shouted at him: "What are you staring at, black bastard?" Mr Richardson said he started to pedal on and they began to chase him. "If they had caught me they'd have given me a hiding."
    He decided there and then that "I'm off. I don't have to take that from anybody". Later he gave in his notice at work, and the company accepted his resignation with regret. The same evening he flew home to Bristol.
    Since arriving home he has felt "less tense and more relaxed than in the last couple of weeks". Although he misses his friends, he said he had been feeling "a bit scared" living in Ireland.
    Colleagues have expressed their regrets at his departure, describing him as a good worker and very talented. Mr Richardson has had several jobs, mainly in customer service and sales.
    His girlfriend, Ms Emily Bermingham, is Irish and he had decided to come to Ireland with her.
    Mr Richardson said that in October they would be going for a month's holiday in Thailand. After that he might consider returning to Ireland.
    © Ananova

    Police brutality continues to be reported in Bulgaria, often at the expense of the country's 800,000 strong Roma community, Amnesty International said today.
    The organization is releasing reports detailing two alleged incidents of brutality perpetrated against Roma children by police officers (BULGARIA: Tsvetalin Perov, a 16-year-old Roma boy, severely burned in police detention. AI Index EUR 15/003/00; BULGARIA: The shooting of Atanas Djambazov, a 14-year-old Roma boy. AI Index: EUR 15/004/00).
    On 10 May 2000 in Sliven a slightly built 14-year-old Roma boy, Atanas Djambazov, was shot in the head and arm by a police officer guarding a wine factory bordering the town's Roma ghetto. Allegedly the police officer then walked away from the unconscious teenager, leaving him without assistance. Atanas was reportedly trying to escape from the factory yard after he and some friends had taken wooden pallets from it for firewood.
    On 29 April 2000 in Vidin a 16-year-old Roma boy, Tsvetalin Perov, suffered third degree burns to 15 per cent of his body in police detention. Epileptic and with learning difficulties, Tsvetalin has often been in trouble with the police, and was allegedly ill-treated by police officers on several occasions.
    On this occasion the police claim that Tsvetalin set fire to himself, yet there are inconsistencies in their account and crucial material evidence has vanished.
    Tsvetalin alleges that a police officer beat him unconscious and that he was then awoken by the pain of being on fire.
    The reported difficulty in extinguishing the fire and the severity of the burns make it probable that a fire accelerant such as lighter fuel was doused on Tsvetalin beforehand.
    "Thorough and impartial investigations should be carried out into these incidents and any similar episodes," Amnesty International said. Given the continuing frequency of reported police violence, the organization is calling on the Bulgarian authorities to devise and implement a national strategy to stamp out police brutality.

    Impoverished and socially excluded during the last 10 years of transition from Communism, the Roma community often finds itself drawn into abrasive contact with the law enforcement agencies.
    A 1999 survey by the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee showed that 60 per cent of Roma convicts alleged they were beaten during arrest or interrogation.

    SCHWERIN, Germany (Reuters) - Posters and flyers hailing Nazi Rudolf Hess a "martyr of peace" appeared around Germany on the 13th anniversary of his death Thursday amid national concern over the far-right movement.
    Police broke up a torchlit procession by some 60 neo-Nazis late Wednesday in the east German port of Rostock. Three of the marchers were charged with displaying symbols with banned racist or Nazi content.
    Hess, Adolf Hitler"s deputy, was found hanged in Berlin"s Spandau prison in 1987. He continues to exert a fascination for Germany"s small band of neo-Nazis, many of them disaffected youths from the depressed former communist east.
    They believe he was murdered by his British military captors.
    Hess fell into Allied hands in 1941 after parachuting into Scotland in an apparent personal bid to broker peace with Britain.
    Posters and flyers hailing him as a "martyr of peace" were found in Rostock and neighboring towns across the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.
    Police detained a 14-year-old youth caught in possession of 1,200 Hess stickers in the eastern town of Jena, in Thuringia.
    Police also confiscated small numbers of similar posters in Baden-Wuerttemberg, Hesse and Lower Saxony states in the former west Germany, generally perceived to have less of a problem with the far-right than the east. No incidents were reported at his grave in the Bavarian town of Wunsiedel.

    Also Thursday, a court in Potsdam, near Berlin, ordered two neo-Nazi skinheads convicted of a race hate attack on a black British building worker to pay several hundred thousand dollars in civil damages. This year"s anniversary of Hess"s death comes amid a debate over the extent of far-right attitudes and racist violence in a country still painfully conscious of its Nazi past.
    Media commentators were quick to point the finger at the far-right after a bomb at a railway station in Duesseldorf last month wounded 10 ex-Soviet immigrants, including six Jews -- although the culprits and their motives are still a mystery.
    Despite almost daily media reports of new racist attacks, there is little evidence to suggest a wider increase in far-right violence in the decade since the Berlin Wall fell.
    German parliament speaker Wolfgang Thierse said the annual commemoration of Hess"s death, while not involving huge numbers of people, nonetheless showed the wider problem with the far-right and neo-Nazism was not likely to go away soon.
    "Despite the public debate, appeals by politicians and legal threats, the activities of the far-right do not go away -- in fact it"s almost as if they see it as a challenge and feel more self-confident," he told South West German Radio.
    Wednesday the government announced it would spend a further $35 million over the next three years to combat right-wing extremism with educational and social projects.
    One state leader warned, however, the government could not take the lead in the fight against the far-right and racist violence if the population as a whole were not more prepared to come forward and denounce the culprits.
    "Individuals have got to show their teeth and stand up and fight," said Bernhard Vogel, conservative leader of Thuringia.
    © ABC News

