Guantanamo is the new Dachao - and the US imperialists are the true inheritors of Nazi fascism
When Obama covered himself in glory by promising to close down the Guantánamo concentration camp by the end of 2009, many on the petty-bourgeois left crowed loudly. The neo-cons were dead, long live the new age!
Yet, four years on, the camp not only maintains its illegal squat on Cuban soil, but, on 7 March, the president issued an executive order, at a stroke ‘legalising’ indefinite incarceration without trial within its walls.
Now it was the turn of the Republican chair of the House Homeland Security Committee to crow, saying: “I commend the Obama administration for issuing this executive order. The bottom line is that it affirms the Bush administration policy that our government has the right to detain dangerous terrorists until the cessation of hostilities.”
Quite so. Let all who hailed the rise of Obama the peace-prize winner now take heed.
The majority of the men illegally detained in the camp have been thrust into a limbo aptly described by Cuban paper Granma: “They have not been accused of any crime which would require a trial, but neither have they been acknowledged as belonging to an enemy force, which would have guaranteed them recognition and rights reserved for prisoners of war.” (‘Guantánamo: endurance and shame’, 11 April 2013)
Of the 166 inmates held captive within ‘Gitmo’, under conditions which UN human-rights chief Navi Piallay felt obliged to denounce as being in “clear breach of international law”, only nine have been convicted or even charged with any crime. According to justice department lawyers, 48 of the men “could not be prosecuted in military commissions or in federal court because evidentiary problems would hamper a trial”, or, to put it in plain English: there’s no proof other than ‘confessions’ extorted through torture that they have ever done anything wrong.
Sooner than follow the principle of innocent till proven guilty, however, these kidnap victims of US imperialism have been summarily branded as a threat and told they can’t go home. As one of the defence team, Lt Col Barry Wingard, summed it up: “Forty-eight men will be condemned to die never being given a trial or given an opportunity to defend themselves. They are essentially dead men who just happen to breathe.” (‘Men live in Guantánamo animal cages, will never get trial,’ RT.com, 24 March 2013)
Half the inmates have in theory been cleared for transfer or resettlement, but wait in vain for this to translate into reality.
The ‘lucky few’ who have the dubious privilege of actually facing prosecution by a kangaroo court are in reality faring no better. Cases are getting bogged down as numerous documents arguing the defence case are snooped on or deleted in an obvious sabotage of even this travesty of legal process.
As RT.com reported recently: “Pre-trial hearings in the Guantánamo Bay war-crimes tribunals have been delayed to address the disappearance of defence legal documents from Pentagon computers, military officials said …
“Defence lawyers representing inmates at the prison camp were ordered Wednesday to halt all computer transmission of sensitive material because of a security risk. The problem reportedly stems from a Pentagon-provided computer server that was supposed to transmit information from Washington to Guantánamo. Instead of transmitting files effectively, however, the system has been deleting documents since January of this year.” (‘Guantánamo Bay hearing delayed after mysterious disappearance of legal files’, 11 April 2013)
The lawyer for one defendant noted that officials had mishandled over half a million defence emails and were even trawling through the defence team’s internet searches.
Stripped of even the hope of a trial, let alone repatriation or justice, a growing number of the men have resorted to their sole remaining avenue of protest. In a last-ditch attempt to force their plight before the world’s attention, more than a hundred of them have now joined a hunger strike that was initiated in the first week of February.
The response has been brutal, including an assault with rubber bullets, ‘justified’ by the pretence that inmates had equipped themselves with improvised weapons. A lawyer for one of the defendants pointed out the extreme improbability of this assertion, given that the sharpest object prisoners are permitted are the refills from ballpoint pens, stripped of their plastic casing.
In a vain effort to break the hunger strike, the men have been cruelly separated into isolation cells. But these victims of imperialist brutality are made of sterner stuff, as is clear from the words of one such, Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel.
This brave man was able to tell his story via a phone call to the legal charity Reprieve. His account, which has been printed under the headline ‘Gitmo is killing me’, is in its essentials common to that of many of his fellow prisoners.
“One man here weighs just 77 pounds. Another, 98. Last thing I knew, I weighed 132, but that was a month ago. I’ve been on a hunger strike since 10 February and have lost well over 30 pounds. I will not eat until they restore my dignity.
“I’ve been detained at Guantánamo for 11 years and three months. I have never been charged with any crime. I have never received a trial. I could have been home years ago – no one seriously thinks I am a threat – but still I am here.
