The Acts of the Democracies

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Year : 1996

20 Items Selected

Generated : 8th December 2023



Israel and Lebanon

Israel attacks southern Lebanon. Some 400,000 Lebanese abandon their homes in an eight hour period after 16,000 shells rain down on them. The Israelis bomb the abandoned houses.

Israel attacks Qana, a United Nations refugee camp in southern Lebanon, with 6 anti-personnel shells killing over 106 people, mostly women and children. The camp was home to 500 Lebanese forced from their villages in southern Lebanon by Israeli raids.

The survivors describe what happened:

"I fled in the morning with two friends and went for refuge to the emergency forces in Qana. I had my wife and my four children with me. They led us into a shelter where there were about fifty people. Then suddenly the sound of bombing rang out. A first shell, then a second fell near the shelter, and as we were trying to get out, another shell hit the shelter directly. I don't know what happened to my wife and children."

"I heard people shouting 'Allahu akbar!', and a woman fell down unconscious. I reached out to get an idea what had happened to her, and her brain fell into my hand."

"In one second I lost everything: my children, 14 of my grandchildren, and my wife. I don't want to live anymore. Tell the doctors to let me die."

The Israeli claim that the attack was accidental is discounted by United Nations observers who also condemn Israel for missile attacks on ambulances and residential areas. The USA magazine Newsweek informs its readers that the victims had "died in the cross fire".

The USA arms Israel and continually blocks United Nations resolutions condemning the occupation.

Israel and Palestine

Over 80 Palestinians are killed in the West Bank by Israeli troops. In one incident, an Israeli helicopter fires at an ambulance killing two women and four girls.

The parliament of Israel approves the building of more settlements (colonies) on Palestinian land against the wishes of the local people and in violation of the Geneva Conventions and the United Nations.

USA and Iraq

The USA bombs Iraq. This bombing has been going on for six years.

The USA finances the Iraqi National Accord with millions of dollars. This group uses car bombs in Baghdad and other cities in an attempt to destabilise Saddam Hussein. Over 100 civilians have been killed in Baghdad between 1994 and 1996. A few weeks later at a USA led conference in Egypt, one of the topics of discussion would be the flow of money to terrorist groups.

Torture in Turkey

A report in the Journal of the American Medical Association about torture in Turkey tells of doctors being forced to examine torture victims and sign medical reports indicating there were no physical signs of torture. The report describes some of the forms of torture used in Turkey:

"Some of the methods of physical torture reported by those interviewed were severe beatings, including falanga (beating of the soles of the feet); various forms of suspension; sexual violations, including testicle squeezing and twisting; electric shock; blunt trauma causing injury to internal organs; and burns. Psychological methods of torture included being deprived of food and water, being sprayed with cold pressurized water, threats to friends and family, isolation, immobilizations, mock executions, and being forced to witness the torture of others."

Children as young as 12 are regularly arrested and sent to long prison terms after being tortured. One 14 year old boy states:

"I had to undress...They asked questions that were nothing to do with me; when I said I did not know, they twisted my testicles...Four of them held me by the hands and arms and gave electric shocks to my right thumb, to my sexual organs, to my arms and to my stomach...Afterwards I had no feeling in my right foot and sexual organ."

Human Rights Watch publishes a report describing how weapons supplied by NATO countries (USA, Germany, Italy, France, Netherlands, the UK, Spain, Canada and Belgium), play a central role in abuses committed by Turkish security forces in their campaign to evacuate and burn Kurdish villages in southeastern Turkey.

As a USA official admits:

"There's a lot of misery being caused by the village evacuations. It's being done in a very brutal way, and no provision is being made for the refugees."

The European Court of Human Rights condemns Turkey for destroying the village of Kelekci in the Kurdish region of the country in 1993.

Serbia Elections

Slobodan Milosevic annuls elections in Serbia.


The government in Brazil decrees that land belonging to indigenous peoples is opened up to multinational companies.


Pro-democracy demonstrators in Bahrain are arrested and tortured without trial. The detainees include 60 children, some as young as 7 years old. Political activists are exiled along with their families. This oil-rich country is supported by the UK and USA.

Global Climate Coalition

The Global Climate Coalition, GCC, (set up in 1989) is a public relations (PR) company created and financed by a group of Western multinational corporations including: Arco, Dow Hydrocarbons, Exxon, Philips, Texaco, General Motors, BP, DuPont, Ford, Chrysler, Daimler, and Shell.

The GCC attempts to discredit scientific research on global warming even resorting to personally attacking some of the scientists themselves.

In the run up to the Kyoto Summit (about climate change) the GCC spends $13 million to oppose any reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. A series of damaging stories against one of the leading scientists working on global warming (Ben Santer) are released by the GCC and published by the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal in the USA.

