Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 54 Number 15, June 22, 2024 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

An Election Issue

Inhumane Racist Law to Expel Migrants and Refugees

Workers' Weekly Internet Edition: Article Index :

An Election Issue Inhumane Racist Law to Expel Migrants and Refugees

Workers' Movement:
PCS Threatens New Rwanda Legal Challenge

Evidence of NATO's Increasing Desperation:
US/NATO Proxy War in Ukraine Expanded with No Limits

US/NATO War Preparations:
No to NATO! Yes to Peace!

An Election Issue

Inhumane Racist Law to Expel Migrants and Refugees

The British Supreme Court has ordered that the Home Secretary must respond to the evidence of the UN agency, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in a judicial review. As reported, the Supreme Court has granted the UN agency permission to prepare a dossier before any flights of asylum seekers can leave the UK. The deadline for response set by the Supreme Court is July 5, the day after the general election. It is acknowledged that the Labour Party will have the majority of seats in the new Parliament, and their election manifesto states that the agreement with Rwanda will end under their government. But, it must be remembered, Starmer's criticism of Sunak's revised Rwanda Act is that it is a gesture, and will do nothing to "stop the boats".

The "Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Act" was passed by Parliament on April 22, 2024, and received the Royal Assent on April 25, the day that the UK-Rwanda Treaty, signed in December 2023, was also ratified, and the Home Office began its "Operation Vector" on April 29. "Operation Vector" involves police raids on homes and hotels across the country, handcuffing "failed asylum seekers" and detaining them with a view to deporting them to Rwanda. Here, "failed asylum seekers" are deemed "illegal" because they left a "safe third country" such as France to seek asylum in Britain, and their appeals to remain in Britain have been rejected by the Home Office. And Rwanda itself, a country in central Africa, more than 4,000 miles from Britain, is deemed "safe" because no matter what the conditions are in that long-suffering country, the British government declares it to be "safe", according to the Act. [1]

These raids have been the subject of many protests. And the Act itself has been denounced by human rights activists who point out that it is illegal, racist and criminalises refugees. They say that they will do everything in their power to stop any deportation plane leaving for Rwanda. In fact, it is now established that no flights will leave before July 4. In its letter, the law is inoperable. It should be emphasised that against all humanitarian principles and the principles underlying refugee laws and conventions passed by the United Nations since World War II, the British government had thought that it had succeeded in getting the green light to expel people from the British mainland who have managed to arrive at its shores. These are people who have been turned into migrants and refugees by Britain's own policies of exploitation and wars of destruction, and genocide against tribal peoples in Asia and Africa.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, stated, "The new legislation marks a further step away from the UK's long tradition of providing refuge to those in need, in breach of the Refugee Convention." Grandi pointed out, "Protecting refugees requires all countries - not just those neighbouring crisis zones - to uphold their obligations."

In fact, time and time again the government has been condemned for trying to expel migrants and refugees seeking asylum in Britain. The racism and arrogance of the ruling elites has revealed the essence of British empire-building values promoted in the mid-nineteenth century of "white man's burden" whereby it can do whatever it wishes in its colonies and possessions according to what it considers to be its "god given right". In this case, it has persisted in using its position of privilege and power to manipulate the process of passing law until it can claim a majority as if this is what is required to give what it is doing legitimacy and credibility.

Not long ago, on a trip to Poland, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak stated that the aim of the Safety of Rwanda Act is to curb illegal criminal gangs who exploit and endanger asylum seekers. But he left himself and those with power and privilege out of that category. Whatever criminal gangs exist are thanks to the British state that rules on the basis of keeping such criminal gangs, his own included, in place. No matter what Sunak says and has said, his government's legislation violates British law, international humanitarian law and the UN Refugee Convention. It provides credible evidence that the British state itself is engaged in large-scale illegal human trafficking.

Background and Boris Johnson's Legacy

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The UK and Rwanda Migration and Economic Development Partnership, also known as the Rwanda Asylum Plan, was first proposed by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson. In 2022, he reached an agreement with Rwanda to accept asylum seekers from Britain in exchange for more than £100 million and other aid money with more to come. It was thanks to the broad opposition in Britain and the actions of migrant advocates and legal challenges that the deportations were stopped in 2022.

