|Year 2002 No. 69, April 11, 2002||ARCHIVE||HOME||SEARCH||SUBSCRIBE|
Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :
Daily On Line Newspaper of the
Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)
170, Wandsworth Road, London, SW8 2LA. Phone 020 7627 0599
Web Site: http://www.rcpbml.org.uk
Subscription Rates (Cheques made payable to Workers' Publication Centre):
Workers' Weekly Printed Edition:
70p per issue, £2.70 for 4 issues, £17 for 26 issues, £32 for 52 issues (including postage)
Workers' Daily Internet Edition sent by e-mail daily (Text e-mail):
1 issue free, 6 months £5, Yearly £10
In the face of outright Israeli defiance against world opinion, the European Union on April 8 first broached the possibility of applying economic sanctions against Tel Aviv if its attacks against the Palestinian Authority continue.
Spain is the present EU president, and Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Pique said on Monday that the outcome would influence whether or not he convened a special session of the 15-nation bloc's association council with Israel. Spain said it might convene an urgent meeting to discuss suspending the association pact that gives Israel preferential trade terms, and members of the European Parliament stepped up calls for sanctions.
European ministers had already discussed sanctions last week. The EU is especially upset at the waste of money donated to the new Palestinian autonomous areas for improved infrastructure. A new airstrip in Gaza, for instance, has been destroyed by Israeli troops.
On Tuesday, the EU dismissed Israel's partial withdrawal from Palestinian areas as "not at all enough" (echoing George W Bushs "enough is enough") and demanded an immediate cease-fire to keep the Middle East peace process alive. With patience wearing thin within the EU over Israel's military offensive in the West Bank, momentum appeared to be gathering for at least a debate on whether to impose trade sanctions on Israel. The Israeli army pulled out of two West Bank cities on Tuesday, but raided another village and kept a tight grip on other Palestinian-ruled areas it has occupied since a suicide bomber killed 27 people in Israel two weeks ago.
"This is not what the international community has required," said a senior EU diplomat, who asked not to be named. "The international community has sought a full withdrawal and a cease-fire immediately. Immediately means immediately. This is only the beginning, it is not at all enough."
On Wednesday, April 10, the EU parliament adopted a resolution calling for the immediate implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions 1397, 1402 and 1403, which call for the withdrawal of the Israeli army from the Palestinian territories, including Ramallah. The resolution also called on the EU Council to institute an arms embargo on Israel and Palestine and on the Commission and Council to suspend the EU-Israel Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement, which allows Israel products preferential access to the EU market.
US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, in Madrid for a meeting with Kofi Annan, the Spanish and Russian foreign ministers and the EU foreign and security representative, Javier Solana, rejected the call for measures to be taken against Israel.
The EU has traditionally played second fiddle to the United States in Middle East diplomacy, partly because of its own divisions and partly because Israel sees it as pro-Palestinian. Last week Israel barred Solana and Pique from meeting Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, who is under siege by Israeli troops at his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
More than 1.5 million Palestinians are confined to their homes by a round the clock curfew imposed by the Israeli army in the West Bank. Over 200 Palestinians and 11 Israelis have been killed since Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ordered his troops to invade Palestinian cities across the West Bank. Fighting is especially fierce in the city of Nablus.
Critics in Europe say that Sharon is openly defying the entire world with his brute force tactics, laying the ground for more suicide attacks in a never ending cycle of violence.
Saturday 13th April
Assemble Hyde Park Corner 1pm
March to Trafalgar Sq.
Speakers: Jeremy Corbyn MP + Others
London : 07958329879; Scotland : 07773371148; North :
Midlands : 07976649356
Called by Muslim Association of Britain and supported by Stop the War Coalition, Campaign for Palestinian Rights, and a diverse range of many more organisations.
College of Further Education, Oxpens Road, Oxford
9.30am 7.30 pm. There is a registration fee.
