Violence erupts as general strike shuts down Greece

Oct. 19 2011

ATHENS, Greece — Hundreds of rioting youths smashed and looted stores in central Athens on Wednesday during a big anti-government rally against painful new austerity measures that erupted into violence.

Outside parliament, demonstrators hurled chunks of marble and gasoline bombs at riot police, who responded with tear gas and stun grenades. Police said at least 14 officers were hospitalized with injuries. At least three journalists covering the demonstrations sustained minor injuries.

The violence spread across the city centre, as at least 100,000 people marched through the Greek capital on the first day of a two-day general strike that unions described as the largest protest in years.

Police and rioters held running battles through the narrow streets of central Athens, as thick black smoke billowed from burning trash and bus-stops.

Wednesday’s strike, which grounded flights, disrupted public transport and shut down shops and schools, came before a parliamentary vote late Thursday on new tax increases and spending cuts.

International creditors have demanded the reforms before they give Greece its next infusion of cash. Greece says it will run out of money in a month without the C8 billion ($11 billion) bailout money from its partners that use the euro and the International Monetary Fund.

Most of the protesters who converged in central Athens marched peacefully, but crowds outside of parliament clashed with police who tried to disperse them with repeated rounds of tear gas. A gasoline bomb set fire to a presidential guard sentry post at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier outside Parliament, while running clashes broke out in several side streets near the legislature and the capital’s main Syntagma Square.

Nearby, groups of hooded, masked protesters tore chunks of marble off building fronts with hammers and crowbars and smashed windows and bank signs. Scuffles also broke out among rioters and demonstrators trying to prevent youths from destroying storefronts and banks along the march route.

Vendors sold swimming goggles to rioters, who used them to ward off the tear gas.

Thousands of people watched the skirmishes, some standing on kiosk roofs to get a better view. Trash was strewn around the streets, and some protesters set clumps of it on fire.

In Greece’s second city of Thessaloniki, protesters smashed the facades of about 10 shops that defied the strike and remained open, as well as five banks and cash machines. Police fired tear gas and threw stun grenades.

All sectors — from dentists, hospital doctors and lawyers to shop owners, tax office workers, pharmacists, teachers and dock workers — walked off the job before a parliamentary vote Thursday on new austerity measures which include new taxes and the suspension of tens of thousands of civil servants.

Flights were grounded in the morning but some resumed at noon after air traffic controllers scaled back their strike plan from 48 hours to 12. Dozens of domestic and international flights were still cancelled. Ferries remained tied up in port, while public transport workers staged work stoppages but kept buses, trolleys and the Athens subway system running to help protesters.

In Parliament, Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos told lawmakers that Greeks had no choice but to accept the hardship.

“We have to explain to all these indignant people who see their lives changing that what the country is experiencing is not the worst stage of the crisis,” he said. “It is an anguished and necessary effort to avoid the ultimate, deepest and harshest level of the crisis. The difference between a difficult situation and a catastrophe is immense.”

About 3,000 police deployed in central Athens, shutting down two subway stations near parliament as protest marches began. Protesters banged drums and chanted slogans against the government and Greece’s international creditors who have pressured the country to push through rounds of tax hikes and spending cuts.

“We just can’t take it any more. There is desperation, anger and bitterness,” said Nikos Anastasopoulos, head of a workers’ union for an Athens municipality.

Other municipal workers said they had no option but to take to the streets.

“We can’t make ends meet for our families,” said protester Eleni Voulieri. “We’ve lost our salaries, we’ve lost everything and we’re in danger of losing our jobs.”

Demonstrations during a similar 48-hour strike in June left the centre of Athens convulsed by violence as rioters clashed with police on both days while deputies voted on another austerity package inside Parliament.

Piles of garbage festered on Athens street corners despite Tuesday’s government order to garbage crews to end their 17-day strike. Earlier in the week, private crews removed some trash from along the planned demonstration routes, but mounds remained on side streets, along some of the march routes and in city neighbourhoods.

Protesting civil servants have also staged rounds of sit-ins at government buildings, with some, including the Finance Ministry, under occupation for days.

Most stores in the city centre, including bakeries and kiosks were shut Wednesday. Several shop owners said they had received threats that their stores would be smashed if they attempted to open.

The measures to be voted on come after more than a year and a half of repeated spending cuts and tax increases. They include new tax hikes, further pension and salary cuts, the suspension on reduced pay of 30,000 public servants and the suspension of collective labour contracts.

A communist party-backed union has vowed to encircle Parliament Thursday in an attempt to prevent deputies from entering the building for the vote.

The reforms have been so unpopular that even some lawmakers from the governing Socialists have indicated they might vote against them.

Meanwhile, European countries are trying to work out a broad solution to the continent’s deepening debt crisis, before a weekend summit in Brussels. It became clear earlier this year that the initial bailout for Greece was not working as well as had been hoped, and European leaders agreed on a second, C109 billion ($151 billion) bailout. But key details of that rescue fund, including the participation of the private sector, remain to be worked out. Source

EU raids banks amid suspicions they colluded

Oct. 19, 2011

BRUSSELS, Belgium — The European Union’s competition watchdog said Wednesday it conducted unannounced inspections at several banks amid suspicions they may have colluded to manipulate euro interest rate derivatives.

The European Commission said it is looking into a possible cartel by companies active in the sector of derivatives linked to the Euro Interbank Offered Rate — a key interest-rate benchmark.

The Commission said the raids started on Tuesday, but didn’t name the firms whose premises it inspected.

There are trillions of euros in derivatives whose value is based on developments in the Euribor and they make up a significant slice of the profitable business of derivatives trading, which has grown exponentially in recent years.

The Euribor is set by a group of 44 banks and is based on the interest rates they charge for lending to other financial institutions.

Inspections, during which investigators collect documents that could aid their case, are an early step in EU competition probes and happen before the Commission starts an in-depth investigation into suspected cartels and other violations of EU competition law.

The inspections are another sign that competition watchdogs are stepping up their scrutiny of the financial sector as a result of the 2008 credit crunch and the European debt crisis.

Press reports earlier this year said that the U.S. Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission were looking into suspected manipulation of the London Interbank Offered Rate, which is a benchmark rate similar to the Euribor but used much more widely.

Earlier this year, the European Commission also opened an investigation into practices of some of the world’s largest banks in the market for credit default swaps, derivatives that act as a sort of insurance against default.Source

The US should be investigating their own banks including the Federal Reserve.

They lead to the downfall of Greece.

The International Monetary Fund is basically run by the US and other rich countries. It  is a horrid creature that should be eliminated as should the World Bank. Both are nothing more then a dictatorship that imposed massive hardship on countries. The  IMF Can Only Bring Misery.

For six decades, the World Bank and IMF have imposed policies, programs, and projects that:

  • Decimate women’s rights and devastate their lives, their families, and their communities;
  • Subjugate democratic governance and accountability to corporate profits and investment portfolios;
  • Trap countries in a cycle of indebtedness and economic domination;
  • Force governments to privatize essential services;
  • Put profits before peoples’ rights and needs;
  • Abet the devastation of the environment in the name of development and profit;
  • Institutionalize the domination of the wealthy over the impoverished – the new form of colonialism; and
  • Facilitate corporate agendas through the economic re-structuring of countries enduring conflict and occupation, such as East Timor, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

Check out what they do in Africa.

