Humanist Electronic Press Agency

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

N. 13 - June 1998

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This month's issue opens with the first piece of news coming from our new African editorial section, which sends us news from Togo. Interestingly enough, a few other bits of news in this issue come from Africa, a continent far too often neglected by the world powers, and yet so proud of the role it is playing in the construction of a more humane world. It is also remarkable that in a moment when the rulers of the world lay out once again the tragic shadows of the nuclear folly, a lot of news of peace reaches this bulletin. Apparently, in spite of the "objective conditions" imposed by the system, the Human Being can still find answers.


Togo: Schooling Campaign

Nigeria: General Strike for Democracy

Mexico: Appeal for Chiapas

Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Africa: Appeals against war

Senegal: Humanist initiatives in Dabaly

Austria: Brenner Pass closed for environmentalist protest

Ucraina: Kiev miners

Bosnia: Abolition of death penalty

Italy, Congo: Prize to Congo journalist

Serbia: Protests against war in Kosovo

Italy, Internet: International Criminal Court

China: Demonstration for Tienanmen

Ireland and Ulster: Peace wins in the referendum

Kosovo: More demonstrations

European Union: Arms trade

Italy: Success for the Humanist Party

Zambia: Kaunda acquitted

France: Surgical robotics

Czech Republic: No to the anti-gypsy wall

France: "Non-violence is force"

Colombia: Peace agreement

The Space: Planet outside the solar system

Switzerland: Global march

India: Protests against nuclear tests

Sweden: Draft bill on prostitution

Egypt: Restoration of the Sphinx




Where: Togo

About: Schooling Campaign

Date: 5/98

Source: Lome’ Humanist Centre of Culture

The schooling campaign in favour of the disadvantaged children of three district of Lome’, organised by the Humanist Centre of Culture of the Togo capital, has set off. The local sections of the UN Fund for the population and of UNICEF have given their support and provided teaching materials.



Where: Nigeria

About: General Strike for Democracy

Date: 12/6/98

Source: MI.S.N.A.

The Nigerian opposition has proclaimed a 24 hours general strike to support the return to the democratic system. The Committee of Joint Action for Nigeria, which gathers all the forces opposed to the military regime, will address today the Supreme Court to request the repeal of the appointment of Abdulsalam Abubakar to the lead of the State.

The demonstration falls on the same day of the fifth anniversary of the presidential elections that were quashed following the victory of Moshood Abiola. Gani Fawehinmi, spokesman of the opposition, has invited the population to observe the strike and to block the traffic for the whole day.

It is a matter of fact that Nigeria is falling apart. Infrastructures are collapsing and the economic crisis is out of control. Almost everywhere the most basic services, such as water, sewerage, electricity and telephone lines are absent or inadequate; on top of all this, organised crime is thriving.



Where: Mexico

About: Appeal for Chiapas

When: 12/6/98

Source: Mexico Humanist Movement

An attempt to counteract the serious risk of a war in Chiapas was made by the spokesperson of the Humanist Movement of Mexico, Silvia Reyes, who launched the appeal "paremos la guerra" (let’s stop the war), also circulated on the Web. The document denounces the hypocrisy of the government in facing the issue of massacres of the local population, the behaviour of army and police, and the tragic conditions of life of the Chiapas Indios. The appeal also requests the immediate enforcement of the San Andres agreement.

For further information:



Where: Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Africa

About: Appeals against war

When: 8/6/98

Source: MI.S.N.A., ANB-BIA

The entire text of the appeal of the Ethiopian and Eritrean Episcopal conference has been made public by the agency MISNA. The joint appeal of the bishops of the two countries requests the immediate cessation of hostilities: "War should belong to a tragic past, to history; in the agenda of humanity for the future there should be no room for it. As ministers, religious guides and citizens, it is our duty to address an appeal to our government on the issue of the present war, urging them to solve the controversial questions pacifically and rapidly put an end to the conflict."

On the same day another appeal for an immediate cessation of the war was launched during the 34th summit of the Organisation for African Union at Ouagadougou, in Burkina Faso, at the presence of 29 heads of state.



Where: Senegal

About: Humanist initiatives in Dabaly

When: 5/98

Source: Humanist Movement, Sabias que ?

