In Iraq, there was a government holding valuable resources
the U.S. could not control. So the U.S. took action. In the Congo,
the U.S. controls the government and the resources, so it doesnt
really matter that millions of Congolese are dying. - Prof.
Didier Gondola, author of The History of Congo (Greenwood
The United States cannot afford to write off any potential
new export market. A vast and growing market of 700 million consumers,
Africa is in many ways the last frontier for U.S. exporters and
investors. We cannot stand idly by waiting for Africa to achieve
perfection before we engage actively in helping to shape its future.
If we temper our engagement, or hold back until the whole of Africa
is on even footing, we will concede important opportunities to our
competitors and worse still, leave doors open to our adversaries
visionary economic policy toward Africa is in our own long-term
interest. - Susan E. Rice, former US Govt. Assistant Secretary
for African Affairs.
A week after African Liberation Day and in the week that Gob Beldof
praised George Bushs policy on Africa, the United Nations
continue to dither over whether or not to send a rapid reaction
peace-keeping force into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC,
formerly Zaire, formerly Belgian Congo). Since 1998, civil war in
the Congo has killed three and a half million civilians, both directly,
and indirectly through starvation and disease. The war has also
destroyed Congos agriculture, economy and society. Less than
25% of its 55 million population have access to clean water, and
three out of every four children born during the war have already
died or will die before their second birthday. Professor Gondola
says: The real tragedy of this war is that it has attracted
so little international attention
The death toll is higher
than any conflict since World War II, and people dont seem
Last week, fighting broke out again in the northeastern province
of Ituri, close to the border with Uganda, provoking Human Rights
Watch and Amnesty International to repeat their pleas to the UN
to act on their Resolution 1296 of April 2000. This would allow
setting up temporary security zones and safe corridors, for the
protection of civilians and delivery of aid where there is threat
of genocide and crimes against humanity. The two organisations consider
the situation in the Congo a critical test of the Security
Councils commitment to the prevention of mass killing and
the protection of civilians. While some member states are talking
about helping out, their response can hardly be described as rapid.
Some say that the lack of any response is because the Congo lacks
the strategic importance of Iraq, or is not close enough to home
to bother about. Others are fundamentally racist as Professor Gondola
points out: The idea that tribes have been killing each other
for centuries, that they dont know better, and there is nothing
we can do about it. Many more realistically though consider
that the continuation of conflict is central to western (and in
particular US) interests.
ROCK N PAYROLL
Congo has been called the richest patch of earth on the planet.
It holds millions of tons of diamonds, copper, cobalt, zinc, manganese,
uranium, niobium and tantalum. These minerals are vital for the
maintenance of US military and economic dominance. The US, which
does not have a domestic supply of many essential minerals, identifies
sources - many of them in Africa - then encourages US corporations
to invest in and start mining. The US has had a piece of the Congo
action since 1960 when the CIA staged a bloody coup, assassinating
the countrys first elected leader after independence from
Belgian rule, and replaced him with their paid agent Mobutu Sese
Seko. From 1965 to 1991, Congo (then Zaire) received more than $1.5bn
in US economic and military aid. Mobutu in turn was assassinated
in 1996 when he tried to stop sharing the Congos wealth with
his Western backers.
The most recent wave of fighting could be linked to the discovery
- by none other than Bushs old mates Bechtel who have worked
hard since Mobutus demise to make themselves indispensable
to DRCs government - of vast stores of the mineral ore columbite-tantalite,
better known as coltan. Coltan is vital to the manufacture of mobile
phones, jet engines, night vision goggles, fibre optics, capacitors
and computer chips. Coltan miners, working long hours in hazardous
conditions, have no idea of the minerals value, but the rebel
groups that employ them do, and hundreds of millions of dollars
have been made from illicit sales to the US, Europe and Asia. Rather
than making the huge investments required to mine coltan safely,
corporations are all too happy to get knock down price ore directly
from whichever group controls a particular mine, ensuring the situation
remains volatile, and the price stays cheap.
And while the US has been preaching peace, the flow of arms and
military training into the Congo, and its neighbouring countries
Last October, an independent panel of experts reported to the UN
that 85 multinational companies based in Europe, the US and South
Africa had illegally profited from the war in Congo. The panels
investigations led to the conclusion that the war has become
mainly about access, control and trade of minerals, predominantly
coltan. Congo and the other 37 African states are all benefiting
from the USs African Growth and Opportunity Act, introduced
by Clinton and embraced by Bush, so who cares about a few war casualties
as long as the minerals keep flowing. As Susan E. Rice former US
Govt. Assistant Secretary for African Affairsplainly put it The
US is now Africas second largest industrial supplier. US companies
have edged out European and Asian competition to complete major
deals in the region. In a world where profits are more important
than people, western governments only seem to want to lend a helping
hand to Africa when they are helping themselves to its resources.
