BUAFS banner in Trafalgar Square on May Day 2015
A comrade from Bristol Ukraine Anti Fascist Solidarity (BUAFS) was invited to speak at a recent public meeting in London organised by Solidarity with the Antifascist Resistance in the Ukraine (SARU). We reproduce his remarks below.
We are talking today specifically about the way that the imperialist media serve a vital propaganda role in selling us their agenda of war and austerity. Other speakers have given many telling examples of this manipulation of public opinion.
In Bristol, we try to expose this manipulation by mounting a weekly picket of the BBC in Whiteladies Road. We do this to draw attention to the lies the corporation tells about the conflict in the Ukraine and Donbass, and to point out how this conflicts with the vaunted status of the BBC as a paragon of ‘objective’ and ‘balanced’ journalism. It lays claim to that status, so it’s right that we should demand that it be held to account for failing to live up to it.
However, in reality, we should not be so surprised about the BBC’s behaviour. Its journalists are just doing their job, serving as part of the propaganda machine for the imperialist ruling class. When push comes to shove, that is the basic purpose of every organ of mass media in imperialist society. How could it be other? The capitalist media are bought and paid for, and capitalism gets what it pays for. In that sense, we have nothing to complain about.
But if the real function of the BBC and the rest is not too hard to grasp, what have we to say about the role of some of those in ‘left’, ‘anti-war’ and trade-union circles who help to grease the wheels for war by going along with the reactionary propaganda? I’m thinking about those who in words ‘opposed’ the bombing of Libya, yet rowed in with all the vilification of Muammar Gaddafi by which imperialism sought to justify that bombing.
Or those who went along with the hate campaign against Bashar al-Assad and the progressive leadership of Syria – a hate campaign that acted as a smokescreen for the West’s proxy war of subversion against
an independent Arab state whose secular and progressive character posed a threat to imperialist dominance in the Middle East.
What do we make of those who peer down from a great height upon the inhabitants of the Donbass fighting for their lives against Kiev’s stormtroopers, only to pronounce them to be ‘Putin’s useful idiots’?
In my innocence, I had hoped to come here tonight in a cloud of glory, bearing glad tidings that Bristol Trades Council had decided to cough up £50 and affiliate to SARU. The Bristol branch of Community Unite earlier this year passed a resolution to affiliate, and went on to propose to the trades council that it follow suit.
Sadly, this initiative was ambushed by some very vocal delegates to the trades council, who ‘explained’ that the fascist coup that removed the democratically-elected Yanukovych government was in fact a “popular uprising”, that the subsequent elevation of Poroshenko to the presidency was “legitimate”, that his government was not fascist, that the Donbass resistance were no more than stooges for Putin and that the conflict in the Ukraine was not about anti-fascist resistance but was essentially a turf war between rival oligarchs.
To make this unashamed rehearsal of the standard BBC/Fox News Big Lie more palatable to a trade-union forum, matters were given a workerist twist, appealing for “solidarity with workers throughout the whole of the Ukraine”, carefully ignoring the fact that the fascist aggression dished out by the Kiev junta’s forces is actually the military wing of the IMF-imposed austerity being imposed on all Ukrainian workers.
This stunt recalls the dishonest ‘neither green nor orange’ pose that was assumed in the 1970s and 80s by those who sought to justify their enmity towards the Irish national struggle by making spurious appeals to the “unity of all workers” (all workers, that is, in ‘Northern Ireland’ – ie, the colonised six counties).
Regrettably, these lies about what is really going on in the Ukraine were enough to stampede the trades council away from supporting the resolution, which was formally remitted (kicked into the long grass). Fifty pounds here or there will not break our campaign, but this setback usefully illustrates just how crucial is the role of social democracy in making workers vulnerable to capitalist war propaganda, softening up our resistance.
It is important to challenge the media lies. But it is at least as important to challenge those on the social-democratic ‘left’ who help to give those lies currency in the working class. We can’t get rid of media lies, but we can make a start on challenging the social-democratic politics that rob workers of any ideological defence against those lies.
When the manufactured paranoia about Russia has been so eagerly embraced by many on the ‘left’, for example, it will take no more than one or two well-orchestrated false-flag operations for war fever to sweep the board.
What is the antidote to this war fever? The short answer is: to build an anti-war movement in the working class; a movement that identifies imperialist crisis as the driver of war, which supports all those engaged in resistance against imperialism and which leads a campaign of active non-cooperation with the war effort.
Do we possess such a movement now? Sadly not. The Stop the War Coalition, in the name of ‘broadening the appeal’ of the movement, withheld its support from the Afghan resistance and the Iraqi resistance. It likewise withheld support from the progressive governments of Gaddafi’s Libya and Assad’s Syria. Now it opposes the Russian bombing campaign against Islamic State in Syria.
And, of course, it withholds support from the Donbass resistance – always in the name of ‘broadening the movement’. Yet, far from ‘broadening’ the anti-war movement into the mass of the working class, this approach has narrowed the movement to a dwindling support base consisting mostly of a pacifist-minded middle class.
Our task must be to break down the social-democratic walls that separate workers in Britain from all their oppressed brothers and sisters who are fighting against imperialism – be it in Palestine, Syria, the Donbass or wherever.
The imperialist ruling class that plunges one country after another into war is the self-same imperialist ruling class that imposes austerity at home. By recognising that imperialism is our common enemy and linking arms with those engaged in resistance against imperialist meddling, we can unite in an anti-war movement that stands on solid anti-imperialist foundations.
I believe that this can be done in Britain, and that our support for the struggles of the people’s republics of Donetsk and Lugansk could be a step in the right direction.
It is in that spirit that we continue our solidarity work in Bristol. Let me take this opportunity to invite comrades to come and visit our picket outside the BBC in Whiteladies Road, every Monday from 5.00pm to 6.30pm.
Also, let me remind you about the public meeting we are holding on Saturday 24 October in the Terrace Room of Barton Hill Community Settlement, 43 Ducie Road, Bristol (BS5 0AX), from 2.00pm to 5.00pm, on the subject of imperialist crisis and the drive to war in Europe.
Captured Nazi standards are thrown down at the foot of Lenin's mausoleum by Red Army officers during the victory parade in Red Square, Moscow, 1945
9 May 2015 marks the seventieth anniversary of the defeat of Hitlerite fascism and the liberation of the peoples of Europe –the culmination of a titanic struggle in which the heroic Soviet Red Army, brilliantly commanded and led by JV Stalin, played the main and decisive role.
Twenty-seven million Soviet soldiers and citizens died in the battle to throw off the fascist jackboot – a power that had been brought into being and nurtured by the imperialists of Germany and elsewhere in order to crush the forces for socialist revolution that were rising across the continent.
On this momentous occasion, the CPGB-ML remembers and extends its gratitude to all those heroic men and women who fought against the most dangerous threat to the working classes and oppressed peoples of the world.
