Last year's widely noted international conference on the Holocaust is being followed up this year with a conference even more tangibly concerned with everyday strategies for combating and preventing ultra-nationalism, hate crime and intolerance against homosexuals and ethnic minorities. Politicians, researchers and experts from several countries will gather for a couple of days in common search of ways of combating and preventing racist and anti-democratic ideas. The Swedish Government is hosting this conference. However, they did not invited Swedish Saami organisations to actively take part in the conference. Neither is the Swedish Government going to address the ongoing racism against the Saami, who are the indigenous people of Scandinavia.

In 1999, a person in Stockholm was reported to the police for driving around with a sticker on his car: "Protect the wolf ­ shoot the Saami!". This sticker is widely spread in Sweden (several thousand copies), especially in Nothern Sweden where the Saami live. However, the prosecutor rejected the case. According to the Swedish freedom of the press act, the case was prescribed. This means that the label is still in use. People in Sweden can call for genocide against the Saami without any risk for legal action.

Should the Saami be forced to deny their ethnic identity? Racist threats against the Saami are more and more common in the Swedish society. It is not possible for Saami in Kiruna to have a sticker with the Saami flag on their car. Saami are not using their traditional costume when going to town. They fear to be beaten up. Road signs in Saami language are being destroyed as soon as they are set up. These Saami road signs are used as targets. It is like it has become acceptable to attack the Saami.

75% of the Saami state that they experience hostility from the Swedish society according to a 1998 survey carried out by the Swedish ombudsman against discrimination (DO; "Ethnic discrimination against Saami"). Around 50% say that the hostility has increased in Northern Sweden (in Sápmi, the Saami country). 30% of the Saami have been directly exposed to degrading terms of abuse and 20% have been harassed at the workplace. 60% say that antagonisms between the Saami and the Non-Saami populations have increased during the last 5 years. However, no-one of the consultated Saami did notify the harrassment to the police. In 2000, the Swedish Government ratified the European Framework Convention on the Protection of Minorities and the European Charter on Minority Languages. Saami, Finnish, Tornedal, Roma and Jewish people are recognized as national minorities in Sweden. Through the ratification of the conventions, Sweden is obliged to support and protect the five minority languages: Saami, Finnish, Meänkieli, Romani Chib and Jewish. Sweden is responsible for preventing the Saami from racist attacks and harrassment. It is very sad that the Swedish Goverment does not want to address obvious racism against the Saami at this important conference. We really hope that the issue of racism against the Saami people in Sweden will be discussed. We also hope that Saami people are invited to the conference to talk about their situation in Sweden. With kind regards, on behalf of
Sabbatsbergsv. 20 S-11336 Stockholm, Sweden
Lilian Mikaelsson (email:
Eivor Huuva (email:

The Georgia Senate, exhorted by the governor to "seek the salve of reconciliation," voted, 34 to 22, Tuesday to reduce the Confederate emblem on the state flag to a miniature symbol. The vote consigns to history a flag that some say symbolizes Southern valor but others contend represents slavery. Governor Roy Barnes said he would sign the bill, which needed 29 votes to pass. The rebel banner, added to the flag in 1956, occupies two-thirds of the current flag. On the new flag, it will be reduced to one of five historic flags displayed on a ribbon below the state seal. Black leaders, who had threatened an economic boycott to get the flag changed, have said they will call off any boycotts once the flag is approved. Southern heritage groups opposed the change.
©International Herald Tribune

Europeans turn blind eye as regime intimidates critics The Tunisian economy continues to grow and thrive, with kudos all around. "No other country in the region can show comparable economic progress," praised EU Commission President Romano Prodi recently. But political freedoms in the North African country are not keeping pace; on the contrary, the regime under President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali appears determined to nip dissent in the bud. One of the people who has been adversely affected is the general practitioner Moncef Marzouki, who is set to go to prison for his activities promoting human rights. Marzouki, 55, is a professor at the University of Sousse whose research on public health has earned him a reputation not just in Tunisia, but in France and the US as well However, his academic career is more than likely finished now because of his role as spokesperson for the National Council for Liberties in Tunisia (CNLT), a human rights organisation. After becoming involved with the group, the professor initially lost his job at the university for "being absent from work without reason". Now, he faces losing his freedom as well. A Tunisian court has sentenced Marzouki in the first instance to one year in jail for "belonging to an unrecognised organisation" and "disseminating false information that could endanger public order". The CNLT, which the state refuses to recognise as a non-governmental organisation, is widely regarded as the most credible democratic force in the country. The supposedly "false" information the court found Marzouki guilty of spreading concerned Tunisia's National Solidarity Fund. The fund, which is meant to combat poverty, is administered by President Ben Ali. After returning last year from a trip to Tunisia, the Spanish poet Juan Goytisolo spoke out about what he referred to as "abuse" surrounding the fund and alleged that relatives of the head of state were profiting from it. At a conference in Morocco, Marzouki added his voice to criticisms of the government programme, too. But Marzouki and the CNLT are not the only ones to feel the regime's wrath: the Tunisian League for Human Rights (LTDH) - a group Marzouki once directed - also says it has come under intense pressure. One month after the LTDH, the oldest human rights organisation in the Arab world, had appointed new leadership, a court removed the newly elected board and placed the organisation under state administration. The group's activities were prohibited and its office was sealed. The official version of events maintains that the legal penalties were based on a complaint brought by four of the League's members, who did not prevail in the leadership election. In truth, however, three of the four are not really frustrated candidates, but established members of the governing Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD). In the meantime, a lawyer with the National Council for Liberties is still being detained after serving out a sentence for "unlawfully practising" his profession. In addition, authorities confiscated an issue of El Mawquif magazine, the mouthpiece of a Tunisian opposition party. The offending edition contains articles on human rights issues. Critics of the regime have had their passports confiscated and their telephones cut off. These moves have generally attracted little attention. It is a form of oppression, writes the poet Goytisolo, that makes do without torture and disappearances. That, however, makes it easier for the European Union - which considers Tunisia an oasis of stability in troubled North Africa - to look away. When the European Parliament in December called on Tunisia to "immediately put an end to all forms of persecution and repression", the country responded by throwing the implied accusations right back at the EU: the deputies in Strasbourg, the government said, had been taken in by allegations made by three or four Tunisian "traitors". Marzouki is hoping that Tunisians will soon run out of patience with Ben Ali, who is said to have received an amazing 99.4 per cent of votes cast in a farce of an election in 1999. In 1994, the doctor was still bold enough to pose his own electoral challenge to the state's most powerful man. His bid earned him first a prison stint and a travel ban before finally costing him his telephone. Marzouki has not appealed against his latest sentence. On top of everything, he says, he does not want to prolong "this judicial farce".
©Frankfurter Rundschau

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has criticised the attitude of European governments to would-be immigrants and asylum seekers. He said some countries had reached the point where they are in violation of the UN convention on refugees. Kofi Annan's language was diplomatic, but his conclusions were damning. He was speaking in Stockholm at an International Forum on Combating Intolerance. He said he wanted to encourage the European Union to adopt the right approach to refugee policy. In his keynote speech to the Forum he accused Western Europe - which sees itself as a beacon of tolerant civilization - of having a blind spot over the issue of immigration. He said that, unlike North America, Europe was now saying mostly "no" to new immigration, making it so difficult that some attempted to enter as asylum seekers instead. This led to ever stricter and more cumbersome procedures to weed out genuine from so-called bogus asylum seekers. "Let us remember that a bogus asylum seeker is not equivalent to a criminal," Mr Annan warned his audience. "And an unsuccessful asylum application is not equivalent to a bogus one." He specifically accused some countries of forcing airline employees to play the role of immigration officials by screening those boarding their planes. He also criticised the expulsion of asylum seekers without proper examination of their claims, and the long bureaucratic delays which left them unable to work to support themselves for months or even years. Mr Annan appealed to Sweden to use its presidency of the European Union to reappraise EU asylum policies, bearing in mind both human rights and basic international treaty obligations.
©BBC News

Two neo-Nazis have been charged in Norway after a black teenager was stabbed to death last Friday. The attack on 15-year-old Benjamin Hermansen in an Oslo suburb has shocked Norwegians and is being described as the country's first racially-motivated killing. One of those being held, a 21-year-old man, has been charged with premeditated murder. The other, a girl of 17, is accused of complicity to murder. Police say three other neo-Nazis arrested after the attack have been released, although they may still face charges. A sixth is being sought. All are linked to a group known as the Boot Boys and were arrested in an Oslo flat filed with Nazi memorabilia. "Everything implies... Benjamin Hermansen was killed because he had a different skin colour," Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference on Monday night. "If this is the case, it marks a watershed in Norway. "We have not experienced something like this before and we must do all we can to avoid it happening again." Benjamin Hermansen - the son of a Norwegian woman and a Ghanaian man - was well known as a campaigner against racism. Hundreds of people attended a rally on Sunday at the scene of his killing. The Norwegian Government says it will now step up its efforts to clamp down on racially-motivated crime, although it has played down suggestions of a ban on neo-Nazi groups. Police believe there are probably about 150 active hardcore neo-Nazis in Norway's population of 4.4 million.
©BBC News

Legal moves have begun in Germany to ban the far-right National Democratic Party, the NPD, which has been linked with a series of racist attacks against foreigners. The German government applied to the German constitutional court in a late-night move to ban the NPD, following months of debate. Correspondents say it is the first in an series of similar applications now expected from state bodies, including parliament. A court decision is not expected for several months. The modern German constitution outlaws parties which are proven to be anti-democratic. So far, two parties have been banned since the end of the Second World War, on Communist and one Nazi -- the successor to Hitler's National Socialists.
©BBC News

Asylum-seekers in Britain are often placed in overcrowded, unsanitary and bug-infested living quarters with little government assistance, according to a report released Wednesday by an advocacy group for the homeless. The government said the report failed to take into account the work of a new agency responsible for monitoring such accommodation. Shelter, a nonprofit organization assisting the homeless, said it inspected 154 dwellings housing 309 refugees, including 48 children, in and around London between January and March of last year. Dampness, overcrowding, poor sanitation, unhygienic cooking areas and lack of fire escapes were commonplace, the report said. A fifth of the lodgings were infested with cockroaches, fleas and bedbugs, and 80 percent had safety violations, such as windows blocked shut, the report said. ``The chaotic system of housing provision is allowing some private landlords to exploit the misery of asylum seekers,'' said Chris Holmes, director of Shelter. The Home Office, the government department responsible for aiding asylum seekers, argued the report was completed before the implementation in April of the new National Asylum Support Service, or NASS. ``The Home Office does not accept, as the report implies, that failures noted during this fieldwork necessarily apply to NASS,'' the agency said in a statement. ``NASS investigates concerns raised about the quality of accommodation or support and will take action as appropriate.'' During 1999, the United Kingdom had 71,100 new applications for asylum, mostly refugees from the former Yugoslavia, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, the former Soviet Union, Turkey, China and Pakistan, according to the Home Office.
©Associated Press

The African regional meeting on racism and discrimination, which wound up in the Senegalese capital late Wednesday, recognised the lack of success in efforts to end various forms of racial discrimination around the world. The regional meeting was convened to prepare the African position document for World Conference against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance slated for 31 August-7 September in Durban, South Africa. The meeting adopted the "Dakar Declaration" which pays tribute "to all victims of racism and racial discrimination, colonialism and apartheid all over the world." It notes, that despite efforts deployed by the international community, the main objectives of the fight against racism and racial discrimination, over the past two decades, "have not been achieved." "To date," the Declaration affirms, "millions of people continue to be victims of various, new and sophisticated forms of racism and racial discrimination," particularly nationals of different origins, migrant workers, asylum seekers, refugees and foreigners.The Dakar Declaration elaborates how Africa has been a prey to ethnic violence and, in some cases, to acts of genocide. Africa's concern stems from the fact that the continent's socio-economic development is hindered, among other things, by generalised internal conflicts generated by human rights violations. These violations are based on ethnic or national origin, lack of democracy, as well as the absence of global and participatory governance. The Dakar meeting affirmed that slave trade "is a tragedy that is unique in the history of humanity." Consequences of this tragedy, aggravated by those of colonialism and apartheid, the African meeting noted, have caused considerable and long-standing economic, political and cultural losses to the African population. The same consequences persist in the form of harm caused to victims' descendants, the perpetuation of prejudices caused to Africans in the continent and descendants of African populations in the Diaspora. Aware of the fact that Africa's economic difficulties cannot be exclusively blamed on exogenous factors and historical events, the Declaration stresses that "these factors and events had considerable negative effects on Africa's economic development. "At present, justice calls for the mobilisation of important national and international efforts to repair the damage caused." In this regard, Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade distanced himself from such an interpretation when he opened the meeting Monday. His stance provoked hostile reactions in the conference corridors, including among certain members of Senegalese delegates and human rights NGOs, who had made this conception their hobbyhorse for years. The meeting, however, affirmed that "the first logical and credible measure" to be taken should lead the international community as a whole to fully recognise that "the historical injustices of slave trade, colonialism and apartheid are among the numerous institutionalised forms of the most serious and massive human rights violations." But this recognition would not make sense without the "explicit apologies" of former colonial powers which violated human rights, participants of the meeting observed. They demanded that an act of repentance for those human rights violations be duly reflected in the final declaration of the Durban conference.
©Panafrican News Agency

The death of the white supremacist convicted after three decades and three trials of assassinating NAACP leader Medgar Evers closes a grim chapter in the history of the U.S. civil rights movement. Byron de la Beckwith, 80, died Sunday night at University Medical Center in Jackson, about eight hours after he was admitted, hospital spokeswoman Barbara Austin said. She said the coroner would determine the cause of death. Beckwith had suffered from high blood pressure, heart problems and other ailments. Beckwith was taken to the hospital from the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Rankin County, where he was serving a life sentence for the 1963 shooting of Evers. Evers, 37, field secretary for the NAACP in Mississippi, was fatally shot in the back in Jackson on June 12, 1963, after stepping out of his Oldsmobile. He was walking to his house with an armful of T-shirts saying "Jim Crow Must Go," a reference to the nickname for segregation laws in the South. Beckwith, a former fertilizer salesman, was arrested and charged with the murder on June 23, and was indicted by a Hinds County grand jury in July 1963. He was tried twice in 1964 before all-white juries, in February and April, resulting in a hung jury and mistrial both times. The deer rifle used to kill Evers was found abandoned in a nearby empty lot and Beckwith's fingerprint was found on it. But Beckwith insisted he was 90 miles away in Greenwood when Evers was murdered. After the second trial, Beckwith was released on $10,000 bond. In 1967, Beckwith ran for lieutenant governor of Mississippi and finished fifth among six candidates, with more than 34,000 votes. In 1973, he was convicted of possessing dynamite without a permit and served five years in prison.

