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Posts Tagged ‘Internationalism

Syria, Hasna al-Hariri: Will the Left Speak Out Against Assad’s Tortures and Rapes?

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Image result for Syrie, le cri étouffé,

Assad’s Prisons: It is hard to get out alive from this place. In the corridors you see heaps of corpses.

The Stop the War Coalition’s official position on Syria is the following,

1. The STWC has never supported the Assad regime. Just as we never supported the Taliban, Saddam Hussein or Colonel Gaddafi. Only in the minds of ‘them or us’ pretend patriots does the opposition to our own government’s wars mean support for dictators or terrorists. Our case has always been that war will worsen the problem and not solve it. We were right in that analysis in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.

2. The STWC has never supported Russian intervention in Syria and issued a statement opposing the bombing as soon as it began.

3. The STWC does believe that it is the people of Syria who are the only ones who should decide the fate of their country free of all great power and regional power interference.

4. The STWC is utterly opposed to the IS as a totally reactionary and, in the Arab Spring, counter revolutionary force.

5. The STWC believes that the invasion and dismemberment of Iraq, and western support for Saudi Arabia, were and are instrumental in the creation of the IS.

6. The STWC does not support calls for western invention, including an air war to establish a no fly zone, whether those calls emanate from Syrian exiles or anyone else, just as we did not support such calls from anti-Taliban or anti Saddam Afghans or Iraqis. Syrians do not all speak with one voice but many are opposed to western bombing.

At the end of the declaration is this:

The STWC concentrates on campaigning against UK government policy because this is where we are citizens and voters. No one else can change UK government policy but a movement in this country. But of course we support anti-war movements in other countries who, rightly, are focussed on opposing their own governments. This is how genuine internationalism work

It is a very narrow take on “internationalism” that excludes the duty to come to the aid of people suffering the brutality of,  which is too often ignored on the left, the Assad regime.

That this is not just the result of the actions of the ISIS genociders or the result of bombing by outside forces is clear.

This was published in Le Monde last week: « En Syrie, le viol était le maître mot »

It is, to say the least, a harrowing account of the  tortures carried out by Bashar Al-Assad’s regime.

The full article is behind a pay-wall (or in the print edition, where it takes up a full page).

In the main section Hasna Al-Hariri,  54 years old, talks of the cruelty to which prisoners are subjected, a long calvary of horror.

Women, raped, later give birth amid ” la crasse, les poux, les infections, à même le sol”, filth, lice, infection and the soil.

Victims who are released have been shunned as ‘dishonoured’.

LesInrocks rightly says, the account by “freezes your blood”.

Enfants nés de viols, tortures, humiliations : une survivante raconte l’enfer des prisons de Bachar Al-Assad.

L’Echo published this letter to Hasna Al-Hariri,

Votre mari a été assassiné en essayant de vous libérer de prison contre une grosse somme d’argent. Vous avez été emprisonnée trois fois, pendant de longs mois. Pendant vos détentions dans ces centres de “renseignement”, vous avez été torturée. Vous avez été violée. Vous avez vu des femmes, de 55 ans, de 40 ans, de 25 ans se faire violer. Vous avez vu des adolescentes se faire violer. Vous avez vu des petites filles de 13 ans se faire violer. Vous avez vu une enfant de 13 ans se faire violer devant sa maman.

Vous avez aidé à la naissance de cinquante bébés. Vous avez vu mourir dix bébés. Vous avez vu mourir cinq mamans. Vous n’aviez aucun matériel pour ces accouchements, pas un drap, pas un essuie, pas un seul bout de tissu, pas même d’eau.

 

Your husband was murdered trying to free you from prison with a large bribe. You have been imprisoned 3 times, during many long months. During your time in gaol in the “investigation” centres you were tortured. You were raped. You have seen women, 55 years old, 40 years old, 25 years old, violated. You have seen adolescents raped. You have seen young women of 13 years old being raped. You saw a child of 13 years old being violated in front of her mother.

