George Zimmerman, the neighbourhood watch co-ordinator who shot and murdered an unarmed black teenager, has walked free from a Florida courtroom. The jury – five out of six of whom were white – took 16 hours to deliberate and return a unanimous ‘not guilty’ verdict.
It is with disgust – but not surprise – that Red Youth notes Zimmerman’s acquittal as the verdict confirms what most rational observers know: that the lives of oppressed people, particularly young black men, in the United States remain disposable.
Whilst media analysts have already attempted to mask this injustice, referring to circumstantial evidence, there are clear facts from the case that must be repeated:
– Trayvon Martin was a junior in high school who was walking in the community in which he was temporarily living. He was not trespassing or involved in any other criminal activity, as Zimmerman claimed.
– Trayvon was racially profiled, followed, assaulted and murdered for no plausible reason other than Zimmerman – acting in his role of neighbourhood watch leader of a gated community- found his appearance and ethnicity offensive.
– After calling the police to notify them of Trayvon’s ‘suspicious behaviour’, Zimmerman was instructed by the dispatcher to wait for the police and not to approach the teenager. He ignored this instruction.
– Zimmerman claimed that Travyvon was suspicious – ‘up to no good’, ‘on drugs’ and ‘looking at all the houses’. Yet, a police report confirms that Trayvon was not involved in any criminal activity on the night of his murder.
– Attempts have been made to slander Trayvon Martn and to depict him as a violent criminal. It’s been highlighted, for example, that he was suspended from school three times in recent years. These suspensions were, in fact, for non violent alleged offences such as truancy and marijuana possession. Trayvon had never been charged with any crime and did not have a juvenile record.
– Despite shooting and murdering an unarmed child, Zimmerman was astonishingly not arrested until six weeks after the killing. His eventual arrest was the result of cumulative pressure from the public and not the police or state’s quest for justice. The Sanford Police Department was at best incompetent and both the Chief of Police and Lead Investigator have now lost their jobs.
However, this case is not about incompetence. There were no ‘mistakes’. Zimmerman’s acquittal is the logical consequence of an unjust, racist system and is a reminder – albeit a brutal one – that black males can be executed with impunity in the United States.
Moreover, the verdict does not only find Zimmerman innocent, it suggests and assumes that Trayvon is guilty. He is portrayed as menacing, dangerous and ultimately deserving of his fate: HE shouldn’t have been there; HE should have behaved differently; HE should have listened. Yet, the evidence – and cultural, political and economic context – shows that Trayvon is guilty of only one thing – being African American.
In 1964, speaking about the ideology of violence, Malcolm X stated that; “we are non-violent with people who are non-violent with us; but we are not non-violent with anyone who is violent with us. Once those intentions are made known, we can get to the nitty-gritty of the problem, we can get to the core of the problem, we can get to the root of the problem. Then we can correct the problem”. The murder of Trayvon Martin – and the fact that an African American is killed every 36 hours by the police or private security forces – surely reveals the barbaric violent nature of the political system in the United States, and the need for an organised, militant response.
Red Youth rejects the depiction of this event as a ‘tragedy’. It is the cold-blooded, racially motivated murder of an unarmed teenager. We also believe there is only so much mileage in talking about judicial failure. In fact, when a proper analysis of the so-called democracy in the United States is conducted, we find that its elitist, racist and anti-working class nature has performed consistent to its intended design. The murder of Trayvon painfully reinforces the reality that the system was not designed for poor, working class, black people.
Red Youth also recognises that this is not unique to the United States and that the extrajudicial killing of working class youths is becoming increasingly common here – as the execution of Mark Duggan in 2011 shows. London and Washington both practice superficial democracy to mask their oppressive political and economic dictatorship. It is in painful times like these that this mask is removed – and it is times like these that the people become most angry, militant and ready to organise for change.
A 14 year old cadre of Red Youth has written and posted the following letter to his school who have instituted an Amnesty International club for the students. Our comrade, in a short and precise letter exposes the sheer hypocrisy of AI and delivers a challenge to his school, peers and the local AI Club to justify their peddling of imperialist propaganda. The letter is reproduced exactly as it was composed save the name of the school and comrade:
“Dear TGS Amnesty International Club,
I am writing this letter in sheer disgust at the ignorance of xxxx Schools Amnesty International club portrays. Presentations were carried out throughout the school promoting the club and issuing out awareness material to other students. Students were intimidated into signing cards and letters expressing their support for the supposed ‘political prisoners’ locked up in certain nations across the world. The information given to the students about the prisoners was extremely limited and bias. However, my argument is for the millions of oppressed people across the world suffering at the behest of the rich and powerful nations on whose behalf A. I. operates and from where it is based. Why focus on a few individuals and then ignore all the crimes committed by these powerful states? I will be expressing points which will hopefully be answered by the group.