The World Bank and IMF in Africa

Privatization, Pollution and Free Trade, WTO

Greece Country Profile

If the US  can’t get you with the IMF, World Bank or Free Trade Agreements  — they send in the CIA.

One way or the other they will make your lives miserable and even kill you to get what they want. They even start wars to get what they want.

One has to wonder how many problems are still created by the CIA in other countries. They can  cause financial chaos to other countries as well. They manipulate elections in other countries and invent anything to overturn governments they do not like.

One has to wonder if those Masked folks in Greece that stir up violence, may be associated with the CIA.  The US does not like Socialism. That is one of their tactics they use often.

This fellow has a number of Videos that can be watched I recommend them all so you can get some insight into what the CIA is really like. They have not changed over the years only now everything they do is kept secret and always chalked up to National Security so no one can find out what they are up to.  Do take the time to watch as many of the Video with John in them.  Then maybe you will understand just how the US destroys other countries.

John Stockwell – CIA’s War on Humans

Feb 13, 2008

John R. Stockwell is a former CIA officer who became a critic of United States government policies after serving in the Agency for thirteen years serving seven tours of duty. After managing U.S. involvement in the Angolan Civil War as Chief of the Angola Task Force during its 1975 covert operations, he resigned and wrote In Search of Enemies, a book which remains the only detailed, insider’s account of a major CIA “covert action.”

Some things never change

More John Stockwell on the CIA and the Covert Action

John Stockwell on the Election of George H. W. Bush (1988)

This explains how they did many things as well, They had a lot of help from Israel in their horrific deeds against innocent people as well.

The CIA: Beyond Redemption and Should be Terminated

So look at the world around us today and you will notice nothing has changed only gotten worse and the US is still starting wars. They still interfere with other Governments. They still topple Governments they don’t like. Now they have more weapons like the IMF, World Bank, Free Trade, WTO etc.

I could bet a few dollars they have everything to do with the problems in Greece and many other EU countries deep in debt. Wars are also driving countries deep in debt.

Greek lawmakers vote in favour of new austerity bill

Oct. 20 2011

ATHENS, Greece — Greek lawmakers have passed a deeply resented austerity bill that has led to violent protests on the streets of Athens, despite some dissent from one Socialist lawmaker.

The new measures include pay and staff cuts in the civil service as well as pension cuts and tax hikes for all Greeks. The bill passed by majority vote in the 300-member parliament.

Former Labor Minister Louka Katseli voted against one article that scales back collective labour bargaining rights. She voted in favour of the overall bill, but Prime Minister George Papandreou expelled her from the party’s parliamentary group. The move whittles down his parliamentary majority to 153.

The vote came after violent demonstrations that left one person dead and 74 injured. Source

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May Day protests draw millions worldwide

May Day Protests around the World
May 1 2010
Trade union members march in May Day celebrations in downtown Kiev  on Saturday. About 4,000 people rallied in Ukraine's capital.Trade union members march in May Day celebrations in downtown Kiev on Saturday. About 4,000 people rallied in Ukraine’s capital. (Sergei Chuzavkov/Associated Press)

Demonstrators poured into the streets from Hong Kong to Moscow to Santiago, Chile, waving flags, beating drums and dancing to music.

About 140,000 jubilant workers gathered in Istanbul’s Taksim Square in the first celebrations at the site since dozens of people died there in a May 1 gathering more than three decades ago.

The Istanbul demonstrations marked a special victory for Turkish unions, which had been denied access to Taksim Square since 1977, when 34 people died after a shooting triggered a stampede. The culprits were never found and workers on Saturday demanded an inquiry into the demonstrators’ deaths.

'I reject the five per cent increase,' says a La Paz  demonstrator's sign denouncing the size of Bolivia's proposed  minimum-wage increase.

‘I reject the five per cent increase,’ says a La Paz demonstrator’s sign denouncing the size of Bolivia’s proposed minimum-wage increase. (Juan Karita/Associated Press)

Thousands joined peaceful May Day marches in Stockholm, where opposition leader Mona Sahlin blamed the centre-right government for failing to stem rising unemployment and eroding the nation’s cherished welfare system. Sahlin is hoping to become Sweden’s first female prime minister after national elections in September.

In Manila, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo announced she had ordered the labour secretary to speed up negotiations between unions and employers on a $1.70 increase in the daily minimum wage.

In Toronto, a few thousand demonstrators pressed for reforms to make it easier for refugees to seek haven in Canada and for immigrants to come to the country.

In Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, thousands of workers marched on the presidential palace, shouting: “Workers unite! No more layoffs!” Rally organizer Bayu Ajie said a free-trade agreement with China had cost jobs, decreased wages and encouraged corruption. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono promised to create safer working conditions and improve job prospects if the workers maintained political and economic stability.

Kasparov leads rally

France saw rallies that drew hundreds of thousands of people to the streets of Paris, Marseille, Lille and other cities, but the turnout nevertheless disappointed labour unions that had been hoping for crowds in the millions to provide a show of force against a planned pension overhaul.

A rare opposition march took place in Moscow, where former world chess champion Garry Kasparov, now an opposition politician, led activists calling for the ouster of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, whom they accuse of stifling democracy.

In La Paz, the Bolivian capital, marchers carried signs denouncing the government’s proposed five per cent hike in the minimum wage as too paltry.

About 1,000 protesters — among them bus drivers and janitors — took to the streets in Hong Kong to demand that the government enact a minimum wage of the equivalent of $4.35 an hour. Though the Chinese territory has some of the richest residents in the world, its wealth is too unevenly distributed, advocates say.

People participate in a May Day protest in San Salvador, El  Salvador.

People participate in a May Day protest in San Salvador, El Salvador. (Edgar Romero/Associated Press)

Most of the annual May Day marches were peaceful, but in Santiago, clashes broke out with police, who launched tear gas and deployed a water cannon against demonstrators.

Athens also witnessed riots, with police using tear gas to disperse demonstrators who threw firebombs and stones in a large rally against austerity measures imposed to secure loans for near-bankrupt Greece.

In Switzerland, Zurich police used water cannons in an attempt to disperse dozens of stone-throwing protesters as unions and politicians protested against “excessive” Swiss banking bonuses.

German police detained 250 neo-Nazis who attempted to attack them in downtown Berlin.

The turnout in Cuba was massive, as expected, and authorities asserted the march by hundreds of thousands of Cubans amounted to approval of the island’s Communist system amid mounting international criticism over human rights. A smiling President Raul Castro watched the rally go past from a high podium.  Source

May Day turns violent in Berlin

May 2 2010

Riot police made targeted arrests during clashes on May Day demonstrations in Berlin.

May Day demonstrations have turned violent after police battle rioters in two German cities, using water cannons to drive back crowds of protestors.

In the capital Berlin, police tried to disperse hundreds of left-wing protesters in the west of the German capital late Saturday, as they set cars on fire and demolished police vehicles.

The eastern side of the city also saw clashes between anti-Nazi demonstrators and right-wingers.

In the port city of Hamburg, some 1,500 leftist radicals held a parade that continued into the early hours of Sunday. Police said the protestors vandalized banks, overturned parked cars and set them on fire.

It has become a ritual for leftists and rightists to engage in violent clashes with police and storm banks and shops on the May Day for more than a decade in Berlin and Hamburg.

