January 26, 2007
DEATH TOLL IN GUINEA HIGHER THAN PREVIOUSLY THOUGHT
The government of the West African nation of Guinea has reportedly reached a tentative agreement with striking unionists to name a new consensus Prime Minister. However unionists are skeptical and have refused to lift their 17-day old national strike until they see evidence of real change. The strike has brought business as usual in the capital to a standstill and has halted mineral exports. Protesters want ailing President Lansana Conte to resign. Lousseni Kamara represents a joint office of the two largest trade union federations in Guinea. He spoke to FSRN’s Terna Gyuse in Nairobi yesterday. “In place of opening the dialogue with us, the government has used a huge repression. More than 50 trade unionists and citizens were killed in the last ten days during the repression.” The deadliest day in the ongoing national strike came on Monday when government forces used live ammunition against demonstrators, killing dozens. Now, human rights groups are saying the death toll is at least 60; much higher than previously reported.
HAMAS MARKS 1 YEAR SINCE ELECTORAL VICTORY
Hamas is marking the 1st anniversary of its victory in the Palestinian Authority elections with a massive rally in Gaza. The past year has witnessed some serious fighting from the deeply divided Hamas and Fatah factions and today was no exception. Manar Jibrin reports.
At least 6 Gazans have died since Thursday due to inter-factional fighting between Hamas and Fatah. More than 20 people have been wounded in the clashes and at least 24 people have been abducted in mutual kidnapings between the two rival groups. Hamas and Fatah differ greatly on their governance philosophy and on their approach to relations with Israel. These differences deepened since the Islamist party Hamas unexpectedly won the Palestinian legislative elections a year ago. Both parties maintain armed factions which have been carrying out revenge attacks on each other in both Gaza and the West Bank. On top of this, the Israeli Amy continues to occupy the West Bank and carry out sporadic attacks on the Gaza Strip. This week, the Israeli Army killed four residents in the Palestinian territories and abducted at leat 80 people in military incursions into the West Bank. For FSRN, I am Manar Jibrin reporting from Bethlehem.
SUSPECT NAMED IN POISONED RUSSIAN SPY CASE
Britain is about to request the extradition of a Russian to stand trial for the poisoning of a former KGB officer in London late last year. Naomi Fowler reports on the latest twist.
Alexander Litvinenko publicly accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of having him murdered as he lay dying from Polonium-210 poisoning. 129 passers-by in London were also exposed to radiation. Russian officials have suggested they’ll hand over the Polonium suspect (a former KGB body guard) only in exchange for the extradition of A Russian millionaire who was granted asylum in the UK after falling out with President Putin. However, British courts ruled that Russian charges against the millionaire are politically-motivated and he wouldn’t receive a fair trial. A stalemate and a diplomatic clash now look inevitable, with possible economic consequences for Britain. As well as an unhealthy dependence on Russian gas, Britain has billions of pounds-worth of investments in and exports to Russia. Now all eyes are on the negotiation process to see it stays on track in the pursuit of justice. This is Naomi Fowler in London for Free Speech Radio News.
AUTHORIZATION GIVEN TO REVEAL STATE SECRETS OF ARGENTINA’S FORMER DICTATORSHIP
Argentina´s President Nestor Kirchner signed a decree today that military officials can release top-secret information during trials of figures from the former dictatorship. This decree comes after one of the nation’s most notorious military captains denied involvement in human rights abuses during the time of the junta-run government. FSRN’s Marie Trigona has more from Buenos Aires.
In his first court testimony, ex-navy captain Afredo Astiz, denied involvement in the kidnapping of two French Nuns who were later killed. Astiz, known as the “blond angel of death,” suggested that French secret agents were responsible for the nun’s kidnaping. Astiz is facing trial for the 1977 disappearances of nuns Alice Domon and Léonie Duque and a dozen other people, including Azucena Villaflor, the founder of the human rights group Mothers of Plaza de Mayo. His defense team appealed in court that Astiz could not reveal military secrets under constitutional law. President Kirchner signed a decree today that will allow military personnel to reveal secret information to prevent any roadblocks in the upcoming trials of security officers accused of human rights abuses during the 1976-1983 dictatorship. For Free Speech Radio News I´m Marie Trigona in Buenos Aires.
