Indon students protest IMF austerity
Jakarta: Two-thousand students from at least six universities,
academies and high schools had gathered in Bandarlampung 220 miles northwest
of Jakarta to protest against IMF austerity measures.
Several thousand students also staged peaceful anti-government rallies today on at least three campuses in Jakarta and at a university in the city of Bandung, 75 miles east of the capital. On Bali Island, a total of 1,300 students demonstrated at two universities
Indonesian Vice President Habibie said while Indonesia was obliged to implement all 50 IMF-suggested reforms, some were difficult because they conflicted with the country's constitution during meetings with top-level Japanese officials in Tokyo to request economic advice, relief on business loan repayments and food assistance.
Following a meeting with IMF officials in Jakarta today, the governor of Indonesia's central bank said the government was considering reimposing trading bands, meaning the currency would be able to fluctuate only within a government-set range.
Bank Indonesia held a 5 percent trading band for the rupiah prior to last July's speculative attacks on Southeast Asian currencies, and, subsequently widened it to 12 percent before giving up altogether on Aug. 14.
On Tuesday Robert Dunn, professor of economics of the George Washington University said the International Monetary Fund must "play it tough" with Indonesia to send a strong message to other non aligned countries.
"The IMF has got to play it tough with Indonesia. If it softens, other countries will get the word," and engage in careless borrowing and spending, Dunn said at a conference organized by the Manila-based University of Asia and the Pacific. Indonesia was host to the 10th NAM Conference held in Jakarta, 1-6 September 1992.
But in Australia the IMF was accused of mismanaging and even exacerbating
Indonesia's economic troubles during an academic seminar on the Asian currency
crisis in Canberra on Thursday.
``The crisis is not yet solved. As long as the IMF has been there the crisis has gone from bad to worse to really terrible,'' said McLeod, speaking at the public seminar on the currency crisis and its impact on Australia.
``I think we can now say (the IMF) package has failed in the sense that the rupiah has not recovered and there is no end in sight. What began as a financial crisis ... has been very badly mismanaged. It has now become a fully fledged political crisis.''
According to the International Institute for Research and Education,
Netherlands.The "Asian meltdown" saw governments helpless in a deregulated
environment to prevent the flight of capital by speculators.
40 countries to protest Libya sanctions
United Nations: Libya and its supporters will press their case
during a Security Council debate Friday for an end to U.N. sanctions imposed
Based on the recommendations of several countries, including the Organization for Islamic Conference and the Non-aligned Movement countries, and the February 27 judgment by the International Court of Justice on "Lockerbie", on Friday the UN Security Council will consider all aspects relating to the Lockerbie issue and the sanctions associated with it.
At the UN meeting, about 40 representatives of different countries including the Libyan foreign minister Omar al-Mountasir are expected to express their views on the matter, with many calling for the sanctions to be lifted immediately
Arab states agreed to launch concentrated efforts until March 20 to formulate an Arab resolution to be presented to the UN Security Council in its special session to discuss the status of sanctions imposed on Libya after the judgment of the International Court of Justice regarding the Lockerbie issue.
The Arab sevenfold committee, in which Bahrain's foreign minister will also participate, will meet on the sidelines of a meeting of Islamic countries' foreign ministers on March 15-19. Arab League Secretary-General Esmat Abdul Meguid, who will also be in attendance, said the meeting will focus on continuing all the necessary arrangements to create a well-supported Arab position through the UN Security Council member states.
Libya is hoping to have the international community focus on this issue in light of the ICJ decision, and that countries will move unilaterally to consider the sanctions invalid, since the sanctions were voted on in the UN Security Council after the ICJ initially took the case.
The US and Britain, having veto power in the UN Security Council have stated that they will not allow any removal of the sanctions and are likely to use their position to veto any vote in the Security Council which would remove the sanctions. They will argue, as some of their preliminary statements say, that the International Court's judgment only addresses one aspect of the Lockerbie case and that the court does not have the authority to try criminal cases.
Russia and China — both permanent council members — have urged the council to reconsider its rejection of the Libyan offer. Some victims' relatives have also endorsed the offer, saying it offers the most realistic opportunity to fix responsibility. British and American relatives of the 270 people killed in the bombing will also attend the public debate, which was requested by Libya and its African and Arab supporters.
