[Hpn] Social Justice E-Zine #37

Kim or Ray Goforth goforth86@home.com
Tue, 05 Sep 2000 00:53:02 -0700


****************************************************************
    ********************************************************
          ********************************************
                          ***********
                              ***
                               *

"The most serious threat to democracy is the notion that it has already
been
achieved."


                       SOCIAL JUSTICE #37
                          September 4, 2000
                           Ray Goforth
                           Kim Goforth


****************************************************************
****************************************************************

IN THIS ISSUE:

1) "DECK IS STACKED" AGAINST U.S. WORKERS

2) MYANMAR: DEMOCRACY ACTIVISTS MISSING

3) AZERBAIJAN: JOURNALISTS HARASSED BY GOVERNMENT

4) IRAN: MOTHERS BANNED FROM GIVING CONSENT FOR MEDICAL
TREATMENT OF CHILDREN


****************************************************************
****************************************************************

  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

****************************************************************
****************************************************************

"DECK IS STACKED" AGAINST U.S. WORKERS:
Violations Undercut U.S. Position on Labor Rights and Trade

(New York, August 31, 2000) Workers' basic rights are routinely violated
in the
United States because U.S. labor law is so feebly enforced and so filled
with
loopholes, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today.

The 217-page report, "Unfair Advantage: Workers' Freedom of Association
in

the United States under International Human Rights Standards," was based
on
field research in California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana,
Michigan,
New York, North Carolina, Washington and other states. Human Rights
Watch
examined workers' rights to organize, to bargain collectively, and to
strike
under international norms. It found widespread labor rights violations
across regions, industries and employment status. The report is being
released
on the eve of the annual Labor Day holiday in the United States.

The U.S. government has called for "core labor standards," including
workers'
freedom of association, to be included in the rules of the World Trade
Organization and the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas. But Human
Rights Watch charged that the United States itself violates freedom of
association standards by failing to protect workers' right to organize.

"The cards are stacked against workers in the United States," said
Kenneth
Roth, executive director of  Human Rights Watch. "The U.S. government
cannot effectively press another country to improve labor standards
while
violating them itself. It should lead by example."

Each year thousands of workers in the United States are fired from their
jobs
 or suffer other reprisals for trying to organize unions. Millions of
workers
are excluded from labor laws meant to protect workers' organizing and
bargaining rights, and their number is growing, according to the report.

Employers can resist union organizing by dragging out legal
proceedings for years, the report said.  Labor law is so weak that
companies often treat the minor penalties as a routine cost of doing
business, not a deterrent against violations. Some workers have
succeeded in organizing new unions in recent years, the report
said, but only after surmounting major obstacles.

According to statistics from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB),
the federal agency created to enforce workers' organizing and bargaining

rights, the problem is getting worse. In the 1950's, workers who
suffered
reprisals for exercising the right to freedom of association numbered in

the hundreds each year. In 1969, the number was more than 6,000. By
the 1990's, more than 20,000 workers each year were victims of
discrimination that was serious enough for the NLRB to issue a
"back-pay"
 or other remedial order. There were nearly 24,000 such workers in 1998,

the last year for which official figures are available. Meanwhile, the
NLRB's budget and staff have not kept pace with this growth.

Among other conditions cited in the report that impede workers'
freedom of association:

*workers fired for organizing and bargaining often wait years for their
cases
 to be decided by labor boards and courts, while employers pay no price
for
deliberate delays and frivolous appeals;

*one-sided rules for union organizing unfairly favor bosses over
workers,
allowing such tactics as "captive-audience meetings" where managers
predict workplace closures if workers vote for union representation;

*millions of workers -- including farmworkers, domestic household
workers,
 low-level supervisors, and "independent" contractors who are really
dependent
 on a single employer -- are deliberately excluded from labor law
coverage for
organizing and bargaining rights. They can be fired with impunity for
trying
to form a union;

*many workers find themselves caught up in a web of labor contracting
and
subcontracting, which effectively denies them the right to organize and
bargain
 with employers who hold real power over their jobs and working
conditions;

*employers have the legal power to permanently replace workers who
exercise
 the right to strike;

*harsh rules against "secondary boycotts" frustrate worker solidarity
efforts.

