Tuesday, July 24 3:43 AM SGT 

S.Africa's 'Dr Death' was chemical warfare spy in US

PRETORIA, July 23 (AFP) - 

South Africa's apartheid-era military biochemical warfare expert Wouter Basson, dubbed 'Dr Death', was a chemical spy in the United States early in his career, he told the Pretoria High Court on Monday.

Basson, charged with 46 crimes ranging from murder and fraud to drug trafficking, took the stand for the first time Monday in the trial that started in October 1999.

Basson headed the former South African Defence Force's (SADF) sinister chemical and biological warfare programme in the 1980s and early 1990s.

The programme was involved in the development of toxins, germs, drugs and lethal implements to kill enemies of the apartheid state.

Basson, dressed in a dark suit and tie with a golden tie pin, appeared comfortable in the witness box, well-spoken and at times joking and boasting about his own abilities.

Basson said his training in chemical and biological warfare began in the United States where, acting under the guise of a military service evader, he infiltrated organisations on the left and right of the US political spectrum and gained access to top-secret government data.

He also used financial and technological methods to get information and contacts as a spy, which was a new field for him.

Basson told the court he wanted at first to specialise in gynaecology, but his plans as a medical doctor changed when he was called up for military service for two years.

At the end of his compulsory SADF duty, Basson, ranked then as lieutenant colonel, decided to stay on as he enjoyed the military environment.

Basson said in the early 1980s senior SADF officers approached him about getting information on the chemical and biological warfare capabilities available to Eastern Bloc and other countries at the time.

Basson said there was nobody else with even his minimal experience able to do this.

He said he had regarded the creation of a chemical and biological warfare capability for South Africa as an "interesting intellectual problem".

If South African troops were indeed under threat from such attacks, he regarded it as an honour to be involved in such a project, Basson said.

Basson stressed that his only specific instructions were that he would have to work covertly. Money would be made available, and the methods he used to get information were left up to him.

The trial continues Tuesday.

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Date: Sat, 28 Jul 2001 16:33:59 -0400
From: Dot Smith <icim@bellsouth.net>
Subject: The Trenches

In the Trenches on WCAR

Turnout 75%: Georgia Democrat, United States
Representative Cynthia McKinney's efforts to get the Bush
administration to participate in the United Nations World
Conference Against Racism, Xenophobia, Racial Discrimination
and Related Intolerance (WCAR) to be held in Durban, South
Africa August 31 - September 7, 2001 became an in-your-face,
nose-to-nose battle this week. Representatives of the State
Department were still not returning telephone calls or
responding to e-mail messages regarding WCAR.

On Friday, White House Spokesman Ari Fleischer
renewed the administration's threat to boycott the
conference entirely, if Mary Robinson, UN High Commissioner
for Human Rights, and other WCAR leaders allowed African
Americans to discuss slavery or reparations. Fleischer
stated, "The U.S. plans to go. The only thing that will stop
the U.S. from going...is if the leaders of the conference
make the very unwise decision of equating Zionism with
racism or if they take other steps that have not been
supported by previous administration." Those other steps
include allowing blacks to speak about reparations for
American slave descendants.

Republicans in Congress dealt another blow to Rep.
McKinney's efforts by refusing to allow a vote on , a
resolution calling on the United States to support WCAR.
Rep. McKinney also wants to give victims of racism and
Zionism an opportunity to tell their story in their words at
WCAR.

Meanwhile, in the trenches in Atlanta, the battle
over WCAR moved to a new level. The week began with Rep.
McKinney's office laying plans to hold a congressional
educational hearing on WCAR as part of Poets for Peace
"International Speak Out" on August 16, 2001. Sister Poets
Embracing Altruistic Kinship (S.P.E.A.K.), Kimotion,
Voluptuous and Sunshyne will help coordinate local venues,
where poets and others can take the microphone to speak out
about the devastation of racism. S.P.E.A.K. will be
supported by Aquiyl and the MoorEpics Slam Team, which
includes GA Me (Georgia Me), Alexis, Malik and Yohannes. The
slam team, which competes in the National Slam August 1-5,
2001 in Seattle, Washington, has a new CD titled MoorEpics
Slam Team 2001 that is badly needed ammunition in this war
of words over WCAR.

