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(en) SchNEWS 407, Friday 30th May, 2003

From Jo Makepeace <webmaster@schnews.org.uk>
Date Fri, 30 May 2003 09:18:56 +0200 (CEST)

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

"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 doesn't really
matter that millions of Congolese are dying." - Prof. Didier Gondola,
author of "The History of Congo" (Greenwood Press 2002).
"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...A
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 Bush's 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 Congo's 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 don't seem to care."

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 Council's 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 don't 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)



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 country's 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 Congo's wealth with his Western

The most recent wave of fighting could be linked to the discovery -
by none other than Bush's old mates Bechtel who have worked hard
since Mobutu's demise to make themselves indispensable to DRC's
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 mineral's 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 has

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 panel's
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
US's 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 Africa's
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

* For more on Africa www.yellowtimes.org www.thirdworldtraveller.com


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 people's morality." After two cautions
the paper can be closed.



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 'extremely

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 State's intentions run the risk of being
thwarted by 12 members of the public.

GOING, The double jeopardy rule which means you can't be tried twice
for the same crime.

GONE. This is Tony's 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 there's still loads more new crimes in the pipeline, with the
Anti-Social Behaviour Bill also currently going through parliament.
If you haven't 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 government's 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 Blunkett's 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 ExxonMobil's AGM people from Greenpeace's 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.


SchNEWS in brief

* Indymedia are having a new volunteers meeting next Wednesday (4)
7.30pm London Activist Resource Centre, 62 Fieldgate Street,
Whitechapel. imc-london@indymedia.org

* There's a Frock On! Festival next Saturday (7) organised by
Glasgow's 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);
Queen's Park Glass House (bands). Workshops are free; gig is £3-£5

* For another take on SARS check out

* 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

* 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, 2pm www.hub.org.uk

* Next Thursday (5) there will be a report back from people returning
from Palestine and their meetings with Israeli Peace Groups. It's 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. It's at Brooklyn Squat, 9 Rue de
Fauchier, just off the Marceau roundabout, Marseille. Tel:
0033612389628 butterfly@resiste.net


Positive SchNEWS

For 15 years the Yellow House in Liverpool has successfully provided
a space for young people, mostly from the inner cities, who wouldn't
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 aren't 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
project's 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



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 Papua's 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
world's most diverse linguistic cultures, containing just 0.01% of
the world's population, but 15% of the world's known languages.

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 America's 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 summit's 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 didn't 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 he's 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



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

Support Amini via Jorobdansam@aol.com

International Federation of Iranian Refugees 0115 9859546


...and finally...

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 judge's table.
After completing her submission he said "You don't 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 US's lovely Patriot Act.

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.


SchNEWS warns all readers to stay at home and watch the riots at the
upcoming G8 Summit in France on TV. Honest!


SchNEWS Of The World - issues 301-350 for £7!! Past books are goin'
cheap... SchNEWSround issues 51-100 - SOLD OUT; SchNEWS annual issues
101-150 - going for £3!! Survival Handbook issues 151-200 - also at
£3; SchQUALL issues 201-250 - almost sold out - £7; Yearbook 2001
issues 251-300 - bargain £5. Add £1.50 p&p for each book, cheques to
Justice? Honest!

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This week's SchNEWS: http://www.schnews.org.uk/archive/news407.htm

Friday 30th May 2003, Issue 407


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