North Korea: a defector tells all

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Shin Dong-hyuk has recently come out admitting that statements he gave which were used in his biography ‘Escape from Camp 14’, which tells the story of him being born and raised in a North Korean prison camp until he escaped, were lies. While he still stands firm that his overall story is true, he has admitted that many parts of his story are false and need updating.

Who is Shin Dong-hyuk?
Shin Dong-hyuk is one of the most well-known ‘defectors’ from the DPRK and the leading witness in the current UN report on North Korea’s human rights. He has spent his years giving interviews that formed the basis of his biography, shaking hands with leaders such as George W. Bush and David Cameron, teaming up with the Bush Institute (a conservative think tank based around George W. Bush and his family), and being honoured and praised by the pro-imperialist NGO Amnesty International.

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What is Shin’s story?
Shin Dong-hyuk claimed that he was born into a North Korean prison and lived there until he escaped and fled the country. He talks about all kinds of horrors from members of his family being executed, starvation, and heavy work in a prison called Camp 14.

His new version of events changes his original story very drastically. In his new story he includes two prison camps, not just ‘Camp 14’ (the name of his book) but also ‘Camp 18’. The new version of his story also includes him escaping the camp twice before. While he had originally claimed that he was tortured when he was 13, the new version of his story now says it happened at the age of 20.

Finally, his father came out saying that Shin had never lived in a political prison camp and his testimony is false.

Even Shin’s own biographer, Blaine Harden, admitted that many parts of his story do not add up. In a statement on his website he said that: “On Friday, January 16, I learned that Shin Dong-hyuk, the North Korean prison camp survivor who is the subject of Escape from Camp 14, had told friends an account of his life that differed substantially from the book.”

But already in the introduction to his book he stated that:

“In writing this book, I have sometimes struggled to trust him. He misled me in our first interview about his role in the death of his mother, and he continued to do so in more than a dozen interviews. When he changed his story, I became worried about what else he might have made up.

Fact-checking is not possible in North Korea. Outsiders have not visited its political prison camps. Accounts of what goes on inside them cannot be independently verified. Although satellite images have greatly added to outside understanding of the camps, defectors remain the primary sources of information, and their motives and credibility are not spotless. In South Korea and elsewhere, they are often desperate to make a living, willing to confirm the preconceptions of human rights activists, anticommunist missionaries, and right-wing ideologues. Some camp survivors refuse to talk unless they are paid cash upfront. Others repeated juicy anecdotes they had heard but not personally witnessed.”
(p. 10)

Many citizens of DPRK  emigrate out of the country to find work and education abroad, from logging operations in Russia, textiles factories in Mongolia, to work in Japan and China, and even university placements in the UK. But ordinary people who emigrate out of the DPRK who don’t tell such incredible stories, usually don’t get best selling book deals, don’t become celebrities, and certainly don’t make money from prancing to a photo-shoot with reactionary heads of states and selling themselves out to every free market think tank that shamelessly hides behind the label of a human rights organisation.

Where have we seen this before?
The Nayirah testimony. Imperialist countries such as the USA and Israel are not above killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people to secure their own greed, so it is a mistake to believe that they are above the most dirty lies.

One of the worst examples of this is the “Nayirah testimony” where in October 1990, a young girl who only gave her first name Nayirah, gave testimony that she had witnessed Iraqi soldiers killing premature babies by stealing their incubators and letting the babies die on the floor, that Iraqi soldiers had tortured a friend of hers, and were making fun of George W Bush. Her speech was so powerful that it became a media poster to support an invasion of Iraq.

It was later revealed that her second name was al-Sabah, and that she was the daughter of the Kuwait ambassador to the USA (Kuwait being the country that Iraqi soldiers supposedly committed these crimes according to Nayirah), and both worked for an organisation called “Citizens for a free Kuwait” which was an operation established by the Kuwait government to sway public opinion in the USA towards a US invasion of Iraq. Then the cherry on this whole grizzly sundae is that the Citizens for a free Kuwait, was hiring the business of public relations corporation Hill and Knowlton, that worked to spreading her testimony all over USA television news networks.

