NEWS - Archive for June 2000
June 2000 Headlines
Headlines June 30, 2000
25 ARRESTED FOR ILLEGAL VEHICLES TRANSFERS(Spain)
Nine employees of the Provincial Traffic arrested, suspected of transferring ownership of vehicles and carrying out other transactions without complying with the legal requirements.
Police believe that in exchange for sums of money which varied between 5,000 and 100,000 pesetas, these employees would arrange for certain transactions to be carried out without the relevant taxes being paid, and they maintained contact with gestorias, assessors and scrap yard managers who provided them with this type of business.
Some of the transactions uncovered included the falsification of the date of a vehicle's ITV test, taking a vehicle out of circulation without the appropriate tax being paid, and manipulating computer information so that vehicles could be transferred from one name to another without the legal documentation being produced.
It is believed the matter has been going on for several years, and some 40,000 illegal transactions may have been carried out during that time.
© Town Crier
GARRISONED VILLAGES FOR DISPLACED KURDS(Turquey)
A year after a court sentenced Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan to
death for treason, the Turkish government is dealing with the hundreds
of thousands of Turkish Kurds whose homes were destroyed by the
military in a brutal campaign to depopulate areas considered havens for
rebels, reports AP.
The government's solution: heavily garrisoned "central villages" away
from the mountains where Ocalan's Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK,
Human rights groups have criticised the project and are calling on the
government to allow refugees to return to their own villages and pay
A camp at Yeni Arslanbasar is not surrounded by a fence, but soldiers
stand guard in a concrete bunker outside the village and record the
names of people leaving or entering. Non-residents must have military
permission to enter.
According to Amnesty International, about 3 million people were
scattered when 3,000 villages and hamlets were destroyed during the
fighting. Most were razed by the military, although the rebels did burn
villages that did not support their cause.
Many Kurds fled to western Turkey or to shantytowns that formed
outside major cities in the southeast. Others, like the residents of Yeni
Arslanbasar, were sent to central villages
© Refugees Daily
GOVERNMENT TO BE ASSESSED ON RIGHTS(Austria)
The row between Austria and its 14 European Union partners over the
far-right's role in government is likely to be resolved by a panel of three
wise men, EU officials said yesterday, reports Reuters.
The EU and
Austria have been seeking a face-saving way out of a standoff created
on January 31, when the 14 imposed diplomatic sanctions on Austria
for bringing Joerg Haider's far-right party into government.
The 14 would ask Luzius Wildhaber, President of the European Court of
Human Rights, to choose three personalities to assess Vienna's
"commitment to common European values, in particular concerning the
rights of minorities, refugees and immigrants."
The wise men would
also be commissioned to examine "the evolution of" Haider's Freedom
© Refugees Daily
SEVEN FACE DOVER DEATH CHARGES(Netherlands)
Seven people are to appear before a Dutch court on
Friday charged with the manslaughter of 58 Chinese
illegal immigrants found dead in the back of a lorry in
Dutch detectives have revealed they made the arrests
following the discovery of a harbour-side warehouse
where they believe the immigrants were loaded into the
Menngs Garretsen, a spokesman for the Dutch Illegal
Human Trafficking Unit, said: "All seven suspects will
be charged with manslaughter and people smuggling
Customs officers discovered 58 bodies - and two
survivors - in a sealed lorry container at the port in Kent
just before midnight on June 18.
An inquest heard how they had suffocated in the back
of the sealed lorry which had its refrigeration unit turned
off on one of the hottest days of the year.
The men, one of whom, is a 24-year-old owner of a
transport company, are from Rotterdam, Vlaardingen
and two are from Capelle ann de IUssel.
Another suspect is still on the run and an international
arrest warrant has been issued for him. A 55-year-old
suspect was earlier released by police.
The arrests in Holland come days after 32-year-old
Dutch lorry driver Perry Wacker appeared before
Folkestone Magistrates Court similarly charged with
manslaughter and smuggling the illegal immigrants.
Wacker is due to appear before the court again on
Dutch detectives believe the Chinese people were
brought to the warehouse at Waalhaven Zuidzijde in
delivery vans. Matching traces of unspecified materials
were found in the warehouse and the lorry that brought
the 60 people to the UK.
PORTUGAL'S BID TO END AUSTRIA ROW SNAGGED ON TIMING
Portugal's proposal for ending a political row between Austria and its 14 European Union partners hit a stumbling block, apparently on differences over deadlines, Portuguese officials said on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Antonio Guterres, battling
to produce an acceptable plan by the end of Portugal's
EU presidency on June 30 to restore relations between
the 14 and Vienna, told journalists there was still no
agreement on how to proceed.
"As of now, no common position exists among the 14
member states," he said, adding that contacts were
On Tuesday, Belgium and Denmark said the 14, which
froze bilateral ties with Vienna in protest at the entry of
the far right into government in February, had virtually
sealed a deal.
Under the plan a panel of three experts would be asked to
draw up a report on political developments in Austria.
Portuguese government officials said the issue of whether
to set a deadline for the panel to complete its work was
one of the difficulties in finding agreement.
"The timeframe is a problem," one senior official told
Reuters, without giving further details.
The panel, to be named by the head of the European
Court of Human Rights, would assess Austria's
commitment to "common European values," in particular
the rights of minorities, refugees and immigrants.
It would also examine the behaviour of the Freedom
Party, once headed by firebrand Joerg Haider, which the
other EU governments regard as racist and xenophobic.
A QUESTION OF "WHEN"
On the basis of the panel's report, the 14 would decide
what to do about sanctions which would remain in force
Danish Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, whose
country is one of the strongest advocates of an end to the
freeze, said he hoped relations could be normalised within
months. But the Portuguese blueprint avoids dates.
In Vienna, officials said that conservative Chancellor
Wolfgang Schuessel's government would only agreed to a
plan that included a deadline for the sanctions to be lifted.
"For us it is important that there should be a timeframe
and that Austria is included in the discussions," one
official told Reuters.
Austrian Vice-Chancellor Susanne Riess-Passer, who
replaced Haider as Freedom Party leader last month,
said on Tuesday that an indefinite delay would be
Although the row with Vienna has not yet had much
impact on EU business, diplomats fear that it will if not
France, which along with Belgium has taken the toughest
line against Vienna, is anxious that the issue be resolved
before it begins its EU presidency on July 1, EU
Under France's stewardship, the EU needs to take a
number of difficult decisions that require the unanimous
approval of all 15 states, including Austria.
Foremost amongst them are steps to reform the way the
bloc works to prepare for the entry of up to 13 new
The European Court for Human Rights confirmed its
Swiss-born President Luzius Wildhaber had been in
contact with the Portuguese since Monday on the
question of choosing the panel, dubbed "wise men."
But Wildhaber would not formally consider the request
until it was agreed by all 15 EU members -- including
Austria -- and put into writing to the court, a spokesman
said in Strasbourg.
POLICE, SKINHEADS CLASH IN CENTRAL MOSCOW
Dozens of Russian skinheads giving Nazi-style salutes rampaged through central Moscow on Wednesday, smashing cars and clashing with police.
Police said one officer was injured and eyewitnesses said at least four cars were badly damaged, one with blood spattered on the bonnet. Dozens of people were detained at police stations.
The skinheads poured through streets north of the city
center after a rock concert and were confronted by
police who fired into the air but failed to stop them.
The group then surged into adjoining areas where they
were confronted by police reinforcements dispatched to
"There were at least 50 of them aged 12 to 16. They were
making Hitler-type salutes and tossing empty bottles at
the police," Ivan Bondarenko, a caretaker at a church in
the district, told Reuters Television. "They were pounding
on nearly every car they came across. I had three girls
come here pleading for help."
A Reuters Television cameraman saw several of the
detained skinheads giving Nazi salutes as they were taken
away from a police station in a bus.
Extreme right-wing groups have a measure of influence
among some groups of disaffected young people in
turbulent post-Soviet Russia. Interest in many groups
focuses on cult rock groups, some performing in Nazi
CRE CONFERENCE 'BADLY BUNGLED'(UK)
Serious failings in financial and
management controls lay behind the
collapse of an international conference
organised by the commission for racial
equality and backed by Tony Blair that
was supposed to showcase the
government's anti-racist achievements,
according to an official inquiry report
published last night.
Tory MPs last night described the report
by the new CRE chairman, Gurbux Singh,
as identifying a "devastating catalogue of
incompetence and mismanagement"
within the CRE, the Home Office and
GCDC 2000 Ltd, the company set up to
run the global cultural and diversity
congress which was to be held in Cardiff
in March this year.
Several senior CRE figures including the
acting chairman, a commissioner, its
chief executive and its chief press officer,
are among the directors of the company.
The congress had been planned to
coincide with the first anniversary of the
Lawrence inquiry report and Nelson
Mandela had been invited to speak
alongside government ministers from
Australia, Canada and China.
Mr Singh said the collective responsibility
for its collapse only a month before it was
scheduled is shared between the
company, CRE and the Home Office.
He said: "Many factors con tributed to the
final outcome: limited assessment of the
risks facing the congress and GCDC,
over-optimistic projections about income;
cashflow and other resourcing difficulties;
poor financial challenge and oversight; the
inexperience of key staff; and a lack of
systems or failing to apply correctly the
systems that did not exist."
Mr Singh said the CRE should now
appoint a finance director to strengthen its
financial controls and ensure appropriate
Home Office oversight of its management.
Among the basic failings identified by the
Singh report was the appointment of
Diane Morley as congress director without
any proper consideration of whether she
had any suitable experience.
At one point the board was told 1,200
delegates had pre-registered during 1999
but these turned out to only be
expressions of interest by people who had
no idea they faced a delegate fee of £595
In the Commons yesterday, the
Conservative home affairs spokesman,
David Lidington, said it was not adequate
to say nobody was responsible for a the
devastating catalogue of incompetence.
But while the Home Office minister, Mike
O'Brien, confirmed there would be losses
as a result of the collapse of the
congress, he insisted there was no
evidence of impropriety.
It is thought the losses could be as high
AUSTRIA WAR CRIMES TRIAL CRUMBLES
artikel hierAn Austrian psychiatrist accused of murdering
children in a Nazi clinic appears set to escape
trial after medical tests said he lacked the
ability to follow a conversation.
The trial of 84-year-old Heinrich Gross was
adjourned in March after tests showed he was
not able to follow proceedings in the case,
centred on euthanasia experiments involving
disabled children in Nazi-occupied Vienna.
But the judge ordered new examinations after the defendant gave
apparently lucid television interviews immediately after the
trial was suspended. Now a Swiss psychiatrist from the
University of Basel has backed the original verdict.
Dr Gross, who became a leading psychiatrist after World War II, was charged with
complicity to murder nine children. He faced 20 years in prison if found guilty.
Questions have been asked as to why the trial was not held earlier.
Survivors of the Vienna euthanasia clinic said Dr Gross had avoided justice because after the
war he became a member of the Social Democrats, in power for most of the last 50 years.
Now that proceedings have ended, the brains taken from scores of children still lying in a vault under the hospital where they were murdered around 60 years ago will be released for burial.
One of those joining the mourning will be Professor Waltraud Haupl of Vienna who will be burying the remains of her sister Anna-Marie, murdered at the age of six.
Dr Gross took photographs of Anne-Marie, who died under his care.
After the war Dr Gross was charged with manslaughter and served only a few months in prison.
Afterwards he became Austria's leading forensic psychiatrist and did research on the brains of some of the children he is alleged to have killed.
After retirement, he developed a reputation as a leading court-appointed psychiatrist,
including for the Vienna court where he was to face trial.
© BBC NEWS
FRANCE DISCRIMINATES AGAINST YOUNG IMMIGRANTS, REPORT SAYS
Young immigrants are being
excluded to such a degree that France should review its "egalitarian
Republican model", a Council of Europe report published Tuesday
Immigrants were being being excluded from education, housing and
even public places such as night clubs, said the 30-page report,
written by the European Committee against Racism and Intolerance
The problems that young second-generation immigrants faced in
such situations were deeply disturbing, it added.
