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A look at the experience of the LPP and the Pakistani Left


1 April 2010

In the course of a two-week stay in Pakistan, I was able to take part, on January 27-28, 2010 in the Fifth Congress of the Labour Party Pakistan (LPP). This organization, founded in 1997, has developed remarkably over the last few years: in terms of numerical growth (today it has more than 7,000 members), geographical spread (it is now present in all the provinces of the country) and social roots (among peasants, workers, women…). This development is all the more significant as not so long ago, the principal historical core of the LPPP was still only a small political small group (“Struggle”) of Trotskyist origin, present above all in Punjab, which was joined, for the foundation of a new organization, by a handful of cadres of the Communist Party, especially in Sind.

The dynamism of the LPP contrasts with the inertia of the traditional Left in a country which has experienced a succession of military regimes, which is torn apart by the confrontation of Sunni and Shiite religious fundamentalisms, and which has been destabilized by the war conducted by NATO in Afghanistan and by the murderous actions of the Talibans. The experience of the LPP is particularly interesting.

A historically weak Pakistani Left

Two partitions. In 1947, the workers’ movement was weak in the provinces of the British Indian Empire which make up present-day Pakistan. The partition of the country and the gigantic migrations which accompanied it (12 million displaced persons, under terrible conditions) cut the Left off from its bastions in the sub-continent (such as Bengal). Two decades later, the war of 1971 led to the rupture between West Pakistan and East Pakistan. This second partition also weakened Pakistani Communism. In fact, the Left then was at that point better established in what became Bangladesh, in particular because large Hindu populations had remained there instead of migrating to the Indian side of the border. In a more general way the traumatic partitions of 1947 and 1971 led to successive waves of intercommunal xenophobia and racism (including anti-Bengali racism in Punjab) which were very unfavourable to progressive movements.

In 1947, the Indian Communist Party accepted the principle of partition. Consequently, its members in the Muslim communities went to Pakistan, and vice versa, giving rise to two Communist parties: Indian (CPI) and Pakistani (PCP). They hoped then that the Muslim references of the new state would remain more cultural than religious. This hope was initially encouraged by the secular conceptions advocated by the “founding father” of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah; but it could not resist the progressive Islamization of the country.

Repression. The Communist Party quickly became the object of repression. It was banned for the first time in 1951 and again in 1955. However, in 1951, it probably only had (in West Pakistan) some 200 members. To reconstitute itself, it merged into various regroupments and took part in the creation in 1957 of the National Awami Party (NAP, National People’s Party). The PCP had neither the solid programmatic framework nor the organisational coherence to survive such “entryist” experiences unscathed. The Communist activists found themselves in a subordinate position in relation to leaderships that were nationalist, reformist and often bourgeois.

The Sino-Soviet Conflict. The Pakistani communist movement had to face further problems. The Sino-Soviet conflict caused deep splits in its ranks, as it did in many other places. But the political crisis of the Left in Pakistan led to a particularly serious situation of paralysis. In India, a first split in the (pro-Soviet) CPI gave rise to a party which wanted to be independent of both Moscow and Beijing - the CPI-Marxist (CPI-M). Then a second wave of splits saw the emergence of a Maoist far-Left, known as “Naxalites” (from the location of a peasant insurrection in 1967) and engaged in armed struggle. Although deeply divided, the Indian Left kept significant forces.

Things turned out very differently in Pakistan. Considering the prestige of the Chinese Revolution, the influence of Maoism became important. However, as from 1965, Beijing gave the military regime its support against India, itself allied with the USSR. Under these conditions, not only did Pakistani Maoism not have the radical character of its Indian counterpart, but it even supported for a time the dictatorship of General Ayub Khan, in the name of the “progressive” character of its foreign policy.

The Soviet bureaucracy was allied with the Indian state and the Chinese bureaucracy with the Pakistani state – that is, with two states which were at war with each other. The Pakistani Communists paid a very high price for this deadly game.

The missed occasion of 1968-1969. The Pakistani communist movement had also inherited the strategic vision of the CPI, of Stalinist origin, “stageist”: waiting for a bourgeois-democratic revolution before which it would be vain to propose a socialist perspective to popular struggles. Very weak on the organisational level, it was also politically and ideologically powerless when an immense wave of workers’, peasant and student struggles erupted in the country in 1968-1969, creating for several months a kind of situation of social dual power. The Pakistani Communists neither wanted to nor knew how to seize the occasion.

The occasion was, however, all the more important as 1968 was the year of the Tet offensive in Vietnam, of the student barricades and the general strike in May in France, of the Prague Spring and of many other struggles in the world. American imperialism would not have found it easy to intervene militarily in Pakistan if that had been necessary.

The PPP. Under these conditions, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), formed in 1967, was able to capitalize on the wave of social radicalisation, winning the 1970 elections. It received the support and the adhesion of many progressive milieux and many trade union cadres, encouraged by the socialist rhetoric and the economic measures advocated by its leader, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Thus, when the PPP came to power in 1972, Communists were included in the government. Reforms, sometimes radical, were indeed implemented (nationalizations of key sectors), but that was nothing exceptional at the time. Since the Bhuttos themselves were representatives of a big feudal-capitalist family in Sind, it was vain to hope that they would attack the established order, and the left wing of the party proved incapable of breaking the control that this clan exercised over the PPP.

When workers took to the streets in May-September 1972, the government decided to drown this popular movement in blood: the resulting repression left dozens dead in the port and industrial metropolis of Karachi. Bhutto had already supported the war against the Bengalis in 1971, as well as repressing the Baluchi people. In 1973, he introduced into the Constitution, for the first time, an Islamist definition of the Pakistani state, a decision that was fraught with consequences. Although disillusioned, the Pakistani Left proved unable to present an alternative to the PPP.

The road was open for the growth of radical religious currents of the far-Right. In 1977, the coup d’état of General Zia Ul Haq installed a new military dictatorship and initiated the process of systematic Islamization of the country. After Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was hanged in 1979, the PPP once again took on a progressive coloration in the eyes of the trade-union and progressive activists who were resisting the dictatorship. The Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) was born in 1981 with the participation of all the wings of the PPP, right, left and centre.

The 1980s: from the “Struggle” group to the LPP

“Struggle” was born in 1980; at that time its founding nucleus was living in exile in the Netherlands. It belonged to the Trotskyist current organised around the British “Militant”, whose principal leader was Ted Grant (Isaac Blank): the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI). In every country its sections employed entryist tactics, for example in the Labour Party in Britain. In Pakistan it was in the PPP, given the hopes that the working class placed in this party and taking into account that, faced with the military dictatorship, the fight for democracy was the most urgent task of the moment.

In 1986, after eight years of exile, the leading nucleus of “Struggle” returned to live in Pakistan, publishing the monthly magazine Mazdoor Jeddojuhd ("Workers’ Struggle”). It was very quickly confronted with a situation of generalized crisis of the traditional Pakistani Left. The illusions in the PPP were again dissipated after the coming to power of Benazir Bhutto in 1988. The implosion of the USSR created a deep feeling of despair, of absence of perspectives, in quite broad layers. Twice orphaned (from the PPP and from the “socialist camp”), the parties of Stalinist origin lost most of their militant forces. The beginning of the 1990s was a period of ideological reaction, encouraging the development of fundamentalist movements.

Class independence. In this context of generalized political and ideological confusion, the group which would found the LPP maintained its socialist programmatic course. In 1991 it ended its entryist policy, judging rightly that the working class was going to take its distance from the PPP. In order to build an alternative, the perspective of the creation of a workers’ party by the trade unions was launched in 1993. For this purpose, Jeddojud Inlabi Tehrik (JIT, Struggle Revolutionary Movement) was set up the following year. It addressed a fundamental question: the political independence of the working class. As we have already noted, through alliances with various bourgeois forces, the traditional communist organizations had abandoned this terrain, eroding their identity and finding themselves systematically in a subordinate position within the nationalist fronts, blocs and parties.

The project which gave birth in 1997 to the LPP can be firstly defined in this way: to take up again the fight for class independence, in its social, political and programmatic dimensions. By doing this, the militants who came from the “Struggle” group were able to win to this project trade-union cadres and members of the PCP who did not accept that their party no longer talked about socialism.

The break with the CWI. The break between what became the LPP and its origins came in two stages. The CWI split in 1991, one of the key issues being whether or not to end entryism. Ted Grant and his supporters were in a minority, but had the support of the majority of “Struggle”. The minority in Pakistan founded Young Fighters in 1992 to lay the basis for an independent organization, and JIT the following year, whose success paved the way for the launching of the LPP.

The final break with the CWI came in 1997-98 because of the opposition of the international leadership to the launching of the LPP, and more broadly to the idea that national sections could determine their own tactics. The foundation of the LPP caused in 1997-1998 the final rupture with the CWI, which maintained an entryist policy within the PPP.

The influence of the “Militant” current seems to have been for a period very real in Pakistan, Ted Grant being a reference for intellectuals and journalists. One of the members of parliament of the PPP belonged to their organization. But it is quite difficult to measure the cohesion and the implantation of an entryist current: if it does not conquer the leadership of the party in which it operates (which happens only in exceptional cases), the moment of truth comes when it engages in building an independent organisation. Through putting off this moment and because of divisions (this international current experienced several successive splits), it seems that with the exception of the LPP, the groups coming from the “Militant” in Pakistan have lost their substance and the hey days for them seems to be over.

A precarious situation. At the end of the 1990s, the LPP was still in a very precarious situation. Ideological confusion on the left was then at its peak. No longer being able to turn to Moscow or Beijing, forced to recognize that there is not, within the Pakistani ruling classes, a “national bourgeois” dynamic, progressive intellectuals came to hope that the “modernization” of the country would come thanks to capitalist globalization, under the direction of the World Trade Organization (WTO). While systematically seeking to encourage alliances around concrete political issues and terrains of struggle, the LPP thus had to undertake a rather solitary political combat.