By now everybody was doubting her testimony but it was to late. The Gulf War had already started and thousands were to perish in the upcoming months.

What can we learn from this?
As much as any story may appeal to your emotions, there are many terrible people out there who aren’t bothered by the consequences of lying for personal gain.

As imperialism is once again driving towards war on all fronts, the left should be wary of the propaganda intended to dehumanise its enemies. We must expose their lies and not give one inch to their sabre-rattling.

Seek truth from facts.

Always be prepared to be wrong.

Never abandon our solidarity with anti-imperialist comrades overseas.

Human rights: DPRK vs USA

Baseless UN report on human rights in DPRK is a propaganda tool against socialist Korea and China

The Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), part of the UN Human Rights Council, released a damning 372-page report on 17 February 2014 alleging “wide-ranging and ongoing crimes against humanity” in the country.

Michael Kirby presenting Report on Human Rights in the DPRK
UN report presented by Michael Kirby urges western intervention against the DPRK.

The report claimed to have supporting documents revealing widespread torture, enslavement, murder and enforced starvation in a system of political prison camps, known as kwanliso.

It also urged the international community to “accept its responsibility to protect the people of the DPRK … because the government has manifestly failed to do so”. In fact, the chairperson, Michael Kirby, an Australian judge, has written to Kim Jong Un stating that he may be held personally responsible and faces referral to the International Criminal Court.

It also recommended introducing further sanctions against the DPRK and increased pressure on China to withdraw its support from its longstanding ally.

International media endorsed the report’s findings and the story occupied the central headlines in newspapers and broadcasts across the world. Commentators, politicians, and academics – promoted as ‘experts’ on the Korean peninsula – compared the situation to that of Nazi Germany and demanded international action.

The reaction has been a stage-managed cacophony of emotive and uninformed propaganda, and it constitutes an extremely serious, imperialist-orchestrated assault on the DPRK’s people and government.

As in the cases of Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria, the imperialists know that to lay the ground for a genocidal assault, the minds of the people must be conditioned to accept the casualties that will result from such a war as ‘necessary’ – as the ‘lesser evil’.

We note that the ‘report’ is used as the basis for a call for military action against the DPRK. Such a war would not be the first genocide that the USA, clothed in ‘UN’ colours, has committed on the Korean Peninsula. Peace-loving, democratic and progressive people the world over must be mindful of history and guard against this psychological warfare. We have seen just how many lives it costs – and that the cost is also our own freedom.

A careful and critical analysis of the report, which has not been conducted by mainstream academics and journalists, reveals serious concerns with its methodology.

Despite its unanimity, the report does not contain a single piece of evidence taken from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. There are no photographs, no video recordings, and no credible documents of evidence of any of the alleged incidents or sites that the report describes.

The report’s findings are based on the testimonies of 80 people – including alleged defectors and ‘experts’ on DPR Korea – at public hearings in Seoul, Tokyo, London, and Washington – the capitals of the very countries that have committed the worst crimes against Korea over the last century and more. The report’s authors also claim to have been informed by ‘secret interviews’ with approximately 240 others.

The important question to ask ourselves is: why has this report been commissioned? We know that imperialism has no interest whatsoever in upholding international law or in protecting the rights of minorities – or even of the masses. Quite the reverse, in fact! There is every reason for us to feel suspicious when the biggest bandits and war criminals on the planet are shouting in a heavily-orchestrated chorus about the ‘crimes’ of their enemies.

And, indeed, there is an established history of slander and falsifications made against socialist, anti-imperialist and non-aligned countries by the so-called ‘international community’ (aka the club of imperialist powers).

Recent history shows us many cases of ‘witness’ and ‘expert’ testimonies claiming to have ‘overwhelming evidence’ of heinous crimes that have been false. In each case, the uncovering of the ‘crime’ has served a propaganda purpose and provided moral justification for an imperialist war crime.

In 1990, in an emotional testimony given before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, a witness claimed to have seen Iraqi soldiers in Kuwait removing hundreds of babies from incubators – stealing the equipment and watching the children die. The allegation was corroborated by Amnesty International, circulated throughout international media and used as moral justification for the US-led invasion of Iraq in the Gulf war of 1991.