The committee was equally critical of the way French police treated
The ECRI asked France to rethink its "egalitarian philosophy"
written into the constitution, which rejects any official statistical
classification of people into ethnic or racial groups.
The French system also prevents the collation of precise figures
measuring racial discrimination and social indicators identifying the
position of certain groups of the French population.
But the report suggested that France's egalitarian Republican
model, the declared aim of which is the cultural integration of all its
citizens, effectively limited the rights of ethnic minorities.
ECRI also expressed concern about the persistent level of
anti-semitism in France and the plight of travelling Gypsies, or Roma,
who often had nowhere stop and park their caravans.
© The Tocqueville Connection
EUROPE STRUGGLES TO SQUARE IMMIGRATION CIRCLE
Europe's strongly growing economies need immigrants, its prosperous citizens are wary of immigration and its cautious leaders are struggling to find ways to square this circle.
The shocking deaths of 58 Chinese trying to sneak into Britain in a refrigerator truck has highlighted the fact that migrant labourers are streaming into Europe despite all the barriers that governments have tried to erect to block them.
And they will continue to arrive for years to come, drawn by a growing demand for labour in the European Union as local populations age, economies expand and trade unions and voters do their best to slow the downsizing of their welfare states.
While politicians have seized on the tragedy to demand ever tougher measures against human smuggling rings, policy experts are asking not whether but how many immigrants the EU will need to keep its high standard of living and how to take them in.
In several EU countries, some leaders have cautiously begun proposing immigration quotas and "green card" labour permits for sought-after skilled workers such as computer experts.
At the same time, worried voters have opted for far-right parties, especially in Austria and Belgium, and racist attacks have occurred as far away as Ireland. Mobs in southern Spain chanted "Out with the Moors!" as they burned down homes of North African workers in February.
British public concern over immigration and race relations has risen to its highest level in over 20 years, according to a survey published in April.
MASS MIGRATION IS NO SOLUTION
The political solution to this challenge is as hard to find as
the demographic dilemma is easy to describe.
"When will we admit that there is a scandalous
contradiction between the immigration policies of rich
countries, especially Europe, and the social dynamic
spawned by globalisation?" Sami Nair, a European
Parliament deputy who is a French citizen of Algerian
origin, asked in the Paris daily Libation on Friday.
"Let's admit that migration will continue and we're just at
the start of a cycle," he wrote. "We have to foresee these
potential migrations and try to organise them."
A United Nations study last March showed in stark terms
the economic challenge EU countries faced from the
ageing of their populations and the growing burden of their
Italy, with one of the lowest birth rates in the world, would
need to take in up to 2.2 million migrants a year by 2050
just to maintain its current standard of living, it said.
Without immigration, Spain will have 43 percent of its
population over the age of 60 by 2050, Italy 41 percent,
Germany 32 percent, Britain 31 percent and France 30
To keep their economies and social security systems
running at the same level as today, they must raise
retirement age to well over 70 and cut pensions and other
benefits for the aged or open their doors wide to young
migrants, it suggested.
"There is no way you can solve the problem of an ageing
population with migration alone," Peter Hicks, an expert on
the challenge of ageing to developed economies, told
"The numbers would be astronomical," said Hicks, who
works at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and
Development in Paris.
A Council of Europe study released this week disputed the
bleakest scenarios in circulation, saying Europe still had
large untapped reserves of labour among women and the
"Thanks to new technologies, there are still possibilities to
boost productivity gains to reduce the burden of
pensioners," said Aiden Punch, one of the study's authors.
WILL EUROPE OPT FOR QUOTAS?
But since immigration is both needed and unavoidable,
some leaders in the EU have begun considering a quota
system like those used in the United States, Canada or
"Quotas go against our sensitivities (but) when thinking
about this, we should not rule out anything," French Foreign
Minister Hubert Vedrine ventured on Thursday.
In Germany, leaders of the opposition Christian Democrats
have begun proposing quotas after their campaign against
Berlin's plan for 20,000 "green cards" for Indian computer
experts got the thumbs down from voters and business.
Hicks said developed countries were also responding to the
demographic shift by changing their pension schemes,
forcing employees to work longer to gain the same benefits
they would have got under the generous systems set up
after World War Two.
Convinced an ethnically diverse workforce is inevitable, a
vanguard of about 40 European companies has begun
working together to promote integration as a sound
"We know migration will occur and we have to invent new
measures to manage diversity," Jan Noterdaeme of the
European Business Network or Social Cohesion told
BERLIN CONFERENCE URGES ACTION ON WEB HATE SITES
German President Johannes Rau called on Monday for a system of rules to govern the Internet to combat the rise in Web sites promoting racism and xenophobia.
"We need a framework that sets boundaries for the use of modern information technology," Rau said at the start of a two-day conference in Berlin on hate-speech on the Internet.
"We cannot just stand by and watch while opponents of
human rights and those contemptuous of democracy
exploit these new technological possibilities," said Rau,
whose office is primarily ceremonial.
The conference's co-organisers, the Los Angeles-based
Simon Wiesenthal Center named after the Austrian Nazi
hunter, said while there was just one Web site promoting
hate in 1995, there were now over 2,000.
In Germany alone the number of extreme right-wing
homepages has jumped to 330 this year, about 10 times
more than four years ago, the country's internal security
Justice Minister Herta Daeubler-Gmelin told the
conference Germany was very worried about the trend.
"To stop hate on the Internet we need European initiatives,
but also action that reaches beyond Europe," she said.
European Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner Antonio
Vitorino agreed. "The Internet is an international
phenomenon in every sense of the word and any effective
response will hinge on high levels of international
cooperation," he said.
Vitorino said there was still a worrying level of racism and
xenophobia in Europe and said neo-Nazi groups had moved
their home pages to servers outside the continent to sell
their books and insignia and promote far-right theories.
EUROPE TO ACT AGAINST CYBERSPACE CRIME
Vitorino told the conference he hoped a draft European
convention on crimes in cyberspace would be completed
by the end of this year and said the Commission would also
propose an initiative against child pornography on the
Internet and discuss similar moves against hate promoted
on the Web.
Robert Cailliau, the co-inventor of the World Wide Web,
repeated calls for all Internet users to be licensed.
"I am opposed to censorship by the industry itself, but sites
and authors should be registered," said Cailliau, who
designed the Web with Briton Tim Berners-Lee in 1990.
"The legal framework must be global," he added.
Ulrich Sieber, professor of information law at Munich
University, agreed for the need for a global approach, but
noted it could be difficult given the strength of the clause in
the U.S. constitution protecting free speech.
"The Internet is a global medium so we need global
strategies," Sieber said.
"Most of the countries in Europe have gone further than the
United States. I respect the U.S. constitution, but you
would think they could do more to try and find common
minimum standards," he said.
On Tuesday Germany's Daeubler-Gmelin is due to propose
a declaration suggesting an international minimum standard
for the legal treatment of racial hatred and xenophobia in
cyberspace as well as a draft code of conduct for the
BRITAIN SAYS PREPARED TO DEPORT KOSOVAN REFUGEES
The British government said on Friday it would deport Kosovan refugees, who fled their war-torn region last year, if they outstayed their welcome.
"Overstayers will be liable for deportation," a spokesman for Prime Minister Tony Blair told reporters.
After a slow start, Britain took in about 4,300 Kosovans
who were displaced by the forces of the Milosevic regime
last year. They were given permission to stay for 12
Of those, some 1,700 have already returned home, nearly
400 have not yet been in Britain for a year and nearly
1,000 have sought an extension or have asked for asylum.
A scheme to register to return to the Balkans closes on
Sunday. Some 700 refugees have signed up but that still
leaves hundreds of people unaccounted for.
"Overstayers" will be classed as those who had not made
an official submission to remain.
Officials admit they may be hard to track down because
Kosovo Albanians were free to travel around Britain
without registering any move with the authorities.
The government, gripped in a party political battle about
asylum and immigration, offered a 400 pound ($602) grant
per family to refugees who signed up by June 10 for flights
back to the Kosovo capital Pristina.
GYPSIES SHANTYTOWN ATTACKED IN SOUTHERN SPAIN
Crowds of protesters angry over the stabbing
death of a young Spaniard attacked the
homes and cars of gypsies in the latest
outbreak of racial violence in southern
Spain, news reports said on Wednesday.
Local officials and community leaders
condemned the attacks carried out
overnight in Almoradi, a community of 15,000 people about
400 km (250 miles)southeast of Madrid, state radio said.
About 1,000 Spaniards had gathered in Almoradi on
Tuesday night to demonstrate against alleged drug dealing
in a gypsy neighborhood where a 22-year-old Spaniard
was killed on Saturday. A 36-year-old gypsy man was
arrested in the case.
Angry protesters then converged on a gypsy shantytown,
burning two unoccupied homes and damaging several cars.
A town meeting was held on Wednesday in an effort to
The attacks bore similarities to clashes in the nearby town
of El Ejido in February when mobs shouting "out with the
Moors" set fire to homes of Moroccan farm workers and
ransacked immigrant-owned businesses after the killing of
a local woman blamed on a Moroccan man.
Sporadic attacks have continued in El Ejido, which is about
100 km (65 miles) south of Almoradi near the
MINISTER WANTS TO CUT REQUESTS(Germany)
Interior Minister Otto Schily wants to cut the number of people seeking
asylum in Germany in order to favour immigration which is in the
German interest, he said in an interview appearing yesterday, reports
The aim should be to encourage immigration "which corresponds
to our interests" and "hinder immigration which is contrary to our
interests," the Social Democrat minister told the Berliner Zeitung.
According to Schily, out of 100,000 people a year who request asylum
in Germany, 80% "in the final analysis have no basis on which to
Schily indicated he would like a change in the asylum
and immigration laws in order to discourage "economic refugees" as
distinct from those fleeing political persecution or a state of war.
© Refugees Daily
FOURTH SOLDIER REMANDED OVER 'RACE ATTACK' DEATH(UK)
A fourth soldier charged in connection with the death of
a man in an alleged racist attack outside a nightclub
has been remanded in custody.
David White, 22, from Cleveland, was charged with the
murder of Glyne Agard, 34, of Reading, Berks.
He has been remanded in custody until June 28 by
Chippenham magistrates, Wiltshire. Three other
members of The Green Howards Regiment, based in
Wiltshire, have been remanded until the same date.
Wayne King, 20, from Yorkshire, faces a murder
charge and two counts of causing grievous bodily
Thomas Myers, 20, of Hartlepool, and a 17-year-old
from the town have both been charged with two counts
of causing grievous bodily harm.
Myers is also charged with using threatening and
abusive behaviour likely to incite racial hatred.
The inquest into the death of Mr Agard, who died
outside the club in Westbury, Wilts, on Sunday morning
was opened and adjourned today.
His brother Stephen, 32, was injured and a friend left
concussed in the attack.
58 DEAD IMMIGRANTS: POLICE WERE DIVERTED TO BRITISH HOOLIGANS(UK)
Belgium has acknowledged it carries out only perfunctory checks on trucks leaving ports to see if they carry illegal aliens.
Interior Minister Antoine Duquesne's testimony to parliament showed Belgium leaves it largely to Britain to ensure trucks entering its territory carry no illegals.
Britain - along with Denmark, Ireland, Sweden and Finland - is not part of a EU open-borders accord.
As British police retraced the route of 58 Chinese immigrants found dead in a Dutch truck in Dover this week, Belgian officials deflected criticism they had not done enough to monitor such human trafficking.
Belgium has come under fire for lax procedures since it emerged 60 Chinese immigrants were detained by police two months ago, then released. It is not known if members of this group ended up on the doomed truck in Dover.
The 58 victims, along with two survivors, aged in their 20s, were discovered on Sunday at the English Channel port.
They had been stowed with a cargo of tomatoes in an airtight container during a five hour crossing from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge.
Duquesne told parliament four policemen, on duty the day the truck with the immigrants left Zeebrugge, were called away to help sort out a dispute on a ferry involving four British soccer hooligans returning from Euro 2000. But he added that since the truck was Dutch, any check would have only involved verifying the identity papers of the driver and vehicle.