I have no doubt that Amnesty International contains a great number of well-meaning supporters, people with genuine compassion. It is from this standpoint that I express my outrage at the continual stream of lies, hypocrisy and war propaganda that emanates from publications and spokespersons of Amnesty International, hood-winking its members, volunteers and the general public alike into supporting acts of genocide, ethnic cleansing and regime change throughout the world.
We all remember the horrendous war on Libya which resulted in thousands of innocent civilians being killed, beautiful infrastructure being smashed (including the Sahara Aquifers) and blown up and a secular and progressive regime being expunged. And let’s not forget how we all witnessed the rape and lynching by mercenaries and foreign terrorists of the much loved Leader of that country, Colonel Gaddafi, on our computers, mobiles and television screens like some kind of sadistic game that would be familiar to see on horror films like Saw and Hostel. And which ‘Human Rights’ organization really pushed for regime change in that country? Of course, Amnesty International.
Now, several months on, cases are emerging of Libyan cities and towns such as Tawergha, Bani Waled and Sirte being persecuted and violently terrorised due to the fact that the majority of people living there were black. In one town, Tawergha, some 40,000 plus black people were force to flee in one day as they were butchered and terrorised by the rebel militias and gangs provided with NATO air cover. On the 25th February this year, a man was reported on the BBC news saying:
“We had 70-80 people from Chad working for our company. They were cut dead with pruning shears and axes, attackers saying: ‘You are providing troops for Gaddafi.’ The Sudanese were also massacred. We saw it for ourselves.”
This is just one of the hundreds of cases being released clearly showing, with great and detailed evidence, that the rebels, supported by Amnesty International, NATO, etc, were human rights abusers on a massive scale. Surely that can’t be right? A Human Rights defender siding with NATO, a Military Alliance which has killed, massacred and terrorised millions in its time, to help bring about regime change for a handful of racist thugs. So exposed was the stance of Amnesty on the Libyan massacre that its spokesperson retracted her earlier statements about Gadaffi using foreign mercenaries to fight for him. However this confession of course was never broadcasted by the mass media which is in the service of this same NATO war machine. But the lies spouted at the time about the Libyan army were enough to provide the cover and false legitimacy for the NATO saturation bombing which brought the war lords and racist terrorist gangs to power and massacred thousands of Libyan troops and civilians. You might argue that this is just one lonely example which can’t prove anything but try telling millions of Libyans that. Moving on.
Now, the organisation has moved onto Syria, another target of the West. What a coincidence. Amnesty International is constantly promoting the rebels there (which have very close links to Al-Qaida and other Islamic extremist groups) to topple another progressive, developing and secular state. Their excuse, very much like the excuse they used in Libya, is that the President, Basher Al Assad, is a ‘dictator murdering his own people’. Is Assad just meant to let a group of local and foreign terrorists, funded and armed by real dictators in the region, namely Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain, to come and attack his people? And if Assad was such an evil tyrant with no desire but wealth and exploitation of his people, why would over 15 million Syrians, over 90% of the electorate, vote for his new reform plans earlier this year? The Bathe party in Syria heads a broad coalition of all the very many ethnic groups and confessions of the nation, defending them all against an array of extremist Sunni terrorist gangs seeking succour from rich and powerful foreign nations.
Many human rights abuses are being carried out slyly right here under our noses in Britain and other Western ‘democratic’ countries.
Many Muslim immigrants and asylum seekers, escaping from the very war zones created by western military interventions, are inhumanely harassed and molested as soon as they pass through the border crossings, on spurious claims of suspicion of terrorism or other crimes even though most are women and young children. They are made to live in very harsh conditions, including internment camps, insufficient for raising a family. They are given ill-paid jobs which require long hours of work for a minimum wage. They often resort to crime to survive, which lands them in jail.
Can it be just that 50% of the USA’s prison population is black, and that Native Americans have never been compensated for the massive genocide perpetrated against them? Can it be just that the US, the richest nation in the World, has a bigger prison population than any other country, both proportionately and absolutely? The American penal system incarcerated over 5 million of its citizens during the 1930’s and over 2.5 million today. Why were there no cards for these victims? Why were there no cards for today’s tens of millions of the descendents of tens of millions of African slaves who form the vast majority of the impoverished in the USA and to this day have no rights to medicare and many of whom end up languishing in the Jails of the USA?
