South News March 15 
 
  •  Vietnam Vets Return to My Lai 
  •  Korean peace talks proceed 
  •  Israel threatens to kill Hamas leader 
  •  IMF is part of the problem 
  •  Sanctions negate basic human rights 
  •  Child labour also problem in Australia 
  •  


    Vietnam Vets Return to My Lai 

    My Lai:  Tears flowed on Saturday as people from both sides of the 1968 massacre revisited the site, stirring memories of one of the  most shocking incidents in Washington's criminal war against the people of Vietnam. 

    ``It's rewarding (to be back), it's happy, and it's very sad,'' said Hugh Thompson, pilot of a U.S. helicopter whose crew tried to halt the carnage on that day. ``I've come close to breaking down twice today and I don't want to do that, but I can't control it.'' 

    Thompson, 51, together with his former door gunner Lawrence Colburn, were brought back by a U.S. television network this weekend to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the massacre here -- an event widely viewed as one of the most shameful in American military history 

    The Two American heroes of the 1968 My Lai massacre, one of the most infamous events of the Vietnam War, returned to the area of the atrocity Friday saying they wish they could have done more to stop the slaughter. 
     
    The village of  My Lai  was in a heavily mined  South Vietnamese district of Son My. Numerous members of Charlie Company had been maimed or killed in the area during the preceding weeks. The agitated troops, under the command of Lt. William Calley marched into the village and proceeded to indiscriminately kill some 500 people, mostly women, children and the elderly. 

    For four hours on March 16, 1968 angry and frustrated men of Charlie Company, 11th Brigade, Americal Division entered the  small South Vietnam village of My Lai."This is what you've been waiting for -- search and destroy -- and you've got it," said their superior officers. A short time later the killing began. When news of the atrocities surfaced, it sent shockwaves through the US political establishment, the military's chain of command, and an already divided American public. 

    No known enemy soldier was killed. The only casualty in Charlie company was a GI said to have deliberately shot himself in the foot to avoid having to take part in the slaughter. ``My only wish is that the whole world will never forget the tragedy of all war,'' Colburn told his Vietnamese hosts. 

    Thompson and Colburn  put their chopper in the line of fire between the marauding GIs and fleeing villagers. Thompson began evacuating remaining civilians while Lawrence trained his gun on the American troops to prevent further carnage. 

    Word of the massacre did not reach the American public until November of 1969, when journalist Seymour Hersh published a story detailing his conversations with ex-GI and Vietnam veterans. When the My Lai massacre became known in the United States and around the world, it became a focus point for anti-war fury. In doing so they etched the real meaning of the term ``search and destroy'' permanently on to the collective U.S. conscience. 

    Platoon leader Lt. William Calley was court martialed and sentenced to life in prison after the massacre, but was later freed after three years of house arrest. 

    After a 30-year delay, the Pentagon last week in Washington, Thompson and Colburn were formally honored by the Army as heroes and awarded the prestigious Soldier's Medal, the highest decoration for bravery not involving direct combat. A third crewmember who died shortly after the incident is to be honored later. 



    Korean peace talks proceed 

    Geneva: The four main combatants in the fragile armistice that ended the Korean war in 1953 have held a preparatory meeting in Geneva on Friday, two days before the resumption of formal peace talks. 

    South Korea and the United States on the one side and North Korea and China on the other are hoping to negotiate a peace settlement easing of tensions on the heavily fortified Korean peninsula despite a series of recent hawkish military provocations. 

    On Friday  the North Korean news agency KCNA said,"The South Korean war-maniacs staged an anti-landing exercise on the coast of Hwasong county, Kyonggi Province, on March 11" claiming that the South Korean military,  "hurled naval warships, guns and planes in the exercise, crying that it was aimed at sinking "enemy's" infiltrating ships." 

    But this was countered in Seoul by a defence ministry official  saying more than 10 North Korean soldiers were seen crossing into the zone but they returned to their side after the warning shots. however  the defence ministry later reassured South Koreans following an international news agency report which ran a headline that North Korea was on a "war footing." 