False testimony used to Justify Iraq War - there were no "babies thrown from incubators by Iraqi troops"
False testimony used to justify Iraq war – there were no “babies thrown from incubators by Iraqi troops”.

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In 1992, however, it was revealed that the witness was the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States and a member of ‘Citizens of a Free Kuwait’ – a government propaganda campaign group. An investigative journalist report later found that Iraqi troops had no part in the death of babies in the country.

It was a total fiction; a journalistic crime perpetrated at the behest of the Anglo-American billionaire class, with purely cynical and anti-popular motives from start to finish.

This shameful propaganda practice is hardly without precedent. In 1964, the United States invented the Tonkin Incident to justify going to war with North Vietnam.

In 2002, in the September (‘dodgy’) dossier, Tony Blair claimed that Iraq had ‘weapons of mass destruction’ capable of being deployed against British bases in Cyprus within 45 minutes. In 2011, the United Nations claimed that Muammar Gaddafi provided ‘viagra-like’ drugs and ordered troops to sexually assault Libyan women.

These accusations were taken up and amplified by the international media and by ‘non-governmental’ agencies such as Amnesty International, and provided moral justifications for war. They were all proven to be completely untrue, but the damage caused was irreversible.

This list is certainly not exhaustive. It is simply ‘routine’ imperialist psy-ops military practice. Nothing more, and nothing less.

Gulf of Tonkin Incident fabricated to 'justify' War against Vietnam
Gulf of Tonkin Incident fabricated to ‘justify’ war against Vietnam.

Indeed, in the Korean peninsula there exists an entire industry of falsification. Stories of crimes against humanity – the more wild and ridiculous the better – are printed as fact. They contain no evidence and rely on information from unverifiable sources.

A central part of this industry of falsification, fantasy and illusion is the use of ‘defectors’ from DPR Korea. It is alleged that there are tens of thousands of defectors – now living in south Korea, Japan, the United States and Europe – although this is incredibly difficult to verify.

Whilst defections do happen in all systems, there has always been a sizeable ethnic Korean population in China, since national borders never conform entirely to the distribution of national-ethnic populations.

Indeed, Koreans, as an oppressed nationality under Japanese occupation between 1905 and 1945, and as one of China’s own many nationalities, were involved from the early stages in the struggles of the Chinese communist party and of the Red Army – the forerunner of today’s People’s Liberation Army.

Koreans fought alongside their Chinese comrades during both the Long March and the anti-fascist war waged to liberate both Manchuria and Korea from the brutal rule of Japanese imperialism. They were fighting heroically against the Japanese long before Pearl Harbour brought the USA into WW2.

There is also a community of more recent economic migrants in the north-eastern provinces of China – drawn in part by the growing Chinese economy and driven to a degree by the effects of the vicious sanctions regime imposed by US imperialism on the DPR Korea, , as well as being the natural result of the regular interchange between the countries.

The authorities in south Korea, along with all sorts of imperialist agencies, have been agitating within these communities and offering huge financial incentives to those willing to publicly allege atrocities committed by the DPRK government. There are a number of examples of high-profile defectors signing publishing deals for books and films and winning celebrity status in south Korea.

Anti-communist propaganda industry grinds on in south Korea, while citizens are imprisoned for speaking out in favour of the communist north

In fact, the first individual to testify at the public hearings of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the DPRK was Shin Dong Hyuk, the co-author (along with an American ‘ghost writer’) of Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West.

This is an infamous book that contains gripping – though unverified – stories of terror and brutality that would not be out of place in a (needless to say fictional) Hollywood blockbuster. It is without fact or verifiable evidence and has, naturally, been made into a film. Indeed, Shin has changed his story on numerous occasions. As in the heyday of anti-Soviet writing, the burden of proof remains astoundingly low when it comes to anti-communist propaganda!

Lucrative Anti-communist Propaganda Industry in S Korea - Killing the Truth
Lucrative anti-communist propaganda industry in south Korea – killing the truth.

