The Acts of the Democracies
Year : 2001
28 Items Selected
The USA government of George W Bush gives $43 million to the Taliban in May.
An enquiry links this massacre (and another massacre in Santo Domingo in 1998) to security forces protecting oil operations of the USA company, Occidental Petroleum (OXY). Three American pilots working for AirScan, a USA security firm contracted by OXY to protect oil operations, provide key strategic information to the security forces.
OXY is drilling on the ancestral homeland of the U'wa - an indigenous community of 5000. OXY call on the military and riot police to break up a non-violent road blockade of the road leading to OXY's drill site. Three indigenous children die in the attack and scores were seriously injured. The U'wa continue to call for the end of USA military aid to Colombia and the cancellation of OXY's project.
OXY pays $1 for every barrel of oil produced, which goes directly to the military. 25% of Colombian soldiers are devoted to protecting foreign oil installations.
Saudi women continue to face severe discrimination in all aspects of their lives, including the family, education, employment, and the justice system. Religious police (Mutawaa'in) enforce a modesty code of dress and institutions from schools to ministries are separated by gender. In a Shari'a court, the testimony of one man equals that of two women.
Women may not marry non-Saudis without government permission; men must obtain approval from the Ministry of Interior to marry women from countries outside the six states of the Gulf Cooperation Council. In accordance with Shari'a, women are prohibited from marrying non-Muslims; men may marry Christians and Jews, as well as Muslims. Under Shari'a as interpreted in Saudi Arabia, daughters receive half of the inheritance awarded to their brothers. Women must demonstrate legally specified grounds for divorce, but men may divorce without giving cause. Adultery by women is punished by death by stoning.
The Government restricts the travel of Saudi women, who must obtain written permission from their closest male relative before the authorities allow them to board domestic public transportation or to travel abroad. Women, including foreigners, are not allowed to drive motor vehicles. Women are not admitted to a hospital for medical treatment without the consent of a male relative.
The Saudi legal system has been criticised by human rights groups. Saudi courts impose corporal punishment, including amputations of hands and feet for robbery, and floggings for lesser crimes such as "sexual deviance" and drunkenness. Under the Saudi legal system, detainees have no right to legal counsel, no right to examine witnesses, no right to call witnesses of their own; uncorraborated confessions could constitute the basis for conviction and sentencing.
In Qunfuda a court sentences 9 transvestites to imprisonment for between 5 and 6 years and to 2,400 to 2,600 lashes. The floggings are to be carried out in 50 equal sessions, with a 15 day break between each punishment.
People practicing non-Islamic faiths are regularly arrested. Even forms of Islam that differ to the officially approved Wahhabi form of Islam are discouraged and their adherents persecuted. Conversion of a Muslim to another faith is punishable by death. Shi'a who travel to Iran without permission from the Ministry of the Interior, or those suspected of such travel, can have their passports confiscated for up to 2 years.
Under Shari'a, as interpreted and applied in Saudi Arabia, crimes against Muslims receive harsher penalties than those against non-Muslims. In the case of wrongful death, the amount of indemnity or "blood money" awarded to relatives varies with the nationality, religion, and sex of the victim.
The Government censors all forms of public artistic expression and prohibits cinemas and public musical or theatrical performances, except those that are considered folkloric. Academic freedom is restricted. The authorities prohibit the study of evolution, Freud, Marx, Western music, and Western philosophy. Criticism of Islam or the government is forbidden. Freedom of assembly is denied, especially to groups of women.
The country continues to provide refuge and financial support to Idi Amin, the exiled Ugandan leader whose regime was responsible for a reign of terror that left an estimated 30,000 dead in the 1970s.
Saudi Arabia is an autocratic monarchy with no elections. The monarch and his family run most of the branches of the government from which women are excluded.
The country is supported and armed by the West and considered to be a "moderate Arab state".
In 1999 USA planes had bombed the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade during bombing of Yugoslavia. The reason given was error due to an out of date map.
One human rights group states:
"There is a pattern of excessive, and often indiscriminate, use of lethal force by Israeli security forces in situations where demonstrators are unarmed and pose no threat of death or serious injury to the security forces or to others."