    KCNA futher said,"The war game is contrary to the ever mounting desire of all the fellow countrymen to improve the relations between the north and the south and achieve the peaceful reunification of the country at an early date. 

    However Rodong Sinmun on Friday was more blunt saying, "With nothing can the puppets cover up their true colors as war-maniacs who are trying to ignite a war against the north in league with their master, the United States." The paper further stated the military provocations were to divert people attention away from economic mismanagement and  "misrule" in South Korea. 

    Diplomats said the Geneva meeting laid the groundwork for the full plenary session to be chaired by China that is due to start on Monday and finish on Friday. 

    South Korean President Kim Dae-jung has sought to exchange separated families as one of the priority tasks of his government while succeeding the previous government's policies regarding the four-party talks and the construction of light-water reactors in North Korea. 

    The chief delegates, Song Young-shik from South Korea, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Stanley Roth, North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Gye-gwan,  and Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Chen Jian are expected to make keynote speeches on the opening day, followed by bilateral consultations. 

    On March 17, the four countries are expected to launch negotiations on how to form subcommittees and how to operate future four-party talks. Seoul is seeking to create two subcommittees: one on the establishment of a peace structure and the other on tension reduction and confidence-building. 

    On March 18, the countries will temporarily suspend talks and enter into consultations with their officials in each capital. 

    On March 19, they will resume talks to exchange opinions on the formation of subcommittees and the selection of agenda items, while the five-day sessions will be wrapped up with a joint press statement being issued on March 20. 



    Israel threatens to kill Hamas leader 

    Jerusalem: The Israeli government said Sunday efforts will continue to kill a Jordan-based leader of the radical Palestinian group, Hamas as violence continues across the West Bank . 

    National Infrastructure Minister Ariel Sharon told Israel television Israel would assassinate Khaled Meshaal despite a bungled attempt on his life last year. The attempt severely damaged relations between Israel and Jordan. 

    In response to Mr Sharon's remarks, which came after days of clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinian demonstrators, a Hamas spokesman said Israel would pay a very high price if Khaled Mashaal was harmed and said it was wrong for Palestinian police to be defending Israeli troops 

    But Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has accused Israel of escalating tensions and says his people now need international protection from Israeli forces. 

    More than 100 Palestinians have now been injured in rioting over the deaths of three Arab workers as they crossed an Israeli checkpoint. In the latest clashes, hundreds of Palestinian youths in Hebron and Bethlehem have pelted Israeli soldiers with stones. 

    This is the fifth day of violence since Israeli border guards shot dead three Palestinian workers. Among the latest injuries, a Palestinian security officer shot in the stomach. His shooting promtped a second officer to fire into the air to warn off the Israeli soldiers. 

    Three TV news cameramen were also caught up in the violence, saying Israeli forces continued to fire rubber bullets at them after they identified themselves. A day earlier, five Palestinians suffered injuries in a blast on the edge of Jerusalem's old city. 

    There've been riots throughout the West Bank over the killing on Tuesday of three Palestinian labourers at a checkpoint near Hebron. 

    The three were killed when soldiers opened fire on the transit van they were in while returning from work in Israel. The soldiers claim the van tried to run them down and that they feared that it was a terrorist attack. But General Uzi Dyan, the commander of forces in the West Bank, says preliminary investigations show the men weren't terrorists. 

    Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu  telephoned Yasser Arafat to offer his condolences, but the Palestinian President has condemned the shooting as a big crime. The mood was equally unforgiving in the village of the three victims, Dura, where thousands turned out for a noisy funeral. 



    IMF is part of the problem 

    by Dave Muller 

    Indonesia is now passing through an extreme crisis as imperialism, through the instrument of the International Monetary Fund, tightens its financial noose around the Suharto government. 

    The immediate issue between world finance capital and Indonesian President Suharto is whether he will fully comply with IMF demands to impose austerity measures upon the masses. 
     
    Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) deputy governor Stephen Grenville said  on Wednesday, ``The IMF has to be part of the solution to these problems,'' But Grenville failed to say that the IMF was part of the problem. 

    The IMF has delayed about US$3.0 million of aid until April, citing the political preoccupation with Suharto's re-election on Tuesday to a seventh five-year term.There would be no need for a new IMF loan if the international bankers were not demanding that their money be repaid immediately. 

    Indonesia cannot get credit on the international market for rice, cooking oil and other staples in desperately short supply. Rice production is expected to fall 4 to 8 per cent due to the worst drought for decades. Indonesia will have to import five million tonnes of rice at prices three to four times the rate before the 80 per cent devaluation of the rupiah. 

    IMF recommendation to abolish BULOG, the state food price regulator formed 40 years ago to ensure food security and price stability for farmers and consumers was the main cause of spiralling food prices and the consequent food riots. BULOG has contracted to buy up to one million tonnes of white sugar this year for delivery by June but without credit delivery looks unlikely. 

    The military has stepped up its campaign against hoarders as part of the government's efforts to stem rising food prices and soothe people's fears over the size of food stocks in a nation facing its worst economic crisis in decades. 

    Fuel, kerosene and electricity prices will also be deregulated in April on recommendations of the IMF. In the name of globalisation Washington demands the Indonesian masses starve as a consequence of IMF edicts. 

    The IMF, World Bank, OECD and the WTO have been pushing East Asia and Eastern Europe to open up their capital markets. The consequences? Deregulation in Eastern Europe led to the replacement of socialism with the casino type speculation and their Mafia henchmen. 
     



    Sanctions negate basic human rights 

    New Delhi: International conference calls for the banning of economic sanctions as they  negate the basic human rights, including the right to life, of the peoples in the targeted countries. 

    Delegates at the conference to mark the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,appealed for  economic sanctions (whether bilateral or multilateral) as an instrument of international enforcement measures should be banned. 
     
    This appeal is part of a declaration on "Human Rights Challenges in the 21st Century" which was unanimously adopted at the end of the two-day conference in New Delhi. Two hundred experts, politicians and human rights activists from forty countries participated in the conference jointly organized by the International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies (New Delhi) and the NGO Co-ordinating Committee on Human Rights (Geneva). 

    The main focus of the conference was on social and economic rights and on the right to development as basis for the meaningful exercise of civil and political rights. In his inaugural address, Shri Krishna Kant, Vice-President of India, called for the revival of the Gandhian spirit of dialogue among all sections of society. 

    He delineated three generations of human rights civil and political, social and economic, and the right to development and drew the attention of the participants to gender concerns, the rights of the child and sectoral claims of caste, region and ethnicity. 

    In his remarks as chairman of the special session on "Human Rights Challenges in the 21st Century", the President of the International Progress Organization, Prof. Hans Koechler, underlined the importance of a universal approach towards human rights. 

    He said that the international rule of law can only be preserved if human rights are enforced in a non-discriminatory and non-politicized way. He further stated that the United Nations Organization must not itself violate the basic human rights by imposing comprehensive economic sanctions on innocent civilians. The principles of human rights are binding upon all states and international organizations including the UN. 



    Child labour also problem in Australia 

    Melbourne : Thousands of people across Australia on Wednesday  have taken part in rallies protesting against the international exploitation of child labour. 

    Young Australian of the Year Tan Le addressed the Melbourne rally, the second biggest in the country. Vietnamese-born Tan Le told the Melbourne rally child slavery is not only a concern overseas, but also in Australia. 

    "I think it's very close to home here in Australia, it also happens and it's something that we need to be aware of as a community," Ms Le said. 

    The biggest turnout was in Hobart, with 500 schoolchildren taking part. Similar protests were held in Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane. 

    The New South Wales Government was blamed for the small turn-out in Sydney, accused of refusing to allow students to take part. The rallies called on the Federal Government to support an international convention outlawing child labour. 
     
     

      
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