Organised by Oxford Stop the War Coalition
Assemble 1pm Trafalgar Square
National Palestinian Solidarity Campaign Demonstration
March and Rally, 12 noon Hyde Park, Rally in Trafalgar Square
This briefing was written by Glen Rangwala for Labour Against the War, PO Box 2378, London E5 9QU.
The UK and US governments argue that military action against Iraq would be a justifiable response to the threat from Iraqs weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) nuclear, chemical, biological weapons, and the means of their delivery by long and medium range missiles. "Iraq poses a threat to the world because of its manufacture and development of weapons of mass destruction, which we know from some of the work of the inspectors." (Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, interview with David Frost, 24 March 2002).
However, a threat exists only when there is a confluence of intentions with capabilities. The US and UK have not demonstrated that the Iraqi regime has an intention to use WMDs either against neighbouring states or in covert attacks on Western targets. This briefing examines the evidence for Iraqi capabilities to launch attacks using WMDs. It finds that there is little evidence to suggest that Iraq retains extensive WMD capacities. Furthermore, US and UK policy towards Iraq since the Gulf War has not been driven by arms control, suggesting that these governments have not perceived Iraq to be threatening regional or international security through an accumulation of non-conventional weapons.
Under Saddam Husseins rule, and in the context of Western support, an extensive range of chemical weapons was used from at least 1983 in the Iraqi assault on Iran. Both during and immediately after that war, Iraq also used large quantities of chemical weapons on Kurdish areas of northern Iraq in a systematic attempt to punish and decimate their population due to the long-term Kurdish campaign for independence. As part of the cease-fire conditions to conclude the Gulf War (1990-91), the United Nations Security Council established a weapons inspectorate, UNSCOM, through Resolution 687 (3 April 1991). Together with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), UNSCOM was charged with overseeing the destruction of Iraqs non-conventional weapons.
In May 1991, the Iraqi foreign ministry agreed to grant unimpeded access to all sites and facilities in Iraq to UNSCOM and the IAEA. It eventually agreed to long-term monitoring of its facilities in November 1993, in accordance with Security Council Resolution 715, which gave UNSCOM and the IAEA unprecedented freedom of inspections. Video cameras and chemical and temperature sensors were installed at over 250 sensitive sites in Iraq from 1994. Despite Iraqs agreement to comply with these resolutions, it failed to co-operate fully with the weapons inspections bodies. In particular, it concealed the extent of its past production of biological weapons components, objected to overflights by U-2 surveillance planes hired from the US, only intermittently permitted inspections to so-called "presidential sites", and obstructed inspection teams dominated by US nationals from entering military sites.
Nevertheless, UNSCOM recorded how there was compliance with most of its work for over seven years of intrusive inspections. As a result, UNSCOMs executive chairman Rolf Ekeus reported to the Security Council on 11 April 1997 that "not much is unknown about Iraqs retained proscribed weapons capabilities" (para.46). The long-term monitoring of Iraqi sites was largely unobstructed: "Iraq has sustained a good level of co-operation in the operation of the monitoring system" (report by UNSCOMs executive chairman, 11 October 1996, para.61. Similar statements were made in subsequent reports). In its October 1997 report, UNSCOM stated that "the majority of [weapons] inspections were conducted in Iraq without let or hindrance" (Annex I, para.33). Even up to its final inspection report on 15 December 1998, UNSCOM was recording how "the majority of the inspections of facilities and sites under the ongoing monitoring system were carried out with Iraqs co-operation". Non-cooperation was recorded in only five out of 427 inspections in the round before inspectors were withdrawn on the request of the US; those five instances resulted in minor delays, not refusals. Nevertheless, this report was taken by the US and UK as a justification to launch the "Desert Fox" bombing campaign against Iraq later that month.
In the period between 1991 and 1998, the evidence provided by UNSCOM is not of Iraqi development of WMD but of the destruction of these weapons. This is demonstrated by the extent of the disarmament of Iraqi facilities.