You have helped 50 babies be born. You have seen 10 babies die. You have seen 5 mothers die. You had no material to help with these births, no towels, no  wipes, not a shred of a tissue, not even water.

The letter continues,

Vous avez vu une jeune femme qui avait ses règles. Pleine de sang. Vos geôliers lui ont jeté des rats. Les rats lui ont dévoré l’entrejambe. Elle est morte.

You saw a young woman having her period. She was covered with blood. Your gaolers threw rats on her. The rates ate her crotch. She died.

I stop there, it is already distressing.

This discuss the documentary, Syrie, le cri étouffé, revealing the horrors to which women are subject in Assad’s prisons, and  which forms the basis for these articles.

 

This is the only account I can find in English.

Atem Al Zinzaneh (Darkness of Jail)

Hasna al-Hariri—the mother of martyrs, or Syria’s Khansa’ [traditional heroic Arab female symbol of stoic heroism], as she likes to be known—is a 65 year-old lady and Syrian Revolution activist since its inception in 2011 from Deraa. She is today’s Atem al-Zinzaneh’s guest.

Hasna never for one day expected that either the regime or the Syrian army would shoot, for the mere cause of Deraa’s people asking for their detained children. She never imagined that they would abuse Deraa’s elders, or their wives and honor. This was the main reason behind her own participation in the Revolution. She was arrested for the first time in May 2011—for attempting to bring medicine, bread, and food to children during the siege of Deraa—in the Deraa branch of military security.

Hasna tells of seeing Hezbollah men inside the branch in May 2011. She personally saw Hussein Hamiyyeh, an officer of the Lebanese Hizbollah. Investigations then centered on the extent of Israel’s, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar’s, role in financing the demonstrations. Hasna was surprised how they would think of foreign intervention—but not at all care for the injustice to which Syrian citizens are subjected. She was arrested for a second time with her daughter Bushra at the 12th Brigade of the Syrian army, then transferred to the Deraa military security branch.

Hasna al-Hariri remember that rape cases in the branch were perpetrated by Brigadier General Abu Habib in the Suweida branch; and by Brigadier Wafiq Nasser, Captains Zuhair al-Ali and Abdullah Amoury, and officer Rawad in Deraa. She tells of incidences of sexual assault of both males and females inside the military security branch; in addition to forcing them to sexually assault one another. She also mentions the killing of more than one hundred and twenty young men, whose blood flowed to reach the women’s prison dormitories.

More on the crimes of the Assad regime:  Syria Solidarity Campaign.

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Written by Andrew Coates

December 11, 2017 at 1:19 pm

Left Wingers Join Unite For Europe March.

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No Trump no Brexit no racist EU exit!

Why join the March?

Another Europe is Possible introduced the reasons:

Why we’ll be on the Unite for Europe march

This Saturday, tens of thousands of people will march through London on the ‘Unite for Europe’ demonstration. We’ll be there despite our criticisms – and here’s why.

The triggering of Article 50 on March 29th will represent a defeat for democracy and a blow to the rights of ordinary people.

Theresa May has managed to get away with a smash and grab raid on the Brexit process; if the government gets its way, parliament and the people will have little or no say over what is negotiated on our behalf. Millions of European citizens have no guarantees about their right to remain in the UK. And our human rights, rights at work, free movement and environmental protections are under grave threat.

We are in this situation because the terms of the debate have been set entirely by the Tories, UKIP and the right wing press. The message is: Leave won, so now we can do whatever we want.

But the referendum result is not a mandate to attack migrants, destroy the environment or undermine workers’ rights. The government has no mandate for the extreme, regressive form of Brexit that it is pursuing.

So we have to mobilise – to shift the debate and prevent the Brexit nightmare from becoming a reality. The 16 million people who voted for Remain are not our only allies in that task – there are many who voted Leave who do not agree with what Theresa May is doing, and many more who didn’t vote at all.

Another Europe is Possible will be on the demonstration this Saturday – not to wave flags and not to defend the EU’s policy or democracy as it currently exists. We were and are very critical of these.

We will be there because we all have a right to be heard – and a duty to fight against the tide.

