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NEWS - Archive for January / February 2000

February 2000 Headlines

Headlines February 27, 2000

DESIGNER REFUSES TO SKIRT THE NAZI ISSUE(Italy)

FRANCE MAY TAKE FURTHER ACTION AGAINST AUSTRIA

FREEDOM IS NOT A PARTY(Austria)

NEW INITIATIVE TO HELP MIGRANTS, REFUGEES FIND JOBS(Greece)

OUT IN THE COLD(Poland)

ETHNIC MINORITY MPs LIKELY TO GO ON STRIKE(Romania)

US STRONGLY CRITICIZES TURKEY ON HUMAN RIGHTS

PLAN TO KEEP ASYLUM SEEKERS IN 'PRISON SHIPS' (UK)

MAJORITY WANT LIMITS ON REFUGEE NUMBERS(Ireland)

CLOSE THE LAGERS, BUILD HOSPITALITY(Italy)

Headlines February 22, 2000

SWEDEN: RISE OF HATE VIOLENCE THREATENS FREE EXPRESSION

JOHAN LEMAN'S STATEMENT OVER THE VLAAMS BLOK (Belgium)

RACISM STILL PERVADES MAJOR INSTITUTIONS(UK)

BRITISH NEWSPAPER ACCUSED OF RACE HATE

THE RETURN OF POLITICAL ANTI-SEMITISM(Hungary)

NEW IMMIGRATION LAWS MAY LEAD TO EXPULSION 2000 ASYLUM SEEKERS(Norway)

LIECHTENSTEIN: MOST ASYLUM SEEKERS PER INHABITANTS

SPANISH DOCTORS CHALLENGE PINOCHET MEDICAL REPORT

Headlines February 18, 2000

LITHUANIA ADOPTS LAW ON WAR CRIMES TRIALS IN ABSENTIA

PINOCHET VICTIMS IN FRANCE DEMAND ANOTHERMEDICAL OPINION

SPANISH NEWSPAPER PUBLISHED THE LEAKED TEXT OF THE PINOCHET MEDICAL REPORT ON 16 FEBRUARY

GERMAN HOLOCAUST FUND SEEN FACING THORNY BATTLES

HAIDER BARRED FROM THE HOLOCAUST MUSEUM (Canada)

AUSTRIAN CHANCELLOR'S DOUBTS OVER HAIDER

MANY MIGRANTS SAID SUFFERING FROM PSYCHOLOGICAL DISORDERS (Greece)

VIOLENT INCIDENTS AGAINST IMMIGRANTS FOLLOWING DEATHS OF LOCAL PEOPLE (Spain)

VOJVODINAN HUNGARIANS COME (Hungary)

TURKISH POLICE PREVENTED AN ANTI-FASCIST RALLY IN ISTANBUL (Turky)

Headlines February 15, 2000

GOOD AND BAD NEWS FROM ITALY(By Giuliano)

DAMAGING HYSTERIA(UK)

NAZI_ERA PROPERTY DEAL RETURNS TO HAUNT AUSTRIAN POLITICS

SAIFULLAH JABBAR MAY NOT TAKE THE NAME JENSEN(Denmark)

IMMIGRATION CO-OPERATION(Hungary)

IMMIGRATION SERVICE CRITICISED OVER HIJACK AFGHANS (UK)

EVICTION BLOCKED (Spain)

SHOW PINOCHET MEDICAL REPORT, SAY JUDGES (UK)

ARSON DESTROY SWEDISH WHITE POWER MUSIC STUDIO (Sweden)

NORTH BOHEMIAN TOWN SELLS PARTS OF THE FAMOUS « WALL OF USTI » (Czech Republic )

Headlines February 11, 2000

CHECHENS DENIED STATUS(Russia)

ROMA ORGANIZATIONS SUE ROMANIAN JOURNALIST

PRESIDENT APOLOGIZES FOR SLOVAK ROLE IN HOLOCAUST

AUSTRIA HAS BROKEN ITS CONTRACT WITH EU - FRANCE, SPAIN SAY

FRANCE, BELGIUM BOYCOTT AUSTRIAN SPEECH AT OSCE

HAGUE IS EXPLOITING ANTI-GAY FEELINGS(UK)

TUC-LEADER RECEIVES NAZI-THREATS(Norway)

WHITE BOOK HIGHLIGHTS ROMA PERSECUTION(Hungary)

NEW AUSTRIAN ANTI-RACIST INITIATIVE

IMMIGRANTS BRING OFICINA DE EXTRANJEROS TO A STANDSTILL(Spain)

Headlines February 8, 2000

DEMO IN VIENNA 19 FEBRUARY MEETS WITH INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT

KILLING SPARKS ANTI-IMMIGRANT VIOLENCE IN SPAIN

EUROPEAN JEWS URGE TOURISTS TO AVOID AUSTRIA

SWEDISH PM SAYS MISTAKES MADE IN IMMIGRATION

LE PEN WOULD NOT MAKE SAME DEAL AS HAIDER(France)

DEPUTIES DO NOT SHARE CHAIRMAN'S OPINION ON AUSTRIA(Czechia)

AUTHORITIES TO GIVE MIGRANTS NEW CHANCE TO GET LEGAL(Greece)

CRITIC OF RIGHT IS WARNED BY EDITOR(Austria)

ROMA DEMONSTRATE AGAINST CONTINUING VIOLENCE IN KOSOVO

Headlines February 4, 2000

MONSTER BITES(Poland)

LATVIANS RECEIVE 'RIGHTEOUS AMONG NATIONS' AWARD

ANGER OVER NAZI CANDIDACY FOR LOCAL ELECTION IN LITHUANIA

FORMER ROMANIAN PREMIER TO JOIN FAR-RIGHT PARTY

HUNGARY OPPOSES EU STANCE ON AUSTRIA

WHAT WAS SAID IN ROW OVER AUSTRIAN FREEDOM PARTY

MILOSEVIC EXPLOITS SERB HOMOPHOBIA(Serbia)

POLITICAL ASYLUM APPLICANT ATTACKED(Germany)

ITALIAN SOCCER CLUBS TO CURB RACISM

Headlines February 2, 2000

PROTESTS IN AUSTRIA AGAINST COALITION

DECLARATION OF THE AUSTRIAN ANTIRACIST MOVEMENT

EU TO BAN VISITS BY RIGHTIST COALITION(Germany)

ITALIAN DEMONSTRATIONS REPORT

REPRIEVE FOR IMMIGRANTS(Spain)

CHIEF CONSTABLE TO MEET HANGED MEN'S FAMILY (UK)

TOUGHER IMMIGRATION RULES(Iceland)

CONFERENCE TO PROBE MIGRANTS' PROBLEMS(Greece)

NAZI HUNTER DOUBTS POLITICAL WILL OF LATVIA

MIGRANTS CAMP NEAR BRITAIN(France)

LAWYER WINS £30,000 IN RACIAL DISCRIMINATION CASE(UK)

January 2000 Headlines

Headlines January 28, 2000

HOLOCAUST FORUM SEEKS LESSONS FROM HISTORY(Sweden)

STRAW DEFENDS ‘POSITIVE' RACE LAW(UK)

JÖRG HAIDER SPEAKS 1988-1999

AUSTRIAN MINISTER SAYS REACTION TO HAIDER OVERDONE

BELGIUM SEEKS EU MEETING TO DISCUSS AUSTRIA

BARAK SAYS AUSTRIAN DEVELOPMENTS DISTURBING

MILITARY WANT MORE IMMIGRANT RECRUITS(Denmark)

TREATMENT ASYLUM SEEKERS INHUMANE(Hungary)

CASTLE DISTRICT PREVENTS NAZI COMMEMORATION(Hungary)

SCHOOLS AS INTEGRATION INSTRUMENT(Luxembourg)

Headlines January 25, 2000

EDUCATION MINISTER CALLS FOR HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL DAY(Hungary)

DISPUTE OVER 'MULTICULTURAL UNIVERSITY' RE-EMERGES (Romania)

EXTREMISTS TO GET ANOTHER CHANCE AT ELECTIONS? (Russia)

NUMBER OF RACIALLY MOTIVATED CRIMES UP(Czechia)

CALL FOR GOVERNMENT ACTION ON SANS-PAPIERS(Luxembourg)

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT CRITICISED FOR VISA REFUSALS(Ireland)

TREATMENT UK IMMIGRATION DETAINEES CONDEMNED

UK CARDINAL COMPARES GAY LOBBY TO NAZIS

BELGIUM FORCES UK TO DELAY PINOCHET RULING

70,000 MORE ASYLUM APPLICANTS IN 1999 IN EUROPE

GREECE SEEKS DEAL TO CURB ALBANIAN IMMIGRATION

MP SUGGESTS ROMA ‘SOLUTION' (Slovakia)

NAZI REMANDED(Denmark)

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL JUDGE SENT 13 TO GALLOWS(UK)

Headlines January 18, 2000

EUROPEAN INTERCONFERENCE STARTS WITH DISCUSSION ON MEDIA

SEARCHING A DISAPPEARED SHIP(Italy)

A PLAN TO DEAL WITH SURGING APPLICANTS?(Ireland)

CZECH GOVERNMENT MAKES LIST JEWISH PROPERTY RESTITUTION

PREPARING FOR MORE REFUGEES(Iceland)

LAW END FOREIGNER 'HAVEN'(Czechia)

CHIRAC RECEIVES TOP FRENCH MUSLIMS IN HISTORIC MEETING

FORMER ZAGREB SYNAGOGUE RETURNED TO JEWISH COMMUNITY(Croatia)

SETBACK KINNOCK'S BID TO PROMOTE WOMEN(European Union)

SURGEONS SETTLE RACISM CLAIM(UK)

SLOVAK ETHNOLOGIST ABOUT ROMANY DEMOGRAPHICS AND IDENTITY

WILL CZECH VERSION OF TEXTBOOK ON ROMANY HISTORY APPEAR?

BERLIN MAYOR TO SNUB HOLOCAUST RITE(Germany)

Headlines January 14, 2000

KOSOVO DRIVES SWISS ASYLUM BID TO RECORD IN 1999

AUSTRIAN RIGHTIST READY TO RULE

FINLAND REIMPOSES VISAS TO STOP SLOVAK ROMA

US SAYS UN DEFINITION 'REFUGEE' NEEDS RE-THINKING

BAN ON GAYS IN THE ARMY LIFTED (UK)

THE PROBLEM OF THE IMMIGRANTS(Spain)

MIGRANT SMUGGLERS GET 10 YEARS(Greece)

PREFECT OPPOSES GYPSY CAMPS(Greece)

FAR-RIGHT CZECH PARTY APPEALS TO HAVEL TO AMNESTY MEMBER

Headlines January 11, 2000

UPDATE MIGRANTS ITALY

POLITICIAN WANTS CUT SOCIAL BENEFITS ASYLUM SEEKING ROMA (Slovakia)

BELARUSIAN JEWS TO SUE PUBLISHER OF ANTI-SEMITIC BOOK

LINES DRAWN IN IMMIGRANT DEBATE(Denmark)

GERMANY'S NEW MULTICULTURAL CITIZENS

PARIS SOCCER TEAM STRUGGLES TO DE-NAZIFY A CHEERING SECTION

6 ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS KILLED 30 INJURED IN TRUCK ACCIDENT(Greece)

GREECE TAKES EXTRA MEASURES TO STOP ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION

REFUGEES HEAD TO CAPITAL REGION(Iceland)

BELGIUM BOOSTS BORDER CHECKS FOR ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS

GIRL SUES PUBLIC SCHOOL HEADMISTRESS OVER RACISM(UK)

AUSTRALIA 'WILL HELP TO PROSECUTE KALEJS'

SOUTH AFRICA'S MBEKI SEEKS CONGRESS ON RACISM SCOURGE

Headlines January 7, 2000

3 CHILDREN FROZEN TO DEATH (Greece)

NUMBER OF REFUGEES SURGE IN A DECADE (Greece)

SUSPECTED NAZI FLEES TO AUSTRALIA BEFORE UK CAN EXTRADITE

BRITISH HIGH COMMISSION 'AWASH WITH RACISM'

SCOTS THREATEN REVOLT ON REFUGEES(UK)

CZECH COURT SENTENCES NEO-NAZI

CZECH PROSECUTOR DROPS CASE AGAINST FAR-RIGHT LEADER

RACE ROW AS POLICE ATTACK ENTERTAINER(France)

OPPOSITION LEADER WARNS ISRAEL OF 'XENOPHOBIC' PRESIDENT (Belarus)

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT SAYS ANTI-SEMITISM 'ISOLATED&MARGINALIZED'

MIGRANTS: A PRETTY UNHAPPY XMAS(Italy)

MORE SLOVAK ROMA SEEK ASYLUM IN FINLAND

EU URGES IMPROVED CONDITIONS FOR ROMA IN HUNGARY






DESIGNER REFUSES TO SKIRT THE NAZI ISSUE(Italy)
The backlash against Austria's Right-wing Freedom Party reached the catwalk at Milan Fashion Week yesterday. Guillermo Mariotti, a young Italian designer, showed a ballgown, hand-painted with the face of Jörg Haider, the party leader, against a background of suffering men, women and children, with a large swastika and the word "No" painted in large red letters. The Political Protest Dress was part of his collection for the Rome-based fashion house, Gattinoni. The British model Clara Benjamin, 20, from the London model agency Take 2, swept down the catwalk in the dress to gasps of astonishment. The actress Marisa Berenson, whose father is Jewish said: "It was very shocking. It stirred me. I saw that swastika and I thought, 'Oh, my God!' " The designer, who has Italian and Venezuelan parents, said: "Everyone has to stand up and defend human rights. I am doing it my own way - not with guns, but with skirts. I am against any situation, in Austria, or anywhere, that reminds me of the scariness of the Nazi regime."
©Daily Telegraph

FRANCE MAY TAKE FURTHER ACTION AGAINST AUSTRIA
When France takes over the European presidency in July, it might take further action against Austria, or at least put the proposition to its EU partners, French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine said in an interview with Thursday's edition of the Austrian newspaper Standard. "The (French) prime minister has said that we are keeping the option of taking further measures on a national level, if necessary, and equally of proposing (further measures) to our 13 fellow members," Vedrine said when asked if France would change the EU policy on Austria when it takes over the presidency on July 1. The interview was the first given by a high profile French official to the Austrian press since Vienna's 14 EU partners decided to freeze bilateral links after the far-right joined the Austrian government on February 4. French President Jacques Chirac had already told Dutch television on Tuesday he believed the condemnation by the 14 members had already seen results, including an Austrian pledge to respect EU values. Chirac said it was "legitimate" for European states to "clearly mark their condemnation" of the far-right's inclusion in Austria's coalition government. Vedrine said the European Union could take further action, if the leader of the far-right Freedom Party, Joerg Haider, ever became Austrian chancellor. "In general, the EU's reaction seems proportionate," he said. "Article 7 of the Amsterdam Treaty (of the principal EU treaties) allows for the suspension of voting rights of a member state that seriously and persistently violates the fundamental principles.... So the EU still has options." The French foreign minister, who says he is categorically against economic sanctions or a cultural boycott of Austria, said there was nothing to stop the European Union deciding to include a new clause next time it revised its treaties, "providing for the departure or, by defining concrete and precise legal criteria, the exclusion of a member."Vedrine also spoke of "reaching a hand out to the other Austria," meaning the 73 percent who did not vote for the far right and those who were among the 150,000 protesters (300,000 according to protest organisers) who marched against the government on Saturday. "Our reactions are not directed at Austria itself or its people, but at the government coalition which includes a populist far-right party. "Austria's new chancellor, Wolfgang Schuessel, has said he was not informed what the EU reactions would be to his forming a coalition government with Haider's party.But, according to Vedrine, "President Chirac, representing France, made it clear to Schuessel that the constitution of a coalition with the Freedom Party would trigger a strong reaction from our country." "Of course, it was not possible to know what the European measures would be before they were taken," he concluded.
©The Tocqueville Connection

FREEDOM IS NOT A PARTY(Austria)
read one of the signs that could be seen at the demonstration last Saturday in Vienna. We travelled with a Dutch delegation by bus from Amsterdam to Vienna. The group of 40 people ranged in age from 16 to 79, 7 nationalities and very different backgrounds. 4 people spontaneously got on the bus when they were on their way home after a Dutch manifestation against the extreme right in general and the Austrian government in particular. We arrived in Vienna at 10 o'clock in the morning. Took a subway into town and first went to the press conference in the Burgtheatre. Lots of dignitaries there. As we left the building, we met a group of women outside doing a "pre demonstration" demonstration. Later we heard they went to the press conference, took over and explained why they were demonstrating. The new government has terminated the department for emancipation and women's rights. They think the right to have baby's and take care of your family is more than enough rights for women. 7 people from I CARE and the Magenta foundation had made a lunch date with some people from ZARA-Verein für Zivilcourage und Anti-Rassismus-Arbeit. We made our way to cafe Berg, a combined gay bookstore and cafe. In the menu the slogan "Pride Against Shame" called for people to join the demo later that day. Dieter and Claudia from ZARA explained the importance of the resistance being so widespread amongst all Austrians.
Dieter: "The most encouraging thing about that demo is the broad spectrum the people come from. For me today's message is clear: "There might be up to 27 percent Austrians being not so sure about their relationship towards racism, xenophobia and discrimination - but we are! And we are still the majority!" It could be a valuable cleaning process for all of us - everybody is forced to think and define his/her own position, there is no place for indifference. Reminding all the allusions to Star Wars at the demo:Don`t fall on to the dark side, MAY THE FORCE BE WITH US!"
Afterwards it was time to go to one of the assembly points for the demo. Everywhere groups of people were doing the same. First we met up with the Dutch delegation again in front of the Burg theatre, before going as a group from the parliament building down toward the Heldenplatz. It was incredible, people everywhere. Huge banners on even bigger buildings: ‘WE WON'T BE SILENCED' or just simply ‘WIDERSTAND' (Resistance). There were many delegations, from Italy, Belgium, United Kingdom, France, Czechia to mention a few that we saw. More important it seemed the whole of Austria came to Vienna, young and old, in groups or unaffiliated, all came because they are concerned. Solidarity like a warm blanket. The Heldenplatz was filling up rapidly, the atmosphere is friendly yet determind. As Ghandi once said: "non-violent non-cooperation". Non-cooperation with the government but cooperation with each other, many people are waiting their turn to use one of the three toilets that are available, everybody waits for their turn and those who can't wait any longer are allowed in front. Even in this large crowd small children are perfectly safe from being trampled. As the sun sets the first speaker on stage starts, the crowd cheers and makes noises of disapproval and the sound of thousands of whistles are deafening. All during the speeches more people keep on pouring in onto the Heldenplatz. We had to leave a little before the manifestation ended to get back on the bus to the Netherlands. As we left Heldenplatz the streets were filled with even more demonstrators, showing that the larger part of Austria has woken up, remembers it's history and is hoping for a democratic and anti- racist future.

By Suzette for I CARE News

NEW INITIATIVE TO HELP MIGRANTS, REFUGEES FIND JOBS(Greece)
Forum stresses need for 'just' distribution of wealth, stable employment An international conference of trade unions being held in Athens concluded yesterday with an open exchange of opinions, thoughts and ideas concerning unemployment, labour relations and migrants. Over 70 representatives of workers' unions in Greece and from numerous countries throughout Europe and the Balkans acknowledged the need to establish a collective front against unemployment and social problems. The two-day conference provided the participating unions with a platform from which to discuss the topic "The Right to Work - A Challenge for Trade Unions at the Dawn of the 21st Century". In an opening speech on day two yesterday, Greece's European Commissioner for employment and social issues Anna Diamantopoulou confirmed that joblessness and migration constitute two of the biggest challenges for Europe today. "The right to work represents a challenge for governments and for the European Union," she said. "It must be made clear that there is no category of people who have a greater or lesser right to work. Every citizen should have an equal right to work, regardless of race, sex or area of residency. Recent events in Austria demonstrate that social perceptions are being formed which serve to place citizens in different categories. Taking such an approach today is criminal. Voices which relay the nightmare of racism, voices which want to close off Europe with barbed wire fences must be condemned." In light of expectations that the number of migrants entering Europe will multiply over the next few years, Diamantopoulou presented two options. One is to attempt to stop the flow of migration by fortifying Europe with barbed wire fences, and the second is to adopt a policy of integrating migrants which involves assisting source countries. She noted that Europe has already begun to move in the direction of social inclusion. EU heads of government are set to meet in Lisbon next month to discuss - among other matters - the concept of full employment which, according to Diamantopoulou, is a realistic future goal for Europe. She also announced that the EU is putting together a new social initiative coined ‘Equal' which should begin in 2001. The programme is aimed at assisting persons who are socially excluded, such as migrants and refugees, to find work and integrate into society. Representatives of unions from countries including Poland, Romania, Russia, Cyprus and Portugal took the stage yesterday and shared their views and personal experiences on unemployment and migration - the two main issues covered at the conference. There existed widespread agreement that globalisation, which was defined as the unification of large capital in order to achieve greater profits, required unions to come together in order to achieve a ‘just' distribution of wealth. They also concurred on the importance of not only creating more jobs but stable employment. Portugal officials noted that while the unemployment rate in their country may have decreased by two percent, this drop has been largely attributed to an increase in temporary positions. "Today we have over one million unemployed in our country," said Constatin Baroi, representing a Bucharest trade union. "And there are millions more in a grey area. There are also areas in the country where the rate of unemployment is as high as 20 percent. There has been a serious reduction in the number of wage earners."
©Athens News

OUT IN THE COLD(Poland)
Now is not a good time to get sick in Poland. But help is on the way.
Many foreigners living in Poland have been legally locked out of the Polish national health service since the beginning of last year. Health-care reforms introduced by the current government failed-apparently by legislative oversight-to mention most resident foreigners on the list of people covered by universal health insurance. Coverage guarantees access to public clinics, hospitals and prescription drugs for free or at nominal prices. The Law on Universal Health Insurance, which came into effect on Jan. 1, 1999, defines "insureds" to include Polish citizens living in Poland and "foreigners staying in Poland on the basis of a permanent residency permit or a temporary residency permit issued in connection with receiving refugee status," if they are subject to mandatory or voluntary premiums. The law also covers "family members" who aren't individual subscribers (such as a non-working spouse or child). But the family members must also be Polish citizens, permanent residents or refugees in order to be covered. Permanent residency permits are notoriously hard to get, and even with a temporary residency permit, you're only covered if you're a refugee. (Nationals of a few countries, such as China, Great Britain and Sweden, may be covered because of separate treaties with Poland. The government is in the process of updating such treaties so they are consistent with the new health system.) Foreigners living in Poland on another basis-for example, holders of a work visa, or the non-working spouse of a Polish citizen or permanent resident-are excluded from the system. On the plus side, the foreigners who are excluded from public health insurance here are also exempt from paying the premium for coverage. The premium is set at 7.5 percent of the employee's gross salary after deduction of the employee's portion of social insurance (ZUS) premiums, and is withheld from the employee's take-home pay. The exclusion of foreigners from public health insurance coverage affects various groups of foreigners differently. Hardest hit are lower-paid expats-those who aren't in a position to negotiate with their employers for private health-care coverage. The law also discriminates against insured persons whose family members are excluded from the system. The insured family member is actually paying the mandatory premiums, just like other Polish workers, but the family is not getting the same coverage in return. They must arrange other coverage, effectively paying twice. Expats fortunate enough to have a private health-care plan-perhaps coupled with evacuation insurance for hospitalization back home-probably like the current arrangement just fine. And for routine medical care, many Poles and foreigners alike would prefer not to use the inconvenient system of public clinics. Better to pay a fee per visit to a private clinic, they say, or even sit home and be sick, than wait all day to see your assigned doctor at the public clinic. Now the government is trying to fix the problem with the way the Law on Universal Health Insurance was drafted. A bill introduced in October 1999 would amend the law by adding to the list of insureds "foreigners staying in Poland on the basis of a residency visa with the right to work" and extending mandatory coverage to all foreigners holding a temporary residency permit, not just refugees. The bill also grants coverage to all family members of these insureds. Thus, for example, foreigners who are non-working spouses of Polish citizens would now be covered. The bill is still under consideration in the Parliament Health Committee. "We had hoped the proposed changes to the act would be adopted by the Sejm by the end of last year," said Zbigniewa Nowodworska, spokeswoman for the Government Representative on Health Insurance. "The speed of work on these changes to the law now depends entirely on the tempo of parliament work." If and when the bill becomes law, more expats can enjoy the authentic experience of standing in line with regular Poles to see a regular Polish doctor.
©The Warsaw Voice

ETHNIC MINORITY MPs LIKELY TO GO ON STRIKE(Romania)
The MPs with the ethnic minorities other than Hungarian said they would either decline to pass any further bills or they would vote along with the opposition as of next week unless the government allots more money to the ethnic minorities department, announced head of the Gipsies' parliamentary group Madalin Voicu. The executive allocated 32 billion lei to the ethnic minorities department this year against 82 billion as demanded by the department.
©EvZ ONLINE

US STRONGLY CRITICIZES TURKEY ON HUMAN RIGHTS
The United States has strongly criticised Turkey on human rights issues in its 1999 Human Rights Report which was released yesterday. The 72-page report touches on almost every issue pertaining to human rights and gives detailed accounts of serious abuses and extrajudicial killings, which it says continue in Turkey despite Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit's government's efforts to adopt new measures to improve Turkey's record. A senior U.S. official dubbed the report "mixed," insinuating that it states both the positive and negative sides of Turkey's human rights record. "If any organization or country compiled a similar report on the United States it would also be a mixed one, showing the same positive and negative sides of the U.S. human rights record," the official said. Underlining that the report was not an accusation but a summary of the existing and potential problems Turkey faces in the sphere of human rights, the official said, "If the Turkish government is unhappy about the report, we are willing to discuss it with the Turkish authorities."
The U.S. official argued that the content of the report should not come as a surprise to Ankara as U.S. President Bill Clinton touched on the same issues during his five-day visit to Turkey in November. "If you recall President Clinton's address to Parliament he started his speech mentioning the close partnership and solidarity with Turkey and then touched on human rights issues. Although human rights is important for our bilateral relations it is only one aspect of them. The United States is committed to a strong relationship with Turkey in every field," said the official.
'We are closely following the HADEP case'
In reference to the U.S. position on the arrest of the three HADEP mayors in the Southeast, the official said: "We have always made it clear that the arrest of elected officials is a very serious matter and we are closely following the case. We think it is important that the facts about the case be made public quickly and transparently as it is important that due process be applied rigorously. Our views are known to Turkish officials." In this sense the United States has openly declared, in line with European institutions, that it is concerned about the arrest of the mayors and stressed that the trial should be held as soon as possible and in an unambiguous way. U.S. officials made similar statements when former Istanbul Mayor Recep Tayyip Erdogan was imprisoned in 1999 and released in July the same year.
Human rights abuses continue
Refraining from comparing the 1999 Human Rights Report with the previous year's, the U.S. official said the report was not intended for comparison and followed a very specific format. Despite the fact that there were three important improvements in Turkey's human rights record, the official said that most human rights violations were continuing, especially concerning the improper treatment of detainees. "At both high and low levels human rights abuses continue," said the official.
©Turkish Daily News

PLAN TO KEEP ASYLUM SEEKERS IN 'PRISON SHIPS' (UK)
The Home Secretary, Jack Straw, is considering an offer from Securicor to house asylum seekers in two converted container ships on the Tyne and the Mersey. The proposal is believed to follow Securicor's activities in Germany, where a subcontractor of the firm keeps asylum-seekers on converted container ships moored in Hamburg. Refugee agencies there have said conditions on the boats are "unbearable". But the desperate shortage of suitable accommodation for hopeful entrants to Britain and councils' anxiety over the rising costs of housing the new arrivals means the Government is under severe pressure to come up with a solution. Recent press coverage of the issue, plus Tory support for drastic action, has added to the political pressure on Mr Straw. Ann Widdecombe, the shadow Home Secretary, has already expressed her support for off-shore accommodation. Britain already has one boat converted to house prisoners. HMP Weare, which holds 400 inmates, is moored in Portland Harbour in Dorset. It was introduced by the last Conservative government in a move roundly condemned by Labour at the time. The boats for asylum cases in Germany are managed by Bibby Lines, a shipping company. It has converted four giant container ships into floating holding stations. These 'floatels' consist of portable cabins, some just 12 metres square, which are used to hold entire families. Britain received an estimated 71,000 asylum seekers last year, most of them concentrated in coastal towns and the capital. The Government had hoped that local authorities and private landlords would solve the crisis, but, far from happening, this has now provoked an intense backlash. Yesterday, council leaders called for immediate talks with the Home Office as parliamentary figures showed that taxpayers were facing a daily bill of at least £2.6m for looking after asylum seekers. Kent County Council has already been obliged to raise its council tax to cope. This week a delegation of MPs from seaside towns is expected to meet Mr Straw for crisis talks on how the influx will affect tourism. The Government had been banking on finding at least 3,000 places from the private sector in each region. But last night it became clear that only a third of this target would be reached and there was speculation the Government would have to delay dispersing asylum seekers around the country until after the 1 April deadline. Richard Kemp, a member of the North West regional consortium – representing the local authorities – said: "It is outrageous to propose that we house asylum seekers on these boats, 150 years after we got rid of the hulks used to house prisoners."
©The Independent

MAJORITY WANT LIMITS ON REFUGEE NUMBERS(Ireland)
The Minister for Justice, Mr O'Donoghue, is expected to recommend to Cabinet shortly the establishment of a new immigration agency which would take over responsibility for the day-today implementation of policy in this area. Mr O'Donoghue may be glad to see the back of what has proven to be one of the most controversial policy matters within his portfolio. However, the findings in today's Irish Times/MRBI opinion poll indicate that the Minister may be closer to the public mood on immigration than previously thought by many, including the Progressive Democrat Minister of State, Ms Liz O'Donnell. It was the intervention of Ms O'Donnell and her description of the Department of Justice's han dling of the refugee and asylum issue as a "shambles", which led Opposition parties two months ago to table a motion of no confidence in Mr O'Donoghue. Despite calls by Ms O'Donnell, Fine Gael and the Labour Party for a more liberal immigration regime, a clear majority of the electorate believes strict limits should be placed on the number of refugees allowed into the State. Some 74 per cent of voters want the number of refugees entering the State to be strictly limited; 17 per cent disagree and 9 per cent have no opinion. The percentage in favour of li miting strictly the number of refugees varies across the political parties. Some 84 per cent among PD supporters favour such limits, compared with Fine Gael suppor ters at 79 per cent, Labour supporters at 77 per cent and 74 per cent among those who vote for Fianna Fáil. These findings would indicate that voters have not been convinced by those propounding a more relaxed and open-door immigration policy. However, when asked whether a more generous approach should be taken to refugees and immigrants in view of the Irish history of emigration and current prosperity levels, 60 per cent agreed. This majority support for a more generous approach appears to contradict the overwhelming support for limiting the number of refugees entering the State. However, qualitative research conducted by MRBI shows that the harder line on refugees more accurately reflects the Irish attitude. A more generous approach - as the question was posed - could mean that voters merely want a more humane attitude to refugees while the numbers allowed to stay in the State should be strictly limited. The immigration system, which has led to inordinate delays in processing applications for refugee status and the chaotic scenes experienced at the application centre at Mount Street in Dublin, has apparently displeased a considerable section of the electorate. The poll also shows that voters are divided on whether only those refugees who are qualified to fill specific job vacancies should be allowed into the State. Some 42 per cent agreed with this, while 49 per cent disagreed with 9 per cent having no opinion. A majority of Fianna Fáil and Labour supporters (53 per cent in each party) disagrees with limiting entry to the State only to suitably qualified refugees who match specific job vacancies. Support for such limitations is strongest among PD supporters at 58 per cent.
©The Irish Times

CLOSE THE LAGERS, BUILD HOSPITALITY(Italy)
Close Via Corelli! Defend Metropolix! Fit via Barzaghi!
This you can read on a 90 sq. mt. banner hanging since yesterday, Friday 25th, on one of the historical doors of the City of Milan, namely the napoleonic Porta Ticinese, overlooking the city center and the old Roman Market area. Providing from the usual rush hour confusion, a group of 7 "Ya Basta" activists climbed the ancient monument yesterday at 5 PM. The police arrived few minutes later, just too late to stop the people climbing but right in time to handcuff one of the camarades helping them from beneath. There followed half an hour of tension -- the camarades on the spot were quite little, since the action was kept secret to ensure its success. The handcuffed camarade, thrown without much care into a police car, was freed only when the Ya Basta activists started to install a tend on top of the monument, stating their intention to stay there as long as required.
The action, aimed to give visibility to February 26 -- second national action day for the rights of migrants (demos planned in Turin, Bologna, Florence, Rome and Palermo, actions planned wherever possible) -- focuses on three main topics:
1. Via Corelli:
The lager not only isn't closed yet, but works at full regime. Last month, the Minister of Home Affairs publicly declared -- after the great Jan. 29 demo -- his decision to close it within 10 days because of the violations to the human rights. Well, here we are -- one month later. Is the lager not violating the human rights anymore?
On top of this, a new law about the ruling of the lagers prevents civil society associations -- like Ya Basta -- from entering via Corelli without a comprehensive intervention plan to be approved by... the head of Milan police. And, in change for the supposed closure of via Corelli and of a lager in the Straits of Otranto region (Francavilla Fontana), the governments plans to open even more lagers -- "humanized", of course.
Well, considering the attitude held up to now from the centre-left government about the migration problem, we can't avoid a lot of worries about that definition, "humanized". After the humanitarian war, are we heading into the humanitarian lagers?
2. City problems: Via Barzaghi
Via Barzaghi is a "favela" at the doors of Milan. You know those endless rows of barracks were thousands of people live -- we usually see them only on TV, and we tend to think they are only in far away African of Latin America countries. Well, 10 years of right-wing city government gave also to the "City of Fashion" a similar example of civilization. Behind a row of 40 stores glass buildings, a real mosaic of Balcanic nationalities lives in barracks where a lot of "civilized" people wouldn't even let their dogs sleep. We came there answering the cry for help of one of those communities, the Bosniac Romas, which came to our meeting on Wednesday. They all have a permit to stay, but this didn't prevent the city of Milan from chasing them away from their previous place -- it's a semi-nomadic community -- and forcing them to sleep next to a dump. And since they resisted it, the city police took them away most of their caravans -- with the result that now about 190 people, men, women and children, sleep in filthy barracks in a rat infested place. Some of them are sick -- they get no medical care. Childrens don't go to school -- nobody cares. I was there personally, and really, it's a shit. I couldn't believe my own eyes. You also won't, when we will scan the pictures we took there and spread them on the net! So, via Barzaghi too. That's a product from a centre-right city government -- but really, where's the difference among center-right and center left?
It looks the same policy to me!
3. The squatted youth hostel "Metropolix"
Yes, the attack to the Social Centers is one of the favourite topics of the Milan's major. Now he wants to evict Metropolix, a place where hundreds of young people from all over the world could sleep and have fun for little money -- a place providing a service absolutely missing in this city.
For us, these 3 cases are absolutely connected: it's the wild attack to the popular, weaker classes brought forth by neoliberism. This articulates in the creation of fake emergencies -- such as the equation: Romas = criminals (and if they ain't so, well, let's piss them off by sending them in a dump, maybe they get mad and react in a way we can use...) -- in the construction of lagers for people non conforming to neoliberistic needs, and obviously in the attack to the only existing opposition -- the Social Centers and the grassroot area.
Yesterday Milan was paralized by the public transports strike launched by the grassroots unions. Today, one of its monuments bears the huge sign of people ready to put themselves into play to stop the logics of neoliberism.
The Ya Basta! activists are ready to continue their protest as long as they don't get satisfactory answers both from the national government and from the city government. About a hundred people supports them now from beneath with a colourful street party.

