[Hpn] Social Justice E-Zine #39

Kim or Ray Goforth goforth86@home.com
Tue, 14 Nov 2000 21:23:42 -0800


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"It is the responsibility of intellectuals to speak the truth
and expose lies." - Noam Chomsky


                       SOCIAL JUSTICE #39
                          November 14, 2000
                           Ray Goforth
                           Kim Goforth


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IN THIS ISSUE:

1)  TWO DAY MASS ACTION IN SWAZILAND

2)  UNITED STATES: NEW ERGONOMIC RULES WILL PREVENT
MILLIONS OF INJURIES

3)  FRESH EVIDENCE OF FORCED LABOR IN MYANMAR (BURMA)
SENT TO INTERNATIONAL LABOR ORGANIZATION

4)  HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH HONORS GLOBAL RIGHTS DEFENDERS

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  Welcome to the latest issue of SOCIAL JUSTICE E-ZINE.  The
name Social Justice encompasses the struggles of people
everywhere who work for gender equality, democratic government,
economic opportunity, intellectual freedom, environmental
protection, and human rights.
   Social Justice is an electronic magazine (e-zine) designed for
free distribution through the internet. SJ now reaches
approximately 10,000 e-mail recipients in eight dozen
countries.  Stories from SJ are then broadcast on radio stations
throughout the world.  Feel free to make copies and share with
friends (or enemies).  Think of this as a regular magazine without
the recycling.  If there's nothing you want to read in this issue,
just hit delete.
   Those wishing to be added to the subscription list (or
conversely, those who want off the list) should write to us at:

sjzine@netscape.net
http://members.tripod.com/~goforth/socialjustice.html

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TWO DAY MASS ACTION IN SWAZILAND

Brussels November 13 2000 (ICFTU OnLine): Mass action is taking place
today in Swaziland *, and will continue tomorrow, calling for an end to
the gross violation of human and trade union rights and the oppression
of the people. The two-day strike was launched at the initiative of the
Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU) along with several sectors
of civil society.

Already, it has been reported to the International Confederation of Free

Trade Unions (ICFTU) that three union leaders were arrested today. The
strike was outlawed by the regime on Sunday night and strikers were
warned of possible arrest if they went ahead with their action.
In a declaration adopted on November 5 - the Mpumalanga Declaration -,
the Swaziland Democratic Alliance (SDA), the SFTU, teachers'
associations, church organisations, students and various underground
political parties and civic groups, urged the government to respond
swiftly to a list of demands before November 9. As no indication of a
willingness to change or reform the present oligarchic state of affairs
was forthcoming, the SFTU** moved forward today, calling on all citizens

to take to the streets in this two-day mass action.

The Declaration was clear in its plea that unless a response was
forthcoming, massive protests would follow. The seven-page statement
denounces the continued existence of oppressive laws such as the 1998
Swazi Administration Order which legalises forced labour and servitude.
It also condemns the 1996 Decree No 2 which undemocratically appointed a

Constitutional Review Commission whose terms of references deny
participation of civil formations, prohibit political parties and ban
any political and free trade union activities (meetings, demonstrations,

right to organise, etc).

The SFTU, an affiliate of the ICFTU, along with the various groups in
civil society has been pressing the government for more than three years

to undertake rapid and concrete reforms. Many leaders from trade unions
and civic groups have since then been imprisoned, threatened and
tortured. Last Tuesday, November 7, the general secretary of the SFTU,
Jan Sithole, and his entire executive were detained for five hours by
the police, preventing them from handing over a petition to Prime
Minister Sibusiso Dlamini.

The ICFTU has welcomed the Declaration and expressed its full support to

its African regional organisation's (AFRO) call for the international
community to exert maximum pressure upon the Swazi government for a
quick and meaningful democratic change.

* Swaziland, with a population of one million, is sub-Saharan Africa's
last absolute monarchy. The country is ruled by King Mswati III (since
1986).

** The SFTU is composed of 21 affiliates and represents more than 81.000

workers.  For more information, please contact the ICFTU Press
Department
on +32 2224 0210

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UNITED STATES: NEW ERGONOMIC RULES WILL PREVENT
MILLION OF INJURIES

Millions of workers will be spared painful repetitive stress injuries
under
Occupational Safety & Health Administration's new ergonomic standard for

American workplaces. Issued Nov. 13 after a decade of efforts by the
business
community and anti-worker members of Congress to derail the rule, the
standard "is the most important worker safety action developed" in
OSHA's
history, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said.

OSHA estimates that some 1.8 million workers a year report such
work-related
musculoskeletal disorders as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis and back

injuries and more than 600,000 of those workers are forced to take time
off
from work to recover. The safety agency predicts that the new standard
will
prevent 4.6 million such injuries in the first 10 years.

"Workers in poultry plants, meat packing and auto assembly, along with
computer operators, nurses' aides, cashiers and others in high-risk
jobs, will
finally have much-needed protection," Sweeney said.