All medium and long range missiles and missile production facilities were destroyed by UNSCOM between September 1991 and June 1992. Inspectors certified in October 1997 that they had proof that 817 out of the 819 Iraqi missiles of a range longer than 150km were destroyed (para.7). Iraq, UNSCOM recorded, had no missile launchers, either imported or indigenously produced. The Panel on Disarmament, established by the Security Council to review the extent and future of the Iraqi disarmament process, reported in March 1999 that "UNSCOM has also concluded that Iraq does not possess a capability to indigenously produce" either long range missiles or the so-called "Supergun" (para.17). There have been claims that Iraq has converted lorries into missile launchers since 1999. However, at issue are only short-range rocket systems which Iraq is not prohibited by the Security Council from developing (interview with Scott Ritter, The Observer, 17/03/02).
Iraqs nuclear facilities were fully accounted for. After rigorous inspection, the IAEA reported to the Security Council on 13 April 1998 that Iraq had compiled a "full, final and complete" account of its previous nuclear projects, and there was no indication of any prohibited activity. After the US insisted that the intrusive inspections regime be continued, the IAEA repeated this conclusion in its report of 4 July 1998, and stated in December 1998 to the Security Council that Iraqs nuclear weapon programme had been eliminated, "efficiently and effectively", with Iraqi co-operation. The Security Council Panel on Disarmament itself reported in March 1999 that "there is no indication that Iraq possesses nuclear weapons or any meaningful amounts of weapon-usable nuclear material or that Iraq has retained any practical capability (facilities or hardware) for the production of such material". Iraq continues to allow IAEA inspectors into Iraq to check its facilities: the IAEA reported that its most recent inspection in January 2002 was carried out with full Iraqi compliance. It is difficult to see how the widely-repeated claim made by Foreign Office minister Ben Bradshaw that Iraq could "develop a nuclear weapon within five years" has any basis given the accounting of Iraqs past attempts to produce fissile material and the ongoing IAEA monitoring.
3. BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS [BWs]
UNSCOM recorded its destruction of al-Hakam, Iraqs main biological weapons facility, in May-June 1996. The Security Councils panel recorded in March 1999 that "the declared facilities of Iraqs BW programme have been destroyed and rendered harmless" (para.23). Iraq had concealed the extent of its past development of its biological weapons capabilities until the defection of Husayn Kamil Hassan, the former director of Iraqs Military Industrialisation Establishment, in August 1995. However, weapons inspectors were unable to find any evidence that Iraq had revived a programme to produce biological weapons. Scott Ritter, who headed UNSCOMs unit charged with uncovering Iraqs attempts at concealing its WMD facilities, wrote in Arms Control Today (June 2000) that, "in all of their inspections, the monitors could find no meaningful evidence of Iraqi circumvention of its commitment not to reconstitute its BW program". Furthermore, Ritter has maintained that Iraq has never been able to develop an effective dispensing mechanism for biological weapons, which would be necessary for their use in an offensive capacity.
4. CHEMICAL WEAPONS [CWs]
By June 1992, UNSCOMs chemical destruction group had supervised the destruction of Iraqs stocks of mustard and nerve agents, precursor chemicals, loaded munitions and rockets containing sarin nerve gas. On 15 October 1993, Rolf Ekeus, Executive Chairman of UNSCOM from 1991 to 1997, reported to the Security Council that substantial progress had been made in dismantling Iraqs chemical programmes. Ritter has reported that both he and Ekeus were convinced that the disarmament of Iraqs chemical weapons was almost complete by early 1995.
