By Wilson da Silva
JAKARTA – Non-Aligned leaders accused the West on Wednesday of trying to dominate the developing world militarily and economically, with Iran leading the attack on the “arrogant powers”.
In a return to the rhetoric which host Indonesia wants to steer the Non-Aligned Movement away from, Iran called for struggle against “colonialism and exploitation”, North Korea blasted the West’s “strong-arm tactics” and PLO chief Yasser Arafat warned against attempts to split up Iraq.
But morning speakers on the summit’s second day avoided direct reference to the “no-fly zone” imposed by the United States, Britain and France over southern Iraq. Iraqi Vice-President Taha Yassin Ramadan was due to speak later on Wednesday.
“Does the tyrannised man of the South, for whose deliverance from oppression and backwardness...the Non-Aligned Movement was founded, live in better conditions today?” asked Iranian President Ali Akbar Rafsanjani.
He urged the 108-member group to confront “various forms of domination” employed by “the arrogant powers” -- Iran’s parlance for the United States and its Western allies.
The West was using “military and political threats, improper use of the U.N. Security Council, the right of veto, economic sanctions and espionage satellites that are constantly and unlawfully watching us from above our countries’ space with their penetrating and furtive peeps,” he said.
Rafsanjani also criticised the failure of the Movement, founded in 1961, to achieve its objectives. “Whatever the Non-Aligned Movement has so far done on the international arena has been inferior to this Movement’s capacity and capability.”
“...Have economic inequalities come to an end, allowing the movement to put aside its objectives of struggle against colonialism and exploitation?”
Delegates said Rafsanjani was leading a 400-member delegation, the biggest to the conference, in an apparent attempt to boost Iran’s regional role after years of self-imposed isolation.
Rafsanjani accused the West of exporting its economic ills through inflation, protectionism and “propaganda offensive”.
He said 23 per cent of the world population living in the industrialised countries possessed 85 per cent of the wealth, leaving the rest to the Third World.
Apparently trying to fend off charges about Iran’s human rights records, Rafsanjani said: “Arrogant powers try to use the human rights issue as a political leverage in order to impose their views and exert pressure on other countries.”
At the same time, the West was closing its eyes to violations of human rights in the Middle East and the rump state of Yugoslavia, apartheid and the “deprivation of the man of the South from the right to development.”
Rafsanjani, who repeatedly called for the expulsion of founder member Yugoslavia from the movement, urged the conference to take “effective and persistent measures” to end what he termed flagrant genocide against Moslems in Bosnia.
He said the main cause of crisis in the Middle East was the “continuous interferences by the United States and other foreign powers as well as the existence of the (Israeli) occupation regime of al-Qods (Jerusalem)”.
He said Israel was using the Middle East peace talks that resumed in Washington last week as a means to “create division and weakness” in Arab ranks.
But Rafansjani avoided mention of the “no-fly” zone, about which what many delegates have privately expressed unease.
“Maybe there are people who will support him (Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein) but nobody will be frank about it,” one Iranian delegate told Reuters.
One exception was Palestine Liberation Organisation chairman Yasser Arafat, who did not specifically mention the zone but warned against any moves to split up Iraq.
“We appeal to all to act against the starvation of the Iraqi people...and maintain the unity of the Iraqis with all its religious factions and not to harm the unity of this people and country,” he said.
Arafat entered the conference hand-in-hand with Ramadan.
The PLO chief said Israel’s new government was continuing its settlement drive in the occupied territories. He criticised the United States for “rewarding Israeli for its oppression of Palestinians” by giving it $10 billion in loan guarantees.
North Korea’s Prime Minister Yon Hyong-muk derided the “strong-arm” tactics of rich nations against poor and echoed calls by other delegates earlier for reform of the structure of the United Nations.
Kenya’s President Daniel arap Moi said the Third World’s debt burden of $1.3 trillion was choking off growth.
International economic institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund should emphasise sustainable development rather than debt repayment.
“Serious attempts at development are frustrated by the crippling debt problem which now amounts to an annual repayment level of $25 billion (a yea r),” Moi said. “On average, the people of Africa live on or below the poverty line. They cannot afford to pay the debt and at the same time survive.”