International briefs: Turkey/Kurdistan; PNG; Namibia; US bank and the Nazis


Turkey invades Kurdistan again

Turkey's latest invasion of Kurdish-populated northern Iraq has taken place, ignored by the world's press. About 25,000 Turkish troops, supported by planes and helicopters, crossed the border on November 6.

Turkish defence minister Ismet Sezgin on November 8 confirmed that the invasion had begun. The invasion is targeting members of the rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) fighting for an independent Kurdish state.

"The operation aims at eradicating members of the separatist organisation who fled from Syria into northern Iraq", Sezgin told the Anatolia news agency.

In October, Syria agreed to Turkey's demand that it cease allowing PKK rebels refuge on its territory.

PNG Telikom workers' victory

Members of the Communications Workers Union employed by Telikom, Post PNG and Pangtel returned to work on November 9 following two weeks of rolling strikes. The workers returned after the PNG government finally agreed to pay its contributions to the workers' superannuation fund.

The workers were employees of the state-owned Post and Telecommunications Corporation until the enterprise was privatised. At that point the workers' superannuation contributions, as well as the PNG government's, were supposed to be transferred to another fund. However, the government failed to transfer its share.

Dozens of striking workers were suspended during the strike, which severely disrupted telephone services within PNG and to the outside world.

The government agreed to reinstate all sacked and suspended CWU members, protect the union from damages, compensation or penalties flowing from court proceedings against it, and guarantee that workers would not lose pay while they were on strike.

Namibia to outlaw homosexuality

The government of the southern African state of Namibia will outlaw homosexuality, home affairs minister Jerry Ekandjo told parliament on November 9. The government, led by the South West African Peoples Organisation (SWAPO), will introduce legislation to ban homosexuality and "curb the spread of homosexual practices", the daily Namibian newspaper reported.

"It is my opinion that so-called gay rights can never qualify as human rights", Ekandjo said.

"It is inimical to true Namibian culture, African culture and religion. They should be classified as human wrongs which must rank as sin against society and God ... Today it is homosexuality, tomorrow it will the right to walk naked, the day after tomorrow it will be the right to abuse drugs."

President Sam Nujoma last year vowed to "uproot" homosexuality because it was a "foreign and corrupt ideology".

Human rights lawyer Clinton Light told the Namibian that the move to ban homosexuality would be contrary to the spirit of Namibia's constitution, even though it does not specifically mention sexual orientation in the Bill of Rights.

In recent years, gay and lesbian rights have also come under attack in Zimbabwe and Zambia.

US bank collaborated with Nazis

One of the United States' largest banks, Chase Manhattan Corporation, froze the accounts of Jewish customers in France during the Nazi occupation even though it was not required to do so, according to the BBC.

The New York Times reported on November 7 that Chase was investigating whether its Paris subsidiary was "overly cooperative in providing banking services to Germany during the occupation". It is also investigating whether assets seized by the Nazis and the Vichy regime were ever returned.

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