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Year 2000 No. 177, October 20, 2000 Archive Search Home Page

A Sad Comment on Our Own Country

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

A Sad Comment on Our Own Country

Britain to Open Diplomatic Relations with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

News In Brief
Goodyear to Sack over 500 Workers
Vauxhall Cost Cutting Warning
Nissan Warns of Changing Suppliers
BA Spoils Hopes of Liberalisation Deal
RJB Talks Fail

Statements by the Communist Party of Israel

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A Sad Comment on Our Own Country

On Thursday, October 19, the very day that Tony Blair announced in Seoul that Britain was to establish diplomatic relations with North Korea, Channel 4 TV screened a Dispatches programme on that country entitled Children of the Secret State as viciously anti-communist, as scurrilous and as wildly distorted as it is possible to imagine. And it was a programme very up-to-the-minute in the sense that it ended with an explicit warning to western leaders not to be drawn into "appeasing" the one-man "dictatorship" of Kim Jong Il. The question arises: how and why was such a sordid piece of reporting made and screened precisely now?

The accusations made against the North Korean regime are so wild, and so unsubstantiated, that it is almost demeaning and somewhat pointless for any serious person to take issue with them. A few images are shown of several sickly-looking children (certainly not showing any of the classic signs of starvation or even malnutrition) apparently picking up scraps in a muddy market while adults eat heartily at tables, accompanied by a solemn voiceover and funereal music. The children do not seem to understand the questions of the "undercover" cameraman. No location or dates are given. It could be anywhere. Claims are made that three million have starved to death over the last five years. There are even claims that cannibalism has taken place, human flesh sold on market stalls! No attempt is made to substantiate these claims. No mention is made of the DPRK government’s open admission that the natural disasters, repeated floods and droughts, of the last years, exacerbated by the US blockade and division of the country, have affected parts of the country where "signs of malnutrition" have been seen. No mention is made of the extensive and readily available reports by UNICEF, the WHO and other international agencies giving details of the effects of the natural disasters, including on the health of the children, and the precise food needs of the country on which international aid has been based. The programme claimed that the country is "sealed off to foreigners, even aid workers". What an incredible assertion! Even the most casual observer cannot have missed the reports of various eminent foreign visitors, including the former US Defence Secretary William Perry, Bill Clinton’s brother and Billy Graham, as well as the presence of CNN and various humanitarian agencies. And those with more inside knowledge, such as our Party delegations of 1997 and September this year, can attest to meeting literally dozens of foreigners: New Zealand diplomats, Canadian parliamentarians, Australian technical experts, even US State Department officials monitoring the distribution of aid! Why were none of these and many others and their often published reports mentioned by the programme?

The programme reveals its bias and bigotry by claiming that Kim Il Sung, the great leader of the Korean struggle against cruel Japanese colonial rule and all subsequent struggles, was "hand-picked by Stalin". Has any serious historian of any political shade ever made such a claim? A few shadowy interviewees, said to have been filmed in China and South Korea, make claims of vast prison camps housing millions in which the inmates suffer the most vile tortures. No evidence is presented. No historical analysis is attempted of how Korea came to be divided, what led to the present artificial situation and the difficulties faced by the people of the DPRK. Not least among the indignities which the programme heaps on the Korean people is the scorn it pours on the sincere and widespread desire for peace and reunification among the population in the south. And of course, in all the unsubstantiated horror stories, no mention is made of the well documented facts of vile massacres carried out by the US forces during the Korean War and after, even of the fact that the last two South Korean military rulers were indicted by their own judiciary of genocide!

So why the programme? It is now well known that great strides are being made towards reunification of the divided Korean peninsula, and towards normalisation of relations between the DPRK and the international community generally, including its former adversaries. This has been widely welcomed by progressive and democratic forces throughout the world. Even the United States, Britain and those countries previously hostile to North Korea have been forced to welcome the current developments and move towards normalising relations. But public opinion cannot be left to make up its own mind based on the facts. The American imperialists, backed by Britain, have no intention of readily withdrawing their troops from south Korea and giving up their aim of dominating Asia and the world. The option of further interference in Korea’s affairs and further military intervention must be left open. Thus filth is still poured out about North Korea by the monopoly controlled media.

