News in brief

Prisoners over fast

The hunger strike among California’s prisoners against protracted solitary confinement, a strike which initially involved over 30,000 prisoners (see PN 2561), was called off after 60 days on 5 September, in order to avert deaths.

The decision was ‘especially difficult considering that most of our demands have not been met’, said the prisoners. More info:

Woman over line

On 5 September, Yorkshire peace activist Lindis Percy repeatedly disobeyed an illegal police instruction not to cross a yellow line painted on the road outside ‘RAF’ Menwith Hill – a spy base run by the US national security agency.

Lindis, who has held a weekly vigil outside Menwith for many years, previously won a ruling that she could go 18 inches beyond the line as it did not have planning permission.

Lindis therefore crossed the line and was carried back by the police, repeating her action until it was time for tea. More info: CAAB

Roofers over moon

On 21 August, Horsham magistrates court found Chris Osmond of No Borders and Shiar Youssef of Boycott Israel Network not guilty of criminal trespass.

Their eight-hour occupation of the roof of security company G4S on 2 July 2012 was a protest at G4S’s illegal activities and human rights abuses, particularly in its UK immigration detention centres and in Israeli prisons serviced by the company.

The judge avoided ruling on G4S’s activities but found the occupation did not cause enough disruption to amount to ‘aggravated’ trespass. More info:

Uranium so over

Late news: on 13 July, the government of Jiangmen city in southern China’s Guangdong province cancelled a $6bn uranium processing plant after nearly 1,000 people demonstrated against the plans.

Banners and slogans included: ‘We want children, not atoms.’

Year nearly over

Edinburgh Chiapas Solidarity Group and practical solidarity group Kiptik have published a Zapatista solidarity calendar for 2014, featuring 12 full-colour photos from the rebel lands of Chiapas, Mexico.

All proceeds go directly to support Zapatista autonomy in Chiapas.

Cheques for £6 for each calendar (plus £1.80 p&p) should be made payable to ‘Edinburgh Chiapas Solidarity Group’ and sent to: ECSG, c/o 17 West Montgomery Place, Edinburgh EH7 5HA, Scotland. You can also order your calendar online:

Nepal crisis

The long and winding Nepali peace process is nearing a new crisis point, the national elections scheduled for 19 November, which are designed to create a new constituent assembly to finally agree a national constitution. (We are three years past the deadline set in 2006 for agreeing a new constitution.)

As PN went to press, it wasn’t clear if negotiations between the parties were going to manage to avert a major boycott of the elections, after the interim government decided to deploy the Nepali army to safeguard the election process.

The Maoists, who were the largest party in the old constituent assembly, split in two in June 2012. The larger grouping is fully in favour of the elections. The breakaway radical faction (led by one Mohan Baidya) has assembled a 33-party coalition of smaller parties to oppose the elections, and has been accused of violence and intimidation towards election officials.

The Baidya Maoists have the allegiance of 92 ex-MPs (the constituent assembly also functioned as the national parliament) and so is the fourth-largest party, and cannot be ignored.

The Baidya Maoists are threatening to boycott and obstruct the elections, demanding the resignation of the interim prime minister, Khil Raj Regmi, from his day job as chief justice of the supreme court. (See PN 2555.)

Western Sahara

Western Sahara Resources Watch issued a report at the end of August warning that Morocco plans to build over 1000 megawatts of renewable energy plants in Western Sahara, and has been unloading construction material for this purpose this summer.

Western Sahara has been illegally occupied by Morocco since 1975, and the consent of the original inhabitants is legally required for this kind of development.

On 14 September, the Robert F. Kennedy Centre for Justice and Human Rights (RFK Center) released a report on Western Sahara, stating: ‘In 2013, hundreds of Sahrawi have been persecuted and detained for participating in and organizing peaceful protests. While detained, many have suffered torture, beatings, interrogations, and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.’

According to the Collective of Sahrawi Human Rights Defenders, as of August 2013, there were 59 Sahrawi political prisoners in Moroccan jails, 17 of whom were human rights defenders. The RFK Centre reported that: ‘Since April 2013, four Sahrawi common law prisoners have died in Ait Melloul [prison] due to poor conditions, maltreatment and a lack of medical care: Mohammed Borhimi, May 7; Abdelmalek Abdessamed, May 17; Hicham Lasfar, June 19; and most recently, Ambarak Almotawakil, August 2.’