In one such attack, the Israeli Air Force kills 8 people, including two children and two journalists, wounding 15 others, including a human rights defender, as they shoot two missiles from a USA made Apache helicopter against the Palestinian Centre for Information in Nablus. This is a city that is officially being run by the Palestinian Authority. The 2 children are Ashraf Khader, aged 6, and Bilal Khader, aged 11, who are killed as they played outside, while their mother visits a clinic in the same building.
In Ramalah, Israeli jets fire a missile into a busy street to assassinate an activist, killing several people including two children. In Salfit, two policemen, Dia Nabil Mahmoud (19) and Abdul Ashour (22) are disarmed by Israeli soldiers, told to lie on the ground, and fatally shot at close range. Israeli bulldozers demolish 35 houses in Khan Younis making 345 people homeless.
The USA continues to finance Israel to the tune of $1,800 million per year. Since 1967 Israel has received $92,000 million in aid from the USA. In June the Israeli air force announces the purchase of 50 F-16 jets at a cost of $2,000 million, financed largely through American military aid. Shortly after, these F-16s are used to bomb Palestinian civilian targets.
The USA has repeatedly blamed the Palestinians for the violence of the past year, even though Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other reputable human rights groups have noted that the bulk of the violence has come from Israeli occupation forces and settlers.
The USA has also blamed the Palestinians for not compromising further in peace talks, even though they have already ceded 78% of historic Palestine to the Israelis in the Oslo Agreement of 1993. The Palestinians now simply demand that the Israelis withdraw their troops and colonists only from lands seized in the 1967, which Israel is already required to do under international law.
Since 1967 some 8,500 Palestinian homes have been demolished, 1,200 of these since the Oslo Agreement (with 5,000 people made homeless, including 2,000 children). Israel demolishes Palestinian homes on the slightest provocation, often allowing a family only 15 minutes to take what they can carry before bulldozing their property. Palestinian stone throwing against heavily armed Israeli soldiers can lead to demolition.
Israel's confinement of 800,000 people in the Gaza Strip, jammed into an area surrounded by a barbed-wire fence, and of over 1 million in the West Bank, all of whose entrances and exits are controlled by Israel, has few parallels in the annals of colonialism.
Israel forcibly controls all the water resources of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israel utilises more than 85% of the water resources, thus leaving the Palestinian population with a mere 15% for survival. In Hebron, where a Jewish settler population was planted in and around the city, it is estimated that 70% of the water in Hebron goes to 8,500 settlers and 30% goes to the city's 250,000 Palestinian inhabitants. In the Gaza Strip, 3,000 to 4,000 settlers use 75% of the available ground water while around one million Palestinians use less than 25%.
Western reporting of the conflict has a tendency to depict Palestinian victims as nameless numbers killed. Israeli victims are named, pictured and their families interviewed. A new crop of words begins to appear in the Western media:
Because the West wants to trade with China, little is of this is reported.
This is the 73rd use of the veto in the United Nations by the USA since 1945. The vast majority of USA vetos were cast in support of Israel and South Africa during the apartheid era, and defending USA actions in Central America. Most of the vetos violate the spirit of United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Conventions, and other documents describing basic human rights and humanitarian standards.
In December the USA vetoes a United Nations Security Council Resolution condemning Israel for acts of terror against civilians in the occupied territories.
In 1996, the USA Ambassador to the United Nations, Madeleine Albright was asked on an American television programme ("60 Minutes", 12 May):
"We have heard that a half a million children have died [because of sanctions against Iraq]. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And - you know - is the price worth it?"
In her reply (in which the figures are not challenged) she asserts:
"I think this is a very hard choice, but the price - we think the price is worth it."
Many of the facts about what is happening in Iraq are largely unreported in the West. One such fact is that the incidence of myeloid leukemia cancers have risen fivefold since the Gulf War in 1991. There has also been a rise in congenital birth defects. Both are linked to the 96,000 depleted Uranium shells used primarily by the USA, UK and France during the 1990 war. These have left a residue of radioactive dust throughout the country.
In a rare report, the USA newspaper, the Washington Post admits that the ongoing aerial attacks on the country "leave behind a lethal litter that could claim civilian casualties for years... Civilian casualties have become routine."