Case reopened despite daunting challenges
Twelve years ago, Evers' widow, Myrlie Evers Williams, asked that the murder case be reopened, and Hinds County District Attorney Bobby DeLaughter agreed even though he faced daunting challenges. "At the very beginning ... we didn't have anything," DeLaughter said. "The DA's file was nowhere to be found. We did not have the benefit of a trial transcript to know who the witnesses were. None of the evidence had been retained by the court." But DeLaughter and his officers stumbled across new evidence, including negatives of photos of the crime scene and new witnesses who testified Beckwith had bragged to them about "beating the system." The Clarion-Ledger reported in 1989 that secret files of the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission showed it aided Beckwith's defense in his second trial by screening potential jurors. The commission, a state agency formed to safeguard segregation in Mississippi, detailed jurors' racial views and their ancestry and listed those likely to be "fair and impartial," including a white member of the pro-segregation Citizens' Council, a group Beckwith had joined in 1954. In December 1990, a Hinds County grand jury again indicted Beckwith for the murder. Following an appeal, he was tried and convicted of murder in 1994 -- more than 30 years after his first trial -- and was sentenced to life imprisonment. Beckwith wore a Confederate flag pin on his lapel throughout the 15 days of jury selection, testimony and deliberation in the 1994 trial, at which eight of the 12 jurors were black. The Mississippi Supreme Court upheld the conviction in 1997. Beckwith's philosophy left no room for Jews, blacks, Asians or any race other than white. "There are only three kinds of people that live in Mississippi," Beckwith told The Jackson Clarion-Ledger in an interview shortly before his arrest in 1990. "Whites, colored and trash, and there's very little trash in Mississippi." Beckwith said that while he was "not willing to lay my life down to rid evil from this country," he was "willing to kill the evil in this country that would try to push me out."
©Cable News Network

Hopes among Iranian women wishing to attend universities abroad have been dashed, after a body of conservative clerics and jurists vetoed legislation passed by the Parliament that would have lifted a 20-year-old ban. The Guardian Council, which is charged with deciding whether legislation conforms with Islamic law, vetoed the bill last week. The reversal was the latest in a series of failed attempts by the Parliament to give more rights to women. Currently, the law requires women to obtain permission from their husbands or brothers before studying abroad and that is often denied because of reluctance to allow women to travel alone. Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, more women attend universities in Iran than ever before and more women have joined the work force. There are 11 female deputies in the 290-seat Parliament. And unlike some women in some Muslim countries, Iranian women have the right to vote and drive cars. But Iranian women still face profound discrimination in nearly all aspects of life. Female doctors often receive inferior medical education. Women still face enormous obstacles in initiating divorce proceedings against their husbands and winning custody of their children. To initiate a divorce, a woman must prove her husband is insane, poses her physical harm, or refuses her sex. Husbands and fathers are legally the keepers of women's passports. And at home, women are still forced into traditional roles, whether they have careers or not. Fatimeh Haqiqatjoo, 32, a newly elected deputy who proposed the legislation, also introduced a bill to raise the official age before a girl can be married off by her family. The minimum age now is 9, but she believes it should be 15. The Guardian Council also vetoed that bill, saying it was un-Islamic. "The Guardian Council can't continue acting like this," said the deputy, sitting in the Iranian Parliament recently. "It will eventually face public pressure." She said she would not give up the fight to protect adolescent girls from being married at an early age. "We should care about the health of the family, and I believe marriage in adolescence will cause an identity crisis," she said. "Marriage is a new stress in life and we should increase the age of marriage." Traditionalist clerics cite religious edicts to support their stance against allowing women to study abroad or raising the legal age for marriage. But moderate clerics are joining in the struggle for women's liberation. A senior theologian, Ayatollah Josef Sanei, issued a fatwa last year saying that a woman should be allowed to run for president. It called for giving women the right to initiate divorce and granting her custody for her children more easily. The Iranian government often boasts that women have achieved vast gains since the revolution. But compared with some predominantly Muslim countries, Iran lags behind. In Egypt, for example, a law was approved last year granting women the right to divorce in family courts within three months after marriage if they return their dowry and other gifts from their husbands and waive their right to alimony.
©International Herald Tribune

A man arrested following a shooting spree at a Jewish community centre in Los Angeles is expected to plead guilty to federal hate-crime charges when he appears in court on Wednesday. A spokesman for the US Attorney said white supremacist Buford Furrow, who is also accused of killing a Filipino-American postman, would admit to the offences as part of a plea bargain. He would not provide details of the agreement because it had not yet been filed with the court. Sources quoted by the Associated Press news agency said Furrow had agreed to spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole if prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty. Furrow was charged with killing postman Joseph Ileto on 10 August 1999, hours after he allegedly wounded three boys, a teenage girl and a woman at the North Valley Jewish Community Center in the San Fernando Valley. Prosecutors said Furrow had a long history with anti-Semitic hate groups and had made statements in which he admitted the crimes and said they were motivated by racial hatred. He allegedly told authorities he wanted his crime to be "a wake-up call to America to kill Jews". But his lawyers cited examples of Furrow's bizarre behavior, suggesting he was suffering from mental illness.
©BBC News

As the ethnic Chinese community in Malaysia joins others around the world celebrating the lunar New Year, the Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad, has urged all ethnic groups in the country to accept political realities. Dr Mahathir's comments appear to be directed at an ethnic Chinese lobby group, Suqiu, which provoked controversy last year. Suqiu openly challenged the preferential treatment enjoyed by the majority Malay community. The row, and another over the status of Chinese-language education, has cast a shadow over the New Year festivities. On the stroke of midnight on Tuesday, a volly of firecrackers echoed briefly through central Kuala Lumpur, signalling the start of a long week of festivities for Malaysia's Chinese community. Yet, if the mood in Chinatown seems strangely subdued this year, the reasons are not hard to find. Race is never far from the political centre stage here, and in recent months it returned with a vengeance. Prime Minister Mahathir belatedly attacked Suqiu as extremists, while a Muslim organisation even threatened holy war. Suqiu quickly backed down, but the issue has not gone away. In a message marking the advent of the Year of the Snake, the Prime Minister said that in a multi-racial country like Malaysia, no one community would ever get everything it wanted. All communities should accept reality, he said. A further issue of dispute is education, triggered by government efforts to close a Chinese-language primary school outside Kuala Lumpur. But opposition groups say fear of renewed ethnic tension, witnessed most dramatically in riots more than 30 years ago, are misplaced. They accuse Dr Mahathir of deliberately playing up racial issues in order to win back support from Malays, who have been drifting away from the ruling Umno organisation which he heads. This does not make the position of ordinary Chinese any easier. Many do resent the preferential treatment that Malays get in everything from jobs and housing to university education - but they accept it as a fact of life.
©BBC News

Excerpt from report by Czech TV on 23 January.

[Presenter] Fourteen students - seven Romanies and seven Poles - have embarked on a four-week police course for national minorities, organized by the secondary police school in Brno (southern Moravia). Provided that they successfully complete the course, the students are expected to join the country's police force in the future. This project aims to help representatives of national minorities (living in the Czech Republic) overcome barriers separating them from the rest of the population:
[Reporter] Psychological testing, physical training but mainly lessons in Czech - these are some of the tasks the students are required to successfully complete if they want to join the police force. Czech grammar and vocabulary are the students' formidable enemies...
Zaneta Olahova is 19 years old; she has passed her school-leaving examinations (equivalent to A levels in the UK) and lives near Hodonin (southern Moravia). When asked why she wanted to become a policewoman, she replied that she had always wanted to take part in maintaining law and order:
[Olahova] My dream is to join the criminal investigation department. But I believe that a more practical goal, which would be based on my personal qualities, would be to become a police spokeswoman.
[Reporter] Zaneta's Polish classmate, Bronislav Cienciala, has openly admitted that money, the chance to have a regular income and fear of unemployment are factors which also played an important part in his decision to embark on the course:
[Cienciala] I would like to join the immigration squad or become a customs officer. But my chief goal is to join the police force, perhaps even the riot squad - it does not really matter...
[Reporter] (The Czech Republic's) police courses for national minorities are also supported by the British embassy (in Prague). The British side has so far been satisfied with the course and contributed 20,000 pounds to this project.
©Central Europe Online

Racism, xenophobia and ethnic discrimination are serious obstacles in the way of lasting peace in Africa and require enforceable measures to curb them, Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma of South Africa said Tuesday. In an address at a regional conference in Dakar, Senegal, which was released to PANA, Dlamini-Zuma said ethnic conflicts have lead to some of the most gruesome killings on the continent. "As Africans we have a responsibility to eradicate xenophobia and ethnic conflict in order to strengthen democracy, transparency and development," she said. The Dakar meeting is being held in preparation for the third world conference against racism and related intolerance to be held in South Africa later this year. Dlamini-Zuma called on delegates to take cognisance of the cumulative impact of imperialism, slavery and colonialism on Africa which continued to perpetuate inequality, underdevelopment, poverty and exploitation. "This historical experience continues to determine our reality today," Dlamini-Zuma said. Racism also continued to exist in South Africa, and would only be eradicated through a concerted effort. "Slavery in my view is underpinned by racism. People who take and treat others as slaves do so because they think that slaves are inferior to them," she continued. "Slavery and racism were inter-linked. In my country racism still exists. It will take strong mobilisation and a programme of de-racialisation of society to eradicate racism. Unfortunately, in the rest of the world, racism is on the increase." "Collective vigilance against racism is necessary, otherwise it will always rear its ugly head as it is doing. It is of great concern that some political parties are even able to mobilise on a racist platform." She said the African Conference should adopt a Programme of Action which is forward looking, with concrete measurable objectives which are implementable at the national level. "It therefore becomes imperative that the outcome of this gathering should seek to map out the road from Dakar to Durban and beyond, that will bring hope and relief to the millions of victims of racism world-wide," she said. "Our responsibility should be to put in place necessary mechanisms and enforceable measures, as well as the requisite resources to ensure success," she concluded.
©Panafrican News Agency

An Ivorian women's NGOs has expressed anger at the criticism the Senegalese President, Abdoulaye Wade made about the ongoing anti-foreigner sentiments in Cote d'Ivoire. Wade had on Monday, during the opening of the regional African Conference on Racism, Xenophobia and Intolerance in Dakar, regretted that blacks in Europe do not face as much suffering as what was being meted on Burkina citizens living in Cote d'Ivoire. Reacting to this, the NGO "Femme de Cote d'Ivoire Vision et Paix" (or Ivorian Women Vision and Peace) claimed that Wade's remarks inflammatory "It is hard for us to understand that at a time when Ivorian people, under the leadership of their president, are striving to ease tensions at home, there are some heads of state who add fuel to the flames, flouting elementary diplomatic principles," the NGO's spokesperson, Bile Bernadette, said in a television statement Tuesday evening. "We are fed up with this and the threshold of tolerance has been by-passed. It is untrue and dishonest to accuse of xenophobia a country whose population is 40 percent composed of foreigners. "We are issuing a stern warning against all such presidents who are trying to pick a quarrel with Cote d'Ivoire," the spokesperson added. Bile cautioned that such leaders "will be responsible for possible bad treatment against their nationals in Cote d'Ivoire". The women's NGO spokesperson asked the Ivorian government to "take measures to put an end to hostile remarks by presidents who believe that they are leaders in their countries and in ours". "Femme de Cote d'Ivoire Vision et Paix" claimed that it was aware that wives whose husbands work with international instutions in Dakar suffered were not allowed to engage in any professional activities. "Enough is enough", added Bile, citing one Mrs Gnansou, an Ivorian paediatrician who was allegedly prevented by Senegalese authorities from practising in Senegal or even to open her own private clinic, while her spouse worked with an inter-African organisation. Bile ended her speech by asking Ivorian women to join her "early Wednesday morning at 06.30 GMT to march upon Senegal embassy to express our anger. President Wade's remarks have turned into a major topic among people eating in the popular "maquis" restaurants of Abidjan. Some Ivorian interviewed in Abidjan said that President Wade's statement was misplaced because their government and the Ivorian people were looking for new ways of living together with their neighbours in the sub-region, particularly those from Burkina Faso. "This is a lack of understanding of realities on the ground," remarked a patron in a bar located in "Toit Rouge" area, whose owner is a Burkinabe national.
©Panafrican News Agency

Ivorian protesters accuse Mr Wade of meddling Hundreds of Ivorians have protested over remarks by Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade alleging racial discimination in Ivory Coast. In a demonstration outside the Senegalese embassy in the commercial capital, Abidjan, they called for all Senegalese living in the country to return home. Many shops owned by Senegalese and other foreigners temporarily closed as small groups of youths headed to a market in Abidjan's business district, where Senegalese merchants trade. On Monday, Mr Wade told a conference on racism that Africans should do more to tackle racism in the continent. He singled out Ivory Coast, where ill-feelings against immigrants have increased since a failed coup attempt in January blamed on the country's northern neighbours. A senior official in the Ivorian Interior Ministry went on television to appeal for calm. Individual Senegalese were not responsible for statements made by their head of state, he said. Mr Wade said that incidents of racism against black people abroad were "marginal" compared with ethnic and fratricidal conflict between Africans. "Inter-ethnic conflicts are a tangible reality and I might almost say that right now a Burkinabe suffers more in Ivory Coast than a black does in Europe," he told the conference. Most Ivory Coast newspapers in Abidjan on Wednesday printed derogatory remarks about Mr Wade's speech. "Ivorians refuse to let presidents who are incapable of putting their own houses in order... set themselves up as givers of lessons," an editorial in Le National newspaper said. About 40% of Ivory Coast's population are foreigners who came to the country seeking work.
©BBC News

Some 170 Non-governmental organisations and representatives of African and international civil societies have recommended that slavery, slave trade and colonisation be declared as crimes against humanity. The recommendation is contained in a document titled the "Dakar Declaration", which was adopted Tuesday in Senegalese capital, following their 20-21 January forum. The declaration has been forwarded to the African regional meeting, which ends on Wednesday after preparing the continent's position document for the world conference against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance, to be held in Durban, South Africa from 31st August to 7 September 2001. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, attended the African conference, opened Monday by Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade. In that declaration, the NGOs asked the African conference closing on Wednesday evening to "recognise and declare that slavery, slave trade and colonisation, of which the African continent and the diaspora suffered, are crimes against humanity." It calls for the recognition of the right of Africans in the continent and the Diaspora to "fair and equitable compensation." The position of the NGOs contradicts President Abdoulaye Wade's claim in his opening address the previous day that racism was no longer a "major problem" in the current world. Wade shocked the audience by saying he personally disagreed with those who have been pressing for financial compensation on behalf of the black race, which suffered enormously as a result of racism. This declaration was not well received by several participants, including some within the Senegalese delegation.A member of the team preparing the conference's final draft document told PANA that the Dakar meeting could suggest the creation of a compensatory mechanism for victims of slavery and a compensation fund for development. Wade's statement was also received with reservations by non-governmental human rights organisations, who have been pressing for reparations to blacks who suffered enormously under slave trade and slavery. The NGOs urged all African states to ratify all conventions related with slavery, racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and the arising intolerance and "to harmonise their legislation with the said treaties". They also urged the African governments to take measures for the practical application of these laws.
©Panafrican News Agency

Police across the UK are being told to draw up plans to prevent racial tension and violence spreading between asylum seekers and the communities in which they are housed. An Association of Chief Police Officers manual, obtained by BBC Radio Five Live, warns of "significant public disorder" unless action is taken. Racist abuse that would never be tolerated if directed at other minorities, has become "common currency" towards refugees, it states. But the document also acknowledges that animosity and the potential for trouble are an ever-present danger within refugee communities. A mistrust of authority in general and the police in particular is hampering criminal investigations, and some will use violence "beyond our normal experience", it states. The manual also questions the police's role in detecting and expelling immigration offenders. The effect on police resources of a two-year target of 60,000 removals is causing chief officers great concern. The government will shortly publish the latest asylum statistics - which are expected to show that a record number of people applied to stay in Britain last year. Director of the British Refugee Council, Nick Hardwick, told the BBC: "We're getting reports of harassment against asylum-seekers on a daily basis." But he added that improved communication could help the situation. "If people have good information about who's coming and why then that dispels lots of the concerns that exist. "But if people suddenly wake up one day to find a whole group of young men in their area and they don't know anything about them, then the rumours start to fly and that allows people with prejudiced and racist views to get a purchase and you start to get serious incidents. "There has to be a very proactive policy by local authorities, national government and the voluntary sector to make sure there is good information out there."
©BBC News

Some officers at a young offenders institution where an Asian teenager was murdered promoted "overtly racist behaviour" according to the head of the Prison Service. Martin Narey said an internal investigation launched after the murder of Zahid Mubarek at west London's Feltham Young Offenders' Institution had produced "very, very troubling" findings. "There's a minority of staff at Feltham who are overtly racist and who would like to undermine what we are trying to do," said Mr Narey, Director General of the Prison Service. A report published following the investigation, concluded: "There is evidence that racism exists at Feltham, both overtly and by more subtle methods. "Minority ethnic staff should not have to tolerate the level of harassment that exists. "Similarly, prisoners should be able to live free from racist abuse by staff." An inquiry was launched after 19-year-old Zahid Mubarek was beaten to death by Robert Stewart, 20, just hours before he was due to be released in March last year. Stewart was subsequently jailed for life. Speaking on Channel 4 News, Mr Narey said: "I've seen some signs of improvement across the board, but not at Feltham. "I think that will improve with the new governor there. "I have gone on record as saying the service is institutionally racist and there are some pockets of blatant and malicious racism." Prisoners from ethnic minority backgrounds, who make up 50% of the inmates, were twice as likely to be put in the segregation unit at Feltham, according to the report. The inquiry also revealed inaccuracies in the log book, which indicated that 103 officers had received race relations training, but only three from a sample of 16 said they actually had.
©BBC News