Martin Thomas of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty argues:

Labour should fight Brexit all the way

Labour’s deference on Brexit also undermines the work of rebuilding Labour support.

The Labour right wing’s staged Shadow Cabinet resignations in June-July started the process which has given Theresa May a lead in the polls despite unpopular policies (continued benefit cuts, new schools cuts, grammar schools…) But the new line of deferring to a supposedly fixed Brexit majority has worsened it.

While the Lib-Dems – despite their so-recent record in government, despite the fact that one-third of their voters went for Brexit on 23 June, despite everything – have doubled their membership by making at least some show of fighting the Tories’ Brexit, Labour’s surge in membership has been paused or even slightly reversed.

We cannot beat the Tories by deferring to them. Labour should fight Brexit all the way!

The BBC reported,

Tens of thousands of people joined an anti-Brexit march to call for Britain to remain in the European Union.

The Unite for Europe march in London coincided with events to mark 60 years since the EU’s founding agreement, the Treaty of Rome, was signed.

A minute’s silence to remember the victims of the Westminster attack was held ahead of speeches at a rally in Parliament Square.

Comrade Bonnie Greer tweeted from the march.

Socialist Resistance have an excellent report,

Try and picture what a march of Brexit supporters would look like in central London, asks Andy Stowe. You immediately get images of portly men dressed in John Bull outfits, Farage gurning in front of the cameras, English and British flags, homemade placards with slogans about WW2 and not so subtle allusions to controlling borders. It would be a Glastonbury for racist English nationalism.

The Unite for Europe demonstration through central London on March 25th certainly had aspects that showed it wasn’t organised by socialists. The organisers’ homepage is decorated with two strips of European Union (EU) and British flags, the liberal way of showing that British people want o be part of the EU. Speakers at the closing rally included former Lib Dem leader and Tory glove puppet Nick Clegg, current Lib Dem leader Tim Farron, someone offering the ex-pat perspective (ex-pat being the correct term for a British person who’s an economic migrant in another country) and Blarite Rottweiler Alistair Campbell.

Almost immediately after the Brexit referendum result was announced there was a large, young and angry demonstration against the result. Those people were largely absent on March 25th. Press estimates of the size range from 25-100 000 but they tended to be older and more affluent. The young Europeans who keep the service industries of London running didn’t turn up. Supporters of Socialist Resistance who were distributing postcards advertising this year’s Fourth International Youth Camp remarked that it sometimes took a few minutes to find someone young enough to hand one to.

However, the demonstration was unequivocally progressive. British flags were substantially outnumbered by that of the EU. The people carrying them were making a statement that they rejected reactionary British nationalism and wanted to identify themselves as citizens of Europe. The home made placards they carried spoke of freedom of movement and being able to work in any EU state. It was a partial rejection of national borders. Coming only three days after an attack by a reactionary terrorist who murdered three people and injured at least fifty, the march was, in an unassuming way, an assertion of the power of mass action by people who want to engage in politics.

Socialist Resistance rightly make a number of critical observations.

Most of the marchers gave the impression that they had no criticisms of the EU. I saw no condemnations of its shameful deal with Turkey to prevent the movement of migrants or the rejection of the will of the Greek people. This of course is not the view of Socialist Resistance and others on the radical left who opposed Brexit. We argued that it’s a supra-national authority which has imposed austerity on the European working class and has reduced most Greeks to utter penury. Our reason for opposing Brexit was that we knew it could only be achieved by a massive xenophobic chauvinist campaign dominated completely by the right. The London demonstration was a rejection of that tidal wave of xenophobia and racism.

Politically the big winners on the day were they Liberal Democrats and they can expect to regain some lost ground by their stance on Brexit. Their membership turned out in strength distributing stickers, carrying placards and setting the tone for the day. A handful of Labour Party banners could be seen but the party had made the mistake of not mobilising for the event and there was no evidence of any organised trade union presence.

