Ahed Tamimi addresses Coventry meeting “It is true that suffering is high. But we are not victims. We are freedom fighters”

Ahed Tamimi addresses Coventry meeting 

“It is true that suffering is high. But we are not victims. We are freedom fighters”

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Ahed Tamimi speaks to Coventry meeting

The following report was written by a Coventry Socialist Party who attended the meeting with Ahed Tamimi. An edited version appears in the current issue of The Socialist, the weekly Marxist newspaper of the Socialist Party.


“It is true that suffering is high. But we are not victims. We are freedom fighters”

These were the words of 17 year old Ahed Tamimi, the young Palestinian arrested and imprisoned by the Israeli military who rose to worldwide prominence as a symbol of resistance against oppression and occupation.  Ahed spoke via Skype to a recent enthusiastic meeting of Coventry Friends of Palestine, organised around the issue of the treatment of Palestinian child prisoners.

Horrendous treatment of children

Karen, a member of the National Education Union (NEU) in Coventry and regular visitor to Palestine, and Mahmoud, a Palestinian living in Coventry and member of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee, explained in detail the situation facing Palestinians with regard to how the occupying Israeli military treats children.

It was explained how between 500 and 700 Palestinian children are prosecuted each year according to UNICEF. Reports have stated that ill treatment of prisoners is “widespread, systematic and institutionalised”.

Night time arrests

The whole process was described in graphic detail – 40 to 50 per cent of children are arrested between midnight and 5am, with the arrestees being blindfolded and tied. They are rarely informed of the reasons for their arrest with parents not being allowed to accompany their children when they are taken without warning by the military.

After arrest they are transferred which can take hours, often being kept at military bases in the West Bank, being denied access to food, water, toilets and other basic human rights.

Mahmoud reported how child prisoners are not informed of their rights, are denied access to legal counsel, suffer solitary confinement and are ‘encouraged’ to sign confessions written in Hebrew.

When in court it may be the first time they have had access to legal support or the first chance to see their parents since being arrested.

Long term effects

Punishments include prison terms, fines, suspended sentences, with 60 per cent transferred to prisons inside Israel – an act which is against the Geneva convention. The average fine is the equivalent of around £300, a huge sum of money for a people often denied the right to earn a living.

But it is not just the immediate effects of military detention, which include dropping out of school. There are long term psychological effects such as repressed memories, sleeping problems, bed wetting – no one let alone a child should have to suffer these things.

All of this needs to be put in to the context of the Occupation, it is not a separate issue but a direct consequence.

Ahed Tamimi – a symbol of resistance

Ahed began by saying that “The most difficult thing for a human to lose is their freedom”

She explained how she had suffered verbal and sexual harassment at the hands of the authorities in an effort to break her. Despite her formal education being interrupted by her arrest and detention, she had continued her education within prison with other Palestinian prisoners including arrested teachers, who organise regular classes for their comrades.

After a battle with Israeli authorities to be allowed out of the country, she and her family had spoken around Europe to large rallies to explain what is taking place and to help increase the solidarity movement.

Ahed went on to explain that in her view “It is true that suffering is high. But we are not victims. We are freedom fighters”

She urged the Coventry meeting to “keep up the solidarity and to put pressure on the government to end the occupation”.

The way children are treated is a direct result of the occupation and is a brutal consequence of this nightmare. As speakers pointed out, this is taking place in the context of the 1948 Nakba, with the forced expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians from their land with now millions living outside historic Palestine in refugee camps.

Fight for socialism

Ahed, along with all Palestinians resisting the Occupation, are inspiration to millions around the world.

We need to build a mass movement of ordinary people here in the UK to show solidarity with the Palestinian masses – capitalist governments around the world, with the EU and United Nations, are part of the problem not the solution, only the solidarity of working class people can be relied upon.

The continuation of capitalism in the region means war, instability and oppression. We support the fight to build a revolutionary socialist movement across Israel-Palestine with our sister organisation the Socialist Struggle Movement, and the wider Middle East. Mass struggle can put an end to racism, insecurity and the nightmare of occupation. Socialism would guarantee the right to self-determination of all national groups, as part of a voluntary, socialist confederation of the Middle East.

