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Year 2001 No. 192, November 9, 2001 ARCHIVE HOME SEARCH SUBSCRIBE

Tony Blair Rejects Call To End Use of Cluster Bombs

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Tony Blair Rejects Call To End Use of Cluster Bombs

Pakistan President Says Bombing Must Stop Soon

Iraq to Call on UN for International Conference to Define Terrorism

Cuba Works Quickly to Recover after Worst Storm in 50 Years:
"Nothing and Nobody Will Go Unprotected"

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Tony Blair Rejects Call To End Use of Cluster Bombs

Tony Blair has rejected a call to end the use of cluster bombs in airstrikes against Afghanistan. He said that it is important to take whatever action available to weaken Taleban forces. At Commons Question Time, the Prime Minister said there was no easy or pleasant way to fight the conflict against al Qaida troops and Osama bin Laden.

Cluster bombs have been used four times against an al Qaida training camp and Taleban frontlines distant from civilian areas, Tony Blair said, adding: "They are weapons that are legal and are necessary in certain circumstances."

The Defence Secretary, Geoff Hoon, has also defended the use of giant "Daisy Cutter" bombs as appropriate weapons for bringing more pressure on the Taleban. He dismissed suggestions that using the 15,000lb bombs would cause outrage if the war continued for a long time.

On detonation, the Daisy Cutter creates a huge fireball that incinerates everything within a 600-yard-radius. The Pentagon has confirmed that the 15,000lb bomb – the world's biggest conventional device – has been used in recent raids on Taleban positions.

Geoff Hoon told the BBC: "This is part of the pressure that we are bringing to bear on the Taleban regime and we need to use the most appropriate weapons to achieve that."

Earlier, terrorism expert Mike Yardley said: "This is an awesome device. It immediately kills everything within range, and anyone nearby will be left psychologically traumatised. But with all the pictures of burnt babies that are already shown on Al-Jazeera TV on a daily basis, one wonders if this is going to be in our interests, because it is almost inevitable that innocent people will be caught up in one of these exploding."

The laws of war do not allow the use of any action, and that there is such a thing as war crimes is internationally recognised. Especially after the 2nd World War, these questions were discussed and settled. The Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal was established and in 1949 the Geneva Convention was signed relating to such questions as the protection of civilian persons in times of war. It is no defence to say that the conflict is brought to end more quickly if crimes against humanity are committed.

Neither can it be considered acceptable that it should be the strong and most powerful who sanction what is or is not legal and a war crime. It has been up to efforts of concerned people that war crimes tribunals have been set up, for instance against the US war crimes both in Korea and in Vietnam.

The UN itself has passed resolutions which the British government has chosen to recall or ignore in a very self-serving manner, as is also the case with its definitions of terrorism. Indeed, it has ignored the collective wishes of the General Assembly in favour of the big-power dominated Security Council. It is necessary only to refer to the Declaration on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism of the General Assembly in 1994, in which, among other things, it states that "the States Members of the United Nations solemnly reaffirm their unequivocal condemnation of all acts, methods and practices of terrorism as criminal and unjustifiable, wherever and by whomever committed, including those which jeopardise the friendly relations among States and peoples and threaten the territorial integrity and security of States". The British government has been trying to evade such issues, and in particular the issue of state terrorism.

Tony Blair’s stand on the criminal acts being carried out in the name of the "war on terrorism" must be condemned, along with the British government’s whole involvement in the aggression against Afghanistan. Tony Blair has no right to act as a dictator in these matters, and the government’s double standards on terrorism are condemnable. The aggression against Afghanistan must be ended.

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Pakistan President Says Bombing Must Stop Soon

The US-led military attacks on Afghanistan should be stopped as soon as possible because the whole world sees them as a war against innocent civilians, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf said on Thursday.

He said he would ask US President George W. Bush to suspend the bombing during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which starts in mid-November. Continuing it during Ramadan would cause trouble throughout the Muslim world, he said.

"It is being perceived in the whole world...as if this were a war against the poor, miserable and innocent people of Afghanistan," President Musharraf told a news conference after talks with French counterpart Jacques Chirac and French Prime Minister Jospin in Paris.

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Iraq to Call on UN for International Conference to Define Terrorism

Iraq will propose an international conference to define terrorism in its address to the UN General Assembly, Foreign Minister Naji Sabri said in Amman on Thursday. Iraq's Foreign Minister had set off on Wednesday for Damascus and Amman en route to New York for the United Nations General Assembly. The General Assembly opens on Saturday.

"Iraq's message to the UN General Assembly will cover the need for the countries of the world to agree on the definition of terrorism and its reasons, " Naji Sabri said. The definition should be agreed at "an international conference", he said. Such a forum should "allow countries to express themselves freely, far from the US campaign of terrorising countries by saying, 'You are either with us, or against us,' which runs contrary to democracy".

The international community, Naji Sabri said, should "determine .. the reasons for terrorism, despair and suicide operations before agreeing on means to confront terrorism, without any country imposing its opinion on the entire world".

The Iraq Foreign Minister pointed to the different interpretations of terrorism. "For them (Western countries), those who oppose their interests are terrorists, whereas for us, actions perpetrated against peoples of the Third World, the occupation of territories and embargoes are terrorist activities." The US-led strikes on Afghanistan are, "in our eyes, a terrorist act, just like provoking ethnic and religious conflicts", said the Iraqi minister.

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Cuba Works Quickly to Recover after Worst Storm in 50 Years:

"Nothing and Nobody Will Go Unprotected"

Hurricane Michelle, the worst storm to hit Cuba in fifty years, slammed into the island on Sunday. Bringing with it sustained winds of over 200 kilometres an hour, Michelle entered Cuban territory in the south near the special municipality of the Isle of Youth, causing serious damage. The category four hurricane toppled radio and telecommunications towers and flattened huge citrus plantations.

On Sunday afternoon, the hurricane hit the southern part of the province of Matanzas, cutting a diagonal swath across central Cuba and finally heading out to sea to the north in central Villa Clara province. That path proved to be fortunate for the island as a whole because Michelle stayed clear of large urban areas, though small rural zones were hard hit and important crops on the Havana-Matanzas plains were destroyed. Giving an idea of Michelle's destructive force is the fact that in the city of Havana, some 200 kilometres to the west of the eye of the hurricane, more than 2,000 trees were uprooted, many of them damaging homes, automobiles and electrical cables. The entire western part of Cuba, from Pinar del Rio to Santi Spiritus, was left without electricity, water and cooking gas. According to the first reports from the Civil Defence national general staff, Matanzas and Cienfuegos provinces were most damaged by Hurricane Michelle. They experienced problems with electricity, water, gas and telephone services, housing, the collapse of various booster stations’ towers and other losses.

Even as the last effects of Michele were still being felt, thousands were already in the streets cleaning up debris and working to reconnect services lost in the storm. And, at the very moment when the tropical storm was battering Matanzas with a direct hit, Cuban President Fidel Castro was there evaluating the damage.

Still feeling the last gusts of wind and isolated rainfall that accompanied Hurricane Michelle, the western and central provinces plus the Isle of Youth began the recovery phase on November 5. The country, through its civil defence organisations and the solid participation of its entire people, worked hard to reduce the damage. Castro told leaders of affected provinces that nobody would be left unprotected or helpless, and the Revolution’s programmes are going ahead.

More than 700,000 people were evacuated to more secure areas, where they were guaranteed a bed, food and medical services, as well as transportation. Those who were unfortunate enough to lose their belongings in the storm are confident that the Revolution will do what it can to replace at least the most basic necessities.

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