Archive for the ‘Left’ Category
Fleeing families near the cathedral in Bossangoa.
NO TO FRENCH MILITARY INTERVENTION IN THE CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC!
The French military intervention in the Central African Republic has begun. The United Nations Security Council has given the international police operation an a ‘legitimacy’, on allegedly humanitarian grounds. The goal of the intervention is claimed to be ”restore constitutional order” and “prepare the ground for future elections” , and in the immediate present, to ensure the “disarmament, containment and dismantling of armed groups.”
In fact, France is involved in this former colony, where it has a long history of supporting dictators like grotesque Bokassa, to defend its own interests. It was France which, ten years ago,brought in President Bozizé whose hated and corrupt regime has collapsed.
No one can remain indifferent to the plight of the population. But a military intervention sponsored by the major imperialist powers will not solve anything. Indeed it will do the opposite. Its goal is not to end the abuses and looting carried out by Seleka. This action follows the same objective as that in Mali. As in the rest of Africa the real aim is is to maintain the position of the great powers, while the political system they have set up no longer has any power. For the Government of President Holland and prime Minister Ayrault, the objective is to preserve France’s old colonial privileges, and those of the French multinational Areva, Bolloré and other Total.
Military intervention can only lead to further suffering for the population, and to new crises..
French Troops Out of Africa!
More on the NPA’s views on France as the Imperialist Gendarme in Africa here.
They notably deny that there is a “pre-genocidal” situation in the Central African Republic “The French government has talked about pre-genocidal situation, that is not the case. Genocide is the result of a deliberate policy of discrimination and hatred against a portion of the population accompanied by a specific ideology, as in Rwanda where for years a political stigma against Tutsi took place…they should know, as they (The French Foreign Ministry) participated in this.” The NPA does admit however that, there “is a real risk that these cycles and inter-religious violence could worsen and spread.
Comment: There are so many reasons why this reaction of the NPA is wrong, absolutely wrong, it is better simply to let a more factual account speak for itself.
Innocent victims: France sends in more troops to stop massacres in Central African Republic
Bangui, Central African Republic - France and the African Union on Saturday announced plans to deploy several thousand more troops into embattled Central African Republic, as thousands of Christians fearing reprisal attacks sought refuge from the Muslim former rebels who now control the country after days of violence left nearly 400 people dead – and possibly more.
French armoured personnel carriers and troops from an AU-backed peacekeeping mission roared at high speed down Bangui’s major roads, as families carrying palm fronds pushed coffins in carts on the road’s shoulder. In a sign of the mounting tensions, others walking briskly on the streets carried bow-and-arrows and machetes.
Concluding an aptly-timed and long-planned conference on African security in Paris, President Francois Hollande said France was raising its deployment to 1,600 on Saturday – 400 more than first announced. Later, after a meeting of regional nations about Central African Republic, his office said that African Union nations agreed to increase their total deployment to 6,000 – up from about 2,500 now, and nearly double the projected rollout of 3,600 by year-end.
One of the world’s poorest countries, Central African Republic has been wracked for decades by coups and rebellions. In March, a Muslim rebel alliance known as Seleka overthrew the Christian president of a decade. At that time, religious ideology played little role in the power grab. The rebels soon installed Michel Djotodia as president, though he exerted little control over forces on the ground. He has since formally disbanded the Seleka coalition, but the former rebels now consider themselves the army.
Amid new massacres on Thursday, U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution that allows for a more muscular international effort to quell months or unrest in the country. Troops from France, the country’s former colonial overseer, were patrolling roads in Bangui and fanning out into the troubled northwest on Saturday.
“This force is going to deploy as quickly as possible and everywhere there are risks for the population, with the African forces that are present – currently 2,500 soldiers,” Hollande said, referring to the increased French presence. “In what I believe will be a very short period we will be able to stop all exactions and massacres.”
In an interview with France-24 TV, Hollande said the AU reinforcements would arrive “in the coming days,” without specifying. He said 1,600 French troops was “enough: There won’t be more,” and added that they would remain as planned for about six months – though a residual force of 500 to 600 might stay thereafter.
Word of the bigger deployments came as human rights groups continued the grisly business of counting and collecting bodies of those killed in recent massacres. The death toll in the capital from the recent fighting rose on Saturday to 394, said Antoine Mbao Bogo of the local Red Cross.
