NEWS - Archive for October 2000
October 2000 Headlines
Headlines october 31, 2000
Headlines october 27, 2000
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Headlines october 19, 2000
Headlines october 03, 2000
ANGRY HAIDER RAILS AGAINST REDS AS SCANDAL DEEPENS (Austria)
Eleven Austrian police officers were suspended from duty yesterday
in connection with the country's dirty tricks scandal, while Jörg Haider
went on the attack, angrily rebutting allegations that his Freedom Party
had used stolen police files to discredit its opponents.
Erik Buxbaum, the director general of Austria's internal security,
announced that the officers were being suspended on suspicion of
hacking into the central police computer and passing on information to
In parliament, Dieter Böhmdorfer, the Justice Minister and formerly Mr
Haider's lawyer, survived a third vote of no confidence in his short
Prosecutors in Vienna launched an investigation last Wednesday into
claims that Mr Haider's far-right party had obtained personal files of
political enemies from corrupt police officers. That allegation had
surfaced in a book by Josef Kleindienst, the former head of the police
trade union affiliated with the Freedom Party.
Mr Kleindienst admitted he had stolen such files from the police
computer and passed them on to the party. The information was
allegedly used by Mr Haider's colleagues as ammunition against
opponents at trials, news conferences and during public debates.
Casting aspersions on their critics' character has been a favourite
Freedom Party tactic, remarked upon even by the European Union's
"wise men's" report on Austria. When that failed, lawsuits for libel
often followed. It was during one such trial that Mr Böhmdorfer
allegedly used material siphoned off the central police computer,
which holds personal details of every Austrian.
True to form, Mr Haider was threatening yesterday to sue again,
although no writ had been issued against Mr Kleindienst. The targets
this time are two Austrian magazines which came out with further
allegations at the weekend.
The scandal, Mr Haider told reporters, sprang "from the sick minds of
journalists". "We shall create order in the spy state built by the Reds,"
Mr Haider is among the 18 Freedom Party officials under investigation.
He maintains, however, that anything his party has done is done no
worse than the Socialists, who allegedly also used their connections
at the police to gain privileged information.
In a country where almost all areas of life are carved up between the
two established parties, few people would disbelieve that claim. But
the Freedom Party, an erstwhile outsider, was supposed to have
been different. A great deal of its electoral appeal stemmed from its
clean-cut image, which has has now been permanently soiled.
© The Independent
BOSNIAN MINORITY PINS HOPE ON POLL
After years of suffering, Kosovo's Bosnian community are hopeful new local administrators elected
this weekend will improve their plight
By Gani Lajqi in Pristina (BCR No. 190, 27-Oct-00)
Kosovo's little-known Bosnian minority have suffered more than most in Kosovo.
The Serbian authorities considered them enemies, but even now they continue to face
discrimination and intimidation.
However, on the eve of municipal elections, the minority's leaders are optimistic that the
community's prospects are about to change.
For much of the Milosevic era, the Bosnians suffered the same depredations as the Albanians. The
minority, which used to number around 60,000, was treated particularly badly with the outbreak of
the Bosnian conflict.
"At the beginning of the war in Bosnia, we were considered enemies," said Numan Balic, leader of
the Kosovo Bosnians' Party of Democratic Action, SDA. Many members of the community were
imprisoned and around 20,000 expelled. In desperation, some Bosnians collaborated with the
Serbian regime, still a source of some tension with Kosovar Albanians. Since the end of the
Kosovo war, Balic said, "extremist armed Albanians made our life difficult. Thirty thousand more
Bosnians left, which is a lot for our small population."
Tensions have since lifted somewhat, but Bosnians still face problems speaking their mother
tongue. Albanians often mistake Bosnian and other Slavic languages for Serbian, with dangerous
consequences. Last year, a Bulgarian NGO worker was killed as soon as he arrived in Pristina for
speaking Bulgarian, easily confused for Serbian.
Bosnian, though, is still taught in a few Kosovo schools, and the situation has improved
considerably. But in some areas, Albanians still resent the presence of the minority.
There are probably only about 10,000 left in Kosovo, and they don't want to leave. But they feel
sidelined by the international community, which, they claim, provides them with insufficient funds.
In the run-up to the elections, all their politicians could afford was a short broadcast on the public
television station Radio Television Kosovo.
Although international authorities in Kosovo make plenty of noise about improving the position of
minority groups, their words are directed at Serbs and Roma. Other minorities, like Bosnians,
Turks and Ashkali, are largely ignored.
But SDA leaders are optimistic about Saturday. The Bosnians are setting great store by the
elections, believing that the new local administrations will recognise the community's wish to live
peacefully with its Albanian neighbours. "We are very pleased with our electoral campaign
because we have shown that we know how to live together and that non-Albanians who committed
no crimes here can co-exist with the local population," said Balic.
A rally for tolerance held on Mother Teresa street in Pristina earlier this month brought together
thousands of Albanians and Bosnians.
"First I will speak in my Bosnian language," said Balic at the rally, "to tell the world that other
languages besides Albanian can be spoken freely here, and that Albanians have nothing against
This got even greater applause than when United Nations mission chief Bernard Kouchner
famously tried to speak in Albanian.
Gani Lajqi is a journalist with the Albanian daily Koha Ditore in Pristina.
© Institute for War & Peace Reporting
NUMBER OF ASYLUM SEEKERS STABILISED (UK)
The number of would-be asylum seekers arriving in Britain
stabilised last month, after successive rises throughout
the summer, according to new figures.
There were 6,435 applications, only five more than last
The largest proportion of these came from Iraqi and
But compared with the three months of last summer,
applications dropped by an average of 9%, the Home
Office figures showed.
Officials made less initial decisions in September than
August, a drop of 17% and the number of appeals against
initial refusal rose by nearly 20%.
The total number of appeals determined by adjudicators
rose by 20% however.
The overall number of refugees waiting to learn if they can
remain in Britain continued to fall, to a low of 75,680.
Immigration Minister Barbara Roche said the figures
showed work on cutting the backlog of applications was
She said: "By the end of last month, the number of cases
stuck in the backlog was down by over a quarter since its
peak in January. It has now fallen for eight consecutive
THOUSANDS PROTEST AGAINST GERMAN NEO-NAZI MARCHES (Germany)
Thousands of Germans have taken to the streets to
protest against neo-Nazi marches in their cities, heeding
calls by politicians and Jewish leaders to stand up against
racism and a surge of hate crimes.
More than 10,000 citizens gathered for a rally in
Dusseldorf, where a bomb attack on immigrants in July
jolted the nation into confronting the far right. A few
hundred yards away, about 100 neo-Nazis marched
through the old town, heavily guarded by police.
Mostly young and shaven-headed, the neo-Nazis were met
with shouts of "Nazis out!" and "Get lost!". The leader of
Germany's Jewish community Paul Spiegel and North
Rhine-Westphalia governor Wolfgang Clement addressed
the main rally, where Jewish people hoisted a banner
calling for an end to "hate and violence".
Dusseldorf police mounted their biggest operation since
the Second World War to prevent clashes between the
opposing camps, calling in reinforcements from several
In Kassel, 125 miles to the east, about 6,000 people rallied
against neo-Nazis under the slogan "A city stands up".
Triggering the civic response was a planned
demonstration by a far-right group calling for Germany to
retake eastern European territories lost in the Second
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has urged Germans to take
part in an "uprising of decent people" against neo-Nazis.
Last weekend, about 20,000 people gathered in the
western city of Dortmund in solidarity with foreigners.
Mr Schroeder and Jewish leaders are to attend another big
demonstration in Berlin on November 9, the anniversary of
the infamous 1938 Kristallnacht Nazi pogrom and also the
1989 fall of the Berlin Wall.
Investigators have yet to solve the Dusseldorf bomb attack
that injured 10 recent immigrants from the former Soviet
Union, six of them Jewish, or a failed firebombing on
October 2 at a synagogue on the eve of the 10th
anniversary of German reunification.
In Kassel, police reported two overnight racist incidents.
Two drunken men in their 20s shouted abuse at an Indian
in front of his shop, and another man hurled anti-foreigner
insults at a group of Turks being checked by police.
Official figures have documented a sharp rise in far-right
violence against foreigners and other minorities in
Germany, leaving at least three dead this year.
POPE CONDEMS SOCCER VIOLENCE AND RACISM
Pope John Paul II has condemned violence and racism at
soccer stadiums, saying that fans must not allow support
for their team to become insulting.
Speaking to an audience at the Vatican City, the Pope
said: "Sometimes, unfortunately, the sporting world is hit
by episodes that damage the real significance of
"In particular, passionate (support) for a team must never
reach the point of insulting people and damaging the
Among the audience were several players from Italian
first-division club Lazio, which has been in the spotlight
recently over racism taunts.
They included Yugoslav defender Sinisa Mihajlovic, who
made a public apology two days ago for his racial taunting
of Arsenal's French midfielder Patrick Vieira in a
Champions League match.
This weekend marks the Vatican's Holy Year celebrations
for athletes. The Pope will celebrate Mass at the Olympic
stadium Sunday and watch a match featuring current stars
from the Italian soccer league.
TRIO JAILED OVER PLOT TO SMUGGLE ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS INTO UK
Three members of a smuggling ring have been jailed for
bringing Asians into Britain hidden in vans loaded with
crisps, toilet rolls and mineral water.
The illegal immigrants from the Indian sub-continent were
destined for new lives in Canada via Europe and England
before the ring was smashed by police, Newcastle Crown
Court was told.
The ringleader, Jasvir Singh Bains, 35, of Taylor Road,
Wolverhampton, and two co-accused Gary Harland, 25, of
DeWaldon Terrace, and Gary Hall, 30, of Castle Terrace,
both Ashington, Northumberland, admitted conspiracy to
facilitate illegal immigration into the UK.
The trio was snared after the National Crime Squad
carried out undercover surveillance operations tracking
two of the men as they crossed the Channel by ferry to
pick up the illegal immigrants from Europe.
The vans used in the smuggling were initially hired on
Tyneside by Hall.
The court was told that Bains recruited his two colleagues
through a criminal network linking the West Midlands with
north east England and that Hall was the van driver on two
occasions and Harland his accomplice on one trip.
Hall and Harland travelled from the north east to meet
Bains before the two Northumberland men crossed from
Dover to Calais and then drove to Ghent, in Belgium, to
pick up the immigrants before returning to England.
The immigrants were then collected by Bains who took
them to a safe house in the Southall area of west London.
Two of the trips were monitored by National Crime Squad
Officers during a year-long operation and the three men
were arrested in April 1999.
Bains, a former market trader in the West Midlands, was
sentenced to three-and-a-half years for his part in the
smuggling and both Harland and Hall sentenced to 18
After the hearing Detective Chief Inspector Ian Holmes, of
the National Crime Squad, said ringleaders could make up
to £2,000 clear profit per person he smuggled in while
others involved with driving and helping could have been
making £200 a person smuggled in.
UN FORMER DUTCH PREMIER TAGGED TO HEAD UNHCR
For six years, former Dutch premier Ruud Lubbers was all at sea, adrift
in the political doldrums. Things have picked up, however, and the 61-year-old
Christian Democrat now finds himself captain of a new ship - the United Nations
High Commission for Refugees, or UNHCR for short.
The man of the moment was himself somewhat surprised by the appointment:
before setting off for New York, he said he had no idea how UN General Secretary
Kofi Annan decided he was the man for the job. Current Dutch premier, Wim Kok,
had actually nominated his environment minister Jan Pronk to succeed the
outgoing high commissioner, Sadako Ogata from Japan.
But Annan decided on Lubbers, rescuing him from political obscurity. Pronk made
no secret of his disappointment, having fully expected to land the job: "But Ruud
was Western Europe's longest- serving premier. An ordinary minister cannot
compete with those sort of connections." Lubbers headed the Dutch government
from 1982 to 1994 and dominated The Hague's political scene. A businessman's
son, he was made economics minister in 1973, aged just 34. When the various
parties of the Christian Democrat scene fused to form a single Christian
Democratic party (CDA), he was the man who oversaw the tricky integration
process. In 1979. the Catholic-educated Lubbers became party leader and took
over the premiership three years later.
He made a name for himself throughout Europe as a pragmatic "man of the middle"
holding office for three terms. Overburdened with debt, the Netherlands went on a
diet of spending cuts under his government in the late 1980s: these cuts tightened
up the social welfare system and his consensus-based politics, which assigned an
important role to trades unions and employers, formed the cornerstone for the
Netherlands' present-day economic prowess.
At the start of the 90s, Lubbers announced he would eventually retire, and withdrew
from politics in 1994. At the time he was sure that a career on the international
stage awaited him, but German chancellor Helmut Kohl made sure his hopes came
to nothing. The big man of German politics had never forgiven Lubbers having
misgivings about German reunification. The Hague tried to curry favour for Lubbers
in 1995 when Nato was looking for a new secretary-general, but Washington was
having none of it and appointed Spaniard Javier Solana instead.
Premier since 1994, Kok did little to further his predecessor's third attempt to
finally "get his foot in the door": Annan's appointment bypassed the current Dutch
helmsman completely. Although the press is convinced that Dutch diplomacy has
"lost face", the vanquished Pronk still sees a positive side to the former premier's
new position. He called Lubbers "a good candidate" and said the most important
thing was that a Dutchman had landed the job.