The humanist association "Dental Mbantaare’ Dabaly" is acquiring a legal status. The association has promoted several initiatives of support and self-organisation amongst the population: a small lending institution to help farmers recover from the consequences of poor harvests and the rapacity of local usurers;

a farmers’ association; a brick factory; an information campaign for the prevention of diseases (AIDS, marsh fever); the building of a surgery (the existing one being just an empty room with no medicines); a project aiming at improving the education system, in particular the quality of teaching materials; a project of reforestation for next winter, and a plan of improvement of the water supply involving the construction of a dam and the restoration of an existing well; finally, to tackle the problem of electricity supply, the possibility of availing of alternative sources of energy is being studied.

As most projects of human support, these initiatives don’t rely on the help of international organisations but merely on the solidarity of humanists all over the world and on the self-organisation of the local population.



Where: Austria

About: Brenner Pass closed for environmentalist protest

When: 15/6/98

Source: agencies

The Brenner motorway was closed for 24 hours due to the protest of thousands of environmentalists of the association Forum transit. The association, formed by ecologists and local representatives of Tirol, blames the European Union policies for the increase of heavy traffic, which in the last seven years has nearly doubled; due to the abolition of customs following the Schengen treaty, heavy vehicles break the law prohibiting circulation during the week-end.



Where: Ucraina

About: Kiev miners

When: 15/6/98

Source: agencies

The long march of Ucrainian miners has come to its end, a protest 500 km long: over 1000 miners, for months without salary, have reached the capital, Kiev, after two weeks of march from Dnipropetrovsk, an industrial town in the east of the country. According to the syndicates, the State owes the miner over a billion dollars. The sector hasn’t been reorganised yet and production costs in Ucraina are higher than in any other of the former sovietic republics. Concentrated in the eastern areas of the country over 200 mines count more than 600,000 workers and a huge number of victims each year. In front of the Parliament, miners have requested better work condition and the payment of the salary arrears.



Where: Bosnia

About: Abolition of death penalty

When: 5/6/98

Source: agencies

The representatives of the Bosnian federation (muslim-croatian ethnicity) have ratified a new penal code that doesn’t include the death penalty. The maximum penalty for the most serious crimes is of 20 to 40 years of imprisonment, but it cannot be inflicted to anyone below 21 years of age.

The abolition of death penalty is effective only in territory of the Muslim-Croatian Federation, which, along with the Serb Republic, constitutes the Bosnia created by the Dayton peace agreement. Soon also the Serb republic will issue a new penal code.



Where: Italy, Congo

About: Prize to Congo journalist

When: 4/6/98

Source: ANB-BIA

The Congo journalist Louis Kalonji Kalantanda received in Savona the Prize Raul Follerau from the Italian solidarity association AIFO "for the courageous performance of his profession of journalist in a highly repressive social and political context". The journalist, who was imprisoned in 1971 because of his political views, is a member of various organisations for the defence of human rights, such as, for instance, the Amos group. Kalantanda is a steady contributor to the independent African agency ANB-BIA and to the Congo magazine "Afriquespoir".



Where: Serbia

About: Protests against war in Kosovo

When: 16/6/98

Source: Amnesty International, Good News

Over 100 parents of recruits sent to Kosovo have expressed their intention of going to the areas of the war "to take our children back", as did the numerous Russian soldiers’ mothers who went to the battlefields of Chechnia. But protests against the situation in Kosovo come also from other sides: it amounts already to 400 the number of Serbian policemen who this year refused to serve in Kosovo.

This news has been circulated by the association "Campaign against the war": according to Radio Free Europe some of the members of the association were arrested by the Serbian police while distributing leaflets.

Good News has gathered similar information from Albanian sources, that point out as well the continuous flight of Serbs from Kosovo: people who don’t want to be involved in a conflict wanted not by the population but by Belgrade’s government.



Where: Italy, Internet

About: International Criminal Court

When: 15/6/98

Source: Amnesty International, Good News

At the opening of the Diplomatic Conference of the United Nations, which is taking place at the FAO centre in Rome from the 15th of June to the 17th of July, Amnesty International and the other non-government organisations forming the "Coalition for an International Criminal Court" have declared, during a joint press conference, that a small number of governments is threatening to hinder the works of the Conference, thus menacing to deny justice to the victims of crime against humanity. The Diplomatic Conference of the United Nations should decide on the text instituting an International Criminal Court, which will try cases of genocide, crimes against humanity and other severe violations of human rights.

