We present below an excellent video made by Studio Joho and based on the book Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins.
Mr Perkins lives in hope that present-day imperialism is some kind of aberration; that we can somehow ‘return’ or ‘reform’ our way to a fairer and saner version of capitalism. This, however, is not the case. The imperialism we see today is the inevitable result of the development of the capitalism of yesterday.
Marxists long ago pointed out that humanity was faced with a choice between socialism or barbarism. There is no way back: the only way out is forward to socialism.
Evidence that blacklisting is alive and kicking in the construction industry abounds. John Kelly, after working for three years in Runcorn as a rigger for Interserve Industrial Services, was sacked in April 2014.
When the construction team he was working on transferred to another job in Capenhurst, construction manager Trevor Collins saw to it that Kelly was blacked from the new project, with no explanation.
However, Kelly knew exactly why Collins had fired him, and after a long battle he managed to convince a Liverpool employment tribunal that he was right.
In furtherance of a union-busting campaign, Collins had waged a hate campaign on social media against what he called ‘Scousers’, with their “Scouse hard luck stories” (presumably referring to workers’ irritating habit of resisting crap conditions and pointing out workplace hazards). Admiring email responses from Collins’s kindred spirits described him as “the big man up there, sorting out them Scousers”.
Kelly, sickened to read his boss’s endless poisonous drivel on Facebook about Liverpudlian “shirkers and thieves”, finally took out a complaint against Collins. Surprise, surprise: this complaint was soon followed by Kelly getting the sack.
After lengthy wrangling, this was recognised by the tribunal, which ruled that Kelly, “a good worker with considerable experience”, was blacked from the Capenhurst site because he was a Unite rep. The judge concluded that “Trevor Collins did not want the claimant (an employee representative for Unite and activist) working on the Capenhurst project under his management. He was motivated by the claimant’s membership of Unite and his known activities in that capacity.”
John Kelly only won his case thanks to his own grit and determination (Scouse or otherwise). As he says, “I was a quite active steward and didn’t want them to get away with it. Other people just back down but I’m not that type of person – I believe in my rights.”
The reality is that cases like Kelly’s are the rule, not the exception, and most such cases just sink without trace. Blacklisting is not a scandal of the past, but mainstream union-busting practice in the here and now. (All above quotes from ‘Union rep blacklisted after complaining about manager’s anti-Scouse jibes on Facebook wins employment tribunal’, Liverpool Echo, 4 May 2015)
Nor is blacklisting confined to the building sector. It has now been revealed, as long suspected, that the blacklisting outfit exposed and closed down in 2009, the so-called ‘Consulting Association’, not only kept secret files on over 3,200 unwitting construction workers, but also spread its reach to include teachers, posties and firemen.
Dave Smith, doughty campaigner against the blacklist and co-author of a recent book on the subject, was doubtless right to tell delegates at the recent Communications Workers Union conference that “People in this hall will definitely have been spied on by undercover police”. (‘Postal staff urged to find out if they were included on blacklist’, Guardian, 26 April 2015)
Struggling for safety at Sellafield
The one ‘offence’ guaranteed to get union members blacklisted fastest is the ‘crime’ of drawing attention to unsafe practices in the workplace.
In no industry are health and safety issues more grave than in the nuclear industry. Yet, astoundingly, construction workers at the nuclear power plant in Sellafield (Cumbria) are being denied the right even to have a full-time Unite rep responsible for health and safety issues at the plant.
The National Audit Office recently bemoaned the fact that the estimated cost of decommissioning and cleaning up the heavily-polluted Sellafield nuclear site has jumped from £48bn to £53bn as the enormity of the task became apparent – and this estimated total for the 120-year job is expected to keep climbing.
The cowboy outfit hired in 2008 by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) to implement the clean-up – Nuclear Management Partners – was sacked for incompetence … yet received £430,000 of public money for breach of contract! Now ‘control’ is supposedly back in the hands of the NDA itself.
None of this spectacle of feckless private interests scrambling to secure lucrative public contracts (contracts to clean up the god-awful mess left by a previous generation of monopoly-capitalist shysters) inspires any great confidence in Sellafield as a safe place to work.
Indeed, it is described by the National Audit Office as the “UK’s largest and most hazardous nuclear site”, including as it does two nuclear fuel reprocessing plants, storage plants, ponds and silos containing radioactive material dating back to the inception of the nuclear industry.
