South news July 11

Security Council refuses to budge on Libya sanctions
The UN Security Council retained sanctions against Libya on Thursday in  a stormy session in which non -aligned envoys argued for a compromise on the location of a possible trial of suspects in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing and despite new information that Libya was not responsible.

African and Asian nations were urging that the Lockerbie trial not be held in Britain or the United States, as demanded in a resolution passed by the council in 1992. The Council was consulting on the matter in accordance with its resolution 748 (1992) which calls for a review of the measures every 120 days or sooner.

Egyptian Ambassador Nabil Elaraby said many council members supported Egypt, Kenya and Guinea-Bissau's effort to find alternative venues for the trial and to have the United Nations study the impact of the sanctions on Libya and its neighbours.

"Today was not a routine review," he said. "Without a trial, no one can say who committed this heinous crime. The innocent people of Libya, the innocent people of neighbouring countries are suffering, and the Security Council, in my view, has not discharged its responsibility in this affair."

The Arab League and the Organization of African Unity have proposed the two Libyan suspects be tried by Scottish judges under Scottish law at the World Court in The Hague or by a special criminal tribunal to be established there or in a neutral country determined by the council.

Organisation of African Unity Secretary-General Salim Ahmed Salim recently called for intermediary measures to alleviate the air embargo .
 "We have agreed therefore to put forward to the Security Council the three specific proposals which have been made by the Arab League supported by the O.A.U. and the Non-Aligned Movement," he said. Besides calling for the lifting of all the sanctions, Salim added: "We are also going to ask for a special consideration to be given, to take some measures to alleviate specific problems of the air embargo."

South Africa has confirmed that it is willing to serve as a neutral venue for the trial of two Libyans accused of being behind the 1988 bombing of an airliner over Lockerbie in Scotland Foreign Minister Alfred Nzo recently remarked that South Africa supported Libya's insistence on a neutral venue for the trial of the two Libyans accused of having been behind the Lockerbie bombing

The South African Government has demonstrated its skill at helping to resolve seemingly intractable diplomatic and political disputes and it should take the initiative in attempting to bring to a conclusion the longstanding tragedy of the Lockerbie bombing.

Speaking to the press after Council consultations, the Council President Ambassador Peter Osvald of Sweden said that during a wide- ranging debate Members of the Council presented a number of views and referred to several documents, including a letter from the League of Arab States and the Organization of African Unity, and a letter from the Permanent Representatives of France, the United Kingdom and the United States. "After hearing all the opinions expressed in the course of consultations, I concluded that there was no agreement where the necessary conditions existed for modification of the measures of sanctions established in paragraphs 3-7 of Resolution 748 of 1992", the Council President said.

Libya's UN Ambassador Abuzid Omar Dordah, said that Libya "would study this carefully with our brothers" in Africa.

Libya is calling for a Pan -Arab unification of Libya, Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia.  The proposal provides for the creation of a Collective Presidential Council in which each Arab country will keep its sovereignty but strategic sectors such as defence, economy and industry will be unified.

 Libya's People's Congresses (parliaments) will organize marches to Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria this year to promote Arab Unity, PANA sources said recently in Tripoli.

The first march to Egypt will take place on July 23, the anniversary of former President Abdel Gamal Nasser's revolution of 1952.

The second to Algeria is scheduled for November, to coincide with the country's Revolution Day.

The third march to Tunisia will take place on November 7, the 10th anniversary of the coming to power of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Children march on Security Council

On July 1st, hundreds of children and adults led a march to the United Nations in New York.  They demanded that the children of Iraq be allowed to live and play as children deserve.

The march was a funeral procession, mourning the lives of the hundreds of thousands of children and demanding the end to further killings.  By the UN's own estimates, more than 4,500 children under the age of five are dying every month in Iraq due to the UN blockade.  Approximately 750,000 children have already died since the imposition of the blockade in 1990.  One third of Iraq's surviving children have stunted growth and serious nutritional
deficiencies that will deform shorten their lives.  This is a crime that violates all standards of morality.

The procession met at 47th St. and 1st Ave. in the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza,  where speakers addressed the rally.  An introduction was given by Sohair Soukkary, of the Arab Women's Solidarity Association, and Sara Flounders, of the International Action Center, and then followed by a minute of silence.  Children from the Bruderhof Communities shared a song about the blockade,  and urged everyone to work together -- to take a stand together against the injustice imposed on the people of Iraq, for only together can we succeed in lifting the blockade.

