Nakba Day – solidarity with Palestinian hunger strike

Palestinian hunger strikes

Demonstration in support of Palestinian prisoners, East Jerusalem. Photo from Activestills

Today, 15th May, is known as Nakba Day. The Nakba, or catastrophe, refers to the forced displacement and exile of the Palestinian people in 1948 from their land following the creation of the state of Israel.  We are pleased to carry the article below written by a member of the Socialist Struggle Movement, the sister organisation of the Socialist Party in Israel-Palestine regarding the hunger strike of Palestinian prisoners taking place currently. We would also direct readers to a previous post on this site which has further background information.


Palestinian prisoners on mass hunger strike protest

By Shahar Ben-Horin, Socialist Struggle Movement (Israel-Palestine)

The “Strike of Freedom and Honour” is the name given to a mass hunger strike of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, which started indefinitely on the Palestinian Prisoner Day, 17 April. The prisoners are demanding the ending of discrimination on national grounds in prison and arbitrary detention without charge or trial (‘administrative arrests’). Among other things, the prisoners protest against medical neglect, incarceration in isolation, violation of rights to visits, prohibition of telephone calls and denial of the right to academic studies.

Every week sees dozens of military raids on homes of residents throughout the West Bank. Residents are removed from their beds in the middle of the night as a matter of routine. According to Israeli Prison Service (IPS) figures, at the end of April more than 6,100 Palestinian prisoners classified as ‘security prisoners’, including nearly 500 administrative detainees, were held in Israeli jails. Three hundred of the prisoners are minors, according to the Palestinian prisoners’ rights association A-Dameer (‘The Conscience’). Aside from the Security Prisoners held by IPS, further hundreds of Palestinians are held after being criminalised by the occupation authorities as ‘illegal stayers’, usually after seeking work in Israel, and a further dozens of Palestinians are held in facilities of the military and police before being transferred to the hands of the IPS.

In a special statement issued prior to Prisoner’s Day on behalf of the Palestinian Committee for Prisoners Affairs, the Palestinian Prisoners Association and the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, it was noted that since 1948, about a million Palestinians have been incarcerated in Israeli detention facilities. Since October 2015, at the beginning of the  ‘eruption’ of protest and escalation in violence, some 10,000 Palestinians have been arrested by Israel, about a third of them teenagers under 18.

Discrimination in incarceration conditions

Israeli regime propaganda, generously assisted by enlisted media, seeks to systematically mark all Palestinian ‘security prisoners’ as murderers. Even if this was true, and it is not, criminal murderers get definitely better incarceration conditions. However, the sweeping incitement is intended to silence public criticism and torpedo discussion on the reality of the occupation. Many of the prisoners were imprisoned for the sole fact of their involvement in a political struggle against the occupation and the national oppression of the Palestinians.

In this context, the State of Israel does not differentiate between those who were imprisoned after taking part in demonstrations or military activity against the military occupation forces in the territories of 1967, and those convicted of killing innocent civilians out of motives connected with the national conflict. In any case, the Palestinian ‘security prisoners’, whether Israeli citizens or residents of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are sweepingly discriminated against in legal procedures and conditions of imprisonment.

Ami Popper, a Jewish ‘security prisoner’, who slaughtered seven Palestinian workers on nationalist grounds, is entitled to holidays from prison, regular phone calls with relatives and even a place of work outside the prison. However, Palestinian ‘security prisoners’ are not entitled to any of these. Since 2011, they have been deprived of the right to study at the Open University, because they are not Jewish, and that is following a cynical measure of collective punishment that was implemented with the pretext of serving as a means of exerting pressure on Hamas to release the Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit. The policy remained in place even after the prisoner exchange deal that was eventually conducted in the same year.

The prisoners’ main demand is for public telephones to be installed in their prison wings so that they can talk to their relatives. Not only does such an arrangement exist in the criminal wings, but also the most famous Jewish security prisoner, Yigal Amir (who assassinated Israeli prime minister Rabin in 1995), is allowed to talk to his family by telephone. Palestinians are forbidden from doing so. The prisoners are dependent on the smuggling of mobile phones. For allegedly assisting in such smuggling, former Palestinian MK (member of the Israeli parliament, Knesset) Bassel Ghattas (National Democratic Alliance party) was sentenced earlier this year to two years in prison.