On the newspaper's web site (but not published), an article describes how the USA has increasingly used "cluster bombs that have no real aim point and that kill and wound innocent civilians for years to come."
Cluster bombs leave hundreds of bomblets that can maim and kill civilians for months or years after they have been dropped.
Professor Thomas Nagy, (a teacher from George Washington University's Business School) publishes a report based on declassified documents from the USA Defense Intelligence Agency. One is titled "Iraq Water Treatment Vulnerability".
This document shows that the USA had used sanctions to degrade Iraq's water treatment facilities. It states that "failing to secure supplies will result in a shortage of pure drinking water for much of the population. This could result in increased incidences, if not epidemics, of disease and to certain pure water dependent becoming incapacitated.". It also observed that "Iraq's overall water treatment capability will suffer a slow decline, rather than a precipitous halt as dwindling supplies and cannibalized parts are concentrated at higher priority locations". It concludes that "no adequate solution exists for Iraq's water purification dilemma".
The above policy violates the Geneva Convention which states: "It is prohibited to attack, destroy, remove or render useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, such as foodstuffs, agricultural areas for the production of foodstuffs, crops, livestock, drinking water installations and supplies and irrigation works, for the specific purpose of denying them for their sustenance value to the civilian population or to the adverse Party, whatever the motive, whether in order to starve out civilians, to cause them to move away, or for any other motive."
This report is unreported in the main USA newspapers (such as New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Time, and Newsweek).
The USA makes up 4% of the world's population but consumes 40% of its resources. Control of these resources is maintained directly by 800 military basis located in 80 countries around the world and indirectly by USA dominated organisations like the World Bank (in which the USA Treasury has a 51% stake), the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization.
A pamphlet by the US Space Command ("Vision for 2020") argues: "the globalization of the world economy will also continue, with a widening between the 'haves' and the 'have-nots,"'. It continues that the USA has a mission to "dominate the space dimension-of military operations to protect US interests and investments".
The 2000 USA government has strong links to the oil industry. Drilling in the wilderness of Alaska is approved despite environmental concerns.
The reason for the boycott was because of criticism of Israel as a racist state.
Israel has laws granting special privileges to Jewish immigrants from anywhere in the world, over Palestinians whose families have been on the land for generations. Israel also has measures that set aside most land for exclusive Jewish ownership and use. As the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination makes clear, racial discrimination is:
"any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, color, descent, or national and ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life."
In Switzerland, 115 countries sign a declaration criticising the violation of the Geneva Conventions by Israel in its occupation of Palestinians. The USA and Israel boycott the conference.
The USA passes legislation that stops USA troops from serving on United Nations peace keeping missions unless given immunity from the International Criminal Court, prevents any USA government agency from helping the Court in any way, blocks military aid to any non-NATO state which ratifies the treaty, bans USA funding for the Court, and authorises the USA President to send military force to free any American soldier or official taken into the Court's custody.
Over 140 countries have accepted the Court and signed the treaty authorising its creation.
"Afghanistan's significance from an energy standpoint stems from its geographical position as a potential transit route for oil and natural gas exports from Central Asia to the Arabian Sea. This potential includes the possible construction of oil and natural gas export pipelines through Afghanistan."
The West describes it as a mindless attack on Western values. Evidence indicates responsibility by dissidents from several Middle Eastern countries. The people involved are later shown to be from Saudi Arabia (the majority), Lebanon, Egypt, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates. The attack had been planned by the Al-Qaida group, led by Saudi born, Usama Bin-Laden.
A number of countries use the anti-Muslim emotions subsequently stirred up to obtain Western approval and silence for their fights against Islamic based independence movements: China against the Turkic speaking Muslims in Xinjiang, Israel against the Palestinians, Kyrgyzstan against Islamic based political opponents, Macedonia labels the Albanian minority as Islamic terrorists, Malaysia talks of action against pro-Democracy activists, Egypt steps up activities against anti-government activists, Russia against the separatists in the mainly Muslim region of Chechnya, Australia turns away refugees seeking asylum, UK brings in new laws against refugees, Zimbabwe against independent journalists (who it called terrorists), India against Kashmiri separatists.