© Frankfurter Rundschau
IRELAND NOT AN EASY COUNTRY FOR ASYLUM SEEKERS
Ireland not an "easy" country for
asylum-seekers says new report
Study finds record on
refugees compares badly
By Nuala Haughey
The perception of Ireland as an "easy" country for
asylum-seekers is not borne out by official figures, according to
a report published today.
The study by two UCD academics concludes that asylum
seekers seem less likely to gain refugee status in Ireland than in
many other European countries, even if they come from regions
of well-documented strife.
Asylum-seekers are people seeking recognition as refugees on
the basis that they fear persecution at home on grounds including
race, religion, political opinion and membership of a particular
People granted refugee status in the State are entitled to similar
rights as Irish-born people and can apply for citizenship after
two years. People who are not recognised as refugees are liable
to be deported.
The 108-page study, Lives on Hold: Seeking Asylum in Ireland,
says Ireland has become a destination for asylum-seekers since
1996, although total numbers still remain small. The number of
people seeking asylum increased from 424 in 1995 to 4,626 in
1998 and 7,724 in 1999.
The report says the rising numbers are part of a trend of
increases to "outer" European countries. The overall ratio of
asylum-seekers to inhabitants in Ireland remains at around the
middle of the EU range.
The research was carried out by Dr Pauline Faughnan and Ms
Máir& acute;ide Woods of UCD's Social Science Research
The study shows that when Ireland received fewer
asylum-seekers, its recognition rate was high. In 1995, when 424
people claimed asylum, 57 per cent of applicants were
recognised by either being granted refugee status or temporary
leave to remain.
By 1998, when 4,626 people sought asylum, the recognition rate
fell to 13 per cent. Provisional figures for 1999 and the first half
of 2000 indicate a similar recognition rate. This compares with
Denmark where favourable decisions were made in 55 per cent
of 5,700 cases in 1998, 44 per cent of 1,270 applications in
Finland and 29 per cent of 46,000 in the UK.
The study points out that in 1998 asylum-seekers from Somalia,
"where the dangers of war and persecution are well accepted",
had an average recognition rate of 69 per cent by industrialised
Denmark, a country comparable to Ireland both in geographical
position and experience of refugees, made favourable decisions
in respect of 92 per cent of Somalis; in Ireland, the recognition
rate for Somali asylum-seekers was 36 per cent.
The average recognition rate in 1998 for asylum-seekers from
the Democratic Republic of Congo, another country which the
report says is experiencing upheaval, was 26 per cent. Ireland's
figure for that year was less than 5 per cent, while the average
rate for industrialised countries was 33 per cent.
"The perception that Ireland is an `easy' asylum country is not
borne out, when recognition rates are compared with either the
average for industrialised countries or with the UNHCR overall
average," the report states.
Judging by 1998 recognition rates, "asylum-seekers seem less
likely to gain refugee status in Ireland than in many other
European countries, even if they come from regions of
well-documented strife. "The rise in numbers claiming asylum in
Europe is linked to conflict and poverty in other parts of the
world; it is also linked to the absence of a legal avenue into
Europe for would-be immigrants."
Ms Faughnan said the Republic was "a favoured destination
because of our social welfare or the Celtic Tiger, but while the
numbers have risen it was from a very low base, so it's a
question of catching up rather than leading the field at this
Almost three-quarters of those who sought asylum in Ireland
during 1992-99 came from Romania and Nigeria. Last year
Ireland received more than a quarter of all Romanians seeking
asylum in Europe.
© The Irish Times
REMINDERS OF NAZI PAST NOT ENOUGH (Germany)
Schleswig-Holstein works on getting younger generations
By Monika Metzner
Bad Segeberg, Germany - Only one visitor said something about the present when
making a statement about the past. When a touring exhibition about the German
army during WWII came to the northern German town of Kiel, hidden away
between the scores of entries into the visitors' book was only one comment which
mentioned the close connection between the Nazi crimes of the past and
Most other entries were either defensive doubts about the authenticity of the
documents on show or bland expressions of agreement with the exhibition. Some,
mostly from visiting school groups, expressed disappointment at the lack of
"events" and other spectacular happenings.
Uwe Danker thinks such opinions will greatly increase the pressure on the work
carried out at memorials built on the sites of Nazi crimes to "legitimate itself".
In association with northern Germany's Lutheran ecclesiastical organisation, the
Heinrich Boell Foundation, a left-wing think-tank recently held a public talk in the
town of Bad Segeberg, north of Hamburg, to discuss the "future of remembering the
National Socialist past".
Speaking at the meeting, Danker, director of the Schleswig- Holstein Institute for
Regional History, said that younger generations have started to care less about the
significance of Nazism. Continuing, he said that memorial sites have to be made
more attractive, albeit in a way that befits someplace with the function of a
Guenther Morsch says that the "memorial boom" of the 1970s is, in part, still going
on today. Director of the memorial site at the former concentration camp at
Sachsenhausen, near Oranienburg north of Berlin, Morsch praises the memorials
for having "achieved belated recognition and rehabilitiation for victims." In his
opinion, Germany's impulse to open these sites has "probably brought more
recognition for the Federal Republic abroad than all the millions spent on
reparations." His praise also covers the memorials in the northernmost state of
Schleswig-Holstein. What is probably Germany's oldest concentration camp
memorial is located in Ladelund on the Danish border. As early as 1950, attempts
began here to achieve some sort of reconciliation with the relatives of Dutch
deportees. The Dutch formed the single largest group of prisoners at Ladelund
when it was one of 85 secondary camps under the control of the larger camp at
Neuengamme in Hamburg from November until December 1945.
Prisoners were set to work on the so-called "Friesian Defence Wall" and within just
six weeks, hunger, disease, ill-treatment and insanitary conditions led to the death
of 300 people labouring on the futile task.
Germans and people from the Dutch town of Putten, near Amersfoort, gather here
every year: Putten was destroyed by the SS as a reprisal for resistance in October
1944. Some 600 - almost all - of Putten's menfolk were transported first to
Neuengamme and then Ladelund: only 49 survived.
Danker believes that Ladelund fulfils all the "roles and functions of a memorial in
our society". He says it is important that memorials are genuine, historical
locations where the victims of violence once more regain their dignity, where people
can come to grieve and where the decendents of both victims and perpetrators can
meet face to face.
He also says that memorials dealing with the Nazi past have to be places where
Nazi violence gets brought across in an affective manner (prompting an emotional
response) and where information about the Nazi era gets brought across in a
cognitive manner (prompting an intellectual evaluation), and that they should be
places of warning.
Local historian Gerhard Hoch felt compelled to return victims of Kaltenkirchen
concentration camp their dignity as well. His determination alone rescued the
original site of the camp, long overgrown, where he excavated the remains of a
Schleswig-Holstein's newest concentration camp memorial stands on this spot
since May of this year.
Hoch managed to get the local church, commune and schools involved. "How could
it come to this?" - Hoch's work is dominated by this question. "It is a terrible thing
to realise that Nazis came from the heart of society, just as neo-Nazis come from
the heart of society today.
Ahrensboek, north of Luebeck, is another Holstein town which intends to open a
similar memorial before the end of 2000, with the aim of communicating the history
of the Nazi era.
No other place can better bring home both the beginning and the end of the Nazis'
criminal regime. With aid from the local state capital of Kiel, the local government
and private donations, the town wants to purchase and enlarge a building that was
part of a "wild" camp, where the Nazis imprisoned opponents as early as 1933.
On one hand, this authentic location can document the beginnings in 1933, but it
also relates to the end of Nazi rule. In April 1945, several hundred prisoners were
transported from Auschwitz to Ahrensboek, and from there to nearby Neustadt on
the Baltic. Herded onto ships anchored offshore, few survived the British bombing
raids that sank them the following May.
Ahrensboek's "Group 33" has brought victims and their persecutors together
before. Now the victims are old and soon will no longer be able to make the journey
to Germany, so the organisers are trying to start a process "that won't just treat
future generations as recipients of a fait accompli, but which gives them a role in
shaping the project," as chairman Michael Schwer explains.
To him, "events" do not mean a chamber of horrors, but presenting the topic in a
factual and youth-oriented manner, one which informs younger people about the
"Commemoration of Nazi crimes does not automatically guarantee peacefulness or
immunise against racism." This is how Schleswig- Holstein's memorials committee
put it. Danker, one of the people behind this committee, views memorial sites as
places of admonishment, but he thinks this is "the most questionable role" that the
site in Bad Segeberg could play.
He claims that anyone who thinks that mere admonishments are enough to
combat neo-Nazism is making "a terrible mistake"; anyone who thinks that
revealing enough horror will be sufficient to get a reaction from visitors is deluding
Danker names a film as proof. Roughly translatable as "Nazi By Profession." In it,
a neo-Nazi travels to Auschwitz and buys something to read so he can "have a
laugh on the way home". Before reinventing himself as neo-Nazi, the man was a
volunteer at the Bergen-Belsen memorial.
© Frankfurter Rundschau
UN CONFERENCE 2001 AGAINST RACISM
UN-Conference 2001 against Racism: Rights Activists Ask U.N. to Target Racism in U.S.
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Nearly 50 prominent U.S. civil rights activists
appealed to the United Nations (news - web sites) on Tuesday to hold the
United States accountable for what they charge is racial discrimination in
the criminal justice system.
The petition, or ``call to action,'' was given to the U.N. high commissioner
for human rights, former Irish President Mary Robinson.
It was submitted 53 years to the day after a similar appeal for racial
justice was submitted to the fledgling United Nations in 1947 by the black
scholar-activist W.E.B. Du Bois and the National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People.
Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership Conference on Human
Rights, a coalition of over 180 national organizations, said minority
communities had long been the victims of racial profiling, prosecutorial
misconduct and disparities in the imposition of the death penalty.
Racial profiling is the use of race as a presumption of guilt, without
evidence of criminal conduct, when police and other officials stop people in
the street, on highways, at airports and at similar locations.
Henderson told a news conference attended by Robinson that these concerns
had been repeatedly raised with federal and state officials in the United
States but to little effect.
``In our frustration, we now turn to the United Nations and have asked the
high commissioner ... to aid us in holding the United States accountable for
the intractable and persistent problems of discrimination that we, as men
and women of color, face at the hands of the United States criminal justice
system,'' he said.
U.S. leaders often condemned other nations for human rights violations,
``In order to maintain credibility abroad and, most importantly, to render
justice here in the United States, the U.S. government must address its own
human rights shortcomings and offer a concrete strategy for eliminating
racial discrimination at home,'' he said.
Moratorium On Death Penalty
The U.S. government, as a bare minimum, should immediately declare racial
profiling illegal and impose a moratorium on the imposition of the death
penalty at the federal and state levels, so the extent to which racial
discrimination affects these processes can be determined, Henderson said.
The petition was signed by nearly 50 prominent civil and human rights
activists from various ethnic groups, including American Indians, Latinos,
Asian-Americans and Arabs-Americans.
They urged the United Nations to call on the U.S. government to honor its
obligations under the International Convention on the Elimination of All
Forms of Racial Discrimination and other human rights treaties.
The United Nations was also asked to examine racial discrimination in the
U.S. justice system and consider sending a mission to the United States made
up of various U.N. human rights rapporteurs, or investigators.
The petition asked that the issue of racial discrimination in the U.S.
criminal justice system be placed on the agenda of a U.N. world conference
against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance,
to be held in Durban, South Africa, from Aug. 31 to Sept 7, 2001.
The ``call to action'' said black men constituted 50 percent of the U.S.
prison population but only 6 percent of the population. It also said 42
percent of death row inmates were black and 80 percent of executions were
for cases involving white victims.
``It is an honor for me, as high commissioner, to receive this call for
action,'' Robinson said, since it made a connection between preparations in
the United States and in other countries for next year's conference in
Among those who signed the petition were Julian Bond, chairman of the NAACP;
JoAnn Chase, executive director of the National Congress of American
Indians; Ira Glasser, executive director of the American Civil Liberties
Union; civil rights activist Jesse Jackson; filmmaker Spike Lee; Kweisi
Mfume, president of the NAACP; and James Zogby, president of the
ETHNIC PUPILS FAILED BY SYSTEM (UK)
The survey tracked school results of ethnic groups
Children from ethnic minority backgrounds are
being left behind as educational standards rise,
research has found.
The study suggests that while all the major
minority groups are getting better results than
ever, white pupils are still ahead - leaving
some minorities trailing even further behind
than they were a decade ago.
The report, Educational
race, class and gender,
was commissioned by
the Office for Standards
in Education (Ofsted),
following the Stephen
The achievement gap
white pupils and their Pakistani and
African-Caribbean classmates has doubled
since the late 1980s, the research revealed.
While black children often started school
better prepared than any other group, they
appeared to fall behind as they progress
through the education system.
Indians do well
The only exception was among Indian pupils,
who were found to have overtaken their white
classmates over the past ten years.
Co-author of the report, Dr David Gillborn from
the Institute of Education said schools and
education authorities must show greater
willingness to implement policies leading to
equality and inclusion.
"Post-Lawrence there is a clear public
commitment to race equality.
"This report shows that
we need genuine
action if the education
world is serious about
including everybody in
the standards agenda,"
said Dr Gillborn.
There was no evidence
to suggest there was
anything inherent in
minority groups which
made them perform
better or worse.
