NEWS - Archive for January & March 2002
January & February 2002 Headlines
Headlines February 22, 2002
Headlines February 15, 2002
Headlines January 25, 2002
Headlines January 18, 2002
Headlines January 11, 2002
AUSTRIA'S SUDETEN GERMANS PREPARE FIGHT
Survivors of postwar expulsion demand money, apology
Peter Wassertheurer knows the odds don't favor him. Only 160,000 Sudeten Germans remain in Austria -- a fraction of the 2.5 million Germans expelled from postwar Czechoslovakia. The Czech government categorically refuses to make apologies for the Germans' removal from their land without compensation. Despite this, Wassertheurer, a 38-year-old Viennese historian and spokesman for the Austrian Sudetendeutsche Landsmannschaft (SDL), is convinced his group will get the apology and compensation from the Czech government they have demanded. "We are few, but we are strong," he said. The mass expulsion of Germans was ordered in 1945 under the Benes Decrees*, named for Czechoslovak President Edvard Benes, who issued them before the installation of a provisional national government later that year. As Czechoslovak officials seized their land and property, most Sudetens crossed into Germany, but thousands died in concentration camps during the deportation. The 57-year-old decrees have never been repealed or annulled by the Czech government -- which infuriates many Austrians and Germans. On Feb. 8, the U.N. Commission for Human Rights called on the Czech government to repeal the decrees. In recent weeks, the issue has prompted political debates and demands from Austria.
Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schussel, pressed by the Freedom Party (FPO), his populist coalition partner, recently called on Prague to sign a joint declaration stating "once and forever that the Benes Decrees are no longer effective, that they represent a dead wrong." The FPO, once headed by nationalist Jorg Haider, wants Czech entry into the European Union to be made conditional on the repeal of the laws. All 15 current EU states must approve new members. Prague has responded with the equivalent of a shrug. Although he antagonized Germans and Austrians in January by labeling Sudeten Germans "Hitler's fifth column" -- a reference to collaborators -- Prime Minister Milos Zeman has refused to discuss repealing the decrees. It isn't "necessary or even possible," he said Feb. 4. He added that the dispute was settled in a 1997 bilateral agreement with Germany, when the two sides agreed to set aside lingering war-era grievances.
Czech resistance to repealing the Benes Decrees is misunderstood, according to government spokesman Libor Roucek. "You have to see it in the psychological, political and legal context of the Second World War," said Roucek, who lived in Austria for several years after emigrating in 1977. Czechoslovakia wasn't the only nation to retaliate against its local German population, many of whom had welcomed Hitler's occupation, he pointed out. Hungary and Poland did, too. The expulsions were part of an effort to create a new order in Europe, approved by the Allied nations at the Potsdam conference in 1945. Besides, any unresolved issues were handled years ago, in 1965 and 1974 agreements with Austria, he added. Roucek blamed populist politicians in that country for reviving the issue to score political points. "Why [bring it up] 57 years after the Second World War?" he asked. The SDL's Wassertheurer turned the question around: "Why can't we talk about all of this now?" Wassertheurer said the property and homes seized from the 2.5 million expellees are worth trillions of crowns. The group has begun organizing its complaints into a class action suit. Wassertheurer's step-grandfather was driven out of postwar Slovenia under laws similar to the Benes decrees. He said the expulsion of the Sudeten Germans represents an outstanding breach of human rights that must be righted before the aging survivors die.
Austrian SDL Chairman Ger-hard Zeihsel struck an angrier note at a recent press conference in Vienna; he called the expulsions "ethnic cleansing and genocide." The SDL has also called on Austria to veto the Czech Republic's entry into the European Union if Prague continues to stonewall on the question. But Brussels has refused to make the Benes Decrees part of its negotiations for Czech entry, expected by 2004. Austrian political scientist Anton Pelinka thinks Czechs don't want to reopen old wounds. It was easy for Czechs and Slovaks to put all the blame on the Germans, he said. And it was a way "to avoid the question of the lack of strength of the Czech and Slovak resistance" to Hitler, he added. Pelinka said Prague should recognize that the decrees violated human rights because they were based on ethnicity, not individual responsibility for wrongs done during the war. But Wassertheurer said he understood that such a concession is unlikely to happen without stronger political will in Austria and Brussels. "In the end," he conceded, "we can only try to talk about moral responsibility."
*The Benes Decrees
What: Postwar legislative decrees issued by Czechoslovak President Edvard Benes until the Provisional National Assembly took power in late 1945
Controversy: Some 2.5 million Germans were stripped of their Czech citizenship and expelled. Their property was seized without compensation.
Now: Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schussel has called on Prague to declare "once and forever that the Benes decrees are no longer effective, that they represent a dead wrong."The Czech government has refused
©The Prague Post
FAR-RIGHT FRENCH LEADER LE PEN ON ATTACK AHEAD OF VOTE(France)
French far-right politician Jean-Marie Le Pen lashed out at President Jacques Chirac Saturday and said he planned to focus his presidential campaign on attacking the incumbent. "During this campaign, you will hear me reserve most of my remarks for the outgoing president of the republic," Le Pen told 1,200 members of his anti-immigration National Front party on the first day of his party congress. Chirac "has spent his seven-year term always campaigning, with one hand on his heart and the other on a cow's ass," Le Pen said. He accused the conservative president of avoiding democratic debate and contributing to keeping "the left ... in power for 20 years." Chirac and likely challenger Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin are the front-runners in the race for the presidency, to be decided in two rounds of voting set for April 21 and May 5. Le Pen said earlier this month that he had raised the 500 signatures needed to officially register as a candidate in the upcoming elections. Le Pen saved some of his barbs for former interior minister Jean-Pierre Chevenement, candidate for the left-wing Citizens' Movement, whom he called a "spineless character." The party congress is to last until Sunday, where organizers expect some 3,000 people to gather to hear the right-wing extremist deliver his closing speech. Le Pen, 73, gained 16,000 signatures when he ran in the 1988 presidential election won by the late Francois Mitterrand, and 14,000 in the 1995 campaign won by Chirac.
©The Tocqueville Connection
HAIDER KEEPS FINGER IN POLITICAL PIE(Austria)
Two days after announcing he was leaving national politics, the former leader of the far-right Austrian Freedom Party, Joerg Haider, says he will continue to support his party at a federal level. Speaking after crisis talks with the Freedom Party leadership in Vienna on Sunday, Mr Haider said he was at his party's disposal, but would no longer sit on the governing coalition policy-making committee. The former leader of the party, which is a member of the country's governing coalition, quit at the end of last week after being criticised for a controversial visit to Iraq. The party's current leader, Vice-Chancellor Susanne Riess-Passer, who cut short a visit to the United States to attend the meeting, says Mr Haider will now play an advisory role. "He will work on the national level as far as we agree upon, and if I find it necessary, he will support us in any way possible." She has stressed that Mr Haider is an integral part of the party. Opposition politicians say Mr Haider's resignation was a smoke screen to deflect attention from the real problems his party faces and he will now have a free rein to interfere in Austrian politics.
The announcement he was retiring caused considerable confusion in Austria as to the future of both Mr Haider and the Freedom Party which, under his leadership, became one of the most successful far-right movements in Europe. Mr Haider stepped down as leader two years ago after his party entered its highly controversial government coalition. But he remained a member of the coalition's policy-making committee and has been criticised even by his own party for interfering too much in the work of the government. Last week, Mr Haider came under fire from all sides for meeting the Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, in Baghdad. And then, on Friday, Mr Haider declared he was leaving the national stage for good - a move which caused shockwaves throughout the party.
ROMA WIN CASE, APPEAL COMPENSATION
A Roma family expelled from Belgium have won their human rights court case but say they will appeal the decision because they are unhappy with the compensation package. The Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled on February 5 that Belgium had violated the human rights of Ján Èonka and his family in 1999 by forcing them to leave the country along with a group of 70 other Slovak Roma. Belgium must pay the Èonkas damages of 10,000 euros and 9,000 euros in legal costs and expenses. However, the Belgium Interior Ministry say that it too wants to appeal the court's decision. Èonka, who with his family now lives in Košice's 'Lúnik IX' Roma ghetto, says the damage award is too low what his family lost by being sent back to Slovakia without the right of appeal. "What kind of damage award is 10,000 euros?" asked Èonka, 42. "Our family was getting 38,000 Belgian francs a month (860 euros) while we were there waiting for the asylum decision. We lost that when we were ousted. I request compensation for this." The ECHR said it had based its verdict in the case of Èonka, his wife Mária Èonková and their children Naïa and Nikola on several points.
The Èonkas and the Belgian non-governmental organisation Human Rights League complained that in October 1999, 11 months after the family had first entered Belgium to request asylum, their human rights were violated when Belgian authorities forced them and a group of 70 other Slovak Roma onto an aircraft bound for Košice in the east of Slovakia. The family said that they had first been tricked into appearing at Belgian police headquarters, then had numbers written on their arms as a means of identification, and were finally deported to Slovakia before receiving the results of an appeal they had filed disputing an initial asylum rejection by the Belgian authorities. The collective expulsion of aliens is prohibited by international law. The seven-member ECHR bench decided by four votes to three that this law had been broken by the Belgian authorities. The court also voted unanimously that there had been a violation of the right to liberty and security that is enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights, and judged that the right to take proceedings by which the lawfulness of detention shall be decided had also been violated. Olivier de Schutter, a lawyer with the Human Rights League said: "Belgium must respect the verdict and change its laws so that they are able to offer more guarantees and more legal control for asylum seekers". Michal Vašeèka, a Roma issues analyst with the Institute for Public Afairs (IVO) think tank in Bratislava, said the ruling would serve as a warning to other European countries to deal with asylum seekers on a strictly individual basis. He said he hoped the verdict would also lead to an effort to unify asylum procedures in EU members states. Klára Orgovánová, the cabinet's plenipotentiary for solving Roma issues, said that the primary importance of the case was that "somebody has complained about this to international courts at all". "The verdict confirmed that the Belgian authorities had violated the laws. Now it depends on how much publicity the case gets, and if other countries hear the ECHR message," Orgovánová said. She refused to comment, however, on the Èonkas' decision to appeal to the ECHR to get more in compensation from the Belgian government. "That's the family's private decision," she said. Vašeèka on the other hand said the appeal was not a good idea. "The Èonkas realised that they were right to have complained, but I don't think they have grounds for an appeal. It looks now as if they're after money rather than justice. The court's verdict was the correct one," said Vašeèka.
©The Slovak Spectator
BRUTAL DEATH OF IMMIGRANT SHAKES FAITH OF SPANIARDS
The coldly brutal death of Wilson Pacheco, 26, an illegal immigrant from Ecuador, has many Spaniards asking whether their society is as racially tolerant as they had thought. Mr. Pacheco was apparently beaten and thrown into Barcelona harbor on the night of Jan. 27. He was buried in Montjuic cemetery in Barcelona last weekend in an evangelical funeral attended by his family and close friends and accompanied by tears, cries for justice and a band playing "Birdsong" by the Catalan cellist Pablo Casals. The number of immigrants in Spain has doubled in the last six years to more than one million, bringing an increase in complaints of racism. Of the 84,000 Ecuadoreans in the country — two-thirds of them illegally — an estimated 30,000 live in Barcelona and they, in particular, feel singled out for discrimination. Apparently, Mr. Pacheco's only crime was to seek entrance to a nightclub on Maremagnum, a popular complex of bars, restaurants, clubs and movie theaters in Barcelona harbor linked to the main city by an elegant wooden footbridge. He and his Ecuadorean companions were refused entry to the club while the Spanish women they were with were admitted. An argument followed between Mr. Pacheco, who was drunk, and the doorman, James Anglada, an American citizen of Dominican descent. When the four Ecuadoreans tried to flee, a Spanish bouncer from the club and two Spanish security guards from a neighboring club joined Mr. Anglada in chasing them. Security videos show that Mr. Pachecho was severely beaten and then apparently pushed into the harbor water, reportedly by Mr. Anglada. Mr. Anglada fled Spain but returned on Feb. 6 and has been charged with manslaughter with intent, which carries a penalty of 10 to 15 years in jail. "He'll know how to swim, and if not, he'll drown," observed one of the four men, according to witnesses interviewed by the judge investigating the case. The Catalan newspaper El Periódico, which published excerpts of the investigation by the judge, Eva María Molto, said that witnesses saw Mr. Pachecho splashing about when first thrown into the water, but that he disappeared within a couple of minutes.
Over the last two years, the antiracist organization S O S Racismo, whose lawyers are acting for Mr. Pacheco's family, have filed several complaints of discrimination against the owner of the two nightclubs whose employees were involved in the beating. The national daily El Mundo devoted a self-searching editorial to what it called "The Shameful Death of Wilson." "We now know that the only crime this Ecuadorean committed was not have resigned himself to being barred from the Caipirinha," the newspaper said, referring to the nightclub. "And if anyone doubts that the doormen showed a xenophobic attitude, they will be convinced by what came next: racist insults, kicks, cruelty and absolute contempt for the victim." Spaniards who associate with immigrants here agree. "If he had been Spanish they might have beaten him, but they would not have thrown him into the water," said Javier Pedreño, a Spaniard who runs the Association of Ecuadoreans in Catalonia, and who is acting as a spokesman for the family. "They would only do that to an immigrant, thinking he would have no papers. That is why it is racist." The Mayor of Barcelona, Joan Clos, told reporters that Mr. Pacheco's death had "racist connotations" and required "that justice be done as quickly as possible." Mr. Pacheco's widow, Ivonne Guzñayay, and their three children, aged 2, 4 and 6, arrived in Spain after the killing and a week later led some 2,000 demonstrators down a main Barcelona street to the island complex, where she and other relatives threw carnations and lighted candles into the sea in memory of Mr. Pacheco. "My husband traveled here with the dream of making our life better," she said. "On Feb. 15 my three children and I were going to come here to be with Wilson, but they killed him." Now Mr. Clos has asked Madrid to grant the family legal residence in Spain on humane grounds and it seems likely that Ms. Guzñay will be allowed to stay.
©The New York Times
HUNGARY AND SLOVAKIA SPLIT IN RIGHTS ROW
Slovakia does not want some citizens to get preferential treatment
As the European Union prepares to accept as many as 10 new members in 2004, two of the candidates - Hungary and Slovakia - are locked in a bitter dispute over minority rights. At the centre of the row is the Hungarian "Preference Law", passed by the parliament in Budapest last June, which came into force last month. The law allows some 3.5m Hungarians living as a minority in six countries - Slovakia, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia and Ukraine - to apply for a Hungarian identity card, which allows them to temporarily work, study, travel cheaply and claim health care in the mother country. They will also receive various educational benefits in the country where they live, provided their children go to a Hungarian-language school.
The sum is not large - 40,000 Hungarian forints a year (165 euros) for a family with two children. But the Slovak Government has been quick to say that this part of the legislation violates the principle of Slovakia's sovereignty over its own citizens. The Hungarians reply that the law is a long overdue measure to encourage their minorities to stay in the country of their birth, but at the same time, to help prevent assimilation. It is also intended to end the current practice of tens of thousands of Romanian citizens, mostly of Hungarian origin, working illegally in Hungary. Conservative Prime Minister Viktor Orban argues that in a Europe without borders, cultural, economic and political co-operation between members of the same nation will blossom, without threatening the sovereignty of the states of which they are citizens. The spiritual leader of the large Hungarian community in Romania puts the matter more bluntly. The law "has started the re-unification of the Hungarian nation without the changing of the borders", said Bishop Laszlo Tokes.
The response from European institutions has been cautious, placing gentle pressure on the countries concerned to sort the matter out between themselves. At Hungary and Romania's request, the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe last October issued its "Report on the Preferential Treatment of National minorities by their kin states". The report compares similar laws in eight countries, including Slovakia's own law which grants privileges to its own diaspora. In conclusion the Venice Commission - a standing committee made up of international legal experts - stated that "responsibility for minority protection lies primarily with the home states." But it added that "kin states also play a role in the protection and preservation of their kin minorities". This was interpreted by the Hungarian side as a vindication of their new law. Slovakia has stressed other parts of the same ruling, which underline the importance of existing bilateral treaties, in the resolution of disputes. One of these, the 1995 Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation, allows for the resolution of disagreements by a standing committee. Behind the scenes, diplomatic efforts are continuing to reach a compromise, similar to the "Memorandum of Understanding" agreed between the Hungarian and Romanian prime ministers on 22 December. But the emotional pressures in both countries, heightened by the elections of the coming months, tie the hands of the negotiators.
WHERE'S THE JUSTICE IN A DOUBLE STANDARD FOR LAWYERS OVER RACISM?(uk)
Last week a barrister was found guilty of racism after calling a solicitors clerk a blackamoor. Recently solicitors were found guilty of racism after asking for a busty blonde secretary. What will be the impact of recent rulings against lawyers As the gatekeepers of justice, the legal professions must be seen to be at the forefront of the campaign against racism. How do we measure up? Gordon Pringle was suspended from practice as a barrister for 12 months by a Bar disciplinary tribunal — the first such finding — after making racist remarks to a member of a solicitor's staff. The Bar Council endorsed the ruling, saying: "We hope that the result of this case will send a strong signal both to barristers and to members of the ethnic minorities that the Bar Council will act firmly against barristers where there is a prima facie case of racial discrimination or harassment."
So are there likely to be more prosecutions? The reality is that there are not, because the Bar Council has set itself a new high hurdle when bringing such cases. On the test used last week, it will be able to act firmly only where there is evidence of overt and intentional discrimination. It will be powerless to act where, for example, unconscious discrimination or discrimination arises from genuinely held stereotypical beliefs. It is hard to believe that this test represents the Bar Council's view of diversity issues in the 21st century. The principle set by the tribunal was that the prosecution must prove that the barrister was aware at the time of his conduct that he was treating the other person less well than he would have treated others. An honest belief that this was not so, they said, would negate that intention. More worryingly, he must also be aware that he is treating the person in this way because of his race. In other words, an unreasonably but honestly held belief that to call someone a "thick Paddy" was not to treat an Irishman less favourably would constitute a good defence. The tribunal did add, though, that an inference may be made from the facts of a case that the barrister knew his motivation was racial. Most discrimination is not consciously motivated and overt. The test in the Pringle case will therefore fail to catch it. It also means that when someone is convicted, it will be on the basis that they specifically intended to discriminate. Obviously where that is proven, the consequences will be severe. But other cases may escape altogether.
What if a barrister believes, for example, that members of a certain ethnic group are not reliable? If it must be shown that the barrister was aware that he was treating someone less favourably and on racial grounds, then it could be impossible to prove any discrimination which involves comments about a person's characteristics other than unreliability. Away from the standards expected of barristers the law is quite clear. It is a commonplace that the motive of the discriminator is irrelevant. In most workplaces, a manager will not be able to defend a complaint that he or she discriminated against a fellow worker simply because of an honest belief that his actions did not amount to less favourable treatment. Nor does it matter whether the reason for the treatment was race or something he would not attribute to the person but for his race. Why should a different standard be imposed on a barrister just because he is a member of the profession? There will now be two standards: one where the complaint lodged in the courts against a barrister and the other, much harder to prove, when he is prosecuted for the same conduct by the Bar Council.
Eradicating the use of overtly racist language is a start, but no more. Last week's ruling of principle is one that will make the process of eradicating the discrimination which frequently occurs in the profession harder than it needs to be. It is to be hoped that the Bar Council will act to ensure that its Code of Conduct can in practice eradicate the kind of attitudes that lead to institutional racism within an organisation.
REFUGEES AREN'T WANTED
Today 35 million people worldwide are fleeing war or persecution. The last time the number was this high, World War II was raging. Yet many countries are hardening their refugee policies. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees must cut services, already fall far short of the need, by 10 percent because contributions from the European Union have dropped. Even as wealthy countries cut back their financing for food, health and education in refugee camps, they are also taking in fewer people. Nations like the United States, Denmark and Australia, historically open to the persecuted, are now closing the doors. Refugees are less popular than ever because of post-Sept. 11 security worries. But the concern is misguided; only the most incompetent terrorist would try to enter a Western nation as a refugee. A tiny percentage of refugees are accepted and the process takes years, much of that time spent living in a squalid camp. In addition, refugees coming to America have always undergone far more thorough background checks than people entering on student, tourist or business visas.
Australia's shift has aroused the most controversy, because it was so blatantly (and successfully) a campaign device for Prime Minister John Howard's center-right Liberal Party. Howard sent asylum seekers, mainly those fleeing Afghanistan and Iraq, to neighboring countries for temporary detention and then tightened asylum laws. He is now under attack for campaign statements asserting that heartless refugees had been throwing their children overboard. He acknowledges that this is untrue but says he believed it at the time. Sadly, Australia is not alone. Well before Sept. 11, European countries were tightening border controls, aiming to keep people out so they cannot even ask for asylum. One reason for the shift is that conservative parties are winning power and anti-immigrant parties have gained support.
Denmark is one example. The new center-right leadership, pushed by an anti-foreigner party that has doubled its parliamentary representation, has promised to limit the number of foreigners in the country. This is especially important because Denmark is to assume the rotating six-month presidency of the European Union later this year, and will have a strong influence over Europe's refugee policies. In the United States, each year the president sets a maximum number of refugees America will accept. The figure has been declining for the last 20 years - it is now 70,000, down from 200,000 in the mid-1980s. Priorities for entry are still tilted toward the Cold War - one of the largest groups admitted, for example, is Jews from the former Soviet Union, not among those in the most dire need today. In addition, the number of refugees accepted is always less than the ceiling, a policy that some compare to launching lifeboats from the Titanic with some seats empty. After Sept. 11, refugee resettlement essentially stopped as increased security measures were put in place. It has restarted, but at a much slower pace. While the transition to more security should be temporary, the continuing degradation of protections for refugees is not.
Taking in refugees may not be popular in hard economic times, but it is the right thing to do. Moreover, prosperous countries like the United States and Australia have found that refugees and their children can become among their most devoted and productive citizens. But Western nations more and more are adopting the view that refugees are not victims in need of sanctuary but a political problem, to be solved by keeping them anywhere but here.
©The New York Times
HUMAN RIGHTS, CYPRUS ISSUES LOOM OVER TURKEY'S EU ASPIRATIONS
Turkey's march to Europe has never been easy or straightforward. A history of difficulties, ranging from mild misunderstandings to open warfare, has not been helped in recent years by a lack of progress in two major areas. This fall has seen the chickens from both come home to roost. First of all is human rights. Ever since Turkey first applied for membership in the European Union, or the European Common Market as it was known back in the 1960s, Brussels has been consistent in its condemning of Ankara for a range of serious human rights abuses. Reports from organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and a host of other European and North American NGOs and governmental agencies, have frequently pointed to widespread use of torture in Turkey's jails, detentions without trial, extra-judicial executions, prosecutions for what the Turkish criminal code terms in Orwellian style as "thought crimes," military participation in State Security Courts—at which most serious political offenses are tried—and a variety of other ruptures with the various European conventions on human rights and criminal procedure that Turkey has signed over the years. The war in the southeast of the country between the army and supporters of the initially separatist Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), which broke out completely in 1984, also added to human rights concerns, as allegations of a "dirty war" in the region were backed up with endless eyewitness stories of atrocities, mainly committed by the army. So, with Ankara's moves to bring Turkey closer to the EU as part of its historic mission to get Turkey into Europe, hopes were high that the country would have to make substantial reforms in the human rights arena in order to meet the Brussels criteria. Recent constitutional changes promised much in this regard. A package of 34 measures was passed through parliament this fall and included the removal of prohibitions on broadcasting and publishing in Kurdish. It also improved the lot of the country's women, changing the 1926 civil code to recognize men and women as legal equals, ending the designation of men as heads of the household and giving women a larger share of property in divorce. The constitutional changes also acknowledged for the first time the principle of proportionality—that any limitation of rights must be proportionate—and the period of detention before trial was limited to four days. Meanwhile, human rights training seminars have been underway for some time in the police force. A number of committees on human rights also have been established, one of which, the Parliamentary Human Rights Committee, achieved some notable successes under its former chairwoman, Sema Piskinsut. It is also now more difficult for a political party to be banned—a fate that has befallen every Islamist party in the country since Welfare, the former ruling party, was proscribed in 1998, while almost all of the country's Kurdish parties have also been closed.
All these changes represent forward steps, as the EU's progress report on Turkey stated when it was released in mid-November. The report also pointed out a whole range of failings in Turkey's reforms, however. First of all, Kurdish language and cultural rights are granted only so long as a court is prepared to rule that they do not endanger "national security." How fragile that security might be thought to be was immediately demonstrated when groups of ethnic Kurdish students lobbying their university administrations for the introduction of Kurdish language courses were threatened by the University Supreme Council (YOK) with dismissal and worse late November on grounds of "separatism." As for women's rights, many point to the gulf between legal statements and actual practice, particularly in rural Turkey, where women are still very much inferior within traditional family and village structures. Perhaps the most damning of all, though, when it comes to Turkey's progress on human rights, was a report issued by the country's Human Rights Association (IHD) which found that 762 cases of torture in police custody, including beatings and sexual abuse, had taken place in the first nine months of 2001. An appalling figure under any circumstances—but even worse when it represented a 50 percent increase over the same period the previous year. The IHD report also found that the number of people prosecuted for "thought crimes" this year was a staggering eight times higher than the previous year. Extra-judicial killings also were widespread, along with "unsolved murders"—the clean up rate for homicide now as low as 20 percent. Many of these are thought to be politically motivated killings. Not very good results, then, for a system supposedly on the march toward higher standards. "There has been no progress in concrete terms," said IHD Chairman Husnu Ondul, introducing the report to journalists. He blamed the increases on a "lack of determination" to implement reform within the security services, adding that urgent "legal, judicial and educational measures" had to be taken. Deputy Prime Minster Mesut Yilmaz, who is overseeing Turkey's EU bid, did concede that the country needed to do better in this field, and that criticism of the country's rights record was only natural "if we fail to take the necessary steps or do things in half measure."