But sanctions as an instrument of international pressure have fallen into disfavor within the United Nations. Critics claim sanctions invariably cause more suffering among ordinary people than among their leaders.
Foreign ministers of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference have called on the United Nations Security Council to lift the embargo imposed on Libya since April 15, 1992.
The decision came Thursday at the end of the ministers' 25th session
in Doha, the capital of Qatar.
The ministers reiterated the support and solidarity of the Islamic world for Libya. They reaffirmed the previous resolutions adopted at conference and those adopted by the Arab League, the Organisation of African Unity and the Non-Aligned movement on the Lockerbie affair.
The statement called on the O.I.C. secretary-general to contact, immediately, regional organisations in order to carry out joint efforts at the Security Council and the U.N. Secretary-General to end this crisis.
The Islamic conference also condemned the April 1986 U.S. bombing of
the Libyan towns of Tripoli and Benghazi. It said Libya had right to compensation
under a U.N. General Assembly resolution and called on the United States
to comply with the resolution.
UN condemns Israel over settlements
United Nations:At an emergency session onTuesday the General Assembly reiterated its condemnation of Israel for failing to comply with its resolutions on the occupied East Jerusalem and other Palestinian territories.
In a resolution adopted by 120 votes in favour, three against (United States, Micronesia, Israel) and five abstentions (Australia, Bulgaria, The Marshall Islands, Romania and Swaziland), the Assembly reiterated all the demands made in its earlier resolutions.
The resolutions condemned Israel's construction of a new settlement in Jebel Abu Ghneim and all other illegal actions in the occupied territories and demanded that it stop such activities. They also demanded that Israel accept the applicability to those territories of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.
In those texts, the Assembly demanded the immediate and full cessation of the construction by Israel of a settlement in Jebel Abu Ghneim to the south of occupied East Jerusalem, and of all other Israeli settlement activities, as well as of all illegal measures and actions in Jerusalem. It also demanded that Israel accept the de jure applicability of the 1949 Geneva Convention on the protection of civilians in time of war to all the territories occupied since 1967, and that it comply with the relevant Security Council resolutions.
Once again the Assembly reiterated its recommendation that the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 convene a conference on measures to enforce the Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem.
The Assembly also recommended again to the Government of Switzerland, in its capacity as the depositary of the Geneva Convention, to undertake the necessary preparatory steps, including the convening of a meeting of experts in order to follow up on the above-mentioned recommendations. It also repeated the request to the Government of Switzerland to invite the Palestine Liberation Organization to participate in the conference.
It extended the target date for the convening of the meeting of experts of the High Contracting Parties until the end of April 1998.
The General Assembly reiterated its decision that should Israel continue its lack of compliance with previous resolutions, it would reconsider the situation in order to make further appropriate recommendations to Member States.
The Assembly adjourned the tenth emergency special session temporarily and authorized the President of the Assembly to resume its meeting upon request from Member States.
Iraqi children suffer under sanctions
Baghdad: Iraq held a funeral on Wednesday for 35 children it said died because of shortage of medicine caused by U.N. sanctions.
Coffins carrying 35 small bodies, wrapped in white cloth and bearing pictures of the dead children with their names and ages, were carried above taxi-cabs through central Baghdad. "Lift the sanction on Iraq," chanted hundreds of people walking in the procession.
Sultan al-Shawi, head of Iraqi Child Support Society, was quoted by the official Iraqi News Agency (INA) as saying the sanctions imposed after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait had claimed the lives of 1.3 million children.
He said Washington was insisting on maintaining the sanctions although Iraq had complied with its commitments under U.N. Security Council resolutions setting out terms of the ceasefire ending the 1991 Gulf War.
"This destruction is sort of a genocide against Iraqi people by the American administration. According to international law, it's a crime," added Shawi, who delivered a letter to the U.N. office in Baghdad from families of the dead children.
A Health Ministry statement said on Wednesday the acute shortage of food and medicine resulting from the sanctions had led to a sharp rise in deaths among young children and the elderly.
Comparing recent death rates with pre-sanction years, Health Ministry figures quoted by INA said 6,623 children under five died in February, compared to 356 in the same month in 1986. Among people over 50, the number of deaths in February was 2,326 compared to 476 in February 1989.