Erika Thijs, a member of the opposition Christian Democrats, denounced that. "He (Duquesne) says the police were called away. That is unbelievable. It should not have happened," she said.
"No single check was made on the truck at all. It is a fact that far too few police officers were present at the dockside. How can you do (content) checks with two police officers if you know that Zeebrugge-Dover is a major smuggling route."
Belgian officials have said under the European Union's open-borders treaty, their first priority is to check people entering the country. Ten EU nations signed that pact in 1995. It removed border controls among those countries, cutting costs and time for travellers.
36 SMUGGLED IMMIGRANTS FOUND IN SPAIN
A day after police found the corpses of 58 illegal immigrants who tried to enter Britain, police in Spain announced they had come across a load of 36 others seeking asylum in Europe.
Police said they had stopped an overloaded van on a highway in southern Spain and found the illegal immigrants hidden inside, including six children.
Some of the African immigrants were exhausted from lack of food and water when they were discovered
Monday night, the Civil Guard said.
Some told police they had not eaten for four days.
They were taken to the town of Fuengirola for medical treatment.
The Civil Guard said 32 of the immigrants, all male, were from Morocco and four were from Algeria.
Part of a Smuggling Ring?
The van's driver, a 31-year-old Spaniard from the southeastern town of Lorca, was detained for questioning.
His name was not immediately released. Police said he had past criminal records for robbery and driving under
the influence of alcohol.
Police were also reportedly trying to track down other members of a suspected immigrant smuggling ring behind
Police said the immigrants would remain in police custody until their home countries can be determined.
Some of the immigrants were wearing wet clothes.
Police believe they reached Spanish shores only hours earlier after crossing the narrow Strait of Gibraltar that
separates the Iberian Peninsula from northern Africa.
Police did not say how long the immigrants had been in the van, which was heading to the northeastern city of
Barcelona. They said the back door of the van had been forced by the immigrants, who were trying to get some air inside the vehicle.
Every year, thousands of people fleeing poverty and unemployment in North Africa try to sneak into Spain, the backdoor entrance to the rest of Europe. Some come in makeshift boats, while others hide in or under freight trucks brought over on ferries.
According to figures from Dutch-based migrant support group UNITED, 120 people drowned in the first four months of this year trying to cross the treacherous Strait of Gibraltar from North Africa.
NORWAY'S NAZI LEGACY
Many Lebensborn children were put in psychiatric hospitals after the war Norway's outcasts from Nazi past
For fifty years they have been Norway's outcasts. They grew up in shame, believing they were outsiders and bearing their guilt in silence.
They were the children born during the Nazi occupation whose mothers were local women and whose fathers were German soldiers. The Nazis classified everyone in terms of race and Aryan Norwegians were highly prized.
Those born of German fathers and Norwegian mothers were considered first-class Aryans.
The Norwegians called them "Krigens Barn" (War Children) and treated them with suspicion and prejudice.
Women who had personal relationships with Germans during the war were frowned upon in Norway. There was also official hostility against such women as the Norwegian government in exile in the UK, via the BBC, broadcast that "things would grow unpleasant for them after the Germans left Norway". They were right. Thousands of women were jailed after the war.
During the German occupation of Norway some of the children were separated from their mothers and cared for in so-called "Lebensborn" clinics ("Fountain of Life" clinics).
They were to be raised as the conqueror's racial elite, part of Heinrich Himmler's Aryan inspired ideology of using eugenics to createb racial purity.
After the Germans retreated from Norway at the end of the war, many of these children were subjected to humiliation and degradation.
Some found themselves in childrens' homes and orphanages where they were bullied and tormented and even sexually abused.
Others were classified as "Retarded" and shut away in mental institutions due to the bizarre theory that their mothers must have been mad to have slept with a German - by definition, subnormal too.
Official silence is breaking
The official silence on Lebensborn children is beginning to break down as people like Werner Thiermann trace their parents and undertake legal action to gain compensation for their mistreatment.
Many of those children born to German fathers and Norwegian mothers face a continuing struggle over their identity and still feel misfits in Norwegian society. Today many feel they will never really fit in their own society unless they get justice.
The Norwegian Prime Minister publicly apologised last New Year to the Lebensborn children for the way they had been treated.
After fifty years Norway has begun to acknowledge the terrible consequences of the Nazis' genetic ambitions. The case of compensation for the Lebensborn children is still awaiting trial.
© BBC NEWS
TRAVELLERS OCCUPY MOBILE HOMES FOR ASYLUM-SEEKERS(Ireland)
Security has been stepped up at the asylum-seekers' centre in
Athlone following a protest by local Travellers who occupied two of the new mobile homes, claiming they were not being
given equal treatment by the authorities.
Some 100 new mobile homes have been placed on a site at
Blackberry Lane, on the outskirts of Athlone, to cater for asylum
It adjoins a site where 27 Travelling families have been
living for years.
However, on Tuesday a large number of Travellers, mainly
women and children, entered the site and locked themselves in
two of the mobile homes.
A Garda spokesman said they had been called to the site and
had spoken to the group which had occupied two mobile homes.
He said that following a discussion with the group the protest
ended and the group left the site peacefully.
When it was learned that the site was to be used for
asylum-seekers, the Travellers and locals objected to the density
of the site, the lack of access to it and the lack of consultation
The Travellers, who had stressed they had no problem with
asylum-seekers, said they wanted to be treated properly.
A spokeswoman for the group said they had carried out the
protest because they were told by people on the site that they
would be getting 10 mobile homes.
Community workers yesterday met the Travellers to discuss the
© The Irish Times
MAYOR URGES POLICE TO SETTLE LAWRENCE COMPENSATION(UK)
London mayor Ken Livingstone wants the Metropolitan
Police to offer the family of murdered black teenager
Stephen Lawrence generous compensation.
The Lawrences are reported to have been offered
£100,000 to settle out of court a claim that the police
operation into their son's murder was bungled because
of police racism. They are understood to be claiming
compensation of around £500,000.
Mr Livingstone met Stephen's mother Doreen
Lawrence on Monday and now wants to meet
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens.
Mr Livingstone has responsibility for the force and his
intervention in the Lawrence case will be his first
high-profile move to use his new powers.
During his election campaign he said that improving
relations with London's ethnic minorities was one of his
key goals for the police and he is understood to feel
that the outstanding dispute with the Lawrences is
standing in the way of this.
Following the meeting with Mrs Lawrence, Mr
Livingstone told the London Evening Standard: "Mrs
Lawrence came to make representations about the
inordinate length of time it has taken to conclude the
question of damages and liability.
"I will be taking this up with the Commissioner and it will
be interesting to hear the Commissioner explain why
this has been dragging on for so long."
His adviser on race relations, Lee Jasper, said that the
Lawrences should be given "public and generous"
compensation for the way in which the police failed
Mr Jasper said: "Ken Livingstone remains convinced
that it is in the best interests of the police and the
Lawrence family, and indeed in the interest of all
Londoners, that this whole tragic affair is concluded
The Lawrences launched an action last August under
the Race Relations Act against 23 officers.
KOHL IN ROW OVER JEWISH PERSECUTION COMPARISON(Germany)
Fresh controversy flared around scandal-ridden former Chancellor Helmut Kohl on Thursday after he compared his treatment by Germany's ruling Social Democrats with the Nazi persecution of the Jews.
Kohl said calls by a leading SPD politician for a boycott of his fundraising efforts to pay for fines imposed for his acceptance of secret political gifts as chancellor resembled the Nazi-era boycott of Jewish shops.
"This is horrendous," said Christian Stroebele, a Greens party member of the parliamentary committee investigating whether Kohl actually took bribes while in power.
"It shows the man is completely out of touch with reality."
Volker Neumann, the SPD politician chairing the long-running committee hearings which are due to take further testimony from Kohl next week, said the remarks were "incredibly embarrassing."
Referring to one of the financial scandal's more infamous episodes, Neumann said the remark reminded him of efforts by Kohl's party allies in Hesse state to pretend that money held in foreign slush fund accounts came from grateful Holocaust survivors.
References to Nazi persecution of the Jews still have the power to unleash huge rows in Germany more than half a century after the end of World War Two and the Holocaust.
Kohl, who was sacked as honorary chairman of his own conservative Christian Democrats over the funds affair, has complained bitterly that members of the ruling centre-left coalition are using the matter to ruin his historical legacy.
FRANCE WANTS EU HOPEFULS TO TIGHTEN BORDER CONTROLS
France willN ask countries seeking European Union membership to speed up legal reforms to ensure they can enforce a proposed joint EU policy to control illegal immigration, Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine said on Wednesday.
The 58 Asian immigrants found dead in a truck this week at a British port had passed through eastern European countries -- some of them EU candidates -- on their ill-fated trip to Britain, he said.
"To prevent tragedies, we must control immigration," he told France 2 television. "Each government of the Union, and each country candidate for membership can do better on this.
"This is not a warning, it is part of the negotiations."
France takes over the six-month EU presidency next month. The EU summit in Portugal earlier this week
asked members to work for a joint immigration policy.
Vedrine said candidate countries had to improve their legislation, administration and immigration services in order to be able to participate in a joint EU immigration policy.
"We are going to speed this up under our presidency...We must go on to a new stage," he said.
Criminal rings smuggling illegal immigrants from the Middle East and Asia to western Europe frequently sent their human cargo through the former Soviet Union into Poland and the Czech Republic, two EU applicants, to reach Germany.
Other popular routes run through Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania -- three more EU hopefuls -- and the territory of former Yugoslavia into Austria and Italy.
Once inside the Schengen area of visa-free travel, they can circulate freely to France and the Benelux countries and try their luck dodging British immigration controls.
French Interior Minister Jean-Pierre Chevenement said he would propose EU interior and justice ministers meeting in Marseille on July 29 new steps to fight smuggler networks and penalties for those who transport illegal
'RACIST REMARK' PC REINSTATED(UK)
A police officer with the Strathclyde force, who was dismissed after making a racist remark, has been reinstated.
Pc Kenny Orr was sacked after he admitted entering Maryhill police station in Glasgow and making racist comments.
His comments were made in front of a colleague from an ethnic background and Pc Orr, 37, lost his job following an inquiry by Strathclyde Police.
He was asked to resign and did so at a disciplinary hearing headed by Assistant Chief Constable Martin Papworth on May 26.
The report said Chief Constable John Orr - no relation - decided to reinstate the officer after he lodged an appeal and made a full apology.
A Strathclyde Police spokesman said: "A police officer has appealed against the findings of an misconduct hearing and as a result was reinstated by the Chief Constable."
The report added that Pc Orr would be fined a week's wages for his comments.
CROATS HAVE RETURNED SAY SERBS(Bosnia)
The Bosnian Serb entity has implemented an agreement with Croatia
on returning 2,000 refugees from each side, a refugee official said
yesterday, reports AFP. Republika Srpska's deputy minister of
refugees Petar Dzodan said Prime Minister Milorad Dodik and Croatian
Foreign Minister Tonino Picula announced March 9 an agreement to
provide for the return of 2,000 refugees from each side within three
Dzodan said 328 Bosnian Croat families returned to the Serb entity
within these three months, 78 families had their homes released and
sealed, waiting for them to return any time, while 391 families are in the
process of recovering their property.
"Altogether this makes 2,370 persons, so I can say that the RS has
implemented the Dodik-Picula agreement from its side, which cannot
be said for the other side (Croatia) where many questions, keys to
more significant returns of Croatian Serbs, remain open", he said.
Croatian authorities' information that some 65,000 Serbs had returned
so far to Croatia since the end of the 1991-95 war "is not true," no more
than 25,000 actually returned, he said.
Meanwhile the UN Security Council voted yesterday to keep the
NATO-led peacekeeping force and the UN mission in Bosnia for
another year. It also welcomed positive steps taken by Croatia to
implement the Dayton agreement, emphasising that the return of
refugees "continues to be crucial to lasting peace." The Financial
Times carries a survey into Croatia's refugee problems.
© Refugees Daily
FIFTY-EIGHT BODIES FOUND IN TRUCK AT BRITISH PORT
British customs found the corpses of 58 Far
Eastern illegal immigrants crammed in a truck at a
port on Monday, victims of a human smuggling scam that went horribly wrong.
