Sunday, July 30, 2006
Media Advisory for Aug. 4 Demonstration
Event: Demonstration Against Israeli Aggression
in Lebanon and Palestine
Gather: Detroit/Windsor Tunnel Entrance, Corner of
East Jefferson and Randolph, at 4:30 p.m.
March: To Grand Circus Park for 6:00 p.m. Rally & Teach-In
Date: Friday, August 4, 2006
Contact: The Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI)
Phone: (313) 680-5508 or log on to the MECAWI Website: http://www.mecawi.org
Detroit Honors the National Day of Action to Stop U.S./Israeli Terror & Aggression Against Lebanon and Palestine, August 4, 4:30 p.m. Gathering, 5:30 p.m. March to Grand Circus Park for 6:00 p.m. Teach-In
The Bush administration with the backing of both political parties in Congress, have given Israeli rulers the green light to wage all-out war in Lebanon and Palestine. This war is part of the drive by the United States administration to dominate, colonize, exploit and rob the natural resources (especially oil) of the people of the Middle East.
This war is not about religion and does not benefit the Jewish people. It is an extension of the U.S. war and occupation of Iraq. The obstacles to peace in the Middle East are not Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria or Iran, but the U.S. government and its client, the Israeli settler state.
The U.S. government spends over $100 billion a year to wage war in Iraq and gives Israel an additional $15 million a day in military aid. In the meantime, despite growing poverty and joblessness at home, social programs are slashed every day. Only the oil companies with their rising gas prices and record profits benefit from the U.S. wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan.
Together we must intensify the struggle to get U.S. imperialism out of the Middle East, to free the thousands of Palestinian, Lebanese and Iraqi prisoners held in U.S. and Israeli prisons and to end the occupations of Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq.
Representatives of MECAWI are available for media interviews on the current crisis in Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq.
Sunday 30 July 2006 5:49 AM GMT
Thousands of Lebanese protesters have stormed the UN building in Beirut in fury after at least 20 children and dozens of other civilians were killed in an Israeli airstrike on the Lebanese town of Qana.
Hundreds of demonstrators are running through corridors in the building smashing offices as they vent their anger of the deaths.
Smoke has been seen rising from parts of the building as UN security troops struggled to contain crowds.
The anger erupted after an Israeli bombing raid killed 21 children and dozens of adults as they slept in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Lebanese media reported that dozens of people remain trapped inside the three-storey building which was sheltering several families, some of whom had fled the Israeli bombardment of the Lebanese coastal town of Tyre.
Yasir Abu Hilala, Aljazeera's correspondent in Qana, said aid workers had only managed to pull out three people alive.
Efforts to get the wounded to hospital have been hampered as all roads around Qana have been destroyed by Israeli air strikes, he said.
The Israeli army has rejected responsibility for the deaths, saying that Hezbollah bore the blame because it used the village as a site for launching rockets.
However Hasan Fadlallah, a Hezbollah MP, told Aljazeera that Israel had committed "a new massacre".
"This massacre will enhance the Lebanese people's determination to endure Israeli aggression and will increase the [Hezbollah] resistance's determination to confront this enemy," he said.
"Israel is mistaken and deceived if it believes it can break the will of the Lebanese people in this way."
The attack came as Hezbollah fighters battled Israeli forces making a new thrust into southern Lebanon, Lebanese security sources said on Sunday.
Fighting erupted when Israeli forces crossed the border from the Israeli village of Metula towards the town of Khiam following aircraft and artillery strikes.
The Israeli army said a new wave of Hezbollah rockets hit the Israeli towns of Nahariya, Kiryat Shemona and an area close to Maalot, although no injuries were reported.
An Israeli missile strike hit the main Lebanese border crossing into Syria on Sunday, forcing it to close for the first time since the conflict began more than two weeks ago.
Israeli fighter jets fired three missiles at the Masnaa crossing, which lies about 300m beyond a Lebanese customs post. No casualties were reported in the strike.
The passage has been a vital escape route for tens of thousands of Lebanese fleeing the fighting into Syria after Israel bombed Beirut airport.
The bodies of eight civilians were found near Tyre following Israeli missile strikes on Saturday, Salam Daher, the Lebanese civil defence chief, said.
Rescue workers say dozens more civilians, including a large number of children, are still buried underneath the rubble of houses destroyed in attacks around the city.
The Lebanese health minister has said the recovery of bodies in the south could raise the death toll from the fighting.
Up to 600 Lebanese people, mainly civilians, are thought to have died in the offensive, while 51 Israelis have also been killed since Israel launched its offensive in mid-July following the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers and rocket attacks by Hezbollah fighters.
The Israeli military also said on Saturday it had hit several Hezbollah targets, including a missile launchpad it suspected was used to fire a new type of missile that landed in the northern Israeli town of Afula.
Missiles and shells were fired into the Bekaa Valley targeting a bridge and vehicles, Aljazeera's correspondent said, while Israeli forces pulled back from positions on the outskirts of the Lebanese border town of Bint Jbeil, where nine Israeli soldiers died last week.
Tanks and armoured vehicles left the hills overlooking the town and returned to Marun al-Ras, which was captured by Israeli forces on July 23, police said.
Israel has also continued to bombard Bint Jbeil and nearby Aitarun from Marun al-Ras.
An Israeli army spokeswoman said Israeli troops "have modified their deployment because of the developments on the ground".
You can find this article at:
Israeli attack draws outrage
Sunday 30 July 2006 10:41 AM GMT
Israel's air strike drew international condemnation
Western and Arab leaders have condemned Israel's attack on a village in south Lebanon which killed at least 50 civilians, among them children, as protesters stormed the UN headquarters in Beirut.
Sunday's strike, the bloodiest since Israel's showdown with Lebanon's Shia group Hezbollah began on July 12, prompted the Lebanese government to cancel a visit by the US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice.
Lebanon's premier, Fouad Senioria, said: "There is no place on this sad morning for any discussion other than an immediate and unconditional ceasefire as well as an international investigation into the Israeli massacres in Lebanon now."
Hezbollah threatened to retaliate, saying that "this horrific massacre [at Qana] will not go without a response".
Rice 'deeply saddened'
Rice said she was "deeply saddened by the terrible loss of innocent life". She also urged Israel to take "extraordinary care" to avoid civilian deaths in Lebanon.
And while calling for a ceasefire, she said that a truce could not mean a return to the position before the war, which was triggered by Hezbollah's abduction of two Israeli soldiers in a raid out of south Lebanon on July 12.
Israel and the United States have said they want to ensure that Hezbollah can no longer carry out raids and rocket attacks and that it is eventually disarmed under a UN resolution.
Israel said it had attacked Qana on Sunday because Hezbollah was launching rockets from that area.
An Israeli foreign ministry official, Gideon Meir, said: "We deeply regret the loss of any civilian life and especially when you talk about children who are innocent.
"One must understand the Hezbollah is using their own civilian population as human shields. The Israeli defence forces dropped leaflets and warned the civilian population to leave the place because the Hezbollah turned it into a war zone."
France and Britian condemned the attack.
The office of the French president, Jacques Chriac, said in a statement: "The president learnt with concern about the act of violence which cost the lives of numerous innocent victims, notably women and children in Qana.
"France condemns this unjustified action, which demonstrates more than ever the need for an immediate ceasefire without which there will only be other such incidents."
And Britain's foreign secretary, Margaret Beckett, described the strikes as "absolutely dreadful" and "quite appalling".
"We have repeatedly urged Israel to act proportionately," she said.
Arab and Muslim leaders said international law had beeen violated and spoke of "crimes".
King Abdullah of Jordan said: "This criminal aggression is an ugly crime that has been committed by the Israeli forces in the city of Qana that is a gross violation of all international statutes."
Abdullah, a close US ally, repeated his call for an immediate ceasefire.
Iran, accused by Washington of backing Hezbollah, also condemned the raid.
"I think Israeli officials and some American ones should be tried for these sorts of crimes," said Hamid Reza Asefi, the foreign ministry spokesman.
"The Arab Republic of Egypt is highly disturbed and condemns the irresponsible Israeli attack on the Lebanese village of Qana, which led to the loss of innocent victims, most of which were women and children," a statement from the presidency said.
Egypt, which has already called for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire, stressed "the need for a serious international effort to issue an urgent Security Council resolution to stop military attacks immediately".
Aljazeera + Agencies
You can find this article at:
Rice talks cancelled after deadly raid
Sunday 30 July 2006 4:26 AM GMT
Rice said she was "deeply saddened" by the bombing
Lebanon has cancelled a visit by Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, following an Israeli air raid in southern Lebanon which killed at least 50 people.
Emile Lahoud, the Lebanese president, told Aljazeera on Sunday that the air attack in Qana was a "disgrace" and that there was no chance of holding peace talks until a ceasefire was agreed.
"Israel's leaders think of nothing but destruction, they do not think of peace," he said, adding that the Lebanese cabinet would discuss whether to ask the United Nations Security Council to call for a ceasefire.
Fuad Siniora, the Lebanese prime minister, said that the bombing had targeted an innocent village and was an Israeli "war crime".
"There is no place on this sad morning for any discussion other than an immediate and unconditional ceasefire as well as an international investigation into the Israeli massacres in Lebanon now," Siniora said at a press conference.
Rice, who said she was "deeply saddened" Qana bombing, is currently in Israel but had been expected to visit Beirut during her Middle East trip to press for talks between leaders from Israel and Lebanon.