"Since the passage of OSHA in 1970, the job fatality rate has been cut
by 75
percent saving more than 220,000 lives," said AFL-CIO Safety and Health
Director Peg Seminario. "Job injury rates have been lowered by 39
percent.
This new standard will also help make jobs safer and lower injury rates
even
more."

Seminario discussed the standard during a press roundtable Nov. 13 that
included testimony from a chemical plant employee fired from her job
after she
suffered severe nerve damage from repeated lifting, reaching and
twisting and a
trade expert and writer at an Internet publishing company disabled from
intensive computer work.

Business groups have argued that no scientific evidence backs up the
need for
the new ergonomic standard-despite years of research and studies to the
contrary, including reports from the National Academy of Sciences,
National
Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and the dozens of hearings
with
hundreds of witnesses that OSHA conducted around the country this year.

"There's a tremendous amount of science...and it's very clear that some
simple
intervention would certainly help with prevention of musculoskeletal
injuries,"
said Dr. Laura Welch, director of Occupational and Environmental
Medicine at
Washington Hospital Center in Washington D.C.

But the battle over the ergonomic standard is not over, as business
groups and
their allies in Congress are expected to continue their efforts to kill
the worker
safety rules. Opponents of the new safety standard are expected to
continue
their fight to include a ban in the still-pending fiscal year 2001
appropriations
legislation that funds OSHA that would prevent the agency from spending
any
money on implementing the standard. They also may take their fight to
the
courts.

www.aflcio.org

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FRESH EVIDENCE OF FORCED LABOR IN MYANMAR (BURMA) SENT
TO INTERNATIONAL LABOR ORGANIZATION

Brussels November 14 2000 (ICFTU OnLine): At least 30 Burmese Army
officers, ranking from Lance Corporal to Brigadier General, have been
accused of imposing forced labour, murder, torture and rape by the
Brussels-based International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU).

Their names, and "many dozens more", appear in a 1000-pages dossier
finalised on the eve of an important meeting tomorrow in Geneva of the
International Labour Organisation's (ILO) Governing Body.

The fresh evidence reported by the ICFTU details thousands of incidents
where forced labour was imposed in road, bridge and railroad
construction, as well as in building, repairing and maintaining army
bases and camps.

The ICFTU report focuses on the period elapsed since June 2000, when the

ILO warned that it might call all its Member States, as well as
employers' and trade union organisations to review relations with Burma
and cease any contacts which might have the effect of abetting forced
labour. The phenomenon is "systematic and imposed on a wide scale
throughout the country", according to the 1998 report of an ILO
Commission of Inquiry with which the country's ruling military junta had

refused to co-operate at the time.

Among the most recent cases, the new ICFTU report describes how
villagers in the Win Ye area, in Burma's Karen State, were forced to
construct buildings for Light Infantry Battalion 343, under the orders
of a Captain Lin Oo on November 6. The report also contains a vivid
description of the murder of a forcibly recruited army porter, killed by

a lance corporal after he fell to the ground, exhausted and ill with
malaria, following three months of forced labour in combat zones near
the Burma-Thai border. His fellow porter and friend escaped from the
army column on November 10 to tell the story.

The dossier contained more than 580 cases of forced labour, representing

over 2,200 separate incidents like these. The ICFTU believes that its
submitted material may concern up to, or even more than 1 million
individuals.

More than 400 "forced labour orders" issued by army field commanders
have been examined by the ICFTU before its submission, along with 59
interviews of porters and other victims of forced labour imposed after
June 2000.

Statistical data, included in the ICFTU report, show that 80% of Burma
refugees or displaced persons presently living on Thai territory have
been imposed forced labour before they fled the country. Their number
amounts to 1,5 million, a 200% increase over 1999. Forced labour and
forced relocations ordered by the army are systemically given by
refugees as the main, if not exclusive reason, for leaving Burmese
territory.

Yesterday, the ICFTU reported that Burma's ruling State Peace &
Development Council (SPDC) did not provide the country's national media
with the text of new directives allegedly outlawing forced labour. "The
majority of the ethnic nationalities are illiterate" and " the ethnic
nationalities normally do not understand Burmese and also do not have
the habit of listening to the newspapers and radio broadcasts done in
Burmese", junta spokesman Lt. Col. Hla Min commented to a foreign
correspondent (Voice of America) also yesterday, November 13.

Last June, the ILO had given the SPDC (official name of the junta) until

30 November 2000 to eradicate forced labour in law and in practice or
face stern measures, which might include a call on all UN agencies to
review their relations with the country's government.

For more information, please contact the ICFTU Press Department on +32 2

224 0210 or +32.4.77.28.63.04 (GSM)

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HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH HONORS GLOBAL RIGHTS DEFENDERS

(New York, November 13, 2000) On Tuesday, November 14, Human
 Rights Watch will give its highest recognition to five leading human
 rights activists from around the world. Those chosen to be human
 rights "monitors" for the year 2000 have defended civilians in brutal
 wars in Chechnya and Sierra Leone, and worked to build civil
 society from the ground up in China, Jordan and India. Human
 Rights Watch works with these brave individuals as part of our
 defense of human rights in more than 70 countries around the
 world.

