Weekly News Review Archive

Thursday, 7th June, 2001

Turkish Army Joins EU

The European Union’s developing armed force will have be able to deploy Turkey’s huge army in a deal brokered this week. Agreement was reached at NATO’s Budapest summit will give the EU, which will have 60,000 soldiers under arms by the end of 2003, access to the operational capacity of the country’s notoriously brutal forces, despite the fact that Turkey is not an EU member and, even in the most 'optimistic' scenario, is many years from becoming one.

Responsible for atrocities in Kurdestan and elsewhere, and in illegal occupation of Cyprus, Turkey’s army is the country’s real ruler, allowing a sort of parliamentary system to operate only within strict confines laid down by a military-dominated national security council. Torture and the murder of opponents are carried out with impunity by a force under no form of popular or judicial control.  Welcome to the new Europe!

Advance for Left in Cypriot Elections

AKEL, successor to the Cypriot Communist Party, scored a tremendous victory in last week’s general election on the divided island which, barring miracles, will shortly become a member of the European Union. Despite not opposing membership as such, however, AKEL is in favour of a tough negotiating stance which, by emphasising social rights and the interests of working people and small farmers, could put accession in jeopardy.

In total eight political parties will be present in the new House of Representatives.  AKEL which received 142,648 votes, a total of almost 35% of those cast,  will have 20 of 56 seats, one more than the rightist Democratic Rally (DISI). A more moderate right wing group, the Democratic Party (DIKO) scored just under 15% and will have 9 seats. Other centre-right and right parties divided the most of the rest of the seats, although a small Green party, by taking just under 2%, won a single MP.  Six of the 56 deputies are women – sounds unimpressive, but it’s a record for Cyprus. Two of the women MPs represent AKEL.

Euro Note Will Make Life Easier for Criminals – Europol

The high value of the planned 500 Euro note will make financial crime easier, according to Europol, the EU’s very own plod force. And who are we to argue? The note is worth over 17 times the value of the current largest Greek denomination, 10 times that of Portugal, and over six times that of France. Only Germany already has a note with a higher face value. Europol believes that the new note will make it easier to stuff brief cases and other luggage with dodgy cash.  Meanwhile, in a further blow to the plan to foist an unwanted currency revolution on the hapless peoples of 11 countries (hardly any of whom have ever been asked to vote on the scheme) the Financial Times has revealed that fewer than a third of German citizens actually want the change to happen at all. In addition, 64% of inhabitants of the euro-zone believe that the currency’s introduction will lead to widespread cheating, unjustified price rises and unnecessary inflation. (The other 36% presumably believe that the moon is made of green cheese and that Romano Prodi is the tooth fairy.) Read more survey results at www.ft.com/euro

Kissinger on the Run

French judge Alain Le Loire attempted last week to serve Henry Kissinger with a subpoena. The incident occurred during what was officially described as a “private” visit to Paris, though at the time of the attempt to bring him to justice he was addressing a ‘seminar’ behind closed doors on a hotel.  The summons concerned Kissinger’s role in the Chilean coup d’etat which replaced elected left President Salvador Allende with the dictator Pinochet, and more particularly its aftermath. A number of the people who ‘disappeared’ following the putsch were French citizens. Kissinger was also, of course, responsible for the bombardment of Cambodia, during which he famously promised to bomb the country “back to the stone age.” The attacks led to the coming to power of Pol Pot, whose contempt for human life rivalled Kissinger’s own.

Following the incident the U.S. Embassy told Judge Le Loire that it does not want him to question Kissinger, pleading that he had recently had a heart attack. The embassy told Le Loire in a letter that Kissinger had “other obligations” and that the information requested by the judge was confidential. The letter, signed by an embassy official, suggested that Le Loire should address an official request for information to the US government, and admitted that the former Secretary of State had slipped out of the country and was in Italy.

The judge, who has named a number of Kissinger’s victims including Georges Klein, a former adviser to President Allende, has been on the alleged serial killer’s trail since issuing an arrest warrant three years ago.

William Bourdon, a lawyer representing the families of the French ‘disappeared’, said there was no doubt of US complicity in the coup, and that “the American administration watched very closely what was going on in Chile and especially the plight of foreigners, including French, who disappeared.”

French Euro-MP Roseline Vachetta, who represents the Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire, commented that she found the move “significant, a recognition by the French state, by a national institution, of US involvement in the Chilean coup. This is a new development, and one which I would like to see go further. As with the arrest of Pinochet himself, it represents another breach in the impunity of dictators and those, including agents of rich western countries such as the US and, indeed, France who help to bring them to power and keep them there.”

Hands off Che!

The U.K. Cuba Solidarity Campaign is to continue its work in defending the picture of Che Guevara from unscrupulous use following the death of photographer Alberto Guttiérrez, aka Korda in Paris in late May. CSC has been acting as agent for Korda since the photographer had an exhibition in London in 1997. Last  year, the Campaign helped Korda bring his successful case defending his copyright of the image against  an advertising company and picture agency that had used it in an advertisement for Vodka.

Dr Stephen Wilkinson, National Co-ordinator of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign, who was a personal friend of Korda, said: "We have spoken with members of Korda's family and passed on the deepest sympathy of the whole solidarity movement in Britain. Korda was a loyal and dedicated revolutionary who, true to the ideals for which Che Guevara died, donated the proceeds from the sale of his photograph to Cuban children's hospitals.

"Our most abiding memory of him will be November last  year when we took him a large sum of money from the sale of the photograph and he immediately had us hand it directly over to the Cuban health ministry to purchase much-needed antibiotics for children.