In Beirut, angry locals stormed the United Nations building in protest at the bombing in Qana, hurling stones and calling for the US ambassador for leave the city.
The US has faced mounting criticism from around the world for not calling for an immediate ceasefire in southern Lebanon and for apparently giving Israel a green light to press on with its offensive.
Up to 600 Lebanese are thought to have died in the Israeli offensive, while 51 Israelis have been killed in Hezbollah rocket attacks.
Rice's visit to Jerusalem came as France draws up a draft United Nations Security Council resolution that would call for an immediate truce between Israel and Hezbollah, the Shia group based in southern Lebanon, and prepare for a peace mission.
Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah's leader, has dismissed Rice's visit, saying that the group would target cities in central Israel "if the barbaric aggression on our country and people continues".
Meanwhile, Israeli defence sources told Israel's Haaretz newspaper on Sunday that the Israeli army's general staff had received orders to accelerate its offensive on Hezbollah before the declaration of any ceasefire.
A draft resolution prepared by France proposes deploying up to 20,000 peacekeepers along Lebanon's borders with Israel and Syria.
The proposal stresses the need for "a permanent ceasefire and a lasting solution to the current crisis between Israel and Lebanon" while addressing
"the root causes that have given rise to the current crisis".
The conditions for a permanent ceasefire include a buffer zone stretching from the Blue Line - the UN-demarcated boundary that Israel withdrew behind in 2000 - to the Litani River, which was the northern border of Israel's occupation of Lebanon in 1982.
The buffer zone would be "free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the Lebanese armed and security forces and of UN-mandated international forces," the draft says.
Other conditions include the release of the two Israeli soldiers whose abduction by Hezbollah sparked Israel's devastating military campaign and the implementation of Security Council resolution 1559, which demands that Hezbollah be disarmed and that Lebanon extends its control to its southern border with Israel, where Hezbollah has de facto control.
Lebanon must also firm up its border "especially in those areas where the border is disputed or uncertain, including in the Shebaa Farms area", the draft is reported to say.
Israel seized the Shebaa farms in the 1967 war and still occupies the area. Lebanon claims the region but the UN says it is Syrian, and Syria and Israel should negotiate its fate.
Finally, the draft calls for the international community to give financial and humanitarian aid to Lebanon.
Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general, is to preside over a meeting on Monday of possible troop contributors, including the 25-member European Union, Turkey and other nations currently contributing to a UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon.
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Saturday, July 29, 2006
By President Thabo Mbeki, Republic of South Africa
Courtesy of ANC Today
Two days after we publish this edition of ANC TODAY, an event of historic importance to the future of Africa will take place in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Millions of our Congolese brothers and sisters will go to the polls. This will only be the second time since the independence of the DRC in 1960, that the Congolese people will hold genuine democratic elections to choose their President and Members of the National Assembly.
At this critical time, the people of South Africa wish the sister people of the DRC success as they vote on 30 July. We would also like to take this opportunity to urge all Congolese to work together to ensure that the elections take place in conditions of peace and calm throughout the country, to allow the Congolese people to exercise their inalienable right to select a government of their choice.
The first elections in the DRC were held in May 1960. These democratic elections led to the installation of Patrice Lumumba as Prime Minister on 30 June 1960. A mere six months later, in January 1961, he was murdered.
In his Independence Day speech, Patrice Lumumba, who is now an Esteemed Member of the Order of the Companions of OR Tambo, spoke about the colonial wounds of the Congolese people that were "too fresh and too painful for us to drive them from our memory".
The disaster imposed on the Congo after the assassination of Patrice Lumumba and the seizure of power by the late Joseph Mobutu in 1965, leading to dictatorship and plunder, meant that the Congolese people had to continue to suffer pain, even as these masses had hoped that independence had opened the way for them to heal the wounds caused by slavery and a savage system of colonialism.
Throughout the forty-six years since the murder of Patrice Lumumba, the masses of the Congolese people continued the struggle to retrieve the dream of genuine independence that had seemed to perish with the murder of that great Congolese revolutionary and African patriot, Patrice Lumumba.
We are confident that the 30 July elections will convey the firm message to the masses of the Congolese people that, once again, they are back on the high road towards the healing of their wounds.
In his final letter to his wife, before he was murdered, Patrice Lumumba wrote that, "All through my struggle for the independence of my country, I have never doubted for a single instant the final triumph of the sacred cause to which my companions and I have devoted all our lives".
Patrice Lumumba not only knew that Congo would be free, but was, together with his comrades, determined to use that freedom fully to restore the dignity of the Congolese people. In this regard, they would use the considerable resources of the DRC and the talents of the Congolese people to defeat the poverty and underdevelopment that had been imposed on the Congolese people through many centuries of the most cruel spoliation by the European powers.
A 24 July 2006 document on the DRC published by the "UN Integrated Regional Information Networks" said: "Turning the country around is vital for the continent as a whole, not just because of its sheer size - 2.5 million square kilometers, bordering nine countries, (with a population of at least 60 million) - but because of its mineral wealth: it holds one-third of the world's cobalt reserves; two-thirds of its coltan, used in mobile phones; and one-tenth of its copper, as well as diamonds, gold, oil, silver, timber, uranium and zinc.
"Its river system could power the entire continent and the country contains 50 percent of Africa's (natural) forests. And yet the DRC is one of the world's poorest countries, ranked 167 out of 177 in the 2005 United Nations Development Programme's (UNDP) Human Development Index. The potential rewards of peace and stability are high. But so are the risks."
We have no doubt that in conditions of democracy, the Congolese people have every possibility to turn themselves and their country into an outstanding African success story, an important part of the vanguard fighting for the renaissance of Africa.
We are privileged that for some years now, our country has had the possibility to work in solidarity with the Congolese people, acting together with them to restore peace, national unity and democracy to the DRC.
This started with our intervention in 1996, when, at their request, we engaged the late Laurent Kabila and Joseph Mobutu to facilitate a peaceful advance towards the installation of a Transitional Government.
It was during this period that we even had to sail a ship, the "Outeniqua" of the South African Navy, into Pointe Noir in the Republic of Congo, to provide a neutral venue for Messrs Kabila and Mobutu to meet under the mediation of Nelson Mandela.
Finally, in two days, the Congolese people will have the opportunity to reclaim the final triumph of the sacred cause proclaimed by Patrice Lumumba, for which many of their compatriots have died.
While we understand that the 30 July elections, critically important as they are, are not going to solve all the problems of the DRC, nevertheless these elections constitute a major step on the road to reconciliation, reconstruction and development in that country.
We know that the leadership and people of the DRC understand the historic responsibility that rests on their shoulders to lead their country out of many years of abuse, misery and destruction.
We say this because, for a decade, we have traveled the road to this moment with them, inspired by their resolve to lead their country to peace, unity and national reconciliation, democracy and development.
Patrice Lumumba inspired not only the Congolese, but our own movement and struggling people as well. We mourned with the Congolese people when he was killed. We took to our streets in defence of what he stood for, together with other progressive forces on our continent and elsewhere in the world.
We went on to work closely with our Congolese brothers and sisters as they took some of the first steps towards the realisation of their dream of a truly independent, democratic and prosperous Congo.
We are certain that this time the leadership of the DRC will not disappoint the masses they lead. Again we say so because we worked even more closely with them as the dictatorial regime of Mobutu Sese Seko came to its end in 1997.
We continued working with them as former President Laurent Kabila arrived in Kinshasa to take over the reigns of government in 1997. We spent many weeks working together in 1999 in Lusaka, Zambia, as they sought to find agreement on a comprehensive settlement of the conflict in their country.
We mourned the untimely death of Laurent Kabila with them. We continued working with them when Joseph Kabila was appointed President of the country.
We hosted the representatives of the Congolese people over many months at Sun City as they negotiated their transitional arrangements. We continued to host them over many days in Pretoria in 2002 as they finalised their Transitional Constitution.
The Transitional Constitution they negotiated made provision for the establishment of a government of national reconciliation, bringing together into government forces that were effectively still at war with each other.
The Constitution introduced new concepts, such as the creation of the presidential space, comprised of the President of the DRC together with four Vice Presidents, three of whom were from parties other than the President's.
This Transitional Government of National Unity assumed office in June 2003. Many so-called experts opined that this government would never survive throughout the transition. However, the Congolese political leadership showed profound patriotism in maintaining this government structure not only during the first two years of the transition, but also during the constitutionally allowed one year extension of the Transitional Government.
We reaffirm that we are confident that our Congolese brothers and sisters understand their historic responsibility to themselves and to our Continent. We say this because have seen how they have faced up to the challenges relating to various matters, such as honouring the termination of armed hostilities and the formation of new integrated security structures.
So too as they drafted and, through a successful referendum, adopted a final Constitution. We joined them in Kinshasa to celebrate the proclamation of that Constitution. Lately, we have worked very closely with the election structures of the DRC to prepare for the elections that will take place on 30 July and later.
Nobody involved in the complex Congolese transition process, including ourselves, had any doubt but that the organisation and conduct of these elections would present many challenges. However, we are certain that the Congolese Independent Electoral Commission and other Congolese institutions charged with the organisation of the elections have met, and will meet these challenges as best as they can, assisted by the UN and many nations of the world.
Already during the December 2005 Constitutional Referendum, in their millions, the Congolese masses demonstrated their determination to bring peace and democracy to their country. Over 25 million have registered as voters to participate in the 30 July and subsequent elections.