Police brutality and oppression is a regular experience for black people in the US, as well as national minorities throughout Europe. Earlier last week, on December 13th, Chicago police killed 38 year old Phillip Coleman, who was, according to family members and neighbours, having a nervous breakdown and behaving erratically. Police subdued him with a taser when he was arrested and again after he arrived at Roseland Hospital. He died later on that day in Roseland. Phillip Coleman’s sister, Jacqueline, told the Sun-Times,
“Phillip was not treated justly, he was treated like an insect!”
This is just one example of the cruel acts the American state perpetrates on its own citizens, whilst claiming to be a father figure of democracy and freedom.
I recall that one of the cards which was given to us to sign, was for a prisoner in China called Chen Guangcheng, who was locked up for being too ‘outspoken’ in his beliefs. It is now reported that he has fled to the USA with his family. Say no more. However, my point is that even after all the evidence lying on the table, proving how the West, namely the USA and its puppets or lap dogs including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Israel, etc commit the most atrocious crimes against humanity and act like ‘police of the world’, Amnesty International still points its longest finger at the People’s Republic of China for being an abuser of human rights. But as I already explained, it is the USA that has the largest prison population in the world, both absolutely and as a percentage of its population. Where’s the card for Bradley Manning? Wheres the card for Mumia Abu Jamal? Where’s the card for Julian Assange? Where are all the cards for the inmates of Guantanamo Bay? Where all the cards for the thousands of black people being imprisoned in America and being lynched in Libya as we speak by these supposed ‘Freedom Fighters’?
China is one of the two nations to veto a war on Syria at the UN Security council. It can see how regime change there will lead to a catastrophe even greater than the one in Libya. And for this reason and others it is attacked extensively by the West, using any means necessary, including Human Rights organisations like Amnesty International to pick out mole hills there and to make them into mountains.
At the Nuremburg Trials after World War 2, it was made very clear that the highest crime of all was an unprovoked war waged by one country against another. For good reason you might say. There can be no greater denial of human rights than War itself: millions are terrorised, displaced, killed violently or by secondary causes, wrongfully imprisoned, denied the means of sustenance and any security. Yet it is Western countries that have been the main instigators and protagonists of these wars yet all the claimed justifications for them from holding WMD’s to humanitarian intervention, stopping massacres, fighting terrorism, supporting democracy, removing dictators, protecting women, fighting drugs etc etc etc etc have all been exposed to progressive humanity as massive lies: Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Gaza, Libya, Syria, the Congo are the most well known and deadly. Where are the cards for the millions of the victims of these wars, the millions who have been denied the most basic human rights of all? To Life? To Peace? To Security? To a Home? To Food? To the very basic needs for sustaining life? Surely, if Amnesty International was a real fighter for human rights these matters would be at the top of the agenda and determine the cards we would be signing? Instead, so as to prepare the unsuspecting public for the next criminal war, it selectively chooses only the countries to be targeted, demonising their systems so that the public at worse will turn their heads the other way after the start of the military aggression. It is no surprise therefore that the “human rights” victims highlighted by A. I. are those working under the auspices of Western powers, selling out their countries’ independence to them. However, in the West we have no qualms about locking up and throwing away the key in those cases of betrayal to foreign countries.
As a student who researches extensively on world events trying to see society’s big picture, I cannot help but be infuriated at how openly supporters of Amnesty International operate within the school community, spreading bias propaganda and promoting ill-minded teachings, without being adequately challenged. They ignore the fact that A.I. promotes a cruel system, providing it with the legitimacy required for its criminal wars, global economic inequality and for the exploitation of 99% of world’s people. Surely the largest denial of human rights is that over 2 billion people (1/3 of the world’s population) have to survive on less than $2 a day? As a consequence the World health Organisation has stated that over 5 million children below the age of 5 die every year from malnutrition alone. Where are the cards for these lost souls?
I really do hope you can come back on the points I have raised.
Come and hear speeches and contributions from the Venezuelan, Cuban and Korean embassies – and a report back from the CPGB-ML delegation to Havana where Party-to-Party talks were held with the Cuban Communist Party.
This is a social event to celebrate the anniversary of the victory of the Fatherland Liberation War in Korea and the anniversary of the storming of the Moncada Barracks in Cuba.
Followed by cultural performances along with a tasty barbecue and Indian curry!
Red Youth members, comrades of the Communist Party and others helped to spread the truth about the ongoing imperialist inspired intervention in Syria on Saturday in Manchester. Talking about the war waged by imperialism and its hangers-on in Syria was a good opportunity for engaging with people on the streets of Manchester about the wider issues which working class people are concerned about. Comrades linked up all these problems and exposed the reactionary agenda behind government and mass media policy on immigration, the NHS and unemployment. If you want to get involved with Red Youth and fight for socialism – drop an email to email@example.com today!
