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Special Report

NEWS - Archive for March 2000

March 2000 Headlines

Headlines March 31, 2000

ENTRY BAN ON NAZI SUSPECTS(UK)

PUBLIC SCHOOL HEADS COULD BE SUED FOR BANNING GAY SEX(UK)

HOW ANTI-SEMITISM CLOUDS ROMANIAN CRADLE OF ETHNIC HARMONY

AFTER MECIARS REGIME STILL POLICE BRUTALITY AGAINST ROMA (Slovakia)

SOUTH AFRICAN NEO NAZI TERRE BLANCHE GOES TO JAIL

EU MONITOR FEARS RACISM BECOMING ACCEPTABLE

PARLIAMENT OF SWEDEN RECOGNIZES ARMENIAN GENOCIDE

IF THEY CAN WALK, THEN THEY CAN FLY (Germany)

Headlines March 28, 2000

RACISM AGAINST IMMIGRATION DETAINEES BY POLICE EXPOSED(Austria)

ASYLUM PROCEDURE FOR MINORS STRICTER IN THE NETHERLANDS

21 MARCH CELEBRATION IN DUBLIN(Ireland)

EUROPEAN UNION STRUGGLES WITH MIGRANTS

WEST FJORDS HOLD MULTICULTURAL FESTIVAL(Iceland)

TOP TURKISH HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST BACK IN JAIL

MIGRANT GROUPS URGE SCRAPPING ‘RACIST AND BARBARIC' BILL(Greece)

NBK PROPOSES 21 MARCH AS A NATIONAL HOLIDAY(Netherlands)

UNITED YOUTH CONFERENCE ‘READY! STEADY! GO!'

FAST TRACK ESCAPE FROM FAST TRACK DETENTION CENTRE IN UK :-)

Headlines March 24, 2000

ANTI-SEMITIC VANDALS MAR POLISH CITY

HAMBURG INVITES DEPORTATION OFFICIALS TO MUSICAL(Germany)

MICROSOFT SAYS FIXING 'ANTI-ARAB' BUG

POLICE CRACK DOWN ON HATE CRIME(UK)

ANTI-RACISM GROUPS CALL FOR SCRAPPING OF IMMIGRATION BILL(Greece)

EUROPE : DISCOURSE FUELS XENOPHOBIA

EUROSTAR TO IMPOSE STRICTER IMMIGRATION CONTROLS(UK)

ROMA CHILDREN BEATEN AND RAPED IN SLOVAK SCHOOLS

STEPS TAKEN TO PREVENT ILLEGAL MIGRATION(Turkey)

Headlines March 21, 2000

ROMANIANS' RETURN COMPLICATES DISPERSAL(UK)

SRI LANKANS DEPORTED, MORE TO FOLLOW(Germany)

KOFI ANNAN ACCUSES ETHNIC ALBANIANS OF PROVOCATION IN SOUTHERN SERBIA

HATRED ON RISE(Hungary)

CZECH GOVERNMENT TO DECIDE ON CHANGE OF FOREIGNERS'LAW ON WEDNESDAY

AUSTRIAN FACES NAZI EUTHANASIA TRIAL

UN REPORT: STARK CHOICE OVER IMMIGRATION

BRITAIN'S TOP RACE-CRIME OFFICER CALLED IN TO TELFORD INQUIRY

FOURTEEN INJURED BY FIRE IN GERMAN REFUGEE CENTRE

Headlines March 17, 2000

VIA CORELLI HAS OFFICIALLY CLOSED(Italy)

NORDIC YOUTH NETWORK AGAINST RACISM TO BE ESTABLISHED

SIT-IN HELD BY ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS FOR PAPERS(Spain)

NEO NAZI'S BUY EXPLOSIVES AND WEAPONS(Slovakia)

SWEDEN ALLOWS 'GAY MARRIAGE' FOR FOREIGNERS

ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS ARRESTED(Denmark)

PUBLIC ANXIETY SOARS ABOUT ASYLUM-SEEKERS(UK)

Headlines March 14, 2000

EX-TORIES MP ACCUSES PARTY OF RACISM(UK)

RABBIS ENCOUNTER NAZI ANNIVERSARY(Slovakia)

VIOLENCE AT NEO-NAZI MARCH(Germany)

POPE SEEKS PARDON FOR SINS OF CHURCH

FRENCH FAR-RIGHTIST LE PEN RAGES AGAINST IMMIGRANTS, TURKEY

ORBAN ATTACKS HAIDER(Hungary)

GEORGIAN REFUGEES IN LIMBO

LONDON POLICE CHIEF HAILS CRACKDOWN ON RACE CRIME(UK)

FOUR LEEDS UNITEDS STAR ARRESTED OVER ASSAULT(UK)

CDU TRIES 'HAIDER EFFETC' IN ATTEMPT TO WOO VOTERS(Germany)

'MASTERMIND OF SREBRENICA GENOCIDE' GOES ON TRIAL(Bosnia)

Headlines March 10, 2000

WORLD SPOTLIGHT ON WOMEN'S RIGHT

FRANCE PASSES EQUALITY LAW PASSED ON EVE OF WOMEN'S DAY

STRUGGLE FOR EQUALITY IN WORK FOR GREEK WOMEN

NAZI SLAVE CASH TALKS FALTER(Germany)

WOMAN BISHOP ATTACKED BY FAR RIGHT

IMMIGRANTS NOT WANTED DESPITE LABOUR SHORTAGE(Denmark)

LATEST RACE BEATING GETS POLICE MOVING(Slovakia)

ZHIRINOVSKY SAYS HE WANTS LIFE-TERM IN KREMLIN(Russia)

Headlines March 7, 2000

MOSCOW TO ALLOW COUNCIL OF EUROPE MONITORS IN CHECHNYA (Russia)

RETURNING ALBANIANS STONED IN MITROVICA(Yugoslavia)

FRENCH FAR-RIGHT LEADER DENOUNCES TEACHING OF HOLOCAUST IN SCHOOLS

HAIDER CAN'T CONTROL HIMSELF (Austria)

WAR CRIME COURT GIVES CROAT GENERAL 45 YEARS

POLICE TACTICS IN VIENNA(Austria)

HOME SHORTAGE DELAYS PLAN TO MOVE REFUGEES(England)

AFGHANS MUST GO BACK, BUT NOT YET(England)






ENTRY BAN ON NAZI SUSPECTS(UK)
Hundreds of suspected Nazi war criminals will be prevented from entering Britain after instructions from Jack Straw to tighten the rules and stop them at ports and airports. The Home Secretary has told immigration officials to add hundreds of people suspected of war crimes to the official register of those to be banned from Britain. Alleged war criminals will be excluded on the grounds that their "character, conduct or associations" are undesirable. They will join a list of people such as convicted rapists. Mr Straw's move follows a public outcry earlier this year after Konrad Kalejs, a Latvian who is alleged to be a Nazi war criminal, freely entered the country.
©Electronic Telegraph

PUBLIC SCHOOL HEADS COULD BE SUED FOR BANNING GAY SEX(UK)
Public schools have been warned that they could be sued under new human rights legislation if they ban homosexual relationships between pupils over 16 or force pupils to go to chapel. The Independent Schools Information Service has told head teachers that they could be vulnerable to legal challenge under the Human Rights Act, which comes into force in October. Schools were told that they could be taken to court if they refused to allow pupils over 16 to have homosexual relationships under article 8, which protects privacy. Legislation to equalise the age of consent for gay men and heterosexuals will also be on the statute book by the summer. Forcing pupils to go to church could also open schools to legal action for "religious discrimination".The legal advice came in advance of a speech today by Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, who will warn all private organisations which perform "public functions" that they will be as legally bound by the Act as public bodies. Private schools, hospitals, nursing homes and charities could all be taken to court if they do not do more to prepare for the Act, which incorporates the European Convention on Human Rights into British law. Mr Straw will say in a speech to the Institute for Public Policy Research: "The Act will not only affect individuals, it will affect any organisation dealing with the public." About 100 heads attended a briefing on the issue by a human rights lawyer at a recent conference of the Society of Headmasters and Headmistresses of Independent Schools. Robert Boyd of Veale Wasbrough, a law firm, warned heads that they could face legal challenge on the grounds of "religious discrimination" if they forced pupils to go to chapel. Although the Government put a clause into the Human Rights Act to protect the rights of religious organisations, lawyers do not believe this would apply to independent schools. Head teachers were also advised that pupils could demand the right to challenge the rules on uniform or insist on cross-dressing under article 10 on freedom of expression. Schools could be sued if a pupil claimed that a punishment was not "proportionate". They could also be challenged on the grounds of "degrading treatment" for forcing pupils to take early runs followed by cold showers. Frances Butler, a lawyer working for the IPPR, said "fagging" - in which older boys ask younger ones to perform duties - would also be illegal under the Act. She said: "Forcing a younger boy to cook sausages or run up and down stairs is clearly degrading treatment." Dick Davison, a spokesman for ISIS, said: "Schools are aware that the Human Rights Act will require them to examine a number of aspects of the way they operate." Home Office sources said Mr Straw had no views on specific practices and "it will be for the courts to decide" whether schools were breaking the law.
©Electronic Telegraph

HOW ANTI-SEMITISM CLOUDS ROMANIAN CRADLE OF ETHNIC HARMONY
The Romanian city of Timisoara, cradle of the country's 1989 revolution, has long been known as a model of inter-ethnic harmony in a fractious region. But its exemplary role is being threatened by the rise of anti-Semitism, which local Jews link to the rise of the far-right in nearby Austria. "Since the end of World War II our city has been spared. But recently anti-Semitic graffiti have started appearing around the city centre," lamented Timisoara's chief rabbi, Ernest Neumann. "I associate this phenomenon notably with the rise of the far-right in Austria, which has given local hotheads more confidence," he added in an interview with AFP. Timisoara, known as "Little Vienna" for its Austro-Hungarian architecture and cosmopolitan feel, lies in the far west of this impoverished country, barely an hour's drive from the Hungarian and Serb borders. While ethnic strife has wracked the region, the city has prided itself on the way Romanians, Serbs, Jews, gypsies, Hungarians, Germans and Croats live together. But the tolerant air of the city has been marred by the appearance in recent days of graffiti scrawled in Romanian, English and German on walls and buildings around the old town centre. Neumann welcomed the fact that local authorities have been quick to clean up the inscriptions, while other religious and political leaders have condemned the new trend. The graffiti apparently reflect the growing confidence of the far-right in Romania, which has MPs in parliament but whose supporters have until now refrained from expressing their xenophobic and anti-Semitic ideas publicly. For Timisoara's Jews, it is particularly worrying. During the Holocaust, when Romanian Jews were suffering atrocities at the hands of the pro-Nazi regime of Marshal Ion Antonescu in Bucharest, the city was seen as a Jewish haven. "We had 12,000 members at the start of the war. There were still 12,000 at the end," says Neumann, noting that while being forced to comply with anti-Semitic laws, the city's Jews did not have to wear the Star of David. "During the war all the other communities showed solidarity with the Jews," he said. Today "we live like brothers with the Orthodox church followers, Catholics, reformists and Greek-Catholics," said the rabbi. Ecumenical services are regularly held in the city's churches, synagogues and mosques, attended by all communities. In a symbol of Timisoara's inter-religious harmony, the city's Orthodox archbishop, Nicolae Corneanu, has since 1990 returned almost all the churches confiscated under communism from Greek Catholics. Hope remains too of returning belongings looted from Jews by the communists. "The process is advancing slowly, but it is advancing," says Neumann. Above all hope is fueled by the city's long-standing multi-culturalism. "Our city is Europe," said Levente, a young man who describes himself as Romanian, born of a Croatian father and Hungarian mother. "In Timisoara most people are multi-lingual, because we learn foreign languages as children by playing with our neighbours," he added. "With its economic dynamism and above all its fantastic solidarity between communities, Timisoara embodies a modern Romania," said one European businessman visiting the city. But he said: "To succeed its inhabitants have to unite against all forms of extremism."
©Agence France Presse

AFTER MECIARS REGIME STILL POLICE BRUTALITY AGAINST ROMA (Slovakia)
TV Markiza brought news about the brutal beating of two Roma from the city of Michalovce. Mr. Jan Ondo and Mr. Ichal Badzo were asked by police to come in for questioning. As the Roma were about to enter the Michalovce police station, they were brutally beaten up in front of the building. Policemen then took them to an interrogation room, where the beatings continued. Both Roma are at the moment in hospital, seriously injured. Docters estimate it will take them 4 months to recover. The local TV station Markiza showed the injuries the police had inflicted on the two men, who stated that they wanted to give a normal statement and that the police nonetheless kept on torturing them. Ondo and Badzo have fractured hands, legs and ribs and lots of small injuries. During the TV interview they claimed they were innocent and that the beatings were done by a special police squad. They begged the police to stop, to no avail. One of them asked for water and his head was pushed into a bucket of dirty water. During all this, racist remarks were being made by the policemen. When TV Markiza asked the police for an explanation, they were told that 'it is a normal, standard method to use on criminals like Roma'. After further questioning the police admitted that their special squad 'had made a mistake and that the police force was sorry about this'. Meanwhile, the two abused Roma are in hospital, demanding compensation. Already the police has stated that this is out of the question. According to a Roma spokesperson this racist beating is a nice example of Slovakian police brutality and discrimination against minority groups such as the Roma.

SOUTH AFRICAN NEO NAZI TERRE BLANCHE GOES TO JAIL
Neo-Nazi leader Eugene Terre Blanche, who took South Africa to the brink of civil war, went to jail on Thursday for assaulting a black petrol attendant four years ago. The burly 60-year-old leader of the Afrikaner Resistance Movement (AWB), seen as the embodiment of extreme white opposition to black rule, began his sentence at Potchefstroom prison after presenting himself at the local court. He arrived at the courthouse riding a black horse, dressed in black and flanked by AWB supporters wearing military uniforms and carrying flags with the AWB's Nazi swastika. "I am ready to go to jail. I'm strong," Terre Blanche, arm in arm with his wife, told Reuters at the court's entrance. Terre Blanche will serve a one-year prison sentence for assaulting petrol attendant John Ndzima in 1996. He could face more time behind bars when a court rules on his appeal against a six-year sentence for the attempted murder of former security worker Paul Mothabe in 1996, which left the victim brain-damaged. Speaking in Afrikaans from the saddle of his horse, Terre Blanche addressed a crowd of several hundred on the need for South Africans to live as one people. But his supporters said the AWB's fight for a white homeland would continue. "We are very upset about him going to prison, he was our leader. We will wait for him. The struggle continues, we won't stop," said a supporter dressed in military uniform who identified herself as Lieutenant Rene.
©Reuters

EU MONITOR FEARS RACISM BECOMING ACCEPTABLE
Racism is becoming increasingly accepted in the European Union as politicians pander to voter fears over immigration, the head of the European Union's anti-racism watchdog said. ``Europe is going through a dangerous phase,'' Beate Winkler, head of the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC), told Reuters in a recent interview. ``There is an increasing move away from centrist positions and right-wing -- even far-right positions -- are losing their taboos.'' By an ironic twist of fate, the monitoring center is based in Austria, whose new government has been ostracized by European Union partners since it took office in February because it includes the anti-immigration, far-right Freedom Party. That has prompted the center, which has operated since July 1998, to abandon plans to invite EU heads of government to its official opening on April 7. Instead, it has invited heads of state. Austrian President Thomas Klestil is still a welcome guest in other EU capitals, in contrast to conservative Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel. Monitoring Centre Backs Sanctions Against Austria Winkler, a 50-year-old German lawyer, said the EUMC backed sanctions against Austria's new government by other EU members. Sanctions include a freeze in bilateral political contacts. ``A taboo has been broken,'' she said. ``For the first time a far-right party has become acceptable for society.'' However, she opposed as possibly counter-productive some of the measures taken unofficially, such as boycotts of school exchanges with Austria. She said there were fears that exploiting anti-foreigner feeling could become increasingly acceptable in other countries. ``These include France, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Italy -- it is a European issue,'' Winkler said. ``The great task for European politicians in the coming years is to work decisively against this phenomenon.'' ``It starts with discrimination, then comes exclusion and it can go as far as the Holocaust, as our terrible history has shown,'' she said. Globalisation Too Fast For Some Winkler said the case of Austria, a wealthy country with low unemployment, showed that even apparently stable societies were susceptible to the emotional appeal of racist slogans. ``Fear and envy influence feelings much more strongly than information,'' she said. Winkler said the pace of globalization had overwhelmed many Europeans who saw familiar structures disintegrate with the fall of the Berlin Wall. ``A clear concept of ``who the enemy is'' makes life easier. This concept got lost with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War,'' she said. Research into anti-semitism in Germany had shown that a firm position could be effective. ``Anti-Semitism in Germany receded whenever a distinct political discussion took place and it was made clear that anti-Semitism is not permitted,'' she said.
©Reuters