Constancy in the struggle

If the LPP has been able to develop as it has in recent years, it is obviously because there existed a space for democratic and social resistance. By its success in 2006, the World Social Forum in Karachi, in which I was able to take part, was a concrete incarnation of this space, in which there were to be found democratic, social and political movements - a space of liberty in a country living under a military regime, feeling the pressure of religious fundamentalism. Nevertheless, it was not easy to seize the occasion to bounce back politically. How did the LPP do it?

Defending its right to exist. First of all, the LPP refused to let itself be paralysed by repression. The majority of its leaders (including its women leaders) were arrested at one time or another under the Musharraf dictatorship. Its trade union and peasant cadres can be threatened with death by the henchmen of the landowners and capitalists - and some have been killed, or imprisoned by a police force under orders. In the North-West, they can be the target of the Talibans (three militants have already been assassinated). Up until now, the LPP has nevertheless succeeded in preserving its political space, its right to exist, answering repression by democratic mobilization and refusing to be driven into clandestinity. In the same way, its women militants have not given in to the rising pressure of fundamentalism.

Sense of initiative. The LPP has also demonstrated very great capacity for initiative. It has helped in the work of unionising particularly oppressed sectors of the working class, such as the workers in the brick-kilns, which are often installed in a rural environment. It has given unconditional support to peasant struggles, in spite of certain “workerist” reservations. It has initiated or taken part in many feminist struggles, with the aim of really meeting the needs of the popular sectors. It organised an intense solidarity campaign after the earthquake which devastated Kashmir in 2005. It has been fully involved in the process of the social forums, both in Pakistan and on the international level. It plays an active role in the antiwar networks on both sides of the Indo-Pakistani border and against the war in Afghanistan. It mobilized all its forces when the Lawyers’ Movement initiated the showdown with General Musharraf in 2007. It extended its intervention as far as the Swat valley, in the middle of the conflict between the army and the Talibans, and mobilized in favour of the populations of “internal refugees”, displaced by the war.

A small anecdote will serve to illustrate this sense of initiative. A delegation of the LPP took part in the World Social Forum in Nairobi, Kenya in 2007. Seeing that the organization of the forum was largely in the hands of big corporations (!) and that the restaurant prices were unaffordable for most of the participants, the LPP members bought supplies in the local markets, set up a makeshift stall and sold every afternoon an “anti-capitalist curry” which was a big success. So with a membership which remains extremely limited, the LPP covers a broad range of activities and responds quickly to political events.

Political constancy. The LPP has also shown great constancy in its political orientation. Looking for the “lesser evil”, progressive Pakistani circles have very often tended to swing from one position to another depending on the circumstances. Faced with the ineffectiveness and corruption of the parliamentary regime, many of them gave more or less open support to the army, as in 1999 at the time of Musharraf’s coup d’état – only to later place their faith in clientelist civilian parties to replace the dictatorship of the army. In the same way, they can support the military offensive against the Talibans after having shown a great deal of tolerance towards the fundamentalist movements in the name of anti-imperialism.

The LPP has always refused to choose between two evils: between the corruption of the clientelist parties and the military regimes, between the army and the religious fundamentalists, between NATO and the Talibans… There is, moreover, much complicity which link these formally opposite poles.

By maintaining against wind and weather its line of “neither the army nor the fundamentalists”, “neither NATO nor the Talibans”, the LPP has more than once found itself relatively isolated among left organizations (it currently encounters much criticism because it continues to denounce the exactions of the army instead of keeping silent in the name of the Taliban danger). But by doing this, it traced in the long term an indispensable line of class independence without which there can be no possible rebuilding on the left. That is what is most important.

Courage. Let us put it simply. You need courage to multiply political initiatives in a country like Pakistan. Not the courage of underground work or the armed struggle, but the courage of working openly on the hottest political and social “frontlines”. Such as going to demonstrate their solidarity with Christian villages attacked by the Islamists. Such as taking sides with the peasants of an army farm, subjected for three months to a total blockade by the army (the AMP had eleven members killed between 2002 and 2009). Such as the women activists who defy the fundamentalists and their moral order. Such as deciding to organize in the frontier conflict zones.

A new stage

In the last few years, the LPP has experienced an important regional extension and reinforced its social implantation. In so doing it is transforming itself, and that is what makes this experience particularly interesting. “Struggle” was at the outset an ideologically compact nucleus of activists. Although still small, the LPP presents today certain features of a mass party. Similarly, the original forces of the party were mainly based in Punjab. Although unequally, it is now present in the whole country. As a consequence, the diversity of Pakistan is reflected in the party.

Party and movements The LPP is attempting an original experiment with regard to the relationship between parties and social movements. It joins with peasant associations and with trade unions in initiatives which combine social demands and a political message in a way that is not very common in France. This was for example the case with the great popular meeting in Faisailabad which was held just after the congress of the LPP (see the insert below).

However, the LPP refuses to reproduce the “organic” relations that are so common in South Asia between parties and “their” mass organizations. It does not “possess” a trade-union or peasant “wing”. If, in its eyes, only a common front between left parties and social movements can ensure the strengthening of struggles, this alliance must take place in a transparent fashion, respecting the independence of the social movement. Already in 1994, JIT supported the formation of the Pakistan Workers Confederation (PWC), just as the LPP supported the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF), founded in 1998. More recently, it helped with the establishment of Anjaman Mozareen Punjab (AMP, Punjab Peasants’ Association), in particular in farms owned by military institutions, Then, in 2003, it facilitated the links that were established between the 22 rural organizations which formed the Pakistan Peasant Coordinating Committee (PPCC). In the same way it supports in Faisailabad the Labour Quami Movement (LQM, National Workers’ Movement).

From 1993, JIT had decided to aid, with the support of institutions, trade unions and social-democratic organizations in Sweden, the development of popular social organizations: schools intended for working children, centres of support to the trade union movement, campaigns for peace… In Pakistan, the Labour Education Foundation (LEF) played a driving role in these initiatives, in particular from the year 2000. That same year, the LPP supported the formation of Women Workers Help Line (WWHL) and of the National Student Federation (NSF) then, in 2003, of the Progressive Youth Front (PYF). The LPP and its predecessors have taken part in many unitary coalitions: from 1991, the Pakistan Anti-War Committee and, in 1992, the Joint Action Committee for People’s Rights (JAC), Lahore), and also, in 2005, the Anti-Privatization Alliance… They also took part in various experiences of left political coalitions in 1997, 2006, and still do so today.

This short summing-up of their history shows an unquestionable political continuity between the period of “Struggle” and that of the LPP: commitment to the strengthening of social movements, on all terrains. It also shows what is new: the growing weight of trade unions and peasant associations compared to the associative structures and NGOs of the early period, with a qualitative leap at the beginning of the 2000 decade. This process is still underway. A new women’s association is due to be launched in the near future at a federal level (whereas the WWHL was formed in Punjab). The rebirth of a radical student movement is still in the early stages. As for the trade union and peasant movement, it remains divided and very unevenly implanted depending on the sectors and regions…

New members. Today, recruitment to the LPP is much less “ideological” than in the past: it depends above all on the activities of the party, both political (various campaigns, the fight against the Musharraf dictatorship) and social (support to struggles). Thus not only the cadres, but also the members of the trade unions and peasant associations join it, giving it its popular base. The presence of trade union, peasant and women leaders was very noticeable during the congress of the LPP.

This popular recruitment to the LPP (still uneven depending on the region: in some places, there is still only a handful of members) is a source of strength. But recruitment to the party often remains fluid. The number of cadres who are educated on the theoretical level is limited. The LPP does not want to slow down its expansion: you have to strike the iron when it is hot. But it will be necessary for it to be able to combine expansion and consolidation, which is easier said than done.

Federalism. In another significant innovation, at its last congress the LPP no longer elected a national committee, but a federal committee. Pakistan is a puzzle of provinces and as it develops the party must take more account of this. For the first time, the 140 delegates came from all the provinces: Sind, Punjab, Baluchistan, Gilgit Baltistan, Sareiki Waseeb, Pukhtoonkhawa (North-western) and Kashmir. The intention is to establish an independent party in Pakistani-occupied Kashmir – the Labour Party Kashmir – the Kashmiris in the meanwhile remaining members of the LPP. In an indication of this situation, the discussions during the LPP congress sometimes took place between provincial delegations.

Punjab remains the strongest base, with 3,500 members. But the Pashtun North-West is the region where the LPP has recently grown most quickly (2,000 members) with the help of a small Afghan organization. Sind, where there are a good many cadres who come from the PCP, is the third-largest province by the number of members. The federal committee has 31 members, including 9 women.

It is all the more important to take account of the national realities and sensitivities of Pakistan in that the Punjabi elite to a large extent dominates (along with the Pashtuns) the army and the administration, which feeds the resentment of the other provinces. Historically, however, the basic structures of the LPP and its partner associations are also located in Punjab. The present geographical expansion of the party is contributing to better balancing its implantation, but this process is still far from being completed.

From one stage to another. A first stage has been at least partially completed over the last ten years. The LPP is not a bigger version of “Struggle”. It is a party qualitatively broader both in its composition and in its political profile: moreover it defines itself as “Marxist” and not specifically “Trotskyist” (even though the programmatic heritage of an anti-Stalinist Marxism remains obvious). Especially, its relationship with society has started to change.

Of course, a new stage of construction is beginning while at the same time the preceding one is not yet fully completed. The LPP will face new problems and will have to solve new difficulties. Nothing is definitively won, but the road that has been travelled is already full of lessons. We must take this experience into account in order to understand them.