UK government ministers have frequently cited the final substantive reports delivered by UNSCOM on 25 January 1999 to back up their claim of Iraqs retention of chemical weapons. The reports recurring phrase was that Iraqs claims to no longer possess quantities of CWs (and, to a lesser extent, BWs) that it is known to have produced prior to 1990 "cannot be verified". However, it would be mistaken to take this as evidence that Iraq has retained stocks of chemical weapons. Iraq refused to provide UNSCOM with details of its past use of CWs against Iran during the war of those two countries (1980-88), due to the political ramifications of releasing this information. As a result, a large quantity of the CWs produced by Iraq in the 1980s and unaccounted for by UNSCOM would have been used against Iranian civilians and armed forces. Even if some of these items were retained by Iraq, they could no longer be used by Iraq as the chemical agents would have long deteriorated (UNSCOM internal papers of January 1998, cited by Ritter in Arms Control Today article, at n.5). Given this track record, it is no surprise that many of the weapons inspectors, when candid, have recorded the extensive disarmament of Iraq. Reviewing the nine years of Iraqi disarmament, Rolf Ekeus stated in a presentation at Harvard University on 23 May 2000 that "in all areas we have eliminated Iraqs [WMD] capabilities fundamentally". Scott Ritter wrote in Arms Control Today (June 2000) that: "it was possible as early as 1997 to determine that, from a qualitative standpoint, Iraq had been disarmed. Iraq no longer possessed any meaningful quantities of chemical or biological agent, if it possessed any at all, and the industrial means to produce these agents had either been eliminated or were subject to stringent monitoring. The same was true of Iraqs nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities."
One of the most surprising aspects of UNSCOMs work was not Iraqi obstruction but precisely its willingness to allow inspectors to destroy Iraqi facilities. Iraq has remained under frequent bombardment since 1991, in particular in the "no-fly zones" declared by the US and UK. US administrations have repeatedly and not just after September 11 proclaimed their intention to overthrow the Iraqi regime, and have frequently indicated that economic sanctions will not be terminated even if the weapons inspectors declare that Iraq is fully disarmed. US Secretary of State Warren Christopher, writing in the New York Times on 29 April 1994, stated that "The US does not believe that Iraqs compliance [with its disarmament obligations] is enough to justify lifting the embargo". His successor, Madeleine Albright, made the same declaration in a major policy speech at Georgetown University on 26 March 1997. Through such measures, the Iraqi leadership was deprived of any incentive to comply with the weapons inspectorate.
Not only have US administrations removed the incentives for compliance, but they have also demonstrated to the Iraqi regime that it risks its own survival by co-operating with the inspectorate. The US made repeated attempts to use UNSCOM in order to further the goal of toppling the Iraqi regime. Examples of this process include:
The US repeatedly blocked any acknowledgement by the Security Council of compliance by Iraq with UNSCOM and the IAEA. Examples include the proposal of Russia, China and France in March 1993, after Iraq permitted the inspection of a number of sensitive sites, of an acknowledgement in a Presidential statement; the attempts by the Russian ambassador throughout 1994 to tie continued co-operation with a gradual lifting of the oil embargo; and the proposal of Russia to move IAEA inspections from an intrusive inspections system to long-term monitoring once the IAEA had declared in April 1998 that its disarmament mission in Iraq had been completed successfully. By systematically refusing any acknowledgement of Iraqi disarmament, the US left Iraq with the impression that it would veto any moves to end the sanctions regime however extensively Iraq complied, thus discouraging its continuation.
The US deliberately attempted to make the UNSCOM report of 15 December 1998 highly critical in its tone, to serve as a causus belli. As the Washington Post reported on 16 December 1998, Clinton administration officials played "a direct role in shaping [UNSCOM executive chairman] Butlers texts during multiple conversations with him". The report served as the US pretext to attack Iraq in Operation "Desert Fox". The US ambassador to the UN also advised Richard Butler to withdraw staff from Iraq in December 1998 so that the US and UK could bomb (recounted in Butlers book, Saddam Defiant, p.210). This was done even though Iraq had co-operated with the majority of inspections, and that it was apparent that the Iraqi regime would not allow UNSCOM to return if they were withdrawn.