Some 7,000 riot police were deployed to keep the two groups apart. Nearly 20 people were injured in those clashes. Police said they have made more than 250 arrests.

Last year’s May Day in Berlin was the most violent in a decade with hundreds of arrests and dozens of police officers injured. More than 400 cars were set ablaze in Berlin and Hamburg.

May Days have traditionally been an opportunity for workers and the left in general, to let off steam.

In many countries, it is synonymous with International Workers’ Day or Labor Day, a day of political demonstrations and celebrations organized by unions and other groups. Source


May Day marked with global protests

Turks mark first May Day in Istanbul’s Taksim Square in 33 years  [AFP]

Tens of thousands of people have marched in cities from Hong Kong to Istanbul to mark International Worker’s Day, demanding more jobs, better work conditions and higher wages.

In Turkey, about 140,000 workers gathered in Istanbul’s Taksim Square in the first celebrations at the site since 34 people died there in a May 1 gathering more than three decades ago.

The demonstration was a special victory for Turkish labour unions, which had been denied access to the site since 1977, after a shooting triggered a stampede.

Aydin Demir, a 44-year-old kiosk owner, said labourers had won a 33-year-long struggle for their right to rally at the square.

“We paid a heavy price to be here today. Thousands of comrades have been arrested, but now we get the result of our struggle,” he said.

‘Rights crushed’

Al Jazeera’s Anita McNaught, reporting from Taksim Square, said that in the past, trade unions who tried to hold rallies there in defiance of the ban met with a heavy police crackdown which left dozens injured and hundreds in detention.

“Then human rights and especially workers rights were crushed for years in Turkey,” McNaught said.

“Over a series of years, particularly the last three, the unions have steadily pushed and pushed to be reallowed access to back to this square.

“They have said there is no good reason not to allow them back and this year, the government agreed.”

More than 22,000 police officers were deployed for the rally and demonstrators went through security checks before entering the square.

Zafer Yoruk, a professor of political science at Izmir University, said the number of workers organised in Turkish unions has fallen dramatically since the 1970s.

“Regarding unionisation and economic rights, I think we’re far behind the 1970s,” he told Al Jazeera.

“The right to strike, for rights, or solidarity strikes, are totally gone.”

Rowdy protesters

Most of the annual May Day marches were peaceful, but in the Chinese territory of Macau police used water cannon and pepper spray against rowdy protesters, injuring at least eight people, including a photographer.

Clashes broke out in a number of countries as workers staged rallies [AFP]

Hundreds of thousands of people joined rallies in Europe, many protesting against government austerity policies in the wake of the global financial crisis.

Athens, the Greek capital, witnessed riots, with police using tear gas to disperse demonstrators who threw firebombs and stones in a large May Day rally against austerity measures needed to secure loans for near-bankrupt Greece.

In Switzerland, Zurich police used water cannon in an attempt to disperse dozens of stone-throwing protesters as unions and politicians protested against “excessive” Swiss banking bonuses.

In Germany, police said 17 officers had been injured when they clashed with 150 demonstrators who threw paving stones and set garbage cans ablaze in the northern port city of Hamburg.

At least nine demonstrators were detained after the confrontations with police on the eve of Saturday’s May Day holiday, the German news agency DDP reported.

Several hundred officers were deployed in the capital, Berlin, ahead of a planned neo-Nazi march and other demonstrations.

‘Workers unite’

The turnout in Cuba was massive, as expected, and authorities claimed the march by hundreds of thousands of Cubans amounted to approval of the island’s communist system amid mounting international criticism over human rights.

In Jakarta, the Indonesian capital, thousands of workers marched on the presidential palace, shouting: “Workers unite! No more layoffs!”

Workers took to the streets to protest labour conditions and demand better pay [Reuters]

Bayu Ajie, a rally organiser, said a free-trade agreement with China had cost jobs, decreased wages and encouraged corruption.

In Russia almost two million people turned out to mark international worker’s day.

Demonstrators carrying red balloons, red Soviet flags and portraits of Soviet leaders Vladimir Lenin and Josef Stalin, called for the Russian government’s resignation over rising prices and unemployment in Moscow.

Thousands of Cambodian workers marked May Day by marching through the capital to demand better work conditions and the establishment of a labour court.

Thousands of workers in the Philippines also took to the streets to reiterate their call to the government to protect jobs and to safeguard the interests of workers.

In the South Korean capital, Seoul, about 20,000 people gathered to demand better working conditions for labourers and farmers.

In Tokyo and Taiwan, thousands marched for better working conditions and permanent jobs.

In Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital, several hundred workers protested a proposed four per cent goods and services tax. While, in Hong Kong, about 1,000 protesters, including janitors, construction workers and bus drivers, demanded the government introduce a minimum wage of $4.30.

“A lunch box at a fast-food restaurant costs about $4. It’s an insult if you can’t afford a lunch box after working for an hour,” Leung Yiu-chung, a pro-democracy legislator, said on the sidelines of Saturday’s protests. Source

Workers demand better jobs, pay on May Day

Indonesian workers shout slogans  during a May Day rally in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Saturday (AP photo by  Dita Alangkara)Indonesian workers shout slogans during a May Day rally in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Saturday (AP photo by Dita Alangkara)

I

STANBUL (AP) – Tens of thousands of workers marched in cities from Hong Kong to Istanbul Saturday to mark international worker’s day, demanding more jobs, better work conditions and higher wages.

About 140,000 jubilant workers gathered in Istanbul’s Taksim Square in the first celebrations at the site since dozens of people died there in a May 1 gathering more than three decades ago.

The demonstrations in Istanbul, which sits on both European and Asian continents, marked a special victory for the Turkish unions, which had been denied access to the Taksim Square since 1977, when 34 people died after shooting triggered a stampede. The culprits were never found and workers demanded Saturday an inquiry into the deaths of the demonstrators.

Most of the annual May Day marches were peaceful, but in the Chinese territory of Macau police used water cannons and pepper spray against rowdy protesters who tried to break away from the approved route. Hong Kong radio RTHK reported at least eight people injured, including a photographer.

Athens also witnessed riots, with police using tear gas to disperse demonstrators who threw firebombs and stones in a large May Day rally against austerity measures needed to secure loans for near-bankrupt Greece. In Switzerland, Zurich police used water cannons in an attempt to disperse dozens of stone-throwing protesters as unions and politicians protested against “excessive” Swiss banking bonuses.

German police detained 250 neo-Nazis who attempted to attack them in downtown Berlin, while they braced for further clashes after sundown.

Nadine Pusch, a spokeswoman for Berlin police, said 7,000 officers were scattered throughout the city in an effort to ensure peaceful demonstrations.

Overnight in Hamburg, 17 officers were injured in clashes on the eve of May 1 and at least nine demonstrators were detained, the German news agency ddp reported Saturday.

The turnout in Cuba was massive, as expected, and authorities claimed the march by hundreds of thousands of Cubans amounted to approval of the island’s communist system amid mounting international criticism over human rights.

Thousands joined peaceful May Day marches in Stockholm, where opposition leader Mona Sahlin blamed the centre-right government for failing to stem rising unemployment and eroding the nation’s cherished welfare system. Sahlin is hoping to become Sweden’s first female prime minister after national elections in September.

Several thousand demonstrators in Paris also took to the streets amid concerns about conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy’s plans to overhaul the pension system.