PARLIAMENT OF SWEDEN RECOGNIZES ARMENIAN GENOCIDE
The parliament of Sweden passed a resolution Thursday recognizing the Armenian Genocide, reported Paul Minassian, a member of the Armenian Genocide Recognition Commission of Sweden quoting Swedish-Armenian parliament member Murad Artin. Minassian said this comes following a massive grass-roots campaign launched by the Swedish-Armenian community, including leaders and organization. Also contributing to this victory was the response of protest from Armenians regarding the non-inclusion of Armenia in a Holocaust conference hosted in Stockholm. Artin described the recognition as another step toward the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide and its condemnation by other parliaments.
©Asbarez

IF THEY CAN WALK, THEN THEY CAN FLY (Germany)
German police doctors give torture, trauma victims a clean bill of health - so they can deport them

Nobody asked Alexandru to come to Germany and the fact is, he probably would have stayed in his native Romania if a revolution hadn't broken out there in 1989. During the throes of the bloody rebellion - which led to the fall of socialism and the execution Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaucescu - the then 30-year-old Timisoara native Alexandru fell into the rough hands of the Securitate, Ceaucescu's secret police. When the Securitate's torturers set him free, he was totally paralysed on his right side and his ability to speak had been destroyed. Alexandru fled to Germany, a country he know would protect victims of political prosecution and give them asylum. He had little to offer Germany in return - certainly none of the software-developing skills that recently prompted German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder to float the idea of importing 30,000 foreign computer experts on five-year permits. Alexandru probably hasn't even got a clue how to start a computer. But when he came to Berlin, it was 1990, a time when German immigration authorities would have shot down any foreign computer whiz's request for a work permit without a second thought anyway. Despite that, Alexandru, still a tall bear of a man despite his injuries, found medical and psychiatric help in Berlin. By 1993, he had started to learn to speak again, speaking slowly, as if he had to carve each word out of raw granite with a dull chisel. But he still feared the outside world, a world in which he imagined the demons of the old Romanian torturers still plied their bloody trade. Psychologists said he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and personality changes induced by extreme stress. Alexandru, according to his doctor, Ferdinand Haenel, had also suffered permanent physical damage during his torture. Significant recovery, said Haenel, was not in the cards. The psychiatrists say that if Alexandru were deported to Romania, he will almost certainly try to kill himself. Two years ago last January German authorities turned down Alexandru's petition for asylum. The situation in Romania has changed, they said, Romania doesn't practice political persecution anymore. That decision means that Alexandru - whom a German health and social services office has certified as being totally disabled - along with his wife and their four-year-old son were to be deported from Germany, sent back to the land of their nightmares as soon as Germany could arrange it. In the pre-dawn of last February 18, German police picked up the family and took them into custody to await deportation. The tickets for the flight were ready, take-off just a few hours away. Alexandru had to walk back and forth a few times under the perhaps watchful eyes of a police doctor to prove his fitness for deportation. Couldn't be better, the doctor decided, the man's good to go. At the last minute, Alexandru's lawyer managed to rush an appeal through a German court which postponed the deportation. That left his application for a residence permit in Germany on humanitarian grounds open. It remains undecided to this day. Just how sick does a refugee in Germany have to be in order to not be a deportation candidate? The opinions of the doctors who do the examinations cover a wide spectrum, especially when it comes to trauma victims, the victims of war, torture and rape. Often the doctors treating a refugee warn that deporting him back to where he came from will endanger his life and limb while the doctors doing the examination for the deportation authorities are ready to ship him back where he came from without batting a eyelash. Not infrequently, the police doctors - whose job it is to decide which refugees are medically up to the rigours of a deportation - do little more than glance a refugee over before deciding his fate. That, says Alexandru, is what happened to him. Berlin's Centre for the Treatment of Torture Victims (BZFO) has started looking for proof to back up the charges that practices like that have become widespread - and with good reason. For about the last year, Berlin's resident registration office has been having official police doctors check out the medical reports submitted by the private doctors treating the traumatised victims of the Bosnian civil war seeking asylum in Germany. The reason for the extra scrutiny is mainly financial, admits Stefan Paris, a Berlin government representative. German law prohibits deporting trauma victims but allowing them to stay, he says, is very expensive. Still, he denies the accusations levelled against the police doctors, calling them exaggerated. The current goal in the Berlin offices of German domestic security watchdogs is preventing abuse of asylum policies even at the cost of accepting "unconstitutional procedures" that violate "the rights of traumatised refugees." That, at least, is how a Berlin court described the practice, but that didn't put an end to it. Police doctors have examined and reported on 300 of the 800 war refugees living in Berlin who have claimed to have suffered traumatisation. The results? They found 240 of the refugees - 80 per cent of them - "fit to travel." At BZFO's request, Psychologist Angelika Birck compared the reports of the private doctors and the police doctors for 26 war refugees. Her comparison led her to conclude that the police doctors were tailoring their reports to serve non-medical, political goals and that they were failing to produce the medically accurate diagnoses that their duties demanded of them. Put bluntly, Birck found that the police doctors were acting as little more than a tool of the city's administration - a serious charge. According to her study, fully a third of the police doctors' reports failed to mention the traumatic experiences the refugees in question had survived. In only eight cases did the police doctors actually make a clinical diagnosis in their reports. Only two of their reports, said Birck, were up to international standards for such examinations and documents. Although all the private doctors who had been treating the 26 refugees expressly stated that their patients needed continuing treatment, the police doctors reached a similar conclusion in only five cases. Birck found no explanation in the police doctors' reports of how they were able to communicate with their subjects. In contrast to the majority of the treating doctors, who either spoke their patients' language or brought in a professional interpreter, the German authorities just told the refugees to bring along someone "fluent in though. In the meantime, the court itself has appointed its own medical experts to look into more than 60 pending cases. So far, says Judge Kunath, the 24 reports that those fact-finders have already finished confirm unanimously the diagnoses of traumatisation that the private doctors had reached. The police doctors' diagnoses have turned out to be either some seriously wasted effort, a load of rubbish or, as critics of the police medical service put it, "sympathy reports churned out to serve a political strategy." How sick does a person have to be before he can hope for help in Germany? Very, very sick indeed - actually, his best shot at it would be if he were at death's door. As far as Berlin's police doctors go, if a refugee up for deportation looks like he can survive a couple of hours in an aeroplane, he's almost as good as gone. As for Alexandru and his family, they now have a permit to stay in Germany until the end of July. Who knows, after that? Right now, Germany authorities are looking into whether sending the stateless man back to Romania is even possible - but an appropriate bilateral agreement for doing just that does exist already. In the meantime, Alexandru and his family still live in fear and uncertainty. "If my husband has to go back," says his wife, "he's a dead man."
©Frankfurter Rundschau

RACISM AGAINST IMMIGRATION DETAINEES BY POLICE EXPOSED(Austria)
Black detainees kicked, beaten and punched, says Amnesty
Austrian police have been accused of seriously flouting human rights, abusing their powers and using brutal language and behaviour in their treatment of foreigners, in a report released by Amnesty International in Vienna yesterday. The damning account said a strong inbuilt racism existed within the police force. Amnesty Austria members called on the government to establish race education programmes from primary school level "so that children learn a human rights conscience from a young age". The report, based on the recommendations of the UN committee against torture, detailed eyewitness accounts and medical reports of detainees being kicked, punched, beaten with truncheons and sprayed with pepper. "Austria is not a torture state, but nevertheless a state that has certainly fallen far short of European Union human rights recommendations, " said the general secretary of Amnesty International Austria, Heinz Patzelt. The report was published on the same day as a 31-year-old police officer appeared before a Vienna court charged with grievous bodily harm over the beating of a young black African man. The policeman is alleged to have hit the 18-year-old around the genitals with a baseball bat before arresting him in September last year on suspicion of drugs possession. The judge adjourned the trial indefinitely, for more evidence. The Amnesty report said detainees were often denied access to lawyers, doctors or friends, and foreigners, particularly black Africans, had been beaten unconscious for not showing police their papers. The allegations could hardly have come at a worse time for Austria, which has been isolated on the international stage for almost two months since the anti-immigration far-right Freedom party entered the government in a coalition with the conservatives. A spokesman for the interior ministry said it had already begun to look into the Amnesty charges. "All the allegations will be examined, to see if any judicial and disciplinary measures should be taken," he said. The focal point of Amnesty's allegations is the case of Marcus Omofuma, a Nigerian asylum seeker, 25, who died while being deported from Vienna to Sofia in May last year. He was bound and gagged "like a mummy stuck to the seat" by the three officers who accompanied him, and arrived unconscious in Sofia where doctors pronounced him dead. No charges were brought. "Investigations into police ill-treatment have been slow, lacking in thoroughness and often inconclusive," said Mr Patzelt. Often, when complaints were made, the police brought counter-charges and more often than not won. Illegal raids on asylum homes were also being regularly reported, he said, citing an incident which occurred after the report was completed, in January this year, when police raided the home of black Africans in Traiskirchen. "One hundred and forty police stormed the home looking for drugs but nothing was found," he said. "They then carried out painful anal searches, simply because there was some suspicion that there might be drugs there. All you need is a black face to be considered suspicious." The report covers incidents that happened before the current government was sworn in. But human rights organisations fear that the rise of the far right has given expression to passive racism in Austria. In what is being seen as a timely move, the EU has chosen to base its new racism monitoring centre in Vienna. "It wasn't placed here because Austria is seen as being racist," insisted EU spokesman John Kellock, "but if it steps out of line, we'll haul them over the coals." The Freedom party and People's party are the only government parties in the EU not to have signed up to the EU's charter against racism because their policies contravene some of the clauses. Fears that intolerance is on the rise in Austria increased this week when the head of the evangelical church, Bishop Gertraud Knoll, said she was going into hiding with her three children because she could no longer stand the violent and sexually abusive letters delivered to her home in Burgenland. Bishop Knoll, 41, has been a staunch critic of the Freedom party and its racist politics for years.
©Electronic Guardian

ASYLUM PROCEDURE FOR MINORS STRICTER IN THE NETHERLANDS
Examination of bone structure to determine age
The Dutch government will soon implement a stricter asylum procedure for unaccompanied minors with the aim to reduce the number of claimants. According to the Ministry of State on Justice, Job Cohen, the new measures are in the interest of society and asylum seekers as well. Young asylum seekers will more often be returned, using a faster procedure. Until now unaccompanied minors without valid flight story were allowed to stay in the country, but this is going to change. If the minors can function independently in the country of origin, they will be sent back. Children younger than sixteen are still allowed to stay. On airports more attention will be given to young asylum seekers. When there is doubt about their age, this will be checked quickly by examining their bone structure. If the asylum seeker apparently has lied about his age, this will have negative consequences for the rest of the procedure. The stricter policy is also a result of practical considerations. Through examination of the collarbone it is possible to determine if an asylum seeker is older than 21 years old, through examination of a bone in the hand it is possible to determine if an asylum seeker is under 16. There are no specific bones that are indicative of being over or under 18 years old. This measure is controversial in Cohen's own social-democratic party (PvdA). The PvdA-spokespersons for matters of asylum have said that they do not like the idea of repatriating minors. Coalition partner D66 is also hesitant. Cohen says that he wants guarantees about the living conditions of young asylum seekers in their country of origin. If there is no possibility to function well independently or if no good care can be taken of them, the children will not be sent back. The amount of minor asylum seekers has risen over the last years, from 2660 in 1997 to over 5500 last year.

21 MARCH CELEBRATION IN DUBLIN(Ireland)
A large number of young people and on-lookers from the general public gathered in Grafton Street (Dublin city centre) to celebrate the diversity of culture existing in Irish society through music and art, and to raise awareness around issues of racism and discrimination. The event began at 12.30 and in the following 2 hours, over 120 people put a colourful handprint on the mural, writing also their names and where they came from. Adding to the festivities was the rhythmic drum and percussion music courtesy of MaSamba, which had onlookers and participants alike, literally dancing on the street. At 1pm, Ms Blanca Blanco, project officer for YARD, gave a short speech welcoming all , this was followed by an address by the Deputy Lord Mayor, Mr. Brendan Carr, in which he outlined Dublin City Council's strong commitment to anti-racist initiatives. His summation was better than most, instead of talking about it, he acted: by adding his own handprint to the fast–growing mural. Many youth organisations were represented at the event for example the Catholic Youth Council (CYC), Environmental Conservation Organisation (ECO), Union of Students of Ireland (USI); human rights organisations and NGDO's. The Department of Education "Youth Affairs Section" and the Dublin City Council were also represented. The success of the event for participants could not be disputed but an additional bonus was the extensive media presence and subsequent coverage. Radio interviews were given with local stations "Near FM", "Anna Livia" and the national station "104 FM". State broadcasters covered the story on both its stations (RTÉ 1 and Network 2) on all news bulletins (6 pm, 9 pm and 11 pm), as did TV 3, on the 5.30pm and 11.00pm shows. Print media also covered the event at length. The following day "The Irish Times" published a full-colour photograph with caption. "The Examiner" also published a colour photo accompanied by significant column inches. (All print media is attached). Finally ICARE (Internet Centre Anti Racism Europe) covered the event live on the e-waves!!The celebration was organised by YARD (Youth Action Against Racism and Discrimination), a co-managed project of DEFY (Development Education For Youth) and NYCI (National Youth Council Of Ireland).

EUROPEAN UNION STRUGGLES WITH MIGRANTS
Some 400,000 people are now smuggled into the European Union every year, according to one estimate, with the illegal refugees often paying huge sums to traffickers. Absolute figures have declined since the early 1990s when Yugoslavia began to disintegrate, but overall the EU may now contain as many as one million displaced people - the biggest number since the second world war. Until last summer, when the EU's Amsterdam treaty came into force, immigration and asylum were strictly matters for national governments, with no formal role for the Brussels bureaucracy. But that is changing, as the 15-member union is grappling with the realisation that its huge single market in goods and services has created a single market in people, crime and immigration. "These issues can no longer be dealt with on a purely national basis," argues one official. "They really have to be handled on a European level. But this is not an area where it is easy to set common standards, like you can with plugs or microwaves." Last October's Tampere summit in Finland, the first devoted to tackling these questions, established a first rough draft of the way ahead. Since then EU officials have been looking at cooperation on burden-sharing, repatriation and a database and fingerprinting system. Some of these measures worry civil liberties groups. Support is broadest for plans focused on specific countries of origin - Somalia, Iraq, Morocco, Albania, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan - so that immigration policies can be integrated with development aid to tackle poverty and the causes of instability. Yet, as on any other EU issue, approaches differ. Smaller countries see greater benefit in working together than bigger ones. But Fortress Europe will not work. Portugal, current holder of the EU's rotating presidency, argues that plummeting birth rates and ageing populations mean that the union urgently needs a strategy for legal immigration. Romano Prodi, the European commission president, led calls at last week's Lisbon summit for measures to bridge the rapidly growing gap between information technology needs and trained workers. Germany is already inviting in non-EU foreigners to help fill the ranks. According to a new UN report, Mr Prodi's native Italy would need to raise the working-age limit to 77 if it did not accept the 2.2m migrants a year needed to maintain the ratio of four working people for every retiree - vital for pension provision. Still, though, there is unease about coordination. Britain will not opt into the Schengen system, under which EU citizens can cross borders without passport checks. Belgium temporarily suspended its participation in January to cope with an influx of unregistered foreigners. "Basically," says Graham Watson, the Liberal Democrat chairman of the European parliament's justice and home affairs committee, "governments have not decided how much they want to do at EU level and how well they can make it work." What is clear is that huge problems lie ahead as the EU takes in former Communist countries such as the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Romania, all accused of discrimination against the same Gypsies who end up begging on the London underground. Supporters of enlargement insist that EU aid to candidate countries is designed in part to ensure that there is no mass migration, and point out that scare stories about an Iberian influx never materialised when Spain and Portugal joined. But not everyone is convinced. "We are talking about an enormous expansion of Europe and its borders and not enough thought has gone into it," warns Timothy Kirkhope, a Tory MEP and former immigration minister. "Too many politicians steer clear of the subject for fear that they'll be accused of being racist - or of failing to stop foreigners coming in. But Europe needs a policy, or we could end up with a disaster."
©Guardian

WEST FJORDS HOLD MULTICULTURAL FESTIVAL(Iceland)
The inhabitants of the West Fjords celebrated the region's multicultural festival yesterday, in an event attended by over 2,000 people. This is the third time the festival has been celebrated and this year it was held in the village of Bolungarvík. Over 500 foreigners representing more 40 nationalities currently reside in the West Fjords, about 7 per cent of the region's entire population. With yesterday being the United Nations day against race discrimination, the West Fjords people included a multicultural programme, featuring introductions to the countries of origin of settlers in the region and a generous buffet of both Icelandic and ethnic foods. The aim of the organisers was to help foreigners settle in and introduce them to the Icelandic society in the region, to aid against any kind of discrimination. The event met with great enthusiasm and was attended by Minister of Social Affairs Páll Pétursson.
©Iceland Review