The US ensured that Iraq was left with numerous reasons to avoid co-operation with UNSCOM. If US policy really has been driven by the need to disarm Iraq of WMDs, then it has been irrational. Their response to incomplete but extensive compliance has been to label it as non-compliance, bomb Iraq and use the weapons inspectorate as a facility to overthrow the Iraqi leader. In this way, the Iraqi regime was taught that co-operation with the weapons inspectors could well lead to its own demise. Furthermore, the implication is that the US placed a low priority on assessing and countering Iraqs potential possession of WMDs whilst the UNSCOM inspectors were there. This reflects the low level of the threat that was actually perceived by the US of Iraqs nuclear, chemical or biological capabilities.
No evidence at all has surfaced of Iraqs attempts to rebuild WMDs since the withdrawal of inspectors in December 1998. This point is reaffirmed in the latest briefing to the US Congress from the Congressional Research Service ("Iraq: Compliance, Sanctions, and U.S. Policy", 29 November 2001, p.6/CRS-3): "U.S. reports since 1999 note that [..] there is no hard evidence that Iraq is reconstituting banned WMD programs".
If there are concerns over Iraqs WMD capabilities and intentions, the crucial obstacle to resolving them is a US policy that prioritises changing the leader over arms control. It remains unclear what has transpired in Iraq since the last inspectors were withdrawn in 1998. But the clearest way to re-establish an ongoing weapons monitoring system is for the US to drop the leadership change agenda; for the partial lifting of sanctions as a reward for Iraqi compliance thus far; and for mapping a clear path to their full lifting, which the Security Council has so far failed to provide.
An article by Eric S Margolis with the above title appeared in the Dawn Wire Service (DWS), issue 08/14, week ending April 6, 2002, having appeared in the Pakistan English-language newspaper, the daily Dawn, on April 4.
In the article, Eric S Margolis writes: "The sun long ago set on the British Empire. Today, its heir and successor, the American Imperium, is at a high noon of wealth and power. Even so, Britain's PM Tony Blair appears determined to cling to at least a token of the imperial era when the small, rainy island in the North Sea ruled a full quarter of the globe."
The author claims that Tony Blair continues to accentuate Britain's post-colonial role as Washington's most loyal and accommodating ally. He writes that playing moon to the American sun means keeping the EU at arm's length, and joining in US wars against Iraq and Afghanistan. While Britain's health system crumbles and its Victorian railroads pose a growing public danger, Eric Margolis writes, the Labour government still finds money to bomb Iraq and, most lately, to dispatch 1,700 Royal Marines to enforce Washington's writ in Afghanistan.
The author continues: "Recently the British government claimed an Al-Qaida biological weapons laboratory, complete with anthrax spores, had been discovered in Afghanistan. This allegation turned out to be fake, but it was used to justify sending more soldiers to the war in Afghanistan.
"That nation's exiled king, Zahir Shah, who is due to shortly be restored to the throne by Washington, recently described the US war as 'stupid and useless'. But Blair evidently does not think so. By raising the British ante in the Great Game of Caspian Oil, London hopes to join the US in exploiting the mineral riches of Central Asia."
Eric Margolis refers to an outrageous piece of British hypocrisy, saying: "Tony Blair says he plans to join George W Bush's proposed crusade against Iraq because wicked Saddam Hussein may possess forbidden chemical and biological weapons. Washington and London insist Iraq must be invaded and Saddam destroyed because he might use bio-warfare weapons at some later date.
"And from where did the Butcher of Baghdad get these chemical and biological weapons? From Her Majesty's government. In 1990, on assignment in Baghdad, I discovered a group of British chemical technicians who told me and showed me documents that they had been employed until a few weeks earlier at Iraq's top secret Salman Pak laboratories developing or researching germ warfare weapons: anthrax, botulism, Q-fever, and tularaemia.
