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Workers' Weekly Internet Edition: Article Index : ShareThis
For An Anti-War Government!:
British Government Unjustly Continues to Demand Regime Change in Syria
100th Anniversary of the Easter Rising:
Commemoration of the Easter Rising 1916
100th Anniversary of the Easter Rising - Coming Events:
Concert of New Music to Mark the Centenary of the Easter Uprising 1916
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The Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) unreservedly condemns the devastating bombings which took place in Brussels on the morning of March 22, which left more than thirty people dead and nearly two hundred injured. Other recent criminal acts of terrorism are also to be condemned, such as in Ankara, Turkey, on March 13, which killed at least 37 people, and on at least three occasions in Iraq which have killed and wounded close to three hundred.
On March 27, at least 72 people were killed and over 340 injured in Lahore, Pakistan. We express deepest sympathies with all the families who have lost their lives and been injured in heinous acts of violence, victims of both individual terrorism and state terrorism, wherever in the world they occur. Many others have lost their lives in the past month alone: for example, in a number of countries in Africa, and in Yemen, where well over one hundred were killed by an air strike by the Saudi-led coalition which is backed militarily and diplomatically by the US and Britain.
But also to be condemned are the pro-war governments, particularly Britain, which engage in invasion, aggression, acts of war, and further militarisation. These governments not only have created the conditions for acts of individual terror, but are responsible for state terrorism, the wrecking of sovereign states and the carrying out of "regime change", carried out in the name of the "war on terror". Furthermore, they utilise the crimes whether committed by ISIS or whomsoever, to fuel a vicious cycle of anarchy and violence. It must not be allowed to continue.
In the name of "maintaining security", the British government, as well as the imperialist powers of Europe, are utilising the pretexts of the atrocities to criminalise the right to conscience and trample on the sovereignty of nations. Theresa May, Home Secretary, in her statement to the House of Commons reiterated the government's commitment to prevent "radicalisation", to pursue the Prevent and intervention programmes in education, and to push through the Investigatory Powers Bill which would enable greater state collection and surveillance of personal communications data. However, the working class and people must not allow such measures to carry on unopposed, measures which are harming the rights of everyone, and which the people must go all out to block. Racism and chauvinism is being pushed for which these measures provide the foundation. Every opportunity is taken to proclaim the superiority of "British values", for example, on both sides of campaign to remain in or leave the European Union. The government's talk is of terrorists "striking at the heart of Europe" and "destroying our way of life". It is in this context that ruling elite is trying to create a climate of fear and block the people sorting out the problems which society faces. Furthermore, the government uses such pretexts to prepare for new or continued intervention in Syria, Libya and elsewhere, and is exacerbating the situation which they have created themselves for those seeking refuge and a new life in Europe, the humanitarian crisis which goes by the name of a "refugee crisis".
Theresa May's response, far from being humanitarian or democratic, has underlined that the government's "solution" is to strengthen police rule. She pointed out that following the attacks in Paris last November, the security and intelligence agencies have strengthened co-operation with their counterparts across Europe, including through the Counter-Terrorism Group, which brings together the heads of all domestic intelligence agencies of EU member states. Furthermore, she boasted of "the longest lasting security relationship in the world through the Five Eyes" - Britain, the United States, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
The fact is that the big powers of Europe, far from settling scores with their colonialist past and imperialist present, are pursuing their neo-liberal agenda to impose their hegemonic and retrogressive aims on the people, who are paying the price. The working class and people must reject these aims and this agenda, which is blocking any move to open the door to progress and to solving the issues of nation-building in the modern conditions.
RCPB(ML) calls on the working class and people to remain vigilant so that indiscriminate violence and terror is not utilised as the basis for yet further reactionary measures and for state terrorism that is yet another crime against the people. We call on everyone in these circumstances to defend the right to conscience and to go all out to establish an anti-war government so it is they who decide matters of war, peace and security, not the warmongers.
The government have continued to demand regime change in Syria, even while peace talks between the government of Syria and various opposition groups have continued under UN auspices. In Parliament, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond made clear the government's position when he stated that "we assess that the removal of Bashar al-Assad is an absolutely essential prerequisite for peace". At the same time the Foreign Secretary has also continued to attack the Russian government for its role in Syria, and more generally, following the announcement that the main part of Russian military forces are being withdrawn, although it will maintain its major military bases in Syria.