They have now participated in an election campaign that in many ways has been more peaceful than what we experienced in our own country during the period immediately preceding our first democratic elections in 1994.
Taking all these developments into account, already we can say - the Congolese people have spoken! They have spoken very loudly in favour of peace, national independence, national unity and reconciliation, democracy and human rights, development and shared prosperity!
As we arrive at a decisive moment in the modern history of the DRC and Africa, we must extend our thanks to the United Nations and all its various echelons and agencies that have supported the Congolese transition. Among these are the MONUC peacekeepers, who include a significant number of men and women of the South African National Defence Force.
Liberated South Africa has done what it had to do in a spirit of true African solidarity, inspired by the 1960 Independence Day declaration of Patrice Lumumba that, "We are going to rule not by the peace of guns and bayonets but by a peace of the heart and will". Long live the Democratic Republic of Congo!
Dawn in the Heart of Africa
A Poem by Patrice Lumumba
For a thousand years, you, African, suffered like beast,
Your ashes strewn to the wind that roams the desert.
Your tyrants built the lustrous, magic temples
To preserve your soul, reserve your suffering.
Barbaric right of fist and the white right to a whip,
You had the right to die, you also could weep.
On your totem they carved endless hunger, endless bonds,
And even in the cover of the woods a ghastly cruel death
Was watching, snaky, crawling to you
Like branches from the holes and heads of trees
Embraced your body and your ailing soul.
Then they put a treacherous big viper on your chest:
On your neck they laid the yoke of fire-water,
They took your sweet wife for glitter of cheap pearls,
Your incredible riches that nobody could measure.
From your hut, the tom-toms sounded into dark of night
Carrying cruel laments up mighty black rivers
About abused girls, streams of tears and blood,
About ships that sailed to countries where the little man
Wallows in an ant hill and the dollar is king,
To that damned land which they called a motherland.
There your child, your wife were ground, day and night
In a frightful, merciless mill, crushing them in dreadful pain.
You are a man like others. They preach you to believe
That good white God will reconcile all men at last.
By fire you grieved and sang the moaning songs
Of a homeless beggar that sinks at strangers' doors.
And when a craze possessed you
And your blood boiled through the night
You danced, you moaned, obsessed by father's passion.
Like furry of a storm to lyrics of a manly tune
From a thousand years of misery a strength burst out of you
In metallic voice of jazz, in uncovered outcry
That thunders through the continent like gigantic surf.
The whole world surprised, wakes up in panic
To the violent rhythm of blood, to the violent rhythm of jazz,
The white man turning pallid over this new song
That carries torch of purple through the dark of night.
The dawn is here, my brother! Dawn! Look in our faces,
A new morning breaks in our old Africa.
Ours alone will now be the land, the water, mighty rivers
Poor African surrendered for a thousand years.
Hard torches of the sun will shine for us again
They'll dry the tears in eyes and spittle on your face.
The moment when you break the chains, the heavy fetters,
The evil cruel times will go never to come again.
A free and gallant Congo will rise from black soil,
A free and gallant Congo-black blossom from black seed!
Weep, Beloved Black Brother
A poem by Patrice Lumumba.
O black man, beast of burden through the centuries,
Your ashes scattered to the winds of heaven,
There was a time when you built burial temples
In which your murderers sleep their final sleep.
Hunted down and tracked, driven from your homes.
Beaten in battles where brute force prevailed.
Barbaric centuries of rape and carnage
That offered you the choice of death or slavery.
You went for refuge to the forest depths,
And other deaths waylaid you, burning fevers,
Jaws of wild beasts, the cold, unholy coils
Of snakes who crushed you gradually to death.
Then came the white man, more clever, tricky, cruel,
He took your gold in trade for shoddy stuff,
He raped your women, made your warriors drunk,
Penned up your sons and daughters on his ships.
The tom-toms hummed through all the villages,
Spreading afar the mourning, the wild grief
At news of exile to a distant land
Where cotton is God and the dollar King.
Condemned to enforced labor, beasts of burden,
Under a burning sun from dawn to dusk,
So that you might forget you are a man
They taught you to sing the praises of their God,
And these hosannas, tuned into your sorrows,
Gave you the hope of a better world to come.
But in your human heart you only asked
The right to live, your share of happiness.
Beside your fire, your eyes reflect your dreams and suffering,
You sang the chants that gave voice to your blues.
And sometimes to your joys, when sap rose in the trees
And you danced wildly in the damp of evening
And out of this sprang forth, magnificent,
Alive and virile, like a bell of brass
Sounding your sorrows, that powerful music,
Jazz, now loved, admired throughout the world,
Compelling the white man to respect,
Announcing in clear loud tones from this time on
This country no longer belongs to him.
And thus you make the brothers of your race
Lift up their heads to see clear, straight ahead
The happy future bearing deliverance.
The banks of a great river in flower with hope
Are yours from this time onward.
The earth and all its riches
Are yours from this time onward.
The blazing sun in the colorless sky
Dissolves our sorrow in a wave of warmth.
Its burning rays will help to dry forever The flood of tears shed by our ancestors,
Martyrs of the tyranny of the masters.
And on this earth which you will always love
You will make the Congo a nation, happy and free,
In the very heart of vast Black Africa.
Translated from the French original by Lillian Lowenfels and Nan Apotheker.
Lumumba's Letter from his Prison in Thysville (now Mbanza Ngungu) to his wife, Pauline
In Sorrow But Defiant
What Manner of A Man?
We Love You!
My dear wife,
I am writing these words not knowing whether they will reach you, when they will reach you, and whether I shall still be alive when you read them.
All through my struggle for the independence of my country, I have never doubted for a single instant the final triumph of the sacred cause to which my companions and I have devoted all our lives.
But what we wished for our country, its right to an honourable life, to unstained dignity, to independence without restrictions, was never desired by the Belgian imperialists and their Western allies who found direct and indirect support, both deliberate and unintentional amongst certain high officials of the United Nations, that organisation in which we placed all our trust when we called on its assistance.
They have corrupted come of our compatriots and bribed others. They have helped to distort the truth and bring our independence into dishonour. How could I speak otherwise?
Dead or alive, free or in prison by order of the imperialists, it is not I myself who count. It is the Congo; it is our poor people for whom independence has been transformed into a cage from beyond whose confines the outside world looks on us, sometimes with kindly sympathy but at other times with joy and pleasure.
But my faith will remain unshakeable. I know and feel in my heart that sooner or later my people will rid themselves of all their enemies, both internal and external, and that they will rise as one man to say no to the degradation and shame of colonialism, and regain their dignity in the dear light of the sun.
As to my children whom I leave and whom I may never see again, I should like them to be told that it is for every Congolese, to accomplish the sacred task of reconstructing our independence and our sovereignty for without justice there is no liberty, without justice there is no dignity, and without independence there are no free men.
Neither brutality, nor cruelty, nor torture will ever bring me to ask for mercy, for I prefer to die with my head unbowed, my faith unshakeable and with profound trust in the destiny of my country, rather than live under subjection and disregarding sacred principles.
History will one day have its say, but it will not be the history that is taught in Brussels, Paris, Washington or at the United Nations, but the history which will be taught in the countries freed from imperialism and its puppets. Africa will write its own history, and to the north and south of the Sahara, it will be a glorious and dignified history.
Don not weep for me, my dear wife. I know that my country, which is suffering so much, will know how to defend its independence and its liberty.
Long Live Congo, Long Live Africa
Abdullah Isaaq Deerow, Somali Minister for Constitutional and Federal Affairs Shot Dead in Baidoa
Originally uploaded by panafnewswire.
Somalian minister killed as government plunged into crisis
An unknown gunman has shot and killed Somalia's constitutional and federal affairs minister in the provincial town of Baidoa, just a day the Somali government was plunged into crisis when 18 ministers quit over its policies.
Abdalla Derrow Issak was shot three times as he left the mosque after Friday prayers in the temporary government base in Baidoa, about 250 kilometres (155 miles) northwest of the capital Mogadishu. He died as passers-by rushed him to hospital, witnesses said.
"Allah shall forgive him, Abdalla passed away after he was shot by an unidentified gunman," one of his relatives told AFP on Friday.
Parliament Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden mourned the minister as a "peace-loving" Somali and vowed that the government, which is largely regarded as weak and defenceless, would deliver justice to the criminal. The motive of the killing remained unclear.
"This is an unacceptable crime that is against our efforts to deliver peace in Somalia. I am deeply hurt and saddened by this cold-blood murder. We lost Issak physically, but he will remain in our heart and mind for the rest our lives," Aden told AFP.
"The government will investigate (this incident) and show its responsibility that criminals will not go unpunished," he added.
Police said they had arrested a suspect, believed to be the killer.
"We arrested a man after tips from Baidoa people, who were at the scene of the murder," said Colonel Ibrahim Gabbow, the police commander for Bay region, where Baidoa is the capital. "We arrested him because his physical profile fitted the one we were given by the public."
The killing came as Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi prepared to face a motion of no-confidence, and his government tried to downplay the mass resignation of 18 ministers.
Deputy Information Minister Salad Ali Jeeley said Gedi would replace the ministers, who quit on Thursday protesting a decision to deploy Ethiopian troops to protect the fragile government from an advance by Islamic militia.
"The resignations will not undermine the performance of the government, which is committed to serve the interest of the Somali people," Jeeley told AFP from the temporary seat of government in Baidoa.
"All those who resigned will be replaced as soon as possible," he added.