    POTSDAM, Germany (Reuters) - A black British construction worker paralyzed from a racist attack by German neo-Nazis, was awarded several hundred thousand dollars in civil damages by a court near Berlin Thursday.
    Judges in Potsdam ordered Mario Poetter and Sandro Ristau to pay Noel Martin from Birmingham, England $234,000 now and $467 a month for the rest of his life.
    The two skinheads were convicted four years ago of reckless driving and causing grievous bodily harm for hurling a rock at Martin"s car during a high-speed chase. The ruling comes at a sensitive time amid an outcry in Germany over racist violence, especially in the former Communist east around Berlin.
    The court said the racist motive was a factor in its awarding what are, by German standards, heavy damages. As the skinheads overtook Martin, then aged 36, on a country road near Mahlow outside Berlin one hurled a rock through his windshield, causing him to swerve into a tree.
    He is paralyzed from the neck down. His passengers escaped with minor injuries.
    A lawyer for Martin, who was not in court for the verdict, said the chances of Poetter and Ristau, both in their 20s, being able to pay seemed small. One is still serving an eight-year jail term, the other was recently freed.
    However, in a further ruling the court said the insurers of the stolen car the two skinheads used to pursue Martin and two British friends should also pay compensation. How much was open to further negotiation. The defendants can appeal.
    © ABC News

    BERLIN - With an eye catching advertising campaign Opel cars and footbalclub Bayern München have made a public stand against xenophobia.
    In full page advertisements in national newspapers, a picture of a footbalfield with the text Ausländer raus? (foreigners out?) On the field are only the 4 German players of Bayern. 'without people from other cultures there's no decisive impulses,' according to the text. In an open letter to brief chancellor Schröder Opel and Bayern München write they want to contribute in this way to the discussion about violence against foreigners and other minorities.
    During the past few weeks government and the top of German business life have expressed their concern about the acts of violence by right extremist groups.
    The advertisement emphasizes the fact that players from 13 different nationalities play at multiple champion Bayern. At main sponsor people from 40 different countries work. 'Hatred against foreigners denies German economy couldn't be successful without people from other countries.
    Furthermore tolerance is an important condition for foreign investments in Germany, which in turn contribute to creating new jobs,' according to Opel.

    A French judge has ordered more technical advice before deciding whether to force internet portal Yahoo! to block French users from the sites that not enough money available to do anything else.
    Border patrols complained that they often detain the same people, trying again and again to complete their journey to Europe.
    The Turkish authorities say they are doing everything they can, but they admit that they do not have the resources to prevent thousands of illegal migrant slipping through the net.
    People smuggling has become a massive business controlled by powerful Mafia-type gangs.
    A ship carrying more than 400 Kurds arrived in southern Italy just over a week ago, prompting the Italian Government protest to Ankara.
    Now there are warnings that another ship is on its way from a Turkish port carrying another cargo of would-be immigrants, who will claim political asylum if they manage to reach the Italian shore.
    © BBC NEWS

    The leader of Germany"s Jewish community called on Friday for a united front against right-wing extremism after a media outcry over a mystery bomb blast that hurt a group of Jewish immigrants.
    "It must be a joint action so that everybody is reached," Paul Spiegel said in an interview with Germany"s SWR radio.
    "This is not just about people being persecuted. This doesn"t just hurt foreigners, Jews, minorities. This hurts Germany and our whole society," he said.
    Spiegel welcomed the soul-searching in Germany triggered by last week"s blast in Duesseldorf, which injured 10 immigrants from the former Soviet Union, six of them Jews.
    Police say the bomb may have been planted by extremists, although on Thursday they released the only person detained so far and said they were investigating in all directions.
    Spiegel said: "The last few days were not such a problem for me. More problematic were the days before, when we had to watch each day as foreigners were attacked and killed.
    Jewish cemeteries were vandalised weekly, and there were attacks on synagogues. That is what worried us."
    Police in the eastern town of Wismar said on Friday they had detained a drunken 20-year-old right-winger suspected of setting fire to a building used by the homeless. The fire caused minimal damage and nobody was injured.
    Last month, five young extremists were arrested in the same town for killing a homeless man. Wismar has been the scene of several attacks on foreigners and Jews over the last year.
    In the western town of Herne, police said they temporarily detained 20 men between the ages of 20 and 30 who were singing right-wing songs and shouting extremist slogans.
    © Reuters

    Over a thousand people took to the streets in the western German city of Duesseldorf on Saturday to protest against right-wing violence following a bombing that injured a group of Jewish immigrants.
    Waving banners that read "Fight Fascism" and "Stop the Nazi Terror," some 1,300 members of left-wing parties, the Jewish community and organizations representing foreigners marched to the site of the explosion where they held a minute"s silence.
    The blast in a commuter railway station, which injured 10 immigrants, six of them Jewish, has led to much soul-searching in a country still haunted by its Nazi past, although the police have no firm evidence linking the attack to the far right.
    A spokeswoman said police were continuing to investigate in all directions after releasing a suspect on Friday.
    Another man was released on Thursday. Meanwhile, police detained around 100 neo-Nazis in the eastern state of Thueringia on their way to a banned rally organised by the far-right National Democratic Party.
    Police in the southern town of Freilassing enforced a ban on another far-right demonstration, turning back some 35 people.
    Organisers had expected some 300 participants to turn up to show their support for Austrian far-right leader Joerg Haider. Germany has seen a surge in anti-foreigner attacks in recent years, particularly in the depressed former communist east.
    NEW EXTREMIST ATTACKS Police said three people were injured, two of them seriously, early on Saturday when a group of skinheads turned on a young man in the Bavarian village of Deggendorf, apparently because he looked like a southern European.
    In the eastern town of Rostock, police briefly detained 36 young people after they attacked an information stand against right-wing extremism, injuring one person.
    Angela Merkel, leader of the conservative opposition Christian Democrats, called for the establishment of a special police department to focus on racist crimes. A spokesman for Interior Minister Otto Schily told Reuters the government planned to boost the efforts of regional police in the 16 states in fighting such crimes.
    Schily told the Spiegel news weekly that xenophobic and anti-Semitic violence was alarming and shameful, but should not be exaggerated. "Germany today has mostly become a country that is very open and welcoming to foreigners," he said in an interview released ahead of publication on Sunday.
    © Reuters