Hunger strikes threaten Establishment

During half a century of occupation in the territories of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, Palestinian prisoners succeeded in improving their conditions of imprisonment through collective and individual hunger strikes, and obtained recognition by the prison authorities of their elected representatives. The current action is the largest hunger strike since 2012, when about 1,500 prisoners went on hunger strike for nearly a month and achieved some improvement in conditions, including partial renewal of family visits from the Gaza Strip. A series of hunger strikes by administrative detainees managed to bring about the release of detainees without an indictment, which only proved the claim that they were arbitrarily detained and refuted the claim of their alleged danger.

In 2014, an extended hunger strike, which at its height involved around 250 administrative detainees, was isolated and eventually collapsed against the background of the military offensive in the West Bank (operation Shuvu Ahim – ‘Come Back Brothers’) and the mass arrests that accompanied it. But the Israeli establishment continues to view hunger strikes among Palestinian prisoners as a threat. In addition to international criticism of Israel, the hunger strikes could ignite military confrontations – Hamas’ military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, has already threatened to take action if the demands of the prisoners are not met – and much more significantly also mass protests on the ground, the more so as the lives of the prisoners and strike leaders become endangered.

The forced-feeding law approved by the Knesset in 2015 is designed to help the state to subdue hunger strikes by restoring the practice of de-facto torture conducted in Israel in the past, and which ironically has led to the only deaths of hunger strikers, so far.

The Israeli Medical Association (doctors’ trade union), as part of the policy of the World Medical Association, issued a vocal criticism against the law and ordered doctors not to cooperate with it. Doctors in hospitals in Ashkelon and Beersheba, for example, refused in 2015 to forcibly feed administrative detainee Muhammad ‘Allan, and last year, doctors in a hospital in `Afula refused to forcibly feed the journalist Muhammad al-Qiq, who was also held as an administrative detainee. The lack of collaborationist doctors who would agree to break the hunger strike has now led Netanyahu’s officials to consider flying doctors from abroad to do so. In the meantime, the Health Ministry is briefing hospital managers to prepare for the possibility of forced feeding, and at the same time, IPS, MDA (emergency medical service) and the military are preparing to set up designated clinics in the prisons.

The IPS claims that the number of hunger strikers has dropped to 850 within the first two weeks of the strike, but prisoners’ rights organisations estimate that the number actually climbed to 1,500. In any case, the prison authorities do not hide their concern that the strike will expand, especially if the movement of solidarity with it accelerates. So far, most of the hunger strikers are identified with Fatah. About 3,000 prisoners support Fatah, and despite political divisions between them, there is a possibility that many of them will be convinced to join the protest later on. Additionally, hundreds more prisoners identified with Hamas and PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) are taking part, and the hunger strike may expand among the supporters of these political movements, as well. On 4 May, a number of prisoners who had served as senior commanders in the Hamas militia joined in, and additionally the secretary-general of the PFLP, Ahmad Sa`adat, joined the hunger strike, as well.

“Israel transformed basic rights into privileges”

The most prominent leader of the current strike is Marwan Barghouti, one of 13 Palestinian MPs (members of the Palestinian Legislative Council) imprisoned by Israel, and considered the most popular Palestinian leader today, who is sometimes called the ‘Palestinian Nelson Mandela’. In all the polls, he consistently appears to be the candidate who can draw the most support if in the future he runs – as he plans – for the presidency of the Palestinian Authority.

In an article he succeeded in getting to the New York Times at the start of the strike, Barghouti wrote that the State of Israel has “turned basic rights that should be guaranteed under international law — including some painfully secured through previous hunger strikes — into privileges its prison service decides to grant us or deprive us of.” He added that “Israel has established a dual legal regime, a form of judicial apartheid that provides virtual impunity for Israelis who commit crimes against Palestinians, while criminalising Palestinian presence and resistance. Israel’s courts are a charade of justice, clearly instruments of colonial, military occupation”. He concluded, “Only ending occupation will end this injustice and mark the birth of peace”.

Barghouti, who was one of the leaders of the militias affiliated with Fatah – the Tanzim and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades – survived an assassination attempt in 2001 (“targeted prevention”) by the Israeli military. He was arrested during a military raid on Ramallah the following year and convicted in a civil court for responsibility for approving terrorist actions against civilians on both sides of the Green Line, in which five people were murdered. Barghouti denied the allegations, gave up legal defence as a protest against the trial and claimed he was opposed to harming innocent people.