It was not clear exactly how the victims of Britain's biggest illegal
immigrant tragedy had died, though suffocation or
hypothermia seemed most likely.
``The lorry was stopped at about midnight whereupon they found 58 dead --
54 men and four women.
There are two male
survivors. No children,'' a Home Office (interior ministry) spokesman said.
``They all seem to be Oriental (east Asian) and if you were to look through
the numbers of people claiming asylum in this
country, the most common Oriental group are Chinese.
But this has to be
confirmed,'' he told Reuters.
He said the bodies were found in the rear of a Dutch-registered vehicle at
Britain's main port Dover about midnight.
was arrested and the two survivors were taken to hospital, where they are
expected to survive.
Prime Minister Tony Blair, speaking from a European summit in Portugal,
said the tragedy underlined the dangers of the
organized traffic in asylum seekers.
``What's important is to try and stamp out what is an evil trade in
bringing people into this country,'' he said.
Foreign Secretary Robin Cook urged European Union police to cooperate
further to end the traffic in asylum seekers.
``We plainly must do more,'' he told Reuters Television News at the
European Union summit conference in Portugal.
Shipped As Tomatoes
The lorry left the Belgian port of Zeebrugge on Sunday evening and was
searched by customs officials a few hours later at
Dover. Its journey has so far been traced back to Rotterdam and police
across Europe are coordinating their investigation into
events leading to the largest death toll of a group of immigrants being
smuggled into Britain.
London's Evening Standard newspaper said the victims were shipped
registered as a consignment of tomatoes.
``This particular incident is now subject to a major police investigation.
The government is determined to continue to crack
down on the evil trade in such trafficking, whose perpetrators have no
regard for human life,'' Home Secretary (interior
minister) Jack Straw said in a statement.
Individual asylum seekers have been known to die on their journey to
Britain, often after jumping from a moving train to avoid
detection, but police said they were stunned by the scale of their
``The numbers speak for themselves. The scale of the find is something that
officials here have not found previously and it has
had a huge and very distressing impact on anyone who has been involved in
it,'' Mark Pugash of Kent police told Sky
The two survivors have not yet been questioned. ``Their condition is not
thought to be life-threatening. They are currently in
hospital and they will obviously be a very important part of this criminal
investigation,'' Pugash said.
The government spokesman said it was unclear if the lorry's refrigeration
system had been turned on, which might have frozen
the passengers, or switched off, possibly suffocating them on what was
Britain's hottest day of the year so far.
Dover, a major landing point for ferries from France and Belgium, has been
a popular entry point for asylum-seekers, many of
them from eastern Europe.
The British government introduced fines earlier this year for people who
try to smuggle illegal immigrants into the country in a
bid to stamp out the lucrative practice.
Immigration has since become a contentious political topic and human rights
groups have accused the Labor government of
cracking down on refugees in a bid to win votes.
``This is a terrible tragedy,'' said Nick Hardwick of the Refugee Council.
``They are ordinary people in extraordinary situations
and the fact that they are willing to take these risks suggest there must
be something powerful motivating them to leave their
AUSTRIA SANCTIONS WILL STAY PUT
Austria's 14 colleagues in the
European Union once again said sanctions would remain in place to punish
Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel for forming a government with the far
right Freedom Party.
Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres told Schuessel on Monday
there is no enthusiasm among the other 14 EU nations to end the
sanctions. Portugal now holds the EU presidency.
``There is no reason to change the rules,'' Belgian Prime Minister Guy
Verhofstadt told reporters late Monday, the summit's opening day.
Austria also figured in another dispute: It opposed a 20 percent tax on
interest income Europeans earn on savings in other countries. EU leaders,
who will revisit the issue Tuesday, said a deal was at hand to end years
Mindful of the setbacks of bringing stability to Kosovo, the EU leaders
agreed to put together a police force of 5,000 specially trained policemen
to go to hot spots on short notice.
Javier Solana, the EU's foreign and security policy chief, reported to the
15 EU leaders Monday that efforts to create an EU military force of
60,000 troops, separate from NATO for peacekeeping and humanitarian
crises, was proceeding well but that more must be done for the civilian
side of crisis management.
In Kosovo, the NATO-led military intervention went smoothly last summer
but the U.N. civilian administration suffered for months for lack of
well-trained police officers to maintain order.
``The shortage of high quality police officers, of judges and prosecutors
as well as the overall shortfall in staffing continue to undermine the work
of (the United Nations) in key areas,'' Solana said in his report.
Belgium, France, Portugal and Luxembourg are the harshest critics of
Schuessel, a mainstream conservative who invited the far right Freedom
Party - widely seen as opposing a multicultural society - to form a
government last February.
``It was the formation of the Austrian government that led to the
sanctions,'' Verhofstadt said. ``We need to see a change from the
Austrian government'' before the sanctions are dropped.
The sanctions are minor measures, such as bans on cultural and sports
events or secondary military cooperation accords, but they have served
to spoil the atmosphere at EU meetings and summits.
Austria warned its partners are driving it to veto the EU's eastward
expansion. ``Enlargement cannot be debated when inside the EU there is
no constructive cooperation,'' Finance Minister Karl-Heinz Grasser said .
He added the same was true for the difficult debate about reforming EU
institutions ahead of enlargement that is expected to happen by 2005 or
EU leaders spent much time Monday trying to reach a deal means to tax
interest income Europeans earn on savings in other countries, eradicating
a cross-border tax dodge that costs EU countries billions in lost revenue.
Germany initially led calls for a common 20 percent withholding tax on
interest from savings accounts held in banks anywhere in the EU.
After long debate, 14 EU nations now prefer countries to send information
about accountholders' interest to their home countries so they can be
taxed there. Austria remained a holdout, but was expected to give in.
© Associated Press
RUSSIA RECOGNIZES JEWISH GROUP
Deepening a rift between two Jewish groups vying for
influence in Russia, the Ministry of Culture signed an agreement Monday
boosting the status of the smaller, upstart group.
The new Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, founded in
December, is seen as favored by the Kremlin but opponents claim it
represents only a minority of the country's Jewish community. The
ministry agreement officially recognizes the group and raises its status to
equal that of the Russian Jewish Congress.
The agreement came after last week's election of former New York
resident Berl Lazar as Russia's chief rabbi, which triggered accusations of
Kremlin meddling in Jewish affairs.
The agreement also followed last week's arrest of media tycoon Vladimir
Gusinsky, president of the Russian Jewish Congress. He was released
Saturday, after having been arrested in connection with business dealings
unrelated to his charitable Jewish work.
The agreement signed Monday allows the new federation a say in the use
of Jewish cultural valuables, such as manuscripts and historic
synagogues, according to Mikhail Gluz, president of the federation.
It does not override a similar agreement signed in the early 1990s with
the Jewish Congress, said Alexei Barkhatov, director of the ministry's
Both groups are to be consulted on important questions, he said. ``The
ministry does not interfere in confessional affairs,'' he said. ``We have an
agreement with two independent organizations.''
But Adolf Shayevich, Russia's chief rabbi since the 1980s, insisted again
Monday that he remains the only legitimate head of the nation's Jewish
religious community. He said he objected to the government allowing
what he says is a minority group to represent them.
Shayevich represents mainstream Orthodox Jews in Russia, while Lazar
heads the ultra-Orthodox Chabad Lubavitch movement. Most of the
estimated half-million Jews in Russia are nonobservant, but the rival
religious groups are competing for funding and influence.
The agreement Tuesday ``won't bring anything good to the Jewish
community of Russia,'' Shayevich said.
Zalman Shmotkin of the Lubavitch headquarters in New York dismissed
Shayevich's concerns and insisted that the new federation represents the
majority of Russia's Jewish groups.
``Jews and people familiar with the situation ... welcome Rabbi Lazar's
appointment,'' he said by telephone.
© Associated Press
TUC LAUNCHES WORK RACISM HOTLINE(UK)
Hundreds of celebrities are backing a new campaign
aimed at rooting out racist abuse at work.
The TUC is launching a telephone hotline to collect
information from victims and offer advice on how to tackle
racism in the workplace.
The hotline is the latest campaign from a taskforce set up
by the union organisation following the murder of black
teenager Stephen Lawrence.
Doreen Lawrence, Stephen's mother, will help launch the
helpline with TUC general secretary John Monks.
He said: "Every worker should have the right to equal
treatment and respect to get a job, be treated fairly and
have the chance of promotion and progression."
Celebrities who have backed the campaign include actors
Bob Hoskins and Emma Thompson and singers Sting and
The hotline, 08000 320033, will be open from Monday
June 19 until Friday June 23.
GERMAN ARMY ACCEPT GAY COUPLES
Gay soldiers will be able to live together in army barracks
as "man and wife" if a German government plan goes
Gay couples will also be entitled to the same allowance as
An army spokesman says the move will not have a negative impact on the army's image.
He said: "We don't discriminate against anyone."
But The Daily Express reports some serving soldiers do not support the controversial move.
One recruit said: "I don't think our army looks strong if everyone knows soldiers are living with other men."
HOUSE OF LORDS REJECTS WAR CRIMINAL'S APPEAL BID(UK)
The first man to be convicted in the UK of Nazi war crimes has lost his final bid for a new hearing.
Retired British Rail ticket collector Anthony Sawoniuk was given two life sentences last year after being found guilty of two murder charges.
The House of Lords has turned down his application for leave to appeal against his conviction. In February, the Court of Appeal ruled that his murder convictions were safe.
Sawoniuk, 78, denies murdering Jews in his home town of Domachevo, Belarus, 57 years ago. He was serving in a local police force controlled by the Germans at the time.
FRENCH ASYLUM SYSTEM IN COLLAPSE
The number of asylum seekers in France is rising for the first time in
almost 10 years, reports Le Monde. OFPRA, the government refugee
agency, said 30,907 sought asylum in France in 1999, a 38% increase
on the previous year.
So far in 2000, the increase has risen to 68.5%,
said OFPRA's annual report published last week.
"This is like a slap in the face for those who want at all costs to reduce
the number of refugees in France," said UNHCR representative Philippe
However, the number of people accepted has not grown. OFPRA,
facing a mounting backlog, dealt with 24,000 cases in 1999, and
granted Convention refugee status to only 4,659. At a rate of 19.4%,
this is little different from the previous year, says OFPRA.
While the government believes asylum is used by economic migrants
to avoid entry restrictions, a look at countries of origin suggests
multiple factors are at play.
Some applicants - like Chinese and
Malians, may be economically motivated. But applicants have also
increased from countries suffering violent conflicts. These include
Turkey, Sri Lanka, Algeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The increase has also overwhelmed the asylum system, with 24,000
cases pending. The rate of interviews has again dropped from 40% in
1998 to 37% last year.
Waiting periods for a decision have also grown
dramatically, worrying refugee advocates. Some say the asylum
system is in collapse.
© Refugees Daily
MORE THAN 2000 EUROPEAN ASYLUM DEATHS SINCE 1993
More than 2,000 asylum seekers have died in and
around Europe since 1993 due to the continent's hardening stance on immigration, Dutch-based migrant and refugee support group UNITED said Monday.
The discovery of 58 corpses -- believed to be Chinese -- crammed in the back of a truck arriving at the British port of Dover was the latest example of people
risking their lives in a bid to penetrate immigration controls,
Accusing European governments of seeking to erect a
"Fortress Europe" against would-be immigrants, UNITED
said people were taking ever graver risks to seek
sanctuary in Europe.
"Instead of finding a safe place and a better perspective
for their life people have drowned, suffocated, been beaten
to death by racist attackers, gagged to death by policemen
or committed suicide in despair," the group said in a
It cited the recent suicide of an Algerian at Frankfurt
airport and the drowning of 120 people in the Strait of
Gibraltar during the first four months of this year as some
of the more prominent examples of the plight of would-be
MAJOR RELIGIOUS PROTEST OVER NEW ID CARDS(Greece)
Metropolitan says today's demonstration (15.06.2000) will be conducted in peaceful
PREPARATIONS were in full swing last night for a
mass demonstration to be staged this evening in
Thessaloniki to protest the issue of new identity cards
which will break with long-standing practice by not
declaring their holders' religious affiliation.
