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PPSS Statement on POSCO

POSCO PRATIRODH SANGRAM SAMITI


Villages Gadkujang, Nuagaon, Dhinkia; Erasama Block, Jagatsinghpur District, Orissa.

A "Green Signal" for The Rape of Justice and the People: Environment Ministry Decision on POSCO

Jairam Ramesh and the UPA government have shown their true colours with their decision today on the POSCO project. Ignoring the reports of its own advisory bodies and enquiry committees, violating its own orders and the laws of the land, this Ministry has shown that the naked face of corporate greed - not the "rule of law", the "aam aadmi", "inclusive growth" or any of these other lies - is what rules this country. The decision today can be summarised in one sentence:
"Repeat your lies, give us promises that we all know are false, and then loot at will."

We repeat: we will not give up our lands, our forests and our homes to this company. It is not the meaningless orders of a mercenary government that will decide this project's fate, but the tears and blood of our people. Through the road of peaceful demonstrations and people's resistance we have fought this project, in the face of torture, jail, firings and killings. If this project comes it will come over our dead bodies.

We note the following about today's decision:

The Orissa government has been asked to give an "assurance" that the people of the area are not forest dwellers under the Forest Rights Act, after which the "final forest clearance" will be granted. The Orissa government has already lied on this count on numerous occasions. Indeed, the majority report of the POSCO Enquiry Committee said "The Committee finds that the government's own records such as census reports and voters list confirm that there are both other traditional forest dwellers (OTFD) and forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes in the project area and the statement of the District Collector of Jagatsinghpur to the contrary is false" (para II.1, Conclusions and Recommendations). Even the dissenting member agreed that the Act had
not been implemented. The same finding had been reached by the subcommittee of the Saxena Committee earlier. After the Ministry's own enquiry committees have found the Orissa government guilty of lying, what is the meaning of saying the project can proceed if the liars repeat their lies?

This Ministry has earlier made a song and dance of respect for people's views and environmental laws. Under the Forest Rights Act, the consent of the gram sabhas of the area is an essential requirement, and this was confirmed by the Ministry's own order. Three different committees - the Saxena Committee, the POSCO Enquiry Committee and the Ministry's own Forest Advisory Committee - all therefore said the clearance should be withdrawn. The Minister today claims that the project can go ahead if he and the Orissa government decide they want it to. So much for the law and for people's rights.

On the environment clearance, we recall again the words of the majority Enquiry Committee, which said "Potentially very serious impacts ...have not even been assessed, leave alone planned for.... The cavalier and reckless attitude of the concerned authorities to such potentially disastrous impacts is horrendous and shocks the collective conscience of the Committee....There appears to be a pre dominant belief that conditionalities in the EIA/ CRZ clearances are a
substitute for comprehensive evaluation and assessment of the environmental impact by the authorities. Imposing vague
conditionalities seems to be a way out for the various agencies from taking hard decisions on crucial issues." Again, it is not us who said this - it is the Ministry's own Committee! And yet this is exactly what the Minister has chosen to do.

Independent reports and studies by reputed academics have confirmed what we have always said - this project will be of no benefit to anyone except POSCO's profit margins. But yet we find this being called a project of "strategic importance." To whom?

Today the veil stands ripped open; the government stands exposed before the nation, a mercenary willing to put its regulations, officials and security forces at the disposal of the highest bidder. Let the UPA and the Central government answer: where is the rule of law today, in the name of which you crush struggles across the country? Where is your much vaunted love for the people and for the environment? What do you stand for if not for corporate greed?

Prashant Paikray

Spokesperson, PPSS

09437571547

Samir Amin on Egypt

Egypt at crossroads

Samir Amin
(Reproduced courtesy Viewpoint Online)

In case of "success" and "elections", the Moslem Brotherhood will become the major parliamentary force. The US welcome this and have qualified the MB of being "moderate", that is docile, accepting the submission to the US strategy, leaving Israel free to continue its occupation of Palestine. The MB is also fully in favour of the ongoing "market" system, totally externally dependent.

Egypt is a corner stone in the US plan of control of the Planet. Washington will not tolerate any attempt of Egypt to move out of its total submission, also required by Israel in order to pursue its colonization of what remains from Palestine. This is the exclusive target of Washington in its "involvement" in the organization of a "soft transition". In that respect the US may consider that Mubarak should resign. The newly appointed Vice President, Omar Soliman, head of the Army Intelligence, would be in charge. The Army was careful not to associate with the repression, thus preventing its image.

Baradei comes in at that point. He is still more known outside than in Egypt, but could correct that quickly. He is a "liberal", having no concept of the management of the economy other than the on going, and cannot understand that this is precisely at the origin of the social devastation. He is a democrat in the sense that he wants "true elections" and the respect of law (stop arresting and torturing etc), but nothing more.

It is not impossible that he would be a partner in the transition. Yet the Army and the Intelligence will not abandon their dominant position in the ruling of the society. Will Baradei accept it ?