Human Rights Watch called on the U.S. Congress to ensure rapid
reinstatement
 and full back pay for workers fired for organizing, as well as faster
elections
and expedited appeals to resolve unfair labor practices more quickly.
The
U.S. Congress should also ensure that protection of the right to
organize
be extended to farmworkers, household domestic workers, and others not
currently covered by federal labor laws.

 Human Rights Watch also called on Congress to ratify International
Labor
Organization conventions on worker organizing and collective bargaining,

and to strengthen U.S. laws protecting these rights.

http://www.hrw.org/campaigns/uslabor/

****************************************************************
****************************************************************

MYANMAR: DEMOCRACY ACTIVISTS MISSING

Aung San Suu Kyi at risk says Amnesty International:

The Myanmar government should immediately reveal the whereabouts of Daw
Aung San Suu Kyi and her colleagues, who have been held incommunicado
since
2 September, Amnesty International said today, expressing grave concern
for
their safety.

"The whereabouts of the two National League for Democracy (NLD) leaders
is
still not clear, which increases fears for their welfare. If they are
being confined
to their homes, we strongly urge the Myanmar government to allow them
freedom of movement. The government should also remove the security
forces
surrounding Daw Suu's home compound and the NLD headquarters in Yangon,"

the organization said.

At approximately 1.30am on 2 September 200 riot police forcibly removed
Daw
Aung San Suu Kyi, NLD General Secretary, U Tin U, NLD Vice-Chairman, and

12 NLD youth leaders from Dallah, a suburb of Yangon. Subsequently
diplomats, the press, and others have been blocked by security forces
from
visiting any NLD leaders, including Daw Suu. The group had been
at the roadside there since 24 August, after they had been stopped by
security
forces while attempting to visit NLD members 30 miles outside the
capital.

The NLD headquarters were raided over the weekend, when Military
Intelligence
officials removed files and documents from their offices. Today the
government
issued a statement claiming that all 10 NLD Central Executive Committee
members, including U Tin U and Daw Suu "have been requested to stay at
their
respective residences", while denying that they are held under house
arrest.

The government also said that they were conducting an investigation at
NLD
headquarters about a recent visit there of foreigners. The statement
further
alleged that "certain quarters of the NLD have been conspiring with...an
armed
terrorist group, God's Army".

The State Peace and Development Council (SPDC, Myanmar's military
government) frequently claims that the NLD has links with armed
opposition
groups operating on the Thai-Myanmar border. Such claims are routinely
used to
justify the arrests of dozens of NLD members and supporters. However,
Amnesty
International believes that there is no evidence of support by the
NLD, which has always espoused non-violence, for armed opposition groups

operating outside of the country.

Background:

Over the last four years the SPDC has arrested hundreds of NLD members
for
their peaceful political activities. The government has also forced
thousands of
NLD members to resign from the party, and has closed down offices around
the
country. The NLD is a legal political party which won the 1990
elections.

This level of intimidation is all part of the general repression by the
SDPC
against the NLD and student activists. Hundreds of them are held in poor

conditions, serving long terms for peacefully exercising their rights to
freedom of
expression and assembly.

God's Army is an armed opposition group which broke away from the Karen
National Union (KNU -- one of the main ethnic minority armed groups
fighting
the central Myanmar Government) in 1997 and is led by 12-year-old twin
Karen
boys. After the Vigorous Burmese Student Warriors, a group of exiled
young
Burmese activists, seized the Myanmar Embassy in Bangkok in October
1999,
God's Army provided sanctuary to them at the base in Kamaplaw, Myanmar.