It should be emphasised that the socialist left opposes the use of terrorist methods in struggles. As opposed to the propaganda of the Israeli establishment, not every person who wages an armed struggle against the occupation is a terrorist. The militias of Fatah, for example, have conducted military actions against the military occupation. Nevertheless, they did not refrain over the years from killing civilians – which has, in fact, not harmed at all the occupation regime and even played into its hands politically, with more brutal attacks being carried out against Palestinian civilians. It is reasonable to assume that as one of the militia commanders, Barghouti has also been responsible for the killing of civilians. But what about former Israeli Prime Minister Menahem Begin, who as the commander of the Irgun, was directly responsible, among other things, for the massive terrorist attack on the King David Hotel in 1946, in which 91 Britons, Arabs and Jews were killed? And is not present Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu responsible for issuing instructions for actions, such as the bombing of highly populated areas in the Gaza Strip, in which many Palestinian civilians died? In the war in 2014 alone, the number of Palestinians killed was twice that of Israelis killed in all the years of the second intifada.

Barghouti’s popularity is a cause for concern for the Israeli establishment. While Palestinian Authority President Abbas hastened to lavish praise on Trump and met with him on 3 May, and continues to work to maintain full arrangements with the occupation regime, Barghouti corresponds with the public rage against the Palestinian president who is reaching the end of his road. As he explained in an article he leaked to the Palestinian daily al-Quds last year, Barghouti attacks Abbas’s authoritarian rule, explains that the negotiations with Israel and the Palestinian Authority’s diplomatic campaign on the international level have failed, and demands that the PA ends the “security coordination”.  In recent years he has called for a new popular intifada. His challenge to Abbas’ leadership is also the reason why, despite coming first in the election in December to the Fatah Central Committee, Abbas refused to appoint him to the position of deputy chairman of the Fatah movement. Abbas has paid lip service in support of the hunger strike, but has no interest in it. He does not want Barghouti to profit politically from the hunger strike or the development of a popular protest movement around it – at the time when he puts his trust in Trump and wants to show he has control on the ground in the Palestinian Authority enclaves.

Barghouti was sent to solitary confinement at the start of the strike. The IPS, using secret video camera surveillance, claims that Barghouti ate on two occasions since the beginning of the hunger strike. In 2004, during another hunger strike involving around 2,200 prisoners, in which Barghouti was amongst the leaders, the IPS also claimed Barghouti was secretly filmed eating a meal in solitary confinement. These claims are angrily denied by Palestinian prisoners’ campaigners, who say the IPS are deliberately spreading black propaganda by using old video footage that was made when there was no prisoners’ hunger strike and that the face of the man eating food in the latest footage is obscured.

If Barghouti is evacuated for medical treatment or forced feeding, or if his life becomes in danger, an escalation in the solidarity protests outside the prisons can be expected. It is not inconceivable that if one of the hunger strikers – and certainly one of the leaders of the hunger strike – pays with his life over the next few weeks, it will ignite a mass protest similar to the response to the deaths of hunger strikers in Northern Ireland in 1981, led by republican prisoner, Bobby Sands, who was elected to Westminster during his protest. Already, now, the hunger strike serves as a mobilising and uniting factor for significant layers among the Palestinian public, on both sides of the Green Line.

Solidarity protests

Many thousands took part in protest marches held on Prisoner Day throughout the West Bank, particularly in Ramallah, Hebron and Bethlehem. In towns and villages, solidarity protest tents were set up in solidarity with the hunger strike. On 27 April, a protest shut-down of public services and small businesses was held in the Palestinian Authority territories and in East Jerusalem. On the following day there were demonstrations and confrontations with the military and the Border Police in at least 15 locations in the West Bank as part of a ‘Day of Rage’ called for by the Fatah.

The protests in the West Bank are facing military repression, which could worsen later. During the first two weeks of the hunger strike, the highest number of Palestinians injured by Israeli forces in the West Bank was recorded since the beginning of 2017, with 191 injured, including 45 minors (OCHA figures). The vast majority of them were injured during solidarity protests with the hunger strike, and about a tenth were injured from live bullets.

Within the Green Line, as well, a number of protest vigils were organised locally and a solidarity tent was set up in Umm al-Fahm. Solidarity demonstrations have been held in several countries around the world, and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), of which the Histadrut (Israeli trade union organisation) is affiliated, published a solidarity statement.

As usual, the Israeli government and the tops of IPS declare that they allegedly are not moved by the protests and have no intention to negotiate with the prisoners. In a number of cases in recent years, the state, under the Netanyahu governments, was prepared to bring hunger striking prisoners to the brink of death before reaching an agreement. In the meantime, the IPS is working to punish the prisoners by psychological pressure, isolation, transfers between prisons, confiscation of clothing and personal equipment, and even the confiscation of salt used by the hunger strikers to improve their physical condition during the strike.