In Manila, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo announced she had ordered the labour secretary to speed up negotiations between unions and employers on a 75-peso ($1.67) increase in daily minimum wage.

In Indonesia’s capital, thousands of workers marched on the presidential palace, shouting: “Workers unite! No more layoffs!”. Rally organiser Bayu Ajie said a free trade agreement with China had cost jobs, decreased wages and encouraged corruption. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono promised to create safer working conditions and improve job prospects if the workers maintained political and economic stability.

Thousands of Communist demonstrators, carrying red balloons, red Soviet flags and portraits of Soviet leaders Vladimir Lenin and Josef Stalin, called for the Russian government’s resignation over rising prices and unemployment in Moscow. Former world chess champion Garry Kasparov led hundreds of opposition activists in a separate rally. They also called for the ouster of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, whom they accuse of stamping out democracy. A few thousands also rallied in Ukraine’s capital.

In Seoul, South Korea, Tokyo and Taiwan, thousands marched for better working conditions and permanent jobs. Jeong Ho-hee, spokesman of the Korean Confederation of Trade Union, vowed to fight against long working hours and high death rate related to industrial accidents.

In the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, several hundred workers protested a proposed 4 per cent goods and services tax while about 1,000 protesters, including janitors, construction workers and bus drivers, demanded the government in Hong Kong to introduce a minimum wage of 33 Hong Kong dollars ($4.30).

This freewheeling capitalist Chinese enclave is one of the world’s wealthiest cities, but critics say its wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few.

“A lunch box at a fast-food restaurant costs about HK$30 ($4). It’s an insult if you can’t afford a lunch box after working for an hour,” pro-democracy legislator Leung Yiu-chung said on the sidelines of Saturday’s protests.  Source

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Food industry probe reveals abuse of foreign workers

Migrant workers used and abused becoming an epidemic world wide. A few story’s on the topic.

Food industry probe reveals abuse of foreign workers

March 12 2010

By Robert Verkaik, Home Affairs Editor

Foreign labourers employed in the meat and poultry industry face physical and racist abuse by British staff, an investigation has found.

Many workers reported being pushed, kicked or having things thrown at them by line managers, said investigators from the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Some of the worst abuses were committed against pregnant women who were also forced to continue to undertake work that posed risks to their health, including heavy lifting and extended periods of standing.

The inquiry uncovered frequent breaches of the law and licensing standards in meat processing factories – some of which supply the UK’s biggest supermarkets – and the agencies that supply workers to them. It also highlighted conditions which flout minimum ethical trading standards and basic human rights.

The report said: “Physical and verbal abuse were not uncommon, with a fifth of workers interviewed reporting being pushed, kicked or having things thrown at them by line managers; over a third of workers interviewed said they had experienced, or witnessed verbal abuse, often on a daily basis.”

It added: “Workers also reported being refused permission to take toilet breaks, and subsequently urinating or bleeding on themselves at the production line.”

Responding to the report, union leaders said “Britain’s Supermarkets should hang their heads in shame”.

Unite Deputy General Secretary, Jack Dromey said: “The EHRC report exposes labour practices in the supermarket supply chain that are an affront to human decency – physical and verbal abuse, a lack of health and safety protection, shameful treatment of pregnant women and a culture of fear. The report says, and rightly so, that there are reputable employers but they are undercut by the rogues.”

The inquiry, which was launched in October 2008, examined the employment and recruitment practices in the sector to identify differences in pay and conditions between agency and temporary workers and employees with permanent or directly employed status.

One third of the permanent workforce and over two thirds of agency workers in the industry are migrant workers. At one in six meat processing sites involved in the study, every single agency worker used in the past twelve months was a migrant worker. This is in part due to difficulties in recruiting British workers to what is physically demanding, low paid work. It may also be due to perceptions amongst employers and agencies that British workers are either unable or unwilling to work in the sector.

More than eight out of ten of the 260 workers that gave evidence said that agency workers were treated worse than directly employed workers. Seven out of ten workers said they thought they were treated badly in factories or by agencies because of their race or nationality.

Neil Kinghan, Director General of the Equality and Human Rights Commission said: “The Commission’s inquiry reveals widespread and significant ill-treatment in the industry. We have heard stories of workers subjected to bullying, violence and being humiliated and degraded by being denied toilet breaks. Some workers feel they have little choice but to put up with these conditions out of economic necessity.

Source

This happens in other countries as well. The UK is not alone on this one.

New Center Report: Foreign Guestworkers Routinely Exploited by U.S. Employers

From 2007

Guestworkers who come to the United States are routinely cheated out of wages; forced to mortgage their futures to obtain low-wage, temporary jobs; held virtually captive by employers who seize their documents; forced to live in squalid conditions; and denied medical benefits for injuries, according to a new report released by the Center today.

The report  Close to Slavery: Guestworker Programs in the United States comes as Congress is about to begin debating immigration legislation that could greatly expand guestworker programs to cover hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of new temporary foreign workers.

“Congress should reform our broken immigration system, but reform should not rely on creating a vast new guestworker program,” said Mary Bauer, director of the SPLC’s Immigrant Justice Project and author of the report. “The current program is shamefully abusive in practice, and there is almost no enforcement of worker rights.”

The 48-page report, based on interviews with thousands of guestworkers and dozens of legal cases, describes the systematic abuse of workers under what is known as the H-2 system administered by the U.S. Department of Labor. The program was created in 1943 to allow the sugar cane industry to bring in temporary workers and was revised by Congress in 1986 to include non-agricultural workers.

Employers in 2005 “imported” more than 121,000 temporary H-2 guestworkers  32,000 H-2A workers for agricultural work and 89,000 H-2B workers for jobs in forestry, seafood processing, landscaping, construction and other non-agricultural industries.

“Guestworkers are usually poor people who are lured here by the promise of decent jobs,” Bauer said. “But all too often, their dreams are based on lies, their hopes shattered by the reality of a system that treats them as commodities. They’re the disposable workers of the global economy.”

Hugo Martin Recinos-Recinos, a former guestworker from Guatemala, borrowed thousands of dollars to pay recruiting fees for a forestry job in the United States. “I had to leave the deed to my home,” he said. “When I got to the U.S., I was always underpaid, living in small hotel rooms and working 10-hour days. The debt from my recruitment and travel to the States made the low pay even harder to bear. When I filed a lawsuit about the conditions, my family and I were threatened. The guestworker program was abuse from beginning to end.”

The most fundamental problem with the H-2 system is that employers hold all the cards. They decide which workers can come to the United States and which cannot. They decide whether a worker can stay in this country. They usually decide where and under what conditions workers live and how they travel.

Guestworkers are typically powerless to enforce their rights. “If guestworkers complain about abuses, they face deportation, blacklisting or other retaliation,” the report says.

“Guestworkers don’t enjoy the most basic protections of a free labor market the ability to change jobs if they are cheated or abused by their employer,” Bauer said.

The rights that H-2 workers do have exist mostly on paper. The federal government has failed to protect them from unscrupulous employers, and most cannot obtain private legal assistance to enforce their rights through the courts.

The report concludes that the H-2 guestworker program should not serve as a model for immigration reform, but in fact should be overhauled if allowed to continue. It offers specific recommendations to remedy the worst abuses.

“The mistreatment of temporary foreign workers in America today is one of the major civil rights issues of our time,” said SPLC President Richard Cohen. “For too long, we’ve reaped the economic benefits of their labor but have ignored the incredible degree of abuse and exploitation they endure.