Not only is the site used to store nuclear material from across the country; it was also the host of a facility that secretly produced nuclear materials for Britain’s Cold War arms programme, and which was finally demolished in 2014. (‘Cost of nuclear clean up at Sellafield increased an extra £5bn in the past year’, Chronicle Live, 15 March 2015)
The refusal by Sellafield Contractor Group Ltd to allow a full-time union shop steward and unhindered operation of the site’s health and safety committee was therefore greeted with justifiable rage by the 1,200 plus Unite members, 98 percent of whom have voted in support of industrial action. (‘Sellafield workers back strike action’, unitetheunion.org, 16 April 2015)
Doubtless, if and when a health and safety rep wins recognition, he will enjoy pride of place on every blacklisting database in the land.
Members of the public services union PCS have engaged in a series of strikes against the privatisation of 400 visitor service jobs at the National Gallery in London.
Twenty-two sporadic strike days culminated in a strike and rally on May Day. As well as fighting against the privatisation plans, staff are also acting against the victimisation of a local rep, who was suspended just before the first strike in February. (’No privatisation at the national gallery’, pcs.org.uk)
Another victimised union rep was supported in a protest by the RMT, also on May Day.
Sodexo, the giant international outsourcing company, brags on its website that “Our employees personify our values and are our greatest asset. Their talent, skills and commitment have made us the leader in delivery of Quality of Life services.”
This does not square with the experience of Petrit Mihaj. After contributing his ‘talent and skills’ to Sodexo’s catering services for ten years as part of the company’s London Underground operation, Mihaj found himself up on disciplinary charges then dismissal. His crime? Running a campaign to improve the ‘quality of life’ of his fellow workers by getting them unionised. (‘Support Petrit Mihaj’, rmtlondoncalling.org.uk, 23 April 2015)
Despite the RMT winning the case at tribunal, proving that Mihaj had been unfairly dismissed for his union activities, Sodexo refused to reinstate or re-engage him.
This union-busting pattern is repeated in the United States.
The massive food distribution corporation Sysco, following on from years of eroding the pay and conditions of its workforce, is now trying to impose so-called ‘incentive programmes’ for its Michigan drivers and warehouse employees. In reality, these programmes are simply ways to target and fire workers for minor infractions.
Needless to say, first in the line of fire is anyone daring to organise for a union. FightBack! News quoted one bemused young trucker as saying: “You know the funny thing is they never told me why I was fired. We all know why: for organising!”
Over 160 drivers and warehouse workers are now demanding that Sysco recognise their affiliation to the Teamsters Union. (‘Michigan truck drivers, warehouse workers rally for union at Sysco’, FightBack! News, 30 April 2015)
Workers in Michigan are up against not only the might of Sysco and the like, but also special state-enforced union-bashing ‘Right-to-Work’ laws.
Yet the reality is that the very scale of monopoly-capitalist exploiters like Sysco, and the complexity of the division of labour, renders these companies’ operations ever more vulnerable to targeted industrial action by workers.
Sysco supplies food to hotels, restaurants, hospitals, Michigan State University and numerous other large institutions. The potential for effective industrial action is just waiting to be realised.
The following statement was issued by the politburo of the Syrian Communist Party in Damascus on 24 September 2014.
Syria will not kneel down.
In the early morning of 23 September 2014, US imperialism, with its allies and agents, began hostile armed actions on the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic. These actions are a flagrant violation of international law, which prohibits the violation of the sovereignty of independent states.
These hostile actions are being carried out under the pretext of ‘fighting terrorist organisations’. But the organisations in question were created in the laboratories of the imperialist intelligence agencies, especially those of the Britain and the US, with the active participation of the zionists. They were formed with the aim of creating a pretext for imperialist intervention and aggression against countries in the region, especially Syria, owing to Syria’s long opposition to imperialist and zionist hegemony, for which stand our people have made great sacrifices.
The experience of our people, and of the peoples of the world, absolutely proves that we are right to place no confidence in the words of the imperialists generally, and in those of US imperialism – the leader of world terrorism – in particular.
It is delusional to imagine that we will be able to neutralise the USA, which is the main enemy of our people and of the national liberation of our homeland, as well as being the enemy of the freedom of all the peoples of the world. The Syrian Communist Party calls on all patriots in Syria to defend the homeland, to protect national sovereignty, and to be on their guard against imperialist conspiracies and tricks.
No pretext of US imperialism, even that of ‘fighting terrorism’, can justify the violation of our national sovereignty. Our people are struggling bravely against the terrorist gangs, and making good progress in this battle. The latest developments confirm that the brave Syrian army, which depends upon the support of the masses, is defeating the obscurantist terrorist gangs.