Rep. McKinney and Congressional Black Caucus
President Eddie Bernice Johnson ended the week with a
distress call, asking everyone in the Diaspora to: CALL
DEMOCRATIC LEADER RICHARD GEPHARDT @ 202-225-0622 AND HOUSE
MAJORITY LEADER DICK ARMEY @ 202-225-7772. DEMAND THE
SUPPORT OF HOUSE RESOLUTION 211 AND US PARTICIPATION IN THE
UN WORLD CONFERENCE ON RACISM.

Every slave descendant is a victim of American
racism. As battles go, this one will not solve black
people's problems forever. Nevertheless, some battles must
be fought regardless of the outcome. This is our opportunity
to let the world know we exist and are ready to take our
place on the international stage. Moreover, we refuse to be
silenced by Bush and the forces that support worldwide
racism. Join Poets for Peace, the Congressional Black
Caucus, S.P.E.A.K, Live Poets and The DISH on August 16 and
speak out. Raise your voice and help break the WCAR silence!

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=============================================================
World Conference on Racism: US Threatens Walkout

URGENT ACTION to Require US Participation



The upcoming World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination,

Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (WCAR) is bringing critical issues of

the lives of people around the world. From the North-South gap to slavery

to the land rights of indigenous peoples and Afro-Latinos to the impact

of globalization, crucial issues for the global struggles for culture,

land and life are on the table.


Now, the world's most powerful country, a country that was built on the

stolen land and lobor of slavery and genocide, a country riven with racial

divisions and internal oppression, and a country whose corporations and

militaries exploit racism and its many legacies for profit, is threatening

not to even attend.


The WCAR offers a global spotlight on a critical issue. It offers a place

for people throughout the world to declare a legal and moral basis for

racial justice. Demand that the US government be there, take part, and

be willing to be held accountable.



In this posting:

1. Urgent Action Alert and Dear Colleague Letter

from Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney

2. U.S. Warns It May Skip Conference On Racism

Washington Post

3. Americas’ Conference: Neo-liberalism Exacerbates Racism

InterPress Service wire

4. Declaring the Slave Trade a Crime Against Humanity

Ron Daniels, from The Black World Today

5. Racism conference splits Africa, West

Associated Press wire


[Copyrighted works distributed in accordance with Fair Use doctrine]


____________________________________________________________

1. URGENT ACTION NEEDED:


Please call Minority Speaker Dick Gephardt and House Majority Leader

Dick Armey and ask them to push for the inclusion of House Resolution

211 onto the House calendar early next week. The Bush Administration is

seeking to block US participation in the UN World Conference on Racism.

This is unacceptable, we need calls made TODAY AND MONDAY to pressure

the leadership to adopt this important Resolution and push for US

participation in this historic conference.


CALLS SHOULD BE MADE TO DEMOCRATIC LEADER GEPHARDT 202-225-0622 AND

HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER DICK ARMEY AT 202-225-7772. DEMAND THE SUPPORT OF

HOUSE RESOLUTION 211 AND US PARTICIPATION IN THE UN WORLD CONFERENCE ON

RACISM.


Please call Jon Fremont in Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney's office at

202-225-1605 for more information.



July 27, 2001


Dear Colleague:


As you may be aware, the United Nations World Conference Against Racism,

Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (WCAR) is

scheduled to begin on August 31, 2001 in Durban, South Africa. Despite

the fact that planning for this important conference began over 3 years

ago, the United States has not made a firm commitment to participate or

support the WCAR. Unfortunately, racism and discrimination continue to

exist in the United States, as it does in virtually every nation in the

world, and it is essential that the United States, as a global leader in

many fields, sustain this position at the WCAR.


In response, I have introduced House Resolution 211, which states the

significance and importance of the conference. Further, H. Res. 211

simply urges the following of the Bush Administration:


That Secretary of State Colin Powell lead the United States

delegation to the WCAR in Durban, South Africa in order to heighten

the delegation's stature and to demonstrate to the world the

seriousness with which the U.S. approaches not only the WCAR, but

the global situation of racial discrimination.


That the Administration increase support for the WCAR by providing

financial assistance in support of the conference, and to insure

that such assistance is consistent with previous commitments the

U.S. has made to similar fora.


That the Administration adopt policy positions at the WCAR that seek

to advance an understanding of current and historic factors

contributing to racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and

related intolerance.