Shin was instructed during the UN public testimony that if he did not have enough time to submit evidence he could instruct the panel to consult his book. When asked why he and his family were imprisoned he said he could not remember, but he thinks his family may have collaborated with ‘the south’ during the war, although, of course, the war ended long before he was born.

There is no way that Shin can prove his lurid claims, but the material incentive for making them is clear. He now divides his time between homes in Seoul and New York and enjoys international stardom.

Shin’s media success encouraged dozens of others to come forward and make all sorts of equally lurid accusations against the DPRK. However, they are finding that the industry is becoming saturated. Once promised thousands of dollars, book and film deals, and celebrity status, ‘defectors’ are now finding that what awaits them is a life of debt, unemployment and exclusion from south Korean society.

So much so, that here has been a change in direction – even recognised by the south Korean government –  as hundreds of people claiming to have suffered ‘terrible abuses’ and to have escaped from the DPRK in fear for their lives are now attempting to re-defect back to the north.

In an interview with Public Radio International, a man who allegedly helped dozens of ‘defectors’ settle in south Korea says that many, including himself, want to return to the DPR Korea. Speaking from Seoul, Son Jeong Hun said that in his experience “eighty out of a hundre defectors want to go back to north Korea”.

The road home, however, is perilous. It was, after all, the US and its south Korean fascist puppets who divided the country, and who built the wall perpetuating that separation. They have made it a crime to speak out in favour of the communist north – and one that is regularly punished by imprisonment.

Indeed, in the very same week that this report was published, a south Korean MP has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for sympathising with the north – no outcry from the ‘human rights’ lobby here.

In another interview, one of the ‘double defectors’, as they are dubbed, explained that, after being duped by the offer of large sums of money, she experienced subhuman treatment in the south.

Pak Jong-suk, a double defector, speaks at a press conference in North Korea on June 28 during which she admitted to defecting to the South and lambasted the capitalist system she experienced. Pak said she defected to see her father, who lived in the South, and called her decision “foolish.” [YONHAP]
Pak Jong-Suk, a double defector, speaks at a press conference in north Korea on 28 June, during which she admitted to defecting to the south and lambasted the capitalist system she experienced there. Pak said she defected to see her father, who lived in the south, and called her decision “foolish”. [YONHAP]

It must surely seem peculiar to even the most sceptical observer that hundreds of people who claim to have defected from a brutal, totalitarian dictatorship that is supposed to be committing ‘heinous crimes against humanity’ actively seek to return to that state.

Moreover, it is claimed that many more would return to Pyongyang if it wasn’t for repressive acts of the south Korean authorities. It is illegal for any citizen of south Korea to publicly sympathise with the north and many people have been imprisoned for doing so. Repatriation to the DPRK is, as mentioned above, also criminalised by the repressive south Korean regime.

There is not a single shred of first-hand evidence of crimes against humanity in the DPRK. There are also serious concerns, as detailed in this article, about the credibility of the second and third-hand accounts provided in the report.

It is remarkable that a UN commission has published a report condemning a sovereign state and recommending economic sanctions – and alluding to other interventions – on such flimsy evidence. But that is the reality that socialist, independent and non-aligned states face because they do not bend to the influence of the imperialist states that control the United Nations.

It was, let us not forget, under a UN flag that 4 million Koreans were slaughtered in he US-led genocide between 1950-53.

There is, on the other hand, a huge array of first-hand, independently-verified evidence to prove the claims of atrocities and crimes against humanity committed on the Korean peninsula by imperialism.

International war crimes tribunal charges United States with “criminal and even genocidal conduct”

In 2003, fifty years after the official cessation of the conflict, an international war crimes tribunal sitting in New York found that the United States – supported by British troops – committed atrocities against civilians during the Korean war. Despite the denial of visas to key individuals who wanted to testify, the evidence collected was overwhelming.

In 1950, US-led massacres killed approximately one quarter of the population of Sinchon county – 35,383 people – mostly non-combatants, elderly people, women and children.

