Cuba denounces North on human rights
Geneva: Cuba's Minister for Foreign Affairs told the Commission on Human Rights on 20 March that the most dangerous fundamentalism today stemmed from the attempts of the countries of the North to impose their own pattern of political, economic, and social development on the countries of the South.
According to Roberto Robaina Gonzalez, the countries of the North felt no qualms about resorting to claims, pressures, dirty machinations and blackmail in international forums. But a certain approach to democracy or human rights was not and should not be a straight jacket used to remake the whole world in anyone's image, or to punish those who acted otherwise.
Double standards were second-hand news these days, and they had brought about a crisis of credibility for the United Nations, Mr. Robaina said. Impunity was guaranteed to the countries of the North and to the few "elected" in the South to receive as scraps the geopolitical indulgence of the "gods" of the North. The endeavours of many other countries to improve human rights in their own way had crashed against the political will of a handful of developed countries. The time was right to put a halt to this spiral of insanities jeopardizing the very existence of the human being.
The end of the cold war, for Cuba, had been colder than ever, he continued. But the South existed, too, and had the right to rational, sustainable development, to a safe environment, to its own histories and cultural identities; to respect for the rights of its people.
What would happen if, with all due right, the people of the South attempted to certify the most blameworthy for the trafficking of drugs, the buyers and the consumers? If they threatened to attack those who posed a real threat to the security of the planet with their mammoth military and nuclear power?
He said Cuba felt compelled to denounce, once again, the Government of the United States for its illegal economic, financial and commercial blockade of Cuba, which had lasted four decades, had cost Cuba around $60 billion and had claimed many countless human victims.
Nevertheless, despite these harsh conditions, Cuba had undertaken a process of social change and had advanced its quality of life. Cuba was proud of its democracy, and an increasing number of voices within the United States itself were advocating a change to a less preposterous policy against Cuba.
In Cuban society, the state budget for 1998 allocated nearly 70 per cent of expenditure to public health, education, social security and welfare. To accomplish all this, Cuba had fought for almost 100 years to win its true independence; to preserve all this, it had fought and resisted for the last 38 years. For all of this, Cuba would continue to fight, resist and win, for as long as it took.
Mr. Robaina's statement came as the UN Human Rights Commission began its general debate on the question of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance on the 50 th anniversary of the Universal declaration of Human Rights.
Muslims denounce Palestinians HR violations
Geneva:The tragic conditions of the Palestinian people and blatant violations of human rights by the Israeli forces of occupation continued to concern Muslims the Commission on Human Rights was told on Wednesday.
Azeddine Laraki, Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), said the OIC had adopted a Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam, which stated that human rights and public freedoms in Islam formed an integral part of the Muslim faith which no one had the right to impede or ignore as they were divine rules, revealed in heavenly scripture.
The OIC also had declared that the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights should be observed and the issue of human rights dealt with in a fair and equitable manner while respecting the significance of national and regional particularities and various historic, cultural, and religious backgrounds.
The tragic conditions of the Palestinian people and blatant violations of human rights by the Israeli forces of occupation continued to concern the OIC, Dr. Laraki said. Yet, Israel considered itself to be out of the scope of international responsibility adhered to by all the other States of the world, and continued to defy United Nations resolutions.
Israeli actions in the region risked a disaster that would not be limited to the Middle East. The OIC emphasized once again its firm support for the peace process and requested the international community to take urgent action to restore the process to its correct course.
But Hard-line Israeli legislators backed by Jewish settlers threatened again Thursday to topple Netanyahu's government if he hands over land to the Palestinians. However, it was not clear whether they would make good on their threats -- since they risk seeing a more dovish leader come into office if they oust Netanyahu.
This followed a Cairo meeting of Arab countries' foreign ministers taking part in the 109th session of the Arab League council on Tuesday discussed the deteriorating situation the peace process is in, the necessity of adopting a unified Arab position in this regard.