It is essential that the United States play the same leading role in the

World Conference Against Racism that it seeks and maintains in other

international organizations and conventions. As I am confident that you

share my belief that racism and discrimination is a scourge in our

global society, please support H. Res. 211.


Sincerely,



Eddie Bernice Johnson Cynthia McKinney

Member of Congress Member of Congress



____________________________________________________________

2. U.S. Warns It May Skip Conference On Racism


By Darryl Fears and Alan Sipress

Washington Post Staff Writers

Friday, July 27, 2001; Page A01


The United States will not attend next month's World Conference Against

Racism if two contentious issues are included in the conference agenda,

a senior State Department official said yesterday.


Top State Department officials plan to inform three dozen foreign

diplomats today of the Bush's administration's position on the issues of

Zionism as racism, and reparations for slavery and colonialism, the

official said. The Washington-based ambassadors, representing several

continents, are expected to meet in Foggy Bottom with Marc Grossman,

undersecretary of state for political affairs, and Undersecretary of

State Paula J. Dobriansky. They intend to tell the ambassadors that the

United States needs their help to build support for striking the two

topics.


"We need to be really clear about our position," the senior State

Department official said. "We don't want anybody to be surprised when

they look up on the day of Durban and wonder why we're not there."


The absence of the United States would be a severe blow to the

convention, which is being billed as the most important international

discussion of race ever held. Formally titled the United Nations

Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related

Intolerance, it is scheduled to start Aug. 31 for an eight-day run in

the coastal South African city of Durban.


The State Department official's statement was the latest warning about

the conference by the Bush administration, which has voiced its

displeasure over the agenda for months. And it was a firm message to

Mary Robinson, the conference's top organizer and the United Nations

high commissioner for human rights, who on Monday will start the last

round of meetings in Geneva to discuss the agenda. A five-member State

Department team will attend those discussions, a White House official

said.


"I am aware that there are quite a number of hurdles," Robinson said

yesterday from Geneva. She met twice with Secretary of State Colin L.

Powell, in February and June, and once with national security adviser

Condoleezza Rice in February. What she heard in those meetings, she

said, was encouraging.


Robinson and other conference advocates have said that the two issues in

question are only proposals for the agenda. Some African Americans and

African nations have said they are due reparations from countries that

participated in the slave trade during the 1700s and early 1800s. The

dispute over Zionism goes back to a 1975 U.N. resolution equating it

with racism. The resolution was repealed 10 years ago, but some Arab

organizations proposed similar language for the conference's draft

declaration.


Whether the proposals will be adopted is an open question. The issues

are "being discussed by small teams of negotiators behind closed doors,"

Robinson said. "They face a considerable challenge because time is

short."


Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are among the organizations

imploring Bush to send a delegation to the conference. Others include

the NAACP, the National Urban League and the Leadership Conference on

Civil Rights.


"I think . . . that the U.S. should be at the conference," said Hilary

Shelton, director of the NAACP's Washington bureau. "I think this is an

important opportunity to address these issues of race. It's something

that many of us have been actively engaged in preparing for."


Others had stronger words. Wade Henderson, director of the Leadership

Conference, said the United States lost its seat on the United Nations

Human Rights Commission and was left out of the Kyoto pollution accord

"because of a lack of leadership."


That is becoming part of the administration's form, said Rep. Cynthia

McKinney (D-Ga.). "The Bush administration ought to get accustomed to

standing alone," she said. "Hopefully they will choose to join the rest

of the world and not choose to stand alone in isolation."


A Jewish member of the conference steering committee sided with Bush. "I

think the U.S. should vigorously protest," said Rabbi Marvin Hire,

founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center of Los Angeles. "If it's

going to be a circus, the U.S. should send a very low-level delegation."


"The Arab bloc really wants to hijack the conference," he said. "I'm

afraid the entire conference is going to be just a lot of shouting that

has nothing to do with issues today because of the frustration over

what's going on in the Middle East."


Others believe the trouble with the conference lies in its planning. Its

plan for action was adopted in March, leaving little time to organize

the event. An equivalent document for the World Conference on Women,

held in September 1995 in Beijing, had been adopted 13 months before.


The Conference on Women, though controversial, was ushered in with an

outpouring of fanfare and money. The Clinton administration donated

nearly $6 million to the event, and then-first lady Hillary Rodham

Clinton was one of 50,000 attendees.