In January 2000 the Vigorous Burmese Student Warriors seized a hospital
in
Raatchburi, western Thailand, holding the patients and staff hostage for
24 hours.
The siege ended when Thai security forces stormed the hospital, shooting
dead
all 10 young Burmese men.

www.amnesty.org
Amnesty International, International Secretariat, 1 Easton Street, WC1X
8DJ,
London, United Kingdom


****************************************************************
****************************************************************

AZERBAIJAN: MEDIA PROTESTS STATE
CAMPAIGN AGAINST JOURNALISTS

From 24-26 August, members of the major independent
and opposition mass media staged a three-day strike in
protest of the "continuing state-sponsored violent attacks
on free mass media and journalists" in Azerbaijan, reports
the Journalists' Trade Union (JuHI). JuHI called upon
international free expression supporters to join a campaign
for a free press in Azerbaijan. The striking media workers
also protested the recent arrest of Rauf Arifoglu,
editor-in-chief of the opposition daily "Yeni Musavat".
Arifoglu was arrested on 22 August after police allegedly
found a gun in his apartment. The journalist's colleagues
claim that the weapon was planted by the police and that
the arrest is "an attempt by the authorities to cast slurs
upon opposition journalists by accusing them of crimes
they had not committed." On 21 August, Arifoglu was
questioned in relation to the hijacking of a plane by a
member of the Musavat party. The hijacker had phoned
Arifoglu to have the editor publish a list of his demands,
reports the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

This attack is "merely the latest incident in a series of
events of government acts of harassment against "Yeni
Musavat"," says the International Press Institute (IPI). On
20 August, "Yeni Musavat" journalist Etibar Jebrayiloglu,
was arrested in connection with the hijacking. Jebrayiloglu
was released three days later. These arrests, along with
the recent illegal banning of the independent newspaper
"Uch Noqte", could "constitute an organized government
campaign to stifle independent journalism in Azerbaijan
during the run-up to the 5 November parliamentary
elections," warns CPJ. IPI notes that Arifoglu announced
that he was going to run for parliament in the elections.
The protesters intend "to issue a joint newspaper devoted
to press freedom issues, and have announced that they
will launch a collective hunger strike if the authorities do
not release Arifoglu forthwith and cease harassing the
independent press," says the International Federation of
Journalists (IFJ).

International Freedom of Expression eXchange
The IFEX Clearing House
489 College Street Suite 403
Toronto, Ontario
Canada, M6G 1A5

Phone: +1 416 515 9622
Fax: +1 416 515 7879

E-mail: ifex@ifex.org
http://www.ifex.org

****************************************************************
****************************************************************

IRAN: MOTHERS BANNED FROM GIVING CONSENT FOR MEDICAL
TREATMENT OF CHILDREN

The senior advisor to the Health Minister in President Khatami's cabinet
declared
in the state-run press "a letter of consent from women in custody of
children or managing single-parent families is legally worthless, even
in cases where a child may need an urgent surgical operation."

The mullahs' laws dictate that if a mother in custody of her child takes

him or her to a hospital for an urgent operation, she would be turned
back, as the mother is not legally recognized to be able to give the
parental consent needed for such an operation.

This criminal legislation exists in a country where, according to
official figures, women are breadwinners and responsible for 15 percent
of all Iranian households, numbering more than 10 million people.

Such anti-human laws and regulations, which deprive millions of children

from urgently needed medical treatment or operation, are clear signs of
the intensely misogynous nature of the mullahs' religious dictatorship.
Even before this, the mullahs' regime had imposed double oppression on
the women in Iran by turning sex segregation in medical facilities into
a law.

Such laws have turned life into an inferno for millions of women and
children living under the mullahs' rule. They are also against the
letter and spirit of Islam and all universally recognized norms and
standards. Through such legislation, the mullahs open the way for women
to be subjected to the most savage forms of domestic violence and abuse.

Makarem Shirazi, a senior and influential mullah in the regime, has
recently declared that it would be blasphemous for Iran to sign the UN
document on women, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

AIWUSA-ASSOCIATION OF IRANIAN WOMEN-USA
http://www.aiwusa.org/
Phone: 703-941-8584
Contact person: Behjat Dehghan

****************************************************************
****************************************************************

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.  Kim and Ray are active in a wide
variety of progressive causes and live a happy life in Seattle,
Washington USA.

                              *
                             ***
                         ***********
          ********************************************
    ********************************************************
**************************************************************