    Police say they have detained 21 illegal immigrants, including 10 children, found hidden in the back of a lorry at Heathrow airport.
    The group, believed to be from Kosovo, were found in the airport's cargo area. The lorry had travelled to Britain from Germany.
    A spokesman for the Metropolitan police said the group were being held at the asylum seekers' refuge at the airport.
    © Ananova

    White English men and woman are fighting a rising tide of racism amid a growing fear of the consequences of speaking out, the head of a racial equality watchdog has warned.
    Whites of English origin living in Wales are complaining of discrimination for the first time ever but many choose to keep their identities secret.
    Naz Malik, chairman of Swansea Bay Race Equality Council, warned that racism against the English in Wales risked developing into a major problem.
    His comments come as the race equality watchdog takes up the case of two female BBC Radio Wales broadcasters who claim they are subject to racist attitudes at the corporation.
    The two women, one English and the other Asian, are both claiming discrimination as a result of their non-Welsh origin.
    BBC Wales dismissed the claims and said any such allegations were taken extremely seriously.
    Mr Malik said: "The English who are on the wrong end of this banter and abuse do not like it at all and feel very uncomfortable with the situation.
    "The BBC is not an isolated case. What we are seeing at the moment are the first recorded cases of English whites complaining about discrimination. Our records suggest that in the 20 years since we have been in existence we have certainly not come across that situation before.
    "I have been telephoned by three officers working for Welsh county councils who have complained of discrimination because of who they are - they all wanted to remain anonymous.
    "What it shows is that English people are afraid to go public because they feel afraid of retaliation. Unless we take positive action now and stamp this problem out it can only get worse. The message should be that racism is everybody's problem - your nationality should not come into it."
    © Ananova

    THIRTEEN Albanians suffering from kidney failure yesterday became the first exception to a July 13 decision by the health and welfare ministry to bar undocumented migrants from receiving free medical treatment at state hospitals.
    The patients will receive dialysis treatment three times a week at Hadjikosta hospital in Ioannina, northwestern Greece, the ministry stated.
    "The hospital is very close to the [Greek-Albanian] border and we have treated thousands of Albanians crossing over the border," the hospital's chief administrator Costas Vranos told the Athens News. "If we do not help these 13 Albanians, they will die.
    We have saved many lives. Two years ago, Albania honoured us with the Mother Teresa award because we have helped so many Albanians."
    Referring to the health ministry's recent circular to all state hospitals notifying doctors about a new policy to limit hospital care for undocumented migrants to emergency situations only, Vranos said this was part of the government's wider effort to "put some order" into the National Health System (ESY).
    As of last month, only migrants who reside legally in Greece are entitled to non-emergency medical care at state hospitals. The ministry's circular has been condemned by human rights groups in Greece as "inhuman".
    In related news, the semi-official Athens News Agency reported yesterday that Albania's opposition leader and former president Sali Berisha told a press conference on Wednesday that Hadjikosta hospital had refused to treat 30 Albanian kidney patients because they are not Christians. Outraged by Berisha's "unfounded claims", Vranos said this could not be further from the truth.
    "We have never turned our backs on Albanians who come here for treatment," Vranos said. "We have treated thousands. What Berisha said is just not true."

    A July 13 ministerial circular issued to all state hospitals calls for undocumented migrants to only be entitled to hospital care in emergency situations and until their condition is stable.
    A RECENT decision by the health and welfare ministry to clamp down on undocumented migrants getting medical treatment for free has been condemned by human rights groups as "inhuman" and just one more example of the state's hardball immigration tactics. At a press conference last week, Health and Welfare Minister Alekos Papadopoulos, however, stressed that undocumented migrants cost the national health system (ESY) a whopping 50 billion drachmas in medical bills annually.
    Based on a July 13 ministerial circular issued to all state hospitals, undocumented migrants will only be entitled to hospital care in emergency situations and until their condition is stable. The circular explicitly denies access for non-emergency health care.
    And in all cases, the hospital officials will be responsible for notifying the proper authorities when an undocumented migrant seeks any kind of medical attention. According to the president of KASAPI-Hellas (Union of Filipino Migrant Workers in Greece) Joe Valencia, undocumented migrants will not seek any medical attention out of fear of being denied treatment or turned in by the doctors.
    While this may serve to cut the health care costs, it also means that hundreds of thousands of foreigners living and working in Greece illegally may ignore their symptoms and end up with a worse health problem, or even pose a danger to public health.
    "How can doctors refuse to treat someone who is sick?" said Valencia. "We live in a civilised society and to deny someone medical care because they do not have legal papers is inhuman.
    This goes against the well-known Greek tradition of filoxenia - hospitality to foreigners who have knocked on your door and are in need of something."
    The vice-president of the Greek branch of Doctors of the World, Iro Varsami, also described the health and welfare ministry's measures as "inhuman".
    "If the hospitals do not accept these people who are in need," she said, "where will they go?"
    The president of the Association of Hospital Doctors of Athens and Piraeus (EINAP), Stathis Tsoukalos, also characterised the decision to deny undocumented migrants with medical treatment, even if they are able to pay for it, as inhuman. He told the Athens News that "It is impossible to believe that any doctor would implement this measure.
    It is impossible to believe that doctors would inform the police. I do not believe that this measure will be implemented by doctors."

    More details have emerged about the group of asylum seekers from Pakistan and Afghanistan who turned up in Iceland last week.
    Three Afghans and nine Pakistanis arrived in the country with papers claiming that they were to join a ship which was on its way to Iceland from Russia. When the ship failed to materialise, the authorities became suspicious.
    The men's documents proved to be falsified and the nine Pakistanis, who all carried legal passports, were sent back to their starting point in Oslo, Norway.
    It later transpired that the men were on their way to London where they had agreed to pay USD 7,000 to the organisers of their journey to be smuggled into the country.
    The three Afghans, meanwhile, have sought political asylum in Iceland and will remain in the country while their application is examined by Immigration, a process which could last six months.
    According to the head of Immigration, an increasing number of foreigners, from countries such as India, Nigeria, Ghana and Mongolia, have been seeking visas to Iceland in recent months.
    Iceland Review

    artikel hierThe Duesseldorf attack caused much soul-searching The authorities in Germany have drafted plans to curb right-wing violence following a series of recent attacks on Jews and foreigners.
    Public pressure for action has grown after a bomb blast last week at a railway station in Duesseldorf which injured 10 recent immigrants, six of them Jews.
    Politicians have warned that such attacks could damage Germany's international reputation and its attractiveness as an investment location at a time when German businesses are trying to attract skilled foreigners.
    State and federal interior ministry officials say they agreed during a telephone conference to concentrate their efforts on known neo-Nazi organisations, as well as improving security at Jewish sites.