For each of the principal groups, there is at
least one local authority where those children
are gaining the highest GCSE results, Dr
Social class and gender
The research also examined the impact of
class and gender on pupils' achievement and
found that inequalities relating to race and
class were much greater than those relating to
"The gender debate has diverted attention
from the major inequalities in our education
"If you are from a working class home and
African Caribbean, Pakistani or Bangladeshi,
the chances are that you will not do as well as
a white pupil in the same position, regardless
of whether you're a boy or a girl," Dr Gillborn
Middle-class black children were the lowest
attaining middle-class group, with a 38%
chance of achieving five high grades at GCSE -
less than working-class Indians (43%) and only
a little better than working-class whites
The government admitted more must be done
to address the issue, but welcomed the news
that the educational achievement of ethnic
minority pupils is rising.
The results of the study refer to state schools
and were based on statistics submitted by 118
local education authorities and data from the
Youth Cohort surveys of 1988, 1995 and 1997.
The minority groups surveyed were: Black
African, Black Caribbean, Black other, Indian,
Pakistani and Bangladeshi.
Chinese pupils were not included for the
purposes of the study, as many children in this
group attend private schools, Dr Gillborn
© BBC NEWS
APPEAL FOR YUGOSLAVIA REFUGEES
The United Nations refugee agency has warned
that seven-hundred-thousand displaced people
in Yugoslavia need urgent help to survive the
coming winter months.
The agency, the UNHCR, is appealing for
twenty-million dollars for blankets, beds and
fuel, after lack of funds forced it to cut its aid
The money will go to refugee centres in Serbia
and Montenegro, where Serbs and others
displaced from Kosovo and from earlier
conflicts in Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina are
© BBC NEWS
REPATRIATIONS OF MIGRANTS IN SHIPS' HOLD (Spain)
By Samuel Adebowale, Madrid
The Association for Human Rights in Andalucía (APDH) has brought the
Spanish government to court for the deportation of illegal immigrants in
The association stated that their motive for litigating the
government act is to avoid future occurrence of the incidences which they
classified as inhuman and illegal. On the contrary, the State secretary
for foreigner affairs, Enrique Fernández-Miranda, has declared that the
deportation was done according to the international regulation of aviation
and maritime security. Meanwhile the ombudsman has opened up an official
investigation into the illegal deportation allegation levelled against the
The deportation polemic came up after the refusal of the captains of the
two major ferries that sail the Mediterranean between Spain and Morocco to
continue transporting deportees in their ship's holds.
José María Badillo,
captain of a transmediterranean ferry, started the historic refusal of the
illegal deportation habit which has been prohibited 15 years back. Despite
this one and half decade of prohibition the inhumane praxis continued to be
in use in Spain till this present refusal scene.
The latest deportees, mainly Moroccans, were part of the 455 migrants that
gained entrance illegally through the coasts of Tarifa into Spain at
midnight on the 3rd of October this year.
The illegal entry, which was the
largest ever recorded in one night, occurred few hours before the
parliamentary debate on the new immigration law started.
In what goes of this year, over 11,000 Migrants have been intercepted in
their attempt to enter the Spanish peninsula through the coasts. This
figure has already doubled the 5,492 cases recorded last year. The
proportion of casualties, mostly the death cases, have also increased in
this illegal Mediterranean crossing bid.
The newest project of the Spanish government to combat illegal immigration
is the installation of a special control described as "integrated system
for external vigilance"(sive) in the Spanish Mediterranean coasts to detect
This system which is also called electric wall is to
enhance advance interception of the illegal sailing at least 10 kilometres
away from the Spanish peninsula.
The first phase of the project is to be
finished by the year 2002 and the project will cost around 120.3 million
Euro (20billion pesetas).
Association for Human Rights in Spain
tel: +34 914022312
tel: +34 91 432 7900
IRELAND TO RATIFY THE INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION FOR THE ELIMINATION OF
ALL FORMS OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
By Soledad Galiana, Dublin.
The Irish Government is committed to tackling resolutely any tendency
towards an increase in racist views or attitudes in society said the Irish
Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform John O'Donoghue.
statement was made to more than 500 delegates from 50 countries who
assisted the conference "All Different, All Equal: From Principle to
Practice", hosted by the Council of Europe. The event is Europe's
contribution to a United Nations world conference against racism in South
Africa next year.
During the conference, which took place between the 11 and 13 of October,
Mr O'Donoghue said Ireland was going through major changes in both its
economy and society and was becoming increasingly multicultural.
minister promoted "the creation of an environment which recognises refugees
as persons who enrich society has a key role to play in integration".
his opinion the conference would help to clarify the role of government and
state agencies in dealing with racism and in developing mechanisms and good
practices in government and wider society to defeat it.
Mr O'Donoghue was
one of 41 ministers representing the council's member-states who adopted a
political declaration reaffirming their commitment to prevent and eliminate
racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and related
On the opening day of the conference, the UN High Commissioner for Human
Rights, Mrs Mary Robinson, singled out Ireland and Turkey as the only two
nations in the council that had not yet ratified the International
Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
O'Donoghue said during his speech, on the conference-closing day, that the
convention should be ratified and implemented by the end of the year.
Conference participants also agreed on a set of general conclusions to
contribute to the world conference.
Mr Niall Crowley, from the Equality
Authority, who participated in the conference, said its conclusions gave "a
crucial stimulus to fighting racism at a moment in Ireland when it has
really grown in virulence".
He continued stating that the political
declaration by the member-countries of the council was "a very important
document, particularly for its commitment to a national plan of action
against racism and its focus on prioritising and protecting the cultural
identities of minorities.
European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance
TOLERANCE AND NON-DISCRIMINATION IN GREECE
STATEMENT ON GREECE AT THE 2000 OSCE IMPLEMENTATION MEETING
Tolerance and Non-Discrimination in Greece:
Tolerance of Intolerance and Growing Mainstream Extremism
Like in all OSCE countries, there are many phenomena of racism in Greece, at the administrative, the intellectual and media, as well as the public opinion level. What, though, differentiates Greece from most traditional democracies is the lack of reaction to racism, to the extent that one has the impression that racist actions, opinions and ideas are acceptable variants in society. There is no reaction not only to obviously extremist racist actions, but also to "mainstream extremist" statements - made by persons not considered to be extremists - that would lead anywhere else at least to strong criticism if not outright condemnation.
Greece strongly rejected the carefully worded criticism of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) report. As current Minister of Justice Mihalis Stathopoulos, a non-politician with a NGO background, said, commenting on these reactions to the ECRI report, "all those who boast for the absence of racism in Greece are people who are not used to criticism and self-criticism." This is the Minister who helped suppress the reference to religion on identity cards. Significantly, the move triggered reactions by the Orthodox Church and many sectors of the Greek public that were not only verbally violent but often outright racist and especially anti-Semitic. Many condemned the verbal violence, but hardly any did likewise for the racist overtones. Just as few if any condemned most of the cases of racism reported in our detailed report submitted to this meeting, not to mention that some of them went almost unreported in Greece.
Among the least reported items were this year's three acts of desecration by neo-nazis of a Jewish Holocaust Memorial (on Passover 20/21 April), Greece's largest Jewish cemetery (29 May), and the home of internationally known director Jules Dassin (24 May). On the contrary, well publicized and hardly criticized were the views of PASOK and New Democracy deputies and Eurodeputies, as well as of top Church leaders, blaming the Jews for the removal of religion from the identity cards.
Another recent example of racist speech uninhibitedly distributed concerns the state "University of Thrace." It maintains one electronic discussion list where from time to time postings with anti-Semitic and/or other racist content are made. When queried about such "tolerance of intolerance," the university answered (14/2/2000), that "it is a democratic university that does not interfere with the expression of opinions, even when it may find them objectionable." The racist, usually anti-Semitic postings continued.
Some mayors and/or municipal councils take explicit racist or xenophobic decisions without any condemnation by the state, nor any disciplinary or other criminal action - called by the respective legislation - ever taken against them.
Mayor Costas Papayanis repeatedly incited the residents of Kassandreia (in Halkidiki, Northern Greece) in 1999 to hold protest rallies to impede the construction of a lecture hall by local Jehovah's Witnesses, who had obtained all necessary licenses. In the process, journalists were beaten by a mob led by the mayor, Jehovah's Witnesses as well as two representatives of the Ombudsman's office were also harassed by the mob. Police present in these incidents made no arrests.
In October 1999, the municipal council of Istiaia (Central Greece) voted a nearly unanimous anti-immigrant appeal. Only a few newspapers and a minor party condemned the action.
In May 2000, three municipal council of Argolida (Southern Greece) unanimously decided to evict all Roma living in their municipality, holding them collectively responsible for alleged (but not verified by any police data) rising criminality. The government called the incident a case of "personal vendetta."
In many cases monitored by NGOs, it has become evident that in the Greek police force there is deeply rooted institutionalized racism towards the Roma. In answering NGO charges on one of these cases, in Nea Kios, the Greek Police General Staff confirmed its racism, by writing the following to the Human Rights Directorate of the Greek Foreign Ministry.
"It is well known that [Roma] are a traditionally nomadic people. This fact, combined with their illiteracy, moral standards, customs and occupations, creates an obstacle both to adapting to the native population and to be accepted by it. A consequence of all that is an unlawful behavior that is usually the expression of everyday life. This behavior usually takes the form of illegal driving and other violations of the motor vehicle code, violations of the Codes of Sanitation, Building and Commerce, illicit trade, unlawful weapons' possession and, often, unlawful weapons' use, theft, possession and trafficking of narcotic substances, etc."
With this eloquent text, we rest our case.
EXCHANGING EXTREMES (Germany)
Review of CEE issues in the
German press since 16
Flogging the foreigner issue
Will "foreigners" be a campaign issue in the upcoming
German federal elections? Die Tageszeitung asked this
question this week, as did the Süddeutsche Zeitung. Writing
sarcastically, the Tageszeitung called Angela Merkel, leader
of the Christian Democrats (CDU), the "megaphone of the
masses," (17 October), citing her so-called solid logic: in a
democracy the citizens should decide the issues;
immigration is an issue; therefore, immigration and foreigners
should be an issue of the elections.
But while Angela Merkel and some members of the CDU
would not hesitate to put "foreigners" on the agenda, there
are others who adamantly believe that this should not be the
case. Volker Rühe, a top CDU party official and former
defence minister, is but one voice of opposition, speaking out
in favour of immigration and against making "foreigners" a
campaign issue ("[Christian Democratic] Union Fights over
Immigration Policy," 16 October Süddeutsche Zeitung).
Thus, a touchy subject for Germany in general is already
becoming an even touchier election issue, long before
campaigning has even begun.
On 18 October, the Süddeutsche Zeitung followed up on this
issue with a report of the warning of Rezzo Schlauch, the
Greens' parliamentary leader, who warned against the turning
of Germany to the right and said that "in the present
situation, the conduct [of Angela Merkel] is extremely
problematic." He went on to say that previously it had been
the CDU's strategy to integrate the right, whereas now the
right is associated with "groups like the NPD (National
Democratic Party of Germany)"-that is, the radical right.
The Tagesspiegel also wrote about this issue on 18 October,
quoting Friedrich Merz of the CDU, who said, "when the
problem is solved, then there will be no need for it to be a
campaign issue. And when it is not solved, then politicians
should not have the audacity to declare what should and
should not be discussed in a campaign."
And so gradually, the left-wing components of the German
government (Social Democrats, Greens) have made
immigration and foreigners into an issue of right-wing
radicals. What better way to discredit the CDU than to make
claims that it aligns itself with the radical right and brings up
issues that essentially only the NPD, that is, neo-Nazis,
What should there truly be to fear in discussing this issue?
The Tagesspiegel answered this question by concluding its
article with a list of the most recent racially motivated
attacks in Germany. What is to be done? Germans have a
problem regarding foreigners and immigration, and yet some
claim this should not become the theme of any discussion or
vote. Ostensibly, in the eyes of some, it is better to silently
disregard both the problem itself and the worries of Germans
who fear more immigration.
The former Communist party (PDS) held its party conference
this past week in Cottbus. There is less concern in the
German press about the fact that there are rumours of a
union between the former Communists and the ruling Social
Democrats (SPD). On 16 October, the Süddeutsche Zeitung
wrote about the overwhelming success of Gabi Zimmer, who
was voted in at the conference as the new leader of the PDS.
She did not rule out the possibility of a coalition with the
SPD, "where it serves the needs of people."
On 16 October, the Tagesspiegel ran the headline "The PDS
Strengthens [the Position of] Helmut Holter, the Politician
Who Knows How to Handle the SPD." The incorporation of
extremists into German politics, it would appear, should
indeed be a concern; however, that concern applies across
the political spectrum, as ex-Communists meet with
Chancellor Gerhard Schröder.
It was the Tageszeitung in Berlin that ran a headline citing
Sigmar Gabriel of the SPD: "When It Comes to Law and
Order the PDS Is Actually Right-Wing Extremist" (19
October). At least one German politician is proving capable
of moving outside of the typical partisan rhetoric, in which the
PDS inevitably gets off easier than other extremist parties.
Addressing the past
Another issue in the German press this week was that of the
compensation of forced workers from the Nazi era: should
companies currently undergoing bankruptcy be forced to
pay? Much to the continued embarrassment of German
politicians, it is proving tremendously difficult to collect the
required DEM five billion.