"The British technicians said they had been secretly seconded to Iraq by British intelligence, MI6, and the ministry of defence with the objective of producing biological weapons for use by the Iraqi army against Iran. Iraq invaded Iran in 1980, waging a bloody, eight-year war. Iraq's germ warfare feeder stocks came, with full US government approval, from an American laboratory in Maryland. German firms supplied equipment and training for Iraq's chemical weapons manufacturing, in the full knowledge of the US, British, and German governments.
"Iraq's war of aggression against Iran was encouraged and funded by the US as well as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the Gulf Emirates. Iraq was covertly supplied huge quantities of arms thanks to the US support. Israel, while publicly denouncing Iran as a 'terrorist state' and 'enemy of the Jewish people', secretly sold Iran US $5 billion of American arms and spare parts."
The author concludes: "Saudi Arabia helped finance Iraq's secret nuclear research programme, hoping to produce a nuclear weapon for the Arabs to counter the threat of Israel's large nuclear arsenal. Iraq bartered oil to South Africa in exchange for South African artillery, uranium, and nuclear weapons technology technology South Africa had acquired from Israel in exchange for semi-processed uranium ore."
Thursday, April 4, 2002
The Palestinian Women against Occupation is a coalition of Palestinian women and Palestinian Feminist & Women's Organisations against the Israeli Occupation of 1967 Palestinian Territories.
We, Palestinian-Arab Feminist and Women's Organisations and Palestinian activists inside the Green Line express our anger and resistance to the current tragedy befalling the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territories of 1967.
We salute our people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, women, men and children. We salute the women of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, who have contributed silently and loudly, openly and privately against Occupation. We salute the women and girl-childs who have been, or are still in jail. We salute those who have become sole-providers for their households while their husbands, brothers and fathers have been maimed, jailed or killed in their struggle against Occupation. We salute all Palestinian women for giving their lived lives and their deaths for Palestine. We look to the day that they are free, equal citizens in a Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital. We look to the day that each refugee shall be able to return to their homes, their rightful places.
Israeli Troops have strengthened their illegal presence en masse in the Occupied Palestine Territories, forcing a complete curfew and cutting off electricity and water, indiscriminately shooting (and killing) those daring to leave their homes. Ramallah, other Palestinian cities and their surrounding areas are suffering from a severe shortage of food and water. The sick and wounded cannot obtain treatment or medicines. Israeli Occupying Troops are not allowing medical relief organisations to rescue the wounded and sick, nor are emergency food and water conveys given passage into the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Killing and widespread destruction of public infrastructure have already taken place. Foreign press and internationals currently in Ramallah and Bethlehem cannot accurately report this situation. They too are targets of the Israel's Occupying Troops indiscriminate fire.
Israeli Occupying Troops have encircled and trapped the elected President of the Palestinian Authority and symbol of the Palestinian people, President Yasser Arafat in his house.
These actions have taken place immediately after the Arab Summits peace proposal. The Israeli Government has clearly extended its hand out in war in response to the Arab Summit's peace proposal. Ariel Sharon's latest bloody actions are more in line with colonising the Occupied Palestinian Territories for Jewish settlers rather than attaining peace.
We, Palestinian feminists inside the Green Line, refuse to stay silent as Israel is given full reign in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. As the Israeli government enforces a virtual media blackout, and the US administration gives open and tacit support for Israel's bloody occupation, we fear the real possibility of massacres. The bloody hands of Ariel Sharon have only been encouraged into more deadly actions through America's shameful, partisan stance in this conflict, which heeds neither fact, reason nor conscience.
As the brutal occupation of our people and Palestinian lands continues, we search for voices of critical feminist dissent.
Our sense of reason tells us that than an oppressor's war does not bring peace, even if this war is clothed in the shabby defence of "pro-active security". Killing civilians, denying them their basic human rights, including the right to clean water and food, denying them a livelihood or a state does not create peace. On the contrary, denying the very humanity, histories, and dignity of Palestinians creates the seeds of resistance and liberation, and thus it shall remain.