TOP TURKISH HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST BACK IN JAIL
Turkey's top human rights activist, almost killed by militant hit men two years ago, returned to jail on Tuesday to serve six remaining months of a sentence after being briefly freed on health grounds. Akin Birdal was shot six times in the chest and leg in 1998 by nationalist gunmen who stormed the offices of his Human Rights Association (IHD). He still walks with a limp and needs regular hospital care. "They did not accept my medical report," Birdal told reporters before walking into an Ankara prison. He was sentenced to nine-and-a-half months in jail in June 1999 for "inciting hatred" in speeches calling for a negotiated end to Turkey's bloody 15-year conflict with Kurdish rebels. In September his remaining sentence was suspended for six months on health grounds. Turkey says it has all but defeated the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) after capturing rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan last year. The European Union, which made Turkey a membership candidate in December, has urged Ankara to give its 12 million Kurds minority and cultural rights. Ankara says that to give them special status would undermine equality.
©Reuters

MIGRANT GROUPS URGE SCRAPPING ‘RACIST AND BARBARIC' BILL(Greece)
Migrants must form a united front against the new draft immigration law, according to the Coordinating Committee of Migrants and Anti-Racist Organisations. The bill was denounced as "racist and barbaric" by migrant and human rights groups during a gathering of more than 200 migrants, as well as representatives of trade unions and left-wing opposition parties on Sunday at the Athens Polytechnic. Human rights activist and lawyer Yianna Kurtovic offered a critical analysis of the draft law, which is scheduled to be submitted to parliament for a vote soon after the April 9 elections. She condemned the government for proposing a bill which overlooks the need to legalise an estimated 700,000 undocumented migrants in Greece and called for the document to be scrapped. "The new law criminalizes immigration and sinks migrants into a state of uncertainty and makes them more vulnerable," Kurtovic said. Addressing migrants she stated: "We have to organise against the bill. You make up a large part of unskilled labourers in this country. Your strength in numbers is great. You support the agricultural economy. Your power is great and you must understand this. It is a strength that must be expressed here today, tomorrow in various ways and in the streets if necessary. We have to struggle together." Opponents to the bill, drafted by the interior ministry in collaboration with the ministries of labour, public order and national economy, say it has many shortcomings, particularly the fact that it disregards the two 1997 presidential decrees concerning the issuing of Green Cards, as well as the legalisation of undocumented migrants living in Greece. Secondly, it suggests that stiffer fines and penalties be imposed for illegal migration and the employment of undocumented migrants compared to its predecessor (law 1973/1991). Thirdly, the bill includes clauses which bar undocumented migrants from access to hospitals and other state services, including that of a notary public. According to Kurtovic, this means that undocumented migrants would no longer have the right to sign documents granting power of attorney, register a child born in Greece with the authorities, nor to seek recourse to justice. Lastly, the proposed law requires doctors and landlords to report to authorities the services or shelter provided to illegal immigrants. On private Flash radio yesterday morning, former interior minister Vasso Papandreou said the bill was aimed at "limiting" migration to Greece, cracking down on those who employ undocumented migrants and creating an "efficient" immigration policy based on the needs of the Greek economy. "Greece is now a country that receives workers who take jobs that Greeks do not want," she said. "There was a time when we took jobs in Germany that people there did not want. Today, Albanians and Bulgarians come and work in jobs that Greeks do not want." A need for Greece's numerous migrant communities to come together and form a strong pressure group was also expressed by the president of the Forum of Albanian Migrants, Ervin Sechou. "The new bill signals a need for a common struggle," he said. "It's true that migrants come from different countries and speak different languages and have different cultures but in the face of this proposed law, we are all in the same boat." The Coordinating Committee of Migrant and Anti-racist Organisations will hold a protest rally on Thursday opposing the bill, demanding rights for migrants and calling for an end to police sweep operations targeting undocumented migrants. The demonstration will begin at 6 pm at central Kaningos Square and migrants have been encouraged to take part.
©Athens News

NBK PROPOSES 21 MARCH AS A NATIONAL HOLIDAY(Netherlands)
Following a debate in the Dutch parliament on the subject of a national multicultural holiday, Nederland Bekent Kleur (Netherlands Commits to Color) proposed the 21st of March as the National multicultural holiday. The Christian-democratic party proposed a multicultural holiday, because almost all the national holidays are based on Christian holidays. In the past few years the way that the 21st of March is celebrated has changed from big anti-racism demonstrations to multicultural manifestations. This makes the day a celebrations of the multicultural society. The day has no religious or cultural background as such, which makes it a platform for all cultures existing in the Dutch society. In an open letter to all the parties in parliament 'Nederland Bekent Kleur' has made this proposition. Sadly, to this date no party has responded. 'Nederland Bekent Kleur' has used this 21st of March celebrationto launch their new campaign, 'Welcome Refugees'. An appeal to the Dutch population to express their hospitality towards refugees. On the manifestation, which was held on the 19th of March, the first 2500 signatures to petition for a respectful sheltering of refugees were collected. One of the first to place his signature under the petition text was Lodewijk de Waal, the leader of the Dutch Labour Union. 'Nederland Bekent Kleur' hopes to collect up to 100.000 signatures in the rest of the year.

Just van der Hoeven (Coordinator Welcome Refugees)

UNITED YOUTH CONFERENCE ‘READY! STEADY! GO!'
28 May - 4 June 2000, Strasbourg In order to prepare the United Nations (UN) Conference against Racism (2001) together with delegates representing the European youth movement, UNITED is organising a Conference in Strasbourg, in the European Youth Centre of the Council of Europe, from the 28rd May until the 4th of June. This Conference will gather 70 young participants (under 30) from all different parts of Europe, with many different backgrounds, but all of them sharing the interest of to fight racism and other forms of discrimination.
The main objectives of this Conference are:
* To prepare the governmental European conference "All Different - All Equal: from Principles to Practice", that is going to take place in October 2000 and the UN Conference against Racism (2001);
* To discuss and exchange experiences and good practices regarding fighting racism;
* To put into practice common actions and to improve future cooperation in the field of anti-racism.

You can find the invitation, the programme and the registration of interest form here If you are interested in being a delegate at this Conference, please contact UNITED as soon as possible!

FAST TRACK ESCAPE FROM FAST TRACK DETENTION CENTRE IN UK :-)
Six asylum seekers detained in Oakington Detention Centre, which was opened nine days ago, decided to give them selves permanent admission to the UK by going over the wall. The six, all Romanian men, left the grounds at the former Oakington army barracks near Cambridge late on Monday night, a Home Office spokesman said. The men arrived in Dover, Kent, at the weekend and were having their applications for political asylum processed when they disappeared. A Cambridgeshire police spokeswoman said they had been notified of the situation but no search had been mounted because the refugees were not classed as criminals.
(NCADC find this hard to believe as anyone leaving a Detention centre of their own free will, is always treated as an absconder).
When it was opened the Home Office said Oakington would be able to deal with 13,000 asylum seekers a year and they promised to decide each application within a week. ( In a written Parliamentary reply the Government has revealed they will now make the decision within three days.)

Refugee groups who have opposed the centre on human rights grounds, saying it was wrong to detain a person before their case had been heard have welcomed the news of the escape.

A spokesperson for Cambridgeshire Against Refugee Detention CARD said:
"We welcome the news that six asylum seekers have managed to escape incarceration in Oakington Detention Centre We believe that no one should be subject to internment. It is wrong to lock up people just for the 'crime' of asking for sanctuary. Immigration detainees do not know why they are kept in detention, do not know how long for and do not know if they will be deported back to the horrors they fled. In these conditions people are quite right to escape. The arbitrary imprisonment of so many asylum seekers is an affront to Human Rights. These people have been forced to flee their homes and to seek refuge abroad. Instead of being afforded the respect and dignity they deserve they are greeted with callousness, indifference and hostility. We call for the cessation of arbitrary detention and for the scrapping of the 1999 Immigration and Asylum Act."

NCADC wish the escapees well, may they stay free for ever, find work, health and happiness and never fall foul of the police or immigration officials.
Listen to report on demonstration against the opening of the centre during Action week

ANTI-SEMITIC VANDALS MAR POLISH CITY
Vandals scrawled anti-Semitic slogans on the house of a Jewish World War II hero in the Polish city of Lodz just hours after thousands of volunteers finished painting over vulgar and racist graffiti in the city, officials said Wednesday. ``Someone spat in our face,'' fumed a headline in Gazeta Wyborcza, a major Polish newspaper that had helped organize a citywide cleanup Tuesday.
Sometime Tuesday evening vandals painted a swastika and an anti-Semitic slogan on the house of Dr. Marek Edelman, a 77-year-old cardiologist and the only surviving commander from the 1943 Jewish Warsaw Ghetto uprising against the Nazis. Thousands of volunteers, mostly young people, had spent much of the day painting over similar graffiti on walls throughout Lodz, a textile center in central Poland. The cleanup was organized in response to an appeal by a group of former Lodz residents living in Israel. It was timed to coincide with the U.N.-designated International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
Lodz Mayor Tadeusz Matusiak met with Edelman on Wednesday, said Dagmara Barua, a spokeswoman for the mayor's office. She said officials blamed a marginal nationalist youth group for the vandalism, and police were investigating. Before World War II, Lodz had one of the largest Jewish communities in Poland, about 200,000, most of whom were killed in the Holocaust.
Associated Press

HAMBURG INVITES DEPORTATION OFFICIALS TO MUSICAL(Germany)
Criticism levelled at expulsion tactics as children await return Refugees and aid organisations in Hamburg, Germany's second-largest city, have called for demonstrations next Monday to protest the city's immigration authorities' new practice of subjecting asylum-seekers to interrogation by representatives of the embassies of the countries from which they claim to have fled.
The call for protests puts the controversial immigration authority that has already prompted a series of negative headlines in recent months, back in the spotlight. Since last Monday, a representative of Sierra Leone has occupied a desk in the office of Hamburg's immigration authority. His job is to conduct short interviews with to determine whether 250 Africans of uncertain nationality actually do come from Sierra Leone and, if so, to issue them replacement passports.
After that, the German game plan calls for deporting them as quickly as possible. More than a few of the 250 Africans whose fates hang in the balance are former child-soldiers forced into service in African civil wars.
Controversy rages around the embassy interrogations, which the refugee-aid organisation Pro Asyl says is only common practice in Hamburg and Bavaria. "We consider the methods illegal," said Conny Gunsser of the refugee association Info International.
Recent embassy interrogations at immigration authority offices by diplomatic representatives of Liberia, Guinea and Ivory Coast, according to Gunsser, involved violations of Germany's data protection laws.
Among other breaches of the laws, German authorities reportedly let the interrogating diplomats look through the file on the asylum-seeker, a charge the immigration authorities deny. Hamburg's payments to the diplomats have also sparked controversy.
The city paid more than 3,800 marks (about 1,800 dollars) for three days of board and lodgings for the two Liberian representatives which included a sightseeing tour of the port city.
The Ivory Coast representative got a night at the theatre tossed into the bargain. "That's an attempt to give them financial incentives to decide cases in favour of the immigration authority ," said Pia Peddinghaus from the group Social-Political Opposition.
The immigration authority sees all that through different-coloured glasses. "You have to offer the diplomats some little reward," said a representative of the authority. Besides, he said, listening to the constant insults the diplomats have to endure is enough to make anyone feel sorry for them.
The immigration authority has been under fire since April last year, when an internal memorandum came to light that Dirk Hauer from the Rainbow group in the Hamburg Senate described as a call for speeding up deportations. The memo suggests that the authority employ its own doctors to review what Germans call "sympathy reports" by applicants' medical examiners, to deport married couples one at a time if it helps get them out of the country faster, to clap persons awaiting deportation into custody more readily and not to grant credence to as many petitions to delay deportations. Outrage over the memorandum soon resulted in a "political understanding" between the two parties in Germany's coalition government, the Social Democrats and the Greens, in which none of the proposals in the memorandum were exclusively prohibited - and that essentially gave the immigration authority carte blanche, said Hauer.
Ever since then, funny things have been going on in Hamburg's immigration authority. In August, a Romanian who had been diagnosed with serious mental illness by a public-health doctor was deported. In November, immigration officers who had manipulated the asylum-distribution system were exposed. In February an Armenian was deported without his family despite a still-active petition to be allowed to stay in Germany.
A shadow had already fallen across the immigration authority before the current controversies erupted. A honorary consul in Munich had sent Hamburg papers for Gambians whom she'd never seen.
The Greens also say the methods are "completely questionable," according to representative Tina Fritsche. She has filed a formal request with Hamburg's Senate to take an official position on the city's deportation practices by April 5. At the same time, the Rainbow Group mdemanded all deportations be stopped immediately - a demand that was voted down by the Social Democrats, the Greens and the Christian Democrats.
©Frankfurter Rundschau

MICROSOFT SAYS FIXING 'ANTI-ARAB' BUG
The head of Microsoft's European and Middle East operations said on Wednesday the firm was fixing a bug in its Word 2000 French-language spell-checker which suggested replacing ``anti-stress'' with the word ``anti-arab.''Michel Lacombe, President of Microsoft (NasdaqNM:MSFT - news) EMEA, said the problem should be fixed in ``a few weeks'' and that customers would be offered a new version free of charge.
``Microsoft is very sorry about this. We are always sensitive to things which confuse people and we are very respectful of people getting hurt,'' Lacombe told Reuters.
``Microsoft has no problem with the Arab world, we invest in the Arab language and in Arab countries. Our software developers are looking at a way to fix this and in a few weeks this will be behind us,'' he added.France's national CFDT trade union denounced Microsoft for its ``racist turn of phrase.''``As it is not able itself to go directly to court, the CFDT is informing national anti-racism societies. It will support any criminal action they should take,''the CFDT said in a statement.
Lacombe noted that the bug was in its spell-checker, not its thesaurus.``That would be worse. We are not trying to give a synonym of anti-stress, just to help the user solve a spelling problem,'' he said.
© Reuters

POLICE CRACK DOWN ON HATE CRIME(UK)
British police launched an unprecedented crackdown on "hate crime" on Wednesday, swooping across the capital at dawn to arrest 26 suspected racists.
The aggressive city-wide raid shows the Metropolitan police force is anxious to restore its credentials on race relations, which have come under fierce criticism in recent years. Police said they had made 26 arrests by mid-morning, with further suspects still to be rounded up.
The dawn raid saw officers fan out across the city, from leafy Richmond in the south to downtrodden Brent in the north. "Our aim is to create a hostile environment for those who, because of racism and prejudice, wish to undermine communities and destroy the principle of 'Justice for All', regardless of colour, race, creed or sexual orientation," said Detective Chief Superintendent John Godsave, who headed the operation. Godsave said the raid, in all 32 of the capital's local districts, was part of the Met's anti-racist Operation Athena.
The suspected offences ranged from grievous bodily harm to the publication of racist material. The age and sex of the suspects was not released but police said the arrests spanned Hounslow, an Asian stronghold in the west of the city, to Greenwich, a wealthy white enclave in southeast London. "Our goal is to eradicate the fear and distress caused by hate crime," Godsave said in a statement. Britain is 94 percent white but ethnic minorities, from Afro-Caribbeans to Asians, have a stronger presence in the country's inner cities, London chief among them.
Yet the Met's record on promoting black and Asian officers, rooting out racist staff and clamping down on racially motivated crime have all come under fire. An official report last year condemned the capital's police force for institutional racism.
A police spokeswoman said the motives of the Met -- held in deep suspicion by many minorities -- should be clear from the scale of the swoop. "This is unprecendented. I'm not familiar with any other operation on this scale," she told Reuters.
© Reuters

ANTI-RACISM GROUPS CALL FOR SCRAPPING OF IMMIGRATION BILL(Greece)
' Repressive' draft law said to ignore migrants already living in Greece
DRAFT immigration legislation scheduled to be submitted to parliament for a vote after the April 9 elections is "racist, xenophobic and anti-immigrant", the Coordinating Committee of Migrant and Anti-Racist Organisations told a press conference yesterday on the International Day for the Elimination of Racism. Migrant groups and non-governmental organisations are calling on the government to scrap the bill, warning that if passed it will throw open a Pandora's box.
According to lawyer and human rights activist Yianna Kurtovic, the draft legislation is very similar to the existing immigration law (1975/1991), which has been widely criticised as out-of-date and unfavourable towards migrants. She explained that despite affirmation by government officials that problems concerning undocumented migrants will be solved, the bill is "repressive" and shatters any hope migrants may have of one day living and working in Greece legally.
"Our chief criticism is that the bill outlines the rights and obligations of a category of people who are not even in Greece," Kurtovic said. "It refers to migrants who plan to migrate to Greece to work in specific jobs. The bill completely ignores migrants in Greece who applied for a Green Card or those without documents. Instead it addresses a group of people who will probably not even be able to migrate to Greece because of the very demanding requirements."
The committee issued a four-page pamphlet in Greek and English listing 13 criticisms of the immigration bill. The first point states that the draft law does not address the 1997 presidential decrees concerning the issuing of Green Cards or explain what will happen to the hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrants in Greece. A second point notes that it does not make mention of a second legalisation process, which Labour Minister Militiadis Papaioannou had announced in February during a conference on migrants.
Meanwhile, even though the government has promised in the past to make it easier for migrants to gain Greek citizenship, migrant and human rights groups say the bill will do exactly the opposite. It foresees the naturalisation of only those migrants who have lived in Greece legally for at least 10 years. The vast majority of migrants who have been living in Greece for over 10 years, and who are hoping to be granted citizenship, will have to wait another 10 years since few were documented before they applied for a Green Card in 1998.
Members of the committee, as well as representatives of the Albanian, Moroccan, Sudanese, Filipino, Bangladeshi and Nigerian communities in Athens who spoke at the press conference referred to articles 55 and 58 of the draft law. Article 55 states that undocumented migrants are not entitled access to public services, such as free healthcare. Article 58 states that landlords and any citizen who provides shelter to an undocumented migrant must notify the police or pay a fine of up to one million drachmas. If passed as law "anyone who facilitates the illegal stay of an undocumented migrant or obstructs police efforts to locate, arrest and deport the migrant" could face criminal charges.
"This means that we and organisations like ours which assist undocumented migrants are at risk," Kurtovic said. "The bill, if passed, will lead to more problems for migrants and the organisations that try to protect the rights of migrants."
© ATHENS NEWS

