Thursday, 24 March 2011

End the US-led armed intervention in Libya

Statement of Focus on the Global South
Focus on the Global South supports the democratic opposition in Libya that seeks to end the 43-year-old dictatorship of Muammar Gaddafi. Focus shares the Libyan people’s desire to be free of a corrupt and repressive ruler who does not hesitate to employ massive force against his own people to hang on to power. Focus cannot, however, support the massive armed intervention launched by the United States, France, and Britain on Sunday, 20 March.

A “No Fly Zone” to protect civilians is one thing. An armed assault aimed at regime change is another thing altogether. The latter is the intent of the US/UK/French-led intervention, which, although displaying the fig leaf of a United Nations Security Council resolution, goes far beyond the defensive aims of a no-fly zone to cross over into aggression against Libya.

Firing on ground troops and pre-emptively and indiscriminately destroying anti-aircraft installations will bring about precisely that loss of life that the intervention ostensibly seeks to prevent. Civilians are being killed by the western assault when civilians were supposedly the very people the action was supposed to protect.

The fight for democracy waged by the Libyan people must be supported, but not by western military action that is an instrument of regime change. This action may ostensibly have humanitarian objectives, but its main objective is to reassert western hegemony in a region that is caught up in the winds of democratic change.

Owing to its support for authoritarian regimes in the Middle East, the US has lost much of its credibility among the Arab peoples. Indeed, the US may be said to be one of the targets of the Arab democratic revolution. In this context, the intervention in Libya for regime change is Washington’s belated attempt to appear as a pro-democratic force, shore up its tattered legitimacy, and remind the Arab nations of its strategic hegemony in the region. Yet the world will not miss the hypocrisy of a hegemony which shouts that it is supporting democracy in Libya while it stands on the side as a reactionary regime it has armed and supported, Saudi Arabia, has invaded and is crushing democratic forces in Bahrain.

The West’s “armed intervention for democracy“ will not advance the cause of democracy. Indeed, it will discredit it by associating democracy with a western show of force. The intervention in Libya risks stoking forces as powerful as the democratic movement: Arab nationalism and Islamic solidarity. It will end up creating conflicts among movements which should be complementary, and the only victor will be western hegemony.

We in Focus on the Global South call for an immediate end to the US/UK/French-led war on Libya.

We call on global civil society and on governments throughout the world to support the Libyan people’s struggle for democracy against Gaddafi.

We ask especially the democratic movements in Tunisia and Egypt to come to the aid of the Libyan people.

We call for an end to all efforts to maintain or reassert US hegemony in the Middle East.

22 March 2011

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Deutsche Bank cancels interest in Jaitapur Nuclear Project India

India’s Nuclear Power Corporation (NPCIL) encounters difficulties in raising funds for a new nuclear plant situated in an earth quake prone zone. Earlier this year, the company invited over a dozen large banks from around the world to participate in financing the construction of the world’s largest nuclear complex near the town of Jaitapur in Western India. While Germany’s Commerzbank turned down this invitation, other international banks such as BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole, Citibank and Deutsche Bank expressed interest in participating in the project.

Last week, people close to the situation confirmed to NGOs, enquiring about the possible role of Deutsche Bank in this project, that Deutsche has decided to cancel its participation in the bidding process for Jaitapur. “We welcome this decision of Deutsche Bank and call on other banks to follow suit,” says Heffa Schuecking, director of the German environment and human rights organization ‘urgewald’. Jaitapur is one of the world’s most controversial nuclear projects as it is located in a high risk zone for earthquakes. Only 17 years ago, an earthquake of over 6.3 on the Richter scale took place in the vicinity, killing some 9,000 people.

The Indian Government, however, ignored these risks during site selection for the project. According to Karuna Raina of Greenpeace India, “India not only has an alarming track record regarding nuclear hazards but also a complacent safety culture.” She points out, that in 1994 for example, the containment of the Kaiga nuclear power plant in the Indian State of Karnataka collapsed due to flawed construction. “It is astonishing that after ‘Fukushima’, the Indian government is still willing to gamble on Jaitapur being different. Responsible banks should back away from such highly irresponsible projects, especially when located in a earthquake zone; we expect banks to learn at least that lesson from the disaster in Japan” warns Yann Louvel, climate and energy coordinator of the international NGO network BankTrack.

Among the other banks that have been approached to finance Jaitapur are HSBC, Standard Chartered, Société Génerale, Crédit Agricole, Citibank and Santander. Financial advisor for the project is BNP Paribas. BankTrack, Greenpeace and urgewald have written to all banks asking them to dissociate themselves from this project.

Trade Union letter: G20 Finance Ministers on wrong track

Trade unions are demanding a fundamental change in direction from the G20 Finance Ministers, who are ignoring the desperation of hundreds of millions of people without decent jobs or social protection. The union concerns are set out in a letter being sent by national trade union centres in G20 countries to their Finance Ministers. According to the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), jobs with fair wages are central to achieving economic recovery, but the G20 Finance Ministers are doing nothing to promote employment, focusing instead on keeping financial markets happy and allowing banks to regain control of the economy. They will have to do much better than this when they meet again in Washington in mid-April.

“The promises made by the G20 leaders at the beginning of this crisis to avoid a jobless recovery are not being followed through. Ministers dealing with labour and development issues cannot realise the ambition for sustainable job growth while their Finance Ministry colleagues are pushing in the opposite direction. We are looking to the French G20 Presidency to help fix this deepening incoherence in international policy. The alternative would be yet more inequality, massive youth unemployment and a stagnating global economy, with terrible social consequences,” said John Evans, General Secretary of the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD.

Please find the letter >>> here.