"Those we honor have shown great courage and dedication
to the cause of human rights," said Kenneth Roth, executive
director of Human Rights Watch. "They have worked
tirelessly - often in deadly environments -- to expose rights
abuses and to turn the international spotlight on their countries."

The 2000 Human Rights Watch Annual Dinners in New York and
Los Angeles will honor: a surgeon from Chechnya, a leading
human rights lawyer in Sierra Leone, activists working to end
so-called "honor crimes" in Jordan, an advocate for the
"Untouchables" in India and an Uighur businesswoman from
China, currently serving an eight-year prison term.

Human Rights Watch is a non-profit, international monitoring
group with headquarters in New York. It accepts no financial
support from any government.

The 2000 Human Rights Watch Honorees are:

 Dr. Khassan Baiev (Russia) -- A doctor and surgeon, Khassan Baiev
organized
a hospital in his village in Chechnya when war returned in late 1999. He
treated
both Chechens and Russians, at one point performing more than 60
amputations in 48 hours. In January, a Chechen warlord threatened to
 execute him for treating Russian soldiers. Days later, his home was
looted and
burned by Russian forces. In February, many of his patients were
executed by
Russian forces, and Khassan had to flee when Russian forces labeled him
a
terrorist doctor for treating Chechen commander Shamil Basaev.
 Khassan kept a careful diary of abuses in the war, and provided
detailed
information on war crimes in Chechnya to Human Rights Watch.

 Abdul Tejan-Cole (Sierra Leone) -- Mr. Tejan-Cole is a prominent human
rights lawyer in Sierra Leone, representing clients whose human rights
and civil
liberties have been violated. He is the human rights officer for Sierra
Leone's
Campaign for Good Governance and is also the coordinator of the
 Lawyers Committee for Human Rights in Sierra Leone, an organization
that
educates and advocates to promote fundamental human rights. Abdul's work

during the on-going civil war in Sierra Leone has been brave and
instrumental
in bringing the gross human rights violations and atrocities to the
world's
 attention.

 Martin Macwan (India) -- Martin Macwan is the Convenor of the National
Campaign for Dalit Human Rights and the head of Navsarjan Trust, an
organization in India's western state of Gujarat. Navsarjan works with
Dalits, or
untouchables in more than 2,000 villages, providing services ranging
from
legal aid to potable drinking water, to the the implementation of land
reform
and minimum wage legislation. The National Campaign for Dalit Human
Rights has enlisted grassroots organizations in 14 Indian states and 11
countries
to advocate on behalf of the 160 million Dalits. In December 1999, the
campaign submitted 2.5 million signatures to India's prime minister
demanding
the abolition of untouchability and enforcement of national legislation.
The
movement -- which is likened to the movement for civil rights and racial

equality in the United States in the 1960s -- is the first of its kind
in size and
scope for Dalits in India.

National Jordanian Campaign to Eliminate Crimes of Honor (Jordan) --
Consisting of 11 Jordanian men and women, the Committee has launched a
campaign to abolish Article 340 of the Jordanian Penal Code, which gives

lenient sentences (usually a few months or a few years) to those who
kill in the
name of honor. Between 25 to 30 women are killed in Jordan this way each

year, for marrying someone their family does not approve of, for being
raped,
for suspected adultery, or for being the subject of a neighborhood
rumor. These
crimes are often committed by a male relative of the victim. The
Committee
has been gathering national and international support for the campaign,
working to break down the silence that has traditionally surrounded
violence
against women in Jordan. Maha Abu Ayyash and Rana Husseini will be
representing the National Jordanian Campaign to Eliminate Crimes of
Honor.
More..

 Rebiya Kadeer (China) -- Rebiya Kadeer has been in prison since March
1999.
She will be honored by Human Rights Watch in absentia. Ms. Kadeer is
from
the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in China's northwest. In August
1999, she was arrested by the Chinese authorities on charges of leaking
state
secrets and providing information about dissidents to Westerners. No
member
of her family has seen her since. She received an 8-year prison term and
her
appeal was turned down last week. Rebiya's son and secretary are also in

detention as a result of their connection to her. Her husband, Sidik
Rouzi,
imprisoned earlier for campaigning against China's treatment of Uighurs,
and
has commented on Uighur issues for Radio Free Asia. He will attend the
dinners on Rebiya's behalf.

www.hrw.org

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For those who have inquired: Kim and Ray Goforth hold
undergraduate degrees in political-economy from The Evergreen
State College and law degrees (juris doctor) from the University
of Washington.  Ray works for a labor union and Kim advocates for
victims of domestic violence.  Ray and Kim are active in a wide
variety of progressive causes and live a happy life in Seattle,
Washington USA.

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