Friday, March 28, 2003

Apartheid Debt and Reparations Campaign

Apartheid Debt and Reparations Campaign: Jubilee South Africa
Media Release
Thursday 27 March 2003
Pretoria, South Africa

International Campaign for Apartheid-Caused Debt Cancellation and Reparations Stepped Up
As pressure mounts for reparations from multinational banks and businesses that propped up and profited from apartheid human rights abuses, Jubilee South Africa's Apartheid Debt and Reparations Campaign today announced thatn it is holding two major international campaign events in Amsterdam (Netherlands) and Frankfurt (Germany) over the coming days. A delegation of six Apartheid Debt & Reparations Campaign representatives, including a representative if the Khulumani victims support group, will travel to Amsterdam and Frankfurt from today until 3 April 2003. On Friday, 28 March, the international campaign will host a round-table discussion in Amsterdam with representatives from business, political parties, and civil society organisations to highlight the case for apartheid reparations based on the illegitimacy of the apartheid debt. On Saturday, 29 March, corporate accountability will be highlighted during a public manifestation on Jubilee Day in Amsterdam. The event will focus on the need for a new human rights ethic for international business in today's world. From Monday, 31 March, to Tuesday, 1 April, the International Campaign for Apartheid-Caused Debt Cancellation and Reparations will hold its strategy meeting in Frankfurt. Representatives from solidarity campaigns in Britain, the United States of America, Belgium, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Germany will join the South African delegates at the internal meeting. During the meeting, the international campaign will review its activities over the past months and agree on plans to intensify its research and advocacy initiatives in support of the claims by apartheid victims. Part of international meeting will include a high-level televised discussion on similarities between the apartheid reparations claims and the recent Nazi slave labour reparations claims against businesses. Panellists will include key researchers, lawyers, economists, and campaigners from both the international apartheid reparations campaign and the German slave labour campaign. The delegation will return to South Africa on 3 April. To contact the delegation for comment, please call cell. +31 64 137 2462 in the Netherlands from 28 to 30 March and cell. +49 160 736 8968 in Germany from 30 March to 2 April. Issued by Neville Gabriel, Convenor: 

Apartheid Debt & Reparations Campaign Liz Johnstone
Coordinator Apartheid Debt and Reparations Task Team Jubilee South Africa. Email: ljohnson@sacbc.org.za. Ph: +27 (0)12 323 6458
Fax: +27 (0)12 326 6218
Fax: +27 (0)12 325 6125

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Iraq War: Where is the True Danger

by Slavoj Zizek

We all remember the old joke about the borrowed kettle which Freud quotes in order to render the strange logic of dreams, namely the enumeration of mutually exclusive answers to a reproach (that I returned to a friend a broken kettle): (1) I never borrowed a kettle from you; (2) I returned it to you unbroken; (3) the kettle was already broken when I got it from you. For Freud, such an enumeration of inconsistent arguments of course confirms per negationem what it endeavors to deny - that I returned you a broken kettle... Do we not encounter the same inconsistency when high US officials try to justify the attack on Iraq? (1) There is a link between Saddam's regime and al-Qaeda, so Saddam should be punished as part of the revenge for 9/11; (2) even if there was no link between Iraqi regime and al Qaeda, they are united in their hatred of the US - Saddam's regime is a really bad one, a threat not only to the US, but also to its neighbors, and we should liberate the Iraqi people; (3) the change of regime in Iraq will create the conditions for the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The problem is that there are TOO MANY reasons for the attack...

Read More....