Jeeley said the prime minister was in consultation ahead of a weekend debate on a vote of confidence, which seeks to throw out the 18-month-old government that has been unable to exert control across the shattered Horn of Africa nation.
"The government will defeat the vote of no confidence set for debate on Saturday. I am confident that the motion will be thrown out," Jeeley added.
Last week's deployment of Ethiopian troops in Baidoa and outlying outposts to bolster the fledgling government's weak defences from a feared attack by powerful Islamists, who control the capital Mogadishu and much of southern Somalia, has split the transitional parliament.
It has also prompted the United Nations, the United States and western countries to warn that any interference by Somalia's neighbours -- notably arch-foes Ethiopia and Eritrea -- might scupper efforts to achieve lasting peace in the country.
The Islamists have refused to participate in Arab League mediated peace talks with the government planned for Khartoum on August 1 and 2 until the Ethiopian troops have withdrawn.
In Mogadishu, a second plane, believed to be carrying weapons from Eritrea landed at the city's airport, stoking fears of an allout war, according to witnesses.
"A heavy cargo plane landed at Mogadishu airport. It is believed to be carrying weapons," said Mogadishu resident Ahmed Hassan. His account was confirmed by several other witnesses.
Like the first plane that landed on Wednesday, the second one bore the emblem of Kazakhstan -- a gold emblem on a blue background -- a former Soviet state that frequently charters its planes, they said.
In December 2004, the 275-member clan-based parliament passed a motion sacking Gedi and his government, arguing that he was illegally in office and his appointment had violated the transitional charter. But President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed later reappointed him.
The government, formed in Kenya late 2004 after more than two years of peace talks, was seen as the best chance for the Horn of Africa nation to win a functional administration since the ousting of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.
Since then more than 14 internationally-backed initiatives have failed to yield a government and analysts have blamed it on a bunch of unruly warlords who got arms and other forms of support from neighbouring countries contrary to an existing UN arms embargo.
Riots as Somali minister killed
Riots have broken out in the Somali town of Baidoa after a minister in the transitional government was shot dead.
Minister Abdallah Isaaq Deerow was killed outside a mosque in Baidoa, where the government is based.
On Thursday, at least 19 members of the transitional government - which controls only a small area - resigned.
In another development, a second cargo plane has landed in Mogadishu, fuelling allegations that the Islamic forces who control the city are receiving arms.
Mr Deerow, minister of constitutional affairs, was killed after Friday prayers at the mosque.
Later on Friday, hundreds of people took to the streets of Baidoa in protest at his killing, burning tyres and looting shops.
Mr Deerow was not among the group of ministers who resigned on Thursday.
The resignations were prompted by some ministers' dissatisfaction that Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Ghedi had failed to make progress in talks with the Union of Islamic Courts, which controls Mogadishu.
Public Works Minister Osman Ali Atto said he came back from the capital to the government's base with an agreement from the Islamic courts that fresh talks be held.
But he said that Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Ghedi was "an obstacle to progress" and had refused to listen.
Some MPs are planning a motion of no confidence in the government.
They are opposed to the deployment of foreign peacekeepers and the presence of Ethiopian troops who are in Baidoa with the blessing of the transitional goverment.
More resignations are expected and observers say that the transitional government is looking increasingly fragile.
President Abdullahi Yusuf's government has little influence outside its base in Baidoa, but has the diplomatic support of the United Nations and the African Union (AU) and the strong backing of neighbouring Ethiopia.
Many Somalis, including the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) which controls much of southern Somalia, are opposed to the presence of Ethiopian troops on Somali soil.
The arrival of a second flight at Mogadishu airport amid strict security has fuelled speculation that the Islamists are receiving weapons in violation of a UN arms embargo.
According to witnesses, the aircraft that touched down in Mogadishu was an Iluyshin-76 - a massive transport plane capable of carrying more than 50 tons of cargo.
Troops loyal to the Union of Islamic Courts in control of the capital chased away onlookers, although at least six trucks were seen loading cargo from the aircraft.
The plane is the same one that touched down in Mogadishu on Wednesday and credible sources said that flight originated in Eritrea carrying anti-aircraft guns, uniforms, AK47s and several senior Eritrean officers.
Both Eritrea and the Mogadishu authorities have denied the claim.
The flights have raised fears amongst security sources and diplomats that the rivals in Somalia are now preparing for open conflict, the BBC's Peter Greste reports from Nairobi.
Both Ethiopia and Eritrea have been warned not to interfere in neighbouring Somalia by the United Nations and United States.
There are fears that Somalia could end up a battleground between Ethiopia and Eritrea - who fought a two-year border war between 1998 and 2000.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/07/28 15:19:13 GMT
SOMALIA: UN ENVOY APPEALS FOR CALM AFTER GUNMEN KILL GOVERNMENT MINISTER
Press Release - U.N. News Center
Jul 28 2006
The senior United Nations envoy to Somalia appealed for calm today in the strife-torn African country after gunmen assassinated the country's Minister for Constitutional and Federal Affairs Abdallah Deerow Isaaq outside a mosque, and he announced he will attend an urgent regional meeting called to discuss the worsening situation.
"I am appalled by this act of violence against a minister in Somalia's Transitional Federal Institutions. I offer my condolences to Mr. Isaaq's family and appeal for calm in what is already a turbulent moment in Somalia's recent history," said François Lonsény Fall, the Secretary-General's Special Representative. Mr. Isaaq was killed in Baidoa.
On Monday Mr. Fall will attend a meeting of the regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) called by Kenya's Minister of Foreign Affairs to "address the unfolding crisis in Somalia," the UN said. IGAD Member States are Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda.
The meeting has been called to consider recent Security Council statements on Somalia, as well as an IGAD and African Union report on an Assessment and Reconnaissance Mission to the country earlier this month.
Yesterday, Mr. Fall wrote to the chairman of the Executive Council of Islamic Courts to reiterate his call for a resumption of peace talks with the Transitional Federal Government. He also stressed the UN's commitment to pursuing all avenues for peace and reconciliation through dialogue in Somalia, which has not had a functioning government since President Muhammad Siad Barre's regime was toppled in 1991.
Somali minister shot dead
Friday 28 July 2006 12:53 PM GMT
An Islamist militia controls large areas of Somalia
A minister in Somalia's transitional national government has been shot dead in a new blow to the country's internationally recognised but virtually powerless administration.
Abdallah Deerow Isaq, the Constitution and Federalism Minister, was killed as he left Friday prayers in the town of Baidoa - seat of the fragile interim Somali government.
"It looks like an organised assassination," Mohamed Abdi Hayr, the Somali information minister said.
"So far we do not know who did it. They shot him as he was leaving the mosque then ran off. Police are chasing the gunmen."
The government was formed in 2004 as the 14th attempt to restore central rule to Somalia since the 1991 overthrow of military ruler Mohammed Siad Barre.
It has been unable to halt the rise to power of the Supreme Islamic Council of Somalia - an Islamist militia that took control of the capital Mogadishu and other towns in June.
Deerow was not among the 18 ministers who resigned from the administration on Thursday, complaining about the government's inability to stabilise the African nation.
Also on Friday, fighters loyal to the Islamist group closed roads around the capital's airport and chased away onlookers while a large cargo plane was unloaded of unidentified cargo.
A similar aircraft landed on Wednesday, and officials from the transitional government accused Eritrea of sending arms to the militants.
Local people said several trucks came to collect the delivery from the airport.
"The Islamists are arming themselves and now we have to wait for fighting," said Abdullahi Ali, a local man.
You can find this article at:
Thursday, July 27, 2006
On July 20, 2006 we filed the Brief of Appellee and Cross Appellant, Mumia Abu-Jamal, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Philadelphia. (Abu-Jamal v. Horn, U.S. Ct. of Appeals Nos. 01-9014, 02-9001.) This brief is of great significance concerning my client's right to a fair trial, due process of law, not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment, and equal protection of the law, guaranteed by the Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The issues the court is hearing are:
Claim 14 Whether Mr. Abu-Jamal was denied the right to due process of law and a fair trial because of the prosecutor's
“appeal-after-appeal” argument which encouraged the jury to disregard the presumption of innocence and reasonable doubt, and err on the side of guilt.
Claim 16 Whether the prosecution's exclusion of African Americans from sitting on the jury violated Mr. Abu-Jamal's rights to due process and equal protection of the law , and contravened Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986).
Claim 25 Whether the verdict form and jury instructions that resulted in the death penalty deprived Mr. Abu-Jamal of the right to due process of law, equal protection of the law, and not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment, and violated Mills v. Maryland, 486 U.S. 367 (1988), since the judge precluded the jurors from considering any mitigating evidence unless they all agreed on the existence of a particular circumstance.
Claim 29 Whether Mr. Abu-Jamal was denied due process and equal protection of the law during post-conviction hearings as the result of the bias and racism of Judge Albert F. Sabo which included the comment that he was “going to help'em fry the nigger."
The National Lawyers Guild, and, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., will be filing separate amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs in the near future. This should strengthen our quest to see justice done.
It is a is a remarkable accomplishment that the court is hearing issues that go to the very essence of Mr. Abu-Jamal's right to a fair trial. This is the first time that any court has made a ruling that could lead to a new trial and freedom. Nevertheless, he remains on Pennsylvania's death row and in great danger.
Mr. Abu-Jamal, the "voice of the voiceless," is a powerful symbol in the international campaign against the death penalty and for human rights. The goal of Professor Judith L. Ritter, associate counsel, and I is to see that the many wrongs which have occurred in this case are righted and that this brave man is freed.