However, the Germans are not the only ones who should be
embarrassed. A headline from 19 October in Die Welt reads:
"Czech Republic Drags Its Feet on Addressing the Past."
Czech historian Frantiek Hybl would like to erect a
memorial to 265 Carpathian Germans, who were halted
during a trainride after being expelled from their homes near
the High Tatras, forced to strip down and hand over their
valuables. They were then shot by soldiers returning from a
victory parade in Prague.
Hybl, in his desire to commemorate and draw attention to
this event, met with opposition from the Czech justice
system, when a judge declared that "this issue had been
cleared up already," and from Czechs at large, who have
sent the historian anonymous threats. Hybl points out that
"even among us, not only among the Germans, there was
Czechs must, along with the Germans and other Central and
East European states, address the untenable aspects of
their own past.
© Central Europe Review
HESSE AND SAARLAND WITHOLD SUPPORT ON BID TO BAN NPD (Germany)
Hesse and Saarland Withhold Support on Bid to Ban NPD
By Peter Schilder
DÜSSELDORF. The federal states decided by an overwhelming margin on Thursday to support the national government in appealing to the Federal Constitutional Court to ban the right-wing extremist National Democratic Party (NPD).
In fact, there were two separate votes: one by the state interior ministers meeting in Düsseldorf, and another, a few hours later, at the state premiers' conference in Schwerin.
In both, the only dissent came from the Christian Democratic Union-governed states of Hesse and Saarland, which abstained. They said they would also not support the request when the Bundesrat, the legislative body which represents the 16 states at the national level, meets on Nov. 10 to make approval official with a formal vote.
German Interior Minister Otto Schily said he was disappointed that two states had not seen fit to back the appeal to the Federal Constitutional Court, but he said abstentions did not detract from a "unanimous decision." The votes, he added, were a "signal in the spirit of a strong democracy."
Bavarian Interior Minister Günther Beckstein, a strong backer of the bid to outlaw the NPD, also downplayed the refusal of Hesse and Saarland to support the effort.
In the days running up to the meeting, there had been speculation that some Social Democratic Party-led states would refuse to support the initiative of Mr. Schily, their party colleague, but in the end they gave him their unanimous support.
A spokesman for the party, Rhineland-Palatinate Interior Minister Walter Zuber, said that the Social Democrats had "once again demonstrated their ability to act decisively on core issues affecting our nation."
Fritz Behrens, the Social Democratic interior minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, said doubters -- himself included -- had been won over by the report produced by a working group set up by the federal and state governments to investigate the NPD.
The report clearly documented the NPD's "aggressive hostile stance" and its objective of working "against the liberal-democratic order," said Mr. Behrens.
He said the state had a duty to use all means at its disposal to resist extremism, although he said that it was still an open question whether the constitutional court would order the first ban on a German political party since 1956. And even if the court does agree, Mr. Behrens acknowledged, "an NPD ban is no panacea."
Xenophobia and "often diffuse and hate-filled prejudices" will not disappear overnight, he told reporters.
"The battle against right-wing extremism and the attitudes it springs from must be waged with determination and endurance, at all political levels and in the entire society, even after the petition to ban the NPD."
Critics have argued that banning a political party with only several thousand members is an overreaction, but Mr. Behrens said this argument failed to take into account the role of the NPD as a potential gathering place for neo-Nazi sympathizers prepared to commit violence. It was also important, he added, to send a signal that hatred of foreigners and anti-Semitism could not be tolerated in Germany.
Even the debate over a ban had encouraged more restrained behavior by the NPD, the North Rhine-Westphalia interior minister said.
Mr. Schily, turning to the vote that will now be held in the Bundestag, the federal parliament, said he was confident that the motion supporting the appeal to the constitutional court would pass by a wide margin.
He said he could understand the reservations of some parliamentarians, but that each should vote his or her conscience.
Ultimately, said Mr. Schily, they would conclude that Germany, because of its historical guilt for the Holocaust, had a special duty to combat right-wing political extremism.
© Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
GERMAN STATES BACK BERLIN PUSH TO OUTLAW EXTREME-RIGHT PARTY
BERLIN - Anti-Semitic crimes are rising again in Germany, new statistics
confirmed Thursday, as state officials from across the country gave their
support to banning a far-right party blamed for fanning hate.
Their support is a critical first step in banning the National
Democratic Party, the most visible measure resulting
from increasing awareness in recent months of neo-Nazi
''A country that had gas chambers for the annihilation of millions of Jews
cannot tolerate organized anti-Semitism,'' Interior
Minister Otto Schily said at a meeting in Duesseldorf with his counterparts
from Germany's 16 states.
At the interior ministers' meeting and a later
meeting of state governors in
the eastern city of Schwerin, all but two states gave
their support to the ban.
Germany's Jewish community has enjoyed an renaissance,
85,000 from about 30,000 in 1990. On Thursday,
officials in Cologne laid
a ceremonial cornerstone for the first permanent Jewish
theater to be built in
Germany since World War II.
But leaders of the community have said that the
continuing violence may
cause some to question if it was right to rebuild
community. According to statistics released Thursday in
number of anti-Semitic crimes doubled in the three
months from June to
September from the same period last year: from 146 to
The interior ministers' meeting Thursday reviewed a
500-page report from
law enforcement officials detailing how the National
known by its German initials NPD, is implicated in that
violence and has
become a threat to German democracy.
The party is jointly responsible for a climate that
creates ''the basis for
violent assaults by right-extremists on foreigners and
other minorities in
Germany,'' said Fritz Behrens, North Rhine-Westphalia
minister and host of the meeting.
Mr. Schily has said he wants to bring the government's
case for declaring
the NPD illegal to the country's constitutional court
before the end of the
year. The government is seeking consensus in Parliament
to support the
© Associated Press
ZAMBIA ADOPTS NATIONAL GENDER POLICY
If a culture of patience pays, then it has paid off for Zambian women who,
after nearly four decades of perseverance and fighting for equality, have
been rewarded by government for their tireless efforts with the adoption of
a National Gender Policy.
Announcing the adoption of the policy recently, minister without portfolio
Michael Sata said in order to attain its vision of gender equality, the
government will fully implement the policy.
Writing in the foreword to the document, President Frederick Chiluba said
the policy meant that government has recognised the need for equal and
full participation of women and men at all levels of national development.
The president added that in view of the cross-cutting nature of gender,
implementation of the policy will entail that all socio-economic policies,
programmes, plans, projects and the national budget are gender
"Deliberate efforts will be employed to ensure that barriers that prevent
equal and effective participation of women and men in the formal and
informal education and employment sectors are removed.
"The policy will also facilitate the repeal and amendment of legislation that
hinder women's access to and control over productive resources such as
land, credit, information and technology," Chiluba added.
Women's Lobby Group chairperson Theresa Kambobe, said the adoption
of the policy was greeted with reciprocal praise for government by some
NGOs while others said the decision was long overdue.
"At long last, this is what we wanted after so many years of lobbying for the
policy. Government should be praised for listening to our cries for gender
equality," she added.
Edna Chewe, a stenographer with a local bank, sighed with relief when
she heard of the news.
"Yes, it is one thing to adopt a National Gender Policy, and quite another to
implement it to the letter," she noted.
But a senior official at the cabinet office, who sought anonymity, said "the
government is committed to the attainment of its vision of gender equality."
"The full realisation of this vision is dependent upon the commitment of all
stakeholders, including individual citizens," the official told PANA.
Out of Zambia's population of 9.5 million, females are about 51 percent.
Although there has been no explicit national gender policy since the
attainment of independence in 1964, an effort to increase the role of
women in socio-economic development was made in the Fourth National
Development Plan (1989-1993), which included a chapter on Women in
These efforts specifically focused on the issues of full integration of
women in development process.
In line with national development characterised by multi-party democracy
and a free market economy in 1991, government decided to formulate the
policy, which has a holistic approach in ensuring that both women and
men participate fully, and equitably benefit from the development process.
The policy, among other issues, addresses the power relations between
women and men in the domestic, community and public domains, which
are impediments to the advancement of women and also the feminisation
of poverty as reflected in women's limited access to and control over
productive resources, social services, remunerative employment
opportunities and minimal participation in political and managerial
Other issues concern cultural and traditional practices that systematically
subject females to male subordination, limited access by women and girls
to and use of basic health services and inadequate reproductive health
facilities, maternal and child health care.
The policy also takes cognisance of the provisions in the UN conferences
and conventions such as the 1979 convention on the Elimination of all
forms of Discrimination Against Women, World Summit for Children held
in New York in 1990, the 1991 Convention on the Rights of the Child, the
International Conference on Population and Development held in Cairo in
1994 and Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995.
Further, the policy takes cognisance of the African Charter on Human and
People's Rights adopted by the OAU in 1981 and the SADC Declaration on
Gender and Development of 1997.
In the SADC declaration, all member states committed themselves to
ensuring equality through equal representation of both women and men in
decision making positions with a 30-percent target share of women in
political and decision making positions by 2005.
Member states also committed themselves to the promotion of women's
full access to and control over productive resources in order to reduce
poverty their families.
Other areas of concern include increased provision of quality health and
education services, protecting and promoting the reproductive and sexual
rights of women and the girl children, repealing and reforming all gender
insensitive laws and taking measures to reduce gender violence.
Thus tabulated, the Zambian government has a dicey task of not being
seen to justify Chewe's welcoming of the adoption of the policy by failing to
translate it to the letter, because, as it is said, patience has a virtue
Zambian women are entitled to this virtue to see that the national gender
policy is translated to the letter.
Panafrican News Agency
BRITONS RESENTFUL OF REFUGEES (UK)
Eight out of 10 British adults believe that refugees
come to Britain because they regard it as "a soft
touch", according to a survey.
Two thirds (66%) thought there were too many
immigrants, and almost two thirds (63%) felt that too
much was done to help them, the Reader's Digest
Nearly four in 10 (37%) felt that those settling in this
country should not maintain the culture and lifestyle they
had at home. The Mori survey of 2,118 adults
throughout Great Britain, reported in the November
issue of the magazine, discovered also that many of
these opinions were based at best on a sketchy
knowledge of the facts.
Russell Twisk, Reader's Digest editor-in-chief, said:
"This widespread resentment of immigrants and
asylum-seekers has worrying implications in a society
that has traditionally prided itself on its racial tolerance.
"Do these attitudes reveal a deep-seated xenophobia
or are they fuelled by segments of the media that can
be accused of turning a normal trend into a perceived
Respondents grossly overestimated the financial aid
asylum seekers receive, believing on average that an
asylum seeker gets £113 a week to live on. In fact, the
magazine said, a single adult seeking asylum gets
£36.54 a week in vouchers to be spent at designated
stores. Just £10 may be converted to cash.
On average, the public estimates that 20% of the
population are immigrants. The real figure is around
4%. Similarly, they believe that on average 26% of the
population belong to an ethnic minority. The real figure
is around 7%.
Nick Hardwick, chief executive of the Refugee Council,
said: "This survey makes depressing reading, but it is
not surprising that, fed on a constant diet of prejudice,
the public are hostile towards refugees and asylum
"What is clear is that the public are badly misinformed.
We must all redouble our efforts to explain the truth -
that refugees are fleeing life-threatening situations, that
last year 54% of initial asylum decisions were positive,
that asylum seekers are given the bare minimum on
which to survive.
"Politicians and the media have a particular
responsibility to ensure that the asylum debate is
based on the facts, not fiction. The positive leadership
taken during the Kosovan crisis last year shows that,
when given the facts, the public are overwhelmingly
supportive and compassionate."
THE STRUGGLE GOES ON FOR THE LAWRENCES (UK)
The parents of Stephen Lawrence have spoken of their
continuing struggle to bring his killers to justice.
Doreen and Neville Lawrence have received an award
in Brussels for their campaign against racism, seven
years after their son died in an unprovoked attack by a
gang of white youths in Eltham, London.
Their subsequent battle against apathy over Stephen's
death became a rallying cry in a wider anti-racism fight.
Neville Lawrence told members of Solidar, the
international humanitarian group of non-governmental
organisations behind the award, that the campaign
Describing himself as honoured and humbled to get the
award, Mr Lawrence said: "When we started out we
had no aim but to find out the truth about Stephen's
death and bring the killers to justice. We are still
seeking justice, but while we do that we are fighting
racism in whatever form it takes. I know this is going to
be a long fight."
Doreen Lawrence, fighting back tears, said: "His killers
are still walking free. There has been no justice around
Stephen's death. The justice that has come out of it is
still going on - people are beginning to talk about
racism and address the issue.
"We can move forward. It has taken us this long to be
able to say that there is a glimmer of light. The door is
ajar, but it is not yet open."
Glenys Kinnock chaired the jury which chose the
recipients of the first ever Solidar "European of the
Year" Silver Rose Award
POLICE CLAMPDOWN ON RACIST MESSAGES ON FORCE WEBSITE (UK)
Police chiefs in Manchester are taking action to stop
officers posting anonymous racist messages on the
force's internal internet system.
Greater Manchester Police staff now have to use a
personal identification number to access the website,
and anyone caught trying to bypass the new system will
face disciplinary action.
The move comes after racist messages appeared on
the online discussion forum, the Manchester Evening
The Black and Asian Police Officers Association has
held several meetings with GMP chiefs to voice their
Association chairman PC Paul Bailey said: "We've
seen levels of ignorance and intolerance which fall way
below the standards that Greater Manchester Police
would expect of its staff.