If you are interested in discussing the ideas contained in this article, and want to find out more about the work of the Socialists in Israel-Palestine and the fight for revolutionary change across the Middle East, please fill in the form below.

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Coventry rallies against Trump’s visit

Coventry rallies against Trump’s visit

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The demo begins in Friargate

Donald Trump finally visited the UK on Friday 13th July after months of delays over fears of mass protests. While Theresa May and other Tory ministers welcomed him, the British public turned out in hundreds of thousands in London and other cities across the country to oppose his visit and his politics of hate and division.

In many cities across the country, the Socialist Party and Socialist Students joined protests over Trump’s policies, as well as to stand in solidarity with those whom his administration poses the greatest threat: LGBT+ people, women and ethnic minorities as well as the organised working class more widely.

Here in Coventry we played a significant role in building support for the Friday demo, campaigning for hours at midday in the city centre and explaining to members of the public why this demonstration was important to them. Part of this involved trying to counter the anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, right-wing populist agenda he represents and is trying to sell to working class people, though it is clearly against their interests.

The afternoon demo began at Friargate, with chants such as “2,4,6,8, no to Trump and no to hate!” to build up enthusiasm in the crowd and attract interest from passers-by at the train station. We marched through the city centre to Broadgate, where we heard from local activists about the need to fight back against Trump, his politics and his agenda.

Socialist Party members and trade union activists spoke about the Trump administration’s attacks on rights in the US, and the threat they posed to migrants, to women, to LGBT+ people, and to all workers. But speakers also referred to the incredible resistance against Trump in the US, and the great victories by trade unions and socialist campaigners, despite the hostile establishment.

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Socialist Party member and Coventry UNISON Young Members officer (personal capacity) Dan Crowter speaking at the demo

Coventry Socialist Party members were there with leaflets explaining why we had called for national demonstrations against Trump; these were vital to engage with members of the public walking by who took an interest in the protest.

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Socialist Party member and NEU National Executive member (personal capacity) Jane Nellist speaking at the demo

As the march stopped at Broadgate for the main rally, our material helped us reach shoppers, school students, and commuters returning home from work who would otherwise not have taken part. This included a 12-year-old asked by his friends to speak for all of them on why Trump had to be opposed – one of the main highlights of the whole rally!

Theresa May might not be brave enough to call Trump a racist and a sexist, but a 12-year-old attending his first protest certainly was!

They were brave enough to stand and tell the truth about Trump and his policies – it’s a shame that May and her cabinet couldn’t do the same!

There was a clear fighting message from this rally; one very timely given the clear weakness of May’s government following recent events.

Trump’s visit highlighted further divisions in a Tory party already in chaos; trying to both gain a Brexit deal which will serve business interests when it comes to trade, as well as looking to placate the pro-EU wing of the party who oppose Brexit.

With this party in crisis, and with May hand-in-hand with a US president facing huge opposition represented by the protests, the possibility to topple this government and replace them with a Corbyn-led, anti-austerity Labour government clearly exists.

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Socialists and the 2018 Local Elections in Coventry

Socialists and the 2018 Local Elections in Coventry

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Socialists with the local community prevent bedroom tax eviction in Charterhouse

May 3rd will see local elections take place in Coventry, with 18 seats (one third of the council) being contested.

Nationally the Tories continue to show that they are not “strong and stable” but weak and wobbly. The 2017 general election called by Theresa May was supposed to follow the Conservative script  – an increased majority for May, with Corbyn’s Labour suffering. The actual results were very different. We predicted that Corbyn’s anti austerity policies would be popular despite the constant sabotage of the Labour right wing. The outcome showed that working class people are looking for change – not surprising given year after year of austerity cuts.

Unfortunately Corbyn’s anti austerity leadership has not yet been reflected in Labour Councils across the country, and Coventry is no exception.

We have outlined previously how we think the council should be opposing the cuts by refusing to pass on Tory austerity and campaigning to win back money stolen from Coventry by central government, a strategy which has obtained support at a national level within the local government trade unions as well as union branches locally. Sadly, instead of using some of the substantial reserves (which have now risen to over £100 million since 2010) to fund services and hold down council tax whilst a campaign is built, they have chosen to reduce library services, increase charges for children’s disability transport and made cuts to community centres and adult education. Coventry is suffering massively from the crisis of capitalism – we need public representatives who are going to help organise resistance to these attacks.