Saturday, March 22, 2003

Jubilee South Africa - London Agreement

Media Statement
Thursday, 27 February 2003
Today, 27 February 2003, marks the 50th anniversary of the London Agreement, which dealt with the debts of the then West Germany. Western leaders and major international bankers met in London in 1953 were they provided extraordinary generous terms of debt cancellation to Germany for its 1st and 2nd world war debts. These Terms are in stark contrast to the harsh conditions imposed on heavily indebted countries in the South
"The contrast between the guilt behind the German debts and the innocence of most of the Third world debt could not be greater. Much of the third world debt lies in the recklessness of Western bankers, who in the 1970's deliberately unloaded surplus capital in the form of loans. Much of these aggressively marketed loans where "odious" in terms of international law and therefore not covered by the obligations of sovereign debt, while the debts of Germany where of a country perceived by the world to have been responsible for two world wars and the deaths of millions". Jubilee South Africa said in a statement issued today
"The London Agreement placed conditions on the creditors and not on indebted Germany, today's debt repayment schemes for the "third world" like "Highly Indebted Poor Country" initiative (HIPC), lay down strict economic criteria on countries for inclusion under the initiative and ignore to place conditions on creditors".
"The London Agreement was designed to promote Germany's reconstruction. A contemporary London Agreement, as part of an initiative for debt cancellation would go a long way towards freeing the Third World of its debt bondage in favour of its own legitimate reconstruction".
Today in South Africa, there will be an action in the Western Cape coinciding with yesterday's announcement of budget restrictions for the reconstruction of the lives of the poor.  The German Jubilee Campaign has called for a nation wide day of action today. In Frankfurt, Germany, at 11h00 -12h00 the German Campaign for the cancellation of Apartheid debt and reparations together with Church organisations, will hold a vigil outside of the Deutsche Bank and then unveil a plaque at the Marshall Fountain commemorating the Marshall Plan for the reconstruction of Europe post 2nd world war. The inscription reads "To the Victims of Debt".
For Comment please contact:
South Africa: MP Giyose, Chairperson Jubilee SA, cell: 082 350-0361, 046
6242557. Or, Germany: Christoph Beninde, German Campaign for Apartheid-Caused Debt
Cancellation and Reparations tel: + 49 521 986 4852, Theo Kneifel, tel: + 49
6221 4333 12, Gottfried Welmer, tel: +49 228 694792
For Further references to the London Agreement Consult
www.erlassjahr.de
<http://www.erlassjahr.de>

A Once-off Wealth Tax should be Imposed

A once-off wealth tax should be imposed to help compensate victims of apartheid, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) recommended on Friday. This should come out of the pocket of South African business and industry, says the TRC in two final volumes of its report released in Pretoria. The body's reparation and rehabilitation committee says voluntary contributions by business for the compensation of apartheid victims has been disappointing so far. A Business Trust, set up for this purpose, has so far received a total of about R800-million from the private sector. "This is a paltry amount when one considers the massive amount needed to repair the inequities and damage caused to entire communities." The committee also reminded government of its obligations. "Today, when the government is spending so substantial portion of its budget on submarines and other military equipment, it is unconvincing to argue that it is too financially strapped to meet at least this minimal commitment." The government has so far made reparation payments totalling R50-million to about 18 000 South Africans. It has been saying that a long-term approach to reparations would be finalised once the TRC has submitted its final report.  See http://www.mg.co.za/Content/l3.asp?ao=12347

Business Must Respect the Rule of Human Rights Law

It is appropriate that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) final report is delivered to the President of South Africa on Human Rights Day because we must reverse the erosion of the human rights discourse in addressing social and economic injustices, Jubilee South Africa said today in a statement welcoming the report.

The unresolved TRC issue is accountability for reparations for apartheid human rights violations.

For more than four years, Jubilee South Africa's Apartheid Debt and Reparations Campaign has been calling on the multinational banks and businesses that aided and abetted the apartheid state in its criminal activities to acknowledge their role in apartheid and to repair the damage that their profiteering made possible. However, the corporations have refused to take the call seriously. The victims of human rights abuses under apartheid therefore filed legal complaints against those corporations for apartheid reparations.

Today, we call on the corporations to respect the rule of international human rights law by making a commitment to reparations for the victims of apartheid.

Reparations must include individual compensation for the victims of severe human rights violations and social programmes for the reconstruction and development of communities left impoverished by apartheid. In the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation, we reaffirm our commitment to the future of the victims of apartheid and demand transparency and accountability from private corporations that were complicit in apartheid.