When the first group of deportees were set to depart for Rwanda in June 2022, two organisations, Detention Actions and Care4Calais, joined with the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) and four asylum seekers to challenge the plan and request a last-minute injunction to stop the first flight from taking off. The British High Court refused the injunction but the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) intervened on the grounds that "the plan carried real risk of irreparable harm" and the flight was cancelled.

The ruling elites in Britain can never be forgiven for the crimes they are committing against the asylum seekers and refugees today. Britain built its wealth and power on the Atlantic Slave Trade, growing rich on the bodies of Africans and causing irreparable damage as the master of colonies in Africa. To now use Rwanda as a dumping ground for human beings it does not want is unconscionable and shows that what are called British values and civilisation are as rotten today as they were in colonial times. Britain, through its participation in NATO and wars against countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria, is one of the big powers responsible for the refugee crisis, for millions of people forced to take desperate measures to find refuge in countries where they hope to start new lives.

Demands of the Working Class and People

To divert attention from the crisis in which the so-called liberal democratic institutions in Britain are mired and the need to remove from power those who serve narrow private interests, monopoly media pretend that Britain is a victim of too many people wishing to come to its shores because it is such a great country. In this vein, they claim that thousands of refugees from around the world travel to northern France each year in hopes of crossing the Channel to be reunited with friends or family or because they speak English or feel that they would integrate more easily into British society. Meanwhile, Britain receives fewer asylum seekers than many European nations, including France, Germany and Italy, because it is far from their point of origin and is, on top of this, an island.

In opposition, the demand of the peoples of Britain and the world is for Britain to make amends for its historic crimes. However, the deeper the crisis of the liberal democratic institutions at Britain's core, the more the cartel parties clutch at straws to remain in power and consolidate themselves as instruments of the state itself, and the more racist, criminal and genocidal they show themselves to be. The working class and people have demonstrated that they will not put up with the racist immigration and refugee policies of the British state. It is a crucial election issue that, besides demanding the rights of all refugee claimants be respected, the people take a stand against the racism of the British state and its apologists and refuse to vote for them, furthermore strengthening their unity and resistance to this racism.

1. This legislation was the response of the Rishi Sunak government to bypass the November 2023 ruling of the Supreme Court. That ruling found that his government's "Rwanda Policy" of deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda was unlawful because Rwanda is not a safe country for asylum seekers to be sent to. The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom - which is the final court of appeal in the United Kingdom for all civil cases, and for criminal cases originating in England, Wales and Northern Ireland - found that there is a substantial risk of the expelled asylum seekers being returned to a country where their life or freedom would be threatened. In response to the Supreme Court decision, Sunak's government negotiated a treaty with Rwanda which it claims addresses the Court's concerns. It then crafted legislation that designates Rwanda as a safe country and furthermore denies asylum seekers the right to return to the UK.

Article Index

Workers' Movement

PCS Threatens New Rwanda Legal Challenge

PCS has threatened further legal action over the UK Government's Rwanda scheme.

Working with solicitors Duncan Lewis, we have sent a pre-action letter to Secretary of State for Defence Grant Shapps, putting him on notice of a legal challenge if he attempts to arrange for the Ministry of Defence to assist in flying asylum-seekers to Rwanda.

The government in April passed the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Act 2024 that obliges the Home Secretary and Home Office officials to treat Rwanda as a safe country, despite a ruling by the Supreme Court that it is not.

The government has been struggling to convince a commercial airline to participate in the scheme and it is widely expected that it will turn to the Ministry of Defence to assist - even though the MoD is not covered by the Act.

PCS believes any attempt by Shapps to assist with the flights would be in breach of domestic law, including the prohibition on torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and that he does not have the power to do so under the government's own latest piece of legislation due to its deficiencies.

The union has taken a keen interest in the Rwanda scheme because it is PCS members who would have to implement the enforced removal of individuals.

PCS has given Shapps seven days to respond. In the event of an unsatisfactory response, the union will take steps to issue judicial review proceedings.

Paul O'Connor, head of bargaining at PCS, said: "Following the ruling from the Supreme Court that the Rwanda policy is unlawful, the government has tried to legislate the decision out of existence in denial of the facts. Rwanda does not magically become safe just because the government passes legislation requiring an assumption that it is.