French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, speaking on i-Tele TV, said France accelerated plans for the 1,600-strong deployment because of the “upsurge” in violence since Thursday. He said French forces would disarm any armed militias, and would use force if the fighters don’t hand over their weapons peacefully.
He said French troops had been sent to Bossangoa, the home region of ousted President Francois Bozize and many of his perceived supporters.
Central African Republic President Michel Djotodia called on former rebels who are now integrated into the national army to stay off the streets now being patrolled by French and regional forces. Presidential spokesman Guy Simplice Kodegue said those who violated the order would be punished.
Now, sectarian strife has grown. On Saturday, aid workers returned to the streets to collect bloated bodies that had lay uncollected in the heat since Thursday, when Christian fighters known as the anti-balaka, who oppose Djotodia, descended on the capital in a coordinated attack on several mostly Muslim neighbourhoods. Residents of Christian neighbourhoods said Seleka have counter-attacked by going house-to-house in search of alleged combatants and firing at civilians who merely strayed into the wrong part of town.
Zumbeti Thierry Tresor, 23, was among those slain after he tried to cross through another neighborhood to visit family members in another part of Bangui. Seleka fighters shot him in the neck and stomach, his friends said. On Saturday, neighbors hiked the rocky path to his one-room home where his covered body lay on the floor underneath neatly hung music posters.
Outside the front door, his wife wailed hysterically, gripping their 3-year-old daughter in her lap as neighbors crowded around her. Alongside their house, a team of a dozen men with sticks and shovels dug Tresor’s grave under the shade of a tree.
“We want the French army to come and protect us,” said Tresor’s friend, Francois Yayi. “We have no police to call. The Seleka will kill us all.”
He and his friends begin counting on their fingers the number of neighbours slain amid the latest spasm of bloodshed. At least 10 they determine have died since Thursday.
As families mourned their dead, others fled by the thousands to the few known safe places in the capital – the airport guarded by French troops and the grounds of a Catholic center run by the Salesians of Don Bosco. About 3,000 people had fled to the complex on Thursday when the fighting began and that number swelled to 12,000 by Saturday.
“We have no water, no food, no medicine – we have nothing,” said Pierre Claver Agbetiafan, looking around the center where he works.
As dusk fell, hundreds of people began lining up outside the mission’s doors for a safe place to sleep, carting foam mattresses and plastic buckets of food on their heads. Some even toted wheeled luggage, not knowing when they could return. Every bit of ground near the tennis courts was crowded with families preparing for a night on damp ground under the open sky. The air filled with smoke as women tended small fires to prepare dinner.
Judith Lea, 47, came with a family of 20 including her 3-day-old grandson to escape violence in their neighborhood on the north side of the capital. As people settled in for the night, she and the other female relatives argued over what to name the little boy who has spent nearly his entire life in a displacement camp.
“When the Seleka rebels came to the house, they stole his blankets and all the little things we had bought for him,” Lea said, stretched out on the ground to rest. “When this war is over, what will we do? He is cold and hasn’t had his vaccines yet.”
Most of the displaced in Bangui are Christian: ex-Seleka have not targeted Muslim neighbourhoods. But anger over the attacks has prompted vicious reprisals on Muslim civilians in other parts of the country. Nearly a dozen Muslim women and children were slain less than a week ago just outside the capital in an attack blamed on the Christian fighters.
Seleka are blamed for scores of atrocities since taking power, tying civilians together and throwing them off bridges to drown and burning entire villages to the ground. Anger over such abuses has fanned a backlash against Muslim civilians, who make up only about 15 percent of the population. The anti-balaka, the armed Christian movement that has arisen in response to the Seleka attacks, is widely believed to be supported by former army soldiers loyal to ousted President Francois Bozize.
Associated Press writer Sylvie Corbet in Paris contributed to this report.
The BBC reports give similar details.
An estimated 10% of CAR’s 4.6 million people have fled their homes, while more than a million urgently need food aid, according to the UN.
The largely Muslim rebels controlling much of the country have been accused of atrocities against Christians, and fighting between Muslim and Christian militias has broken out in the capital, Bangui, and elsewhere. Read the rest of this entry »
Nelson Mandela’s death has received the coverage it merits.