The semi-official Athens News Agency (ANA) quoted
church authorities as saying they expected half a million
But in a joint statement at a protest held yesterday outside the Macedonia and
Thrace ministry, Pasok, Left Coalition, its breakaway AEKA "modernisers",
and representatives of trade unions and other professional associations
expressed support for the government on the ID issue and said they believed
tonight's rally would harm the image of Thessaloniki.
distanced itself from the statement, as did the Greek Communist Party (KKE),
which said the ID debate clouded other more significant issues of national
Patriarch Diodoros of Jerusalem yesterday joined Albania's Archbishop
Anastasios of Tirana in supporting "the Orthodox faithful of Greece in their just
struggle for the right to the option of declaring religious affiliation on their identity cards".
Meanwhile cars hired by the Thessaloniki diocese and equipped with
megaphones were cruising through the city streets yesterday calling on the
Orthodox faithful to turn out in strength for tonight's meeting, while
door-to-door distribution of leaflets urging participation was being undertaken
Reports from the northern port city yesterday stated that the Holy Synod of the
Orthodox Church of Greece was going ahead with the protest in the absence of
any last-minute indication from the government of Prime Minister Costas Simitis
that it was predisposed to compromise on the issue.
Metropolitan Kallinikos, who has spoken out on the issue, said he would attend
the event although there were no plans to bus supporters from his
Piraeus diocese to Thessaloniki.
But church organisations in association with diocesan authorities in Thessaloniki
told ANA that they had chartered over 600 buses to transport the faithful to the
mass protest in the city's Aristotelous Square, scheduled to start at 7pm with
slogans and music and to wind up by 9pm.
Metropolitan Anthimos of Alexandroupoli, who is organising the protest but
who vehemently distanced himself from the authors of a leaflet widely
distributed yesterday in Thessaloniki bearing the title "We are at war", said that
the demonstration would be conducted in a peaceful manner in close
coordination with the police to ensure that no unruly elements were allowed to
disrupt the proceedings. Since early yesterday work has been in progress to
erect the large rostrum where Archbishop Christodoulos is to deliver the
keynote address this evening.
Thessaloniki police are reportedly on the alert to prevent parallel expressions of
wrath by extremist elements. Meanwhile, residents woke yesterday to see that
hundreds of posters calling on the devout to attend the demonstration had been
ripped by opponents.
Next Wednesday, the faithful are expected to descend
upon Athens' city centre for the second of two major protests planned by the
© ATHENS NEWS
SIX ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS DROWN(Spain)
Six North African immigrants died and another 23 were rescued when the
inflatable vessel in which they were travelling sank in the Straits of Gibraltar
early on Friday morning.
The boat was approaching the Spanish coast
between Tarifa and Algeciras at 5.40 a.m. when it overturned, and although
some of the occupants managed to reach the shore, six people, including
a 16 year old girl, drowned.
This was the third and worst accident of its
type in the area in the past fortnight.
The President of the immigrant
assistance association Algeciras Acoge, Fernando García, afterwards
blamed the Spanish and Moroccan governments and European immigration
policy for the deaths.
He urged people not to accept the fact that many
North Africans lose their lives while attempting to reach the Spanish
mainland, and said these incidents can't be classed as accidents as these
people are being used as political pawns.
The Guardia Civil off Almería
detained another 23 immigrants early on Friday morning after radar showed
a small boat travelling at moderate speed without lights at approximately
half past six..
© Town Crier
AMNESTY CRITICISES ASYLUM 'ABUSES'(UK)
Amnesty says new laws are having an adverse effect on refugees
The government has been accused of "abuse" by the human rights group Amnesty International following its implementation of new laws on asylum seekers.
In its annual report Amnesty said the Immigration and Asylum Act had been "severely detrimental to refugee rights".
A political row has blown up over asylum seekers in recent months with the Conservatives urging the government to take a tougher line, while the Liberal Democrats protested at the tone taken by the two main parties and referred them both to the Commission for Racial Equality.
The UK Director of Amnesty, Kate Allen, also criticised the climate created by the political debate over asylum seekers in the UK.
She said: "The approach to them by the UK is a debate about whether to lock them up or not. Now we do need to change that, and we do need a lead from politicians on this."
Ms Allen added politicians should spend "more time talking about the situations people left from" rather than concentrating on detaining them as a matter of course.
Torture on the rise
Amnesty's report also suggested that the number of countries torturing people had risen by 6% last year.
Last year the group received reports from 132 countries where torture was used on prisoners held by police or security forces compared to 125 the year before.
In Europe, the human rights campaigners noted that the most common abuses were often racially motivated. Torture and ill-treatment of prisoners by police was also highlighted.
Deaths in custody
The report underlined three deaths in police custody in the UK - Roger Sylvester in January, Sarah Thomas in August and Barry Stanley in November - as having "disputed circumstances".
The organisation said it was "concerned" that it again had to include UK in its annual report.
The murder of human rights lawyer Rosemary Nelson in Northern Ireland after a string of death threats from loyalist terrorists was one case cited by the report.
Researcher Halya Gowan said: "It is a fact that Rosemary Nelson was killed after the UN issued a serious report about the abuse of defence lawyers in Northern Ireland and called for their protection, including protection for her."
Police investigations into the racist murders of Michael Menson and Ricky Reel caused "extreme concern", said Ms Gowan.
"Police were found to fail in their primary duty which is to assess evidence and find those responsible for the murders," she said.
Turning to the global survey the report said the major states responsible for torture included Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Turkey and China.
Politically-motivated torture resurfaced in Zimbabwe for the first time this year since the late 1980s, Amnesty said.
© BBC NEWS
CHECHEN HUNGER STRIKE IN POLAND
Letter of the Chechen hunger strike committee to Polish Minister of Internal Affairs.
The escalation of warfare in Chechnya has caused a wide wave of refugees to flee to neighbouring republics (Ingushetia, Daghestan, Georgia and Azerbaijan). The total number of refugees amounts 350 thousand people.
Only about 200 of them - including children - have managed to cross hostile territory and the Polish borders.
From the moment of their arrival on Polish soil, refugees were faced with new problems. Statistics show that nearly all of the Chechen families were denied access to Poland on their first attempt.
This applies to all of the border crossings, especially those of Terespol, Przemysl, and Mamonowo.
Refugees were able to enter Poland only after 2nd or 3rd attempt, only after the intervention of TV and newspaper journalists and the human rights commission. But the behaviour of border
police has not changed since then.
The second and most important group of problems faced by the refugees are the conditions of life in the refugee centers in Dembak, Podkowa-Lesna, Smoszewo and Lublin.
The refugees are anxious because of their uncertain legal status. Despite numerous pressure actions by Polish citizens groups, no decisions were made by the state administration.
The newcomers were simply registered and given a place in the centers.
It needs to be stressed that the legal status of refugees is a crucial one: without official refugee status, they are unable to continue education, to work and to move freely.
Another thing are the conditions of life in the refugee centers. Many of them have been given unappropriate rooms.
For example: a 9 person family has been forced to live in a room of 15 square meters. Health care, sanitary conditions and the food supply are far from satisfactory. Chechens are Muslims, and they do not eat pork meat. The administration of the Dembak center has ignored the issue despite numerous requests. Pork meat has not been replaced with cheese and milk products.
There have been cases, when the center personel has bathed dogs in the sinks meant for cleaning dishes, and fed them from the same dishes used by refugees.
The security of the refugees is another question. Women and children have been assailed in broad daylight in Lublin by local inhabitants.
One of the women was hit with a rock on her head, and was hospitalised. Another woman being pregnant has been kicked in her belly.
The Chechen children who witnessed the incident will doubtlessly be marked durably by it.
Because of the scandalous situation of the refugee centers, individual refugees attempt to cross the border to Germany.
Polish and German border police are extremely cruel and unhumanitarian for those who are caught.
At the beginning of may, this year, Albika Akbulatova has been imprisoned 5 days in a closed isolation cell. Akbulatova was in a state of mental shock. After seven days, she was transfered to a psychiatric clinic in Radom.
Despite the requests of her husband and of other arrestees, the border police of Szczecin (the district where she was caught) have earlier denied medical aid to Albika, under the pretense she was "simulating".
Currently Akbulatova is in a psychiatric clinic in Warsaw, on Nowowiejska street 27.
Ignoring letters sent by parlamentarians, the
district court of Szczecin
have not released Albika's husband from the
in Leszno-Wola. The meeting with her husband would have a beneficial effect on the suffering woman.
The small number of Chechens arrived in Poland during the first Russian aggression on the republic have still not been given status of political refugee. At the same time, many citizens of other countries receive each year refugee status in Poland.
With regard to the above mentioned facts, it needs to be stated that the Polish state is not respecting the Geneva Convention of 1951: The status of refugees", and the New York Protocol of 1967.
We demand an energetic intervention of the Polish Minister of Internal Affairs in the case of war refugees from Chechnya, who have to suffer humiliations in a supposedly friendly country.
We appeal to the Internal Affairs Minister, Marek Biernacki, to open the Polish borders for the Chechen victims of war. We demand that the senseless discrimination ceases now, and that those who managed to survive war be granted decent living conditions. The practices of the Internal Affairs Ministry are a disgrace to us all.
Participants of the hunger strike:
On saturday 9th june, the hunger strike has been
suspended after the 9th day, because of the bad
of the participants.
Other actions will follow,
as the Polish government has remained ignorant of
FOUR CHARGED OVER 'RACIST KILLING'(UK)
The attack took place near the Royal Gwent Hospital
Three men and a woman have been charged with murder after a man died in an attack at a south Wales hospital
Indonesian-born Jan Marthin Pasalbessi, 48, had taken his daughter to the Royal Gwent Hospital for treatment on Monday evening when he was allegedly set upon and beaten to death.
Gwent Police charged the four suspects at 2300 BST on Thursday.
They will remain in custody overnight and will appear before Newport Magistrates Court on Friday morning.
Police are treating the attack as a racist incident.
Mr Pasalbessi had taken his daughter Christina to the hospital after she was the victim of a separate assault, also said to be racially motivated.
© BBC NEWS
GADDAFI BACKS 'FRIEND'
THE Libyan leader, Col Gaddafi, has told Europe to get over its obsession with
the Second World War and condemned sanctions against his "friend" Jörg
Haider and Austria's Freedom Party.
Col Gaddafi said: "No one should interfere. Was Haider active during the
Second World War? Was he a member of the Nazis? When crimes were
committed against the Jews, these were carried out by Hitler or Mussolini and
by the people of those times.
But where is the crime of the people of today?
"To treat Germany as if it was still Nazi Germany or Italy as Fascist Italy is a
type of blackmail. Europe . . . should have its eyes on the interests of its people
and not those of the Zionist system.
It must not be the case that the interests of
the people of Europe are sacrificed to the advantage of a certain clique of
Sanctions were imposed by European Union member nations after Mr Haider's
party was included in Austria's coalition government in February.
told the Austrian magazine News: "If it was the will of the Austrian people to
vote for Haider, this has to be accepted."
© Telegraph Group Limited
DUBLIN RACIAL ATTACK PROMPTS MONITORING CALL
The racially motivated assault of an English tourist in Dublin city centre last weekend has provoked calls for the close monitoring of such hate crimes. Gardaí do not have records of racially motivated crimes, which anti-racism groups say would help in planning how to tackle them.
A recently published survey by the African Refugee Network found that more than a third of African refugees in Dublin had experienced verbal or physical abuse. The National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism said the analysis of data from the monitoring of racially motivated hate crimes could provide "invaluable information" on their extent.
The committee, which advises the Government on anti-racist initiatives, said responses to address such crimes could be based on the information gathered through a monitoring programme.
Its director, Mr Philip Watt, said the Government should review existing criminal legislation to see whether it was sufficient to cope with racially motivated crime.
"The Garda's PULSE data collection system has the potential to categorise crimes on a racially motivated basis and we would urge its implementation as soon as possible," he said. The committee's calls were echoed by the Irish Refugee Council.