“Years ago the military said I was a ‘guard’ for Osama bin Laden, but this was nonsense, like something out of the American movies I used to watch. They don’t even seem to believe it anymore. But they don’t seem to care how long I sit here, either.
“When I was at home in Yemen, in 2000, a childhood friend told me that in Afghanistan I could do better than the $50 a month I earned in a factory, and support my family. I’d never really travelled, and knew nothing about Afghanistan, but I gave it a try.
“I was wrong to trust him. There was no work. I wanted to leave, but had no money to fly home. After the American invasion in 2001, I fled to Pakistan like everyone else. The Pakistanis arrested me when I asked to see someone from the Yemeni embassy. I was then sent to Kandahar, and put on the first plane to Gitmo.”
After Samir joined the hunger strike, he was force-fed, a supposedly humanitarian procedure which in reality is a particularly nasty form of torture.
“A team from the ERF (Extreme Reaction Force), a squad of eight military police officers in riot gear, burst in. They tied my hands and feet to the bed. They forcibly inserted an IV into my hand. I spent 26 hours in this state, tied to the bed. During this time I was not permitted to go to the toilet. They inserted a catheter, which was painful, degrading and unnecessary. I was not even permitted to pray.
“I will never forget the first time they passed the feeding tube up my nose. I can’t describe how painful it is to be force-fed this way. As it was thrust in, it made me feel like throwing up. I wanted to vomit, but I couldn’t. There was agony in my chest, throat and stomach. I had never experienced such pain before. I would not wish this cruel punishment upon anyone.
“I am still being force-fed. Two times a day they tie me to a chair in my cell. My arms, legs and head are strapped down. I never know when they will come. Sometimes they come during the night, as late as 11.00pm, when I’m sleeping.
“There are so many of us on hunger strike now that there aren’t enough qualified medical staff members to carry out the force-feedings; nothing is happening at regular intervals. They are feeding people around the clock just to keep up.
“During one force-feeding the nurse pushed the tube about 18 inches into my stomach, hurting me more than usual, because she was doing things so hastily. I called the interpreter to ask the doctor if the procedure was being done correctly or not. It was so painful that I begged them to stop feeding me. The nurse refused to stop feeding me.”
He concluded: “The situation is desperate now. All of the detainees here are suffering deeply. At least 40 people here are on a hunger strike. People are fainting with exhaustion every day. I have vomited blood. And there is no end in sight to our imprisonment.
“Denying ourselves food and risking death every day is the choice we have made. I just hope that because of the pain we are suffering, the eyes of the world will once again look to Guantánamo before it is too late.” (Printed in the New York Times, 15 April 2013)
These hunger strikers are resisting imperialism with the only means they possess – their bodies. Even as their religious faith is abused; even as they are locked away in isolation cells, beaten up and subjected to all the horrors of force feeding; even as they are routinely exposed to the thuggery of their captors and the chicanery of their prosecutors, they continue to resist and stand tall in the ranks of all those who struggle against imperialist oppression.
In their resolute stand they will serve as an inspiration to all who fight against oppression, broadening the axis of resistance ever wider. In particular their dignity and courage should inspire all workers in Britain who are struggling within the belly of the beast itself.
Let us take courage from their example and sever the social-democratic ties that cripple our unions and drag the workers’ movement along behind the imperialist war chariot.
No cooperation with imperialist oppression!
Shut down Guantánamo; free the captives!
Return Guantánamo to Cuban sovereignty; Yankees go home!
Yvonne (Cuba Solidarity Campaign) and Giles (CPGB-ML)
Another successful meeting was held in Bristol, in a series of such meetings hosted by CPGB-ML across the country to mark the great contribution Comrade Chavez has made to the progressive movement. The meeting, held on Thursday 14 March, attracted a range of people including some from Poland and Spain as well as local Bristol residents.
The local organiser of Cuba Solidarity Campaign, Yvonne, spoke first recounting the solidarity and camaraderie between Cuba and Venezuela and also personally between Fidel and Chavez. Yvonne echoed the sadness that had been felt in Cuba at the loss of Chavez at such a young age and remarked that it had only been a couple of years ago that Fidel was fighting illness and Chavez had been the one to visit his hospital bedside.
She also highlighted the benefits that had been brought to the region through the creation of ALBA, the Bolivarian Alternative for Latin America and the Caribbean, and CELAC, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.
