- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 15, 2004

CUBA

Dissident reports crackdown under way

HAVANA — Dissident Oswaldo Paya said yesterday that Cuba’s communist government has begun a large-scale crackdown on pro-democracy activists and asked the world community for help.

“The goals of state security agents in this illegal and immoral repressive campaign are clear: to stop at all costs people from knowing about initiatives for change, because if they find out about them, they will support them,” said the leader of the Christian Liberation Movement.

10 nations cited for sex trafficking

The United States yesterday cited 10 nations for failing to fight international sex trafficking adequately, opening the way for possible sanctions.

In addition to Cuba, Burma, North Korea and Sudan — which are cited routinely in U.S. human rights reports — Bangladesh, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Guyana, Sierra Leone and Venezuela were singled out for not doing enough to combat trafficking. They will be subjected to sanctions unless they demonstrably improve their records by October, the State Department said.

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said the practice affects 600,000 to 800,000 people each year.

“We’re talking about women and girls as young as 6 years old trafficked into commercial sexual exploitation, men trafficked into forced labor, children trafficked as child soldiers,” Mr. Powell said.

SUDAN

U.N. slams Khartoum for blocking aid

NEW YORK — U.N. humanitarian chief Jan Egeland criticized the Sudanese government yesterday for blocking aid workers, food and equipment from reaching the Darfur region, where 2 million people desperately need help.

Calling Darfur the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today, Mr. Egeland said relief agencies had been “working for many, many weeks in a race against the clock, and we see that the government which should do its utmost to help us is still not helping.”

“Some ministers are helping us, but some of their subordinates are sabotaging us,” he said.

TURKEY

Islamic nations urged to support Iraq

ISTANBUL — U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on the world’s Islamic nations yesterday to support the new Iraqi government, while Turkey said Muslim leaders must accept that political reform in the Middle East is inevitable.

The issues of Iraq and democratic reform were expected to dominate the three-day gathering of foreign ministers from the 56-country Organization of the Islamic Conference. Many leaders of Muslim nations have been reluctant on both issues.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said his country expected “active and positive participation by Islamic countries.”

ISRAEL

Court OKs sale of pork

JERUSALEM — The Israeli Supreme Court decided yesterday that Israeli municipalities must permit the sale of pork where a majority of residents demand it — a ruling hailed as a victory by secular-rights activists.

Orthodox Jews warned that the decision would undermine the nation’s Jewish identity. The consumption of pork is forbidden under Jewish law.

Under a 1956 law, it is up to municipalities to decide whether to permit the sale of pork. The decision yesterday came in a case brought against three municipalities that bar the sale of pork.

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