In an inaugural speech, the Sudanese Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Mustafa Othman Ismael stressed the need to strengthen Arab solidarity to deter "challenges targeting the Arab states."
He held the Israeli government responsible for the peace process' deterioration as a result of its violation of the Madrid principles and the land for peace formula. He stressed Arab commitment to a just and comprehensive peace based on Israel's implementation of UN resolutions 242, 338 and 425, providing for its withdrawal from all occupied Arab territories.
UN violates Libyan Human Rights
Geneva: The right of the Libyan people to development was hampered by the United Nations embargo on the country the Commission on Human Rights on Wednesday in its consideration of the realization of economic, social and cultural rights and the right to development.
Omar Mustapha El Muntasser, Secretary-General of the General People's Committee for Foreign Liaison of Libya said the greatest danger to international peace and security was the use by the United States of the authority of the Security Council in an illegal manner to control the decision-making centres of the United Nations.
Libya's General People's Secretary said his country had a policy based on cooperation for integration in order to achieve development, peace and stability. Seven African countries had already established a consortium of Saharan and Sahelian States with the objective of realizing geographic, human, economic and cultural integration. The purpose was to counter the prevalence of factors of tension which did not serve the interest of any of those countries.
He said that seven years ago, the United States and United Kingdom accused two Libyan citizens of participating in the aerial catastrophe over the village of Lockerbie in Scotland. The matter was based on doubts; there had been no precise judiciary inquiry in the light of which the relationship of those two citizens to the accident could be proved or disproved.
They were accused and indicted before being heard or brought to a court of justice. The two States brought the accusation and the indictment before the Security Council, getting it to adopt resolution 731 (1992). Since the start, the two States had wanted to give the facts a political dimension, rather than keeping them within their specific legal framework. Libya's attitude towards the "Lockerbie crisis" was characterized by its cooperative attitude and response to the Council resolution.
Mr. Muntasser said the greatest violation of the United Nations Charter had been committed by the United States and the United Kingdom in pushing the Council to adopt another resolution, 748 (1992), on the basis of which the provisions of Chapter VII had been applied to Libya.
But the case had nothing to do with the Charter: Libya had not invaded, attacked or annexed forcibly the territory of another country. The provisions of that Chapter of the Charter applied when there was a threat to international peace and security.
The Libyan people, because of the embargo, the coercive measures, the economic boycott and the freezing of assets applied to the country, were obstructed from the full enjoyment of the rights related to development, he continued. They could not obtain medical care; many had died as a result of a lack of vaccines; their right to travel freely was curtailed; and their right to practice their religion had first to be subjected to approval from the Security Council.
The greatest danger to international peace and security in this very critical period of the history of the United Nations, he continued, was the United States' use of the authority of the Security Council in an illegal manner to control the decision-making centres of the United Nations in the service of its strategic objectives.
In a letter to the President of the Security Council, Abdoulie Momodou Sallah, Zimbabwean foreign minister and chairman of the OAU committee on the Lockerbie issue, Stan Mudenge, said the council should lift the sanctions imposed on Libya. He urged the security council to consider the three options submitted to it jointly by the OAU and the League of Arab States.
The dispute between the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and United States of America and the United Kingdom was again discussed by the 67th ordinary session of the council of ministers of the OAU held in Addis Ababa from 25 to 28 February 1998, read part of Mudenge's letter dated March 5, 1998.
Arab foreign ministers in Cairo on Wednesday renewed their backing for
Libya's demands for an end to U.N. sanctions. In a statement issued after
a two-day meeting at the Cairo-based Arab League, the ministers said the
eight-year-old embargo must end after last month's World Court ruling.
``The World Court ruling necessitates that the Security Council reconsider
the sanctions on Libya and we demand an immediate halt to actions against
Libya,'' the foreign ministers' statement said.