US and ROK Massacres - 4.7 million killed during 'Korean War' 1950-53
US and ROK massacres – 4.7 million killed during ‘Korean war’, 1950-53.

In October 1950, US troops forced 900 people into a building and set it alight. In another area, 1,000 women were drowned.

The 2nd Battalion, 7th US Cavalry regiment murdered up to 500 civilian refugees in No Gun Ri that same year.

After the initial attack, the refugees fled into a culvert and a tunnel beneath the bridge. US forces set up machine guns at either end of the culvert and tunnel. For over three entire days the machine gunners killed those who tried to leave, killing, according to the TRCK, an additional 300:xxvii “‘There was a lieutenant screaming like a madman, fire on everything, kill ‘em all,’ recalls 7th Cavalry veteran Joe Jackman. ‘I didn’t know if they were soldiers or what. Kids, there was kids out there, it didn’t matter what it was, eight to 80, blind, crippled or crazy, they shot ‘em all.’”xxviii Soldiers with small arms would, as time passed, approach the culvert to pick off any survivors. A survivor, 12 at the time, said: “The American soldiers played with our lives like boys playing with flies.”xxix Bruce Cumings believes that there was a concerted effort to ensure that there were no surviving witnesses.
After the initial attack, the refugees fled into a culvert and a tunnel beneath the bridge. US forces set up machine guns at either end of the culvert and tunnel. For over three days the machine gunners shot down those who tried to leave, killing, according to the TRCK, an additional 300. “‘There was a lieutenant screaming like a madman, fire on everything, kill ’em all,’ recalls 7th Cavalry veteran Joe Jackman. ‘I didn’t know if they were soldiers or what. Kids, there was kids out there, it didn’t matter what it was, eight to 80, blind, crippled or crazy, they shot ’em all.'” Soldiers with small arms would, as time passed, approach the culvert to pick off any survivors. A survivor, 12 at the time, said: “The American soldiers played with our lives like boys playing with flies.” Bruce Cumings believes that there was a concerted effort to ensure that there were no surviving witnesses.

In 1948, a quarter of the population of Jeju island was exterminated because it did not support the US-backed regime.

a communist revolt on Jeju island off the south coast of the Korean Peninsula, beginning on April 3, 1948. Between 14,000 and 60,000 individuals were killed in fighting between various factions on the island or were executed. The brutal suppression of this rebellion by the South Korean army resulted in many deaths, the destruction of many villages on the island, and more rebellions on the Korean mainland.
A communist revolt on Jeju island off the south coast of the Korean Peninsula, beginning on 3 April 1948. Between 14,000 and 60,000 individuals were killed in fighting between various factions on the island or were executed. The brutal suppression of this rebellion by the south Korean army resulted in many deaths, the destruction of many villages on the island, and more rebellions on the Korean mainland.

The tribunal concluded that, between 25 June 1950 and 17 July 1953, over 4.6 million Koreans perished – including 3 million civilians in the north and 500,00 civilians in the south. The evidence overwhelmingly supported the charge that the United States was guilty of “criminal and even genocidal conduct”.

US ‘war hero’ and ‘democrat’ General Douglas MacArthur boasted of bombing Korea ‘back into the stone age’

A variety of evidence – from eye-witness testimonies to physical documentation – showed “the systematic levelling of most buildings and dwellings by US artillery and aerial bombardment; widespread atrocities committed by US and ROK forces against civilians and prisoners of war; the deliberate destruction of facilities essential to civilian life and economic production; and the  use of illegal weapons and biological and chemical warfare  by the US against the people and the environment of  northern Korea”.

It showed that the US used weapons banned by the articles of war, including bacteriological and chemical weapons. US planes had dropped canisters containing organisms infected with plague, cholera and other epidemic diseases.

We bombed Pyongyang 'back into the stone age' - Boasts US General McArthur
We bombed Pyongyang ‘back into the stone age’, boasted US General McArthur.

Napalm was used by the US military on an industrial scale against the Korean people.

And from Pyongyang to Fallujah, the US has never looked back.