Something Doing on Cyprus?
Which might also sum up the EU's feeling about the second major source of discontent between Brussels and Ankara these days—Cyprus. Turkey has maintained an army of 35,000 troops in northern Cyprus ever since the country intervened in 1974 to prevent what it saw as the impending annihilation of the island's Turkish Cypriot minority. In 1983, the northern area of the island declared independence from the Republic of Cyprus, the internationally recognized government, but has since failed to gain recognition from anyone except Turkey. Meanwhile, the U.N.—and, periodically, the U.S. and Britain—have sponsored efforts to try and reunite the island. Negotiations have been unsuccessful, however, and broke down completely when the EU accepted an application for membership from the Republic of Cyprus in 1998. The Turks argue that the Republic does not represent the Turkish Cypriots and that, unless the northern state is recognized as having equal status with the Greek Cypriot south, they cannot negotiate any further. They also threatened to annex the north to Turkey if Cyprus is admitted to the EU. The EU has made it fairly clear, however, that if Turkey itself wants to join the EU, then it must "do more" over Cyprus. With the Republic now further advanced on the road to EU membership than almost all the other current prospective candidates, this is becoming more and more of a pressing issue. It is quite conceivable that Cyprus will be ready to join by the end of 2002. If Turkey were to then carry out its threat to the island, Ankara would undoubtedly be saying goodbye to Europe.
This has created a certain dynamic recently, with Turkish Prime Minster Bulent Ecevit restating his threat of annexation in early November, but with this then followed by an apparent about face by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash. He wrote to Greek Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides offering to meet with him for the first time in three years. Clerides at first refused, but a compromise was then reached in which the U.N. Cyprus chief, Alvaro de Soto, will also be present. Meanwhile, for the first time perhaps ever, the more liberal Turkish columnists have begun to question whether or not the country's EU ambition really should be sacrificed for 180,000 Turkish Cypriots. The sense of imminent movement was also then heightened by an emergency closed session of the Turkish parliament in late November to discuss Cyprus. Deputies were forbidden from discussing what transpired at the session for a period of 10 years. So there certainly does seem to be grounds for thinking a deal finally may be in the offing. But, as the human rights issue appears to demonstrate, in this corner of the world, there is still a long way to go before the gap between the apparent and the real can be said to be closed.
U.N. REPORT:DURBAN REDUX
Three words no one expected to hear so soon: "Durban plus 5." The General Assembly is poised to authorize a review conference in the customary five years to assess the progress made toward combating racism bigotry, goals set out in the tumultuous $11 million U.N. anti-racism meeting held in South Africa last September. In a draft resolution circulated by Venezuela, the General Assembly would stress "the need for maintaining the political will and momentum displayed during the Conference" — an image that will mystify anyone who attended the Durban conference and spent the days dodging incendiary anti-Zionism protests and angry victims' groups, and the nights trying to follow marathon negotiations. Unresolved language condemning Israel proved the major obstacle in a gathering so large it filled both the conference complex and a nearby cricket stadium. The volume of the Middle East debate was so high it literally drowned out thousands of other advocates, including those seeking reparations for slavery, an end to anti-migrant attacks, limits on Internet hate speech and freedom for India's "untouchables," among other issues. "Durban will go down in history as a missed opportunity to advance a noble agenda and as a serious breakdown in United Nations diplomacy," said Rep. Tom Lantos, a California Democrat and a member of the U.S. delegation. Mr. Lantos has just published in the new Fletcher Forum of World Affairs magazine (www.Fletcherforum.org) a 22-page "insider account" of the U.S. and U.N. negotiations leading up to Durban, including efforts to reconcile competing texts that grew further apart as tempers raged. In short, Mr. Lantos, a lifelong human rights advocate, blames nearly everyone involved for what he calls "the Durban debacle." He denounces "hatemongering" Arab and Islamic fundamentalists for "hijacking" the conference, and the more moderate elements for failing to stop them. He singles out Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher, as well as the Palestinian, Syrian and Pakistani delegations, for their intransigence. But the congressman also says the Bush administration had antagonized allies and adversaries alike by forging an early unilateralist agenda and failing to see growing resentment. Mr. Lantos complains that U.N. High Commissoner for Human Rights Mary Robinson failed to exercise leadership in negotiations and criticizes her willingness to equate Palestinian suffering with historic Jewish persecution. Mr. Lantos was the one who, three days into the Durban conference, was charged with explaining to a swarming international press corps why the United States was pulling out. The hysteria of that moment crowded out nuance and context, and with his article, Mr. Lantos appears to be trying to set the record straight. Many participants in the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance will no doubt reject many of his key arguments — for example, that the situation in the Middle East is purely political rather than religious in nature — or his recollections of whether the negotiations over compromise language were ever really that close. But clearly the pain of Durban lingers. Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Melchior met with Secretary-General Kofi Annan last week and warned that the United Nations is being used to promote "this delegitimization or even demonization of the Jewish people and the state of Israel." One of his examples was Durban.
TESCO UNDER FIRE OVER ANTI-SEMETIC BOOK(Hungary)
British supermarket chain Tesco came under fire from the Jewish community after Hungarian-language copies of an anti-Semitic book written by American industrialist Henry Ford appeared on shelves in the company's Székesfehérvár and Miskolc stores. Tesco Global Áruházak Rt Managing Director Paul Kennedy said the company had not deliberately put the title, "The International Jew - The World's Foremost Problem," written in the 1920s, on sale. "The book came in from a supplier as part of a stock of bargain books under a generic code and the minute it came to our attention it was withdrawn from sale," he said. Kennedy added the initial complaint had "most likely come from a member of the public". A spokesman for the Hungarian Association of Jewish Communities in Hungary (MAZSIHISZ) said, "We protested about the book's publication on Monday and it has now been withdrawn by Tesco and other retailers. "There is a certain minority of Hungarians which takes these kinds of books seriously, which is growing stronger, as is the influence of the far-right Hungarian Justice and Life Party (MIÉP)." The book originally appeared as a series of articles in Ford's US newspaper The Dearborn Independent and has attracted controversy worldwide ever since. Ford was well known for his openly anti-Semitic views, which he publicly aired verbally and in print. Kennedy said Tesco was "taking appropriate measures to prevent such products from being sold in the future".
©The Budapest Sun
EU TO COMBAT ONLINE RACISM
The EU's Council of Europe has published draft plans to combat racism on the internet. The draft protocol is aimed at criminalising the dissemination of racist or xenophobic material via computer networks. The document will complement the Council's Cybercrime Convention, which was opened for signature last November. The new protocol will set out definitions of racist or xenophobic material and suggest a framework for law enforcement practice. Henrik Kaspersen, the president of the Experts Committee responsible, expects the protocol to be finalised by the summer.
VIDEO GAMES RAISE CONCERNS OVER RACISM
The Anti-Defamation League issued a report Tuesday warning of computer games that espouse racist violence. The organization's main exhibit was "Ethnic Cleansing," a computer game sold by Resistance Records, a small underground label that specializes in bands spouting racist and Nazi messages. The game requires players to wander through urban streets and subway tunnels and to attack African-American, Hispanic and Jewish characters. Besides offensive racial stereotypes, the game includes repeated racist images and audio content. While there are no indications "Ethnic Cleansing" or more primitive games such as "Aryan 3" have spread beyond a marginal following of racists and neo-Nazis, Abraham Foxman, national director of the ADL, said it was disturbing to see the emergence of a "seductive" new vehicle for disseminating racist beliefs. Initially, "Ethnic Cleansing" looks little different from popular shooting games such as "Quake." The sophisticated graphics of the game could attract players who wouldn't realize the true nature of the material until they were well into the game, Foxman said. "It piggybacks on something that is very legitimate and popular and perverts it," he said. "It can attract people who aren't necessarily going to look for this kind of material."
Foxman said the ADL's main goal was to raise awareness before such games proliferate. The Resistance Records Web site states that the developers of "Ethnic Cleansing" are working on a new game based on "The Turner Diaries," the anti-government novel that inspired Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. "Our hope is that we can alert the general public that something like this can come into the home," Foxman said. Representatives for Resistance Records did not return a request for comment Tuesday. Foxman said the ADL was also looking into the type of software that allows amateur programmers to create such games. "Ethnic Cleansing" was created with Genesis 3D, a collection of graphics tools freely available under an open-source license. "We think you have a certain responsibility...to make sure your patents aren't perverted for reasons of hate," Foxman said. The Genesis 3D copyright is held by software developer Wild Tangent, but the company has not been involved in distributing or maintaining the software since shifting it to an open-source license in 2000. Wild Tangent representatives could not be reached for comment. Brian Marcus, a researcher in the ADL's Internet monitoring unit and author of the report, acknowledged the difficulty of using software licensing restrictions to limit hate speech, especially among the largely self-policing open-source community. "That's the nature of the open-source community; you're putting it out there for the good of the community, but if someone wants to misuse it, it's there for them as well," he said
ACCUSED NAZI GUARD LOSES HIS CITIZENSHIP(usa)
John Demjanjuk's citizenship was revoked Thursday for a second time when a federal judge agreed with government allegations that Demjanjuk had been a Nazi death camp guard during World War II. In a ruling eight months after Demjanjuk's trial, Judge Paul Matia said there was enough evidence without the corroboration of witnesses to prove he had guarded Nazi death and forced-labor camps. "The government had the burden of proving its contention to the court by clear, convincing and unequivocal evidence," Matia said in a supplement to the ruling. "It did so." The ruling means that Demjanjuk could be detained and deported, but the Justice Department was still deciding whether to order him out of the country, according to a department official. Demjanjuk, a Ukrainian who went by the name Ivan in his homeland, has insisted he was a prisoner of war. Demjanjuk's family said he would appeal.
©International Herald Tribune
MILITANT SAYS KIDNAPPERS SOUGHT 'A JEW'(Pakistan)
One of the Islamic militants accused in the kidnapping of an American journalist told a judge in Karachi on Thursday that the reporter, Daniel Pearl of The Wall Street Journal, had been abducted because he was "anti-Islam and a Jew," according to a defense lawyer. The militant, Fahad Naseem, is suspected of playing no more than a supporting role in the case. But the defense attorney, Khawaja Naveed Ahmed, said that in a closed-door deposition to a Karachi judge, Naseem had admitted to sending e-mail messages announcing the kidnapping under orders from Ahmed Omar Sheikh, the British-born militant who has been identified as the prime suspect in the case. The lawyer, who was not permitted to attend the deposition, said he was speaking on the basis of an official transcript of Naseem's testimony, which was not made available to reporters. The lawyer gave his account to reporters in Karachi, where the Jan. 23 kidnapping took place. Naseem is among four people, including Sheikh, who are in police custody and have been charged in the case. In his own court appearance, Sheikh admitted to directing the kidnapping and said that Pearl was dead. But he did not provide any evidence to back up his claims. He said the crimes were part of a campaign of retaliation against the government of President Pervez Musharraf, which has promised a crackdown against Islamic militants. But Pakistani officials have said that Sheikh has been unwilling to provide any more details about the crime, and the chief prosecutor in the case has warned that the confession would likely not be admissible in a Pakistani court, because Sheikh had not been under oath. The officials in Pakistan say that Sheikh's recalcitrance has made the testimony of people like Naseem increasingly important. According to the lawyer, Naseem told the judge that his cousin, Salman Saqib, another defendant in the case, had taken him on Jan. 21 to a house he had never visited before. At the house, Naseem said, Sheikh gave him money to purchase a camera; later, Naseem said, he was given a scanner to send the e-mail messages. Naseem, the lawyer said, quoted Sheikh as having said that there were plans to kidnap someone who is "anti-Islam and a Jew."
©International Herald Tribune
HAIDER IS PRESSING THE HOT BUTTONS(Austria)
Austrian Rightist Aims to Reignite His Popularity Among Voters
"The biggest problem with Joerg Haider," the populist right-winger whose party shares power in Austria, "is that he has two words - 'Auslaender raus!' ('Foreigners Out!'), but we need two hours to answer it," said Dieter Bogner, a museum designer in Vienna. Mr. Haider has never actually used those words to insist that foreigners leave - he is more concerned that more do not arrive. But he "creates a very unpleasant atmosphere," Mr. Bogner said, "and it takes a lot of time to fight it." "He finds simple, short, understandable sentences to get his point across - if he were talking about peace and brotherhood, he'd be great," Mr. Bogner said. But Mr. Haider is not talking about peace and brotherhood. With his support declining and national elections next year, Mr. Haider is pressing hot buttons on any issue that will re-animate disappointed voters and get him back into the news - nuclear power, immigration, ethnic minorities and the dangers of European enlargement. All this has helped sharpen Mr. Haider's profile as a bold defender of national interests against the faceless bureaucrats who, in his view, are mongrelizing Europe, not defending it. In the process, he has embarrassed his coalition partner, Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel of the conservative People's Party, infuriated three of Austria's neighbors - Germany, the Czech Republic and Slovenia - and sent another shiver through a Europe that wants to view the hard right as a passing fad. With the help of the powerful tabloid newspaper Neue Kronen-Zeitung, Mr. Haider succeeded in getting the signatures of 915,000 Austrians - 15 percent of the electorate - on a petition demanding that Austria veto Czech accession to the European Union unless Prague shut down its nuclear power plant at Temelin on the Czech-Austrian border. Mr. Haider's position was carefully judged to appeal to the passionate anti-nuclear sentiment in Austria, a country that has long been wary of nuclear power plants. Even though the petition can and will be ignored by Parliament, it did succeed in embarrassing Mr. Schuessel, who just last November had negotiated a deal on Temelin with the Czechs. The whole furor has once more successfully stirred Austrian fears about letting neighbors like the Czechs and their cheap migrant labor into the European Union and Austria's protected labor market. Despite Mr. Haider's knack for getting into the news, some Austrians, like Peter Ulram, a pollster and political scientist, see him as caught in a political dead end by age and circumstance.
Mr. Haider is 52, and his Freedom Party has been relatively responsible since it entered government in February 2000, when the move prompted angry protests at home and seven months of toothless European Union sanctions that were lifted when the party proved less xenophobic than foreigners had feared. "He's a declining force in Austrian politics," Mr. Ulram said. "He lives on unhappiness, and people are less disgruntled than before." That is certainly the hope of the political and economic elite, ashamed by the bad publicity that Mr. Haider brought to Austria, a former empire that lives on pastry and tourism. But other analysts, like Anneliese Rohrer of the daily Die Presse, think that Mr. Haider is still a considerable force in Austrian politics, with ambitions to become chancellor next year. "Haider - this is not finished," she said. "If he runs a real angst campaign, he can get the extra 7 percent or so of the votes that he needs." As a politician, "Haider puts his finger on things that are wrong and exaggerates them," she said. "Something in what he says is always true, maybe just half true, but true." If he fails to become chancellor, many believe that Mr. Haider is contemplating a European political career, leading a pan-European party intended to oppose the enlargement of the European Union to the east. "Haider isn't a neo-Nazi but a post-Nazi," said Doron Rabinovici, a historian and a leader of the anti-Haider movement here. "But he really is in a crisis. He's opposition and government at the same time, but only a crisis gives him his chance. Europe is shifting to the right, and he's not finished, not yet." For now, Mr. Haider remains the governor of the state of Carinthia, kept out of a role in Vienna by the initial reaction to his party's participation in government. His party leader, Susanne Riess-Passer, declined to be interviewed for this article.
While Mr. Haider is said to be bored and angry with his provincial exile, he exercises significant power over the ministers he brought into politics, who would otherwise not have their current jobs. Despite the angry criticism of Mr. Schuessel for forming a government with the Freedom Party, the chancellor is considered to have done a solid job, keeping the party in check. With the compromises of power, Mr. Haider's support has dropped from 27 percent at the 1999 national elections to about 20 percent now. Mr. Haider brought the party up from 3 percent when he took it over in 1986 to a level that secured it a place in the government. The Freedom Party was the only coalition partner that could enable Mr. Schuessel to become chancellor and end decades of ultimately stagnant rule by the Social Democrats, still Austria's largest party. Appealing to those left behind by modernity and globalization, Mr. Haider took votes on the right and the traditional left, urging particular a halt to immigration and appealing to older Austrians who, like his own parents, fought in the Wehrmacht or supported the Nazis. "Now, after two years of government, you can see his voters drifting away," said Herbert Lackner, chief editor of Profil magazine. Tranquil times and necessary government reform, he said, have given a boost to Mr. Schuessel and his conservatives at Mr. Haider's expense. "But in times of conflict, those numbers can get reversed, and Haider can get his voters back, those discontented people whose lives got stuck somewhere and who know it's someone else's fault." So Mr. Haider is moving to remobilize his own voters while being careful not to break the coalition with Mr. Schuessel, his only possible national partner.
A recent court case illustrated Mr. Haider's method. A year ago, he disparaged the leader of Vienna's Jewish community, Ariel Muzicant, for faking anti-Semitic letters, implying corruption. He said it was strange that someone named Ariel, also a well-known brand of laundry soap, could be so dirty. Mr. Muzicant's main sin was to oppose the involvement of Mr. Haider's party in the government. When Mr. Muzicant sued over the insult, Mr. Haider eventually had to apologize - in writing. But his propaganda point had been made. "It's about getting voters," said Ms. Rohrer, "not about any particular issue." Witness the fine furor Mr. Haider is stirring over the Czech decrees, long a sore point, that legalized the expulsion of some 3 million ethnic Germans from the Sudetenland and led to confiscation of their property after World War II. The issue was largely settled with Germany in 1997, but there are some 250,000 people who were expelled and their relatives in Austria whose votes Mr. Haider is seeking. His argument is that if Austria is morally obligated to return property to relatives of Jews who were expelled and killed, then the Czech Republic must do the same for its Germans. Stirring a debate on the issue is relatively easy: the Czech prime minister, Milos Zeman, recently branded the Sudeten Germans as traitors and Hitler's "fifth column." This in turn angered Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder of Germany, who threatened to cancel a visit to Prague after his conservative rival in this year's elections, Edmund Stoiber, objected to Mr. Zeman's remarks. Mr. Schuessel then called on the Czechs to cancel the decrees - something Prague will not do.
©International Herald Tribune
MUSLIMS MAKE HISTORY IN OSLO(Norway)
Hundreds of second- and third-generation Muslim women, and some men, marched through Oslo over the weekend to mark their opposition to forced marriages and the degradation of women. It was the first time so many had gathered for such a demonstration. The crowd started gathering at Grønlands Torg downtown, an area that's home to many immigrant families. The demonstrators moved on to the Norwegian Parliament and Oslo's main boulevard, Karl Johans gate, with speeches and appeals held along the way. The demonstrators spoke out against arranged marriages that often go againt the woman's will. They criticized Muslim parents who send their daughters "home" to Pakistan or other Muslim countries to marry them off to cousins other young Muslim men whom their daughters barely know, if at all. Young women who rebel against the practice are often shunned by their families or, in the most dramatic cases, harassed and even killed by their fathers and brothers, who claim the women are shaming the family's honor. The demonstration in Oslo was sparked in part by the recent murder of a young Swedish-Kurdish woman in Uppsala who was gunned down by her own father because she had defied his will by refusing to go along with an arranged marriage. The murder shocked Scandinavia and has been a hot topic of discussion since. It illustrates the sharp cultural conflicts that arise when new generations of conservative Muslim families grow up in a vastly more liberal Scandinavian society. The demonstrators were quick to caution Norwegians against making generalizations about the Muslim community. "Muslims are as different from one another as Christians," said Massomme Sobut, age 21. "I get tired of hearing people call me a poor little brainwashed Muslim girl. I'm Muslim and proud of it." Jehangir Bahadur of the World Islamic Mission also cautioned against stereotyping, noting that he and many others distance themselves from forced marriages and the degradation of women. "That's why we're out here," he said.
ETHNIC DIVIDE REMAINS DEEP IN MACEDONIA
More than five months after the main ethnic factions in this Balkan country agreed to a plan to reunite geographically and politically, Macedonia remains divided by roadblocks, gunfire and deep mistrust. Many ethnic Albanian villages and neighborhoods that violently broke away from government control during a seven-month insurgency last year remain off-limits to police. International mediators painstakingly negotiate, hamlet by hamlet, trying to persuade ethnic Albanian rebel and civil leaders to reintegrate with the country's Slavic majority. But progress is slow and police have reentered only 30 percent of 120 insurgent villages. In some neighborhoods of Tetovo, an ethnically mixed city in northwestern Macedonia that was the focus of much of last year's fighting, ethnic Albanians refuse to allow government security forces in. Macedonia's ethnic Albanian minority population has long perceived itself as relegated to second-class status, which the Western-mediated August peace agreement sought to address with political reforms, including greater use of the Albanian language and a broadening of ethnic Albanians' civil rights. But implementation has proved to be a challenge.
On both sides, talk of a new outbreak of fighting this spring is common. Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski, considered a Macedonian nationalist hard-liner, recently warned that if progress in completing the accord is not forthcoming, "We will immediately respond with decisive action by our security forces." At issue is whether the 2 million citizens of Macedonia will avoid the fate of other members of the former Yugoslavia: the ethnic cleansings in Croatia and Bosnia, and the vicious divorce between Kosovo and Serbia. A visit to this little town northwest of Skopje, the capital, indicates that Macedonia remains on the edge. Deep gashes still mar the town's main mosque from last year's government artillery assaults, and the police station, burned by rebels, is a ruined shell. Houses bear the pockmarks of automatic weapons fire. No public buses pass through and the train tracks are deserted. A red Albanian flag hangs over the town's main entrance. Young men stand idly on Radusha's streets -- out-of-uniform rebels from the National Liberation Army (NLA), which spearheaded last year's insurgency. Despite the disarmament accord, many people say weapons are within easy reach in case the police try to forcibly enter the town. "It wasn't really disarmament but demobilization," said a senior Western diplomat. "There are plenty of weapons around." On occasion, Radusha residents construct barricades to block possible police incursions. Down the road, police staff their own checkpoint, stopping travelers to search for documents and weapons. Traveling here from Skopje is like crossing into another country.
The U.S. campaign against terrorism following the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon adds urgency to stabilizing Macedonia, Western diplomats say. They fear that perpetuation of the conflict could eventually attract foreign Islamic extremists to the ethnic Albanian cause of the type who flocked to Afghanistan. About 700 NATO troops are in Macedonia to keep the peace, but it remains unclear how long they will stay. The Macedonian government remains in close consultation with the United States and the European Union on several matters, including security. President Boris Trajkovski is scheduled to meet with President Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, today during a visit to Washington. Western officials also say they have warned the rebel army that renewed fighting is out of the question, which ethnic Albanians believe has sharply weakened their negotiating power. "We know that the anti-terrorist war works against us. We lose leverage," said Rafis Halili, a rebel commander in Radusha. Halili, known as "the teacher" because he once taught physical education, said a delay in parliamentary approval of an amnesty law is the main barrier to progress. Trajkovski declared an amnesty for rebels in October, but under Macedonian law, his declaration does not bind the judiciary. Judges have since issued dozens of indictments and several ethnic Albanians remain jailed for participation in last year's uprising. Halili said that unless the amnesty law is passed, Radusha will resist the redeployment of police in ethnic Albanian areas. "This can go on for years otherwise," he said. "And the chances for new fighting are great."
In Skopje, Ixhet Memeti, the justice minister, predicted that the amnesty law would soon be passed. "In order to reintegrate the NLA, the government must show it is not of two minds," Memeti said. "The declaration of the president is not enough." Radusha residents point to the fate of three local men who were arrested during intense fighting last summer. Shenshiye Payazite, the wife of one of the men and a cousin of the two others, said they were detained while trying to flee Radusha. "They were not released because they were charged with terrorist acts," Payazite said. She said they were unarmed and took no part in fighting. "We can't let the police in here, when they treat us like this," she said. "Everyone is afraid they will be picked up." "Citizens are afraid, and so we are afraid," said Zemri Qamili, Tetovo's ethnic Albanian chief of police. "Naturally, we worry about a spring offensive." He said that NLA veterans still hold several neighborhoods in the city and refuse to permit police patrols. "Unless it is made clear that these people are not vulnerable to arrest, the police can't go in," he said. "Albanians on the force would be considered traitors. That's the way it is."