Following Yvonne’s contribution, Comrade Giles of the CPGB-ML gave a well-informed speech explaining the context that lead to Chavez getting elected in 1998, the attempted coup against him in 2002 and the development and achievements of the Bolivarian revolution, with statistics and commentary about how the lives of the majority of Venezuelans have been positively affected.
Giles also showed Chavez’s international solidarity and his courage in standing firm in support of the countries who are defending their sovereignty against the might of imperialism. Giles spoke of Chavez’s support for Ahmadinejad in Iran, Mugabe in Zimbabwe, Al Assad in Syria, and Gaddafi in Libya, all of which typified his determination to stand on the side of the oppressed.
A lively discussion followed the presentation with additional comments made about how the media is used to create a false impression of these leaders. An example from Spain was of the paper El Pais constantly referring to Chavez as a dictator and carrying misinformation about the advances made in Venezuela. It was agreed that this the same as happens in the newspapers in Britain and is done deliberately to try and deflect peoples’ attention away from the idea that there is an alternative to capitalism.
The conclusion of the meeting gave its full support to Venezuelan government as it stands firm to defends the gains that have been made over the last 14 years. Imperialism will no doubt be working hard to attempt to roll back these achievements and will use any trick it can to get back control of the wealth of Venezuela. It is therefore our internationalist duty to stand strong and vigilant in opposing any such attempts by imperialism.
Just as Comrade Hugo Chavez was a staunch defender of those who stood on the axis of resistance in the face of imperialist hegemony, we must learn from this great example and also stand firm in solidarity with our comrades, brothers and sisters in Venezuela.
A final red salute to our comrade Hugo Chavez.
Hasta la Victoria Siempre!
Bristol CPGB-ML will be hosting another public meeting Fighting for communism: the future that works! on Thursday 4 April, 7.30pm at Hamilton House, 80 Stokes Croft, Bristol BS1 3QY. The meeting will be a short film showing followed by discussion. All are welcome, we hope to see some more new faces.
For more details click here: http://www.cpgb-ml.org/index.php?secName=events
To: Comrade Nicolás Maduro
To: The leadership of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV)
To: The people of Venezuela
It was with feelings of deep and inconsolable grief that we learned the news that Comrade Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías, the respected and beloved leader of the Venezuelan revolution and the Venezuelan people and the true friend and comrade-in-arms of working and oppressed people everywhere, passed away after a long and tenacious battle against illness.
Please accept our most heartfelt condolences, which we offer to Comrade Chávez’s comrades, his family and loved ones and to all the Venezuelan people who are standing in their place, defending the gains of the revolution that Commandante Chávez has led with such distinction.
Comrade Chávez will be remembered forever as a towering figure in humanity’s fight for liberation. Thanks to him, millions of his compatriots were lifted out of poverty and were accorded their human dignity for the first time in history. Moreover, he proclaimed the goal of building a socialist society and set out on the road to achieve that.
Comrade Chávez was also a thoroughgoing internationalist. He stood in the vanguard of the struggle to win national liberation and social progress for the whole of Latin America and the Caribbean and through his leadership of such bodies as ALBA and Petrocaribe turned what had long been the strategic backyard of US imperialism into a beacon of hope for a new world free of imperialism.
A tireless fighter, he extended his utmost support to every country and every people fighting against US imperialism and its lackeys and for national liberation, social progress and socialism.
Comrade Chávez was a supremely brave individual. Imprisonment or the threat of death could not deter him. Indeed, he turned them into political weapons to advance the struggle. From the time when he was first diagnosed with cancer, he waged that final battle with the same bravery, determination and resilience with which he lived his entire life.
Comrade Chávez has left us too soon. He had so much more to give. But like all great revolutionary leaders he is more than an individual. As Comrade Evo Morales has said, at this moment Hugo Chávez is more alive than ever and he will always be with us.
The revolutionary people of Venezuela are the great people brought up by Commandante Chávez! We are confident that they will continue the struggle he led and will march forward towards the bright socialist future.
Comrades, at this moment in particular, we want to assure of our full support and solidarity for the Venezuelan revolution and your anti-imperialist struggle for socialism. All our sympathies are with you.
ETERNAL GLORY TO COMRADE HUGO RAFAEL CHÁVEZ FRIAS!