John Grasser of the GCC would later assert at the Kyoto Summit:

"We think we have raised enough questions among the American public to prevent any numbers, targets or timetables to achieve reductions in gas emissions being achieved here. What we are doing, and we think successfully, is buying time for our industries by holding up these talks."

The USA (which emits 25% of the world's carbon dioxide) states that it would like to see more action by "developing nations".

The School of the Americas

In the USA the Pentagon (headquarters of the country's military) releases 7 training manuals used to train military personnel at the School of the Americas (SOA) set up by the American army in 1946.

Military from many countries were trained at this school: Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, El Salvador, Peru, and Venezuela.

The USA newspaper, the Washington Post, reports that the manuals: "suggested militaries infiltrate and suppress even democratic political dissident movements and hunt down opponents in every segment of society in the name of fighting Communism."

One of the manuals is about counter-intelligence which defines its targets as "local or national political party teams, or parties that have goals, beliefs or ideologies contrary or in opposition to the National Government", or "teams of hostile organizations whose objective is to create dissension or cause restlessness among the civilian population in the area of operations." The manual recommends that the army create a "blacklist" of "persons whose capture and detention are of foremost importance to the armed forces." It should include "subversive persons, political leaders known or suspected as hostile toward the Armed Forces or the political interests of the National Government," and "collaborators and sympathizers of the enemy."

Insurgents "can resort to subverting the government by means of elections in which the insurgents cause the replacement of an unfriendly government official to one favourable to their cause".

Another manual (Terrorism and the Urban Guerilla) describes measures for controlling city populations: Identity cards, registration, control by blocks, police patrols, curfew and checkpoints.

Handling of Sources describes methods of placing and looking after spies.

Graduates from the SOA include:

USA in Space

The USA considers taking control of space to look after its interests. A Pentagon document called United States Space Command Vision for 2020 talks about "dominating the space dimension of military operations to protect USA interests and investment. During the early portion of the 21st century, space power will also evolve into a separate and equal medium of warfare."

Part of the strategy involves the development of: "ballistic missile defences using space systems and planning for precision strikes from space... a region of with increasing commercial, civil, international and military interests and investment. Control of space is the ability to assure access to space, freedom of operations within the space medium and an ability to deny others the use of space, if required."

A year later, Keith Hall, from the USA Air Force for Space would admit: "with regard to space dominance, we have it, we like it, and we're going to keep it."

Joseph Ashy of the USA Space Command states: "We will engage terrestrial targets someday - ships, airplanes, land targets - from space. We're going to fight in space. We're going to fight from space and we're going to fight into space."

Placing weapons into space would violate a United Nations resolution unanimously adopted in 1963.

USA Companies in Haiti

The Superior Baseball Plant in Haiti, pays its workers $0.38 for every 12 baseballs sown. These are made for the USA. By subcontracting, American companies can evade responsibility for local conditions. The journalist, John Pilger described the conditions:

"...girls stooped in front of whirring, hissing, binding machines. Many had swollen eyes and lacerated arms. There was no protection and a large man barked orders at them."

Workers making Micky Mouse and Pocahontas pyjamas for Disney are paid $0.12 per hour.

In addition to being a cheap manufacturing base for the USA, Haiti's sugar, bauxite (an ore of Aluminium), sisal (a fibre from a leaf) are all controlled by USA companies. This is the main reason behind the 1994 USA invasion of Haiti although the American president, Bill Clinton, said it was because of "unacceptable human rights violations that shame our hemisphere."

Western Companies and Child Labour

The UK imports $12 million worth of sporting goods made mainly by child labour in India.

Children can stitch two footballs (soccer balls) every day for which they are paid a daily wage of $0.25, barely enough to buy a litre of milk. Many of these footballs end up at large football clubs where they are signed by the players and sold for large profits.

Countries such as the UK (as well as Australia, the USA and Japan) have all moved their manufacturing industries to poor countries with low wages and lax safety conditions.

In Thailand, hundreds of workers making Bart Simpson and Cabage Patch Dolls, have died in factory fires. Workers in China (making Barbie and Sindy dolls, Power Rangers and Fisher-Price toys for infants) have also died in fires.

Thousands of workers use glues, plastics and paints without protection or ventilation leading to illness and disability.

Company Tax Avoidance

In the UK, the News International company, owned by Rupert Murdoch, has helped the government by supporting it in all newspapers owned by the company. In return the company paid no taxes. Consequently, the UK community was denied $1,000 million in taxes between 1986 and 1996.

Slave Labour in Burma

The military government of Burma declares 1996 as Visit Burma Year in an attempt to encourage tourism.

