Haiti: OAS commission condemns atrocities

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States last week released a report condemning atrocities committed in Haiti since Sept. 30, the Haitian news agency AHP said. The commission expressed concern about reported arbitrary arrests and detentions in the last two months including the Oct. 2 arrest of the president of the Haitian Senate and three other politicians associated with the government of deposed President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, as well as the arrest of Father Gerard Jean-Juste in his Port-au-Prince parish.

The commission emphasized the serious nature of reported threats and violent acts against human rights activists, journalists and the media in Haiti, as well as actions of armed gangs that are reportedly preventing delivery of humanitarian aid to the country’s flood victims. The IACHR called on the interim government to investigate and prosecute the incidents and to prevent future abuse.

Britain: Iraq war dead honored

Scientist Steven Hawking and London Mayor Ken Livingstone joined a moving ceremony in Trafalgar Square Nov. 2 to remember the thousands of people killed in the U.S. war on Iraq, the Morning Star reported.

The names of thousands of Iraqis who have died were read one by one, along with the names of the over 1,100 U.S. military dead, 69 British military personnel and many victims from other nations.

Parents and relatives of dead British soldiers participated, along with trade union leaders, celebrities from sports, the arts and science, and many rank-and-file activists.

Professor Hawking, wheelchair-bound because of motor neurone disease, had recorded a message to be broadcast at the ceremony. He then contacted the Stop the War Coalition to say he wanted to appear in person because he felt so strongly about the conflict.

Ceremonies also took place in Baghdad, Australia, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland.

Nigeria: Unions call new strike

The Nigeria Labor Congress (NLC), the country’s umbrella labor body, is calling a second general strike starting Nov. 16 to protest rising fuel costs, BBC News said. Union leaders accused the giant oil transnational Shell of being the “enemy of the Nigerian people,” and called for action against the firm, which accounts for about half of Nigeria’s oil exports.

NLC head Adams Oshiomhole said this time the strike would be total and indefinite in length, and would affect both the production and export of crude oil.

Last week the government introduced grants and tax cuts to help offset the recent 23 percent fuel price hike, but did not act on the NLC’s key demand to lower prices at the pump.

Three previous general strikes have protested fuel price rises following IMF-instigated deregulation of the domestic fuel market. A four day warning strike last month, called by the NLC and civic organizations, closed banks, businesses and public services, but did not affect oil exports.

Nigeria is the world’s seventh largest oil producer and the fifth most important supplier to the U.S.

World trade unions found int’l forum

At its meeting in Athens Oct. 31-Nov. 1, the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) endorsed the decision of a joint meeting in Beijing to establish a standing International Trade Union Forum. The Beijing meeting brought together the All-China Federation of Trade Unions, the WFTU, the Organization of African Trade Union Unity (OATUU), the International Confederation of Arab Trade Unions (ICATU) and the General Confederation of Trade Unions (GCTU) of countries of the former Soviet Union.

The WFTU welcomed the Forum as “an open platform and as an important step to raise the level of international trade union united action at the present time in the struggle for the economic and social demands of the working people all over the world.”

Australia: U.S. to test new weapons

The U.S. will test new generation weapons including smart bombs on Australian territory under an agreement being worked out between the two countries, the Australian newspaper Courier-Mail reported Nov. 5.

The newspaper quoted former ANZUS treaty adviser Ross Babbage, who had just returned from U.S. Pentagon briefings, as saying experiments with self-guided smart bombs and live or “dummy” bombing raids into Australia would be conducted from U.S. aircraft carriers. Australian weapons testing and training grounds would be upgraded, while a joint training center would be built to link the Australian centers with U.S. bases and the U.S. Pacific War Fighting Center in Hawaii.

International Notes are compiled by Marilyn Bechtel (mbechtel@pww.org). Julia Lutsky and Tim Pelzer contributed to this week’s notes.