©The Washington Post
GAY PRIEST IN SPAIN URGES TOLERANCE
The first priest in Spanish history to openly acknowledge living an active homosexual life vowed Friday to fight to make the Roman Catholic Church abandon its "caveman mentality" and accept gays and lesbians in the pews and on the pulpit. But the Rev. Jose Mantero first had to defend himself against what he described as a smear campaign by prelates and conservative opinion makers since his confession scandalized the church and catapulted him to stardom in Spain. "Being gay not only is not a sin, it's a gift from God. It's a gift from God equal to being heterosexual," the priest from the small southern town of Valverde del Camino told a packed news conference at a Madrid hotel. "If He created you gay, He wants you to be gay. At no point does he want you to regret being so." Mantero, 39, revealed his homosexuality in an interview last week with the gay magazine Zero, saying he'd been that way since the age of 12. The admission triggered a debate on television talk shows, in cafes and in the living rooms of a nation once known as "the sword of Rome" for its fervent support of Roman Catholicism. This week, the Bishop of Huelva, Monsignor Ignacio Noguer Carmona, prohibited Mantero from hearing confession. Other clerics called him "sick" and "abnormal" while an editorialist for the conservative ABC newspaper accused him of desiring publicity, calling him a "fairground freak." Even his Web site was plastered with links to pornographic sites, a fact reported by ABC without mentioning the possibility of sabotage. ABC also claimed to have details of the priest's participation in gay bashes and Internet chat sites. Mantero rejected the allegations as "radical fallacy ... which shows what's behind this." "I have no interest in fame," he told the news conference. Nevertheless, the cleric's revelation has ignited a national debate on homosexuality and the requirement of celibacy for priests. A television talk show devoted Friday night's edition to the issue, taking calls from women who had relationships with priests and gave birth to children as a result. Homosexuality – severely repressed during the 1939-75 dictatorship of Gen. Francisco Franco – has only been accepted in mainstream Spanish society in recent years, after a senior army officer, several politicians and entertainment figures came out of the closet. A number of regional governments have recognized conjugal rights for homosexuals, and the northern province of Navarra now allows gay adoptions. Mantero said the church's response to his admissions reflects "a caveman mentality that has inflicted so much suffering and oppression on gays and lesbians not only throughout history but also in our own days." However, he said he didn't expect the church to change overnight and accept openly gay priests in to its ranks. "The church moves not by years, but by millennia," he said. "The change will happen. When? I don't know, but this will help bring it about."
CHURCH CAMPAIGNS FOR RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES(Brazil)
Brazil's Roman Catholic Church on Wednesday launched a national campaign of solidarity with the country's indigenous peoples and the struggle for their rights. Rev. Raymundo Damasceno, secretary-general of the Church's Episcopal Conference, said the fraternity campaign was dedicated to the problems of Brazil's indigenous peoples "who still suffer discrimination ... (despite) having achieved all their constitutional rights." "The objective of the fraternity campaign is to end the prejudices and discrimination and to promote the culture of the Indians," Damasceno said. There are some 350,000 indigenous people organized in 170 different tribes, down from an estimated 3 million to 5 million when the Portuguese settlers arrived over 500 years ago. According to the Federal Indian Bureau, the majority of the country's Indians lack access to education and work. Many tribes live in constant conflict with settlers and large landholders. Damasceno said that it is important "to awaken the conscience of the authorities and general population that indigenous peoples enjoy the same rights as any other citizen."
©Cable News Network
EU GROWTH RAISES GYPSY ISSUE
Rights activists fear open borders could work against Roma immigrants
When the European Union expands eastward sometime over the next two or three years, it will open its doors not only to 60 million Poles, Czechs and Hungarians, but also to as many as 6 million Gypsies, depending on the size of the enlargement. Gypsies--or Roma, as they refer to themselves--are Europe's largest ethnic minority. They are also its most problematic and least understood, poorly educated, often impoverished and blamed for petty crimes.
Although the EU has been sharply critical of the mistreatment of Roma communities in the Czech Republic and other aspirant countries, human-rights activists question whether present EU member states will do much better when the Roma are free to cross their borders. At Prague's airport, Britain already has set up a kind of anti-Roma early warning system. All passengers bound for British destinations must now present themselves at a British immigration booth just inside the main terminal. Although everyone is screened, the ones who are weeded out are almost always Roma. The British government started screening--some would call it profiling--last summer when it was swamped by Roma asylum-seekers from the Czech Republic. The flood began after Britain lifted visa requirements for Czech citizens, and a British discount airline began offering cheap fares between Prague and London.
In the past, Britain and other EU members have chastised the Czechs for mistreating the Roma population. Criticism was particularly strong after a notorious episode in 1999 when the Czech town of Usti nad Labem sealed off its Roma ghetto with a high concrete wall. The Czech government's human-rights office has complained about the airport screening booth, but British authorities reply that the only other option would be highly unpopular: to reinstate visa requirements for all Czech citizens. The question that troubles EU-member governments is whether the Roma, known for an itinerant lifestyle, will stay put or will take the opportunity of a borderless Europe to migrate to better economic opportunities. Police in member states also fear that an influx of Roma would bring a rise in petty crimes.
"My guess is that many of the Roma will be inclined to move," said one diplomat in Prague. "With a 70 percent unemployment rate, they have valid economic reasons for wanting to migrate." Viktor Sekyt, who heads the Czech government's advisory council on Roma affairs, says this view perpetuates the stereotype of the Roma as shiftless vagabonds. "The vast majority of the Czech Roma are settled and will not move," he said, adding that even those who have requested asylum in Britain have not really moved permanently. "They are earning money in the U.K. and coming back to buy property here," he said. The Czech Republic has a Roma population of about 300,000; neighboring Slovakia has 520,000, about 10 percent of its population. During the communist era, when the two were joined as Czechoslovakia, a 1958 law called the Traveling Proscription Act banned nomadic lifestyles. Two years ago, under pressure from human-rights groups, the Czech Republic repealed the law. It remains in effect in Slovakia. Sekyt, who is Roma, is uncertain whether a nomadic lifestyle qualifies as a human right. "For Europe, I think the settled lifestyle is correct. The 1958 law was not the best way--to saw off our parents' wheels was very harsh. Better to create conditions for a settled lifestyle," he said.
In the thousand years since they first migrated to Europe from the Indian sub-continent, Roma have stubbornly resisted assimilation into European society. The phenomenon is fueled by low education levels. In the Czech Republic, 65 percent of Roma children are channeled into special schools for the mentally handicapped; in Slovakia, the figure is 75 percent. In both countries, 90 percent of the student population in these special schools is Roma. Across Europe, according to a study by Save The Children, 30 percent of Roma children do not go to school at all. Within the EU, about 50 percent of Roma never attend school. In the Yugoslav republic of Montenegro, which has a Roma population of about 20,000, only about 30 Roma pupils finish primary school each year. Only three currently are enrolled in high school. Sekyt, one of the few Czech Roma with a university degree, jokes that the others with degrees "could all fit in this office." There are fewer than 20, he estimates. Milan Kovac, 22, is one of them. After graduating from a university in Ostrava last year, he started a job with the Education Ministry's department of minority affairs. "The biggest problem is that Roma families don't realize that education is so important. Most children start school late, or they don't bother at all," he said. Along the way, Kovac said he encountered bigotry and discrimination. "It's not such a big problem when it's just your schoolmates, but when it's your teachers, there's no defense--or there's the defense of most Roma kids, which is not to go to school at all," he said. During his final year of studies, Kovac was offered a scholarship by Boston University--a golden opportunity, but one that he turned down. "If it would not be so far away, or if my family could have come with me. . . . " he said, reflecting the importance of family in Roma culture.
Karel Tomek, Kovac's boss at the Education Ministry, was pleased to discuss a government initiative, announced last month, that is supposed to phase out the so-called special schools by 2004-05 and to enroll Roma children in normal schools. To aid in the transition, the ministry is trying to place Roma teaching assistants in each school. The problem is finding enough of them. About 1,000 are needed, but the ministry has found only 200. Most of those have no more than an 8th-grade education. The program also lacks funding. The Czech government is spending only $550,000 on the initiative; the European Union has pledged $720,000. At the same time, the Roma community has done little to help its own cause. "The Roma are not united," conceded Kovac, the young graduate. "Some groups want to assimilate. Others don't want this at all. They want to live separately. If we could at least learn to cooperate, we could solve many of our problems."
ASYLUM CENTRE COUNTS ESCAPEES(uk)
Police and security company officials are trying to discover how many asylum seekers escaped from the Yarl's Wood detention centre during a major fire. The fire which spread throughout the complex started after a riot broke out at the centre in north Bedfordshire. The damage is estimated at £35m. Four people, including a police officer, were injured and the 400 detainees were evacuated from the buildings. A number of refugees were believed to have escaped from the centre and police were attempting to find out how many were unaccounted for. The fire is still burning but the fire brigade said it is now under control. John Bates, from security firm Group 4, which runs the centre, said eight people had been recaptured and efforts were now under way to determine how many, if any, were on the run. Mr Bates, speaking on BBC One's Breakfast said: "We've accounted for all our staff and we are in the process of going through the detainees at the centre to ascertain who is there and who may have left. "It's not clear at the moment but it appears that the majority of people are accounted for. "But there may be as many as 20 people who have left the centre." The first fire started shortly after 2000 GMT on Thursday in the reception hall but was extinguished by firefighters wearing breathing apparatus. Other fires in the same wing followed. Anti-detention campaigners say the violence started because of a dispute over the handcuffing of a 55-year-old female asylum seeker who required medical attention. Mark Littlewood, from human rights group Liberty, said he had heard the disturbance was started after a woman detainee was badly treated. He said: "There are rumours that the trouble began after a woman who was being taken to hospital to receive medical treatment was handcuffed. "The early indications are that the conditions at the centre were pretty harsh. Sooner or later it's not surprising an incident like this would occur, which isn't to condone the violence. A spokeswoman for Bedfordshire Police told BBC News Online more than 200 officers had been deployed including reinforcements from hames Valley, Northamptonshire and the Metropolitan Police. Jacqui Manners, of Bedfordshire Fire Service, told BBC News 24: "Because of the nature of the premises we have the largest turnout of firefighters that we have had for a number of years." More than 15 fire engines - including reinforcements from Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire - were sent to the scene.
Residents living nearby were told to lock their doors. Eyewitnesses saw a helicopter using a searchlight circling overhead while a number of police units and ambulances are also at the centre. Group 4 Falck describe it as a "secure facility" which houses asylum seekers in hostel-type accommodation. The centre has room for 900 refugees, although it only currently houses 400.
The occupants have come from a variety of countries and are held while their cases are being considered by the immigration service. It is understood several hundred of the detainees are allowed to associate freely at any one time. The centre is believed to have cost as much as £100m and was only officially opened last month. But it has already been affected by controversy with civil liberties protests at its opening and candlelit vigils for ethnic Albanian hunger striker Gjevat Cerkini.
OPPOSITION RAISES ANTE IN IMMIGRATION BATTLE(Germany)
Germany's main opposition Union parties said on Thursday that they would not support the government's immigration legislation unless it was amended to incorporate several of their demands. Though the government, a coalition of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and Alliance 90/The Greens, has the votes to pass the law in the German parliament, it does not have a majority in the second legislative chamber, the Bundesrat, which represents the interests of states at the federal level. Following a leadership meeting, the Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union bloc said it had obtained the support of the government in Brandenburg, which looks likely to carry the swing vote in the Bundesrat. The eastern state is governed by a "grand coalition" of the SPD and CDU. The Union parties have demanded that the proposed law put a cap on the number of foreigners and asylum seekers allowed into the country. They also want the maximum age of children allowed to join their immigrant parents to be lowered to 10, from 14 under the government's plan, to improve the integration process. They also said they would boycott negotiations on the legislation scheduled for Wednesday if the SPD's deputy parliamentary leader, Ludwig Stiegler, does not apologize for saying recently that the forerunners of today's opposition parties helped bring Adolf Hitler to power. Despite the announcement, German Interior Minister Otto Schily of the SPD, the author of the immigration legislation, said the objections were "surmountable." He said a compromise could still be reached which would allow the bill to be passed on schedule in March. Mr. Schily was speaking during a meeting of European Union interior and justice ministers in the Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela, where immigration-related issues loomed large on the agenda. The primary subject of the meeting was the building of an EU-wide database to improve the tracking of visas, in order to stop immigrants and asylum seekers from placing applications in more than one country simultaneously. The ministers also discussed a plan, proposed in November by Spain, to combat illegal immigration, tighten visa controls and strengthen the EU's porous external borders. The Spanish justice minister, Angel Acebes, also said that six EU member countries had agreed to observe pan-European arrest warrants beginning in 2003, a year ahead of schedule. The officials also discussed future EU-wide policies for combating terrorism, human smuggling and for standardizing the tracking of immigrants. EU officials estimate that close to 500,000 people enter the EU illegally each year, many with the help of human smugglers.
© Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
MILOSEVIC TO CONTINUE DEFENCE AT WAR CRIMES TRIAL
Former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, who harshly rejects United Nations allegations that he ordered murders and deportations during the Balkan wars, was today to continue presenting his own defence at the war crimes tribunal at The Hague. During his first day of opening comments yesterday, the ousted leader blamed the West for a decade of death and destruction in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo. He said "enemies" outside Yugoslavia had attempted to bomb his nation "back to the Stone Age". Milosevic said his trial "has nothing to do with the law" and that the charges against him were fabricated by the court. In his first chance to speak in length since he was transferred to the tribunal in June, Milosevic said his goal throughout his 13 years in power had been to preserve Yugoslavia and prevent civilian casualties during the wars. Serb forces under his command did not carry out war crimes, he said, but were dispatched to fight a legitimate battle against terrorist insurgents. During an animated presentation of about four hours, he banged his desk and waved his arms energetically while reading from notes. Milosevic, 60, could face life imprisonment if convicted of any of 66 charges against him in what is seen as the most important war crimes trial since the Second World War. Prosecutors say Milosevic is responsible for a decade of violence in the Balkans that accompanied the disintegration of Yugoslavia. They have indicted him for crimes against humanity in Croatia and Kosovo, and for genocide in the 1992-95 Bosnian war. Milosevic is expected to complete his opening statement today. After that, prosecutors will begin calling witnesses to present the core of their case against the ousted leader. They say up to 350 witnesses will present evidence linking the man that led Yugoslavia through four wars to the death of thousands and the deportation of around a million others. The first months of the case will focus on Kosovo, followed by Bosnia and Croatia. Milosevic yesterday accused Western powers of criminally bombing his country in a 78-day campaign in 1999 that dislodged his forces from the Serbian province of Kosovo. At Milosevic's request, a court clerk displayed dozens of photographs on courtroom monitors showing charred bodies, decapitated corpses and destroyed villages and bridges. "Only Nazis could have thought of such bombing of villages. The aim of the aggression was obviously to break the whole nation, to throw Serbia back to the Stone Age," he said, narrating as the gruesome images flashed one after another. Responding to the allegations, Nato's chief said the defendant had the right to speak his mind, but he could not escape justice by distorting the bombing campaign. "Milosevic is entitled to make any case he wants. He is after all on trial for some of the most serious offences anybody has been charged with since the Second World War," Nato Secretary General Lord Robertson said during a visit to Poland. Milosevic renewed his request to the judges to release him in order to better prepare his defence, pledging he would not try to escape. He said the odds were stacked against him.
CHRISTIANS WHO HATE JEWS(uk)
Melanie Phillips* says the Archbishop of Wales is among Churchmen worried that opposition to Israel is motivated by anti-Semitism rooted deep in Christian theology
It was one of those sickening moments when an illusion is shattered and an ominous reality laid bare. I was among a group of Jews and Christians who met recently to discuss the Churches' increasing public hostility to Israel. The Jews were braced for a difficult encounter. After all, many British Jews (of whom I am one) are themselves appalled by the destruction of Palestinian villages, targeted assassinations and other apparent Israeli overreactions to the Middle East conflict. But this debate never took place. For the Christians said that the Churches' hostility had nothing to do with Israel's behaviour towards the Palestinians. This was merely an excuse. The real reason for the growing antipathy, according to the Christians at that meeting, was the ancient hatred of Jews rooted deep in Christian theology and now on widespread display once again. A doctrine going back to the early Church fathers, suppressed after the Holocaust, had been revived under the influence of the Middle East conflict. This doctrine is called replacement theology. In essence, it says that the Jews have been replaced by the Christians in God's favour, and so all God's promises to the Jews, including the land of Israel, have been inherited by Christianity. Some evangelicals, by contrast, are ‘Christian Zionists' who passionately support the state of Israel as the fulfilment of God's Biblical promise to the Jews. But to the majority who have absorbed replacement theology, Zionism is racism and the Jewish state is illegitimate. The Jews at the meeting were incredulous and aghast. Surely the Christians were exaggerating. Surely the Churches' dislike of Israel was rooted instead in the settlements, the occupied territories and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. But the Christians were adamant. The hostility to Israel within the Church is rooted in a dislike of the Jews.
Church newspaper editors say that they are intimidated by the overwhelming hostility to Israel and to the Jews from influential Christian figures, which makes balanced coverage of the Middle East impossible. Clerics and lay people alike are saying openly that Israel should never have been founded at all. One Church source said that what he was hearing was a ‘throwback to the visceral anti-Judaism of the Middle Ages'. At this juncture, a distinction is crucial. Criticism of Israel's behaviour is perfectly legitimate. But a number of prominent Christians agree that a line is being crossed into anti-Jewish hatred. This is manifested by ascribing to every Israeli action malevolent motives, while dismissing Palestinian terrorism and anti-Jewish diatribes; by the belief that Jews should be denied the right to self-determination and their state dismantled; by the conflation of Zionism and a ‘Jewish conspiracy' of vested interests; and by the disproportionate venom of the attacks.
‘When I hear "the Jews" used as a term, my blood runs cold — and I've been hearing this far too often,' says Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Wales and a contender for the see of Canterbury. ‘Whenever I print anything sympathetic to Israel, I get deluged with complaints that I am Zionist and racist,' says Colin Blakely, the editor of the Church of England Newspaper. Andrew White, canon of Coventry cathedral and the Archbishop of Canterbury's representative in the Middle East, is heavily engaged in trying to promote dialogue and peace between Israelis and Palestinians. He says of attitudes in the Church, ‘These go beyond legitimate criticism of Israel into hatred of the Jews. I get hate mail calling me a Jew-lover and saying my work is evil.' The reason, he says, is that Palestinian Christian revisionism has revived replacement theology. ‘This doctrine was key in fanning the flames of the Holocaust, which could not have happened without 2,000 years of anti-Jewish polemic,' he says. After the Holocaust the Vatican officially buried the doctrine, the current Pope affirming the integrity of the Jewish people and recognising the state of Israel. But, according to Andrew White, the doctrine is ‘still vibrant' within Roman Catholic and Anglican pews. ‘Almost all the Churches hold to replacement theology,' he says. The catalyst for its re-emergence has been the attempt by Arab Christians to reinterpret Scripture in order to delegitimise the Jews' claim to the land of Israel. This has had a powerful effect upon the Churches which, through humanitarian work among the Palestinians by agencies such as Christian Aid, have been profoundly influenced by two clerics in particular.
The first is the Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem, Riah Abu El-Assal, a Palestinian who is intemperate in his attacks on Israel. ‘We interviewed Bishop Riah after some terrorist outrage in Israel,' says Colin Blakely, ‘and his line was that it was all the fault of the Jews. I was astounded.' The bishop also has an astounding interpretation of the Old Testament. Last December, he claimed of Palestinian Christians, ‘We are the true Israel ...no one can deny me the right to inherit the promises, and after all the promises were first given to Abraham and Abraham is never spoken of in the Bible as a Jew.... He is the father of the faithful.' The second cleric, Father Naim Ateek, is more subtle and highly influential. Although he says that he has come to accept Israel's existence, his brand of radical liberation theology undermines it by attempting to sever the special link between God and the Jews. In a lecture last year Andrew White observed that Palestinian politics and Christian theology had become inextricably intertwined. The Palestinians were viewed as oppressed and the Church had to fight their oppressor. ‘Who is the oppressor? The state of Israel. Who is Israel? The Jews. It is they therefore who must be put under pressure so that the oppressed may one day be set free to enter their "Promised Land" which is being denied to them.'
This view, said Andrew White, had now influenced not only whole denominations but also the majority of Christian pilgrimage companies and many of the major mission and Christian aid organisations. One such outfit, he said, had sent every UK bishop a significant document outlining Israel's oppression of the Palestinians, accusing Israel of ethnic cleansing and of systematically ‘Judaising' Jerusalem. David Ison, canon of Exeter cathedral, took a party of pilgrims to the Holy Land in 2000 at the start of the current intifada. They had a Palestinian guide, visited only Christian sites in Arab east Jerusalem and the West Bank, and talked to virtually no Jews. ‘The Old Testament is a horrifying picture of genocide committed in God's name,' he avers. ‘And genocide is now being waged in a long, slow way by Zionists against the Palestinians.' Asked what he made of Yasser Arafat's rejection of the offers made by Israel at Camp David and Tabah, he said that he knew nothing about that. Indeed, he said, he knew nothing about Israel beyond what he had read in a book by an advocate of replacement theology, with which he agreed, and what he had been told by the Palestinians on the pilgrimage. The Bishop of Guildford, who is consistently hostile to Israel, shares the view that the Jews have no particular claim to the Promised Land. Christianity and Islam, he says, can lay equal claim. And although he says that Israel's existence is a reality that must be accepted, his ideal is very different. A separate Palestinian state would be merely a ‘first step'. ‘Ultimately, one shared land is the vision one would want to pursue, although it's unlikely that this will come about.' As for the Churches' hostility to Israel, his reply is chilling: ‘The problem is that all the power lies with the Israeli state.' So by implication, Israel would merit sympathy for its casualties only if it had no power to defend itself. The Bishop of Guildford, who chairs Christian Aid, says that he particularly admires Bishop Riah and Naim Ateek. He also warmly endorses a parish priest in his diocese, Stephen Sizer, vicar of Christ Church, Virginia Water.
Sizer is a leading crusader against Christian Zionism. He believes that God's promises to the Jews have been inherited by Christianity, including the land of Israel. ‘A return to Jewish nationalism,' he has written, ‘would seem incompatible with this New Testament perspective of the international community of Jesus.' He acknowledges that Israel has the right to exist since it was established by a United Nations resolution. But he also says that it is ‘fundamentally an apartheid state because it is based on race' and ‘even worse than South Africa' (this, despite the fact that Israeli Arabs have the vote, are members of the Knesset and one is even a supreme court judge). He therefore hopes that Israel will go the same way as South Africa under apartheid and be ‘brought to an end internally by the rising up of the people'. So, despite saying that he supports Israel's existence, he appears to want the Jewish state to be singled out for a fate afforded to no other democracy properly constituted under international law. But perhaps this is not surprising given his attitude towards Jews. ‘The covenant between Jews and God,' he states, ‘was conditional on their respect for human rights. The reason they were expelled from the land was that they were more interested in money and power and treated the poor and aliens with contempt.' Today's Jews, it appears, are no better. ‘In the United States, politicians dare not criticise Israel because half the funding for both the Democrats and the Republicans comes from Jewish sources.'
A number of authoritative Christian figures are extremely concerned by the elision between criticism of Israel and dislike of the Jews. Rowan Williams says that after a website of the Church in Wales attracted inflammatory language about Jews, and a meeting in Cardiff about Israel provoked similar anti-Jewish rhetoric, he was forced to introduce some balancing material about the Middle East into his Church periodicals. Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, the director of the Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity, has been addressing Christian groups up and down the country on the implications of 11 September. When he suggests that there is a problem with aspects of Islam, he provokes uproar. His audiences blame Israel for Muslim anger; they want to abandon the Jewish state as a ‘dead' part of Scripture and support ‘justice' for the Palestinians instead. ‘What disturbs me at the moment is the very deeply rooted anti-Semitism latent in Britain and the West,' he says. ‘I simply hadn't realised how deep within the English psyche is this fear of the power and influence of the Jews.' Since 11 September, he says, the Palestinian issue has had a major distorting impact on the whole of the Christian world. ‘Those who blame Israel for everything don't realise that for Islam the very existence of Israel is a problem. Even a Palestinian state would not be sufficient. Israel may be behaving illegally in a number of areas, but she is under attack. But white liberal Christians find it deeply offensive not to blame Israel for injustice.'
The Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, has spoken out against replacement theology. But unlike the Roman Catholics, the Anglicans have never been forced to confront their Church's role in the Holocaust and their attitude towards the Jews. Carey, say Church sources, is now in an invidious position. Under pressure to make an accommodation with the Muslims, he is also hemmed in by some highly placed enemies of Israel within the Church and is reluctant to pick a fight with the establishment view. Nevertheless, there are many decent Christians who don't hold this view. The network of councils of Christians and Jews is going strong. Archbishop Williams preached in Cardiff's synagogue last weekend. Christians who voice these concerns are prepared to risk opprobrium or worse. But for the Jews, caught between the Islamists' blood libels on one side and Christian replacement theology on the other, Britain is suddenly a colder place.