The Western media concentrate on the atrocity and its victims in a way that differs from coverage of atrocities in other parts of the world. This causes anger in many non-Western countries. A few days after the attack on New York, Robert Fisk (journalist for The Independent in the UK) writes:
"Nineteen years ago today, the greatest act of terrorism using Israel's own definition of that much misused word in modern Middle Eastern history began. Does anyone remember the anniversary in the West? How many readers of this article will remember it? I will take a tiny risk and say that no other British newspaper certainly no American newspaper will today recall the fact that on 16 September 1982, Israel's Phalangist militia allies started their three-day orgy of rape and knifing and murder in the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila that cost 1,800 lives. It followed an Israeli invasion of Lebanon designed to drive the PLO out of the country and given the green light by the then US Secretary of State, Alexander Haig which cost the lives of 17,500 Lebanese and Palestinians, almost all of them civilians. That's probably three times the death toll in the World Trade Centre. Yet I do not remember any vigils or memorial services or candle-lighting in America or the West for the innocent dead of Lebanon; I don't recall any stirring speeches about democracy or liberty. In fact, my memory is that the United States spent most of the bloody months of July and August 1982 calling for 'restraint'".
The Western media stir up the situation with calls for collective punishments. Bill O'Reilly proclaims on the USA's Fox News Channel:
"The USA should bomb the Afghan infrastructure to rubble -- the airport, the power plants, their water facilities and the roads. We should not target civilians, but if they don't rise up against this criminal government, they starve, period."
New York Post columnist Steve Dunleavy writes:
"As for cities or countries that host these worms, bomb them into basketball courts."
Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review (USA) writes:
"If we flatten part of Damascus or Tehran or whatever it takes, that is part of the solution."
Although the USA states that civilian casualties will be minimised, Cluster Bombs are dropped. These break up into bomblets which can lie dormant on the ground until touched, often long after the conflict has ended. Human Rights Watch estimate that 5000 (30%) of these bomblets lie in the ground unexploded. They are of similar colour and size as food parcels dropped by USA planes. Daisy Cutter bombs are also used which flatten an area of over 1km radius.
A United Nations official in Afghanistan estimates that live bombs and mines maim, on average 40 to 100 people a week in the country and 50% of these die before they get any medical help.
Logistical and political aid for the attack on Afganistan is obtained from a number of countries (often by bribes or concessions) including:
In northern Afganistan, the West helps anti Taliban fighters called the Northern Alliance.
The Northern Alliance had ruled the country between 1990 and 1996. During that time they trafficked in hard drugs, killed more than 25,000 civilians and raped thousands of women and girls, using many as sex slaves. In several incidents they threw acid in women's faces because they were not covered up.
Aid agencies (including Oxfam, Action Aid, Christian Aid, and Islamic Relief ) call for a stop to the bombing after warning of a humanitarian catastrophe affecting millions of people, including 100,000 children under 5. This call is ignored.
Dead children being prepared for burial.
Northern Alliance troops pulling out gold teeth.
The reporting of the conflict in the West concentrates on the military hardware. A new crop of words enters the language:
Many Afghan and Arab prisoners are killed by Northern Aliance and USA forces in violation of the Geneva Conventions. In one case 280 bodies are buried in mass graves near the airport in Kandahar. More than 400 prisoners are killed in unexplained circumstances in Qala-i-Janghi fort at Mazar-i-Sharif. Calls by Amnesty International for an inquiry are ignored.
In the Western media, very little information about civilian casualties is given. This appears to be a deliberate policy. Walter Issacson, the chairman of USA satellite and cable news company, CNN, informs his staff:
"It seems perverse to focus too much on the casualties and hardship in Afganistan."
The Arabic satellite television station, Al-Jazeera, is considered by most people in the Middle East as the only source of news that is not government controlled. The USA Secretary of State, Colin Powell, expresses concern about their coverage of the war. When these concerns are ignored, the USA bombs the Kabul offices of the station, effectively denying a view of the conflict not controlled by Western media.
Marc Herold, an economics professor at the University of New Hampshire (USA), in a study published in the UK newspaper, The Guardian on 20 December, reports that between 7 October and 10 December, USA bombing has killed 3767 civilians in Afghanistan. This is a higher number than the victims in the 11 September attack on the USA. These are Afghan civilians who had nothing to do with the USA atrocity and who had no say in the make up or policies of the Afghani government because there had not been any elections for them to participate in. The figures mean that 60 to 65 civilians have been killed for every day of the bombing.
