International news briefs


News briefs

East Timor pledge in NZ

The Auckland East Timor Independence Committee has asked candidates in the October parliamentary elections to sign a pledge binding them to support a change in NZ's policy on East Timor so that Wellington recognises the East Timorese people's right to self determination, supports the release of resistance leader Xanana Gusmao and all political prisoners, demands the withdrawal of Indonesian troops from East Timor and ends all military links with Indonesia.

The pledge campaign was launched on August 16 outside the Garuda Airlines office in Auckland. Several MPs and candidates who have taken a stand for East Timor spoke, including Keith Locke (Alliance), Phil Goff (Labour) and Ann Batten (NZ First).

Thugs attack Russian anti-nuclear protesters

An anti-nuclear camp organised by the Russian radical ecological movement Rainbow Keepers was violently attacked by armed thugs on August 22. The camp was launched on August 10 to protest against the opening of Rostov nuclear power plant, situated 13 kilometres from Volgodonsk. In the attack, people were searched and beaten by military-clad goons. The attackers issued death threats to those who resisted. Later, one of the thugs was seen on guard duty at the nuclear power plant.

Concern for South Korean students

Amnesty International on August 23 criticised South Korean authorities for beating many of the 5000 students arrested by riot police at Yonsei University in Seoul. "The South Korean authorities should ensure that all detained students are protected from further ill-treatment. They should also be given access to their families and legal counsel and appropriate medical attention", Amnesty said.

"In South Korea detainees are routinely deprived of sleep, sometimes beaten during police interrogation and denied prompt access to families and lawyers. [AI] fears that as a result of the violent clashes, the students in detention could be subjected to this pattern of abuse."

Narmada campaigner arrested

On of India's most prominent environmentalists, Medha Patkar, was arrested by the government of the state of Madhya Pradesh on August 19 while leading a protest against the building of a dam on Narmada River. She is being held without bail and kept in solitary confinement. Her health is deteriorating.

Medha is being held along with 15 other members of the Narmada Bachao Andolan. NBO and others were taking part in a peaceful protest against the giant dam complex that threatens to submerge many villages to provide cheap energy for multinational investors. The protesters, mostly women, were beaten police. The NBO asks that protests be faxed to: Digvijai Singh, Chief Minister, Madhya Pradesh Bhopal, India, 91 755 540 501; H. D. Deve Gowda, Prime Minister of India New Delhi, India 91 11 301 3005, 301 9817 or 301 6857.

Long arm of the FBI

Under the guise of "fighting terrorism", the US Federal Bureau of Investigation has opened offices in Tel Aviv, Cairo, Islamabad and Beijing. "On the international front, stopping the spread of terrorism clearly requires common action. The United States has a special responsibility to lead in this effort", President Clinton said as he announced the offices would be opened.

The FBI now has agents in 23 foreign cities, including Athens, Bogota, Brussels, Hong Kong, London, Madrid, Mexico City, Moscow, Ottawa, Paris, Rome, Tokyo and Vienna. That is a small number compared with the Drug Enforcement Administration, which has 71 offices in 50 countries, or the Central Intelligence Agency, which has agents all over the world, but it is a departure for the FBI, whose role is supposedly confined to investigating crimes within the US.