President Ion Iliescu joined Romanian Jewish survivors of World War II on Sunday to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the killings of Jews by a Romanian fascists during a failed coup. The killings occurred Jan. 21-23, 1941, in Bucharest and other Romanian cities. The Iron Guard, a Romanian fascist organization, robbed and tortured hundreds of Jews, of whom 120 perished. Some 25 synagogues and temples were ransacked in the campaign of terror. The Iron Guard was trying to create mayhem to destabilize and overthrow Romania's pro-Nazi military ruler Marshal Ion Antonescu. The rampage was crushed by Antonescu's troops. He then outlawed the Guard. In a memorial service in Bucharest, Iliescu condemned the ``barbaric acts'' of the Iron Guard. About half of the 800,000 Jews who lived in Romania before World War II were killed during the war. Hundreds of thousands of Romanian Jews left for Israel during the communist period. Just 12,000 mostly elderly Jews live in Romania today. Iliescu, a 70-year-old former communist, recalled in a speech at the Jewish Coral Temple how his father's Jewish friend was killed. ``I personally experienced those horrific moments,'' Iliescu told elderly Jews. A Jewish survivor, Victor Barladeanu, 72, said: ``My family and about 20 other people hid in the attic of my house.'' Barladeanu, a writer, said a Romanian barber in the neighborhood saved his family. ``The man stayed outside (our house) with a club in his hand and told the mobs: 'There are no Jews here.' He was a big man ... and nobody argued with him.'' Still, Iliescu criticized as exaggerated Jewish claims of the number of victims in Romania during the Holocaust. ``Inflating the number of Jewish victims in Romania, to stir compassion, stands in the way of better ties between Romania and Israel.'' During World War II, northwestern Romanian territory was under Hungarian control. More than 150,000 Jews from this region died in Nazi death camps. Romanians like to distance themselves from these deaths. Antonescu is known to have deported more than 150,000 Romanian Jews to the Soviet Union; 80,000 of them died. Pro-fascist groups were outlawed under communist rule, which collapsed in 1989. Since then, several groups claiming to be successors of the Guard have appeared. They claim the Guard was unfairly blamed for the Jewish killings. Serban Suru, a 41-year-old leader of one of today's pro-Guard movements, opposes a year-old school curriculum on the Holocaust. Suru's group has just 100 members. The ultranationalist Greater Romania Party is the country's second-largest party, holding one-fourth of parliamentary seats. It considers Antonescu a hero. Its leader, Corneliu Vadim Tudor, has often expressed anti-Jewish sentiment. He was defeated in a runoff presidential election in December by Iliescu.
©Associated Press

Joerg Haider, a far-right Austria politician known for his anti-immigrant stance and past remarks many consider anti-Semitic, spoke out Sunday against an agreement to compensate Jews for property lost when the Nazis took power. Haider criticized an agreement Austria signed with the U.S. government Wednesday to pay $500 million in return for dismissal of survivors' lawsuits over apartments and other property seized from Jewish victims. The pledge brought Austria's total compensation commitment close to $1 billion. ``There must be an end at one point,'' Haider told a meeting of the far-right Freedom Party, which he headed until last spring, at a suburban Vienna convention hall. He said it was a ``treacherous hope'' for Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel to believe that by agreeing to the deal he would earn ``overwhelming applause from the East Coast,'' an allusion to Jews living in the eastern United States. Outside the hall, more than 700 leftist activists protested against Haider, surrounded by nearly 1,000 police with helmets and shields. Haider also attacked Austrian Jewish leader Ariel Muzicant, suggesting he wants additional money to pay off debts Haider said are owed by the country's Jewish community. Exploiting widespread mistrust of foreigners, the Freedom Party gained popularity in the 1990s under Haider, who made statements — later withdrawn — that praised some Nazi policies and backers of Adolf Hitler. The European Union reacted to the Freedom Party's inclusion in Austria's government last February by imposing sanctions that were lifted in September. The party's support slipped in provincial elections last year. At Sunday's meeting, Susanne Riess-Passer, who replaced Haider as Freedom Party leader in May, announced that Helene Partik-Pable, a former investigating judge who has made remarks considered racist by many, would be the party's leading candidate in municipal elections in Vienna in March.
©Associated Press

Chinese leaders told U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan that China aims to ratify a key international human rights pact in the next 2 1/2 months, Annan's spokeswoman said Monday. News of China's plans comes as the government seeks to keep human rights abuses from sinking Beijing's bid to host the 2008 Olympics. It also precedes the annual meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Commission, where China wages a yearly battle to avoid scrutiny of its civil liberties' record. During three days of meetings that ended Monday, Chinese officials clarified a timetable for ratifying the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, said Annan's spokeswoman, Marie Okabe. The officials told Annan that the covenant ``might be or would be ratified during the first quarter by the parliament, and possibly in March,'' Okabe said. ``He was reassured of that and welcomed that.'' U.N. officials, foreign governments and human rights groups have long urged China to ratify the treaty, which it signed in 1997. China also has yet to ratify another key pact, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which it signed in 1998. Together, the covenants lay down guarantees for civil liberties whose frequent neglect in China have drawn criticism from rights groups worldwide. One alleged target of recent human rights abuses has been the banned Falun Gong meditation sect. On Monday, China's government braced for Lunar New Year protests by Falun Gong followers, warning in state media that demonstrators would be punished harshly as ``enemies of the people.'' ``Like a rat crossing the street that everyone shouts out to squash, they will suffer serious legal sanctions and ultimately receive the shameful fate of failure,'' the Beijing Daily newspaper said. Okabe said there was less reported progress on the political rights treaty, though Chinese officials told Annan that work on the pact was continuing. China is keenly aware that its image as a human rights transgressor helped doom Beijing's bid in 1993 to host the 2000 Olympics. With International Olympic Committee inspectors due in Beijing next month, China's persecuted dissident community has urged the government to free political prisoners. The Olympic committee will choose the host city in July. Ratification of the pact in March could also boost China's position at the annual meeting of the 53-nation U.N. Human Rights Commission in Geneva, which opens March 19. For most of the past decade, China has expended successful but embarrassing efforts to fend off censure of its rights record. Annan capped his trip with a meeting Monday with Chinese President Jiang Zemin. In particular, Annan said he sought help from Beijing for U.N. peacekeeping operations. China's participation in peacekeeping has been limited despite its 2.5-million-member army, and Annan said he mentioned several areas where Beijing could help. The official Xinhua News Agency reported Jiang as saying that China ``is satisfied'' with Annan's work — a possible boost for Annan should he seek a second five-year term as secretary general at year's end. ``The Chinese government will continue to support him,'' Jiang was quoted as saying.
©Associated Press

According to a state report on the multiracial community, it is becoming increasingly prominent that both the government and the general public display an attitude towards people of other races, which is based on a mixture of ignorance and racism. The committee's report was accepted by the city council, which is therefore reviewing the policy with regard to the treatment of foreign nationals until 2004.
©Iceland Review

Ethnic and political considerations have taken centre stage in the recruitment and appointment of senior staff at two institutions of higher learning, Bindura University and the National University of Science and Technology (Nust), the Zimbabwe Independent has been told. Indications were that the government was reluctant to appoint a new vice-chancellor for Bindura University and that it would not renew the term of office of the vice-chancellor at Nust. Academics who spoke to the Independent said top government officials were sacrificing professionalism on the altar of political patronage. "Homeboy" criteria were being used in the appointment of academics to senior positions at the country's universities and tertiary institutions. Nust vice-chancellor Professor Phineas Makhurane, whose term of office expires in May, was not likely to be kept on. The permanent secretary in the Ministry of Higher Education, Michael Mambo, has been tipped to take over. Academics said that Mambo does not have sufficiently convincing academic credentials to warrant his appointment. They said there were other academics with a track record who have either been overlooked or sacrificed in the process. They said the route Mambo was taking was similar to that taken by James Chitauro when he was appointed acting vice-chancellor of Bi-ndura University des- pite not having any known academic track record. He had, prior to his appointment, been permanent secretary in the Higher Education ministry. Makhurane, described as one of the country's best university administrators, is understood to have declined to apply for an extension of his term of office. Academics said Makhurane (62) was aware of the government's reluctance to renew his term of office. He could have gone for another three years as the retirement age is 65. "There is no one in Zimbabwe who is more experienced in university administration than Makhurane," the source said. Makhurane served as the pro-vice-chancellor of the universities of Botswana and Zambia prior to joining the University of Zimbabwe. Sources said Nust's pro-vice-chancellor Clever Nyathi's three-year term of office that had been extended by a year after expiring in 1999, was not going to be renewed despite him being one of the country's most respected academics and a very experienced administrator. "What is strange is that we have other pro-vice-chancellors having their terms of office extended, like Professor Levy Nyagura, for no reason," the source said. Nyathi, who specialised in bio-chemistry, declined to comment saying he had now left Nust. "There are strong feelings that the whole issue borders on tribalism," the source said. The sources said the position of vice-chancellor at Bindura University would be re-advertised because of political interference in the appointments of the vice-chancellor and pro-vice-chancellor positions last year. Professor Cowden Chikomba, who had been the pro-vice-chancellor at the university, had been punished for allegedly supporting the appointment of Professor Misheck Matshazi whom he wanted to take over as pro-vice-chancellor. Sources within government said Matshazi was not the favourite choice of the former Minister of Higher Education, Ignatius Chombo, or Mambo. Despite having left the Ministry of Higher Education for Local Government, Chombo is believed to be still pulling the strings. The position of Higher Education minister Herbert Murerwa was not immediately clear but sources said Chikomba was no longer the choice for the vice-chancellorship after siding with Matshazi whom he believed was the only choice suitable for the job. Academics told the Independent that Chombo wanted to bring in Professor Sam Tswaya, who was his campaign manager when he was contesting the 1995 parliamentary election. "It is now pay back time. Tswaya is Chombo's blue-eyed boy and they want to see him there (pro vice chancellor)," the source said. Murerwa told the Independent that he would be meeting President Robert Mugabe to discuss the shortlisted people for the vice chancellor's post at Bindura University. "Recommendations have been made with regard to the applicants for the vice chancellor's post and I will have to discuss this with the chancellor," Murerwa said, adding that the pro vice-chancellor's post had since been advertised. On the fate of Makhurane, Murerwa said he was waiting for him to make a decision on whether he intended to have his term of office renewed. Murerwa denied that Mambo was being tipped to take over as vice-chancellor. "Mambo is happy where he is," Murerwa said. Murerwa said that Nyathi's term of office had come to an end and they had since advertised the pro vice-chancellor's post.
©Zimbabwe Independent

Two Turkish boys who came to the rescue of a Greek man who was being beaten up by neo-Nazis in the southern German city of Munich have become the target of an Internet hate campaign, police said Saturday. Pictures of the boys, published earlier in a newspaper, were posted on a far-right website, along with a thinly-veiled call for violence against them, police said. Munich police said they could not remove the website because the provider was based outside Germany, but added they were checking up daily on the safety of the two. Last week, a group of 13 neo-Nazis beat up a 31-year-old Greek in Munich until several Turks, including the two boys, intervened. The Greek was hospitalized with head injuries. In other developments, police said some 150 neo-Nazis from across Germany converged on the northern town of Bad Harzburg and attempted to march through the town center. And in the eastern town of Cottbus police arrested three young men suspected of beating up a dark-skinned German boy of 11.

Some immigrants spend years in the camps Scores of illegal immigrants, armed with bricks and iron bars, have fought a battle with police at a detention centre in north-west Australia. Police fired pepper spray to restore order after more than 180 detainees, mostly from the Middle East, managed briefly to take over the Port Hedland centre. Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock blamed the fighting on the same group behind September's violence at Woomera detention centre, in southern Australia, in which 13 staff were hurt and millions of dollars of damage was done. Human rights organisations have strongly criticised the grim conditions in the camps where some people are held for years. The government said the ringleaders of the latest disturbances would face criminal charges. Reports said an officer wearing riot gear suffered concussion after a brick struck his helmet and two staff members were slightly injured. Police spokesman Inspector Bill Todd said detainees hurled shovels, chairs, iron bars and bricks when officers arrived at the centre. Most of the rioters were moved into accommodation blocks, but 20 tried to barricade themselves in another room. They surrendered when police let off pepper spray. Mr Ruddock said longer term detainees from Woomera had recently been moved to Port Hedland to make way for new arrivals. "Our view was that it was inappropriate for them to remain with a new group coming in," he added. Violence is increasing in Australia's detention camps where all asylum seekers are placed automatically if they enter the country illegally. Mr Ruddock has just returned from the Middle East where he was seeking help in discouraging illegal immigrants from coming to Australia. Every year, thousands of illegal immigrants from Asia and the Middle East try to slip into Australia. Many of them are smuggled in by criminal gangs on dangerous, rickety boats. Reports say there has been a big increase recently in arrivals from the Middle East. Police forces believe most travel via Malaysia to the Indonesian province of Java where they take small boats to Australia's north-west coast.
©BBC News

A new immigration law has come into force in Spain, which could lead to the expulsion of thousands of people who entered Spain illegally. The law will also strip immigrant workers of the rights of association, protest and strike. The legislation has sparked protests across Spain. In Barcelona, several hundred immigrants staging a sit-in at a church have launched a hunger strike. The new legislation is aimed at stemming the tide of illegal immigrants which Spain has been battling for the past year. But human rights organisations say the measures are too restrictive. The BBC correspondent in Madrid, Flora Botsford, says the law makes a clearer distinction than previously between legal and illegal immigrants. The new measures make it easier to expel illegal immigrants. Around 30,000 people who unsuccessfully applied for residency or work permits in 2000 could now face deportation. The Prime Minister, Jose Maria Aznar, admitted that Spain needed immigrants to do work Spanish people would no longer do, but said it could only take on those with legal status. "It is one thing to have to solve the problem of illegal immigration... but to give the same rights to both legal and illegal immigrants, that is something unthinkable," he said. But immigration lawyer Fernando Olivan says the new law will only build tension between the government and immigrants. "The government had to change the law, but they're killing flies with cannon balls," he said. Around 350 immigrants have locked themselves in the church of Santa Maria Pi in the Old Town of Barcelona and have gone on hunger strike in protest at the new law. They are said to come from Pakistan, Russia, Ecuador, India and Morocco. A spokeswoman said their strike would go on indefinitely. Immigrants are also staging sit-ins at churches in other cities in Spain. In Valencia a crowd of 1,000 people demanded at the weekend that the government give help to immigrants.
©BBC News

Jewelry, art and other property plundered by the Nazis was not returned to Holocaust survivors because the United States and its allies had "more pressing" things to deal with at the end of World War II, a presidential commission reported Tuesday. "Whether it was the need to rebuild shattered European economies, restore democracy to Germany, wage the Cold War," said Edgar Bronfman, chairman of the panel, "the interests of individual Holocaust victims suffered." While the U.S. government "performed admirably" in trying to return looted property, the issue ended up on "the back burner," said the report by the Presidential Advisory Commission on Holocaust Assets in the United States. The report, the result of two years of research, was scheduled to be presented to President Bill Clinton on Tuesday. In the report, the commission recommends creating a joint foundation of government and private representatives to continue restitution efforts. It also announced it had reached what it called "landmark agreements" with museums, the New York Bankers Association and the Library of Congress under which those organizations agreed to try to identify assets they may still have that belong to Holocaust victims and their families. Hitler's forces have been blamed for slaughtering 6 million Jews and 5 million others, enslaving another 12 million and plundering European riches in the darkest chapter of the 20th century. But an addendum to that history written in the past several years will show that private organizations and governments worked at the turn of the century to "bring some measure of justice" to more than a million survivors, said Stuart Eizenstat, deputy U.S. Treasury secretary. The report to Mr. Clinton commends the U.S. government for doing "a remarkably good job" in trying to return Nazi-plundered property that later came under American control. But it concluded that some victims have been nonetheless "shortchanged," said Kenneth Klothen, executive director of the panel. Among the problems, he said, was that the United States adopted the international legal standard that war booty should be returned to countries from which it was stolen. That meant valuables did not always end up in the hands of individual victims. The report echoes a preliminary report last year, which said that although U.S. military forces "generally behaved in a commendable way," an "egregious" exception was the suspected plundering of some looted items by five U.S. generals from the residences and offices they used during the postwar occupation. Mr. Klothen said further study has not uncovered what became of that property. The report recommends following up on that and on other findings.
©International Herald Tribune