“Congress now has an opportunity to right this terrible wrong. As part of the reform of our broken immigration system, Congress should eliminate the current H-2 system entirely or commit to making it a fair program with strong worker protections that are vigorously enforced.” Source

Apparently they have been attempting to get things changed.

US firms ‘paid Colombia militias’
Also from 2007

The right-wing paramilitary groups were formed
as private armies in the 1980s

A paramilitary commander has accused US companies which buy Colombia’s bananas of financing illegal right-wing militias that have killed thousands of people in more than a decade. In testimony to investigators, jailed commander Salvatore Mancuso named Chiquita, Dole and Del Monte as having made regular payments to the paramilitaries, according to Jesus Vargas, a lawyer for victims of paramilitary violence who was present at the hearing.The hearing was closed to the press.

Mancuso testified that “each one paid one [US] cent for each box of bananas they exported”, according to Vargas.
‘War taxes’

Mancuso’s lawyer, Hernando Benavides, confirmed his client’s testimony.

Mancuso did not specify why the companies paid the illegal militias but paramilitaries commonly exact “war taxes” from businesses and ranchers in areas where they operate.

Across the country, the paramilitaries countered leftist rebel extortion. They also served as union busters, and killed hundreds of labour rights activists.

A spokesman for California-based Dole Food denied the accusation.

“Recent press accounts implicating Dole with illegal organisations in Colombia is absolutely untrue,” said Marty Ordman.

A Del Monte spinoff, Del Monte Fresh Produce, has a subsidiary in Colombia that buys bananas. It did not immediately return phone calls from the Associated Press.

Chiquita Brands International has previously acknowledged that a subsidiary, Banadex, paid paramilitaries $1.7m over six years.

The Colombian chief federal prosecutor’s office says a Banadex ship was also used to unload 3,000 Kalashnikov rifles and more than 2.5 million bullets in 2001.

It agreed to pay a fine of $25m in a deal with the US justice department.

Chiquita says the payments were made to protect the safety of its workers but Colombia’s chief prosecutor has said companies that made such payments shared the responsibility for paramilitary murders.

Labour and human rights activists say Colombia companies and multinationals routinely paid paramilitaries to act as union busters and kill union leaders.

Mancuso, testifying as part of a peace deal with the government, also accused Colombian beverage and coal companies of paying “taxes” to the paramilitaries.

Wealthy landowners and drug traffickers first created the paramilitaries in the early 1980s to protect them from rebel extortion and kidnapping but the groups have since largely degenerated into murderous gangs.

The paramilitaries, known by their Spanish acronym AUC, were listed as a “foreign terrorists organisation” in 2001 by the US government.

The prosecutor’s office estimates the paramilitaries left at least 10,000 bodies across this war-scarred terrain in mass graves. Source

So if you can’t abuse them in yhour own contry abuse them where they live.

One has to wonder how many other countries do this?

Related

US-COLOMBIA: Activists Target “World of Coca-Cola”

From November 2009

They had eight union leaders murdered. We’ve been augmenting their legal suit,” Friedman said.

“There’s plenty of evidence that shows the plant managers were very cozy with the paramilitaries,” he added.

New report highlights Israeli exploitation of migrant workers

Report condemns treatment of migrant workers in Canada

Rampant exploitation of women’s labour, sexuality

March 10 2010

One hundred years after the world recognised the role of women in society, women are still robbed off their rights.

On the occasion of the 100th year anniversary of International Women’s Day yesterday, Caram Asia calls upon governments in both sending and receiving countries to protect the rights of migrant women who constitute more than half of the migrant population in the world today.

Migrant workers in Slovenia hunger strike for unpaid wages

March 2010

Contractor by the name of Perkovič has not compensated them for the work they have done in the past 15 months.

Italy: migrant workers strike!

Submitted on 9 March 9, 2010

March 1 2010 will go down in history as the date when tens of thousands of the four and a half million immigrant population of Italy threw down the gauntlet to the racist government of Silvio Berlusconi and the ever-widening persecution emanating from the pores of a society deep in crisis, by going on strike. It was a challenge to a society that in the time-honoured capitalist manner is increasingly forced to survive by sowing and maintaining divisions among the majority it exploits, scapegoating its weakest and most vulnerable.

The above are just the tip of the iceburg..

Seems not much has changed over the years.

U.S. Contractor in Iraq, KBR, Accused of SlaveryTell them your giving them a job, ship them off to a war zone, take their passports and force them to work

Another war realated Story about migrant workers

Homeless Nepalese in Baghdad are victims of Human trafficking

Even Call Centers are bad employers in many countries, Seems they don’t like to pay their employees either. August 27, 2008 What has changed not much. They love to exploit workers world wide.

Call centers lawsuits

Call center (BOSS) Burnout stress syndrome

Human Issues in Call Centers – A Report

February 16 2010

Call Centers has given many gifts to People , few of them are: High Stress Level, Number of other Illnesses, Broken Marriages Etc.

How Haiti’s Quarter Million Slaves Will Survive The Quake

Slavery and Human Trafficking Crimes

An estimated 211 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 are working around the world according to the International Labor Organization.

Trans Fair

Like all great social change movements, Fair Trade is a messy and imperfect project.

A grassroots movement that for some emerged in opposition to global free trade eventually gave rise to an ambitious labeling and certification system that has now grown into a complex global organization. A simple yet powerful idea that began with small scale coffee farmers now spans a vast range of products that includes soccer balls and soon artisanal gold.  From the 1988 launch of the world’s first Fair Trade labelling initiative, Stichting Max Havelaar is today part of a worldwide network of twenty-three certifying bodies, that includes TransFair Canada, and three producer networks within the Fairtrade Labelling Organizations (FLO) International.

Check to see if what you buy is Fair Trade Goods or those done by slave labor or unscrupulous employers who abuse their workers.. Always check for the logo on goods you purchase. Fair Trade Labeling International

Recent

Japan Report: Private Agreements Allowed US to Bring Nukes

Amir, ten years old, abducted by Israeli soldiers from his bed

“This Time We Went Too Far” Truth and Consequences in the Gaza Invasion

E-book on Jewish National Fund’s role in colonization of Palestine

Israel on Trial – The Russell Tribunal on Palestine

Water shortage in Fiji, not for US Water Corporation however

Rachel Corrie’s parents Get Nasty Letter from professor at Haifa University

Dubai police chief to seek Netanyahu arrest

Israel “blackmails Gaza’s patients to turn them into collaborators”

Published in: on March 12, 2010 at 8:10 pm  Comments Off on Food industry probe reveals abuse of foreign workers  
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Protest in “Iceland” ends in Violence

November 22 2008

By Alex Elliot

The now regular Saturday protests in front of the Icelandic parliament in Reykjavik went ahead today as planned, but a follow-up demonstration outside the police headquarters ended in violence.

During the busy parliament protests, the famous statue of Jonas Sigurdsson was dressed in women’s clothing to remind people of the role of the female half of the population and how they should take a leading role in rebuilding the Icelandic economy.

After the rally, some 200 to 300 people took part in a different protest at the main police station to demand the release of Haukur Himarsson, who had been arrested last night when police found out he was the person to fly the Bonus supermarket flag from the top of parliament two weeks ago.