That is why the imperialist agencies are making a push to speed up their aggressive moves against Syria. The Syrian people will continue to fight, as they have in the past, and will courageously resist any aggression against their national independence and dignity. The victory is ours.
We confirm once again that our fight is not just a duty, but that our victory is assured, and that our defence of our homeland is first and above any consideration.
Human shields from Britain are greeted as they cross the border into Iraq, February 2003
Arriving first in Syria
by FRANKLIN LAMB Damascus
A sort of roller-coaster atmosphere pervades Damascus these days, with both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ news rippling through the airwaves every quarter hour or so. Much of the population monitors it all closely. People listen; they read; they discuss their interpretations of the latest media reports or the rumours circulating – wondering, surmising, deliberating on the timing of the now-assumed American attack on their country.
In the very popular Abaa coffee house, on the edge of the old city, in what is called the Sarugha section, customers, many of them students, enjoy the fine cool mist that is sprayed from ceiling pipes, providing welcome relief from the 37 degree celsius temperatures prevailing outside.
You want a Damascus tradition? Gathering at the Abaa is it. Many are glued to their laptops or else in animated conversation, analysing the extent and likelihood of the strike upon their homeland by those who profess to be acting out of ‘humanitarian’ concerns.
This observer often meets interlocutors in the Abaa because it’s very pleasant. It is large with dozens of tables. It is also cheap and two blocks from my hotel. I have noticed that common greetings are changing from “kif hallack” (how are you?) and “Arak lahekan” (see you later), to “Get home safely” and “Good luck with the checkpoints.”
But there is also a growing esprit de corps, a coming together of much of the population, as the countdown to the firing of the American missiles begins. Much in evidence also is a rallying around the Assad government – the opposite, one would presume, of what the White House had hoped would result from its threats.
A good friend from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent Society (SARCS) described how her friends are preparing for the American attack. “We gather our important documents, birth, marriage certificate and passport and make photo copies. Then we leave them with friends in ‘safe’ areas or even bury them somewhere. No one knows how bad the Americans will bomb us. At work we have been told during our final practice drill that the next siren will be the ‘real thing’ and we will do as we have planned for.”
SARCS, by the way, has been providing some amazing rescue and medical services for Syrians and Palestinians during this expanding crisis.
“Many of my friends and family are leaving,” she added. “But it’s not easy, and is very expensive now to go to Lebanon, and they don’t want us – and my family has decided to stay in our home no matter what happens in the coming days.”
One topic getting a lot of attention here is the reluctance of the American public to attack Syria, and whether or not Obama will ignore it. “What kind of democracy do you have that your president can ignore the will of the American public?” this observer is frequently asked.
One soldier stationed with his unit outside my hotel seemed to speak from his heart: “You Americans claim you are trying to help the Syrian people. Every child knows, both here and in your country I think, that the coming attack will make things much worse for the Syrian people and many others. The American people are good and we hope they can control their government, but we are preparing for the worst.”
The government is assuring the public that Syria is ready for the American attack and that public services will continue. Round-the-clock images of heroic Syrian army exploits air on local TV channels, along with martial and patriotic music. Meanwhile, youngsters, students, and workers have begun gathering at presumed targets to offer themselves as shields while challenging President Obama to bomb them.
Interestingly, an international human shield movement is also coalescing, say informed sources here. One initiative reportedly will bring 1,000 Americans, along with thousands of others, to Syria within the next ten days to guard likely bomb sites – not so very different from efforts to protect Palestinian homes from bulldozing in Occupied Palestine.
Here are some descriptive specifics that have been disclosed to this observer from an international organising committee working round-the-clock to bring the human shield initiative into being:
“International Human Shields coming to Syria in solidarity with the Syrian people and in an effort to send a global message and hopefully deter an American attack next week.
“Timing – While moves can be made fast and with all other key elements in place, time is not in our favor. Ten more days for preparation would be ideal. The HS initiative assumes that it must be done in such a way that very little time lapses from the official announcement of the action to the actual arrival of the human shields on the ground in Syria.
“Impact – In order to achieve a significant impact, the objective is to have at least 1000 Americans and several thousand international human shields deployed in Syria. Ideally, this would include at least one representative from every UN Member State, and would serve as evidence of the true ‘international community’ opposing the American attack.”
