The Guardian 13 July, 2005

Global briefs

GUATEMALA: The office of the Union of Education Workers of Guatemala (STEG) was raided on the last weekend in June, the Campaign for Labor Rights (CLR) said. The intruders painted red crosses presumed to symbolise death on the walls, desks and union posters. A computer was stolen and two other computers were destroyed along with files and papers. STEG has been under increasing intimidation since the start of the year, CLR said, especially since March when the union joined with other groups to demonstrate against the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). STEG is also involved in protests against privatisation of public resources and against government human rights abuses.


JAPAN: Mayors of cities in Hiroshima Prefecture are demanding that the Japanese government not accept the planned relocation near Hiroshima of a US carrier-borne air unit and its night landing practices, the Japanese Communist Party's newspaper Akahata reports. The mayors sent a letter on June 21 to the foreign minister and defence agency director-general through the Hiroshima prefectural government. Their message warned that the US Marine Corps Iwakuni Air Station, site of the planned relocation, is close to Miyajima, one of Japan's "three most beautiful spots" and a designated World Heritage site. The mayors said the proposed new runway and other new facilities for the carrier-based unit "will cause immeasurable damage to this region".


IRAQ: The Iraqi Committee for a Democratic Constitution (ICDC) was inaugurated in London on June 4 to encourage active participation by all Iraqi democrats living in Iraq and abroad, of all tendencies and affiliations, in writing the permanent constitution in Iraq. ICDC coordinator Salam Ali said the committee will build support for democratic principles, including establishing a democratic, parliamentary and federal republic, ensuring political pluralism and peaceful transfer of power. ICDC is also pressing for separation of state and religion, respect for the Islamic identity of most Iraqis and for the rights of other religions. It promotes equality of women and men and seeks to ban discrimination on the basis of belief, race, gender, ethnic or religious affiliation.


AFRICA: No development strategy for Africa can succeed unless it emphasises radical proposals to combat HIV/AIDS, now affecting over 35 percent of industrial workers in some countries such as Lesotho. This warning came from the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers' Federation (ITGLWF) in advance of the G8 summit. In a letter to G8 host and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, federation head Neil Kearney said the future of the textile and clothing industry the only source of industrial employment in many African countries is threatened by the alarming rise in infection and death rates from HIV/AIDS. "If our aim is to ensure decent living and working conditions, we must first ensure that workers stay alive", Kearney said.

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