European Theater

200,000 march in Edinburgh

Some 225,000 came out for the Make Poverty History march in Edinburgh July 2, on the eve of the G8 summit about to open at the Gleneagles resort outside the city, as Live8 concerts echoing the demand for action against poverty in Africa and elsewhere were held in London's Hyde Park and other venues around the globe. Only one arrest was reported, but many activists complained of being photographed by police, both on the march and at road stops and train stations en route to Edinburgh. Police are also said to be concerned about an "Anarchist Carnival" scheduled for this evening in Edinbugh. (BBC, July 2) Anti-war themes were prominent in the Edinburgh march, but another action by the UK's Stop the War Coalition is scheduled for tomorrow, with a blockade of the nearby Faslane Naval base scheduled for Monday the 4th.

Spain rebuffs ETA on talks

The Basque separatist group ETA called for the start of a peace process in a letter published June 17. "It is essential to open a democratic process without limits and involving everyone. ETA is totally prepared to become involved in such a process," Basque newspaper Gara quoted the group as saying in its open letter. But Spain's Socialist government insisted the group must lay down its arms first.

France: al-Qaeda cell convicted?

A Pakistani man and two Frenchmen of Pakistani origin, who were at first suspected of helping would-be shoe-bomber Richard Reid, were instead found guilty of links to the Jammu and Kashmir separatist group Lashkar-e-Taiba June 16. The Paris court sentenced the main defendant, Ghulam Rama, 67, a Pakistani who headed the Chemin Droit (Straight Path) humanitarian group in France, to five years in prison. Two men who apparently trained for insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir with Rama's help, Hassan el-Cheguer and Hakim Mokhfi, both 31, were given four-year prison sentences. They were all charged with criminal association in connection with a terrorist enterprise, a sweeping charge widely used in terror cases in France that carries a maximum 10-year sentence.

Spain: al-Qaeda cell busted?

Police arrested 11 men June 15 on charges of belonging to a Syrian-based group that recruits suicide bombers to attack U.S. troops in Iraq. Authorities said the recruiting network has ties to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. More than 500 heavily-armed police held predawn raids in six cities to grab the men.

Srebrenica video prompts arrests in Serbia

Ana Uzelac of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting's Tribunal Update, which monitors the war crimes trials at The Hague, offers this account (reprinted by the Bosnian Institute News) of the implications of the Srebrenica massacre video which has emerged. If these odious "Scorpions" were really under the control of the Serbian Interior Ministry, defenses of Milosevic as out of the Bosnian loop start to look pretty specious. Writes Uzelac:

Amnesty International blasts EU

In a detailed analysis of the European Union's counter-terrorism initiatives in the area of criminal law since 9-11, Amnesty International claims the absence of concrete human rights safeguards in many of these initiatives is likely to undermine efforts to fight terrorism in Europe. "Respect for human rights is often portrayed as hampering efforts to defeat terrorism but this new analysis shows how genuine security is undermined if basic human rights and the rule of law are not respected. It is in the breach, not in the protection of human rights that security is put at risk. That goes for the EU as well as anywhere else in the world," Dick Oosting, director of Amnesty International's EU Office told a press conference in Brussels May 31.

The French "Non!": goat-cheese or anti-Semitism?

France has rejected the European Union's constitution in a national referendum, in a blow to President Jacques Chirac and European integration. 56% voted against the treaty, Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin said, citing official results with 90% of ballots counted. The defeat, the first veto of an EU pact by a founding member, may kill the constitution, which requires the approval of all 25 nations. It may also end Chirac's hopes of seeking re-election in 2007, after his failure to curb unemployment at a 5-year high. The result may set back plans by countries including Turkey and Croatia to join. The euro fell after the exit polls.

Edinburgh police: no anti-war march at G8 summit

Police in Edinburgh are asking for a ban on a major anti-war rally slated for the Scottish capital during the G8 summit meeting, alleging that its organizers have been linked with "violence and disruption." The UK's Stop the War Coalition wants to hold the rally four days before the G8 summit opens the first week of July at the nearby resort of Gleneagles.

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