And the battle is continuing.

Giuliano

SWEDEN: RISE OF HATE VIOLENCE THREATENS FREE EXPRESSION
Violence against the media has grown in Sweden alongside an increase in racism, hate speech and organised hate groups, says Jane Hamrin and Annica Axelsohn in "The Baltic Media Monitor" (BMM, December 1999, Issue 1). In their article, "Extremists in Sweden: Car Bomb Hits Freedom of Speech," Hamrin and Axelsohn reflect on the car bombing of Swedish journalists Katarina Larsson and Peter Karlsson as part of a larger attack on members of the media who are reporting on neo-Nazism and racism in Sweden. The car bombing on 28 June 1999 left Karlsson's son unscathed but Karlsson severely injured. Larsson was not in the car when the car bomb went off. While no one has been charged for the attack, the two journalists received numerous threats before the bombing from a neo-Nazi group for their coverage of rightist movements in Sweden. Larsson and Karlsson may be the first Swedish journalists to be "targeted by assassins affiliated with Nazi groups" for their coverage, however the authors attest that reporters commenting on the rising trend of extremist violence in Sweden have been increasingly at risk. While the journalists both survived the attack, this event prompted an organised response by the media community. Members of the country's major media groups organised protests and demonstrations calling for greater freedom of expression and urging on the general public including other journalists to join Larsson and Karlsson's efforts to "support democracy against neo-Nazis." Additionally, Sweden's four main newspapers published a joint editorial on their front pages which stated that the rise of extremist racist groups is posing a threat to democracy. The papers also published the photos, names and ages of 62 "key extreme-right activists in a map of hate and violence." Larsson and Karlsson along with a number of other journalists and the Swedish Journalists Association also severely critiqued the Swedish security police (SÄPO) for "not admitting that rightist movements are indeed a threat to the security of Swedish society" and for not adequately protecting journalists who were receiving threats. The BMM is a new publication of the Baltic Media Centre "covering media and media policy in the Baltic Sea countries with particular focus on broadcast media."
The Baltic Media Centre

JOHAN LEMAN'S STATEMENT OVER THE VLAAMS BLOK (Belgium)
The director of the Belgian anti-racist center (Centre pour l'Egalite des Chances et la Lutte contre le Racisme), Johan Leman, made quite a shocking statement last week while trying to explain how to reduce the votes of the Vlaams Blok (Flamish Block, the Belgian right wing party). He actually proposed that the "democratic ones" from the Blok, those who are only conservatives or catholic extremists, would join other political parties, such as the VLD or the CVP, which should offer them this possibilty. Johan Leman is going to have to explain this statement to the belgian Prime Minister, Guy Verhofstadt, who said "I am totally unhappy with this less than smart statement!". Leman claims that the statement was part of a whole series of points that he was trying to make in an interview given to "Gazet van Antwerpen" in order to destroy the stability of the Blok. He is trying to bring some inner problem into the Blok, copying the model of the opposition between Le Pen et Megret in France. Leman admitted that what he said was not a right thing to say... Following this statement, some politicians reacted. Among them are Patrick Janssens (SP), Marc Van Peel (CVP), Marc Verwilghen (VLD). They all agree on a very defensive strategy. They are totally against the active strategy of Leman. The CVP said : " We are interested by the democrats voters from the Blok, if they are not racists or fascists. We just want to give an alternative to those who are deceived and anxious. We do refuse any comparison between the Blok and the CVP." The VLD is tired : " We are fed up to talk about the Blok. The more the press talks about it, the stronger it gets. Leman is talking in an ambiguous way. The VLD will never accept within the party people that were in the Blok!".

RACISM STILL PERVADES MAJOR INSTITUTIONS(UK)
Major planks of British society are still riddled with institutional racism, according to the author of the official report on the murder of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence. In an interview with The Telegraph, Sir William Macpherson said he believed that the "unwitting" prejudiced identified by the inquiry into the handling of the investigation still had a hold on the Metropolitan Police. He said other organisations, including Parliament, the judiciary, the Army and the fire service, were guilty of "institutional racism". He called for more positive discrimination to be used in promoting black and Asian people as a short-term measure to redress their under-representation at a senior level in many organisations, including the police. In his interview, a year after the publication of the report, Sir William praised the Government and the police for their efforts to tackle prejudice. However, he said: "I suspect that there is still a measure of collective failure in the police as there is in other institutions. There are other institutions in Britain which suffer from the same complaint - for example the fire service and the Army. Probably the judiciary has to examine itself, so do magistrates. It is undoubtedly there in Parliament too. Many of us failed to appreciate that there might be behaviour supported by a group of people within an organisation which was discriminatory which the people involved hardly realised at the time." Adopting a policy of actively promoting men and women from ethnic communities was one way of tackling the problem, he said. Sir William welcomed Jack Straw's acceptance of most of his report's recommendations. However, he called on the Government to implement the proposal, since backed by the Law Commission, to scrap the law on "double jeopardy" and allow retrials "in exceptional circumstances". He defended his use of the much-criticised phrase "institutional racism". He said: "It was not a concept that came off the top of our heads, it had a history from Lord Scarman's inquiry onwards - he referred to unwitting racism." Stephen Lawrence was murdered by a gang of white youths at a bus stop in Eltham, south-east London, in April 1993. His family insisted he had been the victim of a racist attack and that they had been treated with prejudice by the police. Over the weekend, anti-racism campaigners claimed that the Macpherson report had done little to change policing attitudes. However, Metropolitan Police officers have said that tackling crime has become more difficult because they fear being accused of racism, particular over their use of stop and search powers. Police investigating the Lawrence murder were said yesterday to be closing in on two new suspects. A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "Investigations into the murder do continue." The Yard was reported to be watching two male suspects whose alibis at the time of the stabbing are now believed to be false.
Commission for Racial Equality
©Daily Telegraph

BRITISH NEWSPAPER ACCUSED OF RACE HATE
South Africa's investigation into racism in the media has extended to Britain. The country's human rights watchdog has tried to subpoena the Financial Times for the "collective character assassination" of Muslims. A messenger from the South African Human Rights Commission tried to serve the summons at the newspaper's Johannesburg bureau, but left after being told that the editor, Richard Lambert, was based in London. This was the first writ sent to a foreign news organisation by the commission. The Financial Times was the subject of a complaint from an organisation called the Media Review Network. It said that a 1996 story about planned arrests of members of People Against Gangsterism, an Islamic vigilante group suspected of carrying out a spate of bombings in Cape Town, amounted to "bigotry in the media, that is . . . collective character assassination, promoting hate speech and inciting violence against Muslims and Islam".
©Daily Telegraph

THE RETURN OF POLITICAL ANTI-SEMITISM(Hungary)
When a leading Hungarian politician spices his speech with ominous references to "cosmopolitans" and "Communist Jews"--as did Deputy Prime Minister Laszlo Kover on 29 January--he cannot expect that it will be taken lightly. In Hungary, similar rhetoric half a century ago spurred a genocide that killed more than half a million Hungarian Jews. But speeches like Kover's and various anti-Jewish provocations have become increasingly common in Hungary over the past year, causing unease among Central Europe's largest Jewish community. Jewish observers say the increasing use of "political anti-Semitism" is more than a hate-mongering ploy. Instead, they contend it is a cynical strategy by Hungary's crafty prime minister, Viktor Orban, and his advisers. Orban, 36, seems intent on carving out a future for himself as the "Man of the Right." While no one suggests that he is an anti- Semite, some of his allies are skillfully employing nationalist Christian-conservative symbols and Holocaust revisionism. "These are deeply coded messages to the far right to show that this is where their hearts beat," says writer Miklos Haraszti, an ex-dissident and former liberal parliamentary deputy. "They want these voters, even if they lose some sympathy from moderates and earn contempt from journalists and liberal opinion-makers." Since last summer, a number of Jewish-related issues have made headlines, even though the country's 100,000 or so Jews constitute just 1 percent of the population. First came a government attempt--dropped after Jewish experts protested- -to rewrite the text of the Hungarian exhibit at Auschwitz, which was installed in 1965. The new version would have shifted all blame for the Hungarian Holocaust onto Germany, which occupied the country in March 1944, and made no mention of Hungary's role. Then, in the fall, officials unveiled a plaque commemorating the Hungarian gendarmerie while ignoring the fact that it was these same police who, for seven weeks in the spring of 1944, enthusiastically carried out Nazi orders to round up and deport 437,000 Jews from the Hungarian countryside. Hungarian Jews says these moves are part of an orchestrated campaign to whitewash Hungary's past. But Maria Schmidt, a key adviser to Orban and frequently criticized as one of Hungary's leading revisionists, argues that after four decades of Communism, in which historical documentation was indeed ideologically skewed, there is a need to relate history from a new perspective. "For 40 years they were lying about everything," Schmidt told RFE/RL. "I'm glad that now there's competition in the telling of history, because no one should have a privileged position or monopoly. We all live in this country; we all have our own history and our own point of view." Schmidt says she backs the unrestricted publication and distribution of "Mein Kampf," "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," and other anti-Semitic tracts now available in new Hungarian-language editions in many Budapest bookstores. More worrying for Hungarian Jews, according to Haraszti, is that Orban appears to welcome the parliamentary support of Istvan Csurka and his far-right Hungarian Justice and Life Party (MIEP). Csurka was kicked out of the first post- Communist ruling party, the Hungarian Democratic Forum, in 1993 for his extremist views. He returned to the parliament in July 1998, when MIEP squeaked past the 5 percent threshold, winning 14 seats out of 386. Csurka and his minions are notorious for conspiratorial talk about "alien elements" and "liberal traitors." They also have questioned the "disproportionate" number of Jews in the media, in leading symphony orchestras, and in the delegation of Hungarian authors to last year's Frankfurt Book Fair. Moreover, Csurka is virtually the only Central European politician to hail the rise of Joerg Haider in Austrian politics. Orban, meanwhile, remains silent and above the fray. After all, Hungary is clamoring for full integration into the West. Analysts suspect that Orban is searching for the fine line between how far to the right Hungarian society is willing to move and how much Hungary's Western partners are willing to tolerate. Compared with some of its neighbors (Yugoslavia, Croatia, Romania, and Ukraine), Hungary currently seems an oasis of economic and political stability. So the West does not trouble itself with Hungarian domestic politics. But international pressure--such as a scathing report by the Anti-Defamation League last December--may force Orban to change his ways. The same month as the report appeared, the government announced it will fund a Holocaust museum and documentation center. And on 18 January, in a ceremony to commemorate the Soviet liberation of the Budapest ghetto, Education Minister Zoltan Pokorni suggested that Hungary have an annual Holocaust remembrance day. Hungarian Jews, however, tend to view these gestures as half-hearted attempts at damage control and public relations. Many Jews were among the several thousand Hungarians who attended an anti-fascist demonstration in Budapest on 13 February. "You won't be any better off by hiding or avoiding conflict; to them you'll still be the 'budos zsido' [stinking Jew]," says Balint Molnar, 25, who attended the rally and who has just completed a degree in international relations at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. "My grandfather, an 84-year- old Holocaust survivor, curses and swears and sometimes spits at the television set. But I think we should deal with anti- Semitism more dynamically. We should confront these people and make more noise about it."
©RFE/RL Newsline http://www.rferl.org/newsline/

NEW IMMIGRATION LAWS MAY LEAD TO EXPULSION 2000 ASYLUM SEEKERS(Norway)
Up to 2000 asylum seekers may be expelled from Norway, when the Schengen-treaty with EU take full effect in March next year. The number corresponds to every 6th asylum seeker now waiting in Norwegian transit camps. Most of those expelled, would be returned to Sweden, Denmark or Germany, their so-called "country of first entry". A Justice Department spokesman warns that there will be stricter control of all aliens, and a better coordination between the Nordic countries. The fight against crime carried out by asylum seekers will be given priority, and infringement of the law will have greater consquenses for the asylum seekers, Aftenposten writes.
©The Norway Post

LIECHTENSTEIN: MOST ASYLUM SEEKERS PER INHABITANTS
Mainly due to the war in Kosovo, last year the number of people seeking asylum in Liechtenstein was considerably higher than in previous years. With more than 800 refugees who filed an application for admission in the time between the middle of 1998 and the end of last year, Liechtenstein tops the list in comparison with other European countries. A UN organisation reported last week that, looking at the ratio to the own population, no other country accepted so many asylum seekers. On the other hand, refugee co-ordinator Hanspeter Röthlisberger said that the largest part of these refugees already returned to their home country. He added that, at the beginning of this year, 330 refugees were still registered in Liechtenstein, whereby this number was expected to decrease over the next few months.
©Liechtensteiner Vaterland

SPANISH DOCTORS CHALLENGE PINOCHET MEDICAL REPORT
Spanish doctors have contested the medical report which says former Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet is unfit to stand trial, the BBC has learnt. Four British doctors carried out the report which led to Home Secretary Jack Straw announcing he was "minded" to let the 84-year-old general return to Chile. General Pinochet faces extradition proceedings to stand trial on alleged human rights offences. The four states seeking General Pinochet's extradition - Spain, Belgium, France and Switzerland - have until 1700 GMT on Tuesday to challenge the medical report. This deadline was set by Mr Straw after the High Court ordered him to release copies of the report last week. It said the general was suffering from poor memory and had difficulty understanding complicated phrases. The BBC has learnt that the six Spanish doctors who reviewed the medical report "go against" its conclusions "in some parts". The Spanish Foreign Ministry said that the doctors' review would be sent to London via diplomatic channels early on Tuesday. Mr Straw will consider the requesting states' representations before announcing his final decision on whether to drop the extradition on humanitarian grounds. A Belgian judge said on Monday he had responded to the British doctors' medical report, and would make his response public on Tuesday. Judge Vandermeersch said details of his response would be made public once the British government had been informed, and had had time to respond. In Paris, the families of French citizens who disappeared under General Pinochet's regime reiterated their demand for their government to call for a second assessment of the general's health. They said the findings of the British medical report were doubtful.
©BBC NEWS

LITHUANIA ADOPTS LAW ON WAR CRIMES TRIALS IN ABSENTIA
The parliament on 15 February adopted a law providing for trialsof war criminals found too ill to attend court sessions. Theprovision, passed by a vote of 54 to six, has a direct impact onseveral dozen cases of Nazi and Soviet war crimes--the mostprominent being the case against suspected Nazi war criminal Aleksandras Lileikis. Defendants in such trials will be allowed tomonitor court proceedings via closed circuit television, BNSreported. If approved by the president, the law would lay to rest an ongoing dispute with the U.S. Justice Department. MH
©RFE/RL

PINOCHET VICTIMS IN FRANCE DEMAND ANOTHERMEDICAL OPINION
The families of French victims of Augusto Pinochet'sregime on Wednesday demanded a second medical opinion on the health of theformer Chilean dictator.Their request to Justice Minister Elisabeth Guigou was made after Britain onTuesday ordered the disclosure of a secret medical report which London had used tojustify sparing Pinochet from trial on torture charges. "Regardless of what is in this report, another medical opinion is necessary," said William Bourdon, the attorney representing the families in Paris. He said he had asked Guigou to press Britain to agree to a second medical opinion by a team of non-British physicians including, if possible, a French doctor.Bourdon said he had also asked that his clients be allowed to review Pinochet's medical file.Britain on Tuesday gave Switzerland, Spain, France and Belgium -- all of which have sought Pinochet's extradition -- seven days to review the medical report and provide a response. It refused, however, to make the report public citing patient confidentiality. French courts are seeking Pinochet's extradition on behalf of the families of five French nationals who disappeared in Chile under his regime.
©The Tocqueville Connection

SPANISH NEWSPAPER PUBLISHED THE LEAKED TEXT OF THE PINOCHET MEDICAL REPORT ON 16 FEBRUARY
The conclusions of the medical report, obtained and translated by ABC, state the following: Senator Pinochet has a complex medical history, but the main medical problems at present are peripheral diabetic neuropathy and a recent progressive cerebrovascular lesion. The diabetic neuropathy adds to his difficulties in walking and a noted tendency to postural hypotension. The diabetes, along with his smoking in the past, will also have made damage to the arterieslikely. The cerebrovascular process has manifested itself in minor brain haemorrages and temporary ischemic periods, but they are also the cause of progressive damage without acute symptoms. There is clinical evidence of extensive brain damage, including bilateral lesions to the pyramidal tracts, which cause spasms and affect the base ganglions, producing periods of Parkinson's Disease. The presence of primary reflexes indicates that lesions have occurred to the frontal lobes, and the lack of memory is compatible with bilateral damage to the structures of the temporal lobes. The difficulties in the ability to comprehend are the result of the lack of memory. While many of the lesions can be attributed to areas of the brain irrigated by the basilar artery (which, as the brain scanner shows, is calcified), generalized arterial lesion. Trial attendance Physically: Senator Pinochet would at themoment be able to attend a trial, but as the periods of cerebrovascular lesions have progressed despite the excellent treatment (with correct controls ofdiabetes and arterial pressure and with anti-coagulant agents) a progressive deterioration of both his physical and mental condition is likely. Mentally: In our opinion, Senator Pinochetis not at the moment mentally capable of taking part in a trial with full knowledge of the facts. We base this opinion on: Lack of memory both of recent anddistant events. Limited ability to understand complex sentences and questions, due to loss of memory and, consequently, inability to adequately process verbal information. Loss of his ability to express himself in an audible, succinct and relevant way. Periods of fatigue. With these impediments he would be incapable of sufficiently following the process of a trial so as to instruct his lawyers. He would have difficulty responding to thecontent and the implications of the questions asked of him, and he would not be aware of this difficulty. His memory of distant events isdiminished. He would have difficulty making himself heard and understood in his answers to questions. We are convinced that the inabilities diagnosed are due to brain damage, as they are in their nature compatible with, and correspond to that phenomenon, and the formal neuropsychological tests did not show any of the signs of deliberate exaggeration of damage. To be precise, those neuropsychologicaltests indicative of original intelligence and of level of education (like the WAIS vocabulary scale) indicate above-average ability. No depression At the moment, Senator Pinochet does not show any signs of clinical depression. Situational stress, as a trial is likely to produce, causes psychological responses which could accelerate the development of vascular lesions. We are told, however, that in the past Senator Pinochet has shown a notable ability to contain stress. We are therefore unable to give any useful opinion on the possible effects on his health if he faces a trial. Most of the cases of lesions seem to have occurred in a series of tromboembolic episodes during September and October 1999. Sufficient time has passed for most of the spontaneous recovery which might be expected after these episodes to have occurred. Although it is characteristic of lesions due to cerebrovascular processes for daily fluctuations in functional capacities to occur, we consider a sustained and significant improvement of the latter to be unlikely. Signed by John Grimley Evans, Michel J Denham and Andrew J Lees on 6 January.
©BBC NEWS

GERMAN HOLOCAUST FUND SEEN FACING THORNY BATTLES
U.S. and German officials negotiating a $5 billion fund for Nazi-era slave laborers will face tough issues -- such as how much each victim gets and how to handle bank and insurance claims -- when talks resume on Wednesday in Berlin. There will be five to 10 different proposals on the table for dividing up the money between ex-slaves, forced laborers, victims of medical experiments, and people whose bank accounts and insurance policies were looted, people close to the issues said on Tuesday. The sources, who declined to be named, see another battle over who will control Germany's new restitution fund. Berlin's initial plan, which calls for the German government to appoint a majority of board members, was rejected by Jewish groups and victims' lawyers. Eastern European representatives, anxious to ensure that people who were compelled to work in agriculture also get compensation, want to be able to divide the money up between three different groups: ex-slave laborers, forced laborers and agricultural laborers. But Jewish groups and some Holocaust victims' lawyers reject that plan because they want every ex-slave laborer to get the same sum, whether he or she lives in Poland or Israel, sources close to the issues said. The lion's share of the money -- $4 billion -- likely will be paid to ex-slaves, whom the Nazis tried to work to death, and forced laborers. Former slaves, who mostly are Jewish, could expect to get up to $8,500, depending on the proposal, while forced laborers, who often worked under brutal conditions but who were not expected to die, could expect about $2,500, a source said. The negotiators are under pressure to make payments quickly because most of the 240,000 ex-slaves and 1.6 million to 2 million ex-forced laborers are elderly. But negotiators also face tough questions centering on charges that German insurers, along with a number of other European insurers, bilked Holocaust survivors by refusing to honor prewar life and property policies. ``The whole issue of insurance is open,'' one of the sources said. ``Insurance is the most complex issue.'' Germany and its industry -- the fund is backed by nameplate companies including DaimlerChrysler , Volkswagen AG (quote from Yahoo! UK & Ireland: VOWG.F), and Siemens -- agreed to pay restitution in return for assurances they will not face any more law suits brought by Holocaust victims. But only one German insurer, Allianz , has joined the German fund. And there is a battle over whether the 10 billion mark German fund includes any payments for insurance claims, according to the sources. Under some proposals, the German fund might make a contribution for so-called heirless insurance policies -- cases in which no beneficiaries can be found. ``(But) all the German companies want as much in as possible,'' one of the sources said. Under this approach, the German fund also would pay individual insurance claims brought by Holocaust survivors and heirs. Separately, an attorney who is suing Poland on behalf of Holocaust survivors in New York City has opened a new battlefront by asking the European Parliament in Brussels to hold hearings as soon as March. ``The war began in Europe, so that would seem to be the natural forum for these issues to be resolved,'' Mel Urbach, a New York-based attorney, said by telephone. What makes this case different from other lawsuits brought by Holocaust survivors is that it is the Polish government and not companies being sued. That is because the Polish government inherited the properties looted from Jews that these Holocaust survivors now want back. Urbach said he hopes to make Poland satisfy the European Union that it has resolved Holocaust claims before the country is allowed to become a member. The EU opened membership talks with Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Estonia and Cyprus in March 1998. The EU has said it will be ready to admit new members by Jan. 1, 2003.
© Reuters

HAIDER BARRED FROM THE HOLOCAUST MUSEUM (Canada)
Staff at Mr Haider's hotel face protesters Far-right Austrian politician Joerg Haiderhas unsuccessfully tried to visit Montreal's Holocaust Centre during an unannounced trip to Canada. The president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, Moshe Ronen, said the museum had rejected what he described as a bizarre request. He called Mr Haider, who has in the past expressed admiration for some Nazi policies, a "cynical manipulator of public opinion" who carried the legacy of Hitler "wherever he goes". He said if Mr Haider had had constructive reasons for coming to Canada and visiting the Holocaust Centre, he would have announced his trip and requested a tour in advance. "It is important that Canadians speak up and tell Mr Haider that he is not welcome here," he said. Mr Haider, whose Freedom Party formed a governing coalition in Austria with the conservative People's Party earlier this month, arrived in Canada on an apparently private visit. His itinerary is unknown. Protesters gathered at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Montreal where he is staying. Mr Haider refused to comment on his request to visit the Center, saying only: "It's a private visit. I didn't invite you here." The Canadian Foreign Minister, Lloyd Axworthy, said there had been no notification of the visit from Vienna. Canada is one of several countries which downgraded relations with Austria after the Freedom Party joined the Austrian Government on 4 February Mr Haider once praised Adolf Hitler's "orderly" employment policy and has described SS veterans as honourable. He has apologised for remarks that specifically offended Jews, but many say that his anti-immigrant rhetoric deliberately echoes Austria's fascist past. Israel has withdrawn its ambassador from Vienna and has banned Mr Haider from entering the country. Austria's 14 EU partners immediately implemented bilateral sanctions following the swearing-in of the government and the United States recalled its ambassador for consultations. In Canada, Toronto's symphony orchestra decided on Wednesday to go ahead with a three-day tour toVienna afterconsidering a boycott. The orchestra plans to produce a programme insert for its Vienna concerts, containing a personal statement by TSO Music Director Jukka-Pekka Saraste, which will reflect the views of the musicians. Earlier this month, US rock star Lou Reed cancelled a show in Vienna, and Gerard Mortier, artistic director of the Salzburg Festival - one of the top events in Europe's annual musical calendar - said he would quit earlier than scheduled in protest against the Freedom Party in government.
©BBC NEWS

AUSTRIAN CHANCELLOR'S DOUBTS OVER HAIDER
In an exclusive interview with BBC's Hardtalk with Tim Sebastian, Austrian Chancellor Dr Wolfgang Schuessel has admitted that he has doubts about his controversial right-wing political partner Joerg Haider. Since the coalition government linking Dr Schuessel's People's Party and Mr Haider's Freedom Party was formed almost two weeks ago, there has been a freezing of diplomatic ties with Austria's European Union partners as well as the United States. During a sometime heated exchange, Tim Sebastian asked the chancellor - a total of five times - if he trusted Mr Haider. Dr Schuessel finally replied "Yes and No". He admitted that he needed "safeguards" because there were risks. "To avoid risks we have a very well balanced negotiated treaty. We have a declaration where everything is enshrined, 'a yes' to human rights, 'a yes' to Europe, 'a yes' to guarantees for our minorities." Mr Haider has been widely criticised for his comments praising the Waffen SS and the sound employment policies of the Third Reich. "This happened nine years ago ... I strongly criticised these remarks. I would not accept these in my government. The policy of my government is absolutely anti-xenophobia, absolutely integrative policy, pro-European and pro-enlargement." Dr Schuessel was adamant that his government intended to maintain the same quota of immigrants and refugees as in previous years - which he said was a proportionally higher level than other European countries. "We are 8,000,000 people and we accepted more than 100,000 people coming from Bosnia, Kosovo, etc. Joerg Haider was sitting next to me and said that there would be no blockade," he said. Faced with EU sanctions and ongoing protests against his government, Dr Schuessel admitted that the launch of his regime had been "absolutely disastrous". He also said that there was no foundation for EUsanctions which he called "illegal". "Austria did nothing to hurt the Treaty. They decided on that without any transparent and fair and democratic procedure," he told Mr Sebastian. Dr Schuessel was challenged further on the question of EU sanctions. The EU had, after all, taken its cue from the Austrian President, Thomas Klestil - a nominee of Dr Schuessel's own party - who said that the Freedom Party "uses which disqualifies them from holding higher office". "If they wouldn't be democratic parties, there is a binding law to block them from participating in elections. You can like them or not. There are only democratic parties in the Austrian Parliament otherwise they wouldn't be there." The Hardtalk presenter reminded the chancellor about comments he made to a group of Israeli journalists. Dr Schuessel was quoted as saying that Mr Haider is wants to destroy everything. Mr Sebastian asked the chancellor how he was able to do a deal with a party with which he vowed never to go into government. Dr Schuessel blamed the Social Democrats - Austria's previous coalition leaders - for his current predicament. "The Social Democrats stopped negotiations with us. The Social Democrats tried to form a government with the Freedom Party. They failed. By the way did you hear any international protest? The third alternative was a coalition between the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Party." Mr Sebastian put it to Dr Schuessel that rather than join forces with Mr Haider, he could have held fresh elections. "The result of new elections would have been that Joerg Haider's Freedom Party would have been number one in Austria and we would then be having a very interesting interview," the chancellor said. Dr Schuessel was confident that he couldcontrol his controversial coalition partner. "Nothing can happen against my will ... Idon't think he will pull out because it's an historic opportunity for him." Indeed Dr Schuessel expressed the importance of "not leaving him out buttaking in, binding him into the mainstream of the day by day work here in Vienna", To reassure his European partners, theAustrian chancellor issued a challenge: "I will accept any test because we have nothing to hide. You'll see Austria will be a good and open participant of the European mainstream."
©BBC NEWS

