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(en) UK Solidarity Federation - DA #27 - US, Australia, Poland, India, Colombia

From worker-a-infos-en@ainfos.ca (Flow System)
Date Sun, 22 Jun 2003 13:38:02 +0200 (CEST)
Rom Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E

In April, fifteen activists bound together by a mixture of roofing tar,
chicken wire and nails wrapped around PVC piping were arrested in
Saco, Maine, and charged with criminal trespass, after trying to block
the entrance to General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products Co.
The bindings were decorated to look like crayons. Underneath were
layers of duct tape and chicken wire mixed with roofing tar covering a
piece of PVC pipe. Inside the pipe, the protesters were bound together
by chains linked with spring-loaded rings so they could release
themselves at any time. It took police about an hour to separate the
group. In many cases, groups of three or four people were still
attached to each other by one arm as they were put on a school bus to
be transported to the police station. No one was hurt in the protest,
which lasted about four hours. Over 30 police officers and firefighters
used scissors and wire cutters to untangle the protesters. Nearby,
several dozen protesters chanted and sold cookies by the road for
Veterans for Peace.

The activists said they were there to raise awareness about the
disparity between military and educational spending, as well as
Maine’s dependency on defence spending in its economy. Tax
dollars, they argued, should be spent on teachers and social services,
not the grenade launchers and machine guns produced by companies
like General Dynamics.

Saco is unaccustomed to anti-military demonstrations despite General
Dynamics’ long-standing presence in the community. The plant
has operated in Saco for more than 50 years, formerly under the name
Saco Defense, but gained new attention recently because many of the
weapons manufactured at the plant have been used in the war against
Iraq. Although Maine has seen dozens of anti-war demonstrations,
this event involved a more elaborate form of civil disobedience than
most other protests.


Easter saw the Baxter 2003 border camp come into being. Around
three thousand people converged on the detention centre located near
the small South Australian town of Port Augusta.

As a part of this year’s camp, there was a radio project called
Radio Free Baxter, broadcasting in the immediate area of the detention
centre, and taking in-coming calls from it so as to establish two-way
communication with the people imprisoned inside.

For more info, visit:

Radio Free Baxter: http://antimedia.net/radiobaxter
Indymedia: http://melbourne.indymedia.org
Camp site: http://baxter2003.baxterwatch.net

No One Is Illegal: http://antimedia.net/nooneisillegal


Back in February 2002, a group of workers started a trade union
(Konfederacja Pracy - Work Confederation) at Poznan - Sulzer
Chemtech Poland (part of the huge Swiss Company Sulzer Chemtech).
The next day, company president Andrzej Lyko had sacked one of the
activists and convened a staff meeting, where he used bullying and
intimidation tactics which led to only 15 people joining the union (out
of 175). In August, the Labour Court ordered the sacked worker, Rafal
Jackowiak, to be reinstated, but he was sacked again in October.
Since then, he has been fighting for his rights. Meanwhile, the other
union members are being harassed, bullied, and getting their pay

Protest letters to: Sultzer Chemtech LDT, P.O. Box 65, CH 8404
Winterthur, Switzerland. Fax +41 (52) 262 00 60. Copies to: Sultzer
Chemtech Poland, Wysogotowo Okrezna 9/11, 62-081 Przezmierowo,
Poland. Fax +48 (61) 814 16 89

India I

In March, the state government of Kerala ordered over a thousand
indigenous people to be evicted from the Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary
in the southern state of Kerala, an area famous for its elephants. Up to
20 people are said to have been killed during the exercise, and many
more injured.

The tribals were trying to reclaim their traditional rights to the forest
lands that fall within the sanctuary’s boundaries. In the past few
years, the Indian government has accelerated its efforts to evict
forest-dwellers in northern states from their ancestral or adopted
homes, under the pretext of environmental protection.

The Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary was established in 1973. Since then,
the government has declared many Kerala forests protected land. It is
situated in the middle of a 300 square kilometre forest, and forms part
of the Nilgiri Biosphere; it is also home to many indigenous tribal

India II

In the first ever case of "reverse dumping", 1,416 drums filled with 290
tonnes of hazardous mercury wastes from a thermometer factory at
Kodaikanal in Tamil Nadu were sent back to the US in April. Mercury
vapours released from the factory owned by Hindustan Lever Ltd
(HLL) ruined the health of the workers, who suffered from bleeding
gums, skin patches and eye irritations, and caused lasting damage to
the environment. Mercury from the factory damaged the tropical forest
of the Pambar Shola, where it is located, and contaminated the nearby
Kodi Lake. Contamination levels outside the factory were measured at
600-800 times permissible limits, but HLL had been denying this

In March 2001, Greenpeace and a local environment group - Palani
Hills Conservation Council - exposed mercury bearing waste glass
dumped by the company at a local scrap yard. Demonstrations by local
people at the factory site forced its closure by the Tamil Nadu
Pollution Control Board.

HLL at last arranged to ship the hazardous mercury and related
wastes from its now defunct thermometer factory in Kodaikanal back
to US. The consignment was sent to the hazardous waste recycling
firm, Bethlehem Apparatus, in Pennsylvania, and included glass
culets, finished and semi-finished products and sludge.

The controversial thermometer factory was transplanted in India in
1983, after it was shut down in Watertown, New York. The factory
imported all its mercury, primarily from the United States, and finished
thermometers were exported back to the US for distribution to
markets abroad.


Since Plan Colomia was launched in 2000, ‘attracting’ US$1
billion in mainly military aid from the US for the Pastrana government,
violence has reached new heights (see DA24 for in-depth analysis on
Plan Colombia). Since January 2003, US special forces have been
‘officially’ deployed in the country for the first time, in the
eastern province of Arauca. Their blatant, declared aim is to train the
right-wing, murdering Colombian troops, and protect a key oil pipeline.
Every day more than 1,100 people are uprooted by the US-sponsored
carnage, which is explained as a war on the coca plantations and the
drugs barons, but in fact is a war to secure US domination.

Meanwhile, Coca-Cola’s plant managers have been using
paramilitary groups to kill and intimidate union organisers. This has
given rise to the Stop Killer Coke campaign, run by trade unions such
as the United Steelworkers of America, the International Labour
Rights Fund and the Colombian labour union Sinaltrainal.

Right wing paramilitary groups have killed at least eight union leaders,
and a recent ruling by US District Court Judge Jose E. Martinez
means that cases brought by Colombian Plaintiffs under the Alien Tort
Claims Act ("ATCA") for human rights violations committed by
paramilitaries on behalf of Coca-Cola bottlers Panamerican
Beverages, Inc. ("Panamco") and Bebidas y Alimentos ("Bebidas") in
Colombia could go forward. The corporate defendants had argued that
the TVPA’s coverage is limited to "individuals," and that this
excluded corporations from liability. In rejecting that position, the
court held that "the legislative history does not reveal an intent to
exempt private corporations from liability... and that the term
‘individual’ is consistently viewed in the law as including

Sinaltrainal, the union of food and bottling workers in Colombia, is
fighting for justice, as is the family of Isidro Gil, who was murdered
inside the Bebidas bottling facility in Carepa by paramilitaries brought
in by Coca-Cola. Other crimes committed by them include kidnapping
and torture of union leaders.

For more info on the Coke campaign, visit

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