A meeting was held on Thursday 24 May in central Birmingham to address some of the key imperialist lies which are being spread within the anti-war movement with regards to Syria. The meeting was Chaired in a personal capacity by local NUJ activist and photographer Stalingrad O’Neill. Contributions from the Indian Workers Association (GB), AIWAA (Against imperialist wars in Africa and Asia) and the CPGB-ML will be posted shortly. We urge all anti-war activists and peace campaigners to host similar meetings and ensure that the truth about imperialist intervention in Syria is spread.
Make a start in finding out the truth by reading this excellent article from the latest Lalkar:
The steadfastness of the Syrian people in the face of every effort to divide and undermine them, coupled with the refusal of Russia and China to endorse the economic, diplomatic and military campaigns of aggression, continue to frustrate imperialist plans of conquest in the Middle East.
Whilst it cannot be doubted that Washington will carry on doing all possible to subvert the Annan plan, striving to transform an opportunity for reconciliation and dialogue into just one more cover for bullying and coercion, there is no disguising the humiliating reverse which has already been inflicted upon imperialist pretensions in the region.
What opened up the possibility of a negotiated solution in the beginning of April was the success with which the attempted putsch efforts in Homs, Idlib and elsewhere were faced down by Damascus, exposing for all to see the minimal support from within the country for the armed rebellion and its growing demoralisation. The refusal of China and Russia to allow the UN Security Council to impose sanctions had already created difficulties for the warmongers. Now, with the rebellion clearly on the back foot and even the Arab League growing dubious about the ability of the US to control events, Russia was able to initiate the diplomatic process which was taken under the wing of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.
For Syria, and for all who respect her sovereignty and desire a peaceful resolution of the conflict so maliciously cultivated by the West, this initiative was most welcome. However, for those who would wish to demolish her sovereignty, end her support for Palestine and Lebanon, loot her resources and reduce her to a pawn on the geopolitical chessboard, the threat of such an untimely outbreak of peace set alarm bells ringing. Such a peaceful outcome would not only cheat Washington out of its pretext for aggression, but would also redound enormously to the credit of Russia and China, the hostile encirclement of which countries is the strategic aim of imperialism. Such a fillip for the growing diplomatic influence of the BRICS countries, such a slap in the face for imperialist domination, is a nightmare for the West.
The West tries to sabotage the Annan Plan
The obvious solution to the West’s dilemma was to try and subvert the Russian initiative and subsequent Annan plan, transforming the genuine search for a peaceful resolution of the crisis into another stick for imperialism to wield against Syria’s national dignity. Imperialism tried to pull much the same stunt earlier in the year with the farce which played out over the Arab League’s observer mission. That mission had been pushed enthusiastically inside the League by the House of Saud, the King of Bahrain and other such “democratic” friends of America, all eager to send in the monitors. Their real agenda was twofold: to find or manufacture pretexts to justify further imperialist meddling, and to give the hard-pressed rebels a breathing space to consolidate their ragtag forces.
The propaganda end of the mission turned out to be a disaster for imperialism, with the mission’s official report producing damning evidence of rebel atrocities and giving a broadly positive account of the government’s compliance with the provisional requirement to withdraw heavy weaponry from major population centres. Needless to say, the contents of the report received scant coverage in the imperialist media, with all attention lavished instead upon the tantrums of Saudi Arabia and the other US satellites who denounced the report, slandered the Sudanese mission chief who authored it, submitted a fabricated report of their own and sabotaged the continuing mission by unilaterally withdrawing their monitors.
However, although the intended propaganda coup misfired so badly for the West, the mission’s second purpose, to interrupt the momentum of the government’s efforts to defend the country’s sovereignty and give the scattered rebels a chance to regroup, had more success, tragically extending this period of internecine strife and claiming yet more Syrian lives. Now, with the rebellion increasingly revealed to be a spent force within the country, its leadership riven by endless factions and its sole hope of salvation resting upon the West and its proxies (notably Turkey), imperialism sought to turn the Annan plan down the same blind alley. Washington paid lip service to the plan’s peaceful intentions, whilst in practice using it as a cover for the imposition of a series of impossible and ever-shiftingultimata upon the Syrian government.
The agreement to which the parties signed up required both sides to stop fighting, with the anticipation that international efforts would be made to ensure that the process goes forward on the basis of reciprocity. Yet it has throughout been clear from the belligerent tone of US leaders that imperialism is interested in only one outcome: the unilateral disarming of the country’s security forces. Under these circumstances, it would have been suicide for Damascus to completely stand down its forces on 10th April (as was ludicrously demanded) without at the very least guarantees in writing from the rebel bands that they plan to reciprocate. Syria’s entirely reasonable request for such written guarantees to be furnished was, predictably, trumpeted by Washington as a spoiling tactic, as if it were President Assad who sought to derail the process.
