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Posts Tagged ‘North Korea

Communist Party of Britain-Marxist Leninist (CPGB -ML) and Stop the War Coalition on the Trump/Kim Jong Un Meeting.

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Image result for CPGB-ML Harpal Brar discusses DPRK on BBC’s primetime The One Show
 

On BBC’s One Show. Really…

On Monday 11 June, CPGB-ML chairman Harpal Brar joined guests on the BBC’s primetime One Show to discuss the historic meeting between US President Trump and Marshall Kim Jong Un, chairman of the Workers Party of Korea, in Singapore this week.On this video, you can see both the package that was broadcast by BBC One and the rest of the comments made by Comrade Brar during the course of the hour-long recording session.As the only person in the room supporting the people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK),

Comrade Brar put a strong and persuasive case in favour of the Korean people, their government and their hopes for peace and reconciliation on the Korean peninsula. Contrary to years of hysterical hyperbole demonising the north, its socialist system and its leaders, journalists in the capitalist press are now having to concede that the DPRK’s decision to arm itself with a nuclear deterrent was a wise one, and that the leadership of Comrade Kim Jong Un and the Workers Party of Korea (WPK) has been anything but ‘crazy’.For our part, we have always fully upheld the Korean people’s right to work for peace and reunification without outside interference. It is US imperialism that stands in the way of this strong desire of the masses of both the north and the south of Korea, not the DPRK government, which has long pursued a policy of striving towards reunification.

That is why one of the most popular slogans of the WPK and the DPRK masses for decades has been and remains:
Korea is One!

This is closest we’ll get in Britain to the DPRK’s response.

It is laughable but Harpel Brar is seen strutting around – unchallenged – on most London left demonstrations.

Some on the left are more concerned with what they claim are “regime change” plans for North Korea than about the reality of this tyranny.

Just before the summit (11th of June) the Morning Star was issuing warnings on this theme:

Nagging doubt hang over Trump’s talks with North Korean leader

But, until reality dictates otherwise, a nagging doubt remains that Washington — especially the plethora of neoconservative cold warriors surrounding the president — has something more sinister in mind.

The likes of John Bolton and Mike Pompeo find it difficult to talk in anything but ultimatums, demanding “the Libya model” as the basis for Pyongyang’s agreement to renounce its nuclear weapons programme.

After the summit this was their response:

Trump and Kim agree to work towards the denuclearisation of Korea

While the global response to the meeting has been largely positive, Iran warned North Korea against trusting the US after Mr Trump recently pulled out of the 2015 international nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions on Tehran last month.

John Rees of the Stop the War Coalition takes the regime change angle equally seriously while dismissing depth of the concluding agreement,

Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing.

What does the Trump-Kim summit mean? Not much, says John Rees.

We may all welcome the retreat from earlier war-mongering rhetoric but this deal will not preclude it’s sudden return because there’s nothing of substance in it.

Kim Jong Un must be laughing all the way to the DMZ. In a single bound he’s escaped from the dunce’s corner of international relations and now bestrides the world as, well, if not quite a colossus, then at least the admired ally of the most powerful head of state in the world.

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What Trump has actually done is to tear up a functioning nuclear deal with Iran and replace it with a meaningless multilateralist statement of intent with North Korea.

We may all welcome the retreat from earlier war-mongering rhetoric but this deal will not preclude it’s sudden return because there’s nothing of substance in it.

Kim Jong Un must be laughing all the way to the DMZ. In a single bound he’s escaped from the dunce’s corner of international relations and now bestrides the world as, well, if not quite a colossus, then at least the admired ally of the most powerful head of state in the world.

China too will be relieved that any likely further pressure to contain their ally has just sharply decreased.

The real lessons of the circus in Singapore are two-fold.

One, this is another episode in the decline of US power. The initiative was taken out of US hands when North and South Korea began another round of détente at the Olympic games and it has never regained it. Trump has merely managed to grandstand on a stage that he neither created nor on which does he control the action.

Two, the age of populist leaders is an age in which foreign policy goals are determined as much by domestic campaigning priorities as by traditional international relations strategy. US Presidents are supposed to at least make a show of pursuing goals agreed on by the entire foreign policy elite, otherwise known as the ‘national interest’. Trump isn’t interested in that, although he sometimes has that approach forced on him by the wider US power structure.

