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75th Anniversary of D-Day:
The Normandy Landing and Re-Writing of History
35th Anniversary of Operation Blue Star:
Heinous Crime of the Indian Ruling Class against the Peoples of Punjab and All of India
35th Anniversary of Operation Blue Star:
Thousands March in London to Mark 35th Anniversary of Operation Blue Star
The state visit of US President Donald Trump to Britain from June 3-5 was marked by opposition from start to finish.
Not only was the US President pointedly not invited to address the Houses of Parliament, but people from all parts of the country took a stand to say that the state visit was not in their name. The point had been made in July last year that Trump was not welcome here, when 250,000 took part in a mass demonstration in the centre of London. That spirit was a given in 2019. So whether it was the large carnival of resistance in Trafalgar Square which attracted as many as 75,000 who then closely packed Whitehall, or the demonstrations taking place in so many towns and cities, or the stand taken by concerned people in Portsmouth when Trump joined the representatives of the British state in the D-Day commemorations, it was evident that people were speaking in their own name, not proving to some sideline commentator that Donald Trump was opposed and despised.
The demonstration on June 4 assembling in Trafalgar Square was a main focus of events, and was called by Together Against Trump, which is a united front of the Stop Trump Coalition and Stand Up To Trump, bringing together a host of campaign groups and trade unions, such as the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and the Stop the War Coalition, Unite the Union and Unison. In high spirits, the tens of thousands then marched down Whitehall as far as the stage erected as near Downing Street as the authorities would allow. So dense was the crowd that it was almost impossible to move, and as the rally progressed a steady stream of people also joined.
In fact, the subjects of any talks between Trump and the British government, and more, were firmly dealt with in the many varieties of placards and slogans displayed on the demonstration, and in the sectors of Trafalgar Square, the blocs, which dealt with affirming the various rights of the people, showing that the people are indeed capable of setting their own agenda.
The urgent call for an anti-war government itself, carried by activists from the contingent of RCPB(ML) and other anti-war activists, concentrated the theme of being together against Trump into a task for the present in order to safeguard the future, for it embodies what the people, in opposing Trump, are aspiring for. Both the British government and the Trump administration can be said to be pro-war governments. Not only that, but the theme of D-Day, June 6, embodies the heroism and striving of the people for peace against darkest reaction for which war and aggression is the first response. It is clear that the people must build their own national and international institutions to this end.
One of the central demands was that Trump and the US multinationals keep their hands off the NHS. Trump declared in his press conference with Theresa May that in any trade deals between the US and Britain, the NHS would be "on the table", along with everything else, before back-tracking on a subsequent occasion. But the cat was out of the bag. Even before this, the TUC and others were hammering over the point, "Our NHS is not for sale!"
In her speech to the rally in Whitehall, TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady fiercely declared: "Big pharma corporations can't wait to get their greedy hands on our NHS. And Trump will back these corporate vultures all the way. We must never accept a US-style system where ordinary people are cheated out of healthcare so that super-rich executives can rake in the billions. So let's send a clear message to President Trump and to whoever ends up in Downing Street in a few weeks' time. Our NHS is not for sale."
Frances O'Grady went on to say: "We shouldn't roll out the red carpet for a man who deliberately spreads fear and prejudice. Who takes the side of white supremacists, neo-fascists and women-haters. Who tears families apart and locks children in cages."
There were many other speakers, including the youth speaking on their future and the necessity to oppose the irresponsibility of the likes of Trump and May on climate change. Mark Serwotka of the PCS made an impassioned defence of the NHS and the staff who hail from so many parts of the world and to whom the NHS owes so much. The speakers represented the passion and commitment of so many sections of the people to oppose what Donald Trump stands for.
As the highlight of the rally, Jeremy Corbyn spoke, setting the tone for the sentiment of all present. His theme was not to dwell on the outrageously negative and backward characteristics of Donald Trump - his racism, misogyny, warmongering, and so on, though Corbyn did not mince his words on the agenda that the Trump regime is following.
"Because racism divides, exploitation of minorities divides, brings about hatred, dislike, disdain and a horrible place for individuals to live in," Jeremy Corbyn said. "When you've created that sense of hatred, destroyed people's self-esteem by that form of racism, you haven't built a house, a school, trained a nurse, defended our natural world, [you have] just created a greater sense of hate and hatred that goes with it."