"This legislation is incompatible with a range of international laws and conventions. Furthermore, our latest challenge exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the new legislation.

"While it places an obligation on the Home Secretary and Home Office officials to assume that Rwanda is safe, it places no such obligation on the Secretary of State for Defence, who must therefore abide by the Supreme Court's ruling.

"We believe that the government will not therefore be able to engage the Ministry of Defence to assist in organising any flights to Rwanda.

"The government has lurched from one disaster to another over this cruel, inhumane and wholly unnecessary policy, at colossal expense to the UK taxpayer.

"It should abandon this ridiculous scheme and engage with us on our safe passage proposals, which are the only sensible solution to the small boat crossings."

Maria Thomas from Duncan Lewis said: "PCS's proposed legal action illustrates how ill thought through the Rwanda legislation is, and how it remains entirely unworkable, irrespective of whether July 4 brings a change of government.

"The insistence on a first flight taking off on July 24 in the event the Conservative government remains in power simply won't be possible pursuant to the Safety of Rwanda Act, devised exclusively to circumvent the Supreme Court's judgment, in circumstances where the government may be dependent on the MoD to give effect to their legislation."

PCS, Care4Calais and Detention Action, along with a number of asylum seekers facing removal to Rwanda, brought a judicial review challenging the government's Rwanda Policy in September 2022.

(Public and Commercial Services Union, June 19, 2024)

Article Index

Evidence of NATO's Increasing Desperation

US/NATO Proxy War in Ukraine Expanded with No Limits

Demonstration in Finland - Photo: Yorkshire CND

On June 5, for the first time in the US/NATO proxy war, Ukraine used long-range cruise missiles provided by the US to directly attack Russia, having received the US go-head in mid-May.

This pronounced shift in the war alliance's approach to the US/NATO proxy war in Ukraine was made official at the Parliamentary Assembly meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) on May 30 and 31 in Prague, Czech Republic. There, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called for allies to lift restrictions on using Western-supplied weapons against targets in Russia.

US officials informed the Associated Press prior to this meeting that the US decision to remove such restrictions was actually taken on May 15 without any public statement by the Biden administration about the change of policy. Meanwhile, in typical irrational US double-speak, officials even continued to publicly deny the decision to expand military attacks by their proxy Ukraine into Russia while at the same time claiming they are only being given a limited use. In an official statement on May 31, the Biden administration claimed, "Our policy with respect to prohibiting the use of ATACMS or long-range strikes inside of Russia has not changed" and that the change in authorisation is for the "limited purpose of defending Kharkhiv."

Several other NATO countries have also given Ukraine long-range cruise missiles. The New York Times notes, "Britain weeks ago allowed Ukraine to use its Storm Shadow long-range missile systems for attacks anywhere in Russia, and France and Germany recently took the same position." France 24 reported on May 24 that French President Emmanuel Macron said Ukraine should be allowed to "neutralise" military bases on Russian territory that are firing missiles into Ukraine. While Canada has no such weapons, on May 29 it gave authorisation for whatever materiel it has provided to Ukraine to be used against Russia.

Up to this point, NATO countries had been going to great lengths to deny direct involvement in the conflict, so as to be able to claim that they are not escalating an already dangerous situation and to give credibility to so-called peace initiatives that do not get to the heart of the matter.

Besides calling for all NATO-supplied weapons to be used to attack Russia, the meeting in Prague was also for purposes of planning the agenda for the NATO Washington Summit in July. Stepping up the supply of weapons and funding the proxy war against Russia was the key agenda. Secretary General Stoltenberg highlighted the fact that "practically all military aid to Ukraine -- 99 per cent -- comes from NATO Allies," affirming it made sense that NATO should play "a greater role" in these efforts.

"Allies have provided approximately 40 billion euros worth of military aid to Ukraine each year," Stoltenberg emphasised. He added that, in order to accelerate the end of the war, NATO members must maintain "at least" current levels of support to Ukraine "for as long as necessary. Russia must understand that it cannot wait us out."

This confirms that the US/ NATO proxy war against Russia has, besides other things, been unsuccessful in mobilising the rest of the world behind its nefarious agenda. It is also known that Ukraine's military is critically short of ammunition, troops and training at current levels of support. Its eventual defeat is a forgone conclusion. NATO's decision to expand its war into one with no limits confirms its desperation and the dire situation it is forcing on the Ukrainian people by offering them more death and destruction.