EUROPE : DISCOURSE FUELS XENOPHOBIA
The rape and murder of a 16-year-old Dutch girl last year showed how easily asylum-seekers can find themselves at the centre of a witch-hunt, even when there is no direct evidence linking them to the crime, reports the Independent. The savage and fatal attack on Marianne Vaatstra near the village of Kollum put refugees who were housed nearby under acute suspicion, prompting protests and an attempt to break into their temporary residence centre.
As a result, government policy in the Netherlands of dispersing asylum-seekers to locations across the country while their applications are processed has been called into question by a public backlash. The girl's father blamed his daughter's death on government asylum policy and a television programme focused on an Iraqi who left the centre the day after the murder. The furore produced protests and even spawned a political movement dedicated to opposing dispersal of asylum-seekers.
But, according to a report compiled by the Institute of Race Relations, there was little to link those inside the centre with the actual crime. In an apparent response to public pressure and a tense climate, the police devoted considerable efforts to the asylum-centre lead. Liz Fekete, head of European research for the Institute of Race Relations and co-author of a report on the Kollum case, warned yesterday of its wider implications for Britain. "If you have a discourse in society which is permanently stigmatising asylum-seekers, the ground is laid for a xenophobic reaction when you have dispersal," she said.
Refugees Daily

EUROSTAR TO IMPOSE STRICTER IMMIGRATION CONTROLS(UK)
Immigration controls are to be stepped up on the Eurostar fast train link between Paris and London in a bid to curb illegal immigration, British Home Secretary Jack Straw announced Monday. Under a new Anglo-French arrangement, British immigration officials will carry out controls at Eurostar stations in France, while French officials will conduct checks at London's Waterloo station and at Ashford International station in southern England.
"This agreement takes the already excellent cooperation between the United Kingdom and France in combatting illegal immigration another significant step forward," Straw said. "Recently, the Eurostar route has been the target for illegal immigrants and those who facilitate this traffic. This agreement is a powerful message to these people," he said.
Inadequately documented arrivals at Waterloo rose 28 percent in 1999. The number of asylum claims made at Waterloo rose 46 percent in the same period. Britain has seen a new surge in asylum-seekers in recent weeks. A record 71,000 claims for political refugee status were logged in Britain last year, with a backlog of more than 100,000 cases.
© The Tocqueville Connection

ROMA CHILDREN BEATEN AND RAPED IN SLOVAK SCHOOLS
Kosice / SLOVAKIA ( Edmund Muller for RNN ) March the 19th, 2000
Dear all,
before a time Romani parents asked Kosice local television to publish complaints on Slovak teacher from a special school for mentally disabled children on Odborarska street , which brutally beat Roma children . The most of them are Roma, because state politics to send Roma children to segregated special schools , out from classrooms , where are Slovak children. Everybody know that those kids are not really mentally ill and they were sent there on the base of race segregation.
Also Roma newspaper Sam Adaj made a good report about it. Roma children are claiming that they are victims of tyranny , beating and of Slovak teacher. Roma children have a small injuries and they are psychically very damaged. Some of Roma children are claiming that they are victims of race affronts and mockery. Also there are several complaints of Roma children on sexually harassment of tyrannical teacher. It is a very hot case.
I think this case must be very good monitored ,because it is a big case. We must make interviews with many Roma parents , also teachers and Roma children . If this teacher really used race afforts on Roma kids and if we will have really confirmation from Roma kids about tyranny of teacher , we must give this case to judge trial.
Those Roma victims absolutely need a law help. If we will investigate in this case we can open a taboo about a violent state politics to create from Roma children mentally ill people, we can open taboo about tyrannical behavior of many Slovak teachers against Roma kids and etc.
Best regards, Edmund Muller.
© ROM NEWS

STEPS TAKEN TO PREVENT ILLEGAL MIGRATION(Turkey)
Turkey signs agreement with the International Center for Migration Policy Development to prevent illegal migration
Turkey has signed a cooperative agreement to prevent illegal migration with the International Center for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) in Vienna, reported the Anatolia News Agency yesterday.
Security General Directorate head Turan Genc spoke at the signing ceremony and said that people who move illegally from one country to another cause problems for both the country they want to settle in and any transit countries. He added that all countries want such migration to be carried out in a regulated manner.
Genc explained that Turkey is a country that has accepted migrants and is used as a transit point for migration to Europe like several other countries that have also signed agreements to prevent illegal migration. ICMPD President Jonas Widrgren said that the agreement is the first step towards controlling international migration, helping Turkey with the regional problems this creates and ridding Turkey of the stresses caused by migration. He said that the agreement was vitally important for Turkey, bearing in mind Turkey's important geographic location when it comes to migration.
When asked about what restrictions the agreement would impose on migrants, Genc replied: "The aim of the agreement is to inform countries and migrants where they can be stopped and where they can be sheltered or how many migrants the country can accept. It is a kind of information exchange program."
The ICMPD was established in 1993 through an initiative from Switzerland and Austria, which also provide financing for the organization in addition to Hungary and Slovenia. It has links with similar international organizations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
Turkish Daily News

ROMANIANS' RETURN COMPLICATES DISPERSAL(UK)
A British government scheme to spread the costs of housing refugees backfired when a group of Romanian asylum-seekers accused of begging was sent back to London after one week in Scotland, reports Reuters. Wandsworth local council in London voiced outrage today, saying it was only told the 16 families were on the way back once the bus was already en route yesterday.
Authorities in Glasgow said 12 of the Romanian women were caught begging but blamed the forced return to London on immigration orders that dictated the 61 refugees had to remain in the capital. The Romanians seemed bewildered by their 1,300-km round-trip.
The issue of asylum-seekers has become increasingly heated. The reaction of some newspapers has verged on xenophobia - particularly the top-selling Sun's series on "money-grabbing'' foreigners under the banner "Britain has had enough.''
The Daily Telegraph reports the government's programme was thrown into confusion after the Romanian asylum seekers were caught begging. Glasgow city council has suspended plans to take more asylum seekers until a stricter system of checks is introduced. The Times reports the refugee dispersal programme was in chaos last night.
Meanwhile in a letter to the Guardian, the Refugee Council's Fazil Kawani asks how can US$16 cash allowance ever hope to cover essential needs under the government's voucher system?
Refugees Daily

SRI LANKANS DEPORTED, MORE TO FOLLOW(Germany)
Nearly 5,500 Sri Lankan nationals face deportation from Germany after their asylum requests were rejected, a spokesman of the German embassy in Colombo said today, reports Reuters. Twenty Sri Lankans, held in deportation centres in Germany, had arrived home on a special chartered flight yesterday, he said.
The spokesman said Germany, which has some 60,000 people of Sri Lankan origin, deported 150 people last year in small numbers. He said yesterday's flight was originally due to bring back some 40 Sri Lankans, but half of them had disappeared in Germany after hearing they were to be deported. Germany was speeding procedures to ensure that rejected Sri Lankan asylum seekers were returned home as soon as possible, he added.
AFP reports the 20 deportees arrived yesterday escorted by 35 German border police, local news reports said quoting the embassy. The number of Sri Lankans seeking political asylum in Germany has dropped drastically during the past five years, with only 1,253 cases last year compared to 4,823 in 1994, reports said.
Refugees Daily

KOFI ANNAN ACCUSES ETHNIC ALBANIANS OF PROVOCATION IN SOUTHERN SERBIA
PARIS, March 16 (AFP) - United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan accused Kosovo Albanians on Thursday of stirring up trouble in southern Serbia and said he was also concerned about developments in Kosovo. "There is no doubt there has been provocation and attempts to provoke (unrest) in southern Serbia and the Presevo valley," Annan told journalists during a two-day visit to Paris.
"This comes clearly from the Albanian side: either from elements of former UCK (Kosovo Liberation Army) or a new group..." Annan said. This group, called the Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac, has been accused in recent weeeks of trying to foment dissent among the 70,000-strong ethnic Albanian community in southern Serbia. "Let me say that I am also very concerned and worried about developments in Kosovo," Annan said. "The (international peacekeeping) force is going to do everything it can to ... calm the situation in (Kosovska) Mitrovica," Annan said, referring to recent violent clashes between ethnic Albanians and Serbs in the divided northern Kosovo town. "I hope that we won't have a confrontation in other parts of the country," he added.
©The Tocqueville Connection

HATRED ON RISE(Hungary)
Mar. 16, 2000 - Vol. VIII, Is. 11 Almost 40% of Hungarians questioned in a recent poll said Hungary should not receive any refugees. Tárki Social Research Center conducted the report and for the first time, five of its questions were commissioned by the UNHCR.
The poll questioned 1,500 people older than 18 all over the country.
The report indicated that only 5% of the population were willing to receive all refugees, while 38% said that given the choice, they would not allow any into Hungary. Over half of the people questioned said they would weigh up various factors before deciding who should be accepted into the country when seeking asylum.
Negative attitudes were highest among those indifferent to politics and those without higher education. Those who displayed more tolerance were typically university educated.
"Thirty-eight percent gave what I would call overtly xenophobic answers. The first poll was taken in 1992 and only 19% expressed such views. The highest figures were in '94-'95 when over 40% answered in this way. Generally the figures are increasing," said Endre Sik, co-ordinator of the poll.
© The Budapest Sun

CZECH GOVERNMENT TO DECIDE ON CHANGE OF FOREIGNERS'LAW ON WEDNESDAY
PRAGUE, March 19 (CTK) - The government will decide on Wednesday whether it will change the law on asylum and foreigners' stay which has been valid as of January 1, 2000. The change to the which tightens foreigner residence permit conditions has been recommended by the government's Council for Human Rights. The council wants the interior minister to prepare an amendment within two months. Criticising the law, the council stressed in a resolution, obtained by CTK, that some of its provisions were discriminatory and missed an affect they had intended to have.
The law has been criticised by many countries. The law, for example, orders foreigners who are doing business in the Czech Republic and want to prolong their residence permit to submit a financial office's confirmation on the payment of income tax. The council said that the law had failed to take into consideration foreigners from countries with which the Czech Republic concluded agreements on the prevention of double taxation and the applicant for residence should not therefore pay taxes in this country.
The council also criticised the institute of temporary protection which can be granted to foreigners fleeing their country from an armed conflict as it does not allow foreigners concerned to be legally employed in the Czech Republic. If the foreigners had no possibility to earn their living they are forced by the law to seek illegal activities to survive, the council said.
The Council for Human Rights began its activities at the beginning of this year. Its task is to put forward proposals for changes in the law or in regulations, which would lead to an improvements in the field of the observance of human rights.
© Czech News Agency

AUSTRIAN FACES NAZI EUTHANASIA TRIAL
Austria is holding its first Nazi war crimes trial in 25 years when an 84-year-old doctor, Heinrich Gross, appears in court charged with nine counts of murdering children as part of the Nazi euthanasia programme. After the war, Dr Gross became Austria's leading forensic psychiatrist and did research on the brains of some of the children he is alleged to have killed. Austria's largest psychiatric hospital on the outskirts of Vienna has a macabre past. happened - all in the name of pseudoscience. In the storeroom in the hospital, the brains of children are kept in cylindrical, transparent containers.
Euthanasia policy
These children died because the Nazis believed in euthanasia. The victims were starved and then poisoned. Their brains were then preserved for research. Heinrich Gross was one of the doctors in charge. He took photographs of Anne-Marie Haupl who died under his care at the age of four. Her sister, Waltraud, is an artist. For three years, she has been unable to paint having been haunted by the need for answers. "Anne-Marie had not been handicapped mentally or on her body. But Dr Gross took care of her and diagnosed her an idiot," she says. "I think now, after more research, that her brain had been very interesting for Dr Gross." In all, 772 children were killed in Vienna for euthanasia research. When the Nazis were defeated the director of the children's clinic was hanged as a war criminal.
Dr Gross was merely charged with manslaughter and served only a few months in prison. After the war, he carved out a glittering career in a field of research he knew well - the human brain. He developed a reputation as a leading court - appointed psychiatrist and a neuro-surgeon.
Incriminating documents
At Vienna's Anti-Nazi Research Centre, Dr Gross's past had not been forgotten. Five years ago, the Centre's director, Professor Wolfgang Neugebauer, discovered a file in an archive held by the East German secret police, the Stasi. Professor Neugebauer says that Dr Gross distanced himself from any connection with the hospital's wartime work. "Dr Gross always said he was an opponent of Nazi euthanasia," he revealed.
"And he went to the German army not to work in a murdering hospital. And these documents show us that this was a lie and that Dr Gross vountarily worked in this killing centre." On the strength of these documents, the doctor now faces nine counts of murder. Dr Gross's last broadcast interview was three years ago. He was asked how many children had died. "I don't know how many," he said. "Maybe 300, maybe more. Yes, I knew about it but I wasn't involved." This court will see Austria's first war crimes trial for a quarter of a century. Once again, a country desperate to move forward finds itself trapped in the past.
© BBC NEWS

UN REPORT: STARK CHOICE OVER IMMIGRATION
Populations are getting older in many countries.
Substantial levels of immigration will be required in order to maintain the population levels of most developed countries over the next 50 years, according to a new United Nations report. The report, from the UN's Population Division, says the only alternative to such immigration will be to increase the age of retirement for workers. The report examines the likely trends over the next half century in eight countries with low fertility rates. It finds that in Japan and virtually all European countries, populations will decline, whilst the average person will get older. Italy is expected to register the largest decline, losing more than a quarter of its population, whilst the average Italian will be 53 years old in 2050, compared to only 41 years of age now.
Immigration
The only way for such countries to maintain their populations, the report suggests, will be to take in substantial numbers of immigrants. In the absence of such immigration, not only will the overall level of the population in most rich countries fall but so will the ratio between those of working age and those expecting to retire.
The UN says that without immigration, richer countries might have to consider increasing the upper working limit to 75 years of age in order to maintain their present levels of pension and welfare support.
Policy questions
The UN points out that these population trends pose crucial questions for governments about what age they decide to set for retirement, what kind of benefits they wish to provide for the elderly and what policies they follow regarding immigration in the future. The questions appear more pressing in Europe than in the United States. According to present trends, the population of the United States is expected to grow from just under 280 million today to nearly 350 million in 2050.
By contrast, the 15 countries of the European Union account for more than 375 million people today - a level due to fall to 330m by the middle of the century.
© BBC NEWS

BRITAIN'S TOP RACE-CRIME OFFICER CALLED IN TO TELFORD INQUIRY
Britain's senior officer in the investigation of suspected racial crime was last night appointed a special adviser to the police inquiry into the mysterious hangings of two black men in Telford.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner John Grieve, head of Scotland Yard's Racial and Violent Crime Task Force, has joined the investigation after the Home Secretary, Jack Straw, took a personal interest in the case. Mr Grieve will advise Peter Hampson, the Chief Constable of West Mercia, on the investigation into the deaths of Harold "Errol" McGowan, 34, and his nephew Jason McGowan, 20. Harold McGowan was found hanging in a house in Telford last July after a campaign of racial harassment and death threats. His nephew was found hanging from railings on New Year's Day after investigating his uncle's death.
The development will be seen as an important climbdown by West Mercia Police which has firmly resisted calls by the family to transfer the inquiry to Scotland Yard. The McGowan family solicitor, Imran Khan, said: "We see the role of the special adviser as de facto the senior investigating officer. As far as we are concerned, Mr Grieve is in charge of the investigation."
The McGowan family have accused West Mercia Police of assuming that both deaths were suicides and failing to investigate properly the possibility that they were murdered. During a meeting with Mr Straw, the family said they had no confidence in West Mercia to conduct a thorough investigation and called for the inquiry to be switched to Scotland Yard. Last night Mr Hampson said he had given Mr Grieve "unfettered access to any and every aspect" of the inquiry. He said he had asked Mr Grieve to engage with the investigation team to ensure "that the considerable degree of knowledge, skill and experience you have gained in London through the investigation of the suspicious deaths of black people is fully utilised to the advantage of this inquiry". He has asked Mr Grieve to help set up a lay advisory group, including members of the McGowan family, to improve the confidence of the black community in Telford in the police.
Mr Hampson agreed in February to reopen the investigation into the two McGowan deaths. He said last night: "This new investigation is progressing well. Det Supt Mel Shore and his team of 47 staff are pursuing numerous lines of inquiry and are determined to leave no stone unturned in the search for the truth concerning these two deaths. However, we have failed, so far, to establish an effective working relationship with members of the McGowan family." He said
Mr Grieve would have a "hands-on approach". Mr Hampson said: "No one else in this country has anything approaching John Grieve's experience of investigating the deaths of black people with their bereaved families."
The Home Office said last night: "The Home Secretary has previously met members of the McGowan family and their legal representatives to discuss their concerns. Following the meeting, we understand there have been fruitful discussions between West Mercia Police and the Metropolitan Police Racial and Violent Crime Task Force.
© INDEPENDENT

