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Year 2001 No. 55, March 23, 2001 Archive Search Home Page

Israeli Criminal Siege Also Targets Palestinian Institutes and Organisations

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

Israeli Criminal Siege Also Targets Palestinian Institutes and Organisations

Urgent Appeal from Birzeit University, Palestine

JCB to Make 350 Workers Redundant

For Your Information:
Stockholm European Council

URGENT APPEAL - 22 March 2001
Repression on the Press Continues: Yeni Evrensel Turkish Daily Closed Down For a Week

The World in Brief

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Israeli Criminal Siege Also Targets Palestinian Institutes and Organisations

Since the recent upsurge of the al-Aqsa Intifadah, Israel has imposed a tightened version of its inhuman "closure" policy against the Palestinian people.

The Israeli regime since 1993 has applied "closures", or enhanced restrictions on the movement of people and goods, often for lengthy periods. All travel permits are cancelled and Palestinians – even those with valid work permits – are prevented from entering Israel or Jerusalem. In the periods of great unrest in the West Bank and Gaza, the Israeli government also prohibits most travel between towns and villages within the West Bank – an "internal" closure. During such "internal closures", the Israeli government also bans travel on the safe passage route between the West Bank and Gaza.

The vast majority of institutes and organisations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have been affected by this criminal siege policy of the Israeli state. Among them is the Birzeit University, Palestine, the Appeal from which, Let Our People Live!, we reproduce herewith.

For the first month after the beginning of the Intifadah, Birzeit University, along with other Palestinian universities, was unable to convene classes regularly. When classes were reconvened at the end of October 2000, all classes had to be shortened, as later had the workday. Several activities, for example the training of judges and lawyers by the Institute of Law, have had to be limited or cancelled. Birzeit University has been particularly affected by the "closures" because its students come from all over the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as from abroad. As the Israeli army and Israeli settlers have blocked the main roads, students and faculty living in other West Bank towns have had great difficulty commuting to and from the university. Faculty and students living in Gaza have been totally unable to attend. A major consequence of students’ inability to attend classes is that many final year students will be unable to graduate on time. The situation has adversely affected the students’ physical and mental well-being. Many have been injured due to gas inhalation, rubber bullets or beatings. The signs of stress that are being experienced include physical symptoms such as nightmares, sleep disturbances, constant fatigue and headaches, and also behavioural symptoms, such as inability to concentrate on studies as well as more serious behavioural problems.

On the eve of Ariel Sharon’s swearing in at the Knesset, the Israeli Occupation Forces blocked more roads in towns and cities in the West Bank, making it almost impossible for people to commute. Then the authorities dug up two trenches between Ramallah and Birzeit, cutting it off completely from the outside world. Birzeit University decided to suspend its operations on March 10, to protest against the siege that has been imposed on the University and neighbouring villages, as well as issuing the urgent appeal.

WDIE joins with the staff and students of Birzeit University, and the Palestinian people as a whole who are in struggle in defence of their rights, in condemning these acts perpetrated by the Israeli Occupation Forces as acts of inhumanity and cruelty, aiming at imprisoning thousands of people in their own homes and towns, while at the same time prohibiting the students of Birzeit University from reaching the University campus to pursue their education. The Israeli authorities can only pursue their cruel and fascist policy of collective punishment because of the backing of US imperialism, the British government and others who, despite their stance as "peace-brokers" do not condemn the Zionist regime but have constantly reinforced the situation of "no war, no peace". The Palestinian people, as well as the democratic people of Israel, by relying on their own efforts and forces, are bound to resolve their problems and reach a just solution.

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Urgent Appeal from Birzeit University, Palestine


March 10, 2001

We, faculty and staff at Birzeit University, appeal to our colleagues and friends around the world to help us in delivering our simple but urgent message – let our people live! We will be delivering this message in peaceful marches of protest to the Israeli soldiers and tanks that currently prevent us from reaching our University by the only road that allows accessibility and that has been recently blocked. The suffering of Palestinians in surrounding villages who are cut off from their livelihoods, health care, schools and markets is also acute. So far protests have only been met with bullets and tear gas. We need your help to bring our message to the world.

The wave of violence against the Palestinian population has reached unprecedented proportions. The Israeli army’s policy of siege through blocking roads and digging trenches around towns and villages has been escalating, making it practically impossible to meet people's very basic needs.