Regarding the imminent deployment of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine by various NATO members, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on May 30: "The supply of increasingly destructive weapons to the Kiev regime indicates the West's lack of interest in ending the conflict. The delivery of American F-16 fighters will not change the situation on the front lines. These aircraft will be destroyed, just like other types of weapons supplied by NATO countries to Ukraine. It is important to note that F-16 fighters have long been a primary means of delivery in NATO's so-called joint nuclear missions. Therefore, we cannot help but view the supply of these systems to the Kiev regime as a deliberate signalling action by NATO in the nuclear sphere. They are trying to convey that the US and NATO are ready to go to any lengths in Ukraine."

For his part, then Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, speaking to the Defence Ministry's board on April 21, pointed out that Ukraine has lost almost half a million soldiers since the beginning of the special military operation in 2022. According to him, the Zelensky regime failed to achieve its goals in the counteroffensive prepared by NATO instructors. The Russian military has more intensively targeted Ukrainian logistic centres and storage facilities storing Western weapons, he said. "We will increase the intensity of strikes against logistics centres and storage bases for Western weapons," Shoigu said.

Shoigu pointed out that meanwhile, most of the $61 billion assistance package that the United States allocated to Ukraine will finance the US military industry. The Russian military industry will continue to increase the production of weapons and military equipment in proportion to the threats posed by the US and its allies he added.

The Russian Army will receive the first units of new-generation anti-aircraft systems, Shoigu said: "This year the troops will receive the first units of the new-generation S-500 anti-aircraft missile system in two modifications -- long-range anti-aircraft missile systems and missile defence systems; S-400, S-300V4, Buk-M3, Tor-M2U anti-aircraft missile systems; and new-generation radar stations."

He pointed out that NATO has deployed up to 33,000 servicepeople, about 300 tanks and more than 800 other types of armoured vehicles near borders of Russia. Shoigu also said that NATO drills involving up to 90,000 servicepeople were taking place at that time, and the exercises are mimicking supposed impending Russian aggression. The defence minister also said that NATO is trying to strengthen its activity in the Arctic, while Sweden's accession to NATO has increased tensions. "Sweden's entry into the North Atlantic Alliance in early March has increased military and political tensions in the Western and Northwestern strategic directions," Shoigu said.

Response from Russia

On June 5, Russian President Vladimir Putin reiterated to media that Russia has no illusions about what is going on in Ukraine. While Ukrainian troops might be pulling the trigger, the US and its allies are providing the intelligence and targeting information. In response, Russia will boost air defences and destroy these missiles, Putin said, while reserving the right to respond in like manner.

"Secondly, if someone deems it possible to supply such weapons to the war zone, to strike our territory why shouldn't we supply similar weapons to those regions of the world, where they will be used against sensitive sites of these countries? We can respond asymmetrically. We will give it a thought," he said. If the US and NATO countries continue to escalate such actions, it "will completely destroy international relations and undermine international security," Putin added.

"If we see that these countries are being drawn into a war against us, and this is their direct participation in the war against Russia, then we reserve the right to act in a similar way. This is a recipe for very serious problems," he warned.

Putin warned prior to this in remarks made May 28 while in Uzbekistan that long-range strikes on Russian territory using weaponry supplied by the US and other NATO countries represent a conflict escalation and will lead to "serious consequences."

Putin explained that long-range precision strikes require space reconnaissance assets -- which Ukraine does not have, but the US does -- and that this targeting is already done by "highly qualified specialists" from the NATO countries, without Ukrainian participation.