After officers in full riot gear used pepper spray to try to disperse the crowds, police eventually released Hilmarsson and the crowd dissipated. It is still not known whether or not the police charged Hilmarsson before his release, however.

Hilmarsson was arrested last night after an educational research trip to the Althingi parliament house. He has a suspended 14 days remaining of an 18-day prison sentence he received in 2005 for protests with the Saving Iceland environmental pressure group.

Source

Iceland’s Economic Meltdown is a big Flashing Warning Sign

Published in: on November 23, 2008 at 7:15 am  Comments Off on Protest in “Iceland” ends in Violence  
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A little Ku Klux Klan History

UW project sheds light on Klan history

Never-before-seen images are shining new light on a grim chapter of Washington’s history, when the Ku Klux Klan operated from state headquarters in Belltown, its members gathering robed and hooded at what longtime Seattleites might remember as the Crystal Pool.

The additions to a University of Washington Web site came about as part of a senior-level history class. The rare photos and newspaper clippings tell of the Klan’s broad presence in this region during the 1920s.

There’s the Sedro-Woolley wedding of Klan members in full regalia, a night parade in Bellingham and rallies in places like Renton and Issaquah that at times drew crowds of up to 50,000.

The KKK helped elect public officials across the state – including a mayor in Kent during the early 1920s – and published a Seattle-based newspaper called the Watcher on the Tower.

“People in Washington state really have not known about the strength or impact of the KKK here during the 1920s,” said James Gregory, UW professor of history who heads the Web site, called the Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project.

Finding few blacks at which to aim their venom in the pre-World War II Northwest, the white supremacists here focused instead on the Roman Catholic church and on foreigners.

“Historians focus on the Klan as a powerful force in places like Oregon, in Midwest states and of course in the South. But the Klan had tens of thousands of members right here in Washington,” Gregory said.

The Ku Klux Klan was founded in 1865 by veterans of the Confederate Army to restore white supremacy in the wake of the Civil War. With a record of intimidation and violence aimed at blacks, Jews, foreigners, Catholics and labor, the KKK was prosecuted under the Civil Rights Act of 1871. But it rose again, reaching a membership peak of 5 million in the mid-1920s when its reach spread far beyond the boundaries of the Deep South.

Its inclusion on the Web site is part of ongoing research on civil rights and labor in the Pacific Northwest by faculty and students at the UW.

Discovery of many of the photos and other documents came about as part of a fall 2006 history class called White Supremacy in Western Washington. “Much of this is information that is known to experts, but now the Internet is providing an opportunity for it to be made publicly available,” said history doctoral student Trevor Griffey, who led the class and did much of the research.

“Flaming crosses and Klan robes are some of the most powerful and horrifying images that we identify with a history of racism in the United States,” Griffey said. And in places like the Northwest, where many believe the Klan was not a force, it can be hard to document the history of racism.

“This forces us to rethink some of the assumptions about the history of this region and opens up a new question: Exactly how liberal has this place been?”

As part of its resurgence, the KKK successfully organized in Oregon before coming to Washington around 1923. There is no evidence it was as violent here as it had been elsewhere.

Klan leaders appealed to people’s Christianity, their patriotism and a fear of foreigners. Records show that, along with a Kent mayor, a city attorney in Bellingham was an open member of the Klan. In fact, in 1929, when the Klan held its state convention in Bellingham, its grand wizard was introduced by the mayor and given a key to the city.

Rallies in places like Issaquah, Yakima and Renton drew crowds of up to 50,000. “Those weren’t all Klan members,” Griffey said. “What’s amazing is that they were able to draw such participation. You didn’t see much organized resistance, not much attempt to disrupt the Klan meetings.”

Many of the photos on the Web site were obtained from the Washington State Historical Society, which bought its collection from the estate of Tacoma photographer Marvin Boland, himself a Klan member.

The Klan’s undoing at least in Seattle began around 1924, after it unsuccessfully backed an anti-private-school initiative in this state, aimed at Roman Catholic schools, similar to one it had pushed through in Oregon that was repealed. That plus internal scandals led to the beginning of the Klan’s demise.

But it retained a presence here through the 1930s, its power base shifting from Seattle to Bellingham, said photo historian Jeff Jewell, with the Whatcom Museum of History & Art.

“Hardly a semester goes by that the subject of the Klan is not part of somebody’s term paper,” Jewell said. “It’s been very popular.”

Source

The Ku Klux Klan In Washington State, 1920s

Ku Klux Klan Gathering, Crystal Pool (2nd and Lenora) in Downtown Seattle, WA. March 23, 1923.
Photo courtesy of the Washington State Historical Society

This special section of the Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project documents the history of Washington State’s 1920s chapter of the most infamous white supremacist organization in American history, the Ku Klux Klan (KKK).

The Washington State Klan during the 1920s was part of the second of three waves of KKK activity in America. The second KKK was founded in 1915 and gained significant membership immediately following World War I. Though short-lived, it was a powerful anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic, anti-radical, white supremacist organization that promoted “100 percent Americanism.”  The second KKK claimed over 4 million members across the country; briefly dominated state legislatures of Colorado, Indiana, and Oregon; and in 1924 shaped presidential politics and helped pressure politicians to pass the most severe immigration restriction in the history of the United States. Following immigration restriction and a series of leadership scandals, the second KKK collapsed and was largely moribund by 1928.

The second KKK was a mass movement that invoked the memory of and built upon the first KKK, which was a terrorist organization founded by white supremacists in the U.S. South. The first KKK’s violent “night riding”– in which hooded vigilantes used lynchings, whippings, and torture to intimidate recently freed slaves and their white allies — played a crucial role in the disenfranchisement of African Americans at the end of the Civil War in the 1860s and 1870s and laid a foundation for the rise of Jim Crow segregation in the 1890s and 1900s.  The second KKK also helped train some of the leaders who later formed the third KKK, a mainly Southern organization that rose up in the decades after World War II to murder and terrorize people in African-American communities, particularly civil rights movement activists. Klan members’ hoods, white robes, and burning crosses made them icons of American white supremacy and terrorism, and their legacy haunts us to this day.

The Washington State KKK during the 1920s was founded by organizers from Oregon, which had one of the strongest Klan chapters in the country at the time. The State Klan organized a series of massive public rallies in 1923 and 1924 that ranged from 20,000 to 70,000 people. While they publicly disavowed violence, Klan members participated in violent intimidation campaigns against labor activists and Japanese farmers in Yakima Valley and probably elsewhere. They put forward a ballot initiative in 1924 to prohibit Catholic schools that voters soundly defeated. And though most of the State’s Klan chapters collapsed in rancor following the defeat of their anti-private school initiative, a strong presence persisted in Whatcom and Skagit Counties throughout the 1930s. In the 1930s, some prominent leaders in the region’s KKK went on to become involved in the facist Silver Legion, or “Silvershirts,” a national movement that, while small, was quite active in Washington State. And there is evidence that the Klan in Bellingham helped pioneer intimidation practices that paved the way for anti-communist witch-hunts in the 1940s.

This special section on the KKK was created by Trevor Griffey and includes three historical essays courtesy of Trevor Griffey, Brianne Cooke, and Kristin Dimick.  It presents dozens of rare photographs, newspaper articles, and documents thanks to gracious contributions from the Washington State Archives, the Washington State Historical Society,the Whatcom County Historical Society, and the Skagit River Journal.