In case of "success" and "elections", the Moslem Brotherhood will become the major parliamentary force. The US welcome this and have qualified the MB of being "moderate", that is docile, accepting the submission to the US strategy, leaving Israel free to continue its occupation of Palestine. The MB is also fully in favour of the ongoing "market" system, totally externally dependent. They are also, in fact, partners in the "compradore" ruling class. They took a position against the working class strikes and the peasants struggles to keep their ownership of land.

The US plan for Egypt is very similar to the Pakistani model : a combination of "political Islam" and Army intelligence. The MB could compensate their alignment on such a policy by precisely being "not moderate" in their behavior towards the Copts. Can such a system be delivered a certificate of "democracy"?

The movement is that of urban young, particularly holders of diplomas with no job, supported by segments of the educated middle classes, democrats. The new regime could perhaps make some concessions – enlarge the recruitment in the State apparatus – hardly more.
Of course things could change if the working class and peasant’s movement moves in. But this does not seem to be on the agenda. Of course as long as the economic system is managed in accordance with the rules of the "globalization game", none of the problems which resulted in the protest movement can be really solved.
___________________________________________________________________________________________
Samir Amin is an Egyptian economist. He currently lives in Dakar, Senegal. He has written more than 30 books including Imperialism & Unequal Development, Specters of Capitalism: A Critique of Current Intellectual Fashions, Obsolescent Capitalism: Contemporary Politics and Global Disorder and The Liberal Virus. His memoirs were published in October 2006.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

In Tunisia and Egypt the revolutions are underway

In Tunisia and Egypt the revolutions are underway


Statement by the Bureau of the Fourth International




“The most indubitable feature of a revolution is the direct interference of the masses in historical events. In ordinary times the state, be it monarchical or democratic, elevates itself above the nation, and history is made by specialists in that line of business - kings, ministers, bureaucrats, parliamentarians, journalists. But at those crucial moments when the old order becomes no longer endurable to the masses, they break over the barriers excluding them from the political arena,(...). The history of a revolution is for us first of all a history of the forcible entrance of the masses into the realm of rulership over their own destiny.”

Leon Trotsky, Preface to History of the Russian Revolution

The situation as with any revolution is changing from hour to hour. Any evaluation will undoubtedly be overtaken by events within a few hours or days. But already we can say that the Tunisia and Egyptian people are writing the first pages of the revolutions of the 21st century. They are sending shock waves throughout the Arab world, from Algiers to Ramallah, from Amman to Sana’a in Yemen. These revolutions result, within the particular historical conditions of this society, from the crisis that is shaking the world capitalist system. The “poverty riots” are combined with an immense mobilisation for democracy. The effects of the world economic crisis combined with the oppressive dictatorships, are making these countries the weak links in imperialist domination in the current situation. They are creating the conditions for the opening of processes of social and democratic revolution.

Demonstrations, strikes, mass meetings, self-defence committees, mobilisations by trade unions and civil associations, mobilisation of all the popular classes, “those below” and “those in the middle” who are swinging over into insurrection, “those above who can no longer rule as before”, convergence between parties from the radical opposition against the system, these are all the ingredients of a pre-revolutionary or revolutionary situation that is today ready to explode.

It is today the turn of Egypt to see hundreds of thousands of workers, young people and unemployed stand up against the dictatorship of Mubarak.

In Tunisia, a bloody dictatorship was cut down. It was the focus of the hatred of a whole society; the popular classes and especially of youth. The Ben Ali regime, its repression, its corruption, a system supported by all the imperialist powers, France, the USA, the European Union, had to be thrown out.

It is this same movement that is sweeping through Egypt today.

There are, of course, historical differences between the two countries. Egypt is the most populous country in the Arab world. It has a decisive geostrategic place in the Middle East. The structures of the State, the institutions, and the role of the Army are different there. But it is the same basic movement that is affecting the two countries.

The Tunisian masses could longer stand an economic system - “a good pupil of the world economy” according to Mr. Strauss-Kahn - which starved them. The explosion of the prices of basic foodstuffs, unemployment of almost 30%, and hundreds of thousands of trained and qualified young people without jobs constituted fertile ground for the growth of a social revolt that, combined with a political crisis, led to a revolution.

There were dramatic price rises for all essential products, including rice, wheat and corn, between 2006 and 2008. The price of rice tripled in five years, passing from approximately $600 per ton in 2003 to more than $1800 per ton in May 2008.

The recent increase in the price of the grain is illustrated by a jump of 32% recorded during second half of 2010 in the compound index of food prices.

The big rise in prices of sugar, cereals and oilseed products took world food prices to record levels in December, exceeding those of 2008, which had started riots throughout the world.

At the same time, the IMF and the WTO are demanding the lifting of all tariff barriers and an end to all food subsidies.

The recent speculative rise in food prices encouraged a worldwide development of famine on an unprecedented scale, which is hitting a series of countries in Africa and the Arab world.