The Minister for Justice, Mr O'Donoghue, last night condemned the attack on Mr David Richardson on Pearse Street, and expressed his regrets to his relatives and friends.
He said he
would "ensure that the Garda Commissioner is given all the resources necessary to bring to justice the perpetrators of such mindless acts of violence".
The leader of the Labour Party, Mr Ruairí Quinn, said the "appalling and mindless attack" was "a slight on us all".
Neither our education system nor our civic culture had prepared people for immigration. "They must do so in the future. Increasingly our Irishness will have to be presented in a broader and more global context."
The Anti-Nazi League has organised a rally today at 6 p.m. in Pearse Street in protest at the attack on Mr constant stream of false information and hysteria over immigration has created a climate where physical attacks on immigrants are rising at a disturbing rate," a league spokesman, Mr Simon Basketter, said.
US HOLOCAUST LAWYERS PLAN TO FIGHT BERLIN IN COURT
Worried that U.S.-German talks over a nearly $5 billion fund for Nazi-era slaves might fall apart, U.S. class-action lawyers on Friday said they were preparing to press their claims in court.
U.S. class-action lawyers, whose billion-dollar lawsuits against leading Germany companies pushed that country to try to settle charges the firms profited from Nazi war crimes, will renew their battle Thursday in court.
They will argue before a federal court in Philadelphia that a lower court was wrong when it ruled that their lawsuits were blocked by a series of U.S.-German treaties, including one signed in 1921.
'When the court acts on the appeal, it could be very devastating to the other side; we've already lost in the court below, so the defendants have already had the advantage of our losing,' said New York-based lawyer Mel Weiss.
He is one of the attorneys who sued German firms, such as Volkswagen < >VOWG.F>, DaimlerChrysler < >DCXGn.DE> and Deutsche Bank < >DBKGn.DE>, arguing they made money from the brutal toil of slave and forced laborers or helped the Nazis loot Jews of their assets. U.S. and German negotiators tried but failed to resolve a disagreement over Berlin's a historic compensation accord on June 2 when he was in Berlin.
Ed Fagan, a New York lawyer who has brought suits on behalf of Holocaust survivors and heirs, said the lawyers in part agreed to settle their claims for almost $5 billion, and no more, because they were told this would help make sure payments were made while Holocaust survivors still were alive.
Germany initially wanted to begin payments by Sept. 1, 1999, the 60th anniversary of the Nazi invasion of Poland, which set off World War II.
But Fagan said that because a final agreement was not reached on June 2, 2000, class-action lawyers were considering whether to demand a bigger settlement.
Most Holocaust survivors are quite elderly -- some 10 percent to 15 percent die each year, so Germany is under pressure to speed payments.
The top U.S. and German negotiators, Treasury Deputy Secretary Stuart Eizenstat and Germany's Otto Lambsdorff, next meet on Monday in Washington.
SECURITY VACUUM SIDELINES KOSOVO MINORITIES-REPORT(Yugoslavia)
Minority residents are excluded from Kosovo society because they are confined to virtual ghettos by the risk of violence, a full year after international authorities took charge of the province.
That was the verdict of a joint report by the United Nations refugee agency and Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe report published in the Yugoslav region on Friday.
"Regrettably violence continues to be a prominent feature of minorities' everyday lives," it said. "Even against a backdrop of steadily falling crime rates, minorities remain victims of crime at levels disproportionate to their numbers."
The survey, the fifth in a series, covered the February-May period.
It did not take into account a recent spate of attacks on minority Serbs by extremists in the ethnic Albanian majority.
Serbs have suffered from pervasive violence by ethnic Albanians avenging years of repression under Serbian rule, which ended when Kosovo came under the control of the United Nations and the NATO-led KFOR peace force in June 1999.
Groups regarded by ethnic Albanians as Serb collaborators during their 1998-99 rebellion in pursuit of independence, notably Roma (Gypsies), have also been targeted.
There has been an upsurge in violence in the period leading up to the anniversary of the June 12 arrival of international peacekeepers to Kosovo, still legally part of Yugoslavia.
Last week, eight Serbs -- including a four-year-old boy and two elderly women -- were killed. A grenade attack on Tuesday in the Serb monastery town of Gracanica injured five people.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a separate report to the Security Council late on Thursday that attacks against Serbs appeared to be an orchestrated campaign of violence.
The UNHCR/OSCE report said Serbs were victims in 105 incidents of arson, 49 incidents of aggravated assault and 26 of murder reported between January 30 and May 27.
At least 150,000 Serbs and others have fled Kosovo to Serbia proper since the end of NATO's 78-day bombing campaign last year, conducted to halt Belgrade's military crackdown on ethnic Albanians.
Many of those who remain -- estimated at roughly 100,000 -- live isolated and need KFOR help to travel around. "In the worst cases, minority populations remain trapped in their enclaves or even in their homes, unable to venture out without a heavily armed escort," said the report.
"The long term effect of lack of freedom of movement is that many minority populations are sidelined, confined to their enclaves, and excluded from society as a whole," it said.
Divisions within Kosovo were strikingly clear when looking at access to basic services such as health care and education. "For many communities, we see the continuation of essentially two societies, separate from one another in almost all aspects of life," the report said.
In contrast to the previous 10 years, when ethnic Albanians were the victims of discrimination, Serbs and other minorities are now unable to access necessary services in a normal way.
"The degree to which minorities are able to enjoy their rights and participate in society will be a primary measure of success in the international stewardship of Kosovo, with important implications for regional stability," it said.
MAN CHARGED OVER IMMIGRANT SMUGGLING(UK)
A man has been charged with helping to smuggle
illegal immigrants into the country.
Neil Acourt, 24, was charged with facilitation - assisting
illegal entry - after a joint investigation by Kent Police
and the Immigration Service into an incident on
December 10 1999, a spokesman says.
Jobless Acourt, of Dutton Street, Greenwich,
south-east London, has been bailed to appear at
Folkestone Magistrates' Court on June 14.
Another man, John Anthony Caetano, 26, of Dickson
Road, Eltham, south-east London, has already been
charged with assisting illegal entry in relation to the
No charges will be brought against three other men
who were arrested in connection with the incident in
March, the spokesman added.
STOWAWAYS FREEZE TO DEATH IN PLANE'S WHEEL BAY(Denmark)
Two stowaways who died in the wheel bay of a Danish transatlantic airliner lay undiscovered for two days while the aeroplane made 40 flights.
The men, believed to be from the Dominican Republic, hid in a small compartment behind the plane's rear wheels.
Despite several stops over the course of the two days, nobody found their bodies.
Authorities say the pair probably died from exposure to freezing conditions as the plane reached high altitude on the way to Copenhagen from the Dominican Republic.
The Premair Airbus 330 then made a total of 40 flights in two days, including 36 "educational flights" and trips CNN.com.
The dead men were only found when technicians checked the aircraft when it landed at an airport north of the Swedish capital Stockholm after a flight from Greece.
A Stockholm police spokesman said the incident raised serious security concerns.
"If these men could get aboard, so could explosives," said Mats Nylen.
Although it's not been established how the men did get on to the airplane, a Premair official suggested that the men were employed at the Dominican Republic's Peurto Plata airport or they had help from somebody working there.
2500 KOSOVARS 'DISAPPEAR'(UK)
Up to 2,500 Kosovo refugees who fled to Britain last year have
"disappeared" and cannot be traced, the government said yesterday,
More than 4,000 Kosovars were given sanctuary in
Britain last April. Unlike other asylum seekers, they did not have to
register where they were staying. A Home Office spokesman said: "We
very much hope that having enjoyed the hospitality of this country, the
remainder will return voluntarily when their leave expires."
and aid charities said many refugees want to stay in Britain and some
will already be working illegally.
BBC News adds the situation is potentially embarrassing for Home
Secretary Jack Straw who had promised all Kosovo refugees would be
returned home once their 12-month leave to stay ended.
secretary Ann Widdecombe said the situation proved the need for all
asylum seekers to be detained on entering the country.
By 1 June this
year the Home Office said 1,527 refugees had gone back to Kosovo
under a government-funded voluntary repatriation programme.
© BBC NEWS
MYSTERY SURROUNDS DEATH OF A PUNK(Germany)
Mystery surrounds death of punk killed in eastern German town
Eberswalde, Germany - Police in this eastern German town are still looking
for a motive for the killing of a 22-year-old punk who died last Thursday after
being pushed in front of a moving taxi. The incident happened when the victim
was fighting with a 27-year-old man known to have links with the extreme
A huge poster near the bus stop where Falco L. died could have been placed
there as a comment on the death: "Stop the ostrich syndrome." The message
from a group called the White Ring exhorts people to come to the aid of
victims of violence.
In November 1990, neo-Nazis beat unconscious a 28-year-old Angolan
worker, Amadeu Antonio Kiowa, not far from the same bus stop; Kiowa died a
few days later. Directly next to the bus stop is a building that once housed
asylum seekers. The home was closed in 1992 after an arson attack.
Subsequently, the building was for some years a meeting place for right-wing
The alternative scene in Eberswalde is small. Many of its members knew
Falco L. The talk revolves around one question: was his death politically
motivated? Police spokeswoman Annegret Klett says it was not. Forty-eight
hours after the death, a man (in line with German legal requirements, full
names are not used), Mike B., was arrested on charges of assault with fatal
consequences. Klett said the arrested man denies any political motive.
She added that Mike B. felt insulted by Falco L. and, in the ensuing
argument, accidentally pushed him in front of the taxi.
Police say that, while Mike B. might look like a skinhead, he was known to
police as someone who liked a fight rather than a person bent on acts of
Police also point out that the victim himself was violence-prone.
Marc F. - who is afraid to give his real name - had been on the bus with the
dead man and Mike B. before their fatal fight. Marc F. says that as the three
were boarding the bus, Falco L. made some comments to Mike B. about his
obviously right-wing tattoos.
According to the eyewitness, a skinhead with Mike B. started to hit Falco L.
while the bus was still moving. Despite that, Falco L.
continued to talk to Mike B., allegedly explaining to him, "why it's dumb to be
right-wing." The eyewitness and his friends have no doubt that the ensuing
fight was politically motivated.
Marc F. says Mike B. was not a neo-Nazi but he had been part of the
right-wing scene which used to meet at the youth centre near the bus stop
until it was closed. Nike B had also professed right-wing views, the
Kai Wendell works with a statewide group called Victims' Perspectives which
provides support and counselling for victims of right-wing violence in the state
of Brandenburg. Wendell sees Falco L.'s death mainly as an expression of a
turn of events which has become normal and which a large part of the
population has simply learned to live with.
"The case shows what absolutely
trivial things today can trigger rightist violence leading to death," Wendell
© Frankfurter Rundschau
CHURCH OCCUPIED ONCE AGAIN BY THE SANS-PAPIERS(France)
Since 31 May 2000, Saint Mery church in Paris is being used as a refuge for people from China, Turkey, the Maghreb and other parts of Africa. The occupants, a group of sans-papiers who lived in hiding for four years, are still waiting for a regularisation of their situation. The church occupation is organised by the Third Collective, consisting of more than a thousand sans papiers from 27 different nationalities.
Those resident in France for more than 10 years had unsuccessfully attempted to regularise their legal situation under the Chevenement law of 10th May 1998.
This failure shows the arbitrariness of the law, since hundreds of others in similar situations were, in fact, granted regularisation of papers.
Several appeals to the authorities in the Ministry of the Interior were turned down, resulting in more than 300 members of the Third Collective being refused legalisation.
Of the applications submitted to the state mediator, 53 are singles and the rest are made by families with children born in France. Moreover one third of the applications are from people who have been resident in France for at least 9 years. Despite all his efforts the mediator could obtain regularisation papers for only ten persons so far.
An increasing number of sans papiers, of whom there are an estimated 60 000 in France, are beginning to organise themselves in their struggle for legalisation. The Third Collective of the sans-papiers of Paris is not the first to occupy a church, currently others are also being used as a refuge.
