I CARE - Newsarchive October 2000

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 unauthorised persons.
In parliament, Dieter Böhmdorfer, the Justice Minister and formerly Mr Haider's lawyer, survived a third vote of no confidence in his short career.
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," he vowed.
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

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 us."
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

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 month.
The largest proportion of these came from Iraqi and Somali nationals.
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 working.
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 months. "
© Ananova

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 states.
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 World War.
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.
© Ananova

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 competition.
"In particular, passionate (support) for a team must never reach the point of insulting people and damaging the collective well-being."
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.
© Ananova

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 months each.
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.
© Ananova

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 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 social group.
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 Centre.
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 countries.
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 stage".
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

Schleswig-Holstein works on getting younger generations involved
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 present-day xenophobia.
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 museum.
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 barracks.
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 trauma carefully.
"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 themselves.
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: 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, Henderson said.
``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 Durban.
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 Arab-American Institute.
© Reuters

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 inequality: mapping race, class and gender, was commissioned by the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted), following the Stephen Lawrence inquiry.
The achievement gap between 16-year-old 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 Gillborn stressed.
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 gender.
"The gender debate has diverted attention from the major inequalities in our education system.
"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 said.
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 (34%).
Action needed
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 added.

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 programmes.
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 now living.

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 ship holds.
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 government.
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 illegal embankment.
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).
Further information:
Association for Human Rights in Spain
tel: +34 914022312
Ombudsman: http://www.defensordelpueblo.es
tel: +34 91 432 7900
e-mail: registro@defensordelpueblo.org

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.
The 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.
The minister promoted "the creation of an environment which recognises refugees as persons who enrich society has a key role to play in integration".
In 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 intolerance.
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.
Mr 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.
More information:
European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance

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 Review of CEE issues in the German press since 16 October 2000 Andrea Mrozek

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, care about?
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.
Coming together
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 František 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 terror."
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 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

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 violence.
''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, growing to 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 Germany's Jewish community. According to statistics released Thursday in Parliament, the number of anti-Semitic crimes doubled in the three months from June to September from the same period last year: from 146 to 291.
The interior ministers' meeting Thursday reviewed a 500-page report from law enforcement officials detailing how the National Democratic Party, 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 state interior 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 ban.
© Associated Press

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 responsive.
"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 Development.
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 decision-making processes.
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 and the Zambian women are entitled to this virtue to see that the national gender policy is translated to the letter.
Panafrican News Agency

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 study found.
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 crisis?"
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 seekers.
"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."
© Ananova

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 continues.
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
© Ananova

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 News reports.
The Black and Asian Police Officers Association has held several meetings with GMP chiefs to voice their concerns.
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 idiotic minority."
© Ananova

A Jewish leader has accused German politicians of fanning racist sentiment after a prominent conservative declared that foreign residents must embrace German ways.
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 democracy.
© Ananova

A car was set ablaze in an anti-Semitic attack in Strasbourg
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 East.
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 says.
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 France.
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 and Muslims.
Media images of the violence in the Middle East have had a powerful effect - and appear to be kindling passions in countries thousands of miles away.
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.


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 hostility.
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 Tipperary.
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 communities.
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 five countries.
© The Irish Times

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.
Paul Henderson 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 environment.
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 queue.
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.
© Reuters

Police looked on as German right-wingers attacked Berlin -
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 strength of numbers, they are prone to acts of extreme violence.
So it was on July 10, 1999. On that day long-established activists and right-wing 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 atrocities.
On the return leg of the trip, the two minibusses stopped at the Stolpe motorway service station where the group came across eight German and Polish punks. What followed is currently under investigation by the Luckenwalde district court.
A member of a Brandenburg state special unit formed specifically to counter the threat posed by right-wing extremists, the Mega, was called as a witness to the incident.
"The left-wingers were sitting quite peacefully in front of their VW minibus," he recalled, " when suddenly the right-wingers got out of their vehicles, pulled masks over their faces and started throwing stones and bottles at the punks." The officer 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 their minibus.
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 his eye.
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 service station.
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 law.
"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

Mr Le Pen's anti-semitic comments have stoked controversy 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 appeal.
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.
'Fight continues'
European Parliament President Nicole Fontaine announced the decision.
"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 said.
"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 French presidential elections.
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 candidate Annette Peulvast-Bergeal during campaigning for national elections the year before.
Four European Parliament deputies 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.

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 from decreasing.
"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 population levels.
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 asylum seekers.
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.
British 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 possible solution.
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

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 officials.
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.

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.

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.

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/

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

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/

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.

Inescapable change
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 larger picture? 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.

Where next?
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/

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/

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

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

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

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/

Austria's controversial far-right leader Joerg Haider has defended the country's World War II veterans who fought alongside Hitler's Nazi army.
"It is unacceptable that the past of our fathers and grandparents is reduced to that of criminals," he told a gathering of about 2,000 veterans in the southern town of Ulrichsberg.
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.

Ethnic tolerance
However, the theme of this year's 41st gathering centred largely on democracy for all of Europe.
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 camps".
In October 1999, his Freedom Party ran an election campaign using the Nazi-invented slogan "Ueberfremdung" - too many foreigners.
He resigned as party leader in May after Austria's 14 EU partners slapped 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 strings.
The sanctions were lifted last month after an EU commission found Austria in compliance with EU standards of democracy and human rights.
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.

The executive has promised to improve housing Sub-standard homes in Scotland's ethnic communities are to benefit from a £5m funding boost.
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 distributed in partnership with Scottish Homes.
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 done.
"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 preferential treatment.
"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 year 2002/2003.

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 trees.
But the summer shade was menacing. Below the same leaves just weeks before, her husband - a Mozambican - had been brutally murdered by three drunken neo-Nazis.
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 later.
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.

Symbolic act
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 itself.
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 respectful silence.
We have seen German leaders do this before; but usually marking the victims of the more distant past, at concentration camps, 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 also unhappy.
"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 the police.
"If we are attacked, we wouldn't call them because we are more likely to end up in trouble."

German tour
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 minorities.
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 hardly convincing.

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 paralysed.
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.
© Ananova

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 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.

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. Further information:
Danish Refugee Council: Tel: +45-337 35 000 Fax: +45- 333 28 448

The Griot, Special Issue: Asylum and Refugees, 29.09.2000

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