[Hpn] Social Justice E-Zine #40

Kim or Ray Goforth goforth86@home.com
Mon, 27 Nov 2000 08:01:06 -0800


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"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in
moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification
for
selfishness." - James K. Galbraith


                       SOCIAL JUSTICE #40
                          November 27, 2000
                           Kim Goforth
                           Ray Goforth


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IN THIS ISSUE:

1) BANGLADESH:  45 GARMENT WORKERS DIE AFTER BEING LOCKED IN BURNING
FACTORY

2) USA:  REPUBLICAN MOB THREATENS ELECTION OFFICIALS AND
ASSAULTS POLITICAL OPPONENTS

3) MOZAMBIQUE: INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST MURDERED

4) TOKYO TRIBUNAL TO ADDRESS ISSUE OF "COMFORT WOMEN"

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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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BANGLADESH:  45 GARMENT WORKERS DIE AFTER BEING LOCKED IN BURNING
FACTORY

On November 25th, at least 45 workers including 10 children were burnt
to death in a devastating fire at Sagar Chowdury Garment Factory in the
Kamanchar BSCIC Industrial Area on Dhaka-Sylhet highway in Bangladesh.

The fire sparked from electrical short circuit. UNB ( United News Agency
of Bangladesh ) adds: The fire soon engulfed the entire building where
over 900 workers were on duty.  The factory owners had locked the
employees inside the factory.

"As all the collapsible gates of the building were locked.  No one could
come
out immediately." reported a witness to the fire...adding that the death
figure may increase dramatically as investigators comb through the
rubble.

Local people along with the firefighters of narsingdi broke open the
gates of
the building and rescued the rest of the workers and recovered 40 dead
bodies.  Of the dead,29 bodies were brought to narsingdi sadar hospital.

Those wishing to show support for the garment workers and their families
are STRONGLY encouraged to contact:

Amirul Haque Amin
General Secretary
National Garments Workers Federation
unity@bdmail.net

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REPUBLICAN MOB THREATENS ELECTION OFFICIALS AND
ASSAULTS POLITICAL OPPONENTS
by Ray Goforth

As our American and many overseas readers will know, the fate of our
presidential election turns upon the results of the vote recount in
Florida.  The focus has been on tens of thousands of ballots where the
vote counting machines failed to register a choice for presidential
candidate.  There are a variety of reasons why this might occur ranging
from improperly maintained equipment, debris in the ballots, to ballots
that had not been punched through completely.  The remedy provided by
Florida law is to count each ballot by hand.

The three person Miami-Dade Canvassing Board initially voted at 9:00 am
on November 23rd to hand count the 11,000 ballots that had failed to
register any vote for the presidential candidate.  This "undercount" was
significantly higher than registered in previous presidential elections
and triple that of surrounding counties which used more modern vote
tabulation machines.

Shortly after voting to initiate the hand count, a mob of approximately
200 people descended upon the Miami-Dade Supervisor of Elections
office.  The crowd pushed their way past guards into the building
threatening public officials and demanding that the recount be halted.
After some period of time, police were able to move the mob outside the
building.

Once outside the building, the crowd chased down Joe Geller, chairman of
the local Democratic Party, because they falsely believed he had tried
to steal a ballot (he had a sample ballot).  After being struck several
times in the head by members of the crowd, police arrived and escorted
him away from the scene.  Louis Rosero, a Democratic aide, was also
punched and kicked by the crowd as he made his way into the building.
Not far away, a brick was thrown through the window of the local
Democratic Party headquarters.

Democratic party officials protested these actions and charged that they
had been orchestrated by State Republican party officials.  It turned
out that these charges were in fact correct as members of the mob freely
admitted that different Republican Party entities had paid for their
airfare, their hotel, their rental cars and provided them with
logistical directions for the "protest."

Three hours after initially voting to authorize the recount, the
canvassing board suddenly reversed itself and announced that no recount
would take place.  Two members of the canvassing board declined all
comment but the New York Times reported that one of the members Dan
Leahy acknowledged that the intimidation tactics had contributed to
their decision.

While I did not vote for either Al Gore (Democratic Party Candidate) or
George Bush (Republican Party Candidate), I must admit that I would
certainly rather have Al Gore as our next president.  However, I am more
concerned with the stability and integrity of the electoral process than
I am with the eventual outcome.

I believe that all Americans should be profoundly disturbed by the
specter of a "rent-a-mob" paid for by a political party with the
explicit goal of stopping votes from being counted.