On the left…

During my first stay in Pakistan, participating in the Karachi Social Forum of Karachi gave me a glimpse of Pakistani progressive forces and various social movements, such as the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF). However, during my subsequent visits, in 2006 (to Lahore, Rawalpindi, Murdan and Kashmir), and this time on the occasion of my second visit (to Lahore, Faisalabad, Kasur, Okara and Gujranwala), it was by the LPP - my “sister organization” - that I was (very warmly) welcomed. Even though I had the occasion to meet representatives of other currents, I did not really have time to give a proper description of the state of the Pakistani Left - nor even to visit the LPP in all the provinces. So I do not claim to present an exhaustive tableau of the situation and I will avoid drawing peremptory “conclusions”…

It seems however that the turn in the situation which the recent development of the LPP expresses is starting to be felt more widely. The illusions in the “modernising” role of globalization and the WTO are being dissipated by the capitalist crisis. Marx and Marxists are attracting a new readership. The old strategic differences that separated Stalinist, Maoists and Trotskyists are in the process of being overcome. Several groups coming from the traditional Left have just formed together the Workers Party of Pakistan (WPP) - hoping that this regrouping will last longer than some of its predecessors.

The breadth of the Lawyers’ Movement and the mass mobilizations which accompanied it, before and after the fall of Musharraf, were really exceptional. Social struggles like those of the textile workers in June 2008 in Faisalabad and the peasants of the military dairy farm in Okara are also remarkable both by their duration and by their ability to face up to repression. The convergences which are taking shape between peasant associations and trade unions - a convergence which ensured the success of the meeting in Faisailabad, shortly after the LPP congress – have very great potential. The long march of the Awami Tehreek (People’s Movement) in Sind expresses the dynamism of regional movements. The rejection of both the Talibans and the army which is becoming stronger in the North-West shows that there too, a space exists for an independent left policy, while NATO’s intervention in Afghanistan is becoming bogged down. A new wave of radicalisation seems to be taking shape in the student milieu. In this country, subjected to very strong Islamist pressures, the range of women’s resistances to “normalization” and the role that women play in many social struggles (from fishermen to peasants) are impressive. I would certainly not like to claim that the situation in Pakistan is good! But a breach has opened which can enable a radical Left, consistent in its engagements, to reconstitute itself on a scale without precedent in this country.

Internationalists!

The LPP makes very great efforts to concretize its commitment to internationalism. Over and above the activist networks and campaigns (social forums, antiwar movement…), it has forged important links in Sweden, maintains multiple political relations and takes part as a permanent observer in the life of the Fourth International. It wanted there to be as big a foreign presence as possible at its congress and at the mass meeting which followed it. Only six activists answered its call - and three of them had to abandon the voyage, since they did not obtain visas: a North-American and two Indians. So there were three of us present - an Afghan, an Australian and myself - which was too few. In 2006 already, international participation in the Karachi WSF was well below the level that would have corresponded to what is at stake in Pakistan and this part of the world. At a time when US imperialism conceives “Afpak” as a single theatre of war, it is time for us to become aware of the importance of the combat that is being undertaken by our comrades of the LPP and the Pakistani Left. And of the threats which hang over them. We have already had to conduct campaigns of solidarity to protect them from repression, and we will have to do so again in the future, and to help them to build their party in a country where there reigns such great poverty.

It is increasingly difficult for Pakistanis to obtain visas to go to Europe. It is easier for Europeans to go to Pakistan. The stay there is enthralling, because Pakistan, theatre of war, is also Pakistan, theatre of struggles. This is an invitation to make the trip.

Pierre Rousset


INSERTS

Pakistan

Pakistan was founded in 1947 with the bloody partition of the British Indian Empire. In the beginning it comprised West Pakistan (the present Pakistan) and East Pakistan (which became Bangladesh). The split between these two countries, separated by the breadth of India, occurred after the war of 1971.

With 180 million inhabitants (in 2009), Pakistan is the sixth most populous country in the world and the second biggest Muslim country, after Indonesia. The population is estimated to be more than 70 per cent Sunni and 20 per cent Shiite, with small minorities: Muslim (Sufism, Ahmadis…), Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Parsees (Zoroastrians)… In this federal state situated at the crossroads of many cultural influences, the weight of the provinces, regions and nationalities is very great, with in particular Punjab and Sind on the Indian border; Kashmir under Pakistani administration and Gilgit (in the Himalaya range) on the border between India and China; the Pashtun North-West, the tribal zones, on the Afghan border; Baluchistan on the Iran-Afghanistan border.

Allied with the United States and China, Pakistan occupies a key geopolitical place at the point where the Middle East, Central Asia and South Asia meet. It is very directly implied, at its Western border, in the war in Afghanistan. On its Eastern border, the question of Kashmir maintains a situation of latent war with India. Like the latter, it is equipped with nuclear weapons.

Largely agricultural (cotton, rice, sugar cane), the country exports especially textiles and food products. In addition to textiles, industry covers the sectors of manufactured goods, chemicals, mines and the iron and steel industry, the building industry… The weight of the service sector is important. In the countryside social relations often still have particularly brutal and unegalitarian “feudal” features.

Pakistan has experienced a process of Islamization – which began especially at the end of the 1970s - and a succession of clientelist parliamentary regimes and military regimes. Islamabad is the capital, Lahore the best known historical centre and Karachi its port and industrial metropolis.


A big worker and peasant meeting

The congress of the LPP was followed on January 29, 2010 by a big popular meeting in Faisalabad (the biggest centre of textile production in Pakistan) with nearly ten thousand participants, the big majority of whom were workers and peasants, with a significant number of women present. It was jointly called by the LPP, the National Workers’ Movement (FQM) and the Peasant Association of Punjab (AMP) around two central demands: the right to social security for all the workers of the industry; the right to land of those who cultivate it, particularly in the “military farms” which are owned by military institutions. Most of the participants arrived in their contingents, marching in with many red flags; those who came individually were rare: the LPP has only recently established its presence in this city and, especially, people hesitate to go to such political meetings for fear of bomb attacks.

The contingents came from Faisalabad and its suburbs (the trade-union contingent, including textile workers) and from rural districts around Lahore, Okara, Delapur, Renala Khurd and Kulyana. It was very important that workers and peasants were together in this way, in a common initiative. The presence of Afghan, Australian and French speakers gave it an internationalist dimension, under the historical slogan: “Workers of all lands, unite!” The meeting affirmed its solidarity with the Pashtun populations who are victims of the confrontations between the Talibans and the army, and also with the Baluchis, who have suffered atrocities at the hands of the army. This feeling of solidarity was expressed in many of the slogans: “The sufferings of each are the sufferings of all”, “Equal rights for women”, “No to discriminatory laws”. The slogans were also markedly radical: “No to the IMF and the World Bank”, “Down with American imperialism”, “Down with capitalism and feudalism”, “Asia is red”, “Our strategy is the struggle”, “Revolution is our road”. Chants stressed the fight against war and for social demands: “Give peace a chance”, “No to the drone attacks and to religious fundamentalism”, “Stop violence”. “Land or death”, “Trade union rights, our human rights”.

Many representatives of associations, movements and unions were on the platform, as well as various left currents. The meeting really made an impact. It re-occupied the Dhobi Ghat esplanade, the traditional political meeting place which had been abandoned for several years out of fear, in particular of suicide bombers. A whole range of detailed resolutions were adopted on this occasion, in defence of the rights of peasants, workers and women - so many concrete commitments made for the coming struggles.

Flashe

Poetry plays a very important part in popular culture in Pakistan. Thus, meetings are introduced and rhythmed by poems sung or recited, which are very much appreciated. This happened at the mass meeting in Faisalabad, but also at the LPP congress.

The poets are fully-fledged speakers. Thus, during the LPP congress, a poetess sang about the oppression of women: “We who give life to every value/We are ourselves without value/We who are called paradise/We live in hell”. In the same way the women delegates gave voice during the congress to many feminist slogans.

The mass meeting was called jointly by trade unions and peasant movements and by the LPP. As is the custom in Pakistan, the opening speech by the LQM included the reading of a verse from the Koran; not so the opening speech of the LPP: the political Left refuses to do that. The woman vice-president of the LQM, Sumina Sarwer, intervened wearing a light shawl. Bushra Khaliq, a woman leader of the LPP, spoke bareheaded - and received an ovation from the popular assembly (she is an excellent speaker).

To be the guest of the LPP is not a restful experience. You have to give greetings to a congress, to intervene in a mass meeting, to address a meeting of lawyers, to meet NGOs, to affirm your solidarity with peasants engaged in a struggle against the army, to attend a meeting on the role of trade unions with weaving loom workers, to discuss the world situation with left intellectuals, to tell students about 1968, to be interviewed by journalists, to talk about feminism in a town meeting… and to refuse, regretfully but for lack of time, invitations to go to Murdan, Islamabad, Multan, Karachi…

P. R.

MoH: Israel prevents delivery of oxygen to hospitals



Published Friday 25/06/2010 (updated) 28/06/2010 09:37



Bethlehem – Ma'an – Seven oxygen machines donated to the Palestinain Authority by a Norwegian development agency were seized by Israeli officials en route to hospitals in the West Bank and Gaza, the Ramallah-based health ministry said.

The machines, the ministry said in a Thursday statement, were confiscated by Israeli officials who claimed that the generators attached "came under the category of possible use for non-medical purposes" if they were delivered to the southern Gaza governorates.

While only one generator was bound for southern Gaza, all seven were taken, the statement said, and "all were badly needed for medical treatment."

The six others were bound for government hospitals in the northern Gaza, inducing the European Hospital in Gaza City, the Rafdieyah hospital in Nablus, and other facilities in Ramallah and Hebron.

The Ministry of Health made an official appeal to the Norwegian Development Agency, which had supplied the machines, asking that hey intervene and demand the release of the equipment at the soonest possible date.

"Any delay in obtaining the medical equipment will negatively affect the health of patients," the statement concluded, holding all partners responsible for the well being of Palestinians as the goods are withheld.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=294521

Launching of an Appeal against Repression in Thailand


Danielle Sabai and Pierre Rousset

The crackdown on the opposition in Thailand and the abuses of the regime have not been met with the solidarity response and the international condemnations which the situation required. The regime can thus freely operate and stifle the democratic movement.