MANY MIGRANTS SAID SUFFERING FROM PSYCHOLOGICAL DISORDERS (Greece)
A SIGNIFICANT number of migrants who have visited free medical clinics run by the Greek branch of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) suffer from mental illness, a three-year study carried out by the volunteer group has revealed. Speaking at a conference in Thessaloniki on Tuesday, MSF representatives reported that patients at their Athens clinic represented some 75 nationalities while people from 33 different ethnic groups have visited the Thessaloniki clinic. According to a report in yesterday's Ta Nea daily, which publicised the results of the study that was conducted over the last three years, one in four migrants who have visited the clinics are university educated. The majority of them, however, rely on temporary or seasonal employment (mostly in construction and agriculture). Around 30 percent said they either do not have a steady job or are unemployed. Very few have medical coverage. The estimated one million migrants, both legal and undocumented, living in Greece make up an "invisible" sector of the population on the margins of society, MSF said. Many live in rundown basement apartments or old, shabby homes in neglected areas. While the majority of medical cases concern pathological ailments, MSF reported that a large number of the migrants suffer from various mental illnesses. According to the organisation's records, some 45 percent of patients have been diagnosed with somatoform disorder, which refers to medically unexplainable physical symptoms. The symptoms of this disorder are linked to psychological factors. About 29 percent of migrants with mental illness were found to have anxiety disorders. MSF also noted that around seven percent of the migrants were diagnosed with schizophrenia, a serious and often debilitating mental disorder. People with schizophrenia often suffer terrifying symptoms which sometimes involve hearing internal voices not heard by others, or believing that other people are plotting against them. Other symptoms include disorganised speech and behaviour. According to the organisation's doctors, 70 percent of these patients were referred to state and private psychiatric hospitals for further treatment. MSF attributes many of the cases of mental illness to migrants' difficult, often dangerous passage into Greece. Other negative experiences once in the country, such as feelings of alienation, communication problems and difficulties in adjusting to a new country and culture, exacerbate the problem, the group noted.
©ATHENS NEWS

VIOLENT INCIDENTS AGAINST IMMIGRANTS FOLLOWING DEATHS OF LOCAL PEOPLE (Spain)
The town of El Ejido, in Almería, was the scene of violent incidents last week, following two recent incidents in which North African immigrants killed local people. Tension began to rise a few weeks ago when a farmer was beaten to death because he remonstrated with a Moroccan employee for throwing stones at his dog. The same employee also stabbed another man who came to his assistance to death, allegedly. Matters came to a head on Saturday of last week, when a young woman warned a fellow shopper at the local market that a man was trying to steal from her bag. The suspect turned on her and stabbed her, killing her almost instantly. A series of violent incidents against the local immigrant population occurred during the following days, and 17 people were arrested. Most immigrants stayed in their homes for safety and the local authorities arranged for food to be delivered to them. But on Wednesday, in retaliation, they began a general strike which was due to last for a week, with flying pickets armed with sticks, stones and machetes visiting the 6,500 agricultural businesses in the area to ensure that the strike was supported. However, on Saturday a pre-agreement was reached which will enable the North African workers to return to their jobs this week. Government representatives advised the workers that money had been allocated to improve their employment conditions and repair damage caused during the violence, in which some immigrants lost their homes and businesses. Extra police patrols are also to be put in force to protect them at work in the nurseries and greenhouses, their salaries will be brought into line with Spanish workers and training plans will be implemented. Both the Spanish and Moroccan governments expressed their concern at last week's racist attacks, and Minister of the Interior Jaime Mayor Oreja said on Saturday that although from a policing point of view things were returning to normal in El Ejido, the situation is still sufficiently difficult for the authorities to need to be prepared for more outbreaks of violence at any moment
©Town Crier

VOJVODINAN HUNGARIANS COME (Hungary)
Ethnic Hungarians from Vojvodina who have spent the last few years in Hungary due to the conflict in the Balkans now have the opportunity for permanent residence. The Immigration and Naturalization Office, in collaboration with the Baptist Church Aid charity, launched a Ft15 million ($58,169) resettlement program to assist approximately 200 ethnic Hungarians from the northern Yugoslavia province. "These people had to leave Vojvodina because of the circumstances there, and have been unable to return home. "They were initially given temporary status, but with this program they can settle in Hungary," István Dobó, deputy director general of the Immigration and Naturalization Office and directorate of Asylum Affairs for the Ministry of the Interior, told The Budapest Sun. "The resettlement scheme is entirely voluntary. Those who wish to return home may do so, but if they wish to stay in Hungary our program is there to make this possible. With the help of Baptist Church Aid we can find these families and individuals accommodation and somewhere to work in order to support themselves," he added. Financial assistance is given to those wishing to stay who are currently living in refugee transitional camps in Debrecen, eastern Hungary, and Vése in the south. They must take part in an adjustment program that will last several months, and will then receive money to assist in their resettlement. "Individuals will receive Ft50,000 ($194) to help suppor themselves, and families may receive up to Ft250,000 ($969) to help with their new start," said Dobó. "We started to implement the resettlement assistance program on Monday, January 31, in Vése and will begin the scheme in Debrecen as soon as possible." An official at the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees said that 1,031 Vojvodinan Hungarians applied for asylum between March 24 and December 31, 1999. There are no figures available for those who had decided instead to return to their homes.
©The Budapest Sun

TURKISH POLICE PREVENTED AN ANTI-FASCIST RALLY IN ISTANBUL (Turky)
Turkish police prevented on February 12 about 2,000 people from having a rally in Istanbul for defending human rights and took into custody more than 200 persons. The demonstrators also launched slogans against the entry of a fascist party to the government in Austria. Among the detained people are also some leading members of the Human Rights Association (IHD), main Turkish organisation defending human rights and organiser of this rally. "The State again proved that it does respect and will not respect human rights in this country," said the IHD in a press release. "However, we shall never accept to be silent. We shall continue to fight for human rights despite all obstacles and pressures." The detainees were released on February 13, but nine among them were kept in detention because their names were in the list of the persons wanted by police for political reasons. Expansionist speech by the Turkish Defence Minister in Munich The Turkish Minister of National Defence, Mr. Sabahattin Cakmakoglu, during an international conference of European ministers on the subject of national defence in Munich, declared that he does not see any danger in the FPÖ's participation in the Austrian Government. Mr. Cakmakoglu, also a leading official of the neo-fascist Turkish party MHP*, harangued the partisans and sympathisers of his party by delivering an expansionist speech during his visit to the association of Grey Wolves (ÜOD) in Munich. "Until the centenary of our Republic, that is in coming 25 years, Turkey will become a super power in the world and the undeniable leader of our region. We are eliminating all dialect differences in Turkish language spoken by 250-300 millions Turks in the world. Thanks to us [MHP], Turkish children learn not only the history of the Turkish living within the borders of Turkey, but also the history of all Turkish populations in the world. They learn in this training Islamic values as well. So, don't be afraid! Here is the Great Turkish Nation that arrives!" (Hürriyet, February 8, 2000) None of the European ministers taking part in the international conference was annoyed because of the presence of a fascist minister while some among them had earlier declared that they would boycott any meeting in the presence of Austrian ministers. On contrary, they did their best for calming the anger of this Turkish minister concerning the unclear status of Turkey in the future European defence structure. And the Turkish media presented this gesture as a new diplomatic victory of Turkey. The MHP (Nationalist Action Party), the second partner of the current Ecevit Coalition Government for over six months, is responsible for more than five thousands political murders in the years 60 and 70. The MHP claims the superiority of the Turkish race and works for the foundation of a big Turkish empire, Turan, regrouping all Turks from the Adriatic Sea to the Chines Walls. Its militants in Europe, protected by Turkish diplomatic missions, have been implicated in many big criminal acts including drugs trafficand in the attempt against Pope in 1981.
INFO-TURK

GOOD AND BAD NEWS FROM ITALY(By Giuliano)
First the bad news:

ANOTHER SHIP DISAPPEARED IN THE STRAITS OF OTRANTO?
According to the Milan's antagonist radio "Radio Onda d'Urto", a small Albanian ship which left the Vlore area in the evening of February 9 with at least 15 people onboard has disappeared in the Straits of Otranto. The new was indirectly confirmed by the searches with helicopters and boats which started yesterday, Feb 11. No newspaper reported the new, nor yesterday, nor today. All is silent on the press front: no official confirmation, nothing. As on January 1st, we can only wait till some fishermen finds a corpse in his fishernet. I'll mail more news as soon as I hear something.
HEAD OF FLORENCE POLICE REMOVED BECAUSE IT WAS TOO "TENDER" WITH MIGRANTS
The head of Florence police, mr. Barbera, was forced to resign yesterday by the Ministry of Home Affairs because he was too "tender" with migrants. In fact, all what mr. Barbera did was to allow the Rumenian migrants now occupying a church in Lucca to lead the Florence demo on January 29 without identifying/ terrorizing them. Much "better" behaviour from the head of police in Milan, which started a serie of "operations" __ already in mid_january, when there were 6 _ 12 degrees celsius below zero __ in the public sleeping places downtown. The police raided in particular the public sleeping place of Fratel Ettore, a friar helping since years the poors and homeless of Milan __ migrants included. More than 30 migrants were taken to via Corelli. The "operation", clearly aimed to terrorize the migrants population in Milan, is still going on. Migrants are warned: they have to sleep in the open. LAGERS: ROME 4 PEOPLE INTOXICATED BY THE FOOD IN THE ROME LAGER "PONTE GALERIA"
From "Il Manifesto", February 12:
It had a terrible smell, even more, if you looked at it, it was even covered by a layer of "condensate". That's the description made by a Red Cross operator about the food which sent last friday 4 people to the hospital. The distribution of the pre_cooked food had just started. Some women could immediately see that the food was not edible, but 4 of the men had already started eating. The pain was almost immediate. After medical treatment, two of them were taken back to the prison camp, while two had to stay at the hospital. Yesterday, operators of the ASL Rome (Public health) entered the prison camp to investigate the sanitary conditions, with the permission of the Rome prefect, mr. Enzo Mosino. Yesterday, also two MP (mr. Paolo Cento (Greens) and mr. De Cesaris (Refounded Communist Party visited the camp, which keeps on being "off limits" for press and Tvs. The MP wanted to check the conditions of the prison camps after the mass rebellions in January. "4 sections have been closed and many migrants have been taken to other prison camps, although they did not tell us where. Actually, there are 98 migrants in Ponte Galeria __ a number amazingly small for normal standards." Last year, Ponte Galeria "hosted" more than 3.000 migrants. A good 40% was kept there for longer periods than the 30 days legally allowed. .... AND MILAN Via Corelli is not closing yet, and today was the deadline set by the Minister immediately after the Jan 29 demonstration ("2 weeks and we'll close via Corelli" __ politician's promise). Meanwhile, one data came out from the usually locked up mouths of the police: last year, more than 1.400 people were deported ONLY from Via Corelli. The lager is not closing, thus, although some sign show that they have intention to close it. One for all: the number of migrants taken to jail __ and not to the camps __ in these last days has raised considerably. According to a reliable source, which can't be undisclosed, last Tuesday more than 40 migrants were taken to jail for no crime or for offences which do not imply any detention, but only fines. The Minister of Home Affairs takes us for idiots? Did he think that we forgot to check the jails, after his "promise"? Jesus Christ, what a Minister!
And now the good news:

FEBRUARY 26: NEW ACTION DAY AGAINST EU/ ITALIAN MIGRATION POLICY AND FOR THE CLOSURE OF ALL CAMPS
Yes, we double up. This time, the demo will most likely take place in Rome. Discussion is still going on. More info about it next week.
And now, read this:

DISGUISED JOURNALIST HELD IN VIA CORELLI FOR 2 DAYS REPORTS AMAZING VIOLATIONS TO BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS Fabrizio Gatti, a journalist of the Corriere della Sera, disguised himself as a Rumenian migrant and went pebbling around in the streets of Lodi (a city 20 km south Milan). In his article you can read: "The first contact with the police made my head turn. Worthless to stop, worthless to raise your hands: the policeman raised his arm and gave me a full force slap. That was the beginning __ on January 17 __ of the road leading to via Corelli (...). That was the first check __ five in 18 days: 3 characterized by abuses, 2 respecting the rules. (...) January 17, in front of a school in via San Francesco in Lodi, 12.30 AM: a dark car stops near me, disguised as a beggar. No police signs. A young man gets off and starts walking toward me. I react as anybody would when you feel threatened: I turn and start walking the opposite side. The young man starts running, the car jumps in front of me. Nobody is dressed as a policeman. I turn and raise my hands. It's not enough. The huge slap makes my head buzz for many seconds. "Why you running away?" says the young man.And I threw myself on the ground to avoid another slap." "I'm forced into the car (...). When we arrive to the police station, finally I see a men dressed as a policeman. Only at this point a foreigner would realize that it's a police check. (...). "Get naked" the officer orders. The search reveals some money, a ticket with the address of a police station in Bergamo, (...) and a paper released by the police with my picture and a fake name: Roman Ladu. (...) I had it to check if the defence rights are respected: to possess such a paper, infact, is no offence. "What is this?" yells the policeman waving my legal paper. And I get another full force slap! Other policemen enter the room. Passing near me, one of them burps in my face." OK, the article is too long to translate it now. However, if you think that's all, read this: after Roman Ladu is identified (fingerprints and pictures), he has to sign the arrestation report.
"Ladu, sign the arrestation report" orders the officer. "I can't read Italian, I'm not signing" I say. "Sign, it's better for you" says another officer. "Other way, you are in trouble. It only tells about your missing document" he tries to convince me. It's a lie: the report says that I'm arrested and that I renounce to the right of calling a lawier." INCREDIBLE, HUH? And all this went on the most important Italian newspaper on February 8, Tuesday. But the worst has still to come:

"Without the lawier, I get sued as if I presented a fake passport. But in the evening they release me, of course with the order to leave the Italian territory within 15 days. Nobody tells me that I have 5 days to file a claim against it. My future is doomed: at this point, I'll never get a stamp for any EU country for the rest of my life." "The next evening, another police check. This time by the Carabinieri (Note: a sort of military police). Two of them, by foot, stop me at 11.30 PM in via Lippi, in Milan. I stand still, with my hands raised. Apparently there's no tension, but in a moment, without nothing going on, one of the Carabinieri gets out his revolver, loads it and points it against me, in the middle of my legs. "If you move, I shoot your balls away"...

THE SAME SHOW WITH THE SWISS BORDER POLICE
One more note on this journalist, Fabrizio Gatti: two or three years ago, he produced the same show with the Swiss. He disguised himself as Albanian migrant and crossed the border Italy/ Switzerland in Chiasso. He revealed that the Refugee Center lays 2 km from Chiasso, and in those 2 km everything can happen. He was cought by the Swiss border police and was beaten like hell. The police beat also the women and childrens that were with him, themselves real Albanians. He reported seeing the police kicking the children in their stomach. Then he revealed his real identity... and the Swiss first beat him again, then sued him (but he came out clean from the process). Maybe our Swiss camarades could find out the ensuing press articles again? I'll see if I can find that article in Italy. It should be from 1997...

February 26. Maybe not as in Milan on January 29, but they'll try again a bit of civil resistance. Roman Ladu, we'll avenge you!

DAMAGING HYSTERIA(UK)
This has been an awful week for people in Britain who want a credible asylum system as well as for many of the Afghans on the hijacked aeroplane, says London_based Refugee Council chief Nick Hardwick in the Guardian. Hijacking an aeroplane and risking the lives of its passengers can never be recognised as an acceptable route to asylum. But asylum decisions have to be made objectively, in accordance with the law. The hijacking was a desperate act by desperate men who would appear to have had good reason to fear for the safety of themselves and their families. This puts the media hysteria into context, where the hijackers are simultaneously portrayed as Islamic fundamentalists, international terrorists and dole scroungers. To those who want a credible asylum system which produces fair decisions quickly, this whole affair and its coverage is a body blow. We are only weeks from the implementation of a new support system for asylum seekers. We need to ensure the new system does not fail. If not, the consequences could be worse still. We need to take the crisis out of the asylum system. It beggars belief that rich Britain cannot deal with a tiny proportion of refugees without becoming hysterical. We all have a responsibility to restore some sanity to the situation.
©Refugee Daily

NAZI_ERA PROPERTY DEAL RETURNS TO HAUNT AUSTRIAN POLITICS
Deep in the mountains of Austria's rural southern Carinthia region, the Baerental forest extends over 1,600 hectares. It is prime timber and hunting land that has helped build the fortune of its owner, the governor of Carinthia and the leader of the far_right Austrian Freedom Party, Joerg Haider. But the Jewish family that was forced to sell the ''Valley of the Bears'' on the eve of World War II, in a murky transaction involving Mr. Haider's relatives and blocked bank accounts, says the sale was illegal and immoral. Now, the family wants justice. ''Haider got rich selling my family's wood, and he is in power now with the help of my money,'' said Naomi Merhav, the 73_year old daughter of Giorgio Roifer, whose land Mr. Haider now owns. Amid international concern that he is whitewashing Austria's World War II collaboration with Nazi Germany, Mr. Haider began a political offensive last week, promising to ''take pertinent measures'' where Austria has ''inflicted great injustice on our Jewish fellow citizens or wiped out their families.'' The question of how Mr. Haider obtained the Baerental goes to the same issue, but also points up the ambiguity of Nazi_era transactions and the difficulty of dealing with present_day claims. ''Austria has had one of the worst records on restitution of any country in Europe, and the origin of Haider's own property underscores the need to be concerned about Haider's position on restitution,'' said Richard Chesnoff, author of the recent book ''Pack of Thieves,'' about the Nazi theft of Jewish property across Europe. In 1938, as fascism began to spread across Europe, Nazi Germany, which by then included Austria, began confiscating the property of Jews and others. Under the Nuremberg laws, Jews were forbidden to own property in the Reich. Land, homes, paintings and other valuables were ''Aryanized'' and ''de_Jewified'' _ the terminology of the day _ and given to racially pure Nazi party members. The Roifers' lush forest was an attractive property, and several Nazi officials wanted the land. But the Roifers were citizens of Italy, an ally of Hitler's, and it was only when the Creditanstalt bank in Vienna abruptly and for unclear reasons foreclosed on a long_term loan to Mr. Roifer, an Italian Jewish timber merchant from Pisa, that the family was forced to sell, according to Austrian press reports, court documents and Nazi_era records. Mr. Roifer came to Austria, but died before he was able to sell the woods to a friendly local businessman named Max Goetz. Mr. Roifer's widow, Mathilde, asked her brother to try to sell the land to Mr. Goetz, and then fled to Palestine with her three children. But Mr. Haider's great_great_uncle, Josef Webhofer, a local Nazi official, intervened, and the Roifer family sold him the land at what the family says was a fraction of its value. The deal was closed in 1941. A Haider associate sued an Austrian magazine that wrote about the case in 1986. The suit was over a separate issue, on which he won. But Judge Doris Treib wrote in her opinion that the way the Roifer family lost the land was ''clearly scandalous.'' ''It is quite clear that this Mrs. Roifer was deprived of this property by coercion,'' she wrote. Evidence to this effect included a notation by a Nazi forestry official in Vienna that the legal documents authorizing the sale were not valid. On the back of the power of attorney papers, he had written that the power of attorney of ''the Jewish seller,'' Mrs. Roifer, had expired. But in twisted legal language that circumvented this problem he added that ''at the request of the buyer Josef Webhofer,'' a lawyer named Heinz Bruenner would be unilaterally designated as an ''intermediary for the further selling of the forested estate.'' Mrs. Merhav contends that without a valid power of attorney, the original sale of the Baerental to Mr. Webhofer was invalid. In October 1940 After the war, Mrs. Roifer returned to Austria to seek compensation, but the courts refused her. Only in 1954 did she get anything from Mr. Webhofer for her family's land. ''My mother succeeded in getting something that is worth today about $120,000,'' Mrs. Merhav said. Austrian press reports say the Baerental is worth about $16 million today. For reasons that are not entirely clear, Mr. Haider was given the land as a gift in 1986 by Mr. Webhofer's son Wilhelm, and he has argued that his family obtained it legally. Questioned in 1989, Mr. Haider told the Austrian magazine Profil that the Roifer family must have done well out of the sale because it was brokered by ''the Jew Loew from Villach.'' In fact, Franz Josef Maria Loew, who handled the sale, was baptized in a Roman Catholic church in Schottenfeld in 1895, Profil reported. Mrs. Merhav last saw the Baerental woods as a small girl, and says that while the Austrians may have authorized the sale, the scrawled notes on the power of attorney document show it was probably illegal even under Nazi law. Now, Mrs. Merhav maintains, Josef Webhofer's heirs should return the land or pay up. ''If I were to see Mr. Haider,'' Mrs. Merhav said, ''I would tell him, 'Look, you have my land, perhaps illegally. If it is legal, it is not ethical or moral. The forest was sold to a man called Webhofer, but morally I should get some compensation.''' There is , Mrs. Merhav said, a fine line between selling the land by choice, and being forced to sell it. ''My mother signed the paper because she thought it was the least worse choice,'' she said. ''You know,'' she added, ''we thought it would be a thousand_year reich.'' Mrs. Merhav said that she and her son Zvi had recently decided to demand either the land or comparable compensation from Mr. Haider and the Austrian government. The gift of the Baerental to Mr. Haider raised eyebrows at the time even among senior Freedom Party officials. AFTER the court case involving Mr. Haider's associate, one unnamed official was quoted by the Austrian magazine Basta as saying: ''Haider has just two options after this court case and all the documents that have emerged: Separate himself from his property or separate himself from the party chairmanship.'' Mr. Haider did neither. The feud came just as it was revealed that Austria's then_president, Kurt Waldheim, had been a Nazi, and Mr. Haider instead accused his own political opponents of orchestrating a groundless attack against his increasingly powerful Austrian Freedom Party. ''Just because the big parties have been unable to find anything in my private life, the Israeli dirt slingers of the Waldheim campaign have started coming,'' he said at the time. The Roifers are not the only Jewish family still awaiting the return of property confiscated during Austria's Nazi era, or equitable compensation. Sixty_five thousand Austrian Jews died in Nazi concentration camps during World War II. About 21,000 Austrian Jewish Holocaust survivors still live around the world, and they have tens of thousands of claims outstanding against Austria for confiscated property that is now in the hands of the Austrian state or private citizens. While Germany has largely settled claims for property confiscated from its Jewish citizens, Austria has returned only a small fraction of the land, art objects and other valuables already identified as stolen. ''There is a Biblical injunction that murderers shall not be inheritors,'' said Alissa Kaplan, of the Committee for Jewish Claims on Austria.
© International Herald Tribune

SAIFULLAH JABBAR MAY NOT TAKE THE NAME JENSEN(Denmark)
Immigrants want Danish names to fight discrimination but authorities refuse. Liberal Party member of parliament Kristian Jensen has put a parliamentary question before Social Democratic justice minister Frank Jensen to highlight a problem which more and more of Denmark's immigrants are experiencing. Kristian, Frank and hundreds of thousands of their fellow Danes have something which is taboo for foreigners: the name Jensen. People like Saifullah Jabbar and Fatemah Hijazi often wish they had a name which did not immediately identify them as foreigners in the land of the Danes. Jabbar, a 32_year_old engineer with Afghani parents, has sent hundreds of job applications over the past five years _ in vain. He was not even asked to attend a single interview. Never mind that he grew up in Denmark, speaks Danish like a Dane and completed the same course of study as his Danish colleagues, who have all long since found employment; engineers are in great demand in Denmark. Only Saifullah Jabbar is always screened out. Just bad luck? No one in Denmark really believes that. The government, labour unions and employers' federations have long recognised as a serious problem the fact that even the best_trained foreigners consistently get a raw deal on the job market. But recognising the problem does nothing to remedy the situation. Rest assured, the next free slot will again go to a Jensen or a Hansen or a Rasmussen, and the Abdullahs and Mustafas will still be left in the cold. The prejudices are many: "Employers are afraid of us praying five times a day and walking around with knives," says Saifullah Jabbar. With a name like name Niels Olsen, he would at least be called for an interview, and have a chance at convincing the company director of his qualities in person. Jabbar finds it "degrading" to have to change your name to get a chance at a job. But the address for applying for name changes, Denmark's civil law directorate, is currently experiencing a heavy stream of immigrants who want to have the same names as the Danes. But they run up against a wall of resistance there. All those typical Danish names ending in _sen are under the same protection as Danish lineages. The names have been reserved for their current bearers and their descendants. Kristian Jensen thinks this is a stupid policy: "When something as trivial as a name keeps people from getting jobs, we cannot keep them from changing names," he says. The civil law directorate used to deal mainly with Danes wanting to trade in their all too_common Nielsens and Sorensens for something more "exotic". The officials there are glad to assist foreigners in shortening or "Danish_ising" their own names, which the Danes claim are often too long for their ears and practically unpronouncable for their tongues. Like Naja instead of Najatbakhshsima _ but not Nielsen. A foreigner has to marry a Dane to get a name with a _sen ending. Kristian Jensen thinks his government should be more generous in allocating Danish names: "We have about 340,000 people named Jensen in this country. Who cares if it is 340,500?"
©Frankfurter Rundschau

IMMIGRATION CO-OPERATION(Hungary)
Refugees should find their plight eased by the Hungarian Red Cross and the Office of Immigration and Naturalization signing a co_operation agreement last Tuesday. The agreement was reached in the light of last September's amendment to the Alien Law which allows illegal aliens entering Hungary to remain here if they have no place to return to for reasons beyond their control. This applies to all aliens, even those not seeking asylum. "The Hungarian Red Cross shelter for refugees was set up in 1993, and can house 100 people, providing them with food and shelter," said Barbara Bartha, International Manager for the Hungarian Red Cross Refugee Service. "In the Hungarian Red Cross office we co_ordinate our efforts with those of the International Red Cross. This agreement with the Immigration office gives us further funding for our efforts," said Bartha. The director of the Immigration Office, Zsuzsanna Vegh, also welcomed the move. "The Government would be unable to deal with the refugee question without assistance from social organizations," she said. There are currently 2,000 refugees in Hungary's designated camps, and 3,000_4,000 refugees at other residences. The bulk of last year's refugees originated from the Balkans, Afghanistan and Bangledash according to the UNHCR.
©The Budapest Sun

IMMIGRATION SERVICE CRITICISED OVER HIJACK AFGHANS (UK)
The British authorities have been accused of pressurising most of the Afghan passengers on a hijacked airliner to returnhome. An interpreter David Fazel who workedwith the group said that only twenty ofthe seventy-three people who returnedhome on Monday did so voluntarily. He said that immigration officials toldpotential asylum seekers they would bedetained under lock and key, and thegroup felt intimidated. The immigration minister Barbara Rochesays that everyone who wished to goback to Afghanistan was seen individuallyby the International Office of Migrationwhich organised the flight on the basis of a voluntary return. Thirteen peopleaccused of hijacking the Afghan airlinerhave appeared in court in easternEngland; a fourteenth Afghan wasarrested on Monday. About seventy others who were aboardthe plane are seeking asylum in Britain.
@BBC

EVICTION BLOCKED (Spain)
The opposition of neighbours in part of the historic city centre of Malaga had blocked the eviction of three Moroccan families. The families, which include three children under the age of ten live in Calle Viento. The eviction order followed non payment of rent and an order by the Malaga provincial court. The left wing coalition party have called for the intervention of the social services department in the case.
@The Entertainer

SHOW PINOCHET MEDICAL REPORT, SAY JUDGES (UK)
THE High Court ruled today that Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, erred when he refused to disclose the contents of a medical report on Gen Augusto Pinochet. The document should therefore be made available to countries wishing to extradite the former Chilean dictator. Lord Justice Simon Brown, sitting with two other judges, said: "For the reasons given in our judgments we allow this application to the extent we hold the medical report should be disclosed to the four requesting states under conditions of strict confidentiality." The secret report prompted Mr Straw to say last month that he was "minded" to declare the 84-year-old former Chilean dictator unfit to stand trial on torture charges and to block his extradition to Spain. The Home Secretary's refusal to reveal the medical reasons behind his provisional decision that Pinochet might be allowed to go home led to today's successful application for judicial review by Belgium and six human rights organisations.
@The Telegraph

ARSON DESTROY SWEDISH WHITE POWER MUSIC STUDIO (Sweden)
The recording studios owned and operated by the "viking-rock" band ultima thule in nyköping, sweden were completely destroyed by fire sometime early on the morning of thursday the 10th of february. Ultima thule was at the forefront of the white power music wave that spread across sweden and scandinavia in the early 1990's. The band members have their political roots within the fascist parliamentary party, Sverigedemokraterna (the sweden democrats). in later years, ultima thule has been involved in organising the yearly white power music festival, holmgång, held outside of the western swedish town of borås. This festival has attempted to create links between the northern european nazi movement and nationalistic motorcycle and car clubs. The extensive fire destroyed not only the bands recording studio and instruments, but all of their master tapes, including those completed for an upcoming album. All post-order merchandise was also destroyed in the blaze.
"every fire needs a little bit of help. give the nazi a cigarette."
AntiFascistisk Aktion-Stockholm

NORTH BOHEMIAN TOWN SELLS PARTS OF THE FAMOUS « WALL OF USTI » (Czech Republic)
The infamous "Wall of Usti" is for sale. The barrier had been built in the fall of 1999 to separate a Roma Settlement in the North Bohemian town of Usti nad Labem (Aussig) from a residential district. After six weeks of heavy criticism from home and abroad the town council decided to knock it down. All concrete parts of the originally 65 meters long and 1,80 meters high wall are available for 210,000 Kronen (about 6,000 Dollars), said the conservative town principal of Usti, Pavel Tosovsky. There already are some interested parties. The decision about the allocation will be made in late February.
@RomNews

CHECHENS DENIED STATUS(Russia)
Chechen refugees in Russia have faced months of bureaucratic hassles with the Federal Immigration Services, unsuccessful job hunts and difficulty in finding medical care, reports the St Petersburg Times. Chechen community leader Deni Teps said Moscow has received more than 8,000 new Chechen refugees and St.Petersburg about 1,000. Only half of the newcomers have registered with Immigration Services. The agency considers the Chechens IDPs and does not grant them the five-year forced-migrant status that many were eligible for during the previous war. Russians fleeing Chechnya, however, receive the forced migrant status because "they left the republic after being discriminated against for their nationality,'' said the Immigration Service chief in St. Petersburg. Sergei Tarasevich said the benefits for forced migrants, as compared to IDPs, are small, and include slightly higher levels of monetary aid. But Lidia Grofova, head of the Coordinating Council for Aid to Refugees and Forced Migrants, an NGO, said those with forced-migrant status could receive compensation after the war. ''The real reason for not granting the status during this war is that the Russian authorities want all the Chechens to go back to their republic,'' she said. Teps said Chechens in St. Petersburg lacked money and were being discriminated against badly.
©Refugee Daily

ROMA ORGANIZATIONS SUE ROMANIAN JOURNALIST
Several organizations representing the Roma minority in Romania have filed charges against journalist Marcel Flueraru from the daily "National" for using racist language in an article published in that daily, AP reported on 8 February. Presenting Roma as "delinquents" is very common in the Romanian media. Flueraru, however, used the term "darkies" and called the Roma "aggressors" who act "as if they had rabies." Also on 8 February, deputy Madalin Voicu, who was elected to the parliament on one of the lists of the Roma minority, announced he is joining the opposition Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR), Mediafax reported. He said PDSR chairman Ion Iliescu and Executive Deputy Chairman Adrian Nastase have promised support for his demand that poor Roma families be given 1 hectare of land.
©RFE/RL