According to reports, negotiations between the prisoners and the IPS, nevertheless, took place during the weeks leading up to the strike, and if the strike intensifies, they will probably be renewed. It is possible that the Netanyahu government may be willing to try to push the line a bit further this time to demonstrate toughness against the demands of the prisoners, but they are playing with fire and may lose control over developments.

More protest actions, of Palestinians and Israelis, to support the hunger strike, represent a potential threat to Netanyahu’s fanatical right-wing government. Israeli demonstrators must stand alongside Palestinian demonstrators. And the Israel Medical Association is, on this issue, an example to other trade unions: it is necessary to rebel against draconian legislation and attacks by the right-wing government. The protests against forced feeding, discrimination in incarceration conditions and administrative detentions should help to build a stronger movement against the occupation and perpetuation of the national conflict, against the war on workers and poor, and for peace, equality and a socialist change.

Socialist Struggle Movement says:

  • Support solidarity protests with the prisoners’ hunger strike. The Histadrut should back the solidarity statement of the ITUC, of which it is a member.
  • No to torture of hunger strikers – no to forced-feeding! Repeal the Forced-Feeding Law. Workers’ organisations should back the Israeli Medical Association’s opposition to force feeding.
  • End discrimination on the basis of nationality in conditions of imprisonment! Yes to supporting the basic demands of the prisoners to improve their conditions, including the right to telephone calls.
  • End administrative detention! End arbitrary arrests and incarceration without trial. Protect the right of every prisoner to know the charges against him/her, to be represented by a lawyer and to have a fair trial.
  • Get the military out of the territories! Abolish the military courts in the West Bank and end the occupation of the Palestinian territories and the settlements.
  • Release all Palestinian political prisoners. Conduct fair trials, through a designated procedure, under the supervision of workers’ and independent human rights organisations, from both sides of the conflict, for Israelis and Palestinians suspected of responsibility for atrocities related to the conflict.
  • For an independent, democratic and socialist Palestinian state alongside a democratic and socialist Israel, as part of the struggle for a socialist Middle East and regional peace.

If you agree with us, want more information or want to discuss the situation in Israel-Palestine please fill in the form below

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Trump orders missile strikes on Syria

Trump orders missile strikes on Syria

Ordinary people across the world have watched the events in Syria unfold with horror, particularly the recent escalation of chemical weapons used against civilians and the response of missile strikes from Trump’s US. We are republishing the below article by Niall Mulholland of the Committee for a Workers’ International on the ongoing situation. 

US President Donald Trump’s decision to launch missile attacks against the Shayrat air base, in Syria, ratcheted up the long running conflict in Syria and dangerously fuelled tensions between the US and Russia and Iran, and also with North Korea and China. It will also significantly increase rivalries between Sunni and Shia-based regimes in the Middle East.

Trump claimed that the tomahawk missiles attack was ordered “on the airfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched”, referring to Khan Sheikhun, where over 70 people died earlier this week.

The appalling death of scores of civilians, including children, quite rightly led to revulsion and condemnation from working class people around the world. However the US, supported by other Western powers, cynically seized upon the terrible incident to try to strengthen their position in the Syrian conflict. The Western powers, which want to see the removal of President Bashar al-Assad, were quick to rush to blame the Syrian regime for the deaths. The unstable Trump administration is also using the missile attack as a way to try to boost its domestic support and to divert attention from the failure to meet Trump’s election promises and provide any solutions to the lives of Americans.

In the absence of an investigation into the reasons for the chemical deaths and without seeking a UN mandate, or even a mandate from the US Congress, Trump ordered the missile attacks against Syria. The US attacks were welcomed by European governments, including the UK, Germany and France, as well as Turkey and Israel. The opposition Islamist Ahrar al-Sham militia in Syria welcomed US “surgical strikes.”

Assad will use the US attacks to try to bolster his anti-imperialist credentials at home. But socialists give no support, whatsoever, to the Assad regime, which has shown no concern for the lives of innocent civilians during Syrian’s long and bloody civil war. Assad is a brutal dictator prepared to use ruthless means to stay in power. However, as of yet, there is no hard evidence to say that the Assad regime was responsible for the death of civilians from chemicals. Given that Assad, with crucial help from Putin, is winning the war, it appears counterproductive from his point of view to launch an indiscriminate chemical attack, fully aware that it would a pretext for a possible US-led military attack.

Moscow insisted that the Syrian air force hit a depot of chemical weapons produced by rebels fighting government forces. Günther Meyer, director of the Research Center for the Arab World at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, goes further: “Only armed opposition groups could profit from an attack with chemical weapons. With their backs against the wall, they have next to no chance of opposing the regime militarily. As President Trump’s recent statements show, such actions make it possible for anti-Assad groups to receive further support.” (Quoted by the German broadcaster, Deutsche Welle (6/4/17)).