Egypt has also experienced the effects of this explosion of food prices. The economy does not create enough jobs to provide for the population’s needs. The neoliberal policies implemented since 2000 have caused an explosion of inequalities and the impoverishment of millions of families. Nearly 40% of the 80 million Egyptians continue to live on less than two dollars per day. And 90% of the unemployed are young people under 30.

The other remarkable thing is that the Egyptian national trade-union federation – led by members of the government – has partly withdrawn its support for the government in the two weeks since the Tunisian insurrection. They wanted price controls, wage rises and a system of subsidised distribution of foodstuffs; the people not being able to obtain basic necessities such as tea or oil. That the union leaders should demand this is unprecedented because they have been convinced neo-liberal supporters. That is the impact of the Tunisian events.

In Tunisia, this revolution has deep roots. The current social movement is the result of a cycle of mobilisations and movements which draw their strength from the history of the struggles of the Tunisian people and its organisations, in particular, many associations for human rights and democratic freedoms and trade unions like many sectors of the UGTT (General Union of the Tunisian Workers):

- the fight of certain personalities for freedom of expression and to travel in 1999,

- the high-school students’ movement in 2000,

- the mobilisations against the war in Iraq in 2001,

- the second Intifadah in 2002-2003,

- strikes and demonstrations in Gafsa in 2008,

- Ben Guerdane in June 2010,

- Sidi Bouzid, which at the end of 2010 opened up the way for the revolution.

It is a historical movement that started with this combination of social revolt and overthrowing a dictatorship but which today seeks to go further. It is a radical democratic revolution that has anticapitalist social demands.

Ben Ali had to flee, but the essence of his gangster system stayed in place. The force of the mobilisation has constrained the former Ben Ali supporters to leave the government gradually but, as we are writing this statement, the Prime Minister is still the Ben Ali supporter Ghannouchi.

The revolution wants to go further: “RCD out! ”, “Ghannouchi out! ”, behind these demands, it is the whole of the political system, all the institutions, all the repressive apparatus that should be eradicated. It is necessary to finish with the whole Ben Ali system, and to establish all democratic rights and freedoms: right of free expression, right to strike, right to demonstrate, pluralism of associations, trade unions and parties; abolish the presidency and install a provisional revolutionary government!

Getting rid of the dictatorship and of all operations that want to protect the power of the ruling classes means today opening a process of free elections for a constituent Assembly. This process must be based on the organisation of committees, councils, coordination and popular councils that have emerged from the process if it is not to be confiscated by a new oligarchic regime.

In this process, the anticapitalists will defend the key demands of a programme breaking with imperialism and capitalist logic: satisfaction of the vital needs of the popular classes - bread, wages, jobs; reorganization of the economy on the basis of fundamental social needs - free and adequate public services, schools, health, women’s rights, radical land reform, socialization of the banks and key sectors of the economy, broadening social protection for unemployment, health and retirement, cancellation of the debt, national and popular sovereignty. This is the programme of a democratic government that would be at the service of the workers and the population.

At the same time, whether it is to organize the defence of the districts, to drive out RCD leaders of state administration or big companies, to reorganize the distribution of the food substances, workers and young people are organising their own assemblies and committees. The most combative sectors and most radical must support, stimulate, organize and coordinate all these self-organisation structures. They are something to build on to establish a democratic power of the popular classes.

In Egypt, at the time we are writing this statement, the country is in a state of insurrection. In spite of bloody repression, the waves of mobilisation of the people develop. Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators are in the streets of Cairo, Alexandria and Suez. The party office of the ruling NDP and symbols of the regime have been attacked. The hatred for the Mubarak system, the total rejection of corruption, and the demand for satisfaction of vital social demands against price rises have provoked and stimulated the mobilisation of all the popular classes. The regime is vacillating. The Army leadership supported by the USA has tried a "self-managed coup" putting Omar Suleiman, head of the secret services and pillar of the current regime, alongside Mubrak as vice-president. The army is strained. There have been scenes of fraternisation between the people and the soldiers but faced with the determination of the Egyptians the Army leadership could also choose confrontation and harsh repression. The demand of the millions in the streets is crystal clear: Mubarak must go, but it is the whole dictatorship, the whole repressive apparatus that must be brought down and a democratic process with all rights and freedoms set in place. The call for a day of mobilisation on 1st February is the next step.

In Egypt too, it is necessary to finish with dictatorship and to found a democratic process with all the rights and fundamental democratic liberties.

The current movement is the most important since the 1977 bread riots but here again it has deep roots.

For the last 30 years Mubarak has maintained a dictatorial regime, imprisoning and murdering his opponents, suppressing any independent expression of the social movement and political opposition. The electoral masquerade of November 2010, entirely controlled by the NDP which won more than 80% of the seats, is the latest example. In the last few years there have been important strike movements particularly of the textile workers of El-Mahalla, general strikes and demonstrations and protests by different social categories, big anti-imperialist mobilisations against the military occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan in 2004, marking the disavowal and isolation of a regime that is held up only by support of the USA and the European Union.