On 9 April, on the eve of the 10 April deadline, skirmishes were reported on the border between Syria and Turkey. BBC news that afternoon and evening headlined this skirmish as spectacular breaking news. Government forces, we were told, had opened fire on a refugee camp across the border in Turkey, slaughtering a number of refugees and wounding many others. In the context-free environment of BBC journalism, this was clearly intended to stack up as proof positive of the supposed bad faith and bloodthirsty disposition of the Syrian government, and ample reason for a Turkish government spokesman to strangle the Annan process at birth, declaring it “void”.
Yet even the BBC report could not avoid letting slip a “rumour” that armed rebels had somehow been involved. The RT news service was more forthcoming, reporting how armed Free Syrian Army thugs cross to and fro across the border without impediment from Turkish border guards. And it fell to Reuters to report on the account given by local Turkish officials on the ground, presumably before the official Ankara line had been handed down. Yusuf Odabas, the governor of Kilis province where the camp is situated, said simply that“The injuries are a result of clashes between Syrian soldiers and rebels. The bullets reached the camp.” Reuters reported that the stray bullets which hit the camp originated“from clashes between Syrian soldiers and rebel fighters”, and that the “gun battles occurred just inside Syria.” (9 April, ‘Fire from Syria border clashes hits refugee camp in Turkey, report says.’)
As one report followed another, often mutually contradictory (Three died, or two? They died in the camp or running to the border? They were refugees or armed rebels?), it became possible to piece together a much more plausible sequence of events. Imperialism, by doing its best to plunge Syria into civil war, has created a humanitarian nightmare on the country’s borders, with panicked civilians mistakenly crediting Turkish promises of a “safe haven” from the fighting. Instead of enjoying safety, they have found themselves used as pawns in a cynical game concocted by imperialism and played out by its Ottoman stooges. Reports suggesting that the gun battle was sparked as FSA thugs “helped refugees escape to Turkey” reinforce the suspicion that what was really at issue was the hot pursuit of terrorists towards the border, and the tragic consequences of the FSA using the refugees as camouflage for the continued subversion of the country.
Less well reported was the surrender to government forces in Idlib of at least 227 armed men at around the same time. With great magnanimity these terrorists were allowed to go free once they had given up their weapons and promised not to attack the government or their fellow citizens, hardly the action of the bloodthirsty tyranny portrayed in the West. Nor was this a one-off incident: back in November last year Syria offered amnesty to those who gave up their weapons. Victoria Nuland of the State Department then demonstrated her commitment to the cause of peace by encouraging the gangs to hang on to their guns and spurn the amnesty (Press TV: ‘Hundreds of armed men surrender to Syrian army in Idlib’, 9 April). From this we may judge who are the real peace lovers and whose hands are stained with the blood of innocents.
The West tries to torpedo the Annan Plan
Despite the worst efforts of the West, the Annan plan was not strangled at birth in mid-April, thanks in very large measure to the refusal of Damascus to abandon the ceasefire although under enormous provocation.
Whilst the imperialist media put itself entirely at the disposal of the rebels, maintaining a constant barrage of unsubstantiated allegations against the security forces, the routine counter-revolutionary violence on the ground was ramped up, supplemented now by a dirty war of assassinations of leading patriots, all with the clear intention of torpedoing the Annan plan. In the eastern province of Deir al-Zour assassins murdered Lieutenant Colonel Youssef Saqqe; in the central province of Hama terrorists slew Major Moussa Youssef and kidnapped Colonel Mohammad Eid. To demonstrate their respect for religion, the rebels shot Sayyed Nasser al-Allawi, the imam and preacher of al-Hossayniya Scientific Hawza on his own doorstep, in a suburb of Damascus. It seems that his “crime” was to have helped in relief efforts to help refugees uprooted from their homes by civil strife. And to demonstrate their respect for democracy, the self-styled “battalions of Mohammed” went onto YouTube to broadcast their intention to kill anybody who stands for office in the 7 May parliamentary elections (to be held in accord with the overwhelming mandate delivered in the February referendum). That such threats are to be taken seriously was underlined by the fate of one such candidate, Mohammad Ismail al-Ahmed, whose home in Idlib was stormed by an armed gang which dragged him off to an unknown destination. Even on the very day that the ceasefire was due to kick in, as if deliberately to sharpen the provocation and induce Damascus to walk away from the Annan plan, officials including a brigadier general in the Damascus suburb of Jaramana, a first lieutenant in the northern province of Aleppo, and the secretary of al-Baath Party’s office in al-Mazareeb town of the southern Daraa province were killed, and dozens of officers were wounded.
