International news briefs

May 21, 1997

Turkish troops raid Kurdistan

The Turkish foreign ministry admitted that Turkish troops, backed by tanks and artillery, crossed the border into northern Iraq — supposedly a US-backed "safe haven" for Kurds — on May 14. According to Turkish television, 50,000 soldiers and 250 tanks attacked. It was the second large-scale raid reported in as many weeks.

The Turkish government said it entered Iraq to help the Kurdish Democratic Party fight the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The PKK has been struggling for self-determination for Kurds in Turkey and Iraq since 1984. The raids came as the Turkish government steps up its war with the PKK inside Turkey: it claims to have killed 200 guerillas in the past several weeks.

The Iraqi News Agency said Turkish troops inflicted heavy damage on two border towns. The Anatolia news agency said Turkish jets bombed at least five PKK bases and that 30 PKK fighters had been killed.

South Africa: COSATU strike 'illegal'

The South African Labour Appeal Court ruled on May 9 that the Congress of South African Trade Unions' proposed half-day stoppage on May 12 in protest at new labour laws was illegal. The court ruled that under the Labour Relations Act the strike call had not been properly considered in the tripartite National Economic, Development and Labour Council.

COSATU complied with the ruling and rescheduled the protest for June 2, when workers will strike for 24 hours. COSATU gave notice to NEDLAC, which met on May 14 and gave COSATU the "green light" for the protest stoppage.

Sudan rebels make new gains

Fighters of the anti-government Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) captured eight senior government officials after it liberated the capital of Lakes State, Rumbek, in south-west Sudan on May 1.

The capture of Lakes State is a response to the Arab-chauvinist Khartoum government's signing of a "peace" treaty with pro-government and collaborationist "separatist rebels" on April 1. The treaty promises "limited autonomy" for Sudan's southern provinces. Lakes State was one of these. The SPLA and the allied National Democratic Alliance of northern opposition parties condemned the treaty.

Turkey: Bergama fight continues

Two thousand people, in 26 buses, travelled to Ankara on May 12 to demonstrate against the French mining company Eurogold's proposed gold mine in Bergama. The protesters came from 17 villages near the mine. Villagers are opposed to the use of cyanide to separate gold from ore and fear the project will harm nearby ancient ruins, the region's main tourist attraction.

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