News from Thailand are alarming: hundreds of people detained for violations of the Emergency Decree, including children; injured people are chained to their hospital bed, several assassinations of local leaders of the Red Shirts have taken place. The country is moving deeper into an authoritarian and military regime. The elite are even considering postponing the elections for six years, thus giving the Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva the possibility of leading the country for ten years against the will of the majority of Thai citizens.

Thai society is deeply unequal in every respect. The red shirts have expressed loud and clear their determination to fight the injustices they suffer: they express a class movement as well as one defending regional diversity, against the establishment in Bangkok.

The Red Shirts movement is not without divisions and problems. Some support the return of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, a corrupt politician. But overwhelmingly, the movement expresses the revolt of the downtrodden of society whose demands are democracy and social justice.

By demonstrating in the streets of Bangkok, the Red Shirts have only been exercising a basic right: the right to express one’s political views and demands. Abhisit Vejjajiva bears full responsibility for the repression and the casualties because, rather than holding meaningful negotiations, he gambled, in vain, on the disintegration of the movement. He then used the repressive legal arsenal (accusations of conspiracy against the monarchy and of terrorism), and finally organized a bloodbath.

This appeal has two simple aims: kick-starting solidarity on the international level, and calling for the Thai regime to stop the repression against the Red Shirts, and to respect fundamental freedoms.

More than a hundred university lecturers, researchers, writers, journalists, trade union and political activists, and elected representatives from all regions of the world have already signed the appeal. New signatures are expected.

Against Repression in Thailand

For more than two months, the Red Shirts have mobilised with decisiveness and purpose in the streets of Bangkok to support their demands of democracy and social justice.

The government led by Abhisit Vejjajiva chose to respond to these demands with violence and repression. It committed a serious violation against human rights when it authorised the use of military hardware to dissolve the demonstrations. The result was extremely serious: there were at least 89 dead and nearly 2000 wounded.

Today, democratic rights are not respected: there are 99 arrest warrants against opponents. The places where most of the detainees are held are kept secret. The government has imposed censorship on the alternative media. The penalties incurred are especially severe: from 3 to 15 years for “lese-majesty” to the death penalty for “terrorism”.

The Red Shirts are being treated by the government as if they were “terrorists”. It is a complex movement, but its members are mainly ordinary poor people whose most elementary political rights –like the respect due to the result of an election—have been ignored.

The Thai government can continue to repress the Thai people freely, because its constant violations against human rights have not been confronted by international solidarity and condemnation. We make a call to all progressive and democratic organizations to demand the end of the repression and the respect of fundamental rights in Thailand; to start an international campaign to obtain the freedom of political prisoners and the end of intimidation and inculpation of the Red Shirts.

We demand from the Thai government that it raises the State of Urgency and immediately re-establishes democratic freedoms in the country; that it ends the repression against the Red Shirts and that all prisoners are freed without any delay.

First signatories:

  1. Samir ABI, General Secretary, Attac (Togo)
  2. Gilbert ACHCAR, SOAS,  Professor of the University of London (UK)
  3. Christophe AGUITON, Researcher (France)
  4. Osman AKINHAY, Writer and editor of Mesele Revue (Turkey)
  5. Greg ALBO, Professor at the York University, Toronto (Canada)
  6. Josep Maria ANTENTAS, Professor of sociology, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (Catalonia)
  7. Daniel ANTONINI, International Secretary of PRCF (France)
  8. Zely ARIANE, Spokesperson of KPRM-PRD (Indonesia)
  9. Salvador LOPEZ ARNAL, Writer and Professor-tutor of Mathematics , UNED (Spain)
  10. AU Loong-Yu, Editorial board member of China Labor Net (Hong Kong)
  11. Walter BAIER, Coordinator of the European network Transform! Editor of the magazine Transform!, Vienne (Austria)
  12. Jean BATOU, Professor at the University of Lausanne (Switzerland)
  13. Pierre BEAUDET, Professor at the University of Ottawa (Canada)
  14. Walden BELLO, Member of the Congress, Akbayan representative (Philippines)
  15. Paul BENEDEK, Thai Red Australia (Australia)
  16. Olivier BESANCENOT, Spokesperson of NPA (France)
  17. Hugo BLANCO, Director of “Lucha Indígena”¨, (Peru)
  18. Saumen BOSE, Radical Socialist (India)
  19. Tapan BOSE, Radical Socialist  (India)
  20. Peter Boyle, National Convener, Socialist Alliance (Australia)
  21. Alex Callinicos, Professor, chair of European Studies at King’s College London (UK)
  22. Porferia CARPINA, KASAMMAKA (Philippines)
  23. Mabel CARUMBA, Mindanao Peoples’ Peace Movement (Philippines)
  24. Kunal CHATTOPADHYAY, Professor of Comparative Literature, Jadavpur University, Radical Socialist (India)
  25. Kamal MITRA CHENOY, Chair, Centre for Comparative Politics & Political Theory, School of International Studies,  Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi (India)
  26. Ashok CHOUDHARY, National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers (India)
  27. Annick COUPE, Spokesperson of Union Syndicale Solidaires (France)
  28. Cyc CUABO, ERDAC, Inc. (Philippines)
  29. Lucile DAUMAS, Attac (Marocco)
  30. Sushovan DHAR, Radical Socialist (India)
  31. Jean-Michel DOLIVO, Lawyer and MP, Lausanne (Switzerland)
  32. Jacques Fath, international head, PCF (France)
  33. Paulina FERNANDEZ CHRISTLIEB, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (Mexico)
  34. Carlos FERNANDEZ LIRIA, Professor of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (Spain)
  35. Mano GANESAN, Convener of Civil Monitoring Commission (Sri Lanka)
  36. George GASTAUD, Philosopher, National Secretary of PRCF (France)
  37. Franck GAUDICHAUD – University of Grenoble (France)
  38. Elisabeth GAUTHIER, Managing Director of Espaces Marx, co-Editor of the European revue Transform!  (France)
  39. P.T. GEORGE, Intercultural Resources, Delhi (India)
  40. Susan GEORGE, Writer (France)
  41. Jocelyne HALLER, Member of the Constitutional Assembly of Geneva county (Switzerland)
  42. Adolfo GILLY, Historian, Professor at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (Mexico)
  43. Sam GINDIN, Packer Visitor in Social Justice, York University (Canada)
  44. Rufino GONZAGA, Ranao Tri-People Movement for Genuine Peace and Development (Philippines)
  45. Karl GRÜNBERG, Trade-Union Secretary, SSP, Geneva (Switzerland)
  46. Sébastien GUEX, Professor at the University of Lausanne (Switzerland)
  47. Priyani GUNARATNA, Rural Services of SLBC (Sri Lanka)
  48. Shubhra GURURANI, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, York University, Toronto (Canada)
  49. Jean-Marie HARRIBEY, Economist, Professor at the Université Bordeaux IV (France)
  50. Nasir HASHIM, State Assemblyman (Malaysia)
  51. Mazher HUSSAIN, COVA (India)
  52. Linus JAYATILAKE, President of the United Federation of Labor (Sri Lanka)
  53. Andrée JELK-PEILA, President of the Public Service Trade-Union Cartel, Geneva (Switzerland)
  54. Dr. JEYAKUMAR, Member of Parliament (Malaysia)
  55. Abdul KHALID, Focal Person, CADTM-Pakistan (Pakistan)
  56. Alain KRIVINE, Former European MP (France)
  57. Hayri KOZANOGLU, Professor at the İstanbul University of Marmara, former President of the ÖDP (Turkey)
  58. Zbigniew Marcin KOWALEWSKI, Researcher and editor (Poland)
  59. Herman KUMARA, National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (Sri Lanka)
  60. Kenji KUNITOMI, JCRL (Japan)
  61. Max LANE, Asian Studies, University of Sydney (Australia)
  62. Bernard LANGLOIS, researcher North/South relations (France)
  63. Ronald LARA, IIRE-Manila (Philippines)
  64. Cha N. LAVANDER, Mindanao Tri-People Youth Center (Philippines)
  65. Doug LORIMER, Editor of Direct Action (Australia)
  66. Francisco LOUCA, MP, Bloc de Gauche representative (Portugal)
  67. Javier MAESTRO, Professor at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, (Spain)
  68. Michael Löwy, Professor, Emerited research director, CNRS (France)
  69. Acmad MACATIMBOL, Lanao Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (Philippines)
  70. Lisa MACDONALD, International Relations Convener, Socialist Alliance (Australia)
  71. Ign MAHENDRA K, Chairperson, Working People Association (PRP) (Indonesia)
  72. Claire MARTENOT, member of the Constitutional Assembly of the Geneva county (Switzerland)
  73. Soma MARIK, Associate Professor of History, RKSM Vivekananda Vidyabhavan, member, Nari Nirjatan Pratirodh Mancha (Forum Against Women’s Oppression, Calcutta) (India)
  74. Emre ÖNGUN, Assistant Professor of the European University of Lefke, Head of Applied Sciences School (Northern Cyprus)
  75. Gustave MASSIAH, Founding member of CEDETIM /IPAM (France)
  76. Roberto MONTOYA, Writer, Madrid (Spain)
  77. Braulio MORO, Journalist, Radio France Internationale, Latin America Section (France)
  78. Aldjia MOULAÏ, ACOR SOS Racisme (Switzerland)
  79. P.K. MURTHY, Citu (India)
  80. Saïd NAJIHI, Attac (Marocco)
  81. Alessandro PELIZZARI, Trade-union secretary, Unia, Geneva (Switzerland)
  82. William A. PELZ, Doctor at the Institute of Working Class History, Chicago (USA)
  83. John PERCY, RSP National Secretary (Australia)
  84. Manuel PEREZ ROCHA, Associate Fellow, Global Economy Project. Institut for Policy Studies, Washington (USA)
  85. Philippe PIGNARRE, Editor (France)
  86. Tommy ARDIAN PRATAMA, Institute for Crisis and Alternative Development Strategy (Indonesia)
  87. Mimoun RAHMANI, Economist, ATTAC and CADTM Maroc (Marocco)
  88. Pierre ROUSSET, Europe solidaire sans frontières (France)
  89. Danielle SABAI, Journalist (France)
  90. Enis Riza SAKIZLI, Film Director (Turkey)
  91. Ma. Gittel SAQUILABON, Sumpay Mindanao (Philippines)
  92. Mehmet SOGANCI, President of the Chamber of Engineers and Architects (Turkey)
  93. Tanie SUANO, CONZARRD (Philippines)
  94. Aparna SUNDAR, Assistant Professor, Department of Politics and Public Administration, Ryerson University, Toronto (Canada)
  95. Hakan TAHMEZ, Spokesperson of the Peace Assembly (Turkey)
  96. Farooq TARIQ, Spokesperson of the LPP (Pakistan)
  97. Alper TAS, President of ÖDP (Turkey)
  98. Eric TOUSSAINT, CADTM (Belgique)
  99. Terry TOWNSEND, Editor, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal (Australia)
  100. Enzo TRAVERSO, Assistant Professor at the University of Picardie (France)
  101. Charles-André UDRY, Editor (Switzerland)
  102. Ahmet ÜMIT, Writer (Turkey)
  103. Murat UYURKULAK, Writer (Turkey)
  104. Achin VANAIK, Professor of International Relations and Global Politics, Head of the Department of Political Science, University of Delhi (India)
  105. Pierre VANEK, Secretary of solidaritéS and former MP of the Federal Parliament (Switzerland)
  106. Vikramabahu KARUNARATNE, University of Peradeniya (Sri Lanka)
  107. Esther VIVAS, memberof the Centro de Estudios sobre Movimientos Sociales de la Universidad Pompeu Fabra (Catalonia)
  108. Peter WATERMAN, Reinventing Labour (Netherlands)
  109. Yigit BENER, Writer, (Turkey)