"We welcome this move to tighten up the system and
we would now like to see anybody guilty of any type of
prejudice to be dealt with swiftly and firmly."
Assistant Chief Constable Vincent Sweeney admitted
racist messages had appeared on the site. He said:
"We abhor the sentiment of the offensive messages
that have gone on there, which have come from an
GERMAN JEWISH LEADER FEARS NAZI COMEBACK
A Jewish leader has accused German politicians of
fanning racist sentiment after a prominent conservative
declared that foreign residents must embrace German
Paul Spiegel, head of Germany's Jewish community,
says the suggestion by the leader of the Christian
Democratic parliamentary faction, Friedrich Merz, is
just the latest statement by top conservatives
undermining the fight against the extreme right.
"Such examples of 'elite xenophobia' certainly don't fit a
model of democracy," he said in a speech to
lawmakers in Cologne.
Merz has drawn sharp criticism, including from inside
his party, for insisting in a newspaper interview that
foreigners who wish to stay in Germany should adopt
"Germany majority culture," and for raising immigration
policy as a campaign issue for the next national
elections due in 2002.
Immigrants and other minorities are favourite targets of
German right-wing extremists, whose brutal attacks
have left at least three people dead this year.
Those incidents, as well as attacks on synagogues and
Holocaust memorials, have prompted the government
to pledge a crackdown on right-wing thugs and urge
ordinary Germans to stand up to neo-Nazis.
But Spiegel says the attacks have led him to doubt
whether "the right lessons from history have been
learned" in more than 50 years of post-Nazi German
ALARM OVER ANTI-SEMITIC ATTACKS IN EUROPE
A car was set ablaze in an anti-Semitic attack in
By Middle East analyst Roger Hardy
A group campaigning against anti-Semitism has
criticised the international community for
staying silent over a spate of anti-Jewish acts
around the world - acts it says are directly
linked to the continuing violence in the Middle
The group, the Vienna-based Simon Wiesenthal
Centre, has recorded more than 200
anti-Semitic incidents in the first two weeks of
clashes between Israelis and Palestinians.
About half that number occurred in France, it
An Israeli minister has called it the most
serious wave of anti-Semitism since the
Second World War.
French President Jacques Chirac has spoken
out in an attempt to reassure the Jewish
community after a spate of attacks against
synagogues and other Jewish targets in
Other countries affected include the United
States, Canada and South Africa.
In Britain, an Algerian man has been charged
with attempted murder following the stabbing
of a Jewish student on a London bus.
Some Jewish groups are linking such attacks to
the fact that Europe and North America are
now home to big Muslim communities.
But groups campaigning against racism warn
that far-right extremists may be responsible for
at least some of the incidents.
There can be little doubt that events in the
Middle East are fuelling tension between Jews
Media images of the violence in the Middle East
have had a powerful effect - and appear to be
kindling passions in countries thousands of
But in Britain, Jewish and Muslim leaders are
doing their best to maintain calm within their
communities, stressing that there is a big
difference between anti-Semitism and
legitimate criticism of Israel.
© BBC NEWS
ASYLUM UPSURGE DUE TO VIOLATIONS OF RIGHTS (Ireland)
The issue of asylum is soluble so long as emotive
language is not used to stir up hatreds and we stick
to our obligations, writes Hope Hanlan.
Asylum is a complex and sensitive issue that deserves open
discourse, but in recent weeks we have seen the discussion
corrupted by excess. When it comes to asylum-seekers,
commentators seem to delight in outdoing each other with
The implicit xenophobia is increased by the repeated use of
derogatory labels such as "spongers", "fraudsters" and
"freeloaders". The dangers of stirring this cauldron have been
highlighted by the recent arson attack in Clogheen, Co
Over the last decade, it has become increasingly difficult to
distinguish between people fleeing persecution and those who
want to escape grinding poverty. Although in many cases it is
discrimination that lies at the heart of their material hardship, the
refugee definition is specific in that it only applies to those
fleeing persecution on political, racial, social or religious grounds.
The reality is that some asylum-seekers may be under the
misapprehension that the destitution they face at home qualifies
them for asylum. While their desire for a better life is
understandable, these individuals should by rights return home.
But this is only part of the story. In the rush to find quick
solutions to the growing number of new arrivals in Ireland, it is
easy to blame all asylum-seekers for the difficulties around
asylum and to jettison the basic principles of asylum. However,
this ignores two fundamental questions: why is there an increase
and how do we deal with it? Only when these questions are
answered will it be possible to counter the rhetoric and deal
effectively with the reality.
The real reason for the upsurge is the mounting violation of
human rights. It is no surprise to see that some of the largest
sources for new applications in Ireland are Nigeria, the Congo
and Kosovo - countries beset by political instability and violence.
While the countries in the developed world have seen rising
numbers of asylum-seekers on their territories, the numbers of
people fleeing to Europe are just a tiny proportion of the global
refugee numbers. Less than a quarter of the world's 12 million
refugees have sought asylum in Western Europe.
It is desperately poor countries such as Pakistan, Tanzania and
Guinea which are shouldering most of the burden. And while
many of these countries are continuing to receive high numbers
of arrivals, the number of people seeking asylum in Europe has
dropped over the last three months. Ireland's ranking in the
league tables of Western European countries receiving
asylum-seekers has slipped from eighth to 14th.
There have been many debates over what asylum means.
Obtaining sanctuary is a fundamental right of every individual
who has a well-founded fear of persecution. In accordance with
the basic tenets of international refugee law, all persons seeking
asylum must be provided with an opportunity to establish their
protection needs. This takes the form of an asylum procedure.
As the Minister for Justice recently pointed out, there can be no
provision for limitations or quotas on incoming numbers of
refugees. To resort to such a measure would breach the 1951
Refugee Convention, and indeed other international instruments
to which Ireland is party.
The Government's reaffirmed commitment to Ireland's
obligations under the 1951 convention is significant, particularly
in Europe where asylum is a critical issue. Political support at all
levels is required in the emerging European asylum landscape. If
European states reject their obligations, a dangerous precedent is
set for those poorer countries that are sheltering the majority of
the world's refugees.
It is the height of naivety to assume there is a perfect system
waiting to be put in place, given political or other will. But any
system must be fair to both the asylum-seekers and the host
Indeed, in November 1999 an acute accommodation shortfall
meant the Government faced the prospect of asylum-seekers
sleeping on the streets of Dublin. The realistic and correct
solution was to spread the asylum-seekers across the State
instead of concentrating them in Dublin.
However, if dispersal is to be effective, certain criteria must be
met. These include availability of suitable accommodation and
access to good legal representation. In addition, language
support and specialist health provision for those who may have
experienced torture or other trauma must be at hand. Clustering
asylum-seekers with other members of their community will in
most cases also be beneficial in helping them adjust.
The experience of London authorities shows also that giving
basic information - both to asylum-seekers about their
destination and to the host community about asylum issues -
makes dispersal more effective.
It is vital to remember that the freedoms we all enjoy in Ireland,
citizens and asylum-seekers alike, depend on a shared
understanding of responsibilities. Indeed, implicit in the right to
free expression is that it will not be used to stir up prejudice. The
constant allegation that asylum-seekers are cheats should be
held in check, not least because it is incorrect, but also as it
legitimises intolerance towards all minorities.
Asylum issues are manageable. It is not helpful to invoke an
atmosphere of crisis in setting refugee policy. Moreover, the
relentless focus on the cost of asylum gives scant regard to the
enormous contribution refugees make to host societies.
There is a long list of notable refugees, including Albert Einstein
and Cyril Ramaphosa, whose achievements have changed our
world. Many others simply go on to live normal lives, and in the
process, bring new skills and experiences. Of all groups, the
Irish know what it is like to leave their homes to find a safer life.
Surely it is not too much to ask the people of Ireland to extend
the same dispensation they themselves sought for centuries.
Hope Hanlan is the United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees' representative in Britain and Ireland.
On Monday and Tuesday Irish Times correspondents
survey how asylum-seekers and refugees are dealt with in
© The Irish Times
REPORTS OF BEATINGS IN AUSTRALIAN REFUGEE CAMPS
Canberra, Oct 20 - Refugees formerly held at a remote Australian
immigration detention centre say asylum seekers confined there were beaten,
harassed and intimidated, a
politician in the remote Northern Territory said on Friday.
told the territory parliament he has received several reports of brutality
at the Port Hedland Detention Centre in northeast Australia, which was
criticised last month by church groups for its terrifying and prison-like
There are stories emerging of beatings at Port Hedland, of
people being held for periods of time in isolation rooms for alleged
misdemeanours, and also ongoing verbal intimidation of the refugees from
the staff, Henderson told Reuters.
The complaints came from some of the 56
mostly Iraqi and Afghani refugees who since July have moved to the
territory capital Darwin after being granted temporary protection visas.
Henderson said the complaints came through three different sources
including a long-time Iraqi immigrant, the head of the local Islamic
Society and the imam at the city's only mosque. A spokesman for Australia's
immigration minister dismissed the complaints.
You can't investigate
something unless there is evidence, so what we have here at the moment is
allegations, he said. Henderson said the refugees were probably too scared
to make formal complaints while they were still in custody. They are
totally cowed by their whole experience, and given the brutality of the
regimes they escaped from the issue is probably that they don't want to
rock the boat and complain about treatment, (fearing) it might well
jeopardise their status in Australia, Henderson said.
The reports of abuse
are the latest in a series of complaints about Australia's detention
centres, which can house refugees and asylum seekers for years at a time,
often in remote locations, while their cases grind slowly through the
immigration process. Church and human rights groups have criticised the
policy of detaining all asylum seekers while their cases are considered.
The government has argued that illegal immigrants, who
arrive by the hundreds in rusting ships or with false visas in airports,
cannot be allowed to jump ahead of those who are legally making their way
through Australia's long immigration
In September, three Somali asylum seekers said they would rather
return home and face possible death and torture in Somalia than continue
their three-year stay at the Port Hedland centre.
NEO-NAZI PLAYS INNOCENT IN COURT (Germany)
Police looked on as German right-wingers attacked
The trial of Alexander T. (last name withheld under German law)
has begun at the district court in Luckenwalde. He is
accused of being among a band of right-wing extremists
belonging to the "Kameradschaft Germania" (Teutonic
Comradeship) which assaulted a group of German and Polish punks.
The Kameradschaft boasts a membership of 15 and is recognised as one of the
leading groups of Berlin's far right scene.
In court, members of the group like to play innocent. On the street, with
numbers, they are prone to acts of extreme violence.
So it was on July 10, 1999. On that day long-established activists and
skinheads from Berlin and Brandenburg set off for a day trip to Hamburg. Once
there they were due to join a march of some 600 right-wingers organised by the
neo-fascist National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD).
The march was intended as a protest against the Wehrmacht Exhibition which
explored the involvement of the regular German army in Second World War
On the return leg of the trip, the two minibusses stopped at the Stolpe
service station where the group came across eight German and Polish punks.
What followed is currently under investigation by the Luckenwalde district
A member of a Brandenburg state special unit formed specifically to counter
threat posed by right-wing extremists, the Mega, was called as a witness to
"The left-wingers were sitting quite peacefully in front of their VW
recalled, " when suddenly the right-wingers got out of their vehicles,
over their faces and started throwing stones and bottles at the punks." The
went on to describe how one of the Berlin group set about his victims with
an iron bar. The judge presiding over the trial asked the
poiceman why he and his colleague, who had been tailing the neo-nazi group,
had not intervened.
"It all happened so quickly and the attack was so violent that we couldn't
intervene," replied the 36-year-old and his gaze fell to the floor. He said
he had chosen instead to call for emergency reinforcements. This decision
ensured the assailants had time to launch a second attack on the young
left-wingers, who sought shelter from the hail of stones and bottles in
Twenty-eight-year-old Jan S. from Berlin showed the court
the scar left on his face by a flying bottle which only narrowly missed
The punks' bus suffered damage to the value of
1,500 dollars. Shortly after the incident, the 16 assailants were pulled
over and arrested by police answering the call of their colleague at the
A search of their homes turned up propoganda material and
offensive weapons. For over a year the office of the Schwerin public
prosecutor has been investigating nine adult neo-Nazis and seven juveniles
in connection with the crime.
They are charged breaching the peace,
grevious bodily harm and damage to property. However, the trial of
Alexander T. from Luckenwalde is the first case to come before a court of
"There are no other cases being prosecuted at this time," declared a
spokesman for the office of the public prosecutor. Alexander T.,
conservatively dressed in corduroy trousers and a pullover, leant back
before the court and claimed that although he had indeed driven with his
friends to Hamburg, he had slept all the way back to Berlin. The trial
continues next week with the cross-examination of T.'s "comrades".
© Frankfurter Rundschau
LE PEN OUT OF EURO-PARLIAMENT (France)
Mr Le Pen's anti-semitic comments have stoked
French far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen has
lost his seat in the European parliament after
losing a final appeal over his conviction for
assault on a rival female politician.
Mr Le Pen was barred from the parliament
earlier this month after the highest court in
France - the Council of State - confirmed a
1998 sentence excluding him from public office
for one year, because of the assault.
A final attempt on
Friday to ask the
European Court of
Human Rights in
Strasbourg to suspend
the ruling failed when
the court rejected the
For many years Mr Le Pen has stoked
controversy by his strident anti-immigrant
stance and anti-semitic comments. He once
described the gas chambers as "a detail" in the
history of the Second World War.