This policy has now reached Birzeit University, preventing us and our students from reaching campus to continue our classes, labs and academic life.

On 7 March, 2001, in the dead of night, the Israeli army destroyed portions of the only road linking the University to Ramallah, gouging out trenches and destroying about 400 meters of asphalt. This damage to the only road linking Ramallah City to Birzeit village and 33 other villages with a population of about 65,000 has resulted in the total disruption of daily life. To date, cars, ambulances and provisions are not able to cross to and from Birzeit and surrounding villages. Most Palestinian populated areas have already been hermetically sealed, disregarding all standards of dealing with civilians and contravening international law, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention. These measures are, in the full sense of the term, war crimes.

With these actions, it becomes clear that such policies are part of a long-term strategy that Israel is pursuing in both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. This strategy has been adopted by successive Israeli Governments, both of Barak and Sharon, in order to subjugate the entire population, and will them to accept the unacceptable.

We call on you to ACT NOW:

1.Call for an immediate end to the closure policies.

2. Call for the international protection of the Palestinian population.

3. Demand that Israel abide by international law.

Call the nearest Israeli Embassy in your area, or send your protests to the Israeli Government on these email addresses.

- Benjamin Beneliazer, Israeli Minister of Defence at
- Shimon Peres, Israeli Foreign Minister at

For further follow up, please visit the Birzeit Website at

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JCB to Make 350 Workers Redundant

Excavator and construction machinery monopoly JCB is to cut up to 350 jobs at factories in Britain. The cuts amount to 10 percent of its 3,500 workforce. There are seven plants in Staffordshire and two in Wales.

The company, based in East Staffordshire, which also makes agricultural equipment, said foot-and-mouth disease was partly to blame for a slowdown in business. Many farmers face bankruptcy or cannot afford to buy new equipment in their current predicament. About 15 percent of JCB's business is in the agricultural industry. The main area of cutback in demand, though, is in the USA.

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For Your Information:

Stockholm European Council

The heads of states and government of the European Union gather in Stockholm on March 23-24 for a special two-day Spring meeting of the European Council to discuss economic and social questions.

From Britain, Prime Minister Tony Blair is attending, accompanied by Chancellor Gordon Brown, Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, and Minister for Europe Keith Vaz.

Russian President Vladimir Putin will be in Stockholm to meet with EU leaders and discuss Russia’s accession to the WTO and other economic issues.

The Stockholm Summit will discuss the "Lisbon agenda" for economic reform in the EU. This is the strategy to achieve by 2010 the vision of the European Union as "the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion".

Key agenda items will be a common market in financial services, including a single prospectus for European companies, continuing EU momentum on information technology, the future of biotech, an EU-wide patent, and the liberalisation of key markets in energy and postal services. The growing foot-and-mouth crisis in Europe and the situation in Macedonia are likely to be discussed informally.

The Summit is identifying areas in this context that the European Commission suggests require difficult decisions, determined action and political will. This will release the "full potential" of the EU.

Employment. 14 million people are currently out of work. The overall employment rate across the European Union is still far from the targets set at Lisbon. The Commission is concerned about "labour shortages" and "skills gaps", as well as encouraging the labour market to become more flexible and removing the barriers which "discourage people from entering the workforce or limit mobility once they are in it".

Economic reforms. Economic reforms need to be "accelerated to open key sectors of the economy further (telecommunications, energy, transport, posts, procurement). An internal market for services is still lacking. Ad hoc and sectoral state aid is still too common. The integration of financial markets and cross-border investment is held back".

Research and innovation in the knowledge society. The Commission is worried that "business in the European Union continues to invest less in new technologies and less in research than its competitors in the United States".

Social cohesion. Poverty and exclusion persist within the European Union – so that "social protection systems need to be modernised and improved".

Article Index

URGENT APPEAL - 22 March 2001

Repression on the Press Continues:

Yeni Evrensel Turkish Daily Closed Down For a Week

Yeni Evrensel, a Turkish daily newspaper has been closed down once again for a week because of an article written on the anniversary of the murder of Metin Goktepe in January 1996.

Below we reprint the press release sent by the Editor of Yeni Evrensel.

