|Volume 51 Number 19, June 19, 2021||ARCHIVE||HOME||JBCENTRE||SUBSCRIBE|
On May 21, the Co-ordinating Committee of Friends of Korea hosted a lively and informative webinar on the current situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the Korean Peninsula. Participants from Canada took part in the discussion alongside those in Britain, which provided a chance to learn about and exchange views on the topic.
Andy Brooks, General Secretary of the New Communist Party of Britain (NCP) and Chair of Friends of Korea, welcomed everyone and thanked them for joining in, especially those from Canada. He introduced Michael Chant, General Secretary of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) and Secretary of Friends of Korea, who chaired the programme. Michael Chant set out the plan for the proceedings and introduced the violinist, teacher and composer Lesley Larkum, who played the Korean folk song Arirang, the anthem of the Korean reunification movement, which everyone appreciated.
In the first presentation, Michael Chant provided a historical overview of the DPRK's struggle for its right to be during the last 70 years and more in the face of US aggression, war and brutal sanctions. He highlighted the principled stand of the DPRK to uphold its sovereignty and dignity under all conditions and discussed recent developments in that country brought into focus by the decisions taken at the 8th Congress of the Workers' Party of Korea held in Pyongyang in January. The main thrust of the 8th Congress, he noted, was that it reiterated the DPRK's determination to uphold its self-reliant Juche outlook, strengthen its independent economy to counter the brutal sanctions regime of the Anglo-Americans, and defend itself against threats and aggression from the US and others. Britain is participating in the illegal sanctions the European Union has imposed against the DPRK, the speaker pointed out, despite having withdrawn from the EU. He noted that in the current period, the DPRK will be developing and strengthening its international relations in support of the cause of peace and justice everywhere, extending a hand of friendship to all who reciprocate. He underscored that in terms of its relations with the US, the DPRK has no illusions and will engage in relations on the basis of "goodwill for goodwill and power for power".
The next speaker was Dermot Hudson, Chair of the Korean Friendship Association in the UK (KFA UK). He informed participants of the Association's work to build people-to-people relations between the two countries to support the just stands of the DPRK in defence of peace on the Korean Peninsula and to oppose disinformation about the DPRK carried out by the monopoly media. One of the things Dr Hudson noted, in light of the atrocities that Israel is committing against the Palestinians, is that the DPRK has always stood with the Palestinian people, rendering material and political support over many decades. He reminded participants that the meeting was being held on the 41st anniversary of the Gwangju Uprising when students and workers in that city rose up and held power for several days in May 1980 to defy the US-backed Chun Doo Hwan military dictatorship in south Korea, and affirmed their right to democracy and empowerment. Dr Hudson observed that May 21 too was the first day of the Moon-Biden meeting in Washington, DC and expressed doubt that anything good for the Korean people would come of it.
The last presenter was Philip Fernandez, spokesperson of the Korea Truth Commission (Canadian Chapter). He spoke of how the framework of the Biden administration's new DPRK policy, based on a pragmatic approach of "diplomacy and stern deterrence", is doomed to fail because the DPRK conducts its foreign relations on the basis of principle and upholding its right to be. Contrary to the disinformation carried by the imperialist system of states that the DPRK is a violator of human rights, Fernandez pointed out that it is the crippling sanctions imposed by the US, Britain, Canada and others that constitute gross human rights violations and collective punishment against the people of the DPRK, which is doing its utmost to defend the rights of its people against this aggression.
Fernandez mentioned, among other things, that whenever the Korean people have made headway in building inter-Korean relations and strengthening the movement for reunification, the US imperialists have intervened to sabotage these efforts. In the context of next year's elections in south Korea, Fernandez noted that the US is working behind the scenes to install the anti-communist People's Power Party in office. This is to undermine relations between north and south and push back the 2018 historic Panmunjom Declaration that raised the hopes of the whole Korean nation for the strengthening of inter-Korean relations. One of the sitting politicians of the People's Power Party in the legislature, Thae Yong-Ho, who defected from the DPRK Embassy in London in 2016, has now joined the anti-DPRK campaign to slander and isolate his birthplace, Fernandez noted. He pointed out that in a recent interview Thae Yong-Ho called the DPRK a "slave state" while praising Britain as a land of "freedom, d emocracy and human rights"!
The decisive factor in the future of Korea are the Korean people themselves, not anyone or any other power, and their drive for peace and reunification will eventually succeed, Philip Fernandez underscored in concluding his presentation.
Following the presentations, Michael Chant informed participants that the DPRK's embassy in London had sent a message of greeting to the meeting and wished it success.
The discussion which ensued emphasised the importance of speaking out in defence of the DPRK and its right to be, in the context of the continued attacks on it by the US imperialists and their allies including the British government. There was strong sentiment to continue the fruitful discussion of this meeting.
The event concluded with a short video of a visit to a music school in Pyongyang in 2013 during the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Victory of the Fatherland Liberation War, followed by a clip of the playing of The Internationale at the close of the Workers' Party of Korea's 8th Congress.