As communists, we celebrate the actions of Marxist revolutionaries and national-liberation fighters from Germany to north Africa, who led the underground resistance against the forces of reaction. Above all, we salute the courage of the Red Army – without whom the liberation of Europe would have been unthinkable.
As members of the British working class, we remember with pride our forbears, who travelled to far-off lands to fight the fascist ascendancy – starting with volunteers in the International Brigades who fought so bravely in Spain – and those who, at home, blocked at every turn the attempts by elements of our domestic ruling class to form a mass fascist organisation in Britain – at the Battle of Cable Street and elsewhere.
We also remember with pride and gratitude the earth-shaking contribution of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and the Chinese popular forces, who made such great sacrifices in the battle to defeat Japanese imperialism and fascism in the East. The Chinese progressive forces lost between 20 and 25 million people in that epic struggle, and yet their contribution is hardly ever mentioned in our euro-centric narratives.
Yet, despite the decisive, unquestionable defeat of fascism in Europe and Asia in the 20th century, we must still temper our celebrations of this momentous occasion with a note of warning. While fascism in its most traditional and recognisable form might presently appear to be a marginal force in world politics, the capitalist economic crisis is creating once more the conditions for its reappearance.
And, as the imperialist powers attempt to drive east and conquer the former territories of the Soviet Union, we are seeing once again the utilisation of reactionary street forces, as well as the ideological rehabilitation of former fascist movements, along with the rewriting of history to deny both the brutality of fascism and the progressive nature of the communist and liberation forces that fought against and destroyed it.
The new drive to war against Russia and China
As the peoples of the former Soviet Union gather today to remember the tremendous sacrifices made by their forbears, it is important for us to recognise that the next war that the imperialists are planning will be aimed at just those peoples who saved us from the fascist jackboot last time around.
In their bid to save their dying and crisis-ridden system, the imperialists have identified two major obstacles to their domination of the world – anti-imperialist Russia and socialist China.
The martial rhetoric, military threats and economic warfare against both these countries is continuously emanating from the centres of imperialism, particularly from the US and Britain, and is constantly escalating in brinkmanship and hysteria. Make no mistake: we are being prepared by this avalanche of propaganda to hate these enemies of our rulers in order that we will fight in wars against them at some point in the future – or so that we will at the very least not act in any meaningful way to stop such wars taking place.
In their bid to create the conditions for a new war in Europe, our rulers are resuscitating (funding, arming, training and promoting in a myriad ways) the very forces that they pretend to abhor – the various Nazi-aligned fascist forces of eastern Europe that were vanquished by the Red Army and the popular resistance forces 70 years ago.
Moreover, in a bid to deny the pivotal role played by the communist-led forces of the Soviet Union – and to deny present-day Russians and others their share of the reflected glory – imperialism’s journalists and historians have been busy rewriting the history of WW2. So successful have they been in filling western media with such lies that the majority of respondents in a recent survey believed that the war had in fact been won by the USA!
Nothing more perfectly illustrates this phenomenon than the fact that no major newspaper raised a murmur at the exclusion of President Vladimir Putin of Russia from the 70th anniversary commemorations at the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp. Gone was any reference to the fact that the camp was liberated by the Red Army, and instead we were greeted with fables about a ‘Ukrainian regiment’.
But the only ‘Ukrainian regiments’ that were put together in the war (as opposed to those Red Army regiments that happened to contain Ukrainians) were the militias of Stepan Bandera, the Ukrainian fascist leader, who put his anti-communist death squads at the disposal of the Nazi occupiers.
Today, hand in hand with the resuscitation of such evil men as ‘national heroes’ in the imperialist-controlled media and throughout those former Soviet territories where the imperialists are trying to gain control, has come the demonisation and even criminalisation of communist organisations and ideas.
Once again, we are living in exceedingly dangerous times, as the latest and worst-ever economic crisis of capitalism is leading our imperialist rulers to ever-more desperate measures to maintain profitability and to contain the people’s anger against poverty, privatisation and war.
Fascism and imperialism: a partnership born out of crisis
By ‘fascism’ we do not simply mean political movements that have ultra-reactionary policies or beliefs. There have been many attempts by bourgeois scholars to define fascism by certain approaches to race, nationalism, corporatism and civil rights – all of which have failed to give even a minimal working definition of fascism in a scientific sense.
This is partly due to the ideological promiscuity, eclecticism and cynical duplicity of the fascist movements in the twentieth century, which, despite their fundamental alignment, were forced to abandon their only real international conference (held in 1934 in Montreux) due to a lack of consensus on all but one issue.
In fact, the parties in attendance were unable to construct any shared policies on economics, race, national integration, women’s suffrage or labour laws. There was one thing on which they were all agreed, however – their opposition to communism and to the communist Third International.
And this is no accident. As Marxists, we understand that we need to look beyond what the fascists say about themselves and find a definition that explains objectively what are the conditions that give rise to fascism and what is the objective role that it plays – what class is serves and how it does so.
The revolutionary anti-fascist and General Secretary of the Communist International Georgi Dimitrov put it very well when he said that fascism is “the power of finance capital itself. It is the organisation of terrorist vengeance against the working class and the revolutionary section of the peasantry and intelligentsia. In foreign policy, fascism is jingoism in its most brutal form, fomenting bestial hatred of other nations.” (The Fascist Offensive and the Tasks of the Communist International in the Struggle of the Working Class against Fascism, 1935)
Fascism is the response of the ruling class to the revolutionary upsurge in the working-class movement that is brought about by economic crisis. It is the naked dictatorship to which the bourgeoisie resorts when its ‘democratic’ veneer can no longer hold the people’s anger in check.
Only this definition can account for the shared international, and divergent national, policies of 20th-century fascism, and for its development out of the inter-imperialist crisis following the first world war.
Ukraine: the hydra of modern fascism
For many onlookers, routinely misinformed by the imperialist corporate media, the trajectory between what was portrayed as the Maidan ‘revolution’ in Kiev and the new government’s assaults on the civilians and militants of the Donbass seems very confusing.
It all becomes much clearer, however, once one understands that the ‘government’ now in power is, in fact, the culmination of 25 years of imperialist meddling in Ukraine. In its attempt to divide the peoples and conquer the territory of the former USSR, the imperialists have been happy to create, nurture and resuscitate nationalist and fascist forces of all stripes, providing them with funding and access to the media in order to sow confusion in the minds of impoverished Ukrainians and to encourage them to blame each other for the problems and poverty that the reinstated capitalist system has brought into their lives.
Whatever the precise shape of its previous current and future incarnations, one thing is sure: fascism is dependent on imperialism for its genesis, dependent on imperialism for its development and, ultimately, dependent on the fall of finance capital as a political force for its complete destruction. In the final analysis, there can be no defeat of fascism without a dismantling of the imperialist system and the building of socialism, and we call on all progressives and anti-fascists to join us in this world-historic task.