CPGB-ML, 7 March 2013
President Hugo Chavez
Statement of the PCMLV on the death of Commandante Chávez
The Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Venezuela, PCMLV, expresses its grief and solidarity at the physical loss of Commandante President Hugo Chávez Frias to all the workers, peasants, students, women’s organisations, revolutionary, anti-imperialist, socialist and Bolivarian parties and organisations of the masses.
We also express our condolences to all his family, friends and to the national government for the loss of a great humanist, a patriotic, progressive and consistent revolutionary statesman, as President Hugo Chávez proved to be until the last days of his existence.
We call on the working class, which knows how to rise to the challenge in the revolutionary struggle in the most pressing moments of history, to prepare to resist and defeat the reactionaries who will not hesitate to take advantage of this difficult time to thwart through violent means the gains and demands that we have achieved under the leadership of President Chávez. Imperialism will set stronger traps at this sorrowful moment that the national-revolutionary movement is going through.
The call is to not renounce the struggle to build socialism, the banner that President Hugo Chávez raised in all circumstances; this banner needs to be taken up rigorously and courageously by all the workers of this nation in this difficult moment in history. We, as party of the working class in Venezuela, make the call for the struggle and building of socialism and communism from the scientific conception of
The acts of sabotage, of hired killers, the terrorism, food shortages, the propaganda of disinformation, anxiety and manipulation will intensify. The national and international reactionaries feel victorious at this time, but the national and world working class will go forward with the necessary and strategic battles to continue the path of victory and the accumulation of forces to confront the fascists and imperialists.
The death of the President of the Republic must not mean the decline in popular organisation, but rather it must serve as an impetus for future struggles against the class enemy. We must not believe in the phony condolences of the local right wing, which on dozens of occasions tried to assassinate the commandante. These sectors are moved by a single impulse: profit at any cost whatever.
The right wing is evaluating what actions to take in the coming days. It is no coincidence that the Venezuelan government expelled two US military attaches for conspiratorial work.
We strongly call on all the revolutionary elements to close ranks against the capitalist and imperialist enemy. The working class must be prepared for a possible difficult situation; it must not trust the bourgeois enemy that has historically proven to be traitorous. If the pro-imperialist bourgeoisie tries to take advantage of this hard time of grief of the humble and exploited masses, the masses should respond forcefully and applying revolutionary violence.
Socialism can only be built with the worker-peasant alliance in power and the people in arms!
Caracas, 5 March 2013
This motion was passed unanimously at the recent CPGB-ML party congress
This congress salutes the people and leaders of Syria in their continuing resistance to the murderous islamist rebellion fomented by the West, and sends its congratulations to the Syrian army for the strenuous measures it has been undertaking in Aleppo and elsewhere against the armed rebellion and its foreign auxiliaries.
Congress denounces the vicious imperialist meddling in Syria’s internal affairs, which has for its goal the forcible removal of Syria’s president and the sectarian destruction of Syria’s unity and independence.
Congress further denounces the role played by Turkey in providing the rebels with a military base area, the role played by Saudi Arabia and Qatar in arming and funding the insurgency, and above all the barely-concealed imperialist, primarily US imperialist, hand that lies behind the proxy war being fought out by the incompetent thugs of the misnamed ‘Free Syria Army’ (FSA).
In particular, this congress denounces the pipsqueak British foreign minister William Hague’s recent proposal to funnel “humanitarian aid” through the FSA.
This congress applauds the steadfast refusal of both Moscow and Beijing to aid and abet the West’s criminal adventure in Syria, and congratulates them on having decisively wrested the diplomatic initiative from the warmongers, leaving imperialism without a fig-leaf to camouflage its warlike intentions.
This congress notes with satisfaction the declaration by Iran’s envoy Saeed Jalili that Iran stands with her neighbour in an “axis of resistance” which cannot be broken, and urges British workers to likewise stand shoulder to shoulder with Syria in our own unbreakable “axis of resistance”.
This congress reaffirms its belief that an anti-imperialist victory for Syria will in turn weaken imperialism’s axis of oppression – a welcome setback not least for our own British imperialist ruling class.
Congress therefore calls on workers in Britain to refuse to cooperate with the criminal aggression against Syria, whether by fighting directly, making or transporting arms, or assisting in the broadcast of slander and lies demonising the Syrian leadership, and resolves to do all in its power to spread awareness of the need for such active non-cooperation.
Victory to Syria!
Victory to President Assad!
Death to imperialism!