Counter-revolution

At this stage, the only certainty about this week’s terrible scenes in Khan Sheikhun is that it killed scores of civilians, on top of the hundreds of thousands of other war-related deaths. This is fundamentally a result of the counter revolution that unfolded in Syria following a genuine mass revolt against the rule of Assad in 2011, inspired by revolutionary movements in Tunisia and Egypt. But in the absence of strong united working class organisations and a socialist leadership, sectarian and Islamic forces were able to step into the vacuum, aided by reactionary Gulf States and Turkey and by western powers, leading to the degeneration of the mass revolt into a vicious multi-faceted civil war.

It is unclear whether the US air strikes are a show of strength and limited action or if they presage a broader military intervention in Syria. The Shayrat airbase is an important staging post for Syrian and Russian military operations against the largely Islamic armed opposition and the US attacks will be blow.

Russia condemned the US air strikes as an “act of aggression” and a “violation of international law” and suspended its channel for communicating military action in Syria with Washington, used to prevent accidental conflict.

These developments leave open the possibility of direct clashes between US-led and Russia military forces in Syria, with far-reaching consequences in the region and internationally.

Iran, which has militias fighting alongside Assad’s troops, also strongly condemned US actions. Adding to the dangerous complications on the ground, Iranian forces are also in Iraq, nominally fighting alongside the US-backed Baghdad regime’s troops against ISIS.

Trump appeared to order the air attacks while in talks with the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, on his visit to the US, which will only serve increase tensions with the Beijing regime. Earlier this week, Trump indicated he was prepared to take “unilateral” military action against North Korea and has also made threatening remarks over Chinese military “island-building” in the South China Sea. According to the Financial Times (London, 07/04/17), “Liu Binjie, who sits on the standing committee that oversees China’s parliament, warned against unilateral action on North Korea. ‘The entire state is militarised,’ he said. ‘If you threaten them with force, it may backfire on you.'”

As the CWI warned, the advent of Trump’s administration marks a shift to more dangerous and unpredictable world relations. In this situation, the working class and youth of the Middle East, the US and all over the world need a mass anti-war movement and the development of powerful working class parties, with bold socialist policies, to counter the war, terror and poverty of capitalism and imperialism.

  • Stop Trump’s attacks on Syria – Oppose all outside powers’ interference in the region
  • End war and terror in Syria, Iraq and the Middle East
  • No to racism and scapegoating of immigrants and refugees
  • For workers’ unity and socialism

 

Unite against war, terror and racism

Unite against war, terror and racism

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Photo by Paul Mattsson

The following is a statement from the Socialist Party in the aftermath of the horrific terrorist attack in London earlier this week. It can also be read on our national website here


A wave of shock has followed yet another horrific terrorist attack. This time in the centre of London, yesterday’s mowing down of people using a vehicle comes after atrocities using vehicles in Berlin and Nice during the last eight months, and other appalling terrorist attacks in France and Brussels.

The Socialist Party has strongly condemned all these attacks, and does so again on this occasion.

The attacker’s choice of Westminster – and the fact that he ran towards Parliament – suggests anger against the establishment and government, but the victims were ordinary people, especially tourists viewing the Houses of Parliament. People of ten different nationalities were indiscriminately hit. Three people plus the attacker died and seven are critically injured.

In any case, whoever is targeted, acts of individual terror should always be opposed. They are not an effective means to struggle against the establishment.

Government hypocrisy

Trying to assure people that the attacker was most likely acting alone and not part of a set of attacks, Theresa May made a sanctimonious speech on ‘resolve’ to ‘never waver’ or be afraid.

Yet she heads a Tory government that is making people far more vulnerable when terrorism occurs.

Huge cuts to London transport are inflicting the axing of many safety-critical staff. In addition fire stations have been closed, the ambulance service is over-stretched due to cuts, hospitals are under-staffed and there are threats to A&E departments.

The government also wants to see the bosses of Southern Rail, Merseyrail and Northern Rail defeat the RMT union’s strikes against the removal of safety-critical guards on trains.

The first doctor on the scene to treat the injured was off-duty junior doctor Jeeves Wijesuriya. Jeeves is a member of the junior doctors’ committee of the BMA (British Medical Association) and was one of the leaders of last year’s strikes against a worse contract being imposed on junior doctors by the government. Just earlier this month – on 4th March – he was a platform speaker against government NHS cuts at the more than 100,000-strong national ‘Save our NHS’ demonstration in London.