    They said this would include, where possible, shutting down neo-Nazi sites on the internet, which is being used to link different extremist groups.
    "The Internet is becoming - slowly but very noticeably - a platform for right-wing agitating, and one shouldn't just watch it and do nothing any more," said parliamentary president Wolfgang Thierse.
    The officials said they would also set up a national database listing people convicted of racist offenses to help the police concentrate their efforts.
    There have also been demands for tougher penalties for offenders.
    Berlin's commissioner dealing with foreigners, Barbara John, said that robbers and thieves were often punished more severely than someone convicted of causing bodily harm.
    "Violence is made too easy, violence remains practically unpunished or punished too little," she said.

    However, the German Justice Minister, Herta Daeubler-Gmelin, said that new laws were not needed, but existing ones must be more strictly enforced.
    She said that anyone who committed an anti-foreigner crime must know that they would be severely punished.
    Statistics released by the German Government on Monday show an increase in anti-Semitic offences in the past three months to 157, compared with 110 cases during the same period last year. Other offences by right-wing extremists, generally against foreigners, also rose.
    The problem is particularly severe in eastern Germany, which is still suffering from high unemployment and the huge social changes that followed the collapse of communism.

    © BBC NEWS

    Italy's Foreign Ministry has summoned Turkey's ambassador to formally complain about the flow of Europe-bound illegal immigrants from there.
    The complaint was prompted by the weekend's arrival of 418 illegal immigrants on a ship that allegedly set sail from a Turkish port.
    The Foreign Ministry, at the instruction of Foreign Minster Lamberto Dini, expressed "the strong hope that Turkish authorities exercise their maximum efforts to prevent a repeat of these types of episodes".
    Ambassador Necati Utcan says his country is sensitive to Italy's concern and open to full cooperation in the campaign against people-smuggling.
    Italy is a leading entry point for illegal immingrants seeking jobs in Europe.
    It has been pressing its neighbors, particularly Albania but also Turkey, to improve policing at their ports to stop what are frequent arrivals of entire ships full of illegal immigrants.
    © Ananova

    A group of 22 Bangladeshi men have been deported to France after they were caught entering the UK illegally by hiding in the back of a lorry.
    The men, aged between their late teens and early 40s, were found with eight others in the vehicle following a 60-mile chase by police on Saturday.
    Eight police cars pursued the lorry along the M20 towards London and on to the A228 before the driver was forced into a ditch. The hour-long chase started at the cross-Channel ferry port at Dover.
    Six of the illegal immigrants were returned to France on Saturday, while the remaining two have claimed political asylum.
    © Ananova

    DETERMINED to force a referendum over the issue of allowing citizens the option of having their religious affiliation registered on new police-issued identity cards, the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece - following deliberations yesterday by a high-ranking ecclesiastical committee - announced that as of September 1, the church would begin collecting signatures in support of a petition demanding that a recent government decision to drop reference to religion be reversed.
    The decision infuriated Archbishop Christodoulos, and set the government of Prime Minister Costas Simitis and the country's powerful Orthodox Church on a collision course that earlier in the summer saw mass rallies of the Orthodox faithful demonstrating vociferously against the government in Thessaloniki and - a week later - in Athens. Prominent clergymen also waged the church's campaign from pulpits around the country as well as on its Piraeus-based radio station, while Christodoulos will reportedly raise the issue one more time in a Feast of the Transfiguration sermon on August 6.
    While the government has remained adamant in its position that its ID-card decision is purely a political matter falling within its own jurisdiction and consequently should be seen as a ruling "rendering unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar", the church resolutely disagrees. At one point a senior bishop called Justice Minister Michalis Stathopoulos "an enemy of the Church".
    At yesterday's Holy Synod meeting, Bishop Ierotheos of Nafpaktos stressed that the signature-collecting procedure was legal, claiming that it was provided for b Article 44 of the Greek constitution according to which a specific number of signatures can lead to a referendum.

    Marking the 56th anniversary of the Nazi massacre of Gypsies, a leader of the ethnic group said Wednesday that many of his people might leave Hungary because of continuing discrimination.
    ``The desperation among the Roma is huge,'' Aladar Horvath said after ceremonies commemorating the Porraymos, or ``the burning,'' as Roma describe the Holocaust. ``A mass exodus cannot be ruled out.''
    Hundreds of Gypsies, also known as Roma, turned out for the ceremonies before Hungary's parliament to commemorate the Aug. 2-3, 1944, massacre of thousands of Gypsy inmates at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.
    They had been confined to the camp under a 1916 Hungarian anti-vagrancy law.
    ``We cannot allow this to happen again. Our common home, Hungary, cannot let the Roma suffer discrimination in education and job opportunities,'' Horvath told the gathering.
    Gypsies complain of continuing bias in employment, housing and education, not only in Hungary but in other eastern European countries. A Gypsy group has gone to Strasbourg, France, to address their grievances to the European court of human rights.
    Their spokesman, Jozsef Krasznai, returned to Hungary on Tuesday to organize another group wishing to leave Hungary because of discrimination. Krasznai was quoted by the Budapest daily Nepszava on Wednesday as saying that up to 300 will leave.
    Krasznai's mother, Friderika Krasznai, survived incarceration at a detention camp in western Hungary, but her father and grandparents perished in another Nazi camp, Dachau.
    ``I am ashamed that Hungarian Roma are in Strasbourg seeking redress for their grievances, not trusting in the Hungarian legal system,'' said Budapest Mayor Gabor Demszky, addressing the gathering.
    As early as the mid-1930s in Germany, Gypsies were rounded up and taken to Dachau to be subjected to medical experiments. In Hungary, the round up began in early 1944.
    About 21,000 Gypsies died at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp, according to Franciszek Piper of the Auschwitz State Museum. Also, about 600,000 Jews living in Hungary perished during the Holocaust.
    © Associated Press