For more information and comment please contact Jubilee South Africa
spokesperson Neville Gabriel at cell. +27 83 449 3934 or Jubilee South
Africa chairperson MP Giyose at cell. +27 82 350 0361.
Email: ljohnson@sacbc.org.za

Apartheid Debt and Reparations Campaign: Jubilee South Africa
Media Statement



Friday, March 21, 2003

Iraq Spinning out of control sent by Helen McLaughlin

My immediate concern about this war is about how it will affect civilians in Iraq. But I have a deep concern about the long term consequences of the US and UK going against the will of the UN. It has been bad enough to watch Tony Blair act as the palatable, smiling "reasonable" face of the monkey in the White House. It has been bad enough to watch them falling over themselves to start a war. But the thing that concerns me most of all is the way in which the US and UK have turned the blame for all of this on the UN itself for a failure of process. The UN has a process for agreeing military action, and all members of the Security Council agree that it is important for a veto option to be in place for permanent members, precisely to temper action in controversial situations. Indeed, the US has used the veto itself on at least 34 occasions (largely to block resolutions against Israel). I did not hear the US or UK declare this to be a failure of the UN process, but I am quite sure that on the contrary, the US welcomed the opportunity to block actions it could not support. Other members of the Security Council may well have been frustrated by the US veto on many occasions, but the process was upheld as one that they had all agreed to. Now, when France exercises its democratic right to veto, it is spun by the UK and US as a failure of the UN process. The spin says that because France threatened a veto, this forced them to take military action - surely the opposite is in fact the case - that a veto from a respected permanent member of the security council required them rather to back away from military action, and to seek alternative solutions. While France has its own case to answer for supplying weapons to Iraq along with US and UK in the past, this spin against France is entirely cynical. I have been dismayed and disgusted by the way this has been spun - the better Tony Blair & co get at spinning words around to suit their own ends the more certain I become that they are not to be trusted. It must equally dismay the Security Council to be told that Resolution 1441 constituted an approval for war, when the US ambassador, in order to cajole members into supporting the resolution, described it as having no "automaticity" or "trigger" for military action. Words are spoken, then the spin is applied with hindsight to render them lies at worst, meaningless at best. It is difficult to trust what you hear these days. The war on Iraq is wrong.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

Message of Hope for Victims

20 MARCH 2003

Contact person: Ike Tlholwe 011 403-4098 0834550444 (South Africa)

MESSAGE OF HOPE TO VICTIMS

We confirm and are in agreement with the theme of the inter-faith service planned for the 21st March at St Albans Cathedral in Pretoria .It is indeed a new beginning in the fight to keep hope alive .In the spirit which we believe the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act was conceived in ,we pledge our support to the process of payment of reparations to victims of gross human rights abuse that have thus far been identified. We agree with and commend the TRC commissioners on the work done in the compilation of the 22 000 case summaries and other parts of the volume prepared for handing over on the 21st March.

Victims their families and communities are urged to stay strong in the knowledge of the justness of their claims to payment . Whilst acknowledging the complexity of the process that the government is faced with we urge that inefficiencies be stripped out and only value-adding elements be given a place in an expedited process . We take this opportunity to pledge all logistical and information support to the process of the reparations part of the healing of the nation . We furthermore take the opportunity to announce that we are hard at work finalizing our database of victims throughout the length and breadth of the country , both identified by the TRC and those left out .The cases that we and partner organizations have lodged in the United States against corporations which aided and abetted the apartheid criminal exploitation are well underway.
Anti-war links, protests and websites about the invasion of Iraq click here

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Cardinal Napier Meets Foreign Minister in Switzerland


Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference
Media Release

19 March 2003

Cardinal Napier Meets Foreign Minister in Switzerland

The President of the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference (SACBC), Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, today met with the Swiss Foreign Minister, Ms Calmy-Rey, in Berne, Switzerland. The meeting addressed the current social, political, and economic situation in South Africa, including the campaign for apartheid debt cancellation and reparations from Swiss banks and businesses.