Once again, we pay our deepest homage and offer a red salute to those millions of brave Soviet soldiers and citizens who fought so heroically and paid so dearly to defeat the greatest army imperialism has yet assembled. Let us learn from their selfless example and join the struggle to end fascism and imperialism for good.
We reproduce this excellent article from Workers World with thanks.
Hollande: 'This is an act of exceptional barbarity.'
Assad: 'That's not what you say when you send them my way.'
By Sarah Flounders
How do we put in perspective the international media focus on the massacre of 12 journalists in Paris on 7 January at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, notorious for its racist anti-muslim caricatures and lack of response to the routine, daily, racist police murders of black youth in the US? Why were any protests banned in France of 15 journalists who were killed among the 2,000 deaths in the Israeli assault of Gaza this past summer? Don’t those lives matter?
The Charlie Hebdo assassinations strengthen the hand of the state, which is using them in an ideological offensive — even if the state had a role in arming and training the killers.
Why are other murders not mourned, not respected, not even reported — even the murders of other journalists? A crucial role of the corporate media is to try to shape the perception of which lives matter.
Consider the mass outpourings following several different, very public killings in the US. Hundreds of thousands of youths have been in the streets again and again in the US confronting the refusal of the state to prosecute killer cops — even when their murderous crimes have been seen on video by millions.
Hundreds of thousands of people were in the streets of Paris on 11 January. French, other European, US and Israeli politicians led the march honoring the slain journalists.
Twice, on 27 December and 4 January, thousands of police in uniform from all over the US converged on New York City for separate funerals of two police officers shot in their patrol car on 20 December. Jet Blue offered free flights to all police traveling nationally to the funeral. The US vice president, New York state’s governor and the city’s mayor attended the funerals. Roads in the areas were closed; giant outdoor TV screens were erected.
Not a free speech issue
The French government’s protection of the racist journal Charlie Hebdo had nothing to do with protecting freedom of speech. This is a deception that must be confronted. In 2012, the same government that protected this vile publication banned any demonstrations or protests or even public prayers opposing the racist publication.
French law allows for the prosecution of ‘public insults’ based on religion, race, ethnicity or national origin. But the racist, sexist, bigoted, grossly insulting cartoons in Charlie Hebdo magazine were never once a source of any successful legal action.
However, France did ban anyone from even protesting the cartoons that insulted muslims or the prophet Muhammed.
In 2012, as protests swept the muslim world in response to an anti-muslim film made in the US, French interior minister Manuel Valls said prefects had orders to prohibit any protest and to crack down if the ban was challenged. “There will be strictly no exceptions. Demonstrations will be banned and broken up.” (Daily Mail, 21 September 2012)
Even prayer meetings and street prayers were banned. (CNN, 19 September 2012)
In the same week, Charlie Hebdo put out an extra run of cartoons featuring a grossly obscene caricature of a naked prophet Mohammed. The magazine was given extra police protection.
Freedom of speech and of the press is hardly sacred in France. It was punishable by a year in prison to even post on the internet a notice of a demonstration opposing the Israeli onslaught on Palestine during the Israeli 2014 summer offensive on Gaza.
France was the only country in the world to bar all demonstrations and protests in any form supporting Palestine during that time. The penalty was one year in jail and 15,000 euro fine.
It is worth noting the double standard: There is no similar crackdown against the current right-wing, fascist demonstrations against immigrants.
Role of Nazi caricature
Charlie Hebdo serves a very important purpose for French imperialism, and that is why its virulent racism has been protected at the very time that protests against it are prohibited.
Charlie Hebdo may have run cartoons to ridicule the powerful 40 years ago, when it claimed to be left wing, irreverent and nonconformist. But there is a big difference between satire ridiculing the powerful — a French tradition going back to Voltaire — and the current imagery promoting fear and loathing of the oppressed and powerless. The latter is right-wing and fascist in character.
In this period, when muslims are facing increasing, extreme right-wing attacks, and fascist mobilisations are growing in Europe, Charlie Hebdo functions as did the Nazi publication Der Sturmer, with its vehemently anti-semitic caricatures. Jewish people in Der Sturmer, as muslims in Charlie Hebdo, were depicted with exaggerated facial features and misshapen bodies. Both publications use obscene, sexually explicit caricatures.
The Nazi newspaper’s caricatures were part of a policy to make jews an object of hatred, fear, ridicule and disdain. At the end of World War II, Julius Streicher, the editor of Der Sturmer — though he didn’t run death camps but used the press to incite hatred — was put on trial, convicted of crimes against humanity and executed.
Charlie Hebdo is protected because it hardens the population against muslim people in order to divide the population. The French government has announced a grant to Charlie Hebdo of 1 million euros, and Google donated 250,000 euros.
Charlie Hebdo is not freedom of expression and freedom of press. It is an instrument of war mobilisation. It ran cartoons demonising Serbs during the Nato campaign against Yugoslavia, and it supported Nato’s attack on Libya.
No free press
Although ‘free speech’ and ‘free press’ are being lauded and glorified in the murder of the French journalists, no such thing exists in any capitalist state. The press in France or in the US is not free, open or accessible.
The media are owned by and serve the interests of the ruling class. What can be said and who can say it is tightly controlled. The corporate media in capitalist society are owned to serve class rule. What is covered depends entirely on who can pay for publication or airtime.
A handful of multibillion-dollar media conglomerates control almost all information, culture and entertainment in the western capitalist countries — though in the past decade social media and the internet have opened a few tiny cracks in this overwhelming corporate control [just as small-scale people's printing presses did formerly].
The media industry has an enormous impact in shaping which lives have value and which deaths go unreported, unmarked or consciously covered up.
The hundreds of thousands of deaths in wars initiated by US imperialism, and with the full support of French and British imperialism, are unmarked, unmourned and callously labeled ‘collateral damage’. The media ignore or barely mention the enormous toll in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Afghanistan. No mass sympathy is created when a US drone wipes out a wedding party in Pakistan or a whole village with a hellfire missile.
The assassinations of journalists in these wars are hardly noted. There were no state funerals for the 166 journalists killed in Iraq under US occupation. Chelsea Manning is in prison for releasing videos of US helicopters gunning down two Reuter’s camera operators in Iraq and then circling back to kill the family who stopped their van to try to help them.
According to the Palestinian Centre for Development and Media Freedoms, 15 journalists were killed in the 2014 Israeli bombing of Gaza. They “were killed in civilian sites that are supposed to be safe for civilians”. Eight media centres were targeted and bombed.
US bombers targeted and destroyed the RTS, Radio TV Serbia, in the 1999 US/Nato war on Yugoslavia, killing 17 journalists.