Your support and concern is appreciated
With best wishes,
Robert R. Bryan
Law Offices of Robert R. Bryan
2088 Union Street, Suite 4
San Francisco, California 94123
Lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal
To download the legal brief:
(This is a 124-page, 5.5M document, so be PATIENT! We didn't attachbecause the document is too large to do so
FOP Accused of Harassing PA State Senator Hughes
The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) has a large presence in
Philadelphia. In many cases, Philadelphia politicians and officials are working hand in hand with the FOP as a result of either police intimidation or collaboration. Still, the politicians and officials who courageously refuse collaboration and partnership with the FOP are subjected to campaigns of police terror. In the example of Senator Vincent Hughes of Philadelphia who refused to support the recently passed FOP City Council resolution against Mumia, the FOP has responded by sending a harassing letter to the Senator.
In solidarity with Senator Hughes' courageous stand which opposes the city council resolution:
http://webapps.phila.gov/council/detailreport/?key=6392 , we send out the following information. First is an article which appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer about Sen. Vincent Hughes' refusal to support the resolution. The second piece is a link to a letter sent from Robert Eddis, President of Philadelphia Lodge #5 of the Fraternal Order of Police to Senator Hughes.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Abu-Jamal Resolution Splits PA. Senate on Racial Lines
By Amy Worden
INQUIRER HARRISBURG BUREAU
HARRISBURG - Nearly 25 years after the slaying of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner, the racial divide over his killer's conviction was reflected today in a vote on a state Senate resolution.
The Senate overwhelmingly passed the measure condemning the French city of St.-Denis for naming a street in honor of Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was sentenced to death in 1982 for shooting Faulkner during a traffic stop.
But the resolution prompted rare debate and ended in a 44-4 vote split along racial lines. The only "no" votes came from African-American senators, all from Philadelphia.
Sen. Vincent Hughes (D., Phila.) said he could not support the
resolution because he did not believe that Abu-Jamal received a fair trial.
During the last two decades, Abu-Jamal, 53, a former Philadelphia journalist and activist, has become a symbol for death penalty opponents around the world.
The city of St.-Denis, a multi-ethnic suburb of Paris, dedicated a street in his honor in April.
The resolution's sponsor, President Pro Tempore Robert C. Jubelirer (R., Blair) called the street naming "the most offensive thing he had ever seen" and said it was an "affront to the system of justice."
A similar resolution introduced by House Speaker John M. Perzel (R., Phila.) passed unanimously on Monday with no debate.
Rep. Harold James (D., Phila.), a retired police officer, voted for the resolution, but agrees with Hughes that Abu-Jamal did not get a fair trial.
James said he didn't raise any opposition because he believed the resolution was meaningless.
"I just didn't think that Pennsylvania trying to tell France what to do was going to go anywhere," he said.
Both resolutions ask the French government to "take appropriate action" if the the city fails to act.
Faulkner's widow, Maureen, has urged a tourist boycott of Paris and U.S. Reps. Michael G. Fitzpatrick (R., Pa.) and Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.) have sponsored a congressional resolution demanding the name be changed.
Last year, a federal appeals court agreed to consider Abu-Jamal's appeal of his conviction on ground that the jury selection was racially biased.
FOP Letter to Senator Hughes:
William Loren Katz
303 Mercer Street [Suite A405]
New York, New York 10003
I thought you might like to see how Mumia Abu-Jamal brought BLACK INDIANS into the current debate over immigration and Mexico..
By Mumia Abu-Jamal
Blacks and Browns have a shared history of resistance against oppression. Driven as much by presumed political necessity as by xenophobic fears, the immigration issue has grabbed headlines and the talking heads of the media over the past few months.
Recent mass demonstrations against proposed immigration restrictions have only fueled the issue further, and among blacks come echoes of nativism, a fear-driven rejection of these newcomers, who are “taking our jobs.”
While it can be argued that many of the jobs taken by Mexican immigrants are jobs that most Americans, black or white, won't do, the fear remains, and black radio, newspapers, and other media are awash in expressions of concern, and frankly, xenophobia.
This happens, I'm convinced, in the context of a nation with a deep racial hierarchy, which traditionally places blacks at the permanent bottom; and during a period which showed, with painful clarity, that these historical rankings are still amongst us. Witness Katrina.
That said, perhaps history offers lessons for us in this time, threatened by change, that will allow us to find a way out of this cul-de-sac.
In a time of greatest peril, when Africans in the United States were fighting for their freedom from the American forces of slavocracy, two uniquely American communities came to their aid: Native peoples and Mexicans.
How so, you ask?
Before the Civil War, Americans fought at least two wars with the Seminoles, a people then living in Florida. The reason for the wars? The Seminoles, unlike other area tribes, refused to turn in black runaways from American plantations. U.S. Army General Thomas Jesup, who fought the Seminoles, with their hundreds of black warriors, was moved to write: “This, you may be assured, is a [N]egro, not an Indian war.”
When the pro-slavery, white-expansionist war went bad for the Seminoles, red and black Seminoles fled to Mexico (which abolished slavery in 1829), where they were given land, and joined the Mexican Army to defend the country from invading gringos. The Seminoles were led by Coacoochee (also known as Wild Cat), and he was assisted by a black man named John Horse.
Writer William Loren Katz, in his 1986 book Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage, informs us that Mexico became a home that wasn't possible in the United States:
"Seminoles arrived in a country that had ended slavery in 1829 and had welcomed slave fugitives ever since. Some three thousand U.S. blacks lived peacefully in Mexico, most of them far from the Rio Grande border. Periodically, slavehunting posses plunged across the river to seize black people for sale back home. Some Mexican politicians conspired with these desperadoes, the better to finance their political campaigns.
"Seminole families had hardly settled down when in 1851 U.S. outlaw John 'Rip' Ford rode into Mexico with a band of four hundred men. Wild Cat and John Horse were called upon to drive out the bandits, former Texas Rangers and unemployed Texans. Sixty Seminole fighters drove back the Texans without a casualty."
When black folks needed help the most, Mexico stood on freedom's side. What does that mean, 150 years later? It means that Blacks and Browns have a shared history of resistance against oppression. It means that Blacks and Browns need not be the strangers they fear, nor the antagonists they dislike. History can open doors of recognition and long-lost remembrance. It can begin to heal, not the past, but the present.
Mumia Abu-Jamal is an award-winning journalist. He has been a resident of Pennsylvania's death row for twenty-five years. Writing from his solitary confinement cell his essays have reached a worldwide audience. His 1982 murder trial and subsequent conviction have been the subject of great debate.
This August 8th marks 28 years since the MOVE 9's illegal imprisonment. Join us in Philly on August 5th at noon on Market Street in between 5th andd 6th st. to demonstrate for their release.
As well as demonstrating on behalf of our family, The MOVE 9, we will also march around to the federal prison at 7th and Arch Sts. to join a demonstration on behalf of Antonio Negron, a Puerto Rican Independista---Ona Move, Ramona Africa
Kim Il Sung, Founder of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea
Originally uploaded by panafnewswire.
7/26/2006 2:51 PM ET
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea's defense minister said his country will strengthen its nuclear weapons program in response to U.N. sanctions and American hostility, the North's official news agency reported Wednesday.
North Korea will upgrade its arsenal "in every way by employing all possible means and methods'' and will greet any aggressors with "all-out do-or-die resistance and unprecedented devastating strikes,'' Kim Il Chol said, according to the Korean Central News Agency.
Meanwhile, a top American diplomat said the United States would try to hold a regional security meeting in Malaysia if North Korea continues to boycott six-nation nuclear disarmament talks.
If North Korea is willing, "we could have a six-party informal" meeting on the communist state's disputed nuclear weapons program, said Christopher Hill, chief U.S. negotiator on the issue.
"If they don't want (to) ... we will have some kind of multilateral meeting to discuss security issues in Northeast Asia. But it won't be discussing six-party talks. It will be discussing broader and more future-type issues."
The United States and others have been urging North Korea to end its nine-month-old boycott of negotiations intended to offer Pyongyang security assurances and aid in exchange for giving up its nuclear program.
They hoped that the talks between the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia could be held on the sidelines of the ASEAN Regional Forum meeting Thursday and Friday.
But Kim, speaking at a gathering to mark the 53rd anniversary of the armistice agreement that ended the Korean War, said strengthening North Korea's nuclear weapons program is necessary to counter the United States' "extremely hostile act and the irresponsibility of the U.N. Security Council.''
North Korea fired seven missiles in early July, including at least one believed capable of reaching the U.S. mainland. International condemnation prompted the Security Council to adopt a resolution sanctioning North Korea and banning member states from missile-related dealings with the communist country.
Kim warned that the U.N. resolution will not force Pyongyang to give up its nuclear program. North Korea ``can survive without sweets, but not without bullets,'' he said.
The communist state has boycotted the talks since November to protest a U.S. crackdown on its alleged financial wrongdoing. Washington has imposed sanctions on Macau-based Banco Delta Asia and several North Korean companies it said were involved in counterfeiting, money laundering and funding weapons proliferation.
The Bank of China since has frozen North Korean assets, earning praise from the White House. Presidential spokesman Tony Snow said Wednesday the United States was encouraged that China "really has now accepted some responsibility for the situation, as has South Korea."
"And you've seen both countries starting to assert pressure on the government in Pyongyang because they want them to return (to six-nation nuclear disarmament talks)," Snow said.
