Humanist Electronic Press Agency

Publishes only news about social, scientific and cultural achievements and progress of humanity.

N. 12 - May 1998

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Most of the news published in this issue comes from “Buenas Nuevas Colombia” which, formerly just an editorial section, has now become an independent bulletin with various topics, thus broadening and adapting to the local reality the idea of "Good News". We wish to thank our Colombian friends and express our hope that following their example many other local and national bulletins will soon appear. We also wish to remind that everybody can become a Good News correspondent, just contact us in the ways described at the end of each issue.


Great Britain: Clearing the Third World debt
Sudan: UN experts allowed on Nuba Mountains
Jugoslavia: Meeting between Rugova and Milosevic
Brazil: Children ask for more protection
India: Nurses in strike for health service
USA: Nike changes the rules
Colombia: Shamans pray for peace
Colombia: Natives against oil speculation
Mozambico: Fighting malaria
Internet: Dissidents on-line
Belgium: Human Development Library
France: Taxation of unlet houses
Internet: A piece of Internet 2
Mexico: The oldest ball playground
The world: Appeal of the “Little of the World”
Ireland: The steps toward peace
Italy: Centre of Mediterranean Cultures
France: The Peace Boat
The world: Syndical rights
The world: Development of the Humanist Economic Network
France: Ejections boycotted
Russia: Workers take possession of their factory
Senegal, Italy: The first medicines of the health campaign
USA: Against the free commerce of weapons
Australia: Dockers win one round
USA: Toxic protein discovered
Chile: Demonstrations against the summit
Israele, Turkmenistan, Cuba: Release of political prisoners


Where: Great Britain
About: Clearing the Third World debt
When: 16/5/98
Source: agencies, MI.S.N.A., Good News
Tens of thousands of people have formed a human chain around the venue of the G8 summit in Birmingham and presented the appeal of the "Little of the World" (see the article "Little of the World appeal" in this issue), which requests the clearing of the Third World debt.  This initiative was promoted by Jubilee 2000, an association that gathers over 70 ONG. In its documents Jubilee 2000 points out for each dollar lent to a Third World country 11 are paid in interests accrued from loans given in the past to authoritarian governments and the capital of which has already been abudantly repaid. According to Jubilee 2000 the clearing of African debts would allow to save the life of 21 milllions children and guarantee basic education to 90 millions people..
The text of the appeal and a vast documentation are available at
If you wish to write to Jubilee 2000:
PO box 10, London 10 7WY

Where: Sudan
About: UN experts allowed on Nuba Mountains
When: 15/5/98
Source: MI.S.N.A., Peacelink for Africa, Good News
The government of Karthoum (Sudan) has decided to allow UN humanitarian experts into the region of Nuba Mountains, presently controlled by the rebels. The decision, which has been highly appreciated by the UN, has been made public during the recent official visit of the UN Secretary Kofi Annan.
The region of Nuba Mountains has been theatre for years of shooting between the government and the local population, which is composed by a number of different religious and ethnic communities. These communities have always lived side by side in peace and they now oppose the forced Islamisation imposed by the military government. In the area already operate in clandestinity a few humanitarian organisations, in particular the Amani association, founded by the combonian father Renato Kizito, who in 1997 was awarded the Price Follerau for Peace together with the Nuba population.
The UN mission could be a first step to allow all humanitarian initiatives to operate openly, and is a result of the peace talks between the guerrilla and the government.
Further information on the Nuba people and on the conflict are available at the following sites:
Peacelink for Africa (
Amani Association (

Where: Jugoslavia
About: Meeting between Rugova and Milosevic
When: 17/5/98
Source: agencies, Good News
It has taken place in Belgrade the first meeting between the Serb President Slobodan Milosevic and the leader of Kosovo Albanians, Ibrahim Rugova, who has been recently rielected President of the Kosovo Republic during self-proclaimed elections. The meeting should promote negotiations aiming at ending Belgrade's violent intervention in the region - the population of which is made up by 90% of Albanians - and which has already caused so far 160 victims.
The meeting is the result of a 5 days mission of the American Holbrook e Gelbard and represent a breaking off of the Serb President's rigid position which so far had considered the Kosovo issue as a Serb domestic  affair.