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The tribunal also found “gross and systematic violence committed against women in northern and southern Korea, characterised by mass rapes, sexual assaults and murders”.

Furthermore, there is evidence of numerous other atrocities having been committed against Korean civilians by both the US and their south Korean puppets in the decades after the war.

In 1980, the National Security Law was implemented by the US-backed military dictatorship in south Korea and was used to imprison up to 1 million civilians. Following an uprising in which the city of Kwangju was temporarily liberated, up to two thousand demonstrators, including workers and students, were massacred, and thousands more were injured.

The United States has also enforced economic sanctions on the DPRK since the 1950s. This has deprived the country of materials essential for civilian life including petroleum, medicines and a host of technologies to improve urban and rural infrastructure and food production.

Moreover, the artificial partition of Korea deprives the DPRK of much fertile land. This has caused difficulties in the production of food, particularly in periods of natural disasters. The imperialists have then politicised food-aid – withholding vital supplies during periods of crisis unless political demands were met.

History repeats itself – first as tragedy, then as farce

The United Nations, through its Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the DPRK, is not only falling below international standards of research by promoting unverifiable sources as credible evidence; it is attempting to provide the moral justification for further economic and military intervention against the country.

The language employed – affirming that it is the responsibility of western powers to protect the people of Korea – is reminiscent of the justifications for colonialism, slavery and the genocide of indigenous populations by the imperialist powers.

It is psychotic behaviour to depict one’s victims as perpetrators, but that is the perverse situation on the Korean peninsula.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – the victim of mass extermination by imperialist attack in the 1950s and of enforced hardship and attempts at inflicting mass starvation through economic sanctions ever since – is once again being accused of the very crimes that have in fact been perpetrated against its people by a series of colonial overlords and would-be overlords over a period of 100 years.

The most brutal, methodical and destructive occupation of Korea has in fact been led and perpetrated by the hypocritical ringleaders of the UN ‘accusers’ – by US imperialism itself. It would be farcical were it not so deeply offensive.

This report is an orchestrated political assault by an entity that provides the legal and moral framework for imperialism. The great capitalist powers, and in particular the United States, use the United Nations to facilitate their hegemony over Africa, Asia and Latin America. In this, however, they are becoming increasingly frustrated by the rise of China.

The United States committed genocide in Korea to stunt the growth of socialist revolution and to stop the development of socialist and non-aligned countries. Despite the collapse of the USSR, due to the own-goals of Khrushchevite revisionism, it has singularly failed in its primary objective.

The imperialist powers now face an increasingly confident, multipolar world, led by China, and seek to confront this rising tide of political and economic resistance with aggressive economic, political and – frequently – military interventions.

My enemy’s enemy is my friend!

The report is therefore not only an attack on socialist Korea, but also on China and other independent and emerging states.

It is attack also on the discontented working (and increasingly under- and unemployed) people of Europe, Japan and the US.  For our enemy is here at home. The British capitalist may speak our language, but he is most decidedly not our friend. Imperialism is our mortal enemy.

To succumb to the Union Jack-boot, the butcher’s apron and the bowler-hatted marching drum is to lose any chance of building an alternative to the perpetual crisis, slavery and war of our ruling class’s system of wage slavery, hypocrisy, poverty, war and greed.

Despite the emotive and hysterical accusations, it is clear that those who stand against atrocities and crimes against humanity should stand firmly with the DPR Korea and China. Resist the ‘humanitarianism’ of imperialism. Resist the ‘democracy’ espoused by the genocidal maniacs and the free-market fundamentalists; by the servants of ‘the city’, of monopoly capital.

Why is Tony Blair now joining the Sunday Times rich list? As a reward for leading British people by the nose to the high altar of their own exploitation and wage slavery, and cajoling us into complicity in plunder, rape and mass murder in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, and around the world.

No price is too high to pay for their profit? We say ‘Enough’!

Fight modern-day slavery; fight imperialism! Defend the DPRK!

No to imperialist war!