PRESIDENT APOLOGIZES FOR SLOVAK ROLE IN HOLOCAUST
President Rudolf Schuster, on a four-day visit to Israel, has apologized for Slovakia's role in the extermination of Jews during the Holocaust, CTK reported on 8 February. Schuster said Slovaks "must learn" about this dark chapter in their history and that "watching movies about it is not enough. We must educate children in schools." He spoke after visiting the Yad Va'Shem Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem. Schuster also said he wants Slovakia to mark Holocaust Day on 10 September, the day on which the country's war-time Nazi puppet government introduced the so-called Jewish Code. Some 70,000 Slovak Jews were exterminated during the Holocaust.
©RFE/RL

AUSTRIA HAS BROKEN ITS CONTRACT WITH EU - FRANCE, SPAIN SAY
France and Spain said Wednesday that Austria had violated its "contract" with the European Union by admitting the far-right Freedom Party into government. The cornerstone of the union was built on "certain values," French President Jacques Chirac after meeting Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar in his Paris palace. "By damaging this cornerstone, Austria has in a way put itself in the position of breaking its contract (with the EU)," Chirac said. Aznar said he completely agreed with Chirac's comment, adding that the ban by Austria's 14 EU partners on political contacts with Vienna because of the Freedom Party's rise to power "showed the union was not only a market, not only a currency, but also a community of principles and values." The "political idea of Europe is incompatible" with those espoused by the Freedom Party, Aznar said. The Freedom Party, led by Joerg Haider, came second in October elections running on an anti-immigration, anti-EU expansion platform and last week became part of a coalition government with Austria's conservative People's Party. Haider, the son of a former Nazi official, himself has run into controversy several times for making comments lauding the Nazi regime, giving himself a fascist image abroad that has been little changed by subsequent apologies and promises to respect human rights and EU law. "For the first time in the European Union's existence, a party with a clearly extremist and xenophobic ideology has arrived into government. This is no small thing," Chirac said. He said that France and the other EU countries were right to "clearly condemn this situation" and added that he thought this pressure led to Haider and his coalition partner, Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel, signing a declaration last week saying they would respect EU values. This pressure should not be seen as interference, Chirac said, but as "a reminder to Austria that there is a contract it must honour."
©The Tocqueville Connection

FRANCE, BELGIUM BOYCOTT AUSTRIAN SPEECH AT OSCE
Diplomats from France and Belgium boycotted a speech by Austria's new Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner at the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Vienna on Thursday. "Their seats were empty during her speech," OSCE spokesman Mans Nyberg told Reuters. The action appeared to be part of efforts by Austria's 14 European Union partners to isolate the country politically following the formation of a new government that includes Joerg Haider's far-right Freedom Party. Ferrero-Waldner, a member of Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel's conservative People's Party, was making her first appearance before the permanent council of the 54-nation OSCE since taking up her new job. Austria has held the chairmanship of the security and human rights watchdog since January. Diplomats said that while some smaller countries were not always represented at regular OSCE meetings, this was believed to be the first time France and Belgium had not been present. Schuessel's new government, comprising equal numbers of ministers from the People's Party and the Freedom Party, was sworn in last Friday. Haider, best known for playing down the crimes of the Nazis, is not in the cabinet.
© Reuters

HAGUE IS EXPLOITING ANTI-GAY FEELINGS(UK)
The Prime Minister accused William Hague yesterday of seeking to "exploit anti-gay feelings" in his opposition to lifting the ban on schools promoting homosexuality. Tony Blair, promising to press ahead with the abolition of Section 28 of the 1988 Local Government Act, told the Conservative leader Britain was "more tolerant than you give it credit for". The Government suffered a setback in the Lords over the issue during the Local Government Bill's committee stage earlier this week when it was defeated by 45 votes. At question time Mr Hague urged the Prime Minister to drop the measure in light of criticism from church leaders and others such as the chief inspector of schools, Chris Woodhead, and the "vast majority of mainstream opinion in this country. Will you now listen to people and drop this whole idea?" he said. Mr Blair said the last government, in its 1994 guidance, decided Section 28 did not apply to schools. "It is nothing whatever to do with some of the nonsense talked about in the last few days but to make sure that teachers and others are able properly to give children the information they need. I believe, although you may want to exploit it for the Conservative Party's purposes, that this country is more tolerant than you give it credit for. "There are two different types of concern here. There is the concern expressed by churches and others in the House of Lords and elsewhere. We will listen to those concerns and already have done so." David Blunkett, Secretary of State for Education, had indicated that he would bring forward guidance addressing those "perfectly sensible legitimate concerns". Mr Blair continued: "There is another aspect of the Opposition, which is to do with exploiting anti-gay feelings. Let us be quite open about that. And those are the opponents I intend to take on." Mr Hague said: "We all believe in a tolerant society and many of those organisations you mentioned talk about bullying in schools. But your own chief inspector of schools says: 'My own experience is that there is no evidence that Section 28 has had a negative effect on teachers' ability to deal with bullying'. "So if it doesn't stop teachers from doing that, will you say what is it that you want to see taught in classrooms that cannot be taught now?" Mr Blair replied: "It is nothing to do with teaching children in classrooms. It is to do with answering their questions. I heard what the chief inspector for schools said but the evidence presented to us by organisations representing children and teachers is that in some number of cases it did make a difference. "Therefore we have decided to replace it with proper guidance given to the schools." The Tory leader retorted: "It's about tolerance being a two-way thing in this country. It's about whether millions of parents in this country have the right to determine what their children are taught. "And it is about whether the mainstream majority have the right to have their views and values respected, or whether taxpayers' money can simply be commandeered by a government that has no respect for that. "It is indeed about tolerance – the tolerance demanded by the mainstream majority to have their views and values respected."
©Independent

TUC-LEADER RECEIVES NAZI-THREATS(Norway)
The leader of the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO), Yngve Haagensen and LO's Youth Secretary, Mohammed Ahssain, have recieved letters with threats on their lives from Norwegian neo-nazis. The threats have been reported to the police. LO is afraid that Norway will experience the same situation as Sweden, where violence from neo-nazis have been directed against union members, among others, Dagbladet writes. Haagensen and Ahssain each received a threatening letter on Monday. They were written on a PC, decorated with runes and skulls and crossbones.
©The Norway Post

WHITE BOOK HIGHLIGHTS ROMA PERSECUTION(Hungary)
The National Ethnic and Minority Protection Office (Neki) published its annual "White Book" on human rights violations in Hungary for the sixth consecutive year last week. Neki began investigations into districts authorities, the National Police and the Hungarian State and the book includes cases selected from 113 reports to highlight the 25 most important human rights concerns of 1999. "In the last five years we have received over 500 complaints, and litigated over 100 civil and criminal cases. "This years statistics show that all of our cases referred to the courts have had a successful outcome," said Dr László Bihary, the legal expert for Neki. The human rights organization works in conjunction and with the assistance of the Soros Foundation, the Ford Foundation and the European Roma Rights Center (ERRC). One of the most disgraceful cases reported in the White Book was of Gypsy people excluded from a local pub in Patvarc, in the north of Hungary. The ERRC is committed to stamping out such blatant racism and said much is created and nurtured at an early age. One of its concerns is the educational system in Hungary. Most Roma children in Europe will meet the 21st century in a de facto segregated educational system, it claimed. In terms of funding, infrastructure, quality of teaching, even curriculum, segregated schools with over 80% Roma enrollment are no worse than in majority schools. They perpetuate racial walls even if they are otherwise good, even if they are "elite", ERRC claimed They teach Romani students to "know their place", and ultimately discourage or directly disqualify them from full citizenship. No coherent de-segregation movement has yet emerged. According to the ERRC the most outrageous form of denial of the educational rights of Roma is, ironically, typical of the comparatively successful new democracies, the Czech Republic and Hungary. In these and some other countries, Roma children are streamed in to so called "special schools", or "special classes". What is "special" about them is that they are designed as substandard educational programs for children with developmental or mental disability. Roma children are hugely over-represented in such schools and in some places make up to 95% of the student population. The Neki White book has been released at a time when human rights issues are being addressed at an international level.
©The Budapest Sun

NEW AUSTRIAN ANTI-RACIST INITIATIVE
(Vienna) They are young and angry ... and anti-racist. A new association for victims and witnesses of racism is forming in Vienna. People with broad experience in anti-racist work and immigration aid recently founded ZARA – a new centre for free advice, legal counselling immediate help and information to prevent racism and fight discrimination. "It is a hard job, but someone has to do it", says ZARA-chairman Dieter Schindlauer. "Our task is to support people who experience racism in their everyday life; - to be their partner in the otherwise lonesome fight for dignity and respect even if that sometimes seems to be fighting windmills." The ZARA-team is formed of legal experts, social workers and active students. "Racism in Austria has always been a problem but the new political situation justifies a deep concern, that there will be a rise in racial attacks and that more people will feel save when they publicly show their racist attitudes. All the more potential victims of discrimination need professional assistance and someone to hear and amplify their voices", says Johanna Landgrebe, a ZARA – activist.
ZARA started without a penny and therefor is in a urging need for money.

Kontakt: ZARA- Verein für Zivilcourage und Anti-Rassismus-Arbeit
Zollergasse 15, A-1070 Vienna
Tel:.+43 1 5249900
Mon, Tue, Wed 9.30-13.00h, Thu 16.00 – 20.00h
Donations very welcome to SKWB Schöllerbank, 19200, Kto. 61552279003



Tuesday 1st February Spain's new Immigration Law came into force, bringing chaos to the Alicante office dealing with residence permits. According to the police a thousand people - mainly North Africans - were waiting outside the Government Delegation and the Oficina de Extranjeros. Many had little idea of why they were there, some thinking the new law meant they could become legal, others believing it was the cut-off date for making a residencia application. Barricades were erected to stem the avalanche and twenty policemen were called in to ensure that no-one jumped either of the two queues. Luis Garrido, the government sub-delegate in Alicante told the press that 600 applications were processed on Monday and 1000 numbers had been given out for processing on Tuesday: &laqno;Everyone will be attended to,» he said. Despite his reassurances that there was no time limit, Wednesday's queues were even longer and according to police estimates there were 1,500 waiting outside the Oficina de Extranjeros.
©The entertainer

DEMO IN VIENNA 19 FEBRUARY MEETS WITH INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT
SHOW SUPPORT- SHOW UP!
On Saturday February 19 the Austrian anti-racism movement is organizing a big anti ÖVP/FPÖ government demonstration. The time has come for Europeans to show their solidarity with all those Austrians who didn't vote for Haider and are fighting racism and xenophobia. In the past few weeks European governments and organizations have spoken out against the ÖVP/FPÖ government from their own countries, now we should show that we are serious about it. At the same time the Austrian resistance movement has to be supported. Initiatives to organize busses to Vienna are in place in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Belgium and The Netherlands
Latest info on who is doing what in which country

KILLING SPARKS ANTI-IMMIGRANT VIOLENCE IN SPAIN
Anti-immigrant demonstrators wrecked shops and cars belonging to people of North African origin in protest against a killing blamed on a Moroccan, authorities said on Sunday. Hundreds of residents marched through the centre of El Ejido, shouting "Moors, go home!", while others set up barricades of burning tires on a major road leading into town. Racial tension returned to the farming town later on sunday, forcing police to step in to avert violence. Moroccan demonstrators marched in protest of the property damage, which in turn draw another angry reaction from native Spanish. "The situation was very tense throughout the morning," one regional official told Reuters, requesting anonymity. "But police were able to control the situation at all times and as of the moment there have not been any direct confrontations." But the official said police remained on alert during the local woman's funeral on Sunday afternoon. It was the latest in a series of anti-immigrant attacks in Spain, where a growing influx of North Africans has created racial tensions in some areas, mostly in the south of Spain.
©Reuters

EUROPEAN JEWS URGE TOURISTS TO AVOID AUSTRIA
The European Jewish Congress urged holidaymakers on Sunday to boycott Austria after Joerg Haider's far-right Freedom Party joined the new coalition government. The tourist boycott call from the EJC, the European branch of the World Jewish Congress umbrella body for the Jewish community, was made at the peak of Austria's ski season. The group said in a statement it welcomed steps being taken by the other 14 European Union states to downgrade political contacts with Vienna. Among those steps was a refusal to endorse the nomination of Austrians to jobs in international organisations. The EJC, apparently seeking to push those ideas further, said it hoped the headquarters of the International Atomic Energy and the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation would be transferred out of Vienna. "The European Jewish Congree does not hesitate to call upon all the people of Europe to make a touristic boycott of Austria," the EJC said in a statement. Israel urged the world on Sunday to take action against Vienna, saying its new government incorporated neo-Nazi elements. On Friday the Jewish state recalled its Vienna ambassador, saying that as the homeland of Holocaust survivors, it could tolerate the Freedom Party's inclusion in government.
©Reuters

SWEDISH PM SAYS MISTAKES MADE IN IMMIGRATION
Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson was quoted on Sunday in an interview as saying the government had allowed in too many immigrants on occasion in the past and immigration policies had been badly handled. "It's clear that at certain times we had too much immigration and large parts of our immigration policies were badly handled," he said in the interview in the daily Expressen. His comments threatened to open a sensitive debate in Sweden -- which has had one of Europe's most open immigration policies -- at a time when the minority Social Democrat government is lining up with other European countries to condemn Austria's anti-immigrant Freedom Party led by Joerg Haider. "We need to have a self-critical debate...but now we are getting back on track. I don't think we need to be worried that the immigration debate emerging in Denmark will spread to us." The far-right Danish People's Party, which like Haider's Freedom Party opposes immigration, has made strong gains in recent opinion polls, but no far-right party in Sweden enjoys comparable support. Anti-immigration sentiment has tended to express itself in Sweden through rising neo-nazi violence rather than political parties. One in every eight out of a population of 8.9 million are immigrants or have at least one immigrant parent. Leaders of other Swedish political parties criticised Persson's comments. "It is very unfortunate in this climate of debate we are currently in for the prime minister to say such a thing," Liberal Party leader Lars Leijonborg told Swedish news agency TT. Persson's press secretary Ingrid Iremark said Persson was not criticising the number of immigrants but had meant to say the authorities had not handled the absorption of large numbers of immigrants well at times. "Goran Persson wants to say that he does not think we have had too much immigration," Iremark told TT.
©Reuters

LE PEN WOULD NOT MAKE SAME DEAL AS HAIDER(France)
France's faltering far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen said on Monday he would probably not have signed the coalition deal that brought the far-right Freedom Party of Joerg Haider into government in Austria. Le Pen, whose National Front party's popularity has shrunk from 15 to five percent in the past two years, said Haider had compromised his party's views by signing a coalition agreement that included a pledge to respect European Union principles. "Haider must take responsibility for his acts," Le Pen, 71, told journalists. "He has signed compromises that I might not have signed." At another point in a rambling press conference, Le Pen said Haider had paid a price to join the Austrian government that his party would never pay to join a government in France. Le Pen, a blustery ex-paratrooper who was friendly with the former Waffen SS officer Franz Schoenhuber when he led Germany's far-right Republicans in the early 1990s, has never had an easy time with the younger upstart Haider, who just turned 50. Le Pen said Haider's victory showed that the far right and mainstream conservatives could form majorities in many European countries if conservatives would stop demonising the nationalist right and link up with it against the current social democratic majority in Europe.
©Reuters

DEPUTIES DO NOT SHARE CHAIRMAN'S OPINION ON AUSTRIA(Czechia)
Most Czech deputies do not share the view of lower house chairman Vaclav Klaus that the Freedom Party's (FPOe) presence in Vienna cabinet is a lesser evil than the EU's interference in Austria's decision making, a CTK survey of members of the house's European Intergation committee today showed. Vladimir Lastuvka, a committee member representing the ruling Social Democrats (CSSD), said he believed that the coming to power of [FPOe chairman] Joerg Haider must be opposed to "immediately and most resolutely." "I don't think that the reaction of EU member countries amounts to meddling in Austria's internal affairs," he said. Freedom Union's Michal Lobkowicz said Klaus's Austrian statements corresponded to what "at least part of the ODS have never kept secret, that the populist style of Mr Haider's policy is not entirely strange to them." Vilem Holan (Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL) called Klaus's statement very self-assured, and an example of the haughtines typical of the ODS.
©CTK, Czech News Agency

AUTHORITIES TO GIVE MIGRANTS NEW CHANCE TO GET LEGAL(Greece)
Labour Minister Miltiadis Papaioannou yesterday announced the government's intention to give a "second chance" to tens of thousands of undocumented migrants who had registered with the Organisation for the Employment of Human Resources (OAED) in 1998, but did not manage to apply for a Green Card. The minister was speaking at a conference on issues related to migrants in Greece organised by the Athens News in conjunction with the Polish weekly Kurier Atenski. According to Papaioannou, this second opportunity for legalisation will be included in new immigration legislation currently being drafted by the interior ministry in cooperation with the labour and other ministries. The bill is scheduled to go before parliament within the next few months. This is good news for as many as 200,000 migrants who, unable to fulfil Green Card application requirements, now live with the day-to-day fear of being deported if arrested by the police. The news that the government is proceeding in this direction was welcomed by participants at the conference. Representatives of migrant groups, human rights activists, the General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE) and the Athens Labour Centre (EKA) have long been applying pressure on the government to legalise all undocumented migrant workers. The chief argument in favour of the proposed new legalisation is that the vast majority of migrants who did not manage to submit a Green Card application were unable to collect at least 40 days' worth of social security stamps (ensima). This was largely due to a general unwillingness on the part of employers to insure their migrant workers. Among other stumbling blocks was the lack of resources at ministries which often meant that the numerous required documents were not issued to migrants before the application deadline. Only 220,000 migrants submitted Green Card applications out of an estimated total of 373,000 who registered with OAED. Papaioannou also stated that the issuing of Green Cards will be completed by May. This final phase of the legalisation process which began in January 1998 was to have concluded by the end of this month but has been delayed. To date, only 100,000 Green Cards have been issued and there are some 120,000 applications still to be reviewed. The minister also referred to the issue of citizenship, explaining that eligibility will be extended to include the first generation of migrants in Greece, migrants who have lived in Greece for many years and political refugees who have been recognised as such by the state.
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CRITIC OF RIGHT IS WARNED BY EDITOR(Austria)
An Austrian journalist has been given an ultimatum to soften his criticism of Jörg Haider and the right-wing Austrian coalition government or leave his paper. Gerhard Marschall, 47, a columnist who has been fiercely critical of the far-Right Freedom Party leader and Wolfgang Schüssel, the new chancellor of Austria, was given the ultimatum last Friday, the day the new coalition government in Austria was sworn in. Hans Koppl, the editor of the regional Oberöstereichische Nachrichten, claimed that the newspaper had lost subscriptions because Marschall's articles had proved so unpopular with readers. A member of the newspaper's staff said it was hoped that Marschall would consider the offer to stay but he doubted he would accept. Marschall said he was told that he could no longer be afforded, given the current political situation in the country. In a further reflection of the divisions that Mr Haider's rise has caused, the artistic director of the Salzburg music festival has resigned in protest at the Freedom Party joining the government. Belgian-born Gerard Mortier will leave a year early. A festival spokesman said: "He asked to be relieved of his job at the end of the 2000 season following the swearing in of the government. He said he will continue cultural activities in this country in collaboration with democratic forces". Salzburg, which is the birthplace of Mozart, has long hosted one of the world's most prestigious classical music festivals.
©Telegraph

SLAVE TRADERS CASH IN ON HUMAN MISERY(Switzerland)
Christian Solidarity International, a Swiss-based charity which buys back slaves from their Arab masters, has come under criticism from the Sudanese government, the United Nations and other international aid organisations. They fear that slave-buying feeds the market and encourages more raiding. They also say the programme is vulnerable to fraud by unscrupulous warlords attracted by the cash. Unicef, the UN children's organisation, says that CSI's work "is absolutely intolerable". John Eibner, the New Yorker who leads CSI's missions to Sudan, is undeterred. Arab traders bringing the slaves back say some areas of the northern provinces of Kardofan and Darfur have been emptied of 20 per cent of their slaves. But many remain. Some estimates put the number of slaves in Sudan at about 100,000. In southern Sudan all life is cheap, but there are few things cheaper than the lives of the thousands of African slaves abducted by Arab tribesmen from the north who raid their villages and farms for human booty each dry season. Abak Rol knows exactly how much her life is worth: it is 50,000 Sudanese pounds (£32), or slightly less than the price of two goats. Despite enduring horrific sexual abuse Abak is one of the lucky ones. She was one of 807 slaves recently bought back by CSI near the village of Yargot, only a few days walk from the Bahr al-Arab river which divides the African south from the Arab north. "Raiders came to my village one morning and hit my husband. They left him for dead and took me," she said as she cradled a baby to her breast, a legacy of repeated rapes by her former Arab master. Certainly Abak is grateful to CSI, whose scheme pays about £32 for each slave returned. In a firm voice she tells of three years of enforced labour, cooking and cleaning in her master's house. When she was ill, regular beatings forced her back to work and she was in no doubt how little her life was worth. "In that house first there were the Arabs, then the animals and then the slaves," she said. To the outside observer the scene at the well seems to come from another time, an Africa that would have been familiar to David Livingstone and other anti-slaving missionaries. Mr Eibner said: "This is not the past for these people. It is their everyday reality and we must not delude ourselves that slavery is a thing of the history books."
©Telegraph

ROMA DEMONSTRATE AGAINST CONTINUING VIOLENCE IN KOSOVO
According to statements from the Roma National Congress (RNC), tens of thousands of Roma are fleeing from racist motivated violence. Thousands eke out a miserable existence in provisional refugee camps in Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro. International Roma organisations now call for an immediate right to stay for these refugees. Since the beginning of the Kosovo crisis, thousands of Roma have become victims of atrocities by Albanian militias. More than hundredthousand Roma from the Kosovo have fled from these atrocities and the NATO warfare. Among all the families who reached so-called safety, not one that didn't lose relatives, among all the expelled families, not one whose property wasn't stolen or destroyed. Germany must stay to its responsibility. Rape, murder and repelling have become a horrible routine for the Roma in Kosovo. In contrast to the beginning of the NATO operation, today none of the international institutions feels responsible to help the Roma. Not one word about German responsibility! No "Fascism never again! Stop the violence against Roma!" out of the mouth of a German foreign or defense minister. The Holocaust of the Kosovo Roma is neither a subject matter in the media, nor recognized by those who wanted to "bomb human rights back on the Balkan" only a few months ago. It is unbearable for us as Roma to see the Berlin Republic indulge in self-adulation with a "Jewish Holocaust memorial" on the one hand, while on the other hand the survivors of the German Holocaust and their NATO Balkan war die a wretched death. We call this a process of coming to terms with the past - by continuing injustice! We therefore require the federal government to stand to its responsibility, both concerning the Holocaust, and as a consequence of the participation in the Balkan war! For thousands of Roma there is no coming back, they no longer have a home in Kosovo. For this people we claim: For all Roma refugees from the Kosovo currently residing in Germany, an immediate right to stay. To acknowledge all Roma refugees currently staying in Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro as contingental refugees and receive them in Germany, like it is done with the Jews from the former Soviet Union. The immediate abolition of the movement limitation for Roma refugees in Germany!
©RomNews

MONSTER BITES(Poland)
'Never Again' magazine has been on the front-line of the struggle against fascism in Poland for 5 years. Now the extreme right wants to destroy it. Both the country's Constitution and the penal code forbid fascist and racist activities. The current right-wing government is clearly not interested in using this law and nazi groups can operate unhindered. The anti-fascist magazine 'Nigdy Wiecej' ('Never Again') recently exposed the fact that members of right-wing extremist groups had been nominated to senior positions within the government. 'Never Again' is also the only magazine in Poland regularly monitoring numerous cases of fascist violence. On 9 November 1999 it publicised a report documenting the deaths of 19 people killed in the recent years by nazi-skins, members or sympathisers of extremist groups such as Narodowe Odrodzenie Polski (National Revival of Poland, NOP). As a result 'Never Again' has found itself under constant attack both from the violent nazis and the far-right publications. Death threats against the editors have become customary and hit lists with their home addresses circulate among fascists. Fortunately the nazis got the addresses wrong. In several cases collaborators of 'Never Again' have been beaten up but the 'Never Again' team pledged to continue their work. The general social and political climate is largely hostile towards anti-fascism. In this climate the extreme right hit the magazine with a legal weapon. A libel suit has been filed by a nationalist-pagan activist Tomasz Szczepanski. Szczepanski, who claims to be a follower of the French New Right intellectual Alain De Benoist, objected to 'Never Again' calling his group 'anti-Semitic and chauvinistic'. Apparently he did not mind calling it 'anti-Christian'. Szczepanski, has a bizarre political past behind him. He used to pose as an anarchist, a trotskyist, a democratic socialist, and an anti-fascist. Most recently he has been a member of the Christian-conservative party ROP but now seems to be forming a political group of his own. In this venture he is accompanied by militant nazis such as Mateusz Piskorski (translator of David Myatt's nazi-satanic writings) and ex-anarchists such as Remigiusz Okraska (friend and follower of Jaroslaw Tomasiewicz, a contributor to countless left- and right-wing publications in Poland and abroad). This lot gathers around Szczepanski's magazine 'Tryglaw', named after a proto-Slavonic monster god. The legal proceedings against 'Never Again' have already started. The case is expected to last for long. Undoubtedly, it is meant to cause as much damage to the anti-fascist movement as possible, both in terms of publicity and financial resources. It remains to be seen whether this plot by the extreme-right will succeed.

If you want to support 'Never Again', write to: 'Nigdy Wiecej', PO Box 6, 03-700 Warszawa 4, Poland, e-mail: rafalpan@zigzag.pl
Stowarzyszenie 'Nigdy Wiecej'/'Never Again' Association

LATVIANS RECEIVE 'RIGHTEOUS AMONG NATIONS' AWARD
Nine Latvians received the "Righteous Among Nations" award from Israeli Charge d'Affaires Ronit ben Dor in Riga on 2 February, "Neatkariga Rita Avize" reported. The nine were recognized for their efforts in trying to save Jews during the Holocaust. Eight of the recipients were from the extended Pukis-Susters-Dzene family, which had tried to save the lives of four escapees from the Riga Ghetto. However, they were later caught hiding the four escapees, resulting in the execution of one family member and the incarceration of five others in the concentration camp at Schtuthoff. Only one family member survived the camp, BNS added. Of the 15,000 people honored as the "Righteous Among Nations," 71 are from Latvia, according to LETA.
©RFE/RL Newsline

ANGER OVER NAZI CANDIDACY FOR LOCAL ELECTION IN LITHUANIA
Several political parties have attacked the small Independence Party for putting Mindaugas Murza, head of the Union of Lithuanian National Socialist Unity, at the top of its list for the local election in Siauliai. The politicians said that the "notion of independence could not be associated with Nazis," ELTA reported on 2 February. The Justice Ministry has refused to register the union nine times in the past, but the electoral commission cannot bar a person from running if he belongs to a legitimate political organization, BNS added. In related news, head of the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee Audronis Azubalis has apologized to Austrian Ambassador Florian Haug for the debacle over the cancelled charity Vienna Ball (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 January 2000). Azubalis also asked Interior Minister Ceslovas Blazys to examine the "increasing attacks by so-called street politicians against the Lithuanian state and other states friendly to us."
©RFE/RL Newsline

FORMER ROMANIAN PREMIER TO JOIN FAR-RIGHT PARTY
Radu Vasile and the 10 parliamentary deputies who last week resigned from the PNTCD will join the far-right extra-parliamentary Romanian Right Party, Romanian media reported on 2 February. Vasile and his followers are attempting to circumvent legislation requiring political parties to gather at least 10,000 signatures before being registered. The Romanian Right is already registered as a political party. The reports said the intention is to later change the Romanian Right's name to the Popular Party
©RFE/RL Newsline

HUNGARY OPPOSES EU STANCE ON AUSTRIA
Hungary does not plan to join the EU in introducing sanctions against Austria if Haider's far-right Freedom Party joins the government, Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi told reporters on 2 February. At the same time, Hungary "shares the concerns" of EU countries but continues to believe that the program of the Austrian government and its political actions will be the decisive factors, he added. Prime Minister Viktor Orban expressed "surprise" at the EU's stance, saying that the union has "marked out boundaries that contradict the will of some Austrian citizens." Istvan Csurka, chairman of the far- right Hungarian Justice and Life Party, said it is "a joy" for his party to witness Haider's success
©RFE/RL Newsline

WHAT WAS SAID IN ROW OVER AUSTRIAN FREEDOM PARTY
Following are quotes in the controversy over the prospect of Austrian far-right leader Joerg Haider's Freedom Party joining a coalition government and threats by European Union members to isolate the country.

"The fact that President Klestil is getting a declaration from this government on the fundamental values of the European Union will clearly not be able to make us forget the insulting, xenophobic and racist statement of Joerg Haider. The Parliament...will be intransigent as regards respect of the principles of liberty, democracy, human rights and the rule of law." - European Parliament president Nicole Fontaine.


"I want to send a clear signal that I'm against Haider, but I see a danger if we get into a habit of reacting to (the affairs of) member countries." - Finnish Finance Minister Sauli Niinisto.

"Nobody has to fear anything in Austria. We will try to convince the international community that the new government is a reform government." - Joerg Haider.

"What I feel is that Austria, unlike Germany, has not faced up to its past. (The entry of Haider's Freedom Party into the Austrian government) "is the symptom of a situation that could lead to anti-Semitism". - Leah Rabin, widow of assassinated Islraei Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

"Austria accepts her responsibility arising out of the tragic history of the 20th century and the horrendous crimes of the National Socialist regime. Our country is facing up to the light and dark sides of its past and to the deeds of all Austrians, good and evil, as its responsibility.
"Nationalism, dictatorship and intolerance brought war, xenophobia, bondage, racism and mass murder. The singularity of the crimes of the Holocaust which are without precedent in history, are an exhortation to permanent alertness against all forms of dictatorship and totalitarianism." - Declaration of proposed coalition government including Haider's Freedom Party.

"If there is any breaking of the fundamental values that underlie membership of the European Union then we are within our rights within the treaty that actually runs the EU to call for the suspension of a member state. We will be watching like a hawk." - Simon Murphy, leader of the British Labour group in the European Parliament.

"The Austrian people have the right to vote for whom they want (but should) make sure Austria maintains its good international reputation. The EU acted on this and we share their concerns." - U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

"It's too simplistic to say that we must keep Austria in Europe at all costs. I think Europe can very well do without Austria. We don't need it." - Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel.

