South News -April 26
Unionists in Tokyo
Washington's anti-Cuba resolution defeated
MUA-Here to stay!
UN embargo is eroding -Iraqi minister
G-77 challenge technology barrier
Fast for N Korea appreciated
Italian planes defy UN Libyan embargo

Washington's anti-Cuba resolution defeated

Geneva: Non-aligned nations scored a significant victory at the 54th session of the UN Human Rights Commission defeating a US resolution condemning Cuba on Tuesday.

An arrogant US delegation believed that they would carry the resolution until just before the vote. But a quick thinking president of the UN Human Rights Commission and South African ambassador Jacob Selibi frustrated Washington's efforts to put off the vote for another 24 hours to apply more pressure on weaker nations. When they woke up that they did not have the numbers the flabbergasted US delegation found a stinging diplomatic rebuff.

Cuban ambassador Carlos Fores hailed the victory as a historic day for the Commission and the Cuban revolution. He said that the Special Rapporteur report, "was a lamentable instrument, a mockery of good human rights procedure orchestrated by the United States, which had for decades aggressively attacked Cuba, among other things by imposing its cruel economic blockade".

Ambassador Fores condemned the hypocrisy of the United States in carrying out numerous terrorist attacks against Cuba yet having the gall to charge Cuba with supposed human rights violations. He further noted that the United States had exerted brutal pressure had been in capitals around the world to secure support for the resolution but many countries had refused to join in.

South African ambassador Jacob Selibi said that in the name of South Africa -- and not of the head of the Human Rights Commission -- he and his country believes that Washington's anti-Cuba resolution is the continuation and politization of a bilateral problem that does not have an international dimension, in statements to the AFP news agency.

Ambassador Selibi, said the event will positively contribute to the refocusing of the Human Rights Commission on matters of priority and real importance that need to be resolved among the international community. Among those matters, the president of UN Human Rights Commission said, are the situations of poverty among children, health care, equal access to development, women, education, food and housing.

Selibi said in his discussions with diplomats following the vote last Tuesday, he perceived that the majority of the 53 members of the UN agency agreed that the vote was historic and will represent change.

The victory ended seven years of US.-led censure by the 53-member body and ended the mandate of the commission's special investigator to intimidate the island nation.

Last year's vote for such a resolution was 19-10 in favor, with 24 abstaining. This year's vote was 19-16 against, with 18 abstaining.

Among the 9 countries that abstained last year but voted against the United States this year included Chile, Uruguay, Malaysia, Pakistan. The vote was particularly unsettling to U.S. officials because several African countries also voted with Cuba despite Clinton's recent extended visit to the continent. Clinton had also made a state visit to Chile just days before Tuesday's vote.

MUA-here to stay!

by Dave Muller

Melbourne: The picket slogan "MUA here to stay" roared out around Australia and many other countries on Thursday as Australia's maritime workers found increasing support.

On the Melbourne barricades at East Swanston dock, we waited and waited for news from the full bench of Australia's Federal Court as community radio station 3CR played the theme from Les Miserables. "Do you hear the people sing, singing the song of angry men ..."

As the loud speakers switched to the 6pm news on ABC radio which also covered IMF austerity protests in Indonesia you could swear you could hear students chanting the "MUA here to stay" slogan.What we didnt know until later was that members of the transport sector of the Indonesian SBSI union, were in fact at the Australian Embassy in Jakarta expressing such solidarity with the MUA as was done by wharfies in Tokyo and Manila.

The picture became clearer on Saturday night when the community based picket at the Melbourne barricade screened rare 1950's footage of the role the Australian maritime unions played in the struggle for Indonesian independence from the Dutch. Aussie wharfies and seaman stopped critical stopped Dutch reinforcement and ammunition reaching its destination to put down the anti-colonial Indonesian independence struggle.

This week the Melbourne community has certainly rallied to the side of the MUA. The radical group Food not Bombs has replaced the irregular sausage sizzles on the picket line with an ongoing supply of regular dining for the supporters at East Swanston dock. On Saturday night maoris kicked in with a Hungin special treat.