By contrast, the Conference Against Racism has been greeted with near

silence in the media. President Clinton donated $250,000 on his way out

of office, and the Bush administration has shown no intention to

increase that sum. Only some 10,000 conference attendees are expected in

Durban.


Robinson said the conference could be a success, especially if it

resulted in a plan to deal with racism in the future. "This is not an

easy conference to prepare for," Robinson said. "We have never addressed

together the darker side of our society: racism, anti-Semitism, the

mistreatment of immigrants, the riots in London by Asian youth and

problems in Germany. It is a difficult issue."


In the United States, civil rights activists say a discussion of slavery

and reparations would be an uncomfortable one that the Bush

administration should not avoid. Henderson, of the Leadership Conference

on Civil Rights, said the issue should remain on the table.


"I believe that democratic principles are advanced amid vigorous and

open debate," he said.


One such debate involving the conference against racism would have taken

place at a congressional hearing earlier this week, but the Wednesday

meeting of the House subcommittee on international operations was

postponed until Tuesday by its chair, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.).


The postponement prompted a barrage of charges from McKinney, a senior

member of the committee. She said the Bush administration officials who

were slated to testify would be in Geneva next week, as would conference

advocates who were to attend the hearing.


"The bottom line is that the Republicans maneuvered to protect the Bush

administration from any overt criticism with respect to the world

conference," McKinney said. "The Republicans in the House subverted the

bipartisan way in which we've been working almost for an entire year.

They want to prevent black people from having an opportunity to discuss

the World Conference Against Racism in an official setting."


Aides to Ros-Lehtinen disputed that claim, saying that a key committee

staffer had to travel out of the city for a family funeral. A spokesman

for the committee said that such postponements were common, and that

some had been made on McKinney's behalf.


Upon hearing that explanation, McKinney said, "It's an affront. The

nation's business doesn't stop for any reason. There is no excuse for

four weeks of planning being pulled out from under us a day before the

hearing."


© 2001 The Washington Post Company



____________________________________________________________

3. AMERICAS’ CONFERENCE: NEO-LIBERALISM EXACERBATES RACISM



The neo-liberal economic model is intensifying structural racism and

discrimination in the Americas, representatives of indigenous, black,

gypsy and migrant communities, as well as sexual minorities, from a

number of American countries have complained.


The closing address of the Forum of the Americas for Diversity and

Pluralism, which ran last month in Quito, Ecuador, was delivered by

Guatemalan Nobel Peace laureate Rigoberta Menchu, an indigenous leader.


The penalisation of racism as a crime against humanity, the right of

peoples to self-determination, and reparations for damages caused by

slavery, colonialism and racism are several of the demands set forth by

the activists meeting in the regional conference preparatory to the

coming world summit against racism.


The forum also has urged national and international bodies to provide

protection for people living with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus),

migrants, sexual minorities, tribal peoples, the elderly, women and

children.


READYING WORLD CONFERENCE


The joint proposal drawn up by this preparatory conference will be

presented at the United Nations World Conference Against Racism and

Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, to open Aug

31 in South Africa.


Participants also protest the application of the neo-liberal free market

economic model in the region, which they say exacerbates racism and

xenophobia.


"This economic doctrine destroys civil society and transforms

citizenship into a privilege that is increasingly inaccessible for

minorities," stresses Dennis de Oliveira, the head of the Union of

Blacks for Equality, a Brazilian NGO. He argues that the formal

mechanisms of democracy have been weakened and end up actually

accentuating discrimination.


"There is a systematic campaign against the legislative powers, a

penetration of election campaigns by political marketing, and a

de-politicisation of the social debate," he adds.


In former colonies like the countries of Latin America, aristrocratic

and slave-holding structures remain nearly intact, and the adoption of

the neo-liberal model "has heightened the process of exclusion and

marginalisation, and condemns many peoples to disappear," De Oliveira

says.


'DEMOCRATISING' POVERTY


According to him, as it expands, that process is leading to an increase

in the number of people excluded from society, in what he describes as

"the democratisation of poverty" and the destruction of civil society.


The Brazilian activist says the conference in South Africa was crucial

in the building of a grand international alliance of "the peoples of the

African diaspora and indigenous peoples" opposed to "neo-liberalism" and

in favour of "the logic of life, rather than the logic of objects."


Spokespersons for the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of

Ecuador, one of the groups that organised the meeting, say NGOs have

assumed a collective commitment to hold joint actions in the region.