Brexit has shifted British politics to the right in a way we haven’t seen since the election of the Thatcher government. The Tories are now pushing through UKIP’s programme and the Labour Party’s response has not appeared coherent to many of its supporters. The Lib Dems threw down a gauntlet to the radical left, the unions and the Labour Party that our side needs to be the one defending freedom of movement, resisting Tory inspired xenophobia and protecting migrants.

The Another Europe is possible conference in Manchester next weekend will be an Important place to discuss how best to meet that challenge.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 26, 2017 at 1:09 pm

Momentum members vote to back Remain Campaign.

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Momentum members back Remain, Now on to Another Europe is Possible.

From S,

EU referendum poll of Momentum members:

3093 responses

Campaign to remain: 66.5%

Campaign to leave: 14.8%

Campaign for neither: 19.6%

This result confirms reports coming in from across the country.

Wherever there have been left debates on the Referendum and the audience’s opinion has been taken, there have been majorities between 3/5 and 4/5 votes in favour of Remain.

As comrade Mark Steel says today (Independent),

This is why we should be grateful to people like Boris Johnson and Iain Duncan Smith, because every time they say something about Europe, they make it clearer which way to vote in the referendum.

The Momentum decision shows how out of touch the would-be ‘tactical advisers’, ready with the ‘low down’ on international capitalism’  to the left of New Left Review (NLR) have become.

As in one Susan Watkins and Corbyn’s ‘best mate’ Tariq Ali.

Watkins has just written this piffle for the increasingly out of touch NLR, Left Oppostions. 

British exit from the eu is a tactical, not a strategic question; the left takes different stances on it, and some might want a campaign for contemptuous abstention or vote-spoiling. But at one level the politics of the Brexit referendum are clear: a vote to remain, whatever its motivation, will function in this context as a vote for a British establishment that has long channelled Washington’s demands into the Brussels negotiating chambers, scotching hopes for a ‘social Europe’ since the Single European Act of 1986.

A Leave vote would be a salutary shock to this trans-Atlantic oligopoly……

This senescent ‘leftist’  disorder is predicated on the belief that ‘after Brexit’ there  will be a golden age for those able to take advantage of this shock. No doubt they will include those whose working conditions are worsened, my union branch members who will lose their cross EU Worker Council, which enables them to bargain from a position of strength in their transeuropean company, those whose status as EU migrants is removed, and all who will have to face life under a Boris, Gove, Whittingdale and Iain Duncan Smith regime.

That is, life in a right-wing rat hole.

Meanwhile the left is now preparing its campaign:

The below  will be discussed at the Momentum National Committee in Manchester tomorrow.

EU REFERENDUM – FOR A LEFT “IN” VOTE

Britain leaving the EU would be a victory for the nationalist right and their campaign against migrants, almost certainly reshaping the British political and social landscape for the worse.

The EU promotes neoliberal policies in the interests of capitalism – but so does the UK. The British ruling class and government will press ahead with attacks in or out – and outside the EU, the barriers to their assault will be lower, while barriers between us and our brothers and sisters in other countries will be higher.

We support an “in” vote.

***

We oppose David Cameron’s reforms, which attack the rights of workers and migrants. We endorse Jeremy Corbyn’s call for a “Europe that puts people, not multinationals, at its heart”, through “public ownership […] democratisation, stronger workers’ rights, sustainable growth and jobs”, won through “alliances across Europe to end austerity”.

We call for:
• Cross­-European working­-class and social movement struggles against austerity and for levelling up wages, conditions, services and rights, funded by taxing the rich and public ownership of finance;
• Radical democratisation, including empowering the European Parliament;
•­ An end to “Fortress Europe” – freedom of movement and equal rights for all.

***

Using the slogans “Another Europe is possible”, “For a workers’ Europe” and “For a socialist Europe”, Momentum nationally will campaign for an “in” on this basis, making defence of migrants, anti­austerity and international solidarity central. This will include an urgent press release, a leaflet and a rally in London at least.

We will work with Labour, with “in” unions, and with the Another Europe is Possible network.

We call on the whole of Momentum to campaign on this basis.