Pyongyang is demanding that the United States lift the financial restrictions against it before rejoining the six-party talks.
The meeting in Malaysia, being hosted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, marks the first time the six countries have gathered at the same venue since North Korea test-fired seven missiles on July 5.
The tests prompted fresh calls for resuming the six-party talks in hopes of persuading the communist regime to disarm in exchange for economic aid and security assurances.
"Everybody would like a six-party informal, all five of us want a six-party informal," Hill said.
"North Korea is now at a crossroad," said South Korea's top nuclear negotiator Chun Yung-woo, after a meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei.
Chun indicated that further punitive measures could be taken against Pyongyang if it still refused to return to talks, following a U.N. Security Council resolution that condemned the missile tests and ban missile-related dealings with North Korea.
North Korea's delegation, led by its Foreign Minister Paek Nam Sun, is scheduled to arrive in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday and likely will meet with Chinese and South Korean officials.
Find this article at:
Tuesday July 25, 12:20 PM
North Korea hits out at "imbecile" Rice ahead of ASEAN meeting
North Korea has defended its missile launches ahead of an Asian security forum expected to focus on them, describing US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as a "political imbecile" for criticising the tests.
The North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) accused Rice, who called North Korea a "completely irresponsible" and
"dangerous" state for test-firing seven ballistic missiles on July 5, of distorting the facts.
However, the communist state also came in for criticism from a United Nations official who said the launches had prompted a cutback in food aid.
Rice and her North Korean counterpart Paek Nam-Sun are due to attend the ASEAN Regional Forum in Kuala Lumpur Friday amid international tensions over the missile tests.
"Obviously, Rice made such an outcry in a bid to justify the US hostile policy to pressurize the DPRK (North Korea) with the ministerial meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum at hand and draw regional countries into its pressure campaign," KCNA said in a commentary late Monday.
"Her remarks are nothing but a sheer distortion of the reality which can convince no one."
The news agency said the North is under threat of attack from "the worst gangsters in the world" after the Bush administration listed it as part of an "axis of evil."
"It was none other than Rice who let loose a spate of such piffle over the launch of a few missiles as part of military training to cope with the US reckless moves for aggression and war," KCNA said.
"This cannot be construed otherwise than an outburst made by a political imbecile."
The North's test-firing of the seven missiles, which splashed down in the Sea of Japan (East Sea), earned a unanimous rebuke from the United Nations Security Council -- one immediately rejected by Pyongyang.
The North also rejected Rice's claims that its tests had been reckless, saying it had "launched missiles only after airspace, land and waters of the sea had been confirmed to be completely safe."
In Kuala Lumpur the UN special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea said Monday the missile launches were "irresponsible" and had affected goodwill and aid for the North.
"The acts, particularly the missile launch, have ultimately impacted upon human rights, because they have led to a certain reaction from neighbours in terms of cutback on food and fertiliser aid," Vitit Muntarbhorn told reporters.
Japan has already banned a major North Korean ferry link, visits by diplomats and charter flights in response to the missile tests, while South Korea has suspended shipments of rice and fertiliser.
Malaysia's Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar said Monday the two Koreas would meet on the sidelines of the Asian forum this week but the North was unwilling to join six-nation talks on its nuclear programme.
The talks ground to a halt in November over Pyongyang's objections to financial sanctions imposed by Washington.
"I think they feel that the sanctions, the banks, the embargo on the cash transactions is hurting them a lot," Syed Hamid said. "So all these things need to be addressed in order to bring all the parties back to talking."
Before its latest boycott, the North shunned the six-party talks for five months after Rice called North Korea an "outpost of tyranny" in February 2005.
The North, though thin-skinned when criticized, has its own robust line in insults. In 2003 it described John Bolton, then the top US anti-proliferation official, as "human scum" for criticizing the regime of Kim Jong-Il.
Later the same year it said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who branded North Korea an "evil regime", was a "human butcher" who put Hitler in the shade.
Security Council fails to agree on statement on UN observer deaths
The UN Security Council failed to agree a statement condemning the killing of four UN military observers in an attack by Israel in Lebanon, diplomats said.
The council will renew its negotiations again on Thursday, French ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere, the council president, told reporters.
Ambassadors announced they could not agree a presidential statement following a day of haggling.
China had originally demanded that the statement, which is not binding, condemn the attack while the United States would not accept any criticism of its ally Israel, diplomats said.
Negotiations went on late into evening after China's ambassador Wang Guangya refused to put back a result until Thursday, the sources said. A Chinese soldier was among the four UN observers killed in the Lebanese town of Khiam on Tuesday. The others were from Austria, Canada and Finland.
China distributed a draft statement at the start of the day calling the attack "apparently deliberate" but this was immediately rejected by US ambassador John Bolton.
By the end of the day, the 15 nation council was studying the third edited version of the draft.
The latest version, distributed by the UN press service, said only that "The Security Council condemns any deliberate attack against UN personnel and emphasizes that any such attacks are unacceptable."
Wang said that a briefing to the council by Jane Holl Lute, assistant secretary general for peacekeeping operations, gave indications that the attack was deliberate.
"I think the secretary's briefing was clear, it was very clear in this direction," said Wang.
"Any attack on United Nations positions and United Nations personnel is inexcusable and unacceptable," said Wang.
But Bolton said there was no sign that the attack was deliberate.
The draft statement said: "The Security Council is deeply shocked and distressed by the firing by the Israeli Defence Forces on a United Nations observer post in southern Lebanon."
It called on Israel and the United Nations "to conduct a comprehensive inquiry". Israel and the United Nations have already announced their own inquiries, but Israel has not said whether it will accept a UN request for a joint investigation.
Israel has been attacking Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon since July 12 after two Israeli soldiers were kidnapped. Hundreds of people have been killed in Lebanon but the peacekeepers are the first UN fatalities.
A presidential statement has to be passed unanimously but unlike a Security Council resolution has no binding nature.
China has taken a leading role in the international condemnation of the attack. The Beijing government has already demanded an apology from Israel and called for an immediate ceasefire in Lebanon.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert expressed "deep regrets" over the deaths in a phone call with UN chief Kofi Annan on Wednesday, his office said.
Annan said Tuesday that the attack was "apparently deliberate" and this brought a strong response from Dan Gillerman, the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations.
Gillerman told CNN television that it was a "bitter, difficult and cruel war" in southern Lebanon.
"We are very, very sorry, and we regret this tragic incident and extend condolences to the families of the Chinese, Finnish, Canadian and Austrian families," Gillerman said.
"I seriously do not believe that Kofi Annan believes this was a deliberate target. I think and I hope that his statement was made in haste. I believe it is premature, irresponsible and regrettable. I don't think anybody in his right mind thinks that Israel is targeting UN personnel," the Israeli envoy added.
Israeli troops suffer largest one-day loss
Peace talks stall; 10 Palestinians injured in airstrike in Tyre
NORTHERN ISRAEL (CNN) -- The Israeli military on Wednesday suffered its largest loss of life in its 15-day offensive against Hezbollah guerillas as nine Israeli soldiers were killed while fighting in southern Lebanese towns.
Eight soldiers were killed and 22 more were wounded in Bint Jbeil, near the Israeli border, while battling militiamen in what the Israel Defense Forces has called Hezbollah's "terror capital."
There were heavy casualties among Hezbollah fighters, according to Israeli soldiers. Hezbollah has not released casualty figures since fighting began.
On Tuesday the IDF said it had taken control of the city. On Wednesday it said more troops were being sent there.
In nearby Maroun al-Ras, an Israeli army officer was killed and five soldiers were wounded in fighting, according to the IDF.
On the Mediterranean coast, 10 people were injured Wednesday in the Lebanese port city of Tyre when Israeli airstrikes destroyed a 10-story building, city officials said.
Smoke rose over the city after two large explosions, and people near the building were covered in dust and blood as they fled through the rubble.
The blast came just hours after a ship with hundreds of foreigners aboard departed the seaport in Tyre. Residents in Tyre said they were concerned that Israeli airstrikes would intensify after the Westerners left.
The ship, chartered by Canada, was bound for Cyprus filled with Americans, Australians, Britons, Canadians and other nationalities.
Israeli Maj. Gen. Udi Adam said the building was targeted because "there are launchers [there] that fire missiles at Haifa."
Haifa, the third-largest city in Israel, has been the target of numerous air attacks since the conflict escalated July 12 after Hezbollah guerillas captured two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid.
Adam also told reporters that an end to the fighting may be near.
"I assume that it will go on for a few more weeks," he said. "And in a few more weeks, I believe we will be able to put an end to this operation -- a successful end."
Israeli troops have been involved in fierce ground fighting in Lebanese border towns since entering Maroun al-Ras last week.
The goal, according to the IDF, is to push Hezbollah guerillas away from the border and reduce the Islamic militia's capability to launch Katyusha rockets into northern Israel.
Hezbollah fighters launched 102 rockets into Israel on Wednesday morning, wounding 18 people, Israeli police said. Twenty-seven of the rockets landed in cities, the police said.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah warned Tuesday that his fighters would take the battle "beyond Haifa." However, as of Wednesday the farthest south Hezbollah rockets had struck was in Nazareth, 20 miles (35 kilometers) southeast of Haifa.
Since July 12, at least 398 people -- mostly civilians -- have been killed in Israeli strikes, Lebanese sources say. The IDF said the death toll from Hezbollah rockets striking Israel and the fighting in southern Lebanon is 50 -- 19 of them civilians.