The Tories’ hypocrisy knows no bounds. The last thing that the likes of May will acknowledge is any link between the devastation their policies have caused across the Middle East and the threat of terrorism in Britain. Little information has so far been released on the background of the attacker, but May called the attack “Islamist terrorism”, and Islamic State (Isis) has claimed responsibility.

It is unfortunately no surprise that an incident of this nature has again occurred. There have been few terror attacks in Britain since the terrible 7/7 London bombings in 2005, but the intelligence services say they have ‘foiled’ 12 plots in the last three years and they have called the likelihood of the threat “severe” for a long period.

Last November, MI5 head Andrew Parker stated “there will be terrorist attacks in this country” and noted that the ‘tempo’ of terrorist plots and attempts during the previous three years was the highest in his 33 years at MI5.

Sign of weakness

Isis in Syria and Iraq has made it known that it is encouraging the carrying out of attacks in Europe – this is one way it is trying to fight back while being squeezed by military onslaughts against it in Mosul and north Syria.

It is a sign of its weakness, not strength, that it resorts to murderous individual acts. It doesn’t seek to remove capitalism – rather it wants use its fascistic type methods and individual terrorism to attack ordinary people and aid its aim of creating a capitalist or semi-feudal caliphate in the interests of its leaders.

Whether or not the perpetrators of atrocities like yesterday’s are directly motivated by Isis, British imperialism – along with US imperialism and other world powers – has created outrage across the Middle East and globally at its involvement in the slaughter of over 150,000 people in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those wars – and also the foreign interventions in Yemen, Libya, Syria and parts of Pakistan – have generated would-be terrorists and Al-Qaida type groups across the globe.

Much of the worst suffering by ordinary people from terrorist acts has been in those countries, where regular suicide bombings have hit many hundreds of people in cities like Baghdad and Kabul.

Now the media in Britain is again asking how further attacks like yesterday’s in Westminster can be stopped, but there will be no way of stopping them based on a continuation of the government’s policies. The attacker was born in Britain – as were the 7/7 bombers. The police and intelligence services have no way of preventing all such future attackers, through their methods of surveillance and ‘anti-terrorism’ laws.

Defend the right to protest

The Tories have already used past terrorist attacks to justify anti-democratic legislation. But the ‘anti-terrorism’ laws of the year 2000 didn’t stop 7/7, nor will more repressive legislation. The police had plenty of powers to arrest anyone planning or committing a crime before these laws were brought in.

Also, extra police powers of surveillance, restrictions on movement, etc, can also be used against trade unionists, anti-cuts campaigners, socialists and others who are opposing the government’s pro-big business policies. They must be opposed.

Fight racism and scapegoating

For years right-wing politicians in the three main parliamentary parties have dangerously used rhetoric that has played into the hands of racists. Anti-immigrant talk came from leaders on both sides of the EU referendum debate. The Socialist Party’s pro-working class standpoint, against division and racism and for Brexit on the basis of socialist internationalism, was not covered in the mainstream media.

Since the referendum, and the election of Trump, there has been an increase in racist attacks. Also it mustn’t be forgotten that racist attacks increased six-fold in the weeks after 7/7; a similar outcome must be fought against by socialists and trade unionists following this new terrorist attack, by calling for workers’ unity against all forms of racism and the far right.

This needs to include countering the far-right Britain First demonstration that has been called for 1st April.

All the racist, anti-democratic, pro-austerity and pro-war measures and policies of May’s Tory government must be fought by the trade union movement with new vigour and a determined plan of action. The building of a mass movement of opposition can remove it from power – and lay the basis for reversing its policies that breed poverty, division and terrorism.

Coventry commemorates Nakba

Coventry commemorates Nakba 

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Flash mob organised by Coventry Friends of Palestine

Saturday afternoon saw  Coventry people come together to take part in a flash mob organised by Coventry Friends of Palestine, to commemorate the Nakba. The Nakba, or catastrophe, refers to the forced displacement and exile of the Palestinian people from their land following the creation of the state of Israel.

The event was part of week of action taking place across the UK and further afield, starting on Saturday 7th May and culminating on 15th May, the day on which the Palestinians officially commemorate.

Speakers included Andy Pettit from Stop the War Coalition, anti arms trade campaigner Paul McGowan, and Manal Timraz.

Members of Coventry Socialist Party supported this event, carrying the red banner of our international organisation, the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI) and holding placards in English, Arabic and Hebrew of the Socialist Struggle Movement, our sister organisation in Israel-Palestine. We also distributed our Israel Palestine Bulletin which details the work of the CWI in the region.