Fontaine announced the
"Mr Le Pen, I invite you
to leave the chamber, and so that everything
happens with dignity... I am adjourning the
session for a quarter of an hour," he said.
Mr Le Pen reacted sharply to the news, saying
it was a move to "shut me up".
"I think that it is a
major injustice and a
sanction out of
proportion with the
minor incidents," he
"This incident will not
stop me from
continuing my fight,"
added the far-right
leader, who has long
said he will stand as a
candidate in the next
Mr Le Pen said he would appeal to the
European Court of Justice.
Mr Le Pen has already lost his seat in the
regional assembly of Provence Alpe-Cotes
d'Azur, but will have served his penalty in time
for presidential elections due in 2002.
Appeal to Chirac
Mr Le Pen was
convicted in April 1998
for assaulting Socialist
national elections the
from Le Pen's National
Front party appealed
last week to French
President Jacques Chirac to pardon him but
have not received a response.
Le Pen, whose political career began as a
student in street brawls in Paris in the early
1950s, has been involved in several public
incidents leading to court cases.
His party has argued that too many immigrants
mean too few jobs for French people, and that
immigrants should be despatched back to the
countries they came from.
© BBC NEWS
EUROPEAN COUNTRIES REVIEW IMMIGRATION POLICIES AFTER UN REPORT
UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ U.N.
officials say European nations are
reconsidering decades-old policies
opposing immigration after a report
suggested more migration might be
needed to keep Europe"s population
"There is a sea change,"
Joseph Chamie, head of the U.N.
Population Division, which issued the
report in March, said Wednesday. "Ministers are saying
over and over again, we have to reconsider these
policies." But while the Europeans _ especially the
15-nation European Union _ are willing to re-examine
what Chamie called their "zero immigration" policies, the
Japanese, who face similar low fertility rates and an aging
population, are more reluctant.
"I think the Japanese are
coping with it with greater difficult than the Europeans
are," said Ron Lesthaeghe, professor of demography at
the Free University of Brussels, who participated in a
three-day experts meeting here to follow up on the report.
Lesthaeghe said Japan is unaccustomed to immigration
and foreign workers.
"They may have a change of heart.
So far, I think the Japanese public and also politicians
have been extremely reluctant to move into that particular
direction," he told a news conference. Because fertility
rates in Japan, South Korea and Europe are low and
aren"t expected to increase dramatically over the next few
decades, the U.N. report suggested that migration may be
the best and only realistic scenario to maintain current
Lesthaeghe said the most plausible
scenario in the report would increase EU immigration to
900,000 people per year in 2025, from the current level
of between 250,000 and 400,000 economic migrants and
Much higher immigration levels _ in the
millions _ would be needed to maintain the current ratio of
working-age population to retirement-age population, the
report said. The United States, with higher fertility rates
and a continuing influx of immigrants, doesn"t face the
same problem of population loss, Lesthaeghe said. "The
numbers are not in question.
The question is what should
be the response," Chamie said. "It"s debated by virtually
every sector in society." He cited several key responses to
the report from European policy-makers. Antonio
Vitorino, EU home affairs commissioner, indicated that
immigration policies of the last 25 years have been a
failure and need to be reassessed, Chamie said.
Immigration Minister Barbara Roche called for an
overhaul of immigration policy, and French Interior
Minister Jean-Pierre Chevenement said public opinion has
to be convinced that the EU needs more immigrants as its
population ages. In a paper for the experts meeting, David
Coleman of Oxford University said the U.N. report
concentrated on immigration as a solution without fully
evaluating alternatives, including reforms in pension,
retirement and labor or changes in fertility. Chamie
stressed, however, that immigration is one piece of a
Governments also have to make policies
that support families and permit women and men to have
children and also work, he said. Chamie said he was
encouraged that governments are now considering options
like raising the retirement age. "It"s not very popular in the
public, but it"s certainly a democratic imperative," he said.
© ABC News
ILLEGAL MIGRANTS GIVEN SHELTER AFTER SHIP CAUGHT IN BAD WEATHER (Greece)
A BATTERED cargo ship carrying 672 illegal immigrants was tugged to the
eastern Aegean island of Chios late on Friday night, the merchant marine
ministry said yesterday. The ship's crew has been arrested and is scheduled to
appear before a local public prosecutor today and are expected to be charged
with bringing illegal immigrants into the country.
The vessel was stranded on Friday morning in rough seas. The ageing 65-metre
cargo ship, had reportedly set off from Istanbul for Italy on Tuesday but had
been caught in gales outside Chios, an island near the Turkish coast, after
suffering engine failure. The immigrants took control of the vessel and issued a
distress signal, the merchant marine ministry said. The Chios coastguard
responded. After seven hours of negotiations between passengers and the coast
guard, the Turkish-flagged Funda was given permission to dock at the island.
Soldiers and coastguard officers helped provide shelter for the immigrants, most
of whom are believe to be from Iraq and Afghanistan.
The 70 women and 144 children were put up at a school and municipal
buildings, while soldiers helped set up a campsite for the 458 men at a private
soccer stadium in Pirgi in the south of the island.
Around 150 people, many showing signs of exhaustion, were examined at a
local hospital but none were suffering serious health problems, according to
Police have arrested the Funda's crew, six Ukrainians and one Turk, who are
scheduled to appear before a local public prosecutor today. Furthermore, a
representative group of five Kurds of Turkish origin met with local authorities
yesterday to negotiate their position.
Reports said that some of the immigrants
aboard the Funda were refugees, who do not wish to seek asylum in Greece
but in Italy, their original destination, while others wished to remain in the
country. According to Maria Stavropoulou, a protection officer of the Greek
branch of UNHCR: "Some may ask to go back to their countries, some may
ask for asylum, in Greece. Others will say they want to go to Italy," she said.
Stavropoulou added that with a mixed group of refugees and migrants, such as
these, not everyone will get what they want, while some even run the risk of
being deported. A district public prosecutor will travelled to Chios over the
weekend to examine possible deportation procedures for the immigrants.
Thousands of would-be immigrants from Asia, eastern Europe and the Middle
East are caught sneaking into European Union-member Greece each year.
© ATHENS NEWS
FPO SUFFERS LOSS AT ELECTIONS (Austria)
Graz -The extreme-right FPO has suffered a loss at the election in the Austrian state of Stiermarke, it is the first time since Jorg Haider became leader of the FPO in 1986.
According to the almost complete count of the votes 12.43% of the votes went to FPO, almost 5% less compared to 5 years ago. FPO partner in Austrian government, OVP won the
elections with 47.22%, about 10 percentage points more than in 1995. The SPO ended on 32.46% (-3), the Greens 5.54 (+2). This were the first big elections since the controversial national coalition government of the OVP and FPO is in place.
RACISM ON INTERNET SHOULD BE CRIME
Racist expressions on Internet should be made a criminal offence. Therefore international law should be adjusted accordingly, said Roger van Boxtel, Dutch Minister for Urban Policy and Integration of Ethnic Minorities last Friday at the European Preparatory Conference Against Racism(preparatory to the UN World Conference) held in Strasbourg, France.
He condemned the free dissemination of racist and fascist materials on the Internet and proposed to add to European legal instruments a binding protocol that defines a distribution of racism, hate speech and racial discrimination as a crime. Similar to the protocol the Council of Europe is working on against the distribution of child pornography via the Internet
The minister is of the opinion that a lot of the racist material on Internet, if it were to be found in a shop would, in many countries, be confiscated by police immediately.
NEWS ANCHOR HOPES FOR ENLIGHTENED VIEWS (Czechia)
Lights shine, cameras roll and the most famous black man in the Czech Republic makes his daily appearance in homes nationwide. TV Nova news anchor Raymond Koranteng is convinced his familiar face may win tolerance, and acceptance, as he demonstrates to fellow citizens that "Czech" comes in more than one color. "The most important thing is for people to get used to differences, so when I say I'm Czech, people know Czech isn't only blond hair and blue eyes," said Koranteng, whose father was born in West African Ghana. "The media can play a tremendous role in this. It can show that not only whites are members of society. It can show other minorities and cultures, bringing them closer to the majority population. Then people become accustomed to seeing members of other groups in the spotlight." Koranteng, a media adviser to the League for Ethnic Minorities, hopes for a time when diversity will be taken for granted. "Czech people take it as normal that, in European countries, a famous person or athlete can be black, and there's nothing strange in that," he said. "But if they see a black man who considers himself Czech, they don't understand." The 26-year-old Koranteng says his color rarely caused him personal trouble and actually may have helped his career. "There have been no obstacles, and I feel the full respect of my colleagues and even superiors," he said. After high school in 1993, he went to work for the news service Metro Press preparing graphics for weather broadcasts. TV Nova, a client of Metro Press, noticed Koranteng and hired him as a weatherman when the channel began broadcasting in 1994. In November 1999 he became a news anchor. While Koranteng speaks of race and career, Vanessa, his 4-year-old daughter, rests her head on her father's arm. She will one day attend school with other Czech minorities. "When a child is very young, he doesn't see differences," said Koranteng. And he hopes Vanessa's generation will not see them at all.
Prague Post http://www.praguepost.cz/
FAR-RIGHT BAN DRAWS WARNINGS IN GERMANY
Berlin - German commentators and politicians warned Tuesday that the
government may be making a mistake by moving to ban a far-right party in an
effort to stamp out racist attacks. Criticism has focused on whether the National Democratic Party, which has come under pressure following a series of attacks on synagogues in
Germany, was the right target and whether eliminating it would solve the problem or merely send rightist networks underground. Burkhard Schroeder, who has written several books on the German far right, said in an interview on InfoRadio that the government, in seeking to outlaw the 30-year-old party, would be making a ''moral gesture'' but not a legal one. Germany on Monday took a major step toward banning the party when Interior Minister Otto Schily and three state interior ministers concluded that the party was hostile to the German Constitution. The interior ministers of all 16 German states were to meet soon to discuss a common position on the issue, Mr. Schily said. The government plans to seek the approval of the cabinet and the two houses of Parliament before presenting its case to the Constitutional Court, which has the final say on any such ban. Supporters of the effort accuse the National Democratic Party, and especially its youth wing, of cultivating links to violent rightists who have been blamed for a wave of recent attacks against foreigners and Jewish institutions. The party, which holds no seats in either the national or state Parliaments, has said it opposes violence. And its leader, Udo Voigt, has challenged the government to produce proof that his party was involved in any racist attacks.
International Herald Tribune http://www.iht.com/IHT/TODAY/nindex.html
SOLDIERS FORCED BLACK BOY TO EAT OWN EXCREMENT (South Africa)
South African police were yesterday investigating another apparent racist attack by white members of the armed forces. Three reservists allegedly forced a black boy to eat his own excrement. The incident came less than a fortnight after a parliamentary report said racism remained within the services. The attack happened in the country's conservative Northern Province when the three men picked up the 17-year-old as he was hitch-hiking near the black township of Potgietersrus. A spokesman for the local police said: "We don't know yet if the incident was racially motivated. We will try to establish that. What we are currently investigating is a charge of assault against the suspects and the allegation that they forced the boy to [smear his face] with his own faeces." It is understood that the boy was assaulted because he was suspected of housebreaking. The incident came after a series of racist attacks in the country. In August, a black girl accused of stealing from a shop was painted white from the waist up by the white store owner. A white construction manager was arrested in August after allegations that he beat up a black employee and dragged him to his death behind a pick-up vehicle.The ruling African National Congress (ANC) issued a statement concerning the attack on the teenager, describing it as racially motivated. The statement said: "The fact that such cowardly acts of fascist, racist barbarity have become commonplace in some parts of the Northern Province demands that the government closely monitor race relations in those areas to avert a racial explosion."
Daily Telegraph http://www.telegraph.co.uk:80/
PEOPLE IN THESE ISLES ARE AT A CROSSROADS(UK)
Straw beats a very British retreat over race report
The Commission on The Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain - established by the Runnymede Trust http://www.blink.org.uk/, a race relations think-tank - began its work in January 1998 after being launched by Jack Straw, Home Secretary. Its report, published yesterday, runs to more than 400 pages. Here are some extracts:
What is Britain?
Britain is at a turning point, a crossroads. England, Scotland and Wales could
either become narrow and inward looking, with rifts among themselves and
among their regions and communities, or they could develop as a community of
citizens and communities. Many images of Britain are England-centred, indeed
southern England-centred, and leave millions of people out of the picture. More
and more people have multiple identities.
Diversity gives Britain important opportunities in world markets. Yet the
opportunity is being squandered through racism and exclusion. Aggressive
hostility to Islam is expressed in ways unthinkable in relation to other beliefs.
The attitude to asylum seekers sends a shiver down many spines.
People in Britain have many differences, but they inhabit the same space and
share the same future. All have a role in the collective project of fashioning
Britain as an outward-looking, generous, inclusive society. The term "minority"
has connotations of less important or marginal. In many settings, it is not only
insulting but also mathematically misleading or inaccurate.
Further, its use perpetuates the myth of white homogeneity - the notion that
everyone who does not belong to a minority is by that token a member of a
majority in which there are no significant differences or tensions.