The fighting also has wounded more than 1,400 in Lebanon and more than 300 Israeli civilians, the sources said.
Four U.N. observers died Tuesday when an Israeli precision-guided bomb hit their post in southern Lebanon, said Lebanese security sources and a Western diplomat.
Israel has said the attack was an accident.
But U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan contended otherwise, and a U.N. officer said the Israeli military liaison was told 10 times in six hours that aerial attacks were getting close to the bunker manned by the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said Israel was investigating the bombing.
"The government of Israel has definitively said that they were not deliberately targeting the UNIFIL outpost," he said. "We certainly take them at their word and note that there's no evidence to the contrary."
The international U.N. force in southern Lebanon comprises 2,000 troops -- including 50 military observers -- and 400 civilians. It has been there since 1978 to observe the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, maintain security and eventually return authority over the area to the Lebanese government.
CNN learned Wednesday that Hezbollah isn't the only militia in Lebanon fighting Israeli troops.
Officials with the Amal Party, headed by speaker of the Lebanese parliament Nabih Berri, said militias loyal to Berri have been involved in every major battle since fighting began.
Amal is a Shiite political and paramilitary organization, like Hezbollah, and fought against Israel in the 1990s during the occupation of southern Lebanon.
Eight Amal fighters have been killed in the past three days, during which Berri met with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to discuss a solution to the crisis.
Progress unseen in talks
Talks in Rome, Italy, floundered Wednesday after the United States disagreed with European and Arab nations over how to defuse the situation, according to sources in Washington and Jerusalem.
The United States has resisted demands for an immediate cease-fire, insisting that a cessation of hostilities must be part of a wider plan to permanently disarm Hezbollah. Arab and European leaders say the violence must stop first.
Meanwhile, Israel, which was not invited to participate in the talks, said it hoped "the international community will act immediately to strengthen the Lebanese army" so the army can take charge of southern Lebanon after the talks.
In Gaza, where Israel is conducting another offensive, 12 Palestinians were killed and 50 were wounded during an IDF operation in Gaza City's Sajaiyeh neighborhood, Palestinian medical sources said.
Six of those killed were Hamas militants and one was from Islamic Jihad, the sources said.
The Israeli Air Force attacked 14 militant cells in the neighborhood, according to the IDF. The air force also struck two weapons-storage facilities in Rafah and Jebalya, the IDF said.
Throughout Gaza, 25 Palestinians were killed, including 12 militants and two children, Palestinian medical and security sources said. Seven were killed by Israeli tank fire Wednesday morning, Palestinian sources said.
CNN's Ben Wedeman, Brent Sadler, Nic Robertson, Marcia Biggs, John King, Karl Penhaul, John Roberts and Fionnuala Sweeney contributed to this report.
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Tuesday, July 25, 2006
UN Officials Have Criticized Israeli Bombings in Lebanon
Originally uploaded by panafnewswire.
Four United Nations peacekeepers have been killed in an Israeli air strike on an observation post in south Lebanon.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said he was "shocked" at the "apparently deliberate targeting" of the post. Israel has expressed "deep regret".
Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, has vowed the group would continue its rocket attacks on Israel.
Israel earlier said it would control an area in southern Lebanon until international forces deployed.
The force will be discussed at crisis talks to be held in Rome on Wednesday.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will be at the talks after ending her tour of the Middle East on Tuesday.
More than 380 Lebanese and 42 Israelis have died in nearly two weeks of conflict in Lebanon, which began after Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid on 12 July.
The UN in Lebanon says the Israeli air force destroyed the observer post, in which four military observers were sheltering.
It said the four, from Austria, Canada, China and Finland, had taken shelter in a bunker under the post after it was earlier shelled 14 times by Israeli artillery.
A rescue team was also shelled as it tried to clear the rubble.
"I am shocked and deeply distressed by the apparently deliberate targeting by Israeli Defence Forces of a UN Observer post in southern Lebanon," Mr Annan said in a statement from Rome.
Unifil has been operational in the border area since 1978 and is currently 2,000 strong.
Mr Nasrullah told Hezbollah's al-Manar television that the militant group would fire rockets deeper into Israel and would counter any Israeli advance into southern Lebanon, and criticised what he called an Israeli-US plan for a "new Middle East".
"There is no way that we can accept any humiliating conditions on us, our people or our country... especially after all these sacrifices... we are open to political discussions and solutions with flexibility, but the dignity and national interest is a red line."
In other military action:
The Israeli army said it had killed a senior Hezbollah commander, Abu Jaafar, in fighting in southern Lebanon
Earlier the UN said Israeli forces were now in control of the town of Bint Jbeil after fierce fighting and were moving on the village of Yaroun to the south
Israel resumed air raids on Beirut, with explosions heard in southern suburbs - a Hezbollah stronghold
Hezbollah fired more Katyusha rockets into Israel, killing a 15-year-old Arab-Israeli girl in the northern Israeli village of Maghar and striking Haifa with a large salvo
Hezbollah said 27 of its fighters had been killed as of Monday, but the Israeli military said it had killed "some dozens".
Earlier, Israeli Defence Minister Amir Peretz had said a "security zone" in southern Lebanon would be maintained "under
the control of our forces if there is not a multinational force".
He said: "We have no other option. We have to build a new security strip that will be a cover for our forces."
He did not specify whether Israeli troops would remain there but insisted they would "continue to control [Hezbollah]" in their operations.
Israeli government sources have estimated the width of the zone at anything from three to 10km (1.9-6.2 miles).
An unnamed Israeli official quoted by Reuters news agency said between 10,000 and 20,000 international peacekeepers would be needed.
BBC defence and security correspondent Rob Watson says Israeli details on the zone - and how it will be secured - are far from clear.
He says it is possible Mr Peretz is trying to put pressure on the international community to deliver the peacekeeping force.
Earlier, Ms Rice met Israeli PM Ehud Olmert and later Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Mr Abbas called for an immediate end to "aggression against the Gaza Strip and the West Bank" and for an "immediate ceasefire" in Lebanon.
Ms Rice said the only solution was a sustainable and enduring peace.
Her words were reinforced later by US President George W Bush who said: "I support a sustainable ceasefire that will bring about an end to violence... Our mission and our goal is to have a lasting peace, not a temporary peace."
In his meeting with Ms Rice, Mr Olmert said he was "very conscious" of the humanitarian needs of Lebanon's civilians, but insisted Israel was defending itself against terrorism.
Ms Rice highlighted the need for Israel to consider the humanitarian needs of both Lebanon and the Palestinian people and the need for a durable peace.
She said: "It is time for a new Middle East, it is time to say to those who do not want a different kind of Middle East that we will prevail; they will not."
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/07/26 00:09:31 GMT
Monday 24 July 2006 3:54 AM GMT
Nasrallah said the priority was to end Israeli attacks on Lebanon
Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, has said that an Israeli ground invasion would not prevent Hezbollah from firing rockets into northern Israel.
"Any Israeli incursion will have no political results if it does not achieve its declared goals, primarily an end to the rocketing of Zionist settlements in northern occupied Palestine," Nasrallah said in remarks published on Monday.
"I assure you that this goal will not be achieved, God willing, by an Israeli incursion," he told As-Safir newspaper.
His remarks came after Hezbollah fired dozens of rockets at Israel on Sunday.
Responding to reports about diplomatic efforts to end the fighting, Nasrallah said the priority was to end Israeli attacks on Lebanon, but added he was open to discussing initiatives.
Nasrallah, whose whereabouts are unknown, also said Hizbollah would not object if the Lebanese government were to negotiate a prisoner swap, under which Hizbollah freed the two Israeli soldiers it captured on July 12 in return for Lebanese and Arab prisoners in Israeli jails.
Nasrallah would not take a stand on proposals to send an international force to southern Lebanon to keep the peace, but said it was "very noteworthy" that Israel first rejected and then accepted the idea of a NATO-led force.
In a shift of Israel's position, Amir Peretz, the Israeli defence minister, said on Sunday his country could accept an international force, preferably NATO, on its border to ensure the peace in southern Lebanon.
"This shift in Israel's position must be studied and considered well before taking a positive or negative stand on this idea," he said.
Nasrallah downplayed Hezbollah's loss of the strategic border village of Maroun al-Ras, saying Israeli media have hyped up the first major ground operation of the 13-day-old confrontation "as if it's the conquest of Stalingrad".
He said Israel's losses in the fighting for Maroun al-Ras showed the weakness of the Israeli army. Israel has said five soldiers were killed in the fighting there.
"The enemy is seeking a military achievement in order to exaggerate it, and use it in the media and in politics," Nasrallah said.
He also indicated that his group was still interested in a trade of two Israeli soldiers that Hezbollah captured in a brazen cross-border raid on July 12, sparking the current crisis, for Arab prisoners held by Israel.
An envoy from Germany's Foreign Ministry visited Beirut on Sunday while the German foreign minister was in Israel, leading to speculation that the European nation may embark on a mission to negotiate the prisoner swap.
Nasrallah said that Hezbollah has not been in contact with Germany but that the "German channel is still valid." He said he wouldn't object to other channels that the parties agree to.
In 2004, Germany negotiated a previous prisoner exchange between Hezbollah and Israel.