Further information :
the full history of the movement since 18 March 1996 on a well-documented site with many links
the Third Collective site
the Chevenement law
VIOLENCE AGAINST THE JEW COMMUNITY(Spain)
'Destroyed a commemorative tablet in memory of the Jews died during the
BARCELONA. Some unknown people have destroyed one of the three tablets
located at the 'Fossar de les moreres', in the cemetery of Montjuïc of
Barcelona, dedicated to the memory of the six million people killed by the
nazis during the Holocaust, as reported yesterday the Jew community in the
The outrage affected only to one commemorative tablet, and did not provoke
any other damage to the rest of the tombs that compose the complex
dedicated to the memory of the executed politician Lluís Company, president
of the Generalitat of Catalonia during the Republic.
This act took
spokesmen of the Jew community to think about an outrage with a "purely
Spokesmen of the Jew communities Atid Catalonia and Macabi Barcelona to
express in a press note their "deep consternation" for the vandal
incidents, at the same that the are afraid "not to have repaired the damage
nor investigate who were the authors".
STATEMENT BY THE AUSTRIAN POLITICAL SCIENCE ASSOCIATION
Letter from the Co-ordination Team in Paris
European Thematic Network in Political Science
The TN is publishing the following statement at the request of the Austrian
Political Science Association:
Statement by the Austrian Political Science Association:
Political scientist in Austria convicted
Anton Pelinka, a Professor of political science at the University of
Innsbruck, has been convicted by the Viennese Criminal Court for having
defamed the former FPÖ leader Jörg Haider.
The suit was filed by Haider's
lawyer Dieter Böhmdorfer who is now Austria's minister of justice. In an
interview with the Italian television station RAI (broadcast on May 1,
1999), Pelinka had stated: "In his career, Haider has repeatedly made
statements which amount to trivializing National Socialism. Once he
described death camps as penal camps.
On the whole, Haider is responsible
for making certain National Socialist positions and certain National
Socialist remarks more acceptable." (In German: "Haider hat in seiner
Karriere immer wieder Aussagen gemacht, die als Verharmlosung des
Nationalsozialismus zu werten sind. Er hat einmal die Vernichtungslager
Straflager genannt. Insgesamt ist Haider verantwortlich für eine neue
Salonfähigkeit bestimmter nationalsozialistischer Positionen und
bestimmter nationalsozialistischer Äußerungen.")
International media have
reported about this case (e.g., New York Times, International Herald
Furthermore, the Swedish prime minister, in a parliamentary
speech, stated the Pelinka case to be "one of the best illustrations" to
why the Swedish government applies different sorts of action against the
Finally, scientists and human right organisations,
such as The Chronicle of Higher Education and the International Helsinki
Federation, are concerned by the conviction of Anton
"Everything Professor Pelinka said was consistent with normal
public discussion about political figures in a democracy.
If one can be
convicted of libel for such a statement, we must wonder if there is freedom
of expression in this country," stated Aaron Rhodes, Executive director of
The Austrian Political Science Association is deeply concerned by
the present development in Austria. It is unacceptable to restrict the
freedom of expression and the freedom of science by means prosecution
demanded by political parties.
Hence, we request the international
scientific community to keep in view the further development in Austria.
European Thematic Network - Political Science
NATO ACCUSED OF WAR CRIME
The human rights organisation, Amnesty International, has accused Nato of committing war crimes during its bombing campaign against Yugoslavia a year ago.
In a new report, Amnesty says Nato forces violated the rules of war, which resulted in the unlawful killing of civilians.
Nato Secretary-General George Robertson rejected the allegations as "baseless and ill-founded".
The international war crimes tribunal has already ruled out an investigation.
Amnesty called on Nato to review how it selected its targets and to ensure compliance with international humanitarian law.
"Nato scrupulously adhered to international law, including the law of war, throughout the conflict and made every effort to minimise civilian casualties," Lord Robertson said.
He acknowledged that "in a few cases mistakes were made ... leading to civilian deaths or injuries".
But he said such incidents "must be weighed against the atrocities that Nato's action stopped".
The bombing, which ended on 7 June last year, resulted in a withdrawal of Serb forces from Kosovo and the deployment of a Nato-led peacekeeping force in the southern Serbian province.
Last week, the international war crimes prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, rejected Yugoslav allegations that Nato had committed war crimes.
She told the UN Security Council that there was no basis to open an investigation into the bombing campaign.
The Amnesty report looks at a number of attacks carried out over Yugoslavia last year and concludes that Nato did not always respect the rules of war in selecting its targets.
It called on Nato to review how it selected its targets and to ensure compliance with international humanitarian law.
© BBC NEWS
VIGILANCE PLEDGE TO AVENGE SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF IMMIGRANT WOMEN(Greece)
Á crowd of self-declared vigilantes staged a nighttime attack on an Athens strip club on Tuesday, expressing a determination to stand up to criminal gangs who sexually exploit migrant women.
An estimated 30 Greeks and foreigners broke into the venue on central Michalakopoulou St, causing extensive damage, and warned that they will strike again.
The Ladies strip club had been shut down by police in May after a raid discovered six Romanian women were allegedly being held captive and sexually exploited by the venue's management.
In a written statement, the group said it would take similar action against other establishments involved in the illegal procurement of foreign women, which they described as "a crime against migrants".
Members of the vigilante group are being sought by police.
In May 3 police arrested two men employed at the Ladies club who were allegedly holding six Romanian women captive in an apartment in the northern Áthens suburb of Çalandri. The men reportedly forced the women to strip and have sex with clients at the club.
The pair were identified as 25-year-old Ìiltiadis Grammatikos and Mikolaos Ñetrekis, 41, who have been charged. The owner of the establishment, 41-year-old Dimitris Glastros, is still being sought by authorities. Police believe Glastros heads a prostitution ring.
Thousands of women from eastern Europe, Asia and the Middle East enter the country illegally in search of work here and in other European Union countries.
Many are deceived by members of prostitution rackets who promise them legal employment then force them into working as prostitutes.
According to a recent police study, nine in 10 prostitutes working illegally in Greece are women from the former Soviet Union.
Many of them, including young girls and teenagers, are taken from their families and smuggled into Greece against their will.
Statistics show that the majority of female migrant prostitutes currently in Greece have been smuggled in from Bulgaria, Albania, Romania, Russia and Ukraine.
Migratory prostitution began in the 1990s when organised prostitution rings began to bring young women from the Balkans and the former Soviet Union into Greece.
© ATHENS NEWS
NEW LEGISLATION DEBATED IN THE NETHERLANDS
Dutch lawmakers continued their political infighting this week in parliamentary debates on a new asylum law, while experts yesterday questioned what improvements the law could bring, reports Het Financieele Dagblad.
The new policy, which the justice ministry hopes will go into effect on January 1, 2001, aims to shorten the asylum request procedure.
"There are too many procedures. They are too complicated and they take too long," immigration minister Job Cohen said. "Everyone knows the consequences: backlogs and people stuck in procedures and refugee centres for years."
Cohen's new policy stipulates that only one kind of permit, as well as one kind of asylum status, will be given to genuine applicants, instead of the three different categories of status at present. The appeal system will also be curtailed.
But experts were adamant that the new policy is hardly an improvement. "This is a missed opportunity to really solve the asylum problem," said Claartje van Ette of the Dutch Refugee Council. She said the new policy would make it harder for people to seek asylum, and is unlikely to shorten procedures.
Instead, the backlog will likely increase, she said. "The ministry is thinking how to stop the influx of refugees instead of answering the question of how to offer protection to those who really need it," she stressed.
Official figures show 39,299 asylum requests were made last year in the Netherlands, some 13% less than in 1998.
© Refugees Daily
MORE ASYLUM SEEKERS TO BE DEPORTED(UK)
The immigration service confirmed last night it is to deport tens of thousands more asylum seekers as the number of people claiming refuge in Britain and being held in detention centres quadruples.
Almost a third of those who are refused asylum in Britain are vanishing in an attempt to stay in the country, according to Home Office figures.
Of the 10,685 asylum seekers refused permission to stay last year, 7,645 people left voluntarily or were deported, leaving 3,040 missing, according to official figures.
Ian Boon, the immigration service's director of enforcement, said last night that officials aim to increase the number of deportations from 9,000 last year to 12,000 this year, rising to 30,000 in 2001-2 and eventually to 57,000 each year.
A Home Office spokesman confirmed it intends to tighten the system. The move reflects the government's anxiety seekers.
"It is important to the integrity of the asylum system that while we speed up the decision-making process it is clear to people whose claims are proved to be unfounded that they are very likely to be removed at the end of that process," the spokesman said.
The number of asylum seekers held in detention centres - a policy espoused by the Conservative party - will increase building of new detention centres at Thurleigh, Bedfordshire, and Manston, Kent. Eventually 4,000 asylum seekers will be held while their applications are processed.
The 100,000-case backlog in decision-making on asylum has been cut in recent months, with an increasing proportion of applicants turned down.
PERSECUTED GYPSIES DENIED(UK)
Forced out of their homes by racists who threatened to kill them,
Eastern European Gypsies are still not considered genuine refugees by
the British government, reports Jake Bowers-Burbridge in the Guardian.
They are a people without a state, or even an effective international
organisation to defend them. And they are the ultimate scapegoats to
be abused with impunity as 'bogus' asylum seekers.
The 1951 UN convention relating on refugees supposedly guarantees
protection to any person who has fled their country 'owing to a
well-founded fear of persecution due to their race, religion, nationality,
membership of a social group or political opinion'.
But Home Office guidelines to magistrates refuse to recognise Romany
persecution, despite its continuing documentation by Amnesty
International, the Council of Europe, the Organisation for Security and
Cooperation in Europe and the US state department.
Of the 5,000 Romany asylum seekers to have arrived in Britain, only
three have been granted leave to stay - dramatically lower than for other
Figures from the Refugee Council state that 54% of
asylum applications are granted on their first hearing.
© Refugees Daily
FOUR IN 10 EAST GERMANS RESENT FOREIGN INFLUX
Nearly 40 percent of Germans in the formerly communist east think there are too many foreigners living in the country, according to a survey published on Wednesday after a wave of violence against non-Germans.
The Forsa polling institute found this feeling was more prevalent in the east than in the west, where one in three agreed.
The east, marked by pockets of poverty and high unemployment, has been the scene of numerous attacks against foreigners during the 10 years since unification, even though relatively few foreigners live there.
Forsa found 39 percent of eastern Germans and 33 percent of westerners felt there were too many foreigners.
Western Germans, mindful of the Nazi past, have tried to atone for the racist regime with a more tolerant outlook towards foreigners. Communist East Germany did not tackle the past with the same rigour.
The survey of 1,010 Germans in both parts of the country also found that 17 percent of the easterners and 11 percent of the westerners supported the ideology of far-right extremists.
About nine million foreigners live in Germany out of a total population of 82 million. Turks are the largest group, with about two million. There are also large numbers of Poles, Yugoslavs, Albanians and Italians.
Most of the assaults on foreigners since reunification have been in the east. Nearly 10 percent of the population in the west is foreign-born, and less than two percent in the east. while trying to escape from a band of neo-Nazis chasing him.
Some conservative politicians have tried to capitalise on anti-foreigner sentiment by calling for restrictions on immigration.
ANGEL HEIGHTS SEVEN RELEASED(UK)
Seven Asylum seekers who had been in jail since May 10th were released to day on conditional bail.
Prior to the court hearing this morning Kent County Council admitted
they had not followed correct procedure in withdrawing support for
the seven and reinstated the support.
The seven have been moved to another hostel in a different town. They
are due to reappear in court on June 19th 2000.
North East Campaign for Asylum rights said that though today Kent
County Council had restored support after they failed to follow
correct procedure by not listening to the refugees side of the story.
They are worried that if KKC do not change their minds when they have
heard the refugees side of the story the seven will be back in jail.
KOUCHNER ASKS SWISS, GERMANS TO SLOW REFUGEE RETURN
The top United Nations administrator in Kosovo, Bernard Kouchner, urged Switzerland and Germany on Wednesday to go slow in returning refugees to the Yugoslav province.
"It is not helping us a bit," Kouchner told a news conference when asked to comment on Switzerland's plans to repatriate some 4,000 refugees a month.
