Palestinians protest forced isolation of West Bank communities

The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) has issued a sharp protest over Israeli occupation authorities’ plan to divide the West Bank into eight isolated areas. In a May 15 press release the PNA warned that this would turn each Palestinian population center into a large prison and destroy the economic, social, administrative and educational aspects of Palestinian daily life.

The PNA said the Israeli occupation army informed all international representatives and consulates in Jerusalem and Ramallah on May 14 that it has decided to divide the West Bank into eight areas, completely separated from each other by Israeli roadblocks. Movement of goods would require a permit from the Israeli Civil Administration, and goods, including food, would have to be shifted from one truck to another at the entrance of each isolated area.

China comments on NATO-Russia Council

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan said in Beijing last week that China hopes the Rome Declaration signed between Russia and NATO will help establish a new security concept featuring mutual trust, mutual benefits, equality and collaboration in Europe and even on a world scale. He added that the Chinese government opposes military alliances in any form and hopes the international community will work to create a peaceful global environment of long-term stability and security.

China also expects NATO to abide by the U.N. Charter and its tenets, and plan a proactive role in promoting peace and stability in Europe and the world at large, Kong said.

Argentina: Protests vs. gov’t handling of crisis

Tens of thousands demonstrated throughout Argentina May 29 to protest government policies that have failed to resolve the country’s economic crisis. Main access roads were blocked for much of the working day, while marches, rallies and work stoppages took place in almost all provinces. The protest against soaring unemployment, government spending cuts and the role of the International Monetary Fund was organized by the Argentine Workers Congress.

While the country has declared default on its $141 billion public debt, unemployment is now at 20 percent. Half the population is living in poverty and hunger stalks the outlying areas.

Protests set for South Korean unionists

Hundreds of trade unions around the world are expected to participate in protest actions June 27, demanding immediate release of Dan Byung-ho, president of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions and some 30 other trade unionists currently imprisoned in South Korea.

The Public Services International and International Metalworkers Federation are urging all their affiliates to take action. The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions is also backing the protest with an internet awareness campaign.

Protests will be held at Korean embassies around the world; union leaders will ask to meet with Korean government officials and letters of protest will be sent to Korean president Kim Dae-jung.

A previous Day of Action on Jan. 22 is believed partly responsible for the release several weeks later of Mun Sung-hyun, former president of the Korean Metal Workers Federation.

Metalworkers vow to continue strike

Nearly 2,000 workers affiliated with the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) vowed last week to continue their four-week-old strike at New World Enamel Co. in Thaba-Nchu. NUMSA is demanding, among other things, a significant wage increase for all workers, an end to racial discrimination at the company, an end to job cuts and outsourcing, and guaranteed health and safety measures.

“The union cannot allow a situation where workers are treated like slaves when they put much effort into making the company productive,” NUMSA said.

Long-term dangers from India-Pakistan war

The Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB) this week warned that if war breaks out between India and Pakistan, the whole subcontinent will suffer untold loss of human lives, material wealth and natural environment. “Only the warmongers, arms traders and ultra-fascist forces of both countries will reap benefits,” and “in the long run, U.S. imperialism will gain most” by using the war as a pretext to station its armed forces permanently in the subcontinent, the CPB said in a statement.

The U.S. and its western allies are not taking effective steps to restrain the two governments, the CPB said, but instead are urging their nationals to leave both Pakistan and India – a reaction that sends “dangerous signals of imminent war to all concerned parties.” The CPB said all unresolved issues can and should be solved by negotiation, and not by a barbaric war.