Thieves fall out as Syria stands firm
As frustration mounted in the West at the failure of all its stage-managed provocations to abort the peace process, the headlines screamed ever more incontinently about Syria’s “monstrous” government. Yet for the overwhelming majority of Syrians, including those raising legitimate demands for reform, the attempted demonization of President Assad and the progressive, secular coalition which he leads simply beggars belief.
Even in the West, despite all the efforts to downplay the thousands-strong pro-Assad demonstrations (all held at the point of a gun, we are assured), reality has a habit of breaking through from time to time. Thus it was that no less than The Telegraph ran a piece on 9 March by Matthew Schofield, gloomily entitled “U.S. officials: Assad could survive Syria revolt” in which it is revealed that “Months after the United States sided with rebels against Syrian President Bashar Assad, senior U.S. intelligence officials acknowledged Friday that not only could Assad survive the uprising, but also that they couldn’t say with confidence that the opposition represents a majority of the Syrian people.” The officials gave the lie to the repeated assertion that the governing coalition is driven by Alawite sectarianism, not only identifying support for President Assad amongst Christians, Kurds and Druze, but also admitting with puzzlement that, whilst most Syrian soldiers are from the Sunni majority, “Yet the military remains cohesive”. One official speaks truer than he knows when he says of the Syrian military, “This was an army built for a ground war with Israel. They have approached that level of commitment.” An army consisting of mercenaries rented by Doha and Riyadh is no match for the army of a progressive and independent nation committed to fighting Zionism and imperialism.
And whilst the Syrian military holds firm and the Syrian masses continue to rally behind the government, the rebel forces continue to split and buckle under the weight of their own treachery. The Telegraph quotes one member of the West-backed Syrian National Council bemoaning the fact that “There are internal divisions within the SNC… The main problem is SNC has gotten … bigger each and every day. We started with 80 people, now we are 340 people, and every high-ranking official defecting from the Syrian regime wants to have a big role” (Matthew Schofield, “U.S. officials: Assad could survive Syria revolt”, 9 March).
Whilst Syria’s strength and cohesion may remain a mystery to Telegraph readers, they pose no such conundrum to the millions of Syrian patriots for whom national pride, and pride in the nation’s anti-imperialist tradition, loom larger than any confessional or ethnic divisions.
Bahrain: a different story
A mystery that the capitalist media never does seem able to fully account for is why Hillary Clinton and David Cameron are not pestering the UN to pass resolutions imposing sanctions and threats of military intervention against the unelected feudal relics ruling over the population of Bahrain with teargas, sound bombs, birdshot and worse, calling in the Saudi army to murder demonstrators last year and celebrating the return of Formula One by shooting a protestor dead. Where are the diatribes against the bloodthirsty dictator killing his own people? Where is the international community’s outburst of moral indignation as Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, serving a life sentence for saying Bahrain should be a republic, slowly starves to death on hunger strike?
Yet the difference is not hard to grasp. Syria is a progressive, anti-imperialist country, and therefore deserving of the same campaign of calumny previously lavished upon other such countries, most recently Libya. Bahrain is an oil well with a flag, franchised out by imperialism to unelected local comprador stooges to run as a private fiefdom. In exchange, the US gets to park its Fifth Fleet there, ready to challenge any perceived threat to its exploitation interests. So really it is no mystery that the “Arab Spring”, invented and promoted by the West in Libya and Syria, must carve for itself in Bahrain. It will prosper the better without such “friends”.
Even the Mail on Sunday, in a rare burst of candour on 8 April, felt moved to comment as follows on the company which British imperialism’s own entirely bourgeoisified reigning monarch likes to keep (Katie Nicholl and Jonathan Petre, ‘Ruler of Bahrain’s bloody regime set for Windsor Castle’):
“The Queen has risked an international outcry by inviting the King of Bahrain to a Diamond Jubilee banquet despite widespread criticism of his bloody and repressive regime… He is also thought to be among those invited to a champagne dinner given by Prince Charles the same evening at Buckingham Palace… The king’s son, the Crown Prince of Bahrain, was last year invited to the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton but pulled out at the last minute… In January, the Countess of Wessex came under pressure to return lavish jewels given to her by the Bahrain royal family… The crown prince gave her a silver and pearl cup and her husband, the Earl of Wessex, received a silk rug…”
For good measure the Mail on Sunday recalls that in 2011, “At the height of the killings, David Cameron greeted the crown prince at No 10, and between July and September 2011 the Coalition reportedly authorised the sale of £2.2million of arms to the regime.”