To sign the call:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

(Leave your first name, family name, quality and country)

The list of signatories can be viewed on the ESSF website (Section 17803):

http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article17803

Asian left: `Lift the siege on Gaza! Support boycott, divestment and sanctions on apartheid Israel'

Statement by Asian left organisations

[To add your organisation’s endorsement, please email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .]

June 25, 2010 -- As Israel stands increasingly isolated following its manufactured confrontation on May 31, 2010, with the peace flotilla in which nine Turkish activists on the Mavi Marmara were murdered, now is the time to increase the pressure on Israel to lift the siege of Gaza.

Israel’s criminal blockade of Gaza is aimed to collectively punish 1.5 million Gazans for their choice of government.

The attack on the flotilla was aimed at demoralising Palestinians and their supporters. But, as we've seen from the global protests – particularly in Turkey and the Arab world – it has backfired on the Netanyahu government. Turkey, once a close political and military ally, has now distanced itself from Israel and supports attempts to break the Gaza blockade.

The attack on the Mavi Marmara has spurred on the global campaign to force Israel to respect international law. In the same way as apartheid South Africa was isolated, so too the global boycott, sanctions and divestment campaign, launched in 2005 by Palestinian unions and other civil society groups, is growing.

On June 7, the Palestinian trade union movement expressed its support for the BDS campaign like this:

“Gaza today has become the test of our universal morality and our common humanity. During the South African anti-apartheid struggle, the world was inspired by the brave and principled actions of dockworkers unions who refused to handle South African cargo, contributing significantly to the ultimate fall of apartheid. Today, we call on you, dockworkers unions of the world, to do the same against Israel's occupation and apartheid. This is the most effective form of solidarity to end injustice and uphold universal human rights.”

We support the global peaceful call to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel for its international war crimes. It must:  lift its illegal siege of Gaza – completely; recognise the democratically elected Hamas government of Gaza; support the right of the refugees from 1948 and 1967 to return to their land; and tear down the apartheid wall.

We call on all progressive organisations, especially trade unions, to join the international boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign to isolate apartheid Israel.

Signed by:

Socialist Alliance (Australia);

Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM);

Radical Socialist (India);

People’s Democratic Party (PRD -- Indonesia);

Working People Association (PRP -- Indonesia);

South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication (Nepal);

Socialist Aotearoa (New Zealand);

Socialist Worker New Zealand;

Labour Party Pakistan;

Pakistan Peace Coalition;

Party of the Labouring Masses (PLM -- Philippines)

Partido ng Manggagawa (Labor Party -- Philippines)

International Institute for Research and Education -- Manila (IIRE-Manila, Philippines)

Bhopal 26 years after: Playing Havoc with Humanity and the Environment

  • On the night of December 2-3 , 1984, the Union Carbide India Limited pesticide plant in Bhopal released methyl isocyanate and other toxins. The result was some 500,000 people were affected. Government agencies estimate that over 15000 people died. After 26 years, the court verdict for the Disaster finally came. And it was proof that after the first death there can be another. Some 25 years after the gas leak, 390 tons of toxic chemicals abandoned at the UCIL plant continue to leak and pollute the groundwater in the region and affect thousands of Bhopal residents who depend on it. On June 7, 2010, seven ex-employees including the former chairman of UCIL were convicted in Bhopal of causing death by negligence and sentenced to two years imprisonment each. An eighth former employee was also convicted but had died before judgement was passed. The sentences will run concurrently. The quantum of fine that chief judicial magistrate Mohan P Tiwari of the trial court in Bhopal has imposed is paltry. The court could have awarded exemplary fine on the accused and the delinquent company. Behind it stood the government, which had diluted the charges, so that convictions came only under sections 304-A (causing death by negligence), 336, 337 and 338 (gross negligence), and 35 (common intention) of the India Penal Code.
  • Warren Anderson, who was then the CEO of Union Carbide, was arrested, but was released on bail, at the instance of powerful figures in the Indian ruling class and government, jumped the bail bond, and was never brought back to India because of the lax way in which India pursued the case. Likewise, the Government of India passed the Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster Act that gave the government rights to represent all victims in or outside India, and used this to strike a bad deal with UCC, according to which it agreed to pay US$470 million (the insurance sum, plus interest) in a full and final settlement of its civil and criminal liability. This meant a total of Rs. 12,000 approximately per person. The US Court has ruled that there can be no extradition of Anderson since according to US law, that his company was guilty is immaterial. His personal criminality has to be proved.
  • Now owned by Dow Corporation, Union Carbide denies responsibility for the tragedy. They are willing to take the profits of Union Carbide India, but not take responsibility for its crimes. And the judiciary has shown that while it is willing to sentence to death an individual who kills for profit or for terrorism, when it is a matter of big corporate bodies it will soft pedal.
  • Bhopal is living evidence that the search for profits under the free market is incompatible with environmental safety and the health of workers and ordinary human beings. It is also proof that the bourgeois state is not neutral, neither the executive, nor the legislature, nor the judiciary. They will use heavy hands on the ordinary people, while they will merely lightly slap the bosses even when hundreds of thousands of people are affected. The entire struggle to get the truth over Bhopal revealed how the goal of profit maximization meant cutting safety measures. In India, unlike Union Carbide plants in the US, its Indian subsidiary plants were not prepared for problems. No action plans had been established to cope with incidents of this magnitude. This included not informing local authorities of the quantities or dangers of chemicals used and manufactured at Bhopal. UCC admitted in their own investigation report that most of the safety systems were not functioning on the night of December 3, 1984. The long term effects on public health have been severe. People have suffered and are still suffering from eye problems, respiratory problems, disorders of immunological and neurological systems, lung injury causing cardiac failure,  female reproductive difficulties and birth defects among children born to affected women.
  • It is the ordinary people, affected, who have fought. Led by Champa Devi, on the 18th anniversary of the disaster, hundreds of women and men had demanded that Dow must take responsibility for UCC’s polluting and clean up the mess. We salute their spirit and call for full support to such struggles.
  •  
  • We demand:
  • 1. Adequate compensation and rehabilitation for the affected gas victims, though the loss is irreparable.
  • 2. Exemplary punishment for all the guilty upper level officials up to Anderson.
  • 3. An immediate halt to the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill, in view of the Bhopal experience, which shows that the aim of the Indian state is to minimize the liabilities of capitalists, including non-Indian capitalists, even if, as in Bhopal, the worst non-nuclear  environmental disaster in the world has occurred.
  • 4. A countrywide check on all chemical industries and improvement of safety measures. No cuts in safety to maximize profits.
  • We call upon all working class organizations and other mass organizations to mobilize unitedly in struggle against the mass murder in Bhopal and its aftermath, for given the aims of Indian capitalism, including its recent cosying up to Dow Chemicals, nothing will be done to punish the guilty or take future safety measures unless mass working class struggles develop.
Radical Socialist, 8 June, 2010

Effluent Treatment Facilities across Golden Corridor does not conform to GPCB Norms.


Press Release

Date: 4th June 2010

Effluent Treatment Facilities across Golden Corridor does not conform to GPCB Norms.

BUT WHO CARES?

Stop effluent discharge at Tadgam Sarigam Pipeline, from FETP, Ankleshwar, ECP, Vadodara, CETPs of Ahmedabad as the effluent is not able to meet the norms prescribed by Gujarat Pollution Control Board.

- Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti

The problem of industrial pollution first came to light in the nineties, when the issue gained momentum among urban entities about a decade after the Bhopal disaster. Due to pressure from various communities and environmental organizations, courts began intervening in cases to ultimately build the waste “treatment facilities” that exist today. These actions, which were championed by the media, created an entire culture of complacence that “something” great had been done about the pollution. There was a collective urban sentiment that citizens were protected from industries because of the mitigation infrastructure. Despite the “Polluter Pays” principle, even in the nineties the then developing common effluent treatment plants (CETPs) were highly supported by public money; 25% of the cost was state subsidy, 25% central subsidy, 30% loans from financial institute, and 20% directly paid by the industry. In essence half of the proposed solution to the pollution generated for private profit was funded by the general public. Moreover this happened at the same time that the state was withdrawing from its social responsibilities, such as education, health care and transportation. It seems paradoxical that the mounting laissez faire sentiment allowed the state to intervene on behalf of industries – which come to exist by virtue of concentrated resources and power – but not for the welfare of the common masses. Even after such huge investment many of the CETPs including Vapi, FETP - Ankleshwar, Panoli, Nandesari, Vatva, Odhav, Narol etc.  are not able to meet the prescribed GPCB norms.

Sarigam: Legal Notice dated 4th December 2009 issued to Sarigam Waste & Effluent Management Co. Ltd., Sarigam, District - Valsad by Gujarat Pollution Control Board under section 33-A of The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 clearly states that “[…] the consent granted to you vide order No. 1623 dated 12-2-2004 has lapsed on dated 31-3-2004 hence, at present you are operating industrial effluent disposal system without CC & A of the Gujarat Pollution control Board under the provision of Water Act.” It further states “[…] during the inspection of your plant on 18-11-2009 … The analysis reports indicates that the concentration like SS, BOD, COD, Chloride, Ammonical Nitrogen, Phenolic Compound, Zinc, & Sulphides, are most of the time higher than the permissible limit specified by the Board.” This clearly indicates that the treatment facility dumps the effluent at village Tadgam without proper permission and effluent does not meet GPCB’s norms.

Vapi CETP: The CPCB report dated 29-3-2010 indicates that effluent being discharged into Damanganga river shows COD: 869 i.e. 347.60% more (GPCB norms 250 mg/l), TDS: 9088 i.e. 432.76% more (GPCB norms 2100 mg/l), and NH3-N: 98 i.e. 196% more (GPCB norms 50 mg/l).

Ankleshwar FETP: The report dated 10-3-2010 of CPCB indicates that effluent discharged into the Gulf of Cambay shows COD: 1241 i.e. 248.20% more (GPCB norms 500 mg/l), and NH3-N: 664 i.e. 1328% more (GPCB norms 50 mg/l).

Effluent Channel Project (ECP), Vadodara: The report indicates that effluent discharged into estuary of Mahisagar river shows pH: 4.6 (GPCB norms 6.5 – 8.5), TSS: 361 (GPCB norms 100 mg/l), TDS: 14458 (GPCB norms 5000 mg/l), COD: 1826 (GPCB norms 250 mg/l), BOD: 334 (GPCB norms 100 mg/l), NH3-N: 387 (GPCB norms 50 mg/l), Cyanide: 2.857 (GPCB norms 0.2 mg/l), and Phenols: 15.37 (GPCB norms 1.0 mg/l).

Ahmedabad, CETP: (1) CETP, Vatva: The report dated 27-1-2010 of CPCB indicates that effluent discharged into Sabarmati river shows COD: 2189 i.e. 879.20% more (GPCB norms 250 mg/l), TDS: 16141 i.e. 768.60% more (GPCB norms 2100 mg/l), and NH3-N: 190 i.e. 380% more (GPCB norms 50 mg/l). (2) CETP M/s GECSL, Vatva: The report dated 29-1-2010 of CPCB indicates that effluent discharged into Sabarmati river shows COD: 1100 i.e. 440% more (GPCB norms 250 mg/l), and TDS: 2506 i.e. 119.33% more (GPCB norms 2100 mg/l). (3) CETP M/s GVMSAVL, Odhav: The report dated 28-1-2010 of CPCB indicates that effluent discharged into Sabarmati river shows COD: 7315 i.e. 2926% more (GPCB norms 250 mg/l), TDS: 6928 i.e. 329.90% more (GPCB norms 2100 mg/l), and NH3-N: 1260 i.e. 2520% more (GPCB norms 50 mg/l). (4) CETP M/s NEPL, Naroda: The report dated 28-1-2010 of CPCB indicates that effluent discharged into Sabarmati river shows COD: 2471 i.e. 988.40% more (GPCB norms 250 mg/l), TDS: 11971 i.e. 570.00% more (GPCB norms 2100 mg/l), and NH3-N: 190 i.e. 380% more (GPCB norms 50 mg/l).

An expensive distraction

In Gujarat, one of the newest such projects is the Final Effluent Treatment Plant (FETP). Touted by the Chief Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB), and various Industries Associations as a state-of-the-art solution the structure is designed to divert industrial pollution from Amlakhadi and the Narmada River. First, all of the effluent from the CETPs at Industrial Estates at Ankleshwar, Panoli, and Jhagadia are transported to the FETP plant located in Piraman village, Ankleshwar. Next, the consolidated “treated” effluent is theoretically re-treated to meet GPCB norms. The final “treated” effluent is then transported via a 53 km pipeline to Hansot where it is ultimately discharged into the sea. Operated by Bharuch Eco Aqua Infrastructure Ltd, the pipeline was inaugurated with a capacity of 40 million liters per day (MLD), which has since been increase to 60 MLD to meet the need of the estates.

The FETP was built by the sweat of tax payers. Out of a total project cost of Rs 131.43 crores, the industries paid only Rs 21.75 crores (about 17%); the rest of the tab (Rs 109 crores) was picked up the Central Government, Gujarat Government, and Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) - all of which ultimately draw from public money. It is a familiar story: the profits are distributed privately, but the institutional costs and environmental burden are borne by general public.

The FETP was conceived to relieve local communities of the waste waters from Ankleshwar, Panoli, and Jhagadia Industrial Estates for which it is responsible. It is an open secret that the people living along Amla Khadi, however, are still suffering from industrial effluents. Any passerby can still see the colored water, and the tributary still has fluctuating acidity (some time a pH of 2 to 6). These observations suggest that illegal discharge into the Amlakhadi, the classic industrial dustbin of Ankleshwar, has not ended. But it gets more disconcerting. We investigated the performance of the FETP itself, by exercising our Right to Information regarding this essentially publicly funded and endorsed endeavor. We learned that the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has been concerned with the prescribed norms of the FETP from the onset. As early as 2006 and repeatedly in 2007, the CPCB has noted that the FETP is not able to meet the prescribed norms. And because of that no expansions and no new industries can legally be sited in the area from 7-7-2007. At the behest of CPCB, GPCB was forced to issue a letter to the Industries Association of Ankleshwar, Panoli, and Jhagadia that no NOC could be given for new industrial and expansion in this area. Any increased traffic in the FETP would exacerbate the existing non-compliance of environmental protocols. We were shocked to discover through state documentation that between 2006 and March 2010, none of the routine monthly checking of standard pollutants in released effluent was within GPCB norms. This is not solely a failure of the FETP – the waste waters sent to the FETP (“inlet” effluent) were outside the norms in the first place – so it is also a failure of the CETP process of Ankleshwar, Panoli and Jhagadia. There is hardly any dent made by the FETP – not just that outlet norms not are achieved but even inlet norms are not met. In effect, the FETP seems to be a physical structure for consolidating and transporting waste, not for treating it. One of the main shocking information is that this plant was not able to meet the norms since 2006 even then the Chief Minister of Gujarat inaugurated a pipeline of the same plant on 25th January 2007 and Centre and State Government invested more than Rs. 100 crores in the company. The explanation for such an act was asked by us from the Chief Minister Office but there was no reply.

Environmental injustice

Adding insult to tax-payers' injury, pollution mitigation infrastructure is as neglected as the pollutants themselves, causing a mutually reinforcing stalemate in the problem of pollution control. Yet, instead of becoming stricter with environmental clearances given to new and expanding potentially polluting industries, the Centre is taking steps to make the process more lenient so that India can march forward to “develop” without obstruction. Instead of focusing on the infrastructure that we do have and making it functional, the state seems obsessed with building new projects that tend to fail just like their predecessors.

The above open secret - realities invites strong action from GPCB under Environment Laws against all these facilities and we strongly feel that no effluent discharge should be allowed from any of these facilities with immediate effect.

We demand: Stop effluent discharge at Tadgam Sarigam Pipeline, from FETP, Ankleshwar, ECP, Vadodara, CETPs of Ahmedabad as the effluent is not able to meet the norms prescribed by Gujarat Pollution Control Board.

 

Rohit Prajapati                     Michael Mazgaonkar                       Swati Desai

Rajnibhai Dave                    Anand Mazgaonkar                         Krishnakant

Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti


VAPI

PERFORMANCE OF CETP AT VAPI- A TREND ANALYSIS BY CPCB,VADODARA

(Grab Sampling)

 

Sampling Location(s)

Year(s)

Parameter(s)

 

 

pH

TSS

TDS

BOD

COD

O & G

NH3-N

Inlet/Design Norms

6.5-8.5

300

--

400

1000

--

--

Inlet to CETP

 

2004

3.9

445

12715

1143

3165

35.7

445

 

2005

7.2

974

9803

769

2640

77

238

 

2006

1.3-6.9

296-1260

5908-8946

343-1340

1030-3111

40-59

142-333

 

04.01.2008

6.04

388

8114

560

1756

49

245

 

22.04.2008

7.14

273

7730

403

2612

--

158

 

17.06.2008

6.27

412

5552

719

2337

--

146

 

15.09.2008

7.02

342

4709

408

1180

25.6

119

 

27.11.2008

7.53

375

7475

521

1637

28

304

 

Outlet of CETP

2004

7.2

227

11238

279

1112

16.5

551

 

2005

7.2

81

10117

221

976

5.9

246

 

2006

6.3-6.5

100-2040

7172-7700

170-910

784-3394

5.9-8.7

171-239

 

May ‘07

7.2

141

9021

135

836

21

282

 

Nov ‘07

6.8

286

7720

92.5

837

--

234

 

04.01.2008

6.32

533

7832

240

973

17

238

 

22.04.2008

7.4

229

7960

98

996

--

160

 

29.05.2008

7.45

407

7027

419

1399

23.7

236

 

17.06.2008

7.10

86

5864

47

497

--

88

 

15.09.2008

7.54

394

4569

64

706

24.4

135

 

27.11.2008

7.66

94

8492

244

748

19

248

GPCB Standards

5.5-9.0

100

2100

100

250

10

50

 

 

 

CETP, Vapi Monitoring Results…..contd….