With speeches, brilliant music and leaflets being distributed, the event made sure that the ongoing struggle of the Palestinian people does not go unrecognised. The establishment media and political parties are silent on this issue – therefore it falls to ordinary people across the world to build a movement in solidarity with the oppressed of the Middle East.

Coventry has a proud history of solidarity with the Palestinians, with big demonstrations organised against the attacks on Gaza, and ongoing events and actions to deepen that solidarity.

With the increase in settlement building in the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza by the governments of Israel and Egypt, that solidarity will become even more vital and necessary. Coventry Socialist Party looks forward to continuing the solidarity and putting forward a programme and policies that we think can end the cycle of violence in the Middle East.

We are pleased to share this document from Socialist Struggle in Israel-Palestine that looks at the current situation, and also at our online resources page on this website

If you are interested in getting in touch and finding out more, please fill in the form below

7 years ago today – Dave Nellist and Coventry Socialists join 5,000 strong protest against attacks on the people of Gaza

7 years ago today – Dave Nellist and Coventry Socialists join 5,000 strong protest against attacks on the people of Gaza

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Mass protest in Birmingham

17th January in 2009 saw around 5,000 people protest in Birmingham against a war that claimed many lives.

An editorial statement from The Socialist newspaper explained

`One thousand two hundred and fifty confirmed dead, with the numbers still rising as bodies are dug out of the rubble. Around one third of the dead are children. More than 4,000 homes destroyed and over 17,000 damaged, as well as 25 schools and hospitals lying in ruins. Half a million people without water. More than 5,000 injured, many having lost limbs or suffering from severe burns as a result of phosphorus bombs. This is what the Israeli government calls ‘achieving its aims’.

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Dave Nellist addresses the protest. Salma Yaqoob chaired the rally

Members of Coventry Socialist Party joined the huge protest in Birmingham, with Dave Nellist addressing the rally in Victoria Square. Dave received huge cheers from the crowd calling for an end to the siege of Gaza, the breaking of the blockade and an end to the Israeli occupation.

7 years on and the oppression of the Palestinians continues with capitalism offering no prospect of peace and security for ordinary people across the Middle East.

Recent escalations show that the current system offers no way forward in the Middle East for the poor and oppressed, and why we need to fight for socialism.

For recent analysis of the current situation from the members of Socialist Struggle in Israel-Palestine please click here

To read our resources section on the situation click here

If you would like to discuss the work of Socialists in the Middle East, or would like to be emailed a recent bulletin produced by Coventry Socialist Party detailing the work of Socialist Struggle and the programme they are putting forward,  send your details to coventrysocialistparty@gmail.com or here

 

 

Coventry protest against bombing of Syria

Coventry protests against bombing of Syria

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Protestors outside the Council House

Dozens of Coventry people protested at short notice tonight against the government’s plans to bomb Syria. The event, organised by Coventry Stop the War Coalition,took place on the eve of the vote in parliament tomorrow (Weds 2nd Dec) and drew much support from passers by with many car drivers ‘tooting’ to show their solidarity.

Local press from BBC Coventry and Warwickshire and Touch FM interviewed activists about the protest and what is happening around the country, with thousands braving the cold across the UK and an even greater number lobbying their MP’s, urging them to vote against the Tory war plans.

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Socialist Party members on the protest

Socialist Party members attended the protest, gaining many signatures on the petition against military intervention. The Socialist Party, alongside sister organisations in the Committee for a Workers’ International, have been part of protests around the world against this latest imperialist adventure which will not bring security for the population here, and only bring more chaos, destruction and death to the people of the Middle East, at the same time strengthening the hand of ISIS/Daesh.

There is an old adage of the movement ‘Socialism or Barbarism’. This is the choice facing humanity today. Capitalism offers us nothing but austerity and war, time to fight for socialism!

To read our detailed analysis of the situation click here

Horror in Paris – We will not be intimidated!

Horror in Paris –  We will not be intimidated!

France

We carry below a statement from the Revolutionary Left (Gauche Révolutionnaire), the French sister organisation of the Socialist Party. Coventry Socialist Party sends its solidarity to all victims, and we pledge to redouble our efforts to fight for a socialist world,  a world free from war and terror. We urge all readers to join us in this task


Statement from the Revolutionary Left

Sickening violence has struck Paris once more. Over 120 dead and dozens of injured in places where workers and young people gather at the end of the week (Stade de France, Bataclan music venue, various bars in the 10th and 11th districts). These barbarians had their minds set on indiscriminate mass murder, striking innocent people once again. These were working class districts of Paris, with their diverse populations, which sufferedin this tragedy.