But what brought the cheers of the mass of humanity who there to oppose this agenda was thecall for the people themselves to affirm their rights, to work together for a better world. "Think on, please, about a world that is aiming for peace and disarmament, that defeats racism and misogyny," he said, before ending his speech with the exhortation for all to join in to create that world.
The demonstration was determined to fulfil the plan to march to Parliament Square, despite the authorities blocking the road from Downing Street to the Square, so it set off to walk to Parliament via the Embankment. Here another militant rally took place, despite the frequent downpours, and the more open space provided the opportunity for many discussions, including with young people from the US who were adamant that Trump was not their representative. It was clear that this manifestation of people from all walks of life, with a multitude of creative banners and placards, had made the point that Trump was not welcome, and that the people must set their own agenda and build the movement for their empowerment. It was a feature that the many hundreds of the statement of RCPB(ML) that were distributed were very well received and seriously read.
On the following day, June 5, a significant gathering took place in Portsmouth to oppose Trump and his presence at the D-Day commemorations and stating, "Not in our name". People from around the region took part, including from Southampton, Brighton and the Isle of Wight. The authorities had gone as far as to erect a large security fence around Southsea to lock out the ordinary people of Portsmouth from participating in the 75th anniversary activities. On the people's banners were issues raised condemning Trump and stating, "For an anti-war government", and the gathering took up the shouting of slogans.
At a rally, speakers condemned Trump's misogyny, racism, and the anti-gay and anti-NHS stands he has made, as well as raising warnings about US trade deals, warmongering and plans to commit aggression against Iran.
At one point, oppositional forces marched past to try and disrupt. Some protesters confronted them while others went amongst them and tried to discuss with them and point out that people should not be split because of what is currently going on. The protest then continued peacefully with musicians singing songs about the issues.
As well as protesting against Trump and raising the issue of the necessity for an anti-war government, many people paid respects also at the cenotaph, with a minute's silence dedicated to the veterans of D-Day.
Hundreds of people from all backgrounds marched and rallied against Trump in Newcastle on the evening of June 3. The event was organised by Together Against Trump Newcastle, and the rally included a range of speakers from the fighting movements of the people, including Newcastle Stop the War Coalition.
Mass Opposition to Trump in Whitehall, whilst crowds gather to watch the motorcade!
In an article published on the 70th anniversary of D-Day, military historian Benoît Lemay, of the Royal Military College of Kingston, Canada, pointed out: "There are many misconceptions about the Normandy landing. It is believed to have enabled the Allies to win the Second World War. A more nuanced view is required. In fact, in June 1944, Germany had already lost. The landing only served to accelerate the end of the war. It was the Russians on the Eastern Front who did most of the work. For propaganda reasons, during the Cold War years that followed, the West would try to minimise the Soviet effort. It would be conveyed that it was the Allies who did most of the work."
Lemay explained the motives behind the landing: "In reality, the Allies landed in France not only to defeat the Germans, but also to ensure that Western Europe did not fall under the Soviet yoke. There was a political aspect and economic interests."
During their meeting in Tehran at the end of November 1943, the three leaders - Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt - agreed a Second Front would be opened. It was the landing in Normandy on June 6, 1944, that opened this Second Front, in the military context created by the Red Army, where Germany had already lost the war because of it and now had to fight on two sides.
According to the invasion plans, Caen was to be liberated on the evening of June 6 but the fighting was so fierce, it was only finally liberated 40 days later on July 17. The French historian Claude Quétel explains: "On June 22, 1944, a little more than a fortnight after the Normandy landings - and three years to the day after the invasion of the Soviet Union by the Nazi armies - Stalin attacked the Hitlerite troops from his side. The objective: to hold down a maximum of German divisions in the East to facilitate the progression of the Allies to the West. Stalin went all out. For this operation, no less than 166 divisions, 1,300,000 men, 5,000 aircraft, 2,700 tanks were mobilised. The main front is not the one thought to be in Normandy: it was in the East."
However, Quétel writes, "This Soviet offensive, the largest since the beginning of the war, has often been obscured in the Western world because of the Cold War and rewriting of history."
Quétel tells us: "The Russian victories in Stalingrad and especially Kursk changed the game. The major risk for the Anglo-Saxons was no longer to see Stalin sign a separate peace with Hitler, but to see him win the final victory alone! It became urgent to discuss strategy [...] with the Soviets. The Tehran Conference brought Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin together for the first time in this war."