    Britain announced plans on Wednesday to take and store fingerprints of asylum seekers coming into the country, saying it was "determined to clamp down on abuse" of immigration rules. The Home Office (interior ministry) said the new system, under which automated fingerprinting equipment will be set up at immigration and asylum screening units, would allow information to be shared with Britain"s European partners.
    "The system will allow for the electronic input, search and storage of fingerprints taken from asylum seekers and other specific categories of immigration applicants," the Home Office said in a statement. It gave no details of the specific categories included. The system is to be introduced in Britain in two phases, the first scheduled to be complete by December this year and the second by March 2001.
    It will also feed into Eurodac, a planned EU central database to contain fingerprints of asylum applicants and certain other third-country nationals.
    Immigration has swept to the top of British and EU political agendas after the horrific deaths of 58 Chinese illegal immigrants who were found dead in a truck just arrived at the British port of Dover in June. The Dutch-registered truck had travelled unchecked by ferry from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge before reaching Dover. It may have earlier passed through other European countries. France, which currently holds the EU presidency, pledged last week to make regulating and controlling immigration into the bloc a top priority.
    The Home Office said the new fingerprinting system would force EU member countries to take responsibility for illegal immigrants they find and to discourage "asylum shopping" -- where potential immigrants go from state to state trying to get in.
    "The automated fingerprint identification system will help us to cooperate with other European countries to tackle illegal immigration effectively," said Immigration Minister Barbara Roche as the plan was announced. She said Britain had "a long tradition of providing refuge to those fleeing persecution" but added: "We are determined to clamp down on abuse of the system."
    © Reuters

    Doubt has been cast on the validity of hundreds of deportation orders served on failed asylum-seekers following a High Court decision allowing the return to the State of a Romanian man who was being deported.
    Immigration officers deporting Mr Dimitru Popa to Romania were forced to return him to the State after Mr Justice Herbert ordered his appearance before the High Court.
    By the time of the court hearing on Tuesday, Mr Popa (26) was already en route to Amsterdam, from where gardaí with the National Bureau of Immigration planned to bring him to Romania.
    However, his lawyers contacted Aer Lingus officials at Dublin Airport, who in turn contacted the pilot. When the aircraft landed at Amsterdam, the pilot informed the gardaí of the order and Mr Popa - who legally was still regarded as being on Irish soil - was returned to Dublin. He spent last night in Mountjoy jail.
    The Department, which says it fully complied with legislative requirements on deportation, is expected to contest vigorously Mr Popa's application for a judicial review in the High Court today. The Minister for Justice, Mr O'Donoghue, last night declined to comment on the case, saying it was sub judice.
    However, a spokesman said the Department's procedures had been implemented fully in accordance with the provisions of the Immigration Act. This allows for a deportation notice to be either delivered to a person or sent by registered mail.
    Mr Popa will tell the court that he never received notice of the result of his asylum appeal, nor did he receive the deportation order sent to him by registered mail in April. Both this letter, and a copy sent to the Legal Aid Board solicitor handling his case, were returned undelivered.
    Detectives searching for another rejected asylum-seeker arrested Mr Popa on Tuesday in Rathmines, Dublin, and deported him immediately.
    Mr Popa got a message to his brother, who contacted a solicitor, Mr Con Pendred. Within an hour, Mr Pendred secured an order of habeas corpus from the High Court.
    Mr Popa came to the State from Romania two years ago seeking political asylum. He claims to have suffered persecution arising from his mother's involvement with the Communist party during the Ceausescu era.
    Last April, his application was refused and he travelled to Britain. He later returned to the State and lived under a false name. When arrested, he was carrying documentation claiming he was Italian.
    Mr Pendred said there were "serious consequences" for the Government if it sent back an asylum-seeker without a proper hearing.
    "If the deportation is to be effected, it's only fair proceedings that the person involved should be notified and given the opportunity to consult with lawyers."
    He accused the Department of proceeding with the deportation even though it knew court proceedings were afoot. Departmental sources say it would be impractical to track down every asylum-seeker to deliver deportation notices by hand.
    The Supreme Court is currently examining the constitutionality of new legislation that would give the authorities power to detain intended deportees. This is not the first legal challenge to the Department's deportation procedures. Last year, deportations came to a halt after the Supreme Court ruled that part of the Aliens Act was unconstitutional.
    Mr O'Donoghue subsequently introduced new legislation that restored the State's right to deport non-nationals.
    So far this year, 473 deportation orders have been issued and 50 people have been deported. Last year, six people were deported.
    © The Irish Times

