Turkey: Mass protest greets NATO meet

Over 50,000 protesters gathered in Istanbul June 27 – the day before the NATO summit began – in the largest of several anti-summit demonstrations. Organizers included the Committees against Occupation, led by the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP), and friendship, workers and student organizations, as well as the Coalition for Global Peace and Justice and Unity against NATO and Bush. The rally was joined by protesters from Greece, Britain, the Netherlands, Portugal, Syria and other countries, a number of whom had come to Istanbul for an international conference organized by the TKP.

The Turkish government tried unsuccessfully to intimidate protesters. F-16 warplanes patrolled the skies above Istanbul, and AWACS early warning planes monitored a no-fly zone over the city. Over 23,000 police were on the streets, and commandos patrolled the Bosporus straits in rubber boats mounted with machine guns.

Japan: ‘Save antiwar Article 9’

Nine Japanese writers, scholars and critics have formed the “Article 9 Committee” to help increase popular pressure to uphold the article in the Japanese Constitution, which renounces war, Japan Press Weekly said.

The nine aim to build a network of like-minded groups. Their statement at a press conference last month said the world has learned from the devastating nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki that “force must not be an option to settle international disputes.”

But, they said, moves are intensifying to turn Japan into a “war-fighting nation,” citing the dispatch to Iraq of elements from the Self-Defense Forces. The U.S. experience in Iraq shows the futility of military force to resolve disputes, the committee said.

Norway: Citizen inspectors visit secret U.S. base

Peace activists from Sweden, Germany and Britain carried out a “citizens’ weapons inspection” of the Vardo top-secret radar base in northern Norway June 24, to investigate the base’s involvement in the Pentagon’s missile defense system and its plans to militarize space.

During a meeting with the group, Base Commander Magne Tunestved acknowledged that the base cooperates with the U.S. Space Command. However, he would not provide details, nor would he let the inspection team enter the base.

Vardo’s radar antenna is less than 50 miles from the Russian border. The radar was developed at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base as part of the U.S. National Missile Defense system, and then installed at Vardo. Its stated purpose is to track debris in space, but the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has said its real mission is to monitor Russian nuclear missile launches.

Israel: IAEA says ‘end nuclear threat’

International Atomic Energy Agency head Muhammad al-Baradai last week urged Israel to dismantle its nuclear weapons, the Qatar-based Aljazeera news agency said.

The IAEA chief is slated to visit Israel this month to discuss making the Middle East a nuclear-free zone, though Tel Aviv has refused to admit it possesses nuclear arms.

“I think everybody takes it as a given that Israel has a nuclear capability, if not nuclear weapons,” al-Baradai said.

Noting that Israel agrees with ridding the Middle East of all weapons of mass destruction, but only after peace agreements, Al-Baradai proposed starting “a parallel dialogue on security at the same time we’re working on the peace process.” He added that he would like Israel to open up nuclear facilities to IAEA inspections.

International analysts believe Israel has built over 100 nuclear weapons.

Haiti: Protest former prime minister’s arrest

Yvon Neptune, who was prime minister in the government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, turned himself in to police June 26 after learning a warrant had been issued for his arrest, the Haitian news agency AHP reported.

The U.S.-installed interim regime claims that Neptune ordered a massacre of government opponents in the Saint-Marc area last February. However, human rights organizations and foreign journalists who visited the area were unable to find any evidence of the alleged event.

Haitian organizations, including the September 30 Foundation and the Committee to Defend the Rights of the Haitian People, denounced the charge as a fabrication and condemned the interim government’s persecution of leading members of the Aristide government.

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) said, “Yvon Neptune remains the legitimate prime minister of Haiti, and his arrest is part of a campaign aimed at arresting and intimidating the members of the political party of President Aristide.”

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