Amnesty International has devoted a Web site to the Diplomatic Conference of the United Nations for the institution of a permanent International Criminal Court

containing more details about the proposed Criminal Court and the campaigns of information and protest related to the Conference.



Where: China

About: Demonstration for Tienanmen

When: 4/6/98

Source: agencies

About 40,000 people commemorated the victims of the repression of the student demonstration in Tienanmen square nine years ago. It was the biggest demonstration held in the former British colony since the return to Chinese rule.



Where: Ireland and Ulster

About: Peace wins in the referendum

When: 23/5/98

Source: agencies

The results of the referenda held at the same time in the Republic of Ireland and in Ulster have ratified the agreement for the peace in Ulster with large majority both in the Republic (95%) and in the North (71%). The population will vote again on 25th of June to elect the first joint catholic-protest assembly that will progressively replace the British administration.



Where: Kosovo

About: More demonstrations

When: 27/5/98

Source: agencies, KCC

About 10,000 Albanians have filled the streets of Pristina yesterday, for a peaceful demonstration that took place with no incidents. The participants repeated slogans in favour of independence and shouted for Ibrahim Rugova, the leader of the Albanian community, now in visit in the States. At the end of the demonstration white doves were set free as a symbol of peace. In the meantime, weekly talks between the Serb government delegations and the representatives of the self-proclaimed Republic of Kosovo continue.



Where: European Union

About: Arms trade

When: 25/5/98

Source: Amnesty International, Good News

An agreement has been reached over the European Code of Conduct for Arms trade, which prohibits selling weapons to countries that improperly use them to attack other sovereign states or for internal repression. This represents a positive result for the 600 international organisations (amongst these, Amnesty International) and the hundreds of members of parliament and journalists that in the last five years have fought for the adoption of this code. Nevertheless, Amnesty points out to the weak points of this new international instrument: in fact, the code is not binding, but has the status of "common position", which means that there are no sanctions in case of violation of the principles of the code; the offenders will have simply to justify themselves in front of the other States.



Where: Italy

About: Success for the Humanist Party

When: 25/5/98

Source: Humanist Party

In the recent administrative elections the Humanist Party obtained a substantial success in the municipality of S.Donato Milanese: with 2.53 % of votes - more than twice than in the previous elections - this is the best absolute result in elections of this level. In the area where the activities of the party are concentrated - and where the monthly magazine "Qui Futuro" ("Here Future") has been published for 5 years - votes reach a peak of 10%; the interested parties explain this "surprising" - according to the local press - electoral result with the consistent work of information and positive proposal performed at the basis of society by humanist members; more over, all the candidates are ordinary people actively involved in the social life of their district. A good result (0.8%) has been achieved in another municipality of the Milan area, Sesto S.Giovanni.



Where: Zambia

About: Kaunda acquitted

When: 1/6/98

Source: MI.S.N.A., Good News

The South-African press agency Sapa informs that the former president of Zambia, Kenneth Kaunda, has been acquitted of all the charges in the trial for the attempted coup d’ état of the 28th October 1997. In the diplomatic circles of Lusaka it is a widespread opinion that the acquittal is the result of the intervention of the South-African president Nelson Mandela. The groundless charge moved against the "father of the nation" had been strongly criticised by all the opposition of the present regime and it had also been object of a world-wide campaign of the Humanist International, of which Kanda’s party (UNIP) is a member.

The campaign was based on the unequivocal position in favour of non-violence expressed by the party and its president, and it also pointed out to the fact that the elderly leader at the time of the attempted golpe was in South Africa to receive medical care.



Where: France

About: Surgical robotics

When: 23/5/98

Source: agencies, Punto Informatico

Six heart surgeries have been successfully performed in a Parisian hospital with the help of fully computerised equipment. The innovative techniques represent a real revolution in the operating theatres: where every task is performed by a remote controlled robot, operated by the surgeon from a console desk. According to the surgeons involved in the sperimentation, this kind of operation can be applied to other surgery fields. The scientists reckon that, thanks to the precision allowed by the equipment, the performing of the most delicate operations is entering a new era.