The essence of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the source of its solution is clear to all those still listening to the voice of reason: an end to the Occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip; a free, independent State with East Jerusalem as its capital; the right of return for all refugees to their homes.
The International community must break its silence. It must do more than offer Palestinians UN resolutions, which the International community has no intention to implement. We call upon the International community, represented through their Embassies in Israel to undertake their moral and legal obligations, to take effective and immediate measures to protect the rights and lives of Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
We demand that the International Community act to:
* Demand (and ensure the implementation of) an immediate Israeli withdrawal from the Occupied Palestinian Territories of 1967;
* Call (and ensure the implementation of) an immediate halt to belligerent Israeli actions in the Occupied 1967 Palestinian territories in contradiction to the basic Human Rights afforded to each human being, International Law (specifically the Fourth Geneva Convention) and UN resolutions pertaining to the Middle East conflict. Much of Israel's actions within the 1967 Palestinian territories are clearly illegal and are considered war crimes;
* Building on the small unofficial European presence within the OPT, immediately send to the region international monitors and observers to prevent more war crimes and to record those which have taken place;
* Immediately withdraw financial support for Israel, including aid and preferential trade access, pending a complete and permanent withdrawal from the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
We shall not stay quiet as the Israeli government targets an entire civilian population and perpetuates the Occupation.
Al Zahraa, Arab women organisation, Sakhnin Assiwar, Haifa, Kayan Feminist Organisation, Haifa Al-Wafa wal Amal Women's Organisation, Baka al-Gharbiya Women Against Violence, Nazareth Acre Women's Association & Pedagogical Centre, Acre Ara wa 'Ar'ara Women's Association, Ara wa 'Ar'ara Women Organisation for Change, Nazareth Laqiya Bedouin Women's Organisation, the Naqab
Tens of thousands of people workers, parents, immigrants, youth and students gathered in the centre of Athens, at the Constitution Square, on Wednesday, April 10, to participate in a solidarity concert in support of the Palestinian people and against imperialism.
The concert was organised by numerous mass organisations, the peace movement and trade unions, and supported by all political youth organisations of Greece. "Solidarity to the Palestinian People the new order will not pass", "Terrorists are NATO and US and not the people", "Bush Sharon, Murderers", "A front against monopolies and imperialism, freedom for Palestine", "Americans Brussels, murderers of the people", were only some of the banners the protesters held.
More than 20 of the most famous Greek singers sang songs of truth, peace and resistance, while actors read poems between the songs.
Mikis Theodorakis was also present, and he read a solidarity message, which was a sharp accusation of the warmonger imperialists and an appeal to "stop them now, before it is too late".
Messages of solidarity were also given by the president of the General Confederation of Greek Workers, by the mayor of Kesariani, G. Katimertzis, the rector of the National Polytechnic Institute, Th. Ksanthopoulos, and others. The ambassador of Palestine in Greece, Abdala Abdala, also took the stand and addressed the gathering.
Present at the solidarity rally was a large representation of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) with Aleka Papariga, general secretary of the party, and Harilaos Florakis the honorary president. Also present were representatives of PASOK and SYN, numerous representatives of PAME, the Greek Peace Committee, candidates for the forthcoming municipal election in Athens, and large numbers of people from mass and social movements.
In her statement to the journalists, the general secretary of the Central Committee of KKE stressed: "At this moment, the just cause of the Palestinian people is exclusively at the hands of the people. Only the people can impose a just solution of the Palestinian issue. Many arbiters and mediators appear lately, from New York to Brussels. I am afraid that all those coming from above are not interested in a real Palestinian State, but for an agreement even worse than that of Oslo. Thus, the optimism and the vindication of this martyr-like struggle will occur only through the intervention of the peoples. The people are the only force that can extend real and substantial pressure. In this sense, this concert sends such a message and I believe that the joining of the movement with the artists, that constitute part of the movement, is the best gesture at this very moment."
RCPB(ML) Home Page
Workers' Daily Internet Edition Index Page