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If there is one thing more dangerous than a US President following the dictates of the foreign policy elite, as Bush did with the Project for the New American Century, it’s a President following his own mercurial interpretation of what viewers of Fox news think is a good idea. But that is where US economic decline wedded to overwhelming military power, plus the aftermath of defeat in Iraq, has brought us.

In other words Trump is still a danger.

There remain three principal points to make:

  • North Korea, the DPRK, is a totalitarian tyranny. Yet, “Trump seemed to play down the severity of human rights violations in North Korea. “It’s rough,” Trump allowed after being asked about North Korea’s human rights record. He then said: “It’s rough in a lot of places, by the way. Not just there.” (Kim Tong-Hyung). We did not expect the CPGB (M-L) to mention this either, but Rees, acting as a chess strategist on the world stage, fails to tackle the issues which the New York Times has just summed up as “Atrocities Under Kim Jong-un: Indoctrination, Prison Gulags, Executions”. Perhaps these are more important than the “decline of US power.
  • On the DPRK some parts of the left have a serious analysis. Shiraz reposts a piece from the US Socialist Worker by David Whitehouse. It says, “During a period of famine in the 1990s, Kim’s father looked the other way while Northern citizens developed private markets for farm produce and other goods. If Kim Jong-un really shifts resources away from military investment, North Koreans can look forward to making even more money from their private efforts.Meanwhile, soon after coming to power in 2012, Kim embarked on structural economic reforms that provide freedom to managers at the enterprise level — freedom to hire and fire at will, set wages at variance with national guidelines, and cultivate their own suppliers and buyers without going through the national planning process.

    These reforms, which mirror the early measures of Chinese economic liberalization in the 1980s, have promoted the development of a new middle class, at least somewhat independent of the ruling party hierarchy. This group definitely has an interest in Kim following through with diplomatic engagement that can open the economy even further.

    North Korea’s working class is overwhelmingly poor. Anecdotal reports, including from asylum-seekers who make it into South Korea, suggest that workers harbor intense hatred toward the rich upper layers of the party hierarchy and toward residents of the city of Pyongyang, where wealth is concentrated.

    To some extent, Kim seems to be able to use the popular cult of the Kim family to deflect popular anger away from himself — and toward those just a few layers below him. Right now, says North Korea specialist Andrei Lankov, “Kim Jong-un is popular. Everyone supports him.”

    Kim wants to keep it that way. The burden of domestic expectations has helped drive him toward the Singapore summit, where he hopes that de-escalation of hostility with the U.S. will bring relief from sanctions — and open up export possibilities, access to international finance, and investment from countries such as China and South Korea.

  • If Rees suggests that ‘populism’ is now the engine of US foreign policy, does this mean that Trump tore  up the Nuclear deal with Iran to please Fox News watchers? What exactly does the term American imperialism mean if instead of “military industrial” interests we have crowd pleasing as the motor of decision-making? Does it mean that ‘anti-imperialism’ now signifies fighting the mob and its leader’s “sound and fury”?

It may well be that there will be less than a massive response in London to a Stop Trump protest against the US President who’s a”walking shadow, a poor player,that struts and frets his hour upon the stage.”

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Horror of North Korean Prisons.

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UN Investigation into North Korean Human Rights Abuses.

This has not received the attention it merits on the left.

 

North Korean prison camp survivors tell U.N. investigators of rights abuses

Washington Post,

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SEOUL — One by one they came, taking seats next to a United Nations flag and stating their names for the record. Some kept calm. Some wept. One, as he spoke, used his left hand to clamp his trembling right hand to the table.They told stories about North Korea’s brutal network of criminal detention and political prison camps, and their evidence was physical: burns on their backs, scars on their heads, bodies ravaged by torture for acts that amount to crimes only in the North. They described forced abortions, public executions, constant hunger and ghoulish mind games played by prison guards, whose permission was needed even to catch and eat the camps’ many rats and mice.

 Reuters. Public executions and torture are daily occurrences in North Korea’s prisons, according to dramatic testimony from former inmates at a U.N. Commission of Inquiry that opened in South Korea’s capital on Tuesday.