The Government received a qualified apology from the human-rights group Amnesty International for an advertisement it ran in a Dutch newspaper implying the Hungarian authorities systematically abused Roma. The advertisement in the December 9 issue of NRC Handelsblad highlighted alleged human rights abuses by the authorities of several countries including Hungary, suggesting that children were the subject of criminal persecution and abuse by the police. Istvan Zoltan Toth, Director of the Department for Image Promotion at the Prime Minister's Office, wrote to Amnesty International's Amsterdam office, saying that his colleagues had been "astonished" at the content of the advertisement. "For the media, it is a not only an exceptional opportunity but an important responsibility to introduce the traditions and culture of a foreign country," Zoltan Toth wrote. "This responsibility also applies when the media run advertisements introducing countries to their leaders." The letter highlighted a recent report by the Hungarian Office for National and Social Minorities about State measures taken to ensure the social integration of Roma in Hungary. In response, Adri Kemps, Director of Amnesty International Netherlands, wrote that he agreed that the advertisement, which depicted a toothless child, had "given the mistaken impression that Amnesty International has reports of children in Hungary being given electric shocks or having their teeth punched or kicked out in Hungarian police stations." Kemps, however, mentioned the case of six Roma children who were allegedly abused verbally and physically by Budapest police in September, 1999. He pointed out that while Amnesty did not intend to link Hungary with the other examples of child torture in the advertisement, the issue remains a worldwide one. "We hope that our apologies will be a good basis for the basic understanding needed between Amnesty International and the Hungarian authorities in achievinghuman rights worldwide," Kemps concluded. In its 2000 annual report on Hungary, Amnesty International mentioned reports of Roma falling victim to racially biased policing and mistreatment by officers. "The belief that Romany communities are inherently criminal appeared to be widespread amongst the public and police," the report said. In addition to the six Roma children mentioned in Kemps' letter, the annual report mentions several other incidents where Roma claimed to have been victims of systematic abuse by the police. The report also accused border guards and immigration authorities of regularly mistreating asylum-seekers attempting to enter Hungary. It said that immigrant detention centers "tortured" inmates. The Government denied that ethnic and social minorities were subjected to institutional abuse in the country.
©Central Europe Online

Black people are still more likely than whites to be stopped, searched and arrested by the police, according to Home Office figures. Racial equality groups said the statistics made disappointing reading in the aftermath of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry. The report showed that for every 1,000 people, 81 blacks were stopped and searched by officers, compared with 26 Asians and just 16 whites. It also showed that 113 blacks were arrested per 1,000 residents, down fractionally on last year, compared with 26 whites and 37 Asians. Nearly 60% of people arrested by the Metropolitan Police for robbery were black, compared to an average of 28% in the whole of England and Wales. Once at the local police station, however, black people were less likely to be given a caution that whites. The total number of arrests fell by 2% for whites and 5% for Asians but remained the same - 93,000 in the year - for blacks. The study unveiled by Home Secretary Jack Straw also showed that racist incidents reported to police rose by 107% last year. The total number of race crimes spiralled from 23,000 in 1998-99 to nearly 48,000 the following year in England and Wales. Milena Buyum, of the National Assembly Against Racism, said: "The figures blow out the whole furore about the police feeling undermined and demoralised regarding their authority to stop and search black people."

Up to 50,000 people, many of them Iranians, are believed to have tried to migrate illegally to Western Europe through Bosnia last year, the United Nations said on Tuesday. Douglas Coffman, spokesman for the UN Mission in Bosnia (UNMIBH), told a news conference that the estimates were based in part on the numbers of people who arrived in the country and then disappeared from official view in 2000. "During that time 14,315 Iranian nationals entered BiH (Bosnia and Herzegovina) through Sarajevo airport and only 1,226 departed, leaving 13,089 unaccounted for and presumed to have attempted to illegally migrate to Western Europe," he said. The next largest group was Turks, followed by Tunisians. Coffman said controls on Bosnia's frontiers were relatively lax, partly due to donor fatigue five years after the conflict in the former Yugoslav republic from1992-5. Most of the immigrants were believed to come to the country via Istanbul and leave via neighboring Croatia or Slovenia. Croatia returned over 5,000 in the second half of 2000, he said. "Due to this and other information, UNMIBH believes that between 40,000 and 50,000 people tried to migrate illegally to Western Europe through BiH last year, not only through Sarajevo airport, but also through the country's other international airports as well as by road," Coffman said. Around 30 people, mainly Iranians, drowned in the Sava river while trying to cross to Croatia, he added later. The introduction of visa requirements for Iranians late last year cut numbers from there significantly, Coffman said, but the smugglers turned to Tunisians, who do not require visas. UNMIBH, overseeing reform of the police, the judiciary and the border service in Bosnia since the war, has established a border service at four of about 40 border crossings so far. Post-war Bosnia is split into two highly autonomous parts -- a Muslim-Croat federation and a Serb republic. International officials are trying to make all three groups work together to pave the way for Bosnia's entry into the European Union. "A lack of local and international funding has made it impossible to expand the state border service beyond the current four border entry points," Coffman said, adding that UNMIBH hoped to cover eight more border points in the next few months.
©Central Europe Online

The head of the Hong Kong Bar Association said on Monday people should not be seen as "enemies of the state" because they speak out when they feel their freedoms are threatened. The comments came a month after the Beijing-backed government, in an unusual move, asked lawmakers to voice support for existing laws that impose heavy penalties on unlawful gatherings. "People have a right to express their aspirations or concerns where their fundamental rights and freedoms are threatened. People who speak out are not enemies of the state," association chairman Ronny Tong Tong said in a speech to mark the start of the 2001 legal year. "There is thus no need for a government to seek to justify its actions, or to orchestrate or rally support. Still less to seek to alienate or even stigmatize certain sections of the community. Such conduct is neither convincing nor constructive." The Hong Kong legislature, dominated by pro-Beijing lawmakers, passed the support motion, which political analysts said was aimed at silencing students who complain the laws are unreasonable. The rules require people to seek police permission seven days ahead of large demonstrations. The maximum penalty for failing to seek permission is five years jail. Many pro-democracy activists, lawyers, academics and students called for the notification period to be cut and the penalties to be eased. The penalties for illegal demonstrations under public order laws sparked controversy last June when a group of students was arrested for protesting without permission. The students later accused police, who used pepper spray to disperse the crowd, of being unnecessarily violent. Authorities eventually decided not to charge the protesters. The aspiration for freedom, rights and the rule of law "should never be mistaken as a symbol of destabilization or source of conflict of our society", Tong said. Pro-Beijing figures in Hong Kong accused the students of trying to destabilize the territory. Freedom of speech and the right to demonstrate in Hong Kong are guaranteed under the territory's post-handover constitution, which came into effect after Britain returned the former colony to communist China in mid-1997.
©Central Europe Online

China has executed eight men for trafficking children and abducting, raping and selling women, state media said of Friday. Four men led an 18-member gang which took women from the poor southwestern provinces of Yunnan and Guizhou and sold them in the city of Suqian in the prosperous coastal province of Jiangsu, the People's Daily said. The official Xinhua news agency said the gang abducted 142 women over a six-year period by offering them jobs and then selling them for 1,500-4,000 yuan ($180-$480) each. China has vowed to crack down on the problem of women trafficking, who are either sold as brides in rural communities where men outnumber women or to factories for cheap labor. Others end up as prostitutes in brothels. In a second case, two men abducted 154 women and two children and made 840,000 yuan from selling them to people in the richer eastern provinces, the People's Daily said. Another two men from Chongqing abducted 13 women in 1996 and 1997 and pocketed 24,000 yuan from selling them, it said. The abduction of women and children is rampant in rural areas. Some poverty-stricken families sell children they cannot afford to raise. The problem is blamed widely on population imbalances caused by China's one-child policy and a traditional preference for sons.
©Central Europe Online

The French parliament unanimously adopted a bill on Thursday accusing Turks of genocide against Armenians in 1915 in a gesture that infuriated Turkey. The bill had also been adopted by the French Senate last November. France's 300,000-strong Armenian community, one of the largest in Europe, had lobbied hard for the bill which states that "France publicly recognizes the Armenian genocide of 1915." Members of the Armenian diaspora burst into applause in the public gallery of the French lower house when the 60 or so deputies present raised their hands in support of the motion.

French Parliament's Determination
Support for the bill cut across political party lines. Several deputies put it in the context of a "duty to remember," an idea that in recent years has prompted France to admit its wartime collaboration with the Nazis and apologise to Jews. Patrick Devedjian, a deputy of Armenian descent who is also spokesman for Chirac's RPR party, said recognizing that genocide had taken place was necessary to stop such crimes recurring. "It is not a matter for historians. It is a matter for one's conscience and dignity," he said. Communist Roger Mei said "France owes it to our compatriots of Armenian origin" to acknowledge that what happened 85 years ago constituted genocide.

French Government's Position
French President Jacques Chirac, a conservative, and Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin have distanced themselves from the parliamentary measure and sought to limit the potential damage to relations with Turkey. "The vote that you are going to produce today is a judgment on a painful past, not on the present or the future," Jean-Jack Queyranne, the minister responsible for relations with parliament, told deputies during Thursday's session. "It cannot be an act of accusation. In the name of the government, I reaffirm that our friendship with the Armenian and the Turkish peoples runs deep," Queyranne said.

Reaction In Turkey
Ankara recalled its ambassador to France for consultations shortly after the measure sailed through the National Assembly and warned of damage to commercial and diplomatic ties between the two NATO allies. Separately, Foreign Minister Ismail Cem summoned France's Ambassador to Ankara, Bernard Garcia, to his ministry to convey Turkey's anger through diplomatic channels. Citing Cem's remarks made to the French ambassador, ministry spokesman Huseyin Dirioz told Reuters that Turkey regretted that the French government appeared to have made no serious efforts to prevent the ratification of the bill during the parliamentary debate. ``From now on, we want the French government to act with responsibility and use all the means at its hand in the face of this crisis,'' Dirioz added as part of his minister's remarks. "This development could create a serious crisis in French and Turkish relations," Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit declared in Ankara. "So-called genocide claims should be left to the objective assessments of historians. Evaluating and using a historical event for daily politics would be a great mistake,'' Ecevit said. State Minister Rustu Kazim Yucelen told a news conference the French National Assembly had "made a mistake in the face of history" in unanimously passing the bill, promoted by the Armenian diaspora. "The vote will cause great and lasting harm to relations between Turkey and France...It opens a road to a serious crisis in our relations." He said the bill would damage economic ties between the two countries and affect regional peace - a clear reference to landlocked Armenia, which borders Turkey. Turkey's Armenian Patriarch Mesrob Mutafyan said Wednesday January 17 that "this headache will not go away unless Turkey and Armenia enters a direct dialogue on the allegations." Mutafyan was returning home after attending New Year's celebrations with the Armenian community on Crete. Answering reporters' questions at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport, Mutafyan said, "The two sides should start a direct dialogue, otherwise third parties will abuse this matter for their own interests." Mutafyan said that, as a member of the clergy, he would work to contribute to starting such a dialogue. Turkey fiercely denies accusations of a genocide of Armenians during the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire 85 years ago, arguing that any killings were a part of general partisan fighting in which both sides suffered. The day before the bill was adopted, Turkish riot police stopped several dozen demonstrators from the opposition True Path Party (DYP) from marching to the French consulate in Istanbul on the grounds that they did not have permission to stage the protest.Three people were detained after managing to lay a black wreath in front of the French mission, as protestors argued with the police. The head of the DYP's Istanbul branch said their protests would continue. Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Huseyin Dirioz said he had expected the French Parliament to adopt a stance which would have paved the way for the victory of common sense instead of prejudice, friendship instead of animosity and cooperation instead of tension.

Azerbaijan Backs Turkey
The United Azerbaijan Association staged a picket outside the French embassy in Baku in protest of the bill. The demonstrators read out a resolution and handed it to an embassy representative. The document said the French parliament was provoking tension in the entire Turkic world. The resolution's authors demanded an end to France's biased policy against Turkey.

Armenia's Response
Armenia hailed the French parliament's unanimous adoption of the bill. "This once more strengthens historical justice, creating preconditions for the proper interpretation and overcoming of the heavy legacy of the past, "Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Astgik Makaryan said. The Armenian Revolutionary Federation of Armenia noted that the recognition of the bill proves the Armenian genocide is not an outdated issue. "This is one of the first steps towards justice and truth, which resulted from the persistent political, social and organizational fight led by Armenians on European and international political stages. We should realize we can achieve more results", said ARF member Gegham Manukian. Filaret Berikian of the National Democratic Union's administration, welcomed similar decisions made by other European countries, and attached great importance to the step taken by the French, since France in one of Europe's most influential and powerful countries.

Berlin group Exit seems to have a programme that works
German Interior Minister Otto Schilly has announced one, Lower Saxony Justice Minister Christian Pfeiffer is drawing one up and Brandenburg Interior Minister Joerg Schoenbohm is considering one: a programme based on the Swedish model to help youths get out of the right-wing extremist scene. Such a programme already exists in Berlin. These days, Thomas Grumke spends most of his time on the telephone. At the other end of the line are potential neo-Nazi drop-outs, former right-wingers offering their help, lawyers, teachers and parents of "skinheads", social workers; and a whole lot of journalists. "Recently," says Grumke, "a schoolchild even called and wanted to donate his pocket money." According to Grumke, youths who wanted to leave the extreme right-wing scene up to now have had only two choices in Germany: either they managed to get out on their own - or they did not. But since last autumn, there has been a third option - the Berlin organisation Exit. The idea originated in Sweden, where former "skinhead" Kent Lindahl founded an initiative by the same name in 1998. Lindahl's Exit aims to help people leave the scene and deal with being threatened, persecuted and stigmatised. The programme has been a spectacular success. Only a handful of the more than 80 neo-Nazis who Lindahl has taken under his wing have returned to the scene. Bernd Wagner had been a policeman in the former East Germany. Now, as director of Berlin's Centre for Democratic Culture (Zentrum Demokratische Kultur), he, too, helps people get away from the right-wing scene. Wagner was so impressed with Lindahl's work that he decided to adapt the Exit idea for use in Germany. Exit receives some of its funding from the German weekly magazine Stern, which recently launched a campaign called "Courage against Right-wing Violence". Exit's Grumke says the people who have been in contact with the group so far - it can be reached via the Internet at - generally can be divided into three categories. First are those who have already managed to extricate themselves from the scene almost completely and are now willing to co-operate in helping others to make the jump. This group is critical for Exit's three full-time employees because they can name names, give an accurate picture of the potential for violence and danger and even identify "Trojan horses": neo-Nazis who show up under false names.The second group, according to Grumke, is made up of people who want to get out and have taken the initial step of contacting Exit. At present, the organisation is handling 27 such cases, 22 known and five anonymous. Finally, Exit is also a refuge for family members of right-wing extremists. Within this group, Grumke says, are both "those who want to help and those who need help themselves." Making contact with people who want to get out takes place "as a rule clandestinely," says Grumke. After all, says the Exit director, in making such a move, the affected persons often expose themselves to extreme danger. Exit maintains an undercover flat in Germany and keeps in touch with other organisations that could provide a place to stay if need be. However, Grumke adds, it is not always the case that ex-extremists need to be protected. "The whole spectrum contacts us, from the brains behind the scenes to the militant skinhead." Exit's goal, Grumke says, is to put together a network of helpers across the whole of Germany that is capable of meeting the drop-outs' myriad needs. It already seems as if their work might be paying off. "A certain disquiet" has spread throughout the right-wing scene, Grumke says. "It disturbs inner solidarity if everyone is a potential deserter." Grumke says he welcomes recent announcements to launch similar programmes at the federal and state levels. As to competition, he says "there is enough to do for everyone."
©Frankfurter Rundschau