"The very moment that it will become final that Haider is going to join the government or his party, our ambassador will be immediately recalled from Austria without a time limit for this recall." - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak.
©Reuters

MILOSEVIC EXPLOITS SERB HOMOPHOBIA(Serbia)
Yugoslav President Milosevic is exploiting deep-seated homophobia in Serbian society to undermine his opponents. The opposition in Serbia has long grown accustomed, if not immune, to being branded by the state-controlled media as foreign spies, fifth-columnists and traitors, but the latest denunciation is proving rather harder to brush off. The authorities are increasingly attempting to divide and demoralise their opponents by accusing them of being gay, even though legislation banning homosexuality was repealed six years ago. The regime is effectively exploiting deep-seated homophobia in Serbia, where there's a saying that parents would rather their son was run over by a bus than declare himself gay. Few homosexuals are open about their sexuality as they risk public humiliation and physical intimidation. With homophobia so endemic in Serbian society, the impact of anti-gay prejudice as a political weapon is significant. As far back as 1991, the Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic skilfully used unfounded rumours that former Slovenian President Janez Drnovsek was gay to undermine him during the break-up of Yugoslavia. More recently, the opposition Alliance for Changes, the force behind the nation-wide anti-regime protests last year, has been the main target of the anti-gay attacks. In a typical denunciation, the Yugoslav United Left (JUL), the governing coalition partner headed by Milosevic's wife, Mira Markovic, accused the opposition late last year "of having a weakness towards the same sex". The tactic has led to divisions between the Alliance and the main homosexual association in Yugoslavia, Arkadija. The president of Arkadija, Dejan Nebrigic, well-known for his anti-government views, was found dead in his apartment in Pancevo in December, allegedly murdered by a deranged lover. The investigating judge, Nedeljko Martinovic, condemned Arkadija, accusing it of using financial aid from foreign powers to promote the growth of subversive sects in Yugoslavia. Reports in pro-government media linking the group with the Alliance for Changes street protests soon followed. Fearful of the negative attitude towards homosexuals in Yugoslavia, the Alliance was swift to deny it had been supported by Arkadija which, in turn, accused the Alliance of being just as homophobic as the current government. The affair has outraged some commentators in Belgrade. Sonja Biserko, president of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, described Martinovic's statement as very dangerous. "This illustrates the attitude of this society towards individuality and difference," she said. "It is an indication of fascism in our society, especially within the state apparatus." The upsurge in state-sanctioned homophobia is worsening conditions for gay people in Serbia, with many saying they are facing increasing discrimination and physical threats. A demand for greater legal protection was a made a week ago by activists at Yugoslavia's first-ever conference on homosexual rights, held in the capital of the northern Serbian province of Vojvodina, Novi Sad. Under the slogan, "Tolerance - Live and Let Live", over 80 men and women from gay and lesbian associations from the Balkans, the United Kingdom and Germany attended the gathering. Atila Kovac, one of the organisers of the conference, said, " We want the government to introduce laws which will outlaw discrimination against all citizens, not just homosexuals." But given the success of state-sanctioned homophobia as a political weapon, the appeal is likely to fall on deaf ears.
©The Institute for War & Peace Reporting

POLITICAL ASYLUM APPLICANT ATTACKED(Germany)
A group of youths attacked an applicant for political asylum in Saxony- Anhalt. The police suspect xenophobic motives to be behind the attack. The attackers yelled Nazi slogans during the attack. The police have arrested seven suspects between the ages of 17 and 23.

ITALIAN SOCCER CLUBS TO CURB RACISM
Leading soccer clubs in Italy have pledged to give their support to a controversial new move by the government to halt play during any matches where offensive banners are displayed. The government has threatened to have matches played behind closed doors if fans persist with racist behaviour. The government's threat follows last Sunday's game between Lazio and Bari when a group of Lazio fans held up a banner praising the slain Serbian war crime suspect, Arkan, and a portrait of the former fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. The Italian government accept that these measures are extreme but insist they are essential if racism and intolerance are to be stamped out. Play will only be interrupted as a last resort. The authorities are hoping that the threat alone will stop the display of racist banners, and that improved security will make it harder to bring offensive material into the grounds. But if racist symbols or messages are produced, Italy's Minister of Culture Giovanna Melandri told the BBC, matches will be suspended. "The sports world and the clubs are with us," she said, adding that: "They are fed up with fans like these." Manipulation It will be left to the football authorities to decide how to operate the new measures, but there are concerns about what this tough new policy will mean in practice. It could interrupt play at critical moments and thereby affect the outcome of a match - something that fans might try to manipulate. There are worries too about how far the police should go to try to remove offensive material. The problem at last Sunday's Lazio versus Bari match was not a one-off. Swastikas have become a regular sight at games here. However, the government is keen to stress that only a small minority of fans are involved and that this phenomenon is not unique to Italy. But political and football authorities here say they will not allow Italian stadiums to be breeding grounds for intolerance.
©BBC News

PROTESTS IN AUSTRIA AGAINST COALITION
Last evening the conservative ÖVP and far right FPÖ have come to an final agreement about building together a new government in Austria. Now a government with participation of the FPÖ is only a few days away anymore. The only step now missing is the formal confirmation of the federal president of Austria. Joerg Haider probably won't be part of the government (to reduce the protests of other countries) but he will still be the man in the background, telling the others where to go. And: Even a government without Haider will incorporate right-extremists, because his followers are nothing better than their leader. While the press-conference in which the agreement was presented to the public was still going on, some 500 persons gathered in front of the parliament (where the talks had taken place) to protest against the planned government. Afterwards some 200 people marched through the city and blocked the traffic. Meanwhile the occupation of the OEVP-Headquarter still goes on. At the moment (3 a.m.) there are still some 50 supporters in front of the building. The atmosphere is good although the occupation is being totally neglected by the Austrian media. Although the government with a participation of the FPÖ is in charge pressure from inside and outside Austria shall continue!
Against the normalization of right-extremists!
Rosa Antifa Wien (RAW)
Reports from the demo in Vienna February 2

DECLARATION OF THE AUSTRIAN ANTIRACIST MOVEMENT
In this moment of Austrian history we are deeply concerned with the political developments in our country.

For more than 10 years, many NGOs, initiatives and smaller parties have tried to change the austrian racist reality without success. In the new millenium, Austria still is not a democracy but a national democracy. More than 10 % of our population is systematically denied all political rights and participation, often even for decades, they are kept in the status of "foreigners". Even in the trade-unions, there are no equal voting rights for all workers and employees. This system, guaranteeing equality not to human beeings but to citizens only, is unique in Europe.

Since a democratic system has been imposed on Austria after World War II, not only the conservatives and the right wing, but also the governing social democrats fortified this system of nationalistic and racist segregation and exclusion. This lack of balance in the political system led to the uprising of a party that is openly promoting a revision of Nazi history, using racism as an effective political tool due to the lack of a counterveilling power.

Even the killing of Marcus Omofuma during his deportation on May 1st 1999 did not lead to any antiracist measures. On the contrary, police action, especially against people with African background, increased drastically. Charles O., major activist, writer and poet from Nigeria, was even accused of being a drug-boss and imprisoned for 3 months, before he had to be released due to complete lack of evidence and major charges were dropped. Nevertheless these practices led to significant intimidation of the Black communities in their political campaigning. Under such unfair conditions of criminalisation and the lack of democratic rights, we welcome initiatives from the side of the international community that put pressure on Austrian representatives.

Austria is facing a drastic swing to the right. With a right-conservative government things will even get worse for people discriminated on grounds of racism, including the Jewish minority, as well as for people discriminated on the grounds of sexual orientation, sexual identity or on the grounds of being physically handicaped. For some years now, Austria is known in the European Union for its attempts to radically alter the politics towards a demontage of the Geneva Convention and the denial of asylum for refugees. Austria has become the home-base for right-wing policies, threatening emancipatory movements all over Europe. Therefore it is in the self-interest of all democratic powers in Europe to try to reverse the political currents in Austria.

We want to encourage all international steps in this direction, hoping that the European Union at least has learned from history, while the official Austria has not. Under any government to come, Austria should finally change towards a fair democratic system which includes the right to vote for all permanent inhabitants, in which there is an anti-discrimination-law with respective enforcement, in which immigrants are not treated as enemies and in which human rights are really respected.

Platform for a world without racism, Vienna, 1.2.2000

EU TO BAN VISITS BY RIGHTIST COALITION(Germany)
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's foreign policy adviser said on Tuesday the European Union would not allow introductory visits by Austria to EU capitals if Joerg Haider's far-right Freedom Party joins a ruling coalition in Austria. "No introductory visit by a new government to EU capitals would be permitted which might endorse this new coalition with its extreme right-wing component," Michael Steiner told German ARD television. However, Steiner ruled out the possibility of the EU imposing sanctions on Austria. "There are no threats of sanctions and the EU will continue to function," Steiner said Austria's conservatives and Haider's Freedom Party were due to seek President Thomas Klestil's formal approval on Wednesday for a coalition which could isolate Austria internationally. Steiner said Europe was a community based on common values and there was a consensus among the leaders of the other 14 EU countries, regardless of what political party they belonged to. On Tuesday Haider and People's Party leader Wolfgang Schuessel agreed on the coalition, which ends 30 years of Social Democrat-led governments and risks damaging Austria's bilateral ties with its Western allies and business partners. "We can't expect EU entry candidates to follow strict entry criteria and then simply ignore a right-wing extremist element. Look at the Austrian election campaign and the kind of language that was used. These are not the basic values that we share," Steiner said.
©Reuters

ITALIAN DEMONSTRATIONS REPORT
By Giuliano

Milan: teargas and riots in the afternoon. VICTORY in the evening: the minister of Internal Affairs, mr. Bianco, announced the closure of via Corelli "within a few days". Riots in Trapani. In Genua the police attacked the delegation leaving for the Milan demo: 14 camerades to the hospital. No problems in Florence. The locked-up migrants help with spontaneous rebellions. And the newspapers speak also about the international support to the demonstrations.

Here's a chronicle of the day.
MILANO:
The largest antagonist demo since a few years: more than 20,000 people (12,000 according to the police). The demo, colourful, lively, very partecipated, started at 3 PM from the central square "Porta Venezia" and headed directly for via Corelli, about 5 km far away. Among the demonstrants there were hundreds of "white coveralls" ready for civil disobedience. The demo was opened by two African migrants with the banner: "No ai lager", while immediately behind another huge banner followed with the names of the 6 migrants dead in the prison camps in the Christmas week.
At 4.30 PM the demo reaches its "official ending point": a bridge about 1 km from via Corelli. From there on, people moves further to the Milan's lager at their own risk -- but about 5,000 people decide to defy the police ban and follow the "white coveralls" advancing with their hands up. 4 lines of policemen are waiting for them. When both groups come into contact, it's a total chaos. The police tries to break the demonstration with teargas, sticks, rifles butts, but the demonstrants are quite organized: padded as football players, with helmets and teargas masks, they resist and keep moving. Five policemen end up into the demonstrants lines, they receive a friendly kick in their ass and are thrown out almost unharmed. The police looses the first battle, but they don't give up. They run back, and start again with teargas: according to "Il Corriere della Sera", 66 teargas bombs were launched in a few minutes in 300 meters of road full of people . But no way -- they can't actually get rid of the demonstrants. Finally they realize it, and it comes the time of mediation.
6 PM -- a mass delegation of about 50 people is allowed to enter via Corelli. Finally TVs, journalists and lawiers can speak directly with the emprisoned migrants! Behind the bars, the migrants welcome the white coveralls by yelling "Liberta! Liberta!" (Freedom! Freedom!).
8.00 PM - It's official: At the 8 PM Tv news, minister Bianco says that via Corelli will be closed during this week. We'll see, mr. Bianco...

GENUA:
About 50 people gather in front of the station "Principe" asking for a free train wagon to bring them to Milan -- a common practice in Italy for political demonstrations. But this time, the public railroads refuse. Immediately after, the police attacks the armless delegation, sending 14 people to the hospital. "The police attacked suddenly, without any provocation, beating people also when they were laid on the ground" said Franco Zunino, regional councillor for the Refounded Communist Party and eyewitness of the episode.

FLORENCE:
Between 5,000 and 10,000 people march in the city without causing any riot. The windows of a McDonald and of an agency for work rental were broken down, and a huge banner was hanged on the Regional Council building. In Florence, the Ministry of Int. Affairs would like to build another lager for migrants, but maybe now they will think twice about it.

TRAPANI:
After the demonstration, partecipated by about 2-3000 people, 400 demonstrants tried to enter the lager "Vulpitta" were 5 migrants died immediately after Christmas. The police attacked them with teargas and hydrants.

THE MIGRANTS REBELLION
All over the Italian lagers (sorry, the camps for illegal immigrants...), the migrants supported the action day with spontaneous riots. The heaviest one was in Rome, in the lager for migrants "Ponte Galeria", with burnt matrasses and police attacks. At the moment, there are no news about arrestations.

INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT:
The newspapers speak also about the international support given to the demonstrations, and especially about the support coming from Greece (j18 -Hellas), Dublin (Antiracist Campaign) and Germany (Kein Mensch ist Illegaal, Stuttgart). The Italian embassies and consulates received several protesting e-mails and faxes. Many, many thanks to all camarades and sensible people which supported us in this important day of action!!!!

SOME CONSIDERATIONS
The closure of Via Corelli, a goal pursued for 1 long year with demonstrations, petitions, monitoring, dossiers-making, is a victory not only for the Italian movement, but for us all, for all people resisting the capitalistic globalization and its results -- one of which, the lagers for migrants, is the direct outcome of the exclusion policy openly enforced by rich countries to procure cheap labour force and blackmail 3rd world countries. Now, yesterday it was demonstrated in Italy and in Davos that a strong, coordinated, courageous opposition can reach important results and -- who knows -- could really become the grain of sand clogging up the whole machine. One we clogged already... let's clog up the rest.
But the lagers, as we all know, are not the only issue. Migrants continue to die at our borders, exploitation of poor countries and of natural resources is reaching unbelievable levels and the "new" rules of work market condemn millions of people to poverty, often extreme. Meanwhile, repression strikes hard: in Europe and USA, antagonist camerades are arrested, old trials are re-opened, new laws are studied to limit civil disobedience. The monster we fight against has many heads.

There are 3 pages of pictures. To go to the next page, click on "successiva" at the bottom of each page.
Pictures of the Milan demo

REPRIEVE FOR IMMIGRANTS (Spain)
A group of African immigrants who held a sit-in at Málaga Cathedral to protest at the expulsion orders issued against them will be able to remain in Spain, at least for the time being. The orders have been revoked and temporary resident permits are being granted to the immigrants, although these are issued on condition that their recipients find work within three months. Between 50 and 60 immigrants spent several nights sleeping in the Cathedral, and their spokesman said they were protesting at the injustice of regulations which expect them to spend two years in the country with no means of support before being granted legal documentation. Most of those involved in the protest had been ordered to leave the country because they were here illegally. They had arrived from Nigeria, Senegal, Mali, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Zaire, the Congo and Sudan and had entered Spain via Ceuta and Melilla
©Town Crier

CHIEF CONSTABLE TO MEET HANGED MEN'S FAMILY (UK)
The family of two black men who werefound hanged in suspicious circumstances six months apart are due to meet the Chief Constable of West Mercia. Harold McGowan, also known as Errol, and his nephew Jason McGowan both died in Telford, Shropshire. Their relatives have accused the police of failing to investigate their deaths properly. They claim both men received threats from white supremacist groups and say the police have not learnt from the initial botched investigations into the racist murders of Stephen Lawrence and Michael Menson. Last week, officers from Scotland Yard's Racial and Violent Crimes Taskforce met detectives working on the McGowan case. They made a number of recommendations, foremost of which was that the Chief Constable of West Mercia, Peter Hampson, should meet the McGowan family to brief them on theinquiry's progress. At an inquest next month into the deaths of Harold, 32, and 20-year-old Jason, leading human rights barrister Michael Mansfield QC has agreed to act for the family. The family's solicitor, Errol Robinson, has said both suffered from a campaign of harassment by far-right extremists. Harold was found hanged on 2 July 1999 in a house which he was minding for a friend. His nephew, a production worker for a local newspaper, did not believe he had killed himself and began his own investigation.
©BBC News

TOUGHER IMMIGRATION RULES(Iceland)
Minister of Justice Sólveig Pétursdóttir has introduced new immigration rules that aim at complying with the Schengen Agreements. The proposal would make passport and visa requirements stricter and foreigners could be turned away if they cannot adequately explain the purpose of the visit and where they plan to stay. In addition, provisions will be made for denying entry on account of on individual posing a threat to the national security of Iceland or other member states. The new law will also formalise information sharing ad other such co-operation between the Schengen countries. On the border control front, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has offered to lend Icelandic policemen a helping hand with regards to passport control training, money laundering, drug trafficking and various other criminal investigations. The current discussions are the results of Pétursdóttir meetings with her US counterpart Janet Reno and other high level officials in Washington last November.
©Iceland Review

CONFERENCE TO PROBE MIGRANTS' PROBLEMS(Greece)
Experts will discuss timely issues concerning migrants at a conference to be held this Friday in Athens. Titled "Migrants in the Greece of 2000", the one-day event has been organised by the Athens News together with the Polish weekly Kurier Atenski and is sponsored by the labour ministry. Labour Minister Miltiadis Papaioannou will open the conference at 9am and the first discussion, titled "Migrants and the Economy", will begin shortly afterwards. Participating in this discourse will be a five-member panel including Angelos Frangopoulos from the General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE). The second discussion, "Migrants and Society", will begin at 11am. Among the speakers will be ombudsman Nikiforos Diamantouros and the vice-president of the National Committee for Human Rights Nikos Frangakis. Following a break for lunch, a seven-member panel will look at the issue of "Migrants and Security". Speakers include the general secretary of the public order ministry, Dimitris Efstathiadis. The final discussion will focus on the question "What Policy to Adopt for Migrants". This will begin at 4.45pm and participants shall include, among others, Pasok party secretary Costas Skandalidis and Left Coalition MP Maria Damanaki. Those wishing to attend the conference should contact the Athens News on 333-3161 to organise an invitation. The event will be held in the Yiannos Kranidiotis room at the foreign ministry (1 Academias Street).
©Athens News

NAZI HUNTER DOUBTS POLITICAL WILL OF LATVIA
Without the political will of the Latvian government, alleged war criminal Konrads Kalejs will never face justice, according to the chief Nazi hunter of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an organization which is dedicated to finding those who committed war crimes during World War II. Efraim Zuroff, director of the Center's office in Israel, said the government officials have had plenty of opportunity to deal with the 86-year-old Kalejs in the past. He made his comments on Jan. 24, just two days before a delegation including President Vaira Vike-Freiberga, Minister of Education and Science Maris Vitols, and Chief Rabbi Natan Barkan, traveled to Stockholm for an international forum on the Holocaust. The two-day forum, from Jan. 26 to Jan. 28, which will be attended by representatives from 45 countries, aims to provoke discussion about the lessons of the Holocaust, pass on its testimony and give support to education and research. Latvia's attendance at the forum comes when it has been accused of unwillingness to deal with its World War II past and the Konrads Kalejs issue. The Wiesenthal Center discovered Kalejs, accused of killing tens of thousands of Jews as a commander with the Arajs Kommando, living in England in December. Faced with potential deportation by the British government, the 86-year-old returned to Australia, where he retains citizenship. Latvia's prosecutor general's office reopened its investigation into Kalejs in early January, although it found no evidence against him in 1997. "This whole business of Latvia opening up a case is ridiculous because the investigation supposedly took place three years ago at our request when [Kalejs] was kicked out of Canada," said Zuroff. Kalejs, who was deported from Canada in 1997 and from the United States in 1993, has been in the public eye for a long time, he said. "The only serious chance there is for prosecution is if the Latvian government will make a very serious attempt to find and interview witnesses," said Zuroff. "And make it clear to them that it is their obligation to testify against a fellow Latvian, if they have the information." That information will not come from Holocaust survivors who are nearly impossible to find, he said, but from fellow war criminals or perpetrators. "Past experience has shown that there is an extreme reluctance by perpetrators to testify in such cases. It's up to the Latvian government to change this attitude and conduct a serious investigation to make it clear that it [justice] is important to Latvia," said Zuroff. On Jan. 19, President Vike-Freiberga emphasized her commitment to prosecute war criminals after a meeting of the National Security Council, attended by the Supreme Court and the prosecutor general's office. "The president condemns war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide against the Jewish nation during World War II," said Vike-Freiberga in a press release. "The president condemns all persons, who committed these crimes under subordination of the occupation regime of Nazi Germany, regardless whether they belong to the German, Latvian or any other nation." She, like Prime Minister Andris Skele, said crimes against humanity have no lapse. If there is evidence against people who participated in these crimes, and they remain unpunished, the president said, Latvia's legal institutions are obligated to enforce their criminal liability. Zuroff said he knows where prosecutors can find that evidence. "The key is to find the people who served with Kalejs. They hold the answer."
©The Baltic Times

MIGRANTS CAMP NEAR BRITAIN(France)
Every day, hundreds of illegal immigrants anxious to reach Britain queue up for help in northern France at a camp run by the French Red Cross, reports AFP. Usually unmarried men, most of them Kurds, Iraqis and Iranians. Others, including families with children, hail from Afghanistan, Kosovo or Albania, the republics of the former Soviet Union, or war-torn African countries. Before the centre opened last September, hundreds of the refugees wandered the streets of Calais, sleeping rough. At the Red Cross centre near the Eurotunnel, they can get three meals a day, have a shower and find a bed. "We call this a refugee camp, but we should really call it a camp for illegal immigrants. Most of them are politico-economic refugees," said Michel Derr, who runs the centre. Since the centre opened, 3,500 people have been registered, but only 500 remain at present. "That means that at least 3,000 have left for England," Derr said. Yannick Imbert, assistant prefect for Calais, said the immigrants preferred an English-speaking country and the 106 euros a week they would receive in Britain as asylum-seekers.
©Refugee Daily

LAWYER WINS £30,000 IN RACIAL DISCRIMINATION CASE(UK)
An Asian lawyer who claimed that a culture of racism prevented her from being promoted within the Crown Prosecution Service was awarded £30,000 damages yesterday. Maria Bamieh, 40, had told an industrial tribunal that the only non-whites promoted were those who went along with the "culture and ethos" of the CPS in London without complaint. She won her claim that she had been discriminated against on grounds of race and was informed yesterday that she had been awarded damages plus £3,3862 in lost earnings and £4,496 interest. Mrs Bamieh had been offered £110,000 to drop her case. She rejected that as she wanted to proceed on a point of principle and to keep her job. Yesterday she said she would continue to strive for promotion within the CPS and to change its culture. She had told the hearing at Bedford: "The whole ethos of the organisation is not one of merit. It is one of rewards and punishment. Rewards for white staff and now a few minority staff who are willing to adopt the culture and ethos of the organisation." Yesterday, she said: "I am determined to stay with the CPS and not let this discrimination get the better of me. There is going to be an internal investigation into racism within the CPS and I want to stay and be part of that investigation. This decision gives me hope." The tribunal was told that Mrs Bamieh, with 12 years' service, missed promotion despite favourable reports, including a commendation from the chief stipendiary magistrate in London. She had told the hearing: "Anyone who had the courage to complain about discrimination found their careers blighted. Many of those promoted before me had qualified long after me and did not have the experience I had. Those who were promoted were given access to career development opportunities." A spokesman for the CPS said that it and the Commission for Racial Equality were holding an inquiry into the issues raised at the tribunal. Sylvia Denman, a lawyer, and the former chairman of Camden Health Authority, will look into all aspects of management of the CPS. The spokesman said: "Obviously, we accept that there is a problem, and that is why we have asked Sylvia Denman to look into it. She will have a broad remit to investigate whatever aspects of the CPS she wants to." The CPS believed that managerial difficulties rather than racism caused the problems affecting Mrs Bamieh.
©Telegraph

HOLOCAUST FORUM SEEKS LESSONS FROM HISTORY(Sweden)
Auschwitz: Memorial to the millions who died
Representatives from nearly 50 countries, including more than 20 heads of state, are in Stockholm for a forum about the Holocaust. Together with historians and other experts and some survivors of the Nazi persecution of the Jews, they will discuss what lessons should be drawn and how to keep the memory alive through education. The Stockholm Forum was the brainchild of Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson and received the backing of President Clinton and the UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair. Neither of them is attending, but leaders from Germany, France, Poland and Israel will be. Organisers insist the Stockholm Forum will be forward looking with workshops on Holocaust education, remembering the Holocaust and Holocaust research. Announcements are expected from Britain and Sweden on the establishment of an annual Holocaust Remembrance Day to coincide with the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp in Poland. Some of the impetus for the conference came from a growing awareness in Sweden of the country's own role in the Nazi period. Sweden stayed neutral in World War II, but Mr Persson told parliament last week that they had to shed light on some ugly stains on their history. He referred to the Swedish Central Bank's handling of gold looted by the Nazis and the failure to prosecute Swedish collaborators and suspected Nazi war criminals who fled to Sweden. But this characteristic response in Sweden has been the Living History Project, undertaken in response to racist murders and the activities of extreme right wing groups.
©BBC News

STRAW DEFENDS ‘POSITIVE' RACE LAW(UK)
Jack Straw: Legislation is not about quotas
Home Secretary Jack Straw says a proposed strengthening of race law in the public sector will help "crack down" on "institutionalised racism". The government is introducing measures to cover "indirect as well as direct discrimination" by public bodies, such as police, hospitals and schools, in its Race Relations (Amendment) Bill. All public organisations will have to ensure any rules and practices they adopt do not unintentionally have a negative effect on any section of the community. The move was among the recommendations suggested by the report by Sir William Macpherson in to the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence. Mr Straw told the BBC the legislation was a positive step forwards. "There would be a legal obligation to positively promote racial equality, which I think is a terrificthing," he said. But he denied the amendment would lead to positive discrimination. "We're not talking about quotas, for example, in terms of employment, where someone gets promoted not because of their inherent skills but first and foremost to fill a quota. "We're talking about targets which are very different and generally asking organisations to look at how policies operate in practice." There had been "a need for a new amendment", as some areas of public service left out of current legislation. Mr Straw continued: "We are satisfied, inturn that this law as introduced would not impact gratuitously on the provision of [government] functions." For example, he did not believe the bill would impact on the police's powers of stop and search as any discrimination in those cases was normally direct. The amendment has been welcomed by the Commission for Racial Equality, lawyers and peers. The decision to include the amendment follows criticism that its earlier omission from the bill prevented a real crack-down on "institutionalised racism". It also means the government is now unlikely to face further trouble in the House of Lords, which debates the bill on Thursday, as peers had threatened to rebel if the measure was not put forward.
©BBC News

JÖRG HAIDER SPEAKS 1988-1999
Freedom Party leader Jörg Haider has repeatedly caused controversy with remarks in which he appeared to play down the crimes of the Nazis, who made Austria part of the Third Reich in 1938.
Following are the key quotes:
AUGUST 1988 - In a television interview: "You know as well as I do that the Austrian nation was a miscarriage, an ideological miscarriage."

OCTOBER 1990 - Addressing an annual meeting of World War Two war veterans at Ulrichsberg, known to attract former S.S. officers: "Our soldiers were not criminals, at most they were victims."

JUNE 1991 - "...in the Third Reich they had an "orderly" employment policy..."

After the uproar that followed in the Carinthian provincial parliament, Haider added:
"I unequivocally made the point that this remark was not made with the meaning understood by you. If it reassures you then I take back the remark with regret."

However, Haider was forced to step down as provincial governor of Carinthia as a result of the remark.

FEBRUARY 1995 - During a parliamentary debate, Haider referred to "the punishment camps of National Socialism," implying that concentration camp inmates had been guilty of crimes. Later that day he said he had meant to say "concentration camps".

SEPTEMBER 1995 - In an address to World War Two war veterans including former members of Adolf Hitler's murderous Waffen S.S.:
"...there are still decent people of good character who also stick to their convictions, despite the greatest opposition and have remained true to their convictions until today."

DECEMBER 1995 - In a television interview:
"The Waffen S.S. was a part of the Wehrmacht (German military) and hence it deserves all the honour and respect of the army in public life."

NOVEMBER 1999 - A month after a general election in which the Freedom Party surged into second place, Haider apologised for his past comments in a speech in Vienna:
"In the past, some remarks have been attributed to me in connection with Nazism which were certainly insensitive or open to misunderstanding."
"I am personally sorry for this, firstly because I believe I hurt the feelings of people who were themselves victims of Nazism or whose relatives were, and secondly because the statements were not in line with the personal values of tolerance and humanity which are the basis of my political work."
Haider said he understood that some Austrian Jews felt anxiety about his election success but assured them they had nothing to fear.
"The very uniqueness and incomparability of the crime of the Holocaust means Austrian politicians must take such fears seriously."

"Where we in the Freedom Party have responsibility, no-one needs to pack their suitcases and no-one has to leave their home. Where we in the Freedom Party have responsibility, freedom and democracy are in good hands."

