Indian peace coalition backs India-Pakistan peace talks

In a press statement late last month, India’s Coalition of Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP) welcomed Pakistani General Pervez Musharraf’s recent offer to work with India for the de-nuclearization of South Asia. The CNDP contrasted Musharraf’s statement with the Pakistani establishment’s previous refusal to give even a no-first-use guarantee, and with the Indian government’s policy of minimum nuclear deterrence and persistent opposition to a no-war agreement with Pakistan.

The CNDP called on the Indian government to respond positively to Pakistan’s overture. “To make credible progress towards South Asia’s denuclearization, the governments of both India and Pakistan must immediately

de-escalate the military buildup on the border, revive people-to-people contacts, and come together in the cause of global nuclear disarmament,” the CNDP’s statement said.

Israel jails 600 reservists

According to recent press reports, Israel has arrested some 600 reserve soldiers in an effort to stem the growing rebellion in the military against serving in the occupied Palestinian territories. At least 2,500 reservists have gone AWOL, which thousands of others have become “gray conscientious objectors” – concocting medical or personal reasons why they shouldn’t be called up for service.

Israeli law requires every male to do three years of national service between the ages of 18 and 21, following by an annual obligation for reserve service, usually about 30 days – until they are between 40 and 50.

Independent peace monitoring groups say the number of reservists refusing service has risen sharply. The army is also receiving thousands of petitions from parents who don’t want their sons doing their national service in the occupied territories. Many have called on commanding officers to find safe desk jobs for their sons.

Greek farmers protest government and European Union farm policies

Farmers with thousands of tractors and other machines blocked key intersections on the country’s main highways last week, to express their profound anger at the agricultural policies of the Greek government and the European Union. Farmers from all parts of Greece participated in the actions.

They complained that the Greek government has not honored its promises to deal with the serious problems of the agricultural sector, and demanded immediate and radical solutions this time, so their problems will stop getting worse.

The farmers also demanded an end to harsh restrictions imposed by the European Union, which they said would put thousands of small and middle farmers out of business.

General strike brings Bangladesh to a halt

A nationwide general strike called by an 11-party alliance, including communist, left and progressive parties, brought Bangladesh to a standstill Feb. 2. The nationwide strike was called to protest escalating prices of oil, gas, water and other necessities, as well as increasing political repression, including assaults by “government hoodlums.”

The alliance demanded immediate withdrawal of proposals to export natural gas and to lease out port facilities and electricity production to U.S. companies. The general strike also demanded an end to evictions of slum-dwellers and other attacks on the very poor.

A spokesperson for the Communist Party of Bangladesh warned that the government is closing all avenues of peaceful protest by opposition parties and the trade union movement, and instead looking after the interests of U.S.-based and other transnational corporations and their governments. He condemned President Bush’s open threats against Iran, Iraq and North Korea, and called on people all over the world to struggle against imperialism and global terrorism.

Iraqi communists welcome visit by U.N. special envoy

In a statement this week, the Iraqi Communist Party (ICP) expressed its hopes for the visit of Andrias Mavrommatis, U.N. Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iraq, to Baghdad this month. The ICP said the Iraqi authorities’ invitation to Mavrommatis came after two years of requests by the U.N. envoy for such a visit. It cautioned, however, that Iraqi authorities are working to cover the traces of their rampant human rights violations, through physical liquidation of political prisoners, hiding them in secret locations and destroying records or altering them to substitute criminal charges for the original political allegations.

“We believe all these facts are known to Mr. Mavrommatis, who has devoted his time and effort during the past two years to find out about the state of human rights in Iraq,” the ICP’s statement said. It expressed the hope that the U.N. envoy would take the maneuvers of the regime into account. Thus, the ICP said, “he will be doing justice to the thousands upon thousands of our people who have fallen victim to the continuing barbaric violation of human rights.”