* Stop the Genocide Against Africans public meeting 6 June Bilt
Mansions, 4-16 Deptford Bridge, London SE8 7pm 020 8265 1731 firstname.lastname@example.org
* For more on Africa www.yellowtimes.org
Crap Arrest of the Week
For making fun of the President.
The editor of the satirical Navinki newspaper, the only independent
Belarusian anarchist paper was last week fined 700 Euros for publishing
an article with information known to be unfounded that discredits
honour and dignity of the president. The 5 year-old paper
has now received two cautions from the Ministry of Information who
have complained about two photographs, one of the president
of the Republic of Belarus with the comments of an insulting type
and another which encroach on the peoples morality.
After two cautions the paper can be closed.
NO RIGHTS LEFT
Not content with creating 300 new crimes since Neo-Labour came
to power, David Blunkett managed a couple of weeks back to sneak
his authoritarian orgy of a Criminal Justice Bill through
parliament - with a whole load of extra amendments stitched onto
it at the last minute that had never been subject to any parliamentary
scrutiny. Even the super-mad Tory Anne Widdecombe described it as
The extras include the extension of the amount of time people suspected
of terrorism can be held without charge. Meanwhile, the main body
of the Bill - which goes to the Lords on the 16th June - is making
sure the balance of the law will always remain firmly in favour
of the State, in what Helena Kennedy QC has called a confidence
trick with the intention of doing something quite frightening
to civil liberties.
And how about these for some erosions of YOUR basic rights?
GOING, The right to a trial by jury - starting with ones they reckon
ordinary people are too thick to get to grips with like
fraud or cases that go on for a long time. MPs, lawyers and civil
rights campaigners alike are warning that this can readily be extended
to any or all cases where the States intentions run the risk
of being thwarted by 12 members of the public.
GOING, The double jeopardy rule which means you cant be tried
twice for the same crime.
GONE. This is Tonys favourite: prosecutors will now be allowed
to cite previous misconduct. Liberty warns this will result
in convictions not because the defendant has committed an offence,
but because he is the type of person who commits offences.
And coming soon will be the admission of hearsay evidence, something
someone says they heard about the defendant - you know, like you
heard that Arabic looking man who runs the corner shop was a terrorist.
Be careful what you say down the pub!
And theres still loads more new crimes in the pipeline, with
the Anti-Social Behaviour Bill also currently going through parliament.
If you havent already got a criminal record this could be
your chance - riding a bike on the pavement for example will soon
be a criminal offence.
Meanwhile, the governments hatred of young people passes
into the statute books with draconian measures aimed at making sure
children are neither seen nor heard. More than two youths standing
together on the street, for example, will soon be committing an
offence. This comes as a report by Lord Carlisle highlights a ninefold
increase in the number of under-15s being sent to jail, in clear
breach of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
One of the most controversial new powers Blunketts giving
the cops will be to remove under-16s from the street if they reckon
a member of the public feels intimidated, harassed, alarmed
or distressed by them. If you feel intimidated, harassed,
alarmed and distressed by this government... you know what to do.
More info: Liberty - 020 7403 3888 www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk
The day before ExxonMobils AGM people from Greenpeaces
Global Warming Crimes Unit shut down their head office in Texas. Some
secured themselves to the main gate, while others arriving in limos
managed to get into the offices. Exxon have been running a 10-year
campaign of sabotage against international efforts to solve global
warming, donating millions of dollars to ultra-conservative groups
that aggressively lobby against action to protect our climate. www.dontbuyexxonmobil.com
SchNEWS in brief
- Indymedia are having a new volunteers meeting next Wednesday
(4) 7.30pm London Activist Resource Centre, 62 Fieldgate Street,
- Theres a Frock On! Festival next Saturday (7) organised
by Glasgows Cailleach Collective. Free workshops for women
covering massage, bike mechanics, spoken word, co-ops/collectives,
anti racist action, belly dancing. 10am - 5pm (workshops); 8pm-12am(bands).
Govanhill Neighbourhood Centre, 6 Daisy Street, Glasgow (workshops);
Queens Park Glass House (bands). Workshops are free; gig
is £3-£5 www.geocities.com/frock_on
- For another take on SARS check out www.whatareweswallowing.freeserve.co.uk/coughandawe.htm
- Brain Haw has been protesting against sanctions and war in a
continious picket outside Parliment for 2 years on Monday!
Please send an anniversary card to him at Parliment Square, London
SW1. 020 8806 6272 www.voicesuk.org
- Privacy International have launched a Know your data
campaign in the UK to get people to write to their telecommunications
companies asking for details of records held on them. For model
letters go to www.privacy.org/pi/countries/uk/surveillance/sar_isp.html
- A meeting has been called to create new networks of solidarity
and resistance: a co-ordination HUB next Sunday (8)
Eton Mission Social Centre, 91 Eastway, Hackney Wick, London E9,
- Next Thursday (5) there will be a report back from people returning
from Palestine and their meetings with Israeli Peace Groups.