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Birmingham anti-imperialists expose war propaganda of Amnesty International

A group of comrades from Birmingham including a few Red Youth members attempted to explain to supporters of Amnesty International the reactionary position adopted by that organisation towards Syria on Thursday evening. Failing to comprehend the motivations and involvement of imperialist interference in the region, despite all efforts, the Amnesty group pressed ahead and attempted to peddle a pro-interventionist ‘Support defiance’ warmongering position – even arranging for the BBC to attend and cover their performance. Such blatant (and at the demo) vocal support for the overthrow of Assad makes a mockery and thoroughly exposes the dishonesty of Amnesty’s written position:

“Amnesty International does not take sides in conflicts and has no opinion on borders. Our work in situations of armed conflict concentrates on documenting and campaigning against human rights abuses and violations of IHL, no matter who commits them”

Amnesty's "impartiality"

A group of anti-imperialists in Birmingham opposed Amnesty’s dirty work for imperialism with a vocal contingent which, despite the best attempts and connivance of the BBC did not go unheard. Our statement can be read online here.

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Photo’s courtesy of Stalingrad O’Neill

Amnesty allows itself to be used as a tool for war, ethnic cleansing and imperialist aggression

In response to the irresponsible, hypocritical and reactionary behaviour of the Birmingham Amnesty International group and their plans to push war propaganda on the streets of Birmingham, local comrades from Red Youth, CPGB-ML, AIWAA, IWA(GB) and others prepare a counter-demonstration on 12 April in Birmingham. It is the firm conviction of these comrades and other anti-imperialists that we cannot allow what happened in Libya to be repeated in Syria. It is also their firm conviction that if Stop the War Coalition is incapable of opposing this warmongering then it is up to communists and revolutionaries to get on with the task alone.

The following statement is communicated to the Amnesty dupes:

We have no doubt that Amnesty International contains a number of well-meaning supporters, people with genuine compassion. It is from this belief that we are outraged by the continual stream of lies, hypocrisy and war propaganda that emanates from Amnesty International, hood-winking its members, volunteers and the general public alike into supporting acts of genocide, ethnic cleansing and regime change.

It was precisely the above which was the outcome, indirectly and not so indirectly, of the position adopted by Amnesty International in relation to the war against Libya. Amnesty always seems quick to make claims of rights abuses when it serves the interests of imperialism, echo-ing the lies and misinformation of the corporate western media machine. But it is strangely slow to learn the awful lessons that echoing such lies enables real atrocities to be committed by imperialist forces – and on an incomparably larger scale than the often non-existent ‘abuses’ they claim to be ‘reporting’ in the first place.

Having made a host of inflammatory and ultimately false statements in the French media alleging the use by Colo-nel Gaddafi of ‘mercenaries’ during last year’s predatory war of aggression by Nato, Amnesty International Presi-dent Genevieve Garrigos was forced to admit five months later that there had been no evidence to support any of her claims.

An investigation by Donatella Rivera exposed Garrigos who had peddled inaccurate information and lies. Garri-gos eventually admitted in an interview: “Donatella was right to verify if we actually found mercenaries. And we didn’t.”

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As a result of the spurious information, lies and falsifica-tions she and her team put out, Garrigos helped stoke the fires of war. She helped to cause the unnecessary suffering and death of tens of thousands of Libyans, including untold numbers of black Libyans. It is now widely known and reported by the UN Human Rights Council and by Human Rights Watch that the Libyan ‘rebels’ whom Amnesty was so quick to champion were in fact the ones committing ethnic cleansing of black Libyans in Tawergha and beyond.

It is therefore out of a genuine concern for those honest supporters and champions of human rights who may reside inside Amnesty that we protest against the ongoing use of slander, innuendo, half-truths, untruths, rumour and damned falsification presented to the world as fact.

It is therefore out of a genuine concern for the many honest supporters and champions of human rights who undoubtedly reside within Amnesty that we protest against the campaign’s persistent use of slander, innuendo, half-truths, untruths, rumour and damned falsification – all presented to the world as fact.

It is with this knowledge, and with a real love for freedom, democracy and liberty, that we call on Amnesty’s anti-Assad protesters to correct their position on the question of Syria and oppose the dirty war propaganda that emanates from the Birmingham group of Amnesty.

