ZIMBABWE: Trade unionists arrested
On August 5, five union leaders were arrested under the Public Order and Security Act for "conducting a riot, disorder or intolerance". The four leaders were attending a Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions workshop discussing high levels of taxation, an AIDS levy and the National Social Security Authority. Initially the four were accused of not getting a licence for the meeting (which they do not need under Zimbabwe law) but this was subsequently changed to the above charge. For more information, visit <http://www.cosatu.org.za/press/latest.html>
BOTSWANA: Basarwa protest eviction
The Basarwa of Botswana, also known as Bushmen, began giving evidence to the country's High Court on July 26, in a bid to reverse their 2001 eviction from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve that is their traditional home. While the government claims the removals, which were accompanied by emptying water supplies and dismantling buildings, are motivated by the impossibility of providing government services to the vast desert, the plaintiffs claim the government wishes to have unimpeded access to mineral reserves in the Kalahari. For more information email < mr@survival-A HREF="mailto:international.org"><international.org>.
UNITED STATES: US companies accused of fuelling Congo war
On August 4, Friends of the Earth-United States
and the UK-based group Rights and Accountability in Development filed a formal complaint with the US State Department against three US companies: Cabot Corporation, Eagle Wings Resources International and OM Group, Inc. In 2002, a UN Panel of Experts accused these companies of fuelling the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The complaint is an attempt to force the State Department to investigate the UN allegations.
BRITAIN: Kurdish hunger striker near death
After 26 days of refusing food and medical attention, Kurdish asylum seeker Naseh Ghafor was near death on August 4. Ghafor's application for asylum was rejected by the British Home Office. A petition demanding he be given asylum has been signed by hundreds of Britons, including former MP Tony Benn.
BRITAIN: Protests against refugee detention
On July 31-August 2, campaigners protested "deadly detention" outside detention centres and prisons across Britain. These were organised after two detained asylum seekers were found hanged in the last month. The facilities picketed included the Campsfield and Dover "removal" centres, Liverpool Prison, Forest Bank prison in Manchester and Dungavel removal centre in Scotland. More than 200 people attended the Dungavel protest, included several Scottish Socialist Party parliamentarians.
IRAQ: Humanitarian crisis looms in Basra
Aid agencies are warning of a humanitarian crisis in the southern Iraq city of Basra, caused by chronic water shortages in a city suffering daily temperatures of around 50oC. The UN chief in the city estimates that the city has around 50% of the water it needs, and frequent power cuts that have stopped water pumping means this is likely to get worse.
UNITED STATES: Record number of prisoners
On July 26, the US Justice Department released a study that shows a record number of prisoners in that country's "correctional" system. It showed that in 2003, 3.2% of the US population — 6.9 million adults — were behind bars or on probation or parole. This was an increase of 130,000 people in a year. The proportion of women incarcerated had also increased.
UNITED STATES: Legislators protest military ties with Indonesia
Several members of the US Congress have written to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to protest the April decision to reconvene the bilateral defence dialogue between US forces in the Pacific and the Indonesian military. Such dialogues have not occurred since 1997, and the United States publicly cut military ties with Indonesia after the 1999 massacres in East Timor.
SOUTH AFRICA: Hundreds block bus route
Hundreds of people poured onto Durban's streets on August 1, blocking a local bus route to demand new houses, roads and electricity. Holding signs saying "We are tired of living in the dark", the protesters blocked roads with old beds, burglar guards, old wooden doors, banana trees, iron poles and black bags filled with rubbish. The police attempted to disperse the crowd with stun grenades. Two people were charged.
PALESTINE: Eight Palestinians killed
In the week ending August 5, the Israeli army killed eight Palestinians, six of them civilians, including three children. One of the children was shot dead in Khan Yunis, the other two were killed by shelling in the northern Gaza Strip. Indiscriminate shelling of residential areas in these places injured 30 other Palestinians.
From Green Left Weekly, August 11, 2004.
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