On January 18, 2001, the body of Ramin Khaleghi, a 27-year-old Iranian, was discovered in the so-called 'International Hotel', a hostel housing asylum seekers in Leicester. Ramin had been a political prisoner in Iran for a number of years, before managing to flee to Britain. Yet the Home Office rejected his claim for asylum, despite, we understand, medical evidence of torture at the hands of the Iranian police. One week after learning of his rejection, Ramin took his own life. Ramin's death comes at a time when claims for asylum from Iranian refugees are getting less and less of a hearing from the UK authorities, despite widespread acceptance of the oppressive nature of the Iranian regime. Since January 18, other asylum seekers at the 'International Hotel' in Leicester have been camped out in the hostel's lobby area in protest at the death of their friend. Residents have for several months been complaining of conditions in the hostel, a run-down former hotel in the city centre currently housing around 400 asylum seekers. There are severe problems of hygiene, inadequate heating, poor food. Residents also face problems of hostility from some sections of the local population. Since June 2000, doctor's surgeries in Leicester have refused to register any more refugee patients. In September 2000, CARF and the National Civil Rights Movement established a local group in Leicester - the Leicester Civil Rights Movement (LCRM) - to provide support and campaign for refugees and victims of racist attacks in Leicester. LCRM are campaigning for justice for the refugees housed at the 'International Hotel' so that the tragic death of Ramin Khaleghi will not be repeated. "Sometimes you get so frustrated when your life is in other peoples' hands. You fear for your life back home in Iran but when you get here you live in fear too. When you get an answer from the Home Office it is likely to be a refusal. Hopelessness can easily trigger suicide. All of us can identify with Ramin, all in the same situation." Iranian refugee, Leicester "This tragic death appears to be a direct result of the Home Office practice of wilful and callous rejection of asylum claims from Iranians, no matter how clear, strong and compelling they are." Frances Webber, leading immigration barrister "The Home Office refusal of Ramin's claim was the final straw that led to his decision to take his own life, rather than be subjected to more of the same barbaric treatment in Iran. Effectively the refusal of asylum has become a death sentence for asylum seekers. We would like to ask Barbara Roche and Jack Straw if this is the price for the prevention of 'bogus' asylum claims?" Priya Thamotheram, Leicester Civil Rights Movement "After enduring all kinds of mistreatment, imprisonment and torture in oppressive societies, asylum seekers like Ramin are left with no option but to flee to Europe. Upon arrival, they are further abused, detained, housed in degrading conditions, deprived by a voucher system and eventually deported."
©International Federation of Iranian Refugees

Berlin Jews are being portrayed in some German circles as "money-grubbing" exploiters who "conspired" to force the construction of a memorial to victims of the Nazi Holocaust, a Jewish community leader said Sunday. Paul Spiegel, chairman of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said in an interview with the Berliner Morgenpost newspaper that his faith in the country had declined in the year since he took over leadership of the small but growing Jewish community. "People are no longer shy about hurling their anti-Semitism directly into my face or to Jews," said Mr. Spiegel, a spokesman for the interests of 90,000 German Jews. "We are being slandered as money-grubbing," he added. "The monument for murdered European Jews, which the German Parliament wanted, is portrayed as a 'Jewish conspiracy.' "Many people have lost the shame to openly air their prejudices," Mr. Spiegel said.
©International Herald Tribune

Hungary is discriminating against gypsies in defiance of European human rights court decisions, activists said on Wednesday. "Right now the court has no direct effect on Hungarian courts," Gabor Halmai, director of the Human Rights Information and Documentation Center, told a conference. "Strasbourg decisions need to be implemented here," Halmai said, adding that failure to do so "is shameful to the Hungarian constitution system and the Hungarian democratic order". The event sponsored by foundations and human rights groups was held to mark the 50th anniversary of the Council of Europe and its judicial arm, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Hungary, whose Romany minority makes up more than five percent of its 10 million population, has come under fire lately after 21 gypsy families in western Hungary, citing discrimination by town officials, fled to Strasbourg and filed for political asylum at the court. The case is still pending. Activists said that Hungary essentially pays little more than lip service to the decrees of the court, whose decisions it agreed to respect when it joined the Council in 1990. Once Strasbourg judges decide a complaint most plaintiffs are sent back to their native country, where few if any remedies are actually applied, said Tamas Ban, a consultant to the Constitutional Court of Hungary. He said Strasbourg assumes its decisions will be honored in member countries, but routinely they are not. Recent statistics show that in 1999, 229 human rights complaints were filed against Hungary.
©Central Europe Online

As in 1999, the year 2000 was repeatedly marred by racial tension in Slovakia. The single case which received the most local and international attention was the August 22 murder of Anastazia Balazova, a Roma mother of eight in the northern Slovak city of Zilina. While Balazova's family slept, three assailants broke into the house and attacked the youngest children. The killers, screaming racial epithets such as "We will kill you, black faces!" struck Balazova in the head with a baseball bat. She died in hospital from her injuries two days later.In the U.S., Helsinki Commission Chairman Christopher H. Smith lashed out against the attack: "More - much more - must be done to combat the injustices to which Roma are subjected. I raise my voice to strongly oppose this barbarous act." The Balazova murder was only one of several attacks, the first of which occurred on January 29 when a black man was beaten on a crowded Hlavne namestie (Main Square) in the Bratislava Old Town. On February 17, two Japanese tourists were attacked by eight skinheads, one of whom had a swastika tattoo on his chest, also in the Bratislava city center. "During the investigation, the boys proudly explained that they were involved with the skinhead movement," said police spokeswoman Marta Bujnakova. Less than a month later, skinheads in Bratislava struck again when two Brazilian and two Angolan students were attacked off Michalska Street by a group of around eight skinheads, one armed with a baseball bat. The violence continued on May 1 when two skinheads attacked three Slovaks with a knife in front of the president's palace, then stabbed 33-year-old Angolan refugee Lambardo Mabu three times on a bus. "They got on the bus and said, ‘What are you doing in our country, you black monkey'," Mabu said. "Then the little one said that he was going to kill me, and the big skinhead stabbed me in the forehead." Providing a depressing backdrop to the violence on the streets was the often boorish behavior of several Slovak politicians. Robert Fico, head of the non-parliamentary party Smer, twice proffered ‘Roma problem solutions', saying on January 15 that the Social Benefits Law should be amended in order to deny Slovak Romanies their legal right to collect benefits if they leave the country to seek asylum elsewhere. On June 9, Fico suggested social benefits also be cut for Romany families with more than three children. Fico explained that the Roma issue was a "time bomb that will cause trouble if we do not keep it under control." Members of the far-right Slovak National Party (SNS) also contributed heavily to the country's racial tension, beginning on January 28 when SNS MP Rastislav Septak proposed that asylum seekers have their passports revoked for five years upon return to the country. His party colleague and Zilina Mayor Jan Slota in February announced plans to dedicate a plaque to Jozef Tiso, the president of the 1939-45 fascist Slovak Republic who supervised the deportation of some 70,000 Jews to Nazi concentration camps. Under public pressure, Slota decided against honoring Tiso. But the SNS found its way back into national headlines in late August when MP Vitazoslav Moric called the Roma "idiots" and "mental retards" and recommended they be put on reservations. Moric was stripped of his parliamentary immunity from prosecution in September, clearing the way for charges of inciting racial hatred to be brought against him. Charges were laid October 2 by a Bratislava district prosecutor.
©Central Europe Online

How an eastern German town threatens to become a far-right stronghold
Ludwigslust, Germany - Ramona Kotsch has been a social worker for six years in the small town of Ludwigslust in the eastern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Kotsch has watched an active neo-Nazi teenage scene take root since the early 1990s in the town, which is famous for its baroque palace and gardens. "It was the same as everywhere else," she says. But the 36-year old became alarmed at the beginning of last year. "We're losing 12- and 13-year olds to the neo-Nazis," says the level-headed organiser of the West End youth club. "Suddenly all that matters is the lifestyle the neo-Nazis lead: drinking, fighting, going on marches and the gang's strength." All of this even though the town and its 13,000 people are doing much better economically than most parts of the region: unemployment is relatively low at 15 per cent and there have been no headline-grabbing neo-Nazi attacks.
But Ramona Kotsch is worried about the everyday incidents, not all committed by neo-Nazis, which she sees during her work - 14-year olds who play prohibited anti-Semitic hate music in the youth club, 16-year olds who want to distribute fliers for the far-right NPD. She believes that the success of the region's neo-Nazis, grouped into "free brotherhoods", can be traced back to the "recruitment and politisation of the potential that is, in any case, already present." Klaus Baerthel was once active in Hamburg's neo-Nazi scene. The Mecklenburg state branch of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution - counter intelligence agency - in the state capital, Schwerin, says that since Baerthel moved to Ludwigslust over a year ago, the area around the town has taken on "a special position" Baerthel, 61, is no stranger to the authorities. Hamburg's public prosecutor believes he is behind one of the central neo-Nazi organisation's most successful nationwide publications, a glossy magazine called Programm. It is a propaganda machine for the "Aktionsbuero Norddeutschland", an organisation formed by north Germany's far-right activists. Other Hamburg neo-Nazis such as Christina Worch and Thomas Wulff formed the group by uniting with leaders from northern Germany's "free brotherhoods", among them activists from the neo-Nazi associations such as "Hamburger Sturm" and "Blood & Honour", banned last August.
Such bans present nothing more than a short-term impediment to northern Germany's neo-Nazis. The Office for the Protection of the Constitution believes that 15 to 20 "free brotherhoods" from the states of Lower Saxony, Bremen, Hamburg and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania have amalgamated with the Aktionsbuero. This central co-ordinating body can offer them information about coming demonstrations and concerts as well as Nazi ideology in its most unadulterated forms. In autumn 1999 the magazine ran the headline "Jews Out", in yellow gothic lettering on a black background. Since the beginning of last October, Klaus Baerthel and two other neo-Nazis from Hamburg have been before the courts on charges of incitement to racial hatred.
The court case has not yet had any effect: Baerthel's publishing firm, Wolf, is still named as the publisher of this month's copy of the central body's magazine. Neo-Nazi press buildings in many towns have often been the site of anti-fascist demonstrations, but there has been nothing to disturb Baerthel's activities in Ludwigslust. And he has made an intimidating impact: as the organiser of neo-Nazi demonstrations which attract activists from far and wide; as an observer at public youth committee meetings, where he turns up accompanied by two youths decked out as skinheads; or at a festival dedicated to Theodor Koerner in Woebbelin just outside Ludwigslust.
Woebbelin is the site of a concentration camp where over a thousand people died;the memorial exhibition there is run by Edeltraut Schure, who is used to coping with trouble. It is also the final resting place of Koerner, a man whose emphatically nationalist poetry holds a lasting attraction not only for tradition-minded organisations but also for neo-Nazis. Schure wants to take part in a course, "Rhetoric Against the Far Right" so she can deal with the latter better. But she is powerless to do anything about the unknown perpetrators who defaced Woebbelin concentration camp memorial sites.
Ramona Kotsch often feels helpless as well. Using the official means at her disposal, talking with parents and "laying down the law every single day", she has been trying to prevent neo-Nazis from dominating the town's youth scene. Anyone who wants to get into West End has to leave Nazi symbols at the door, prohibited music is confiscated and Kotsch dismisses neo-Nazi youngsters' demands for a room of their own as "completely counter-productive". All the same, she says it is becoming increasingly difficult to change behaviour patterns. "The 18-year olds have totally neo-Nazi views of the world. They avoid answering questions in such a way that it looks as if they have been coached." Frank is a good example: the 19-year old is training to be an industrial mechanic and talks with pride about the NPD demonstration in the town last October. He does no more to conceal his neo-Nazi opinions than other teenagers who have made themselves at home in the youth club's video room. But whenever anyone asks who told them about the neo-Nazi "hate rock" concerts, demonstrations and meetings, the reply is a sullen silence. Frank only comes out with two sentences. He says he meets up with "brothers" from Rostock and Schwerin. And "of course" he knows "Comrade Klaus".
People in Ludwigslust do not want to allow Baerthel and his henchmen to walk all over them. But this is not easy, says 17-year old Piet, who describes himself "first and foremost as an anti-Nazi". Anyone, like Piet, who has long hair and who takes a stand against "this skinhead terror" avoids known neo-Nazi haunts at night.
Mayor Hans Juergen Zimmermann, from the Green Party, says that neo-Nazis cannot be allowed to take over public spaces. The 58-year old says he has also noticed "an increase in the recruitment of children and teenagers." Parents have told him that their sons at least no longer get beaten after joining the neo-Nazis. Zimmermann believes that the town's proximity to Hamburg and Berlin and its relative quietness have made it attractive for neo-Nazis. His tactics against the far right include calling on the town's residents to stand up to them, organising a demonstration and the crime prevention committee and opening a youth recreation centre. Tourists' complaints after neo-Nazi demonstrations are not the only thing that motivate him. "Life for everyone in the town is affected when people get singled out and beaten up," he says. But he said that the town is powerless to do anything about Baertels.
Longtime neo-Nazi activists continue to move into the region, something that unsettles the people of Ludwigslust. Half an hour's car drive outside the town, neo-Nazis from the "Aktionsbuero Norddeutschland" have bought an old farmhouse in the village of Amholz. Restoration is still underway, but it is feared that the far right will start holding regular meetings there.
The Office for the Protection of the Constitution does not admit that neo-Nazis might have a deliberate plan to move into the lowlands of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania to escape public attention and official scrutiny. However, as Ruediger Hesse, the authority's spokesman in Lower Saxony, says, the area's low property prices and lack of both foreigners and more determined anti-fascist activists make it attractive to neo-Nazis.
©Frankfurter Rundschau

In the tiny village of Bane there is no forgetting the local hero - Ken Saro-Wiwa. He is the man whose charisma and intellect carried the struggle of his Ogoni people, and brought it to the world's attention. Ken Saro-Wiwa was executed more than five years ago by a military tribunal after being onvicted of murder. His death has left bitter memories. His father, Pa Beesom Wiwa, is still alive at 96, but is tormented by his loss. He told that according to Ogoni tradition, he should now be looked after by his son.
Ken Saro-Wiwa campaigned against a cruel military government. He demanded an end to oil pollution and greater autonomy for the Ogonis - one of Nigeria's smallest ethnic groups. Now the country's new civilian government is making an attempt to redress the injustices of the past. The Human Rights Commission has moved to Port Harcourt where it is expected to hear petitions from aggrieved Ogonis. But Pa Wiwa will not be among those going to the commission. "There's no point - they cannot bring my son back" he says bluntly.

Problems with Shell
Ken Saro-Wiwa had a deep suspicion of the oil multinational Shell, which he said was working hand-in-glove with the military. Shell was forced to withdraw from Ogoniland in 1993. At that time they said their staff were being intimidated and sometimes attacked. There is no sign that Shell is about to resume oil production. The company's flow stations and pipelines in Ogoniland have been abandoned. Some are covered in weeds, others are rusting away. Ledum Mittee, who took over from Ken Saro-Wiwa as leader of the Ogoni campaign, says there is no easy way for Shell to come back. "There's very deep-rooted hatred for that company," he says, " it might even be easier if another company were to come".

Ogonis divided
But the Ogonis have never spoken with one voice. Even when Ken Saro-Wiwa was alive they were divided, and if anything those divisions have subsequently worsened. Many Ogonis no longer recognise Ledum Mittee as their leader. And Shell's Nigeria spokesman Precious Omuku says some people would like the company to return. This could bring jobs and investment to the area. But before this can happen, according to Mr Omuku, "we'd like to come to an understanding to those people who are opposed, to drop their perceptions of us". For now the Ogonis are still mired in poverty, and still suspicious of the motives of the Nigerian Government. The Human Rights Commission is intended to achieve reconciliation by exposing the truth about Nigeria's past. But according to Ogoni activist Patrick Naagbanton, it is bound to fail. "You can't talk about reconciliation when the fundamental issues have not been addressed - issues like the right to self-determination and resource control," he argues. The military repression in Ogoniland has ended - the soldiers have withdrawn. But little else has changed. Outsiders attracted to the Ogoni campaign in the 1990s have grown disillusioned by the often baffling internal divisions. The Human Rights Commission ought to have been an opportunity for a fresh start - in fact, it seems it has come too soon to heal the wounds of the past.
©BBC News

Kuwait's Constitutional Court has rejected a test case seeking to give women the vote. The case before the country's highest judicial body was the latest move by women and some male supporters to try to end the all-male dominance of parliament and political institutions. The court rejected a case brought by Adnan al-Isa, a man who sued the elections department for failing to register the names of women, including his wife, on electoral lists. The head of the court, Judge Abdullah al-Isa, gave no immediate explanation on announcing the ruling. But it is reported to have been based on the argument that only the government, parliament and other courts can submit petitions to the constitutional court.