1000 Shan people are expelled from their village to make way for a golf course. Since 1988, some 5 million people have been forcibly removed from their homes and exiled in "satellite towns" as part of the drive to make the country a haven for tourism. A million of these have been moved from the capital, Rangoon.

The United Nations Commission for Human Rights reports that the following violations were common in Burma:

"Torture, summary and arbitrary executions, forced labour, abuse of women, politically motivated arrests and detention, forced displacement, important restrictions on the freedoms of expression and association, and oppression of ethnic and religious minorities."

Amnesty International states:

"Conditions in labour camps are so harsh that hundreds of prisoners have died as a result. In the largest detention facility at least 800 political prisoners are being held. Military... personnel regularly interrogate prisoners to the point of unconsciousness. Even the possession of almost any reading material is punishable... Elderly and sick people and even handicapped people are placed in leg irons and forced to work."

Slave and forced labour is used to restore the Burma's infrastructure. The moat around the royal palace in Mandalay is excavated by chain gangs of labourers guarded by troops. Many of the criminals in the gangs are political prisoners, sentenced to long terms for "crimes" such as being elected to parliament, calling for democracy, speaking to foreign journalists, or communicating with the United Nations.

Various UK companies, like British Airways and Orient Express, organise expensive tours to Burma describing the country as "unspoilt" and "the ultimate in luxury".

Joe Cummings, the writer of the Australian guide books, Lonely Planet, considers that "human rights abuses have decreased in the face of increased tourism".

70% of the profits from Burma's tourist industry leave the country.

UK "Aid" and Arms Sales

The National Audit Office in the UK finds a link between aid for Indonesia (paid for by the UK tax payer) and arms sales to the undemocratic and brutal regime. The items sold include police installations and airports as well as military infrastructure. The Minister for Overseas Development, Linda Chalker states that the aid would be "helping the poor in Indonesia".

The countries receiving aid from the UK are not the poorest or neediest: Malaysia (far richer than Bangladesh), Oman (an oil rich sultanate) and Ecuador (richer than many countries in the Caribbean) all receive large amounts of aid. They are all also major buyers of UK arms.

East Timor

In Australia, an enquiry occurs into the deaths of six Australian, UK, and New Zealand journalists and cameramen during the invasion of East Timor by Indonesia in 1975. Both the UK and Australian governments had kept quiet about the killings until persistent campaigning from the widow of one of the journalists, Greg Shackleton.

After the enquiry concludes (against eye witness testimony) that the journalists were killed in "cross fire", the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, states that "you can't always expect countries with whom you want to have good relations to have the same value system as we have."

Indonesia's annexation of East Timor had resulted in 200,000 deaths, a third of the population. This figure had been verified by Amnesty International, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Australian Foreign Affairs Committee.

The Timor Gap Treaty, signed in 1989, had allowed Australia and Indonesia to exploit East Timor's huge oil reserves, estimated at 7000 million barells.

The two countries upgrade this treaty to allow the plunder of East Timor's fishing grounds. Another deal on infrastructure projects benefits the Indonesian president (Suharto) and his family to the tune of $53,000 million. The Australian Deputy Prime Minister, Tim Fisher, describes Suharto as "perhaps the world's greatest figure in the latter half of the 20th century".

India and Kashmir

During the year, Indian security forces in Kashmir kill 9,972 people. Victims include political activists and journalists:

India had taken over 65% of Kashmir against the wishes of the population in 1947. It has consistently denied the people a vote on the future of the state.

USA and Cuba

A crop duster aircraft operated by the USA State Department is spotted releasing a mist over Matanzas province in Cuba by another pilot. The plane had permission to fly from the USA to Colombia via the Grand Caymen and to overfly Cuba.

Two months later a plague of Thrips Palmi, a pesticide resistant insect, is observed in the area. This spreads rapidly affecting corn, beans, squash, cucumbers and other crops. When questioned, the USA replies that the pilot had sprayed smoke to indicate his position. This is contradicted by the USA Federal Aviation Administration which knows of "no regulation calling for this practice".

In 1977 a released CIA document had admitted that it "maintained a clandestine anti-crop warfare research program targeted during the 1960s at a number of countries around the world".

Elections in Russia

In Russia, Boris Yeltsin receives political advice from a group of Americans working through Dick Morris, adviser to USA president, Bill Clinton.

The advice covers topics like message development, polling, focus groups, crowd staging and control of the media. In four months, Yeltin's poll rating rises from 6% to 54%.

Elections in Mongolia

Between 1992 and 1996, the National Endowment for Democracy (a USA funding group for foreign policy) spends $1,000,000 financing the opposition National Democratic Union in Mongolia.

Within 2 years of the opposition victory, Mongolia has electronic listening stations to intercept Chinese military communications.

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