    In the wake of a series of xenophobic attacks, anti-Semitism researcher Wolfgang Benz has accused German Interior Minister Otto Schily using nothing more than "big speeches" to counter the challenge posed by right-wing extremism in Germany.
    Big words alone won't be enough to stop the country's growing problem with right-wingers, Benz, a professor of anti-Semitism research at the Technical University of Berlin, told the Frankfurter Rundschau on Monday. "A problem of social orientation" that gets expressed in racist slogans can only be partially addressed by the politics of law and order, said the director of the Berlin-based Centre for Anti-Semitism Research.
    The historian says the only term that occurs to him is "hysterical raving," as he listens to the appeals issuing lately from Germany's parliament following this week's bombing attack in the western city of Duesseldorf and a series of right-wing attacks across the country.
    "The whole hysteria starts up all over again, " said Benz, whenever "something happens" - like the incident last weekend in eastern German Eisenach in which a gang of right-wing extremists assaulted and chased two African asylum seekers through the city.
    When things die down again, however, instead of keeping up a constant battle against extremism, "the politicians lean back" and take it easy except for occasional demands for more police.
    Benz has had his own share of experience with momentary excitement and not knowing where to turn for fresh perspectives on a problem.
    Just a year ago, his institute tried to get a research project off the ground to observe the state of Brandenburg's mobile counselling team in their daily work dealing with right-wing-oriented youths. As part of the project proposal, Benz asked state politicians in Berlin and surrounding Brandenburg to provide him with a position. He never got one.
    Benz said the experience proved to him that it's not enough "to call the fire department when it's burning somewhere." Instead, he said, it is more important "not to forget fire prevention, and to keep democracy alive." Benz said he did not believe that appeals to citizens to show more civil courage were very effective after violence has already been committed.
    Green Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer is the latest German politician to call on the entire society to fight rightist extremism.
    Fischer said at the weekend that last week's bombing in Duesseldorf in which numerous people - including nine Jews from the Soviet Union - were injured showed that the point had been reached at which the silent majority must finally break its silence.
    Benz certainly hears what these politicians are saying, but he questions their seriousness, likening the demand for people to get more involved and shoulder more civic responsibility to "a cry for help from babes lost in the woods."
    Dealing with right-wing extremism wherever and whenever it occurs as well as "making clear to adults how they should respond to these youths" are both much more effective ways of combatting the problem, according to Benz. After all, he said, the problem is going to be around for a long time to come.
    Benz adamantly rejected interpretations that portray the right-wing scene as a group of conspirators with a reliable network at their disposal that can shake the very foundations of the republic. According to the historian, there is nothing new about the kind of right-wing extremism Germany is experiencing.
    What has changed, however, said Benz, is a basic outlook on life that has been shaped to reflect radical, right-wing thought. Unlike the neo-Nazis, the average person's view of the world is "no longer closed," said Benz. Instead, he stressed, it has become "informed by racism", thus providing an outlet for "social frustration." The director of Hesse state's publically-funded Centre for Political Education, Klaus Boehme, is another leading figure who fails to see any kind of "new quality" emerging in German extremism.
    According to Boehme, since the 1980s it has been a well-known fact that 17 per cent of the German population is sympathetic towards right-wing views.
    Up to now, said Boehme, anyone referring to that statistic has been "a lone voice in the wilderness," but he admits that the latest spate of right-wing violence has made clear the need "to take the phenomenon more seriously."
    © Frankfurter Rundschau

    Peacekeepers rushed to the scene Three Roma gypsies from the same family are among six people to have been murdered by gunmen in one night of violence in Kosovo.
    Peacekeepers said the three - a father, his son and his nephew - were killed on Wednesday night by a booby-trap mortar outside their house in the village of Mali Alas near the Kosovan capital, Pristina. A second son was injured.
    In two later attacks, a 15-year-old Albanian boy and an Albanian couple were shot dead by unidentified gunmen.
    The killings come just a week after Kosovo Albanian and Serb leaders signed an agreement in the United States aimed at putting an end to inter-ethnic tensions in the province and reintegrating its separate communities.
    Correspondents say Gypsies are often accused of participating in a Serb campaign of terror against Albanians before and during last year's Nato air strikes.

    Trip wire
    According to the K-For multinational force, a patrol of Finnish peacekeepers investigating a fire in Mali Alas found an unexploded mortar bomb tied to a fence.
    "They started to warn off the people in the area. Three Roma individuals came out of their house and were walking towards the Finnish patrol when the improvised explosive device was detonated," K-For's Lieutenant Nick Mansfield said.
    A UN police spokesman said the mortar bomb appeared to have been detonated by a trip wire.

    Albanians 'to blame'
    A relative of those killed in the blast, Xhemajl Salihu, blamed local Albanians for planting the device.
    "The wooden fence around our house was set on fire and we ran into a booby trap when we came out to put out the flames.
    "We've been attacked before, we had our car stolen, but that is nothing compared to the death of my brother, cousin and his son," he said.
    "I don't know why Albanians have done this to us knowing I was together with the other villagers when Serb forces drove us out from our homes. I'm the oldest left now in my family."
    Mali Alas is a mixed Roma and Albanian village in an area of Kosovo where Serbs, Roma and ethnic Albanian communities live in close proximity to each other.
    © BBC NEWS

    The Spanish government is expected today Friday to approve tougher immigration laws which could lead to the expulsion of tens of thousands of illegal immigrants.
    The government said it would go ahead with the changes in spite of fierce criticism from opposition parties, trade unions and human rights groups.
    The legislation will take effect from January next year; it will authorise the expulsion of immigrants who are refused permission to stay in Spain under a process of regularisation that's been conducted in the last few months.
    More than two-hundred-thousand immigrants have applied; of a hundred-thousand cases decided so far, more than twelve thousand have been rejected.
    © BBC NEWS

    Turkish security forces have detained 99 people trying to leave the country illegally and gain entry to the European Union.
    They were all detained near the Turkish border with Greece where hundreds of arrests are made every week.
    The Italian Government has called on Turkey and Greece to do more to prevent the smuggling trade after more than 400 migrants arrived by boat in southern Italy on Sunday.
    This is the smuggling season when warm weather and calm seas tempt thousands of people to try their luck on the route to Europe.
    Some try to wade across the Meric River which separates Turkey and Greece, others clamber into small boats which set off under cover of darkness for the Greek islands.
    Nearly all the would-be migrants have paid thousands of dollars to highly organised smuggling gangs.
    The latest group to be captured includes Iranians, Iraqis, Afghans and Palestinians - the majority are probably ethnic Kurds.
    So far this year, more than 5,000 people have been detained by the Turkish security forces but no one knows how many have evaded capture and made it into the European Union.
    The Italian Government wants Turkey and Greece to tighten control over illegal immigration but the Turkish authorities say their forces are already stretched to the limit.
    There is so much money to be made for the smugglers and so many people willing to risk a journey into the unknown to escape economic hardship or political persecution.
    There are no easy answers.
    © BBC NEWS