Amnesty calls for ‘defiance’

A leaflet advertising a demonstration in Birmingham on 12 April 2012, and seemingly produced by Amnesty International’s Birmingham group, calls for people to “Stand for Syria, in solidarity – in defiance”. This piece of war propaganda claims that there have been five decades of human-rights abuses in Syria, that there has been a 14-month ‘brutal crackdown’, and that hundreds have been mistreated and tortured. The intention of the leaflet is to create the impression that there exists in Syria a most despotic and cruel regime; a regime that tortures, punishes and imprisons hundreds, nay thousands, of its own citizens, including children.

Whilst Amnesty claims that there have been five decades of repression in Syria, the truth is rather different. The Syrian people enjoy a standard of living envied by many in the Middle East. The country’s long-standing commitment to secularism has ensured a relatively peaceful and prosperous half-century for its people, who come from many different nationalities, cultures and religions. Which other country in the Middle East provided safety and refuge to millions of families who fled Iraq during the last Iraq war? What other country has done so much to assist the Palestinian struggle for national liberation?

Since the outbreak of the imperialist supported violence last year, regular demonstrations have been held across Syria, with tens of thousands of people from all sections of this diverse society showing their support for the president and government, and not for the anti-government militias.

It is with this in mind that we must ask ourselves what role Amnesty is playing in calling demonstrations that imply tacit support for the gang of terrorist mercenaries calling themselves the ‘Free Syrian Amy’. Not least as the FSA are assembled, supplied, supported and sheltered by such standard-bearers of freedom and democracy as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Israel, the United States and Turkey.

Once again, Amnesty International is doing the dirty work of imperialism. It is providing whatever pretext can be found for the overthrow of a legitimate government, a legitimate president, and the murder, torture and butchery of soldiers who comprise the regular standing army of the Syrian republic.

But who the hell are the directors of Amnesty to interfere, in complete violation of international law, with the internal business of a sovereign state?

Whilst Israel pushes ahead with its policy of ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, Amnesty turns a blind eye and (in Birmingham at least) organises no protest. Whilst Israel is gripped by the heroic struggle of Palestinian hunger strikers and freedom fighters, Amnesty has chosen this moment to talk about Syrian prisoners.

Whilst Saudi troops commit acts of ferocious barbarity in Bahrain, Amnesty Birmingham wants us to “push for an end to the bloodshed in Syria”!

Whilst black Libyans are butchered every day by racist, terroristic ‘rebels’ as a direct result of the horrendous and catastrophic war, allegedly waged for ‘humanitarian assistance’ and delivered by the F16s, stealth bombers and tomahawk missiles of the imperialist armies, Amnesty International wants to provide a pretext for further carnage in Syria!

The truth about Syria is that it is a thorn in the side of imperialism in the Middle East. Its long-standing commitment to independence and national sovereignty has incurred the wrath of the United States, who long ago marked the country out as a part of the ‘axis of evil’.

Learn the lessons of history

In campaigning for a return to the Russian presidency, outgoing prime minister Vladimir Putin said that Moscow would not allow a replay of the events in Libya: “Learning from that bitter experience, we are against any UN Security Council resolutions that could be interpreted as a signal for military interference in domestic processes in Syria.”

In seeking to overthrow the patriotic and progressive government in Damascus, imperialism also seeks to deliver a knockout blow to Hizbollah, thereby strengthening Israel. Above all, in seeking to destroy its most significant regional military ally, the attack on Syria is a vital step-ping stone to yet another war of aggression, this time against Iran, beyond which lies the global conflagration that confrontation with China and Russia would entail.

We must not fall for the war propaganda used to ‘justify’ imperialist aggression, and certainly should take no part in spreading these lies and falsifications.

In a very real sense, Syria today stands in the same place, as did the Spanish Republic in 1936. British work-ers and progressive people need to stand in their place, demanding:
Hands off Syria! Victory to Assad!

Birmingham, 11 April 2012

Other good sources of information on Syria here:

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Lessons of Libya for the anti-war movement

Proletarian

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