UAE calls to lift Iraqi sanctions
Dubai: The United Arab Emirates on Tuesday reiterated its call for the lifting of UN sanctions imposed on Iraq so as to alleviate the sufferings of the Iraqi people.
The UAE defence minister, Sheikh Mohammad ibn Rashed al-Maktoum, has called for the lifting of the UN embargo on Iraq while denying the UAE was involved in smuggling Iraqi diesel oil. "We are for the lifting of the sanctions imposed on the Iraqi people," said Sheikh Mohammad, who is also crown prince of the emirate of Dubai, quoted in newspapers on Tuesday.
He said the UAE was doing "everything possible to help the Iraqi people cope with this ordeal," referring to shipments of food and medicine sent to the sanctions-hit fellow Arab state.
But the minister denied that the Emirates was serving as a transit point for smuggling Iraqi diesel oil in violation of the sanctions, which have been in force since 1990. "There is no proof that the diesel comes from Iraq," he said, referring to Pentagon reports that ships loaded with Iraqi fuel were being sent through Iranian waters to avoid detection by Western navies enforcing the embargo.
In Beirut UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Saturday said he hoped United Nations arms inspectors would finish their work in Iraq soon and pave the way for the lifting of sanctions on Iraq.
"I hope that enhanced (Iraqi) cooperation will bring closer the day when the inspectors will have finished disarming Iraq and the (U.N. Security) Council will begin talking about lifting the sanctions and that sooner or later, sooner perhaps rather than later, Iraq will be admitted to the family of nations," Annan told students at the American University of Beirut.
Describing U.N. sanctions imposed on Iraq for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait as a "blunt instrument," the U.N. chief said: "It is not a perfect world and sometimes you have unexpected consequences and results."
However in Washington the US House of Representatives voted to approve $38 million to undermine the Iraqi government of President Saddam Hussein. In legislation providing $819 million for back U.S. dues to the United Nations it also authorised $100 million to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv in anti-Palestinian move.
But a visiting British Labour MP in Iraq on Thursday differed from Washington. He called for sanctions to be lifted admits reports of Iraqi children developing cancers at rates that doctors have never seen before, in the areas of Iraq where the Gulf War was fought.
At Basra Children's Hospital the increase in cancers, along with mutations and abnormalities, has been seen particularly in the areas which were desert battlefield - the border towns between Iraq and Kuwait, which saw some of the heaviest fighting at the end of the Gulf War in 1991. One theory is that depleted uranium, used to tip shells has found its way into the water supply.
"Why not send a message to Iraqi children by sending an army of cancer experts laden with suitcases of cancer drugs to come and help the Iraqi health service - these heroes who are working in these conditions?", said George Galloway MP who visited the Baghdad hospital where the most severe cases have been referred. "Why not try to help them diagnose the scale of this problem, try to identify the source of this problem and provide the drugs to treat them?"
The US Air Force deployed two B-2 bombers and 200 personnel from the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base, Montana, to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam from March 23 to April 3.
"The United States deployed these bombers in the island, describing them as "bats", in a heinous attempt to put down the mounting anti-US sentiment and keep the position of the only superpower. What is more serious is that their deployment and exercise are taking aim at the DPRK. It is known to all that strategic nuclear bombers are frequently flying to South Korea from Guam island for military manoeuvres to make a surprise attack on the DPRK", the North Korean daily noted.
If the B-2 and its support unit succeed in Guam, the stealth bomber may be used in any upcoming attacks in the Persian Gulf, US experts said. In February, when a U.S. offensive seemed imminent, Defense Secretary William Cohen ruled out using the B-2 in bombing missions against Iraq.
Questions about durability have dogged the bomber since a 1995 report noted that the radar-defying skin of the plane tore too easily. The report also criticized the time needed to maintain the plane between flights and said the B-2 ``must be sheltered or exposed only to the most benign environments - low humidity, no precipitation, moderate temperatures.''