The study's findings are coraborated by aid agencies, the United Nations, eyewitnesses and media reports. It does not include civilians who died later of their injuries, people killed after 10 December, people who died because they were refugees from the bombing, military deaths (estimated to be in excess of 10,000), or prisoners killed in Mazar-i-Sharif, Qala-i-Janghi, Khandahar Airport or elsewhere.
This report (and the casualties) is ignored by most Western media unlike the blanket coverage given to the USA victims. After seven weeks of bombing the USA newspaper, The Los Angeles Times estimates that the death toll was "at least dozens of civilians."
The bombing includes power stations, telephone exchanges, educational establishments, utilities, hospitals, lorries and buses filled with refugees, fuel trucks, convoys of tribal leaders, residential districts in the cities, and dozens of villages. This is a sample of attacks and their civilian casualties.
The nearby village of Khan-e-Mairjuddin, is bombed with a death toll of over 100. A third village, Zaner Khel, reports being hit with nearly 100 civilian casualties after planes bomb the nearby house of a minor Taliban official.
The hijackers in the atrocity in the USA had been from countries like Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Egypt; countries which are considered allies to the USA (the "moderate states"). The Taliban government had been funded by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. When the USA wants to extend its "war on terrorism", countries such as Iraq, Sudan and Yemen are mentioned. These are "rogue states", countries with governments that are not under the control of the USA.
In December Israel police briefly detain Sari Nusseibeh, a senior political representative of the Palestinian Authority, along with several of his colleagues, after he had invited guests, including foreign diplomats, to a hotel in Jerusalem for a party to celebrate the end of Ramadan. Uzi Landau, the Internal Security Minister for Israel, calls the reception a "terror-related" activity.
Yasser Arafat (the elected Chairman of the Palestinian Authority) is banned by Israel from his annual visit to Bethlehem over Christmas. Earlier Israeli forces had destroyed Arafat's helicopters and the runway at Gaza airport and had banned him from leaving the country.
Little of the terror in Nigeria is reported in the West; the Nigerian government has given oil concessions to Western companies.
The companies are protected by government forces and allow their airstrips and roads to be used by the military, while the revenues from oil are funding expansion of the war. The news agency, Reuters, has reported that some local security forces used as private contractors by the oil companies use child soldiers.
According to Amnesty International, government forces have used ground attacks, helicopter gunship and indiscriminate high-altitude bombardment to clear the local population from oil-rich areas. Many atrocities have been committed. Male villagers are killed in mass executions; women and children have been nailed to trees with iron spikes. In the villages of Bentiu, Guk and Rik soldiers slit the throats of children and kill male prisoners who had been interrogated by hammering nails into their foreheads. In Panyejier, people are crushed by tanks and shot at by helicopter gunship. Many women are raped and abducted while houses are burned and destroyed.
Since 1983 nearly 2 million people are estimated to have been killed. More than 4.5 million people are internal refugees while a million are in exile.
The USA mining company, Freeport McMoRan, has been extracting minerals from Irian Jaya (now Indonesia, formerly West Papua) without cleaning up its pollution.
The Canadian mining company, Tiomin Resources, uses farmers' land in Kenya for mining titanium without paying adequate compensation.
The World Bank approves a $15 million loan in support of Nigerian companies working for Shell Oil. The presence of Western oil companies facilitates human rights violations and environmental degradation in the Niger Delta. The African Environmental and Human Development Agency (AFRIDA) states:
"Shell Nigeria and its contractors continue to operate in a reckless and irresponsible manner leading to continuing devastation of the natural environment, destruction of community livelihood and communal conflicts in the Niger Delta."
A large explosion rocks the Yorla Oil Field in Ogoniland (Nigeria) raining crude oil sporadically for days into adjacent farmlands, settlements, steams, swamps, lakes and rivers. Health problems in local communities such as respiratory problems, rashes on the bodies and other unidentifiable ailments have increased since the incident. Ogoniland has been ravaged by nine major oil spills and explosions since 1970.