*Melanie Phillips is a Daily Mail columnist
OUTLAWED FOREIGN FEMALE REFUGEES ARE SUBJECTED TO SEXUAL VIOLENCE(Netherlands)
The foreign women, who were refused in obtaining the political shelter in the Netherlands, and waited for the repeated consideration of their files, are subjected to sexual violence. Men see that the women are desperate and helpless, many of them were forced to become outlawed. The criminals think that the women will not dare to go to the police in such a helpless situation. The refugees' organization Prime informed about that in the Hague, having given the examples: the brutal rape of the young Ethiopian woman and four other incidents like that over the recent two months. Prime is currently preparing the repeated consideration of the Ethiopian woman's case at the Dutch court. That Ethiopian refugee submitted an ad to the newspaper of free ads Via Via (with Prime's consent) offering the housemaid's services. When she was invited to an apartment, a citizen of the Hague raped her there. The victim of the sexual crime went to police, she was totally devastated and was not eating anything, as one of the attendants of Prime said. Prime believes that it does not go about the only one incident like that. "We have had five similar incidents over the recent two months. The criminals know that these women are totally unprotected and that they will not venture to go to the police," – a spokesman said. Those, who do not have any chances to lead the legal life in the Netherlands, often grip on any shot to improve their position. "Some of those women were thrown out in the streets, so they were forced to ask for the help of the strangers. What can be more pleasant to a woman than a man, who promises to protect her and take care of her? But horrible things happen, when such a woman is at his disposal."
ISLAMIC' EUROPEAN DIALOGUE FORUM OPENS IN ISTANBUL(Turkey)
The Islamic-European Dialogue forum opened Tuesday at the level of foreign ministers of the Organisation of Islamic Conference and the European Union. Egypt is participating in the event with a high level delegation led by Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher. Addressing the forum, Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem, who called for its holding, said the OIC and the EU share the responsibility of achieving better understanding especially as the events of September 11 have revealed poor understanding among cultures. He called for the need to establish new mechanisms for relations and guarantee respect of the various cultures. Turkish President Ahmed Necdet Sezer, who officially opened the forum, said there must be a definition for the term of terrorism, one that will be free of double standards. Islamic and European countries must define the problems facing humanity and search for joint solutions to them, which will contribute to the establishment of world peace and prosperity , he added. Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Pique, whose country now chairs the rotating EU presidency, which took the floor, spoke of the importance of the gathering, being the first of its kind. Ignorance and misconceptions of each other's cultures are the main reasons behind problems, he said, adding that mutual respect and justice were the key to peace and stability. Regrettably, some people in today's world do not want to pare justice with others nor mutual respect, he added. Terrorism's aim is to divide the human world and heighten differences, he said. He called for the respect of human rights and for giving it the priority it deserves in the formulation of foreign policy. Qatari Foreign Minister Hamad Bin Jassem AL Jabr, whose country now chairs the rotating OIC presidency, expressed hope that this pioneer forum contribute to the realization of peace and stability on the principles of justice and equality. Islam does not condone the terrorist acts of September 11 were carried out by Arabs and Muslims who only represented themselves, although some have tried to use them to tarnish the image of Islam, he said. EU External Affairs Commissioner Javier Solana also addressed the forum and said it would not only examine political issues, but cultural and civilization matters as well. Seventy-one countries are taking part in the two-day forum; their foreign ministers represent 44 of them. Also participating are other regional organizations, including the Arab League. A final communique will be released Wednesday to affirm the importance of dialogue among religions and civilizations and a joint stance in the face of the challenges of this age.
SIXTY YEARS SINCE HOLOCAUST CONFERENCE(Germany)
Wannsee worked out implementation of the "final solution"
Exactly 60 years ago - on Sunday, 20 January 1942 - 15 high-ranking Germany civil servants and SS officers met in a mansion on the edge of Berlin's Wannsee to lay the plans for the deportation and eventual extermination of the European Jews. It was a major turning point in what later became known as the Holocaust, because - as well as Hitler's SS - numerous state institutions and professional groups were drawn into planning the genocide. Germany's Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has described the event as the "darkest part" of German history. The decision to murder Europe's Jews had already been taken. But the Wannsee conference laid out how what they called the "final solution" was to be implemented. The Conference - chaired by the Head of the Reich's Security Main Office, Reinhard Heydrich - plotted the deportation and eventual extermination of an estimated 11 million European Jews, including those from countries still undefeated. The event was a significant moment on the road to the Holocaust, says the Head of the Wannsee Conference Museum, Dr Norbert Kampe. "It has also a symbolic meaning. It means that from day one, the whole German society and the civil apparatus of government is involved in the process of killing of the Jews." Chancellor Schroeder said the conference protocol documented what he called a "breach in civilisation" and proved that the murder of Europe's Jews was not only the work of the Nazi leaders. "Thousands of Germans," he said "were prepared to take part in the mass murder of the innocent." "Today's European Germany has learned from these crimes, that they could never grow tired of repeating the phrase: 'Never Again'."
DISCRIMINATION REMAINS A FACT OF LIFE FOR AFRICAN-AMERICANS
In Mary Mapp's hometown of Charleston, S.C., some stores wouldn't allow blacks to sit at the lunch counters. The atmosphere of discrimination prompted Mapp to move at the age of 15 to live with an aunt in New York. Nearly 30 years later, in 1990, Mapp returned to the South, this time to Sarasota. She quickly learned that some things hadn't changed. Seeking a job in her field, insurance, Mapp found several companies eager to interview her -- until they found out she was black. "People said, 'You don't sound black.' They expected ghetto language, as if we don't know the king's English," said Mapp, 55, who responded by starting her own workers' compensation claim consulting business. "They don't think. It's a hurtful thing to say that." As America celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day today, the experiences of Mapp and countless others demonstrate that, despite the achievements of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, much remains undone. The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education formally banned segregation in public schools in 1954. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed discrimination. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 guaranteed access to the polls. But discrimination remains, in the workplace, neighborhoods, schools and other facets of life. "I think it's a little more insidious," said Martha Bireda, 56, of Punta Gorda, a race and gender specialist for the Southeastern Equity Center.The 2000 presidential election raised questions about just how far the nation has come in assuring that everyone not only has access to the polls, but that their vote counts. An independent review of the election between Al Gore and George W. Bush showed that precincts where the highest percentage of ballots were thrown out were overwhelmingly black. And more than 9 percent of the ballots in majority black precincts were thrown out, compared with 2.6 percent in majority white precincts.
In some ways, progress has been extraordinary.
"If you look at voting rights, registering black voters, and increasing political participation, those things are all up," said Patrick Mason, an associate professor of economics and director of the African American Studies Program at Florida State University. "There were some problems in the last election, but nothing like in the '50s and '60s. In terms of ending the Jim Crow laws, that's an unqualified success." But, Mason added, statistics show that blacks haven't made sufficient economic progress. While the number of blacks in the middle class has grown, the percentage hasn't. Unemployment among blacks remains higher than among whites. Problems such as racial profiling and negative stereotyping of blacks in the media remain, sometimes rising to the level of public protest. But often, race is dealt with on a private, individual level. "You have to change people's minds," Mapp said. "That's where the problem still exists. We've come a long way, but we have a lot of work to do." Mary Lancaster agrees. Lancaster, 66, is the only black member of the Palmetto City Council. She was outraged by the recent controversy in the city's Police Department, where former chief Kenny Bright was demoted for using racist and derogatory terms during his 21/2-year term. "This is 2002," she said. "That should not be going on. I should not be harassed on my job because of my color. I don't have to look in New York, or Washington, but right here at home, to see the progress is not nearly enough. We have not reached the point where it's 'liberty and justice for all.'"
Civil rights today
Few would argue that the battle for civil rights today is the same as when King led the movement more than three decades ago. Massive marches, sit-ins and boycotts are less frequent. People argue over what the term civil rights means. For some, it still centers on racial issues. Others relate it to freedom of speech and expression, the right to fly the American flag when neighborhood zoning restrictions ban it, said University of South Florida political science professor Susan MacManus. FSU's Mason said the fight for civil rights is harder now, touching on issues of national reparations for slavery and redistribution of wealth to ensure equal economic opportunity. "That kind of struggle is much more difficult, much more intense," he said. University of Florida law professor Sharon Rush said apathy plays a role. "White society wants to believe enough progress has been made so that we don't have to deal with it any more," she said. "It's not necessarily an ill motive. If you don't know what's behind the scenes, you may not think there's a problem." The Rev. John Davis, pastor of Bethesda Outreach Ministries in Sarasota, views civil rights today as more than a black and white issue. "Civil rights means equal rights, fairness and justice for everybody," he said.
Nina Burwell, founder of Yes You Can!, an after-school enrichment program for children living in public housing in Sarasota, said the concept of equality for all is being challenged in light of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. She said she's concerned about the detainment and questioning of Arabs and the defacing of some mosques in response to the attacks. "We say freedom and justice for all until fear sets in, then we revert back to what we define as American," she said. "And if you don't fit into our criteria your liberty seems to disappear -- and that's not right." John Jefferson, assistant director of the Laurel Civic Association, said it's critical for the younger generation to know about the achievements of the civil rights movement -- especially since they've grown up in a nation without "whites only" signs or laws that prevent minorities from voting. He considers complacency a threat in many minority communities, especially in light of efforts to cut back affirmative action and other programs aimed at achieving racial equality. Recent court rulings have also limited the scope of legal challenges of discrimination under civil rights laws. "People who were born 20 years ago have always had civil rights protection, so they don't realize what it was like to struggle for equality," he said. "They don't realize what they're losing. "The challenges are enormous," he added. "We are at a point where some of the things we accomplished back in Dr. King's day are being rolled back."
DISABLED LOSING GROUND IN BATTLE FOR EQUALITY(Canada)
Canada's Charter of Rights states clearly that "every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.'' Real life doesn't work that way. There has always been a gap between what the law says and what actually happens. What is frightening, for the 4.6 million Canadians with disabilities, is that it is getting wider — and no one seems to care.
Three recent cases have highlighted that trend:
A lawyer representing the immigration department told the court this month that Ottawa had every right to turn down a disabled woman's request to live and work in Canada. Angela Chesters is married to a Canadian citizen, has two post-graduate degrees and extensive work history. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 11 years ago. According to federal lawyer Debra McAllister, Chesters might someday impose an "excessive demand" on Canada's health and social services. This is not discrimination, McAllister insisted. It is a legitimate way of ensuring the sustainability of medicare. Last week, VIA Rail Canada, a government-owned corporation, refused to widen the doors of its new high-speed trains to accommodate wheelchairs. "We'd be looking at millions of additional dollars'' to modify the French-made rail cars, explained company official Malcolm Andrews. He maintained that the narrow coaches meet industry standards and accommodate some types of wheelchairs. That is good enough for VIA. It is not good enough for the Council of Canadians with Disabilities. The non-profit agency has pleaded with the government to intervene. Transport Minister David Collenette, to whom VIA Rail reports, has been silent on the issue. Last month at Queen's Park, Citizenship Minister Cam Jackson announced with great fanfare that Ontario had just passed "Canada's most far-reaching legislation'' for persons with disabilities. Unfortunately, the 1.6 million Ontarians with disabilities didn't see it that way. The bill didn't eliminate any of the barriers they faced in their daily lives. It didn't set a date by which public buildings had to be accessible. It didn't require stores, restaurants or businesses to become accessible at all. They begged the government to strengthen the bill before passing it. Jackson blithely ignored them. These sorts of rebuffs hurt. The lack of any public outcry hurts even more. It is tough to fight for equality from a wheelchair, especially when many of the country's courtrooms are inaccessible. Despite the courage and determination of those who do challenge discriminatory treatment, individuals with disabilities are losing ground in Canada. The reason is simple: Public officials think it is safe to ignore a vulnerable, not-very-visible minority. It is up to able-bodied, fair-minded Canadians to let their governments know that it is not safe, not acceptable and not right.
©The Toronto Star
'MET IS NOT BEATING RACISM'(uk)
Claims by the Met Commissioner that Scotland Yard is no longer "institutionally racist" have been dismissed by black staff and one of the key figures in the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry. Sir John Stevens yesterday claimed the force has experienced radical change since Sir William Macpherson's public inquiry into the Stephen Lawrence case, when the Met was branded institutionally racist. He said: "Of course, there will still be one or two racists in the force, and I'm determined to root them out. But we have moved on light years in the past two to three years. Even our most trenchant critics will give us that. We are not institutionally racist." But Chief Inspector Leroy Logan, chairman of the Met's Black Police Association, said he has yet to notice any fundamental changes. "As far as we are concerned, many minority groups with the Met - both officers and civilian staff - are still suffering from the backlash which followed the Lawrence Inquiry. A significant number of people continue to complain about mismanagement and bullying. We know of around 30 significant employment tribunal cases in the pipeline. It says to us that they haven't really learnt the lessons of the Lawrence Inquiry." Mr Logan, who is taking the Met to an employment tribunal after being wrongly accused of dishonesty, said the good intentions of the Met's senior officers often count for nothing on the streets. "Officers still see the changes they are being asked to make as political correctness. Of 39 recommendations which followed the Lawrence Inquiry, 13 have yet to be implemented." Dr Richard Stone, who was an adviser to Sir William Macpherson, said the police have made some improvements. But he added: "I still find that when I meet with young black people and listen to them, there is a seething anger against the police on the streets. "They are not seeing any changes in the way they are treated by many police officers." He praised the Yard's Racial and Violent Crime Task Force but added: "I don't think Sir John can say he is on top of the problem. I am somewhat disappointed by the language being used." Sir John was Deputy Commissioner when the Lawrence Inquiry report was issued in 1999. Under some pressure, his predecessor Sir Paul Condon eventually accepted the report, and the claim of institutional racism. Sir John will hope his comments raise morale amongst officers, who wrongly assumed they were being branded racist as individuals. Many said they would not use the "stop and search" power because they were afraid of being accused of racism. But the Commissioner's claim will also raise eyebrows on the Metropolitan Police Authority. Two weeks ago, the MPA cited "institutional racism" as a contributory factor in Scotland Yard's mistreatment of Sgt Gurpal Virdi, the Sikh officer wrongly sacked for sending racist hate mail.
AUSTRALIA UNDER FIRE OVER REFUGEE CHILDREN
Australia's human rights commissioner has ordered an investigation into conditions at a detention centre for illegal immigrants where 36 juveniles are among more than 200 hunger-striking Afghan protesters. The commissioner, Sev Ozdowski, told ABC radio that media reports appeared to show Australia was in breach of international conventions on the treatment of children. He said children should only be detained as a measure of last resort and all measures should be taken to protect them from physical and mental violence. Four children, among a group of more than 60 protesters who have sewn their mouths shut, have had stitches in their lips removed by doctors. Australia's Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock has described the lip-sewing action as offensive and said the government would not be swayed. An immigration spokesman said on Tuesday that an independent group of experts had gone to assess conditions at the Woomera detention centre in central Australia. Dr Ozdowski said his staff would visit on Thursday.
The detainees are protesting about the length of time taken to process their applications for asylum. The procedure can last from months up to five years but the Australian government has imposed a freeze on processing applications from about 2,000 Afghans after the Taleban regime fell last year. Mr Ruddock has said those unhappy with their treatment should return home to rebuild their lives. Mr Ruddock said on Monday the authorities may remove children from their parents at the Woomera camp. He said they may not be fulfilling their obligations to their children.
But Dr Ozdowski said the hunger strikes indicated the detainees were suffering "immense stress and anguish". He said: "Families cannot function normally in prolonged detention centre situations and the stress is apparently impacting on children". He denied accusations that the hunger strikers were merely seeking attention. Asylum seekers who arrive illegally are automatically detained while their cases are assessed. There are 1,000 asylum seekers, including many children, at Woomera, which is the most remote of Australia's network of six detention camps. Some have been there for up to five years, but most are detained for no more than a few months. Since late last August immigrants arriving by sea have not been allowed to land on Australia's shores. They have either been turned around or picked up and taken to neighbouring Pacific nations for processing.
ITALIANS SHOW MAGNIFICENT DEMONSTRATION OF SOLIDARITY
Solidarity for Migrants and Asylum Seekers
Overwhelmingly this was a grassroots demonstration, offering an inspirational example of solidarity between Italians non-Italians and regular and irregular migrants. Last Saturday 19 January, more then 150 000 people took to the streets of Rome to protest against the new immigration law proposed by Bossi and Fini, far-right partners in Italy's coalition government. Migrants and Italians came together from all over Italy to say 'No to Racism', to demand 'Equal Rights for All' and to point out that while the majority of migrants worked with Italians, paid the same taxes as Italians, sent their children to school with Italian children, and were a part of Italian society - they are not treated the same. This new law proposed extends from 30 to 60 days the period of time people can be held while police try to identify them and issue travel documents so that they can be deported as quickly as possible. It also links residence permits very tightly to work, so that if someone loses their job, their residence permit lapses too. It further penalises asylum seekers and pushes aside an asylum bill that has been stalled in the labyrinthine legislative process for almost 4 years. At the moment, under a sponsorship scheme, it is possible for people to enter Italy for a year to look for work. The new law would abolish this scheme and only those who have a contract from an Italian employer would be allowed to enter. Already, loud objections are being heard, not just from migrant communities and their supporters, but also from employers, who are facing serious labour shortages. Having gathered in Piazza della Repubblica at 3.00pm, the march moved off at 3.45 and took 3 hours to reach Piazza Navona via Piazza Vittorio where many of the migrant communities work and live. The centre of the city was brought to a complete standstill, and few in Rome could have remained unaware of the anger directed at the bill, or of the solidarity between migrants, asylum seekers and Italians (and others - the Committee to Defend Asylum Seekers from the UK, was also there with a banner) What made this demonstration different from other recent demonstrations in Rome, was that this was not organised by the Democratic Left or Rifondazione Comunista or the Trade Unions. The organisers were SenzaConfine (No Borders) and though there were people from the left parties, the trade unions and public figures such as writers and intellectuals present, overwhelmingly this was a grassroots demonstration, offering an inspirational example of solidarity between Italians non-Italians and regular and irregular migrants. Prior to the demonstration, estimates ranged from 30-50,000. Instead, 150,000 marched and stood together against a divisive and racist government. Perhaps one day soon, we will see the same kind of mobilisation in London, Paris, Berlin, Madrid, Amsterdam, Washington, Brussels, Canberra, Vienna, Ottawa, Athens, Dublin, Wellington, Lisbon, Helsinki, Oslo etc.
©National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns (NCADC)
BNP TAPE CONDEMNED BY MUSLIMS(uk)
The British National Party (BNP) has sent cassettes to Sikhs and Hindus blaming the Muslim population for racial tensions in Bradford. The general secretary of the Sikh temple in Bolton Road, Bradford, Rajinder Singh Panesar, said he received an audio tape in the post last week and he knew other Sikh leaders in the city who had been sent them. But he said the attempt by the BNP to divide the city would not succeed because Sikhs would ignore the recordings. A leader of the Muslim community condemned the material in the tape as "absurd".
Mr Panesar said: "It shocked me because being a Sikh, we believe no religion is a threat to any other religion because religion is supposed to show us the way, the path to God. "Sikhism and racism don't go together." Nick Griffin, national spokesman for the BNP, confirmed the group was responsible for making the tapes. "We produced the tapes in conjunction with Sikhs and Hindus who want to make it clear that Muslims, and not Sikhs or Hindus, were responsible for the violence during the summer," he said.
"It was the Sikh and Hindus, who are happy to join with us, who sent out the tapes." He said up to 300 copies of the tapes had been sent to Sikhs and Hindus throughout the country. He denied that the 70-minute tape incited racial hatred. Yousuf Bhailok, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: "The arguments put forward are absolutely absurd."
Tactic 'will fail'
He said the ethnic community would not be divided by the actions of the BNP. "I was in a meeting with the leadership of the Sikh and Hindu communities last week and we are all united in fighting racism and the BNP. "The law at the moment doesn't protect against religious discrimination, they wouldn't get away with this on race grounds so they try to get away with it on religious grounds. "We know the tactics of the BNP and they won't work," he said.
FORCE STARTS RACE ATTACK HOTLINE(uk)
A police force, which has been criticised for its handling of alleged race-hate cases, is creating a special telephone service to combat the problem. West Mercia police, which serves Shropshire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire, has teamed up with local community groups to set up the freephone facility. People who want to report racist activity will be able to call a multi-lingual, 24-hour service. The force was criticised for its handling of the deaths of two black men from Telford, who were found hanged within months of each other in 1999 and 2000. The families of Errol and Jason McGowan claimed officers dismissed both men's complaints of racist abuse and death threats. An inquest jury returned a verdict of suicide on Errol McGowan last year, but heard that he had suffered "horrific" levels of racial harassment by a gang of 10 to 15 white youths. Telford and Wrekin coroner Michael Gwynne is scheduled to hold an inquest into Jason McGowan's death in April.
Introducing the new hotline, Detective Chief Superintendent Dermott McCann said: "The scheme is designed for people who, for whatever reason, do not wish to report their experiences direct to the police." "It complements, but does not replace the existing methods of contacting ourselves or other agencies." Support and advice about racial harassment and other issues will also be available in a joint initiative with racial equality councils in the three counties. Last year West Mercia police appointed a special race-hate crimes officer in Telford. Harleen Masih of Worcestershire Racial Equality Council, said the hotline would be a help for people living in isolated rural areas. "Racial harassment is a daily occurrence for many people in our society and is often not reported for fear of repercussion," she said. Joy Warren of Telford and Shropshire Race Equality Council said: "Victims feel isolated and live in constant fear. " She said many incidents went unreported because victims were not able to get in touch with the right person, or because of language barriers. The hotline will provide information and further helpline numbers in Gujariti, Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, Punjabi, Cantonese and English.
STATUS LAW CONTINUES TO CAUSE RUMPUS(Hungary)
Controversy continues over Hungary's new Status Law, with Slovakian authorities still objecting to several sections of the legislation. The law, which came into effect on January 1, gives preferential treatment to ethnic Hungarians living in neighboring countries. Slovak Foreign Ministry State Secretary Jaroslav Chlebo said the Hungarian legislation ignored an existing bilateral agreement between the two countries which allowed around 800 jobs to be filled reciprocally. Although Chlebo stressed Slovakia had no fundamental objection to Hungary providing benefits to its Slovakian kinsmen, he added that "nothing should happen in Slovakia without Slovakian consent". A meeting between Hungarian and Slovakian officials last Wednesday ended in deadlock, although both sides expressed willingness to continue towards an amicable resolution. A statement by Council of Europe (CoE) President Walter Schwimmer welcoming the memorandum of understanding over the law's application to Romanian citizens, signed last month by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his Romanian counterpart Adrian Nastase, also drew fire from the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP). Its Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee head Csaba Tabajdi accused Schwimmer of commenting prior to receiving a pending CoE report on the memorandum. Amid the controversy the issue of Hungarian ID cards began, with President Ferenc Mádl presenting the first documents to Robert Takács and his family from southern Slovakia. Foreign Minister János Martonyi ceremonially issued an ID card to Miklós Duray, vice-president of Slovakia's Hungarian Coalition Party. During his weekly radio interview, the Prime Minister described the law's introduction in historic terms. "A Hungarian-speaking region within the Carpathian Basin is now forming, which will gather economic strength," he said. Yugoslavian news agency FoNet reported that more than 250 applications had been received by the the newly-opened office in Subotica, the largest city in the northern region of Vojvodina, where approximately 300,000 ethnic Hungarians live.
©The Budapest Sun
CZECH FURY AT 'FASCIST' HAIDER'S BID TO BLOCK EU MEMBERSHIP
More than 900,000 Austrians yesterday raised objections to a nuclear power station in the Czech Republic in a move that could block the country's entry to the European Union. After a campaign orchestrated by Jörg Haider, the far-right populist, Austrians signed a petition to force a parliamentary debate not only about the plant but also about the whole enlargement issue. The signatures to the petition were still being counted last night, but Austrian news organisations calculated that there had been extraordinarily large vote. Angry Czech politicians called Herr Haider a "post-fascist". Herr Haider has thus returned to the centre stage of European politics with a mixture of crowd-pleasing postures provoking his coalition partner, Wolfgang Schüssel, the conservative Chancellor, the European Commission and the Czech Government. The Czechs have reacted fiercely. Milos Zeman, the Czech Social Democratic Prime Minister, described Herr Haider as "an Austrian political Chernobyl". It was time, he said, that the Austrians got rid of Haider and his "post-fascist party". President Klestil of Austria called President Havel to urge him to stop the insults. Herr Haider said the Czech Prime Minister was a ormer communist who had difficulty adapting to democracy. The Austrian politician calculated that sharp insults from Prague would drum up further support for his campaign. The national petition — a type of referendum — needed to collect only 100,000 signatures to put the Temelin nuclear power station back on the political agenda. The huge response ensures that the Austrian political class cannot simply shrug off the Temelin issue and will have to think long and hard about the terms of Czech entry to the European Union.