"The actions will focus on creating a new global society, based on the

principles of diversity and pluralism, and on the recognition of the

plurinational character of countries and the autonomy of peoples," says

Ecuadorean indigenous leader Blanca Chancoso.


The right to diversity must be respected, and "the other" must be

recognised and respected, with tolerance as the bridge for

understanding, she stresses. Myrna Cunningham from Nicaragua, the dean

of the University of the Autonomous Region of the Nicaraguan Atlantic

Coast, says structural racism can only be eradicated through pressure

from the various sectors of society, exercised through "mobilisations,

public awareness and participation."


INDIGENOUS RIGHTS


She also underlines that racism and xenophobia gain strength from

ignorance of the ancestral legal systems of minorities, the forced

displacement of indigenous and black communities, and the imposition of

development projects that have nothing to do with local cultures.


The conference once more drew the spotlight to the problem of the rights

of indigenous peoples in Latin America. Chancoso points out that while

the growing strength of Ecuador's well-organised indigenous movement and

the phenomenon of Mexico's Zapatistas - an internationally renowned

indigenous rebel group - "have become quite visible, in many countries

of the continent, indigenous peoples are struggling for recognition of

their rights as outlined in International Labour Organisation convention

169."


Chancoso adds that while some constitutions, like Ecuador's,

specifically underlines the rights of indigenous peoples based on

recognition of their identity, they remain merely paper promises that

are not applied in practice. "We must globalise the fight for our

rights," the activist urges. (IPS) (April 2001)



____________________________________________________________

4. DECLARING THE SLAVE TRADE A CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY:

The Moral and Legal Basis for Reparations


By Ron Daniels - ronmae@aol.com

Courtesy of The Black World Today.


In September of this year in Durban, South Africa, the United Nations

will hold what could be one of the most momentous events of the 21st

century, the World Conference on Racism. Thousands of people from around

the world are expected to attend a conference, which will address one of

the most malignant maladies to plague the darker peoples of the world

historically - racism and white supremacy.


People of African descent and other people of color from the developing

world are anxious to discuss the past and present effects of the

castigation and oppression of groups of people on the basis of skin

color. As might be expected, the United States and many of the nations

of Europe are casting a leery eye towards the conference for fear that

the issue of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and the demand for

"restitution" will become a dominant theme of the proceedings. Indeed,

the United States is taking extraordinary steps to prevent the slave

trade and the question of reparations from appearing on the agenda at

all.


This is proving to be a difficult task. Spearheaded by veteran human

rights activists and organizers from the December 12th Movement and the

National Black United Front, a formidable coalition of organizations is

mounting a determined effort not only to ensure that the slave trade and

restitution are on the agenda, but in a bold and visionary move, these

organizations are pressing for the introduction and passage of a

resolution at the World Conference on Racism that would declare the

Trans-Atlantic slave trade a "crime against humanity."


The prospects that such a resolution will pass is causing grave

trepidations in the United States and among the circle of nations which

are culpable in the most horrendous holocaust in human history. Without

question, the passage of this resolution will provide an unassailable

moral foundation for the call for reparations. Equally important, this

resolution will also provide legal undergirding for the demand for

reparations in international law since there is no statute of

limitations on crimes against humanity. Hence, the argument that the

slave trade was a long time ago and therefore should not be subject to

litigation or other forms of redress will be severely undermined.


There should be no question about the veracity of the claim that the

Trans-Atlantic slave trade was a crime against humanity. By some

estimates more than 100 million Africans lost their lives during the

holocaust of enslavement. Beyond the unthinkable loss of life however,

in "How Europe Underdeveloped Africa," Walter Rodney documents the

devastating effects of the slave trade on African people in terms of the

disruption and destruction of families, communities and nations, the

distortion of social, economic and political relations and the loss of

"development opportunity."


The economies of Europe and America developed off the free labor of

enslaved Africans while the continent of Africa was pillaged, ravished

and underdeveloped. Rodney recounts that whole industries and cities

were born and flourished as a consequence of the involvement of Britain

and France in the enslaving and trafficking of Africans. Concurring with

Rodney, Eric Williams in "Capitalism and Slavery" documents how the

fruits of the lucrative Triangular Trade made huge fortunes for

Europeans in the Caribbean and North America, particularly New England.

An entire continent was demonized, demoralized, devastated and hurled

backward in history by the holocaust of enslavement.