Additional statements were made by representatives of sponsoring organizations, including:  Dr. Mohamad Mehdi (National Council of Islamic Affairs), Dr. Hani Awadallah (Civic Organization), Ramsey Clark (former US Attorney General, International Action Center), Rania Masri (Iraq Action Coalition), Felicity Arbuthnot (British Against Sanctions on Iraq Campaign), Yuriko Moto (Peace Suitors of Tokyo), and the well known doctor, author, and human rights leader, Dr. Nawal El Saadawi (Arab Women's Solidarity Association).  Each of the speakers discussed the horrific impact of the blockade, and demanded the immediate end to the blockade.  The blockade on the people of Iraq must be lifted, and the silence - by the media - must be broken.

The procession then began marching to the accompaniment of Chopin's Funeral march performed by five musicians. Two white horses led a black hearse carrying the casket of the unknown Iraqi child.  Each child held a white carnation with a placard stating "Let the Children Live," "End the Sanctions on Iraq," "Save the Children of Iraq".  Huge banners and posters demanding the end of the blockade were carried in the rally.  Seven child-size coffins were carried by the adults and the children in the procession.  The march proceeded down several blocks and chanted, all the while, "Kill the Sanctions, not the Child," "End the Blockade."  Numerous people from the street joined the march in support of the cause.

The march was attended by more than 200 people, who kept the energy level consistently high.  The demonstration was broadcast on CNN worldwide, Fox Channel 5, and New  York 1, and was given press coverage by numerous media outlets, including the Associated Press.

After the march, an international delegation of human rights activists met with Mr. Ibrahim Fall, the assistant to the United Nations Secretary General, and representatives from the High Commission on Human Rights, the Legal Affairs of the Security Council, the Department of Humanitarian Affairs, and the Iraq Program.  The delegation was led by  Nawal El Saadawi and Sohair Soukkary (Arab Women's Solidarity Association), and included:  Sara Flounders (International Action Center), Rania Masri (Iraq Action Coalition), Felicity Arbuthnot (British Against Sanctions on Iraq), Yuriko Moto (Peace Suitors of Tokyo), Walid Raboh (Arab Media Association of America), Mohamad Mehdi (National Council of Islamic Affairs), and Hani Awadallah (Civic Organization).  Two members of the press accompanied the delegation:  Samy Atwan (Freedom Newspaper) and Anisa Masoud (Arabic PressAssociation).

The delegation brought messages and letters from human rights organizations in approximately 100 cities worldwide where gatherings had been organized to reveal the horrendous impact of the blockade and to demand its immediate end.  In clear terms, the international delegation conveyed their disappointment in the United Nations, and presented their stance, a stance supported by thousands worldwide:  the blockade on the people of Iraq is a criminal act that has had genocidal effects on the people, especially the children; the blockade is a violation of the UN Charter; the blockade must be lifted immediately.  As requested by the delegation, Mr. Ibrahim Fall promised to convey the delegation's message to the Secretary General who would then also convey them to the Security Council.

The Children's March to the UN was actively supported by the:  American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Arab American Civic Association, Arab Media Association of America, Arab Women's Solidarity Association, Arab Community Center, Australian Anti-Sanctions Committee, Australian Iraqi Friendship Association, Bridge to Baghdad (Italy), British Against Sanctions on Iraq Campaign, Bruderhof Communities, Committee in Support of Iraqi People,  Fertile Crescent Society, Grandmothers for Peace International, Houston Fellowship of Reconciliation, Iraq Action Coalition, Iraqi American Cultural Society, Iraqi Babylon Committee, International Action Center, International Commission of Inquiry on Economic Sanctions (UK), International Relief Association, NY Lawyers Alliance for World Security, Palestinian American Congress, Palestine Education Committee, Peaceworks, Peace and Justice Work's Iraq Affinity Group, Peace Suitors of Tokyo, Spanish Campaign Against the Sanctions on Iraq, Voices in the Wilderness, Women for Mutual Security,  Women Strike for Peace, and hundreds of individual human rights activists worldwide.

Source: IAC

No cuts to CIA budget

United States Congress approved the 1998 Budget for the CIA and other spy groups on July 9 rejecting all amendments to cut the figure or disclose the actual amount.

Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, asked whether it was ``appropriate to increase funding for an  already bloated intelligence budget at exactly the same time that  we propose painful cuts'' in social programs. He proposed a 5  percent cut in spending. His amendment was defeated  289-142.

Another proposal by Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., to reduce  funding by 0.7 percent, to the level requested by the  administration, also was defeated, 238-182.

 As in past years, while Congress lawmakers said there was no compelling  reason to keep the overall budget number secret, they rejected an  amendment by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., to disclose the  aggregate figure 237-192. The overall budget which is estimated to be about $30  billion, with the  Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and the National Reconnaissance  Office getting a large slice of the cake, passed on a show of voices.

20,000 give up hope of work in Australia

New figures  have revealed that full-time employment in Australia has  fallen to its lowest level since October 1995 with poor job prospects forcing more than 20,000 to give up the search for work.