The most dangerous country in the world for journalists is Honduras. Since the US-backed coup, 46 media and information workers have been assassinated.
The International Federation of Journalists sharply criticised Nato’s 2011 air strikes against Libyan television, which killed three people and injured 15. The IFJ stated that the strikes violated international law and UN resolutions.
If a free press existed, then Chelsea Manning would not be in prison or Edward Snowden and Julian Assange on the run, living in exile.
What media are even allowed coverage in imperialist countries demonstrates how little freedom of the press is respected. For example, Press TV, an Iranian news channel broadcasting in English, is banned from broadcasting via satellite throughout Europe, Canada and the US. Al-Manar, a Lebanese satellite station affiliated with Hezbollah, has also been banned by France, Germany and the US.
Both Press TV and Al-Manar have protested, to no avail, that this is a grave breach of freedom of speech. While both news channels are available via the internet in limited form, Apple and Google have removed Al-Manar mobile apps.
National oppression and racism in France cannot be ignored. There are 5.5 million residents of African origin, many of them born in France and most of them citizens. A large number are from muslim backgrounds [usually from former French colonies], although not all are practicing. They are isolated by poverty in suburbs that have high unemployment, inferior schools and substandard housing.
Just as prisons in the US, overwhelmingly imprison black and brown youth, so too do French prisons. About 60 to 70 percent of all inmates in the country’s prison system are muslim, according to muslim leaders, sociologists and researchers, though muslims make up only about 12 percent of the country’s population. (Washington Post Foreign Service, 29 April 2008)
Imperialism needs hatred of targeted peoples. Western politicians have cynically used islamophobia to advance right-wing political agendas and curtail freedoms.
Regardless of whether a police conspiracy is ever exposed, we do know that the French ruling class and the corporate media are always primed to take full advantage of such acts to reinforce the repressive state apparatus and sow division among the working class.
There should not be an iota of confidence in the news stories of this massacre at Charlie Hebdo. We know only what we are being told in the corporate media by French military police and state intelligence agencies.
We do know that three men, who are now dead, were tools of imperialism in their wars of conquest in Syria and Libya. More than 1,000 French citizens of Arab and North African descent have been recruited, trained, armed and used as weapons conduits, saboteurs and terrorists in the efforts of US, France, Britain, Turkey and Saudi Arabia to overthrow the government of Syria.
This leads to the fundamental question of whose policies are responsible for the massacre and who gains from the massacre?
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, US imperialism, aided by the old colonial powers of Europe, has been engaged in a whole series of wars to reconquer countries that had achieved a high level of development based on sovereignty and control of their resources.
In their frantic efforts to recolonise Iraq, Syria and Libya, they have cynically whipped up sectarian divisions, organised deadly militias and promoted fanaticism and anarchy. That has aroused deep-seated rage against the US, France and Britain.
It is also highly unpopular that French imperialism is widely involved in Africa — primarily in the majority-muslim countries of Mali, Central African Republic, Chad, Ivory Coast and Djibouti, and in Abu Dhabi on the Arabian peninsula.
The French ruling class wants to divert mass attention from its expanding wars and increasingly militarised society. The mobilisations claiming to defend a free press by defending racism must be opposed and countered.
We congratulate the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on their encouraging performance in recent elections, and reproduce their latest statement and analysis.
The election results confirm the trend for the rallying of forces around the KKE
The EU parliamentary elections on the 25 May 2014 took place in Greece together with the second round of the regional and municipal elections. This was the first time that these two election battles have been conducted in the same period, while it was the first time that the voters could choose their preferred candidates from the lists of the parties (previously, the parties determined the order of preference).
The results of the EU parliamentary elections
Forty-three parties and 1,299 candidates took part in the elections for the 21 seats that Greece has in the EU parliament (one less that in the 2009 elections). Just under 60 percent of the electorate took part in the elections and an atmosphere of polarisation between the two new bourgeois poles was formed.
On the one hand, New Democracy (ND) sought votes so that, as it said, “there will be no instability and derailment from the way out of the crisis”. On the other hand, the new social-democratic party, Syriza, sought the transformation of the elections into a “referendum”, so that it could demonstrate a significant increase and outstrip the dynamism of the governing parties.
With the slogan “we vote on the 25th so that they leave on the 26th”, Syriza set as its goal victory in the EU parliamentary elections so that the government would resign and early parliamentary elections would be declared.
In these difficult political conditions, when the bourgeois parties promoted false dilemmas for the workers, the KKE achieved a small, but tangible, increase (+1.6 percent), in relation to the elections of 2012 and received 6.1 percent of votes cast.
Syriza, although it emerged as the first party, did not manage any increase on the percentage it received in 2012.
The government parties suffered significant losses. The conservative ND fell by 7 percent and the social-democratic Pasok, which participated in the elections with the ‘Olive Tree’ coalition, had losses of 4 percent.
The ‘Democratic Left’, which for a period had participated in the government with ND and Pasok, was crushed, losing 5 percent and remaining outside of the EU parliament.
The rightwing party ‘Independent Greeks’ lost 4 percent.
At the same time, the efforts for the recomposition of the political scene through the strengthening of fascist Golden Dawn (+2.2 percent), as well with the emergence of a new ‘centre’ party, led by a well-known TV star who has a Pasok background. His party, the ‘River’, received 6.5 percent.
The other 34 parties that participated in the elections but did not pass the electoral threshold of 3 percent and did not elect MEPs, received in total around 17 percent of the votes.
So, of the parties that participated in the elections of 2012, only the KKE and fascist Golden Dawn had an increase in terms of votes and percentages.
In addition, the KKE saw its two MEPs re-elected.
This result acquires particular significance because the political line of the KKE is a line of conflict against the capitalist development path and the imperialist EU, the bourgeois class and the parties that serve its interests.
The KKE posed the framework that corresponds to the people’s interests: disengagement from the EU and unilateral cancellation of the debt, with workers’/people’s power and the socialisation of the concentrated means of production.
This framework was attacked by every means at the disposal of the bourgeois and opportunist parties, and by the mechanisms of the bourgeois state, but it lays foundations for the increase of the people’s demands, for the understanding of the class character of the exploitative system and the imperialist predatory alliance.
The results of the second round of the local elections
On 25 May 2014, the second round of the municipal elections was held.
The lists of ‘People’s Rally’ that was supported by the KKE entered the second round of the elections in four municipalities and were victorious in all four of them.
- In the municipality of Patras (the third-largest city in the country) it received 62.4 percent of the votes (it had 25.06 percent in the first round).
- In the municipality of the island of Ikaria it received 50.8 percent of the votes (it had 44.1 percent in the first round).
- In the municipality of Petroupolis (which is in Athens) it received 53 percent of the votes (26.28 percent in the first round).