Emir's move spurned
In 1999, the Kuwaiti parliament voted down a decree by the country's ruling emir, Sheikh Jabar al-Ahmad al-Sabah, which would have allowed women to vote. Several women activists responded by bringing lawsuits to secure the right themselves. However, in July last year, the courts rejected several such cases over a technicality. The Kuwaiti constitution gives men and women equal rights, but an election law has since denied women voting rights. Kuwaiti women, said to be among the most emancipated in the conservative Gulf region, can travel, drive and work without their fathers' or husbands' consent and hold some senior government positions. Women activists have other cases before Kuwaiti courts as part of a drive to gain rights for women. The latest move comes as Kuwait prepares to mark the 10th anniversary of the start of the Gulf War, which convulsed the region. Speaking after hearing the court ruling against him, Adnan Isa said: "The entire state is walking on the path of Islamist direction. Women's rights were blocked in parliament because of the Islamists." Kuwait had its first general elections in 1962, just months after independence, but parliament has been suspended twice since then. The last elections were held in July 1999.
©BBC News

The number of black officers in the Metropolitan Police is lower than first thought after police tried to claim white Irish officers were an ethnic minority. The Home Office said it was "deeply concerned" about a series of errors made by police in the collation of national statistics. Paul Wiles, from the Home Office, said that the Metropolitan Police said the number of ethnic officers had increased by 218 between March and September 2000. In fact the increase was just four. Officers classified as "white Irish" and "other white", such as people from Australia, were included in the total of ethnic minority officers. Mr Wiles said: "I am deeply concerned about these errors. "This has been a cock-up." He said that a special task force was been created to ensure that the problem did not happen again. The accurate figure for ethnic minority officers in September 30, 2000 was 2,856 - 3.6% higher than in March 2000 and not, as previously published, at 11.4% higher. Home Secretary Jack Straw also expressed his concern about the misleading figures. He said: "I am concerned whenever the figures generated by ourselves or by someone else on our behalf are inaccurate. However, there's no evidence that there was any attempt to mislead the public."

On 9 January, the police of Maastricht has arrested two suspects in the case of a racist attack on a Turkish family that took place on New Year's Eve. Because of the racist nature of the attack it was kept out of the media. The home of the Turkish family had been heavily damaged by a heavy fireworks-bomb pushed through the letterbox. Luckily the mother and two children who were present in the house at the time remain unscathed. On arresting the two suspects, police found a gun, live ammunition, pepperspray and racist and discriminatory texts.
Translation by UNITED

Morale among Scotland's police has suffered following the Macpherson Report, according to a study into police race relations. White officers are now nervous of dealing with ethnic minorities for fear of being branded racist, the research found. Despite there being little evidence of a multi-racial society in Scotland, similar to that in London and other parts of England, the report said officers still felt victimised by the term "institutionalised racism". Police blamed the high profile of race issues and called for better training. Greater help is also necessary for officers from an ethnic minority background. Evidence taken for the report showed they regularly suffered from isolation and felt they had no one to turn to for support. The study, by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, revealed that the number of recorded racist incidents had doubled in the last four years. It also highlighted Scotland's lack of a proper accounting system for recording racist incidents. This is likely to lead to a marked increase in the incidents, which are often recorded as other offences. William Taylor, HM Inspectorate, admitted that this would increase bureaucracy and contradict the Government's drive to cut red tape and increase the number of front line officers. But a balance had to be found. Overall the report found that race relations had improved since the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry Report but more needed to be done. Mr Taylor said institutionalised racism within Scotland's eight forces was a factor, but not widespread. He said: "As we went round there were clear indications and examples where racism did occur and we have to sort that out. "We know we have weaknesses and know we are capable of improving in the future. We did feel that some officers lacked the confidence in dealing with ethnic minority groups and it must be something to do with the fact that they feel unsure about the facts about that group." He added that that view was a minority one. Giving evidence to the report, officers spoke of "walking on eggshells". One said: "There is an element of fear which has got to such an extent that people who are not in any way racist are being sacked." Graham Power, the former Assistant Inspector of Constabulary who worked on the report, said that since the Macpherson inquiry the police had been subjected to the most intense scrutiny of any public body. It would be unfair to judge its performance on race because it had been "fully co-operative, open and transparent". Phil Gallie, Tory Home Affairs spokesman, said: "Overall the police come out well from this report." Aamer Anwar, spokesman for the family of the murdered Asian waiter Surjit Singh Chhokar, said that while he accepted senior officers were committed to improving race relations, more needed to be done.
©Daily Telegraph

A black delivery man who was racially abused by colleagues has been awarded nearly £25,000 compensation by an employment tribunal. Mark Gilroy, 25, was often banished to the goods trailer to sleep on a bed of cardboard while colleagues slept in twin bunks during overnight stops in motorway lorry parks. Mr Gilroy told the tribunal in Liverpool: "It was cold and dark in there. The other drivers locked me in and I couldn't get out, even if there was an emergency. I slept on top of boxes, between the cookers and parts." He said that two of his colleagues at the Range Cooker Company, Darren Robinson and Sean Fenton, singled him out for racial abuse. He was also targeted because of his pronounced stammer. The tribunal was told his persecution came to a head when Mr Robinson punched him in the face for warning him against driving after he had been drinking. Mr Gilroy, of Grange Park, Blackpool, Lancashire, was awarded £12,500 for hurt feelings and £12,000 plus interest for loss of earnings. The tribunal rejected claims that he had suffered no more than "banter". Mr Gilroy said he now hoped to start a new life in London. He added: "I will never forget the racist insults and bullying."
©Daily Telegraph

Biljana Plavsic, the silver-haired Pasionaria of the Bosnian Serbs, pleaded not guilty yesterday to nine charges of genocide and crimes against humanity at the United Nations tribunal in The Hague. Plavsic, the first woman to appear before the court, gave herself up after hearing that she had been indicted as a leading figure in the breakaway Serb republic during the war in Bosnia. Flanked by two female guards, the 70-year-old former biology professor told a British judge, Richard May: "I received the indictment yesterday. I understood it fully and I plead not guilty to all counts." The detailed charges relate to the period from July 1991 to December 1992 when she was a deputy to the Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, who is still at large. The indictment states that, acting alone or in concert, she organised and abetted "the destruction, in whole or in part", of Bosnia's Muslims and Croats. The charges tie her directly to the murder of non-Serbs in towns, villages and detention centres during the ethnic cleansing campaigns. They list in relentless detail the murder, torture and sexual abuse, often of women and children, carried out by the Serb forces, over which the prosecutors say she had "de facto authority". They claim that she was "informed daily and took decisions on the co-ordination of police, military and paramilitary activities and operations". Plavsic once said: "Ethnic cleansing is a natural phenomenon, not a war crime." Her lawyer, Krstan Simic, failed to persuade judges that she should be moved from the court's detention unit. The Bosnian Serb government hopes that, because she surrendered, she will be allowed home on bail.
©Daily Telegraph

Some immigrants fled their Abidjan homes Wednesday after roaming bands of youths began threatening foreigners, whom they accused of backing a failed coup in this West African nation. Dozens of university students swept through the run-down apartment buildings Tuesday in the Riviera suburb of Abidjan, the country's main city. Witnesses said they were looking for immigrants after government ministers said evidence suggested the plotters of a coup attempt late Sunday had foreign support. '' They were breaking things, hitting people,'' said Delphine Dago, a 16-year-old resident who did not want to say where she was from. '' They said the foreigners must just leave the country.'' Paramilitary police dispersed the students, but a smaller group returned Wednesday and harassed street vendors, witnesses said. Many immigrants piled their belongings into vehicles and left their neighborhoods. In the nearby Cocody suburb, bands of youths were stopping vehicles Wednesday and demanding to see people's identification documents, witnesses said. '' Someone threatened me with a stone,'' said Amidou Kone, an Ivorian taxi driver. ''They said they don't want to see foreigners here.'' Official comment was not immediately available. But a government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there had been similar reports from a number of predominantly immigrant neighborhoods, and security forces had been dispatched to calm the situation. Many Ivorians said they were fed up after unidentified forces attacked key sites Sunday in a bid to seize power. Just over a year ago, a military coup threw the country into turmoil. Machine gun and heavy weapons fire shook the main city, Abidjan, throughout the night, killing at least a dozen people. Pro-government forces regained control early Monday, and a three-day, 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew was imposed. Once known as a beacon of stability in West Africa, Ivory Coast has seen more than a year of political and ethnic chaos. The December 1999 coup — the country's first — was followed by two major military uprisings and a reported assassination attempt against then junta leader Gen. Robert Guei. October presidential elections to restore civilian rule led to more violence when Guei tried to steal a win, leading to a popular uprising that brought President Laurent Gbagbo to power. Gbagbo's triumph quickly disintegrated into political and ethnic fighting between his mainly southern, Christian followers and the mostly northern, Muslim backers of rival opposition leader Alassane Dramane Ouattara. Ouattara's exclusion from the presidential and parliamentary races because of questions about his nationality sparked fresh street violence in December. He insists he and his parents are Ivorian. Tensions persist between Gbagbo's followers and backers of Ouattara, who include many immigrants from neighboring African countries. Officials have not identified the latest coup plotters, but have hinted that at least some were supporters of Ouattara, who is currently in France. Ouattara's Rally of the Republicans denies the party had anything to do the violence.
©Associated Press

The government said Thursday it has scrapped a campaign criticized by human rights groups for warning illegal immigrants that they could be forced into prostitution, poverty and drug addiction if they come to Australia. But another campaign featuring the threat of sharks, man-eating crocodiles and deadly snakes remains part of the Immigration Department's official drive to discourage illegal boat people trying to slip into Australia. The scrapped campaign, which also warned of threats of racial violence and family breakdown, was backed by Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs Philip Ruddock. The warnings were included in a kit that was to have been distributed to foreign media to try to discourage illegal immigrants. Thousands of illegal immigrants from the Middle East and Asia have tried to get into Australia in recent years, many of them making perilous voyages on decrepit ships that sometimes sink without trace. But amid outrage from human rights and refugee groups and the opposition Labor Party, the campaign was scrapped last weekend, just hours ahead of a press conference to be held by Ruddock in the Iranian capital, Tehran. Ruddock has been touring the Middle East and Europe to warn people not to attempt entering Australia illegally. During the past year, the government says more than 4,000 illegal immigrants have arrived in the country, mainly by sea from Indonesia. Most originated in the Mideast and southern China. Margaret Piper, executive director of the Refugee Council for Australia, slammed the scrapped campaign. ``I find it quite extraordinary for a minister for multicultural affairs to be portraying Australia overseas as a country where there is racist violence, that refugees will end up living in slums and be subjected to exploitation,'' Piper said. ``Going in and using alarmist language and inaccurate facts is not the way to combat it at all.'' Ruddock's office said the media kit is being redrafted but that the new kit would still be a ``very tough document.'' The immigration department last year began using scare tactics to discourage illegal immigrants. Three videos featuring footage of some of Australia's most deadly wildlife were distributed with warnings that anyone coming ashore on a remote coast could be attacked. The kits were distributed to media in Iran, Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Pakistan and other countries.
©Associated Press

An attack on a rabbi by a group of youths in a Berlin subway station prompted condemnation from politicians and the Jewish community Thursday, but the rabbi himself cautioned against overreacting. Rabbi Walter Rothschild was hit in the face and had his glasses broken during a confrontation with three youths Wednesday night, requiring four stitches. Before he was hit, Rothschild said one of the youths told him: ``I hate all Jews.'' But the attackers weren't neo-Nazi skinheads. Authorities arrested two of the three youths, a German of Lebanese origin and an Iraqi who lives in the city. Both were 15 years old. ``It's a Middle East conflict spilling over into Germany,'' said Rothschild, who is British. ``It's got nothing to do with the Holocaust and with German guilt and all the garbage that comes out in these situations.'' Rothschild said he didn't feel he had been singled out because he is Jewish, and that the confrontation started when he tried to calm them down when they began arguing with the subway conductor who had kicked them off for throwing bottles onto the track. The Berlin city government on Thursday praised the quick arrest of the first suspect. Leaders of the Berlin Jewish community ``sharply condemned'' the attack and called for a panel to examine safety on public transportation. Yet the attack illustrates the complexity of dealing with hate crimes in Germany, where the desire to demonstrate vigilance against the far-right because of its Nazi past has sometimes been misplaced. Several recent incidents where the right-wing was suspected later turned out to be something else, most notably the 1997 death of a young boy whose father was Iraqi. The case was reopened last fall for investigation after witnesses claimed neo-Nazis drowned the boy, only to recant days later. Investigators say they see no evidence of the far-right involvement in the death, originally ruled accidental. In this climate of heightened sensitivity, Rothschild's wife, Jacqueline, issued a statement to the media hours after the attack ``to ensure that the press coverage which will undoubtedly ensue does not get the wrong end of the stick and create more panic.'' ``They were three teen-agers possibly slightly drunk, certainly out of bed too late at night, excitable, too much testosterone and not enough common sense!'' she wrote. ``I just don't think it's worth making into a national or international scandal,'' Rothschild said. ``I'm staying in Berlin, I'm not packing my bags. ``I'm grateful that people are taking it seriously, I just don't want them to take it out of proportion.'' Rothschild, 46, worked as the liberal rabbi for Berlin's Jewish community until the end of last year. He was pushed out after a struggle within the community sparked by his maverick style, and lost appeals in Jewish community courts to keep his job. He said he plans to run for a position in the community leadership in March.
©Associated Press

Yahoo's purge of Nazi memorabilia has failed to remove all related items from view. The company says that it has removed thousands of hate items from its online auctions, but will continue to permit sales of Nazi coins and stamps issued by Germany. The items are permitted to go on sale because they are government issued. Earlier this month Yahoo promised to ban online auctions of Nazi artefacts. Yahoo's senior auction producer says that new computer software and Yahoo staff have caught most of the items prohibited under the new ban. Ygal El Harrar, president of the Union of Jewish Students of France, estimates that the number of Nazi items dropped to 400 from 1,900 when the ban took effect this week. Most of the Nazi items that remain are stamps, coins and bank notes issued before and during World War II, which are permitted because they were issued by the government.

Inside a crowded classroom in eastern Hungary, Regina Lakatos bumps into desks and steps on the toes of fellow pupils, eager to show off a gypsy dance she has just learned. Ten years old, Lakatos was enrolled in school for the first time this year. Forgotten by the system and kept at home by her parents, she grew up inside a Roma gypsy ghetto at the edge of town, where paved roads give way to dirt, pot-holed paths lined with rows of ramshackle houses. Lakatos attends one of two Roma-only special schools in the Hajduhadhaz school district -- remedial schools to help gypsy children "catch-up" to the level of their Hungarian peers. Hajduhadhaz teachers say these special schools help prepare children like Lakatos for future integration with Hungarian pupils. Critics say the practice promotes segregation among the Roma and fosters an attitude of prejudice. "I don't think educators are evil, or that they place these children in special classes intentionally," said Christina McDonald, senior program manager at the Open Society Institute in Budapest. "It's just a dysfunctional system." Despite a long history of special Roma classes, gypsy advocates are lobbying for integrated schooling. With only 46 percent of Roma children making it past primary school, integrated classes from kindergarten would keep education in Hungary on a level playing field and reduce prejudice against the country's largest minority, they argue. They are not alone in their concern. The issue of Roma student segregation is at the forefront for Hungary and other Eastern European countries as an accession issue for candidate states to join the European Union. The EU has criticized most of them about the treatment of the region's millions of gypsies, telling them they will have to clean up their act before accession. Hungary has responded with a flurry of government programs and billions of forints (millions of dollars) in funding to curb discrimination against Roma and improve their conditions. But many initiatives are still on the drawing board, mired by staffing problems and red tape, with results not expected for some years, which could be too long a wait for the EU. "This is not an area, if you want to impress member states and you're pushing for early membership, that you can afford delays in," said Michael Lake, head of the European Commission's delegation to Hungary. Citing the EU's annual progress report on Hungary published in November, Lake said up to 94 percent of Roma students in some parts of Hungary study in segregated schools -- a practice so widespread it must be regarded as policy. "This is very disturbing," Lake said.