Figures released on July 10 by the Australian Bureau of Statistics  confirm a shrinking labour force.  The ABS reported that employment had been on a falling trend since hitting a peak in February, with the loss of almost 16,000 jobs over the past four months.

The trend labour force has been cut by around 20,000 since  February, with many of the unemployed deciding to stop looking after having  apparently given up hope of finding work in a flat or worsening jobs market. In trend terms, the number in full-time work has dropped by 36,000 affecting both  men and women - while part-time employment has continued to rise, with a 20,000 gain being recorded between February and June.

The participation rate -- which  shows the number of people in jobs or looking for work  -- dropped in seasonally adjusted terms from 63.2 per  cent in May to 60.0 per cent last month. This was the lowest participation rate recorded by the  ABS since October 1994 and, according to analysts, reflects growing disenchantment about employment prospects.

The Australian dollar dropped sharply from US74.42¢ to  US74.13¢ on the release of the ABS data and is bound to cause concern in the Federal Government, with jobs growth for 1996-97 falling short of the modest 1.25 per cent forecast in the  Budget just two months ago.

Appeal for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon

The United Nations on Thursday launched an appeal for $11 million to help cover the urgent health
and educational needs of almost 360,000 Palestine refugees in Lebanon.

The appeal was launched by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in
the Near East (UNRWA), which is virtually the sole provider of health, education and relief and
social services to the Palestine refugees registered by the agency in Lebanon.

Speaking at a press conference in Geneva, Peter Hansen, the UNRWA Commissioner General,
stressed the urgency of the appeal for special funds and the need for prompt action by the
international community. He said that the socio-economic conditions of the Palestine refugees had
worsened, with at least 40 per cent of them being unemployed since they faced restrictions in the
local job market. The head of the UN relief agency stressed that rising needs among the refugees,
combined with the agency's severe financial constraints, were a recipe for frustration and misery. 

   Syrian medicine  arrives in Iraq

A truck loaded with medicine from Syria to  help ease shortages caused by seven years of U.N.-imposed  economic sanctions awaited customs clearance Tuesday July 8, near  Baghdad.

The truck - Syria's first donation of humanitarian aid to Iraq -  arrived Monday at the Iraqi customs post in Abu Ghraib, 12 miles  west of Baghdad, the official Iraqi News Agency reported.

Although food and medicine are exempt from the sanctions, the government says it has no money to buy enough of them. Also Monday, Syrian doctors and representatives of pharmaceutical  companies came to Iraq. The visit is aimed at establishing  cooperation in manufacturing medicine, the Iraqi news agency said.

 Iraq and Syria opened their borders in June after a gap of 17 years. Trade ties between the two countries were suspended as a result

Why US wont sign Land Mine treaty

By Deirdre Griswold
Workers World News Service

Land mines horribly maim and kill people. They also drag down a country's economy and put a great burden on the healthy, who must care for the grievously injured.

Representatives of some 150 countries met in Brussels, Belgium, for four days at the end of June for a conference sponsored by the International Campaign to Ban Land Mines and the Belgian government. At the end, 97 countries pledged to sign a binding treaty to ban land mines.

The United States was not among them.

An estimated 120 million land mines are scattered in more than 70 countries, according to the American Red Cross. Organizers say these weapons claim 26,000 victims each year--one person every 20 minutes.

Among the countries most affected are Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Angola, Mozambique and Afghanistan. In every one, U.S. forces or their proxies planted millions of mines. And there are thousands of tragic stories of children, old people and those in the prime of life blown apart by Pentagon mines that the U.S. media will never tell.

What possible excuse can Washington give for not signing the treaty?

The Clinton administration says it won't sign a global agreement until Russia and China do, too, and that a ban on land mines must be negotiated through the United Nations.

Russia and China are poorer countries that are still targeted by the Pentagon. The United States now has absolute military domination in such high-tech areas as missiles, planes, aircraft carriers and submarines. But mines are relatively cheap. As long as other countries have reason to a defensive weapon.

So the real problem that must be addressed is Pentagon domination around the world. Because it's the United States that has bases in over 100 countries now. It's the United States that is involved in almost every conflict around the world.

It's the United States that plants mines on other people's lands. That's not the same thing as laying down mines on your own territory to stop an invader.

This aggressive military posture in turn reflects the unbridled race of U.S. corporations for super profits around the globe.

With the Cold War now over, U.S. militarism continues at almost the same level as before. U.S. "defense" industries continue to churn out wildly expensive weapons to sell around the world. The federal budget still groans under the cost of past, present and future wars. And the U.S. government--whether headed by Democrats or Republicans--oozes talk of peace while sabotaging any steps to meaningfully reduce the level of arms in the world.