On Wednesday Rodong Sinmun branded a study report on main elements of deterrent force after the cold war published by the strategic command of the US Defense Department as a brigandish logic like a thief crying "stop thief".
The study report says it is proper for the United States to keep nuclear weapons in order to "deter" the potential "nuclear attack". Lurking behind it is a sinister attempt, the daily says, and goes on: The United States is describing its nuclear weapons as "deterrent force" to block someone's "nuclear threat". This is a shameless sophism to justify its manoeuvres of aggression and war.
Today when disarmament is becoming a global trend, the United States should dismantle nuclear weapons, but it rather intends to keep them. To this end it needs a new pretext. That is why it is insisting on argument about "deterrent force" allegedly to block other countries' "nuclear threat" by nuclear weapons.
Under the pretext of "deterrent force" the United States is directing a focal point of its nuclear strategy to the developing countries after the cold war came to an end. The spearhead of the main attack is directed to the DPRK. If the United States is interested in peace, it should fully eliminate the nuclear weapons, pull out all the nuclear weapons from its military bases in South Korea and other countries at an early date and completely remove nuclear threat against those countries which have no nuclear weapons.
Peace talks between North and South Korea, the United States and China faltered on Saturday because the United States refused to put its troop presence in the South on the agenda. However Australian Foreign Minister Downer told South Korea's new president, Kim Dae Jung on Tuesday that he thought it would be appropriate for North Korea to become a member of the ASEAN regional forum.
He said Australia would also be taking up the issue with countries:
"One of the major security issues of the Asia Pacific region is the Korean
peninsula and if you're going to sit around as a region genuinely debating
and addressing security issues, you've got to do so with the major players
of the region." Mr Downer said he was pleased to report that President
Kim was quite sympathetic to the idea although he couldn't speculate on
how North Korea might respond.
Iraqi Moslems head for Mecca overland
Baghdad: Nearly 2,000 Iraqi Moslems left for Saudi Arabia overland on Thursday for the Hajj failing a UN request by Iraq for money to use civil planes to fly the pilgrims to Saudi Arabia.The pilgrims are well-off Iraqis who could buy dollars on the open market and pay the $270 fee for an exit visa -- equivalent to what an Iraqi civil servant makes in 6 1/2 years.
Endowment Minister Abdul-Muneim Ahmed Saleh, who saw off the pilgrims in a Baghdad suburb, said that Iraq had to limit the number of pilgrims to 3,000 this year because of financial constraints caused by U.N. sanctions. Iraq, with a population of over 20 million, can send up to 22,000 pilgrims to Mecca under quotas set by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference.
The pilgrims, including many elderly women accompanied by a medical team, left in a convey of 45 buses on the 24-hour journey. They will have to go through immigration at the Saudi border post of Arar.
Sanctions imposed by the U.N. Security Council bar international flights to and from the country. As a result, the pilgrims will travel more than 1,250 miles across the desert by bus to Mecca, the birthplace of Mohammed.
Iraq wanted $44 million from its oil sales -- $2,000 for each of the 22,000 Iraqis hoping to take part in this year's pilgrimage -- transferred directly to its central bank. The sanctions committee said that was impossible.``Once again, the United States and Britain, show how anti-Islamic they are,'' said Alaa al-Deen al-Qaysi, director of hajj and adviser at Iraq's Endowments and Religious Affairs Ministry. P>Earlier this month Baghdad abandoned efforts to secure the approval of the U.N. sanctions committee for up to 22,000 Iraqis to make the pilgrimage, saying it was too late to make arrangements. Pleas by Iraq to have part of its assets frozen abroad released for haj purposes have gone unheeded. The United Nations also rejected last year a request by Iraq to use its civil planes to fly the pilgrims to Saudi Arabia.
During the last hajj season, Iraq flew one planeload of pilgrims to Saudi
Arabia. Other pilgrims were flown by helicopters to the Iraqi-Saudi border
despite a ban on flights over southern Iraq enforced by the United States
and its Western allies.