FOURTEEN INJURED BY FIRE IN GERMAN REFUGEE CENTRE
Fourteen people were injured on Tuesday by a fire that swept through a home for refugees in the west German town of Moenchengladbach, police said. A police spokesman said that about 100 people were evacuated from the refugee center. He said the fire broke out at about 4 a.m. in the middle of the building and that it took several hours to extinguish the blaze. The 14 injured people were taken to hospital.
RomNews Network

VIA CORELLI HAS OFFICIALLY CLOSED(Italy)
After 14 months of struggle, mobilizations, monitoring, public denounce...
After 2 large mass demonstrations, people climbing on roofs, lots of meetings and quarrels, national and international campaigning, riots...
VIA CORELLI, THE MILAN'S LAGER FOR MIGRANTS HAS OFFICIALLY CLOSED ON SUNDAY, MARCH 12.
Following the large mass mobilization of January 29, another national day of action on February 26 and the protest of Ya Basta! Leoncavallo white coveralls which chained themselves for 6 days on the roof of one of Milan's ancient city doors to force the Ministry of Home Affairs to keep its promises.
And yesterday some 20 white coveralls gathered in front of those gates of shame to seal them simbolically and forever. Now, after the closure of the detention camps for migrants in Trieste (1997) and Milan (2000) due to the mobilizations of the antagonist movement, there's only one more detention camp opened in Northern Italy: via Brunelleschi in Turin -- the next target.
Meanwhile, newspapers are already making a mess because to bring the migrants cought in Northern Italy to the lagers in the South, there will be needed about 2.500 policemen yearly to guarantee a satisfactory escort. The theory of the grain of sand, therefore, worked perfectly, and one of the deadly mechanisms of globalized society looks clogged enough, at least in Italy. But now, the entreview with the last migrant locked up in the huge cage of via Corelli. She was freed, not deported, but she has to pay a price. Read below. The last migrant detained in via Corelli is a Moldavian girl, she claims to be 18 but the Red Cross voice says she's 24 (and I wonder how many minors have been put in this lager thanks to this kind of official "guessing").
She was locked up for one full month without having committed any crime -- she stayed "free" in Italy only for two weeks, since she arrived six weeks ago from Moldavia with her passport, but without a visa -- an unofficial offence costing (if you are lucky) a month of your life in a place worse than a jail and a quick return... home? Not always. You might find yourself in the other side of the world...
Still, Maria (that's her name) is not exactly what you could name a person without chance in the globalized world: she speaks 3 languages, has studied information technology and would like to keep on studying. A very attractive young girl with a child profile and a pair of clever eyes,
filled with tears behind a pony of red hairs while she tells her story to the journalists and to us. "But now, it's over" she keeps on repeating. She refers to via Corelli, but not only. There's more. This is the story of how the life of a young girl can turn into a nightmare thanks to the limitations to people's freedom of movement enforced by the Schengen Treaty.
THE ENTREVIEW
-How did you arrived in Italy?
"Last December, a men I knew told me that I could go to Italy to work as a waitress. I did not trust it so much, but then I met a very nice lady and I was told that she was the person I was going to work for. You know, in Moldavia there's really no work, and a lot of misery. So, I was very happy. I spent New Year's Eve with my friends, then I prepared to leave."
"But there was a problem I did not think about: the visa. I could not get one, but the lady told me not to worry, she had ways to bypass this problem and she really wanted me to work for her in her beautiful Italian house. So I trusted her, and left with her car."
"I have a valid passport, so I could enter Romania without problem. Then, she told me that we had to pass through Yugoslavia, and I had to hide in a van. In Yugoslavia, she introduced me to a friend of her saying that he would bring me in Italy, then she left. Two days later, this man literally delivered me to an Albanian man speaking Russian. I did not like him, but I could not run away. He told me that we had to reach Tirana, in Albania.
But I could not pass the border openly, so we went by feet through the "green border". We approached the border with a car, then walked for kilometers till, on the Albanian side, a car picked us up and brought us to Tirana. There, a girl opened my eyes: there was no work for me as a waitress -- I was going to be a prostitute in Italy, and the nasty Albanian man had bought me. "You belong to him now," she said".
"I yelled and cried, I rebelled as much as I could, I didn't want to be a whore, but I was kept prisoner in a hotel and continuously beatened and threatened with rape. Few days later, I was sold again to an Albanian pimp which brought me to Italy with a "skafo" (NOTE: the small, superfast Albanian boats)."
-Where did the Italian police cought you?
"I was arrested in the south (NOTE: In Puglia, the region of the Straits of Otranto), while I was prostituting -- the pimps were nearby in a car checking me, but they just went away. I was kept few days in a police station down there, then one day they came in and, laughing, they said: "You are going for a tour in Milan. Aren't you happy?" So, I came to know via Corelli."
- How was your month in via Corelli?
"From via Corelli, I remember especially the meals. In Moldavia, even a dog doesn't eat that bad. And I remember the frighten of the first days. I felt dying inside as soon as I saw it. I thought: "Jesus, where am I?". I cried for days, then I met somebody I could trust and I asked: "How long do I have to stay here?" Only then I came to know that it was for 30 days at most. Another thing really horrible is that, if nobody brings them to you, you have no clothes to change -- now I wear the clothes with which the police arrested me (NOTE: a T-shirt and a miniskirt, and there are about 8 degrees celsius). Thanks God a girl I met here left me her coverall when she was deported, other way I would have no clothes..."
- Did you see a translator during this month? Has your embassy being contacted? Did you see a lawyer?
"I never saw a translator, neither here or down in the South where I was arrested. I don't know about my embassy, but however, they did not move a finger for me anyway, so... And the only lawiers I have seen are the ones coming with the volunteers visiting here... you, I mean.. the people which closed this place."
- How did the Red Cross people behaved with you?
"I quarrelled with them many times. I remember once they did not take us our meals, and when we complained they laughed and answered that they forgot to order them. Another time, I was very ill, and I had to wait for days before seeing a doctor. And then there were the continuous quarrels due to the fact that they used to enter the girl's showers without even knocking!"
- Can you tell us something about the way you were released?
"Friday evening, we were here in 4: a Serbian, a Tunesian, a girl from Eastern Europe -- I don't know precisely from where -- and me, none of us could sleep because we knew that during the weekend this place was going to be closed, so we were happy and worried at the same time. We spend the whole night before the gate. Saturday morning, at midday, they called us one by one. Me, the Serbian and the Eastern girl were released. The Tunesian was deported. But we were hungry, because the food wasn't delivered."
"When I came out of the gates of via Corelli walking on my own feet, free, with a temporary permission to stay in Italy, I could not believe my own eyes. I was free from via Corelli and free from prostituting. It was like waking up from a nightmare. The three of us reached the first pub asking if they had something to eat for us... and the people behind the counter gave us sandwiches and croissant for free! I was really happy. Then the Serbian guy gave me a coin to make a phone call... and here I am."
- How did you get your permission to stay?
"During my first days here, I was so scared and sad that I did not speak with anybody. Then, I took some courage and spoke about my situation. A Tunesian boy told me that the Italian police delivers a permit to stay to the prostitutes which accept to sue their exploiters, I mean the pimps, and help to identify them and to get them arrested and condemned. So, I did. I sued them and described everything to the police. And this morning, before releasing me, they put in my pocket my permit to stay!"
- Will you be protected for that? It's dangerous, you know?
"Protected? You mean to have some policemen that checks you all the time? No, thanks."
-What are you going to do now?
"First, a very long shower. Then I'll look for a job. I want to send some money to my mother, which is hearthsick. And I'm thinking about studying: I love computers."
------------------------------------
This was a direct entreview, partially reported also on national newspapers on March 13. So, now at least we know what you have to do if you are a Moldavian girl and want a permit to stay in Italy according to the Schengen rules: be a prostitute, get cought, sell your pimp to the cops and risk again your life: a clear procedure. Again, my best compliments to our illuminated rulers!
By Giuliano.

NORDIC YOUTH NETWORK AGAINST RACISM TO BE ESTABLISHED
The Center of Youth Affairs in Turku, Finland and Norwegian Peoples Aid want to establish a Nordic Youth Network Against Racism and Intolerance. Norwegian Peoples Aid are hosting an Introductory seminar in Oslo, Norway, 22-26. March, 2000. Participants from Finland and Norway will go through the Diversity and Dialogue course, and make strategy documents for activities as well as planning a Nordic seminar in Helsinki August/September 2000.

SIT-IN HELD BY ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS FOR PAPERS(Spain)
65 illegal immigrants who want to remain in Spain but are unable to provide documentation demanded by the authorities are holding a sit-in and hunger strike in El Salvador parish church in Las Piramides area of Málaga. The immigrants are all from North Africa, where they were living in conditions described as "inhuman".
They have the backing of the priest and the Movement against Unemployment, Poverty and Social Exclusion, who are putting pressure on the Government to help the immigrants obtain the papers they need to live in Spain legally. The problem has arisen because although most of the immigrants have been in Spain for at least a year, they have no documentation to prove it, and this is one of the requirements of the recently introduced Foreigners Law.
The parish priest says the police will not evict the protesters from the church, as they did during a recent peaceful demonstration in the Cathedral gardens, and he is optimistic that none of the immigrants will be deported.
Members of the Movement against Unemployment, Poverty and Social Exclusion, however, are more sceptical, and stress that a good deal of pressure will be necessary to enable the immigrants to obtain their legal papers and remain in the country
© Town Crier

NEO NAZI'S BUY EXPLOSIVES AND WEAPONS(Slovakia)
A big ethnic conflict between the Slovaks and Roma is going on in the Slovakian city Hlohovec (about 20,000 citizens). The Housing commission of the city council decided to move Roma from a flat to a house near the center of Hlohovec. The commission justified this step because the Roma did not pay their rent. The Roma are claiming that they are discriminated in jobs, therefore are unemployed and do not have enough money to pay the rent.
A Neonazi skinheads Organization in Hlohovec physically attacked Roma families several times. Around 500 Slovaks, "normal citizens", started, together with the skinheads, a petition against the decision of the Housing commission to move the Roma to a special house. Most of the people who signed the petition live near the planned house for Roma.
They protesting against Roma living near them. If the Roma really move to the planned house, the Slovaks claimed to destroy it with their own hands. The Nazi Organization in Hlohovec reportedly prepares to bomb Roma houses. Slovak Radio announced that the police found an army worker who sold about 200 kg of explosives and weapons to nazi organizations around the country. The worker confirmed that Slovak nazi organizations are planning to bomb Roma houses and to liquidate some Roma activists. But yesterday afternoon Slovak Radio refused to repeat the news about this event because of censorship.
Please sent strong Roma protest to Slovak press agency fax>00421 7 547 77 43 01, or the Slovak Embassy in your country.
© RomNews

SWEDEN ALLOWS 'GAY MARRIAGE' FOR FOREIGNERS
Sweden plans to allow non-Swedish gay couples to enjoy the same rights as same-sex partnerships between Swedish citizens, the Ministry of Justice said on Thursday.
If parliament approves a legal amendment, gay couples where one of the partners has been a resident of Sweden for at least two years will be able to register the partnership, regardless of nationality, from July 1. Swedish homosexuals are already allowed to register partnerships, entitling them to the same legal rights as married heterosexual couples, except child adoption.
"The purpose of the amendment is to remove an unnecessary limitation and make it possible for foreign citizens to enter into partnerships in Sweden," Justice Minister Laila Freivalds said. Until now at least one of the partners had to be a Swedish citizen resident in Sweden.
©Reuters

ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS ARRESTED(Denmark)
Border police in South Jutland arrested over 30 illegal immigrants in the 12 hours between 19.30 Saturday evening and 7.30 Sunday morning, in one of their busiest nights on record. The people apprehended included four children, two with their Afghan parents and two in the company of a Yugoslavian male. Other immigrants were from Iraq and from Russia. "With the local Aabenraa lock-up filled, and our own waiting-room chock-a-block, we had to transport several individuals to the Youth Hostel in St. Jyndevad," explained a spokesman from GPA - the newly formed border patrol squad that operates inland from the frontier.
© Copenhagen Post

PUBLIC ANXIETY SOARS ABOUT ASYLUM-SEEKERS(UK)
British public anxiety about a flood of asylum-seekers has soared to such an extent that only health and education matter more to people, ministers have been told, reports The Times.
The disquiet - fuelled by the sight of women with children begging in the streets - has increased as the government's plans to disperse people around the country have dissolved into shambles, with councils refusing to provide ccommodation unless they are paid more. There have also been a number of "not in my back yard" protests: police were called to one meeting about refugees in Rotherham. Nick Hardwick of the Refugee Council said: "You have to pay local authorities the full costs of looking after asylum-seekers. The money has to be found without the Home Office shilly-shallying around." He also demanded that the government show leadership and tell the country that it was a national responsibility for every region to take some asylum-seekers.
Focus groups now see asylum as the third most important issue after health and education. Yet ministers appear uncertain how to react, either through fear of further alarming the public or because they are in deep political trouble over the existing chaos. Meanwhile visa restrictions have been imposed on Turkish Cypriots because a flood of bogus asylum requests cost Britain US$51m last year, an envoy said.
The Guardian adds plans to take a group of Kosovan refugees to a football match have been abandoned after the club concerned received letters and phone calls threatening violence.
©Refugee Daily

EX-TORIES MP ACCUSES PARTY OF RACISM(UK)
A former Tory MP has accused his old party of racism for opposing the extension of race relations legislation to cover public bodies, in line with the recommendations of the Macpherson report into the murder of Stephen Lawrence. Shaun Woodward, who switched parties to Labour last year, also accused shadow home secretary Ann Widdecombe of supporting "nasty and pernicious" legislation which would discriminate against Asians wanting to join their spouses in the UK.
He contrasted Tory reluctance to support the Race Relations Amendment Bill, recently discussed by the House of Commons, with their vociferous opposition to the repeal of Section 28, which bars the "promotion" of homosexuality by local authorities.
Mr Woodward told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We are at the moment trying to push through the Government's Race Relations Amendment Bill, which is to bring public bodies within the race discrimination laws. It comes out of the Macpherson report into the death of Stephen Lawrence.
"We are rather alarmed at the apparent indifference of Ann Widdecombe to the bill. I am rather disappointed that on this issue of discrimination, the Tories were not there to support us.
"It is funny that when it comes to Section 28 and the opportunity to discriminate, they will have a three-line whip to make sure everyone is there to hurt people, but when we want to get rid of legislation which is hurting people, they are not there.
He added: "In 1997, the Labour government abolished the Tories' primary purpose rule, which was used to discriminate against, particularly, Bangladeshi, Indian and Pakistani people coming in to join their married partners here.
"Miss Widdecombe has announced that she intends at the next election, if there is a Tory government - heaven forbid - that they will bring back this very nasty and pernicious piece of legislation, which even their own candidate in London, Steve Norris, has described as disgusting and immoral."
Tory MP John Townend denied his party was racist in opposing the extension of race relations legislation.
He told Today: "The whole thing, in my view, is getting out of hand. I don't accept this idea of institutional racism. I don't accept that the whole of the police force is institutionally racist - there are odd policemen who are.
©Press Association

RABBIS ENCOUNTER NAZI ANNIVERSARY(Slovakia)
A metting of 150 rabbis from all over Europe has begun in the Slovak capital, Bratislava.
One of the top issues to be discussed is the rise of the far right in Europe. The conference was moved to Bratislava from Vienna in protest at the presence of Joerg Haider's Freedom Party in the Austrian government.
But trouble is now feared from neo-Nazi skinheads in the Slovak capital. Policemen with machine guns are on the roof of the hotel where the conference is being held as part of the large security operation.
This week sees the anniversary of the establishment of the first Slovak state in 1939. The Nazi puppet regime sent 70,000 Jews to their deaths at concentration camps in Poland. There are fears neo-Nazi skinheads may use the anniversary to march through Bratislava and the Slovak police are taking no chances.
A spokesman for the rabbi conference said: "We seem to have gone out of the frying pan into the fire."
The growth of the far-right in Europe will be a key topic at the conference, but there are also other important issues. For example, the Secretary-General of the World Jewish Congress, Dr. Israel Singer, is expected to make strong criticism of lack of progress made on returning Jewish property stolen by the Nazis during the war. Another issue will be helping re-emerging Jewish communities in eastern Europe, a phenomenon described as a miracle by Britain's chief rabbi, Jonathon Sachs. In a BBC interview he also praised Pope John Paul II's apology over the Holocaust, calling it a bold and courageous step.
© BBC NEWS