Vain hopes that bringing Formula One back to Bahrain would help convince the world that everything had blown over were spectacularly dashed. Instead, two things were demonstrated: that the fascistic character of the state repression had in no wise abated; and that the revolt which began over a year ago is not over by a long chalk.
Syria is a working class issue
Trotskyites and revisionists of course will have no such trouble supporting in words the popular revolt in Bahrain – but only in order then to muddle up the anti-imperialist essence of the Bahraini revolt with the pro-imperialist essence of the armed Islamic rebellion in Syria. Such muddle must be uprooted in the labour movement.
Without a doubt Washington and its stooges will continue to take every opportunity to sabotage the Annan plan and regain the warmongering initiative, and we cannot underestimate the threat to Syria’s sovereignty that still exists.
Crucially, workers need to understand that it is the anti-imperialist steadfastness of the Syrian nation and its leadership which has opened up the possibility of a peaceful resolution to the conflict. By contrast, those on the “left” who have joined in with the demonization of Assad and the progressive coalition government which he leads, however much they may protest their opposition to military intervention in Syria’s affairs, have done more than most to grease the wheels for precisely such an outcome. Now more than ever it is time for workers to give heartfelt support to the Syrian nation in its struggle against imperialist meddling.
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”
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.
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.”
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!
The following article is taken from the 21 February edition ofPeople’s Daily;
At the end of the last week, Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Zhai Jun travelled to Syria to renew diplomatic dialogue with Syrian leadership, after both Russia and Chinavetoed a UN resolution proposed by the West and its allies in the Arab world, which wasde facto calling for President Bashar al-Assad to resign.
As the Chinese diplomats were travelling to Damascus, Western mainstream press had been turning increasingly vitriolic and hawkish. Official discourses coming from the Western governments did not sound any more conciliatory. The leadership of Syria was repeatedly condemned in the strongest language possible and there has been continuous snapping at the two powers that managed to block the proposed resolution.
One should probably ask: what role is the West really playing in the conflict? Is it trying to find solutions or is it igniting the crises?
And what would the people of Syria have to pay back to Washington, London, Paris and other ‘players’ if the Assad’s government would be deposed? Even though the majority never asked for any help and probably supports the present government, it would be definitely presented with the bill.
“The West”, Congolese presidential candidate recently told me, “doesn’t have friends. It only has interests.”By now it should be obvious that the West is not known for its altruistic considerations. It does close to nothing to rescue the worst suffering countries, simply because most of them are actually suffering as a result of Western economic and geopolitical interests. If charity would be the main goal of the foreign policy of the West, the bloodbath in Congo/DRC would end many years ago-the slaughter that took between 6 and 10million people and is performed by close allies of the US and Europe and their multi-national companies. And the plundering of the mineral rich Papua would also end already several decades ago.
Some 40 to 45 million people world-wide were killed after the WWII in colonial, post-colonial, neo-colonial and imperialist conflicts led or triggered by the West: in Indochina, Indonesia, Africa, Latin America, Middle East and Oceania. One could excuse those who do not necessarily trust those sudden outbursts of compassion towards the people of Middle East and would rather give peace in Syria a chance.
If, however, the ruler or leadership is antagonistic to the Western dictate and interests, all means are put to use to overthrow him. Modern history is full of examples: Dominican Republic, Chile, Indonesia, Nicaragua, Congo, and Yugoslavia to name just a few places.
Most recently it was Libya’s turn. The UN resolution was twisted by both the European Union and the US and the country was attacked illegally. In Libya, the West immediately detected substantial (but not so ample that it would represent the majority of Libyan people) opposition to Qaddafi. It cultivated it, got directly involved and then steered it to the victory. When the violence escalated (partially through the Western support to rebellion) and the situation ‘went out of control’, invasion was justified on ‘humanitarian grounds’.
Interests of the West in Libya were always clear: the oil and the important role Tripoli played in the anti-imperialist struggle on African continent. Many in Africa saw Qaddafi’s overthrow and death seen as calamity, but very few dared to speak up from fear of Western reprisal.
That is not to say that Qaddafi was not a tyrant. However, Libya under his leadership preached the highest HDI (UNDP calculated Human Development Index) in Africa. But instead of being too preoccupied with the profit s of multinational companies, Qaddafi was busy building social net at home, which included public housing, roads, hospitals and schools. That appears to be the greatest ‘sin’. Building its own independent society and concentrating on pulling people out of poverty appears to be the most unforgiveable crime in the eyes of the Western regime.