For more information on the KKK

The Face of Hate is still alive and well in America.

KKK Member Testifies On The Evils Of The Klan

Hate Messages from KKK Rears Its Ugly Head On Long Island

Suspect in Klan killing case has long criminal history

KKK still killing and beating

Published in: on November 14, 2008 at 1:03 am  Comments Off on A little Ku Klux Klan History  
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Abuse often begins when men batter their pregnant wives

Male batterers use physical violence to win in disagreements and to exercise power and control in their relationships, according to a violence prevention educator.

“They throw a line out and when he knows that she loves him, it’s about reeling her in,” said Stephen McArthur, also a hotline crisis worker with the Battered Women’s Services and Shelter in Washington County, Vt.

He addressed about 20 local professionals and law enforcement officials Friday at the Frederick County Public Safety Building during a domestic violence training program.

The program, hosted by the Council Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, addressed a variety of topics, including gender-based violence, cultural diversity, and the resources of the Winchester-Frederick County Child Advocacy Center.

McArthur, also a certified facilitator for the Intensive Domestic Abuse Program, a batterer intervention program, served as the keynote speaker.

Mark Haufrect, attorney for the Tahirih Justice Center, and Kelly Bober, executive director of the Winchester-Frederick County Child Advocacy Center, were also speaking to the group.

McArthur’s discussion focused on ways to engage men in ending violence against women, as well as the effects that domestic violence can have on children.

He said women often report that the abuse starts during pregnancy. “There are all kinds of reasons why abuse can begin when a woman gets pregnant.”

The feeling of jealousy a man experiences — knowing he is no longer the center of a woman’s attention — is a major factor in domestic violence, he said.

But McArthur stressed that not all batterers are men.

Although some studies show a 10-1 ratio in the severity of men’s physical violence compared to women’s, he said women can also exercise physical, emotional, sexual, and economic abuse over their partners.

Children exposed to a batterer, whether male or female, can be affected just as much by domestic violence.

“Kids who are under this kind of violence are under stress,” McArthur said.

Even when children are not the direct victims, they can be affected physically, emotionally, and socially, he added.

McArthur and the program participants discussed the numerous side effects domestic violence can have on children.

Potential consequences include depression, bed-wetting, lying, becoming withdrawn, and physical and intellectual developmental delays.

“We know that these kinds of behavior happen because of the stress they’re under,” McArthur said.

Providing a sense of safety can help in the healing process for children who have been exposed to domestic violence, he said.

Source

Published in: on November 4, 2008 at 4:47 pm  Comments Off on Abuse often begins when men batter their pregnant wives  
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Clashes erupt in Montenegro over Kosovo

Oct 14 2008
Clashes erupt in Montenegro over Kosovo

Blasts were heard and ambulances streaming out of the centre of Montenegro’s capital as pro-Serb demonstrators clashed with police during a rally against Montenegro’s recognition of Kosovo’s independence.

Some 10,000 pro-Serbian protesters took to the streets of Podgorica for a rally against the government’s decision last week to recognise the independence of Kosovo, as the opposition harshly criticised the ruling coalition for “stabbing Serbia in the back.”

The protesters chanted “Treason! Treason!” and “Kosovo is Serbia!”, as opposition leaders gave Premier Milo Djukanovic a 48 hour deadline to annul the recognition of Kosovo, or face a referendum on the issue.

Both demonstrators and police officers were among the injured and witnesses saw a number of ambulances taking the wounded to a nearby hospital.

It is not clear what exactly triggered the clashes, but the violence broke out as protesters marched by the government building, reportedly throwing firecrackers and molotov cocktails towards the police cordon which was securing the area.

Demonstrators also demolished the fence around the government building, and police responded by firing the tear gas into the crowd.

In addition, police helicopters hovered over the centre of Podgorica.

Police have made at least a dozen arrests.

Following the violence, protesters dispersed across the capital but sporadic clashes were still being reported.

Miodrag Vukovic, a high-ranking official from the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists, blamed the incidents on the opposition, saying their political rivals have chosen a wrong tactic to express their dissatisfaction.

“This looks like the 1997 attempt to overthrow the government… But Montenegro has matured since then,” Vukovic said.

About a third of Montenegro’s population declare themselves as Serbs, while ethnic Albanians make up around seven per cent of the population of this small coastal republic.

Montenegro was also in a loose federation with Serbia up until a referendum on independence in 2006.
Podgorica recognized Kosovo`s independence on October 9, leading Belgrade to expel Montenegro’s ambassador.

Montenegro’s decision came just a day after the United Nations General Assembly voted in favor of Belgrade’s request for the International Court of Justice to render an opinion on the legality of Kosovo’s unilaterally declared independence in mid-February.

Source

Montenegro opposition to rally over Kosovo

The pro-Serbian opposition in Montenegro will hold a rally in the afternoon of October 13, to urge the government to withdraw its decision to recognize Kosovo’s independence, or call a referendum on the issue.

Podgorica’s decision to recognise Kosovo as an independent state has seriously disrupted relations between the ruling coalition and the opposition, which has also called for early parliamentary elections.

“We want to articulate the popular will on this issue”, the president of the opposition Socialist Peoples Party Srdjan Milic said. He said most Montenegrins do not support the government’s move to recognise Kosovo’s independence.

Despite harsh language between the government and opposition over the weekend, local analysts expect the overall situation to remain calm, and both sides have called on their supporters to remain calm.

About a third of Montenegro’s population declare themselves as Serbs, while ethnic Albanians make up around seven per cent of the population of this small coastal republic.

Montenegro’s police chief, Veselin Veljovic, said that police were prepared to prevent any disturbances during the rally. “The organisers have been warned to respect their obligations and responsibilities regarding public order,” he said.

Podgorica recognised Kosovo’s independence on October 9, leading Belgrade to expel Montenegro’s ambassador.

Montenegro’s decision came just a day after the United Nations General Assembly voted in favor of Belgrade’s request for the International Court of Justice to render an opinion on the legality of Kosovo’s unilaterally declared independence in mid-February.


Serb Paramilitaries on Trial for Kosovo War Crimes
October 6 2008
Belgrade
The trial of the so-called ‘Scorpion’ paramilitary group, who are accused of crimes during the 1998-1999 Kosovo conflict, resumed Monday at Belgrade’s War Crimes Chamber.

Zeljko Djukic, Dragan Medic, Dragan Borojevic and Miodrag Solaja are accused of attacking 19 civilians, all women and children, in Podujevo on March 28, 1999. Fourteen people were killed during the attack although five children survived.

Six other members of the Scorpion Paramilitary have already been tried and sentenced for the same attack the four are standing trial for now.

Scorpion Unit Commander Slobodan Medic was sentenced to 20 years in prison, member Sasa Cvijetin was sentenced to 20 years behind bars, Pera Petrasevic received 13 years, Branislav Medic’s jail term was reduced from 20 to 15 years, Aleksandar Vukov was cleared of all charges and Aleksandar Medic, who was originally sentenced to five years, was granted a retrial by the court.
Source

Olli Rehn

Olli Rehn
October 16 2008
Brussels _ The EU has urged Serbian officials to be constructive over Kosovo, especially in regards to the deployment of the bloc’s EULEX law and order mission.