VIOLENCE AT NEO-NAZI MARCH(Germany)
The extreme right protesters were not allowed through the Brandenburg Gate Clashes broke out between anti-racist protesters and right-wing extremists as they held rival demonstrations in the centre of Berlin. Scuffles began after the right-wingers' march in support of Austria's far-right Freedom Party ended at the Brandenburg Gate.
Police used water cannon on demonstrators who hurled stones and bottles at the neo-Nazis and more than 25 people were arrested.
Around 300 supporters of the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) had gathered by the Brandenburg Gate with anti-foreigner placards as more than 1,000 counter-demonstrators screamed "Nazis out!" behind a police cordon.
A police spokesman said the NPD rally ended with no reports of injuries. He said police escorted the marchers to a local railway station where a special train was waiting to take them out of Berlin.
Earlier the right-wing activists had marched through the southern district of Kreuzberg, home to many of Berlin's large Turkish immigrant population. The rally began with many skinheads clad in bomber jackets assembling behind a loud speaker van playing martial music.
The city authorities initially banned the demonstration by the far right National Democratic party (NPD), which was timed to mark the anniversary of Germany's annexation of Austria in 1938.
But a Berlin appeal court overruled police objections that it posed a threat to public safety. Marchers were forbidden from carrying flags, beating drums or wearing uniforms. The court ruled the NPD could march to the Brandenburg Gate - for them a symbol of German triumphalism - but not to pass through it. A similar rally in January saw neo-Nazis chanting pro-SS slogans pass through the gate for the first time since the war. The scene prompted international uproar.
The NDP organisers said the march was in solidarity with Austria, currently under international pressure after Joerg Haider's Freedom Party entered government. The slogan for the march was "We are one people - national solidarity with Austria".
© BBC NEWS

POPE SEEKS PARDON FOR SINS OF CHURCH
THE Pope and key members of his Curia yesterday publicly asked for God's pardon for the Roman Catholic Church's "sins". The mea culpa, which was first mooted in 1994, was intended to heighten the Church's own awareness of its 'historic wrongs' and give it an opportunity for renewal on the threshold of the new millennium. In his homily in Vatican City, the Pontiff said that now was a "favourable occasion for the Church to implore the divine pardon for the wrongs of all of its believers".
He said: "We ask forgiveness for the divisions among Christians, for the use of violence that some Christians used in the service of the truth and for the behaviour of mistrust and hostility sometimes used with regards to followers of other religions. "At the same time that we confess our sins, we forgive those committed by others against us. Throughout the course of history, Christians have suffered innumerous instances of vexation, arrogance and persecution because of their faith. For the role that each one of us has had, with his behaviour, in these evils, contributing to a disfigurement of the face of the Church, we humbly ask forgiveness."
During the three-hour ceremony, on the first Sunday of Lent, the Pope looked particularly resolute. He was wheeled up the central nave of St Peter's on a platform. The procession began with a symbolic pause before Michelangelo's statue of the Pieta, which represented the maternal embrace of the sufferings of the world.
In the high point of the ceremony, the Pope was flanked by seven senior members of his Curia, who control the Vatican. Each of the men - five cardinals and two monsignori - read out a confession relating to one of the seven "sins," and to each the Pope replied by undertaking on the Church's behalf that such errors would not be repeated.
"Mai piu" - never again - he repeated five times in Italian, before ending the service to a hail of applause. The sins committed in the "service of faith" were confessed by the Pope's doctrinal watchdog, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, whose Vatican department is the direct heir to the Inquisition.
Wrongs in this category included intolerance, violence against dissidents,religious wars, violence and abuses committed during the Crusades, and the methods of the Inquisition. Other wrongs included those committed against the unity of Christ, including excommunications and persecutions, and against other cultures, women, and basic human rights.
Asking for forgiveness for sins against Jews, the Pope made no direct mention of the Holocaust: "We are deeply saddened by the behaviour of those who in the course of history have caused these children of yours [the Jews] to suffer, and asking your forgiveness we wish to commit ourselves to genuine brotherhood with the people of the Covenant."
Despite the symbolism in the ceremony, critics complained that the mea culpa had failed to concede enough in substance. Israel's Chief Rabbi, Israel Meir Lau, described the service as "a severely warped view of history" and said he was "deeply frustrated" by the omission of the Holocaust. He hoped the Pope was planning a specific apology during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land next week. The Office of Britain's Chief Rabbi, Dr Jonathan Sacks, said: "This unprecedented statement represents a major step forward." But the Jewish community had hoped the Pope would specifically mention the genocide of Jews by the Nazis and offer to release the Vatican's Holocaust records.
Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, spokesman for the Muslim Council of Great Britain, was "disappointed" that the Pope did not mention Muslims but called the mea culpa "a step in the right direction". Muslims had hoped for an explicit apology for the suffering and deaths during the Crusades ries and the Spanish Inquisition.
© Telegraph

FRENCH FAR-RIGHTIST LE PEN RAGES AGAINST IMMIGRANTS, TURKEY
MADRID, March 10 (AFP) - The controversial leader of France's far-right National Front party, Jean-Marie Le Pen, said here Friday that a minor grouping of radical anti-immigration parties was Spain's only hope of stopping "massive immigration from the Third World." Invited to a Madrid conference hosted by the ultranationalist grouping, Spain 2000, ahead of Spanish general elections Sunday, Le Pen also claimed that "the globalist Europe of Brussels -- a US Trojan horse -- is setting about dismantling national structures and opening its doors to Turkey."
The French politician, notorious for past anti-Semitic remarks and for describing Nazi gas chambers as a detail of history, said millions of immigrants were expected in France and Spain in coming years, adding that Spain 2000 was "the only Spanish movement with the courage to confront this phenomenon ... of massive immigration from the Third World." Immigration has become a campaign issue here following an outburst of violence against Moroccan workers in El Ejido, southern Spain, which saw about 60 people injured over the last month. Spain 2000 consists of four tiny parties -- National Democracy, the National Workers' Party, the Republican Social Movement and the Spanish Social Apex -- which together count only around 4,000 members and which stand no chance of winning a seat in the elections.
© The Tocqueville Connection

ORBAN ATTACKS HAIDER(Hungary)
Prime Minister Orbán has criticized the Austrian coalition Government after Jörg Haider made comments about wage levels of EU applicants before his resignation as leader of the Freedom Party on March 1. "I have to express my great concern about that position of the Austrian government," Orbán said. "The statement was clearly against Hungarian citizens, and it is very much against the EU's policy."
Orbán's comments referred to Haider's statement that neighboring countries should only gain EU status if salaries reached Austrian levels; otherwise the liberalized labor market would put Austrian workers at a disadvantage. Since Haider's rise to power Orbán has sat on the fence not wanting to jeopardize relations with Austria, which, in theory, could block Hungary's membership bid to the Union.
Orbán previously explained how Hungary would not, at present, follow the EU's example and place sanctions on Austria. Ties would not be suspended. László Surjan, a Fidesz MP, said it was difficult to classify the Freedom Party as extremist when they had 30% of the population's support. With Haider's resignation as leader, Orbán and his Government have become more vociferous in their concerns.
"If there is an anti-accession policy, it would harm Austria because it has four neighbors that want to join the European Union," Orbán told the press. Foreign Ministry spokesman Gábor Horváth said the Government supported the diplomatic isolation imposed by the EU. Hungary would continue to judge the Austrian Government by its actions, but would not join the sanctions against Austria, he said.
Haider said he resigned to focus on his role as governor of an Austrian province, but analysts predict he will continue to play a part in the increasingly high profile politics of Austria.
© The Budapest Sun

GEORGIAN REFUGEES IN LIMBO
Georgian refugees find themselves cold-shouldered and marooned in a demoralising exile. Most have no permanent work, live in shabby accommodation and have become national scapegoats. The lives of nearly 300,000 Georgian refugees have improved little since they were forced to flee the south Ossetian and Abkhazian conflicts in the early nineties. Initial sympathy for the waves of refugees has given way to indifference and hostility. Georgians regard them as alien people with special privileges who 'steal' jobs and homes. Refugees are blamed for everything from the filthy state of towns to the lack of work and Georgia's defeat in Abkhazia.
At the same time, the displaced have jealously guarded their own identity, married amongst themselves and discouraged their children from mixing with local people. The refugees' ghettoised existence has led to the establishment of parallel systems of administration, education and health. Their communal centres have become little islands, isolated from each other, where people try to preserve elements of their former way of life and value systems.
The idea of 'integration' is unpopular today and government refugee policy, geared towards unconditional return, has made it harder to fully absorb the refugees. Legislation was introduced in 1996 granting them special privileges. These included a 12-lari ($6) monthly stipend for those living outside communal centres and 11 lari for residents of such centres. In addition, free medical care is given to pensioners and war veterans as well as children and young teenagers. But these privileges have not done much to improve the refugees' dismal prospects. They were unable to vote in local elections in 1998, despite protests from international organisations and elections observers. Most have no permanent employment. They survive on casual work, mainly as poorly paid petty traders. Their accommodation is poor - I personally saw a family of three living in a tiny street kiosk - and communal centres are inadequately resourced.
Conditions are particularly bad in western Georgia where refugees expelled from Abkhazia in 1998 have swollen towns and villages in the Zugdidi district. Displaced people now outnumber locals in many places. In villages such as Orsantia, Shamgona, Akhali, there has been a sharp deterioration in social and economic conditions. Abkhaz fighters have launched raids into the areas more than once heightening smouldering tensions.
Women have born the brunt of the refugee burden - and are amongst the most traumatized group of displaced people. They worry about how their families will survive and try to help them adapt to their new circumstances. Most rehabilitation programmes focus on women, leaving men on the sidelines and reducing still further their chances of integrating into society. Prospects for the younger people are better. Many have gone to college, made new friends and want to break out of the limited social circle they live in at present. But they struggle to settle, as parents and teachers pressure them into viewing Abkhazia as their home. Such is the desire to go back that refugees were not upset by their exclusion from the 1998 poll because they saw the move as a sign that they would soon be returning to their homeland. But prospects of the refugees realising their dream are slim. Numerous UN Security Council resolutions and decisions have done little to facilitate repatriation. Many of those who have tried to go back of their own accord have been disappointed. Refugees who returned to their villages in the Gali district of Abkhazia were driven out again when fighting erupted in 1998.
The lack of progress in repatriating the refugees has left them disorientated and demoralized.
Such is their desperation that displaced people in western Georgia have acquired a reputation for turning up at any protest that might somehow improve their living conditions. They've also sought to exert influence over attempts to resolve the Abkhaz conflict. But refugee congresses charged with the task have come up with few constructive proposals - only rhetoric.
© Institute for War & Peace Reporting

LONDON POLICE CHIEF HAILS CRACKDOWN ON RACE CRIME(UK)
The head of London's police force hailed a project to tackle crime affecting blacks on Friday and said working with community members helped it seize murder suspects, arms and large quantities of drugs. Operation Trident, launched across the capital in July, uses a non-police panel to advise on racial differences and how to approach victims, families and communities often gagged by fear of retaliation if they spoke to police.
"The lay panel have helped us break down some of the barriers to communication and helped the process of police and their communities building a good history together," Commissioner John Stevens told an anti-racism meeting in London.
"Not just words -- 28 firearms recovered, 47 kilos of crack cocaine seized, 32 arrests for the murders of black people. Not empty words -- action," he added. Racial crime has been a particular concern for the police force in London which came under fire in 1999 when an enquiry into the handling of investigations into the murder of black teenager Steven Lawrence accused it of institutional racism.
On Friday Stevens called for a radical change in attitudes to race and prejudice. "No one is born with prejudice. It is an infection which needs to be treated before it's passed on. The young are the future -- our future -- we must do everything we can to stem the flow of racist poison," he said. But part of the threat to black communities around London stems from so-called "Yardie" gang attacks -- ruthless Jamaican groups who threaten, attack and kill each other for drug and territory issues.
On Sunday British media reported a Metropolitan policeman was being sent to Jamaica to study yardie crime at its roots. The name comes from the "backyards" of gang members homes.
© 2000 Reuters

FOUR LEEDS UNITEDS STAR ARRESTED OVER ASSAULT(UK)
A fourth multimillion-pound Leeds United soccer star has been arrested in connection with an alleged assault on an Asian teenager in January, the Premier League club said on Thursday the 9th march. Defender Michael Duberry, who was signed by Leeds last July from Chelsea for 4.5 million pounds ($7.12 million), was questioned by police and released on bail.
Duberry, 24, was not believed to have been involved in the assault but is understood to have driven a number of people away from the city centre the same night, Leeds United said. He is due to answer police bail on March 14, along with three other Leeds' players -- Jonathan Woodgate, an England international, Lee Bowyer, the former captain of the England under-21 team, and Tony Hackworth, a 19-year-old reserve team player.
A spokeswoman for Leeds police said it had still to be decided whether the players -- a vital part of the team currently challenging Manchester United for first place inthe premiership -- would be charged. Two other high profile Leeds stars, Harry Kewell and Michael Bridges, have voluntarily given witness statements to the police, the club said.
They are not being linked to the attack in any way and Australian-born Kewell, nicknamed the "Wizard of Oz," is believed to have left the Majestyk nightclub in Leeds an hour before the incident took place, it added.
Sarfraz Najeib, a 19-year-old student, was attacked outside the nightclub by a gang of white men in what is being treated by police as a racist attack. He is represented by Imran Khan, the lawyer for the family of murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence, whose death sparked a probe into institutionalised racism within Britain's police force.
© 2000 Reuters

CDU TRIES 'HAIDER EFFETC' IN ATTEMPT TO WOO VOTERS(Germany)
In an eerie echo of Jörg Haider's populism, Germany's desperate Christian Democrats are dredging up xenophobia for a crucial regional election campaign. Jürgen Rüttgers, the leader of the CDU in the industrial Land (constituency) of North Rhine-Westphalia, has coined the slogan "kinder statt Inder"- "children instead of Indians". Mr Rüttgers is protesting against a decision by Chancellor Gerhard Schröder to bring 10,000 computer experts from India and eastern Europe to solve an acute labour shortage.
The Christian Democrats led by Mr Rüttgers are hoping to unseat the regional government in Germany's most populous Land in elections in May. After the recent funding scandals, the party's chances looked slim, but a xenophobic campaign inHesse last year brought the CDU a surprising victory.
Mr Rüttgers, a Roman Catholic with two children, does not explain how more German children would help German industry, which is already crying out for 100,000 IT experts. But his slogan is intended to strike a chord with Germans worried about immigration. Similar tactics were deployed by the Austrian far-right leader Jörg Haider. Mr Haider promised financial incentives for women to have more children. When his Freedom Party came to power, the measure was introduced with one important amendment. All mothers are now entitled to the benefit, irrespective of their ethnic origin.
Although Mr Rüttgers claims he was merely concerned that Third World countries would be deprived of their best talent, the German public feel his objections were of a different nature. "What we need is blond German kids who already know at the age of three what a mouse click is," Spiegel magazine commented wryly.
Chancellor Schröder reiterated yesterday that the new measure would go ahead but stressed the IT experts would receive temporary visas only.
© Independent

'MASTERMIND OF SREBRENICA GENOCIDE' GOES ON TRIAL(Bosnia)
Serb general stands accused of planning the deaths of 7,000 Bosnians in the worst atrocity in Europe since the Second World War.
A Bosnian Serb general charged with masterminding the murder of more than 7,000 people at Srebrenica in 1995 went on trial yesterday, accused of responsibility for Europe's worst atrocity since the Second World War.
The opening of the trial of General Radislav Krstic, the highest- ranking Bosnian Serb officer in UN custody, marks a significant new phase for war crimes prosecutors who aim to prove that the ethnic cleansing of the Balkans constituted genocide. Dressed in a grey jacket, black shirt and tie, Gen Krstic, 52, listened impassively as the case against him was outlined at the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia in The Hague.
The trial centres on one of the most notorious acts of savagery during the conflict - one that exposed the impotence of Dutch peace-keepers who had declared Srebrenica a UN designated safe area.
Prosecutors told of how the entry of Bosnian Serb forces led by Gen Krstic and commander-in-chief Gen Ratko Mladic into the enclave became the prelude to a pre-meditated massacre and the deportation of up to 30,000 Muslims. "The victors abandoned all sense of humanity and committed atrocities on a scale not seen since the Second World War," said the prosecutor, Mark Harmon, adding that 7,574 people were still listed as missing, presumed dead.
The victims were not combatants, he added, but unarmed men, many of whom were murdered with their arms tied behind their backs and their eyes hidden by blindfolds. "The manner in which these people perished is incomprehensible by all standards known to mankind." The case is an important test for the tribunal, which has yet to secure a genocide conviction. It also puts the UN under the spotlight for allowing the massacre to take place. In recent weeks the tribunal has concentrated its efforts on senior officers deemed to be most responsible for the atrocities. Gen Krstic, the commander of the Bosnian Serb army's Drina Wolves, reported to Gen Mladic, and through him to Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb political leader at the time, the indictment says. Mr Karadzic and Gen Mladic have been indicted for genocide, but remain at large.
Gen Krstic denies genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and grave breaches of the Geneva Convention. His defence, which argues that he was unaware of his soldiers' crimes because the chain of command was split, is expected to try to exploit the fact that few witnesses survived. But yesterday the prosecutor argued that Gen Krstic was fully aware of the activities of immediate subordinates. The prosecutor described a phone call between him and one officer who "complained that he had 3,500 parcels to distribute and he had no solution, and he asked Gen Krstic for more men for the job". Mr Harmon added that "parcels" was code for Muslim men and "distribute" for murder. The prosecution painted a picture of a well-orchestrated massacre that required 50 to 60 buses, detention centres and digging equipment.
© Independent