Cardinal Napier is currently on a two-week visit to Switzerland at the invitation of the Catholic Church development agency Fastenopfer for the annual Swiss Lenten Campaign organised by the Swiss churches.

The Cardinal will:

  • Address several church and public gatherings;
  • Meet civil society and government development agencies such as Fastenopfer, Swiss Inter-Church Aid, Bread for All, the Swiss Coalition of NGOs, the official Swiss Development Cooperation agency, and others;
  • Meet members of the Swiss parliament;
  • Meet church leaders from the Swiss Catholic Bishops'
  • Conference and other churches, and church structures such as Justice & Peace;
  • Meet government representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the State Secretariat for Foreign Economic Affairs; and
  • Give several media interviews.

The Cardinal returns to South Africa on March 26th.

For more information please contact Rev Efrem Tresoldi, SACBC Information
Officer, or Neville Gabriel, at tel. +27 (0)12 323 6458.
Liz Johnstone
Coordinator Apartheid Debt and Reparations Task Team
Jubilee South Africa
Email: ljohnson@sacbc.org.za

Monday, March 17, 2003

Cape caves in on South African asbestos case

British company Cape plc, has today agreed to a compensation settlement of £7.5 million for the 7,500 South Africans whose lives have been devastated by Cape's asbestos operations. I have posted the press release below.

Cape caves in on South African asbestos case

Press Release

13 March 2003 British company Cape plc, has today agreed to a compensation settlement of £7.5 million for the 7,500 South Africans whose lives have been devastated by Cape's asbestos operations. For the past six years since 1997, Cape has used every legal and political tactic to deny justice for the claimants. Hopes were raised when an out-of-court settlement of £21 million was agreed in December 2001, but Cape failed to abide by it. Today's settlement, which will be paid in one instalment, has been made in conjunction with another settlement by Gencor Ltd, a South African company which took over many of Cape's operations when it left the country in 1979. As part of the larger settlement, Gencor will pay an additional £3.21million to the Cape claimants who were also exposed to Gencor's operations.

Communities in Northern Cape and Limpopo provinces are likely to greet this latest announcement with a mixture of anger and relief - anger that so many have died before seeing justice and relief that families may finally see some compensation for the legacy of death and disease left by asbestos mining during apartheid. Cecil Skeffers of community group Concerned People Against Asbestos (CPAA) said, "while we can't forget the effects Cape's operations have had on thousands of people, we are delighted that Cape have finally made a settlement. We hope this will be an example to other multinational companies who practice in similar ways." Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA), which has led the public campaign in Britain to hold Cape to account hopes that this time the settlement will be more than in name only. Aditi Sharma, ACTSA's Head of Campaigns, said, "Cape has fought a long and petty battle while hundreds of South African claimants have died. Since the last agreement of December 2001 alone, more than 200 claimants have died. Nothing can ever compensate for this loss. However we welcome the settlement as it now gives some families a chance to invest in their children's future."

Ngoako Ramathlodi, Premier of Limpopo province, said today, "once the money is divided amongst the claimants, it will amount to next to nothing. But we shall settle in acknowledgement that Cape has paid up and acknowledged its wrong doings. I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all those in the UK who have stood alongside our struggle and hope that this solidarity and support will continue in the many similar cases involving underprivileged people across the world." The struggle for the 7,500 claimants may now be over, but justice remains elusive for any future claimants as the settlement does not allow for compensating beyond those already registered in the case. Another critical factor is that the settlement includes no provision for rehabilitating and clearing the asbestos dumps still surrounding many communities in South Africa. Aditi Sharma said, "the Truth and Reconciliation Commission identified the mining industry as central to apartheid's continuation. Multinational companies like Cape should be ashamed that they still deny their responsibility to make reparations to devastated communities.

While this settlement is welcome, children in the Northern Cape and Limpopo have no alternative but to continue to play in asbestos dust in years to come." Despite the known dangers, Cape mined and milled asbestos in South Africa's Northern Cape and Limpopo provinces for over 90 years until 1979, leaving behind a legacy of disease and pollution. Cape's South African workers were exposed to 30 times the British legal limit of asbestos dust without adequate protection.