Central Europe's Roma, who come from various tribes believed to have emigrated from India in the Middle Ages, number some four million. Hungary has the biggest gypsy population of any of the EU candidates, estimated at between 500,000 and 800,000, many of whom chafe from anti-gypsy prejudices. Last month, a group of 33 Roma adults and children fled Hungary for the Netherlands, citing discrimination at their homes in three Hungarian towns. They are not the first to leave. In mid-2000, 21 Roma families left for Strasbourg to file for political asylum at the European Court of Human Rights. The Czech Republic and Slovakia have also come under fire. Residents in a town north of Prague tried unsuccessfully in 1999 to construct a wall to separate gypsies from non-gypsies across the street. In Slovakia in August, a Roma mother of two was beaten to death as she tried to defend her children from assailants wielding baseball bats. Hungarian government officials are expecting a medium-term action program, adopted in 1999 and aimed at improving the lives of Roma in Hungary, to show results in the next few years. In November, parliament passed a special Roma educational component of the program, valued at 9.6 billion euros ($9.05 billion) and financed partially from the EU's PHARE fund. "On paper they are on the right track," Lake said of several Hungarian initiatives to improve Roma conditions. The EU's November report, however, noted that "the situation of the Roma population continues to be difficult".

In Hajduhadhaz, 143 Roma are taught in two special primary schools, with no Hungarians enrolled in either. Of the more than 2,100 pupils at the central school, 90 are Roma. Hajduhadhaz teachers said the central school is not segregated. Rather, gypsy students are disadvantaged from the start, born in the ghetto and raised in poverty. "You have to take into account the financial situation of these families, they are poor, they have many children, they have no books and they live in bad housing," said Iren Gulyas, principal of the Hajduhadhaz special learning school. "We are not treating them differently, we are helping them." Since 1992, municipalities across Hungary have had a major incentive to help Roma children -- up to 30 percent more in state subsidies than for Hungarian pupils. They receive an annual payment of 104,000 forints ($437.80) per pupil in primary school and an additional 27,500 forints for Roma children -- but only if enrolled in special classes. Roma activists say this practice is used to place gypsies in special classes so municipalities can collect the maximum fee. But Laszlo Kornyei, deputy state secretary at the Education Ministry, said the only way to curb segregation was to punish those who do it. That is not possible, he said, in the current political climate giving broad power to municipalities. "Right now in Hungary no one can touch the municipalities, not even parliament," he said.

The problem looks likely to continue, but on occasion someone beats the odds. Although less than a quarter of a percent of Hungary's gypsies graduate from university, Bela Bekes, 22, is studying at a Budapest university for a degree in communications. In appearance, he looks like any other college student, with baggy pants, loose sweater and a mop of black, wavy hair. But he said he faces prejudice and discrimination on a daily basis. As a child, classmates teased him and teachers told him Roma were thieves, he said. At a secondary school 150 km (95 miles) from his home, Bekes said he was forced to sleep in the primary school dormitory because classmates refused to allow him in the secondary school dorm. Bekes's 80,000 forints per term tuition fee is paid partially by subsidies from the Education Ministry, the rest he funds working full-time at the Roma Press Center. Even in the capital he is still denied entry to some bars and rejected from jobs. Today he is dreaming of graduating and a better life abroad. His girlfriend is eight weeks pregnant. "We may leave, I don't want my children growing up in this environment. I got ahead, but it was not easy. Anyone who tells you different is lying."
©Central Europe on-line

One year after the assumption of power of a coalition-government including the right-extremist FPÖ in Austria, there will be a big manifestation in Vienna on the 3rd of February 2001. We apply to all Antifascists worldwide to make actions and manifestations in front of austrian embassies and consulates on the same day to show a clear sign not to accept any post-fascist parties in power.We ask you to circulate this apply worldwide and to inform us about actions in your country so that we can inform the protest-movement in Austria about it.
Für eine Welt ohne Rassismus

The illicit trafficking in humans is one of the fastest growing crimes in Europe and an unrelenting migraine for Greece's coastguard. As chasing down boats packed with illegal migrants becomes an increasingly regular occurrence, Merchant Marine Minister Christos Papoutsis has demanded that people-smugglers face tougher penalties. According to a report which appeared in the Athens daily Ta Nea on Friday, Papoutsis sent a letter to Justice Minister Michalis Stathopoulos last week calling on him to amend penal laws so that those convicted of people-smuggling face stiffer penalties. Papoutsis apparently believes that the existing penalties are too soft on culprits and wants to convey a message that people-smuggling will not be tolerated. Merchant marine ministry figures indicate that some 4,000 illegal migrants were apprehended by the coastguard, mainly in the northeastern Aegean island region, last year. Fifty-two people were convicted of trying to smuggle migrants into Greece, but only 18 were jailed. The rest, according to Ta Nea, received a slap on the wrist and were released. In 1999, only 30 of the 71 people convicted of people-smuggling served their prison sentence. The government's new immigration bill, however, proposes tougher penalties. If the draft law is approved, those caught transporting illegal migrants to Greece could face a prison sentence of at least two years and a fine of five to eight million drachmas for every migrant. Meanwhile, each month an average of 300 foreigners sail to Greece in unseaworthy ships, fishing boats or inflatable rafts. Hoping for a better life in Greece or other EU countries, they ignore dangerous sailing conditions. People-smugglers generate thousands of US dollars transporting illegal migrants to Greece. According to Ta Nea, an increasing number of Greeks are getting involved in people-smuggling. Greeks usually provide the means of transport. Most of them are unemployed sailors. Indians and Pakistanis are mainly in charge of informing other migrants about the transportation, while Turkish nationals usually coordinate the trip. Payment is made beforehand and there is no money-back guarantee if the ship does not reach its destination. It costs about $2,000-2,500 for passage to a Greek island from a port in Turkey. Passage to Italy costs about $3,000. Children travel for half the price.
©Athens news

Openly challenging the judge seeking to try him on human rights charges, Augusto Pinochet disobeyed an order Sunday to undergo tests intended to determine his fitness for trial. As the 11 a.m. deadline set by Judge Juan Guzman passed, the judge and doctors appointed to conduct the neurological and mental exams waited in vain for the 85 year-old former dictator to appear at a Santiago army hospital. Judge Guzman left the hospital without commenting on the situation. A short time later, General Pinochet was spotted at his heavily guarded country house in a town 130 kilometers (80 miles) southwest of Santiago.
©The International Herald Tribune

Reports of torture in prisons, executions and the persecution of religious minorities in Saudi Arabia continue to come out of the country despite assurances Riyadh gave almost a year ago that steps would be taken towards the protection and promotion of human rights. This is the gloomy verdict of Gudrun Guenther, Saudi Arabia expert for the human rights organisation Amnesty International (AI). Guenther reported that arbitrary arrests are still very much the norm in the kingdom. She said that those belonging to minority religious faiths or with alternative political convictions still run the risk of being imprisoned indefinitely, without being charged or brought before a court. According to AI's latest national report, there is a clear lack of protection provisions guaranteeing that each imprisonment could be legally checked by the courts. The report says legal proceedings are anything but fair: cases are dealt with rapidly and behind closed doors. The report alleges that punishments of flogging and amputation are carried out in public across much of the country, despite the fact that this is in clear breach of the Geneva Convention against Torture, which Saudi Arabia has ratified. Between January and May 2000 alone, AI's figures show that a total of 21 executions were carried out in Saudi Arabia, mainly by beheading. The campaign begun by AI early last year for improvements to the human rights situation has been featured strongly and followed up on in the Saudi press, says Guenther. "For the first time, a debate on the human rights situation - and in particular, the position of women - has been set in motion in the press," said Guenther in an interview with the Frankfurter Rundschau (FR). Women are subject to oppression on a massive scale, said Guenther, and new legislation alone could not remedy the situation. She said discrimination is based on two traditions: Women "may not appear in public without being accompanied by a close male relative and may not meet with other men under any circumstances." She said the assurance given in April that the government would promote respect for human rights in the country has so far remained pure "theory". Guenther says a representative of the Saudi Arabian government announced in April to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva that Riyadh intended to introduce new guidelines for training given to those working in the legal profession, establish human rights committees - including one which was to operate independently of the government - and set up human rights projects in several government ministries. The government also announced the creation of a committee to look into allegations of torture. Nevertheless, said Guenther, "concrete improvements to the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia have yet to be seen."
©Frankfurter Rundschau

Two Russian politicians have voiced rare criticism of President Vladimir Putin's policies in Chechnya, calling the war a disaster and speaking out for negotiations with rebel leaders. Boris Nemtsov, head of the Union of Right Forces faction in the State Duma, said Russia should end the war by opening talks with guerrilla leaders. Nemtsov made the comments last Thursday, five days after he met with a rebel envoy in Nazran, Ingushetia. A day after Nemtsov's meeting, dissident Governor Nikolai Fyodorov of Chuvashia assaulted Putin on all fronts for his first year in office and called the Chechnya campaign a disaster. Nemtsov said the army in the region is falling apart and is afflicted by alcoholism and drug addiction. "When troops stand still, they get increasingly demoralized," he said. "They are plagued by alcoholism, drug addiction, prostitution and looting." Nemtsov said he later met with Putin and the president approved his efforts to engage the rebels in dialogue. But Nemtsov's claim contradicted a television interview in which Putin asserted that the war will go on until all militants are killed or surrender. Military prosecutors have opened 748 cases involving crimes committed by servicemen in Chechnya and neighboring regions since fighting began in August 1999, news agencies cited Kremlin spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky as saying. In his blistering attack, Fyodorov said Putin was taking Russia back to the darkest days of Soviet rule. "Instead of a democratic Russia over the last months we have been building a bureaucratic Russia," he told NTV's "Itogi" program. "It is obvious that … a strongly centralized Bolshevik Russia is being built." Fyodorov called the 14-month-old war in Chechnya "hopeless, with no end in sight." "In essence," he said, "it is also criminal because it is partly a civil war. … [It] was a complete disaster." Human rights groups and foreign governments have said federal troops are too blunt an instrument to solve Chechnya's complex problems, but few Russian politicians have criticized the war. Influential officials from Britain's ruling Labour Party on Tuesday urged Britain and the European Union to take tougher action on Russia's human rights record in Chechnya. Glenys Kinnock, a member of the European Parliament's foreign affairs and development committees, said Britain and the EU should demand an independent inquiry into the military's actions there. "Impunity is simply not an option," Kinnock said in a radio interview with the BBC. "We need a credible and transparent investigation from the Russian authorities … but up until now nothing has happened and maybe we are reaching a point where some kind of strong action needs to be taken." Three soldiers were killed and eight were wounded in rebel attacks over the preceding 24 hours, authorities said Wednesday, adding that rebels had sabotaged utilities in Chechnya over the New Year holidays.
©The Moscow Times

The Interior Ministry has issued a written statement, in response to the recent "third gender" news reports, which said genders were classified into two as "man" and "woman" in the current regulations and added that therefore a gender classification unmentioned in the regulations cannot be found in identification cards. The statement, issued in response to news reports that "homosexuals, are officially recognized as being the third gender next to two other genders of man and woman" claimed that the purpose of the coding system in the Personal Statuses Documents approved by the Parliamentary Internal Affairs Commission had been in effect since 1953 when Turkey adopted the standards approved by the Personal Statuses Commission of the United Nations. "According to this accepted system of coding, every country is supposed to state in such personal identification documents the information explained in its regulations. Since there exists two genders -- man and woman -- in our regulations, it is impossible that a gender unmentioned in our regulations be stated in the documents arranged for our citizens by authorities in our country or abroad. According to the adopted system of coding, the code, 3-4-3, to mean 'unidentified gender' may only be used on identification cards of citizens of those countries that already have an article to explain it in their regulations," the written statement said. The statement concluded that there was no difference in the gender information from that currently used in identification cards and international marriage licences.
©Turkish Daily News

The government has been urged to investigate claims that up to 1,500 members of a former Nazi SS unit are living in Britain. A Labour Party peer has written to Home Secretary Jack Straw asking him to investigate the claim, made in a television documentary. Lord Janner, who is a member of the all-party parliamentary war crimes group, called for any members of Nazi SS units living in Britain to be brought to trial. He said members of the "killer regiment" should not be allowed "to sleep easy in their beds". The ITV television documentary claimed that 1,500 members of a Ukraine-based Nazi SS unit arrived in Britain after World War II. Lord Janner said the programme "made it quite clear" that hundreds of the men were involved in "the massacres of Ukrainians, and Poles and Jews". Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, he said: "These are people who were involved in mass killing who should never have been allowed in and who should be investigated now." Lord Janner said that if there was evidence that anyone who came to Britain after the war had been involved in the massacres they needed to be brought to trial. "What we are saying is that if, but only if, there is sufficient evidence against people who were in that killer regiment that they themselves were involved in the massacres then certainly they should be prosecuted because it is criminal." Lord Janner said he had also asked Mr Straw to allow the public to see the evidence for themselves. "Fifty years have now past ... at last there is a right now to see the evidence. "We know that there were files on these people which have been hidden ever since and they shouldn't be any more."
©BBC News

About 10,000 opponents of far-right violence have demonstrated in the east German border town of Cottbus after a series of racist and anti-Semitic incidents. Police said Sunday's demonstration near the former site of the town's synagogue, which was joined by Brandenburg state premier Manfred Stolpe and other civic leaders, passed off peacefully. "This protest shows that people refuse to be cowed by 60 or 70 Nazi thugs," Stolpe said at the protest. "They won't allow anyone to trample on human dignity. But what we have to do is get this message across in everyday life," the Social Democrat added. Last week, a group of four neo-Nazi youths shouting racist slogans attacked several people, among them a man from Lebanon and another from Ukraine. The youths have been held pending charges. On New Year's day, another group of male youths shouted death threats outside the home of an elderly Jewish man and his wife in the town on the Polish border. The police are still searching for them. The man, once a slave labourer for the Nazis, was offered protective custody by a police officer who, however, caused deep offence. He used the expression "Schutzhaft" -- a euphemism dating back to the Third Reich which meant arbitrary arrest and deportation to concentration camps for countless Jews. Struggling last year against a surge of increasingly violent neo-Nazi incidents, Germany has instituted a raft of measures from public awareness campaigns to calls for tougher sentencing and a nationwide hotline to report extreme-right activity.

