9 February 2006 Edition

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News in Briefs

Leonard Peltier

Monday 6 February marked 30 years since Leonard Peltier was imprisoned following a shoot-out between Native American activists and FBI officers in Oglala on the Pine Ridge reservation.

The conflict between the American Indian Movement and the FBI and United States Government resulted in the loss of life for two agents and Native American activist in 1975.

The subsequent arrest, conviction and incarceration of Leonard Peltier in what many have pointed out was a miscarriage of justice, led to a long campaign for his release.

There has long been allegations of political intervention, and manipulation.

Peltier remains a political prisoner and now approaches the beginning of a fourth decade in jail and many see his continued incarceration as a crime against indigenous peoples.

Afghanistan

Global protests over cartoons in a Danish newspaper depicting Islamic prophet Mohammed have escalated, with two demonstrators killed in Afghanistan and Lebanon and warning shots fired outside a US consulate in Indonesia. After a weekend that saw Denmark's embassies torched in Lebanon and Syria, fury over the images continued to spread on this week with protests held across Afghanistan as well as in Indian-held Kashmir, Indonesia, Lebanon, Iran and Thailand.

Egypt

Distraught relatives of passengers on an Egyptian ferry which sank in the Red Sea have set fire to the offices of the firm which owned the vessel. Police used tear gas to drive away the people, who had attacked the office of the As Salam maritime company outside the Egyptian Red Sea port of Safaga.

Relatives have been gathering at the port entrance since Friday 3 February when the As Salam 98 sank with nearly 1,400 people on board, most of them poor Egyptian workers returning from Saudi Arabia. Police put the number of those rescued at 401. A total of 195 bodies have been recovered. Eight hundred people are still missing.

Iran

The International Atomic Energy Agency has been formally notified of Iran's decision to resume full-scale uranium enrichment work, the country's top national security official was quoted as saying. Enrichment is a process that involves feeding uranium gas through cascades of centrifuges. When purified to low levels the result is reactor fuel, but the process can be extended to make the fissile core of a nuclear bomb.

Iran argues it only wants to generate atomic energy, and maintains that fuel cycle work for peaceful purposes is a right enshrined by the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Iran's government ended its two-year-old freeze on enrichment in response to Saturday 4 February vote by the IAEA's 35-nation board of governors to report Iran to the UN Security Council.


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