The World Trade Organisation also fails in its attempt to set up the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI). This would have allowed corporations to force countries to repeal any laws that impeded free trade. Countries would have no equivalent right to challenge corporations.
Under these changes Colombia would have to repeal laws against toxic and radioactive waste, Brunei, Pakistan and Brazil would have to repeal laws against foreign ownership of agricultural lands, Venezuela would have to repeal laws protecting its publishing industry, the UK would have to repeal labour safety laws and France would have to repeal laws protecting its film industry.
In the town of Piatra Neamt in Romania, the mayor, Ion Rotaru, plans to relocate sections of the Roma population to a converted chicken farm 6km outside the town stating:
"We will extract this 'black plague' from the residential districts in the town."
He is quoted in Jurnalul (a newspaper): "We shall transform the farms into a genuine ghetto. We will surround the place with barbed wire, and send in guards with dogs to watch the place. Nothing else can be done with this people [the Gypsies]. They only commit burglaries, break things and steal."
In another newspaper, Cotidianul, he claims: "If the Roma people don't accept to move from the city, they will be forced to do so."
To a journalist from the UK newspaper, The Guardian, Rotaru admits: "If I could, I would ship all these Gypsies off to Antarctica. I could build igloos for them there."
Attacks on Roma communities in Romania since 1989 have increased exponentially, including both pogroms conducted by local mobs and, more recently, by police. Romania is a democratic country negotiating to join the European Community.
In Greece, local authority housing policies have resulted in what the Council of Europe has described as "de facto apartheid" against the Roma. In the UK, an amendment to the 1976 Race Relations Act allows immigration officials to discriminate against seven ethnic or national groups, including the Roma.
In Bulgaria, Roma children are often separated in schools from Bulgarian children "into differentiated and segregated classes." (United Nations report). In the region of Medjimurje (Croatia), where the country's densest Roma population live, at least 15 schools isolate Roma children into separate classrooms. "It's racial segregation," says Roma advocate Bojan Munjin.
Indonesia receives most of its arms from the UK including ground attack aircraft, surface to air missiles, Tribal class frigates, communications equipment (from Marconi), armoured vehicles, riot control vehicles, automatic weapons (from British Aerospace) and military training for pilots. Amnesty International has described the Indonesian military as "organised to deal with domestic rather than international threats". Since 1965, over 1,000,000 people have died from government suppression.
The UK company Mil-Tac armed the Hutu militia in Zaire. The weapons were used in the genocide of the Tutsis.
In Turkey, Land Rover vehicles, missiles and guns used against the Kurdish population are supplied by the UK. These weapons have claimed over 20,000 lives.
The UK also supplies arms to Nigeria which is using them against the Ogoni people in their oil rich region, and military training to forces from Guatemala which has used death squads against its own people for 40 years.
The UK (along with the USA) supplied arms to both sides of the war between Iraq and Iran in which 1,000,000 people died. Having supplied India with helicopters, aircraft and anti-ship missiles the UK supplied Pakistan with the same items.
The people of the UK pay for military development and research as 50% of all government development funds are allocated to "defence". Much of UK "aid" to countries is in the form of Export Credits (which the UK tax payer underwrites) to allow these countries to buy arms. The risks are taken by the UK public while the profits go to the large corporations. Arms have been sold to Iraq and Malaysia under these conditions.
Aid agencies criticise the UK for a $40 million aid deal to supply a military air traffic control system by BAE Systems to Tanzania. Some government ministers have expressed concern that the deal will push one of Africa's poorest countries further into debt. UK defence experts and the World Bank argue that an air traffic control system worth $11 million would be more appropriate for a country with only 8 military aircraft. The UK aid agency, Oxfam, declares that this aid money would pay for 3,500,000 children to go to school or provide health care for 2 million people. The deal is being financed by a loan of $60 million by Barclays Bank.
During the election campaign four opposition activists, including Brahim Selguet, are detained and shot. Radio stations are banned from airing debates or "programs of a political nature" and from adding commentary to news items. The government closes two private newspapers, and Radio Liberte operates under threat of suspension. The government bans political gatherings of more than 20 people. The leading opposition candidate, Ngarledjy Yorongar, is detained and the tortured.