In recent elections the Socialist Party, as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, has stood widely across the city, including standing in all 18 wards. We wanted to ensure that there was an anti austerity and socialist voice when both of the main parties offered more of the same, pro cuts pro big business polices – this stance being supported by several thousand votes across the city. In the 2017 general election we took the decision not to stand in order to support Jeremy’s battle against the Tories – we distributed over 15,000 leaflets outlining why the Socialist Party supported Corbyn’s policies, and why they needed to be extended further.

In 2018 we recognise that Jeremy Corbyn is attempting to build on his anti austerity message at a time when the Tories are on the ropes. Therefore we will not be contesting all wards, but will be standing in 5 – St Michaels, Radford, Lower Stoke, Henley and Sherbourne.

Whilst recognising Jeremy’s position and so standing in fewer seats, we are continuing to fight austerity and the capitalist crisis using every opportunity we have, whether that’s taking part in campaigns to save the NHS and other key services, helping to build stronger, more militant unions, or standing in elections.

We will be continuing to put forward the idea that councillors do have a choice to oppose the cuts, both in the council chamber and on the streets, and that working class people should not pay for the capitalist crisis. Given the latest increase in PFI car parking charges at Walsgrave we will continue to call for these Profit from Illness schemes to be scrapped.

We will be arguing that to end the situation where thousands of Coventry kids are living in poverty we will need to create a socialist society that puts ordinary people before profit. A socialist society that through public ownership of the key sectors of the economy including the banks, can plan the enormous resources that exist for the benefit of the majority.

We urge you to support our candidates in the wards where we are standing, attend our public meeting, help our campaign by for example making a donation, putting up a poster or volunteering to distribute leaflets. We also would encourage you to think about joining the Socialist Party – help us build a mass socialist movement armed with the policies that can defeat capitalism once and for all.

Public Meeting 

Council cuts, Corbyn and the Tories – how can we fight back?

Tuesday 24th April, 7.30pm

Methodist Central Wall, Warwick Lane, Coventry.

Please fill in the form below to get involved!

 

 

Socialists condemn latest hike in hospital parking charges

Socialists condemn latest hike in hospital parking charges

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Defend the NHS

For the second time in less than a year hospital bosses have decided to increase parking charges at University Hospital in Coventry. The car park is operated by private company ISS, as part of the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contract. These charges are paid by patients and hard-working NHS staff – what PFI really means is Profit From Illness!

The Coventry Telegraph has previously revealed that between 2011 and 2017 the local NHS trust paid over £6 MILLION in subsidies for the car park to ISS – and ISS refused to reveal how much profit they made from the contract. Public money shouldn’t be given to private profiteers – PFI contracts should be ended immediately!

Thousands of people have already signed a petition organised by Coventry Socialist Party and NHS SOS against these outrageous charges.

We say

  • No to PFI car parking charges
  • Time to scrap PFI – no more Profit From Illness
  • The NHS should be brought completely back in to public ownership, under the democratic control of NHS workers, patients and the communities that it serves
  • Get rid of capitalism – the root cause of all attacks on our healthcare system

Protesters rally in the snow to support the NHS

Protesters rally in the snow to support the NHS

Following from successful movements and protests across the country Coventry Keep Our NHS Public organised a protest to protect our NHS on the 3rd of March. Protestors, including many Socialist Party members, gathered at the walk in centre on Stoney Stanton Rd and marched towards Broadgate – calling on the government to increase NHS funding and to scrap PFI contracts. Despite the cold and snow, there were over 60 in attendance and there was great support from the general public for the campaign, including many NHS workers.

At Broadgate speakers gave rousing speeches on issues affecting the NHS, explaining how the NHS ‘winter crisis’ is a symptom of poor funding and privatisation, and how the Tories deliberately allow this to continue. The rally was chaired by Jane Nellist, president of Coventry TUC. Vicky Horbury, organiser of the Keep Our NHS Public campaign, highlighted how Coventry’s health centre may be under threat, and how important it is to campaign for the NHS in Coventry.