The Belgian 'Raad van State' (Constitutional Court) has rejected the proposal for a law against racism, which has the support of the government. The proposed law enlarges the crime of discrimination to: discrimination on the grounds of gender, sexual orientation, birth, marital status. The court feels the proposal is both too strict and too lenient. Too strict because it does not conform with the Constitution nor the European Convention on Human Rights. On the other hand it does not include discrimination on grounds of religion, social or other beliefs. The government has proposed several amendments and trusts that the law will be accepted in the amended version.
Translation by UNITED

In response to a call by the International Federation of Iranian Refugees (IFIR) - Sweden Branch for mass protests and actions against the inhuman asylum policies of the Swedish government, Iranian asylum seekers in several cities and refugee camps held protest actions around the country. The actions started on November 21, 2000 in Holetferd and spread to Hova, Malmo, Lerum, Gothenburg, Stockholm, Gimo and Bodin by December 22. In most cities and camps, offices of the ruling parties and government were occupied and asylum seekers staged sit-ins. In Stockholm, the office of Amnesty International was occupied and the representatives of the striking asylum seekers met with an AI delegation. The protesting asylum seekers also organised protest marches and held press conferences. News of their actions was widely reflected in the national and popular press. Numerous political, social and humanitarian organisations lent their support, including the Left Party of Sweden, Western and Northern Branch, the Worker-communist Party of Iran - Sweden, The Leftist Women Centre, Young Communists League of Iran - Sweden, a member of the Left Party of Sweden and member of Parliament, Amnesty International, Sweden, The Social Justice Party of Sweden, People's Party, Gothenburg, Social Democratic Party, Malmo, Chair of the Social Democratic Party, Member of Parliament, Children First, Sweden, International Campaign in Defence of Women's Rights in Iran, Asylum Seekers and Refugees' Defence Group, Communist Fedaians Union, groups of workers at Mitraj Factory representatives of LO, MaritimeBranch, Iranian Cinema in Exile, etc.The IFIR-Sweden Branch will continue its advocacy efforts to ensure that the legitimate demands of the protesting asylum seekers are met, including:
* Recognition of Iran as an unsafe country
* An end to the deportation of asylum seekers to Iran
* Application of international rights standards on all cases
* Immediate resolution of cases and the right to asylum

©HAMBASTEGI ENGLISH, Paper of the International Federation of Iranian Refugees

A CERT trainee has been awarded £3,000 by the Equality Authority after it insisted that she wear a female uniform at an interview. Trainee receptionist Mary Keane, Dublin was obliged to wear a uniform that included a frilly little white apron like a French maid's. With her male colleagues constantly teasing her about it, her humiliation turned to annoyance and she decided to challenge the State body insisting on the uniform. The woman, in her 50s, argued she should be allowed to wear trousers like her male colleagues instead of a "demeaning" dress and apron. The Equality Authority agreed with her and represented her when she pursued a case under the Employment Equality Act, which led to the receptionist being awarded £3,000. Among other factors it was for "distress caused by the discrimination" practised by CERT, the Council for Education, Recruitment and Training, a body which trains people for the hotel and catering industry. CERT has since changed its trainee receptionist uniform. However at the time females had to wear black buttoned knee-length dresses with a white collar and apron while their male colleagues wore trousers, long-sleeved white shirts, waistcoats and bow ties. "This woman didn't like the apron in particular which was decorative rather than utilitarian with undertones of subservience," said Equality Authority spokesperson Gerry Hickey. "She found it embarrassing. It wasn't a French maid style dress but the apron was like a French maid's and it had no purpose. She felt there was no reason why she couldn't wear an alternative." He noted that both male and female trainee chefs were allowed to wear a unisex uniform of trousers.The issue came to a head when the woman was told she had to wear the uniform to interviews arranged on CERT premises and her request to wear her own clothes was rejected. She said she missed out on job opportunities as a result. However CERT argued the purpose of the uniform was related to hygiene standards.But the Equality Officer said it was straightforward gender discrimination. The officer awarded the woman £3,000 for lost employment opportunities, distress caused by the discrimination and stress from taking the case. She also recommended that CERT should ensureequality of opportunity in all its policies, including uniform design. "The decision has made it clear that discriminatory dress codes both in employment and in vocational training are unacceptable," said a statement from the Equality Authority. And its spokesperson noted that the woman who took the case was now working in a job which didn't require her to wear a frilly white apron.
Irish Independent

The town of Guben on the Polish border was again at the center of Germany's inner-struggle against neo-Nazism Wednesday after four youths, including one convicted in the 1999 death of an Algerian asylum-seeker, were arrested in the stabbing of a man of Asian heritage. Police said the right-wing extremists shouted anti-foreigner slogans at the victim, whose mother is Asian, then attacked him with a knife early Tuesday. He suffered an inch-long stab wound in the back. A witness called police and all three attackers were arrested immediately; a fourth was arrested later based on statements by the others, police said. One of the suspects was among 11 youths convicted last month in a notorious 1999 mob attack on two foreign residents chased through the same town. One of the men, 28-year-old Omar Ben Noui, crashed through a glass door while attempting to flee and bled to death from a severed artery. A memorial for Noui in the town has been vandalized at least seven times. The repeat suspect, identified only as David B., 19, was found guilty of lesser charges of causing serious bodily injury, vandalism and duress and sentenced to 200 hours of community service with a warning from the court. Only three of the youths received prison terms, six were given probation and one also received an admonishment from the court. David B.'s arrest in a second racially motivated attack unleashed a round of criticism aimed at the earlier verdict and soul-searching about how Germans can stem rising neo-Nazi violence. Brandenburg state Justice Minister Kurt Schelter demanded tougher sentences for youth offenders convicted of right-wing crimes, and backed higher penalties for hate crimes. The mass-circulation Bild Zeitung addressed its report to the judge who sentenced the 11 youths, asking ``How much understanding can the brutal Nazi David B. expect from you this time?'' The Berlin daily Der Tagespiegel lamented the improbability of the entire case, from the dragged-out trial in Guben that resulted in light sentences to David B.'s arrest in the second attack. Struggling this year against a surge of increasingly violent neo-Nazi incidents, Germany has instituted a raft of measures from public awareness campaigns to calls for tougher sentencing and a nationwide hot line to report extreme-right activity. But Germans have felt stung in the last month by cases widely reported as instances of neo-Nazi violence that turned out to be something else, most notably the 1997 death of the 6-year-old son of an Iranian father and German mother, in the eastern city of Sebnitz. The drowning death was ruled accidental in 1998, but his parents maintained that the boy was attacked by neo-Nazis, and three suspects were arrested based on new witness testimony this year. However, the three were released after the key witness recanted and investigators say they no longer see an extreme-right motive.
Associated Press

The Government must tackle pressing skills shortages through a coherent immigration policy that takes account of social and cultural issues instead of just looking at job numbers, the Irish Business and Employers' Confederation (IBEC) has said. It said almost every sector of the economy was facing skills shortages and 270,000 new jobs would be created over the next six years. Its director of social policy, Mr Brendan Butler, criticised current Government policy for focusing solely on the numbers of workers needed to meet the demands of the economy while ignoring the "consequences on the ground" of increased immigration, including "simmering racism". Mr Butler urged the Government to start addressing and debating the broader social and cultural issues that would arise with the substantial numbers of immigrants expected to arrive in the coming years. The present "ad-hoc system" was not in the interests of Irish citizens or people seeking to immigrate to Ireland, he said. He added that 18,000 work permits were granted to non-EU nationals last year, compared to 6,200 in 1999. "A tripling of the numbers in one year highlights the worsening jobs crisis in Ireland."
IBEC wants the Government to:

Set up a simple, speedy and transparent work visa system for non-EU nationals to meet the skills needs of applicants and those of Irish business and industry;
Attract returning Irish emigrants and EU nationals, particularly those with high-demand skills;
Encourage women, older people and the unemployed back to the workforce.

Mr Butler said the Government estimated that women, older people and the unemployed would fill 70,000 of the 270,000 jobs to be created over the next six years. This would leave 200,000 vacancies to be filled by immigrants, including returning Irish nationals. When family members were included, the inflow would be 360,000 people, according to Mr Butler. He said it was imperative the Government considered the impact this immigration would have on housing, education, the health services, transport, social welfare and the infrastructure. Within the past few months the Labour Party revealed plans for green card system for immigrants and an immigration agency to manage and promote the scheme in nominated countries.
The Irish Times

More than 50 people were feared dead last night after a cargo ship carrying illegal immigrants ran aground off the coast of Turkey, split in two and sank. As well as 10 crew, the Georgian-flagged Pati had an estimated 73 people locked in its cargo hold. It suffered a mechanical failure during heavy conditions early yesterday and sent out an SOS call. The storm prevented coastguards from reaching the 400-ton ship, which drifted. One half stuck on rocks while the other sank, taking many passengers with it. A total of 32 people, including six crew, were rescued, and two were being treated in hospital for shock. Six bodies were recovered off the port of Kemer and another 45 people were missing. Cem Karaca, the coastguard commander leading rescue efforts, said: "There is little hope of finding them alive." High winds and cold weather hampered the search, and it was suspended yesterday afternoon to await improved conditions. Divers and helicopters were on standby. The passengers were illegal immigrants trying to make their way to Greece and those rescued included 10 Iranians and 16 Pakistanis. Others were Moroccan, Afghani and Bangladeshi. One said he had been locked in a hold with about 50 other people. Police said the Greek captain, Polizois Galanis, was detained for questioning.The vessel came to Antalya port from Israel last Wednesday to load cement but rainy weather and the Muslim festival of Eid delayed the delivery and the captain insisted on leaving for Greece, according to Dervani Yursteven, an official of the shipping company that had hired the ship. He added that the Pati had experienced engine trouble and he was not sure whether it had been fixed before it set sail. Ertugrul Dokuzoglu, governor of the Antalya region, said a criminal investigation would begin against the Greek captain, who had declared the ship empty before leaving port. He said that it was unclear how many passengers had been on board. Scores of small boats carrying illegal immigrants capsize in the Aegean and Mediterranean each year as they try to make their way to Greece, and from there to Western Europe. Widespread corruption among local customs officials and the police make Turkey a favourite transit point for tens of thousands of refugees.
The Electronic Telegraph

Through the ages Armenian people travelled around the world as traders en businessman and setlled themselves everywhere. After the genocide by the Turkish army in 1915 there came a massive migration, which spread the Armenians all around the world. Approximately 5000 of the 4 million Armenians living in the diaspora live in The Netherlands, with Almelo as ‘capital'. In the town of Assen history became painfully present last year, when an Armenian initiative for a memorial statue for the genocide met with very angry Turkish reactions from The Netherlands and abroad. We wrote this reconstruction and translation because we think it is important to show how the arguments from the Turkish mobilisation work and the Armenian Issue is nowadays a very actual matter in other European countries as well. The recognition of the Armenian genocide by the Turks and their government we see as crucial in the proces of reconciliation and living together in harmony in a multicultural reality.

Point of argue; 1915-1916
The Armenian community exists of migrants and refugees from Turkey, where they are still being treated as second-range citizens, and second-and third generation Armenians, children of the victims of the Turkisch genocide on the Armenians. Armenians are mainly christian and, according to researchers, well-integrated in the dutch society. Turkey removed the genocide of 1915-1916 from the history-books. The Turkisch authorities deny every responsability for the systematic murder on 1.5 million Armenians. Turkey rather talks about human displacement, or about wardeaths, and emphasizes that there were also Turkish casualties and deaths. The Ottoman regime in those days feared that Armenians and Kurds could occupy the eastern provinces of the empire. The solution for this problem was in their eyes to ‘Turkify'. Turks and muslims-immigrants came from Bulgaria and Macedonia expelled as a result from earlier wars at the Balkan were forced to settle in the east. That was only possible when there was some space created for those groups. Armenian property massively was seizured and the genocide was bureaucraticly organised. For the genocide existed special army-forces. Nobody was to kill Armenians without permission, who killed them at the wrong place was to be punished. Two million Armenian christians were deported to concentrationcamps along the river Eufraat in the Syrian desert. During these transports most of the people died. Beside denying the genocide, Turkey is constantly questioning the amount of victims. Scientist estimate the figures of victims between 800.000 and 1.5 million. Turkey denies also that it was a political target, the systematic killing of Armenians. The last critical point is that Turkey, founded as a republic in 1923, not wants to be responsable for the deeds of the Ottoman empire. According to Turkey-expert Zurcher is the denieng the same as Germany would state not to be responsable for the crimes of the Third Reich. Anyway, the first claims for compensation by Armenians are presented to the Turkish government.

The Armenian Nicolai Romachuk from Assen initiated the plan in the summer of 1999 to raise a memorial statue. It will be a cross, made out of stone from the mountains of Armenia, to be placed along the public way. Romachuk wants to commemorate his parents, grandparents and countryman at the annual memorial-day, the 24th of april. At the town-hall of Assen they refuse the application, but the wrong letter is sent out to Romachuk and he gets permission. After a strong conversation between Romachuk and the town-hall, Romachuk agrees with a much smaller memorial cross, a place on a grave-yard and an inscription in which nothing refers to the genocide. A storm of protests from within the Turkish community is the result. The local Turkisch centre, which is full of nationalists, mobilises strongly. Even the Turkisch embassy and consulate protest. A country-wide Turkish organisation wants to take juridical action against the statue. They even threat to take the case as high as the International Court of Justice in The Hague. The Turkish-dutch magazine Dunya speaks of the ‘Hate-monument' and mobilises for a big demonstration at may the 13th 2000.

Town Hall Assen
The formal objections from the Turkish community are not taken into account because they were presented too late. The mayor of Assen then makes new rules for monuments for etnic minorities in her town. Furthermore she longs the time for objections with four weeks. A protest-petition is handed over by the Turkish community, which says: "The society of Assen is a modern community, in which a discussion about the past doesn't fit." The Armenian Sosi Bayatian, member of the Armenian comite 24 april, is angry: "Without the passage about the genocide, the monument doesn't mean anything to us. Why say it didn't happen? The Netherlands have enough evidence and documentation about it. In Brussel, France and England, everywhere the term genocide occurs on the Armenian monuments. I don't see why the mayor of Assen is so afraid." Assen is worried of attacks at the monument, which will be carried out by the Turkish fascist Grey Wolves. Untill now nothing happened, the demonstration of the 13th may was cancelled. In the magazine Dunya there are threats to remove the stone, if it is ever placed. Other organisations also say there will be violent actions when the monument is rised. At the 24th of april the monument is blessed in the Armenian church in Almelo. Again there are protests, now from Grey Wolves in Almelo. According to them this monument will disturb the relations between Turks and Armenians. In the meantime 994 appaels are deliverd at the Town hall of Assen, but also 903 appeals in favour of the monument. In august Turks from the Netherlands and abroad sent mail-bombs to members of the parliament, news-papers and the city-council. The town-hall and some members of the city-council had to change their electronic adresses.

What now?
At the 18tg of august 380.000 autographs are presented by the Turkisch community to the loco-secretary of council of Assen. Also Turks from Austria and the United States came to Assen to hand over autographs. At the end of oktober, the city-council gets an advise of a commission which researched the case. It says that there must be a new apllication for the monument and it is forbidden to have commemorations at the statue. Furthermore wants the commission researched whether the parents of Romachuk really died in the period 1910-1920. At the end of november fortunately common sense rules and the city-council decides that it is allowed to place the monument at the grave-yard and that the appeals are not be honoured. The country-wide organisation Turkish Forum is very angry and wants to battle the decision ‘by all democratic means'. They also want to see evidence from the mayor of Assen for the genocide. And last but not least, he raises the plan for a Turkish monument for the Turkish victims during the period 1906-1922, killed by Armenians. At the 21th of december an apllication is officially delivered at the Town hall of Assen. In other parts of the world In the United States the recognition of the Armenian genocide is also a hot item. When the Commission of Internal Relations and Human Rights of the house of Parliaments signed a resolution to recognise the genocide, Turkey reacted furious. She threatened to withdraw the rights of the US army to use the bases at Incirlik in Turkey, from which the US bombs Irak, and to break the oil-embargo against Irak. It worked, Bill Clinton and the US congres blokked the resolution. In the state of California however, it is now possible to file claims against insurance-companies in Europe and Asia, who sold property of Armenians during the genocide.The European Parliament also didn't bring a similar resolution into practise, however they agreed on it in 1987, but with a small majority they decided at the 15th of november that Turkey should recognise the genocide on the Armenians if it wants to be member of the European Union. This will definitely be continued. Halfway oktober at least 5000 Turks demontrated in Berlin against the various resolutions. An other reaction of the Turkish state was the founding of a so-called study-centre on the Armenian claims. Hilmar Kaiser, a german researcher, who held various lectures about the Armenian genocide and the systematic charactre, was banned from the Ottoman archives in Istanbul. Vice-prime minister Devlet Bahceli, a Grey Wolf, declared: "We will never forgive those who criminalise and slander Turkey in front of the world. (…) The problems we face when the claims are filed are desastrous. We\have to take strong measures." In the meantime in Sydney, Australia, a genocide monument was opened. At the 11th of november the French Senate recognised the genocide, despite a heavy Turkish delegation and a letter from Turkish president Sezer. In Italy something similar is ocurring at the moment.

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