Germany wants all its roughly 160,000 Kosovo Albanian refugees to return by the end of the year to the province, where Serbs and ethnic Albanians fought until a NATO-led bombing campaign forced Serb forces to withdraw last June.
Kouchner, a Frenchman, said he had no legal means to stop these repatriations and he praised both countries for having taken so many refugees from the conflict in the early 1990s.
"But when there are difficulties taking in these people, I will call for a moratorium. I am not asking that today," he said, adding he hoped the number of refugees returning from Switzerland would be smaller than now planned.
Kosovo air controllers would not accept unannounced charter flights and would send them back, he said.
Returning refugees would further exacerbate the situation in Kosovo, which is still rebuilding after the war and already has an unemployment rate of some 50 percent.
Kouchner said it was far too early to judge his nearly one-year-old mission there but said June 15 municipal elections would be very important.
There was as yet no security in Kosovo and he expected more incidents in the run-up to the elections. In the latest incident, a gunman killed three Serbs, including a four-year-old boy, and wounded two. "The important thing is that the perpetrator has been apprehended," Kouchner said.
He said political cooperation in Kosovo was starting to work and elections would be a further step to restoring democracy.
"Democracy is the best answer to Mr (Slobodan) Milosevic. Democracy will really hurt him, not violence, not the climate of hatred," Kouchner said, referring to the Yugoslav president.
He said he had no illusions about solving the simmering ethnic conflict in Kosovo, which has roots going back some 13 centuries. "I'm not trying to get conciliation, I am working on co-existence," he said. "I'm not in charge of miracles."
SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADER WANTS KOUCHNER TO RESIGN
Vladan Batic, who is one of the leaders of the Alliance for Change
in Serbia, said in an open letter that Bernard Kouchner, who is the
UN's chief administrator in Kosova, should resign if he is unable to
better defend the interests of the province's Serbs, "Danas" reported
on 5 June.
Batic added that resigning is the only morally appropriate
thing for Kouchner to do if he cannot better protect all the
inhabitants of the province, as he promised to do in 1999 when he
arrived in Kosova.
POLICE CHARGE PUBLISHER OF CZECH MEIN KAMPF
Czech police have charged the publisher of a Czech version of Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf" with spreading racism and begun confiscating the books.
"The publisher has been accused of the criminal act of supporting and spreading a movement that leads toward the suppressing of rights and freedoms of citizens," a police spokeswoman said Monday.
Publisher Michal Zitko sold out in mid-March of an initial print run of 10,000 copies of the edition, which contains the original text with no commentary, and reprints have followed.
News agency CTK reported Monday that police had raided one of Zitko's distributors and seized 300 copies of the book.
The police spokeswoman said remaining copies would also have to be withdrawn and that police had asked the publisher to hand over its list of distributors.
The book has ignited a sharp debate in a country where the battle for free speech played an important role in toppling the communist government in the bloodless 1989 revolution.
Police said they acted after receiving complaints from individuals and organizations, many recalling the horrors of Nazi occupation of the Czech lands in the 1940s.
If Zitko is found guilty of the charges, he could receive a sentence of up to eight years in jail, CTK said.
A poll in May showed slightly more Czechs opposing the free sale of the book than those not objecting.
Zitko has said he also plans to publish a Czech version of Karl Marx's communist thesis, "Das Kapital."
IMMIGRANTS PROTEST ON HOLY YEAR MIGRANT DAY(Vatican City)
Some 200 Indian, Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan immigrants staged a peaceful protest in St Peter's Square Friday shortly after Pope John Paul II celebrated a Holy Year mass for migrants, witnesses said.
The protesters waved banners asking the Italian government to grant permits allowing all immigrant workers to stay.
During the mass, the pope had said discrimination was incompatible with the teachings of the Catholic Church and urged respect for human rights.
"Unfortunately, closed-door attitudes as well as denial continue to exist in the world, caused by unjustified fears as well as concentrating on one's own life," the pope said.
"These discriminations are not compatible with belonging to Christ and the Church."
He told pilgrims gathered in a sun-baked St Peter's Square that a culture of tolerance and welcoming needed to be coupled with "prudent and far-sighted laws and norms."
"Knowing what the Church has done and is doing for immigrants in Italy, the protesters wanted to hand in a document to the Vatican with all their requests," Chief Vatican Spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said in a terse statement. He gave no details.
The protest ended peacefully later.
Thousands of illegal immigrants, many from the Balkans and north Africa, land on Italy's long coastline each year. The center-right opposition is urging the government to take tougher measures to combat the influx.
In 1999, the government granted permits allowing 123,000 immigrants to stay and become legalized out of a total of 250,000 requests. Under a stricter law passed last year, only 63,000 permits will be handed out in 2000.
COUNCIL OF EUROPE COMMISSIONER MEETS WITH CHECHEN REFUGEES IN GEORGIA
Alvaro Gil-Robles, who is the Council of Europe's human rights
commissioner, met on 4 June with Chechen refugees now living
temporarily in Georgia's Pankisi gorge, which borders on Chechnya,
Interfax reported. Some of the refugees complained that the
humanitarian aid they receive is inadequate.
Local residents have
complained that the so- called refugees included Chechen fighters.
On 2 June, former Georgian Defense Minister Tengiz Kitovani
warned that the presence of Chechen fighters on Georgian territory
could provoke Moscow to launch air strikes against Georgia,
Interfax reported. He claimed those fighters engage in abductions
and drug trafficking.
NAIL BOMBER TRIED TO START 'A RACE WAR'(UK)
A NAZI sympathiser killed three people after starting a campaign of nail bombings aimed at starting a race war and venting his hatred of homosexuals, the Old Bailey was told yesterday.
David Copeland, a loner who lived with his pet rat in a bedsit decorated with swastikas, planted two bombs in centres of
London's black and Asian communities, said Nigel Sweeney, QC, prosecuting.
His third and most devastating explosion, at a gay pub
in the West End, killed three customers and injured 70
Copeland, who appeared in court in an open
neck blue shirt and dark trousers, learned to make the
bombs via the internet.
He primed them with explosives from £1,500 worth of
fireworks and packed each with up to 1,500 nails.
"These were plainly hate crimes: the motivation for
the first two political and the last personal," Mr
Sweeney told the jury.
Copeland, 24, an engineering worker, from Cove, near
Farnborough, Hants, denied murder. He admitted
manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, but the Crown refused
to accept the plea, saying that what he did was "plainly murder".
For the first time, proceedings at an Old Bailey trial were transmitted live
outside the building. More than 100 relatives and victims wanted to attend the
trial and only 40 could be accommodated in the courtroom.
So a room for the
others was set aside at nearby Snow Hill police station where they could listen
to the proceedings via a live audio link.
The bombs exploded in a 13-day period in April last year. Copeland told police
that he wanted to cause "murder, mayhem, chaos, damage - to get on the news
as the top story, really. The aim was to spread fear, resentment and hatred
through this country."
Mr Sweeney said that he admitted planning to explode as many bombs as he
could, "one per week". He said: "Having planted bombs in Brixton and Brick
Lane, home respectively to large numbers of black and Asian people, he had
lined up Southall as his next target."
Copeland told police: "I am a national socialist, or Nazi, whatever you want to
call me. I believe in a ruling master race;
I believe in race and country first,
with the white race as the master race and Aryan domination of the world. I
am not a religious person, but I believe in God and regard the Bible as against
Mr Sweeney said: "He believed that British people had a right to ethnic
cleansing, like the Serbs. He thought the bombs would be the spark to set fire to
this country, stirring up a racial war."
Copeland hoped that they would create a
backlash among ethnic minorities, "causing whites to vote for the British
National Party". Explaining the third bomb, he said he planted it at the Admiral
Duncan pub in Soho because the bar was frequented by gays.
Mr Sweeney said: "He said he hated gay men, although not gay women. He
targeted gays because this was his personal reaction to his 'strange' parents
who had put him through mental torture as a child - probably just stupidity on
their part rather than malicious. He did not elaborate on his reasons."
Copeland described gay men as "perverted degenerates" of no use to society
and said that they should be put to death, claiming that the Bible and the Koran
supported his belief. "Even as a racist, I would prefer the company of a black or
Asian to a gay white man," he told police.
BRITAIN AND FRANCE SIGN DEAL ON ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS
Britain and France have signed a landmark deal stepping
up the fight against illegal immigrants using Eurostar train
services to reach the UK.
The accord, described as "a major step forward" by Home
Secretary Jack Straw, will allow British immigration
officers to patrol French railway stations and check trains
on the journey from Paris.
Once the deal is ratified, which could take a year, UK
immigration officers are also likely to be installed
permanently at the Gare du Nord in Paris, the departure
point for the Eurostar to London.
France has also pledged to step up its efforts to prevent
illegal immigrants getting aboard trains bound for London.
French officials could also check passengers' documents
at the two Eurostar stations at London's Waterloo and
Ashford, Kent, although in practice the flow of people is
almost entirely from the continent to the UK.
. In the last three
years 9,000 asylum seekers entered the UK by the route.
"The result of this signing will be that British immigration
officials will be able themselves to check people's
passports and other credentials as they board the
Eurostar trains in Paris, Calais, and Lille," Mr Straw told
BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
The deal is expected to be followed later in the day by
British agreement to new cross-border cooperation
between EU police forces, sharing information on crime,
the counterpoint to the opening up of the EU's internal
borders. Britain, however, is insisting on retaining full
national frontier controls.
MIGRANT SMUGGLERS 'FORCE WOMEN INTO PROSTITUTION'(UK)
More than 1,000 women seeking a new life in Britain are forced into prostitution each year.
Those fleeing Eastern Europe are most at risk of becoming trapped in sexual slavery by racketeers running illegal trafficking operations, a Home Office study shows.
The desperate victims have often handed over thousands of pounds to gangsters in return for being smuggled into Britain, say researchers.
But on arrival they find themselves forced to work as prostitutes to pay off previously unmentioned "debts".
The study, reported in The Guardian and due to be published on Friday, is set to urge major changes in police tactics and laws to tackle the problem, which is growing with the boom in illegal trafficking.
It comes as secret service agents are poised to target gangs illegally smuggling asylum seekers into Britain.
The Home Office plans to use MI6 and MI5 to infiltrate human trafficking rings thought to bring 90% of illegal immigrants in to Britain.
Home Office minister Barbara Roche has described the problem as "deeply worrying", adding: "This is a growing problem, and a very serious activity.
Vulnerable people, including in some cases children, are being trafficked." Some estimates suggest three-quarters of women working in the Soho sex trade, Britain's red light capital, are from overseas.
Trafficking is thought to be on the increase in cities and towns across the UK and there are fears the problem could spark violent turf wars between rival gangs.
STRAW'S ASYLUM ADMISSION(UK)
Jack Straw, the home secretary, last night acknowledged that refugees seeking asylum in Britain were forced to break the law to escape the threat of persecution in their native country.
In a debate on the asylum system, sponsored by the Observer at Church House, central London, Mr Straw said that a fundamental ambiguity at the heart of the 1951 convention on refugees had led to an atmosphere of hostility against asylum seekers.
Under this convention "everyone has the right to make a claim, but there is no obligation on any country to admit them to make the claim."
As a long-term strategy he would seek to reform it, working with other governments to remove the ambiguity. "There is a need for us to develop a new system in the world for how we entertain asylum seekers."
He told the audience: "I do not think the system is fully fair. Are we going to make it more fair? Yes, we are."
He added: "It has to be the most difficult issue in terms of ethical dilemmas I have had to deal with. I do not suggest we always get it right, but it is about getting a balance between fair and firm."
Mr Straw earlier clashed with the shadow home secretary, Ann Widdecombe, who described the system of processing asylum applications as "incompetent and chaotic". It was not fair to the person for whom it was designed to help, the refugee facing terrible persecution.
Britain was a target for fraudulent asylum claimants, she said. The Conservatives' proposed reforms, primarily the automatic detention of applicants in secure reception centres, would reduce non-genuine claims.
"I want to send a message that says that if you come to Great Britain you will be put in reception centres, you will be dealt with quickly, and if your claim is genuine you will be most welcome."