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  Issue No 34 Official Organ of LaborNet 08 October 1999  

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International

Desert Flashpoint


The United Nations has confirmed that demonstrations were suppressed in Western Sahara last month.

During a bloody confrontation on Thursday 23rd September, at least two people were killed; hundreds injured but denied medical care, while hundreds of others were reported to have disappeared during the bloody clashes with the Moroccan forces. Demonstrations are continuing and have spread to others areas of Western Sahara such as Smara in the East.

The spokeswoman of the UN mission for the referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), Patricia Lome, has confirmed to Reuters on 28-9-99, that "some 200 students and workers took part in the protest...and that protesters threw stones, set cars afire and smashed shop windows to protest against Moroccan police's use of violence in dispersing a peaceful sit-in last week". Moroccan officials have too confirmed these events.

During the past two weeks hundreds of Sahrawis have been demonstrating in the occupied capital of Western Sahara Laayoun. They have been protesting against the Moroccan obstructions and delays of the UN referendum due to be held in July 2000.

These demonstrations were suppressed by the Moroccan forces under the supervision of the Moroccan interior minister Dries Basri, dispatched to the territory for the occasion.

The Moroccan authorities have encouraged the Moroccan settlers in the occupied area of Western Sahara to go on rampage. They have attacked Sahrawis civilians, set Sahrawis houses on fire and looted shops of suspected demonstrators.

Polisario leader Mr. Mohamed Abdelaziz, sent a letter on 26 September, to the UN General Secretary, Koffi Annan, calling for UN protection of Sahrawi civilians who came under Moroccan attack while demonstrating in front of UN headquarters in Laayoun.

What is alarming is that Morocco seems to be trying to disrupt the UN peace process since it is clear that if the referendum were to be held next year it would lose it. We are concerned that Morocco may also be trying to create a situation similar to that of East Timor. But in this situation there are no media reporters or independent observers in Western Sahara. An information black out is imposed on the area.

The Senate passed a significant motion on Western Sahara. The motion was moved by the Australian Greens Senator Bob Brown and supported by the ALP and the Australian Democrats.

The motion supports the organisation of a free and fair referendum in Western Sahara, conducted by the UN-OAU. It calls on Morocco to abide by the peace plan and to fully cooperate with the UN. The motion further urges the Australian Government to extend all due assistance to the UN mission in Western Sahara and to establish official contacts with representatives of Polisario, the independence movement representing the people of Western Sahara.

If you need further information please contact: Kamal Fadel, Polisario Representative on: 02. 9818 32 84 or 02. 93193211. Mobile: 0416.335 197.


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*    For more international labour news, visit Labourstart

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*   Issue 34 contents

In this issue
Features
*  Interview: A Crack to the Skull
Rail, Tram and Bus Union state secretary Nick Lewocki took on the Carr Governmentís radical rail refrom agenda and walked away a winner. He looks back on the week the trains stood still.
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*  Economics: Green Backs and Dirty Dollars
Paul Ehlrich says the real culprit behind the environmental crisis isn't so much the huge numbers of people in the world or conspicuous over-consumption in the West but an economic system that confuses price with cost.
*
*  Unions: Tally Ho!
A landmark meat industry decision might not have the impact the reith cheer-squad hopes for.
*
*  History: The Western Express
West Australian historians are undertaking a project to chronicle that state's rich rail history.
*
*  Republic: The Referendum: A Spot of Reading
John Passant looks a the propaganda passing as information in the lead-up to the referendum.
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*  Indigenous: Australia Snubs Nose at the UN
The United Nations General Assembly will be told that Australia has breached an international convention on racial discrimination that Malcolm Fraserís Government ratified 24 years ago.
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*  International: Desert Flashpoint
The United Nations has confirmed that demonstrations were suppressed in Western Sahara last month.
*
*  Review: Temper Democratic
Humphrey McQueen has been a fearless critic of received opinions across a range of subjects for many years, and as a consequence has been criticised or more often ignored in debates in Australia.
*
*  Satire: Tax Cuts Come in the Nick of Time for Struggling Packers
Welfare groups have called upon on the Federal Government to bring forward the date of proposed capital gains tax cuts.
*
*  Labour Review: What's New in the Information Centre
Read the latest issue of Labour Review, a resource for union officials and students.
*

News
»  Shaw Slams Rio Tinto Decision
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»  Conference Sizzles - Now for the Meat
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»  Cabinet Capers in the Dark Tower
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»  Anger at Imported Beds for Games Village
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»  Cowboy Behaviour at the Equestrian Centre
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»  Wanted: Hardened Hacks with Hearts
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»  Security Employers Break Law in West
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»  Confronting Images on Display
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»  Rooting and Rocking for the Republic
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»  Organiser of the Year to be Announced November
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»  Fears for Timorese Who Got Out
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Columns
»  Guest Report
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»  Sport
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»  Trades Hall
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»  Piers Watch
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Letters to the editor
»  Off With Their Funds!
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»  At the Child Care Coalface
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»  Walsh Bay Development Backed
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