“It is important that we all, including the Serbian government, work towards making EULEX’s deployment a success, and in this regard we expect a constructive approach”, said the bloc’s Enlargement Commissioner, Olli Rehn.

“After the vote at the United Nations General Assembly, the result of which was no drama or no surprise, it is now important that we all work in order to ensure overall regional stability and the enhancement of rule of law in Kosovo and elsewhere in the region,” he added.

This was the commissioner’s response to the latest message from Serbian President Boris Tadic that they would cooperate with the mission but only under certain conditions.

In the interview for Belgrade daily Vecernje Novosti, Tadic emphasised that Belgrade would condition the European mission’s presence in Kosovo on a green light from the UN Security Council, ask the current United Nations Mission to retain its neutral stance towards the status of Serbia’s former province and, last but not least, call for plans to implement the blueprint for Kosovo’s independence devised by former UN envoy and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Martti Ahtisaari, to be dropped.

Rehn also reminded Serbia’s politicians that good neighbourly relations are of outmost importance under a EU pre-membership deal called the Stabilisation and Association Agreement, which Belgrade signed with Brussels at the end of April.

“We underline the importance of overall regional stability, and for that it is important that Serbia has a constructive approach to the Kosovo issue and the deployment of the EULEX mission which aims to ensure stability in Kosovo and the region, and citizens rights and rule of law for all the citizens of Kosovo,” Rehn said in Brussels.

Rehn earlier met Serbian deputy prime minister Mladjan Dinkic on Thursday to whom he congratulated the decision of the government to unilaterally start the implementation of trade-related parts of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement.

According to Rehn, this will be very useful in building a convincing track record when Serbia gets EU candidate status.

October 16 2008

Belgrade _ Serbia’s President Boris Tadic says a compromise with Brussels is possible over the deployment of the European Union’s new law-and-order mission to Kosovo.

Tadic said Belgrade wants to find a compromise to the deployment of the 2,200-strong European Union mission to Kosovo, known as EULEX but with blessing of the United Nations Security Council.

The world’s top security body remains divided on the issue since veto-wielding member Russia, strongly backs Serbia’s territorial integrity and has previously echoed Belgrade’s concerns that EULEX seeks to formalise Kosovo’s independence.

“We are working on that in all international forums, with the UN Security Council and the EU, with officials from Russia and the United States, with everyone who is vitally important in the future of Kosovo and Serbia,” Tadic told Belgrade daily Vecernje Novosti.

However Tadic emphasised that Belgrade would condition the European mission’s presence in Kosovo on a green light from the UN Security Council, ask the current United Nations Mission to retain its neutral stance towards the status of Serbia’s former province and, last but not least, call for plans to implement the blueprint for Kosovo’s independence devised by former UN envoy and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Martti Ahtisarri, to be dropped.

“Anyone who finds fault with these principles has a problem with logic. There are political parties that are trying to fool Serbian citizens and ‘guarantee’ that EULEX will implement independence in Kosovo. We are going to fight to make sure that does not happen,” Tadic said.

The move towards a compromise between Belgrade and Brussels was also signalled by the EU’s special representative in Kosovo, Pieter Feith, who said that “recent consultations” between Serbia, the EU and New York opened the possibility for a widely acceptable solution for EULEX.

“There is a possibility that consultations between Belgrade, the EU and New York result with some kind of solution and the UN’s authorisation for EULEX. But I believe there is no real need for that,” Feith said, adding that the EU looks forward to cooperation with Belgrade on the matter soon.

The positive signals followed warnings from international think-tanks such as the International Crisis Group that divisions between Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority and some 100,000 remaining Serbs have widened following Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia on February 17.

The United Nations Mission in Kosovo, UNMIK, which has administered Kosovo since the end of the 1998-1999 conflict between Serb forces and ethnic Albanians, has been wrapping up its mission under a procedure it calls ‘reconfiguration.’

EULEX is due to become the main international body in Kosovo, although its powers will be largely supervisory – particularly relating to the fields of policing and the judiciary.

But EULEX’s ability to fully deploy some eight months after Brussels okayed its biggest ever security and defence policy operation has given western powers cause for concern.

Critically it lacks a mandate from the UN Security Council since Russia has vowed to block any changes to Kosovo’s status which do not have approval from Serbia.

Belgrade and Moscow have also used this shortcoming to argue Kosovo’s independence is in fact illegal under international law.

Adding to EULEX’s woes is the question of whether it could ever deploy across the whole territory of Kosovo.

Kosovo Serbs, particularly those living north of the River Ibar, where they make up a majority, have so far defied Kosovo’s independence thanks to political and financial assistance from Belgrade.

They are also likely to put up stiff resistance against the EULEX mission.

“UNMIK remains our only legitimate partner in Kosovo,” Serbia’s Minister for Kosovo Goran Bogdanovic said, rejecting the EU’s announcements that its mission will be fully operational by December on the whole territory of Kosovo.

The UN mission has tried to take up Serbia’s concerns by opening up direct negotiations on local governance in Serb-dominated areas of Kosovo.

Such talks are to focus on areas such as police, courts and customs but little progress has been made so far.

Not only have the areas of dispute proved too complex for both sides to address but Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian leaders have also vented their frustration at being left out of the talks, expressed in their arguments that Kosovo’s sovereignty ‘cannot be compromised.’
Rehn also reminded Serbia’s politicians that good neighbourly relations are of outmost importance under a EU pre-membership deal called the Stabilisation and Association Agreement, which Belgrade signed with Brussels at the end of April.

“We underline the importance of overall regional stability, and for that it is important that Serbia has a constructive approach to the Kosovo issue and the deployment of the EULEX mission which aims to ensure stability in Kosovo and the region, and citizens rights and rule of law for all the citizens of Kosovo,” Rehn said in Brussels.

Rehn earlier met Serbian deputy prime minister Mladjan Dinkic on Thursday to whom he congratulated the decision of the government to unilaterally start the implementation of trade-related parts of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement.


October 16 2008 Belgrade _ Serbia’s government has unanimously backed a move to begin implementing reforms outlined in a key pre-membership deal with the EU despite the bloc having frozen the agreement.

Serbia hopes that by unilaterally taking up the key reforms prescribed in the Stabilisation and Association Agreement, Belgrade will be able to become a European Union candidate once the deal is unfrozen.

“The main goal is to shorten the time between implementation of the agreement and Serbian candidature for EU membership,” Premier Mirko Cvetkovic said after the open session of the Serbian government.

The parts of the key agreement with the EU will be implemented immediately but the rest of package, including new, lower custom taxes on the import of cars, will come into force from January, Serbian officials said earlier.

European officials have urged Serbia to begin implementing the deal unilaterally, despite the fact that there has been no EU consensus on backing Belgrade’s drive for membership.

Only one country, the Netherlands, has opposed ratification of the interim trade agreement with Belgrade.

The main reason behind such a stance according to the Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen, was Belgrade’s failure to arrest and extradite to The Hague the former military chief of Bosnian Serbs, Ratko Mladic, wanted for genocide and war crimes committed during the 1992-1995 conflict.

Serbia’s pro-European government has made EU integration its key priority. EU officials earlier signalled that Serbia could achieve candidate status next year.

When the Serbian parliament ratified the Stabilisation and Association Agreement last month, the hardline opposition Radical Party, which has traditionally opposed EU membership, abstained from voting, a move which may signal the emergence of a greater national consensus on Serbia’s European objectives.