Egypt is, with Israel and Saudi Arabia, one of the three pillars of imperialist policy in the region. The USA, Israel and Europe will do everything they can to prevent Egypt escaping from their zone of influence and will do everything they can to oppose a revolutionary development of the protests.

The Tunisian revolution set the Arab world ablaze. It is also for a whole generation their first revolution. Everything can change today with the rising of the Egyptian people. The mobilisation will undoubtedly have repercussions through the region, in particular encouraging the Palestinians despite the shameful statement of Mahmoud Abbas.

We have to build a solidarity wall around the revolutionary processes which developing in Tunisia and Egypt, supported by active solidarity with the mobilisations throughout the Arab world. We cannot ignore the possibility of bad blows from the repressive apparatus of Ben Ali, or the threats of his friend Gaddafi. Also, if the regime decides on confrontation the Army leaders could unleash bloody repression.

Faced with the deepening of the revolutionary process, the western powers and the ruling classes will try to take back control by breaking this immense hope.

The Tunisian and Egyptian people must be able to count on the whole of the international labour movement, on all the global justice movement. In the trade unions, associations, the left parties, we must support the fights of these peoples and the revolt thundering through the Arab world.

Live the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions!

Solidarity with the fights in the Arab world!

Bureau of the Fourth International

8pm in Paris, 30th of January 2011

The Arab Revolution has started

The Arab Revolution has started


Declaration of the DIP (Initiative for a Revolutionary Workers Party of Turkey) on the events in Tunisia

(Translated into English by Radical Socialist)

1. The DIP welcomes with great joy and respect the heroic struggle of the Tunisians workers and unemployed, who faced the police bullets to finally topple Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. Ben Ali subjected the country to a brutal dictatorship for 23 years. What is taking place in Tunisia is a political revolution. Only time would tell us whether this revolution transcends to a social revolution that challenges bourgeois rule or not. It seems unlikely given the fact that even the trade union movement is not an independent force in Tunisia - let alone socialist - and that imperialism now comes into play to stop the revolution. However, on the other hand, is the fact that the working class in Tunisia - old and young, men and women - has begun to arm itself, even if with nothing more than sticks, with the aim of protecting its neighborhoods and establishing self-defense committees, which can be considered as centers of workers' power in a primitive stage. In any case, support for the Tunisian working class and youth - to protect their insurrection from the forces trying to leave half way - is an obligation for the entire international working class and the world revolutionary movement. The most important task now is to fight against the brakes applied to the revolution by the pro-EU globalizors of "democracy", in the hands of the bourgeoisie and its allies. Since this kind of regime cannot in any way eliminate or even alleviate the poverty amongst the workers and the unemployed youth of Tunisia, it is not worth the sacrifice of the great martyr of the revolution, Mohammed Bouazizi, or the death of more than 100 workers during the incidents.

2. The Tunisian revolution is, by far the most important consequence in this zone of the class struggle of the great depression that shook the world since 2008. The immediate cause of the long months of struggle that culminated in the revolution was the rise in unemployment to an unbearable level, as a result of the blow given to the tourism industry by the economic crisis that has spread around the world and rocked Europe, Tunisia's rich neighbor and the main source of income for the Tunisian economy. Moreover, the harsh measures imposed by the EU to prevent the immigration of workers in the context of the crisis has destroyed the hope of the youth of North Africa in individual salvation. In this regard, the Tunisian revolution has been marked by the same dynamics that led to the rebellion in Greece in 2008 and formidable class struggle in this country in 2010, Tekel's struggle in Turkey in 2010, general strikes and students' rebellions in France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Ireland and Britain throughout 2010. Echoing the accumulated contradictions and traditions of the class struggle of the European countries of the Mediterranean coast, the poor, the unemployed and the working class of northern Africa now rise up.The Mediterranean is becoming a basin of revolution.

3. The reaction of imperialism to the revolution in Tunisia has been an example of hypocrisy. Having pontificated on the importance of democracy against nations they consider enemies, the U.S. and the EU have adopted a totally different approach with respect to Tunisia. The EU and particularly France, the former colonial power in Tunisia, did not utter a word about the events that killed more than 50 youth. Having remained silent for a long time, earlier the U.S. and then the EU detected the imminent catastrophe of the Ben Ali regime and maneuvered to differentiate itself from the the old regime. Obama, a hero to many, finally "applauded" the Tunisian people, but only after the fall of Ben Ali. Having reported daily on incidents in Iran after the elections last year, and constantly insisted on the murder of Neda, one of the few victims of the mullahs in those incidents, the media of the imperialist countries looked the other way while the youth was massacred in Tunisia (and later in Algeria). Both the U.S. and the EU remained silent until the last moment, because they considered the pro-imperialist Ben Ali, who was even subservient to Zionism, useful to their interests. France also fears a mass revolutionary victory in North Africa, because it could motivate the Beurs (the youth of North African origin born in France), who have been the recent rebels in the suburbs of France and a new round of insurrection. The population factor is another link that unites the two shores of the Mediterranean.

