Greece: Lawyers accuse British before ICC

The Athens Bar Association charged British Prime Minister Tony Blair and other British ministers with crimes against humanity, in a case filed July 28 with the International Criminal Court at the Hague.

The Greek lawyers urged the ICC to investigate 22 alleged incidents involving British forces in the war. “The repeated, blatant violations by the United States and Britain of the stipulations of the four 1949 Geneva conventions, the 1954 convention of the Hague as well as the charter of the International Criminal court, constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity,” they said in a 47-page complaint.

George Bush was not charged, nor incidents involving U.S. forces cited, because Washington has not ratified the treaty establishing the ICC.

Burma: Unocal sued over forced labor

A Los Angeles superior court judge is expected to rule favorably this week that a lawsuit by 12 Burmese citizens against Unocal can proceed under California law.

The plaintiffs say that starting in the 1990s, Burma’s military dictatorship used forced labor and its soldiers used murder and rape to coerce them to clear the way for the Yadana Project, a pipeline for Unocal and Total. They charge Unocal benefited from the Burmese government’s actions even if it did not endorse them.

The action is being brought under the 1789 Alien Tort Claims Act, the scope of which is in dispute. The suit is backed by human rights groups including the Center for Constitutional Rights, while the Justice Department has intervened to support Unocal, claiming the case could adversely affect the U.S. “war on terrorism.”

Total is subject to separate actions in Europe.

Argentina: Military officers to stand trial

At least 40 retired Argentine military officers, now held in Argentina on human rights charges stemming from the 1976-83 military rule, can be tried abroad, President Nestor Kirschner ruled July 25. A federal judge in Buenos Aires had earlier ordered 46 former government officials detained after the Spanish government asked for their extradition.

The two decisions reversed previous measures barring Argentine officials from extradition to a foreign country on criminal charges.

Kirschner, elected two months ago, also seeks to overturn amnesty provisions dating from the late 1980s that have prevented prosecution in Argentina of those accused in the deaths of more than 30,000 people during the military dictatorship. An opinion poll last week showed nearly two-thirds of Argentines in favor of ending the amnesty.

Vietnam: Haiphong development plan unveiled

Under a plan confirmed last month, the port city of Haiphong is to be developed into a major marine, industrial and commercial city, and adjacent areas are to be built up as tourist attractions.

The plan was originally projected at the Vietnam Communist Party’s Ninth Congress in 2001. Haiphong is to use its closeness to Hanoi and its shipping links to the rest of the country and the world to become a key component in the economic development of Vietnam. The production and commercial effectiveness of state-owned enterprises will be increased, and industrial zones and small to medium industry made more productive. Cat Ba and Cat Hai islands, together with Ha Long Bay, are to be developed as international tourist centers.

S. Africa: Miners win wage hike

The first mining industry strike in 16 years was called off at the last minute July 27, when mine owners agreed to raise wages by 10 percent and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) agreed to compromise on non-wage issues.

Workers will receive a basic salary increase of 10 percent this year and a raise next year, which matches the change in consumer inflation plus one percentage point, with a 7 percent minimum, the Johannesburg Business Daily reported. Mine operators have agreed to study and complete the process of reclassifying machine operators by the end of the year.

NUM General Secretary Gwede Mantashe and union President Crosby Moni said most of the union’s 100,000 members at the affected mines had voted to accept the owners’ revised offer.

International notes are compiled by
Marilyn Bechtel, Communist Party international secretary (