On Thursday Eric Falt, U.N. spokesman in Iraq, said a UNICEF survey confirmed the lack of nutrition in Iraq.The surveywas carried out on 15,000 Iraqi children chosen randomly during a vaccination campaign against polio."Fifteen World Food Programme international observers participated between 14 and 16 March in a nutritional assessment survey,'' Falt said at a news briefing in Baghdad.
He said mothers with children under two years of age were also weighed. ``It has long been indicated that a large proportion of nursing mothers are undernourished,'' he said. Results of the survey are expected to be published in April.
U.N. officials said a comprehensive survey carried out by UNICEF in 1997 showed that up to one million Iraqi children suffered from malnutrition. Falt said the new survey was carried out to evaluate the impact of an oil-for-food deal signed with the United Nations.
Under the oil pact put into effect in December 1996, Iraq is allowed to sell $2 billion of oil over six months and use most of the proceeds to buy food and medicine for its 22 million people. but Iraqi officials have said despite the serious health situation in Iraq, medical supplies under the oil programme were being delayed by the U.S. and British delegations at the United Nations.
UNICEF has funded most of the children's health programmes in Iraq since
1991. UNICEF's regional director for Middle East and North Africa will
start a week-long visit to Iraq on March 21 to discuss programmes in Iraq.
UNICEF warns of diease in South
Washinton: The head of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) on Wednesday said that 12 million young children in developing countries still die of preventable diseases every year.
In a statement to a meeting of the World Bank in Washington DC, UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy said that most of the children were "struck down by such perennial child killers as pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria, measles and malnutrition."
Ms. Bellamy told the World Bank Meeting on Vaccine Development and Delivery that other "scourges" were also involved, including HIV/AIDS which, she said, was emerging as a new cause of child mortality.
She urged the participants to make a choice between action and inaction. "In a $28 trillion global economy, it is clear that the question of economic resources is not the issue," she added. Quoting a report by UNICEF, Ms. Bellamy said that "a simple two-cent Vitamin A capsule," taken by a child deficient in that vitamin, could reduce her chance of dying from measles by 50 per cent and from diarrhoea by forty per cent.
The Executive Director of UNICEF also referred to some successes achieved in the immunization of children. She said that when the World Health Organization launched its expanded programme on immunization in 1974, less than five per cent of the world's children were immunized against the first six diseases that were targeted: diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, measles and tuberculosis.
"Today, nearly eighty per cent of the 130 million children born each year worldwide receive vaccinations against illnesses before their first birthday," Ms Bellamy said.
Ms Bellamy stressed the need to provide financial assistance to the
developing countries, particularly the heavily indebted poor countries
to ensure the immunization of all young children as "a critical investment
in the future."
Mahathir takes war on speculators to Gulf
Dubai: Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad brought his attack against speculators to the Gulf on Wednesday with a sharp warning to Arab leaders about ``market forces.''
Market forces worked through enriching or impoverishing a country's economy, he said at a conference of government and business leaders in Dubai.
Malaysia's economy has been hurt by an economic crisis that has hit
east Asian countries since July. The Tiger economies which for years had
enjoyed growth rates of eight percent or better were now reduced to ``whimpering
kittens,'' Dr. Mahathir said.
However he said Southeast Asia would overcome the problems caused by currency devaluations by exploiting new opportunities. He argued that local products were now more competitive for export because of cheaper production costs which in turn would make the region more attractive for manufacturing investment.
But Dr. Mahathir said the most important consequence of the crisis was the opportunity to improve financial management. He said there had been too much waste in both the public and private sectors, and that too many people had been employed doing too few things.
To avoid impoverishment and become enriched it was necessary that countries
and their leaders say and do things that would create confidence in the
market. ``Unfortunately, like beauty being in the eyes of the beholder,
market confidence too lies in the perception of those who move and shake
the market,'' Mahathir said.
Mahathir said the Malaysian currency had been devalued by about 60 percent and its share market prices had been reduced to less than half what they were before the crisis. He said submitting to the International Monetary Fund, which has assembled rescue packages for Indonesia, Thailand and South Korea, was not sufficient.
Later, Mahathir said at a news conference that Malaysia had not been forced to accept IMF aid. ``But we are being pressed very hard...I hope it will not be necessary, so we are resisting,'' he said.
``After all, when we started we were basket cases. We had pulled ourselves
up by our own bootstraps. Now that we know that the route we took infringed
on the interest of others we will avoid that route,'' he said. Mahathir
said he believed Asian values would ``pull us through.''