Speaking before the EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Brussels on March 14, Hammond made clear the bellicose position of the British government: "We have to have relationships with Russia but we can't lose sight of the challenge that Russia represents to our values and to our security and we have to be robust in making our case and defending our principles, our values, and our borders in Europe." In regard to Syria he added, "We expect President Putin, who has backed President Assad with huge amounts of military and political commitment, we expect him to be able to get control of Assad, and at the moment it doesn't look like he is in control of Assad." It is with such bullying and provocative tactics that the government conducts what it refers to as its foreign policy. Speaking to military personnel, Russia's President Putin stated his government's view of its military intervention in Syria: "We have created the conditions for a peace process. We have established constructive and positive cooperation with the US and a number of other countries, with respectable opposition forces in Syria, which really want to end the war and find a political solution of the conflict."
The aim of the British government, the US and their NATO allies has always been regime change in Syria and for that purpose they have incited, financed and armed a variety of opponents of the current government in that country, either directly or through their proxies. The government has even referred to those elements it supports as the "legitimate representatives" of the Syrian people as if it decides such matters. There is no doubt that they also hoped that the removal of the government of Bashar al-Assad would provide a geopolitical advantage not only in itself but in relation to Russia and Iran too. What has become an illegally engineered civil war in Syria has now led to hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions of refugees. A major humanitarian crisis now engulfs Syria, the surrounding countries and even parts of Europe. The conflict has led to instability across the entire region and created the conditions for the emergence of the sinister IS/Daesh in Syria, which has also fought against the Syrian government and brought death and destruction in its wake not just in the region but also in Europe. Despite everything that is a consequence of its regime change strategy, the British government and its allies still maintain that it is this self-serving strategy which is the only future for Syria, a future dictated not by the Syrian people but by the big powers in NATO.
However, so far, despite all the efforts of the NATO warmongers there has been no regime change. The government of Syria, with the military support of Russia, Iran and others, has remained in power and recently regained territory previously lost to IS/Daesh and other opposition groups. According to one report, the Syrian government has been able to regain control of some 400 towns and 10,000 square miles of territory and has recently re-entered the ancient town of Palmyra. Russian air strikes appear to have made a significant impact and have led to the current "cessation of hostilities". It is in this context and as a result of negotiations between Russia and the US that peace talks are now taking place in Geneva. There too, Britain and the US are attempting to impose their own agenda on the people of Syria, but the government of Syria has refused to be bullied and has announced that as well as engaging in peace talks it is also obliged to hold and will hold parliamentary elections in April, since it is the Syrian people who are sovereign not foreign governments. The opposition groups that have been supported by NATO and its allies such as Saudi Arabia now refer to themselves as the High Negotiating Committee, but they have been joined at the peace talks by two other groups that oppose the al-Assad government and yet are also opposed to the regime change agenda. In short, the current situation regarding Syria cannot be dictated by Britain and its allies as they had hoped, nor can it ultimately be decided by solutions imposed by external forces.
The attempt by Britain and its allies to determine the fate of the people of Syria and effect regime change in that country in the same manner as occurred in Libya has led to a great tragedy for the people of Syria and many other countries. Its ramifications are also felt in the capital cities of Europe too. A great crime has been and is being committed and all the conditions created for further crimes against the people. The times cry out for an alternative, for an end to the use of force as a means to resolve political questions nationally and internationally, for an end to military and others forms of intervention by the big powers within sovereign states. It is the urgent task of the workers and all democratic people in Britain to step up the struggles to establish this alternative, an anti-war government that will end the crimes of the warmongers and allow the people of all countries to decide their own future.
This Easter weekend, people throughout Ireland have been commemorating the Easter Rising of 1916. They will be joined by millions across the world. Workers' Weekly is proud to be among them.