Haider said his generation had the good fortune not to bear responsibility for the Nazi period. "But we must observe the burden of remembrance which must characterise our political behaviour. This must spur us to do everything to prevent, once and for all, any repetition of the crime of organised mass extermination of people and of ethnic cleansing and expulsion as a means of policy."
©Reuters

AUSTRIAN MINISTER SAYS REACTION TO HAIDER OVERDONE
A leading Austrian conservative, tipped to become foreign minister in a new centre-right coalition, said international reaction to the possibility of the far right entering government was overdone. The conservative People's Party of acting Foreign Minister Wolfgang Schuessel expects to form a new cabinet with Joerg Haider's Freedom Party next week, in which Schuessel will be chancellor. Benita Ferrero-Waldner, foreign ministry state secretary in the outgoing administration, said much of the foreign criticism of the coalition plans came from Social Democratic allies of acting Chancellor Viktor Klima. "I think the reactions are partly exaggerated," the People's Party politician said in a late-night television interview. "But, partly, I of course also see that it is Social Democratic colleagues who are supporting their colleague Klima." Haider, best known abroad for remarks which appeared to play down the crimes of the Nazis, does not plan to join the new government himself. But Israel has expressed alarm about the prospect of his party gaining power and criticism has also come from German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin and Sweden's Goran Persson -- all Social Democrats. Ferrero-Waldner said she did not expect Austria to face international isolation as it had when Kurt Waldheim was president between 1986 and 1992. "I don't see that at all," she said. Waldheim, a former U.N. Secretary-General, was accused of lying about his wartime role as an officer in the German army in the Balkans and barred from entering the United States. Ferrero-Waldner, tipped by some newspapers to become foreign minister, said Austria would seek to reassure other countries by continuing to pursue a "totally pro-European course." Haider had campaigned for a freeze on immigration and opposed enlargement of the European Union on the grounds that it could lead to Austria being swamped by cheap foreign labour. He has said his party would demand the finance ministry in the new government if Schuessel became chancellor.
©Reuters

BELGIUM SEEKS EU MEETING TO DISCUSS AUSTRIA
Belgium has written to the European Union's Portuguese presidency to demand a special meeting of EU foreign ministers to discuss the prospect of the far-right Freedom Party joining the Austrian government. EU officials confirmed on Friday that Portugal had received the letter, which expressed concern about the situation, but said the EU had no immediate reaction to the demand for the foreign ministers to meet. "There is no decision yet," one official said. The policy of the EU's executive Commission is to stay neutral on the composition of the governments of member states, but Commission President Romano Prodi expressed his concern on Thursday. "I would not like to meddle in domestic Austrian affairs but I am concerned about the consequences," Prodi told reporters in Paris.
©Reuters

BARAK SAYS AUSTRIAN DEVELOPMENTS DISTURBING
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak said on Wednesday that the rise in Austria of Haider was "highly disturbing" for every Jew in the world. Earlier in Jerusalem, Israel's Nobel peace laureate Shimon Peres compared Haider's rise with that of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. "(Hitler) was from Austria and any man who raises so many doubts must also raise the alarm everywhere," said Peres, a former prime minister and now minister of regional cooperation in Barak's government. Barak, in Stockholm for a conference on the Nazi Holocaust, said Israel would have to reassess its relations with Austria if Haider's party came to power. "The rise to power of an extreme right-wing party in Austria is a highly disturbing signal coming from Austria, but it also shows signs of raising its head in other countries," he told reporters after meeting Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson. "I believe that for every Jew in the world it is a highly disturbing signal... it touches every one of us."
©Turkish Daily News

MILITARY WANT MORE IMMIGRANT RECRUITS(Denmark)
The armed forces would like to see more immigrants included among its ranks.
The military is now fighting to get more immigrants into uniform by encouraging them to apply for jobs with the armed forces. Their main offense is a series of advertisements - both television and radio - which target ethnic clubs and organisations in order to attract young men with ethnic backgrounds to military service. "We have very few of them in the military, and it's puzzling," said Lt. Col. Jørgen Storm, head of the military recruitment office, "We keep hearing about thousands of young men with ethnic backgrounds who are denied jobs again and again, because their names sound foreign. But we can offer them a sound education, an apprenticeship and a job." Storm sees military service as a step toward integration for immigrants. "With Denmark becoming more ethnically diverse, there should be more and more immigrants in the armed forces. There is no doubt that their joining the military would be a positive link in Denmark's integration policy," said Storm to daily newspaper Jyllands-Posten. 4,000 young people apply annually to join the military, but fewer than 100 are immigrants, according to Storm. "Clearly part of the problem is a difference of cultures. Youths fear that the military is an apparatus of power. If that concept bothers them, then they won't want to apply. We want to show them that we're people just like everybody else." At the moment, the military is seeking candidates who want to become officers, constables, electrical mechanics, truck mechanics, translators, and data and information specialists. Along with the educational opportunities afforded by these positions, there are of course risks. "It is important for the youths to be aware that entering the military contract will require them to enter areas of war. It would be criminal if they were not made aware of that fact," said Storm. At present there are three young men with ethnic backgrounds in military training to become interpreters. Up until now, the military has used Danish speaking officers or hired local translators when stationed abroad. The three men, who are Danish citizens with Albanian and Serbian backgrounds, will go with the army to Kosovo in January.
©Copenhagen Post

TREATMENT ASYLUM SEEKERS INHUMANE(Hungary)
The treatment of asylum seekers in a special detention room at Ferihegy airport is inhumane, according to a recently released report by Hungary's Human Rights Ombudsman. The poor conditions have also violated the rights of the border guards assigned to work there, reported ombudsman Katalin Gônczôl. The Hungarian Interior Minister, which oversees the border guards, launched in investigation into the matter. "People arriving who wish to claim refugee status are firstly in a legal dilemma," Gônczôl said. "They are in ‘transit' but there is a problem with the legal definition of transit regarding free movement, liberty and how they should be accommodated." Those arriving illegally sometimes wait for days in the transit lounge in sub-standard conditions. "They sometimes have to spend more than 24 hours in a lounge where they cannot clean themselves and can only rest on chairs or on the floor," Gônczôl said. Other countries have similar definition problems. In France, for example, there is a dispute over whether airports are international territory or French territory. As a result those seeking refugee status are told there is no legal recourse and are sent back immediately, said Andrea Szobolits, of the UN High Commissioner on Refugees. Gônczôl began her inquiry after travellers seeking refugee status, but not in possession of valid passports or visas, complained to authorities. Those detained used to be held in a transit hotel, but this was closed because it allegedly disturbed passengers, Gônczôl said. "The transit hotel, which was actually a unit, opened in 1998, and closed after seven months of operation. During that short time it accommodated 52 people," she said. Gônczôl said that while Hungary had no laws concerning detained passengers in airports, some people had spent as many as 106 days in detention, which was clearly not acceptable. "In some cases one has to restrict freedom, but this must be laid down in laws," she said. Border guards at the airport have also complained - and Gônczôl's report found that standards in the guards' community room there were below standard. Some guards have also protested that they have not been paid for overtime work. Attila Krisán, border guard spokesman, said the interior ministry was investigating but that he was unaware of unpaid wages. While the plight of the border guards remains an issue of contention, there is relief in sight for the asylum seekers. A new building to accommodate those in transit will be opened next month.
©The Budapest Sun

CASTLE DISTRICT PREVENTS NAZI COMMEMORATION(Hungary)
Hungarian neo-Nazis have posted an invitation on a German website to repeat a commemorative meeting held one year ago on Castle Hill. The local authorities of District I and a foundation have already reserved the place for public programs in order to exclude the skinheads from the castle. The minister of Justice proposed a modification to the law on the freedom to meet, so this kind of gathering could be prevented. The letter on the web-site sked the German "kameraden" to be back in Budapest at the Waffen-SS Commemoration March in February. The Waffen was the prime military wing of the SS, an alternative to the Werhmacht. Last year several hundred Hungarian, German, Slovak and Czech Neo-nazis held a commemoration meeting remembering those SS-soldiers who died at the beginning of 1945 trying to brake through the Soviet blockade on the Castle Hill. The demonstration ended peacefully, but more than 20 German skinheads were expelled from Hungary after they clashed with the police following vandalism in a bar. Later eight of them were fined by a Hungarian court. Budapest police confirmed that it had not received a request from the Neo-nazis to hold a meeting in the Castle District. The District I City Hall and the Pro Libertate Foundation, however, have already submitted a request to hold a public program there on the day of the anniversary. Once a request to "book a place" arrives at the police, another organization can hold a meeting at the same place only if the two organizers can reach an agreement. When the news broke Justice Minister Ibolya Dávid suggested that the law on the right to meet should be made stricter to give authorities more power to prevent such demonstrations. "Now the police may act only after the law is violated, for example, after forbidden symbols that can evoke fear in people are used," she told the daily Népszabadság. "If experience implies that a gathering would give reason to be dissolved it should not be permitted to be held in the first place," she said. Dávid added that the modification of the law would not give too much power to police because the final verdict about the permissions would be made by the administrative court. The Socialists were open to suggestions that could prevent the meeting of extremists, MP Tóth András said. The Free Democrats, however, believed that all necessary tools were already available to prevent meetings that could cause fear in the public. "The law prohibits the exhibition of symbols of despotism and activities that induce racial or religious hatred," MP Gábor Fodor said. "Making the law on the right to meet stricter is unnecessary and could lead to infringement of rights," he added.
©The Budapest Sun

SCHOOLS AS INTEGRATION INSTRUMENT(Luxembourg)
The parliamentary committee on schooling and further education yesterday announced that preparations were underway for a debate on schools as integration instruments. The upcoming parliamentary debate (which originally was scheduled for the past legislative period) will focus on how best to integrate foreign students into the public education system. The Syndicat Erziehung und Wissenschaft (SEW) will argue the need for high quality education and a wide range of courses in order to remain competitive with local private schools. This will require stronger extra-curricular programs and the continuation of the 29 hour week according to the SEW.
©Luxembourg News

EDUCATION MINISTER CALLS FOR HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL DAY(Hungary)
Zoltan Pokorni on 18 January proposed that Hungarian high schools commemorate the Holocaust each year "to keep alive the moral responsibility of each individual." Pokorni was speaking at a ceremony commemorating the 55th anniversary of the liberation of the Budapest ghetto. In other news, Hungarian neo-Nazis plan to repeat a commemorative meeting held one year ago in Budapest, which led to clashes with police. On a German-language web site, the skinheads are urging their comrades in Germany to join the annual meeting commemorating SS troops who fell in the Buda Castle fighting the Soviets.
©RFE/RL Newsline

DISPUTE OVER 'MULTICULTURAL UNIVERSITY' RE-EMERGES (Romania)
Education Minister Andrei Marga on 17 January said that following consultations with OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Max van der Stoel, it has been agreed that the best solution for promoting a "multicultural university" in Romania is to "consolidate the existing structures of the Babes-Bolyai university" in Cluj, Mediafax reported. He said students should be able to take "full degrees" in either Romanian, Hungarian, or German languages at the university. Marga is the rector on leave of Babes- Bolyai. Marko said in reaction that the UDMR continues to demand the setting up of a Hungarian-language state university. He added that the UDMR supports the idea of full-fledged degrees in Hungarian at Babes-Bolyai, but that this requires replacing the present "language groups" with Hungarian-language faculties and departments.
©RFE/RL Newsline

EXTREMISTS TO GET ANOTHER CHANCE AT ELECTIONS? (Russia)
Former State Duma deputy Albert Makashov may get another chance to enter the State Duma, Russian newspapers reported on 19 January. Makashov, who is perhaps best known for his anti-Semitic statements on the floor of the lower legislative house, was eliminated from the ballot just before 19 December elections due to a technicality (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 December 1999). Makashov intends to run in the second round of elections to be held in a district in Sverdlovsk Oblast where voters rejected all candidates in the first round. One member of a citizens' itiative group in Sverdlovsk that nominated Makashov told "Kommersant-Daily" that it is still not clear whether Makashov will be able to pay the election deposit and gather enough signatures. The previous day, the Central Election Commission registered an initiative group to nominate Russian National Unity leader Aleksandr Barkashov as a presidential candidate.
©RFE/RL Newsline

NUMBER OF RACIALLY MOTIVATED CRIMES UP(Czechia)
During the first half of last year, 266 people were accused of racially motivated crimes, 238 were prosecuted and 81 were sentenced, 74 of whom received probation, Jan Jarab from the government's human rights department told reporters today, citing Justice Ministry statistics. Jarab said it was apparent that in 1999 more racially motivated crimes had been registered than in the previous year. According to statistics from the Interior Ministry, 535 people were charged with racial hate crimes and 439 people were prosecuted in 1998. Jarab said that the increase in the number of hate crime cases was even an indication that the work of state administrative bodies investigating crime had improved, even though he said they sometimes downplay such offences. "This downplaying is quite often because of a certain kind of downright distrust of especially Romanies and sometimes even foreigners as witnesses and reporters of these criminal offences," Jarab said.
©Czech News Agency

CALL FOR GOVERNMENT ACTION ON SANS-PAPIERS(Luxembourg)
Around 100 public figures have signed a petition – handed to the government yesterday - calling for immediate action on the issue of the so-called sans-papiers (long-term illegal immigrants). President of foreigners' rights association ASTI Serge Kollwlter said that clarification was needed to help normalise the lives of up to 1,000 illegal immigrants in the Grand Duchy. Other EU members such as France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece have already passed legislation dealing with the problem.
©Luxembourg News Online

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT CRITICISED FOR VISA REFUSALS(Ireland)
The leader of the Labour Party, Mr Ruairí Quinn, has criticised the Department of Justice for refusing what he said were valid visa applications for family members of legal immigrants living and working here. Mr Quinn was speaking after an Algerian-born Irish citizen, Mr Lahdi Boulmeth, went public about the refusal by the Department of Justice to grant a visa allowing his mother to visit him and his wife in Ireland after the birth of their first son in November. Mr Boulmeth, a caterer, has lived and worked in the State for 23 years. The Minister for Justice, Mr O'Donoghue, said that the department "was not satisfied that the applicants' visit would be genuinely short-term in nature". Speaking on Marian Finucane's RTE radio show yesterday, Mr Boulmeth said his mother had a husband, seven children and a farm in Algeria and would not want to remain in Ireland after her visit. Mr Quinn said he was angry that a fellow Irish citizen had been treated in this way. "If an Irish-born US citizen was refused permission for relations to visit them in the States there would be outrage," he said. Calling for a proper appeal process and increased resources in the Department, he said he was aware of several similar cases. One of these involves an Indian engineer who was recruited by an Irish company last September because of the shortage of indigenous labour. Because the request for visas for his family is currently subject to an appeal, neither the man nor his employer wished to be identified.In a letter seen by The Irish Times, his employers requested that the man's wife and children be given visas to enter the State. The employee has regularly carried out work in Government Buildings. "So impressed are the various Departments by him that he is often requested by name to attend to these sites," his employer said. The application was turned down on the grounds that "the Department is reluctant to grant a visa to a spouse of a person who has been in the State for a relatively short period of time".
©The Irish Times

TREATMENT UK IMMIGRATION DETAINEES CONDEMNED
Treatment of UK Immigration detainees was condemned by National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns (NCADC)
Report damns Rochester/Detention prison as a 'disgrace'
Rochester/Detention prison: Described as "filthy" and "impoverished"
An official report on Rochester/Detention prison in Kent, has described it as "a disgrace" and warned some of its practices could be illegal. Chief Inspector of Prisons Sir David Ramsbotham said Rochester/Detention Prison was guilty of "institutional neglect", and particularly criticised the treatment of asylum seekers, "illegal" immigrants and young offenders.(on average there are 190 immigration detainees in Rochester/Detention prison). Almost half the population at Rochester Prison are asylum seekers, "illegal" immigrants or other foreign nationals. Many of them speak little or no English, but Sir David said they were required to sign documents they do not understand with no proper translation facilities. They are given no written explanation of why they are being held in prison or how long they will be there, the report said. It highlighted the case of one new arrival from Albania who was put in a cell with a Pole who had been told to pass on the rules of the prison "because both names ended in an "i"," when they had no shared language. And it questioned the legality of the practice of forcing prisoners to take drug tests, and punishing them if they refuse. Sir David said the Prison Service needed to appoint an official to take responsibility for making sure foreign nationals were properly looked after. Sir David said he would be returning in a year to monitor progress.
©BBC news online

UK CARDINAL COMPARES GAY LOBBY TO NAZIS
The leader of Scotland's Roman Catholics provoked an angry reaction from gay rights groups on Sunday by comparing the threat from the homosexual lobby in Europe to that of the Nazis during World War Two. During a speech in Malta on Saturday, Cardinal Thomas Winning drew parallels between the homosexual lobby's push for greater powers to bombing of the Mediterranean island by Germany and Italy during the war. "All over Europe, an active and militant homosexual lobby is pushing for greater power and the threat to the Christian family is very real," Winning said. "Cast your minds back to the dark days of World War Two," he added. "The parallels with today are striking. In place of the bombs of 50 years ago, you find yourselves bombarded with images, values and ideas which are utterly alien." Gay rights groups, who have been feuding with the outspoken Catholic cleric for years, said Winning had crossed the line and was no longer a credible leader of Scotland's Catholics. "Cardinal Winning's claims of an international conspiracy are reminiscent of the kinds of claims being made against the Jews 100 years ago -- the very kind of claims that led to the Holocaust," Tim Hopkins of the Equality Network told reporters. Yet Winning, who described homosexuals as "perverts" last week, has won support from many Scots for criticising a move by the new Scottish parliament to lift the ban on giving equal weight to the homosexual lifestyle in schools by June. Scottish tabloids have painted the move as "gay sex lessons in school" and Scotland's richest businessman has pledged up to one million pounds ($1.6 million) to stop it.
©Reuters

BELGIUM FORCES UK TO DELAY PINOCHET RULING
A final British ruling on the fate of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet has been delayed after last-minute objections by the Belgian government, a source close to the Belgian Foreign Ministry said on Sunday. The source said the Belgian ministry had won extra time in its bid to persuade British Home Secretary Jack Straw not to let the 84-year-old general return home and escape trial on torture charges in Spain. "He's definitely not going home on Tuesday," the source told Reuters. "Belgium wants a new medical investigation on an objective and independently verifiable basis and we told Straw that we'd go to court if he didn't accede to that request." The case appeared to be nearing its conclusion when Straw said last week he was "minded" to release Pinochet after British doctors declared him medically unfit to be extradited to Spain to face charges stemming from his 1973-1990 rule. But the process that began when the former dictator was arrested in London in October 1998 at Spain's request now faces further delay. Lawyers in France and Belgium, as well as Spain, have applied for Pinochet's extradition. At issue for Belgium is the medical examination carried out at Chile's request. Look at I CARE Bulletin Board to take action
©Reuters

70,000 MORE ASYLUM APPLICANTS IN 1999 IN EUROPE
The number of people who lodged an application for asylum in Europe went up by 70,000 or 19% in 1999, UNHCR said today, reports AP. New UNHCR figures showed there were 431,000 asylum applications made in 22 European countries, up from 361,100 in 1998. Much of the increase was caused by ethnic Albanians who fled Kosovo as well as ethnic Serbs who fled later, UNHCR said. Germany topped the list with 95,300 applications, but its total fell by 3,300 compared with 1998. In contrast, Belgium recorded a 63% rise to 35,800, while Britain and Hungary saw increases of more than 50%. In terms of applications per capita, Switzerland received almost twice as many as any other country, with 6.5 requests per 1,000 inhabitants, followed by Belgium, Austria and the Netherlands. France had the lowest number of asylum seekers relative to its population. The countries of the European Union took 349,000 applications between them. Hungary's 53% increase placed it in 8th place, ahead of Sweden and Norway for the first time, UNHCR said.
Refugee Daily

GREECE SEEKS DEAL TO CURB ALBANIAN IMMIGRATION
The labour ministers of Greece and Albania pledged yesterday to expand agreements aimed at curbing illegal immigration between the two countries, officials said. Greece's Miltiadis Papaioannou and his Albanian counterpart, Makbule Ceco, agreed to meet again in the next two months to broaden cooperation and aid efforts by Greek authorities to register Albanian immigrants. More than half of the estimated 650,000 illegal immigrants in Greece are Albanian. Papaioannou and Ceco met on the sidelines of a Southeast Europe stability conference, which ended yesterday and was attended by labour ministers and representatives of 11 countries from Southeast Europe and the European Union. Another meeting of the EU-led Royaumont Initiative, founded in 1995 to promote democratisation in the Balkans and nearby states, will be held later this year in Albania.
©Athens News

MP SUGGESTS ROMA ‘SOLUTION' (Slovakia)
(also see I CARE News 11 January)
Róbert Fico, one of Slovakia`s most popular politicians, has promised to submit to parliament a draft amendment to the Social Benefits Law which would potentially deny Slovak Romanies their legal right to collect benefits. Speaking at a January 15 press conference to introduce the bill, Fico proposed that "citizens who travel for speculative reasons to a foreign country with the aim of demanding political asylum there would, on their return to Slovakia, have their social benefits payments stopped for 12 months." The amendment, Fico said, aimed to reduce the number of Slovak Roma who demand asylum in foreign countries. Following the migration of over 360 Slovak Roma to Helsinki in early January to demand political asylum, the Finnish government decided on January 13 to re-impose a visa requirement on Slovak nationals. Norway and the United Kingdom also currently have visa requirements for Slovaks, imposed after similar waves of Roma migration in 1998 and 1999. Fico, a member of the Slovak parliament, said that the Roma were economic migrants rather than political refugees, and that in demanding asylum they were seeking to take advantage of lax EU asylum laws - a view that has been advanced by both Slovak and European authorities. However, Fico has distanced himself from his more moderate colleagues in his radical approach to solving the `Romany problem`. Fico, who has been accused of using the Romany issue to raise the political profile of his new Smer party, said he would not be dissuaded. "I`ll do everything I can to get support in parliament," he said. "I don`t see it as discriminatory at all, and it certainly is not an attempt to put Smer on the map." The amendment has received its warmest welcome from the far-right opposition Slovak National Party. As nationalist MP Rastislav Šepták said, "we think it`s reasonable that if someone emigrates from the state and then harms it, he loses the right to benefits. It`s not right that gypsies have more money than whites for social handouts and benefits for their very many children."
©Slovak Spectator

NAZI REMANDED(Denmark)
Neo-Nazi boss Jonni Hansen, leader of the Danish National Socialist Party, who was jailed December 21 on charges of attempted murder after he allegedly drove his Volvo into a group of anti-Nazi activists demonstrating outside his home in Greve on Zealand, was remanded in custody for an additional 14 days on Friday. Some of the anti-Nazi activists involved in the incident have themselves been charged with vandalism. Hansen admits he drove into the group, but denies he did so intentionally.
©Copenhagen Post

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL JUDGE SENT 13 TO GALLOWS(UK)
A senior UK judge, who is a director of the human rights organisation Amnesty International, has made rulings that have helped to send 13 men to the gallows over the past 15 months. The judgements, by law lord Leonard Hoffmann, have caused turmoil at Amnesty, which actively campaigns for the abolition of the death penalty worldwide and has made it a priority for 2000. The UK may have abolished the death penalty 30 years ago, but the Privy Council, which sits in Downing Street, acts as the final court of appeal for death row cases in former British dependencies in the Caribbean. Campaigners are furious that Lord Hoffmann has consistently refused stays of execution. One source at Amnesty said last night: "He should be very embarrassed by this." Officially the group refuses to comment. One civil rights lawyer, who wished to remain anonymous because he may have to appear before the law lord, said of Hoffmann's judgments: "It is a bitter, bitter irony. He should not be a director of Amnesty International." The Privy Council will next hear constitutional appeal cases in a few weeks' time for five men on death row in Jamaica. Since October 1998, 13 men have hanged due to adverse Privy Council rulings on constitutional matters. In the most recent sitting, just before Christmas, the five senior judges ruled by three to two against a stay of execution for David Mitchell and John Junior Higgs, both of the Bahamas.
©The Independent

EUROPEAN INTERCONFERENCE STARTS WITH DISCUSSION ON MEDIA
This week the InterConference started with the discussion on Information, communication and the media, one of the four main topics of the Intergovernmental conference in Strasbourg in October. The discussion starter is written by Sruti Bala, Co-ordinator of the Voices Without Frontiers Network at AMARC-Europe. Everybody is invited to join in by sending an e-mail to info@icare.to with in the subject line 'subscribe un-discussion'. Within 24 hours you will be included on the list and will receive further information.

SEARCHING A DISAPPEARED SHIP(Italy)
By Giuliano
Where is the ship which left Vlore, Albania, in the night of December 30 for Italy and never arrived at the Italian coasts? That's the question haunting the relatives of the 50+ migrants which were on board. Following the many claims they filed to the Coast Guard, searches were started from January 2 with army ships and helicopters, but without luck. Panic and surrendering are spreading among the migrants imprisoned in the camp for foreigners "Regina Pacis", near Lecce, where many of the relatives of the disappeared migrants are kept, but also in Albania. The finding, on Jan. 10, of a floating corpse in the Straits of Otranto could be related to the presumed sinking of the ship, but -- as usual -- nothing is certain. In particular, it was an ex-UCK officer detained in the camp "Regina Pacis", which spoke first about that ship "loaded -- he said -- "with more than 50 people and 2 people smugglers".
I guess I won't surprise anybody by saying that this thing was not reported anywhere -- we only know it thanks to il Manifesto, which is an opposition newspaper. In my opinion, the day in which we will be able to monitor directly what's going on in the Straits of Otranto, we'll be dealing with a huge amount of casualties.

Boycott them! Fax/ mail/phone to the Italian embassies, consulates, etc on Friday 28 (our demo will be on Saturday 29, but to be effective against embassies and consulates you have to bother them on Friday). Help us to stop this mass murder!

A PLAN TO DEAL WITH SURGING APPLICANTS?(Ireland)
The number of refugees seeking asylum in Ireland last year was the second highest in the European Union as a percentage of the country's population, according to figures issued by the justice department yesterday, reports AFP. Ireland had 7,724 asylum applications in 1999 or 0.21% of the population – compared to Belgium which had 0.27%. Refugees from Romania, Nigeria and Poland accounted for more than 85% of the applications. Ireland's booming economy has been attracting an increasing number of refugees in recent years. There were only 39 applications in 1992. Systems for processing the refugees have been unable to cope with the numbers, which have strained emergency accommodation and social services. The figures were released in response to a new policy strategy published by the main Fine Gael (FG) opposition party. FG wants a radical change in policy to deal not only with asylum seekers but also immigrants. It proposes a system for absorbing 10,000 non-EU nationals a year to help meet an estimated labour shortfall of 160,000 over the next seven years. "We want a debate that is led by logic and tolerance, not be xenophobia and populist scare-mongering," said FG leader and former Prime Minister John Bruton.
Refugee Daily

CZECH GOVERNMENT MAKES LIST JEWISH PROPERTY RESTITUTION
Deputy Premier Pavel Rychetsky, who is chairman of a government commission for compensating victims of the Holocaust, submitted a commission report to the cabinet on 12 January, CTK reported. According to Rychetsky, some 2,500 items currently in Czech state museums were confiscated by the Nazis from Czech Jews. The commission will post on the Internet photographs of the items, which, if identified, will be returned to their rightful owners. Rychetsky added that the commission has asked 115 private museums and galleries to check their collections and has drawn up list of items that belonged to Jewish communities and foundations. Some of those items, he noted, have already been returned to local Jewish communities or to the Federation of Jewish Communities.
©RFE/RL Newsline

PREPARING FOR MORE REFUGEES(Iceland)
According to the Ministry of Social Affairs, preparations are underway for taking in additional refugees. Since 1996, Iceland has received three groups of Yugoslavian families from mixed-marriages, and last year three groups of Kosovo-Albanians came to Iceland (one of the group has since returned to their homeland). It is not yet clear when the next refugees will arrive, nor from what region they will come. The final decision will be made in consultations with the UNHCR. Minister of Social Affairs, Páll Pétursson, says in today's daily Morgunbladid that despite the fact that more than half of those remaining have chosen to relocate to the capital region (see DNFI January 6, 2000), the policy of settling the families in the country-side will continue. He expresses his disappointment over the exodus to the capital, but points out that "one cannot complain over the Yugoslavs leaving any more than other residents." Local communities vie to get the refugees and receive a payment from the government during the first year of settlement. After that period, the individuals are on their own. Lack of employment opportunities is most often cited as the reason to relocate.
©Iceland Review

LAW END FOREIGNER 'HAVEN'(Czechia)
New rules toughen residency requirements A tough new law on long-term visas for foreigners who wish to live and work in the Czech Republic is troubling both state officials and aspiring residents, causing a bureaucratic backlog that may last for much of the year 2000.Long in the works, the law promises to change the regulatory landscape of a nation once viewed as an easy employment haven. Passed last month to bring Czech immigration legislation in line with European Union standards, the law has ended a decade-old system that allowed visitors to arrive, find lodging and a job, and visit the Work Office and Foreigners' Police to obtain the necessary residency and employment permits. Now those seeking a long-term visa must complete applications at a Czech consulate or embassy abroad. Officials will seek proof of enrollment in a school or a work permit secured by an employer here through the Work Office. They will also demand that applicants prove their income, demonstrate that they have housing and health insurance, and request criminal records from countries of origin. The changes are already putting a dent in some plans. "It's making this entire trip really tough and spoiling the adventure," said Sara Downey, a 20-year-old Denver resident who sought to attend a Charles University language program but may scrap the idea after running into red tape at the Czech consulate in Los Angeles. An administrative worker at an international company in Prague, who requested anonymity, said the new law derailed his plans to renew his visa the day before it expired. A 500 Kc ($14) fine for failing to reapply for a visa two weeks before its expiration has been transformed into a demand that late applicants begin the process anew from a Czech consulate or embassy abroad. "I understand the Czech Republic wants to protect its workers," he said, adding that he would seek to obtain a new visa from the Czech consulate in Bratislava. "But by trying to protect some people, they are taking away other people's freedom. It makes you feel like you don't want to be legal because it only causes problems."
©The Prague Post

CHIRAC RECEIVES TOP FRENCH MUSLIMS IN HISTORIC MEETING
President Jacques Chirac on Thursday received leaders of France's four million Muslims in a symbolic encounter hailed by his guests as an historic event bringing Islam into the French political landscape. The meeting was seen as a key goodwill gesture by the head of state in a sometimes uneasy multi-ethnic society with racial and social tensions. Islam is France's second religion after Catholicism and many adherents are of North African origin. One of the four religious leaders said that from now on Islam would open up more to French society, no longer being just a source of recrimination in relations with the state. Chirac's spokeswoman said his aim in receiving the Muslim dignitaries as part of traditional New Year ceremonies, was "to officially offer the New Year wishes of the President of the French Republic, and through them, to present these wishes to the entire community of Muslims in France." The Grand Mufti of Marseilles said afterwards: "The President of the Republic gave us the formal promise that he would do all to ensure that Islam acquires the status it is entitled to alongside other religions observed in France." The absence of a single Islamic leader in France has hitherto prevented Muslims being represented at the traditional New year ceremonies between religious leaders and the president. Last week Chirac held a customary reception for representatives of Catholics, Protestants and the Jews. The Grand Mufti, Sheib Bensheikh, said Thursday's unprecedented meeting would have a double result of "initiating Muslims into more good citizenship and helping the French mind to consider the Muslim religion as an additional enrichment for France."
©The Tocqueville Connection

FORMER ZAGREB SYNAGOGUE RETURNED TO JEWISH COMMUNITY(Croatia)
Representatives of Zagreb's Jewish community have been presented with the government decision on the dismissal of the sale of land in Zagreb owned by the Croatian Privatization Fund, and the transfer of that land, without compensation, to the Jewish community of Zagreb, as well as with a decision on the transfer of real estate owned by the Republic of Croatia to the Jewish community of Zagreb. In the background behind the long term decision on the dismissal of the sale of land in Zagreb is the well known location in Praška Street #7, where up until World War II there was a synagogue, while the decision on the transfer of real estate owned by the Republic of Croatia deals with three buildings and the surrounding terrain in Pirovac in Vrilo cove. The lot in Praška Street is sacred land to the Jews because a synagogue which symbolizes life once stood there, said the secretary of the Jewish community of Zagreb Dean Friedrich. Vice-president of the Jewish community of Zagreb Dragan Ekštajn said it was time for the "next step", i. e. the idea of building a Jewish cultural centre on the lot in Praška street. This future institution would be open to everybody interested, and not just for members of the Jewish community. The core of the future centre, said Ekštajn, will be the Museum of Jews in Croatia, which will contain a significant collection of the Jewish cultural heritage and a synagogue.
©Croatia Weekly

SETBACK KINNOCK'S BID TO PROMOTE WOMEN(European Union)
European Commission Vice-President Neil Kinnock's recently launched crusade to ensure more women land top jobs in the institution has been dealt an embarrassing blow. It has emerged that the Commission recently cut off funding for an innovative project which would have made it easier for the EU executive to recruit top-quality female staff. The 'European Women's Talent Bank', set up in 1996 by the Brussels-based European Women's Lobby (EWL), is an online database containing information on hundreds of women who have particular expertise in the wide range of policy areas dealt with by the institution. Potential employers can key in the specific skills they are looking for - for example, expertise in EU intellectual property law - and the talent bank will provide them with a list of suitable female candidates. The service has already been used by the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to find women with the skills it needs. However, it now seems increasingly likely that the talent bank will be shut down because a little over a year ago, the previous Commission headed by former President Jacques Santer decided not to renew vital funding for the project. The institution argued that the scheme should not receive any more cash as it had already been granted one slice of funding under the EU's fourth action programme. But the EWL says it does not have the resources to keep the service running without Union funding. "We have tried to ensure that the talent bank remains operational, but without a full-time person working on it, this has proved very difficult," said one EWL supporter. "It think stopping the funding was a really stupid thing to do." The organisation says it will do its best to keep the talent bank going and is currently trying to secure private-sector funding for the scheme. But the service is currently out of action because of technical problems and EWL does not know when it will be up and running again. The news of the talent bank's woes could not have come at a worse time for Kinnock, who announced shortly before the Christmas break that he intended to double the number of women in senior Commission jobs before the end of 2005. At present, just two of the institution's most senior A1 posts are filled by women, while the other 53 are occupied by men. The Commission's record is not much better when it comes to the next rank down. Of 192 A2 Eurocrats currently working in the EU executive, only 19 are women. (Also see I CARE News, December 17)
©European Voice

SURGEONS SETTLE RACISM CLAIM(UK)
Two Asian surgeons settled a dispute with an NHS hospital trust yesterday after claiming racial discrimination over the allocation of financial merit awards. Jagdev Mohan, a brain surgeon, and Maher Halawa, an orthopaedic surgeon, claimed that they did not receive merit awards paid to white colleagues at Derriford Hospital, Plymouth. The awards, said to be worth between £2,500 and £58,000, are given through a points system decided by the committees. On the fifth day of an employment tribunal at Exeter, a statement issued by Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust and the surgeons said that they had concluded the proceedings "on agreed terms".
©Telegraph