 

Sampling Location(s)

Year(s)

Parameter(s)

 

 

pH

TSS

TDS

BOD

COD

O & G

NH3-N

Inlet/Design Norms

6.5-8.5

300

--

400

1000

--

--

Inlet to CETP

18.02.2009

6.58

931

8708

910

5358

52

104

 

20.05.2009

7.13

272

6011

333

1509

--

117

 

02.09.2009

7.60

1215

5924

376

1324

50

63.3

 

09.12.2009

6.61

710

9580

444

1517

4.73

64.3

 

29.03.2010

6.95

1032

7791

743

2223

14

71

 

Outlet of CETP

18.02.2009

7.56

711

7298

417

1281

26

105

 

20.05.2009

7.32

460

8177

153

842

14.9

98.8

 

02.09.2009

7.32

60

5768

20

481

32

63.4

 

09.12.2009

6.90

140

8916

84

432

4.86

68

 

29.03.2010

6.99

233

9088

178

869

11

98

GPCB Standards

5.5-9.0

100

2100

100

250

10

50

 


ANKLESHWAR

PERFORMANCE OF FETP AT ANKLESHWAR

- A TREND ANALYSIS BY CPCB, ZOW, VADODARA

Sampling locations

Date of monitoring

Parameters

 

 

pH

TSS

TDS

COD

BOD

NH3-N

CN-

Phenol

S-

O&G

Inlet Design Norms

5.0-8.5

150

12000

1000

200

-

--

-

-

-

Inlet to FETP

28.06.07

6.50

445

7500

1776

453

447

--

7.98

BDL

55.7

 

31.10.07

6.07

721

19623

4882

1261

1021

--

25.7

14.4

39

 

17.01.08

8.32

503

8617

2459

820

477

0.89

8.9

2.0

31.0

 

07.03.08

7.15

402

9776

2538

688

--

--

13.3

2.4

--

 

22.04.08

7.00

411

10776

2408

488

496

1.98

6.06

11.2

19.5

 

27.05.08

8.67

423

10568

2698

687

1657

--

--

--

--

 

17.06.08

6.14

344

9764

2875

900

633

0.72

4.27

3.2

17

 

29.07.08

6.93

532

26922

2510

438

900

1.19

--

0.96

--

 

28.08.08

8.15

583

9838

2173

705

1269

0.31

9.48

3.96

17.8

 

26.09.08

8.60

417

6122

2323

600

749

0.71

5.45

2.8

35

 

Outlet of FETP

28.11.06

7.3

375

9130

1689

514

661

--

-

1.95

227

 

29.11.06

7.4

370

9274

2160

408

616

--

-

1.28

17

 

28.06.07

7.5

395

9274

1341

94

688

--

7.3

BDL

26.8

 

31.10.07

7.02

353

13567

1965

175

788

--

17.3

8.9

33.8

 

17.01.08

7.6

489

7954

1482

659

495

3.85

18.1

13.5

23.0

 

07.03.08

7.9

290

10304

2112

524

661

--

5.75

12

10.2

 

22.04.08

7.8

470

12457

2292

351

612

1.50

14.86

--

--

 

27.05.08

8.04

1220

8060

3090

708

725

0.11

13.68

--

14

 

17.06.08

8.0

256

9216

2483

475

454

0.21

9.47

37.3

12

 

29.07.08

7.76

273

9629

1645

356

813

0.25

--

34.8

22.4

 

28.08.08

8.31

563

9162

911

487

636

0.37

11.36

26.4

27.5

 

26.09.08

8.45

246

6530

1223

338

756

0.39

8.65

17.3

14.0

GPCB Outlet Norms

6.5-8.5

100

--

500

100

50

0.2

5

5

20


PERFORMANCE OF FETP AT ANKLESHWAR

-  A TREND ANALYSIS BY CPCB, ZOW, VADODARA

 

Sampling locations

Date of monitoring

Parameters

 

 

pH

TSS

TDS

COD

BOD

NH3-N

CN-

Phenol

S-

O&G

Inlet Design Norms

5.0-8.5

150

12000

1000

200

-

--

-

-

-

Inlet to FETP

22.10.2008

7.8

298

9546

2547

926

738

--

9.54

3.4

--

 

07.11.2008

8.15

281

11012

2357

840

695

2.01

5.62

4.0

30

 

19.12.2008

8.31

856

7488

3764

1033

32

--

10.67

--

--

 

28.01.2009

6.73

511

8553

4127

852

399.2

--

13.6

--

--

 

05.03.2009

7.67

747

29081

2495

733

371.3

0.27

7.35

3.87

60

 

Outlet of FETP

22.10.2008

8.4

553

11420

2303

857

953

1.85

13.60

34.2

38.0

 

07.11.2008

8.37

386

11167

2613

885

708

0.91

10.19

38.1

20.0

 

19.12.2008

8.23

571

11780

3008

721

338

--

5.64

--

--

 

28.01.2009

7.97

430

9151

4158

728

642.6

--

19.33

65.9

47

 

05.03.2009

8.20

397

11853

2779

630

690.4

0.21

9.37

62.5

19.5

GPCB Outlet Norms

6.5-8.5

100

--

500

100

50

0.2

5

5

20

Note: All values except pH are expressed in mg/l


PERFORMANCE OF FETP AT ANKLESHWAR

- A TREND ANALYSIS BY CPCB, ZOW, VADODARA

 

Sampling locations

Date of monitoring

Parameters

pH

TSS

TDS

COD

BOD

NH3-N

CN-

Phenol

S-

O&G

Inlet Design Norms

5.0-8.5

150

12000

1000

200

-

--

-

-

-

Inlet to FETP

28.01.2009

6.73

511

8553

4127

852

399.2

--

13.6

--

--

 

05.03.2009

7.67

747

29081

2495

733

371.3

0.27

7.35

3.87

60

 

30.06.2009

8.00

159

8500

2725

585

532

0.38

8.42

--

19

 

10.09.2009

8.04

638

12952

2231

646

1158

0.30

3.86

2.8

61.1

 

10.12.2009

6.66

420

7896

2038

683

585

--

8.84

--

--

 

10.03.10

7.99

209

11059

2809

549

391

--

--

--

--

 

10.03.10(C)

8.07

465

6881

2598

728

594

--

--

--

--

 

Final Outlet

28.01.2009

7.97

430

9151

4158

728

642.6

--

19.33

65.9

47

 

05.03.2009

8.20

397

11853

2779

630

690.4

0.21

9.37

62.5

19.5

 

30.06.2009

7.82

327

9164

1764

556

475

0.19

8.04

--

18

 

10.09.2009

7.55

173

8798

702

39

586

0.34

0.82

0.5

13.9

 

10.12.2009

7.11

496

11228

1510

294

785

--

4.84

--

--

 

10.03.10

7.78

371

12413

1241

380

666

1.61

3.41

13.1

59

 

10.03.10(C)

--

405

9823

1498

394

664

2.12

2.75

10.4

--

GPCB Outlet Norms

6.5-8.5

100

--

500

100

50

0.2

5

5

20


VADODARA

CENTRAL POLUTION CONTROL BOARD, West Zone Office, Vadodara

ANALYSIS RESULTS OF MONITORING CARRIED OUT AT M/ ECPL

Date of Sampling: 18.02.2010                                                                                                                 Type of Sampling: Grab

 

Sampling Location(s)

pH

TSS

TDS

COD

BOD

NH3-N

TKN

Cl-

CN-

Phenols

Inlets to ECP

Dhanora (Take Off Point), ECP

Inlet Sump PS-I

 

7.22

238

14616

691

137

443

473

7139

0.414

6.80

 

Inlet Sump PS-2

 

7.35

27

3253

89

17

3.8

6.32

1391

0.105

2.42

 

Inlet Sump RIL (IPCL) 1 & 2

 

9.56

69

2273

68

9.7

10.6

12.2

942

0.014

1.243

Koyali Point (@ 2.5 from Dhanora)

Inlet Sump GSFC

7.72

39

2446

185

41

20

32

734

0.063

1.11

 

Along the ECP

ECP-1,

Just after Dhanora Take Off Point i.e. Start of Channel (Mix effluent from PS-I, PS-II & RIL )

7.88

129

6709

423

50

177

189

3100

0.856

3.92

 

ECP-2,

Near Mujpur Village crossing (@ 20 km d/s of Dhanora Take off Point)

7.58

94

5481

611

57

195

217

2136

0.793

12.76

 

ECP-3,

J-Point  (Final discharge Point, end of Channel, @ 55 km from d/s of Dhanora Take off Point )

4.60

361

14458

1826

334

387

419

3665

2.857

15.37

GPCB Norms

6.5-8.5

100

5000

250

100

50

--

600

0.2

1.0

CENTRAL POLUTION CONTROL BOARD, West Zone Office, Vadodara

ANALYSIS RESULTS OF MONITORING CARRIED OUT AT M/ ECPL

Date of sample collection: 10.03.2008, 27.03.2008, 28.03.2008                                                   Type of sample collection: Grab

Sampling Location(s)

Date of Sampling

pH

TSS

COD

BOD

NH3-N

TKN

Cl-

CN-

Phenols

@ 2 kms downstream from start of  Channel (ECP), Dhanora Take off Point

10.03.2008

7.44

63

338

47

35

59

1797

0.03

0.20

 

27.03.2008, night time

7.7

69

407

25

35

39

1580

0.08

0.71

 

28.03.2008, morning time

7.1

54

357

28

13

50

1602

0.11

1.52

 

28.03.2008, afternoon

7.0

77

594

26

50

82

2753

0.15

8.23

 