This motion was passed unanimously at the recent CPGB-ML party congress
The congress hopes to see the victory of Hugo Chávez in the presidential elections now being held in Venezuela in recognition of his valiant defence of Venezuela’s political and economic sovereignty and promotion of the interests of the broad masses of Venezuelan people throughout the time that he has held the country’s presidency.
This motion was passed unanimously at the recent CPGB-ML party congress
This congress recognises that the imperialist beasts of the USA, Britain and France planned, financed and played the major role, assisted by their various middle-eastern puppets, in the overthrow of the popular Libyan government of Muammar Gaddafi.
This congress notes that they, through the trickery of a UN resolution to impose a ‘no-fly zone’, supposedly to ‘protect’ the Libyan people, used the combined air power of Nato member states to carpet-bomb and destroy Libyan airports, military bases, media stations, hospitals, schools, electricity and water supplies, general infrastructure and residential areas alike.
Congress further notes that, even with the great military advantage that this onslaught from outside gave the rats of the Transitional National Council (TNC), they were so numerically weak and lacking in any support within Libya that they could not make decisive use of this advantage. So it was that Libya was flooded with military ‘advisors’ from the imperialist regimes and elite troops from all the neighbouring states that were under the sway of imperialism.
This congress applauds the heroic struggle that the Libyan people and their army waged against Nato’s proxy forces on the ground, despite the horrendous effects of the imperialists’ all-out air war, noting that they held out for more than six months until the capture, torture and public murder of the leader of Libya’s green revolution, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
Congress also sends a red salute to the brave green fighters in Libya, who are continuing to put up resistance to imperialism and its puppets today.
Closer to home, this congress condemns the disgusting role played during the war on Libya by the ‘left’ supporters of imperialism – the social democrats, revisionists and Trotskyists. In Britain, the worst of these enemies of the international proletariat once more proved themselves to be the Labour party, the SWP, Counterfire, the CPB, and the ‘anti-war’ umbrella group in which many of those parties’ spokespeople play a leading role: the Stop the War Coalition (StW). StW held a single nationally-organised demonstration over the issue of the overthrow of the sovereign state of Libya by imperialism – but they held it outside the Libyan embassy supporting the imperialist-backed TNC and opposing the anti-imperialist leadership of Colonel Gaddafi!
This congress affirms that imperialism is the main enemy of the international working class, and that US imperialism, as the biggest and most powerful imperialist state, is the biggest enemy to world peace.
Congress further affirms that in an imperialist war the duty of the working class in an imperialist country is to work for the defeat of its own government. And an essential part of that process must be exposing and leading workers away from the misleadership of social democracy and its revisionist and Trotskyist hand-maidens, who will try with all their guile to keep workers tied to the imperialist war machine through revolutionary-sounding phrases and lies.
This congress resolves to continue working to show our class that we do have the power to stop the imperialist war machine by starving it of all the necessary supplies for its wars of brigandage, whether those supplies be weapons, transport or soldiers!
Congress further resolves to use all means at the party’s disposal to disseminate information about the ongoing battle in Libya, in order that British workers should understand that there is a popular resistance movement fighting to rid the country of imperialist forces. Our party will continue to expose the vile and rapacious doings of the TNC rats who now hope to rule Libya (with imperialist troops stood at their shoulders). These villains have murdered, kidnapped, raped, looted and evicted from their homes those supporting or suspected of supporting the green resistance. From the earliest days, even before coming to power, it was well known that the TNC rats were lynching black Libyans, as well as other black Africans working in the country, and our party will continue to remind the world of this fact.
Finally, this congress resolves to continue pointing out that this bloody war was brought upon the Libyan people in order to grab the country’s oil, to remove its anti-imperialist leadership, and to kick open the door to the re-conquest of Africa. The freedom and protection of the Libyan people was never a real reason for waging the war – except, perhaps, in the minds of a few simple souls who simply cannot, or will not, see the jackboot an inch from their face, even when it is pointed out to them.
This congress remains confident that the Libyan masses will rise again to rid their land of the imperialist puppets and bring the imperialists’ dreams of world domination to nought.
Long live the memory of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, hero of the Libyan and African peoples!
Victory to the anti-imperialist peoples!
Death to imperialism!
This motion was passed unanimously at the recent CPGB-ML party congress
This congress condemns the ongoing unjust imprisonment and detention in the United States of Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González, the Cuban citizens who went to the United States with the aim of infiltrating Miami Cuban circles for the purpose of finding out in advance about any intended terrorist attacks being prepared against Cuban national interests. Their arrest and conviction on charges of espionage against the US and conspiracy to commit criminal acts constitute one of the most glaring indictments of the US legal system.