SLOVAK ETHNOLOGIST ABOUT ROMANY DEMOGRAPHICS AND IDENTITY
The gap between Romanies in Slovakia who have more or less successfully become integrated in society and those who live separated in hundreds of makeshift settlements is getting wider, Slovak ethnologist Arne B. Mann warned in an interview with CTK. "It is very dangerous and extremely difficult to solve," Mann, an ethnologist from the Ethnography Institute of the Slovak Science Academy, who has devoted his work to Romany studies for fourteen years, said. According to the Slovak Labour Ministry, there are currently over 22,000 Romany families, a total of 124,031 people, living in 591 settlements. Of these, only one in four inhabitants is employed.
©Czech News Agency

WILL CZECH VERSION OF TEXTBOOK ON ROMANY HISTORY APPEAR?
Slovak ethnologist and expert in Romany history Arne B. Mann is worried by the fact that while Slovak version of his Romany history textbook is being printed the future of its Czech version is not clear, despite the Czech Education Ministry's preliminary order. Mann has complained that he has not yet received an answer to his letter to Czech Education Minister Eduard Zeman concerning the textbook. The small book, evidently the first of its kind, is to serve Romany pupils at Slovak and Czech schools as a supplementary material for learning about historical and cultural roots of their ethnic minority and about examples of successful Romanies. It is also designed to teach their "white" co-pupils to tolerance towards their fellow students with darker skin. "The book is designed to help Romany children overcome the handicap of belonging to the Romany minority, and to develop a positive Romany conscience," Mann says. "There is a problem of Romany identity - Romanies do not have the reason to stress their belonging to the Romany ethnic minority because this does not mean any advantage but on the contrary. If someone declares himself a Romany it is as if he declared himself being an asocial person," Man says. Of the estimated half a million Romanies living in Slovakia only 80,000 people declared themselves Romanies in the latest census in Slovakia, while a large number of them preferred to declare themselves either Slovaks or Hungarians. The textbook describes the history of the development of the Romany ethnic minority since its coming from India to Europe, through their nomadic life and settling in Europe, the World War II and up to now. Its individual chapters are about traditional Romany professions, their mother tongue, traditions and habits of life in communities. The book presents contemporary successful Romanies, for example, Czech radio presenter Iveta Kovacova and Czech television presenter Ondrej Gina. Its last chapter is about tolerance in the co-existence between different ethnic minorities.
©Czech News Agency

BERLIN MAYOR TO SNUB HOLOCAUST RITE(Germany)
The mayor of Berlin, Eberhard Diepgen, has decided not to attend the formal dedication ceremony this month for a large Holocaust memorial near the Brandenburg Gate, a project he has long opposed. In what appears to be a calculated insult, Mr. Diepgen has said that his agenda is too full to attend the ceremony Jan. 27, although he has declined to specify what his other engagements are. Michael Naumann, Germany's senior cultural official, said: ''This is a significant ceremony demonstrating the fact that the memorial will be built. I am very surprised that Mr. Diepgen is not coming and hope he will change his mind.'' The ceremony, to be attended by Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, President Johannes Rau and Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor and author, is designed to bring closure to a decade of tumultuous debate over a memorial that will combine a field of more than 2,000 stone pillars and a ''documentation center'' whose exact form and character remain murky. The debate has revealed deep differences over the place of memory in a society now two generations removed from the Nazi era, and over the image of the new city now being built on land once occupied by the Berlin Wall. Mr. Diepgen has argued that the memorial is too big and impossible to protect. Officials close to him have also suggested it may be unnecessary in a city that already has several, smaller monuments commemorating the Holocaust.
©International Herald Tribune

KOSOVO DRIVES SWISS ASYLUM BID TO RECORD IN 1999
Ethnic conflict in Kosovo helped trigger a record number of requests for asylum in Switzerland in 1999, the government said on Friday. Applications jumped 11.5 percent to just over 46,000, nearly two-thirds of them from Yugoslav citizens, mostly Kosovo refugees fleeing fighting between Serbs and ethnic Albanians in the southern Yugoslav province. A spokesman for the Swiss Federal Refugee Office said around 50,000 Yugoslavs, mostly from Kosovo, had sought refuge between March 1998 and August 1999, when the region was at its most tense. Including those who arrived earlier, around 60,000 asylum-seekers from Kosovo are now in Switzerland after the biggest refugee flow to the neutral country since World War Two. The influx severely taxed Swiss officials' ability to cope, even with help from army units. Swiss authorities have given Kosovo refugees until the end of May to go home or face forced repatriation, and some 16,000 have already left to take advantage of Swiss Financial aid and help in rebuilding their homes.
©Reuters

AUSTRIAN RIGHTIST READY TO RULE
Austria's far-right opposition leader Jörg Haider said on Friday he was ready to step in and form a government if the Social Democrats and conservatives failed to form a new coalition. Haider told President Thomas Klestil he could not simply ignore him if a new grand coalition did not emerge from talks between the Social Democrats and the People's Party. Haider, whose Freedom Party came second in an inconclusive election in October, said he could present a government programme within a week if the talks broke down. Speaking in Klagenfurt, Haider said it would be undemocratic of Klestil to suggest that an early election was the only alternative to a new grand coalition. "The president is not a monarch who can choose a government as in the days of the Kaiser," he told state radio. "Several majority formations are possible if the wish is there." Haider was responding to Klestil's unprecedented public rebuke on Thursday to the two mainstream parties -- Chancellor Viktor Klima's Social Democrats and the conservative People's Party of Foreign Minister Wolfgang Schuessel. Klestil said failure to agree would leave an "extremely negative impression" and could force premature new elections. The Social Democrats won 65 seats in the 183-seat parliament in the October election followed by the Freedom Party and the People's Party with 52 seats each and the Greens with 14 seats. An opinion poll on Wednesday suggested that Haider's Freedom Party would become the strongest party if elections were held now. Some prominent conservatives favour a coalition with the Freedom Party but Klestil has made clear he would oppose this to avoid damage to Austria's international reputation. Haider, best known abroad for a series of controversial remarks about the Nazi period for which he apologised in November, has indicated that he would be prepared to form a coalition with the conservatives but would not join it himself, preferring to remain in Klagenfurt.
©Reuters

FINLAND REIMPOSES VISAS TO STOP SLOVAK ROMA
Finland on Friday reimposed visa requirements on Slovak citizens to stop large numbers of Roma (gypsies) from entering the country, the government said. The requirement for visas for six months from January 15 was similar to a four-month suspension of visa-free entry last year that ended in November. The inflow of Roma, who say they are fleeing persecution in Slovakia, was halted by the previous demand for visas but resumed when the period ended. Finnish and Slovak officials agree the Roma's main motives are economic.
©Reuters

US SAYS UN DEFINITION 'REFUGEE' NEEDS RE-THINKING
With the number of war victims growing daily, the United States said the definition of a "refugee" was outdated and needed to cover millions of homeless people who had not crossed international borders. But Sadako Ogata, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, told the Security Council the real issue was for governments to stop the wars that victimized people. "Without clearer, more decisive action by governments, which the Security Council has a responsibility in inspiring, designing and leading, refugee crises cannot be resolved," she said during a Thursday council debate on refugees in Africa. "The worst pages of colonial history seem to live again in situations in which people struggle to survive while small groups benefit from Africa's wealth," she added. British Ambassador Sir Jeremy Greenstock agreed and said the problem "we always find in Africa is that what we are doing is mopping up the misery. But we don't seem to have a handle out of the tape in which the misery is flowing." The council debate was organized by U.S. ambassador Richard Holbrooke, who urged members to consider how the refugee agency, UNHCR, could be used to meet the growing number of war victims made homeless within their own country. "To a person who has been driven from his or her home by conflict, there is no difference in being a victim, but they are treated differently," Holbrooke said. "Two-thirds of the homeless people in the world are classified with the odious acronym of 'internally displaced persons,' or IDPs, but they're really refugees," he said. UNHCR's jurisdiction covers only people who cross international borders, except in cases where the United Nations gives it a special mandate. But the mandate has been extended in recent years, especially in Kosovo or Bosnia where sorting out refugees from internally displaced people was impossible.
©Reuters

BAN ON GAYS IN THE ARMY LIFTED (UK)
The long-standing ban on homosexuals in the armed forces was finally lifted yesterday in a historic move forced on the government by the European court of human rights. The move was hailed by gay campaigners, and accepted by military chiefs through gritted teeth. Geoff Hoon, the defence secretary, announced a new code of service conduct covering all personal relationships heterosexual and homosexual. He told the Commons the ban on gays was no longer legally sustainable following the court's judgment in September that sexual orientation was a private matter. The new code will apply regardless of rank, gender, or sexual orientation. At its heart will be what the ministry of defence calls the "service test" set out in the form of a question: "Have the actions or behaviour of an individual adversel impacted on or are they likely to impact on the efficiency or operational effectiveness of the service?" The code, which will be applied at the discretion of individual commanders, is based on the principle of non-discrimination and the recognition that different standards of public behaviour, on flouting sexuality for example, are needed for the armed forces. It states: "The overriding operational imperative to sustain team cohesion and to maintain trust and loyalty between commanders and those they command imposes a need for standards of social behaviour which are more demanding than those required by society at large." As examples of behaviour which could undermine such trust and cohesion, it cites "unwelcome sexual attention in the form of physical or verbal conduct" and "displays of affection which might cause offence to others. "It is important to acknowl edge in the tightly-knit military community a need for mutual respect ... each case will be judged on its merits." Stonewall, which campaigns for gay and lesbian equality, welcomed the new code which, it said, should provide protection against sexual harassment, discrimination, and bullying. Angela Mason, its executive director, described it as "absolutely sensible". The ban on homosexuality in the armed forces had been "a great symbol of inequality". Steve Johnston, chairman of Rank Outsiders, set up to support those dismissed from the services for being gay, said: "We will closely watch the implementation of the ruling and we are keen to work closely with the MoD to ensure equality and fairness for all." But Peter Tatchell, of Outrage! , the gay pressure group, said that "deeply entrenched homophobic attitudes will continue to force many gay people out of the services, unless the military authorities take tough new action to combat the victimisation of homosexual personnel". Acknowledging resistance in the services against lifting the ban, Mr Hoon said: "There will be those who would have preferred to continue to exclude homosexuals but the law is the law. "We cannot pick and choose the decisions we implement. The status quo is simply not an option." Navy commanders are likely to be most concerned - they have argued forcefully in favour of maintaining the ban. Iain Duncan Smith, the shadow defence spokesman, attacked the decision. "I believe and have always believed, as the previous government did, that we should follow the advice of the armed forces which has always been that lifting the band would adversely affect operational effectiveness." Women will still be barred from some front-line duties.
©The Guardian

THE PROBLEM OF THE IMMIGRANTS(Spain)
The government subdelegate, Carlos Rubio, stated his complete resolve to solve the problem that is affecting a group of sub Saharan immigrants that have been sleeping outside the Malaga Cathedral doors since last Saturday, in demand of the legalisation of their situation in Spain. Rubio has held several meetings with non governmental organisations with the aim of finding a way to reinstate the immigrants into society and to find them work. Meanwhile, the immigrants have sent a letter through the IU left coalition party in Malaga, to the Ayuntamiento of Malaga announcing the start of a hunger strike. In the letter, addressed to the people of Malaga, they declare if they do not give us the possibility to work, if they deny us permission to live and work in this land, then we will cease to exist, we will not eat, nor drink, and we will become what they say we are: human ghosts. Rubio said he would try to solve the problem within the limits of the law.
©The Entertainer

MIGRANT SMUGGLERS GET 10 YEARS(Greece)
7 Turks and one Bulgarian forming the crew of a ship who abandoned more than 270 illegal immigrants on the Cycladic isle of Naxos have each been sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment. A Naxos court on Tuesday convicted the Turkish-flagged ship "Sky" crew members of migrant smuggling before handing them their jail sentence as well as a fine of 27 million drachmas each. The crew was arrested after disembarking 275 illegal immigrants, mostly Afghanis and Iraqi Kurds along with a number of Africans, on January 3. The migrants, including 13 children and 11 women, were left on the eastern coast of Naxos, about 170 kilometres (106 miles) southeast of Athens, in gale weather. A pregnant woman was hospitalised at the time while another five people also received treatment. Local authorities provided shelter and food for the immigrants at a primary school. The immigrants told authorities they had paid $2,000 each to be transported to Italy.
©Athens News

PREFECT OPPOSES GYPSY CAMPS(Greece)
Volunteer medics say rats roam freely, infections spreading at settlement.
2000 Gypsies, half of them children, are living under deplorable conditions at a tent camp in the western Athens district of Nea Zoi (which translates as new life). The road to a "new life", however, has been obstructed by certain local government officials who do not want "any more" Gypsies in their area. The relocation of some 200 Gypsy families from the Nea Zoi camp in Aspropyrgos to a site in the western Athens suburb of Boukovili is an initiative that has been taken by the Greek branch of the Doctors of the World. The international volunteer medics' group, which has been working closely with this marginalised population since 1997, is determined to create a new home for the Gypsies. In a press release yesterday, the group describes the camp in Nea Zoi as a garbage dump, where rats roam freely and infections spread rapidly. The group said the settlement lacks clean water, plumbing and electricity for heating and cooking. Even though the volunteer doctors visit the site on a weekly basis, their work involves much more than merely administering vaccinations. For this reason, the group is intent on moving the Gypsies away from Nea Zoi to an area offering better conditions. According to Elpida Efthymiatou, director of the free polyclinic in downtown Athens which is run by Doctors of the World, 600 stremmata of unused land in Boukovili belonging to the agriculture ministry has been provided to organisation for the purpose of establishing an organised Gypsy settlement. "We have the funds, the land and everything else that is required," Efthymiatou told the Athens News. "But there exists disagreement: the western Athens prefect and the mayor of Ano Liossia are against such a relocation. They argue that there are already too many Gypsies in the area. We are protesting against this. People have to realise that when we are talking about Gypsies, we are talking about human beings." Meanwhile, at a press conference yesterday, Doctors of the World presented the findings of a recent survey carried out among Gypsies at three camps in Attica and northern Greece. According to the results, 99.6 percent of Gypsies have received treatment for the hepatitis A virus, which can be transmitted by direct contact with faecally-contaminated food and water. Sixty-five percent had been treated for hepatitis B, of which 15 percent are still able to infect others. Additionally, 1.8 percent had received treatment for hepatitis C. "These findings are linked to the way they live," Efthymiatou said. "The new settlement [in Boukovili] will have clean water, electricity and heat. They do not have these basic needs in Aspropyrgos. The situation there is so bad that the children risk waking up in the morning with rat bites." Other findings indicate that as many as 90 percent of the Gypsies surveyed only visit the doctor when they are very sick, even though half of them said they do have access to state healthcare. Meanwhile, the vast majority (80 percent) has never gone to school and is considered illiterate. The women give birth to about five or six children each, while eight in 10 Gypsies questioned were Greek nationals.
©Athens News

FAR-RIGHT CZECH PARTY APPEALS TO HAVEL TO AMNESTY MEMBER
Cyril Malec, a member of the far-right Republican Party (SPR-RSC), handed over to President Vaclav Havel on 12 January an appeal by his party to pardon a SPR-RSC member under investigation by the police for "racial defamation," CTK reported. Malec approached Havel as the president was leaving his hotel in the spa of Karlova Studanka, where he is undergoing a cure, and placed documents on the case into the president's hands. The SPR-RSC argues that Havel should show the same leniency toward its member, who last month organized an exhibition in Decin in which Czech politicians were presented as being Jewish or partly Jewish, as that he showed toward a Roma woman whom he recently pardoned (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 and 22 December 1999). The woman had insulted officials in connection with the anti-Roma wall that had been erected in Usti nad Labem.
©RFE/RL Newsline

UPDATE MIGRANTS ITALY
By Giuliano
1. Fire in the Trapani camp: this morning, another of the 4 heavy wounded migrants died, bringing the toll of that day of human craziness to 5 deads and 6 wounded -- 2 of them in desperate conditions.

2. Before I briefly wrote about 2 casualties in the Otranto Channel -- a young Chinese man and a Kurd. Now I have some more details:
- The young Chinese arrived on the Italian shore of the Otranto Channel last Monday, together with other 22 Chinese people, men and women, all very young (between 19 and 22 years old). As soon as the small Albanian boat carrying them approached the shore, they were quickly pushed outboard by the armed Albanian smugglers. So fast was the operation that he fell, kicked his head and died. The police was waiting for them and captured them all -- but not the people smugglers. The name of the boy is still unknown.
- Also the Kurd was very young, only 22. Name: Vedat Yuksel. He was a Turkish Kurd, and not an Iraki Kurd as I wrote before. He arrived in the night between Jan 4 and 5 with other 64 people (39 Iraki, 23 Kosovars, 2 Chinese), and wanted to go to Holland, where his family lives. Also his dead is "accidental": to escape the Italian navy patrols, the smugglers made so hazardous manoevres that several migrants got wounded -- he fell on the boat and kicked his head against the motors. Also this group of migrants was captured by the police, to which they declared they paid 800 DM each for the ride (quite cheap, compared to the 3000 DM you'd need last year). The police called immediately an ambulance, the young Kurd was taken to the hospital of Maglie where he died.

3. Yesterday, a delegation made of the MEP Fiorella Ghilardotti, the Green regional councillor Carlo Monguzzi and the artist Moni Ovadia visited the lager for migrants in via Corelli, Milan, together with people from Ya Basta! and the Centro Sociale Leoncavallo. Again the press was kept at due distance (i.e., very far) depite the protests. It's good to remember that Ya Basta! was denied 3 weeks ago the permission to continue its monitoring on the living conditions in via Corelli because of the presence of a journalist of Radio Onda d'Urto during the entreviews with the migrants. To counter this decision and show its true nature, Ya Basta! is preparing an organic plan of monitoring and legal assistance to be submitted to the Prefect of Milan (the Prefect in Italy is the representative of the State in the cities), since it was the Prefect which locked us out. For what concerns the delegation members, Fiorella Ghilardotti is a MEP elected in the lists of the governing party, the "Democratici di Sinistra" (Left Democrats), which strongly support the camps. Therefore, she refused to speak about lagers, but had to admit that via Corelli violates even the most basic human rights. The releases of Moni Ovadia and of mr. Monguzzi (an habituè in via Corelli, since he's called as a mediator between police and migrants any time there're troubles) had a quite different tone: "An improvement of the living conditions in the camps is ridicolous, they will remain what they are: cages to lock up people at will without any juridical basis. Therefore, they must be closed because they are incostitutional".

A last announcement:
- two national demonstrations are called for Jan 29 in Milan and in Florence against the lagers for migrants. Any kind of support (Statements, organized presence, etc) is most welcome from all over Europe.

POLITICIAN WANTS CUT SOCIAL BENEFITS ASYLUM SEEKING ROMA (Slovakia)
Robert Fico, leader of the recently established Smer (Direction) Party, introduced to journalists on 9 January a draft law that would cut social benefits to Roma who, as he put it, "indulge in speculative requests for political asylum." The bill says that people who demand political asylum abroad and remain outside Slovakia for more than two months will lose social benefits for the 12 months following their return. Juraj Hrabko, director-general of the government's Office for Human Rights and Minorities, called the proposal "cheap populism" aimed at building political support for Smer. Hrabko said it is "unthinkable" for Fico, Slovakia's representative at the European Court of Human Rights, to use "racist vocabulary." He added that a democratic state cannot impose sanctions on citizens who ask for political asylum, least of all on members of national minorities, CTK reported.
©RFE/RL Newsline

BELARUSIAN JEWS TO SUE PUBLISHER OF ANTI-SEMITIC BOOK
Leanid Levin, a leader of the Jewish community in Belarus, is to sue the Minsk publishing house Orthodox Initiative for "fomenting ethnic hatred," RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported on 7 January. The publishing house recently published a book entitled "The War According to the Laws of Meanness," which consists of anti-Semitic articles published in the Russian and Belarusian press in the 1990s as well as in pre-1917 Russia. "Belarus now faces two choices--being in bondage to the West or to the Jew-Masons who have occupied Russia. There is also a third way--while remaining an islet of freedom, to become a center for gathering Slavic peoples and opposing the forces of the evil," according to the introduction of the book. The editors also appealed to readers to support Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, whom they call a "defender of all Slavs."
©RFE/RL Newsline

LINES DRAWN IN IMMIGRANT DEBATE(Denmark)
Responding to complaints from an angry delegation of Social Democrat mayors representing urban districts with a high number of immigrant residents, Home Secretary Thorkild Simonsen has promised to curb the flow of refugees to these districts. Meanwhile, Liberal led councils are claiming their integration problems have been solved using positive immigrant employment policies. As the debate on immigration policy increasingly preoccupies the political agenda of all major parties, a delegation of mayors representing six suburban Copenhagen districts met with the Home Secretary Wednesday to discuss ways of reducing what the mayors see as an excessive social burden on their communities. The mayors in the delegation are all Social Democrats. The districts they represent all have a high percentage of immigrant residents, typically between 10 and 22 per cent. The six mayors are claiming that as well as putting impossible pressure on their districts' social service resources, such high immigrant residency is responsible for slum housing, rising crime rates and social unrest. The Home Secretary has now promised to review current legislation for a way to reduce the number of immigrants living in high percentage districts. "I believe we should be looking at a revised quota system, that will permit newcomers to our country to live outside the most heavily burdened districts," Simonsen said. One major priority concerning delegation members is current legislation concerning the right of refugees who achieve residency to bring in family members from abroad to live with them. The mayors are also concerned about the number of young immigrant men in their districts who, while already living in often overcrowded conditions with their families, import brides. The mayors say this gives them no control over how many immigrants come to live in their communities. "We accept one individual, and within a year this may have become five, or even more," Britta Christensen, mayor of Hvidovre, said. "Of course, married couples should be permitted to live together," the Home Secretary said, "As should families. But this doesn't necessarily have to be in the same high density area where the original immigrant lives. We need legislation to reflect this." Kjeld Hansen, mayor of Herlev believes the current rules could be simply revised. "Firstly, any individual wishing to import family should have an independent dwelling. In addition, local councils should have an unrestricted right to designate the location of this dwelling. This would enable us to put a limit on the number of new immigrants coming to live in any given area," Hansen said. However, following the meeting, several Liberal mayors, who also represent districts with large immigrant communities have blamed any problems on local Social Democrat policy making. "We have absolutely no problem with our immigrant community," Réné Milo, mayor of Greve on Zealand, told daily newspaper Berlingske Tidende on Thursday. Around 10 per cent of the residents in Milo's district are immigrants. "Getting a job is the best form of integration. We make a positive effort to persuade local firms to give immigrants work. In just the last month we have placed 30 people in jobs. Work works. What these Social Democrats should be doing instead of panicking is finding foreigners jobs." Henry Hansen, Liberal mayor of the Zealand district of Karlebo, where the percentage of immigrant residents - at 14% - is one of the nation's top five, also believes employment is the solution. "We just don't have these problems, we don't have slums, even though some of our housing estates have up to 50 % immigrant residency," Hansen said. Farum, North Zealand, mayor Peter Brixtofte, also a Liberal, claims there is no unemployment among his district's immigrants. "Farum is an international municipality without integration problems," Brixtofte states.
©Copenhagen Post

GERMANY'S NEW MULTICULTURAL CITIZENS
Nationality Law Favors the Young People That the Nation Will Need
When their daughter Seyma was born shortly before dawn on New Year's Day, Mesut and Saliha Kurt were elated to discover that the timing of her arrival provided an extra reason to celebrate. As Turks living in Germany, Seyma's parents never managed to acquire local citizenship even though her father Mesut was born and raised here. But thanks to her delivery just three hours after a new nationality law entered into effect, Seyma automatically became a German citizen even though there is not a drop of Teutonic blood in her veins. 'These babies born today won't experience what I went through,' said Cem Ozdemir, a Green party legislator and the first ethnic Turk elected to the German Parliament. 'They won't grow up here as foreigners. They will grow up as citizens and it will change the future of the country.' Until this year, Germany maintained some of the strictest nationality laws in the world - based largely on a 1913 imperial decree that emphasized the primacy of ancestry over birthplace. But after a protracted and emotional debate, the German Parliament recognized the country's transformation into a multicultural society and passed reforms that will make it easier for some 7 million foreigners to secure a German passport. 'Some people still refuse to admit it, but Germany has become a colorful land with many cultures,' said Marieluise Beck, the federal commissioner for foreign residents. 'That's why it's nice these children finally have the possibility to say they are part of this country from the moment of their birth.' The new law reduces the required residency of new citizens from 15 to 8 years. But the biggest change grants dual citizenship to foreign children born in Germany - as long as at least one of their parents has been living here for eight years. By age 23, the children must decide whether to keep a German passport or that of their parents. The privileged treatment enjoyed by Seyma reflects a determination by the German government to find ways to integrate a segment of the population that, until now, has been largely trapped between two cultures: alienated from both the homeland of their parents and the foreign state in which they are raised. But it also shows a new sensitivity growing out of Germany's dire demographic predicament. With one of the world's lowest birthrates, Europe's biggest nation has become increasingly dependent on a young generation of foreigners to bear the burden of sustaining an aging population that wants to continue reaping the benefits of a generous welfare state. Already, one out of five Germans is past retirement age. Within 50 years, according to current trends, half the population will work to support the other half. A forthcoming United Nations report says that Germany would need to import 500,000 immigrants a year if it hopes to maintain its 82 million inhabitants at present living standards. After years of absorbing a steady influx of asylum seekers, refugees and other aliens, Germany has started to witness a net outflow of foreigners. In 1998, for example, 606,000 foreigners came to Germany while 639,000 left, confirming a reversal in the tide of immigration that began in 1996. The rising number of departures is attributed in part to the repatriation of Bosnian refugees who settled in Germany during the war. But it also reflects a growing disenchantment with xenophobic tendencies and a desire among many Turks and older immigrants who have built up enough of a nest egg to return to their native lands and comfortably live out their lives. 'Many of them long ago gave up on the idea of ever becoming German,' Mr. Ozdemir said. 'They still consider themselves as foreigners even though they have been here for thirty years. And they still do not want to break their ties to the culture of their forefathers.' In recent weeks, Turkish newspapers in Germany have been urging people not ©International Herald Tribune

PARIS SOCCER TEAM STRUGGLES TO DE-NAZIFY A CHEERING SECTION
For a good part of the last two decades, France has lived with a nasty, neo-fascist pustule in a highly visible place: R1 Rouge, a section of grandstand virtually turned into an enclave for young, right-wing extremists at Parc des Princes, the soccer stadium of Paris St. Germain. By most standards, but particularly those that one of the richest and most ambitious clubs in Europe says are its own, lancing the boil, ending the spill of racial abuse on game nights from a corner of the Parc, has been a despairingly long and hesitant process. Accusations against the club, over the years, have gone beyond tolerating skinheads and neo-Nazis to saying it has tacitly facilitated their presence in the stadium. So much so that the French human rights group SOS Racisme late last year began legal action for racial discrimination against PSG and its owners, Canal Plus, the international pay-television concern. Without a confrontation, SOS Racisme believed PSG might have been content to let the situation drag on as an unsightly but low-grade infection. The rights group thought it nicely ironic that PSG's captain, Ali Benrabia, is an Algerian, its most gifted player, Jay-Jay Okocha, a Nigerian, and its leading goal-getter, Mickael Madar, a French Jew. But it was not going along with the idea that, following the victorious example of France's multiracial World Cup team, the little cyst in R1 Rouge could be blithely ignored. Now, with the threat of a court case withdrawn and a protocol of agreement signed between PSG and SOS Racisme in December to combat racism , comes the first test. On Saturday night, PSG plays second division Creteil at the Parc in a League Cup match of not much significance, and then on Tuesday, with bigger stakes, the team goes up against Lyon. By then, it will be clear what PSG has done to cleanse R1 Rouge. The situation is a wary one. Malek Boutih, president of SOS Racisme and a PSG fan for 25 years, says the team's decision to act came from calculation rather ''than as a matter of the heart,'' a notion rejected by Laurent Perpere, PSG's president-delegate. And Mr. Boutih says ousting ''these little Nazis'' from the stadium will take a level of determination that PSG never demonstrated before because ''the neo-fascists place in the Parc is one of the truly symbolic bastions of the extreme right'' in France.The story of Paris's enclave of trouble goes back two decades, according to a French soccer professional. Without a strong fan base, he said, the club sought then to attract a young working-class following. Management's notion was to replicate, French-style, the atmosphere of the so-called kop at Liverpool's Anfield Road, the part of the stadium turned over there to the team's most fanatic supporters. PSG's kop idea was largely successful, he said, but in time it became apparent the club had created a monster. Mr. Perpere acknowledged as much. He said that when Canal Plus took over the team in 1991 it found professional agitators working the kop with calls for racist violence. ''We've circumscribed the group to 200 to 300.'' he said. ''We've done it progressively. We went from 6,000 people who were out of control to the dozens we deal with now.'' Mr. Perpere, who is also a ranking executive at Canal Plus, called the club's approach ''a containment policy.'' This meant knowingly keeping the extremists in a circumscribed area - or for PSG's critics, surrendering terrain to them - where they are watched over by security personnel. These guards have been accused of being recruited, in some cases, from the ranks of the far right. In comparison with other European teams, notably in Italy, where there are neo-fascist groups of fans, Mr. Perpere described Parc des Princes as ''O.K.'' It has all taken so long, he said, because without proceeding carefully ''there would have been pitched battles in the streets.'' For Mr. Boutih, it was incomprehensible that PSG could let the situation linger. His explanation for this attitude was that the club literally had feared a physical confrontation with the extremists, felt it could minimize or ignore the problem, and was under no pressure from its players to do anything about the racial slurs, carefully directed at members of opposing teams. With the exception of Bernard Lama, PSG's black goalkeeper, ''the players said nothing,'' according to Mr. Boutih. ''There's an anti-racist culture in football, but footballers live in their own world. It was very disappointing.'' In May, SOS Racisme engaged a court officer to certify that a black fan who requested a ticket for R1 Rouge was denied one while others were being sold to whites. When he obtained a ticket to the kop, the officer's document said, security personnel in the stands, while admitting whites, told the black fan that, for his own safety, he could not enter. The rights group then informed PSG it was going to take the club to trial on a complaint of racial discrimination. Mr. Boutih said that it was only when he brought the issue to Pierre Lescure, president of Canal Plus, that he got a sense ''anyone understood what was going on or how very, very much the whole thing could cost them.'' The protocol of agreement made public in December, Mr. Boutih said, involves PSG's engagement to create an actively anti-racist atmosphere at Parc des Princes, which it manages as a concession from the city of Paris. It has agreed to show a film clip prepared by the rights group on the giant stadium-vision screen before PSG matches. And the club said it would alter ticketing policies so as to restrict entry and seating for suspected racists. ''We're determined to use all means to have them leave,'' Mr. Perpere said of the neo-fascists. ''They won't leave because we say so, but these are people who are finished.'' ''We'll see,'' said Mr. Boutih
©International Herald Tribune