More disturbing than the actual conduct of the mob are the claims by
right-wing pundits that this in fact was merely "democracy" in action.
As if a crowd of 200 people shouting "we know where you live" at the
elected officials charged with making the decision as to whether a
recount should take place,
is not intended to threaten and intimidate.  As if flying party
activists in from out of state to assault and batter officials from the
opposing political party is not organized thuggery.  Winning a
democratic election happens when your candidate gets the most votes, NOT
when you intimidate election officials into not counting all of the
votes.

Readers of this zine are well aware that far worse election violence
occurs regularly around the world.  Moreover, it often happens even in
the United States (I once worked on a California State Assembly campaign
where the local Republican Party hired security guards to wait at
polling places and intimidate latino voters).

What makes these events different for me is the attitude of the
Republican Party as a whole.  They know that Al Gore got 300,000 more
votes than George Bush.  They know that Al Gore won the Electoral
College (not counting Florida).  They know that if all the ballots are
counted in Florida that Al Gore will most likely win there.  Yet, they
show no sense of shame at launching legal maneuver after legal maneuver
aimed at stopping the vote count.  Moreover, they cheer gleefully as a
paid mob batters Democratic Party officials and intimidates the
canvassing board into abandoning their announced recount of the votes.

Is the Republican Party so desperate to regain power that they will
justify any conduct, any distortion of the democratic process?  Are we
to be governed by a President who lost the popular vote but through
jackbooted intimidation managed to capture an Electoral College
majority?  This election marks a sharply negative turn in national
American politics.  If the eventual outcome is not transparent and just,
I fear that the cycle of violence will only get worse.


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MOZAMBIQUE: INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST MURDERED
CARLOS CARDOSO: OBITUARY
Mozambican news agency, AIM
by Paul Fauvet

Maputo, 23 Nov (AIM) - Carlos Alberto Cardoso, editor of the
independent newsheet "Metical", who was murdered on Wednesday,
was born of Portuguese parents in the central Mozambican city of
Beira in 1952.

He studied in South Africa, where be became involved in
radical, anti-apartheid student politics, which earned him
expulsion from the country.

Back in Maputo, he identified with the revolution against
Portuguese colonial rule, although he never became a member of
the Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo).

The revolution split the Cardoso family: Carlos considered
himself a Mozambican and stayed to help build the new,
independent state, while his parents returned to Portugal.

His exceptional talents as a writer ensured a rapid rise in
the world of journalism. He worked first on the weekly magazine
"Tempo", then briefly on Radio Mozambique, before he was
appointed chief news editor of the Mozambique News Agency (AIM)
in 1980. At the time AIM did not, strictly speaking, have a
director: Cardoso was usually treated as the director, though he
did not formally acquire this title for several years.

Under Cardoso's leadership, AIM achieved fame, in the
country and in the region, for its campaigning coverage of the
apartheid regime's war of destabilisation against Mozambique.
So persistent was AIM's work in this field, that, according
to Mozambican security sources, Cardoso's name was on a list of
potential targets drawn up by South African Military
Intelligence.

But there were often tensions between the open and outspoken
brand of journalism practiced by Cardoso, and the altogether more
cautious approach followed by the Frelimo leadership and by the
Ministry of Information.
In 1982 this clash resulted in the sudden imprisonment of
Cardoso, apparently because an opinion article he wrote in thedaily
paper "Noticias" violated an obscure government guideline
on covering the war that neither he, nor most other journalists
were aware of. Other journalists and intellectuals protested at
the jailing, warning government members up to and including
President Samora Machel, that Cardoso was no enemy of the
country.

Six days after his arrest he was released. Though the
government was not so gracious as to apologise for the arrest, he
was fully reinstated at the head of AIM.

Cardoso's outspoken approach led to a public clash with the
then head of the Frelimo Ideology Department, Jorge Rebelo, at
the second congress of the National Journalists' Organisation
(ONJ) in 1986, when Cardoso dared to suggest that Frelimo could
not rely on journalists' loyalty for ever.

Despite this, Cardoso was one of a select group of
journalists invited for private briefings with Samora Machel in
the last months of the president's life.

Cardoso was deeply affected by the death of Machel in a
plane crash at Mbuzini, just inside South Africa, on 19 October
1986. He followed the story of the plane crash with tenacity, and
the material he published then built up a picture of the likely
causes of the crash - deliberate electronic interference by the
Apartheid military to lure the plane away from its correct flight
path.

In the late 1980s, Cardoso found himself in conflict with
Information Minister Teodato Hunguana. He offered his resignation
as AIM director, but initially Hunguana refused to accept it.
When he tendered his resignation for the third time, arguing that
he wanted to be relived of his functions as director, in order to
concentrate full-time on journalistic work, Hunguana finally
accepted.