- In the municipality of Haidari (which is in Athens) it received 68.5 percent of the votes (18.43 percent in the first round).
We should bear in mind that in the first round of the elections, the KKE had a significant increase and had received 8.8 percent of the votes in the country’s 13 regions and an increase in 214 municipalities, electing dozens of councillors in the regions and hundreds in the municipalities.
Statement of Dimitris Koutsoumpas, GS of the CC of the KKE, on the results of the EU parliamentary elections and the second round of the local elections
First of all we would like to thank all the people that responded to the appeal of the KKE, joined forces with it, supported the lists of the KKE and ‘People’s Rally’ in the four municipalities where the KKE has taken part in the second round.
As to the EU parliamentary elections, up until now the KKE has received more than 6 percent, which means hundreds of thousands of votes and the election of two MEPs. In our opinion, this result constitutes a small step; it is the continuation of the positive result of the previous week in the 13 administrative regions of the country, where the party received 8.8 percent of the votes.
This tendency has been expressed, more or less, in municipalities all over the country, where they the lists of the ‘People’s Rally’ had a strong presence.
In the first round, we increased our percentage in 214 municipalities. At the same time, we received over 10 percent in more than 50 municipalities.
In the four municipalities where we took part in the second round, the candidates of the KKE achieved resounding victories.
In difficult conditions, we won the majority in these municipalities, despite the radically different political line expressed by the lists of the KKE compared to all the other lists of the parties, which all support the political line of the EU and capital in local administration as well is a positive development.
The election result as a whole does not demonstrate any reversal of the anti-people political scene; it does not create any ‘new political scene’ in favour of the people.
Of course, it demonstrates the people’s anger towards ND and Pasok, who undertook the burden of implementing the anti-people governmental political line and the ‘EU one-way street’.
Although a significant part of the voters of Syriza made their choice with the expectation of a left orientation, the first position of Syriza does not express any strengthening of the left, radical, anti-monopoly, anti-imperialist political line, since Syriza has abandoned — even in its slogans — any opposition to the monopolies, the EU and to Nato.
The results — above all in the EU parliamentary elections — indicate the consolidation of the tendency to substitute the bankrupted Pasok by Syriza, as part of the reshuffling of the political scene that started in June 2012.
At the same time, the course of other social-democratic formations appears to be volatile — eg, the Olive Tree, which was the main electoral formation of Pasok in the elections. The Olive Tree rallied some forces, but received a smaller percentage than in June 2012. Furthermore, the percentage of the Democratic Left was reduced in favour of The River, which appeared with slogans of a vague and less social-democratic character.
Although the tendency of the KKE to rally forces and receive new votes is positive, the election results as a whole do not express any significant tendency towards the emancipation of the workers’ and people’s forces from the parties of the ‘EU one-way street’ — the interests of capital and the monopolies.
The most extreme expression of this discrepancy is the high percentage of votes cast for Golden Dawn.
The ruling class and the system still possess, unfortunately, significant reserves that allow it to appear with a new mantle. This assessment is based on the votes and programmes both of Syriza, as well as of the Olive Tree and the River.
As a whole, the recomposition of the political system is underway — the creation of new barriers to radicalisation, something that we must specifically monitor in the next period. In the final analysis, nothing has been decided, as the people themselves have not yet utilised their strength.
The election results as a whole in the EU countries can not be anything other than negative for the peoples. It is now necessary in every country — in all the EU countries — for a movement for rupture and disengagement from the EU to develop and to struggle for the overthrow the power of the monopolies.
This movement with these goals must confront and smash fascism-nazism in every country, and in Europe as a whole. We could say that inside this reactionary framework it is positive that the KKE in Greece demonstrates a trend of a small recovery after the strong pressure it was subjected to in June 2012.
The necessity of the recovery and regroupment of the communist and workers’ movement in Europe as a whole has become urgent — especially in France, Germany, Britain, Spain and Italy, to remove itself from the deadly embrace of social democracy, the prettifying of the EU and the political assimilation and participation in the bourgeois anti-people management.
You can be sure that votes for the KKE will be utilised from tomorrow morning in every workplace, in every neighbourhood, in the schools and in the universities — to impede new measures, to struggle for measures to relieve the unemployed, for the regroupment of the labour and people’s movement, for the social People’s Alliance.
The people must rally in the mass radical struggles around the KKE’s proposal for the way out — to organise and confront the anti-people measures that remain and to chart their own course for government and power in their own class interests. They must be rallied in a political line of rupture against the EU.
What is an immediate need is a strong People’s Alliance — a strong people’s opposition and a revived labour-people’s movement, which will confront the capitalist system, the EU, the monopolies and their power, charting a victorious course in favour of the people.
The KKE will continue to show the way for the real pro-people solution for our people, together with the readiness, starting from tomorrow, for a tough confrontation and struggle to relieve the workers, the unemployed, the popular households, the pensioners, the youth, and all those who suffer.
We call on the people to resist the false dilemmas of ’stability and recovery’ vs ‘destabilisation’, the false expectations fostered by the ND-Pasok government, since the ’stability’ and ‘recovery’ will be for big capital and not for the people.
Syriza, on the other hand, neither wants nor is able to save the people and pave the way for the overthrow of capital.
The people should trust in the KKE, which warned and struggled in a timely fashion (and not only with words and slogans), and which is not bound by anti-people decisions, dishonourable signatures and dangerous consensus — unlike the other parties that seek the people’s vote and want either to continue their anti-people work, or to sow illusions and false expectations.
From tomorrow onwards, we must all struggle together to create the preconditions for the revival of the people’s movement for the concentration of forces to the benefit of the people.
We repeat tonight that we are aware of our responsibilities. We must contribute more decisively to the regroupment, the combativeness and mass character of the labour and people’s movement, to the organisation of the daily struggle of the people, to the creation of a great people’s alliance, with the KKE strong everywhere.
We need a strong KKE everywhere in order to prevent worse measures being taken by the anti-people local administrations in the municipalities and regions; so that we can struggle for the satisfaction of the contemporary needs of the people; so that we can pave the way, with the people in the forefront of the developments, for the breaking of the shackles of the EU, the monopolies and their governments — whatever name they may go under.
We congratulate the Workers’ Party of Belgium (PTB) on their successful performance in the 25 May elections, and reproduce their latest statement.
On 25 May, three elections took place in Belgium: for the federal, regional and European parliaments. The main winner turns out to be the Flemish nationalist party N-VA (rightist), obtaining more than 33 percent of the vote in Flanders. But there was also a major advance by the Workers’ Party of Belgium (PTB), which now enters both the federal parliament and the regional parliaments of Wallonia and Brussels.