The landscape changes every day new tents, portable offices and artwork supporting the picket.Snack bar and ice-cream vans, medical centre, block of portable toilets- the list grows daily. Union manned buses go to and fro from the city centre every half hour ferrying a steady stream of supporters.

By Thursday the communty stage was built - big enough to acccomodate a Rolling Stones concert.On Friday rock band Painters and Dockers and fringe artists began to entertain the growing masses.

The protesters relationship with the Victoria Police has been improving since last weekend when 3000 community picket had held the line dramatically facing off 400 police. This week the unionists offering on occasion to share resources with police for their separate campfires especially as the cold nights set in.

There has been no repeat to date of the Waterdale Road type beatings of 16 September 1970. Then baton-wielding police charged into a peaceful anti-Vietnam demonstration by La Trobe University students when the officer in charge said,"They got some baton today, and they'll get a lot more in future."

Despite Victoria's Police Minister, Bill McGrath predicting the waterfront dispute would reach a "bloody battle" it has not eventuated with the police on the verge of their strike for better conditions.

Previous : Marime dispute special index

UN embargo is eroding -Iraqi minister

New York: On the eve of a UN sanctions review Iraqi Foreign Minister said that the embargo imposed on Iraq is slowly eroding as a large delegation of Americans threaten defy US policy.

"This is happening whether the Americans like it or not," Mohammed Said al-Sahaf told the New York Times in an interview for the Sunday edition. Sahaf said that the world's reluctance to hurt the Iraqi people with indefinite sanctions have led to increased donated supplies and trade in recent months, the Times said.

"We know very well that the majority on the Security Council wishes to be fair with Iraq," he said. "There are only two countries -- the United States and the United Kingdom -- for their own policies. They stand against the majority."

The New York Times interview followed an article entitled "Americans, Flouting U.N. Embargo, Organize Relief for Iraqis," on April 23.

In the article, reporter Barbara Crossette wrote: "Little by little, in small efforts linked by new networks, Americans are beginning to react against a policy of continued sanctions against Iraq by organizing their own relief projects for the Iraqi people.

"In New York, a coalition called the Iraq Sanctions Challenge is being formed by Ramsey Clark, United States Attorney General in the Johnson Administration. The coalition intends to defy American policy wherever it can on this issue. It also plans to send volunteers and medical supplies to Iraq and to stage a week of protests in the United States from May 6 to 13," the Times said.

The Times' report continues, "`In the spirit of the civil rights movement, we refuse to abide by unjust U.S. laws or U.N. resolutions that result in death and destruction for Iraqi children, women and men,' says a flyer being circulated to potential coalition members around the United States. It alleges that more than 1.5 million people have been killed by the sanctions."

A 100-person delegation from the United States, led by former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark and Bishop Thomas Gumbleton will travel to Iraq with medical aid May 6-13 to challenge U.S./United Nations sanctions.

Clark described U.S. policy as "a deliberate assault on the whole population. Forty percent of all births in the country are children who are grossly underweight and malnourished due to the lack of medicines and access to suitable water supplies. There is a stunted generation coming into being in Iraq."

Organizers said the New York Times article shows that their effort is attracting wide interest. But the article also repeats several unsubstantiated and distorted views of the sanctions' effects, Iraqi government policy, and the UN "Food for Oil" plan. The Times' political slant attempts to shift the blame for the genocidal U.S./UN sanctions policy to the victims, said organizers.

"As the Clinton administration steps up its propaganda effort to justify killing Iraqi children, thousands of people around the country are coming forward to support the challenge as the most important way to step up the resistance." said Deirdre Sinnott.

AmeriCares, another American disaster relief organization, based in Connecticut, on April 25 flew out John F. Kennedy International Airport, loaded with 90,000 pounds of medicine, baby formula and other supplies of humanitarian aid for Iraq with official UN support.

Previous: Alert on UN Iraq sanctions review

G-77 challenge technology barrier

United Nations: While intellectual property laws were important for protecting ideas, they should not hinder the transfer of technologies, the representative of Indonesia told the Commission on Sustainable Development.

