Sudan: Crisis escalates

The African Union (AU) has accused the Sudanese government of coordinating with nomadic Janjawid militias in attacking civilians in the Darfur region, and has said all sides in the conflict are violating cease-fire agreements, The New York Times reported.

The AU said violence has escalated since mid-September despite peace talks and a cease-fire agreement, with rebel groups attacking a government post and nomadic militias killing at least 32 people in a refugee camp.

“We must conclude that there is neither good faith nor commitment on the part of any of the parties,” Baba Gana Kingibe, head of the AU mission in Sudan, told reporters in Khartoum.

Also last week, Juan Mendez, the UN secretary-general’s special adviser on the prevention of genocide, called for disarming the Janjawid, saying that otherwise, “there is no possibility of reaching a positive solution to the Darfur crisis.”

The UN says nearly 3 million people are affected by the conflict, with nearly 2 million internally displaced or taking refuge in neighboring Chad.

Honduras: Investigate training of U.S. security personnel

The Honduran government has launched an investigation into a camp run in Honduras to train security personnel to work in U.S.-occupied Iraq, the Nicaragua Solidarity Network of Greater New York’s Weekly News Update reported.

Defense Minister Federico Breve has ordered an investigation into a training camp run by the Chicago-based firm Your Solutions, which reportedly contracted to send 600 men to Iraq in or before October. Recruits were said to be trained by U.S. and Chilean instructors in facilities of the state-owned Honduran Forest Development Corporation.

The instructors “explained to us that where we were going everyone would be our enemy,” an unnamed trainee told Agence France Presse, “so we’d have to be heartless when it was up to us to kill someone, even if it was a child.”

Recruits were being sought in other countries, including Chile, Nicaragua and Peru.

India: One-day strike vs. privatization

A nationwide one-day strike Sept. 29, called by left-led trade unions, protested the Congress-led government’s privatization plans and proposed labor law changes.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) said “millions of workers belonging to different sectors, both organized and unorganized” in industry, banks, insurance and state and central governments, joined the strike.

Among the government’s plans: selling some of its holdings in state-owned corporations, privatizing airports, and permitting foreign investment in pension funds.

“Unless the government undertakes a comprehensive review of its policies, we will call for a much bigger action — we may go for longer strikes,” said M.K. Pande, general secretary of the Center of Indian Trade Unions (CITU).

Haiti: Protest charging of former prime minister

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) has rejected a Haitian judge’s finding that sufficient evidence exists to charge former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune in an alleged massacre at La Scierie in February 2004, Haiti’s AHP news agency said.

Waters pointed out that if the interim government had any proof of Neptune’s involvement, it would have filed charges long ago, because the former prime minister has been jailed since June 2004. She called it outrageous that the interim government released paramilitary death squad leader Louis Jodel Chamblin while it is seeking to charge Neptune.

Waters and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus have sharply criticized the forced removal of democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in a February 2004 coup and called for the return of constitutional government in Haiti.

Australia: Unions fight gov’t workplace proposals

The Australian Council of Trade Unions has launched a new round of television ads highlighting the impact on working families if the government puts through its proposed changes to the Workplace Relations Act.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow said the federation is committed to a long-term campaign against the widely unpopular changes. These include removing unfair dismissal protection for nearly 4 million workers at firms with less than 100 employees, allowing employers to put workers on individual contracts that cut pay and working conditions, changing the way minimum wages are set to make them lower, and reducing unions’ access to workplaces and ability to bargain collectively with employers.

The ACTU warned that following the July 1 election, Prime Minister John Howard’s government is in a position to pass whatever laws it wishes, without checks and balances.

World Notes are compiled by Marilyn Bechtel ( Tim Pelzer contributed to this week’s notes.