The source of the conflict is an old Soviet-style nuclear plant at Temelin in Bohemia, about 37 miles from the Austrian border. Austria is nuclear-free and many Austrians fear that the true danger now comes from the defective plants in Eastern Europe. The Temelin plant was redesigned to Western safety standards in the early 1990s and the number of reactors reduced from four to two. Austria had considerable leverage over the Czechs since Prague was obliged, as part of its negotiations for admission to the EU, to conclude an energy chapter with Brussels. During talks last year, the Czechs agreed to tighten reactor safety even further and supply Austria with an unprecedented amount of information about the plant. This was sufficient for Herr Schüssel, but not enough for Herr Haider and his Freedom Party. They are threatening to hold up the eastward enlargement of the European Union until the promised safety features are implemented. Herr Haider is currently governor of Carinthia and is technically no longer part of daily national Austrian politics. In fact, however, he is pulling the strings in the Freedom Party and is determined to create an extra-parliamentary power base. Among other aims is holding up the enlargment of the European Union by delaying the project or by imposing more stringent conditions on candidate countries.
NAACP CHIEF FACES CRITICISM(usa)
When Fort Lauderdale NAACP members elected William C. McCormick Jr. as president more than a year ago, they saw the young businessman as a shining light of promise that the civil rights organization finally would take on Broward's status quo. He was a contrast to Roosevelt Walters, the former NAACP president who decided not to seek reelection under a cloud. Walters held a no-show county job and was accused of failing to speak out on issues of concern to blacks. McCormick, however, was a successful, independent-minded business leader. But a year after taking office, McCormick finds himself embroiled in a dispute that threatens the chapter's core. Three prominent, longtime Broward activists have resigned from the executive board, citing differences with McCormick's leadership. Critics accuse McCormick of grandstanding on issues without following through to make a difference. They say he's slow in addressing key local civil rights issues, including festering discrimination complaints from black government employees and environmental concerns at the old Wingate landfill in the middle of the black community.
McCormick vows to stay in office.
``No matter who's president, you're never going to satisfy all the people,'' said McCormick, who critics and supporters say studies each issue carefully before taking a stand. ``I don't take it personally, because I'm volunteering for the people. I can't make people like me. That's not my job.'' The controversy is a symptom of a larger illness in Broward's black leadership, said Don Bowen, president of the Urban League of Broward County. ``People spend more time fighting with each other over real and perceived differences than really addressing the meat and potato issues.'' Bowen, whose organization has teamed with the NAACP on several community-wide issues -- pushing for an end to racial profiling, backing a minority-owned Broward convention center hotel and supporting a black voter registration -- refuses to take sides. ``We need to work together and harness our collective energies,'' he said. McCormick says he is committed to standing up for civil rights, and his work over the last year shows it. He cites a list of accomplishments, including two town hall meetings -- one on police racial profiling that drew 668 people and another on racial disparities in the schools that drew 300 people.
The local branch is now monitoring three Broward police departments, and plans to release a report card on police treatment of blacks later this year. ``We have a lot of police misconduct going on in Broward County, and it has to be eradicated,'' McCormick said. This year, the organization will review technology equality, books and employment practices in the public schools, McCormick said. The Fort Lauderdale branch also has formed a college chapter, the first in Florida to encompass three schools:
Broward Community College, Florida Atlantic University and Nova Southeastern University.
The branch has helped create an inter-ethnic coalition to connect blacks of different nationalities -- from Haiti, Jamaica, the United States or other countries. The coalition plans a February summit. Last week, in collaboration with the Broward Sheriff's Office, the NAACP launched a voter registration drive for inmates who have not been convicted of felonies. The NAACP is helping convicted felons apply for clemency so they may be allowed to vote.
McCormick cites the local NAACP's part in a successful protest last year at Adam's Mark hotel in Daytona Beach, which was accused of using excessive security and offering bad service to black guests at the 1999 Black College Reunion. The local branch organized a bus load of supporters who headed to Daytona Beach to protest. Last month, the hotel agreed to pay about $1 million to former guests and Florida's four historically black colleges. The NAACP's membership, reported at 1,100 in 2000, has grown every month since he took office in January 2001, McCormick said. He would not share membership numbers. ``I'm comfortable that I've done my best up to this point,'' he says. ``There's still a lot more work to be done.'' Still, some say the group is not outspoken enough locally. Some members have even talked of defecting to the smaller North Broward branch to get their concerns addressed. Robert Bouyer, the NAACP's first vice president, publicly criticized the Fort Lauderdale branch in November for what he saw as failing to address critical local issues. ``It's a damn shame that this branch would travel to Daytona Beach, but not drive a few blocks to . . . Oakland Park and Fort Lauderdale . . . to protest and march against racism, bigotry, harassment, intimidation, discrimination and retaliation of black and minority employees,'' Bouyer said in a November NAACP meeting. After Bouyer's comments were publicized, McCormick wrote a letter warning him not to speak for the branch without permission, citing a national NAACP rule. Bouyer resigned his official position in December. ``It is a protection for the organization,'' said McCormick, making no apologies for the letter. ``Sometimes information is misconstrued. And then you have to defend something that somebody said.'' A few days later, Janice Boursiquot, the branch's education committee chairwoman, resigned. She was upset over McCormick's letter to Bouyer.
McCormick's supporters say he follows the rules as laid out by the national NAACP, and that makes him more effective. ``When I criticize, what I like to do is bring a solution. I don't think these people have done that,'' said Rick Riley, the Fort Lauderdale NAACP's press and publicity chair. ``I invite those folks who disagree with him and who have fallen out with him to try doing what he does.'' McCormick also found himself at odds with the branch's former environmental justice co-chairs, Frank and Audrey Peterman. McCormick removed Frank Peterman from office last year, saying he refused to undergo training, as required under national NAACP guidelines. Frank Peterman said scheduling conflicts kept him from taking the training when it was offered, but that his wife, Audrey, did get the required training. ``We thought that if one of us had that, there was no requirement that I have it also,'' he said. After her husband was removed from his position, Audrey Peterman resigned. ``It seemed to me that it was a covert effort to get rid of the environmental justice committee,'' she said. She had wanted the group to take a stronger position on removing toxins from the Wingate landfill and relocating its neighbors.
`A good job'
Todd Jones, the NAACP's health committee chairman, disagrees. ``He's doing a good job,'' Jones said, adding that the NAACP must do research before taking a stand and follow national protocols. ``He's doing this for the good of the people.'' McCormick, 37, of Lauderhill, never is one to step away from a fight. A Georgia native, he attended Florida Memorial College on a baseball and academic scholarship. He received a bachelor's degree in business management in 1987. He went to work for American Express. In 1989, he was invited to try out as a catcher for the Chicago White Sox in Sarasota. It didn't last. He was back in Fort Lauderdale washing cars in 1990. Four years later, he started Cullen Medical Supplies out of his garage, with no more than a desk and $531 from a broken piggy bank. The company later posted millions in revenue, he said. McCormick also ran Cullen Home Health Pharmacy, but sold it in October to Eckerd Drugs. McCormick said he follows the letter of the law because he thinks it is the best way to run an organization. ``If we don't follow the laws, we go to jail,'' he said. ``When we don't follow the rules and the regulations of the organization, we fail. When we follow the rules, we will have progress.''
©The Miami Herald
CONSTITUTIONAL COURT DROPS NPD HEARINGS(Germany)
Germany's highest court on Tuesday canceled oral arguments on a proposed ban of the right-wing extremist National Democratic Party after the justices learned that a key member of the party's leadership is an undercover investigator. The discovery astonished judicial officials at the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe and prompted a leading member of Germany's junior coalition partner to demand an immediate investigation. The court learned that a party leader is an undercover agent for a state domestic intelligence service when an official of the German Interior Ministry recently told the court that a state interior ministry had given the undercover agent permission to testify. The state involved is North Rhine-Westphalia, a source said. Court officials then began raising new questions about the case because the applications to ban the party contain anti-Semitic and racist comments linked to this party leader, sources said. The court had cleared five days between Feb. 5 and Feb. 20 for the oral arguments. But those hearings were canceled on Tuesday so that the justices could clear up the procedural and legal issues related to the report about the undercover agent hearing the news, Volker Beck, a member of Alliance 90/The Greens, called for Interior Minister Otto Schily to appear before a parliamentary committee on Wednesday and address the problem. "It has to be explained why the state domestic intelligence service in question did not inform officials about the type of particular sources before the legal brief was prepared," said Mr. Beck, the legal spokesman for the Greens, the junior coalition partner. "We also want to know how long the German Interior Ministry has known about the issue." In Germany, a political party can be banned if the court determines that it is a threat to the country's democratic order or seeks to overturn it. The push to outlaw the NPD began in the summer of 2000 amid an increase in the number of right-wing attacks recorded in Germany. In January 2001, the German government filed its petition, followed two months later by petitions from the German parliament, and the Bundesrat, the legislative body that represents the interests of German states at the national level. The applications claim that the party is "aggressively" trying to undermine the country's democratic order. In the 52-year history of the Federal Republic of Germany, the court has banned only two parties: the Socialist Reich Party, in which former Nazis had collected, in 1952, and the Communist Party of Germany in 1956.
During the oral arguments, the court was scheduled to hear from 14 witnesses, including the NPD leader, Holger Apfel.
© Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
HESS ON INTERNET DRAWS A FINE(Germany)
A grandson of Rudolf Hess, Adolf Hitler's deputy, was fined for public incitement Thursday after putting remarks by Hess on the Internet. Hess was quoted as saying that there were no gas chambers at the Dachau concentration camp near Munich during World War II and that the Americans installed them after the war to scare tourists, the Munich district court was told. Wolf Andreas Hess, a 23-year-old student, had only been trying to assemble historical documentation about his grandfather, the defense counsel said. He added that Mr. Hess was not trying to incite anyone and that he knew there had been a Holocaust. Mr. Hess was fined E1,350 ($1,184). Beyond his grave in his Bavarian hometown of Wunsiedel, Rudolf Hess remains a source of fascination for Germany's small band of neo-Nazis.
©International Herald Tribune
PLAN TO WITHDRAW TREATMENT FROM RACIST PATIENTS(uk)
Zero tolerance of abuse under new guidelines
Racist hospital patients who persistently refuse care from doctors and nurses of a different ethnic origin will lose their right to treatment under the NHS, according to guidelines being prepared by the Department of Health. Plans to change the rules were disclosed yesterday as an argument raged over whether the treatment of Rose Addis at the Whittington hospital in north London was affected by her alleged refusal to be undressed by black nurses. While avoiding comment on Mrs Addis's racial attitudes, a department source said officials had been working for several months on guidelines to implement the government's policy of zero tolerance of racism. They propose a two-stage process for dealing with racist abuse. Under the first, informal stage, nurses, doctors, therapists, porters and other frontline NHS staff will be advised to tell the perpetrator that racist behaviour is unacceptable. If healthcare workers are too upset to confront the patient in this way, they will be encouraged to ask another member of staff to do it for them. If patients ignore informal warnings, the draft guidelines propose formal procedures, including a written warning setting out types of behaviour that would no longer be tolerated. "Bluntly, the patient would be told that refusal of treatment from any individual on racial grounds would be regarded as refusing to be treated altogether. Ultimately a decision would be made by a doctor as to whether it would be appropriate to withdraw NHS services completely," the source said. The department has not yet decided how the guidelines should deal with racist patients with life-threatening conditions who might suffer if treatment was withdrawn. Last year it published research showing nearly half the ethnic minority staff in the NHS experienced racial harassment over the previous 12 months. James Malone-Lee, the Whittington's medical director, said: "The NHS employs a large number of staff from ethnic minorities and it's very sad that we run into problems with people expressing very racist views. "These can often become more overt among elderly people when they are confused or when suffering from diseases that affect their inhibitions, so they can become uninhibited."
AFSC REP RECALLS RACISM CONFERENCE, KINDNESS OF SOUTH AFRICANS AFTER SEPT 11
When asked the significance of Washington pulling out of the United Nations' 3rd World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerances, Sonia Tuma, who traveled to the sessions in Durban, South Africa, replied: "It was a great shame, and it pointed out the lack of commitment the U.S. has for addressing issues the conference was convened to examine." As associate regional director of the American Friends Service Committee's Pacific Southwest Region, Tuma was one of 65 AFSC representatives who attended non-governmental organization forums Aug. 28 to Sept. 1 and the U.N. conference itself from Sept. 1 to 7. Some 6,500 individual representatives and 2,700 non-governmental organizations addressed the issues in an NGO forum prior to the convening of the more bureaucratic inter-governmental U.N. sessions. Prior to the conference, Tuma said, the U.S. was objecting to language on Israel and Palestine and on the reparation and compensation of slaves, the most controversial item on the conference agenda.Then Secretary of State Colin Powell announced the U.S. would not be participating at the conference.
Asked if it was detrimental to the Palestinians that a document addressing their plight was not approved, Tuma replied, "What good has any U.N. resolution done for the Palestinians? The language in 242 and 338 has credibility, but it's the implementation that matters." Nevertheless, Tuma found the conference worthwhile. "It is essential that the international community comes together and builds a consensus on important, even crucial, issues," she said. Remaining in South Africa to complete her paper work, Tuma was stunned to hear on Sept. 11 a radio bulletin that America was being bombed. "Rumors were horrendous at first," she recalled. "We heard that the White House and the Capitol had been bombed." Tuma was forced to wait in Durban until flights to the U.S. were resumed. "Wherever I went," she said, "when strangers recognized my American accent, they expressed genuine sympathy, some even cried. Everyone—even street vendors—offered their condolences and feelings of sorrow." Over and above the anxiety brought on by the attacks on her country, Tuma says she was terrified of the ordeal she might face with airport security when trying to board a plane home. AFSC arranged for its regional director and, if needed, legal counsel to meet her when her flight arrived Sept. 16 at Kennedy Airport. "There was no problem arriving in the U.S.," Tuma noted, "but when I tried to board a flight to Los Angeles from Newark two days later, it was a different situation." As other passengers headed for the flight, she said, Tuma was obliged to watch guards meticulously search through her luggage. "The questions I was asked weren't unreasonable," she added, "but the guards didn't ask other Americans the same questions. There seemed to be an unspoken assumption that Muslims and Arab Americans didn't feel the tragedy as deeply as everyone else—so we had to cope with the horror of the act and be targeted as suspects as well."
EUROPE FOCUS FOR ASYLUM SAYS UN
Applications from Europe increased by 310%
A new report on asylum applications shows that Europe received three-quarters of all applications over the past 20 years. The study, carried out by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, looked at the asylum trends for 37 industrialised countries and found that Europe was both the largest source and the largest recipient of refugees. According to the research, some 8.4 million people sought asylum in the world's leading industrialised countries. The number of asylum applicants originating in Europe increased by 310% during the two decades, making the continent the world's largest source of asylum seekers. In the 1990s, the number of applicants from the former Yugoslavia shot up 12-fold following the widespread conflict in the region, and in the wake of the 1989 Romanian revolution 402,000 people applied for asylum, making them the second largest group to request asylum after the Yugoslavs. But the UNHCR study showed that in addition to generating millions of asylum seekers, European countries also received 6.3 million asylum requests - that is three-quarters of all the applications lodged. Countries such as Hungary, which once produced huge numbers of refugees, were now attracting asylum seekers and the numbers of asylum applications in other Central European countries had risen by 20%. Elsewhere, Canada and the United States received two million applications, and Australia, New Zealand and Japan together recorded just 1% of the total.
CHURCH WARNED AGAINST RACISM IN SEARCH FOR LEADER(uk)
Anglican Bishop of Rochester talks of prejudice
Michael Nazir-Ali, the Pakistani-born Anglican Bishop of Rochester, named last week as an early front-runner in the race to become the next archbishop of Canterbury, warned yesterday against racist smears by his opponents within the church. The bishop, already accused of excessive ambition by appearing on the BBC's Today programme within hours of George Carey's announcement that he intends to stand down as archbishop in the autumn, claimed in a Sunday newspaper interview that no institution was exempt from racism. Yet his own staff admitted yesterday that they were not aware of any dirty tricks campaign against the bishop, except what they had been told by one national newspaper. The Rev Chris Stone, the bishop's press officer, said: "This has been run pretty big by the Times. All we have done is to respond to what they have told us. That is as much as we know." In yesterday's Sunday Telegraph, Dr Nazir-Ali, one of the favoured candidates of the Church of England's evangelical wing, said: "One comes across racism in all sorts of places and in my experience, no particular place is exemplary. I just hope that the church rises above this kind of approach to what is the choice of a Christian leader." The race to succeed Dr Carey at the end of October has so far provoked a frenzy of media speculation, much more excitable than anything within the church, where whispers have largely concerned the suitability of particular candidates on doctrinal and political grounds, rather than personalities. Other senior churchmen questioned yesterday whether Bishop Michael had become over-excited in his ambition, amid signs that some evangelicals were switching their support to the Right Rev James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool. Both the Conservatives' leading evangelical politician, Gary Streeter, and the Liberal Democrats' Simon Hughes, an evangelical former synod member, tipped him as their candidate during appearances on GMTV. The tradition within the Church of England is that an evangelical - such as Dr Carey - is succeeded by a member of the church's rival Anglo-Catholic wing, though membership of the crown appointments commission, which will select the next archbishop, is heavily weighted in favour of evangelicals. Revelations that Dr Nazir-Ali was a Catholic as a teenager in Pakistan, prompted an admission by the bishop, but were dismissed by other bishops as irrelevant. Dr Nazir-Ali said: "These are labels and don't mean anything. I still retain things from my past as everyone does and I try to be a rounded Christian... I just feel that an Anglican way of being a Christian is something which brings together the Catholic and evangelical. If I were asked to describe myself, I would call myself Catholic and evangelical." Just as problematic for his candidature may be his reluctance to sanction remarriage in church for divorcees who have been instrumental in the breakdown of their first marriages - which could cause problems if the Prince of Wales ever seeks to marry Camilla Parker-Bowles. Prince Charles's staff made clear at the weekend that he would favour, "if asked", the Right Rev Richard Chartres, Bishop of London, to become archbishop. "The prince is a huge fan," a senior official was quoted as saying. "The two men are very close and the prince thinks he is great. The prince likes Richard Chartres's fairly traditional, conservative and orthodox approach."
RYERSON PROBES ANTI-SEMITIC GRAFFITI(Canada)
Ryerson University officials are considering contacting Toronto police as part of an investigation into a rash of violent, racist and homophobic graffiti on campus. The graffiti, which included a squashed bug and anti-Semitic threats, was found in four men's bathrooms in East Kerr Hall, a section of the school's main building at Church and Gould Sts. "It's totally unacceptable," said Ryerson president Claude Lajeunesse in an interview yesterday. "I'm proud to tell you that this is not a common occurrence at Ryerson." School officials were notified on Thursday, and immediately began photographing the graffiti and then painting over it, he said. he school's Office of Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Services is consulting with campus security to decide whether to report the incident to Toronto police. In the meantime, the office is posting warnings that this kind of graffiti is a criminal offence and could be considered a hate crime. "This is the sort of thing that needs to be nipped in the bud," said Mordecai Drache, a journalism student, who was the first to report the incident to university officials. He hopes the matter is turned over to police — and treated as a hate crime. "I'm investing time, money, effort, and energy in my education. I want this to be a safe environment. I feel that's my right," the 29-year-old said. On one bathroom wall was a squashed bug, with an anti-Semitic, homophobic slur written next to it in ballpoint pen, Drache said. "I just sort of screamed, `Oh my God,' " Drache said, adding that he is Jewish and openly gay. "I felt vulnerable at first, but then very, very angry." In other washrooms, officials found other homophobic comments, as well as anti-Semitic slurs containing references to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Some graffiti specifically targeted a Jewish student at Ryerson. Graffiti still remained in one bathroom yesterday afternoon, and Drache wondered why school officials didn't act faster. "I would assume there was (janitorial) care staff in there on a daily basis. I would really like to know why it only came down when a student complained. Even the bug was still there on Friday," he said. Lajeunesse said the school acted "extremely diligently" in dealing with the problem. "We want to make sure the message is very clear that we don't condone these actions." Last year, two students were expelled from Concordia University for painting anti-Israeli slogans on school property.
SCREENING OF ASYLUM SEEKERS AN ‘INJUSTICE'(Ireland)
Forcing asylum seekers to be tested for infectious diseases would be an act of discrimination, according to Catholic bishops.
Organisers of the refugee project run by the Bishops' Conference say if mandatory screening is introduced it will have to be extended to all foreigners visiting the country. "While we're all in favour of screening, it has to be left up to people themselves, or else you are interfering with people's rights," said project co-ordinator, Sr Joan Roddy. "You simply can't justify having mandatory testing for one group of people while at the same time allowing thousands of others to come in without screening." Sr Roddy was speaking after the chairman of the Southern Health Board, Deputy Batt O'Keeffe, called for mandatory disease screening of all asylum seekers. The bishops are supported by the Irish Refugee Council, who believe the numbers going forward for testing will rise if the system remains voluntary and adequate medical facilities are provided. "Confidence has to be built up from a very low base here. The best way that can be done is to have good medical facilities in place," council chief executive Peter O'Mahony said. Since May 2000, the Department of Health has offered screening to asylum seekers when they first enter the country. Last year 67% of people seeking asylum went forward for medical screening after they were housed in accommodation centres in Dublin, prior to being dispersed throughout the country. These tests are carried out by the Department of Health and asylum seekers are screened for Tuberculosis, Hepatitis B and Polio. The service is provided free of charge. The Department of Health said yesterday it had not received any request from the Southern Health Board after deputy O'Keeffe's call. Exact figures for testing at local level have not been compiled in many health board regions, but only half of asylum seekers are screened in some areas, like the North Western Health Board, where 55% of immigrants were tested. In the Southern Health Board area more than a quarter of asylum seekers have not come forward for medical screening. Last week the head of the National Disease Surveillance Centre, Dr Darina O'Flanagan called for a national programme to look at infectious diseases among asylum seekers. A recent report showed that asylum seekers accounted for 50% of HIV cases at a Dublin sexual healthcare clinic.
AUSTRALIA ANTI-ASIAN LEADER RESIGNS
Pauline Hanson, who founded the anti-Asian and right-wing One Nation Party, resigned as its leader Monday, saying she needed to concentrate on fighting fraud charges. One Nation party made international headlines and alarmed Australia's Asian neighbors in the late 1990s with calls for an end to Asian immigration and strict limits on welfare handouts to Aborigines, the nation's indigenous minority. Hanson and former One Nation director David Ettridge were charged over the alleged fraudulent registration of the political party in 1997. The pair are due in court in April. Both have pleaded innocent in a pretrial hearing. The charge carries a maximum 10 year prison sentence. ``It was my decision to hand in my resignation as national president,'' Hanson told Melbourne radio 3AK. ``I've constantly got these court battles and challenges, and I couldn't do the job.'' In a 1998 state election, the party's anti-establishment platform attracted almost a quarter of the vote to win 11 seats in the Queensland legislature. At a 1998 federal election, the party won almost 9 percent of the vote nationally. However, One Nation fared poorly in the most recent national election in November of last year, and Hanson lost her own bid for a Senate seat. Hanson said she will remain a member of the party but needed to take time off for herself. If absolved of the fraud charges, Hanson said she would not rule out a return to politics. ``I won't say ... that I'll never stand for Parliament again, it's something that I have to assess further down the track,'' she said.
WILL THE REAL DR. KING PLEASE STEP FORWARD!(usa)
The traditional celebration of Martin Luther King's life each January has taken a bland path that would have surprised and dismayed him. The media has invariably depicted a fearless crusader for humanity as a man who had a dream and made a speech about it in 1963. The camera moves in on his face as he speaks at the Lincoln Memorial; editorial pundits embellish a pallid version of the "dream" by stressing his words of reconciliation, and otherwise cast him as a kindly, loving father and minister who meant no harm. That is how some people would like us to see the man who challenged and changed his country and the world. But Reverend King was a man of commitment and action, and radical action at that, who pursued justice and opposed war though it brought him to many picket lines, inside many jails and led to death threats and finally his assassination. His family had been a target of secret investigation J. Edgar Hoover and his FBI since World War I. Terrified that King would be able to overthrow discrimination in the United States, Hoover kept him and his chief aides under constant surveillance. A sad relic of an era of segregation lynching and paranoid anti-communism, Hoover feared King's would lead a revolution and overturn the system. Martin Luther King went to great pains to explain that his philosophy of nonviolent resistance was based on militant, uncompromising, opposition to injustice no matter how long it took or how many people or governments felt threatened. It was designed to compel people to confront the evil of racism, to work to eradicate it, and to build a loving, united community. A militant, determined, fearless Dr. King changed his country from within, and in 1964 was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. [That year Hoover called him "the greatest liar in the world."] King met with Malcolm X before his assassination and the two leaders found a lot in common, and asked to have their picture taken together. In 1967 King denounced the war in Viet Nam as unjust and imperialistic and urged young men not to register for the draft. His courageous stand lost him significant white support within the civil rights movement. But he and Stokley Carmichael led a huge march to the United Nations that chanted, "Hell no, we won't go!" In early 1968 Dr. King's radical philosophy led him to mobilize a multiracial Poor People's March on Washington that united poor whites, Native Americans, Hispanic Americans and African Americans. The focus was on jobs, a decent life and a just society for people of color and all the poor. And he was even more determined to end the US military presence in Asia and its interventions to throttle liberation movements in the world. In February, King spoke at a Carnegie Hall tribute to mark the one hundredth anniversary of the radical scholar Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois' birth. It was arranged by Freedomways magazine which Dr. Du Bois had founded alone with Paul Robeson a decade before to project a radical approach to the civil rights movement. Dr. Du Bois, both in 1868, was a legendary scholar and author of thirty books who devoted his life to the struggle for human rights, anti-imperialism and a liberated Africa. An exile from the United States, hounded for decades by Hoover's FBI for his radical views, Du Bois had settled and died in Ghana in 1963 at 95, and was buried there. King spoke warmly of the great scholar and as explained his activism, ideas and affiliations, he seemed to be trying to explain his political and philosophical journey. His sparing words provide insights into King's evolving views and express ideas that one rarely hears on his birthday each January. History had taught him [Du Bois] it is not enough for people to be angry -- the supreme task is to organize and unite people so that their anger becomes a transforming force. It was never possible to know where the scholar Du Bois ended and the organizer Du Bois began. The two qualities in him were a single united force. The life style of Dr. Du Bois is the most important quality this generation of Negroes needs to emulate. The educated Negro who is not really part of us, and the angry militant who fails to organize us have nothing in common with Dr. Du Bois. He exemplified black power in achievement and he organized black power in action. It was no abstract slogan to him. We cannot talk of Dr. Du Bois without recognizing that he was a radical all of his life. Some people would like to ignore the fact that he was a Communist in his later years. . . . It is time to cease muting the fact that Dr. Du Bois was a genius and chose to be a Communist. Our irrational obsessive anti-communism has led us into too many quagmires to be retained as if it were a mode of scientific thinking. Dr. King was not able to carry out his vision, or even complete his Poor People's March. In early April in Memphis while under surveillance from three government agencies, he was assassinated.
