Castro: Palestinians suffer 'genocide'
DURBAN, South Africa (Reuters) -- Cuban leader Fidel Castro on
Saturday branded Israeli-Palestinian violence as "genocide" against
Palestinians and blasted the United States for seeking to hobble debate at
a United Nations conference on racism.
"(Nobody) has the right to set preconditions to the conference or urge
avoid the discussion...(of) the way we decide to rate the dreadful genocide
perpetrated, at this very moment, against our Palestinian brothers," Castro said.
Middle East bloodshed has dominated the 153-nation World Conference Against
Racism that opened in the South African city of Durban on Friday
The United States has cut its representation to a junior level in protest
at what it
sees as an anti-Israeli bias and has warned it may withdraw altogether unless the
language in draft texts is revised.
Middle East tension and demands by some African states that rich countries
reparations for the past ills of slavery are threatening to torpedo the conference
which organisers intended as a landmark in the struggle against racism.
The veteran Cuban leader backed the call for reparations, saying that countries
that had grown rich on ill-gotten gains from human trafficking had the
resources to pay.
"This is an unavoidable moral duty," Castro said in his formal address
conference which is being attended by some 6,000 delegates from 153
The conference, which runs until September 7, is due to draw up a declaration
of principles along with a detailed plan of action to fight racism worldwide.
But Washington and European powers are wary of issuing any formal apology
for slavery for fear it could give grounds for legal action against them and they
reject any talk of reparations.
"(The) rich and squandering world is in possession of the technical and
resources necessary to pay what is due to mankind," Castro said.
Copyright 2001 Reuters.