6 ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS KILLED 30 INJURED IN TRUCK ACCIDENT(Greece)
6 illegal immigrants were killed and 30 injured yesterday when a truck transporting them from the border with Turkey crashed and overturned. Some 80 immigrants, mostly from Iraq and Pakistan, had been hiding in the back of the vehicle after sneaking across the Evros river separating Greece and Turkey. Authorities said that the driver of the truck, which bears Greek licence plates, skidded off the road which was covered with a thin sheet of ice near the northern town of Komotini, about 225 kilometres (140 miles) northeast of Thessaloniki, and swerved out of control. Several immigrants told reporters the driver was intoxicated and that he was speeding. Police are searching for the driver, who fled the scene immediately after the accident, which occurred at about 5am on the national highway near the village Neo idirohori-Pagouri outside Komotini. Police investigating the incident told reporters that the vehicle belongs to Nikos Raptis, a resident of Komotini. Raptis, however, told the authorities that the vehicle had been stolen. Ambulances rushed to the scene to transfer the dead and injured to Komotini hospital. It took rescue crews about two hours to remove survivors from the wreckage. Of the injured, 26 were hospitalised in Komotini and others were treated for minor injuries. Ñolice believe some of the immigrants also fled the crash scene. One of the immigrants told police that there were some 80 persons in the truck. "It was a tragic situation because of adverse weather conditions and below-zero temperatures prevailing in the region," a police officer at the scene told the Athens News Agency. The immigrants, mostly Iraqi Kurds, told police that they had each paid the driver $1,500-2,000 to take them across the Turkish border into Greece. Survivors told authorities they crossed the Evros river by boat and were later picked up by the truck, which was to transport them to the northern port city of Thessaloniki. Tens of thousands of illegal immigrants attempt to sneak into Greece each year. Many pay large sums of money to smugglers to be transported to islands from the Turkish coast or be helped across the Evros river. Many remain in Greece to find work, while others attempt to make their way to Italy and other European Union countries. Numerous immigrants have been killed or injured in recent years while crossing through minefields in the northeastern border area. On Monday, 275 illegal immigrants, mainly Iraqi Kurds, were detained on the Cycladic island of Naxos after the coastguard spotted the Turkish-flagged ship which was reportedly transporting them to Italy. Two days before Christmas, three young children died of cold and exhaustion while being transferred to Athens in a refrigerated truck after crossing the Evros River.
©Athens News

GREECE TAKES EXTRA MEASURES TO STOP ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION
An estimated 15,000 illegal immigrants trekked across Greece's border with Turkey and entered the country in 1999 in search of a better future, according to data released by police precincts in the northeastern Greek towns of Alexandroupoli and Orestiada. There was a 15 percent rise in the number of illegal migrants - mainly Iraqi Kurds, who made the journey, compared to 1998. Alexandroupoli police chief Vassilis Nazlis told the Macedonian Press Agency (ÌÑÁ) yesterday that an additional 220 guards will be stationed along the Evros River in order to curb the flow of illegal migration. "I believe that we will have positive results," Nazlis was quoted as saying in reference to the border reinforcements. Other findings show that a total of 34 illegal immigrants, including children, have died and another 45 were injured in the period 1988-99 during the risky crossing into Greece via the Evros River from Turkey. The majority of them accidentally stepped on landmines scattered around the border area. In related developments, a Thessaloniki public prosecutor has launched a preliminary investigation into recent media allegations that prefectural authorities in Imathia, northern Greece, have issued Greek citizenship documents to illegal immigrants. Authorities will also look into the possible involvement of officials at the ministries of the interior and foreign affairs, as well as other relevant agencies. It has also been alleged that police officers in various prefectures of northern Greece provided Greek citizenship papers to undocumented migrant women working in bars and nightclubs. The probe will also examine whether officials at the Macedonia-Thrace ministry are involved.
©Athens News

REFUGEES HEAD TO CAPITAL REGION(Iceland)
The steady trickle of people moving from the countryside to the capital region also applies to refugees. More than half of the Yugoslavian refugees, who have been settled in Iceland in the last few years, have moved to the capital region. Lack of employment opportunities is cited as the primary reason for the decision to relocate. The first group arrived in 1996, consisting of 30 individuals, families from mixed marriages, who were located in Ísafjördur, the West fjords. Three and a half year's later over half of the group has moved to the south-west corner. The largest exodus has been from Blönduós, north Iceland, where 19 of the 23 refugees who arrived in 1998, have moved to the capital region. Conversely, Höfn in Hornafjördur, south-east Iceland, has the largest success in retaining people, with 14 out of a total of 17 individuals choosing to stay there. In today's daily Morgunbladid, Hólmfrídur Gísladóttir of the Icelandic Red Cross says that the refugees have adjusted well to life in Iceland. Most have taken full advantage of the language classes they have been offered and speak good Icelandic. A total of 75 Kosovo-Albanian refugees arrived last year. In all 31 individuals have returned to their homes, thereof the entire group of an extended family of 24, settled in Reydarfjördur, the East fjords.
©Iceland Review

BELGIUM BOOSTS BORDER CHECKS FOR ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS
Belgium plans to beef up controls at its borders next week in a bid to keep out illegal immigrants during a temporary amnesty for those already in the country, Interior Minister Antoine Duquesne said on Saturday. The systematic frontier checks, to be introduced on Monday, coincide with the start of a three-week period during which illegal immigrants who have living in Belgium for some time can apply for legal status. Duquesne said the offer could prompt an increase in organised smuggling of migrants by criminal gangs. ''These controls are necessary to dissuade illegal arrivals in our country and to combat effectively against the mafia-style networks that exploit these unfortunate people,'' he told RTBF radio. ''We want to avoid the situation whereby people who are manipulated by these networks believe they can obtain legal status in Belgium. This will be impossible because the procedures are stict and rigorous.'' The Luxembourg government said in a statement that following information provided by Belgium, it would also be introducing temporary border checks from Monday.
©Reuters

GIRL SUES PUBLIC SCHOOL HEADMISTRESS OVER RACISM(UK)
A public schoolgirl is to sue her former headmistress over alleged racism in a case which will echo claims made in the Macpherson inquiry into the Metropolitan Police. A judge has given permission for Jennine Ruan, 13, to take legal action against her former head teacher for what she claims was discrimination by teachers and pupils. Lawyers representing her will argue that the 6,000-a-year Glendower Preparatory School was guilty of "institutionalised racism", as defined by Sir William Macpherson in his Metropolitan police investigation. The case will be brought against Barbara Humber, 50, head of the school in South Kensington. In a county court hearing, it was claimed that Jennine was called "blackie" and "chocolate drop" by girls who refused to sit next to her on the school bus. Her mother, Fiona Ruan, an artist, and her boyfriend, Stuart Cannon, a surveyor, complained to the headmistress. They claim that no action was taken. Mr Cannon, who treats Jennine as his own child, has put £20,000 into the case. A statement by Jennine's mother, representing her daughter, claimed that Mrs Humber accused the girl of being "dumb" and refused to move her into the top maths set, though she was the best pupil in the one below. Discrimination was said to have continued over the three years she spent at Glendower before she joined Millfield School, Somerset. On her return from her great-grandmother's funeral in Anguilla, allegedly described by Mrs Humber as a Caribbean holiday, Jennine was dropped from the netball team. Elizabeth Richardson, games teacher, allegedly told her that she would never represent the school again. Jennine was the only black pupil at Glendower until she left in the summer of 1998. She was selected at Millfield for an All-Rounder Scholarship, offered to the gifted. Since joining Millfield, which has produced Olympic swimmers, she has been picked for England trials in netball and rounders and set school swimming records. Jennine told a Sunday newspaper: "I hope by taking this action no black child will ever have to suffer in the same way. It was unfair. I was never allowed back into the netball team but now I am being asked to go for England trials."
©Telegraph

AUSTRALIA 'WILL HELP TO PROSECUTE KALEJS'
The Australian government said yesterday that it would co-operate fully with moves by Latvia to bring a war crimes prosecution against Konrad Kalejs, who is suspected of involvement in the murder of more than 30,000 people. John Anderson, the deputy prime minister, made the pledge after Kalejs admitted - apparently for the first time - that he had commanded men from the Arajs Kommando, a notorious Nazi death squad. But Mr Anderson and Amanda Vanstone, the Australian justice minister, reiterated Canberra's position that strong new evidence against 86-year-old Kalejs must be provided to avoid the risk of an acquittal that would make him immune from further prosecution. Mr Anderson, who is standing in for John Howard, the prime minister, added that steps had been taken to establish an extradition arrangement with Latvia. He said: "While the investigation into Mr Kalejs was suspended by the Australian Federal Police in 1993 for lack of evidence, his case remains open and will be reactivated if new evidence is brought forward." Kalejs, who is in hiding in Melbourne, told a radio station at the weekend that he had been forced to accept command of a specialist Latvian fighting unit and only found out later that the soldiers were members of the Arajs Kommando, which took part in the murder of 30,000 Jews, gipsies and Communists in Nazi-occupied Latvia. Although Kalejs denied involvement in the deaths, his remarks may provide Latvia with the fresh evidence it needs to investigate his war record.
©Telegraph

SOUTH AFRICA'S MBEKI SEEKS CONGRESS ON RACISM SCOURGE
South African President Thabo Mbeki on Saturday called for a national congress against racism which still plagues the "Rainbow Nation" five years after the end of apartheid rule. Mbeki, who succeeded Nelson Mandela last year, said the colour line remains the biggest challenge facing his country and Africa as it enters the 21st Century. "We have not won the struggle against racism - a defining element of the problem of the colour line which the 20th Century failed to solve," Mbeki said in an address marking the ANC's 88th birthday. "Among other things, consideration should be given to convening a National Congress Against Racism this year. "This would enable us to have a broad-based programme of action against the cancer of racism as we enter the first year of the African Century," Mbeki said. Since leading the ANC to victory in the country's second all-race elections last June, Mbeki has repeatedly asked when the fruits of democracy will be enjoyed by the black majority. South Africa is struggling to deliver jobs, housing, health care and education and many blacks are impatient with the slow pace of transformation.
Race affects nearly every aspect of South African life despite two peaceful elections and the attempts of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to heal apartheid-era wounds. Last year, the country's human rights body said racism continued to stalk the media and school system. The police and army have also battled to contain racial tensions which exploded in the army last year when a black officer killed seven white soldiers. The government has unveiled a controversial draft bill that would ban all forms of discrimination and create equality courts where people accused of racism would have to prove their innocence, rather than their guilt as is normal in South African legal practice. New employment equity laws will force companies to draw up plans this year to promote more black people, women and disabled to help reverse apartheid-era employment practices. The government last year ruled out imposing race quotas on national sports teams, which a former sport minister criticised as "lily white". But it expected each sport federation to develop its own plan to promote more black players. With conflicts across the continent and a rising tide of poverty, crime and disease at home and abroad, Mbeki urged all Africans to make 2000 the year the continent buried its violent past and opened an African Century. "We must intensify the struggle to ensure that by the end of the year 2000, all countries on our continent are at peace and that none of our countries is ruled by a military regime," he said.
©Reuters

3 CHILDREN FROZEN TO DEATH (Greece)
Three children froze to death while being smuggled into Greece in a refrigerated lorry , according to Athens News. The three children were in a party of 50 Kurdish migrants from Iraq who had each paid about £1000 to be smuggled on Tuesday {December 21st) from Istanbul in Turkey to Greece in the back of a refrigerated lorry through snow covered Greece Two of the children a girl, Basil Adeba, 4, and her brother Marun Adeba, 2, were taken to Tzaneio hospital in Piraeus by their mother Sibre Adeba, 23, at around 1am on Wednesday December 22nd. The paediatrician, Despina Damianaki, who saw the children said that they were both frozen and their covers were also frozen. Despite attempts to revive the children they were pronounced dead a short time after their arrival. Athens News reported that she told them "They looked like they were sleeping," and she also said that the mother also looked frozen and scared. "She had terror in her eyes," said Ms. Damianaki, "When we told (the mother) that her children had died, she was devastated." The other child, three year old Maulut Rozga was brought by his parents to the Aglaia and Kyriakou children's hospital in Athens, but he too was found to be dead on arrival. The chief administrator of the hospital said that the child had been dead for some time before he arrived. The parents had brought their dead son by taxi all the way from the northeastern border of Greece. The Athens's police representative Georgia Litina, told the Athens News that a party of 50 immigrants including nine children aged between two and seven left Istanbul, Turkey for Greece on Tuesday night. "During the evening hours," she said," they crossed the river Evros by boat where they were met by a Turkish and two Pakistani smugglers," Then the party had to walk for eight hours in rain and snow. The Iraqi Kurds told the authorities that when they realised their children where dead they had asked the driver to stop but he just ignored them. Police are searching for the three men.
Diversity Online

NUMBER OF REFUGEES SURGE IN A DECADE (Greece)
The number of refugees living in Greece has increased from two to nine percent during the past 10 years, the National Centre of Social Research (NCSR) said yesterday, reports Xinhua. The Macedonian Press Agency (MPA) quoted NCSR Director Dionisis Charalambis as saying that the immigrants had turned Greece gradually into a multicultural society. Thousands of people were allowed to enter Greece and live without legal status, security or rights, Charalambis said. He added that this situation of lawlessness is a fertile ground for crime. He also pointed out that the wave of immigrants created xenophobic tendencies in Greece. The number of refugees in Greece is now estimated at around 800,000 and most of them are from Albania. The Daily Telegraph adds police yesterday announced the capture of 275 illegal immigrants, the largest single number dumped by "human traders" on Greece's coastline. The refugees included Iraqi and Turkish Kurds, Pakistanis and North Africans.
Refugees Daily

SUSPECTED NAZI FLEES TO AUSTRALIA BEFORE UK CAN EXTRADITE
Konrad Kalejs fled the country yesterday, leaving the Home Office to face accusations that it had failed to do enough to investigate the suspected Nazi war criminal. As Mr Kalejs, 86, headed to Australia, Jack Straw was forced to defend his actions while one Labour MP admitted that the Government was "passing the buck". Last night the Latvian government revealed that it had begun criminal proceedings against Mr Kalejs and would request extradition if sufficient evidence was gathered. The Home secretary, however, reiterated his insistence that there had been insufficient evidence to press charges. It was questionable, he said, whether Mr Kalejs qualified as a "resident" as required by war crimes legislation. "It's hard to see what more could have been done," he said, adding: "We cannot have a selective approach to justice in a democracy run by the rule of law." Mr Kalejs, who has already been forced out of Canada and the United States, departed voluntarily, having been informed on Sunday that the Home Secretary was "minded to issue" a deportation notice. As he left his residential home in the dark, heading for Heathrow, where he was ushered in via a security entrance. Unsmiling and appearing frail, the man accused of being part of a death squad responsible for killing 30,000 people silently boarded a Boeing 747 to Singapore surrounded by immigration and police officers. Mr Kalejs has been an Australian national since 1957. Seven years ago it declared there was insufficient evidence to prosecute him for his alleged role as second in command of the notorious Latvian secret police unit, the Arajs Kommando. Mr Straw admitted that Mr Kalejs should never have been allowed into Britain, adding that inquiries were under way to examine why his particulars were not on the Immigration service's suspect index David Winnick, Labour MP and member of the Home Affairs Select Committee, admitted that Britain, as the USA and Canada before it, was expecting the Australians to carry the burden of prosecution. "He is Australian. While it is passing the buck to some extent, it is really up to Australia to investigate," he said.
©The Independent

BRITISH HIGH COMMISSION 'AWASH WITH RACISM'
The British High Commission in St Lucia is awash with racism and "colonial attitudes", with domestic workers being told to stare at the floor and call white staff "master", it was claimed yesterday. Pamela Baptiste, 43, a former British consular officer, alleged that Peter Hughes, the High Commissioner, promoted a racist culture which "smacked of colonial attitudes". In a statement to an employment tribunal in Croydon, south London, yesterday, Mrs Baptiste, who was born in Bushey, Herts, claimed that an office keyring had "white is right" Tippexed on it. Black domestic workers were ordered to look down when speaking to Foreign Office staff and to refer to them as master or mistress, she said. She also alleged that white members of staff were routinely treated better than she, the sole black staff member. Mrs Baptiste, who worked as an administrator at the High Commission for seven years, is claiming racial discrimination and unfair dismissal against the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Mr Hughes. She hopes to have the claim heard in London, arguing she should be entitled to the benefit of British law. If she succeeds, it is understood she will have made legal history by arguing that as an employee of the Foreign Office abroad, she is entitled to protection under British law. A preliminary hearing was held yesterday to determine whether the case should go ahead. Mrs Baptiste claims that she lost her job in June 1998, after Mr Hughes became High Commissioner, because she failed to supply information on her former husband's business interests. In her statement, she said: "There was a discriminatory culture at the High Commission. For example the expression 'white is right' is Tippexed on a pair of keys. The racist culture comes from the top. Shortly after his arrival Mr Hughes accused me of being paid too much. It clearly upset him that the only black member of the office staff should receive such a high salary." The statement continued: "The race discrimination at the High Commission was severe and smacked of colonial attitudes. Domestic staff were told to look down when being spoken to and refer to the officer as master or mistress." Lawrence Davies, for Mrs Baptiste, said she was covered by the British Employment Rights Act and the Race Relations Act because the High Commission is considered as home soil. Philip Coppel, representing the FCO, said the case was outside the tribunal's jurisdiction. The tribunal chairman adjourned the case and said there would be a written judgment.
©Telegraph

SCOTS THREATEN REVOLT ON REFUGEES(UK)
The Scottish government appears to be heading for its first big clash with Westminster over the treatment of asylum seekers under a new Whitehall dispersal programme. Ministers in the Edinburgh parliament are facing growing demands from influential back- benchers and Scottish church leaders to treat refugees more generously than does the home office. Amid claims that the new immigration and asylum act contravened the United Nations convention on refugees, pressure is mounting for the Scottish executive to take control over new rules that could lead to 6,000 refugees arriving in Scotland this year. Members of a parliamentary cross-party group on refugees believe that the executive should have the right to alter a controversial home office rule that will mean refugees receiving vouchers, rather than cash, to buy food. In a motion submitted to the parliament, they are also calling for the Scottish executive, rather than the home office, to determine where the refugees should be housed. Members of the group say that legal advice suggests they would have a right to influence part of the new act because of the implications for housing and social services, functions that are already devolved to Edinburgh. Leaders of Scotland's main churches have added weight to the demands in a statement which describes the home office plans as a "disgrace to Scotland's sense of fairness". The Rt Rev John Cairns, moderator of the church of Scotland's general assembly, and the Rt Rev John Mone, the Roman Catholic bishop of Paisley, are among the religious leaders claiming that the act contravened the UN human rights convention because it failed to treat asylum seekers with dignity and also wasted money through the voucher scheme. Their statement, in partnership with Amnesty International and the Scottish Refugee Council, said that for the first time Scottish councils would only be able to offer support for refugees who had vouchers. At the moment, asylum seekers received cash help. They were urging the parliament to look closely at the legislation `and take steps to remedy the situation'. Dennis Cannavan, the independent socialist MSP for Falkirk West, and a patron of the Scottish Refugee Council, predicted yesterday that the new parliament could be heading for its first big constitutional clash with Westminster over the issue. He claimed that the home secretary, Jack Straw, was trying to undermine devolution by interfering with housing and social services north of the border. "We should be telling him 'hands off', these are devolved matters," Mr Cannavan said. "While Scotland should adopt a more generous attitude, there is also an important constitutional principle at stake here, quite apart from the need for a fair deal for the asylum seekers themselves."
©Guardian Newspaper

CZECH COURT SENTENCES NEO-NAZI
A court of justice in Jesenik, northern Moravia, on 3 January sentenced Jiri Tuma to 10 months in prison for propagating a movement that suppresses citizens' rights and freedoms and for displaying Nazi symbols in public, CTK reported. In July 1999, Tuma appeared in court to face trial on earlier charges of racist propaganda wearing a T-shirt with the inscription "Combat 18" and an armband displaying an eagle with a swastika and the inscription "Blut und Ehre" (Blood and Honor). An expert told the court that "Combat 18" is a label used by a British terrorist organization and that the digits represent the first and eighth letters in the alphabet, which are the initials of Adolf Hitler. Tuma said the swastika is a "symbol of the sun," and asked "What sort of democracy is this, where I cannot freely say I don't like Gypsies?"
©RFE/RL Newsline

CZECH PROSECUTOR DROPS CASE AGAINST FAR-RIGHT LEADER
A Prague district prosecutor has stopped a criminal proceedings against far-right National Alliance leader Vladimir Skoupy, CTK reported on 5 January. Skoupy was charged with defaming a people and inciting racial hatred after he questioned at a 28 October demonstration whether the Holocaust actually took place. District prosecutor Petr Cibulka told Czech Television on 5 January that Skoupy's speech was "neither rudely insulting, nor belittling" and could not be considered a crime because Holocaust denial is not punishable under Czech legislation. Jewish Federation leader Tomas Kraus told Czech Television that his organization will "do everything" to have a law against Holocaust denial added to the Criminal Code. Government Human Rights Commissioner Petr Uhl said Holocaust denial is "not only an insult to the Jewish people but to mankind as a whole.
©RFE/RL Newsline

RACE ROW AS POLICE ATTACK ENTERTAINER(France)
A comedian who symbolises France's acceptance of itself as a multi-racial society was recovering yesterday after an ugly altercation with the police. Moroccan-born Jamel Debbouze, 23, who is popular with French-Arab youths, was apparently set upon by members of the notorious CRS riot police after leaving a concert on New Year's Day. Yesterday the police internal investigation service was conducting an inquiry after photographs showing M Debbouze unconscious on the ground appeared in newspapers. The incident sparked a row as the SOS Racism pressure group denounced what it called a deliberate attack on a "symbol of a successful Arab". The police say the entertainer refused an order to stop his car.
©Telegraph

OPPOSITION LEADER WARNS ISRAEL OF 'XENOPHOBIC' PRESIDENT (Belarus)
Belarusian Popular Front leader Vintsuk Vyachorka sent a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak expressing surprise that Israeli officials have agreed to meet Belarusian President Lukashenka during his 4-7 January visit to attend the Jubilee Year 2000 celebrations, Belapan reported on 31 December. "The Lukashenka regime has revived the institution of state ideology, which is a mixture of communism, xenophobia, and pan-Slavic chauvinism. The practice of anti-Semitism has been restored in Belarus; the branches of the [neo-Nazi] Russian National Unity, which were exported from Russia, feel themselves at ease under the patronage of the regime," Vyachorka wrote. He urged Barak "not to give even a hint that Israel recognizes Lukashenka's antidemocratic, xenophobic regime."
©RFE/RL Newsline

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT SAYS ANTI-SEMITISM 'ISOLATED&MARGINALIZED'
Speaking at the Yad-Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, President Emil Constantinescu said he wishes Romania were in the position to claim that it defended "all its Jews" during the Holocaust. Unfortunately, he said, this is not so. Only some of them were protected, while others had to suffer "persecutions and humiliations" and others yet were "deported and...fell victim to pogroms" under the "Ion Antonescu dictatorship." Constantinescu said he wanted to once more express his "profound regret" for those times, as he did back in 1997. But he denied that anti-Semitism plays any role in his country today. He said Romania's authorities and civil society "categorically reject" it and that "anti-Semitic voices" are a "very isolated" phenomenon, present "particularly in the media." The authorities, he said, "are investigating" those responsible for publishing such articles.
©RFE/RL Newsline

MIGRANTS: A PRETTY UNHAPPY XMAS(Italy)
(Giuliano reporting from Italy)
In spite of millennium paranoias, the world is alas going on as usual -- or maybe even worse. Our "Christian" society entered its third millennium pretending that the whole world did the same -- while we are, it's always good to remember it, an absolute minority on this planet, only we're the richest and noisiest. And in this "Christian" world in which Peter would be arrested for illegal immigration, Judas would have to declare its 30 coins on the tax return and Jesus Christ would be coldly crucified by the press as an hippie freak, the wake of blood caused by the Wall of Fortress Europe, by the absurd, dictatorial limitations to people's freedom of movement is getting everyday longer.
5 migrants died in the Italian prison camps for migrants from dec. 25 to Jan. 1. And at least another one died in the Southern coast while trying to reach the Italian shores. Here are the reports.

DEATH OF A "HOST"
ROME, dec. 25, Christmas. Mohamed Ben Said, 39, Tunesian, is illegally emprisoned in the camp of Ponte Galeria since 14 days. Illegally even for the fascist law instituting the "camps", because he was married with an Italian woman -- mrs. Piras, from Genua -- and father of a boy. Illegally, because he had serious problems of health. Sometimes his jaw and tongue got so swallen that he could hardly breath, he had been operated withouth much success -- and it seems he was also an heroin addict. Often he was taken to the infirmary by the Red Cross operators, where he was given the "Minias", a powerful tranquilizer which, according to some experts, is not compatible with heroin addiction. Everybody gets the Minias in Ponte Galeria, but since a week the distribution of this tranquilizer has been interrupted. Ben Said's sickness was known to everybody, despite he was in the camp from "only" 14 days, still he was kept there, never taken to the hospital, quickly visited by the Red Cross and never given anything but the Minias. The "cure" he received is well explained by one of his room mates, another Tunesian still emprisoned in Ponte Galeria: "Mohamed has been sick for many days. Two days before his dead, he suddendly fell to the ground and we called the doctors. The doctors did not come -- instead, came a lot of policemen which forced him into his bed". "The next day, Mohamed could not even open his mouth. The doctor came, gave him a pill and in the afternoon the Minias. Mohamed was in his bed, and did not eat anything for the whole day. In the evening, more or less at 11 PM, he felt really sick. We called the doctors, but nobody came. We fell asleep only at 5 AM (Mohamed died one hour later, at 6 AM). Finally, at 9 AM the doctors came, with a lot of armed policemen -- but we did not want to start a riot, we just tried to call somebody!"
The end of this terrible story is even more horrible than the story itself. "Most likely, that man was here only because the foreign police had to check his position," admitted one high police officer, which asked to remain anonimous. "A Tunesian married with an Italian woman... if he would not die, he would surely have been released with many apologies."
(From "Il Manifesto", dec. 28)

ESCAPE FROM SLAVE BOAT AND DIES IN THE SEAS TARANTO
Dec. 26: Another casualty in the Southern coast, another terrible story to tell. In the Algerian port of Annaba, five migrants from Tanzania hide on a boat (the Poseidonia, from Cyprus) with a crew of six Ucranians sailors They feel safe, but alas they are discovered, and there starts an horrible nightmare. In the beginning, they are locked up in a small room, then the crew starts treating them as slaves, forcing them to work on board for 3 long months without pay and with very little food, beating them up whenever they like. Finally, on dec. 19 the boat reaches Sicily, then follows the coast towards the port of Taranto. On dec. 26, in sight of the city, two of the Tanzianian migrants provide from a moment of distraction of the crew to jump outboard, in the sea. One manage to reach the shore and calls the police to free the other three still enslaved. The other, a 25 year old man, died in the attempt. The police arrested the whole Ucranian crew, charging them for murder, reduction in slavery, kidnapping. They risk life long jail. The four survived migrants were -- obviously -- taken in a camp to be later deported.
(From "Il Manifesto", Dec. 28)

FIRE IN A CAMP FOR MIGRANTS, 3 DEAD
TRAPANI, Dec. 29: The rebellion and the attempt to escape of some clandestines extra-EU from a camp for clandestine immigrants in Trapani (Sicily) ended up in a horrible fire which killed 3 clandestines, while other 4 have been taken to the hospital with very serious burnings. Other 4 are guarded in the hospital by the police because among them there is a Tunesian accused of having started the fire. The Sicilian judges tries to clear out the mistery of a door hurriedly locked by the police when the riot broke out, and opened only when the tragedy took place. Very hard reaction of the Church of Trapani: "That camp is a lager", stated father Nino Andragna, priest of the cathedral. Immediate answer from the Minister of Internal Affair, mr. Bianco: "Our camps for clandestine extra-EU immigrants are not prisons, but neither hotels where you can get in and out at will!" That was the first page.
Inside the newspaper (Corriere della Sera), you can read: "The escape took place at midnight: window bars cut, a jump in the camp's garden, eight illegal immigrants desperately running from the police hunting them. Six were captured, two made it. Then, a misterious hand locks up the door of one of the sleeping places. And, on the other side of that door, Fqik Lakhdar, a Tunesian already deported 3 times from Italy, setting matrasses on fire to force the police to open up the door, without thinking that the small, crowdy room can become a hell of fire and smoke. So died 3 of the 85 guests of the "Serraino Vulpitta", a set of buildings conceived as elder's home and partially turned into a camp for illegal immigrants. But the context of the tragedy is quite wider, because it has been preceded by continuous riots, as witnessed by mr. Francesco Palermo, one of the elders living there. "Since 3 days they were kicking on those bars". And because mr. Maritati, the high officer hurriedly sent to Trapani by the Minister of Internal Affairs, mr Bianco, stated initially that the doors were surely open, but then, in front of the many evidences and witnesses, was forced to admit that the door was most likely closed from the outside. And finally, because in the section of the "Serraino Vulpitta" turned into a camp for 85 foreigners, there is no running water.
From the "Corriere della Sera", dec. 30

For what concerns the above, 1 of the 4 heavy wounded migrants died two days later (Jan. 1), bringing the toll to 4 deads and 7 wounded. Then, our Minister of Internal Affairs, mr, Bianco, stated that the camps are not prisons, but in Trapani many witnesses speak about barbed wire at the windows, besides the bars, and policemen throwing cigarettes into the migrant's rooms. And, always according to the "Corriere della Sera" (the most important, official and burgeoise Italian newspaper), the riots broke out for the lack of water. So, that's all for the period 25 dec - 1 january. Merry Christmas and happy new year. Do you think these tragedies teached something to the EU governments, and to this trusthworty EU policeman which is the Italian government? Not at all! In this first 5 days of the new millennium, there were already 2 deads in the Otranto Channel: a young Chinese man on Jan. 2 and a Iraki Kurd, just yesterday.
I'd like to end up this sad report by reporting what the UN demographic experts stated yesterday about Italy and Germany: considered the slow rate of births and the ageing of the population, Italy will pass from 57 to 41 millions inhabitants in the year 2050, while Germany will pass from 87 to 73 millions people. To keep their economies to current levels, Italy will have to accept 300.000 migrants every year for the next 25 years, while Germany will have to accept 500.000 migrants every year (always till 2025).
(From the "Corriere della Sera", Jan. 6)

Immediate response of the Italian government: unchecked data, and anyway we cannot take 300.000 migrants a year. And to show how serious they are about it, instead of the 100.000 new permits to stay promised last october, just after another tragedy (the burning of 10 migrants on a Greek ferry), the Italians will deliver only 63.000 permissions for the year 2000, divided by quotas: 5.000 to Albanians, 5.000 to Maroccans, etc.

Are they so blindly stupid to commit even an economic suicide?

Hasta la victoria

Giuliano

MORE SLOVAK ROMA SEEK ASYLUM IN FINLAND
Seventy-three more Roma left Kosice before the New Year and arrived in Helsinki, seeking asylum in Finland, a Foreign Ministry spokesman told CTK on 3 January. The new wave of Slovak Roma heading to Finland began in December 1999, and 160 Roma have applied for asylum since then (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 December 1999). The spokesman said he has "no signals" that Finland is planning to re-impose visa requirements on Slovak citizens.
©RFE/RL Newsline

EU URGES IMPROVED CONDITIONS FOR ROMA IN HUNGARY
The European Commission is asking Hungary, among other candidates for EU membership, to improve conditions for Roma minority in the country, "Nepszabadsag" reported on 5 January. Florian Farkas, the chairman of the National Romany Authority in Hungary, said the situation could prevent Hungary's accession to the EU. He said the cabinet has failed to guarantee the implementation of a package of measures related to the Roma that it approved last year. Doncsev Toso, head of the Office for National and Ethnic Minorities, said it will take at least 25 to 30 years for the economic, social, and educational indicators of the Roma to get closer to those of the majority population.
©RFE/RL Newsline

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