Japanese peace group asks for anti-nuke messages

Since 1974, all ships entering the Japanese Port of Kobe must first certify that no nuclear weapons are on board. In that year, Kobe’s local government passed “the Kobe Formula,” banning nuclear arms, under Japanese law giving municipalities authority over their ports.

No U.S. ship has called there for 27 years because the Navy refuses to submit non-nuclear certification. Now the Pentagon has announced it plans to use all civil ports and harbors in Japan under newly agreed U.S.-Japan defense cooperation guidelines. Washington is demanding that Kobe rescind its ban.

“We are fighting to keep the Kobe Formula, and to extend it to all ports in Japan,” declared Sushi Kajimoto, head of the Hyogo Council against A & H Bombs. The Council unequivocally condemns terrorism, but sees its eradication through U.N.-led measures based on international law, he added.

The Hyogo Council asks organizations and individuals to send messages supporting the Kobe Formula to: Hyogo Council against A & H Bombs, Chamoto bldg. 6-7-6 Motomachi-dori, Chuo-ku Kobe 650-0022 Japan. Fax: +81-78-371-2427; e-mail kbnobu@fantasy.plala.or.jp

Asylum seekers protest Australia’s anti-refugee policy

Hundreds of asylum seekers incarcerated at the Woomera refugee detention center have stepped up their protests over Australia’s policy of diverting refugees away from Australia and into camps in various Pacific nations. Nearly 900 prisoners at the center have been involved in the protests – some sewing their lips together in hunger strikes, and one swallowing a toxic substance.”

“We have no hope, we see no future. We are ready to die,” says a statement by Afghan asylum seekers at the center. “We only request the Australian people to help us, otherwise we have no choice but to continue the hunger strike until the end of our life.”

The Refugee Council of Australia, the United Nations, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and other organizations are urging the Australian government to change its anti-refugee program.

South Africans to act in support of Swaziland political prisoners

The South African Communist Party (SACP) this week called on all democratic and progressive South Africans to protest the detention by the government of Swaziland and upcoming secret trial of Mario Masuku, president of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO).

The SACP said Masuku has been in detention since early October, charged with treason for speaking at PUDEMO rallies in the fall of 2000, calling for the democratization of Swaziland. Masuku’s trial was slated to start Jan. 24. The SACP condemned the banning of the public and the media from the proceedings, and demanded the release of Masuku and all other political prisoners in Swaziland.

U.N. says war endangers world’s mountain ranges

A United Nations study released this week says wars, pollution and logging are destroying mountain ranges around the globe. Twenty-three of the world’s 27 current conflicts are being fought in mountainous areas and are destroying the environment, said the report by the United Nations University in Tokyo.

The U.N. cited the Hindu Kush in Afghanistan and the Karakorum and western Himalayan ranges in Pakistan’s northern regions as near total disaster areas because of poverty, drought, deforestation and past actions by military and repressive governments.