WORLD SPOTLIGHT ON WOMEN'S RIGHT
Women in freezing Moscow celebrated with a mass bathe Campaigners for greater recognition of women's rights are marking International Women's Day with renewed calls for economic and political equality. A petition is being launched in Geneva aiming for 10 million signatures worldwide, to support calls for the United Nations to introduce a programme combating poverty and violence.
Celebrations and protest
Around the world the day is being marked with various celebrations and protests. The UN issued a statement saying that, in Afghanistan, the ruling Taleban have shown a new flexibility in their attitude towards women.
The UN co-ordinator for Afghanistan, Mr Ahmed Farah, said the Taleban had gradually allowed the reopening of some girls' schools which were closed after the capture of Kabul in 1996. They had also extended restricted health facilities to women. Correspondents say that following their takeover in Kabul, the Taleban imposed a strict interpretation of Islamic law with severe restrictions on women. They came under strong criticism for banning education and jobs for women. But now women teachers are being allowed toteach girls at home, and women can work in limited areas such as the health sector.
Parliament protest
In Kuwait women activists marked International Women's Day by filing a court case against the interior minister and parliament speaker demanding full political rights. Kuwait is the only Gulf Arab state with an elected parliament but women are not allowed to take part. Parliament in November narrowly rejected a draft law granting women full political rights. Women activists argue that Kuwait's election law violates the constitution. In Paris, about 40 people renamed the city's Pantheon square, an area around the 18th century mausoleum for illustrious Frenchmen, "Men and women's square". The Pantheon monument contains the remains of numerous famous figures of French history, with an inscription on the monument honouring only "the great men." The protesters demanded that two French women be given a place of honour in the monument: Bethie Albrecht a member of the World War II Resistance who was decapitated with an axe in 1943, and Olympe de Gouges, revolutionary co-author of the declaration of women's rights who was guillotined in 1794.
War zone
Acting Russian President Vladimir Putin sent gift sets of cosmetics to female troops in Chechnya. At the main military base outside Grozny,commanders issued flowers and perfume to female staff. The gestures were part of Russia's annual outpouring of speech-making and ritual praise for women, with heavy emphasis on their roles as mothers and homemakers. Women in Albania were allowed to take editorial control of the country's media - but only for 24 hours.
Newspaper articles and television programmes, as well as the national news agency ATA, are all being produced by women as part of a campaign by Unesco to support more career opportunities for women. Monika Meta, the wife of the Albanian prime minister, said women journalists could do a great deal to improve the quality of the media in Albania - which was criticised by a recent US State Department report as being sensational and lacking integrity. However, she said one day was not enough to achieve equal status for women.
Amnesty warning
The human rights organisation Amnesty International chose the day to remind the world that "more women and girls die each day because of various forms of gender-based discrimination than as a result of any other type of human rights abuse". "Every year a vast number of women and young girls are mutilated, battered to death, burned alive, raped, trafficked for domestic or sexual purposes, primarily because they are female", Amnesty said.
© BBC NEWS

FRANCE PASSES EQUALITY LAW PASSED ON EVE OF WOMEN'S DAY
PARIS, March 7 (AFP) - The French national assembly on Tuesday, the eve of International Women's Day, passed a draft law forcing employers to take action to ensure equality between male and female workers. It was one of a series of measures that have been condemned by the conservative opposition as political gimmicks. The new law, which must now be passed by the senate, will force companies to start negotiations on professional equality in salaries and work time. The civil service -- in which women make up 55 percent of the workforce but only 13 percent of top officials -- will now have to have fully mixed selection committees for jobs. Minister for Public Service, Emile Zuccarelli, praised "the act of the birth of a very important step for the professional equality of men and women."Marie-Therese Boisseau criticised the new law as a "political gimmick by the governing majority on the eve of International Women's Day." But the government also plans more legislation aimed at bringing more equality into politics. The ruling socialists have proposed a law, to be presented to parliament at the end of the month, forcing parties standing in municipal elections to name as many women candidates on their election lists as men. Any party falling short of this target will be banned from standing. And under the proposed law any party that does not present equal numbers of male and female candidates for national legislative elections will be fined. The law will be presented to parliament at the end of March. "We are so far behind on women's rights in France. We are the black sheep of Europe, along with Greece," Martine Lignere-Cassou, a member of the French parliament and president of the parliamentary committee on women's rights, told AFP on Tuesday. "This country is still very male dominated," Lignere-Cassou, said. "We need a law to give people a shake, to change the way they think." Lignere-Cassou's parliamentary committee was set up in November 1999 to monitor and support proposed laws concerning women. French women only won the right to vote fifty years ago, after World War II, and, according to Lignere-Cassou, little has changed on the political scene in that time. Only ten percent of French 'hommes politiques' are women. But equality for women has become a crusade for Lionel Jospin's socialist government, which came to power in 1997 with more women deputies than any previous French government. All political parties see opening up to women as the opportunity to rejuvenate French politics, dogged recently by corruption scandals. The proposed law has forced political parties to go in search of women candidates and there are fears that at the rural level, where traditions are sometimes deeply engrained, it could prove hard to meet the quotas. In the national assembly, Lignere-Cassou says, most male politicians have come round to the argument that more women will be good for French politics. But "there are certainly some who are not content, although they wouldn't admit it, because it means they will lose their jobs." If the law is passed, it will mean some municipal concillors may have to step aside to allow women to take their place.
© The Tocqueville Connection

STRUGGLE FOR EQUALITY IN WORK FOR GREEK WOMEN
Rights groups renew fight for top posts on International Women's Day ONE hundred and forty-three years ago today, hundreds of women working at a textiles factory in New York took to the streets demanding wages equal to those of their male counterparts and a 12-hour workday instead of 16 hours. The female gender may have come a long way since then but according to women's organisations in Greece, the celebration of International Women's Day today signals a need to renew the fight for equality. "We still have a long way to go before we achieve equality with men," the president of the Union of Greek Women (EGE) Maria Kypriotaki told the Athens News yesterday. She said the right to equal opportunity in employment was the main challenge facing Greek women.
Among university graduates, Kypriotaki said that men greatly outnumber women in high-paying and high-status positions, noting that only five percent of all female graduates secure such jobs. "Is there equality between men and women today? No," Kypriotaki said. "There is equality in the law books but this is not always implemented.
There is inequality in employment opportunities. A woman's valuable contribution to the labour force is not always recognised. We have a long way to go before women secure an equal footing with men. I hope that on a future International Women's Day there will be no need to struggle for equality. Until then, EGE will continue to support today's and tomorrow's champions of women's rights."
Meanwhile, some 100 women yesterday gathered at central Klafthmonos Square where the Federation of Greek Women (OGE) held a rally to protest against existing labour laws that "discourage" women from having children. "Instead of maternity filling a woman with happiness and providing her with a sense of fulfilment free of obstacles to allow her to respond to her biological right, along with her role in society and the labour market," OGE president Kalliope Boudouroum-Karata said, "it fills her with anxiety and guilt which results in a return to a traditional role or the sacrifice of maternity."
In a similar vein, the interior ministry's general secretary for equality Efi Bekou told a press conference yesterday that 2000 marks a turning point in women's struggle to secure equality. She said that Greek women are caught between two different worlds. One is the traditional male-dominated society and the other is one in which the woman moves forward and realises her goals and ambitions.
"Women going through this transitional period are burdened with multiple roles," Bekou writes in a statement for International Women's Day. "Today's woman is looking to the future, towards her new role with a fighting spirit to reverse established perceptions, to change gender roles and establish equality in practice."
She added that even though women in Greece make up 57 percent of university graduates, they represent only 40 percent of the country's workforce and are over-represented in unemployment and poverty statistics. According to a 1999 survey carried out by the EU statistics agency Eurostat, Greek women on average earn just 68 percent of what men make. Further studies conducted by the research body last year show that for every 100 men with higher education qualifications in Greece, there are 129 women.
Twenty years ago, women were the minority in tertiary education in all EU member-states, but the average is now 103 women for every 100 men. Bulgaria (153), Iceland (130) and Portugal (131) boast the highest ratios. Germany is one of the exceptions, where there are 77 female university graduates for every 100 male graduates. The situation is similar in the Netherlands (89) and Austria (92).
According to Eurostat, increasing opportunities for women to continue their studies and the growth in the numbers of those with secondary and tertiary education qualifications have not completely eroded the differences between the sexes in terms of employment where both candidates possess equal qualifications.
There are proportionately more women than men out of work throughout Europe. The unemployment rate among tertiary graduates is 8 percent among Greek women but only 4 percent for Greek men. The EU average is 7 and 5 percent, respectively.
The first steps to equality Women in Greece were granted the right to vote in 1952. In 1953, Eleni Skoura became the first woman to be elected into the Greek parliament, on the Greek National Rally party's ticket. Born in 1900, she played an active role in assisting refugees following the Asia Minor catastrophe. Since Skoura, 61 Greek women have served as MPs. Today, just 19 of the 300 seats in parliament are held by women (seven represent the ruling Pasok party, six represent the main opposition New Democracy). Greece has the lowest number of female MPs in the EU even though 50 percent of all voters in this country are women. Similarly, out of 25 Greek Euro MPs, only four are women.
© ATHENS NEWS

NAZI SLAVE CASH TALKS FALTER(Germany)
Concentration camp survivors want compensation Negotiators in Washington have failed to come up with a plan to allocate German compensation to surviving victims of the Nazis. Bitter arguments broke out during the two days of talks over the $5bn fund for more than a million survivors of Nazi-era slave labour practices. However, the chief German negotiator, Otto Lambsdorff, said significant progress had been made.
"We did not quite reach the goal we had set for ourselves," Mr Lambsdorff told reporters. The talks are expected to resume in Berlin on 22 and 23 March.
It will be the fourth round of meetings on how to allocate the money offered by the German Government and leading businesses - including Daimler, Siemens and Deutsche Bank. The deal, agreed last December, was meant to end all further lawsuits against the firms concerned. Disagreements involving the German side and lawyers for different groups of victims have made an early settlement impossible. Some survivors are unwilling to give up the right to make future claims. But the main dispute is among groups of former slave labourers, who often had to work in fear for their lives for the German war effort. Survivors from eastern European countries - Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and the Czech Republic - demand that 90% of the fund goes directly to those who suffered.
Many of these claimants are Christians. Lawyers for Jewish groups want more money for property claims by victims of the Nazis' so-called Aryanisation programme, in which Jews were stripped of their assets. Fund money not administration - education programs, and compensating victims of medical experimentation. Correspondents say it is feared that many victims may not live to see the promised compensation.
© BBC NEWS

WOMAN BISHOP ATTACKED BY FAR RIGHT
FAR-RIGHT Austrian Christians have launched a campaign to oust the country's first female Protestant bishop for her opposition to the Freedom Party's inclusion in government. Gertraud Knoll, who stood in the last presidential election, attracted the anger of Freedom Party churchgoers after speaking at a demonstration against the coalition in Vienna last month. The mother-of-three is the leader of about 35,000 Protestants in the province of Burgenland, where she is superintendent - the equivalent of a bishop. After her speech, a petition began circulating in her home province from a group calling itself the Independent Platform of Evangelical Christians in Burgenland, which wants her to resign. The movement's spokesmen - Hans Ripe, a police colonel, and Klaus Fistula, a vet who formerly ran the provincial Freedom Party youth organisation - accuse her of abusing her office, and say they fear many will leave the church because of her.
© Telegraph

IMMIGRANTS NOT WANTED DESPITE LABOUR SHORTAGE(Denmark)
An analysis from the Ministry of Labour shows that one in every four employers would refuse to hire a refugee or immigrant, even if there was no one else available.
Every fourth job in the private sector is effectively unavailable to refugees or immigrants. According to research conducted by the Ministry of Labour among over 1,200 private employers, 25 percent would not hire a refugee or an immigrant to work in their firms under any circumstances. This analysis of opportunities available to the foreign-born workforce within domestic job markets appeared as a by-product of research conducted for the Ministry by PLS Consult, into the possibility of a forthcoming labour shortage. The PLS report indicates that the domestic private sector is already facing a shortage of at least 20,000 workers, and the public sector, 3,000.
Management at 59 percent of the private firms polled stated that they would probably hire immigrant workers, 12 percent that they might under certain circumstances, and 25 percent that they would never do so.
"I find this quite fantastic, how out of touch many employers are with the reality of today's labour market. How little understanding there is of how important jobs are for integration. There seems to be a very powerful bias among those who have never tried to hire foreign workers, an overblown fear that such action would prove disruptive and upset existing employees," Labour Minister Ove Hygum told daily newspaper Politiken on Friday. Hygum rejected the possibility that legislation might be introduced by the government that would force employers to hire immigrants. "My belief is that in due course our current policies will have the desired effect," Hygum said. Representatives of employers' union Dansk Arbejdgiverforening (DA) interpret the results of the PLS research differently. "As we see it, what these employers are saying is that they do not necessarily believe hiring an immigrant would be a solution to their recruitment problems.This could well be because they do not believe a refugee or an immigrant would be appropriately qualified. We certainly do not believe this report indicates any attitude among employers towards immigrants in general," DA consultant Jřrgen Bang-Petersen said. However, spokesman Harald Břrsting for employees' union LO expressed both shock and disappointment at the PLS findings. "But in the end this could prove very expensive for the employers themselves," Břrsting pointed out, "By failing to integrate immigrants into their labour force, these firms will be inviting new wage demands from the diminishing number of non-immigrant workers who are available."
©CPHPOST

LATEST RACE BEATING GETS POLICE MOVING(Slovakia)
The latest in a recent string of racially motivated beatings in Bratislava has awoken cries of outrage from minority leaders and international observers. Calling violent attacks `normal occurrences` for non-whites in Slovakia, these groups called on the government and Slovak citizens to end their collective passivity against hate crime.
On February 17, two Japanese tourists were attacked by eight male teenagers with shaved heads on Židovská ulica in the Bratislava city centre. Bratislava police spokesperson Marta Bujňáková said that the tourists received "non-serious" injuries which would require five to ten days to heal. Bujňáková said that the police had since detained six of the eight suspects, all of whom were between 16 and 18 years old, and charged them witth hooliganism and causing bodily harm. If convicted they could face three years in prison.
The teens hailed from various towns in the Záhorie region northwest of Bratislava, Bujňáková said. One of the suspects had a swastika tattoo on his chest, and none of the gang showed remorse. "During the investigation, the boys proudly explained that they were involved with the skinhead movement, which apparently influenced their violent behaviour," she said. The Japanese tourists disappeared after lodging a complaint with police, and the Japanese embassy in Prague said on February 24 that they had no information on the attacks.
Minority groups reacted furiously to the latest attack, saying that like two other recent beatings in the capital, it was committed in broad daylight on a major thoroughfare and demonstrated both the audacity of the attackers as well as the apathy of the public.
On November 26, a group of 20 skinheads beat a Chinese student on Kollárovo námestie in the Bratislava old town. On January 29, five skinheads attacked and beat black-skinned John M., calling him a "black pig" at 17:00 on Bratislava`s Hlavné námestie (main square), Bujňáková reported. Each victim required hospital treatment for minor injuries. Arrests have been made in both cases, and according to the police racial hatred was the primary motive. Róbert Poláček, a member of the board of the Slovak Helsinki Committee, said that the attacks represented a disturbing trend. "Be it violence against Roma or foreigners with different coloured skin, the reason behind these attacks is `being different,`" he said in a prepared statement February 23 for The Slovak Spectator. "It is also alarming that these attacks often occur on busy streets - this highlights not only the hatred of the attackers, but also the ignorance of the rest of society."
In response to the attack on the Japanese tourists, Bratislava police president Ján Pipta held a press conference in Bratislava on February 21 to declare a "massive preventive action to break up groups of skinheads and be taken was not revealed. Bujňáková said that police representatives planned to meet on February 24 to decide on further actions. Pipta`s vague prescriptions were criticised by Columbus Igboanusi, a lawyer for the Bratislava-based NGO League of Human Rights Advocates who specialises in offering legal counsel to victims of racial beatings. "The police do not match their words with actions, they do not actively fight against racism in Slovakia," Igboanusi said. "We have heard this before from the police, but they do nothing as the attacks continue."
According to Igboanusi, racism is tolerated by the majority of Slovaks who, through "institutionalised racism", are taught from childhood that people with dark skin are inferior to white Slovaks. "Classes in Slovakia are segregated between white Slovaks and Gypsies," he said. "The hatred is thereby planted in the young mind." That hatred, he continued, routinely results in violence. Robert Mashavira, a 28-year-old student from Zimbabwe who studied in Slovakia from 1990 till 1996, said he had frequently been the target of racial beatings. "During that time, I was physically assaulted five times, resulting in chipped teeth and [on separate occasions] broken ribs," he said. "Then I studied for a year in England and I was never attacked and I never feared for my safety." Igboanusi said that foreign non-white students are violently attacked "two or three times per year, and if they are unlucky more often." But many of the cases go unreported, he said, while those that are reported to the police usually do not result in prosecution. "The victims are usually afraid to go to court, and the police conduct poor investigations," he said. Mashavira added that being attacked was considered a standard condition of studying in Slovakia, but that most students failed to report the crimes because their main aim was to finish their studies.
"In Slovakia, I decided that the best thing to do was to just stay in my dorm," Mashavira said. "I wanted to finish studying, so I just never went out anywhere. However, other students I know who get scholarships to come to Slovakia don`t come because they hear about the violence. I tell them to hold on, there is no better alternative."
Slovak Helsinki Committee
©Slovak Spectator