4. This is the first time that the working class and masses of workers have overthrown a tyrant in the Arab world. This is bound to have resounding repercussions that are still unimaginable. The imperialist looters (in Iraq and Lebanon) of the great Arab civilization and its lackeys; kings, sheiks, emirs (Gulf countries), dictators (in Egypt, Syria, Algeria, Sudan and Libya) and bureaucrats (of Palestine): all tremble! The Arab working people are preparing to take their destiny into their own hands! Their days are numbered! In all Arab countries, the masses are looking at the unemployed youth and the poor in Tunisia with unrestrained admiration. The Tunisian events have led to large demonstrations in Algeria and Jordan on class issues. However, their main impact will be developed in the coming years and even decades. At the same time, the insurrection in Tunisia has created a great opportunity to put forward socialism as an alternative to Islam, perceived in the last three decades as the only opposition to imperialism and the despotic regimes in the Arab world. The duty of the proletarian revolutionaries of Turkey and the world is to provide constant and tireless support for the emancipation of the Arab world.

5. The Tunisian revolution has also exposed the hypocrisy of the bourgeois forces in Turkey. Tayyip Erdogan, a hero in the Arab world, did not open his mouth in a month to condemn the criminal regime of Ben Ali. In line with the pseudo-democrats of the EU, the liberals did not lift a finger to support the masses against tyranny. Both the secular media and the fundamentalists engaged in a conspiracy of silence against the struggle of the masses in Tunisia. The DIP calls the working people of Turkey, the Sunnis, the Alawi and other beliefs, to choose the path of the Tunisians. This path has proven once again that not only bread, but democracy can be gained through the struggle of the working class. The road of Tunisia shines in contrast to "the exercise of democracy" in Iraq by the imperialists. Shame on those who no longer believe in the revolution and class struggle, who for years have hammered relentlessly on the idea that "the working class has become increasingly disorganized and, therefore, cannot carry on the fight"; those who have argued the nonsense that "the Muslim populations are timid and never rebel". The proletariat is adding another proud page in its long history of international struggle! And this in an overwhelmingly Muslim society.


Long live the struggle of our Tunisian worker and youth comrades!

For the permanent revolution that would lead workers to take power without stopping in the stage of "democracy" in Tunisia and elsewhere.

Long live the Socialist Federation of the Middle East.

Long live the World Revolution!

January 16, 2011

International Groups mark Global Day of Protest and demand an end to the Criminalizing of Democratic Dissent in India


Free Binayak Sen Coalition

www.freebinayaksen.org

Download hi-res photos here

 


International Groups mark Global Day of Protest and demand an end to the Criminalizing of Democratic Dissent in India

 

Supporters in 12 cities- in the U.S., Canada and the U.K.- took to the streets to mark the Global Day of Protest on January 30th demanding the freedom of Dr. Binayak Sen and many other political prisoners, the repealing of draconian laws, and the disbanding of vigilante forces in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh. The coordinated actions- demonstrations, vigils, public meetings, film screenings, public marches, etc. (click here for video) were the result of a call by the Free Binayak Sen coalition, a broad grouping of over 57 civil society groups.

 

Dr.Ramachandra Guha, a well-known historian from India who has also worked to highlight grave human right violations by the government of Chhattisgarh joined the protest in Harvard Square, Boston, and urged the 50-odd protesters not to lose sight of the many ordinary adivasis (indigenous people) who, like Dr. Sen, are also victims of persecution, and have had their homes burnt or kinsfolk murdered by state-sponsored vigilantes, but in the prevailing atmosphere of intimidation are too terrified to file FIRs or seek justice.

 

Demonstrations were held in front of the Indian Consulates in New York, San Francisco, Washington DC and London, while in Vancouver, Canada, 80 people marched from the Public Library to the Consulate of India. Panel discussions and public awareness events were held in Amherst, Dallas, Houston and Los Angeles. Supporters in the cities of Seattle and Austin held candle light vigils.

 

Protesters invoked the names of political activists, leaders of mass movements, human rights activists, journalists such as Ajay T.G., Lachit Bordoloi, Prashant Rahi, Shamim Modi, Abhay Sahoo, Bhukhan Singh, Niyamat Ansari, Govindan Kutty, Vernon Gonsalves, Ashok Reddy, Dhanendra Bhurule, Naresh Bansode, Kopa Kunjam, Sukhnath Oyami, Kartam Joga, Asit Sengupta, Sudhir Dhawale, KK Shahina, etc., some who have been charged under UAPA/CSPSA, some that have been denied bail for long periods, and often without any charges being filed; and some who have been convicted after deeply flawed judicial processes, such as Piyush Guha and Narayan Sanyal .