Meanwhile on the fringes of the Labour Movement, Socialist Worker says,

The Left rallies in London against the EU.

by Alistair Farrow

Speakers from the international left put the case for a left exit from the European Union at a rally in London yesterday, Wednesday.

Some 150 people came to hear arguments rejecting the austerity of the Troika and the racism of the European Union (EU) and the bosses’ Brexit and Remain campaigns. The meeting was organised by the Lexit campaign.

Unkind people have suggested that following Socialist Worker’s normal reporting practice they  would have added that a Poll taken at the meeting indicated that 3,150 backed ‘Lexit’ and 1 abstained.

And Yet. Essays. Christopher Hitchens. Review: Internationalism is the highest form of patriotism.

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And Yet. Essays. Christopher Hitchens. Atlantic Books.

The Syrian Social National Party (SSNP) thug Adonis Nasr, was killed fighting alongside Assad and Hezbollah’s forces in Latakia this week. This would have passed unnoticed in the world at large, accustomed as we are reports of nameless deaths in Syria, if he had not been one of a group that savagely beat Christopher Hitchens in Beirut in 2009. With the Syrian barbarous civil war in mind we might do worse than begin And Yet with Hitchens’ concluding words, “Patriotic and tribal feelings belong to the squalling childhood of the human race, and become no more charming in the senescence…. internationalism is the highest form of patriotism.”

The charm of Hitchens, a foppish coxcomb in the judgement of the “power-drunk micro-megalomaniac called George Galloway” was to offer criticisms of all that exists, and to pour icy water on Revelations from non-existence. The book  offer rich examples of his sceptical internationalism and patriotism.

And Yet, uncollected essays, including a three-part report on his efforts to improve his bodily heath On the Limits of self-Improvement, is brim full of popinjay insolence. Hitchens ranges from broader clinical judgements, the (present) Turkish President’s “morbid disorders of the personality”, Hilary Clinton’s weakness for porkies, starting with claims to be named after Sir Edmund Hilary, to the chiaroscuro of V.S. Naipaul’s Salisbury Plain Manor, an “emotional master-slave concentration camp built for two”. Ian Fleming’s interest in bottoms – at first sight an endearing quality – rapidly evaporates when his sadistic snobbery is indicated. One supposes that the public school educated Hitchens had yet to encounter the stronger meat circulated in our North London state school youth: the wank-books that began with Richard Allen’s Skinhead.

Hitchens was capable of essays of great moral seriousness. Rosa Luxemburg’s internationalism was “so strong she despised anything to do with lesser or sectarian ‘identities’” was matched by a personality “constantly distracted from politics by her humanism and her love for nature and literature. The comparison between George Orwell’s ‘list” of crypto-communists with co-operation with the Thought Police is rightly dismissed, “nobody suffered or could have suffered from Orwell’s private opinion”.

Sometimes, even so, Hitchens is led astray. Turkey’s greatest modern writer Orban Pamuk’s Snow (2004) is criticised for its – taken without comparison to a whole shelf of his other publications – indulgence towards Islamists. It also receives bad notes for its “stilted dialogue” – a brave commentary on a translation from a language separated by a gulf from English. Pamuk’s lack of “courage” to address the Armenian issue (are all Turkish novelists obliged to reference this, constantly?) nevertheless finds its remedy. A later piece gives due recognition for his court appearance in 2005 – charged with evoking the genocide.

Internationalism.

A little internationalism, Jean Jaurès remarked, takes one away from the country, a lot brings us back to it. The American Revolution, Hitchens remarks, is the “only one that still resonates”. Hitchens is a fine guide to the personalities, battle-fields, and tortuous procedures of the US politics that lay claim to the inspiration of the Founding Fathers. But we are not always treated to high politics. We learn that many of the inhabitants of the states of the former Confederacy, commit “offences against chastity with either domestic animals (or the fact must be faced) with members of the immediate families”. Red-Staters are also often chunky, we are informed. It is even less than unlikely that the scandal of Ohio push-button direct-recording electronic voting machines resound very far. And when one is reminded of Hitchens’ new nationality in sentences studded, or perhaps embossed with the past particle ‘gotten’, putting in CAPITALS a change of state, or becoming, one pines for the unobtrusive Englishness of the sequence, “get, got, got.”