ZHIRINOVSKY SAYS HE WANTS LIFE-TERM IN KREMLIN(Russia)
Flamboyant nationalist and presidential hopeful Vladimir Zhirinovsky said on Thursday he would never leave the Kremlin if elected Russia's new head of state in the March 26 election. "If I get into the Kremlin, I shall never leave the place and will rule this beloved but terrible Russia for the rest of my life," Interfax news agency quoted Zhirinovsky as saying. Zhirinovsky, long known for his bizarre antics, rejoined Russia's presidential race earlier this week after the Supreme Court overturned a decision by the Central Election Commission barring him from taking part. Interfax quoted him as saying he would need far more than the allotted four-year term to implement his programme. He called for closer ties with India and Iraq and described China, Turkey and the United States as enemies. "We have to deal with them but we should keep enemies in a state of fear," Zhirinovsky added. He also said he opposed letting women take top political jobs. "A woman cannot rule Russia where every day you face questions of life and death because she should think primarily about children." Earlier this week, he told the French daily Le Parisien he saw himself as Russia's answer to Joerg Haider, leader of Austria's far-right Freedom Party whose entry into government caused a storm of protest in European capitals.
©Reuters

MOSCOW TO ALLOW COUNCIL OF EUROPE MONITORS IN CHECHNYA (Russia)
Russian Foreign Minister Ivanov told EU officials in Lisbon on 2 March that Russia will permit the presence in Chechnya of two Council of Europe human rights monitors, dpa reported. The following day, Russian Human Rights Commissioner for Chechnya Vladimir Kalamanov said in Moscow that the two monitors will be based at an office in the north Chechen village of Znamenskoye, according to AP. He said that no restrictions will be placed on those officials' movements but that they will be required to channel through him all statements to the press and communications with the Council of Europe, Reuters reported.
© RFE/RL

RETURNING ALBANIANS STONED IN MITROVICA(Yugoslavia)
Kosovo Albanians trying to return to homes they had fled in the Serb sector of Mitrovica yesterday met with a rain of stones as they crossed a footbridge laid down hours earlier by NATO-led peacekeepers, reports AFP in an article in the New York Times. Dozens of Serb women, some in their 60s, lobbed rocks at two Albanians who had ventured into predominantly Serb northern Mitrovica. The new footbridge was set up to allow Albanians to reach their homes in the north without crossing Serb neighbourhoods near the main bridge over the Ibar river. Some 2,000 ethnic Albanians fled northern Mitrovica last month after an outbreak of violence. BBC News adds UN officials said they would not abandon plans to resettle up to 120 families and 43 families were due to return yesterday, UN spokeswoman Kirsten Haupt said. The UN regional administrator, Mario Morcone, said it would be an important symbolic step towards reuniting the town torn apart by ethnic violence. "We want the Albanian families who lived in the three towers to live again in their flats, and we also want the Serbs who lived in two towers in front of this building to return," he said. Serb community leader Oliver Ivanovic expressed regret at the incident. "Serbs were angry because Albanians are returning to their homes while two Serb villages in the area will soon be empty because people have to move because of Albanian pressure," he said. The Globe and Mail reports the incident surprised Canadian peacekeepers charged with escorting the returning Albanians.
© Refugees Daily

FRENCH FAR-RIGHT LEADER DENOUNCES TEACHING OF HOLOCAUST IN SCHOOLS
PARIS, March 3 (AFP) - Far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen has criticized the teaching of the Holocaust in French schools saying it was part of an anti-Nazi obsession sweeping the world. Speaking in Paris late Thursday before some 2,000 supporters, the leader of the National Front described the struggle against Naziism as a "new religion". "Every day, they are hunting down Nazis," he said in 90-minute speech. "Even when they are not there they manage to find them."There is more muscle going into tracking them down now than there was whenthey were really here."Referring to the recent government decision to distribute new teaching manualsabout the Holocaust in schools, Le Pen said the Shoah was becoming "the catechismof a new religion."There will be a police force ensuring we abide by the politically correct, if necessary by intellectual terrorism," he said.He said he planned to sue the US computer giant Microsoft which describes in anelectronic encyclopedia the National Front as a "group of far-right activists who claimto be Adolf Hitler's heirs." "We will not sit by and let our freedom and rights be trampled on because we are not Jews," he said.Le Pen has in the past been fined by the courts for anti-Semitic remarks, notably for describing the gas chambers during the Holocaust as a detail of history.
© The Tocqueville Connection

HAIDER CAN'T CONTROL HIMSELF (Austria)
While in Vienna for the demonstration on February 19, Suzette talked to Isolde Galem, one of the founding members of the 'Democratic Offensive' who are the organisers of the demonstration.
What is the 'Democratic Offensive'?
It's a group of people who got together after the elections to try and do something against the depressive state Austria got into. We started as a little snowball that has now turned into an avalanche. It's fantastic.
Do you still worry that you and your family will have to move from Austria?
Right now we're in the middle of a fight and we don't know how it will turn out, that's the point... the situation is completely open. It can end very good or terribly bad, it is open and there are only question marks.
What can Europeans do to help all those Austrians who are standing up against the FPÖ/ÖVP coalition?
The most important thing for us is that the EU continue what they've started about taking measures against Austria. If they would not carry out what they've said when it comes down to it, it would be terrible for us. Apart from that, any kind(sign) of solidarity is fantastic for us, but we (Austrians) need to fight this fight from the inside, because Haider is just the top of the problem. The problem of racism and xenophobia is one that goes through the whole society.
So even when we are successful in getting rid of this government all is not solved, this goes much deeper.
The support and the solidarity of all the people in Europe so far is fantastic, it gives a new quality to our protest and that is very very important. We want to thank all the people in Europe that are supporting us.
Everyone is just focussing on Haider, but if you hear him speak, you know what he is and what he stands for. Are you not much more concerned about the FPÖ ministers and other party members? Haider is taking the heat, but they are actually doing the dirty job.
Yes offcourse we are worried but in fact the whole FPÖ wouldn't be anything without Haider and although we have worried about the others, for many people Haiders is the FPÖ and we hope the people will listen to him, because we know he can't control himself and he will say more terrible things like in the past, that will be an opportunity for us. If the other people of the FPÖ look pretty and clean we still have that ugly thing coming from Carinthië. We know he won't stop, maybe 1 or 2 weeks but then he can't control himself.

WAR CRIME COURT GIVES CROAT GENERAL 45 YEARS
The International War Crimes Tribunal handed down its harshest sentence yesterday, when a senior Bosnian Croat commander was sentenced to 45 years for ordering thedestruction of Muslim villages and the murder of theirinhabitants. Tihomir Blaskic, the most senior military official to appearbefore the tribunal, was held responsible for a wave of terrorand ethnic cleansing that culminated in the infamous attack on the village of Ahmici. The severity of the punishment handed down in The Hague, at the end of a 25-month trial, underlines the determination of the tribunal to bring to justice the top military echelon. Blaskic did not take part in the murders himself but ordered a frenzy of violence in the Lasva river valley that left hundreds of Muslims dead and sent thousands fleeing. That included the rampage in April 1993 that killed more than 100 men, women and children and emptied the Bosnian village of Ahmici of its Muslim population. "The crimes you committed, General Blaskic, are extremely serious," said the tribunal's of war carried out with disregard for international humanitarian law and in hatred of other people, the villages reduced to rubble, the houses and stables set on fire and destroyed, the people forced to abandon their homes, the lost and broken lives are unacceptable." Blaskic remained composed as the verdict was read out, but his wife, Ratka, broke down in tears and a young child seated next to her cried out and fell to the floor. Blaskic, who denied the charges, was convicted on 20 counts of crimes against humanity, war crimes and grave breaches of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, which seek to protect civilians caught up in warfare. The indictment accused him of systematic attacks on and destruction of cities and villages, forcible transfer of civilians and using hostages as human shields. The general insisted he had neither ordered the killings nor had the power to stop them. His lawyer, Russell Hayman, said Blaskic was "surprised and disappointed" and would appeal against the verdict. Paul Risley, spokesman for the prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, hailed the verdict as "a remarkable day" for the tribunal, as it had shown the architects of ethnic cleansing could be prosecuted rather than just the "small fish". Three former Bosnian Serb military chiefs, General Radislav Krstic, Chief of Staff Momir Talic and General Stanislav Galic, are to stand trial in the next six months. But the very top suspects - such as the former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and the Yugoslav President, Slobodan Milosevic -remain at large. French troops fired tear gas yesterday to disperse up to 200Serb protesters who tried to push their way into three apartment buildings in Mitrovica, Kosovo, where the UN hopes to return ethnic Albanians who fled the area because of ethnic strife in the city.
© The Independent

POLICE TACTICS IN VIENNA(Austria)
While the protests against the FPOe/OeVP government continue, the state puts all its efforts into the criminalization of the left part of the resistance movement, and first concrete steps have been initiated by the police. The large demonstration of February 19th, when 300.000 people participated, was followed by a march of about 12.000 on Thursday, 24th. The route, as usual, led the protestors through various districts of Vienna and they were cheered on by people leaning out of their home windows and people hanging out in restaurants. In addition, now every Saturday a "Folk dance" accompanied by various DJs moves along the "Ringstrasse": We march until you leave! On Monday Joerg Haider resigned as head of the FPOe and the minister of justice quit. However, that does not mean at all an easing of the situation. Haider's final goal still is to become federal chancellor and he still pulls all the strings. Yesterdays "Opernball" fell on a demonstration-Thursday and, thus, the protest mutated into the "anti-opera dance demonstration". The public media caught on the old topic and reawakened the riotous pictures and stories of the late eighties and started a merciless campaign against the more left-wing part of the demonstrators. The protestors did not want to do the media and the police the favor to fulfill their expectations of "riotous autonomous radicals". Therefore, the march was planned as an antifascist carnival to get a good laugh at the government and their provincial dancing party. About 16.000 colorfully masqueraded, noisy, happy but also spiteful people gathered. The police on duty could not find any obvious reason to take actions against them, because only paper shavings and streamers were thrown at them. Nevertheless, they singled out some of the protestors, harassed and thrashed them. According to the police they had roughly 200 civilian officers (some of them even convering their faces and dressed in leather-jackets) intermingling with the regular protestors.. When the demonstration was already over, exactly these dragged 4 people out of cab holding their pistols against them. Two of the four where arrested and are in detention pending investigation. They are accused of breach of the peace, willful property damage, and resistance against the state authority. In addition, they are pointed out as commanders in chief. The media even want to mark them as the tough core of the autonomous scene. The same issues are held against another woman who has been brutally arrested before. What these people have in common is their engagement in the fight against this government and against racism. All the police holds against them is constructed and so suspicious that it is withheld from the public. The bourgeoisie part of the resistance movement keeps quiet. We will not be silent and we will not let us split off from the movement and let us brand as criminals! We demand the immediate release of the prisoners! Resistance!
The latest news in German

HOME SHORTAGE DELAYS PLAN TO MOVE REFUGEES(England)
JACK STRAW yesterday postponed plans to start dispersing asylum seekers outside London and the South-East after admitting having "major difficulties" finding homes for them. The Home Office was due to launch its scheme to place refugees in different parts of the country on a "no choice basis" next month. But now the new rules will apply only to some categories of asylum seekers, involving about 2,000 claimants a month, from April. Others will not be covered by the new arrangements until they are phased in later this year. The Government promised an extra Ł10 million to help councils deal with the problems of looking after asylum seekers. Mr Straw's Immigration and Asylum Act is intended to take responsibility for looking after refugees away from local authorities and place it in the hands of the National Asylum Support Service. Asylum seekers will have no say over where they are sent and, instead of being eligible for benefits, they will get vouchers to meet their essential needs and Ł10 a week in cash. From Monday April 3, these rules will apply to immigrants who apply for asylum at the port of entry. But the 4,000 claimants who apply for asylum every month once they are inside the country will remain the responsibility of local authorities until the new rules are phased in later this year. In a parliamentary answer announcing the change of plan last night, Mr Straw also confirmed that the new rules will apply to families with children. In the face of protests from Labour MPs during the passage of the Immigration Bill, the Home Secretary said that his draconian measures would not apply to families with children unless asylum decisions, including appeals, were generally being settled within six months. Last night he said that more than 70 per cent of families now have their initial claim processed within two months and that appeals on average take 13 weeks. On this basis, he decided that families with children should be covered. Local authorities have already spread around 5,500 cases away from Kent and London under a voluntary scheme set up last year. But many councils have held back from offering accommodation amid concern that the gap between central funding and the true cost of supporting asylum seekers will force them to cut services or put up council tax. Kent County Council announced last week that it was having to put up its council tax to fund the cost of supporting 4,400 asylum seekers, including 900 unaccompanied children. Hillingdon, which covers Heathrow Airport, has warned it may follow suit. There was some anger but little surprise in Kent yesterday as the Government announced it was abandoning its pledge of dispersing asylum-seekers evenly throughout the country by April 1. Sandy Bruce Lockhart, leader of the county council, said the announcement "illustrated yet again that the Government is simply not prepared to commit resources to the asylum issue". The county is bearing the brunt of the influx that saw more than 70,000 asylum-seekers arrive in Britain last year, up to 30 per cent of them landing in Kent. Brenda Trench, chairman of the county's social services committee, said: "Kent is primarily a rural county and the arrival of so many asylum-seekers is bound to cause strains. "Inevitably, most end up in Dover, Thanet and other seaside towns where they have bed and breakfast accommodation. These are not towns used to accommodating with large, multi-racial communities." There is no official figure for the exact number of asylum-seekers currently living in Kent, though the best estimate is between 7,000 and 9,000.
© Telegraph

AFGHANS MUST GO BACK, BUT NOT YET(England)
TWENTY-SEVEN of the passengers from the hijacked Afghan jet are being allowed to stay in Britain for the time being despite having their asylum claims turned down by Jack Straw. The Home Secretary told the Commons last night that given the current situation in Afghanistan it was not proposed "immediately to set directions for their enforced removal". He said the Government was exploring removing them to other countries. It was also ready to make arrangements for them to return to Afghanistan voluntarily, though it is highly unlikely that any would be prepared to do so. In a Commons written answer, Mr Straw said the 27 would be freed on bail from the detention centre at Tinsley House near Gatwick where they have been held. There would be restrictions on where they lived and conditions for regular reporting to the Immigration Service. Arrangements for their accommodation would be made by the Government and the cost would not fall on local councils. After the hijack ended at Stansted last month, 73 of the 170 people on the aircraft returned voluntary to Afghanistan. Two other passengers have asked to return and arrangements are being made for them to do so, and four members of the flight crew are planning to go back with the plane. Fourteen individuals are the subject of criminal charges in relation to the hijacking - leaving 44 passengers, together with 33 dependants, who had made a claim for asylum. Mr Straw said he had granted refugee status in two cases because he was satisfied that their applications disclosed a well-founded fear of persecution. The wife of one of the successful claimants and five children would also be given indefinite leave to enter. Decisions have been postponed on 14 other applicants who remain in detention. Mr Straw has personally considered the claims of the remaining 27 and he told MPs he was not satisfied they qualified for asylum. Having rejected their claims, he then decided they should not be given exceptional leave to enter Britain. "I have decided that the public interest in deterring future hijacks for the purposes of claiming asylum is a very strong one and, therefore, have decided they should not be given permission to stay in this country," he said. The rejected applicants are almost certain to appeal against the Home Secretary's decision. Mr Straw revealed his concern that, despite rejecting their asylum claims, he was not able to send them back. Given the criticism of the human rights record of the Kabul regime, the 27 could remain in Britain indefinitely. He said the events surrounding the hijacking had shown "serious weaknesses" in the way international conventions relating to refugees, terrorism and human rights operated. The Government would be raising its concerns with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The decision to allow the 27 to stay is an embarrassment for Mr Straw, who told the Commons last month he wanted to send back all the passengers to deter future hijackings.
© Telegraph

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