CANADA SETTLES WITH MAHAR ARAR
The Canadian government has reached a multi-million dollar settlement agreement with Maher Arar – a Syrian-born Canadian citizen who was wrongfully detained and deported from New York’s JFK airport in 2002, based on faulty intelligence that linked him to Al Qaeda. After his deportation from the US, Arar was held in a Syrian prison, where he was tortured, interrogated, and held in solitary confinement. Canada later formally apologized to Arar and officially cleared his name. A legal team from the Center for Constitutional Rights is appealing a district court’s decision to drop Arar’s case against high-ranking US government officials. Mahar Arar’s name remains on the US terror watch list.
Bush Authorizes U.S. Troops to “Kill or Capture” Iranian Agents in Iraq (1:00)
The Bush Administration has authorized U.S. troops in Iraq to “kill or capture” Iranian agents in secret operations since late last year. U.S. forces are now allowed to use lethal force against Iranians as part of a plan to lessen Tehran’s sway in the Middle East. Bush originally approved the strategy to “kill or capture” Iranian operatives in Iraq last fall.
David Petraeus Confirmed by Senate to be New Commander in Iraq
In news from Capitol Hill, the Democratic-led Senate has confirmed Army General David Petraeus to be the next Commander in Iraq after less than an hour of debate, in a 81-to-0 vote. Petraeus succeeds General George Casey.
State Department Request More than $10 Billion from Congress for Afghanistan (2:30)
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice is in Europe to focus attention on Afghanistan. While asking NATO member nations to send more troops and funds, the State Department is also requesting $10.6 billion from Congress for Afghanistan. From Washington, DC, Ingrid Drake reports on concerns that funds are going primarily to military efforts, instead of investing in the Afghan people.
Organizers Prepare for Massive Anti-War Protest in Washington D.C. (1:00)
United for Peace and Justice is organizing what they call a historic protest against the Iraq War tomorrow in Washington DC. Organizers have chartered hundreds of buses for tomorrow’s mobilization, and expect many first-time demonstrators to attend. Organizers add that this protest will be different because past demonstrations focused on convincing others to stand against the war; while this one will focus on sending a clear message to Congress the people in the United States have had enough. Other protests against the war are planned for cities around the nation. Tomorrow’s protest will be followed by a day of lobbying Congress against the Iraq war Monday.
Iraqi Prime Minister Submits Controversial Security Plan (3:00)
Violence in Baghdad on Friday left at least 14 Iraqis dead after a bomb in a popular pet and animal market. At least one U.S. Marine was killed in fighting in a separate incident in Iraq today, bringing the U.S. military death toll of at least 3,070. The violence continues as Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki submitted his proposal for a new security plan to a rare parliamentary session. For some, the meeting took on tones of a dark past rather than a better future, as Maliki threatened to arrest a Sunni member of parliament who complained that the plan would lead to further attacks against the country’s Sunni minority. Hiba Dawood has more.
Jury Decided Ohio Recounts Were Rigged (2:00)
A jury has decided that election recounts were rigged in the largest county in Ohio during the recount of the 2004 presidential election. Pokey Anderson has the story.
Renewed Political Violence Hits Oaxaca (4:00)
The legal team representing the detainees from Oaxaca’s political conflict presented their first formal report yesterday in Mexico City, in which they detail numerous human rights violations committed by state and federal authorities, and warned that legal protest has become increasingly criminalized in the southern state. This, as pro-government forces carried out a violent assault on villagers in a self-declared “popular township” near Oaxaca’s state capital. Vladimir Flores reports from Oaxaca City.
Australia Day, Survival Day (4:20)
It is 219 years to the day since the first white colonizers landed in Sydney cove in Australia and began a brutal and bloody campaign to wrest control of the land from the indigenous population. Erica Vowles reports from Sydney.
Mumia Abu Jamal Commentary: An Address to Antiwar Protests around the Country (2:00)
And finally, Free Speech Radio News brings you a speech from Mumia Abu Jamal that will be delivered at antiwar rallies around the country tomorrow.