A state is not only a territorial and political entity but also an imagined community. What is Britain's understanding of itself? How has the imagined
nation stood the test of time? What should be preserved, what jettisoned, what
revised or reworked? How can everyone have a recognised place within the
A genuinely multi-cultural Britain urgently needs to re-imagine itself. Such
re-imagining must take account of the inescapable changes of the past 30 years,
not only post-war migration but also devolution, globalisation, the end of empire,
Britain's long-term decline as a world power, moral and cultural pluralism and closer integration with Europe.
The dominant national story in England includes Agincourt, Trafalgar, Mafeking,
the Somme and Dunkirk. There are alternative versions of national history in
Scotland and Wales and in black and Asian communities. Great Britain is the
product largely of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. There has never been a single British way of life. The idea that Britishness is universally diffused across society is seriously misleading. For there have often been many ways of being British.
Does Britishness as such have a future? Some believe that devolution and
globalisation have undermined it irretrievably. Many acknowledge that ideally
there needs to be a way of referring to the larger whole of which Scotland,
Wales and England are constituent parts. But the nation state to which they belong is the United Kingdom, not Britain. Perhaps one day there will be an adjective to refer to this enmity, similar in power to the unifying word "Nordic" in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. For the present, no such adjective is in sight. It is entirely plain, however, that the word British will never do on its own.
Where does this leave Asians, Afro-Caribbeans and Africans? For them, Britishness is a reminder of colonisation and empire and, to that extent, is not attractive. But the first migrants came with British passports, signifying membership of a single imperial system. For the British-born generations, seeking to assert their claim to belong, the concept of Englishness often seems inappropriate since to be English, as the term in practice is used, is to be white. Britishness is not ideal but at least it appears acceptable, particularly when suitably qualified - black British, Indian British, British Muslim and so on.
However, there is one major and so far insuperable barrier. Britishness, as much as Englishness, has systematic, largely unspoken, racial connotations. Whiteness nowhere features as an explicit condition of being British but it is widely understood that Englishness, and therefore by extension Britishness, is racially coded. "There ain't no black in the Union Jack," it has been said. Race is deeply entwined with political culture and with the idea of nation and underpinned by a distinctively British kind of reticence - to take race and racism seriously or even to talk about them is bad form, not done in polite company. Unless these deep-rooted antagonisms to racial and cultural difference can be defeated in practice, as well as symbolically written out of the national story, the idea of a multi-cultural post-nation remains an empty promise.
The Government should formally declare Britain a multi-cultural society.
A single Equality Act covering all grounds of unlawful discrimination.
A Human Rights Commission.
An inter-departmental advisory forum on race relations and cultural diversity and an independent police complaints body.
Abolition of asylum vouchers and full appeal rights against deportation.
Citizenship education to include human rights principles and "understanding of equality difference".
A national cultural policy.
Broadcasting franchises should depend on pledges to increase ethnic minority staff and run programmes on cultural diversity.
Political parties have an ethnic audit of members.
Daily Telegraph http://www.telegraph.co.uk:80/
REFUGEES IN GERMANY SUBJECT TO STRICT RESIDENCY RULES(Germany)
Asylum-seeker faces trial for travelling without permission
Hamburg - African refugee Cornelius Yufanyi was scheduled to appear in an adminstrative court in Worbis, Germany, on Thursday on charges of violating Germany's Residenzpflicht, the regulation that requires refugees to remain within the adminstrative district where they are legally registered. If convicted of leaving his district on several occasions without permission - and refusing to pay a 600-mark (265-dollar) fine imposed by authorities - Yufanyi faces a prison sentence. The German representative to the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugess (UNHCR) has said the country's practise violates the 1951 Geneva convention on refugees. Shortly after his 1991 arrival in Germany, Yufani, a native of Cameroon, joined a refugee organisation called The Voice. The group was involved in organising a countrywide initiative known as the Caravan Refugee Congress For the Rights of Refugees and Migrants. Conference participants wanted to protest against the refugee residency requirement.
Under Germany's 1982 law governing the granting of asylum, persons whose applications are still pending decision are subject to strict limits on where they may reside. The law is the only one of its kind in the European Union. Werner Schwamb, a family court judge of the administrative court in Cologne who has studied the issue in depth, says Germany's strict residency restrictions are unfair. "It's harassment that should be viewed as disproportionately encroaching upon the natural rights of people who have no previous convictions," he says. German authorities severely limit asylum-seekers' freedom of movement, even for short trips. Generally, asylum applicants have to pay even to run errands or to visit a doctor: the permit itself costs between 15 and 20 marks (on average around 7.75 dollars), not including the cost of travel to the local resident aliens' office. Moving around becomes even more expensive when police catch a refugee without a permit outside of his or her administrative district - at a railway station or highway rest stop, for example.
Repeated violations of the residency rules - such as Yufanyi is accused of - can result in prison terms of up to one year, fines of up to 5,000 marks (2,210 dollars) or denial of asylum.
Last spring, the district administration office in the county of Wartburg in Thuringia notified another asylum applicant, Jose Maria Jones, that his application had been rejected because he had violated the Residenzpflicht. According to the authorities, unapproved travel poses a "substantial" threat to "public safety and order" that they say justifies deportation for repeat offenders. But authorities have yet to explain exactly which legal interests an asylum-seekers' unapproved travel endangers. Instead, they stress the preventive benefits of prosecuting offenders. "Prosecution by the authorities to the fullest extent possible is necessary to discourage other foreigners from acting in a similarly false manner," said to one official justification for the harsh measures used.
The charges against Yufanyi stem from his involvement in the international refugee congress that took place last April and May in the eastern German city of Jena. German officials denied travel permits to numerous asylum-seekers who wanted to attend the congress. One of those officials, Manfred Schaefer, from the resident aliens' office in Eichsfeld, refused to grant travel permission to Yufanyi, who was the conference's programme coordinator.
Yufanyi went to the congress anyway. While there, he gave an interview to the Thuringia Allgemeine newspaper. Schaefer read the interview and then passed it along to police.
"My lawyer and I will tell the court that I have a right to political expression and that I have a right to move freely," says Yufanyi. "I was politically persecuted in Cameroon. It cannot be that the asylum laws in Germany prevent me from becoming politically active." He says he's willing to take his case all the way to the European Court of Justice if need be.
Germany's Federal Constitutional Court ruled in 1997 that the Residenzpflicht did not violate any fundamental rights. However, the German representative to the UNHCR sees the matter quite differently.
On several occasions, the German section of the UNHCR has unsuccessfully appealed to various German agencies and courts to review the residency regulations. According to the UN body, the Residenzpflicht is incompatible with international law, especially with the Geneva convention on the status of refugees. But for Yufanyi and The Voice, with asking for help isn't enough. They've called on asylum-seekers to engage in civil disobedience, saying refugees should neither seek official permission to travel nor pay any fines imposed for violating the Residenzpflicht.
"These Sondergestze (special laws) are a way to weaken us refugees. That's fertile ground for right-wing violence in Germany," Yufanyi says.
Frankfurter Rundschau http://www.fr-aktuell.de/english/
PROTEST AGAINST IMPRISONING OF ASYLUM SEEKERS(Sweden)
On an overcast Saturday afternoon, the 14th of October, approximately 150
anti-racist activists gathered in central Stockholm to protest against
state-racism and the inhumane conditions that asylum seekers face in
Sweden. The participants, as well as a good number of
Saturday shoppers, heard speeches by a number of groups, including
AntiFascistisk Aktion-Stockholm, No One is Illegal and the Network Against
Racism. In Sweden, many asylum seekers are often forced into isolating imprisonment
- without having committed a crime other than fleeing life-threatening situations in their homelands. This was the second such action in Stockholm within the last month and was planned in coordination with an international day of action.
AntiFascistisk Aktion-Stockholm http://www.motkraft.net/afa
REFUGEE GROUP AIDS RETURNING SLOVAK ROMA(Slovakia)
Bratislava, Oct 18, 2000 Since the beginning of this year, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has supported around 400 Slovak Romanies who returned to Slovakia after their applications for a political asylum in western Europe were rejected as unjustified by countries such as Belgium, Finland and Holland, said the head of the IOM in Slovakia, Daniela Stabova on October 11.
The IOM project is financed by EU funds as well as the countries mentioned
above, and helps Romanies find a job and integrate into society. Almost 2,900 Slovak asylum seekers live in Belgium, Finland, and Holland, Stabova reported. However, of the 400 Roma the IOM has assisted, only two have managed to find a job since their return. The IOM`s newest Kosice office has been far more successful in explaining to Roma why their social benefits are lower on their return to Slovakia, and the importance of re-registering their children with local schools and medical authorities. The Slovak Spectator http://www.slovakspectator.sk
HUMAN RIGHTS HAUNT HUNGARY
Budapest, Oct 18, 2000 -- Hungary's EU accession bid has been touted as the strongest in the region but, as information is fed back to Budapest from Brussels, familiar skeletons have re-emerged from the closet. The EU has taken the unprecedented step of releasing information contained in the annual country report to be released in full next month and while the general signals are positive, the issue of abuse of human rights has reared its head. According to Guenter Verheugen, EU Commissioner for Enlargement, the document will highlight "some political problems that give cause for concern". Cecilia Malmstroem, Swedish liberal MP and Deputy Chair of the EU-Hungary joint parliamentary committee, has referred to "strong discrimination" against Roma and the "segregation" of Roma children at school - an issue the European Roma Rights Center http://errc.org/ in Budapest has raised with Strasbourg. Most other elements of Hungary's accession process seem positive, though there still remains the question of whether all first-round accession bid countries should join at the same time or in smaller groups. Michael Lake, head of the EU delegation to Hungary, said Hungary and other accession hopefuls feared they would be asked to wait for Poland to catch up before joining. Hungarian Premier Viktor Orbán remained optimistic. "History has given a great chance to our generation and expects us to display responsibility, predictability and reliability. We are confident that the Federal Republic of Germany and the other EU members feel Europe is incomplete without the Central European states," he said. Foreign Minister János Martonyi noted the principle of individual assessment was vital and countries should be judged on their own merit. "Accession in small groups may be the right solution," he said.
Budapest Sun http://www.budapestsun.com
EQUALITY LAW VETO LEFT IRISH ISOLATED IN EU TALKS
Ireland found itself isolated in EU talks over a religious phrase in new anti-discrimination legislation. Justice Minister John O'Donoghue denied claims of a diplomatic blunder and said Ireland's goodwill was not squandered during the negotiations. After lobbying from the main churches, the Government went to the wire and insisted that a reference to the religious ethos of schools and hospitals be included in the final text of anti-discrimination laws. Despite Government insistence that Irish concerns were well-flagged, the EU officials and French Social Affairs Minister said they were only aware of serious difficulties the night before yesterday's talks.
``The problem was, we only found out late last night what the minister's real objections were,'' explained French Minister Martine Aubry who chaired the meeting. This resulted in a day long stand-off as Mr O'Donoghue threatened to veto legislation, the first time in years Ireland found itself in this position. However, Irish concerns were eventually addressed, despite opposition from some member states, who wanted a more secular phrasing to be used.
``I don't regard this as a diplomatic blunder, I regard it as a diplomatic success,'' said
Mr O'Donoghue. ``I don't believe Ireland squandered any goodwill.'' The minister insisted he was acting to protect the religious ethos in schools and hospitals of all denominations, but said minority religions were particularly worried that the final directive would not undermine their right to discriminate in favour of their own religion. The minister defended his move and said he was in contact with the Attorney General throughout the day to ensure the final text was compatible with the new Employment Equality Act.
But the minister's veto threat was condemned as ``appalling'' by the Irish National Teachers' Organisation. ``Are we back to the `Valley of the Squinting Windows'?'' challenged the INTO general secretary Joe O'Toole. Describing Mr O'Donoghue's opposition to the EU legislation as unfair, unreasonable and unacceptable, the INTO argues that under existing Irish law, teachers must simply not ``undermine'' the religious ethos of schools. The union claims the minister wants to put a new burden on teachers. In the heated debate, Ireland's demands were strongly criticised by Belgium, Sweden and Portugal. They were determined to ensure the secular tone of the directive survived and objected to the word ``ethos'' in the text. A Church of Ireland spokesman confirmed that along with the Presbyterian, Methodist and Catholic Church, meetings on the issue were held with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and the Attorney General.
The Irish Independent http://www.independent.ie/
HAIDER DEFENDS NAZI ARMY VETERANS (Austria)
Austria's controversial far-right leader Joerg
Haider has defended the country's World War
II veterans who fought alongside Hitler's Nazi
"It is unacceptable
that the past of our
reduced to that of
criminals," he told a
gathering of about
2,000 veterans in the
southern town of
Mr Haider, former chief
of the Freedom Party,
said: "Most who come
here are not old Nazis or neo-Nazis.
"They are old citizens who suffered during the
war and lost their youth to the war and then
began to rebuild."
Mr Haider received a spontaneous standing
ovation from the crowd.
Austria was annexed by Hitler's Germany in
1938, and its army was fully incorporated into
the Third Reich.
However, the theme of this year's 41st
gathering centred largely on democracy for all
Mr Haider also called for compensation for
slave labourers, who were forced to work on
farms and in factories throughout Hitler's Third
Reich. He also endorsed tolerance for ethnic
minorities in Europe.
Mr Haider has praised Hitler's employment
policies, sympathised with SS veterans and
labelled Nazi concentration camps "punishment
In October 1999, his
Freedom Party ran an
using the Nazi-invented
- too many foreigners.