©The Black World Today
POSITIVE MEASURES NEEDED ON RACE(uk)
A leading Muslim academic has called for the introduction of a system of positive discrimination along the lines of Labour's women-only shortlists to ensure better political representation of the UK's ethnic minorities. Professor Muhammad Anwar, of the University of Warwick's centre for research in ethic relations, said Britain's multi-racial society is scarcely reflected within the political institutions. He told BBC News Online that with no members of the ethnic minorities in the Greater London and Welsh Assemblies, the Scottish parliament and only a handful at Westminster it was time for action. "It's a two-way thing - obviously ethnic minorities have to come forward to participate but they can only participate if the system encourages them. "I always give the example of women ... but you need the political will - you need to be bold on these things. "But people will only participate in things if they feel welcome."
A token Tory?
He refers to the appointment of solicitor Shailesh Vara as a Conservative Party vice-chairman. "It's alright to appoint an Asian as deputy chairman of the Conservative Party but what does it mean? It's symbolic. It's a good thing but I still see it as a token rather than effective representation." Labour's system to boost the numbers of female MPs was introduced for the 1997 election, and allowed constituencies to volunteer to have women-only shortlists. The result was a large increase in the intake of women MPs and, although the system was subsequently shown to be in breach of employment laws in the courts in 1998, Professor Anwar believes it could apply to the ethnic minorities. Notwithstanding that, he is at pains to stress that just because an MP is Asian does not mean that he "represents" Asian people.
Operation black vote
They should be seen to represent members of their constituencies and reflect the ethnic diversity of the UK. "It's like a medical doctor who is a spokesman on health. It's like working class MPs who were miners," he said. As long ago as 1974 Professor Anwar was involved in a national survey concerned with finding out whether members of the ethnic minorities were registering to vote. It is an issue that still concerns him today. In his 1999 research for Operation Black Vote, which aimed to get ethnic groups involved in the process, he demonstrated that while 18% of white people were not on the electoral register that figure shot to 25% among ethnic minorities. Professor Anwar is now waiting to see whether the new rolling system of registration introduced at the beginning of this year has an impact. "If you miss the first step then you are not there as far as the parties are concerned - you don't exist," he said.
Schools, jobs and health
He even suggests that some Asians avoid getting on to the electoral roll because they fear having their addresses found out by racists. But ultimately it is a case of not feeling connected. "I think the politicians particularly need to put their houses in order because they have a big responsibility [to ethnic minorities]." And he stresses that by-and-large people of all racial backgrounds have similar concerns about schools, jobs, the health service. Black people live mainly in those inner city areas which tend to be represented by Labour MPs.
"That's why I think Labour has a particular responsibility." If good race relations in Britain involve being properly represented at a political level then that is no less true when it comes to representation in the media. As soon as anything bad happens the very loyalty to this country of Black and Asian people is called into question, Professor Anwar says. A few extremists go off to fight with the Taleban and all Muslims are tarred with the same brush when the vast majority are decent British citizens. Something extreme happens and the press rush to get a comment from the "Muslim parliament which has no following among Muslims in this country," Professor Anwar insists, instead of going to talk to the mainstream. That is particularly damaging because different ethnic groups seldom have a clear idea about how their counterparts live. Professor Anwar believes that race relations in this country have gone backwards recently. Unrest in British inner cities between Asian youths and white extremists, the reaction to the atrocities of 11 September are examples. Ultimately he believes a key element of improving the relationship between the people of the UK is ensuring that they are properly reflected at all levels of British politics.
NORWEGIAN MINISTER MARRIES GAY PARTNER
The Norwegian Finance Minister, Per-Kristian Foss, has 'married' his long-time male companion. He is believed to be the world's first high-ranking minister to formalise a gay relationship. Mr Foss, 52, confirmed on Tuesday that he married his partner, Jan Erik Knarrbakk, in a ceremony in Sweden. "Yes, we entered a partnership at the [Norwegian] Embassy in Stockholm on 4 January. But beyond that it is a private matter," he told the financial daily Dagens Naeringsliv. Mr Knarbakk is a top manager at the Norwegian media group Schibsted, and the pair have already been described as being among Norway's most powerful couples.
Mr Foss has been openly gay, and the pair has long been living together in Oslo's fashionable Frogner district. His homosexuality was not an issue when he was given one of the top jobs in the country. Norway became the second country in the world, after Denmark, to allow gay and lesbian partnerships in 1993. About 100 couples register their relationships in the capital, Oslo, alone. Norwegians have a reputation of being tolerant to homosexuals and respectful towards the private life of public figures, and the local media only briefly mentioned the wedding. However, the 1993 law is still opposed by the Christian People's Party of the Prime Minister, Kjell Magne Bondevik, and bishops in the state Lutheran church.
NEO-NAZI MURDER DEFENDANTS AVOID NORWAY'S TOUGHEST JAIL TERM
Self-professed neo-Nazi Joe Erling Jahr was Thursday sentenced to 16 years in prison for last year's murder of 15-year-old African-Norwegian teenager Benjamin Hermansen in Oslo's multi-cultural Holmlia district. Two co-defendants were handed terms of 15 and three years, respectively. Ole Nicolai Kvisler (center of photo), age 22, was sentenced to 15 years, while Veronica Andreassen, 18, was ordered to spend three years in jail. All three, whose murder convictions were read in an Oslo city court Thursday, were also ordered to pay NOK 330,000 (about USD 40,000) in compensation to Hermansen's mother. Jahr's and Kvisler's sentences were milder than what the prosecution had sought, but slightly harsher for Andreassen. Prosecutors have called Hermansen's murder a "raw, brutal, cowardly" act and insisted his death was racially motivated, thus invoking harsher penalties under Norwegian law. Both Jahr and Kvisler have been associated with white supremacist movements in Norway, and Kvisler has marched in controversial neo-Nazi demonstrations. The prosecution had asked the court to sentence Jahr to 21 years in prison, Norway's toughest term, and had sought nearly the same for Kvisler. Andreassen was considered an accessory to the crime, and prosecutors had asked that she be sentenced to two-and-a-half years in jail. Jahr, age 20, himself has said he thought he deserved the death penalty for stabbing Hermansen to death in the random attack. Norway has no death penalty. Jahr testified that it was "an accident" Hermansen was killed after Jahr had accosted him around midnight on January 26, 2001. Jahr's willingness to take all the blame in the case, however, didn't mesh with his actions immediately following the murder: He fled to Denmark, fought extradition and later refused to answer questions from police during subsequent hearings, the court noted. Moreover, the court said, Jahr willingly had a knife with him and chose to attack Hermansen because he had a different skin color than "most ethnic Norwegians." Defense attorneys for Jahr and Kvisler had urged the court to acquit both on the grounds their testimony was not credible. Andreassen's attorney had not contested the prosecution's proposed sentence. The murder of Benjamin Hermansen sparked wide attention both in Norway and abroad. It set off several demonstrations against racism and violence in Oslo, and pop star Michael Jackson even dedicated his new album last year to Hermansen.
WAR ON TERROR 'CURBING HUMAN RIGHTS'
A leading human rights organisation has accused governments around the world of using the US-led war on terrorism as an excuse to carry out repressive policies and crush on internal dissent. A report by the US-based Human Rights Watch singles out Russia, Uzbekistan and Egypt as the main offenders, saying they are waging wars against political opponents who they claim are terrorists. The report also says the United States and its western allies are turning a blind eye to abuses in friendly countries in return for their support in the campaign against terror. However, it adds that progress has been made towards curbing human rights abuses, such as the trial of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and indictment of former Chilean military ruler Augusto Pinochet. "Terrorists believe that anything goes in the name of their cause. The fight against terror must not buy into that logic," said Kenneth Roth, the organisation's executive director. The report condemns the 11 September attacks on America, calling it "antithetical to the values of human rights". "Whether in time of peace or war... certain means are never justified, no matter what the ends," it says.
The organisation says it was concerned that following the attacks, many governments tried to take advantage of the situation "by touting their own internal struggles as battles against terrorism". It accuses the US and its western allies of a "shameful silence" over abuses carried out in the Middle East and North Africa, ostensibly in the fight against extremists. Saudi Arabia, it says, "imposes strict limits on civil society, severely discriminates against women, and systematically suppresses dissent," while Egypt "does all it can to suffocate peaceful political opposition". The report claims that since 11 September, the US has toned down its criticism of human rights abuses by Russia in Chechnya and played up alleged links between Chechen rebels and Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda terror network. Russian President Vladimir Putin had embraced the anti-terrorism rhetoric to defend his government's "brutal campaign" in the breakaway republic, it says. New restrictions in the US, such as proposed military tribunals for suspected terrorists, could compromise America's credibility in opposing human rights abuses elsewhere, the report adds.
Afghanistan 'litmus test'
The report says the future shape of Afghanistan will test the anti-terror coalition's commitment to human rights. While the defeat of the Taleban had created an opportunity for positive change, "many of the forces vying to replace the Taleban, including elements of the Northern Alliance, also have horrendous human rights records". The international community should work to end discrimination against women in Afghanistan and collect evidence of abuses by all Afghan factions that could be used against suspects in court, the report adds.
Good and bad
According to the 670-page report, which covers 66 countries, one of the worst abusers of human rights is Uzbekistan. The report says the country has no political parties or independent media and sanctions the torture of Muslims caught praying outside the state-run mosque. However, the report notes that there are some examples of progress in respect for human rights. Morocco and Jordan have become more open societies, it says, while Qatar and Bahrain have promised to hold elections. And Iran has shown a gradual political liberalisation and allowed the emergence of a movement demanding respect for civil liberties. "But if the West continues to accept repression as the best defence against radical policies, it will undermine the human rights culture that is needed in the long run to defeat terrorism," the report concludes.
UN REFUGEE CHIEF HEARS CHECHEN HEARTACHE
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Ruud Lubbers, has heard first-hand accounts of suffering from Chechens who have fled across the border into the Russian republic of Ingushetia. Mr Lubbers, who flew to Ingushetia from Moscow, toured the giant tented camps where refugees are spending their third winter. Refugees shown on Russian television meeting Mr Lubbers said human rights abuses had forced them to flee. "In Russia the death penalty is suspended, but federal forces without trial or investigations are shooting hundreds and hundreds of innocent Chechens," said one 45-year-old woman, Maret Magamadova, one of 5,000 people in Bella refugee camp. Another woman wept as she told Mr Lubbers: "Here there is cold and hunger, I would gladly go home. Get them to stop the war and let us go home." Mr Lubbers was later quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying that the Russian military should limit its presence in Chechnya to where it was really needed.
'Back on the map'
"The less incidents there are in Chechnya involving representatives of the armed forces, the faster the Chechens who fled to Ingushetia will believe that their home republic has become safe and ready to take them back," he was reported as saying. The war in Chechnya slipped down the international agenda following the 11 September attacks in the United States, analysts say. UNHCR spokesman Kris Janowski said before the visit that one of the reasons for Mr Lubbers' trip was "to put Chechnya back on the map". During his three-day trip to Russia, Mr Lubbers is also expected to hold high-level talks with Russian authorities in an attempt to find a political solution for the Chechen conflict. On Wednesday, Moscow hinted it was prepared to resume peace talks with separatist rebels on condition that they agree to disarm. Western criticism of the Russian military campaign was toned down significantly after Moscow backed the US-led war on terror. Russia has always defended its military campaign, insisting its troops are fighting "terrorists" in Chechnya. However, recent sweep operations by Russian troops in Chechen villages have prompted renewed international concern. Aid groups have urged Mr Lubbers to use his influence to improve the conditions for refugees. "The plight of the displaced population lost the attention of the international community. Thousands of displaced Chechens live under unacceptable conditions in Ingushetia, and many more arrive on a daily basis," the aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres said in its statement. More than 150,000 Chechens have left their homes for neighbouring Ingushetia since the Russian army launched its latest military campaign in 1999. Many of them live in abandoned cowsheds schools and factories in poor hygienic conditions. The UNHCR says that in addition to that, around 160,000 Chechens have been displaced inside Chechnya.
DIGITAL DIVIDE: RACISM'S NEW FRONTIER
We need to overcome the new segregation, says Robin Chandler
The internet is slow to recognise its responsibilities as an ethical player. If we have racism, a digital divide is its new colonial frontier. Passions surrounding the access and control of IT worldwide have triggered a cultural revolution. It is less about tangible resources, and more about who has access to information as the new generator of wealth. Statistics from the US (Cultural Access Group, 2000) cite black women as the primary internet users in black online communities, more than three quarters of all African-American users, while only 35% of internet users overall are women. This doesn't mean a racial digital divide doesn't exist. Computer technology is monopolised by avant-garde elites, advertisers, and e-commerce gangs exploiting the terra nullius of cyberspace. Despite the Goliath corporate wars, IT has become a fundamental right to access, not a discretionary one. "David" is fighting back, from marginalised minority communities to developing nations.
I am stirred by the implications of race in cyberspace. The new Xbox may be sexy and virtually compelling, but most kids of colour on the planet aren't literate, nourished and disease-protected, so first things first. Class buys its way into any new commodity and mostly informs and controls the means of IT production including the distribution of resources. In America, the issue of class defines who has access to long-term training and the tools of computer technology. The European Union, seeing a digital divide between eastern and western Europe, has prioritised IT development in eastern Europe. What these initiatives strive for are learning communities as a track to democratic culture. The future of linking students and teachers in networked learning communities around the globe represents the best hope for a peaceful century. A digital divide will persist. English remains the lingua franca of at least 80% of all web sites, and more than half of all of the internet's host computers are in the US. Regions are confronting the digital divide in novel ways. The Bangalore Declaration - a plethora of UN projects from Iraq to Romania, and Britain's UK Online campaign - try to keep the agendas of inclusion tied to the policy agendas of nations. Can a digital divide even exist if the internet is doubling every year? What do we yearn for as pluralistic societies - better ways to access cell phone/internet calls or more technologies that invade the space of the mind and body? Sometimes it would be nice to write a letter with real ink. Is cultural and ethnic representation possible in IT spaces? Do cultural groups tend to assimilate into the white western technology elite? Certainly, ethnic minorities among the middle and upper classes in Britain and the US have been able to maintain connections with families abroad through complex financial arrangements facilitated by technology and class privilege.
Among African Americans in the US, the best educated people of African descent, a digital divide none the less exists. The scenarios re-circulate - poverty, lack of access, unequal educational opportunities, and the absence of family property. These have historically marginalised a group whose role in the US economy over centuries was structured to create an "underclass". No excuse, you say? Nobel prize winner Amartya Sen reminds us that "African Americans have an absolutely lower chance of reaching mature ages than do people of many third world societies, such as China, or Sri Lanka, or parts of India". In tracking the arrange-ments that brought about the structural inequalities precipitating the digital divide, the path leads back to globalisation's ubiquitous projects of free trade, development and colonialism. The movement of human beings for jobs and a better life also factors into the considerations of where the centres of access tend to be, and where IT access thrives. Access to technology is further constrained by national financial commitments to reallocate domestic spending in ways that benefit "the haves" by virtue of their education. Governments are faced with trading off social responsibility goals for profits. Yet cultural anomalies abide.
In Accra, which has only 240,000 telephone lines for 19m million people, there are 100 cybercafes. But these are not really anomalies. This is still the middle class moving through the world. Has the internet emerged as the "new territory" of manifest destiny, the new terra nullius? Has not cyberspace, its networks and its applications, become the new terra nullius in the global economic pursuit for resources and information? Lack of education is a tool of demagogues who hate independent thinkers. We cannot afford to wait until 2015 when the Dakar Declaration on universal education is implemented.
SHOOTING RAISES ISSUE OF RACISM AGAINST AMERICAN INDIANS IN KLAMATH
Perry Chocktoot, a member of the Klamath Tribes, says he was working on his pickup when three white men drove by yelling "Sucker lovers, come out and fight!" and fired a shotgun blast at an outhouse across the street. The men also shot at signs and other buildings in this town of about 500 that is headquarters for the Klamath Tribes -- which consider the endangered sucker fish sacred -- and asked youngsters if they were American Indians. "They shot over one kid's head," Chocktoot said. "You know what that tells that kid? `White people hate me."'
The Dec. 1 shooting put a spotlight on racism amid tensions already strained over last summer's federal decision to reserve drought-depleted water for the suckers and threatened coho salmon. That left little water for the half of the Klamath Basin's farmers who rely on federal irrigation. Three men face a variety of charges including felony intimidation in connection with the shooting. Tribal officials say they weren't surprised by the incident. "I believe it took the drought of 2001 to bring to the surface how deeply embedded racism is in this community," said Joe Hobbs, tribal vice chairman.
An Oregon State University draft report on last summer's water wars noted "racism that mostly lies below the surface of social life in the basin emerged as some framed the issue as `Indians vs. farmers."' Demonstrators last summer carried anti-sucker signs, and denounced the sucker as an inedible, bottom-feeding trash fish. Bumper stickers said "Save a farmer, fillet a sucker fish." "They don't understand how significant these fish are to us," said Tribal Chairman Allen Foreman. "To them it's a trash fish. Through their minds they associate us with trash." But to the Klamath people, the C'waam (TCH-waam), or Lost River sucker, and Qapdo (KUP-doe), or shortnosed sucker, are sacred gifts of Creator, celebrated with an annual ceremony to mark the spring spawning run. They tell a story about how Creator made the white-fleshed fish from the bones of a monster, and told the people that when the fish were no more, the Klamath people would be no more. Numbers remained plentiful until the 1960s, when the fish went on the endangered species list. Biologists blamed overfishing, as well as declining water quality and habitat from overgrazing, agricultural runoff and draining marshes.
Relations between whites and Indians have been tense from the start. A Hudson's Bay Co. trapper reported friendly contacts with the Klamaths in 1826, but complained of raiding by the neighboring Modocs. In 1846, explorer John C. Fremont retaliated for a raid on his camp by burning a Klamath village. Indians were massacred after complaints of raids on wagon trains in the 1850s. An 1864 treaty put the Klamaths, Modocs and Yahooskins together on a reservation at Chiloquin, opening the land for settlers. In 1907, the federal government began recruiting farmers for the newly built Klamath Project, which drained marshes to create farmland and tapped lakes to irrigate crops. By 1954 the government dissolved the tribes and paid people for their shares of the reservation, which became a national forest and wildlife refuge. The tribes have since regained tribal status and are trying to regain the reservation.
Steve Kandra, a farmer who has been a leader in the water fight, says no reasonable person would support the shooting in Chiloquin. But he says farmers have legitimate differences with the tribes. Tribal research went into the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service opinion that led to the irrigation cutbacks, and when farmers filed suit challenging the water cutbacks, the tribes intervened on the federal government's side. "The tribes as a business entity, they have had opportunities to work with the community and were not very cooperative," Kandra says. "If I make a comment that the tribes could have done this better, am I a racist when I say that?" The tribes note that irrigators dropped out of court-supervised mediation looking for long-term solutions. On his visit to Oregon this month, President Bush pledged support for Klamath Basin farmers. Meanwhile, a formal ajudication process has begun to sort out the basin's water rights and a wet winter promises to take some of the pressure off finding solutions. Elwood Miller, the tribes' director of natural resources, says both farms and fish can thrive, but only if the entire ecosystem returns to a more natural condition. To do that, "people have to be able to come together and respect each other," Miller said. "We are concerned about the livelihood of the farmer, but they have to be concerned about the livelihood of the Klamath tribes."
RIGHTS GROUP ORDERS ZUNDEL TO KILL HATE SITE(Canada)
The Canadian Human Rights Commission yesterday ordered Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel to kill off a Web site featuring hate propaganda that targets Jews and the Holocaust. The commission said that whatever free-speech protection may exist for hate material on the Internet is vastly outweighed by the social benefits of eliminating hate-mongering. "It bears repeating that the expression in those documents does nothing to advance the underlying values of freedom of expression," commissioners Claude Pensa and Reva Devins said. Michelle Falardeau-Ramsay, chief commissioner of the CHRC, said the impact of the unregulated Internet to spread hatred could not be underestimated.
The ruling came six years -- and millions of dollars in legal expenses -- after Mr. Zundel was accused of using his so-called Zundelsite to continue a life-long battle against Jews. The commission conceded that ordering Mr. Zundel to "cease and desist" from using his Web site has a certain futility. It noted that the material can be easily transferred to any number of "mirror sites" where sympathizers could recreate it. However, law professor Ed Morgan, a senior official with the Canadian Jewish Congress, said the human-rights battle has been more than worthwhile. "There is a lot of symbolic value in this," Prof. Morgan said in an interview.
"This has got to be a blow to the Canadian-based, neo-Nazi movement. If there are Canadian-based sites, this will shut them down." Prof. Morgan said the ruling is in line with a provision the federal government put in its recent antiterrorism bill that permits the regulation of Internet material.
After interrupting the human-rights inquiry with legal motions and appeals since 1996, Mr. Zundel suddenly announced last year that he had lost interest in fighting it. In an interview yesterday from his new home in the Smoky Mountain region of Tennessee, Mr. Zundel had little to say about a ruling he described as tiresome and irrelevant. "You're talking to the new Ernst Zundel," he said. "They used to accuse me of Holocaust denial. Well, now I'm in Canada-denial. I have put Canada behind me." Mr. Zundel, who remarried recently and sells his own paintings for a living, said he does not intend to risk returning to Canada, lest he be stopped on some pretext at the border. "I'm not going to give them the satisfaction," he said. "I will not set foot in Canada again."
The commission described the Zundelsite yesterday as a place in which "Jews are vilified in the most rabid and extreme manner," equating it to a schoolyard bully whose constant taunting "can erode an individual's personal dignity and self-worth." The commissioners added that the ease with which vast amounts of hate information can be posted on the Internet renders it a much greater threat to social harmony than the telephone ever was.
©The Globe and Mail
FINDING FORGIVENESS IN ROKYCANY(Czechia)
Romany victims strike an unusual deal with firebombing teens
As Marta and Jiri Gina left the local courthouse, they shook hands amicably with the three teenagers who tried to firebomb their home 18 months ago. The Ginas turned and left the small, modern building, three apologies and several thousand crowns richer than when they entered. The trio of young men, who lobbed a Molotov cocktail at the Romany family's home, emerged from the courthouse a few minutes later with clean criminal records and large debts to their parents. Despite the gravity of the attack and its racial overtones, the Romany musician and his wife say they're satisfied with the unusual Dec. 7 court settlement that saw the crime expunged from the 18-year-olds' criminal record in exchange for words of contrition and a 42,500 Kc ($1,150) payment. "When someone does something and he regrets it ... friendship does a lot," Jiri Gina said. "It's not possible for people to be dogs to each other all the time." Others outside this town of 15,000 inhabitants near Plzen (Pilsen) are less forgiving. They say the deal could allow those who commit racially motivated attacks against the country's Romany, or Gypsy, minority to "buy their innocence." The intimacies of a town where nearly everyone knows one another give nuance to the Rokycany story.
The evening of June 14, 2000, was sweltering, Marta Gina recalled. Martin Tomasek, then 17, had known Marta's son Emil for years. That night Tomasek, angry at something Emil had said to his girlfriend, was drinking with his friends Josef Nosek and Tomas Budin. The three teenagers' minds soon turned to revenge. They made their way to the Gina's apartment, where Marta was home with her twin girls and Emil's younger brother. The twins, who were 2 at the time, couldn't sleep because of the heat. As she struggled to settle them, she heard a loud bang at the window and then smelled gasoline. She flung open the window and saw the boys running off. Under the family car lay the Molotov cocktail that had ricocheted off the sill. Her frightened children began crying, but the mother of six remained calm, dashing outside to douse the flames. The three teenagers weren't through, however. They moved on to another home in the Romany neighborhood and attempted a second arson attack. Again they failed. "I thought, 'This is impossible. They would only do this to Roma,'" Marta remembered. "We didn't sleep all night. We were crying and scared."