This is the first time that the North’s human rights record has been examined by an expert panel, although the North, now ruled by a third generation of the founding Kim family, denies that it abuses human rights. It refuses to recognize the commission and has denied access to investigators.

Harrowing accounts from defectors now living in South Korea related how guards chopped off a man’s finger, forced inmates to eat frogs and a mother to kill her own baby.

“I had no idea at all … I thought my whole hand was going to be cut off at the wrist, so I felt thankful and grateful that only my finger was cut off,” said Shin Dong-hyuk, punished for dropping a sewing machine.

Born in a prison called Camp 14 and forced to watch the execution of his mother and brother whom he turned in for his own survival, Shin is North Korea’s best-known defector and camp survivor. He said he believed the U.N. panel was the only way to improve human rights in the isolated and impoverished state.

“Because the North Korean people cannot stand up with guns like Libya and Syria … I personally think this is the first and last hope left,” Shin said. “There is a lot for them to cover up, even though they don’t admit to anything.”

There are a 150,000-200,000 people in North Korean prison camps, according to independent estimates, and defectors say many inmates are malnourished or worked to death.

After more than a year and a half ruling North Korea, Kim Jong Un, 30, has shown few signs of changing the rigid rule of his father, Kim Jong Il, and grandfather, state founder Kim Il Sung. Neither have there been signs of a thaw or loss of control inside the tightly controlled state.

Jee Heon-a, 34, told the Commission that from the first day of her incarceration in 1999, she discovered that salted frogs were one of the few things to eat.

“Everyone’s eyes were sunken. They all looked like animals. Frogs were hung from the buttons of their clothes, put in a plastic bag and their skins peeled off,” she said. “They ate salted frogs and so did I.”

Speaking softly, she took a deep breath when describing in detail how a mother was forced to kill her own baby.

“It was the first time I had seen a newborn baby and I felt happy. But suddenly there were footsteps and a security guard came in and told the mother to turn the baby upside down into a bowl of water,” she said.

“The mother begged the guard to spare her, but he kept beating her. So the mother, her hands shaking, put the baby face down in the water. The crying stopped and a bubble rose up as it died. A grandmother who had delivered the baby quietly took it out.”

“TOUGH NUT”

Few experts expect the commission to have an immediate impact on the rights situation, although it will serve to publicize a campaign that has little visibility globally.

“The U.N. has tried various ways to pressure North Korea over the years in the field of human rights, and this is a way to raise the pressure a bit,” said Bill Schabas, professor of international law at Middlesex University in Britain.

“But it’s obvious that North Korea is a tough nut to crack and the U.N.’s means are limited. There would need to be profound political changes in North Korea to make headway in the field of human rights.”

But there appeared to be little interest in the issue in Seoul. Only a few dozen people, including journalists, attended the public hearing at a city center university.

Defectors are largely shunned or ignored in South Korea and eke out an existence in menial jobs, if they have them at all, according to official data.

Kim Jong Un stepped up the nuclear weapons and rocket programs launched by his father with a third nuclear test and two rocket launches and emphasizes the military in his speeches.

This year, he threatened the United States, South Korea and Japan with nuclear attack and although the country’s bellicose moves were dismissed as empty rhetoric, Kim succeeded in driving tension on the divided Korean peninsula sharply higher.

The hope of many activists would be for the Kim dynasty to fall and for leaders in Pyongyang to be put on trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, although the U.N. commission says this is not possible for the moment.

On its website, the Commission said it was “not appropriate” to comment on any ICC jurisdiction over potential crimes against humanity as North Korea had not signed the statutes that would enable the court to prosecute.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 23, 2013 at 11:46 am

Kim Jong-il: A Socialist Obituary.

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Dead, but the Dynasty Continues – for now.

Kim Jong-il, the “dear leader” still venerated by many in North Korea but reviled abroad, has died aged 69, state media announced on Monday morning. ” reports the Guardian.

The overwhelming majority of socialists, Marxists and leftists, do not care an iota about the death of this figure.

The French Communist Daily, L’Humanité,  says the Leader died of ‘overwork’ (surmenage).