 

For Indian supporters of Dr. Sen, his case raises larger questions about the state’s punitive targeting of individuals (through the use of repressive legislation or extrajudicial killings, AKA “encounters”) and communities (through military offensives such as Operation Greenhunt) in response to their dissent against its vision of neoliberal development. As Dr. Manan Ganguli, who participated in protest actions in London, said, “there is a crisis in India today. Binayak’s conviction is just one example of it”.

 

The Coalition has worked since 2007 to highlight the increasing assault on civil liberties in India in the name of national security, and the use of repressive laws to target human rights defenders and journalists for speaking out about injustice and exploitation. The case of Dr. Binayak Sen, in particular, has captured the imagination of people worldwide and he has now become a highly visible symbol of a wider resistance to the political economy of resource extraction which in India has brutalized indigenous communities, and has subjected them to forced displacement, poverty and violence.

 

Dr. Binayak Sen is a renowned pediatrician, public health specialist and the national Vice-President of the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) with a lifelong commitment to the issues of community health and human rights. He was arrested in May 2007 on fabricated charges of sedition, and joined dozens of other human rights activists in Indian jails who have been arrested under draconian laws including the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA, a federal-level law), the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act (CSPSA, a state-level law) as well as other repressive legislation such as the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), Sedition laws, etc. which allow the State to bypass legally mandated due process, and are inconsistent with constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

 

Dr. Sen earned the ire of the government for opposing Salwa Judum, a private militia movement armed by the Government to combat 'Maoist insurgency'. Salwa Judum, and its current avatar, the Ma Danteshwari Swabhimani Adivasi Manch have unleashed a reign of terror in Chhattisgarh that has resulted in the displacement of at least 300,000 adivasis. Many human rights groups and independent citizen’s groups such as the Asian Center for Human Rights, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, People’s Union for Civil Liberties, and India’s National Human Rights Commission have documented these atrocities, and have called for an end to such privatized forms of state violence. The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya, has publicly expressed concern over the shrinking space for civil society in India, and about the “…branding and stigmatization of human rights defenders, labeled as ‘naxalites (Maoists)’, ‘terrorists’, ‘militants’, ‘insurgents’, or ‘anti-nationalists”.

 

The internationalization of the Free Binayak Sen campaign since 2008 has worked to highlight similarities between the struggles of marginalized and indigenous communities worldwide and has led to solidarity between seemingly disparate communities. At the rally in Vancouver, Canada, Ashley Zarbatany from the Social Justice Center at the University of British Columbia drew parallels between Dr. Sen and other icons of resistance such as Ken Saro Wiwa from the Niger Delta and environmental activist grandma Betty, “…who have become iconographic of the willingness to stand up against exploitation of the land and of human rights despite what it may cost them”.  In Boston, Sergio Rios from the ‘Boston May Day Committee’, who survived three years of incarceration under the Chilean dictator General Pinochet claimed Dr. Sen as an inspiration for everyone worldwide that is “…struggling to speak, to organize, to defend, and to help”.

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Media Contacts:

Anu Mandavilli  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; 408-480-5805

Somnath Mukherji  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; 732-423-6662

 

Further Resources:

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Pictures

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·        The International Coalition to Free Binayak Sen consists of:

 

Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia, MIT

Alliance of South Asians Taking Action, San Francisco, CA (www.asata.org)

Act Now to End War & Racism – ANSWER- San Francisco, CA

Action for a Progressive Pakistan, USA

Asian Law Alliance, San Jose, CA

Association for India’s Development (www.aidindia.org), USA

Association of South Asian Political Activists (ASAPA), UC Berkeley

Birmingham Anti-SEZ Campaign, UK

Boston Coalition for Justice in Bhopal

Boston Mobilization (www.bostonmobilization.org)

Cambridge Free Binayak Sen Group, UK

Campaign against Forced Displacement, UK (http://tinyurl.com/6mgnne)

Campaign to Stop Funding Hate (CSFH), USA

CMC Alumni in support of Binayak Sen, USA

CMC Vellore Alumni Association-U.K. Branch

Culture and Conflict Forum, San Jose, CA

Defenders of the Environment and Ecology of Panjab (DEEP), UK

Dharma Megha, East Lansing, Michigan

Friends of South Asia, San Francisco, CA (www.friendsofsouthasia.org)

Gadar Heritage Foundation, Fremont, CA

Hillingdon Asian Women's Communication Service, UK (www.hillingdonwomenscentre.org.uk)

India Foundation, East Lansing, Michigan

India Relief and Education Fund, Fremont, CA

Indian American Muslim Council, USA (www.imc-usa.org)

Indian Progressive Study Group-L.A. (IPSG)

Indian Workers Association (GB)

International Accountability Project, San Francisco, CA (www.accountabilityproject.org)

International Coalition for Justice in Bhopal (ICJB)

International League of People's Struggles, UK (www.ilps-web.com)

International Service Society, Okemos, Michigan

International South Asia Forum (INSAF), NYC

Kashmir Solidarity Network

Massachusetts Global Action

Matahari: Eye of the Day

National Lawyers' Guild– San Jose (www.nlg.org)