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Hezbollah proves its mettle
by Christian Henderson in Beirut
Monday 24 July 2006 9:43 PM GMT
Nasarallah: When the Israelis enter, they must pay dearly
Hezbollah’s war with Israel, so far, has been a rare military accomplishment in the history of the Middle East conflict, analysts say. But they doubt whether the Islamist militia can endure sustained and intensive warfare.
Although Lebanon has paid the price with mounting civilian casualties and a devastated infrastructure, Hezbollah has largely remained intact, and despite the 12-day pounding of the militia's positions it is still able to fire rockets into Israel.
The Israeli military, which prides itself on a history of brilliant victories over the Arabs, was caught unawares when Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers and killed four sailors in an attack on an Israeli navy boat.
An Iranian-made radar-guided anti-ship missile was used in the attack, the Israeli military has said, and Tel Aviv is admitting that it was caught off-guard, a second time.
"We were not aware that Hezbollah possessed this kind of missile," Rear Admiral Noam Faig, Israel Navy (IN) head of operations, told Jane's Defence Weekly last week. "We are familiar with that missile from other areas, but assumed that the threat was not present in Lebanon."
Prepared for showdown
In relative terms, the militia has had more success in fighting Israel than many Arab states and analysts say the group was well prepared for the showdown.
Amal Saad-Ghoreyeb, author of "Hezbollah: Politics and Religion" told Aljazeera.net: "A lot of commentators say the group must have miscalculated. But Hezbollah’s ability to provide a military deterrent must be indicative of the fact that the movement was prepared for such an Israeli onslaught."
Twenty Israeli soldiers have been killed and several tanks destroyed by Hezbollah, who has confirmed that 13 of its fighters have also been killed.
Israel says Hezbollah’s losses are as high as 100.
Hezbollah’s tactics are becoming clearer as the conflict continues. The group has a military force as large as 5000 that is divided into decentralised divisions, and since the Israeli withdrawal from the south in 2000, the group has been preparing underground tunnels across south Lebanon and building sophisticated armoury.
Vietnam style warfare
Military analysts have drawn comparisons between the Hezbollah and Vietnamese fighters and other guerrilla forces in their tactics.
"They are well armed, well motivated combat veterans from the 1990s. It's the old Mao Tsetung guerrilla strategy of retreating when the enemy advances and advancing when the enemy retreats," Nicholas Blandford, the Jane's Defence Weekly analyst in Lebanon, told Aljazeera.net.
Unlike many Arab militaries that are under tight, centralised control, Hezbollah works in small decentralised groups that are able to respond quickly without permission from senior ranks.
"They always operate in small isolated cells. One cell does not know what the other cell is doing. I am sure Hassan Nasrallah does not know what the military wing is doing sometimes. This decentralised structure is part of the group's military potency," Saad-Ghoreyeb said.
The last war Israel fought in Lebanon was against the Palestinian Liberation Organisation in 1982; but the Palestinian resistance to the Israeli invasion was mostly unsuccessful as it was infiltrated with informers and applied tactics similar to a regular army.
This time Israel faces a far more formidable force made up of dedicated and secretive members who have years of experience in fighting a guerrilla war in south Lebanon.
Reports from Israeli soldiers returning from raids in Lebanon say that they have fought fierce battles with a formidable foe.
"They're not normal soldiers, you know," one was quoted by the Associated Press as saying. "They're guerrillas. They're very smart."
But although Hezbollah have fared well up until now, it remains to be seen how long they can sustain the fierce Israeli assault.
Supply lines within Lebanon have been cut and the group will also have difficulties importing weapons from outside the country. However, according to Israeli reports they have enough rockets to last them for a month.
"The rate of rocket fire has dwindled since last Wednesday. Whether this is a tactical move or because they are running low on supplies is impossible to say," Blanford said.
What is likely is that Hezbollah are waiting for a full-scale invasion so they can engage Israel on the ground and fight a guerrilla war in the wadis and mountains of south Lebanon.
"As for us, our equation and principles are the following: When the Israelis enter, they must pay dearly in terms of their tanks, officers, soldiers. This is what we pledge to do and we will honour our pledge, God willing," Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah secretary general, said in an interview with Aljazeera on Thursday.
Tel Aviv ended its 18-year-long occupation of the border area in 2000 and is unlikely to re-engage in a conflict that was sometimes referred to as "Israel's Vietnam".
Alon Ben-David, a Jane's Defence Weekly correspondent wrote in last week’s issue that the Israeli military has suffered “considerable” casualties in its push north in Lebanon.
"The Israeli forces have discovered that Hezbollah has established a Viet Cong-style network of tunnels and trenches close to the Israeli border, providing shelter for its operatives and their weapons," he said.
By Christian Henderson in Beirut
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Israel used cluster grenades on civilians
Tuesday 25 July 2006 12:03 AM GMT
Cluster grenades should not be used around civilian areas
A US-based human rights group has accused Israel of using artillery-fired cluster grenades against a Lebanese village last week during its assault against Hezbollah.
Human Rights Watch said on Monday that it had taken photos of cluster grenades stored by Israeli artillery teams on the Israel-Lebanon border.
It also said that a cluster grenade attack on Wednesday killed one and wounded at least 12 civilians in the village of Blida.
"Cluster munitions are unacceptably inaccurate and unreliable weapons when used around civilians," Kenneth Roth, Human Rights Watch executive director, said in a statement.
"They should never be used in populated areas."
An Israeli army statement said: "The use of cluster munitions is legal under international law and the IDF [Israel Defence Forces] uses such munitions in accordance with international standards. We are checking the specific details of the incident mentioned in the report."
Violating a ban?
Human Rights Watch said it had photographed M483A1 artillery shells stored on the Israeli side of the border, which deliver 88 cluster sub-munitions per shell and have a failure rate of 14 per cent, often leaving behind dangerous unexploded shells.
It said it believed the use of cluster grenades in populated areas could violate a ban on indiscriminate attacks contained in international humanitarian law.
"Our research in Iraq and Kosovo shows that cluster munitions cannot be used in populated areas without huge loss of civilian life," Roth said.
"Israel must stop using cluster bombs in Lebanon at once."
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US government sued over safety
Monday 24 July 2006 10:06 PM GMT
Most US citizens have left Lebanon
A leading Arab-American advocacy group has sued the US government, claiming that it failed to protect American citizens from the fighting in Lebanon.
The lawsuit was filed on Monday on behalf of about 30 American citizens by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.
It alleges that Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state, and Donald Rumsfeld, the secretary of defence, did not take all possible steps to secure the safety and well-being of US citizens when fighting erupted between Israel and Hezbollah guerillas.
The committee is asking the district court in Detroit to order the US government to request a ceasefire and to stop shipments of weapons or any other military support to Israel during the evacuation of US citizens from Lebanon.
"We just feel the US government has put its citizens at risk by supplying missiles when many US citizens are still there," said Nabih Ayad, the lawyer for suing committee and the citizens who were all in Lebanon.
Ayad said a few included in the lawsuit are still trying to leave the country.
"We're not trying to interfere with the war, we just want to protect our US citizens and try to bring them back," Ayad said.
The US consul in Lebanon, William Gill, said most Americans who wanted to leave Lebanon had done so by Sunday and that US evacuation efforts were nearly complete.
He also urged anyone considering leaving to make up their minds quickly as fighting between Israel and Lebanon's Hezbollah guerrillas showed no sign of waning.
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Tuesday July 25, 12:38 PM
Southeast Asia urges ceasefire in Lebanon, slams Israel
Southeast Asian nations have called for an immediate ceasefire in the Middle East and condemned Israel's "excessive" military
operations in Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank.
Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the current chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said the situation threatened international peace and security.
"The United Nations Security Council should take action to call for an immediate ceasefire, deploy a United Nations peacekeeping force to implement the ceasefire and prevent an invasion of Lebanon," Abdullah said as he opened the bloc's annual meeting of foreign ministers in Kuala Lumpur.
"We should not tolerate Israel's excessive military reprisals against Lebanon," he added.
"The collective punishment inflicted upon the Lebanese people and the destruction of towns and cities are unconscionable.
"The military incursions into Lebanese territory are (in) blatant disregard for Lebanon's sovereignty."
Abdullah -- whose government promotes a moderate brand of Islam -- said the violence had left the Middle East peace process "in tatters" and urged the international community to press for peaceful negotiations.
ASEAN countries should "make our voices heard loudly and clearly" about the plight of the Palestinian people, he added.
The Southeast Asian group's 10 members include the world's most populous Muslim nation Indonesia and mainly Muslim Malaysia.
ASEAN foreign ministers issued a statement late Monday condemning the attacks, which have killed hundreds of people.
"We call for an immediate ceasefire and urge the international community and the United Nations Security Council to get all parties in the conflicts to adhere to the ceasefire under UN supervision," the statement said.
It also hit out at the Jewish state for its "disproportionate,
indiscriminate and excessive use of force", saying such actions would threaten efforts towards reviving peace talks with the Palestinians.
The ministers urged all parties to "exercise utmost restraint" and prevent further civilian casualties, along with damage to key infrastructure installations and civilian property.
The UN has warned prolonged attacks will lead to a humanitarian catastrophe, with hundreds of thousands made homeless by Israel's offensive on Lebanon, and has issued an appeal for 150 million dollars to help them.
Urgent diplomatic efforts are under way to resolve the crisis, including a visit by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the Middle East and a major conference to be hosted by Italy set for Wednesday.
ASEAN foreign ministers welcomed the initiatives by the international community as "encouraging steps", adding they were hopeful that such moves would help bring about an "immediate cessation of hostilities".