Raoul Hedebouw, for the province of Liège, and Marco Van Hees, for Hainaut, have been elected to the federal parliament on the PTB-go! list. Raoul Hedebouw, the PTB’s spokesman stated that,
For the first time in 25 years, a new political family, genuinely leftist, and active in Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels, enters the federal and regional parliaments. We are sending two deputies to the federal parliament, two to the regional parliament of Wallonia and four to the Brussels parliament.
In Wallonia, the PTB-go! list received 5.81 percent of the votes (and in the province of Liège, 8.30 percent), making it the fifth political force in the South of Belgium. In Brussels, the list received 3.84 percent, and, thanks to a technical agreement with some small lists, the undemocratic threshold of 5 percent could be surpassed, giving the PTB-go! no less than four seats in the Brussels parliament.
In Flanders, the PTB waged an exemplary election campaign in a very difficult political context, with the dominance of the Flemish nationalist N-VA, the existence of the fascist party VB and the Green party in a comfortable situation of opposition.
In these conditions, and with the 5 percent threshold, unfortunately the PTB was not able to get its chairman, Peter Mertens, elected, although it got an honourable result of 4.52 percent in the province of Antwerp and 8,85 percent in the city of Antwerp, making it the fourth largest party there.
As regards the elections for the European parliament, the PTB-go! received 5,49 percent of the vote, largely insufficient to obtain a seat (Belgium has only 21 seats in the EP, to be divided over the different language groups).
On election evening, Peter Mertens told party militants gathered in Antwerp:
120 years ago, the first Belgian socialist, Edouard Anseele, who hailed from the Flemish city of Ghent, was elected in the Walloon city of Liège. Anseele spoke the language of the working class. Today, Raoul Hedebouw has been elected in Liège as well, and he will also speak the language of the entire working class.
We are a national party that cannot be divided — not by place of birth nor by the language spoken at the kitchen table. For us, what prevails is the social interest of the people, of all people in this country.
During this long election campaign, we have laid the foundations for a strong social current at the grassroots level, and we will absolutely need this in the years to come. Our commitment is to defend the interests of the working class, in all its diversity; of the youth, with all its dynamism; of the voiceless, of those whom this society considers as nothing but numbers; of all people who are going through difficult times.
Raoul Hedebouw, national spokesman of the PTB, echoed these words at the party meeting in Liège:
As member of parliament elected for a national party, I will also be the representative of the workers of Flanders, in Antwerp, Limburg and Ghent. And no, the votes for the PTB are not protest votes, they are votes of hope. Votes for a left that refuses austerity policies, that believes that we, the workers, will further build up self-confidence in order to be able to write the social history of this country.
We warn the traditional parties: if you plan to impose more austerity measures as is the case elsewhere in Europe, you will find yourselves confronted with the PTB deputies, as with the workers who want to stop these policies of budget cuts.
With these election results, and on the basis of an enthusiastic campaign, the PTB commits itself, in the words of its president Peter Mertens, to build, stone upon stone, a social future.
We congratulate our comrades in Sinn Féin for their excellent performance in recent council and European elections. The party won the largest number of first preference votes in the north’s local government elections, while it secured the highest number of councillors across the 26 counties. Sinn Féin now also presents four MEPS to the European parliament.
We reproduce extracts from various articles to summarise the events.
‘Shindependents Day’ as political landscape is transformed
“Something profound has happened in the people’s attitudes to politics,” said Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald, as results came in across the 26 counties on Saturday.
“Sinn Féin has not has this strength since 1918,” said party leader Gerry Adams, recalling the original election under the leadership of Arthur Griffith, which inspired the struggle for national independence from British rule.
The party made incredible gains on city councils in Dublin and Cork, and is set to be the dominant party on both councils. In Limerick and Waterford, and in towns and rural areas across the 26 counties, the party doubled and tripled its representation or broke entirely new ground.
There was also a huge increase in support for independent candidates and the small left-wing parties. With 292 out of 949 seats filled by the end of counting on Saturday night, Sinn Féin won 81, Independents and Others 77, Fianna Fáil 76, Fine Gael 47, and Labour 11.
After months of fractious debates and contentious media coverage, the polls were largely borne out, although the result has still deeply shocked the political establishment. In the next Dublin parliament, Sinn Féin will now almost certainly be on a par with the two traditional conservative parties, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael — a radical rebalancing of politics in the 26-county state, which for years treated Sinn Féin as an irrelevant ‘other’.
The question now is how these three parties with a historic distaste for each other can form a government after the next general election in 2016, and what kind of coalition, if any, can emerge.
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has said the day marked a “step change in politics”. Speaking at the Dublin West by-election count in Citywest this evening, where Paul Donnelly came very close to winning a seat, he said that the party was open to the possibility of coalition government.
We need two things, one is to be in government — a mandate — the other one is an agreed programme for government. The second could be more challenging than the first. The other parties are now wedded to conservatism, austerity.
He said that the party wants to see a “realignment of politics” which he hopes would be “accelerated after this election”.
He said he did not know if his recent arrest and interrogation by the PSNI had an impact on the Sinn Féin result.
Mr Adams said:
What we do know is it galvanised our own activists and I would like to think that the way that we responded to those events was positive and that that may have helped.
Mr Adams said that he heard some members of the coalition condescendingly dismissing Sinn Fein’s gains as “the people giving us a scolding”.
He says what has happened is that the people have given “profound notice that that want to quit this type of politics”.
We’re the largest party in Derry, in Belfast, in Mid-Ulster and perhaps now in Dublin and Meath.
I keep stressing in my interviews, we want to use our mandate wisely, people are hurting. It’s what I’m hearing when I talk to people. I would appeal to people who seek change. I’d appeal to people to join the party, we’re here to build a democratic republican party across the island of Ireland.
Adams thanked those who had worked to deliver the result for Sinn Féin, but admitted there wasn’t the “resources, infrastructure or capacity” to run the number of candidates or scale of campaign he would have wanted. However, he said Sinn Féin will continue to build from their result.
I think we have been mandated to change, this is a change of the political landscape in this state. Sinn Féin is here and Sinn Féin is here to stay.
Sinn Féin singing as it elects fourth MEP
Sinn Féin’s Matt Carthy has just become the party’s fourth MEP after being elected after seven counts in a marathon count in Castlebar, County Mayo.
As the new totals were announced, finally confirming he had passed the quota, supporters cheered and held his hands aloft. As the presiding officer deemed him elected, he was hoisted up on shoulders and lusty singing broke out among his Monaghan-based team.
In advance of his election as member of the European parliament for the Midlands-North-West constituency, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams hailed the election of the party’s first male male MEP. “Quite an achievement,” he tweeted.
Mr Carthy’s surplus will now decide the recipient of the fourth and final seat in the constituency, which is likely to go to Sligo-based independent incumbent Marian Harkin. That result could incredibly see the three establishment parties deprived of three out of the four seats in Ireland’s largest Euro constituency.