Our Developing World, Saratoga, CA

Pakistan Solidarity Network, USA

Peace and Human Rights Trust, UK

Peninsula Peace & Justice Center, Palo Alto, CA

Peoples Health Movement, USA

South Asia magazine for Action and Reflection (SAMAR), USA

San Jose Peace & Justice Center, San Jose, CA

Sanhati  (www.sanhati.com)

Scotland Against Criminalising Communities (SACC)

Seva International, Okemos, Michigan

Sikh American Heritage Organization, USA

South Asian Alliance, UK (www.southasianalliance.org)

South Asians for Progressive Action (SAPA), Boston

South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy (SANSAD), Canada

South Asian Progressive Action Collective, Chicago (www.sapac.org)

South Asia Solidarity Group, UK (www.southasiasolidarity.org)

South Asia Solidarity Initiative, New York

South Bay Mobilization, San Jose, CA

Students for Bhopal, USA (www.studentsforbhopal.org)

The 1857 Committee (http://1857.org.uk)

Vaishnava Center for Enlightenment, Okemos, Michigan

Vedanta Society of East Lansing, Michigan

Western States Legal Foundation (WSLF) Oakland, CA  (www.wslfweb.org)

Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom (WILPF) -San Jose, CA

EGYPT: Global civil society condemns abuses, calls for democratic reform and elections

A Joint Statement by a global civil society actors, including the Asian Legal Resource Centre

EGYPT: Global civil society condemns abuses, calls for democratic reform and elections

1 February, 2011

We, civil society organizations from across the world, strongly urge all governments, as well as regional and international organizations, to clearly and unequivocally denounce the ongoing violent crackdown against the public protests and demands for democratic reform and government accountability that have been occurring across Egypt since the 25th of January.

The Egyptian government has responded to protests with excessive force. This has included wide-spread use of beatings, arbitrary detentions and the use of rubber bullets and allegedly live ammunition against unarmed civilians, resulting in over a hundred deaths. Moreover, a state imposed black-out on national cell phone services, the internet and independent media channels was put in place on the 28th of January, making it very difficult for Egyptians to report any abuses occurring. On that same day the Egyptian government began to deploy military forces in supplement of internal security forces.

With the strong risk that repression, violence and instability in Egypt could escalate to unprecedented levels in the coming days, it is critical that individual governments from all regions of the world urgently exert strong and concerted pressure on the Egyptian government to curb human rights abuses.

We call on the United Nations, its Member States and regional bodies to condemn the serious and widespread human rights violations carried out by the Egyptian authorities against civilians throughout the country. The international community must remind the Egyptian government of its international human rights obligations, urge it to fully respect the rights to peaceful assembly, freedom of movement and freedom of expression, and support the demands of the Egyptian people for the holding of free and fair elections and the ending of the decades long State of Emergency law which has been used to enforce authoritarian rule.

Signatories:

Action for People's Democracy (Thailand)
The African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS)
The Africa Democracy Forum (ADF)
Ain O Salish Kendra (Bangladesh)
Aitzaz Ahsan and Associates, Advocates and Attorneys(Pakistan)
Alkarama Foundation (Switzerland)
Angikar Bangladesh Foundation (Bangladesh)
Article 19
Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization
Asian Citizen’s Center for Environment and Health-South Korea (ACCEH)
Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD), the Philippines
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC)
Asia Monitor Resource Centre- Hong Kong (AMRC)
Bangladesh Occupational Safety, Health and Environment Foundation (OSHE)
Bahrain Centre for Human Rights
The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
Cambodian Center for Human Rights
Centre for Independent Journalism (Malaysia)
Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales- CELS (Argentina)
Center for Health and Social Change- South Korea (CHSC)
Centre for Legal Awareness and Support (India)
Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR), the Philippines
CIVICUS World Alliance for Citizen Participation
The Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies (CSBR)
Collectif des Familles des Desparus en Algerie
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI)
Committee to Support Imprisoned Workers (South Korea)
Community Legal Aid Institute, (Indonesia)
Community Resource Centre- Thailand (CRC)
Conectas Direitos Humanos (Brazil)
DAGA Center for JustPeace in Asia (Thailand)
Damascus Centre for Human Rights
Democracy Coalition Project (DCP)
Democratic Workers' Solidarity (South Korea)
The East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRP)
Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research, Inc.- Philippines (EILER)
Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EURMED)
Federation of Independent Trade Union- Indonesia (GSBI)
Franciscans International (Switzerland)
Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT)
Friends of Women (Malaysia)
Human Rights Agenda (Nigeria)
Human Rights First (USA)
Human Rights Watch (HRW)
Imagination for International Solidarity- South Korea (IFIS)
Information & Culture Nuri for Disabled Koreans (South Korea)
International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF)
International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
Jagaran Media Center- Nepal (JMC)
Janasansadaya (Sri Lanka)
Japan Occupational Safety and Health Resource Center
JINBONET (South Korea)
Justice for Peace Foundation (Thailand)
Korea Center for United Nations Human Rights Policy- South Korea (KOCUN)
Korean Federation of Medical Groups for Health Rights- South Korea (KFHR)
Korean House for International Solidarity- South Korea (KHIS)
Lawyers for Liberty (Malaysia)
The Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH)
Maldives Democracy Network (Maldives)
MINBYUN-Lawyers for a Democratic Society (South Korea)
Muntada - Arab Forum for Sexuality Education and Health (Palestine)
Network of Accessible Environments for All (South Korea)
Open Society Foundations
The Other Media (India)
Palestine Peace Solidarity of South Korea (South Korea)
Partnership for Justice (Nigeria)
People's Health Movement (USA)
Peoples Training & Research Centre (India)
Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Malaysia)
PILIPINA Legal Resources Center (Philippines)
RightOnCanada.ca
River, indigenous people and human rights watch Arunachal (India)
Sisters' Arab Forum for Human Rights (Yemen)
Sisters in Islam (Malaysia)
Solidarity Against Disability Discrimination- South Korea (SADD)
Solidarity for LGBT Human Rights of Korea (South Korea)
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
Thai Labour Campaign
Triumph International Thailand Labour Union (TITLU)
Try Arm Underwear - Self-Managed Worker Cooperative (Thailand)
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
U.S. Campaign for Burma
Vikash (India)
VISION (Pakistan)
Western African Human Rights Defenders Network (WAHRDN)
Women's Aid Organization (Malaysia)
Women for Women’s Human Rights – New Ways (Turkey)
The World Organization Against Torture (OMCT)
World Student Christian Federation Asia Pacific (Hong Kong)
The World Without War (South Korea)
Zi Teng (Hong Kong)


