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Year 2001 No. 215, December 17, 2001 ARCHIVE HOME SEARCH SUBSCRIBE

In Memoriam: Peter Devenport

May 5, 1955 -- December 13, 2001

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

In Memoriam: Peter Devenport

Demonstrations Questioning the European Union Take Place in Belgium

Tony Blair Commits to EU Arrest Plans

Robert Mugabe Condemns Tony Blair

International Secretariat of Amnesty International: William Stobie

Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases:
Statement regarding US withdrawal from ABM Treaty 1972

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Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)

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In Memoriam: Peter Devenport

May 5, 1955 -- December 13, 2001

It is with great sadness that WDIE reports the death from cancer in Oxford of Peter Devenport, at the age of 46. On behalf of our Party, we send our deepest condolences to his family and his many friends.

Pete Devenport became active with RCPB(ML) while still a student and for a decade beginning in the late seventies played a forefront role in the Party’s work in East London, particularly among the youth and students, in the democratic struggles and in the cultural field. A talented musician, on the tragic death of his close comrade Cornelius Cardew, whom he had known since his days as a student at the Royal College of Music, 20 years to the day before his own passing, he took over as Secretary of the Progressive Cultural Association. He also led the PCA Band and Choir, and played an important role in organising a number of major cultural events, including the Second International Sports and Cultural Festival held in London and Coventry in 1982.

In the late eighties he founded MusicWorks in Brixton. For a decade as its Director he devoted his considerable energies to this institution which, among other activities, provided music tuition to literally thousands of youngsters from this deprived area of South London, when the state was increasingly failing to meet such educational needs. In 1997, at the Memorial Meeting in Marx House for Hardial Bains, late leader of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) with whom Pete had worked in connection with the joint work of PCA and the Canadian Cultural Workers' Committee in Britain and Canada in the eighties, he gave an address paying tribute to Hardial Bains as one of the most important people in his life.

Pete Devenport was an organiser of considerable flair, who inspired those around him with his lively spirit and his infectious enthusiasm for the cause at hand. It is indeed a great sadness that his life was cut short so early, but his memory, his spirit, will live on in the minds of those who were fortunate enough to know and work with him in the cause of progress.

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Demonstrations Questioning the European Union Take Place in Belgium

Belgium, whose capital is also the capital of the European Union, currently holds the EU's six-month presidency. Between December 13-15 it hosted an inter-governmental conference.

The Belgian government had announced that it would adopt a "zero-tolerance" policy during the time of its presidency. For the summit in December, it announced the creation of a special anti-terrorist cell close to the Prime Minister, prohibition of demonstrations in the city, infiltration and surveillance by State Security (secret service), preventive arrests, and other measures.

The Belgian government entrenched the summit in the royal palace of Laeken.

Initiatives were organised in opposition which emphasised building "Another Europe for Another World", based on egalitarian principles and solidarity. Organisers said that the vision of a different Europe is based on a constructive collection of experiences and proactive proposals.

From December 2-9, a meeting of independent television stations from around Europe and beyond was organised. Its objective was to bring together, often for the first time, groups that have similar experiences and methods. The following television channels from across Europe participated during the five days: Indymedia (Belgium, US, etc.), Zaléa TV (Paris), Kraak-TV (Germany), Clot-RTV (Spain), Co-ordination permanente des média libres (France), Pirata TV (Marseille), as well as stations from Venezuela (Teletambores, Catia TVE, TVC Rubio), from Brazil (Maxambomba), and from Colombia, India, Africa and Palestine.

On Wednesday morning, December 12, some 50 activists appeared at the CEFIC-Headquarters in Brussels to protest against the far-reaching influences of CEFIC on European Commission decisions. CEFIC is the European Federation of Chemical Industries. The chemical industry forms an important source of environmental problems, the protesters pointed out. On top of that, it tries through its lobby organisation CEFIC to block an effective European environmental policy. In order to do that, the organisation tries to spread a positive image of the chemical industry. The organisation was picked as a target because it symbolises the disproportional impact of big corporations in designing the present form of the European Union and the current form of globalisation. The protesters explained that the initiative, the goals and the form of the present-day European Union have not been decided by the population, but by big economic interests.

A group of activists blocked the offices from inside, while a few dozen sympathisers stayed outside with a samba-band. The solidarity demonstrators stood peacefully in front of the police barricades that had been erected in the streets surrounding the station, shouted slogans and beat drums. One activist attached flowers to the barricade.

Federal police entered the building and arrested the people already inside at around 9.00 am. In total there were about 40 people arrested, most of them from Belgium and the Netherlands. At noon the occupation ended. Then the news came that all the activists had been arrested judicially. Judicial arrest means that the arrested have been put at the disposal of the judicial system where an attorney has been put "on the case". The arrested have to appear before a judge within 24 hours. The judge then decides whether to free the arrested or keep them in custody and send them eventually to a rapid-procedure-court. This court would then pronounce a ruling within five days.

Among those arrested were also non-Belgians. Federal police said that the attorney had already contacted the appropriate foreign embassies to see how they could be expelled from Belgian territory.

About 50 people demonstrated in the evening in front of the police centre in Brussels, demanding the immediate release of the activists arrested in the morning during the occupation.

