Keralites shun US and UK goods in anti-war protest

The Kerala Communist Party of India and other Marxist and left-oriented non-governmental organisations are urging citizens to boycott American and British goods in protest against coalition aggression against Iraq.

Soaps and soft drinks produced by American and British multinationals are disappearing from local shops as bombs and missiles continue to pound the country.

Traders and shop owners in Kerala have reported significant falls in sales of drinks made by Coca-Cola and Pepsi, including bottled water packaged by the companies.

A fall in sales of several brands of soap produced by Hindustan Lever, the Indian Wing of the British multinational Unilever, has also been recorded.

Thomas Issac, spokesman for the Anti-war Forum, which spearheads the boycott movement, declared that Kerala will be "Coke-free" by April 13.

Issac claims the boycott is already a resounding success with the campaign at its most effective in Malabar, and northern parts of Kerala.

The southern state of Kerala is very 'Gulf sensitive' as its economy is heavily dependent on the money sent in by the non-resident Keralites from the Gulf countries.

Traders and shop-owners, however, hope the boycott will not be a long-lasting one.

The Kerala Communist Party says it believes it is appropriate to call upon citizens not to buy UK and US goods during the conflict in Iraq, but agreed a long-term imposition on trade in the goods was not practical for trade reasons.