# # #

About the ALRC: The Asian Legal Resource Centre is an independent regional non-governmental organisation holding general consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. It is the sister organisation of the Asian Human Rights Commission. The Hong Kong-based group seeks to strengthen and encourage positive action on legal and human rights issues at the local and national levels throughout Asia.

Egypt: Founding declaration of new independent trade union federation


Egyptian Federation for Independent Unions Constitutional Body Creation



Egypt is going through historical moments… Its people is courageously struggling to defend the right to live a decent life… the right to dignity, freedom and social justice… to decent opportunities and just pay… to a democratic society for all, offering every single citizen a share in its wealth and GNP… a society that does not allow few to buy private jets whereas the rest of the population cannot even afford public transportation… a society that refuses to pay the top of the pyramid salaries higher thousand of time than minimum wage.

A society that allows its people to breathe freely… to freely speak, interact and express itself… a society that allows all people categories and classes to defend their interests and negotiate freely… a society that does not oppress its people, inhibits its ambitions and natural tendencies to develop workers capacities and improve their life conditions.

Workers and people struggled for decades and participated, especially since 4 years, in unprecedented recurrent protest actions to defend their legal rights. They succeeded in their endeavor despite the lack of independent union organization, stolen piece by piece for decades. They succeeded in attracting larges social sectors, and mobilizing greater sympathy among the Egyptian society, workers and union movements.

Workers defended their right to work to face unemployment specter – that devours youth – and demanded to set a new fair minimum wage that guarantees decent living for all workers. They fought courageously to defend their democratic right to organize and create independent union organizations.

Labor struggles paved the way to today’s people revolution. That is why Egypt workers and employees totally refuse that the “governmental” general federation represents them and speaks in their name, because it often denied their rights and claims and even issued the famous statement on January 27 claiming to oppose every single protest action during this period.

Therefore, independent unions and committees [RETA, Retired Workers Union, Health professionals Union, Teachers Independent Union] along with workers independent groups in industries declare the creation of Egyptian Federation for Independent Unions and its constitutional body on Sunday the 30th of January 2011 and emphasizes on the following:

Egypt citizens right to work – and binding the government to “unemployment compensation”.

Define a minimum wage no less than 1200 LE, with a yearly raise proportionate to inflation; guarantee workers rights to bonuses and benefits according to work value, especially work compensation for those facing work hazards. Moreover, maximum wage should never exceed
minimum wage by more than ten times.
The right for all Egyptian citizens to fair social security including the right to health care, housing, education “ensuring free education and syllabus development to cope with science and technology evolution”, the right for all retired to decent pensions and benefits.

Workers and employees right to organize, to create their own bylaws, to remove all legal restrictions regarding this right.

Free all detainees imprisoned after January 25th.

Egypt Federation for Independent Unions Constitutional Body invites all Egypt workers to create civil committees in order to defend their workplace, workers and citizens during these critical times and to organize protest actions and strikes in the workplaces, except for vital sectors workplaces, to realize Egypt people claims.



Egyptian Federation for Independent Unions
The “Constitutional Body”
30/01/2011

http://www.unionbook.org/profiles/blogs/egypt-founding-declaration-of

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