Palestine: Human costs of occupation

A report released last week by the Palestine National Information Center describes the impact of the Israeli occupation on the everyday lives of Palestinians. Covering the period of time since the Sept. 29, 2000, intifada (popular uprising), the report documents the loss of life and homes, confiscation of land, disruption of livelihoods, buildings bulldozed, trees uprooted, animals killed and water wells and beehives destroyed.

The report says 4,298 Palestinians have been killed, including 801 children and 272 women. About 9,200 prisoners are held in 28 detention camps. Of these, 1,389 are of high school or college age, 319 are children as young as 11 years old and 205 are teachers.

The report also documents the whole or partial destruction of 71,470 Palestinian homes and 645 Palestinian government buildings. It says 12 universities have been closed, 1,125 schools having experienced extended closures, 272,000 workers are unemployed and the poverty rate is 53.5 percent.

Japan: Okinawans rally against new U.S. bases

Local and regional elected officials joined young families, students and the elderly for a rally in Ginowan City, Okinawa, in early March to voice their opposition to plans for a new U.S. air base on the coast of Okinawa, the Japanese newspaper Akahata reported.

The 35,000 demonstrators heard conservatives and progressives alike speak out against the plans, urging the Japanese government to heed Okinawan residents, many of whom carried signs saying, “We won’t yield an inch anywhere in Okinawa for a new U.S. base.”

Akamine Seiken, a deputy to the Parliament and member of the Japanese Communist Party, told the rally, “Constructing the base plan is the worst option for residents. Let us reject it.”

Ginowan City Mayor Iha Yoichi voiced an additional demand of the rally, calling for closure of the U.S. Marine base camp at Futenma.

Portugal: Communists, left parties discuss European issues

In a meeting hosted by the Portuguese Communist Party, representatives of 23 European Communist parties and other left forces met in Lisbon in early March to exchange views on the social and political situations in each country, common problems and the European Union.

The discussion included security and cooperation in Europe, the attack on labor and public services, the increasing restriction of individual rights under the pretext of the “war on terror,” and the struggles against racism, xenophobia and anticommunism.

Participants expressed support for the dissolution of NATO and removal of all foreign troops from European soil and opposition to the Bush administration’s war on Iraq. They reaffirmed making Europe and the Mediterranean a place of peace, progress and demilitarization.

Kenya: City slums sit on oil pipeline

Two neighborhoods of Nairobi are home to more than 300,000 people who carry out everyday life 10 feet above a continually gushing oil pipeline. The residents of the poverty-stricken areas live, sleep, cook, wash and attend church on top of what many consider a “time bomb,” according to the Nairobi East African Standard.

High voltage wires hang over much of the area. Many of the residents go about their business unaware of the danger, some having lived in such peril for more than 15 years.

Sebadiuos Mairuri, a neighborhood resident, told the Standard, “There is nothing to worry about. … We have an agreement from the government to live here.”

The Nairobi Nation reported that repairs and maintenance on the pipeline have not been done in many years. The oil company says the people should be evicted.

El Salvador: FMLN woman wins mayoralty

The Supreme Electoral Tribunal of El Salvador confirmed last week that Violeta Menjivar of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front won the office of mayor of San Salvador.

The former freedom fighter is a medical professional and former member of Parliament for the FMLN. She spent 20 years in the liberation struggle, serving as a medic at the Chalatenango guerrilla base and later, nationally, in the FMLN political directorate. She also served as president of the Health and Social Welfare Commission of the National Assembly.

On the eve of the March 12 legislative and municipal elections, 27 U.S. representatives sent a “Dear colleague” letter to Salvadoran President Saca of the right-wing ARENA party, raising concerns about the democratic process and indicating full support for the International Observers Mission.

Despite anomalies, irregularities and a series of violent attacks on FMLN campaign workers, the FMLN also won 11 cities on the edge of the capital, reported the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador.

World Notes are compiled by Pamella Saffer (