Historian Antony Beevor summarised what happened a few days before the landing in Normandy: "Roosevelt wanted to remind his subordinates that the Allies were not liberating France to install General de Gaulle in power." The US goal was to "impose a military government until elections were held", which would take some time. This is why Roosevelt "insisted on creating an occupation currency". The disagreements were serious in Roosevelt's entourage, and "Churchill did his best to persuade him that they had to work with de Gaulle". Roosevelt yielded. De Gaulle was then made aware of the landing that had been planned without his knowledge in his own country. He learned about it on June 4, the day before the landing was originally scheduled to take place; it was postponed a day due to bad weather. The "occupation" of part of Europe would take place anyway, but without a US "military government" and its "occupation currency" in France.
In an interview, Beevor expressed the concern of the Anglo-American Allies with regard to a surrender of Germany only to the Soviet Union if the disembarkation of their troops was delayed:
"Eisenhower's decision to launch the operations on June 6, despite warnings from weather specialists, after a first postponement on the 5th, was not only a courageous decision, it was a historic stance. If he had said, 'we postpone the date', the next possible window was exactly in the middle of the great storm of June 19, one of the worst in the Channel. He would therefore have again had to suspend operations probably until the spring of 1945. This would have had unimaginable consequences, not only for the secrecy of the operations and for the maintenance for a very long time of the armada assembled in Great Britain, but, especially during this period, the Red Army would not only have arrived in Berlin, but would have had time to cross the Rhine and go, why not? all the way to La Rochelle [...] You can imagine the scene!"
The decisive role of the Soviet Union in the military defeat of fascist Germany was accepted by everyone at the time such as the President of the United States, Franklin D Roosevelt, who, even before the landing at Normandy, on May 17, 1944, honoured the city of Stalingrad declaring:
"In the name of the people of the United States of America, I present this scroll to the City of Stalingrad to commemorate our admiration for its gallant defenders whose courage, fortitude, and devotion during the siege of September 13, 1942, to January 31, 1943, will inspire forever the hearts of all free people. Their glorious victory stemmed the tide of invasion and marked the turning point in the war of the Allied Nations against the forces of aggression."
Nonetheless, the Anglo-American imperialists like to claim that they, not the Soviets, with the invasion of Normandy were the decisive force in defeating Hitler. The D-Day Commemorations are used to make this claim and do warmongering propaganda against Russia today. This does a great disservice not only to the peoples of the former Soviet Union whose sacrifice in the war literally saved Europe, but also to the anti-fascist forces in Britain, the US, Canada, Australia and the European countries who fought heroically to do their part in the war. It is done to claim that wars of aggression and occupation today are for democracy, peace and freedom which dishonours the anti-fascist contribution of the soldiers who fought in the Second Front even more.
1. La Presse, June 6, 2014. Translated from the French
3. Le Monde-Hors série: 1944/Débarquements, résistances, libérations, May-July 2014, La bataille de Normandie en neufs points, pp.20-23. Quote translated from the French
5. Antony Beevor, The Second World War, Little, Brown and Company, New York, 2012
6. Antony Beevor, "Ce n'était pas gagné d'avance," Le Point, June 5, 2014, pp.58-62. Quote translated from the French
7. J V Stalin, Correspondence with Franklin D Roosevelt and Harry S Truman, Vol. 2 (1941-1945), footnote no. 67
(From an article in TML Weekly, June 1, 2019)
From June 3-8, 1984, 35 years ago, the Indian government of Indira Gandhi carried out the devastating assault and massacre of innocent Sikhs at the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar, Punjab, known as Operation Blue Star.
The stated aim of Operation Blue Star was to "flush out" so-called "Religious Terrorists" led by Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. Operation Blue Star was carried out in the context of the concerted action of the Indian, British and Canadian states to criminalise the political demands of Sikhs for statehood for Punjab - the creation of Khalistan. They labelled the proponents of this demand "Sikh fundamentalists". By associating Sikhism with extremism they managed to criminalise Punjabis, including those who were not religious in any way and especially the youth. This served as the model for the subsequent targeting of all people of the Muslim faith and the demand that people prove their loyalty to the state by demonstrating that they are moderates. Meanwhile, as in the case of the Sikhs, all Muslims became targets of violence and the impunity of the state, along with all others on the basis of communal divisions and identity.
