International notes

Britain: Greenpeace blocks military port

Early Monday, Greenpeace’s ship Rainbow Warrior blocked the military supply port at Marchwood, South Hampton, to cut Britain’s military supply chain to Iraq. The port is a dispatch point for ships carrying tanks, helicopters and Royal Marines headed to the Persian Gulf.

In addition, the organization’s spokesperson said two Greenpeace protesters had climbed aboard a military supply ship, while a team of 25 protesters intended to keep the Rainbow Warrior in position at Marchwood as long as possible.

The action came on the heels of a new poll with over two-thirds of Britons saying Prime Minister Tony Blair hasn’t convinced them that military action against Iraq is justified, and only 20 percent think British troops should join a U.S. attack in the absence of UN backing.





Greece: Demonstrators protest war, anti-labor policies

Despite rainy weather, over 20,000 protesters converged on the town of Nafplio last week to greet the European Union’s summit of labor ministers with demonstrations condemning the drive to war against Iraq and the anti labor policies of the European Union. Other mass demonstrations took place in Thassaloniki and many more cities and towns around Greece.

Men and women from the working class and middle strata, and many youth joined the demonstrations organized by the All Workers’ Militant Front (PAME) and “Action-Thessaloniki 2003” against unemployment, poverty, capitalist exploitation and war, under the slogan, “Stop NATO – Stop War.”

Participating were delegations from the Communist Party of Greece as well as trade unionists from over a dozen countries. The next protest has been set for Feb. 15, coinciding with anti-war protests around the world.





Turkey: A gain for civil liberties

The Communist Party of Turkey (TKP) reports its struggle against the law banning the word “communist” from the name of a political party is gaining ground. Though the Law on Political Parties still forbids the word – as it has for 83 years – last week Chief Prosecutor Sabih Kanadoglu retracted the warning he had issued to the TKP, and requested a change in the law to remove the ban. The TKP cautioned, however, that the final decision still rests with the Constitutional Court.

While working to overturn the ban, the TKP took part in the recent election campaign, and has campaigned vigorously against war on Iraq. This week, for example, the TKP helped build a protest of over 10,000 in Istanbul and protests against the arrival of U.S. General Richard Myers at Incirlik Air Base.





Korea: Sides seek peaceful solution of nuclear issue

In a statement issued Jan. 24, delegations from North and South Korea said they had fully exchanged their views on the nuclear issue and pledged to cooperate actively for a peaceful resolution. They said progress has been made in bilateral ties since they signed the South-North Joint Declaration in Pyongyang in June 2000, and agreed to continue the various inter-Korean exchanges and cooperative projects to promote balanced economic development on the peninsula.

The exchanges and projects include reconstruction of inter-Korean railways and roads across the Demilitarized Zone, construction of a special industrial zone in the North Korean city of Kaesong, and opening an overland route to its scenic Mount Geumgang from South Korea.





South Africa: Mbeki calls for peace

President Thabo Mbeki last week urged that issues around Iraq be solved peacefully through the United Nations, and not through war.

In the African National Congress’ on-line publication “ANC Today,” Mbeki said the ANC is keenly interested that any mass destruction weapons Iraq may have should be destroyed. But, he said, “the effort to eradicate any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq should not be used to justify the declaration of war. Rather, this effort should target the elimination of these weapons, precisely to eliminate the necessity to go to war. The inspectors must be allowed to do their work.”





China: Airliner arrives from Taiwan

A Taiwanese China Airlines charter plane made history this week when it left Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport Sunday after a two-hour stopover, becoming the first airliner from Taiwan to arrive on the mainland since 1949. The plane carried families from Taiwan, returning home for the traditional Chinese Spring Festival which starts Feb. 1.

Five other Taiwanese airlines have scheduled charter flights during the Spring Festival holiday.

Shanghai’s Vice Mayor Han Zheng welcomed the first flights, and urged that the indirect flights should be replaced with direct links. “Only when the distance is covered by the one-hour-and-a-half direct flight will the people of Taiwan benefit,” he said.





International notes are compiled weekly by Marilyn Bechtel, Communist Party international secretary. She can be reached at cpusainternat@mindspring.com