* * *

Our newspaper Yeni Evrensel has been banned for a week by the State Security Court of Istanbul. The ban is said to be due to the article published on the January 8, 2000, entitled "I have to watch friends!" The article was written for the anniversary of the murder of Metin Goktepe, the reporter for the Evrensel Daily who had been beaten to death by police while in custody. The article had investigated attacks on journalists and the press in Turkey, including the murder of Metin Goktepe and other journalists; and criticised the judicial system which allowed the escape of the then persons in charge, including the Head of the Istanbul Security Department Orhan Tasanlar and his deputy Kemal Bayrak, from being brought to justice.

Based on the Article 5680 paragraph 2/1, the No. 3 State Security Court of Istanbul has given the verdict that the newspaper be closed for seven days because "the said article was found to be inciting the illegal organisations to target some of the security personnel involved in the fight against terrorism by mentioning their names". This decision has been approved by the High Court. In addition to the closure, Fevzi Saygili, the owner of the paper, and the acting Editor Ali Karatas have been given a fine of 720 million lira.

The closure of our paper in a period when the coalition partners and the highest organs of the state, including the President and the Head of the High Court, are talking about democratisation, show the level of sincerity of their rhetoric. Moreover, this verdict brings to mind other questions for our paper has been the only publication which revealed the fact that the New Economic Programme imposed by the IMF, the World Bank and the USA is designed to further oppress the poorest sections of society, the workers and the labouring masses; that under the name of privatisation, it aims to sell off the resources of the country to foreign monopolies.

In our opinion it is not a coincidence that Yeni Evrensel has been closed down during a period when the working people are planning to go out onto the streets against this Programme. This verdict gives open support to this Programme and it aims to prevent the voice of the working people from being heard. However, our paper gets its strength from the working people and patriotic forces of this country, thus it cannot be silenced. After a seven-day interval, it will resume publication.

21 March 2001

Ihsan Caralan


* * *

Received from the Campaign for Human Rights in Turkey

Launched by the Liverpool Dockers’ Shop Stewards Delegation to Turkey, July 1996

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The World in Brief

23-24 March RUSSIA: Sergey Ivanov, secretary of Russia’s Security Council, pays a working visit to Kaliningrad Region to discuss security in view of future NATO expansion. Talks planned with Regional governor Vladimir Yegorov, Regional officials and security service personnel.

24-26 March RUSSIA: Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori visits to take part in Irkutsk summit (Russian Far East) with President Vladimir Putin. The signing of a bilateral peace treaty following World War II hostilities and delimitation of territory involving four islands expected on the talks agenda. Japanese Prime Minister due to meet President Putin on 25 March.

26-27 March GERMANY: Large demonstrations expected as shipment of reprocessed German nuclear waste arrives in Gorleben after being sent back from Le Havre.

27 March AZERBAIJAN: IMF mission to visit.

27-28 March CHINA: Senior finance officials from 14 Asia-Pacific economies meet in Beijing, as part of the Manila Framework Group, to discuss regional economic issues. Among the member countries are Australia, Canada, China, New Zealand and South Korea.

27-29 March CUBA: South African President Thabo Mbeki pays state visit during which he will meet Fidel Castro. They will hold talks to strengthen bilateral ties and discuss the forthcoming conference on racism and xenophobia to be held in Durban later this year. Trade and investment opportunities will be explored and several agreements are to be signed.

29 March GERMANY/USA: German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder meets US President George W Bush in Washington to discuss bilateral and international matters.

30 March GEORGIA/NATO: First political consultations between Georgia and NATO take place at NATO headquarters in Brussels, focusing on co-operation in the Partnership for Peace programme.

30 March PALESTINE: Land Day – 25th anniversary of clashes with Israeli authorities (1976) in West Bank and Gaza over confiscation of land. Palestinian demonstrations expected.

30 March RUSSIA: International conference "WTO and international trade" to be held in Moscow.

31 March YUGOSLAVIA: Deadline set by the US government for the arrest of ex-president Slobodan Milosevic. The USA has warned that if the arrest has not taken place it will not give further aid to Yugoslavia’s government.

1-7 April CUBA: Nine hundred legislators from the 140 countries comprising the Inter-Parliamentary Union expected to attend the 105th Inter-Parliamentary Union conference.

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