This congress notes that even ex-US president Jimmy Carter has been shocked at the treatment meted out to these men, known to the world as the Miami Five, and has said: “I believe that there is no reason to keep the Cuban Five imprisoned. There were doubts in the US courts and also among human-rights organisations in the world. Now, they have been in prison 12 years, and I hope that in the near future they will be released to return home.”
Congress further notes that recent evidence shows that the US government was paying journalists in Miami to keep writing tendentious articles about the case at the time that it was being heard with a view to influencing public opinion, the jury, and the likely outcome of the trial. At the time of the trial it was well known that the Miami press was printing such material, and application was made several times for a change of venue for the trial because the publicity was ensuring that there was no way a trial in Miami could be a fair one. However, the judge refused to countenance a change of venue. One can surmise what would have been the effect on the judge’s career had she flown in the face of government expectations in this regard!
This congress believes that, even if the Five had been guilty of the offences with which they were charged, the sentences imposed on them would be considered totally disproportionate in any country that laid claim to being observant of human rights. These patriotic comrades were convicted on 8 June 2001 and sentenced to four life terms and 75 years in December 2001.
Congress notes that, on 9 August 2005, after seven years of unjust imprisonment, the Miami Five won an unprecedented victory on appeal. In a unanimous 93-page decision, a brave three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the convictions and ordered a new trial. The court rightly called their prosecution “a perfect storm” of pervasive community prejudice, government misconduct and extensive negative publicity before and during the trial. However, the Bush administration appealed, and exactly one year after the favourable ruling granting the Five a new trial, the full panel of the 11th Circuit Court ruled to reverse their decision. The Cubans’ convictions were reinstated, although later court decisions reduced the sentences of Fernando González, Ramón Labañino and Antonio Guerrero. René Gonzalez has already been released (on 7 October last year) but is being kept in the US on three years’ probation, so that he cannot return to Cuba but has to remain in Miami, where he is at risk of being murdered by Cuban expatriate terrorists.
Congress further notes that there are ongoing appeals for habeas corpus, which have been given added impetus through the discovery of the large payments made by the US government to journalists reporting on the trial to the prejudice of the defendants. The appeals have been heard and the outcome is awaited. In the meantime, Gerardo is serving two life sentences and cannot under US law be paroled, while the current release dates of Ramón, Antonio and Fernando are:
- Ramón: 30 October 2024
- Antonio: 18 September 2017
- Fernando: 27 February 2014
This congress joins with the Cuban government, all the people of Cuba, and all of progressive humanity the world over in calling for the immediate release of the Miami Five, their immediate return to Cuba and significant compensation to be paid to them for the long years of unjust imprisonment, which have robbed them of years of their lives.
Mumia Abu Jamal
Download this article as a leaflet
The United States puts itself forward as a ‘democracy’; it calls itself the ‘land of the free’; it considers that it has the right to police the world, the right to label other countries as ‘undemocratic’ or lacking in freedom; it imposes sanctions and wages wars in the name of ‘human rights’.
And yet the US state, along with its fellow imperialist vultures in Britain and elsewhere, is the worst violator of human rights in the world.
By waging unjust wars for economic and geo-political advantage, the US and its allies deny millions of people the most fundamental human right: the right to life.
Through its economic stranglehold over the third world, imperialism is responsible for the extraordinary poverty that leads to the death of 13 million children a year from malnutrition-related diseases.
Despite the US government’s ostensible love of ‘freedom’, the US increasingly resembles a fascist state, with repressive laws, political prisoners and a massive prison population.
- Over 1 percent of the adult population is incarcerated – a massive 2,319,258 people. The US leads the world both in absolute numbers and in the proportion of its population behind bars.
- The US population accounts for approximately 5 percent of the world population, but its prison population accounts for 25 percent of the world total.
- The US incarceration rate is 3.4 times higher than that of Iran and 6.3 times higher than that of China – both countries about whose ‘human rights record’ the imperialist media (and their liberal hangers-on) bang on incessantly.
- One in 15 black men and 1 in 36 Hispanics over the age of 18 are in prison, as opposed to 1 in 106 white males.
- Whereas African Americans comprise only 12.2 percent of the US population and 13 percent of its drug users, they make up 38 percent of those arrested for drug offences and 59 percent of those convicted of drug offences.