Wyoso Aristo,speaking on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China said the full application of intellectual property rights could pose an additional barrier to technology transfer in developing countries. Too much regulation could undermine the commitment to transfer technology fairly, he said.

Developed countries often imposed standards that developing countries could not meet without adequate resources and technological capacity, he told the Commission.There was an unfair imbalance whereby developed countries did not abide by their obligations to help developing countries with resources and technology. At the same time, the developing countries were compelled to abide by those standards. Without adequate resources and technological capacity, developing countries would not be able to meet those standards.

Cuban representative Gisella Alonso said that developing countries must have adequate access to environmentally sound technologies without conditions or exclusions. Developed countries must also provide assistance in scientific and technological research to developing countries. While it was important to protect intellectual property rights, they should not act as a barrier to international trade and access to technology.

The representative of Pakistan said technology transfer and capacity- building were both important for sustainable development. There were constraints with respect to environmentally safe technologies from both the supply and demand side. Protection of intellectual property rights and the investment of time were constraints on the supply side, while affordability was a constraint on the demand side, he said.

Fast for N Korea appreciated

United Nations:The World Food Programme expressed its appreciation on Friday to the men, women and children around the globe who joined in a "Day of Fasting" for the people of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

Non-governmental organizations, religious groups and civil leaders throughout the world joined in calling for the day of fasting in the Americas on Friday and in Asia and Europe on Saturday.

"We hope this show of solidarity will give added impetus to our efforts to avert a true humanitarian catastrophe in the Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea (DPRK)," WFP Executive Director Catherine Bertini said in a statement.

However, the agency has warned that donors have been slow to respond to its appeal for emergency aid for the country. WFP is seeking $378 million in order to provide food aid to over 7.4 million people -- almost half the country's population -- who are facing severe food shortages. More than 5 million of the intended beneficiaries are children.

"With food stocks virtually gone, people in North Korea can no longer rely on the government food distribution system, according to Ms. Bertini. "They are looking to donors to help them survive until the next harvest in October. If we fail, the country will face a true humanitarian disaster," she added.

Italian planes defy UN Libyan embargo

Tripoli: Libya said two Italian planes landed in Tripoli on Friday in breach of a United Nations embargo.

The official Libyan news agency JANA said an Italian delegation led by a member of parliament was among the passengers. A Libyan official said it was the first time Europeans had breached the U.N. flight ban.

In Rome, the Italian news agency ANSA said a member of parliament had flown to Tripoli to draw attention to the plight of an Italian technician and his wife who have been detained in the country for seven months.

Flights to and from Libya have been banned by the U.N. Security Council since 1992.The flight ban was part of sanctions imposed on Tripoli for failing to hand over two Libyan suspects for trial in connection with the bombing. ``This is the first breaking by Europeans of the air blockade imposed on Libya,'' said a Libyan official contacted by Reuters by telephone from Tunis.

State-run Libyan television showed film of the two light planes arriving bearing Italian registration markings. ANSA said two small planes, carrying Italian parliamentarian Vittorio Sgarbi and Sardinian publisher Nicola Grauso, had flown from Cagliari in Sardinia.

In Rome, Italy's Foreign Ministry said it had not been informed beforehand of plans for the two small planes to fly to Libya.

``The embargo is arbitrary and has no justification,'' Libyan television quoted Sgarbi as saying at his arrival at Tripoli airport. ``What I and those accompanying me did is not only to show our goodwill towards Libya, but also to proclaim our rejection to the sanctions imposed on it,'' JANA quoted him as saying.

Flights from Libya defying the ban have been carried out by the Libyan government on several occasions, twice for Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi's trips to Cairo and African countries, and once to transport Libyan officials to Ghana.

Since 1995 Libya has symbolically flown an airliner to Saudi Arabia at the time of the annual Moslem haj pilgrimage to Mecca.

Previous : Pan Am bombing relatives in Libya

Back to main index