For further information, please contact: Aditi Sharma + 44 20 7833 3133 + 44 7810 810793 Clare Riches + 44 20 7833 3133 + 44 7909 787288 www.actsa.org

Notes to Editors:

1. The Cape settlement agreed in 2001 was intended to be paid through a trust fund where £11 million would have been allocated within the first 6 months and a further £10 million over the next ten years. The amount that was envisaged would be paid to the existing 7,500 claimants, was approximately £9 million. 2. According to Cape, the settlement made in December 2001 was not met because of delays in financial restructuring necessary to raise the funds and a refusal of its banks, namely Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland, to extend their credit to the company. 3. Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) campaigns for peace, democracy and development in Southern Africa and is the successor to the Anti-Apartheid Movement. Thousands of ACTSA supporters and a number of trade unions have lobbied Cape, its shareholders and its banks to urge Cape to settle.

Aditi Sharma Head of Campaigns and Communications Action for Southern Africa 28 Penton Street London N1 9SA tel: +44 20 7833 3133 fax: +44 20 7 837 3001 email: aditi.sharma@actsa.org www.actsa.org Any views presented are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of ACTSA unless otherwise stated.

Sunday, March 16, 2003

God is a fish

Thought I would post the first few lines of the article you just recommended as it may get some people to read it, as it is by far one of the strangest I have ever read. Could it be true? An attempt to slander a sect of people? A happy coincidence, or miracle? Or simply a talking carp? Then again, if asked if I would put my faith in George Bush or a talking fish...I think the answer is pretty obvious really....

"An obscure Jewish sect in New York has been gripped in awe by what it believes to be a mystical visitation by a 20lb carp that was heard shouting in Hebrew, in what many Jews worldwide are hailing as a modern miracle. Many of the 7,000-member Skver sect of Hasidim in New Square, 30 miles north of Manhattan, believe God has revealed himself in fish form." For more click here.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

South African TRC Final Report

Apparently, the South Africa TRC Report will be handed over to the President on the 21st March 2003, at St Albans Cathedral Church in Pretoria, at 10.00 am.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Final Report

South African Parliament 27 February 2003 13:16

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission's final report is expected to be handed to President Thabo Mbeki next month and will be immediately tabled in Parliament, National Assembly Speaker Dr Frene Ginwala said on Thursday.

The report was due to have been handed over last year, but was delayed after court action by the Inkatha Freedom Party. An out of court settlement was reached earlier this year, which will see the IFP disputing some of the TRC's findings and stating its case in a separate annexure.

Ginwala told the National Assembly's programme committee that Mbeki had indicated he would be available on April 15 and 16 for parliamentary business and that a debate on the TRC report should be provisionally scheduled for then.

Last week, Justice Minister Penuell Maduna said the issue of those who had failed to apply for amnesty from the TRC would have to be confronted soon and that parties should deal it during the debate on the report.

The government has also said it is unable to move on reparations for victims of gross human rights abuses until the report is tabled and debated. The Institute for Justice and Reconciliation on Wednesday criticised Finance Minister Trevor Manuel for failing to make provision for reparations in his 2003 Budget.

"It is deeply disappointing that there is no relief in sight to ease painful memories. We expected this budget to bring closure to this matter," the Institute said in a statement.

"Instead it reinforces a sense of inadequate acknowledgement of those that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) declared to be victims of gross human rights violations." Late last year, the government reported it had made reparation payments of R50-million to 18 000 people for harm they suffered under apartheid, as an interim measure in line with recommendations by the TRC. - Sapa

Sunday, March 2, 2003

A global movement of poets

Poets Against the War is a global movement of poets that erupted in February, 2003, to protest the invasion of Iraq by the Bush administration. Within a few weeks, the movement ballooned into an international phenomenon, with over 13,000 poets submitting their poetry to the web site to protest the war.