Steve Score spoke about how campaigns against Tory health service cuts are important and how they can succeed. As chair of the successful campaign to Save Glenfield Children’s Heart Centre his insights were inspiring for protesters and set an example for a successful campaign. He argued that going forward there must be a united movement, and also that trade unions should increase their support of the junior doctors’ struggles. Similarly, Dr Louise Irvine, co-chair of Health Campaigns Together, spoke about leading the successful ‘Save Lewisham Hospital’ campaign, emphasising the importance of uniting patients and staff in mass organisation to challenge Tory plans to ‘downgrade’ the hospital. Raising tens of thousands of pounds, the campaign was able to successfully challenge the Tories plans and resulted in a great victory for local people. Both campaigns prove the importance of uniting patients and staff to effectively oppose the Tory cuts and prove that through organisation campaigns can win.

Alistair Smith, Warwick University lecturer in global sustainable development and UCU member, brought solidarity from the UCU amidst their continuing industrial action. He explained how education and health are both core parts of our society and how individualism has been pushed upon us at the expense of the many. The marketisation of health and education in tandem are symptoms of the same Tory ideology that sacrifices principal for profit. It was encouraging for all to see support and unity from wider movements for the NHS.

Dr Louise Irvine and Jane Nellist speaking at the rally

Socialist Party members also ran a stall, distributing leaflets and selling The Socialist newspaper as well the Socialism Today magazine. The amount of interest shown in our literature reflects the public’s appetite to oppose Tory attacks on the NHS, and that socialist ideas are key to this struggle. The Socialist Party will continue to support the Coventry Keep Our NHS Public campaign and to work with them on future events.

 

Leading Coventry trade unionist urges support for International Women’s Day meeting

Leading Coventry trade unionist urges support for International Women’s Day meeting

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Jane Nellist

Coventry Socialist Party are holding a meeting this week to mark International Women’s Day 2018. The event will take place on Thursday 8th March, 7.30pm at Methodist Hall, Warwick Lane, Coventry City Centre, CV1 2HA. Please visit the Facebook event for more information.

Here Jane Nellist, a prominent socialist trade unionist in the city, explains why she is attending the meeting and why everyone should attend.

“It’s 48 years since the first Women’s Liberation demonstration took place in London on March 6th 1971.  This had a huge impact on me as a 15 year old, reading about the demand for equal pay and equal rights for women.  It gave me confidence. This year we celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the right for some women to vote (all working class women gained the vote 10 years later!).
Whilst women have made huge strides forward thanks to the struggles of women, especially working class women, there is still a long way to go.
As a member of the Socialist Party in Coventry, I will be going to the public meeting on Thursday 8th March, International Women’s Day, at the Methodist Central Hall to discuss how we can take the fight for full rights for women and the real liberation from a class system that still divides and rules us.
The equal pay gap, continuing sexual harassment of women, the cuts to our services- our health, our safety and our children’s services and many more- must be challenged.
But more importantly we have to rid ourselves of capitalism that creates a society where the 99% are forced to endure austerity whilst the 1% continue to cream off vast wealth.
We stand in the shoes of those women and men who have fought and won- the Ford Workers, the women Chainmakers, the working class women in the cotton mills fighting for the vote.
Come and join us on Thursday evening”

 

Coventry shows solidarity with the Syrian people

Coventry shows solidarity with the Syrian people

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In Broadgate to show solidarity

A protest was held in Coventry today to stand in solidarity with the people of Eastern Ghouta, Syria – where in the last few days alone 500 have been killed by bombing with many more injured.

At short notice around 65 people assembled in Broadgate, many originally from Syria.  Speakers spoke passionately about the situation facing people – with millions displaced from their homes, families separated and lives shattered.

It was pointed out by speakers that the so called international community have abandoned the people of Syria – the various governments, whether that be the UK, US or Russia are busy vying for influence alongside their regional client states and organisations, all at the expense of ordinary people in the region.

As we wrote

“We need to build mass movements of ordinary people both here in the UK, and across the Middle East. These need to provide solidarity to those affected whilst at the same time being armed with a socialist programme for revolutionary change that can cut across national, religious and ethnic divides, to build a society that puts an end to the chaos of capitalism and imperialism”

Members of the Socialist Party attended the protest to show our solidarity, and also distribute our leaflet outlining where we stand. You can download this by clicking here.

You can see more pictures of the protest by visiting the Coventry Socialists Facebook page.

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