Where: Brazil
About: Children ask for more protection
When: 14/5/98
Source: MI.S.N.A.
Yesterday a few thousands young participants to the “Global March against child labour” have presented a letter to the Brazilian Congress demanding new laws to protect children's rights. “We refuse to be exploited as labour force - states Diana Gomez da Silva, student. – Some say that work is preferable to larceny. We prefer study to work”. The chairman of the Commission for Human Rights in Brazil and member of the Congress, Eraldo Trindade, has said that many paragraphs of the “National Plan for Human Rights” are in urgent need of revision. “We reckon – said Trindade – that the issue of children labour exploitation should be given priority”.

Where: India
About: Nurses in strike for health service
When: 11/5/98
Source: MI.S.N.A.
About 11.000 nurses have been in strike for the last 6 days in New Delhi to protest against the lacking conditions of the hospitals of the town. They ask in particular a general improvement of the health service, higher salaries, family grants and more jobs. “We cannot wayc and do nothing, we have to bring things back to normal” has said the Minister for Health and Family, Dalit Ezhilmalai. But nurses refuses to give in: “The strike will continue until our requests will be satisfied”, replied G.K. Khurana, secretary of the Nurses' association of Delhi, “We have suffered enough”.

Where: USA
About: Nike changes the rules
When: 12/5/98
Source: agencies
The big boss of Nike has finally made a step in response to the continuous accusations of labour exploitation. Phil Knight, founder, main shareholder and managing director of the the sport clothing company, has announced a series of measures to improve the conditions of work in the Asiatic factories. The measures include: a minimum age of  14 to 18 for workers in the shoe factories and of 16 for all workers employed in the other areas of production (clothing, accessories and equipment). Knight has also promised to adopt the standards prescribed by the law regarding air quality levels in all the shoe factories. The micro-financial support plan, which already involves a thousand Vietnamese families, will be extended to Indonesia, Pakistan and Thailandia. There will be an enhancement of the present independent monitoring programs with the participation of non-government organisations, foundations and religious institutions, and the results will be made public.
Nike has been for some time one of the targets of the international campaigns promoted by organisations who defend the rights of children and workers in the Third World.

Where: Colombia
About: Shamans pray for peace
When: 02/05/98
Source: El Espectador, Buenas Nuevas Colombia
The Shamans of  Latin America have gathered in the park Simon Bolivar of Bogota' and prayed for 36 hours for peace in Colombia; the participants were Lakota and Navajo from the United States, Maya from Guatemala, Kunkaaks from Mexico and Koggis, Vintukas, Ignas and Andoquies from various regions of Colombia.

Where: Colombia
About: Natives against oil speculation
When: 4/98
Source: El Espectador, Buenas Nuevas Colombia
The native Uwa of the Boyaca' region have won the fight against the savage exploitation of their land for oil; in the Uwa beliefs the Earth is a living being and oil is its blood.
The Uwa have been awarded the price Bartolome' de las Casas for the Environment in recognition of their victorious fight and on the 21st  of April they also received the Goldman price, the equivalent of the Nobel price for the environment.
The Uwa are the last survivors of a culture which was ispeard over various regions of the country and in Venezuela; to date there are still 18 communities preserving this culture and its traditions.

Where: Mozambico
About: Fighting malaria
When: 30/4/98
Source: El Espectador, Buenas Nuevas Colombia
The Colombian scientist Manuel Patarroyo, who created the first synthetic vaccine against malaria has opened along with Queen Sofia of Spain a research centre against malaria. In the centre a team of African, Spanish and Colombian scientists, led by Patarroyo himself, will work for the thousands of people who need the vaccine and will promote information on the prevention of the disease.
Patarroyo, whose vaccine synthesised a few years by has proved more effective than the previous ones, has donated the vaccine to the World Health Organisation on condition that it is distributed free to affected people; as a result of his decision, pharmaceutical multinationals have launched a defamatory campaign against his work. Malaria is one of the main causes of mortality in the world.