The US activist-based steering committee is quickly bringing together professionals in IT, marketing, logistical planning and implementation, public relations, accounting, documentarians, and experienced project managers.
Ferries from European ports will need to be arranged to carry significant numbers of human shields from major European cities. Ideally, several jumbo jets will be chartered from some of the world’s major cities to carry those joining the effort.
“HS/Government Relations – The first objective of the enemies of Syria will be to portray the human shields as nothing more than pawns of President Bashar al-Assad. This was precisely what the mainstream media did in 2003, presenting human shields as pawns of Saddam.
“To be effective, the human shields must be seen not only as independent supporters of the people of Syria, but also as representative of the will of the vast majority of people around the world—namely those opposed to the pending US-led western attack.
“To this end, the HS should work with prominent leaders in the civilian sector of Syrian society. No effort should be spared to produce daily news stories of HS and Syrian people working hand-in-hand to protect the country from the ongoing foreign-instigated aggression. Once again, many details here need to be discussed and agreed upon if any action is to reach its full potential.
“Strategy – The sites that HS deploy to must be very well publicized and must be identified as protected sites under the Fourth Geneva Convention.
“The White House is saying that they are not going to attack infrastructure (as they did with Iraq in 2003), but in point of fact, the infrastructure must be attacked if the goal is to drive Syria into the stone age and to make it so weak that Israel, through its Takfiri agents, will eventually take the country over. Moreover, it is well known that the Syrian people and military cannot be defeated without massive attacks on the infrastructure.
“Therefore it becomes absolutely vital that human shields deploy to all power plants, water treatment facilities, bomb shelters (should they exist), civilian communications sites, food storage facilities, and any other sites critical to the civilian population.
“As for military sites, although I personally feel such deployment would be morally defensible, the power of HS in the public relations realm would probably be significantly compromised, and intelligent public relations is absolutely critical.
“At this point, a comprehensive list of protected sites needs to be produced immediately, and the sites will need to be verified by the most independent sources we can manage to obtain. UN representatives or former representatives, human rights attorneys, legal experts, and others of this type all could render invaluable assistance in this.
“Deployment to sites not specifically listed in the Fourth Geneva Convention should also be undertaken, including ethnic and religious minority communities whose members are deathly afraid of the foreign invaders/terrorists. Special emphasis should be placed on christian populations as the western audience, sadly, has more sympathy for christians than muslims.
“Public Relations - It cannot be over stated that smart public relations strategies are the key to success.
“Our goal is to personalise the people of Syria and show their suffering through the eyes of the HS. This can be done with effective daily reports to be uploaded on the internet and reported by legitimate news agencies such as Press TV, RT and Telesur.
“A massive effort must be made to educate the public about the reasons for the Fourth Geneva Convention (FGC) and the imperial powers’ undeniable record of knowingly destroying the lives of ‘protected persons’ as defined in the FGC. Essential to this effort are well-spoken Arabic/English speaking spokespersons.
“We should be ready to provide evidence of any attack on such sites the moment it happens, and to have legal briefs prepared so as to immediately charge the aggressors with war crimes. This is why it is critical that the HS are almost exclusively at sites that are protected by the FGC.
“We cannot necessarily stop them from doing what they intend to do, but we can make their aggression harm them far more than Syria and its people in the end. Herein lays the power, using the enemy’s momentum against him in the most advantageous way possible.
“Note: a contract has been drafted to protect human shields in their home country courts against the accusation that they are aiding and abetting and providing material support to a foreign power that is considered hostile. Human shields are acting in a manner consistent with, and in promotion of, international law and to save innocent, civilian lives.”
Time will tell which Americans will arrive first in Syria, the military or the American public. Many Syrians are today praying it will be the latter and have pledged to join them to defeat the coming aggression.
Franklin Lamb is doing research in Syria and Lebanon and can be reached c/o firstname.lastname@example.org
US soldiers protesting military strikes against Syria are taking to Facebook to voice their opposition to a war.
With the ruling class split over the ‘wisdom’ of an all-out attack on Syria (ie, some of our rulers have realised that imperialism might not win and that more war might just be counterproductive at home), more and more evidence is filtering through from marginalised ‘alternative’ media sources into the public eye.
Here are just a few of the articles currently circulating that together confirm what communists and anti-imperialists have said all along: that it is the Nato imperialists who are perpetrating illegal massacres and deliberately stoking up a sectarian and potentially genocidal war in Syria, and that the Syrian government and army are waging a heroic battle for national liberation from this fascistic neo-colonial onslaught.