“The family have told us to continue policing the picture and all enquiries about its use should be addressed to us.”  Dr Wilkinson can be reached at steve@cuba-solidarity.org.uk

Euro-MPs Condemn Colombia Massacre

Twenty MEPs from across the political spectrum have written to Colombian President Andres Pastrana to express their concern regarding the recent series of paramilitary massacres that have been committed in the Valle and Cauca departments in south-western Colombia – most notably the Alto Naya massacre in mid-April.  This massacre, in which up to 130 unarmed civilians were murdered, was committed by paramilitary death squads linked to the Colombian military.

The letter from the parliamentarians spoke of their concern that the massacre at Alto Naya was “not prevented despite several forewarnings by a number of organisations, including the European Parliament.”  It went on to detail various occasions when the European Parliament, as well as individual MEPs, had warned the Colombian authorities of impending paramilitary attacks.  According to the letter these warnings were not heeded and as a result the death squads executed numerous civilians.  The letter details cases in which thirty-four people were murdered after warnings had been given to the Colombian authorities regarding the dangers.   

It is well documented that the Colombian armed forces have a very close relationship with the paramilitary death squads and that between them they commit over 80% of all human rights violations committed against civilians each year in Colombia.  In February 2001 the US State Department Human Rights Report for Colombia stated that, “Members of the security forces collaborated with paramilitary groups that committed abuses, in some instances allowing such groups to pass through roadblocks, sharing information or providing them with supplies or ammunition.”

For regular news about Colombia, particularly focussing on human rights abuses, send an email to liamcraigbest@yahoo.com asking to subscribe to his free news service.

Star Wars: Alive and Well Behind Democrats’ Smokescreen

In case you believe things you read in the mainstream press, we’re going to have to disappoint you: the US National Missile Defense is alive and well, flourishing under a steaming pile of what Spectre’s family-friendly net nanny policy forces us to refer to as bovine bodily waste. Of course it was good news that a Republican senator ratted on his party and crossed the House, but largely because it momentarily wiped the smile off the faces of the gang currently illegally occupying the White House.  Its far-reaching implications are largely the invention of US media with decreasing mounts of real politics to cover.

I'ts important to remember, for example, that  the Democrats, who now control the Senate, did nothing to stop Bush's outrageous $1.35 trillion gift to the rich, whilst they are divided over crucial issues such as the future of the pensions system (‘social security’) and oil drilling in the Alaskan protected areas. As  William Grover, author and political science professor  points out, ‘The Democrats have been partners with the (Republican Party) in dismantling the welfare state, remilitarizing our economy, and foisting anti-democratic trade policy (NAFTA, WTO) on the American public and, indeed, the world."  Under President Clinton, more Americans were in prison than ever before, and the ‘peace dividend’ anticipated by some at the end of the Cold War was replaced by the creation of new enemies and the continuation of a huge military budget. 

Shortly-to-be new Senate leader Tom Daschle, for instance, is a past master of saying one thing and meaning the opposite. He recently wrote to a constituent who contacted him to express his view that NMD was a dangerous and irresponsible waste of money by assuring him that he would ‘oppose the deployment of space-based weapons´. Well, NMD sounds space-based, but, as Daschle well knows, it is technically no-such thing – unless you suspect it to be based in the space between Bush’s ears

On May 27 Daschle told a national news programme that he supports NMD but that it must work properly.  The Senator went on to say that he supports continued "research and development".  Bruce Gagnon, Coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, comments that “The Democrats are trying to fool all sides.” Gagnon recently received a call from a British journalist who wanted to know “if Star Wars was dead because they Democrats will now take control of the Senate. Already the Democrats are putting out the message that it is all over. Nothing is over.  In April, 1999 the Republicans and Democrats voted to allow for deployment of ‘missile defence’ as soon as technologically feasible.”

Political scientist Clarence Lusane neatly summarised the new situation when he said that ‘There will be limits on how much it changes the politics of the Senate, but it will change in a flash who is in control of the Senate. This will have an effect on judicial appointments, budget issues, foreign policy. Jesse Helms is no longer chair of the Foreign Relations Committee.’

That Coup d’Etat: Latest Findings

Not sure why we always put ‘President’ in inverted commas when we talk about Bush? Or why we refer to him as ‘the illegal occupier of federal property on Pennsylvania Avenue, DC´?  More left wing rhetoric? Witty but exaggerated? Tedious if we keep it up for four years (which, incidentally, we certainly will). Well, a study by the impeccably respectable United States Commission on Civil Rights proves that our designation of Bush as an illegal usurper of the Presidential office and prerogative as laid down in the United States Constitution is simple description.  Go to the report and discover for yourself how:

·        Fifty-four percent of votes rejected during the Florida election were cast by black voters, five times their proportion in the population. African Americans were nearly 10 times as likely as whites to have their ballots rejected

·        Voting machines were unreliable

·        Absentee ballots were improperly counted

·        Inaccurate databases allowed unregistered voters to vote while preventing legal voters from casting ballots.

·        Bush’s brother Jeb, who is the state’s governor, failed in his duties on various counts.

And so on. And so on. And so on. The report concerns only Florida, but it is well known that irregularities were not confined to that State. Imagine these events occurring in a developing country. Uganda, say, runs an election: there are clear and systematic irregularities in a region run by the brother of one of the candidates, and the two are sons of a former president and head of the country’s secret service.

Quite honestly, we’re not sure these Texan oil billionaires are quite ready to run their own affairs….