He was truly a great man.
What should be underlined is that it was not just a great Man but a movement that overthrew Apartheid.
We should recall how the brave activists of the ANC brought down the racist South African system.
How they were backed by supporters across the world.
In this country the Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM) played its part.
The Daily Mirror describes the AAM’s role,
Home to the South African Embassy, the Square had been the focal point of the UK Anti-Apartheid Movement for just over three decades.
Originally known as the Boycott Movement, the British anti-apartheid campaign began on June 26 1959 – three years before Mandela was imprisoned – when a group of South African exiles and their British supporters met in London’s Holborn Hall.
Backed by trade unionists, Labour Party branches, British Communist and Liberal activists, women’s groups, the National Union of Students, and the TUC, the meeting called for a boycott of fruit, cigarettes and other goods imported from South Africa.
Led by Oliver Tambo, the ANC President and great friend of Nelson Mandela, who lived in Haringey after fleeing to the UK in the 1960s, other key public figures included Labour politicians Barbara Castle, Peter Hain and Frank Dobson as well as playwright Harold Pinter, actor Vanessa Redgrave and archbishop Trevor Huddleston.
The UK was South Africa’s largest investor, and at that time the ANC were still committed to peaceful means.
Eight months after the Boycott Movement was founded, the Sharpeville massacre where 69 protestors against apartheid were shot dead by South African police, changed the stance of the boycotters.
Now, the group renamed itself the Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM) and began active support for all those fighting apartheid.
Meanwhile, the Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was among those who opposed sanctions, but to no avail.
Mass demonstrations forced the cancellation of the 1970 Springboks cricket tour of the UK, and South Africa was expelled from nearly every international sporting federation.
Haringey was also the home of many of many anti-apartheid activists, including a large group of Oliver Tambo’s fellow exiles. This was a major issue in the area, taken up by progressive organisations, from the Woodcraft Folk, the local political parties of the left, notably the Communist Party, the trade unions, to a group of courageous people who helped support and arm the ANC from the UK.
A dignified response to the event is given by Shiraz Socialist.
On Sunday Jean-Luc Mélenchon marched with Bercy Pierre Moscovici. Co-Chair of the Left Party (PG) and Pierre Laurent, national secretary of the French Communist Party (PCF), heading the procession the Left Front for a “revolution in taxation” and against the planned increase of VAT on the 1 st January.
Apart from the Front de Gauche (FdG), Le Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste, Lutte ouvrière and some Greens (EE-LV) took part.
In wintry conditions, the demonstration (reports indicate) essentially mobilised members of the FdG. According to Parti de gauche (PG), 100 000 people were present, this was 70 000 for the (PCF). The Police total was 7 000. Le Monde.
Pictures of the march in L’Humanité here.
On factor motivating the marchers was a wish not to let the streets be dominated by the ‘Poujadist ‘ anti-government demonstrations of the Breton ‘bonnets rouges’ and the lorry driver bosses who were out this morning protesting against ‘eco-taxes’.
The character of the bonnets rouges can be seen in the placard held by the demonstrator below,
It reads, “France, a paradise for the skivers, fraudsters, and criminals, Hell for the hard-working. We say, Merde to Europe and Merde! to that France.”
The Front de Gauche will hold further unitary actions in the coming January.
This year’s Labour Representation Committee (LRC) AGM was the first the Tendance has attended.
We joined, because Labour Briefing is now the official journal of the LRC. It seems a good idea to go along to the meeting of a left paper that has played a significant role on the left for several decades.
The turnout for the event was as Stan Keable in the Weekly Worker describes,
There were slightly more than 100 comrades attending the November 23 annual conference of the Labour Representation Committee in London’s Conway Hall. That is down by a third compared with last year. Bad news for what is an umbrella organisation of the pro-Labour Party left, but surely reflective of the general state of the left in Britain.
He puts the LRC’s importance in this context,
The LRC also has significant organisational affiliates, including six national trade unions (Aslef, BFAWU, CWU, FBU, NUM and RMT), numerous trade union branches and regions, constituency and branch Labour Parties, Welsh Labour Grassroots, Campaign for Socialism (Scotland), and a variety of communist and socialist organisations.