The Golden Temple is the holiest site of Sikhs. By modern standards the state is not permitted to interfere with a person's conscience and the practice of their beliefs or the sanctuary of their own church. The Indian army operation against the Golden Temple violated the sanctity of a place of worship and established the precedent that holy places would henceforth no longer be considered a safe haven from persecution or a refuge from the action of the state.
The military action, which included tanks, helicopters, armoured vehicles, artillery and chemical weapons, was timed to take place on the anniversary of the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev in 1606. Over 70,000 troops were ordered to capture less than 50 men. The military assault occurred under cover of a total media blackout. Thousands of innocent civilians were killed over five days.
The storming of the centre of Sikh spiritual and temporal authority by the Indian Army under the orders of Indira Gandhi led immediately to a mutiny in Sikh units of the Army and four months later, on October 31, to the assassination of Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. Ruthless anti-Sikh pogroms were unleashed by the Indian state to wreak revenge. Thousands of innocent Sikhs were beaten and burned alive during the anti-Sikh pogroms on November 1, 2 and 3. The state-organised anti-Sikh mobs massacred over 8,000 innocent Sikhs, 3,000 in Delhi alone.
The police stood by and watched and, in some cases, actively participated in the attacks. It is estimated that subsequent government operations Woodrose, Blackthunder, Night Dominance, Rakshak I and II, and Final Assault led to the deaths of 25,000 to 80,000 Sikhs.
The government officials who are known to have instigated, authorised and organised the violence subsequently enjoyed promotion, including to cabinet positions and decades of impunity despite repeated demands for justice.
Speaking a year later in London on the first anniversary of the massacre at the Golden Temple, Hardial Bains pointed out:
"What has been proven during this year in which the army has occupied the Punjab - the year which began with the invasion of the Golden Temple, the headquarters of the Sikh religion, and the indiscriminate massacres which were committed there and all over Punjab, as well as, shortly after, in Delhi and other places in the wake of the assassination of Indira Gandhi - is that the Indian ruling classes want to create a religious problem, a communal problem, in order to divert the attention of the people from their real struggle for national and social liberation.
"At the same time, through their use of communal violence and fascist terror, they want to convince the struggling masses that the ruling classes are 'strong' and will be as ruthless in smashing the struggle of the people as the situation warrants. Nonetheless, the Indian ruling classes and their bourgeois political parties have not been able to accomplish any of their aims. The pure love and unity which the people of Delhi and other places exhibited for one another, in which they defended and sheltered the Sikh people, condemned the bestial hatred and the rape, looting and murders engineered by the Rajiv Congress under the watchful eyes of the police forces - the expression of the people's unity irrespective of their religion, caste or regional origin - brought forth tears of joy amidst the people, while the bitter news of the communal violence and fascist terror brought forth anger. This joy, and anger, both so deep, with the anger seething like a volcano, this response of the people, has driven the Indian ruling classes into further frenzy and desperation. The people expressed their real psychology, their love and affection for one another and for their cause. This has been ingrained in them, the result of the centuries-long struggle for real national and social liberation. The Indian ruling classes miserably failed in their aim of making religion the issue and a point of division and bestial hatred amongst the people. Even though Rajiv Gandhi assumed the role of a swaggering Hindu who accuses others of being 'Sikh fanatics', 'Naxalite extremists' and so on, the people in India and the people abroad, irrespective of their religion, caste or region of origin have condemned this as an insult to the Indian people and as abhorrent. They have understood all too well that this has been nothing but a cover, a ruse, to hide the real enemies, the Indian ruling classes. They have expressed their profound anger against this attempt to blame the people for the crimes the ruling classes themselves commit so as to sow communal strife. Rajiv Gandhi tried to divert the issue of the just struggle of the people for their livelihood, for their freedom, and for progress. This, he claims, overwhelms the government. He passed the anti-terrorism law and under this law, any struggle, be it of the workers for their livelihood, or of the peasants for their land, or of the people for true independence, prosperity and progress, is liable to overwhelm the government. Thus, all who stand for these just causes must be put to death, or carted away to the dungeons and jails. In passing this law, Rajiv Gandhi wants to kill the Indian revolution and put the Indian people to death or imprison them for it is only through the revolution that they can win their rights.