Its at Friends Meeting House, Mount Street, Manchester (behind
central library) 7.15pm
- Meeting next weekend (6-8) to co-ordinate occupying a prison
construction site in France. Its at Brooklyn Squat,
9 Rue de Fauchier, just off the Marceau roundabout, Marseille.
Tel: 0033612389628 email@example.com
For 15 years the Yellow House in Liverpool has successfully provided
a space for young people, mostly from the inner cities, who wouldnt
usually be likely to get involved in the theatre, to get off the
streets and take part in plays that deal with real everyday issues.
The theatre project called the Theatre of Exposure
puts on performances that arent scripted, and in which the
players are entirely themselves, most often making statements about
growing up in inner-city Liverpool through the mediums of poetry
and music. The projects success has seen young people making
their own films and take part in exchanges in Central and Eastern
Europe and Africa.
More information: www.yellowhouse.info
TRIBAL AND STRIFE
Seven low-ranking members of the Indonesian Special Forces have
been convicted of causing the death of Papuan tribal leader Theys
Eluay in November 2001. But the soldiers, three of whom remain in
the army, have been given jail terms of only two to three and a
half years, angering Papuas tribal peoples. Papua is home
to around 250 different tribes and the largest number of uncontacted
peoples outside Brazil. The island, occupied since 1963, has one
of the worlds most diverse linguistic cultures, containing
just 0.01% of the worlds population, but 15% of the worlds
Reports of murder and violence at the hands of the Indonesian military
continue and any Papuans who protest against their occupiers are
likely to be threatened with arrest, interrogation and death.
More info: www.survival-international.org/tc%20papua.htm
Latin Americas own G8 summit took place in Peru last weekend.
The annual Summit of the Presidents Rio Group of Latin American
Countries, in Cusco, Peru, saw over a dozen Latin American Presidents
come together to talk about how to rein in social unrest, whilst
continuing to follow their crippling economic policies.
The summits host, President Toledo obviously learnt a lot
from the weekend, and on Wednesday (28th) declared a state of emergency
to try and quell protests by striking teachers, transport workers,
farmers, doctors and nurses that have been crippling the country
for the past two weeks. The state of emergency has put the army
in charge of national security for the next 30 days, and they didnt
waste any time in moving in to remove protesters and roadblocks
along the Pan-American Highway. Tear gas was fired on 5000 striking
teachers in Chiclayo. It is believed that at least three people
have died in the violence. Under the state of emergency, many rights
are suspended, including the rights to assemble, to privacy, to
protest and freedom of movement. This is the second time that Toledo
has had to declare an emergency in his 2 years in power, his popularity
has now slumped to an all time low as hes failed to deliver
his promise of restoring democracy and prosperity to Peru. www.peru.indymedia.org
* Keep up to date with the G8 Summit protests in France www.indymedia.org/g8
EYES WIDE SHUT
A refugee who has sewn up his lips, ears and eyes to protest at
the Home Office decision to try and remove him has finally won his
right to stay in the UK. Abas Amini from Iran said he would rather
die than return to a country where he has been repeatedly imprisoned
for his political poetry. In 2001 he was forced to flee, leaving
behind his wife and young family.
200 people including refugees and asylum seekers, neighbours and
other supporters gathered outside his home on Wednesday morning
to show their solidarity with him and by the afternoon the
Home Office had backed down. As SchNEWS went to press Amini remains
on hunger strike saying he is protesting not only for himself but
also for all families whose rights have been violated by the UK
government. One of those families is my family and I think
they would give me this right to lose my life for their happiness
and a better life for others.
Support Amini via Jorobdansam@aol.com
International Federation of Iranian Refugees 0115 9859546 www.hambastegi.org
Imagine being in a courtroom trying to overturn a parking ticket,
when the judge suddenly accuses you of being a terrorist. This happened
to Anissa Khoder an Arab-American woman from New York who was asked
if she was a terrorist as she approached the judges table.
After completing her submission he said You dont really
want to pay these tickets, do you? and then complained that
she had money to support terrorists but not pay the ticket! The
woman panicked and collapsed with an anxiety attack, probably fearful
that she could be locked up without trial under the USs lovely
The woman has made a complaint against the judge to the state Commission
on Judicial Conduct, and the judge admitted his comments may have
been inappropriate. Both her parking tickets were dismissed. www.nyjournalnews.com/newsroom/052103/a0121tarryjudge.html
SchNEWS warns all readers to stay at home and watch the riots at
the upcoming G8 Summit in France on TV. Honest!
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SchNEWS and SQUALLs YEARBOOK 2001. 300 pages of adventures
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You can order the book from a bookshop or your library, quote the
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In the UK you can get 2, 3, 4 & 5 for £20 inc. postage.
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