Once in this hemisphere, enslaved Africans destined for North America

were subjected to a slave breaking process which not only involved raw

naked terror and intimidation but cultural aggression, the calculated

attempt to dehumanize and de-Africanize the African. Malcolm X once said

that of all the crimes committed by Europeans against Africans, the

greatest crime was to take away our names. By that assertion Malcolm

meant the effort to destroy our culture.


Our ancestors were forbidden to speak in their native tongue, to

practice indigenous religions or to play African musical instruments. In

addition, our ancestors were taught that their African heritage tainted

them and that their color was a "badge of degradation." Any White

person, no matter what their status or station in life was to be

respected and obeyed at all times. And, as chattels, property, our

ancestors could be sold and traded at will with no obligation to keep

families together. There should be no question but that the slave trade

was a crime against humanity. Slave labor made America prosperous while

destroying and stagnating the lives of the captive sons and daughters of

Africa in this country; a crime compounded by the fact that we were

eventually "emancipated" without compensation, no forty acres and mule,

no property or capital in a growing capitalist economy, whose explosive

growth was directly attributable to the free labor of our ancestors.


Europe and America know that they owe African people a debt too enormous

to be calculated. But like cowards, they continue to refuse to take

responsibility for their dastardly deeds. And, they will continue to

refuse to acknowledge their crimes until the victims of the holocaust of

enslavement unite and fight to compel the perpetrators to confess,

apologize and make suitable compensation.


It is for this reason that African people, other historically oppressed

people and our allies must transform the World Conference on Racism into

a forum for discussing the greatest crime against humanity in history.

In so doing, we will build momentum for the just and righteous demand

for reparations for Africans in America and the world!


Copyright (c) 2001 The Black World Today. All Rights Reserved.


____________________________________________________________

5. RACISM CONFERENCE SPLITS AFRICA, WEST

3 June 2001


GENEVA: An upcoming UN anti-racism conference is meant to find new ways

of promoting future racial harmony. So far, it has done little but

reopen past divisions between the conquerors and the oppressed.


A two-week meeting in Geneva intended to draw up an agenda and

declaration for the World Conference Against Racism in August ended in

deadlock Friday over whether countries that prospered from slavery and

colonisation should formally apologise for the suffering they caused -

and pay compensation.


Africans want both, but Western nations led by the United States,

Britain and Canada are resisting any such move. Diplomats from 21

countries were told to begin another two weeks of talks in late July, in

hopes of achieving progress before the conference formally opens Aug. 31

in Durban, South Africa.


Although there are other disagreements - such as what the conference

should say about the Middle East - the question of slavery has proved

the most vexing.


A proposed declaration prepared by African governments described the

slave trade as "a unique tragedy in the history of humanity, a crime

against humanity which is unparalleled" and said slavery, colonialism

and apartheid "have resulted in substantial and lasting economic,

political and cultural damage to African peoples."


It demanded an "explicit apology" and the establishment of an

international compensation program.


UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson told the Geneva

meeting that there should be recognition of what happened, adding that

she saw "great merit in a willingness to have that recognition in the

form of an apology."


But countries that used slaves and former colonial powers are holding

out.


Western negotiators have been keeping a low profile and refuse to talk

about their positions.


Sources close to the meeting said Washington is ready to accept a

statement acknowledging that slavery, even deep in the past, is among

the causes of racism today and to "express regret" for past use of

slaves.


But it stops short of an apology and refuses to accept any suggestion in

the text that countries might be financially liable today. Such a move,

wealthier nations fear, could open them to almost endless lawsuits.


African groups argue that there should be some compensation for slavery

- because, in effect, labour was stolen from the African continent and

helped the development of now-rich nations - and for the stripping of

natural resources during colonial times and even today.


The huge debts of the developing world can be directly linked to slavery

and colonialism, they say, demanding that as a result such debts should

be forgiven.


"The U.S. position is weak because it is legalistic. They say the

question of reparations is difficult because the victims are no longer

alive. We say the victims have heirs," said Alioune Tine, of the African

Coalition for the Defence of Human Rights.


Advocates of compensation point out that Germany is reimbursing victims

of Nazi slave labour programs, Switzerland is paying heirs of Holocaust

victims for money that lay dormant in bank accounts after World War II

and South Africa is trying to address the injustices of the apartheid

era. (AP)

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