    The judge was satisfied that some racist comments were made A High Court compensation bid by four black men who claimed they were subjected to a racial abuse and bullying while on remand at a 'white man's prison', has been dismissed.
    The four - Marnon Thomas, Nigel Johnson, Hopeton Falconer and Patrick Campbell, all of West Indian origin and who all live in Birmingham - were among just five black men at Swansea Prison in 1994.
    The men that within hours of their arrival at the jail, other inmates were making 'monkey impersonations' and using derogatory language while prison staff did nothing.
    The court heard that the racial tension culminated in a 'general melee' of violence in which the four were set upon by 20-30 white prisoners and badly injured during an association period.
    The men were arrested in Aberystwyth where they had gone to celebrate Mr Johnson's birthday.
    They were later arrested in the town and remanded in custody at Swansea jail in October 1994. They were later released in December when all charges against them were dismissed by magistrates.
    Mr Justice Buckley said evidence in the case had "reached unacceptable extremes" and he rejected as "unacceptable" the four's description of their time in prison as a "living hell."
    The judge said: "Overall, and it may be some small comfort to the claimants, I do not believe that they have wholly invented their allegations as was suggested on behalf of the Home Office.

    Assaulted and injured
    "They satisfied me that some racist comments were made by some inmates and that some of those were probably heard by prison officers.
    They had, on one occasion, "undoubtedly" been assaulted and injured by other inmates and that had left them "extremely annoyed and upset" but the judge ruled the prison authorities could not be held responsible for that.
    The allegations made by the four were "at times contradictory" and their complaints about their treatment in prison had "escalated as time has gone by," the judge added.
    He said he was satisfied that the prison governor's decision not to cancel an association period at which the four were assaulted had not been negligent.
    To prove their claim of "misfeasance in public office" against prison staff, the four would have had to "establish abuse of power by prison officers in bad faith."
    During a trial spanning three weeks, the Home Office had denied all the allegations levelled by the four against the prison authorities.
    © BBC NEWS

    Yahoo could face daily fines of more than $150,000 A French judge has ordered a series of tests to be carried out to help decide if one of the world's leading internet service providers, Yahoo, has the technical means to stop internet users in France accessing sites that are illegal in the country.
    A ruling last month gave Yahoo's French site until 24 June to make it impossible for people in France to gain access to auctions of Nazi memorabilia - describing them as an "offence to the collective memory" of French people.
    The judge's call for the tests came during a hearing on Monday into whether Yahoo had complied with June's court order.
    Witnesses called by the two sides disagreed on the effectiveness of internet screening systems and the judge adjourned the case until next month while the tests are carried out.
    The case was brought after a complaint from a Paris-based group, the International League Against Racism and anti-Semitism - known by its French acronym Licra.

    French law
    French law prohibits the exhibition or sale of objects with racist overtones, and Yahoo could face daily fines of more than $150,000 if the high court finds that the US-based company has failed to comply with last month's ruling.
    Yahoo's French language site, fr.yahoo.com, had blocked access to the pages auctioning Nazi memorabilia ahead of Monday's hearing.
    But surfers can browse the same pages, which routinely offer hundreds of real or imitation Nazi artefacts every day, on the global site yahoo.com.
    If the judge rules against Yahoo, it will make material in a foreign language and not specifically aimed at the French population actionable under French law just because it is possible to access that material in France.

    Screening technology
    Attorneys for Yahoo argued that although screening software exists, no existing technology could effectively keep all French users from seeing racist sites.
    They also said that blocking certain keywords, such as 'Nazi', would hinder free speech and hurt people doing legitimate historical research.
    "Imagine that we would decide to implement what's being asked of us," said Philippe Guillanton, chief executive for Yahoo's French site.
    "Tomorrow, a judge from any country could come to a Web publisher from any other country and ask them to pull down such and such because it's unacceptable in that country.
    "The web doesn't work that way," Mr Guillanton said, "The web is based around the concept of user responsibility."

    'Screening possible'
    Lawyers acting for Licra accused Yahoo of acting in bad faith and said it should pay a daily fine of $186,900 during the assessment period.
    "We're demanding the hard disk be cleaned in the name of morality and French law. If access cannot be filtered, it should be suppressed," lawyer Stephane Lilti said.
    Information technology company Infosplit was called by the plaintiffs.
    Infosplit argued that their technology could keep 95% of surfers from a particular country from a web site, and has set up a demonstration at its site to illustrate its claim.
    © BBC NEWS