"Besides failing to make religion the issue over which the people are fighting, the Indian ruling classes also failed to create a climate of compromise and submission. Facing such an impossible situation, Rajiv Gandhi's draconian law also includes, besides the threats of death and long-term imprisonment, clauses which prohibit the Indian people from singing their songs of revolution, of valour and heroism and which espouse their determination to put an end to this barbaric rule which has brought them so much suffering. Under the pretext that this law is to curb terrorism, the government gives itself the right to commit any act of terror and, like Aurangzeb who also banned the playing of instruments and the singing of songs, Rajiv Gandhi has done the same. Aurangzeb was facing the revolt of the people of the south and of the northwest and northeast and the ground was slipping under his feet as well. He too, wearing the gown of a swaggering Muslim, thought he could kill the revolution and imprison and put to the sword all the revolutionary forces. In the same manner, today the Indian ruling classes and Rajiv Gandhi feel the ground slipping out from under them. This shows the utter fear that has gripped their hearts. Far from being able to create an atmosphere of fear, of compromise and submission, it is the Indian ruling classes which are afraid. It is they who must further split and divide, and this will further deepen the crisis and the contradictions will erupt like volcanoes. For their part, the Indian people know no compromise with their enemies, nor do they have the tradition of submitting to their native and foreign exploiters. The entire history of the struggle of the Indian people for national and social liberation is testimony to this.
"The Indian people will march on along their road of national and social liberation. They have the wisdom and the strength never to sacrifice their pure love and ancient traditions of unity and common struggle and to heroically fulfil their age-old desire to be independent and prosperous. They will never compromise their pure ideals, nor will they submit to the tanks and bullets of the enemy. It does not matter how much the Indian ruling classes try to find and promote those who will agree to engineer a compromise and create a climate of submission in Punjab, and it does not matter how much pressure they put on the people professing the Sikh religion or on the people in Assam, Kashmir and elsewhere, imposing communal tension and pressure on the peoples everywhere, or to what extent they carry out communal violence and fascist terror. The people who could put an end to Abdalis and Aurangzeb and who never accepted the massacres of Jalianwala Bagh and of Dum Dum, the heroic people of India who went to battle with their bare hands against the foreign occupiers and their native collaborators, this same people will also send the present ruling classes and their foreign backers packing. Such is the historical destiny of the doctrine of supreme sacrifice for the freedom, unity and love for the cause of the peoples. Such is also the destiny of the oppressors and traitors whose downfall and overthrow will be the first step towards the full expression of the real heroism and true ideals and values which the Indian people hold so precious and dear.
"The joy of struggle and the bitterness of tragedies and sufferings imposed on the people is their lot today. The victory of the people's revolution will end this bitterness. It will create the condition for the proliferation of the real personality of India, the land of heroes and heroic fighters, the land where the people value their ideals of freedom more than their lives, where the millions of hearts are throbbing to put an end to the curse of division and humiliation, of exploitation and oppression, the curse which British colonialism imposed on them and which is now carried out by their collaborators and world reaction. The victory of the people in this glorious struggle is guaranteed by their heroism and by their ideals."
1. The Times of India points out that declassified files in 2014 revealed that Britain had sent an SAS officer to India in February 1984 ahead of Operation Blue Star to draw up a plan to remove the "Sikh fundamentalists" from the Temple.
The then Prime Minister, David Cameron, had rushed through the Heywood Review in 2014, which had limited scope and was condemned as a whitewash. It found no record of assistance to Operation Blue Star by Britain other than the limited military advice provided in mid-February. But the British government also withheld four files. In June 2018 Judge Shanks ordered those files to be released, but in July only 40 pages of three of the four were so released.
Thousands of British Sikhs marched through London on June 2 at a remembrance march and rally held in memory of the those killed in Operation Blue Star in Amritsar.
The demonstration, organised by the Federation of Sikh Organisations, marked the 35th anniversary of June 5, 1984. The rally began in Hyde Park with speeches and then participants marched on Trafalgar Square, where a huge stage and sound system had been erected. Before they arrived, a huge screen was showing moving pictures of the marchers.
Just after 2pm around 10,000 British Sikhs marched into the square, with the slogan: "What do we want? Justice!" A book called Sikh Martyrs was launched at the event, which details all the Sikhs who died in 1984 with their photos and biographies.
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