The Russian Security Council's Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev warned on his Telegram channel, noting that the participation of NATO specialists could be seen as a casus belli: "All their military equipment and specialists fighting against us will be destroyed both on the territory of former Ukraine and on the territory of other countries, should strikes be carried out from there against Russian territory." He added that Russia is basing itself on the reality that all long-range weapons supplied to Ukraine are "directly operated by servicemen from NATO countries," which is tantamount to participation in the war against Russia and a reason to start combat operations.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview that this development "is not only significant for us. In a joint statement following the recent visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to China, it was noted that such destabilising actions by the US represent a direct threat to both our country and China. Therefore, we have agreed with our Chinese partners to increase cooperation to counteract Washington's irresponsible behaviour, which undermines international stability. The implementation of US plans to deploy ground-based INF missiles [ground-based intermediate and shorter-range missiles] will not go unanswered by us. Specifically, in this scenario, the abandonment of unilateral self-imposed restrictions introduced by Russia after a US withdrawal from the INF [Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces] Treaty is inevitable. Additional steps in the field of nuclear deterrence are also not ruled out, as forward-deployed American missiles could target our command posts and lo cations of our nuclear forces. Decisions on these matters are within the competence of the president of the Russian Federation. [...]

"Let's hope that sooner or later, political forces will emerge in Ukraine that care about the interests of the people. For now, there is no other option but to continue the Special Military Operation until its goals are achieved."

Speaking of Russia's participation in the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), a body that is meant to enforce how such weapons are used, Lavrov gave the view that "the OSCE is in deep crisis. This is the result of the West trampling on all the principles upon which this organisation was founded. The total 'Ukrainisation' of its agenda nearly nullifies its activities in traditional areas: military-political, economic-environmental, and humanitarian. Perhaps the only reason for Russia's continued participation in the OSCE is the opportunity to directly convey our position on current issues to the other 56 participants, including those Western states that have 'frozen' dialogue with us in other formats. Additionally, the organisation's consensus rule allows us to block proposals from unfriendly countries that do not suit Russia."

Concerns Expressed by Other Countries

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on May 30 expressed his concerns about the prospects of an ever-expanding NATO war on Russia. "Next to us, the war between our Black Sea neighbours, Russia and Ukraine, is in its third year. Unfortunately, the Istanbul Process, which we worked for and which aimed to reach fair peace agreements, was sabotaged and blocked by war lobbyists who obstructed it," Erdogan said. He also pointed out that "no one knows when and how the war will end," which "constantly increases the financial costs for the region and the world."

The government of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán for its part has for some time been expressing its concerns about NATO's ever-expanding war against Russia. In April he said he would be ready to declare Hungary neutral if NATO were to send troops to Ukraine and thereby get involved in a direct war with Russia. The European Union (EU) is openly talking about retaliatory measures against Hungary for its opposition to escalating military and financial aggression against Russia. for example reported that Hungary is to be meted out a dose of "punishment" by fellow EU leaders for its staunch opposition to arming Ukraine. Hungary has resisted pressure from all sides to march in lockstep with other EU and NATO patrons of Ukraine.

It is noticeable that all the British cartel parties standing candidates in the general election campaign are out-and-out supporters and eulogises of NATO. This emphasises how important it is to vote for anti-war candidates where possible.

Article Index

US/NATO War Preparations

No to NATO! Yes to Peace!

US/NATO Largest Baltic Sea Naval Exercise

The largest Baltic Sea naval exercise ever launched by the US/NATO alliance took place from June 7 to 20. Code-named BALTOPS 24, it is comprised of more than 50 ships, more than 85 aircraft, and approximately 9,000 personnel. Participating countries included Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Türkiye, the United Kingdom and the United States. The exercise was led by US Naval Forces Europe-Africa and US Sixth Fleet (NAVEUR-NAVAF/SIXTHFLT). It was command-and-controlled by Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO, headquartered in Oeiras, Portugal.

In addition, this year featured naval assets assigned to US Indo-Pacific Command - the first time in recent history an asset tied to the Pacific theatre has participated within the US Navy Europe area of operations. The war games include practice of amphibious landings, "multi-domain" operations (meaning air support from NATO's Allied Air Command), anti-submarine warfare, and interdiction (interception) operations.

NATO "Land Corridors"

The newspaper Kyiv Independent informed that NATO is creating a series of "land corridors" that it says "would be used to rush US troops across Europe to confront Russian forces in the event of a major conflict with Moscow". The newspaper The Telegraph said: "US troops and armour would land at one of five ports in the Netherlands, Greece, Italy, Turkey or Norway from where they would travel through land corridors to NATO countries bordering Ukraine."