The job of all anti-war, anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist and progressive people is to show the British working class that they have the power to stop the war criminals in their tracks. The corporate media, the munitions industry, the transporting and logistics as well as the forces themselves are all operated by workers. If we don’t do the work, these criminal wars cannot be fought!
****************************** ‘Doctors’ behind Syrian chemical weapons claims are aiding terrorists (Land Destroyer Report) Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) is fully funded by the very same corporate financier interests behind Wall Street and London’s collective foreign policy, including regime change in Syria and neighbouring Iran. Doctors Without Borders’ own annual report includes as financial donors Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Google, Microsoft, Bloomberg, Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital, and a myriad of other corporate-financier interests.
****************************** Syria: The questions that must be answered before any aggression (Dissident Voice) Why do you not explain to your citizens that President Assad has the support of the vast majority of the population of his country and would you please draw up a list of the popularity ratings of the 30-odd terrorist/opposition groups fighting against the State?
****************************** US planned Syrian civilian catastrophe since 2007 (Press TV) While the UN and nations across the West feign shock over the growing humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in and around Syria, the goal of a violent sectarian conflict and its predictable, catastrophic results along with calls to literally ‘bleed’ Syria have been the underlying strategy of special interests in the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia and their regional partners since at least 2007.
****************************** ‘Rebels’ admit responsibility for chemical weapons attack (Info Wars) Syrian ‘rebels’ in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta have admitted to Associated Press correspondent Dale Gavlak that they were responsible for last week’s chemical weapons incident which western powers have blamed on Bashar al-Assad’s forces, revealing that the casualties were the result of an accident caused by rebels mishandling chemical weapons provided to them by Saudi Arabia.
****************************** Syria (In Gaza) What a potential bloody ‘humanitarian’, ‘right-to-protect’ (right to bomb and pillage) intervention will do is rape yet another country of everything, including its culture, history, identity, and of course people … and further colonial interests and power in the region of Syria, Palestine, Lebanon … and on to Iran.
****************************** Russia releases key findings on chemical attack near Aleppo indicating similarity with rebel-made weapons (RT) Russia’s foreign ministry has criticised the “flawed selective approach” of certain states in reporting the recent incidents of alleged chemical weapons use in August. The hype around the alleged attack on the eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta showed “apparent attempts to cast a veil over the incidents of gas poisoning of Syrian army soldiers on 22, 24 and 25 August,” the ministry said, adding that all the respective evidence was handed to the UN by Syria.
****************************** Five things anti-war activists should know about Syria (FightBack! News) The notion that there is a ‘red line’ that no one is allowed to cross is cynical at the core. Iraq is saturated with cancer-causing depleted uranium from US bombs. The US military used the chemical weapon white phosphorus in Fallujah and Israel used white phosphorus in Gaza in a manner that violates the Geneva Convention. Chemical weapons are a pretext to do what the US government, weapons manufacturers, Israel, and the Saudi ruling class wants to do - bomb Syria.
While Syria doesn’t have much oil, there is a whole lot of it in the neighbourhood. The conflict in Syria has been ongoing because it is being used as a geopolitical chess piece by the West. The point of the attack is to defeat Syria so the US can next move onto Iran and strike at other forces that are opposed to US domination.
Syria’s real ‘crime’ is to remain independent, ignoring the agenda of US empire in the Middle East and befriending the patriotic peoples of Iran, Lebanon and Palestine. The US speaks of chemical weapons, hoping that we have forgotten their plan for ‘regime change’ in Syria. The US government has no right to determine who should lead the Syrian government.
The author of the statement below is a former Second Class Petty Officer in the US Navy (2007-2012) who served on the USS Fitzgerald and the USS The Sullivans. He now helps to organise anti-war actions in Los Angeles.
To my fellow sailors, shipmates and service members on active duty,
Many of you are now in the Mediterranean Sea near Syria to be used to carry out strikes against the country. Ninety-one percent of the American public opposes these strikes. The Obama administration has failed to produce the ‘evidence’ it says would justify them.
Do not be fooled into yet another war based on lies in the Middle East. The events that came to pass in Iraq and Afghanistan go to show that “defending freedom and democracy around the world“, as the Sailor’s Creed so wrongfully suggests, is just a scheme to defend the interests of the rich at our expense. Syria – which is the only remaining country in the Arab world that is independent of Wall Street – is a huge prize for the oil and defence industries. But the billionaires who will profit don’t send their own children. They send us.