From December 13-15, Belgian and foreign collectives took part in demonstrations. Forums, actions and thematic meetings took place in various locations in Brussels.

Thursday, December 13, saw possibly the largest ever demonstration of trade union strength across Europe. Well over 100,000 people took five hours (on a working day) to march through the Belgian capital in protest against unemployment and anti-union legislation.

Huge contingents from the union federations of France, Germany and Belgium were joined by sizeable numbers from almost every other country in Europe: Spain, Portugal, Italy, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. Even Poland's Solidarnosc had two banners and several dozen demonstrators. The smallest contingent was from Britain.

On Friday, December 14, a rally was organised with the theme "Challenge 2001". Also, several days of action, discussion and protest took place in Aachen, Germany, culminating in about 100 activists collectively crossing the German-Belgium border successfully to take part in the anti-EU protests in Brussels.

Also on Friday, several thousand anti-war protesters marched towards the Laeken summit, with placards reading: "Not in My Name!", "Stop the War!".

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Tony Blair Commits to EU Arrest Plans

Tony Blair, in Laeken for the EU summit, committed Britain to an EU-wide arrest warrant.

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Robert Mugabe Condemns Tony Blair

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has told his party's central committee that Tony Blair had fabricated a lie that Zimbabwe is lawless and devoid of democracy and human rights. "Blair was a troublesome and difficult little boy. He is still that. We are dealing with liars, crooks and intellectual frauds," he said in a national TV broadcast from the meeting in Victoria Falls.

Robert Mugabe accused Britain of masterminding an international campaign to discredit his party over its seizures of settler-owned farms. The government has listed 4,500 properties – about 95% of farmland owned by settlers – for nationalisation without compensation.

Robert Mugabe said that the opposition Movement for Democratic Change was to blame for political violence that has convulsed the nation. "Violence is not just happening, it in fact has been deliberately hatched at the centre of the MDC and by its patrons and principals overseas. This is a real physical fight and we have to prepare for it," he said.

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International Secretariat of Amnesty International:

William Stobie

Amnesty International said on December 12 that it is seriously disturbed by the news that William Stobie was murdered that morning in North Belfast by armed gunmen. The Red Hand Defenders have claimed responsibility for the shooting.

"William Stobie's murder reinforces the need for the government to initiate immediately a full, independent and public inquiry into allegations of official collusion into the murder of Patrick Finucane," Amnesty International said. Patrick Finucane was a human rights lawyer, who was shot dead by the Ulster Defence Association in February 1989.

Charges against William Stobie – of aiding and abetting in the murder of Patrick Finucane – were dropped on November 26, just two weeks ago. William Stobie had been a quartermaster of the UDA and an agent of the Special Branch during the time that Patrick Finucane was killed. He claimed that prior to the killing of Patrick Finucane, he had warned his Special Branch handlers that someone was about to be killed, and that he had provided enough details to possibly prevent the killing and to arrest people who still possessed the weapons after the killing. He claimed that the police had failed to act on this information. No charges were brought against him until 1999 when Sir John Stevens was requested by the Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary to return to Northern Ireland and investigate allegations of collusion in the murder of Patrick Finucane.

William Stobie was a key witness concerning allegations of official police collusion in the murder of Patrick Finucane. His claims that Special Branch may have been able to prevent the killing and of their failure to arrest the perpetrators have never been tested in court. The involvement of the Special Branch in allegedly obstructing the investigation into the killing of Patrick Finucane was raised again recently by an RUC officer, who claimed that one of the people who had shot Patrick Finucane had confessed on tape in 1991, in the presence of a Special Branch officer. He claimed that Special Branch blocked further investigation of the confession or any prosecution. It was alleged that the Special Branch officer was also William Stobie's handler.

"Given the allegations of Special Branch involvement in the killing of Patrick Finucane, the government should initiate a thorough, genuinely independent and impartial investigation into the killing of William Stobie," Amnesty International said.

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Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases:

Statement regarding US withdrawal from ABM Treaty 1972

The CAAB is deeply concerned to learn that George W Bush has decided that the US will withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty 1972 in order to pursue the American Missile Defence programme ("Star Wars").

CAAB doubts that the US President has the authority or legal standing to take such a drastic and potentially dangerous step. It seems that American power will be yielded by one man; unchecked by the international obligations of the US or by the control of Congress.

In a "special relationship" it is usual that friends remind one another of the folly of their ways when unwise decisions are made. We therefore urge the Prime Minister Tony Blair on behalf of the UK, to distance us from this announcement.

We ask that the PM uses his influence, energy and persuasive powers to remind George W Bush that his decision to withdraw from the ABM Treaty will have a destabilising and devastating effect on the world.

The American base at Menwith Hill Station and RAF Fylingdales (both in North Yorkshire) are the two British bases which will be crucial to the American Missile Defence System if allowed to go ahead. Two Space Based Infra-Red System (SBIRS) radomes have already been built at Menwith Hill Station.

CAAB is totally opposed to "Star Wars". We will continue to use all peaceful means to stop the use of both bases in the unlawful, undemocratic and immoral American Missile Defence System.

Lindis Percy and Anni Rainbow
Co-Coordinators
CAMPAIGN FOR THE ACCOUNTABILITY OF AMERICAN BASES (CAAB)

website: www.caab.org.uk


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