Tomasek, Nosek and Budin were later detained by police and confessed. They were charged with racial violence. Their parents, who wanted to avoid having their sons carry criminal records, approached the Ginas about making a deal. "Their parents were very opposed to what their kids did, very sorry," explained Jiri Gina. "Having raised a family too, I know how that must have felt." Under the law, someone who has committed a crime may pay a cash settlement -- but only if it's a first offense and if the act carries a sentence of less than five years. Payoffs are usually made in cases involving material damage or negligence, such as a failure to pay taxes. The Ginas, seeking to put the incident behind them, decided to accept the apology and payment. They knew the incident could have been far worse. In Krnov, a Romany woman was killed in a similar arson attack in 1998. "Thank God the [Molotov cocktail] didn't go through the window and we didn't get burned to death, because money can't bring back a life," Marta Gina said. The couple says they will spend the 42,500 Kc settlement on their family and on instruments for Jiri's band, which plays traditional Romany music. Under the terms of the settlement, a small portion will also go to local public works. But for Markus Pape, a Prague representative of the European Roma Rights Center, the agreement is "very strange, even for the Czech Republic." He worries that once skinheads and neo-Nazis find out the attackers were able to pay their way out of a criminal situation, such assailants will lose their fear of the court system, believing they can buy their way out of a first offense and escape with a clean record. Then, if they go on to commit a second racial crime, they will most likely receive a suspended sentence, he added.
For the most part, the three attackers shuffled and shrugged their way through the court proceedings. "We were drunk and we just came up with the idea," Tomasek said after the decision. He's relieved the incident won't keep him from a career in the Army. He blamed the attack on the Ginas home on the combination of his rage against Emil and his drunkenness. But why, then, did the trio attack a second Romany family unconnected to the dispute? "I kind of don't know," he said. "In that moment, hate toward Roma just broke out in us." Tomasek said he's repaired his relationship with Emil. His attitude toward Roma hasn't changed, he said. "I don't have anything much against them."
Radovan Hronek, the judge who approved the settlement, believes in second chances. But whether the youths are in fact contrite can't be measured by their brief courthouse appearance, he warned. He recalled another case where a man accused of assault, visibly remorseful, struck a similar deal. He committed another assault a few months later. "You can't see the trace it leaves on their memory. It doesn't show on the outside," Hromek said. While the attack was among the worst racially motivated crimes he'd seen in Rokycany, Hronek was swayed by the fact that no one was injured. Moreover, the men would have received only 18-month suspended sentences. Hronek explained that the settlement gave the Ginas greater compensation more swiftly than they could otherwise have expected from the court system. The money is significant both for the attackers' families, who are not wealthy, and for the victims, because the total sum is about twice the value of all their furnishings. "Maybe digging deep in their pocket is more of a punishment for [Tomasek, Nosek and Budin] than the threat of going to jail," Hronek said. "Only time will prove if it had an educational effect."
©The Prague Post
RACE SLAYING HURTS NORWAY'S SELF-IMAGE
In this seemingly perfect land, could there be self-doubt? The sad story and violent death of Benjamin Hermansen suggest that there could.
For many years, Norway has peered down from an aerie of virtuous prosperity, offering praise, cash and counsel to those less blessed with social cohesion and oil riches. "It is typically Norwegian to be good," a former prime minister, Gro Harlem Brundtland, once remarked. The UN Human Development Report, indeed, ranked Norway this year as the best place in the world to live. But the case of Benjamin Hermansen, a 15-year-old African-Norwegian boy who was stabbed to death on a sidewalk, reportedly by neo-Nazis, has challenged this tranquil country's vision of itself, raising the question of what it means to be Norwegian and European in a demographically changed continent. The questioning has intensified since the trial of those accused of being his killers began last month.
"People realized that Norway is not the country they thought," said Nadeem Butt, the director of the government-financed Center Against Racism. "Most of the people thought racism is not a problem. That has changed quite radically. People do understand now that this is a problem."
For the last few months, Scandinavia has pursued its own version of Europe's strained debate about immigration and race, and has sometimes lurched to the political right as a result. In Denmark, an anti-immigrant party did well in elections in November. In Norway, elections last September removed the Labor Party after 80 years of dominance and ushered in a coalition supported from outside by the anti-immigrant Progress Party.
But it is the killing of Benjamin, the son of a Norwegian mother and a Ghanaian father, that has most deeply challenged the country's view of itself. There are two worlds in Oslo. In West Oslo, bustling shoppers crowd the streets, some clad in sleek furs. In East Oslo, dingy streets fill with some of the 130,000 immigrants, asylum seekers and other foreigners who live in Norway. These worlds come together in the clinical light spilling onto the pale Norwegian wood benches of Court Room 227 at Oslo's City Court. Here, three people accused of killing Benjamin provide a graphic image of the hostility directed at immigrants, who account for about a quarter of the population of 500,000 in the capital of this overwhelmingly white nation. (Nationally, the figure is around 200,000 immigrants from the developing world in a country of 4.4 million.) One defendant, Joe Erling Jahr, 20, has sought to exonerate the others - Ole Nicolai Kvisler, 22, and Veronica Andreassen, 18 - saying that he alone wielded the kitchen knife and killed Benjamin in what he described as an accident during a scuffle in Oslo's Holmlia suburb last January. All three have denied setting out to kill Benjamin on the night of Jan. 26, 2001. But the hearings have offered a glimpse into a world of hatred in a group that, according to court testimony, talked of attacking an immigrant and of vague, unsettled business with "foreigners."
On that icy night, Benjamin and a friend, who cannot be publicly identified under Norwegian law, met about 11:45 p.m. so that Benjamin, who had not been at school that day, could hear what had happened in class, according to Nicolai Bjoenness, the lawyer for Benjamin's mother, Marit Hermansen. Benjamin had already endured pain from racial violence. His father committed suicide when he was 4 years old, Mrs. Hermansen has said. A few months before his death, the father had been assaulted by neo-Nazis skinheads at a soccer tournament in Denmark and had gone public with his story on Norwegian television. Benjamin and his friend - both dark skinned - met in a well-lighted area outside a closed food store. Benjamin was about 500 meters (1,600 feet) from the home he shared with his mother, according to her lawyer. In a different part of town, according to court testimony, three neo-Nazis associated with a gang called the Bootboys had left a shared apartment adorned with Nazi memorabilia and had gone cruising the area in a car. At least one of them had a knife. They came upon the two teenage boys who, sensing trouble, "started to walk away," said Mr. Bjoenness, the lawyer. "They saw that the people in the car had shaven heads and so they said to each other: 'Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Nazis.'" The men with shaved heads left the car. The teenagers ran. The men pursued them. Benjamin's friend escaped. One man overtook the 15-year-old, "and there's a fight and at this time, Benjamin tumbles over a blue fence and one of the men jumps onto him and stabs him with the fatal wound to the heart," Mr. Bjoenness said.
Benjamin's mother declined to be interviewed for this article. She told a newspaper in May: "I am not a pillar of strength and calm. There are days when I just stare at the wall." Even though Mr. Jahr has said that he alone wielded a knife, Benjamin was stabbed in the chest, back and arm with two different kinds of knives. The victim has become such an emblem of the struggle against racism that Michael Jackson dedicated his newest album to "Benny."
Certainly, tensions in this once placid society seem to be growing. Some immigrants, like Erselan Perot, a 30-year-old Iraqi Kurd who says he was beaten in a racial attack in a West Oslo nightclub earlier this month, say they sense that hostility toward Muslims has increased since Sept. 11. "People are a lot more negative toward us," he said in an interview. While Norwegians insist that their racial debate is far corrosive than the equivalent discussion in Denmark, there is little doubt that the growing presence of foreigners - increasing by as many as 16,000 asylum-seekers and economic migrants every year - has produced a groundswell of unease. "This is not a melting-pot nation like the United States," said Frank Aarebrot, a professor at the University of Bergen. Oystein Pedersen, a spokesman for the Center Against Racism, said: "Norway is still a very white society, and having immigrants is quite a new thing. Norwegians still feel a threat from different cultures."
©International Herald Tribune
UN AGREES ANTI-RACISM PLAN
Rows over slavery and Zionism dominated the talks
After months of wrangling, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights says agreement has finally been reached on a document setting out the terms for global action against racism and xenophobia. Publication of the document was delayed by a dispute over whether several paragraphs referring to slavery and the slave trade should be included in a programme of action. European nations objected to this proposal, fearing it might expose them to claims for compensation from African nations. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, says the world now has a "living document" to regain the momentum in the struggle against discrimination and racism. But it has been no easy task to reach this point. Diplomats had hoped to agree on a programme of action against racism and xenophobia at a conference in South Africa in September 2001. But that gathering was riven by disputes over whether Israel's action against Palestinian communities constituted state-sponsored racism and over the degree to which European nations should accept responsibility for the transatlantic slave trade during the early years of African colonisation.
A compromise was reached on the issue of slavery with agreement to describe the slave trade as a crime against humanity, but disagreement remained over whether a commitment to recognise this should be placed in a programme of action. European nations feared this might expose them to claims of compensation from African nations which had been most affected by the slave trade. As a result, several paragraphs referring to slavery have now been moved into a separate declaration that accompanies the programme of action. What this means in practical terms is that the wrongs of slavery are now recognised in political terms but the UN document does not lay down a programme of action to redress the impact the slave trade had on the African continent.
DISCRIMINATION PAYOUTS REACH RECORD(uk)
Payouts to discrimination victims have reached a record £3.53 million a year. The money was awarded by employment tribunals during the year 2000 and was a massive 38 per cent - or £980,000 - up on awards in 1999, according to research by the Equal Opportunities Review (EOR). The figure includes a record payout of £100,000 for injury to feelings in a case of racial discrimination, plus awards made in other race cases, and sex and disability discrimination tribunals. The figure was revealed in an annual survey by the EOR, which also shows a rise in the average level of award in race and disability cases, but a slight dip in average payouts in sex discrimination cases. The survey was launched on the EOR's website, www.eordirect.com - whose editor, Sue Johnstone, says the figures are a "wake-up call for employers". The figures are based on 318 tribunals which awarded compensation in 2000 - 186 for sex discrimination, 75 for race, 47 for disability, five for race and sex discrimination and two for disability and racial discrimination. Almost 50 per cent of the £3.53 million was given to victims of sex discrimination, 34 per cent for racial discrimination and 18 per cent for disability discrimination. The biggest payout was given to Gurpal Virdi, who was wrongly sacked by the Metropolitan Police after being accused of sending racist mail to colleagues. The Sikh officer was initially awarded £150,000 when a tribunal ruled he was innocent of sending the letters to colleagues at Ealing police station in west London and was the subject of racial discrimination by the force. Scotland Yard later agreed a settlement of a reported £200,000 to compensate him for his loss of career and injury to his feelings.
WHITE FEMALE TEACHERS FAIL BLACK STUDENTS(uk)
According to Diane Abbott MP, white women teachers are failing African-Caribbean schoolboys because they are frightened of them. Additionally, she said bad behaviour goes unchallenged from an early age because white female staff unfamiliar with African-Caribbean culture are physically intimidated by African-Caribbean children. As a result Ms. Abbott argues, the problem escalates to a stage where the child risks being excluded. Ms. Abbott opines that African-Caribbean boys are often literally bigger than their white counterparts and may come from a culture that is more physical. Most primary schools are almost entirely staffed with women. Whilst some white women teachers achieve excellent results with African-Caribbean boys, it would be remarkable, she added, if all white women teachers were free from the racial stereotypes that permeate this society about African-Caribbean men. Ms. Abbott stated that groups working in the African-Caribbean community are seeing increasingly younger boys being excluded, and it seems African-Caribbean boys don't have to be long out of disposal nappies for some teachers to see them as miniature gangster rappers. Experienced African-Caribbean teachers describe how the most unruly and obnoxious schoolboys can melt given firm but loving handling, and within the community, there are models of success generally through self-help Saturday schools specifically to compensate for the failures of mainstream schools. Reports are that when African-Caribbean children enter the school system at five they do as well as White and Asian children in tests. By 11 their achievement levels begin to drop off. By 16 there has been a collapse in achievement particularly true amongst African-Caribbean boys - 48% of all 16-year-old boys gain five GCSEs, grades A to E. Only 13% of African-Caribbean boys in London achieve this standard. In some boroughs the figure is even worse. Ms. Abbott wants Education Secretary Estelle Morris to issue national guidelines for closing the gap between the school performance of African-Caribbean and White children. She also argues that African-Caribbean parents must also be prepared to work better with schools, and further stated that the different factors affecting achievement are complex. The National Union of Teachers do not believe Diane Abbotts concerns and statements are warranted and want to see evidence of what Ms. Abbott describes. The NUT stated, "One of the difficulties we have in dealing with working-class kids of whatever colour is that they become demoralised and disaffected more easily than the girls - they are more likely to have a "street life" than the girls and they are more vulnerable to the temptations outside the classroom". African-Caribbean boys are less likely than Whites to stay on at school after 16, and are less likely to get into the traditional universities. Average hourly earnings for African-Caribbean school leavers are £4.48 against £5.48 for young white men. African-Caribbean boys are four times as likely as their white peers to be thrown out of school, according to figures studied by the Prime Minister's troubleshooting Performance and Innovation Unit (PIU), which has begun a cross-government inquiry into ethnic minority underachievement in employment and education. Ms. Diane Abbott has organised a series of Workshops and Seminars scheduled for Saturday March 16 2002 to address these issues.
INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY AND CO-OPERATION AGAINST INTOLERANCE
From the 17th to the 21st of October 2001 in the city of Pushkin a suburb of St. Petersburg Russia. There was an United Conference "East-West: International Solidarity and Co-operation Against Intolerance". Re-presentatives from different Organizations from 29 countries discussed many questions concerning Racism, Nazism, fascism, anti-Semitism, religious discrimination, "Militarization" of Society , and the violation of right of ethic minorities. Officially in Russia there is no racism, Nazism, Fascism or anti-Semitism, but every part of the country there are period conflicts between the origins religious buildings and religious schools. However cases concerning racism and anti-Semitism never get to the court level. It is even good if these cases are reported with the police and Ministry of Internal affairs. Victims were afraid for their lives and the Ministry of Internal affairs can not guarantee to defend them or their safely. A lot of victims were even afraid to give their names and addresses concerning these incidents. Why is it in Russia, a multinational country that lost about 20 million people during the second World War, "The war against fascism" is the same Russia of today where neo-Nazism, anti-Semitism and intolerance are raising heads against their own ethnic minorities and foreigners living in Russia? Follower of the National- Socialists after the defeat of Hitler's army in Germany foretold the return of the Nationalists tendencies throughout the world; they were living with priorities of Hitler's theory of a pure nation in every country, including Russia. The said that we are still going to fight Russians even after the death of those which fought against Hitler, and the new generation will not have an understanding of Nazism which they will use as a weapon in their own country. At present in Russia there are about fifteen thousand (15000) skinheads about 4000 in Moscow, and about 3000 in Saint- Petersburg. People, who were born in Soviet Era can not imagine their lives without the festival of May 9 th, documentary films about the war, books about fascists and how wild they were, about the concentration camp, of course it is quite difficult for the Soviet people to have a good memory about German. Nazism called the Russian people "Intermesh" that is not up to human being. Hitler said, that Majority of Slavonic's would be killed, and the remaining would be slaves for the Empire. Is it really the Russian young nazist doesn't know about that?. There appearance with the fascist emblem, and with the fascist salute-is a disgrace to their relatives, that fought against Hitler or to those who were victims of Concentration camp, their pogrom-is a spit into the face of there relatives, and to those people who died in the war against fascism, assembly of skinheads in Russia is abnormal, contradictions of there appearance in this world. Tuesday, 30 October, 2001 in Tsarinski market Moscow, about 150 skinheads, fully armed with iron bares sticks, attacked sellers who are not Russians, there shades and shops. In the result of this pogrom two people (2) where killed instantly, another one died in the hospital, twenty three (23) people were injured, and the lives of another fifteen are at stake. The re-presentatives from the Ministry of Internal affairs where confused and contradicting one another, try to shift the blames of this incident on poor teenagers, on football Supporters. Irritation of the local people is due to the success of the southern business men, may be, it is just an element of human envies of those who are not competent enough to business enterprising. That is Nazist are they an assembly of non educated and unlucky people? It might, be so. Some Russian TV presenters of different television station commented on the crimes committed by the ethnic groups in Moscow. there is about million dollars flowing out from Russia illegally. Even if the information confirmed it to be true, what is the action of the government to liquidate the illegal way of making money and how to stop the illegal transaction of money from Russia? Maybe with help of the pogrom by the young Russian Nazists? It might, be so. The most dangerous part of this problem was, when there was public opinion. Concerning this incident. Majority of the local people, that is, more than seventy two percent (72%) of opinions said that, Russia should be screened from the "Ethnic minorities" and "Black people". In Russia a multinational country there is a very dangerous disease spreading in society called syndrome of nationalism, racism, and religious intolerance. The government must accept the existence of this fact. The problem is so big and before the disease gets out of hand something should be done. I know that the disease can not be cured in a day, but at least gradually, by educating the young generation with help of literature, multinational films, television, and through the mass media. The adults must also be concerned about teaching their children to respect different cultures, different people, different colours of the hair, skins and eyes; teach your children how to live if not together, at least nearer. Let us imagine the next situation: assuming Nazist clean the country from "Ethnic minorities" and "Black people". Who's next? Maybe, those with auburn skin?
N.B. As I was preparing this article the Russian president Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, in his television announcement, showed his concern and worried about this pogrom at tsarinski market. He called on the minister of Justice and Minister of internal affairs to investigate thoroughly and the organizers of this pogrom should answer the consequences. This gives me hope, that everything is not yet lost in Russia.
A NATION OF INFORMERS: THE FRIENDLY FACE OF FASCISM(usa)
by James Petras
Years ago, a well known author, Bertram Gross, wrote that fascism would come to the US with a friendly facenot with massive Nuremburg rallies, or doctrines of racial superiority, without formally banning parties, abrogating the Constitution or eliminating the three branches of government, but with the same nationalist fervor, arbitrary dictatorial laws and violent military conquests. In the US, signs of a police state are evident everywhere. The country
has become a nation of informers. Tens of thousands of US citizens of Middle Eastern descent have been arrested without charges, and the exercise of their right to criticize US policy in the Middle East has been branded as support of terrorism. This pogrom has been encouraged
and incited by government officials, especially by the police, both local and federal, and by assorted veterans' groups and demagogic politicians. The President has decreed dictatorial powers, setting up anonymous military tribunals to try suspicious immigrants and overseas
"suspects" who can be kidnapped and tried in the US. Habeas corpus has been suspended. School children have been forced to sing quasi-religious anthems and pledge allegiance to the flag. Employees who voice criticism of the war, or criticize US support of Israel or denounce Israeli massacres of Palestinians are suspended or fired. All communication, letters, e-mail, phone calls are subject to control without any judicial review. The mass media spews government propaganda,churns out chauvinist stories, and is silent on overseas massacres and domestic repression.
A nation of informers
One of the hallmarks of a totalitarian regime is the creation of a state of mutual suspicion, in which civil society is turned into a network of secret police informers. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) soon after September 11 exhorted every US citizen to report any suspicious behavior by friends, neighbors, relatives, acquaintances and strangers. Between September and the end of November almost 700,000 denunciations were registered. Thousands of Middle Eastern neighbors, local shop owners and employees were denounced, as were numerous other US citizens. None of these denunciations led to any arrests or even information related to September 11. Yet hundreds and thousands of innocent persons were investigated and harassed by the federal police. Tens of millions of Americans have become paranoid - fearing "terrorism" in their everyday work, shopping and leisure activities. People refrain from the mildest criticism of the war or even the government for fear they will be labelled terrorist sympathizers, reported to the government, investigated and lose their job.
Mass arrests, intimidation and scapegoating of "Arabs"
All totalitarian dictatorships " scapegoat " minorities in order to mobilize the majority to approve its dictatorial powers. Friendly fascism scapegoats Arabs - arresting, investigating, accusing, targeting - while its public discourse proclaims the virtues of tolerance and pluralism. Racial doctrines are not in evidence, but racial profiling of " Midwestern " people is an established and accepted operating procedure of federal, state and local police. Large concentrations of Arabs communities, such as in Dear born, Michigan, feel like they are living
in a ghetto, waiting for a pogrom to happen. The head of the FBI considers all Arab civic, charity and other associations suspect of aiding terrorism and subject to investigation and its members targets for arrest. The massive " razzias ", police sweeps into houses, stores, offices of civic groups has created a siege mentality. The police campaign have aroused the racist instincts always latent in the mass of Americans and fomented a rash of civilian insults and hostility.
Executive dictatorial powers the end of the constitutional order
In totalitarian states, the supreme leader seizes dictatorial powers, suspends constitutional guarantees (citing " emergency powers " ) empowers the secret police, and handpicks tribunals to arbitrarily arrest, judge and condemn the accused to prison or to execution. On November 13, President Bush took the fatal step toward assuming dictatorial powers. Without consulting Congress, Bush decreed an emergency order. The order permits the government to arrest
non-citizens, whom they have "reason to believe" are terrorists to be tried by military tribunal. The trials are secret and the prosecutors do not have to present evidence if it is " in the interests of national security ". The condemned can be executed even if one third of the military judges disagree. Dictatorial powers to jail or execute suspects without due process is the essence of totalitarian rulers. Dictatorships arrest suspects and "disappear them". In mid-November, the Department of Justice, refused to disclose the identities and status of more than 1100 persons arrested since September 11. As in totalitarian regimes, political prisoners are constantly interrogated without lawyers and without charges by the FBI in the hope of forcing confessions. On October 26 the Supreme Leader signed the USA/Patriot act which vastly strengthened the powers of the police over civil society. Secret police with unlimited powers is a hallmark of past totalitarian states. Under our friendly fascist regime, the extension of secret police powers was approved almost unanimously by Congress (most of whose members never read the law ). Every clause of this law violated the US Constitution. Under this law(a) any federal law enforcement agency may secretly enter any home or business, collect evidence, not inform the citizen of the entry and then use the evidence (seized of 'planted); to convict the occupant of a crime; (b) any police agency has the power to monitor all internet traffic and e-mails, intercept cell phones without warrant of millions of "suspects"; (c) any Federal police agency can invade any business premises and seize all records, on the basis that it is "connected" with a terrorist investigation. Citizens who publicly protest these arbitrary, invasive police actions can be arrested.
The secret police of totalitarian regimes recognize no boundaries between overseas and domestic espionage. The Patriot Act legalizes CIA operations against citizens within the US. The US/Patriot Act, like its totalitarian counterparts, has a vague, loose definition of "terrorism" which allows it to repress any dissident organization and protest activity. According to section 802 of the Act, terrorism is defined as "activities that involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States(and) appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population..(or)..to influence the policy of the government by intimidation or coercion." Any anti-globalization protest such as recently occurred in Seattle or Ottawa can now be labelled "terrorist", its leaders and participants arrested, their homes and offices searched, documents seized, and if they are not citizens shipped to military tribunals. These "emergency" decrees and laws are not "temporary"; they are in place until 2005 and beyond if the investigations began prior to the terminal year.
Perhaps, many years from now when the country has been re-democratized and the chauvinist fever has ebbed and a fair and pluralistic media has replaced the current state propaganda machines, we may discover harsh truths. When the secret police files are opened we may discover that many honorable and respectable people denounced their neighbors and friends because of personal vendettas; that professionals secretly informed on their colleagues who were critical of Israel; that the FBI spied on millions of law abiding progressive American citizens because right wing ideologues sought to eliminate them. In studying the recordings, transcripts and videos of the messages of the mass media, we will be able to see how easily, quickly and completely they became propaganda arms of the friendly fascist state. Researchers will marvel or be shocked by the corruption of political languagemassive bombings of large cities in the name of "anti-terrorism"; the euphemisms to justify massacres; the mass killings of prisoners of war described as "killed during a prisoner revolt". Historians will also note the absent voices of critics; the absence of any reports of civilian casualties. Future scholars watching videos of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's jocular pronouncements to "kill all terrorists", will not join the laughing audience of journalists, remembering the mountains of corpses, executed in cold blood by Rumsfeld's surrogate mercenaries.
Historians will debate whether the mass acquiescence by the US public of the massive bombings and executions was a reflection of the incessant and all encompassing propaganda or whether they were willing accomplices of the slaughter. The philosophers and psychologists will debate whether the flag waving celebrants of the New World Order were motivated by the smiling faces and bellicose rhetoric of their leaders or embraced friendly fascism because of their paranoia, fear and anxiety induced by the voices of authority and amplified by the media.
This view from the future however presumes that critical voices will survive the current period of friendly fascism and build a movement to challenge its power. One can hope and believe it will happen because, otherwise, the lies and murders of the present will go unanswered.