Where: Internet
About: Dissidents on-line
When: 7/5/98
Source: Punto Informatico
Unedited words of  5 "historic" dissidents from the regimes of China, Kenya, Algeria, Cuba e Camerun will be the first to be published on a new site devoted to the dissident political activity.
The web pages are offered by the Digital Freedom Network (DFN, which is organising   spaces devoted to the fight against censorship and to the promotion of human rights.
"By publishing on our site censored or filed material we offer dissidents a powerful and effective mean to communicate with all the world", states Bobson  Wong,  executive director  DFN. According to Wong, the total amount of speeches, studies, articles, letters and poems written from prison include materials coming from 17 different countries.
Although it's not the first time that political dissidents in exile use the Web to promote their opinions and spread information, DFN is the first site where all dissident voices can gather up. Amongst the first guests there will be Bao Ge (China), Koigi  wa  Wamwere  (Kenya),  Salima  Ghezali  (Algeria), Pius Njawe (Camerun) e Paul Rivero (Cuba).

Where: Belgium
About: Human Development Library
When: 5/98
Source: Good News, Global Help Project
As a part of the Global Help Project in Belgium, it was promoted an initiative to sensibly cut the cost of book diffusion, in particular in the Third World countries. It is called Human Development Library and aims at distributing 3000 books on sustainable economy which will be recorded onto multimedia CD-ROM along with programmes of support and information to people in need. A first CD in English language containing 500 books has been released; the lower cost of production of the CD allow its distribution at much less cost than that of the equivalent books.
Another GHP initiative, related to the above mentioned but realised in New Zealand, involves the creation of virtual libraries on the Internet with free downloads of files. A pilot version can be found at:
For more information:
Dr . Michel Loots, MD Humanity CD-Rom Project Director
E-mail :
Web site :
Oosterveldlaan 196 B-2610 Antwerp, Belgium Tel : 32-3-448.05.54

Where: France
About: Taxation of unlet houses
When: 15/5/98
Source: agencies
The French government has decided to tax houses which have not been let in over 2 years, in order to partially solve the problem of the thousands of homeless people and of the high prices of rents, especially in the big cities. The tax will be of 10% on the value of the property for the first year and will progressively increase in the following years.

Where: Internet
About: A piece of Internet 2
When: 5/98
Source: agencies
It has been announced the launch of “Abilene”, the new network of the group of American universities involved in the project called “Internet 2”. The project consist in the creation of an optical fibre network able to overcome the present problems of data transfer; the network will liaise the main American universities with a capacity of 2,4 gigabytes per second, but the target is to reach a data transfer capacity of  9,6 gigabytes.

Where: Mexico
About: The oldest ball playground
When: 5/98
Source: agencies
According to an article published on "Nature" by American and Canadian researchers, it was discovered in Chiapas a ball playground dating back to 1400 BC, that is 5 centuries older than the oldest know so far. BalI games had an important role in the social and religious life of the Native American populations.

Where: The World
About: Appeal of the “Little of the World”
When: 4/5/98
Source: MI.S.N.A.
In anticipation of the G8 summit, scheduled on the 15-17th  May in Birmingham, the Emmanuel Fund for the South of the World has launched an appeal on behalf of the “Little of the World” and of over 250 organisations of volunteers and international co-operation. “It is a paradox that the poorest countries - hypocritically termed "developing countries" - finance the richest. To show  what is the outcome of the debt mechanism, it's enough to mention a few figures. From 1980 to 1992 (in 12 years) the developing countries have repaid 1662 billions dollars (772 in interests and 890 in capital repayment). In other words, in this period they have paid threefold the amount originally received and are still debtors for an abnormous amount. We believe that the economy should be for the man and not vice-versa”.
“We have reached a point in history when international meetings and congresses (like the G8 one), if not tackling the issue of poverty in the world are just an offence to all those who suffer from economic need and from the indifference of international policies. We all, citizens of the richest and poorest countries, demand that the issue of poverty be at the centre of international attention. We therefore urge the main responsible of the world destinies to put at the core of their works the relationship between the North and the South of the World both on a political and economic level. We urge you to raise awareness of that which appear to be the most serious and urgent of the problems appearing at the horizon of the new century. To the leaders here gathered for the G8 we address a pressing appeal so that they take to heart not only the fortunes of their own countries, but also those of the poor people, an 80% of the world population still condemned, to this  day, to suffer a humiliating and tragic poverty.”.