He resigned as party
leader in May after
Austria's 14 EU
sanctions on the
country for allowing
the Freedom Party to
join the government coalition, but he is still
generally believed to be pulling the party
The sanctions were lifted last month after an
EU commission found Austria in compliance
with EU standards of democracy and human
The Ulrichsberg gathering, held each year on
the first Sunday of October, has been harshly
criticised as a festival for old Nazis that serves
as a feeding ground for neo-Nazis.
Three years ago, the ruin of a church that
serves as a monument to Nazi soldiers who
died in the war was attacked and severely
damaged. It has since been restored.
At the entrance, the old SS slogan "Die Ehre
Unserer Soldaten Heisst Treue" (the honour of
our soldiers is patriotism) is carved in large
elaborate letters on the wall.
© BBC NEWS
CASH PLEDGE FOR ETHNIC HOUSING (UK)
The executive has promised to improve housing
Sub-standard homes in Scotland's ethnic
communities are to benefit from a £5m funding
The extra cash is to be announced by Deputy
Communities Minister Jackie Baillie at the
Scottish Trades Union Congress Black Workers'
Conference in Glasgow.
She said the money would provide significant
improvements to homes, with particular
emphasis on housing in Glasgow.
Tory housing spokesman Bill Aitken MSP
welcomed the money, but questioned the merit
of targeting it exclusively on homes occupied
by one group.
The funding will be
Ms Baillie said: "One of
our major priorities, in
changing the face of
Scottish housing, is to
ensure everybody has a
warm, dry, secure home.
"Good progress has been made in recent years
in reducing the number of sub-standard homes.
But there is still a great deal of work to be
"Many of sub-standard homes are in Glasgow,
particularly Govanhill where there is a large
ethnic minority population.
"We want to bring many more houses up to
standard and see good quality homes at the
heart of all our communities.
"This will ensure the best start in life for
Scotland's children and better living standards
for everyone in Scotland."
Mr Aitken said: "I am
delighted that there is
a possibility of some of
the new money coming
to Glasgow and to
Govanhill in particular.
"I am extremely
pleased that the ethnic
minority community will
benefit from this
investment as, like all
Glaswegians, they have
every right to live in a
house which is up to a 'tolerable standard'.
"However, I have to question the wisdom of
prioritising any particular group for this money.
"By doing so it could be argued that the
executive is guilty of discrimination.
"Whilst I am delighted that ethnic minorities -
that are a much valued and enriching part of
Glasgow's wider community - should benefit, I
think questions have to be asked about the
merits of any one ethnic group receiving
"Everyone deserves better housing, and no one
section of the Glasgow community should be
placed above any other.
"Assistance should be offered to people on
grounds of need and need alone. To
discriminate on any other basis appears very
difficult to justify."
The money will be available from the financial
© BBC NEWS
RACE HATE IN GERMANY
I met her in the middle of the city park in
Dessau. Gaunt and looking stressed, she was
scurrying home from a shopping trip to the flat
she shares with her three children.
In normal circumstances it would have been a
pleasant stroll for Angelika Adriano, between
the flower beds and below the overhanging
But the summer shade
was menacing. Below
the same leaves just
weeks before, her
husband - a
Mozambican - had
been brutally murdered
by three drunken
They told the police
they did it because
they hated foreigners.
They kicked and punched him to the ground
and continued to stamp on his head with
heavy boots long after he lost consciousness.
He died of severe head injuries three days
You could hardly recognise his face, said his
wife. They stamped on his head so hard they
knocked out an eye.
The hardest thing now, she said, was that the
children had to grow up without a father.
On the night of his murder, Alberto Adriano -
who had lived and worked in Germany for more
than 20 years - had been celebrating a
forthcoming trip to Mozambique.
He would have basked
in the admiration of his
village: the local boy
made good returning
home, no doubt bearing
lavish gifts and
undreamed of wealth.
Instead, his family
received a simple
wooden coffin from Germany containing the
disfigured remains of their son, aged 39.
That the Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, chose
to pay his respects at the simple shrine which
now marks the murder scene, was symbolic in
He approached slowly and, with a sober
expression, bent low to the photograph of the
round-faced African-born family man and
placed the wreath.
He rearranged the red,
black and gold ribbons
before standing in
We have seen German
leaders do this before;
but usually marking the
victims of the more
distant past, at
or massacre sites.
Yet, in an age when
symbolic acts say it all,
the message was
clear: Germany will not repeat the past.
The previous chancellor, Helmut Kohl, provoked
fury in Germany's Turkish community in 1992
when he refused to attend the funeral of five
of Turks burned to death in firebomb attack by
racists in Sollingen. Times have changed.
Politicians have repeatedly stressed that the
problem lies at the very centre of society.
One example bore out that perception. Below
the same trees where Alberto Adriano had lain
dying, I met a young German woman, relaxing
with local African youths.
It looked like a multi-cultural paradise - young
people sharing a drink amongst the greenery -
until she opened her mouth.
"The murder was terrible," she said, "But I'm
"It's not so bad here, but when I see all the
Turkish people in Berlin, well, they take our
women and make marriages just to live here.
Turks, Albanians, Kosovans..."
But what was the difference, I asked, between
them and her African friends.
"It's just a different life," she said. "The
Africans will work for 8DM an hour - no German
would do that.
"But the Turks, they take our jobs."
In Dessau, only just over one in 100 people are
classed as foreigners, but preconceptions are
hard to shift.
"I'm only speaking to you because you are not
a German journalist," said one of the Africans.
"I don't trust any of them, and I don't trust
"If we are attacked, we wouldn't call them
because we are more likely to end up in
Unemployment is stubbornly high in eastern
Germany - still around twice the western rate.
But unemployment and neglect only goes part
way to explaining racism.
Chancellor Schroeder has combed the eastern
states like no leader since the fall of the Berlin
Wall - a gruelling schedule of photo
opportunities and visits.
At every stop, he has made the fight against
racism and intolerance his theme. But there is
one startling flaw in the itinerary. With all the
photo-calls and earnest exchanges, he has
heard and seen nothing of Germany's ethnic
Questioned about the omission, a senior
government party aide told me the Chancellor
was visiting several schools and would
certainly meet some foreigners there. It was
© BBC NEWS
NEO NAZI VICTIM GOES ON HUNGER STRIKE (UK)
A British man has gone on hunger strike to force
German authorities to let him keep nearly £200,000 in
compensation for an attack by neo Nazis which left him
Noel Martin, 41, from Birmingham, was awarded the
money just last month, more than four years after the
attack in Brandenburg which left him in a wheelchair.
He says he has already spent at least that amount on
the home care he needs to survive but says the
German authorities have written it off against the social
help he received while still living there.
The German press reports that he has already been
fasting for three weeks in an effort to pressure the
authorities into sending him the money.
He and two friends were working as builders in
Germany when they were attacked by neo Nazis who
threw a stone at their car during a high-speed chase.
Mr Martin's back was broken when the car overturned.
He intends to return to Germany to take part in the fight
against right-wing extremism and xenophobia.
EURO-CHARTER READY FOR THE FIGHT OF ITS LIFE
Work on the European Union's proposed charter of fundamental rights
finally came to an end on Tuesday in Brussels. It is now up to the EU
member-states to decide whether it should be made legally binding.
The convention which drew up the charter agreed on several changes to the text
during an open session held on Tuesday. The proposed text has been available for
consideration for the last week. The proposal will now go before the Council of
Europe - a body made up of member-states' heads of government. They are
expected to give their first reactions to the document at an informal meeting in
Biarritz in the middle of October.
The document was first mooted last December by the council, a body which
consists of 62 delegates from the member-states' national parliaments, the
European parliament and national governments. The catalogue of fundamental
rights is due to be published on October 2.
The charter began life as the result of a German initiative; its future, however,
remains uncertain. While Berlin may be in favour of these fundamental rights being
enshrined in EU treaties in the medium term, Britain and a number of the northern
states would prefer the document simply to be presented as a declaration at the
official EU summit in Nice in December.
Germany's Social Democrats, along with a large number of other European
parliamentarians, have rejected the British proposal. Their representatives, Martin
Schulz and Jo Leinen, are calling for the charter to be adopted into a European
constitution by 2004.
The document presented by the convention brings together long-recognised
citizens' rights on one hand and economic and social rights on the other. The
charter also breaks new ground in calling for a ban on "the reproductive cloning of
human beings." An argument over the wording of the charter's preamble troubled
the conventon until the bitter end - the point in question was the translation of the
word "spirituel" from the original French. The heads of the convention translated it
as "spiritual" (as in "their spiritual and moral inheritance") whereas Germany's
Christian Social Union (CSU) is still insisting on the translation "spirituo-religious".
© Frankfurter Rundschau
38 ACTIONS FILED AGAINST SERBIA POLICE
38 actions filed against Serbia because of police misconduct
Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) attorneys have filed 38 legal actions against the Republic of Serbia, seeking 9 million 440 thousand dinars in compensation for 51 persons for violation of their human dignity, rights and freedoms through unlawful police conduct in the period from January to 24 September this year. The suits were filed with municipal courts in Belgrade, Kraljevo, Vladicin Han, Leskovac, Velika Plana, Pancevo, Sremska Mitrovica, Babusnica, Sombor, Prijepolje, Becej, Smederevska Palanka, Kikinda, Backa Palanka, Kragujevac, Subotica, Pozega, Novi Sad and Vranje. The plaintiffs will be represented in court by HLC attorneys.
The plaintiffs, mainly young people, were unlawfully detained by police, questioned about their political opinions, fingerprinted, physically and mentally abused, their homes were searched and promotional literature confiscated only because they were activists of the Otpor (Resistance) movement or non-governmental organizations, or members of opposition political parties.
HLC attorneys have asked the Municipal Court in Vladicin Han to award 500,000 dinars each to seven youths who were physically abused by three police inspectors on 9 September.
On 26 May, police came to the apartment of Dalibor Loznica in Loznica, searched it without a warrant and seized propaganda literature. Loznica was taken to the police station where he was photographed and fingerprinted, questioned by an inspector who used a loud tone of voice, and held for 16 hours. Loznica is seeking 300,000 dinars compensation from Serbia for the violation of his human dignity and freedom of person.
Marinko Varnjas of Subotica filed for 300,000 dinars compensation for the mental pain he suffered through being unlawfully detained some ten times, and physically and mentally abused by police only because he was an Otpor activist. Varnjas, an asthmatic, told the police of his condition when he was taken in on 5 July. The officers nonetheless cursed, threatened and slapped him, owing to which Varnjas suffered a severe asthmatic attack that evening.
Andrija Civtelica of Belgrade was detained on 29 August because he was wearing a T-shirt with the Optor emblem. An officer whose badge number was 104537 punched him in the chest and insulted him. Civtelica was held in the police station for three and a half hours and was fingerprinted and photographed for police files. He seeks 120,000 dinars compensation from the Republic of Serbia.
On behalf of M. R., a juvenile, the HLC filed a civil suit against Milutin Pantelic of Nis, a member of the World War II Veteran's Association. On 8 September, Pantelic physically and verbally attacked the fifteen-year-old boy only because he was posting an Otpor sticker. HLC attorneys charged Pantelic with infliction of slight bodily harm and threats to personal security, two offenses for which the law envisages a maximum of one year and six months in prison respectively.
The HLC will continue its efforts to encourage victims of unlawful police conduct to seek redress for the violation of their rights, which are guaranteed by the law, Constitution and international conventions.
ASYLUM SEEKERS IN DENMARK
In what goes of 2000, the Department of Immigration in Denmark has received nearly six thousand applications for asylum. Last year some 6,950 people sought asylum. Of these, 483 were still abroad, while the rest of the applicants had already entered the country when they asked for asylum status. Most asylum seekers at the moment come from Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans, but there are also people from Somalia, Algeria, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
According to the Department of Immigration, the highest number of asylum seekers ever recorded in the past 10 years was nearly 15,000 people in 1992 and 1993. The figures declined dramatically the following year, but they have started to rise steadily again.
As the numbers increase, so does the time it takes before the asylum process is complete. The Department of Immigration can not say exactly how long it takes for the process to be complete because each case is treated differently. Sometimes, individuals would wait for years before they can know whether they will be given permission to stay in the country or not. Sometimes it only takes months.
During the process, asylum seekers stay in one of the 46 Red Cross run asylum centres around the country. Some 7,000 people live in these centres, but since the centres were designed to hold a much less number of people, many of them have been forced to sleep in classrooms, corridors and gymnasiums. According to Red Cross refugee agency leader, Jorgen Chemnitz, it's not easy to solve accommodation problems because long term plans are difficult to establish. The Red Cross never knows in advance how the situation of an asylum seeker would be in a few months' time.
While waiting for their application process to be complete, asylum seekers live in isolation. They are neither registered nor recognised as part of the national population.
The reaction and attitude of the Danish population to asylum seekers is influenced very much by the media. The Danish media debate on asylum-seekers between 1983 and 1995 was sympathetic to refugees. This, however, changed gradually as the number of asylum-seekers started to increase. Recently, people in a remote Danish town refused to house homeless asylum seekers in a holiday camp because, among other things, they did not want to share their summer holiday district with refugees.
Danish Refugee Council: Tel: +45-337 35 000 Fax: +45- 333 28 448
The Griot, Special Issue: Asylum and Refugees, 29.09.2000