The heroic Easter Rising, centred on Dublin, though crushed barbarically by British imperialist troops within weeks, even days, was a turning point in the history of the nation. It led directly to the stunning victory of pro-independence candidates in the General Election of 1918 and the establishment of Dail Eireann in 1919, albeit also brutally suppressed by the British; to the War of Independence 1919-21; to the founding of the Free State in 1922; and eventually to the establishment of the Republic of Ireland in 1949. This assertion of national sovereignty, this nation-building project, whatever the tortuous and often appalling twists and turns, continues to this very day.
As Lenin later stated, the Citizens Army, one of the main components of the Rising, was the first workers' Red Army, and the pity was that the Easter Rising occurred before the revolutionary movement in Europe had reached full maturity. Nonetheless, the Irish revolutionary forces were to be an inspiration and example for revolutionary fighters throughout the world for the remainder of the 20th century, as were to be their mirror image in Ulster the model for counter-revolution, reaction and foreign manipulation.
British media in recent days have made much of what they characterise as the "shambolic" nature of the Rising (as they did at the time, demonstrating the racism of the British does not depend on the colour of skin of the oppressed) and that it was only the "mistake" of the British in putting down the Rising so brutally and with such vicious retribution that led to the Rising having any significance. But when was a revolution of an oppressed people a tidy affair? And was not the barbarity of British imperialism its standard reaction to any move for colonial freedom throughout its Empire? In fact was it not this very tyranny that made armed uprising inevitable?
Depiction of the devastation and firestorm caused by the
British in besieging the GPO, headquarters of the Rising
Other media accounts have asked "why could they not have just waited?", suggesting that Home Rule was inevitable once the First World War was over. But did India, who like Ireland provided tens of thousands of its brave sons for the slaughter on the Western Front, get Home Rule when the war ended? Rather its people struggled for another 30 years before independence was achieved and then only in the wake of one of the most callous and dastardly imperialist crimes of the century, the Partition of India which, as with the equally enforced Partition of Ireland, still bears its bitter and unresolved legacy to this day.
With the Downing Street Declaration of 1993, the then Prime Minister John Major stated that Britain had no territorial interest or claim in what he called "the island of Ireland". If so, why more than 20 years later, does Britain maintain its hold on part of the island? Why is there a Secretary of State for Northern Ireland? Why does Britain maintain a military presence in the north of Ireland, even if troops have been withdrawn from the streets for some years now - admittedly mainly so as to free them for other criminal interventions in the Middle East and elsewhere. Notwithstanding the sincere efforts being made by various forces in Ireland to achieve progress through the Good Friday Accord and the Peace Agreement, why does the British state and its government continue to interfere in Irish affairs and block progress?
The full liberation of Ireland, and progress in its nation-building project, will be the act of the Irish people themselves. In this they have the support of millions throughout the world, especially in the Americas and Caribbean, and across Europe, especially in England, Scotland and Wales, not least because of the diaspora, working people proud of their Irish heritage, even centuries after emigration, showing their support directly and in their struggles for the same aims. The cause of the Irish people, a people inspired anew by the Easter Rising, and loved throughout the world for their indomitable fighting spirit, their humour, their great tradition of arts and culture, their joy of living and the craic, will surely prevail!
Hail the Easter Rising!
Victory to the Struggles of the Irish People!
Our demands most moderate are - We only want the earth!
From James Connolly's Message to the Field General Court Martial, held at Dublin Castle, on May 9, 1916:
We went out to break the connection between this country and the British Empire, and to establish an Irish Republic. We believed that the call we then issued to the people of Ireland, was a nobler call, in a holier cause, than any call issued to them during this war [World War I], having any connection with the war. We succeeded in proving that Irishmen are ready to die endeavouring to win for Ireland those national rights which the British Government has been asking them to die to win for Belgium. As long as that remains the case, the cause of Irish freedom is safe.
Believing that the British Government has no right in Ireland, never had any right in Ireland, and never can have any right in Ireland, the presence, in any one generation of Irishmen, of even a respectable minority, ready to die to affirm that truth, makes that Government for ever a usurpation and a crime against human progress.
Transcribed by The James Connolly Society in 1997
Friday, April 8, 7.30pm
Morley College, 61 Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7HT
Sponsored by the Cornelius Cardew Concerts Trust
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