Sinn Féin sings
On Monday night, Sinn Féin’s Liadh Ní Riada was elected as MEP for Ireland South. She was elected on the fourth round of counting that only concluded this evening, two days after counting began.
The returning officer had barely announced the result when Sinn Féin and the O Riada clan, one of the most acclaimed traditional music families in the country, starting singing in close harmony.
Brother Peadar produced an accordion and members of a traditional choir gathered round and performed a rendition of ‘Mo Gille Mear’, a song with deep personal connections to the O Riada family. Peadar said:
That was originally a recruiting song in the Gaelic nation 300 years ago. And when my father Sean died, I started using it as an anthem to try and draw us together as a community.
Corkwoman Ms Ní Riada was elected on the fourth count with 132,590 votes, nearly nine hours after Fianna Fáil poll topper Brian Crowley.
The former Irish television producer was virtually unknown outside arts and culture circles up until a few months ago.
She thanked “every single person” who voted for her and said that her election was a victory for the ordinary people of Ireland.
Speaking from the count centre, she said there was a “better, fairer alternative” to the politics of austerity and cuts.
My election is a victory for ordinary people who have suffered so much under the regressive policies pushed by the European Commission and implemented with such relish by successive governments here at home.
Diarmuid O’Flynn of Ballyhea protest group narrowly failed to secure election in the face of careful vote management by Fine Gael, which secured two seats in the South constituency. O’Flynn led a campaign which marched weekly against the 28 billion euro ‘bondholder bailout’ of international investors and speculators who held stakes in Irish banks.
Ms Ní Riada said the Dublin government and MEPs had failed to lift the “toxic banking debt” off the shoulders of the Irish people.
This is an injustice and it must be addressed and addressed genuinely — not just kicking the debt down the road to be endured by future generations. It is not our debt and it is not the debt of our children and grandchildren.
In the north, all three outgoing European MPs were re-elected for another term after another a lengthy count in Belfast, and almost five days after polling took place.
On Monday evening, Sinn Féin’s Martina Anderson was declared elected after she topped the poll and reached the quota. Giving her acceptance speech a day after she was elected, Ms Anderson noted that Sinn Féin was on its way to taking four seats across the island of Ireland and hailed the party’s success.
The voices of the voters have been heard throughout Ireland, they have endorsed the Sinn Féin message that there is a fair way. The Sinn Féin result is part of a national story reflecting the growth of support for Sinn Féin’s strategy for change. There will be a national Sinn Féin team of MEPs going to Europe who will put Ireland first — north, south, east and west.
Appeal from the Central Committee of the Communist party of Ukraine
The current government of Ukraine is carrying out a policy to create intolerable conditions for the existence of the Communist Party of Ukraine, as well as pressing towards banning its activity.
We want to inform you that Ukrainian secret service is actively collecting materials about the activity of the Communist Party, falsifying CPU documents, creating activist databases, destroying property and real estate with the help of controlled radicals [ie, spies], banning electioneering work with voters, and organising moral pressure and physical attacks on communist members of the Ukrainian parliament and on heads of regional party committees.
Today it is officially admitted that the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine expects contributions from the secret service and is going to ask the Supreme Court of Ukraine to ban the Communist Party of Ukraine. Top officials of Ukraine are responsible for such activity. Among them are the head of national security and the defence council Andriy Parubiy, the head of the security service Valentyn Nalyvaychenko, the head of parliament and Acting President of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchinov, etc.
This reinforces the harsh treatment of all Ukrainian communists, who are the only political force that has always pursued a policy of defending the interests of ordinary people. The Communist Party of Ukraine now represents a real threat to the current government, given its integrity and unity. The Communist party of Ukraine is one link for millions of people dissatisfied with the actions of the authorities and their allies – the ultra-radical forces.
Putting the question of violence over the objectionable political force, the current government reiterates its anti-people, anti-state and divisive policy that uses double standards – and, under the guise of fighting for ‘European’ values, actually contradicts itself, transforming Ukraine into a country with a fascist dictatorship.
Accusing its opponents of disloyalty and demanding that they renounce their beliefs, the current government of Ukraine are proving that they no longer recognise democracy, freedom of speech, or the supremacy of law.
However, as one can never attain peace by inciting hatred and xenophobia, the current government of Ukraine are provoking social conflict and creating the conditions for a civil war.
We appeal to you, dear comrades, to show solidarity with 120,000 Ukrainian communists, and by a united front to condemn the system’s actions of the Ukrainian authorities to ban the Communist party of Ukraine.
The First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine, the head of the parliamentary faction of Communists in the Ukrainian Parliament
Mercenaries from all over the world are using safe houses in Turkey as a base for jihadist attacks on Syria
The cornered rats infesting Syria are being driven into an ever-deeper hole by the patriotic forces. As they descend deeper into murderous internecine squabbling within their own ranks, the West is finding it ever harder to prevent a true and shameful record of the proxy war from swimming into clearer focus.
One shining example of this is the comprehensive report, signed off by numerous prominent Turkish lawyers, intellectuals and journalists, which was issued in December 2013 under the title War Crimes Committed Against the People of Syria.
Put together by the Peace Association of Turkey and Lawyers for Justice, the report sets itself the task of drawing up a charge sheet of the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed not only by the terrorist gangs themselves but also by those who support these gangs from the outside – not least Erdogan and his cronies.
Origins of the proxy war
Running through the background to Syria’s crisis, the authors suggest that, whilst popular democratic concerns over neo-liberal aspects of the government’s economic policy and decreased agricultural subsidies underlay some of the original protests, what was opened up by the ‘Day of Rage’ in Dera’a on 15 March 2011 rapidly took on a quite different political colouration.
Despite the accommodating responses by the Ba’ath-led coalition in succeeding months (including the 19 April end of the long-standing state of emergency and the constitutional referendum of 26 April, endorsed by 89.4 percent of voters, under which the state guaranteed multi-party elections and a legal opposition), the jihadist grip on the opposition, running to an agenda set by imperialism and played out by its lackeys in the region, very rapidly made itself felt.
The report makes it clear that armed gangs had already emerged from the shadows before the end of March 2011 – an armed ‘opposition’ with zero interest in Syria’s secular and democratic development.
The main body of the report provides a harrowing but invaluable record of the subsequent long and bloody trail of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the West’s stooges, constituting a body of evidence that cries out for a Nuremberg Tribunal to put it into practical effect and bring the perpetrators to justice.
Of particular interest is the part of the report that throws light on the Turkish state’s reactions when the Turkish border town of Reyhanli was bombed on 11 May 2013 in a murderous car-bomb attack.
It will be remembered how Erdogan and his western backers instantly tried to pin the blame on Damascus, before even bothering to look at any evidence. Yet a subsequent leak of police correspondence proved that the authorities knew as early as 25 April that such an attack was planned by al-Qaeda … and did absolutely nothing to stop it.
