China: Gov’t ratifies ASEAN treaty

China’s top legislature, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, ratified the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia on June 28.

The original treaty was signed in February 1976 by the then-members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and amendments in 1987 and 1998 opened the treaty to countries outside Southeast Asia.

The treaty says its purpose is to promote perpetual peace, everlasting amity and cooperation among the peoples, which would contribute to their strength, solidarity and closer relationship. Its principles include mutual respect for sovereignty and equality, no external interference, peaceful settlement of disputes, renunciation of the use of force, and mutual cooperation.

Other signers include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and Papua New Guinea.

South Korea: Railway strikers attacked by riot police

Tens of thousands of riot police stormed university campuses and other locations across South Korea to break up a strike by railway workers, Agence France Presse reported June 28. It was the first action against strikers that the Roh government had taken since it assumed office in February.

Some 5,400 riot police burst into central Seoul’s Yonsei University, where several thousand railway workers were staging a sit-in, witnesses said. Police took away 650 workers for questioning, but union president Jeon Hwan-Kyu and others were thought to be among about 3,000 workers who fled moments before the attack. Police also launched attacks in several other places.

Riot police were used after thousands of union workers from the Korean National Railroad struck June 28, crippling train services. The union accuses the government of violating a promise to consult workers over its plan to privatize the railways.

Nigeria: Workers strike over gas prices

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) launched an indefinite general strike, June 30, over the government’s abrupt 54 percent hike in gas prices. In Lagos, markets, banks and most offices were closed and streets were empty, though in Abuja the strike was less complete.

The courts ruled the strike illegal, but NLC spokesman Owei Lakemfa declared, “Nothing on earth is going to stop the strike action.” Joseph Akinlaja, head of the oil and gas workers union, said the strike had succeeded in freezing oil production. NLC leader Adams Oshiomhole said if President Olusegun Obasanjo made a reasonable offer to reduce the price hike, the strike might be ended.

The gas price hike is especially aggravating to Nigerians because ordinary people have not benefited from their valuable natural resource, but instead have experienced chronic fuel shortages since virtually all the country’s oil is exported.

Syria: Gov’t protests U.S. strike

In a statement June 25, the Syrian government said it had summoned the U.S. Ambassador, Theodore Kattouf, to protest the wounding and detention of five Syrian soldiers in a U.S. attack at a border post on the border between Syria and Iraq, and to demand the soldiers’ return. The soldiers were released June 30.

The U.S. military said a convoy reported to be transporting high-ranking former Iraqi government officials was attacked June 19 by U.S. special forces backed by an AC 130 gunship and other aircraft. The Pentagon acknowledged that the five wounded Syrians were probably inside Syria at the time.

The Syrian government said it had demanded that the U.S. return the soldiers, “to avoid any misunderstanding that might lead to an escalation that both sides do not desire.” It said it had not received the “clarification” it had asked the ambassador to make.

Haiti: Seeking restitution from France

Government officials have met with Ira Kurzban, an attorney for the Haitian government in the U.S., to discuss their effort to win restitution from France for money Haiti paid to secure its independence, AHP News Agency reported last week.

The government is seeking $21.7 billion from France for the 90 million gold francs Haiti was required to pay to France in 1825 in exchange for France’s recognition of Haiti’s independence.

Kurzban said he thinks Haiti has a good case. “I am very optimistic as to Haiti’s ability to support its call for restitution against the French government and its banks,” he said, adding that the amounts being sought are specifically defined, and the right of legal recourse is valid.

The Haitian government commission expects to initiate actions as soon as all the necessary documents have been assembled, AHP said.

International notes are compiled by Marilyn Bechtel, Communist Party international secretary. She can be reached at