Why are so many US citizens in prison? Because of the dedication of its ruling class to ‘freedom’: the freedom to exploit and the freedom to own vast amounts of private property.
Even in the richest country in the world, the system of exploitation means that while a handful of people are living in Dallas-style luxury, millions more live in abject poverty.
- The US is the richest country in the world, and yet, such is the disparity of wealth that almost one in eight US citizens lives in poverty.
- According to the US Department of Agriculture, about 11 million people suffer “very low food security”.
- The poverty rate for blacks was 24.3 percent in 2006; for whites it was 8.2 percent.
- The unemployment rate for blacks was 8.4 percent in November 2007; for whites it was 4.2 percent.
The job of the capitalist state is to protect the private property ‘earned’ through exploitation, and so hundreds of victims of capitalism, driven to crime through a desperation aggravated by consumerism promoted by capitalism in the interests of enhancing the profits of the rich, are thrown into prison in order to maintain capitalist order.
In addition to imprisoning petty criminals, the US is also in the habit of using the prison system in an attempt to silence discontent.
It has a long history of politically-motivated frame-ups, including those of Huey Newton, Angela Davis, Assata Shakur and Mumia Abu-Jamal.
- Mumia Abu-Jamal has been in prison since 1981 and on death row since 1983.
- There is clear evidence that Mumia was the victim of a police frame-up.
- Mumia is behind bars because he is a journalist and political activist. He was an influential member of the Black Panthers, a talented organiser and publicist. The state tried to silence him by framing and locking him up.
Much like the British state, the US state does not respect civil liberties.
Under the guise of fighting against terrorism, the US has introduced laws that allow state agencies access to emails, telephone conversation recordings, medical records, financial records, etc. These laws are being used to clamp down on those who oppose the injustices of imperialism.
International human rights abuser
- The US is by far the most aggressive state in the world. Since the end of WW2, it has been involved in dozens of large-scale military actions: Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Iraq, Somalia, Cuba, Congo, Panama, Dominican Republic and Lebanon, to name but a few. These are illegal, ruthless and unjust wars, fought solely for the economic benefit of the US ruling class.
- The invasion of Iraq, led by the US and fully supported by Britain, has been a disaster for the human rights of the Iraqi people: well over 1 million have been killed, over 2 million are refugees abroad, another 2 million are internal refugees. There is chronic malnutrition, minimal access to clean water and electricity, unemployment is well over 60 percent, and most schools and hospitals are defunct.
- The US has dozens of secret prisons around the world, where it tortures its victims as far away from the public eye as possible. Britain is wholly complicit in this (and, of course, has its own extensive record of prison torture).
- More than six years after the invasion of Afghanistan, the US is still holding over 350 people prisoner at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. These men have been given no trial and have been subjected to routine torture in complete violation of international law.
- Conscientious objectors in the US are put in prison. For example, Kevin Benderman, a US Army sergeant, served 12 months for refusing to deploy to Iraq.
Nobody in their right mind could label the US as the ‘land of the free’.
Only socialism will bring us real rights
Ultimately, the working class and the oppressed masses have no lasting political rights under capitalism. To the extent people enjoy democratic rights under capitalism, it is only in so far as the rule and privileges of the super-rich – the bourgeoisie – are not under threat.
Only socialism will bring real human rights for all: the right to live, the right to work, the right to education, the right to health care, the right to participate in the running of society, the right to be free from exploitation, the right to develop as an individual.
Free Mumia! Free all US political prisoners!
No freedom while imperialism lives. Forward to socialism!
Leaflet issued by the CPGB-ML in April 2008.
Sadly, the only change since we wrote the article above is that the situation has got worse - and there are two more criminal wars to add to the charge-sheet. The war against Libya and the war against Syria.
The graphic below shows just how many US citizens are locked up - and who benefits from their incarceration.
Invisible Children's founders pose with members of the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army in April 2008
‘Going viral’ refers to the phenomenon of a video or website becoming popular, or at least widely known, via the medium of public sharing.
In the age of social networking this is no longer as impressive as it once was, but nonetheless it was certainly surprising when Kony 2012 – a short documentary which purported to dish the dirt on a fundamentalist christian terrorist organisation in Uganda, known as the Lord’s Resistance Army, and its not-so-charismatic leader Joseph Kony – ‘went viral’ a few weeks ago. And it was even more surprising when, just as his popularity was peaking, the director of Kony 2012 was arrested for public masturbation.