Where: Ireland
About: The steps toward peace
When: 4/98
Source: agencies
After the historic signing of the peace agreement amongst the various opposite parties in Northern Ireland (10th April), the agreement has been subsequently ratified by representatives of parties and organisations of both sides, and has obtained the substantial consensus of the population. The last act of ratification of the agreement will be the referendum of the 22nd of May, which will be held at the same time in the Republic and in Northern Ireland.

Where: Italy
About: Centre of Mediterranean Cultures
When: 16/4/98
Source: Humanist Movement
On the initiative of the Humanist Movement and with the support of the Lord Mayor of Palermo, Leoluca Orlando, a Centre of Mediterranean Cultures will open in this town. The Lord Mayor, during the presentation of the project, has expressed his agreement with the humanist principles and also his desire to take part into the Humanist International and into the campaign “2000 without war”. At the presentation were also present Loredana Cici, President of the Humanist International and Giorgio Schultze, Secretary of the Italian Humanist Party. Amongst the first initiatives of the Centre there is a humanist forum on the topic of Mediterranean cultures which will be held in autumn.

Where: France
About: The Peace Boat
When: 20/4/98
Source: Ouest France, Bonnes Nouvelles
Along with the other participants to the race around the world (students of the secondary schools), the "Peace Boat" has left Brest with its crew significatively composed by 4 Palestinian and 4 Israeli. The youths, who will plant a peace tree in each of the town where the boat will stop, have said: The “Peace boat” is the living proof of "our peace". With our journey we want to obtain the support of the great powers and be an example for our brothers. We hope that thank to our deed in a near future our children will be able to play together in the street.”.

Where: The World
About: Syndical rights
When: 1/5/98
Source: Amnesty International
In occasion of the 1st of May Amnesty International has launched in over 100 countries the Syndicalist Action. The objective is that of awakening the public opinion on the issue of the violation of human rights suffered by workers and syndicalists just because they were exerting their right to associate and protect the collective interests.
The Syndicalist Action is a part of the campaign organised to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and of the Convention no. 87 of the International Labour Organisation; amongst the other objectives of the Action there are the defence of the fundamentals rights of the workers and of human rights in general.
In a statement Amnesty points out: “Every year hundreds of workers in the world are imprisoned, tortured or killed for having peacefully ask a better salary, better conditions, more freedom of association, assembly and manifestation. In those countries were these rights are not guaranteed, independent trade unions are one of the main forms of association, solidarity and peaceful opposition, and because of this they are regarded as an enemy to be annihilated by the governments who violate human rights.”
In the way typical of Amnesty International, the Syndicalist Action 1998 draws the public attention to emblematic cases of violation of human rights in 5 different countries: Ethiopia, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, and Indonesia.
For more information see:

Where: The World
About: Development of the Humanist Economic Network
When: 4/98
Source: HEN International Bulletin
The Humanist Economic Network (HEN) has begun its activity just over a year ago in a district of Santiago del Chile , and can already pride itself with some interesting results, according to the information published on the April issue of its International Bulletin on internet. At the moment the HEN is present in 11 countries and counts roughly 2000 members. Amongst the most recent initiatives, a  free computer course in Santiago del Chile, a network for book exchange in a school of Mexico City and the opening of the network also on the Web at the following address
It is possible to subscribe, exchange services, translations, information and anything else, obviously via e-mail.

Where: France
About: Ejections boycotted
When: 4/98
Source: RFI, Bonnes Nouvelles
An original form of boycott aimed at contrasting massive expulsions of immigrants without residence permit was chosen by several associations fighting for immigrants rights. At the airport they inform the passengers of the presence of expelled people and ask for their solidarity in the form of a protest with the first pilot. Most of the times the pilot refuses admission to the immigrants for security reasons. This trick makes it possible to slow down the rhythm of expulsions, even though the overall situation for immigrants without residence permit is unstable and difficult.

Where: Russia
About: Workers took possession of their factory
When: 13/4/98
Source: Profil, Humanist movement in Russia
The biggest and more modern plant for the production of cellulose and paper in Vyborg is now managed by the workers themselves. After being totally modernised in 1988, the plant was privatised in 1993, changed several owners, and in 1996 went bankrupt and was declared insolvent by the relevant Russian federal agency. It was at this stage that the workers started an active battle to prevent the plant from being closed down and the jobs of thousand workers from being lost. This battle resulted in the unanimous election of engineer Vantorin, chosen by 2000 workers as the manager of the plant. Mr Vantorin is the local town councillor and has no link with the previous owners of the plant, who were responsible for its financial crisis. Mr Vantorin’s first measure was to appoint as his assistant the person who managed the factory before the privatisation, when the plant was still productive.