What we learned from the Iraq war in particular is that the US government will fabricate intelligence, lies to our faces, and create a false story about ‘protecting civilians’ to cover up their true motives.
Don’t be a part of a war machine that kills innocent lives and separates entire families. Tomahawks and MK45 rounds kill indiscriminately.
Do not be fooled into yet another endless watch, duty day, sleepless night and deployment in support of a corrupt system that constantly puts you in harm’s way. I ask you, is it really worth it?
I enlisted on 20 July 2007, right out of high school, in the hopes that I could persue an education and travel the world through the Navy. The longer I was in, the more I realised that the community I was exposed to in the Navy was so far removed from the everyday lives of American civilians.
Military spending always goes up. I was surrounded by billions of dollars’ worth of equipment, while schools have to fundraise for supplies and scholarships, whole cities were going bankrupt, and students struggled to pay their loans.
I realised then that the system in place had left me no choice but to join the military. It was an illusion of choice when the reality is that more and more of us join to escape economic hardship. Then we are used to carry out missile strikes against other struggling people just like us all over the globe. It is a cycle that continues to fuel the war machine.
To me, patriotism is doing what you think is right for your country, not blindly following its government. It means that when we receive orders from corrupt high-ranking officers to launch strikes against Syria, against the will of the American people and against the will of the Syrian people, that it is our duty to refuse to carry them out.
Getting out of the military was the best decision I ever made, because the military tried to make me into a tool of oppression for other people around the world – but failed.
If I were at sea now, ordered to carry out this new war, I would refuse. You can too. Disobey the bogus orders to launch a new war. Refuse deployments and reenlistments. Come home to your families and fight the real battle that has been waged by the government against its own people in the form of unemployment, poor education, high interest rates for college students, police brutality and the erosion of our civil liberties.
Rape, torture, ethnic cleansing and even cannibalism are everyday tactics for the terrorist gangs rampaging through Syria on behalf of western corporations.
The imperialists backing terror groups in Syria don’t care what crimes are committed as long as they get their hands on Syria’s resources and remove the country from the anti-imperialist axis of resistance (primarily now Syria, Hizbollah and Iran) in the Middle East.
Anyone who tries to tell us that this is a ‘civil war’ or a ‘popular uprising’ against a ‘dictator’ is simply repeating (or in the case of the likes of the SWP, embellishing) imperialist war propaganda (a war crime) and effectively apologising for these horrendous atrocities.
Such propaganda is a war crime because it normalises illegal, aggressive wars. It is aimed at stopping us doing our duty, which (under international law) is to OPPOSE, DISRUPT, SABOTAGE and REFUSE TO COOPERATE with the ILLEGAL war effort.
The author of the article quoted below is no friend to the Assad government, having clearly imbibed plenty of western propaganda himself, but the information his article contains gives a shocking picture of the behaviour of Nato’s attack dogs in Syria.
Minority groups – shiites, christians, jews, and others – represent an estimated 20 to 30 percent of Syrians. Members of virtually all minority communities have been targeted by one rebel group or another, due, at least in part, to their perceived support of the secular regime, which largely protected minorities from islamist violence …
Earlier this month, an opposition brigade commander ate a body organ from a dead government soldier in front of a video camera and promised to do the same with others, boasting about slaughtering – and eating – members of the Alawite community to which Assad belongs.
“I swear to God, soldiers of Bashar, you dogs – we will eat your heart and livers! Takbir! God is Great!” commander Khalid al-Hamad with the ‘Independent Omar al-Farouk Brigade’ says in the video, words that he later defended in interviews with Western media outlets.
“Oh my heroes of Baba Amr, you slaughter the Alawites and take their hearts out to eat them!” After the brief speech, the sunni rebel took a bite out of the organ in a video that drew international condemnation …
Countless numbers of christians have been forced to flee into neighbouring countries to avoid the brutality and slaughter. The ancient christian communities, which were protected by the secular Assad government, feared genocide … Analysts said those concerns were well founded.
Such a development would also be in line with what has occurred in other nations where the US government has intervened. In Iraq, for example, the ancient christian communities were all but eradicated following the American-led, United Nations-approved military invasion and occupation. Many fled to Syria.
Following the Obama administration-backed so-called ‘Arab Spring’, christians are also under fire in Egypt, Libya, and other nations. President Obama’s unconstitutional war on Libya led to ethnic cleansing of blacks by US government-backed ‘rebels’ as well.
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!
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!