Having failed to back up with any evidence the accusation against Damascus, the authorities did the next best thing – and pinned the blame on a non-existent group called the ‘People’s Liberation Army of Turkey’ – a group that turned out to have been defunct for the past 20 years!
Erdogan’s laborious efforts to avoid drawing the obvious conclusion – that the outrage in Reyhanli was in fact the work of the very terrorists to whom he offered aid and succour – were not helped when al-Qaeda itself belatedly laid claim to the deed.
The authorities then demonstrated that they were more interested in punishing alleged whistleblowers than catching terrorists. The report notes that “Officials focused on finding whoever leaked the document instead of inspecting the criminals of the explosion and bringing them to the court.”
To this end, a private was accused of involvement in “leaking the documents regarding state security and its political interests”. However, the case against him collapsed in November 2013 when, says the report, “it was seen that statements of witnesses were contradictory while the evidences were unlawful”.
Reyhanli appears elsewhere in the report, this time in the context of cross-border smuggling – to which the authorities also turn a blind eye.
It seems that the streets of Reyhanli frequently play host to luxury cars driven over from Bulgaria with a view to purchase by gangs in Syria. There is also a brisk trade in four-wheel drives from Hatay, some of which go on to be kitted out with heavy weaponry for use in Syria.
As the Turkish report notes:
It is not possible for the Syrians in our country to organise this illegal trafficking without the support of our government or a mafia structure.
Turkey’s ‘refugee’ camps
The report is also illuminating on the status of the camps dotted along the border that Turkey shares with Syria.
For years, the public has been told that the 20 or so camps along the Turkish side of the divide are ‘safe havens’ for ‘innocent refugees’ fleeing the Syrian army. The reality, however, is that the whole border area has been transformed by years of proxy war into a hellish war zone within which there is little safety or comfort for anyone, Syrian or Turk alike.
The camps, laid on by Ankara at a cost of US$1.5bn, give sanctuary to the armed gangs that hold sway in those areas – enabling them to ply their evil trade in Syria then melt back across the porous border.
It is clear that Ankara’s funding for these camps has been motivated by anything but humanitarian concerns.
It was pointed out by the Humanitarian Aid and Solidarity Platform, in a letter to the UN High Commissioner for refugees, that the “establishment of the refugee camps a few kilometres close to the border is both against the Refugee Law and also poses a risk for the unarmed refugees”.
This is especially so when the same camps also harbour armed fighters – as was admitted and ‘justified’ by foreign affairs minister Davutoglu when he told the Turkish parliament: “It must be appreciated that order is necessary to avoid problems. It is normal for refugees who are also security elements [!!] to be specially treated.” A statement in direct contravention of the provisions in the UN charter requiring universal disarmament in the camps.
Also running counter to international law has been the transformation of the camps into a political circus – with Erdogan sharing joint platforms with ‘opposition’ luminaries to cheer on the troops.
A report from the Turkish human-rights association IHD cites another flagrant abuse in the systematic discrimination practised in the camps, with Kurds, Circassians and other war victims barred on sectarian grounds.
The report includes the moving testimony of the father of one young man who has been misled onto the path of terrorism.
Twenty-two-year-old Burak Yazici was sent to Syria by jihadist groups. Before he left, he told his father: “I have to cut off the heads of Assad’s men and become a mortar. I cannot answer to God if I fail.”
His anguished father points the finger of blame for his son’s death at the Turkish government:
How did he cross the border? I am calling out to the minister of foreign affairs and the interior minister: how do these kids go to Syria? How does my son travel without a passport? Does not this country have a border?
We welcome the courageous decision by progressive Turkish lawyers and writers to publish what amounts to a charge sheet detailing the crimes for which their own government deserves to stand trial, and we look forward to the day when not only Erdogan and his cronies but imperialism and all its lackeys come to face the court of revolutionary justice.
On Erdogan’s current performance, this day might come sooner rather than later.
Report: War Crimes Committed Against the People of Syria
A Bangladeshi woman survivor is lifted out of the rubble by rescuers at the site of a building that collapsed on Wednesday 24 April in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh.
In Greece, where unemployment has hit 27 percent, the fascist Golden Dawn party is helping to divert popular anger against capitalism into divisive xenophobic hatred of ‘foreigners stealing our jobs’.
When some 200 migrant agricultural labourers, mostly from Bangladesh, came to demand unpaid wages going back six months or more, at least 28 of them were shot and injured by gun-wielding thugs. Three of the foremen at the strawberry plantation in Nea Manolada where they worked are being blamed for the murderous assault.
This racist violence is the most recent in a string of similar attacks against Asian and African workers in Greece.
And as if to clarify what might drive Bangladeshis to leave their homes and expose themselves to such racist poison in the first place, the true face of imperialist superexploitation has been on shameful display in Bangladesh itself, with the death of over 1,000 textile workers, mostly women, when the Rana Plaza complex in which they worked collapsed.
Some 3,000 people were estimated to be working there at the time of collapse, despite the fact that only days earlier large cracks had been detected and reported. Workers in the building were told to continue coming in to work on pain of dismissal.
Back in November, similar disregard by factory owners for the lives of their workers had been shown in the Tazreen factory fire. On that occasion workers were told it was a false alarm and ordered back to work. When they tried to escape, they were blocked by a locked fire door. That fire claimed 112 lives.
The grim conclusion is that whether Bangladeshi workers stay at home or travel abroad, the end result is the same: superexploitation at best, and at worst an early grave. The immediate owners of the collapsed factory may be justly pilloried, as may the thugs in Greece who shot the strawberry-pickers, but in neither case will the real criminal be called to account – capitalism itself.
Whatever happens to the local factory bosses, we can be sure that the monopoly capitalists running Primark and Matalan will not be required to answer for the lives of those who died stitching their garments. At least, not yet.
This article is part of the industrial report that was presented at the 21 October meeting of the CPGB-ML central committee.
As European leaders met for the Brussels summit on 18 October, the Greek working class staged its 20th general strike since the onset of the acute crisis.
Just how desperate that crisis has now become was summarised by Konstantinos Balomenos, a utility worker whose wage has been halved and whose two sons are without work: “Enough is enough. They’ve dug our graves, shoved us in and we are waiting for the priest to read the last words.”
The strike effectively shut Greece down for 24 hours. Ships were stuck in port, planes stranded on the tarmac, public transport paralysed, ministries and public offices closed down, traffic down to a trickle and big shops shuttered up. Many of the smaller shops, too, which had on earlier strikes stayed open, closed their doors, even down to the street kiosks.
In Athens, the communist-led popular-front union PAME mobilised 25,000 to march separately to Syntagma Square, then joining forces with other trade unionists. According to the Guardian, the two major Socialist Party-oriented federations, the GSEE and ADEDY, by their own estimation mustered only 3,000.