TEAR DOWN THE WALLS(Central & Eastern Europe)
Governments across Central and Eastern Europe should bring an end to the segregation of Romany children in schools and help them to get a quality education.
While the West focuses its attention on events in Afghanistan, a group of Europeans is being quietly denied a future across the continent. Millions of Roma are not going to school and are facing ever more precarious times ahead. Many say they want to study and get decent jobs. But at present, that's impossible because their education is so poor. Throughout Europe, Romani or "Gypsy" children live difficult lives. Harsh poverty, hostile neighbors, and fear of being attacked by racist groups are daily realities for many. If mistreatment of Roma is Europe's worst human rights problem, denying a generation the chance to go to school will not make things any better. In 14 countries, Roma told representatives of Save the Children that they are not getting an education. A girl enjoys school but can't afford the books. A boy's house was smashed up in an attack; he says he was mainly worried about losing his schoolbag. A girl wants to read newspapers to family and friends--all are illiterate. Another boy dreams of being a pilot but worries passengers won't want a Rom at the controls.
Few of Europe's 3 million Romani children ever finish their education. A million or so never attend school, another million are segregated in "Gypsy schools," and an additional million go to school but face high dropout rates. Few end up with useful qualifications. Throughout post-communist Central Europe, Roma are segregated into special schools for people with mental disabilities. In the Balkans, Roma have been uprooted by violence and children have been forced to interrupt their studies. And Western Europe is no exception: Less than half of Romani children in the wealthy and well-educated countries of the European Union go to school. European governments appear to ignore the problem, despite the fact that their countries are all signatories of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which guarantees education without discrimination. And they are also falling short of a host of national and international legal obligations for children, education and minorities. It is not clear why governments are failing these children. But policy-makers should be concerned. Numbering some 8 million people, Roma are Europe's largest ethnic minority. Moreover, their populations are young and faster growing than the average. Without education, they will miss out on civil rights, their communities will be further weakened, and Europe's social cohesion could be threatened. Our organization, Save the Children, has appealed to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, as well as to financier and philanthropist George Soros for help in the task of improving education and bringing an end to segregated education. We decided to speak out loudly because no one seems to listen to the Roma themselves. It cannot be acceptable to condemn millions of children to a future without opportunities.
It is not a child's responsibility to demand an education. It is the job of governments to ensure the provision of education for all children and to respond to their needs. A good education is relevant to young people's realities and aspirations. Roma, like other children, need to develop their talents, study in a safe environment, and prepare for adult life. Governments need to start making this a reality. They must commit proper funding to Romani education projects, monitor results carefully, and learn from the hundreds of successful projects. It is a shame that Central European governments in particular have achieved so few results with the money and energy they have invested over the past few years. A useful first step would be to end segregated education. Roma should not be forced into substandard segregated schools or pushed to the back of classrooms. Classroom apartheid is a moral outrage that shows how badly Roma are treated in education. It must be ended immediately, not least because it violates EU legal norms and reflects badly on countries applying to become EU members.
ANTI-TERRORISM REVIVES 'WHITE AUSTRALIA' POLICY
Media debate about the economic and social costs of immigration is rekindling suspicions that the government of Prime Minister John Howard may be quietly considering the re-introduction of some sort of "White Australia" policy. "Despite what a few hyperbolic types might allege, the 'White Australia' policy is dead and gone," said Dr Gerard Henderson, executive director of the Sydney Institute. "However, if influential Australians have their way, it might soon be replaced by a Muslim Immigration Restriction Act or perhaps, a Judeo-Christian Australia policy." Australian diplomats and politicians, however, will be quick to dismiss such suggestions, even pointing out that Pauline Hanson's racist One Nation Party was soundly beaten in the November polls. But the fact is that in order to win back voters from the far right anti-immigration party Howard's anti-immigration rhetoric reflected very much the platform of One Nation. He even went as far as suggesting during the campaign that some of the boat people from Iraq and Afghanistan, whom Australia has refused to let in, could be terrorists. In order to protect Australia from "international terrorism", the issue of resurrecting some sort of a "White Australia" policy has been quietly raised through the media, with a subtle economic focus given to it. Until the mid-1970s, Australia had a policy that specified that only those with European ancestry could migrate to Australia. It was designed to stem the "yellow peril" - the possibility of large numbers of Asians, especially Chinese, flocking to Australia. Now, some respected economists, sociologists and influential media commentators are openly debating economic arguments to justify the re-introduction of a discriminatory immigration policy.
For instance, Wolfgang Kasper, emeritus professor of economics at the University of New South Wales, argued that because "no community can function effectively without shared institutions or values", immigrants should be screened for their ability to be part of these factors in Australia. Kasper added that a set of shared institutions and values are precious social capital. He noted that although all people may be equal, they carry deeply held cultural and institutional baggage of greater or lesser value for life in Australia. "Of the various institutional systems developed by man, probably none is more resistant to accepting new ground rules than the Middle Eastern tradition. This is not a consequence of biology and race, but of environment and race," said Kasper, arguing that this means Middle Eastern migrants can have friction with ordinary Australians. Thus, Kasper called for Australia's immigration policy to be restructured to include a selection criteria that have to "measure the readiness or otherwise of newcomers to fit in with our open society". Another key figure to join in the debate is John Stone, former secretary to the treasury and ex-senator of the National Party. He was a member of the shadow cabinet in 1988, when the then opposition leader Howard raised the issue of restricting Asian immigration. Stone was one of his strongest supporters in the shadow ministry. In an article in The Australian entitled, "We only want those who are prepared to be like us", he called for a new immigration policy that discriminates not on the basis of race but culture. Stone said: "Australians must fundamentally rethink the stupidities which for 20 years now have dominated our immigration policies and, along with them, our official policies of multiculturalism." He defines multiculturalism as "non-assimilation" to the mainstream culture. "Our future immigration policy should have nothing to do with immigrants' skin color or ethnicity," added Stone. "It should have everything to do with whether those concerned are capable of assimilating into Australia's basically Judeo-Christian culture, and disposed to do so." Espousing the theory of the superiority of the European Judeo-Christian culture over all others, he added: "All cultures are not equal, and it is ridiculous - and since September 11 much more dangerous - to keep insisting that they are."
Sydney Institute's Henderson disagrees, pointing out that Muslims have been in Australia since 1860. While the Islamic population has been growing rapidly in the last 20 years, the majority of them are not Arab, and the majority of the Arabic immigrants are not Muslims, he explains. "It is reasonable to expect that all Australian residents - whether of the Judeo-Christian culture or otherwise - obey our laws and respect our pluralistic traditions. For most parts this has been the case," observed Henderson. This latest bout of nostalgia for the less complicated times of the "White Australia" policy by the country's conservative white establishment has been triggered by the Howard government's recent refusal to allow Middle Eastern and Afghan asylum seekers to land on Australian soil. The government's rhetoric has been uncomfortably close to that which was used to shut out non-white immigrants from Australia for most of the 20th Century. Former human rights and equal opportunities commissioner Chris Sidoti said that groups trying to change the Howard government's stance on asylum seekers have been wasting their time. He suggests that they should focus on changing community attitudes. "I don't think we've got yet the answer to how those kinds of fears can be laid to rest, but certainly we've wasted a hell of a lot of time in trying to persuade this government to change its policy," Sidoti said at the launch of the Australian Human Rights Register earlier this month. The register accused the Howard government of subjecting asylum seekers to violence and encouraging xenophobia with its policy toward boat people. Sidoti said that the alternatives to detaining asylum seekers, proposed by non-government bodies, have been ignored by the government. "That was a miscalculation, a strategy that has not worked," he said. "We should spend more time talking to the community."
A report released by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission in December said that the level of racism against those who do not fit into the stereotype of the "typical Australian" is increasing across Australia. Since the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington, reports of cases of racism against all ethnic communities have increased, added the report.
GERMANY TAKES ON 'FARMBELT FUEHRER'
Neo-Nazi activity on the web is a constant problem The German Interior Minister, Otto Schily, is battling a prominent American neo-Nazi over the rights to a web address. Currently, anyone who types in the address www.bundesinnenministerium.com - German for Federal Interior Ministry - reaches the webpage of Gary Lauck, a Nebraska-based neo-Nazi who is known in the US as the "Farmbelt Fuehrer" for his racist views. The German news magazine Der Spiegel reports that Mr Schily, of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, has already registered additional names, including interior minister as a precaution. He now wants to contest Mr Lauck's domains through the UN Domain Name Dispute Resolution service, also known as the World Intellectual Property Organisation. Mr Schily has already managed to wrest control of an internet address for the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution from Mr Lauck. That address had led to one of Mr Lauck's websites since March last year. However, Mr Schily put pressure on Mr Lauck's internet service provider to hand control back to the German government without involving the WIPO. The magazine quoted an internet law expert as saying this victory was significant as in the case of generic names such as "Verfassungsschutz" - meaning constitutional protection - there is no certainty that the authority alone has a legal entitlement to it. Mr Lauck is no stranger to the German authorities, as in 1996 he was convicted by a German court for inciting racial hatred and deported in to the US in 1999.
The incident is the latest in a series of high profile legal battles regarding the steady rise of neo-Nazi activity on the web. In December 2000, German legal authorities ruled that websites aiming racist propaganda at German audiences could be prosecuted under German law. And in early 2001, internet service provider Yahoo banned the sale of Nazi memorabilia on its pages, following a court case brought by French civil liberties groups. In practice, however, any attempt at prosecuting websites for neo-Nazi content is hampered by free speech laws in other countries, particularly the United States.
ROMA SURVEY SHOWS PERSISTING RACISM(Slovakia)
Attitudes toward Slovakia's largest minority, the Roma, are not changing, according to a recent survey. The survey was carried out in November by the Markant polling agency at the request of the People Against Racism NGO. Markant's survey, which involved a representative sample of 1,102 respondents aged over 15 years, appeared to show that the public continued to view the Roma in a negative light. In the survey, almost 83% of respondents said they would object to their daughters' marrying a Roma - the fifth least popular marital partner after an alcoholic, a drug addict, a former convict and a skinhead. Nearly 65% said they would be against a Roma becoming their neighbour. Similar results have been seen in surveys conducted on social attitudes since 1999. The Roma minority is estimated to number around 400,000, or 8% of Slovakia's population, and has repeatedly drawn concern from international organisations for the dire circumstances in which some Roma live. "We're full of prejudice. We don't judge people by their deeds, but through the lens of our prejudice," said Ladislav Ïurkoviè of People Against Racism. "I have yet to meet someone who lives here and whose skin colour is different from the majority who could say that he has never had problems with racist remarks." The survey results, published December 13, coincided with a summary by the Slovak cabinet of its own activities aimed at solving problems confronted by Slovakia's Roma, including unemployment, poverty, poor housing, sanitation and education. The cabinet progress report included seven areas and listed 167 specific tasks carried out by the state in 2000 on Sk85.1 million ($1.7 million) in public funds. The report was submitted for cabinet discussion by Pál Csáky, the Deputy Prime Minister for Minorities. It evaluated the success of programmes such as seminars for Roma and minority experts, increasing sensitivity to minority issues in the Slovak army and among the police, and support for Roma culture projects. At the December 13 meeting cabinet also approved another Sk2.7 million ($55,100) for the completion of a Roma housing project in the eastern Slovak village of Rudòany which will provide 86 housing units for Roma families. Daniela Šilanová, editor of Romano Lil Nevo (Roma Newsletter) newspaper in Prešov, acknowledged that progress had been made by cabinet over the past two years, but said: "The state still organises more conferences and seminars than it actually helps to improve the life of the Roma." She also suggested that the cabinet's efforts to help the Roma community, coupled with increased media coverage, could be fuelling resentment against the Roma that was reflected in the results of opinion polls. "The general Slovak economic situation is not good, and it's possible that many people ask 'why is the government helping the Roma and not us?'. The problem is that it has never been properly explained why the Roma are particularly in need of help."
©The Slovak Spectator
SWASTIKAS INVADE VIDEO COMBAT GAMES
Once Taboo Themes Attract Players Who Express Neo-Nazi Sentiments
Few taboos exist in the blood-and-gore world of shoot-'em-up video games. But game makers have traditionally respected one rule: no Nazi protagonists. Last year, that rule was challenged on at least two fronts. In November, Activision Inc. released "Return to Castle Wolfenstein," which pits players against one another online and allows some players to fight as German soldiers. Earlier, in January, "Day of Defeat," an amateur modification of an existing game, was released for online play. Todd Hollenshead, chief executive of Id Software Inc., which produced "Wolfenstein," described the games as a result of the renewed popular interest in World War II. "The trend you're seeing with new games is, to some extent, a reflection of what's going in the culture," Mr. Hollenshead said. "For instance, you've now got games with terrorists and counterterrorists. And World War II games such as 'Return to Castle Wolfenstein' and 'Day of Defeat' reflect what you see in popular movies."
Yet "Day of Defeat" not only shows battlefields decorated with swastikas and Nazi posters but also attracts many players with an enthusiasm for neo-Nazi role-playing. The game tries to re-create specific World War II battles. Soldiers on the German side are armed with Gewehr 43 semiautomatic rifles, Luger pistols, so-called potato-masher grenades and, when the ammunition runs out, Hitler Youth knives. In some games, a battle begins with a rousing call to arms in German. The presence of swastikas and other Nazi symbols is so pervasive that the game might be viewed as illegal in Germany, where the dissemination of Nazi thought and symbols is banned. The programmers are moving to avoid any trouble in Europe. "We're working on a version that won't present problems," said Matt Boone, who led the programming team that produced the "Day of Defeat" game. "We want to make sure Germans can play the game and not break the rules." The chat rooms that combatants use to type messages to one another during games have also become a sort of battlefield as players use Nazi-inspired names and express neo-Nazi sentiments.
A recent scan of active "Day of Defeat" game servers found a list of Axis players with noms de guerre like Mein Kampf, HitlerYouth and ZyklonB, although it is difficult to determine whether the names were chosen simply to get attention. In a recent game, a player on the German side using the name AnneFrank was questioned about that moniker. "I'm just trying to keep things spicy," the player said. Some groups of players called clans, and who routinely play "Day of Defeat" together, also refer to themselves with Nazi labels. A well-organized group of German students based in Singapore calls itself Clan SS, a reference to the ruthless Nazi military divisions responsible for some of the war's worst atrocities. "Yes, German," said Lorien Stoetzel, who identifies himself online as the clan's Oberfeldwebel, or platoon sergeant. "But we're not neo-Nazi freaks. Everyone asks me that, but we're not." Mr. Stoetzel said the group's members simply enjoyed playing games and had chosen the name because they found it provocative. Some gamers contend that tasteless provocation is a staple of the gaming world as a whole.
"It's a problem in all games, unfortunately," said Bruce Boyden, 34, a Washington lawyer and self-described 10-hour-a-week gamer. "There's always the odd hateful taunt. Sometimes it goes beyond a single word or two, and somebody starts ranting about their racist viewpoint nonstop. The problem is that the majority of players are white males in their teens or early 20s, so the dynamic is about the same as in any boys' locker room." Mark Weitzman, national director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Task Force Against Hate, based in New York, said he found the use of Nazi protagonists disturbing. "It encourages people to express what are rightly considered to be socially unacceptable sentiments - racism and anti-Semitism and hate," he said. Alex Forman, a 32-year-old gamer from Yorkshire, England, said of the "Day of Defeat" game: "The historical angle certainly enhances the game play and lends itself well to the whole 'kill or be killed' atmosphere. But you have to wonder if the specific overtones in the game were really necessary."
The programmers behind "Day of Defeat" contend that they were interested in ensuring historical accuracy in the equipment, weapons and uniforms, not in providing an outlet for neo-Nazi sentiment. "There's nothing like traveling back more than half a century to put yourself in the boots of a World War II soldier storming the beaches at Normandy," said Matthew Lane, 17, a "Day of Defeat" Web designer from North Carolina. "As kids, many of us have dreamt what our grandfathers and fathers suffered through, and fought for, more than 50 years ago. 'Day of Defeat' just brings these things to reality." The creators of "Castle Wolfenstein" and "Day of Defeat" point out that the soldiers depicted are regular German soldiers, not SS troops. In the case of "Day of Defeat," there are already tools to hack the graphics features to change uniforms. An Austrian clan called Sonderkommando Carinthia has posted a downloadable file that allows a German-side "Day of Defeat" player to appear in the uniform of an SS soldier. The makers of "Return to Castle Wolfenstein" said they had sought to avoid Nazi symbolism that would promote negative role-playing. "I wouldn't say that we believe we have to be politically correct about this sort of thing," said Mr. Hollenshead, Id Software's chief executive. "But we definitely designed the game to be more Axis versus Allies than Nazis versus Allies." Mr. Hollenshead added that the game lacked the Nazi symbols that might make it illegal to sell in Germany. "The German market," he said, "is one we believe is significant." The multiplayer version of the game has no Nazi symbols, but the single-player version does include Nazi imagery. And the Web site says the game cannot be sold in Germany or Austria. So far, there is little evidence of Nazism, whether genuine or postured, on the "Return to Castle Wolfenstein" online servers. Still, the game's creators say the presence of Axis protagonists is bound to attract criticism. "There are a lot of critics of the game industry, and they look for things to criticize," Mr. Hollenshead said. For some gamers, many of the debates are resolved in the game itself. "Most of the time I play, there is at least one guy on the server with a name like Dr. Goebbels or something," said Chris Oakley, 34 and a "Day of Defeat" player from Montreal. "I egg them on by typing, like, 'Long live Zionism.' I always get a rise out of them. They go out of their way to hunt me down."
©International Herald Tribune
POST-FASCIST FINI TIPPED FOR ITALY POST
Italy's post-fascist leader Gianfranco Fini was being tipped in most of the country's papers on Tuesday as the man most likely to become the next foreign minister. The foreign minister's post is currently being held by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who says he will do both jobs for at least six months. The previous minister, europhile Renato Ruggiero, was forced out in a row over the euro - sparking a wave of anxiety from Italy's EU partners. The widespread tipping of Mr Fini as his most likely replacement is likely to set even more alarm bells ringing across Europe. Mr Fini, currently deputy prime minister, heads the National Alliance - the reformed fascist party which was led in its earlier incarnation by Benito Mussolini. Mr Fini has said he would accept the post if offered it. "It's normal for the deputy prime minister to be a candidate," he told Italian television. "If I am asked to go, I will go - if not I won't try to elbow my way in." Mr Berlusconi has indicated that he will be in no hurry to appoint a successor - although the BBC's David Willey in Rome says there are doubts about whether he will be able to do both jobs effectively. Some meetings with European foreign ministers have already been postponed. They included talks which would have been held in Rome on Tuesday between Mr Ruggiero and Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Pique, who is touring Europe at the start of Spain's EU presidency.
France and Germany have been among the most vocal in expressing concern at the possible direction of Italian policy on Europe. But European Anti-Trust Commissioner Mario Monti added to the chorus on Tuesday. Mr Monti, himself Italian, said Mr Ruggiero's resignation was a serious loss for a country "not overly well-endowed with credible big-hitters on the international stage". Mr Berlusconi, he said, would have to define Italy's European position "with greater attention than he has done so far". Since the resignation, Mr Berlusconi has stressed that Italy remains fully committed to a strong and united Europe. But his comments have not been enough to calm foreign anxieties - or to mollify his domestic critics.
UN TIMORESE MISSION ACCUSED OF RACISM
One of the top United Nations officials running East Timor has resigned, complaining of internal interference and racism. In a letter to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, the Malaysian diplomat, Nagalingam Parameswaran, outlined his reasons for stepping down as chief of staff of the transitional administration. The accusations contained in the letter are a serious blow to the United Nations, just four months before East Timor is due to become independent. Mr Parameswaran complained about the management of the mission - saying his functions constantly changed and he was excluded from key policy decisions. He accused some of his colleagues of hampering his efforts to repatriate refugees and of interfering in the work of the serious crimes unit. And perhaps most damagingly of all, Mr Parameswaran complained that the mission had become what he called a "white" one.
He said there were not enough personnel from countries in the region who were able to understand the psyche of the East Timorese people, and of their most important neighbour, Indonesia. There has been no response so far from the transitional administration. But the accusations represent publicity of a most unwelcome kind. Since the independence vote in 1999, relations between the transitional administration and the Timorese have been strained. Local leaders complained about a lack of Timorese involvement, and widespread resentment was sparked by the stark contrasts between highly-paid UN staffers and large numbers of local unemployed. But many are also quick to point out that the challenges facing the mission in rebuilding a country from scratch have been immense.
MIGRANTS SHOULD LIVE IN SEPARATE NEIGHBOURHOODS(Netherlands)
The three housing cooperations in Almere(a comuter town in the Amsterdam region) say that migrants should be able to live together in their own, separate, areas. Inhabitants with the same ethnic background would like to live together. That calls for an ajustment of the housing regulations. Also it should be made possible to create special provisions for migrants. This becomes clear in the policy plan 2002-2004 of the housing cooperation "Living for All". According to its director De Haas this is a joint initiative with others. De Haas foresees a strong rise of migrants in Almere, mainly coming from Amsterdam ‘because the house building there is clogged-up'. At the moment only 20% of the population in Almere are migrants. De Haas and his colleagues want to prevent any problems that could arise by the increase of migrants in Almere. "Already you can sometimes see tension between inhabitants of different descent".
Translation by Suzette Bronkhorst for I CARE News
'GAY MARRIAGE' BILL TO BE LAUNCHED(uk)
Gay partners and unmarried couples could get the same rights as those who are married, if a proposed new bill is passed by Parliament. The proposal from a Liberal Democrat peer - which would also apply to unmarried heterosexual couples - could see two gay people getting legal recognition for their relationship. Backed by gay rights group Stonewall, Lord Lester's bill proposes the establishment of "civil partnerships", provides for the registration of the partnership and sets out the ensuing legal consequences. The bill, which also contains a provision for terminating such a partnership, will be launched in the Lords on Thursday with a second reading debate set for 25 January. Currently the rights enjoyed by married couples, such as the automatic right of inheritance in the event of a spouse dying intestate or the right of succession to certain tenancies and to pension funds, are denied to non-married couples.
'Not like marriage'
Lord Lester said: "Couples who are in long and enduring relationships should be able to have their relationships recognised." Although the "civil partnership register" he is proposing was not "exactly like marriage", it would give co-habitees many of the rights currently enjoyed by married couples, Lord Lester said. "Their property rights would be recognised - inheritance rights, pension rights and, if one of them dies, the right to get bereavement damages. "Matters of that kind would be recognised for the first time," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme. Lord Lester said there was a popular misconception among people who co-habit that "common law" marriages were recognised in law, when this was not the case. And new legislation was needed to bring Britain into line with most other democratic countries.
'Cruel and discriminatory'
Stonewall's executive director Angela Mason said: "There is a very strong moral and practical case for changing the law to recognise same-sex partnerships. "The law in this country is unnecessarily cruel and discriminatory. "This Bill is not about gay marriage. It is about allowing couples in mutually caring relationships to provide for and protect each other."
Ian Burford, who together with his partner of 38 years was the first man to sign London Mayor Ken Livingstone's partnership register for gay couples, gave his backing Lord Lester's bill. He said there were "practical issues at the end of one's life", in particular death duties, hospital visits and medical rights, which made a change in the law necessary. "People who have committed themselves to each other should have the same legal rights (as married people)," he told the Today programme. The London partnership register is a largely symbolic instrument with no legal force.
Hugh McKinner, chairman of the National Family Campaign, said he saw Lord Lester's proposals as an undesirable "erosion of the differential between marriage and co-habitation." Marriage was "an ideal" and had been proven as the best way of bringing up children, he added, and the law should be strengthened encourage couples to stay together, he added. "I don't think the way to do that is to have, in effect, a marriage contract for co-habiting couples," he told the Today programme.
FIDESZ GATHERS ROMA SUPPORT(Hungary)
Roma political groups formalized their alliances with mainstream Hungarian political parties at the weekend, with 14 Roma organizations aligning with the governing coalition parties Fidesz and the Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF). At a conference involving the governing parties and the National Roma Interest Representation and Civic Alliance, in the town of Szolnok, Gypsy leaders expressed their hope that a higher number of Roma candidates in this summer's general elections would be elected to Parliament. They also pledged to support all Fidesz and MDF candidates, 10 of which will be Roma under the agreement signed at the conference. Florián Farkas, President of the National Roma Minority Self-Government, claimed a further 17 organizations had expressed interest in joining the electoral pact. "It is in the interest of the prosperity of the nation… (that) Hungary's Gypsies obtain economic, social, legal and political representation," Farkas said. The Roma Cooperation Party of Hungary (MROeP) announced it was forming an alliance with the New Left. MROeP leader Béla Szajko said at a party rally that he believed it would be crucial to defeat the far-right Hungarian Justice and Life Party (MIÉP) in the forthcoming elections. "If this [MIÉP gets more votes] happens, we will be closed up in ghettos," he said. New Left leader Andor Schmuck said he believed the party's offer of an alliance would be a success, and said he hoped a formal agreement would be reached soon.
©The Budapest Sun