According to the newspaper: "These land corridors would be free of bureaucratic local restrictions which in the past have held up the movement of troops and armour, leaving them stuck at borders. Previous NATO plans only allowed for US troops to land at Rotterdam in the Netherlands, but Ukraine's experience of long-range missile attacks since the launch of the full-scale invasion has prompted a rethink. Expanding the number of ports and having multiple land corridors would mean if one was hit, others would still be available to use."

Rim of Pacific 2024 War Games, June 27 - August 1

The US-led Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) war exercises will take place in and around the Hawaiian Islands from June 27 to August 1. This is the 29th biennial RIMPAC and will involve 29 countries and more than 25,000 personnel. The US Navy boasts that this is the world's largest international maritime military exercise. Participating armed forces are coming from Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, South Korea, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Vessels involved will include three submarines, 14 land-based units and more than 150 aircraft. Aircraft will include F-35 Lightning II fighter jets (infamously deployed by Israel to bomb Gaza), P-8 Poseidon reconnaissance planes and V-22 Osprey tiltrotors, which will operate out of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and Marine Corps Base Hawaii on Oahu.

Drills planned for RIMPAC 2024 include the sinking of a vessel, "multi-domain warfare in a range of scenarios from anti-submarine warfare, multi-ship surface warfare, multinational amphibious landings, and multi-axis defence of the carrier strike group against live forces," a US Navy press release states.

On June 2, the Department of National Defence announced that "[HMCS] Vancouver will depart from Esquimalt for Hawaii to take part in Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2024 before proceeding to Operation HORIZON in the Indo-Pacific. HMCS Vancouver will be joined on RIMPAC 24 by HMCS Max Bernays, Motor Vessel Asterix and a shore-based contingent of approximately 300 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members."

RIMPAC is vehemently opposed by peoples around the world, who are organising various actions calling for it to be scrapped.

The Malu 'Aina Center for Non-Violent Education and Action in Hawaii issued a call to action on June 1 that stated: "RIMPAC usually involves the sinking of ships (and harm to marine life) by bombing and shelling in Hawaiian waters, onshore military beach assault landings, bombing, shelling, and troop training at the Pohakuloa Training Area on Hawaii Island and possibly other areas, as well as human trafficking with military troops entering tourist areas. Cancelling the RIMPAC War Games Now & Forever will be a Peace victory for all!

"If RIMPAC goes forward, extensive protests are planned. Presently protests are scheduled for Saturday, June 22, from 10:00 am till noon in Hilo on Kamehameha Ave near the Mo'oheau Bandstand, Saturday, July 6, from 10:00 am till noon at the Pohakuloa Main Gate, Saturday, July 20, from 10:00 am till noon fronting the Kamehameha Statue on Hilo Bayfront. Please pass the word! Mahalo."

Besides the dangers to the natural and social environment posed by these war exercises, Israel's participation is also a matter of concern.

Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa (PSNA) argues that New Zealand's participation shows complicity in war crimes and that withdrawing would be a symbol of solidarity and show that New Zealand takes the prevention of genocide seriously, Te Ao Maori News reported on June 13. "We are calling on our government to withdraw from the exercise because of Israel's industrial-scale slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza," PSNA national chair John Minto said. "Why would we want to join with a lawless, rogue state which has demonstrated the complete suite of war crimes over the past eight months?"

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Malaysia has issued a petition that calls on the Malaysian government "to immediately withdraw from the RIMPAC 2024 military exercise to protest against the participation of the Israeli military in that exercise".

US-South Korea Large-Scale River Crossing Drills

US and South Korea troops carried out large-scale river-crossing drills from June 3 to 7 in order to boost operational abilities. The drills began at Namhan River in the city of Yeoju, southeast of Seoul not far from the border with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), the Yonhap news agency reported, citing the South Korean armed forces.

The exercise involved 590 troops, 243 vehicles and aircraft, including K1A2 tanks, K808 armoured vehicles and H-47D helicopters. During the drill, the US and South Korean troops said they built a 918-foot pontoon bridge in three hours, which allowed the vehicles to cross the river, reaching the exercise's destination.

In addition, South Korea held major three-day drills in May to practise defending its islands of Baengnyeongdo, Yeonpyeong and Daecheongdo in the Yellow Sea near its border with the DPRK. The drills involved simultaneous shooting and landing operations.

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