Nothing can justify these mindless attacks which took place on the same Friday in Paris, Bagdad and Nigeria, nor the attacks on a Beirut market on 12th November, nor in Ankara on 10th October, nor in Tunisia. We grieve today for our brothers and sisters, workers, young people, jobless, single parents, pensioners, irrespective of their background or heritage.

Cowardice exemplified

We condemn these attacks and the blind cowardice behind them. To execute defenceless people in cold blood reveals a far right ideology, whatever the supposedly religious or other excuses offered. Incapable of winning support among any section of the population, and certainly not among Muslims, the terrorists of ISIS, who have claimed responsibility for these attacks, use methods which are exactly the same as fascist groups, state dictatorships, and armies of occupation. Terror is a political weapon which aims at preventing workers from uniting, at imposing passivity through fear, at strengthening racism : we will not be intimidated, we will not be divided.

Unity of workers and youth against racism and barbarism

ISIS’ reliance on indiscriminate terror reveals the true nature of this organisation, which is nothing more than a gang of looters and traffickers. ISIS is merely the product of the chaos into which Iraq has been plunged following the destructive wars waged by European governments and in its methods it replicates the indiscriminate bombing raids on Syria and Iraq under cover of the ‘war on terror’.

In striking indiscriminately at working class districts of Paris ISIS plays an arch-reactionary role since it will be Muslims who may end up paying a high price through a renewed wave of Islamophobia, intolerance and racism. Moreover everything will be put in place to justify repression of action by workers and young people, starting with the imposition of a ‘state of emergency’ under which trade union demonstrations can be banned.

Not our war

Politicians, from the Front National to the PS (Socialist Party), are all united in their talk of ‘war’. A war they created and for which the people are paying the price today. But this is not our war. This government of ours continues to support the regime of the President of Turkey Erdogan. This is the same Erdogan who has for years been aiding ISIS, by allowing the terrorists and their contraband to cross the frontier, while keeping it firmly closed to the people of Kobane, a Kurdish town in the north of Syria which resisted and defeated ISIS last January. This same Erdogan bombs towns in Turkish Kurdistan, yet it is the Kurds who have just freed the Iraqi town of Sinjar from ISIS occupation.

It is the governments of Europe who sustain the regimes in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and sell arms to them, at the same time as these countries support ISIS and engage in mass killings in Yemen.

No to the religious or political far right

The position of the Hollande government, with the support of the FN and the Republicans, is to block any mass solidarity movement. The consequence of the ‘state of emergency’ will be to prevent any solidarity demonstrations such as those which took place in January after the attacks on Charlie Hebdo. Similarly, various current disputes, such as the strikes against redundancies in Paris hospitals or at Air France will certainly be banned. The state of emergency provides for ’the banning in general or in particular cases of meetings likely to be provocative or lead to public disorder’ and ‘enables those same public authorities to take any measures necessary to ensure the control of the press and all publications’. We must not accept these limitations on our rights and our activities since only the capitalists – the bosses of large corporations, share-holders – and the politicians who act in their interests will benefit, without creating any obstacle for terrorist groups.

It’s essential that the organisations of the workers’ movement, trade unions, parties, campaign groups, unite and declare their opposition to war and to the murderous policies of capitalism and its wars for oil and profits.

The genuine poverty in which whole sections of the population are plunged can only lead to despair and confusion which plays into the hands of the reactionaries and those who would divide us. The policies pursued in the Middle East and Africa can only promote further chaos. The consequences will be terrible for ordinary workers who will pay the price while politicians use the situation to provide further justification for their wars. In those countries terrorist groups, whose only motivation is pillage and contraband, reap generalised despair and use it to send out suicide bombers while the leaders live in palaces. More war will only bring more terrorism !

How much longer are we going to pay for a system which wages military, economic and social war a majority of the population of the planet to create profits for a handful who are safe and comfortable ?

And we are expected to suffer the worst terror, death, mistrust and fear. Enough ! We won’t let the racists, the far right like the FN and reactionaries win !

We will not be intimidated and divided, we will continue to fight for a tolerant and co-operative society, freed from capitalism and exploitation, for a democratic socialist society.

This will be a massive struggle with workers and youth united, whatever their nationality, skin colour, religion or none, a struggle for a decent life for all to take society forward and eliminate the filth of economic and social poverty in which religious and political reaction can thrive.

We are saddened and pained by the destruction of so many innocent lives. But we draw from these events all the more anger and determination to tolerate this inhuman system and the chaos it creates no longer.