Bangladeshi Tragedy — A British NGO said major Western fashion retailers squeezing Asian suppliers played a part leading up to the tragedy in Bangladesh, where at least 300 people died when a eight-story factory building collapsed on Wednesday, notes Reuters. The charity War on Want told Reuters that Western retailers’ desire to undercut rivals has put greater pressure on foreign suppliers to cut costs and consequently overlook workers’ rights. War on Want and its Bangladeshi partner, the National Garment Workers’ Federation (NGWF), are now calling for major international retailers to be held to account. “This negligence must stop,” said NGWF President Amriul Haque Amin. “The deaths of these workers could have been avoided if multinational corporations, governments and factory owners took workers’ protection seriously.”
‘Secrecy Bill’ — Activists in South Africa said they will continue to fight the existing “Secrecy Bill” that could threaten journalists and whistle-blowers with prison terms of up to 25 years, reports the Guardian. The Protection of State Information Bill, passed on Nov. 22, 2011, “has been described as the first piece of legislation since the end of racial apartheid 19 years ago to undermine South African democracy,” writes the daily. Activists have said they plan to challenge the law in the country’s highest court. South Africa ranks 52nd out of 179 countries surveyed in the latest Press Freedom Index.
Russia’s Bargaining Chip — Russia is using child adoption as a bargaining chip to prevent Irish lawmakers from approving a resolution that criticizes Russia’s human rights abuses, according to the New York Times. In a letter to Ireland’s Parliament, the Russian government warned it might stop negotiations on a deal for cross-border adoptions if a parliamentary committee passes the resolution, which condemns Russia’s treatment of the lawyer Sergei L. Magnitsky who died in prison after trying to expose government corruption. The head of the foreign affairs committee, Pat Breen, said that the Irish parliament would consider compromise language for the resolution at a hearing next Wednesday.
Srebrenica Apology – The president of Serbia has apologized for the Srebrenica massacre of 1995, in which more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslims were killed by units of the Bosnian Serb Army, reports the Independent. The massacre came near the end of the 1992-1995 Bosnian War, which, writes the daily, left 100,000 dead and tore the Balkans apart. President Tomislav Nikolic’s apology comes as Serbia seeks to improve relations with its neighbors in the hope of gaining European Union membership, notes the Independent.
Mali Intervention – The United Nations Security Council has voted to establish a peacekeeping force for Mali, reports the New York Times. Amid concerns over the dangers of intervention in Mali — where French-led troops supporting the Malian government have been fighting Islamic militants since January — the U.N. force comprising 11,200 soldiers and 1,440 police officers is due to deploy on July 1 in an effort to stabilize the nation. The Council voted unanimously to deploy the units, on the condition that the fight between the French-led troops and the militants remains low-key, and that French troops will only intervene again should the peacekeeping forces face an “imminent and serious threat.”
Palestine Documents – It’s been revealed that British officials predicted the 1948 Palestine war and its outcome, according to newly-declassified documents, reports the Guardian. When it withdrew its forces from Palestine more than 60 years ago, the British government knew that partition of the territory and the founding of the state of Israel would lead to war and defeat for the Arabs, according to the documents. They reveal how British officials observed Jewish settlers taking over more and more Arab land, and British officials in Jerusalem described increasing tension as Britain, the U.S., the United Nations and Zionists moved towards the partition of Palestine, writes the daily.