@9 kms downstream from  Dhanora Take off Point

10.03.2008

8.01

55

247

42

35

51

876

0.02

0.29

 

27.03.2008, night time

7.0

79

428

21

51

65

2572

0.011

0.43

 

28.03.2008, morning time

8.1

117

1667

76

57

67

2414

0.16

18.67

 

28.03.2008, afternoon

8.6

141

1806

184

81

235

4062

0.23

21.87

 

Near village Vedach (2 kms upward) @ 36 km from Dhanora Take off Point

10.03.2008

7.75

135

784

243

112

126

2879

0.02

0.34

 

27.03.2008, night time

2.1

94

1600

109

49

93

2617

0.01

0.82

 

28.03.2008, morning time

2.6

115

4216

1320

134

152

4535

0.03

1.22

 

28.03.2008, afternoon

3.8

476

2083

492

127

148

3136

0.001

0.960

 

J point, End of Channel (ECP) @ 55 Km from Dhanora Take Off Point, effluent  discharging into  estuary of river Mahi, Gulf of Cambay

10.03.2008

1.1

193

1490

254

96

171

6543

0.80

0.58

 

27.03.2008, night time

7.0

540

941

163

149

171

3746

0.05

4.12

 

28.03.2008, morning time

3.4

480

2419

343

61

87

30263

0.06

5.88

 

28.03.2008, afternoon

4.8

560

1776

219

79.0

105

2256

0.07

2.10

GPCB Norms

6.5-8.5

100

250

100

50

--

600

0.2

1.0


CENTRAL POLUTION CONTROL BOARD,

West Zone Office, Vadodara

EFFLUENT QUALITY AT J-POINT, END OF ECP, DISCHARGE INTO ESTURY OF RIVER MAHI, GULF OF CAMBAY

 

Sampling Location(s)

Year of Monitoring

Date of Sampling

pH

TSS

COD

BOD

NH3-N

TKN

Cl-

CN-

Phenols

J point, End of Channel (ECP) @ 55 Km from Dhanora Take Off Point, effluent  discharging into  estuary of river Mahi, Gulf of Cambay

2008

10.03.2008

 

1.1

193

1490

254

96

171

6543

0.80

0.58

 

 

27.03.2008, night time

 

7.0

540

941

163

149

171

3746

0.05

4.12

 

 

28.03.2008, morning time

3.4

480

2419

343

61

87

30263

0.06

5.88

 

 

28.03.2008, afternoon time

 

4.8

560

1776

219

79.0

105

2256

0.07

2.10

 

2010

18.02.2010

 

4.6

361

1826

334

387

419

3665

2.86

15.37

GPCB Norms

6.5-8.5

100

250

100

50

--

600

0.2

1.0

 


Performance of CETP, Nandesari

Date of Monitoring

Locations

Parameters

pH

TSS

TDS

COD

BOD

NH-3-N

O&G

Phenol

CN

19/01/10

Inlet

8.0

492

21130

1371

242

272

---

---

---

 

Outlet

6.83

338

42677

465

170

17

7.7

0.046

2.12

19/02/10

Inlet

8.28

1118

31262

1857

569

266

---

2.23

---

 

Outlet of Eqt Tank

7.76

184

33705

2737

607

1351

--

5.63

1.14

 

Outlet

 

8.50

329

17836

1090

57

480

4.6

0.67

0.063


AHMEDABAD

 

Performance of CETP Vatva, Ahmedabad

Date of Monitoring

Locations

Parameters

pH

TSS

TDS

COD

BOD

NH-3-N

O&G

Phenol

27/01/2010

Inlet

6.40

550

20739

3696

994

134

--

--

 

Outlet

7.48

839

16141

2189

367

190

26

7.25

Performance of CETP M/s GECSL, Vatva, Ahmedabad

Date of Monitoring

Locations

Parameters

pH

TSS

TDS

COD

BOD

NH-3-N

O&G

Phenol

29/01/2010

Inlet

6.42

220

3851

1496

648

8.6

--

0.38

 

Outlet

6.43

195

2506

1100

372

6.9

1.1

0.35



Performance of CETP M/s, GVMSAVL, Odhav, Ahmedabad

Date of Monitoring

Locations

Parameters

pH

TSS

TDS

COD

BOD

NH-3-N

O&G

Phenol

28/01/2010

Inlet

6.18

3555

10243

3447

1500

370

--

4.63

 

Outlet

7.27

888

6928

7315

2800

1260

5.4

4.13

 

Performance of  CETP M/s, OEPL Odhav, Ahmedabad

Date of Monitoring

Location

Parameters

pH

TSS

TDS

COD

BOD

NH-3-N

O&G

Phenol

29/01/2010

Inlet

7.08

313

12306

1397

256

52

--

1.79

 

Outlet

6.65

96

9391

478

119

22

1.4

0.41

Performance of CETP M/s, NEPL, Naroda, Ahmedabad

Date of Monitoring

Locations

Parameters

pH

TSS

TDS

COD

BOD

NH-3 N

O&G

Phenol

28/01/2010

Inlet

7.27

2133

62350

12778

1856

1042

--

28.75

 

Outlet

7.16

164

11971

2471

584

190

8.2

1.62

 

Performance of CETP M/s, Narol Dyestuff Enviro Society, Narol, Ahmedabad

Date of Monitoring

Location

Parameters

pH

TSS

TDS

COD

BOD

NH-3 N

O&G

Phenol

29/01/2010

Inlet

7.0

70

26226

3267

951

77

--

0.39

 

Outlet

8.21

155

5869

579

60

10

6.7

0.44

Gaza Flotilla attack: end impunity for Israel’s crimes!


The far-right government of Benjamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman has demonstrated once more its ability to go even further than earlier Israeli governments in trampling international law and basic human decency under foot. Their murderous attack in international waters on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla is a new escalation of the Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people. It must be met with a forceful escalation in the response from the solidarity movement and world public opinion.

Thanks to the Labour Party’s presence in Netanyahu’s extremist government, the whole Zionist political establishment is complicit in this fresh outrage. Labour defence minister Ehud Barak has declared that the government knowingly accepted the consequences of its act. Knowing, that is, that the world’s governments would reflexively respond with mere words: some diplomatic communiqués, some tut-tutting at Israeli ambassadors. As usual. But this time it must be different. This time an outpouring of protest must force governments to move from words to deeds.

Already Barrack Obama and Ban Ki-mon have spoken of investigation. What is there of consequence to investigate? The Israeli government does not deny that it launched an illegal attack in international waters; it proclaims it. The Israeli army itself says that more than ten activists were killed. The Israeli military’s own spokesperson claims no more than four Israeli injuries as extenuation for the slaughter. Al-Jazeera’s correspondent on the lead boat reports that a white flag was raised, and yet the Israelis opened fire as they stormed it, without provocation. All this points to a deliberate resort, as in 2008-09, to “disproportionate force”, certainly not a case of “self-defence”.

The assault on the Freedom Flotilla was in fact a logical extension of the blockade of Gaza that the flotilla was protesting and challenging. Hardly a government on earth besides Israel’s has a word to say in defence of this blockade, a blatant case of an illegal collective punishment of a civilian population. Yet hardly a government on earth lifts a finger to stop it. And the shamelessly cynical Israeli PR operation makes light of the blockade’s effects, recommending a posh Gaza restaurant to journalists.

Surely that press statement’s author remembers that posh restaurants remained in business in the Warsaw Ghetto as Jews were starving to death in the street outside! Not that there is mass starvation today in Gaza; arbitrary and capricious as the Israeli blockade is, it has so far been calibrated to avoid that degree of devastation. It has led only to widespread malnutrition; only to the traumatization of tens of thousands of children; only to mass unemployment that has left 80 per cent of the Strip’s 1.5 million people dependent on relief; only to the helplessness of a population trying to live among the ruins left by the 2008-09 Israeli aggression, which they are denied any means of repairing; only to the deaths of 28 Palestinians waiting for permission to leave for urgently needed medical treatment.

The protests against the attack on the flotilla, coming on top of the blockade, are more than justified. The picket lines and demonstrations outside Israeli embassies and consulates should continue. But the protests must go further, targeting the governments in each of our countries that have made and are making Israeli outrages possible.

- In the United States, which under the Obama administration has remained Israel’s main backer, protests must demand and secure an immediate halt to the $3 billion in annual aid that funds the Israeli government’s crimes.

- In the countries of the European Union, which only months ago decided on closer ties with Israel, protests must demand and secure immediate invocation of the human rights clause in the Israeli-EU free trade agreement, suspending the commercial privileges that give Israel an economic lifeline.

- In the Arab countries that maintain ties with Israel, the peoples’ fury should frighten their governments into halting their complicity – and especially frighten the Egyptian government into ending its indispensable role in the criminal blockade of Gaza.

- In the Israeli state, where protests are also taking place, there should be stepped-up resistance to the far-right government.

- Everywhere where the solidarity movement is not yet strong enough to compel governments to break in practice with the Israeli state, people should take matters into their own hands with massive boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigns.

Finally, this new Israeli crime should lead to a new wave of discussion and reflection about the bankruptcy of the “peace process” supposedly aimed at establishing a Palestinian mini-state in the 1967 territories alongside an intact Zionist Israel. Today the Israeli government is being “punished” for its attack on the flotilla with yet another suspension of the anaemic process of indirect talks with the Palestinian Authority – a process that it obviously views as nothing more than an occasionally useful distraction from its work of establishing facts on the ground. Movements for peace and solidarity should now be spurred to more clarity and resolve about the need for an alternative, heading towards true peace, with full and unconditional Palestinian self-determination, the right of return for the 1948 refugees (who make up four-fifths of the Gaza Strip’s population), the dismantling of the Zionist state, and a political solution in which the Palestinian and Israeli Jewish peoples can live together in full equality of rights.

Bureau of the Fourth International Paris, 1st June 2010

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