Wednesday, September 5, 2001

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  • BRITISH ATTEMPT TO BLOCK EU APOLOGY FOR SLAVERY

    While much of the media attention in this country is focused on Israel and the US pullout from the UN World Conference Against Racism, the role of the European Union at the conference has been largely ignored. But the British government is attempting to block a European Union statement at the conference that would formally apologize for slavery. Some EU delegates say they are worried that apologizing might imply that European nations involved in slavery bore some responsibility for their actions and should pay reparations.

  • DELEGATES AT UN CONFERENCE SAY SLAVERY AND REPARATIONS, NOT ISRAEL, REASON FOR US WALKOUT

    Senior diplomats at the U.N. Conference Against Racism are charging that the U.S. withdrawal from the conference was prompted by its fear of facing massive reparations claims over the enslavement of African Americans, and not, as it implied, by friction over the Middle East. As Israeli and the U.S. delegations packed their bags for early flights home today, a South African Government spokesman said: "The general perception among all delegates is that the US does not want to confront the real issues of slavery and all its manifestations." The headline of an article yesterday in the Durban-based Daily news read pay-out key to US walk-out. Civil Rights activist Jesse Jackson also slammed the U.S. delegation for pulling out of the conference, saying it was a political smokescreen to evade the slavery issue. He says he will make reparations a priority when he returns to the U.S.

  • INDIAS DALIT, OR UNTOUCHABLE CASTE, DEMAND INCLUSION AT UN CONFERENCE TARGETS OF RACISM

    One of the largest NGO delegations present in Durban are some 200 Dalit Indians. Dalits are the lowest caste in the Hindu religion, the so called "untouchables" of society. Dalits number around 250 million. For many years, Dalit people have been subject to daily abuses of their human rights, they are not allowed to drink water from public government water sources, they cannot enter temples, they cannot even wear their shoes in the streets of temple villages. And Dalit people are also victims of vicious hate crimes. Last week a 24 year old Dalit man was burnt alive in a hay stack by upper-caste villagers where he lived. Dalit people are in Durban demanding that Indias oppressive caste system be put on the official UN conference agenda, and also in the final declaration against racism. The Indian government argues that a racism forum is not the place to debate issues of religion. The Dalits say the discrimination they face because of their caste in India is the equivalent of racism and apartheid.