Where: Czech Republic

About: No to the anti-gypsy wall

When: 27/5/98

Source: Il Manifesto

The town of Pilsen, Bohemia, has abandoned the project of building a wall to separate the gypsies from the rest of the population, annoyed at the petty crimes, the noise and the "dirt" caused by Roms. Monika Horakova, interministerial president in charge of Tzigane issues announced yesterday that the project has been abandoned in the capital town of the bohemian beer. Not so in the North-bohemian town of Usti, where the building of the wall is still in the agenda.



Where: France

About: "Non-violence is force"

When: 5/98

Source: French Humanist Party

"La non-violence, c'est la force": so is called the national campaign launched by the French Humanist Party in response to the feeling of physical, psychological, economical insecurity growing amongst the French population. The campaign proposes the creation of a solidarity network and the practice of non-violent opposition in all fields - work, education, social; a number of local initiatives have been also organised.



Where: Colombia

About: Peace agreement

When: 30/5/98

Source: MI.S.N.A.

Thanks to the intervention of the Catholic Church, a preliminary peace agreement has been reached between the Cundinamarca regional administration and the 7 units of the revolutionary forces lead by Mono Jojoy. Hopefully these successful negotiations will open the doors to a long awaited reconciliation. Cundinamarca is one of the hottest areas of the troubled south-american continent and the attainment of a basis of negotiations - including a truce on behalf of the revolutionary units involved - represents indeed a milestone in the peace process in Colombia. According to the first information, the main points of the agreement include the formation of a municipal body in charge of the financial control of the local boards, immunity for the mayors and the observance of the international human rights laws.



Where: The Space

About: Planet outside the solar system

When: 28/5/98

Source: agencies

NASA has published the first picture of what appears to be a planet outside the solar system. The discovery, if confirmed, will radically change the current theories about the formation and evolution of the planets. Situated in the Taurus constellation, at 450 light-years form the Earth, it is a gigantic gas mass, two or three times bigger than Jupiter; it is deemed to be relatively young - only a few hundreds thousands years, as the two binary stars of recent formation near which it has been located. The picture of the potential planet has been taken by the orbital telescope Hubble.

TMR-1C, as it has been provisionally called - is not the first planet spotted outside the solar system. In the last 3 years the number of "suspected planets" has grown: some say nine, some even twenty, but so far they were only indirect observations, based on the study of the behaviour of the neighbouring stars with the Doppler method, which analyses the variations in light emission. If confirmed, the existence of TMR-1C would be the most important discovery made by Hubble since it was put into orbit eight years ago.



Where: Switzerland

About: Global march

When: 2/6/98

Source: agencies

The three sections of the Global march against children's labour exploitation - which left Manila in January, Sao Paolo in February and Cape town in March - have joined in Geneva in a feasting procession led by the children and have brought their issue in front of the annual conference of the International Labour Organisation held in the Swiss town. The goal of the march which gathered hundreds of thousands of people of all languages, cultures, religions and political backgrounds was to awaken the public opinion to the problem of the 250 million children between 7 and 14 who in different parts of planet still suffer from labour exploitation often in conditions not far from pure slavery.



Where: India

About: Protests against nuclear tests

When: 29/5/98

Source: Humanist Initiatives, Good News

The spokesman of the Indian Humanist Movement, Jaimini Bhatt has launched a campaign against nuclear testing both in India and in Pakistan; the numerous humanist demonstrations about this issue organised in different areas of India join the chorus of protests raised in every corner of the world.



Where: Sweden

About: Draft bill on prostitution

When: 30/5/98

Source: La Repubblica

Soon in Sweden it will be illegal to pay a prostitute for her services. From next year the client caught in company of a prostitute will be sentenced to a minimum of six month up to one year of jail, while no penalty will be inflicted to the woman prostituting herself. The purpose of the bill is to reinforce the defence of women against sex abuse.



Where: Egypt

About: Restoration of the Sphinx

When: 26/5/98

Source: MI.S.N.A.

The restoration of the Sphinx of Giza, the enigmatic monument of a lion with a human head, terminated after ten years of work. The intervention was required to repair the damages of erosion. The Sphinx dates back to 2,500 BC.

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