Punishment is dreadful: officially speaking, the ‘infidel’ countries are not punished, they are ‘saved’.
And the countries that were recently ‘saved’ by the West –Afghanistan (savagely brutalized since the times of its secular pro-Soviet government), Iraq, Libya, and Honduras –are today all in the most appalling state, in catastrophe much worse than before the ‘humanitarian invasion’. Their people are going through indescribable suffering; many are desperately trying to leave.
This brutal approach is usually justified by the dogma of American and European exceptionalism, by the theory that the West is somehow unique and the only one qualified to determine what is right and what is wrong for itself and for the rest of the world.
Any country that crosses the West and its designs is immediately attacked by the most vicious but powerful propaganda apparatus. No matter how rational are its arguments.
It was announced by Zhai Jun that Beijing is calling for a referendum on the draft of anew Syrian constitution, early parliamentary elections and the establishment of a national unity government. “We call on the government of Syria to seriously heed the people’s legitimate desire for reform and development and call on the various political fractions to express their political aspirations non-violently under the rule of law,” he said. He also made it clear that China wanted this crises solved within the framework of the Arab League.
That’s all very rational and democratic. But the West sees such rational approach as unacceptable. Not because Russian or Chinese approaches are morally wrong –they are clearly not. But because, in sync with the exceptionalist doctrine, the people and the referendum on the future of their own country could not be ‘trusted’. Decisions on the issues like ‘who runs the government’ in strategically located country, could not be left to the people. It is only the West– old and until now the only prevailing colonial power block – that can determine in what direction the world (and each particular country) could move.
While the Western press is manipulatively speaking only about Russia and China in connection to the resolution, it is essential to point out that there were other states that voted against it, including Iran, Zimbabwe, North Korea but more importantly, most ofthe countries in Latin America that stand at the vanguard of the struggle against Western imperialism: Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador and Nicaragua. All these countries that suffered terribly from the US interventionism now voted on the grounds of basic principal: the West has no moral mandate to decide the fate of the world.
And this ‘club’ of progressive nations appears to be much more legitimate than the ‘club of two’ – the US and Israel –that blocks almost all of the UN resolutions on Palestinewhile avoiding the fury of disciplined and self-censored mainstream media.
Based on its history, ancient and modern, Russia has no reasons to trust the West. And even if the latest commentaries of the Western mainstream media could actually be trusted and Russia is defensing its ally in Damascus for its own pragmatic reasons, it could still be understandable and justifiable given the fact that there are already missiles being pointed at Russia from all directions imaginable. In addition to it, if the present Syrian government collapses, the West would have suddenly almost total control of the area, definitely not very attractive prospect for both Russia and the world.
Habibe Ozdal, Turkish expert on Russia working with the Center for Eurasian Studies(USAK) commented at Today’s Zaman on February 16th, 2011: “After the Iraq War, Russia has opposed the one sided initiatives of the West. Moreover, Russia today, despite all its weaknesses, is very different than the Russia of the early 2000s. Moscow which now has something to say about the Middle East in general and Syria in particular, prefers to take up a position that is independent of, and at times even in opposition to, the West.”
Editors of the progressive National Channel in Istanbul are actually calling the Western game in the region an open aggression. A veteran documentary filmmaker Serkan Koctold me that he filmed in Syria and has clear evidence that the West was supporting violent and rough elements in the country, calling them ‘legitimate opposition’.
In Russia and among the opposition in the West there is no doubt that unless stopped, the situation may lead to the endgame in the region: total consolidation of Western power. On the 18th February, RT (Russia Today) was broadcasting analyses concluding that destruction of Syria would open the door for further invasion to Iran. Recently, Alexander Cockburn published his powerful article “Hypocrisy and Syria” at prestigious CounterPunch, arguing that the US itself has never been tolerating separatist movements on its territory: No one could doubt that determined separatist activity or armed challenges to the government of the United States are always met with immediate, overwhelming and lethal ferocity. For further historical illustration I recommend an interview with any moderately informed American Indian or black.
For a while it looked as though Obama’s government was being swept into yet another intervention, ranging itself shoulder-to shoulder with the GCC coalition, stoking the firesin Syria. That momentum was certainly checked by the Russian and Chinese veto of the US-backed resolution presented to the UN Security Council.
Opposing the dictate of the West does not have to lead necessarily to the new Cold War (unless the West chooses to see it that way: ‘You do what we say, or else!’). It could actually lead to something really great –to something that the world has been missing for decades: it could lead to diversity and to the world where the countries would again dare to go their own way and express their stands loudly and proudly, without any risk of being bombed and shattered.