In the end the Channel 4 programme is a sad comment on our own country. That television journalism can descend to such a sordid level, that such a philistine and uncivilised individual as the programme’s presenter can operate on a national TV channel, that a programme purporting to be fact-based reporting should be nothing but the vilest, shoddiest, reactionary and warmongering propaganda, is but one sign of the need to step up the struggle for fundamental change in Britain.

Article Index



Britain to Open Diplomatic Relations with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

Speaking from Seoul ahead of the Third Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit, the Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, confirmed that Britain is to establish diplomatic relations with North Korea for the first time.

Robin Cook commented that following the successful meeting of the leaders of north and south Korea in June, the President of south Korea, Kim Dae Jung, is "very keen" for other countries to engage with the north, to help accelerate peace relations between the two countries.

WDIE welcomes the fact that, following the call of the Foreign Minister of the DPRK in September officially proposing the establishment of diplomatic relations to Britain and other countries, the British government has at long last taken this first step in normalising relations between the two countries.

When the DPRK Foreign Minister wrote proposing such relations (which Britain, following the lead of the United States of America, has for far too long refused to consider), he pointed out that "the DPRK government always pursues the policy of opening and developing friendly and co-operative relations with all countries and international organisations … on the principles of mutual respect for independence, non-interference in other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit".

This principled stand and friendly spirit was notably lacking in Robin Cook’s comments, as he referred to diplomatic relations allowing Britain to engage in a direct dialogue on issues of "deep concern", such as human rights. In an interview, he said: "If we have diplomatic relations we have a better channel for promoting our dialogue on that [the ‘quite wide range of concerns about North Korea’] and exploring our concerns." He went on to say: "The advantage of having diplomatic relations is we can have a direct dialogue in which we can raise those concerns and express our deep anxiety about the need for improvement in them. I would stress that the opening of diplomatic relations is not in any way an approval of the conduct of the regime, but it may well be helpful in resolving what is one of the big problems of North Korean relations with the rest of the world which is the strong tension between it and South Korea and if our action, and perhaps the action of similar like-minded European countries, helps to take forward that process of reducing the tension between the two countries then that will be a valuable and a helpful step towards world peace."

The stand of democratic people is that the establishment of diplomatic relations will assist in developing the friendship between the British and Korean peoples. It will give them the opportunity to learn more about each other and support one another in the spirit of friendship. It is sure to contribute to countering all the disinformation that is spewed out about what life is like in the DPRK, and to finally liquidating the cold war propaganda against the DPRK and its socialist system. And the establishment of diplomatic relations at this time will also contribute to ensuring peace and security in Northeast Asia and the rest of the world, as well as spurring on the aspiration of the whole Korean people to reunify their nation.

Article Index



News In Brief

Goodyear to Sack over 500 Workers

The tyre monopoly Goodyear on October 18 issued 90-day redundancy notices to 540 workers at its Wolverhampton tyre factory. The company informed union officials that it would not respect the agreed redundancy package. The job cuts are the second blow to the tyre industry in as many days. At the Michelin plant in Stoke-on-Trent, 950 jobs are under threat. Both companies blame overcapacity and poor market conditions in Europe. The Goodyear plant has been making tyres since 1927. The company claimed it had no option but to axe 25 per cent of its workforce. A spokeswoman said: "The Wolverhampton factory has a high cost structure and low productivity and the recent Michelin closure shows the adversity of the market. Goodyear is fighting to save itself at the moment."

Vauxhall Cost Cutting Warning

Vauxhall, the British arm of General Motors, has warned that it will have to cut costs in manufacturing and marketing to offset the impact of price cuts.

Nissan Warns of Changing Suppliers

The British operation of Nissan, the Japanese carmaker, has warned suppliers that much of its component spending might be transferred to the euro-zone if its Sunderland plant is chosen to build the new model of the Micra.