A “supporter of the armed struggle against the forces of Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and Saddam Hussein” Hitchens has been accused of making reason the slave of the passions. This emotions were effectively marshalled against the forerunners of today’s Islamist genociders, authoritarian bullies of all stripes, and those ‘anti-imperialists’ who were complaisant about them, or complicit in their actions. But feelings, however morally intelligent, are shaky guides to internationalist policies. Few of his enemies would miss the chance to waggle their fingers at Hitchens’ urging of the invasion of Iraq which began the present Syrian conflicts in which X was entangled. The dire sequence that has followed these struggles – that is the US-led interventions and the present power plays – was there this week, in Latakia, Syria, for all to see.

Armed Missionaries.

The “failure to mesh human rights imperatives with geo-strategic and security ones” cannot be detached from Hitchens original parti pris. It was not the fight of the armed peoples against tyrants but the direct use of external force, of occupation, of regime-change from without, that remains at issue. No less a pacific figure than Robespierre once stated that nobody liked armed missionaries (Personne n’aime les missionnaires armés): you couldn’t export Liberty at bayonet point. Perhaps that lesson, from a Revolution that has inspired more universalism and internationalism than the American one, is worth remembering.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 26, 2016 at 1:46 pm

As Ukraine Armed Conflict Begins What Side Will the Pro-Kiev Left Take?

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Reports this morning indicate an accelerating fight in the Ukraine.

Ukraine crisis: Casualties in Sloviansk gun battles

Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian armed men have traded gunfire in a battle for control of the eastern town of Sloviansk, the interior minister says.

At least one Ukrainian officer was killed and both sides suffered casualties, Arsen Avakov said.

Pro-Russian forces took over the town on Saturday, prompting Kiev to launch an “anti-terror operation”.

Kiev and Western powers accuse Moscow of inciting the trouble. The Kremlin denies the charge.

BBC

Le Monde puts this in the context of a “general offensive”,

Le gouvernement ukrainien, confronté à des insurrections armées prorusses coordonnées dans l’Est, a lancé dimanche 13 avril une opération « antiterroriste »de reconquête à hauts risques.

The Ukrainian government, faced with armed pro-Russian and co-ordinated insurgencies   in the East, has launched a highly risky  “anti-terrorist” operation of reconquest on  Sunday, April the 13th

So how will those who stand ‘for’ the Ukraine react?

Will they ‘choose’ sides and back the “anti-terrorist operation”?

This is the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty position on the Ukraine.

Russia: hands off Ukraine! Keep Russian troops out!

Western governments: cancel Ukraine’s debts!

The labour movement should back Ukraine’s left in its efforts to create “third pole” against both Russian imperialism and the Ukrainian oligarchs.

This is Socialist Resistance’s line,

A defeat for Russian imperialism in Ukraine is both a victory for that mass movement and the Russian working class. Socialists in imperialist countries should see their primary responsibility as establishing links and building support for those groups in Ukrainian and Russian society which are opposing the oligarchs and organising a real movement against them. That is rather different from helping Putin hold on to power by annexing his own imperialist “buffer zone”.

Others are less decided.

This is the Left Unity Party’s view,

Left Unity statement on Ukraine

Left Unity has issued a statement on the situation in Ukraine, saying that there should be “no foreign intervention in Ukraine – whether political, economic or military”.

The acting officers of the new left wing party are calling for “democracy and equality for all the people of Ukraine”, condemning the different forms of nationalism, corruption and neoliberalism, and the drive to war.

Against nationalism, corruption, privatisation and war

The continuing political and economic crisis in Ukraine is taking a dangerous military turn.

Left Unity takes the position that there can only be a political solution to this crisis and that neither foreign military intervention nor foreign political and economic intervention provide the answers to Ukraine’s complex problems.

But does this also mean ‘backing’ the ‘anti-terrorist’ offensive?

We simply ask.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 13, 2014 at 11:01 am