Despite his political differences with Cardoso, at the
handover to the new director, Ricardo Malate, Hunguana publicly
praised Cardoso's work at AIM, saying that it was thanks to
Cardoso's leadership that the agency had won "prestige and
credibility" in the outside world.

In 1990, Cardoso was among a core group of journalists
campaigning for the inclusion of a specific commitment to pressfreedom
in the new Mozambican constitution. This campaign,
including a petition to President Joaquim Chissano, entitled "The
right of the people to information", and signed by over 160 media
professionals, was entirely successful. The clauses on the media
in the 1990 constitution, and the follow-up press law of 1991,
are among the most liberal in Africa.

In 1992, Cardoso and a dozen others founded a journalists'
cooperative, Mediacoop. In May of that year, the cooperative
launched a new independent daily paper, "Mediafax", the declared
purpose of which was to produce investigative journalism, and in-
depth articles on issues not normally touched by the other media.
Edited by Cardoso, "Mediafax" reached its subscribers by
fax, thus avoiding problems of distribution and paper supplies.
In 1992 this was an entirely novel way of proceeding, though one
soon imitated by other publications.

A dispute in Mediacoop in 1997 led to Cardoso leaving the
cooperative. Taking most of the "Mediafax" staff with him, he set
up his own paper "Metical", to continue his own brand of
investigative journalism, particularly on economic matters.
Just as in the 1980s Cardoso had campaigned tirelessly
against the South African destabilisation of Mozambique, so now
he campaigned against what he regarded as the disastrous recipes
for the Mozambican economy imposed by the World Bank and the IMF.
He championed the fight, first of the cashew processing
industry and later of the sugar industry, against liberalisation
measures that would shut down factories and cost thousands of
jobs.

Cardoso took up the cause of environmentalists protesting at
government plans to incinerate obsolete pesticides in the cement
factory in the densely populated city of Matola. It was in no
small measure due to Cardoso's work that this became a public
issue, and the government eventually beat a retreat and decided
to re-export the pesticides instead.

In 1998, angered by the Frelimo government's handling of the
economy, and seeing no future in any of the existing right-wing
opposition parties, Cardoso stood as an independent candidate for
the Maputo municipal assembly.

The independent grouping, known as "Juntos pela Cidade"
(Together for the City) won 26 per cent of the vote, and became
the opposition in the city assembly. Cardoso then threw himselfinto
municipal politics with the same enthusiasm and commitment
he had shown in his journalism.

Among the scandals Cardoso had been investigating in the
last months of his life, one stands out above all others. This
was the largest banking fraud in the country's history.

In 1996, on the eve of the privatisation of the country's
largest bank, the BCM, a well-organised criminal network siphoned
the equivalent of 14 million dollars out of the bank. Although
the names of the main suspects were known, and repeatedly
published, there was no prosecution and no trial.

Persistently "Metical" has covered the BCM affair, calling
for en end to the culture of impunity, and for the culprits to be
brought to justice. That this was dangerous territory became
clear in November 1999, when the BCM's lawyer, Albano Silva,
narrowly escaped an assassination attempt.

One cannot help but wonder whether the attacks on Silva and
Cardoso are linked - and that, having failed to silence their
main judicial opponent, the criminal sector of the Mozambican
economy has succeeded in eliminating its main enemy in the media.
(AIM)

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TOKYO TRIBUNAL TO ADDRESS ISSUE OF "COMFORT WOMEN"

Women forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army in World
War II, often known as "comfort women" will convene in Tokyo on December
7-10 to testify and demand accountability from the Japanese government.
The Japanese military lured and/or abducted as many as 200,000 young and
poor women from Korea, China, Indonesia, and the Philippines during WWII
for the purpose of sexually servicing its soldiers.  These so-called
"comfort women" were kidnapped or coerced into entering military
brothels by men who made false promises of legitimate employment.
There, the women were raped by as many as 20 or 30 Japanese soldiers
each day.

The accompanying one-day public hearing scheduled for December 11 will
address the fact that "comfort women" still exist and are not a thing of
the past in countries during armed conflict.  Women from Sierra Leone,
Burundi, Columbia, Puerto Rico, Indonesia, Mexico (Chiapas), Vietnam,
Somalia, Burma, Okinawa and Korea will be in attendance and present
testimony and analysis.

Source: www.feminist.org

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For those who have inquired: Ray and Kim 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.  Kim and Ray are active in a wide
variety of progressive causes and live a happy life in Seattle,
Washington USA.

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