After the election, the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) announce increased monetary support for the building of a $3,700 million, 900km long oil pipeline and extraction plant in the Doba region. The project is a joint venture of USA companies ExxonMobil and Chevron and Malaysian company, Petronas.
The USA refuses to participate in talks sponsored by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in France during May. This was to discuss ways to crack down on off-shore and other tax and money-laundering havens.
In July, the USA is the only nation to oppose the United Nations Agreement to Curb the International Flow of Illicit Small Arms.
The USA disavows the Land Mine Treaty, banning land mines, signed in 1997 by 122 countries. The USA rejects the treaty along with Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Vietnam, Egypt, and Turkey.
The USA refuses to allow biological inspections on its own territories in defiance of the 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, ratified by 144 countries including the USA. At Geneva (in Switzerland) in November, USA Undersecretary of State, John Bolton stated that "the protocol is dead," at the same time accusing Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Libya, Sudan, and Syria of violating the Convention but offering no specific allegations or supporting evidence.
In December, the USA unilaterally withdraws from the Intercontinental Balistic Missile Treaty signed in 1972. This is the first time in the nuclear era that the USA has renounced a major arms control accord.
The USA becomes one of only 13 countries to reject the the Comprehensive [Nuclear] Test Ban Treaty. This treaty had been signed by 164 countries in 1996 and ratified by 89.
Rupert Cornwall from the UK newspaper, The Independent, describes the USA as "again riding roughshod over international deals it does not like."
Madeleine Albright, former USA Secretary of State to the United Nations put it thus: "[The USA will] behave, with others, multilaterally when we can and unilaterally as we must."
Workers cannot go to the toilet more than once per 8 hour shift and they cannot drink water more than twice per shift. Workers commonly faint from exhaustion, heat, fumes and poor nutrition during their shifts. Health care is inadequate. At the Sam Yang factory, with 6000 employees, one doctor works only two hours a day but the factory operates 20 hours a day. Night shift employees do not have any on-site medical emergency services.
Abuse of workers is rife: 15 Vietnamese women tell CBS News (USA television) that they were hit over the head by their supervisor for poor sewing, two were hospitalised. Another 45 women are forced by their supervisors to kneel down with their hands up in the air for 25 minutes.
100 workers at the Pouchen factory, a Nike site in Dong Nai, are forced to stand in the sun for half an hour for spilling a tray of fruit on an altar with which three Taiwanese supervisors were using. One employee (Nguyen Minh Tri) walks out after 18 minutes, and is dismissed. 56 women at the same factory are forced to run around the factory grounds. 12 of them faint and are taken to hospital.
A Nike plant supervisor from Korea flees Vietnam after being accused of sexually molesting several women workers. Many women workers have complained to Vietnam Labour Watch about frequent sexual harassment from foreign supervisors. Even in broad daylight, in front of other workers, these supervisors try to touch, rub or grab their buttocks or chests. One supervisor told a female factory worker that it is a common custom for men in his country to greet women they like by grabbing their behinds.
Nike uses subcontractors in Vietnam so that it can legally evade responsibility for local conditions. However, the company dictates the price of shoes and also the cost of operation to its subcontractors. This forces them to set high quotas for their workers and to pay low wages. It has been estimated that the labour cost involved in making one pair of Nike shoes is only $3. These may then sell for over $100 in the USA and Europe.
Other plants utilising cheap labour are in China, Indonesia, Thailand, Taiwan, and South Korea. Nike, admits to its shareholders that it has used child labour in Vietnam as well as in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Cambodia.
Philip Knight, the founder of Nike, is reputed to be worth $5,400 million. The 1992 promotional fee to basketball player, Michael Jordan was $20 million, more than was paid to the workforce in Indonesia making Nike products.
|Ginni, an 8 year old girl in the Punjab region of India making footballs (soccer balls) for export to Italy.|
She earns $20 per month.
The number of refugees worldwide is listed as 21,800,000. This is 1 in 275 people. This is broken down by continent as follows:
The following table lists the major countries of origin and of asylum for the major refugee populations. An estimated 3,800,000 Palestinian refugees are not included in this report.
|Country of Origin||Asylum Countries||Number|