It is hard to comment on Comrade Keable’s detailed remarks about the functioning of the LRC, and the “office problem”, since we do not have direct information on this. The Briefing is something we can all judge. Against the Weekly Worker article we would that Briefing has changed, though perhaps “renewed” – for the better – is a more balanced description.
Of the speeches Owen Jones was uplifting, pointing to the successes of such initiatives as the People’s Assembly. Keable dismisses this as his “usual fare” – ignoring the importance People’s Assemblies have taken on the ground.
John McDonnell MP was excellent. You can take this argument whatever way you wish: “People are still voting Labour,” he said. “We must nourish struggles within the party by building struggles outside.”
Stan rightly underlines the importance of the contributions made by “two activists from the Boycott Welfare campaign, Clive and Robert, gave a moving contribution from the platform as guest speakers. Unemployed people and benefit claimants are clearly being badly maltreated by the system. Half a million have been already denied benefits under the workfare system, they reported.”
These are issues dear to our heart and the LCR, and associated Labour MPs, are to be congratulated for making the campaigns against of Workfare, Universal Credit and Sanctions, not to mention ATOS, a priority. We were able to develop our contacts with Boycott Workfare by talking to the activists during the break.
Jeremy Corbyn MP gave a more nuanced portrait of the 1945 Labour government than has recently appeared (notably in the Ken Loach film, the Spirit of 45). Its record was exceptionally largely positive, but it had been Atlanticist and a far from a consistently principled anti-colonialist government.
Mark Serwotka is patronised by Comrade Keable (whose style is rapidly tiring). “he would not waste time repeating “how bad it is”. We need to talk about “what we’re going to do about it”.
I did not get a chance to speak to guest speaker Philippe Marlière of the Front de Gauche (Left Front) – with whom I have contacts. He must have felt cheered by the serious speakers listed above, though less encouraged by some of the others.
Of these, Stan does not mention the antics of Graham Durham who seemed eager to hog the limelight at every opportunity. His virulent attacks on Len McCluskey and the LRC elected Committee (amongst others) and his support for Murdoch’s man in UNITE, Jerry Hicks, struck a sour note.
Durham’s only accurate observation was on the lines that every meeting he attended got smaller.
We wonder why.
There was also an extraordinary motion by something called Socialist Fight, on Syria.
This noted that “Negotiation with Russia and Iran disarm Syria of its chemical weapons and Iran from developing nuclear weapons and so prepare for a future attack against weaker enemies.”
It ended, “The defeat of this utterly bogus ‘revolution’ will defend a relatively secular administration, strengthen the Syrian working class against Assad and dent chauvinism in US, Britain and France.”
This was roundly defeated in favour of a policy of defending democratic movements in Syria against Assad and opposing the Western backed jihadists.
There was a debate on the Labour-Union link.
Andrew Berry from Unison, Maria Exall of the CWU and Ian Hudson of the bakers’ union (BFAWU) all made pertinent speeches – Ian Hudson was particularly rousing.
Labour Party Marxists made an appearance.
Stan Keable led off by citing the phrase, “The Labour Party emerged from the Bowels of the Unions” – a quote he attributed to Ralph Miliband.
Ernest Bevin, who actually made the observation, was hardly a model of democratic practice in his use of the union – T&GWU - block vote.
Perhaps next time former members of the CPGB begin talking about the Labour Party they might care to familiarise themselves with its history.
The motion that was passed broadly re-affirmed the importance of keeping unions affiliated to the Labour Party. Keable, this time accurately, mentions that their motion,, which sought “the end of individual ‘opting out’ of trade union political funds”, was voted down by a two-thirds majority. Sadly that majority included the LRC’s political secretary Pete Firmin, though Graham Bash, the de facto editor of Briefing, abstained. “
The motions passed on Europe were, as the Weekly Worker reports, equivocal on the need to defend a perspective of a social, socialist, Europe – a view put forward by both Labour Party Marxists and the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty. They left space for both this genuine internationalism and a more narrowly focused ‘anti-Brussels’ stand. As the article states, there was a “refusal to recognise that advocating withdrawal means nationalism.”
The AGM was well worth attending.
I particularly enjoyed the atmosphere during the evening that began in the Dolphin and ended in China Town the most.