So, masturbation aside, what on earth is going on here?
Kony 2012 is the 11th documentary released by an allegedly not-for-profit organisation called Invisible Children. All eleven documentaries produced by Invisible Children have been about the same subject – Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army.
The name ‘Invisible Children’ refers to the group’s principal gripe with the LRA, namely, its use of child soldiers in its war against the Ugandan state. Not content with merely documenting the situation in Uganda, however, Invisible Children seeks to prescribe a solution: it wants US military action both in Uganda and in central Africa more generally. This is not a covert objective, but a stated goal of the organisation.
In fact, Invisible Children has been widely recognised for galvanising public support around the US senate’s Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act, passed in 2010 – an act which led to the active deployment of US troops in Uganda.
Invisible Children is not just an advocacy group, but also an active supporter of imperialist causes in Africa. It channels a sizable percentage of the revenue it accrues through donations and merchandise sales directly into the Ugandan army and government, as well as the armies and governments of several other central African states.
Once again, these activities are not covert, but public. The founders of the organisation have gone so far as to be photographed posing with members of the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army, all three of them proudly carrying weapons that their organisation, or others like it, probably helped pay for.
The reality is that Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army are a bugbear whose relatively minor role in African regional politics has been grossly distorted by Invisible Children. This was the point made by three commentators writing in the US establishment’s Foreign Policy journal in November of last year: “[Invisible Children] manipulates facts for strategic purposes, exaggerating the scale of LRA abductions and murders and emphasising the LRA’s use of innocent children as soldiers, and portraying Kony — a brutal man, to be sure — as uniquely awful, a Kurtz-like embodiment of evil.”
Moreover, though Invisible Children continues to focus on the LRA’s activities in Uganda, most experts are now questioning whether the group still operates in Uganda at all.
Arthur Larok, the director of Action Aid in Uganda, has criticised Invisible Children on precisely this point: “Six or 10 years ago, this would have been a really effective campaign strategy to get international campaigning. But today, years after Kony has moved away from Uganda … I’m not sure that’s effective for now. The circumstances in the north have changed.”
These changed circumstances are also highlighted by the freelance journalist Michael Wilkerson, who has pointed out that “in 2006, the LRA was pushed out of Uganda and has been operating in extremely remote areas of the DRC, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic. … the small remaining LRA forces are still wreaking havoc and very hard to catch, but northern Uganda has had tremendous recovery in the six years of peace”.
So why do Invisible Children continue to act as though Uganda is the LRA’s main base of operations and, moreover, that the LRA are a serious threat? The answer is either shameful ignorance or deliberate deception. Whichever of these two is the correct answer, Invisible Children’s shortcomings as documentarians have certainly been helpful in furthering the foreign policy aims of the United States.
As senior research fellow at the Makerere Institute of Social Research in Uganda, Adam Branch, has pointed out, the popularity of Invisible Children’s campaigns “[has been] an excuse that the US government has gladly adopted in order to help justify the expansion of their military presence in central Africa”.
More specifically, by appearing to be ‘responding’ to misguided public pressure on Uganda, the Obama administration has been given a useful cover for expanding its military presence in the country at precisely the time when its unpopular, pro-western government, and the lucrative oil contracts that it can dispense, are under threat from the population whom it has been exploiting.
Invisible Children and its supporters, whether they realise it or not, are playing a significant role in supporting western imperialism in central Africa. Through their ignorance of the complex reality of African regional politics and their naïve prejudices and faith in the altruistic motivations of imperialism, they have given ammunition (both figurative and literal) to the worst forces of reaction and obscured the fact that American troops in Uganda are not there to help the children of central Africa, but to help the US imperialist aims of monopolising Africa’s oil and mineral wealth and trying to undermine China’s ability to trade on the continent.
If people in the imperialist countries are serious about helping the people of central Africa, it is not Joseph Kony they need to focus on, but imperialist looting – and the military force it uses, both directly and indirectly, to back that up. As Adam Branch has said: “In terms of activism, the first step is to re-think the question: Instead of asking how the US can intervene in order to solve Africa’s conflicts, we need to ask what we are already doing to cause those conflicts in the first place. How are we … contributing to land grabbing and to the wars ravaging this region? How are we, as US citizens, allowing our government to militarise Africa in the name of the ‘War on Terror’ and its effort to secure oil resources?”