BA Spoils Hopes of Liberalisation Deal

Disarray at British Airways, the largest airline in Europe, as it searches for partners to form an alliance with, has reportedly thwarted British and US government hopes of reaching a deal to liberalise air services between the two countries.

RJB Talks Fail

RJB Mining, Britain’s main privatised coal producer, announced on October 11 that its talks with Renco, the US conglomerate, had collapsed. Renco was bidding to take over the company. RJB Mining lost more than a quarter of its stock market value when the news was announced.

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Statements by the Communist Party of Israel

For the information of our readers, we are printing below a press release and a statement from the Communist Party of Israel.

Jewish-Arab Demonstration this Saturday in Haifa

Hadash (The Democratic Front for Peace and Equality Communist Party of Israel) deplores the escalation in the level of violence and bloodshed and the massacre that was perpetrated by the Israeli army and the police, which caused dozens of deaths and hundreds of wounded among the Palestinians in the territories and the Palestinians citizens of Israel and to several casualties among the Israeli occupation forces. Hadash blames the Israeli government for the deterioration in the situation, which endangers the peace process and threatens to cause a fateful explosion, which might engulf the entire region.

We warn the Barak government of the illusion, that an iron fist policy, massacring civilians, aggression and trampling the rights of the Palestinian people will defeat them and their leadership. Hadash demands, that the Barak government end the bloodbath in the territories, advance the achievement of a peace settlement in the framework of which the right of the Palestinian people will be recognised to establish its independent state alongside Israel, in the borders of June 4, 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and to recognise UN Resolutions 242, 338 and 194. That is the only way to establish peace between the two nations.

It is vital for the Jewish and Arab peace forces to mobilise in a joint struggle to end the dangerous deterioration, the responsibility for which lays with the Barak government and which is fanned by the leaders of the right wing, the enemies of peace. Only the joint Jewish-Arab struggle is the guarantee for the success of just and stable Israeli-Palestinian peace.

This Saturday (October 21, 2000) at 5 p.m., Hadash members will demonstrate in Haifa. You are invited to join us!

For more information: 03-6835252 / 02-6252627 / 04-8536504 Buses: 3.45 p.m. from Tel-Aviv (North Railway station), 3.00 p.m. from Jerusalem (Binianei Haouma)

Our website: www.hadash.org.il / e-mail: info@hadash.org.il

The Disastrous Illusion of the Iron Fist

The Communist Party of Israel deplores the escalation in the level of violence and bloodshed and the massacre that was perpetrated by the Israeli army, which caused dozens of deaths and hundreds of wounded among the Palestinians and to several casualties among the Israeli occupation forces.

The CPI blames the Israeli government for the deterioration in the situation, which endangers the peace process and threatens to cause a fateful explosion, which might engulf the entire region.

It was the government's duty to guarantee the continuation of the negotiations with the Palestinian leadership and to prevent the provocative visit by Likud leader Ariel Sharon and his colleagues to the Al-Aqsa compound on September 28. We accuse the Barak government of capitulating to Sharon's dictate and supporting his provocation by means of providing thousands of police and Border Guards. This visit ignited the fire that led to a bloodbath in the territories.

We warn the Barak government of the illusion, that an iron fist policy, massacring civilians, aggression and trampling the rights of the Palestinian people will defeat them and their leadership, which did not capitulate to American and Israeli pressure at Camp David.

The CPI demands, that the Barak government end the bloodbath in the territories, advance the achievement of a peace settlement in the framework of which the right of the Palestinian people will be recognised to establish its independent state alongside Israel, in the borders of June 4, 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and to recognise UN Resolutions 242, 338 and 194. That is the only way to establish peace between the two nations.

It is vital for the Jewish and Arab peace forces to mobilise in a joint struggle to end the dangerous deterioration, the responsibility for which lays with the Barak government and which is fanned by the leaders of the right wing, the enemies of peace. The CPI views the joint Jewish-Arab struggle as a guarantee for the success of just and stable Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Haifa, September 29, 2000

Our website: www.maki.org.il / e-mail: info@maki.org.il

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