It descriibes him the following terms,

Dictateur à la tête d’un régime totalitaire dont on ne sait que peu de choses, il a organisé un véritable culte autour de sa personne (voir la vidéo). C’est aussi l’homme qui a doté la Corée du Nord de l’arme nucléaire, déstabilisant la région et provoquant une rare hausse des tensions avec les pays voisins. L’importance des ressources investies dans le militaire, la volonté d’autosubsistance du pays comme les blocus internationaux font que sous son règne, la Corée du Nord a connu une terrible famine, dont on ne peut estimer le bilan.

A dictator, at the head of a totalitarian regime about which we are badly informed, he organised a true personality cult around himself (see video on site). He was also the person who equipped North Korea with nuclear arms, which destabilised the entire region and provoked a rare rise in tensions with all his neighbours. The diversion of funds to the military, the drive for self-sufficiency, and international sanctions, provoked a famine, whose extent we are still not able to gauge.

In place of this, what would we like to see?

We would hope that this death brings closer the moment when  the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) will fall.

That democracy will come to the people of this country.

Others take a different view (at least officially),

Liu Weimin, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said,

“We were distressed to learn of the unfortunate passing of the senior-most North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, and we express our grief about this and extend our condolences to the people of North Korea. Comrade Kim Jong-il was the great leader of the North Korean people and a close friend of the Chinese people. He made important contributions to the development of socialism in North Korea, and the development of friendly, neighbourly and co-operative relations between China and North Korea. We hope the two countries could carry on working together for peace in the Korean peninsula.” (BBC)

The Morning Star Readers & Supporters Group takes a very different line to their French Communist  comrades,

“Solidarity and condolences to the people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea over the loss of leader Kim Jong Il. Viva DPRK!”

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Another whole-hearted, genuine, expression of grief comes from this quarter,

The  Friends of Korea, New Communist Party and the Revolutionary Communist Party (M-L)– I note Scargill’s Socialist Labour Party is linked to the Friends.

Below is an extract from their recent ‘seminar’ on the regime.

“This Seminar convened to celebrate the 66th anniversary of the foundation of the Workers’ Party of Korea conveys to you its warmest and most fraternal greetings. It also wishes you the very best for your continued successes on the occasion of the 14th anniversary of your election as the General Secretary of the Party, and on the occasion of the 85th anniversary of the formation of the Down-with-Imperialism Union by the great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung.”

Now the RCP (M-L) have issued this,

“NORTH KOREA: FROM COMMUNIST PARTY GREAT BRITAIN, ML. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=nqscnaZ8kNA It is with great sadness that we learn of the death of Kim Jong Il, leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, General Secretary of the Workers Party of Korea and son of legendary freedom fighter Kim Il Sung, who was born nearly 100 years ago on 12 April 1912, and who led the struggle of the tiny but defiant Korean people to defeat that imperialist goliath US imperialism.” (Hat-Tip – Lee)  

A member of the Friends of Korea, of Indian origin, once said to me that as “Westerner” I could never understand why people supported the Kims.

Let us discard the cultural patronising this claim involves.

North Korea’s tyranny is not hard to grasp.

It is a form of military Stalinism – ‘Communism’ in quotation marks’.

The template was the first decades of the Chinese People’s Republic.

As Frank Dikötter  describes this in the recent Mao’s Great Famine (2010), the state was run on the military model that had successfully triumphed in China against the Nationalists and Japanese.

North Korea sharpened this model during its war with the South.

Does this mean that we should think of the DPRK as a land of autonomous obeying their Socialist Sovereign?

Dikötter  describes how during Mao’s Great Leap Forward, faced with mass starvation and economic collapse,there was ferocious opposition.  Peng Dehuai, a military leader himself,  paid with  his life for this. Others too perished in the purges that followed.

By their willingness to resist, the Chinese seem to have less differences  to anybody else’s  political history  than some might think.

The evidence from South Korea, in films, reporting and literature, is that they are indeed similar to ourselves: there a right, a left, a workers’ movement, and people’s lies are extremely similar to our urban existence.

I suspect that the people of the DPRK would be the same given a chance.

They too have experienced a Great, and very long-standing, famine.

When the DPRK crumbles to dust, we will know in full of those who nobly resisted Kim Jong-Il,  his family and his ‘party’.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 19, 2011 at 11:46 am

Posted in Communism, Stalinism

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