    Berlin - They campaign for the "Aryan nation" and a "national socialist revolution".
    They organise concerts all over Germany for extreme right-wing bands and are represented by their own delegations every time members of the right-wing German National Party (NPD) march along the streets of German towns and cities. The neo-Nazi network, "Blood and Honour", is among the most militant sections of the neo-Nazi movement and boasts the best contacts with the rest of Europe.
    The German arm of the network, "Blut und Ehre", uses its own website, a glossy magazine and several distribution companies to supply its followers with dubious CDs and other propaganda material.
    It has also become common at concerts organised by the group for encouragement and calls to be given for attacks upon the security forces. A recent concert in Holvede near Hamburg proved to be no exception.
    When the police tried to stop a concert being given in front of 400 skinheads by a right-wing band from Magdeburg, Sperrfeuer ("Barrage"), the audience turned on them and attacked the officers.
    The following day, the Weser-Ems section of Blut Und Ehre threatened to exact revenge claiming, "it is absolutely incomprehensible that some police still ask why people such as Kay Diesner shoot police officers. They would be better off asking why more people do not." The Berlin neo-Nazi Kay Diesner has been considered a martyr by the right-wing cause since he was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of a police officer.
    Meanwhile, the neo-Nazi scene is no longer satisfied with simply calling for people to follow his example. An announcement last year called for neo-Nazis to help establish a so-called "brown underground". Wherever in Germany this has happened, Blut und Ehre activists have been involved.
    The most recent example were the "national revolutionary cells" in Berlin and Brandenburg, uncovered by the authorities in the act of planning attacks against members of the left-wing scene. Two of the neo-Nazis involved - including Carsten S. who works undercover for the Office for the Protection of the Constitution in Brandenburg - organised concerts for Blut und Ehre in Brandenburg and were responsible for maintaining connections with like-minded groups in Sweden and Britain.
    A glance at the Swedish Blood and Honour group's website shows the close links that exist between German neo-Nazis, the British fascist group "Combat 18" and the Swedish "National Socialist Front" which was responsible for the murder of two police officers. Further evidence was provided when around 200 neo-Nazis from Germany, Britain, Norway, Sweden and Denmark gathered in the small southern Swedish town of Klippan in June to celebrate midsummer.
    "Master of ceremonies" at the event was Stephan L. from Berlin, regarded as the head of Blut und Ehre in Germany and the driving force behind the group's increasingly militant activities. The meeting in Sweden cheered the presence of a prominent Bavarian neo-Nazi: Bernd P. from Bamberg, singer with the Blood and Honour band "Hate Society" and considered one of the most important German contacts for Combat 18. Members of the British neo-Nazi group travelled to Bamberg several times over the last 12 months to take part in Blut und Ehre meetings.
    The National Office for the Protection of the Constitution desribed the contact as simply "the activities of individual leading activists" which in no way called for acts of terrorism to be carried out in Germany. However, Stig Larsson, a Swedish expert on the extreme right-wing scene, warns that these journeys abroad under the guise of "concert visits" should not be underestimated. In conversation with the Frankfurter Rundschau, he pointed out, "On the fringe, arrangements are made for militant campaigns."
    A similar meeting took place near Oslo in November 1999 between German, Swedish, British and Norwegian neo-Nazis with links to Blood and Honour and Combat 18. The Germans issued a request for support for action undertaken against political opponents in southern Lower Saxony. One month later, the police in Lower Saxony warned the leadership of the Federation of German Trades Unions in Goettingen and a number of left-wing housing associations to be on the lookout for right-wing letter bombs.
    The neo-Nazi message seems to be getting through to younger fans of Blood and Honour bands - in Guben for example. Before driving an Algerian asylum seeker, Farid Guendoul, to his death, his persecutors listened to a banned music cassette "Republic of Rogues" by the Berlin band Landser ("Trooper") featuring the lyrics: "What if an army of millions of the Third World's starving people overran us one day. How would you stop them? With your arguments? Me, I'd get my gun out blow them all away!"
    © Frankfurter Rundschau

    The latest ship carrying illegal immigrants for Europe - this time, 418 of them - ran aground yesterday off southern Italy, prompting Italy to complain its neighbours were failing to stop the flow, reports AP. Initial inquiries showed the boat left a Turkish port and stopped at a Greek port to resupply, officials said.
    Police said the ship, which ran aground off Crotone, carried Kurds and others from Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Senegal and elsewhere. In Turin, meanwhile, police stopped 124 Kurds, including about 60 children, in a train yesterday. They had requested political asylum from Italy upon landing at Crotone, but immediately set out for France when Italy released them, authorities said.
    Deutsche Presse-Agentur reports a further 367 refugees reached Calabria overnight from Albania. Officials said an average of 500 refugees per week had succeeded in crossing from Albania into Italy during July.
    © Refugees Daily

    Black and Asian workers are facing "appalling" levels of verbal and physical racist abuse ranging from unfair sackings to death threats, according to a new report.
    The TUC is calling for urgent action from the Government, employers and unions after discovering "serious and widespread" racism in workplaces across the country.
    An analysis of 450 calls made to a special TUC telephone hotline last month revealed a catalogue of incidents which has forced some workers to take time off with sickness or depression.
    One of the calls was from a black communications engineer from Manchester who faced racist comments every day for months.
    Work colleagues tried to set him alight and he received death threats in the post, leaving him feeling suicidal. Police were investigating his complaints.
    A Chinese engineering machinist from Merseyside told how he has been off work for several months with depression after being "tormented" by racist names and comments.
    In another case, an Asian management consultant from London was promoted to an area where he had no experience - just before his firm submitted a report to the Equal Opportunities Commission - and later sacked.
    "Unfortunately, this is just the tip of an iceberg, but everyone should remember that racial discrimination is illegal and will not be tolerated by decent people," TUC general secretary John Monks said.
    "Employers, Government and unions must act in partnership to end the shocking catalogue of suffering faced by black and Asian workers."
    The TUC is urging employers to train workers on resisting racism and calling on the Government to introduce mandatory ethnic monitoring.
    © Ananova

    Deputy Prime Minister Devlet Bahceli said on Saturday Turkey could not grant minority status to Kurds as that would legitimate the separatist war waged by Kurdish rebels. Kurdish guerrilla leader Abdullah Ocalan -- sentenced to hang for treason last year -- has from his jail cell ordered his fighters to cease fire and instead wage a peaceful campaign for cultural rights for the country"s 12 million Kurds.
    The European Union has urged Turkish authorities to ease restrictions on the use of Kurdish language in education and broadcasting and improve its chequered human rights record as a step towards EU membership. Turkey has so far refused, saying Kurds enjoy equal rights with Turks before the law.
    Only non-Moslems have minority status in Turkey under the 1923 Lausanne Agreement and rights such as that of education in their own languages. "It is impossible for us to accept such an approach which on ethnic basis could justify a terror movement... by producing a new minority concept that goes beyond the minority description made by the Lausanne Agreement," the nationalist Bahceli told mainstream daily Hurriyet in an interview published on Saturday. Bahceli"s conservative coalition partners appear to take a softer line on Kurdish cultural rights.
    Conservative Mesut Yilmaz, coordinator for Turkey"s EU membership bid, said last week that now "terrorism" was over Ankara could take unprecedented steps. Ocalan"s Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) fought for self-rule in the mountainous southeast for 15 years, in a conflict that cost over 30,000 lives.
    Fighting has now largely ended. Bahceli said there was no ban on using Kurdish in daily life but he opposed any further moves such as officially allowing education in Kurdish.
    "That would mean handing down what the PKK has been seeking for years as middle term goals in order to reach its final target," he was quoted as saying by the daily.
    The Nationalist Action Party leader also objects to abolishing the death penalty, saying that would save Ocalan"s neck. Scrapping it is a condition of EU membership.
    © Reuters

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