Where: Senegal, Italy
About: The first medicines of the health campaign
When: 20/4/98
Source: Humanist association "Andligueye"
The first load of medicines that was sent from Italy to the Humanist Health Centres in S. Louis and Keur Ballah was successfully delivered and is now available free of charge to the local population.
Meanwhile, the project for the opening of the “Humanist Solidarity Centre” in Guerdjawaye, a big suburb area around Dakar (the capital of Senegal), has begun.
The local population has to face daily the consequences of various problems resulting from poverty, carelessness of the local administrative authorities, lack of pre-school facilities (that is, young children are left on the streets), juvenile delinquency, massive youth unemployment and lack of hygienic and sanitary facilities. In order to take measures against all this, the local population is willing to create an organisation aiming at improving their situation.
The first step in order to create a Humanist Solidarity Centre is the search for its premises. By the end of 1998 the first course of free basic schooling and professional training is due to begin. The humanist volunteers will teach children, women and to all the people living in serious poverty to read, write and to work as tailors, thus providing the basics for an improvement of their living conditions.
Once they have learnt this craft, apprentices will engage in sharing their knowledge, and in teaching the same things to other people.
For more information: health campaign:
Humanist Solidarity Centre:
"Andligueye" Humanist association Web page:

Where: USA
About: Against the free commerce of weapons
When: 3/5/98
Source: PianetaPress
Hundreds of people have demonstrated in many American towns against the free sale of weapons. In Springfield, in front of  Smith&Wesson, 5200 pair of shoes have been laid down, one for each youth killed in a year.

Where: Australia
About: Dockers win one round
When: 21/4/98
Source: agencies
The Federal Court has ordered the dock company PS to re-engage the 1400 dockers who had been fired on the 7th of April for their membership in the trade union; PS had employed blacklegs in order to avoid the terms of negotiation imposed by the trade union, the Maritime Union of Australia, during the talks for salary increase and improvement of the work conditions. During the strike over 10000 containers were blocked on the docks in all the main ports of the island. PS has appealed against the court's decision, and the situation is still open.

Where: USA
About: Toxic protein discovered
When: 16/4/98
Source: agencies
According to a research published by Science, the protein responsible for the toxicity of the Staphylococcus aureus has been detected. The discovery marks a step forward in the research aiming at neutralising the toxicity of a bacterium rather than killing it, as antibiotics do; in fact the use of antibiotics, amongst other things, favours the developing of more resistant forms of the bacteria which they attack.

Where: Chile
About: Demonstrations against the summit
When: 19/4/98
Source: agencies, Chilean Humanist Movement
While American leaders where gathered in the summit for the ratification of the American free trade area,  local associations and communities have organised numerous demonstrations to protest against the conformist and free-tradist approach of the resolution. As in occasion of the previous summit of Santiago, the Humanist Movement has distributed all over the capital satiric material aiming at denouncing the atrocities perpetrated by the participant to the summit and their link with the World Bank.

Where: Israel, Turkmenistan, Cuba
About: Release of political prisoners
When: 4/98
Source: Amnesty International
According to Amnesty International the following political prisoners have been released:
- in Israel, Ahmed Qatamesh, has been released on the 15th of April 1998 after 6 years of detention - since 1992 - without charges nor trial and in spite of  a court order disposing the liberation of the prisoner in 1993. His release took place the day before the publishing of Amnesty International report "State Injustice: Unfair Trials in the Middle East and North Africa", where Qatamesh's case was discussed (the case was mentioned also in the press release announcing the publishing of the report);
- in Turkmenistan was released Durdymurad Khodzha-Mukhammed, who has been kept in a psychiatric institution for political reasons since February 1996. On the 22nd of  April were also released 4 political prisoners belonging to the group known as "Ashgabat Eight", who in 1995 had organised a protest against the government;
- it is still going on in Cuba the release of political prisoners begun with the papal visit; 14 prisoners were released during the visit of the Canadian Prime Minister last April, and a few others should be released soon.

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