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Volume 52 Number 7, April 2, 2022 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Fight For an Anti-War Government

Britain's Interference in Ukraine Can Never Be the Road To Peace

Workers' Weekly Internet Edition: Article Index : ShareThis

Fight For an Anti-War Government:
Britain's Interference in Ukraine Can Never Be the Road To Peace

Sunak's Spring Statement and the Need for a New Authority and New Direction:
Paying-the-Rich but Increasing Austerity for the People Is Not A Solution to "Cost of Living Crisis"

Workers' Forum:
UCU Members at 27 Universities Stage Five-Day Strike

P&O Mass Sackings:
Protests Grow at British Ports

Workers' Movement:
P&O Ferries. A Line in the Sand

Royal Visit to the Caribbean:
Caribbean Peoples Take a Stand against the Legacy of Colonial Rule and Demand Reparations for Crimes against Humanity

Martyrdom of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev, March 23, 1931:
Honour the Memory of Revolutionary Indian Youth Executed by British Colonialists

46th Anniversary of Palestinian Land Day:
Uphold Palestinian Right of Return! Support Palestinian Resistance!


Fight For an Anti-War Government

Britain's Interference in Ukraine Can Never Be the Road To Peace

Whilst today the British state has disengaged from the EU and is now in lock-step with the US it is probably now among European countries the most supportive of Ukraine joining in with the EU, NATO and Western Europe. Whilst this irony following Brexit cannot be lost, it also goes along with the British state and its media being also one of the most hostile to Russia in Europe.

Of course, at the time of Ukraine's independence in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union, Britain's role was then as part of the EU. The US with Britain as their main ally in the EU, moved to break up the Russian Federation and expand eastwards. As such, Britain has always been interfering in the internal affairs of Ukraine from this standpoint of dividing Ukraine from its close relations with Russia. These close relations of Ukraine to Russia spanned centuries and were based on vast areas in Ukraine speaking the same language as Russia and with close cultural ties to all Russians.

The aim of the US, Britain and the European powers was not just the liberalisation of Ukrainian state enterprises. It was not just that their private monopolies could try and grab the vast Ukrainian agricultural resources and industries, but equally the aim was geopolitical division of the Russian Federation, to weaken the largest country in the world in the interests of US domination. British European Minster, David Lidington, spelt this out in a statement in 2011 when he said, Ukraine matters [1] "as a growing market for British goods and services; as an investment destination; as an energy transit route and as an energy supplier". He continued that this is so "because its relationship with the European Union is a test case for the EU's entire strategy towards its Neighbourhood". In other words, the EU's strategy towards Russia!


Fire in Odessa Trade Unions House following the Maidan Coup when a nazi led march surrounded the building and burned 48 people alive, May2 2014

Much has rightly been written about the so-called colour revolutions in Eastern Europe and in Ukraine to effect regime change in favour of the US and its western allies. However, it was the Maidan coup in 2014 in Ukraine which finally brought about a Ukrainian regime hostile to Russia. This is a regime on Russia's borders that would engage with the US, Britain, the EU and with NATO in their preoccupation to isolate and threaten Russia. At the same time, the nature of this stateless and dangerous situation caused by the coup divided Ukraine, and the peoples of Donetsk and Lugansk in the Donbas region declared their independent republics through their own referenda, and the people of Crimea also voted to secede from Ukraine to the Russian Federation.

Of course, people of the world know to their cost that divide and rule, was Britain's notorious hallmark in its brutal colonisation of the world, as they divided the people of Ireland, India and Africa in pursuit of world domination in the previous centuries. Today, the British ruling elite still pursue this dangerous policy in their illusions that it will "make Global Britain a force for good in the world".

Britain's role prior to the Maidan coup is revealing. For example, posts of the British government [2] show that in 2010 "the British Military Advisory and Training Team" started "training officers and senior non-commissioned officers" in the Ukrainian army. This was a move which clearly showed Britain's role in attempting to subvert the army leadership to its own outlook. In 2013, prior to the 2014 coup, the British Embassy in Ukraine launched a project [3] "explaining the benefits for Ukraine of closer European integration" with the aim of determining "how Ukrainians perceive the EU and how one could raise their awareness of the benefits of signing the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement".


Anti-NATO demonstration outside the US Embassy in Kiev February 22 2022

It was also in this context, as one of many examples show, that in 2013 David Lidington met with a pro-EU opposition Ukrainian Party leader, former boxer Vitali Klitschko [4]. The Minister claimed: "The British government remains a firm supporter of Ukraine's EU aspirations. We want to see them make the necessary reforms to allow the Association Agreement to progress to signature. Mr Klitschko knows that Ukraine has a lot of work to do, and we discussed the role that a pro-active opposition (our emphasis) can play in promoting the implementation of reforms that benefit all citizens."

This was particularly significant because it was not only empty promises of "benefits of signing up to path of joining the EU" but the aim was also at inciting the opposition politicians against the government of that time and creating illusions among the Ukrainian people. The elected President Viktor Yanukovych of the time as well as the many in the government were opposed to the liberalisation of the Ukrainian economy as a condition of joining the EU and to the hostility of Britain and the EU towards Russia. In 2013, the Ukrainian President was also pursuing closer ties with Russia rather than the EU. It was this contradiction between the interests of the US/EU and the President that was the spark for the US/EU-led Maidan coup in 2014.

Since that time, successive British governments have continued to send troops, military advisers and trainers to Ukraine. Most alarmingly, British governments helped integrate neo-Nazis into the Ukrainian army and state and fuelled Russophobia in Ukraine and in Britain. Last year, in a provocation against Russia, Britain's HMS Defender entered the territorial waters of Crimea, part of the Russian Federation, a hostile move that was aimed at inciting Ukraine against Russia in the Crimea. That was followed by a deal with Ukraine on HMS Defender in Odessa to supply eight new missile vessels to Ukraine, with two of those constructed in Britain. Britain also agreed to "assist in building naval bases around the Azov Sea and the Black Sea regions" with Babcock International, a British Marine, Nuclear, Land and Aviation arms manufacturer "as the prime industrial partner".

Presenting the actions of the US, Britain and others in NATO in continuing to arm Ukraine in its conflict with Russia as peaceful, unprovocative and supportive of a free, sovereign independent and friendly country and choosing their own future is a historical fraud of the first order. This can never be the road to peace.

Notes
1. Britain and Ukraine - Partners for Reform - July 2011
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/britain-and-ukraine-partners-for-reform
2. British military training team to train Ukrainian Army personnel - October 2010
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/british-military-training-team-to-train-ukrainian-army-personnel
3. Explaining the benefits for Ukraine of closer European integration - April 2013
https://www.gov.uk/government/case-studies/explaining-the-benefits-for-ukraine-of-closer-european-integration
4. Minister for Europe meeting with Vitali Klitschko - March 2013
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/minister-for-europe-meeting-with-vitali-klitschko

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Sunak's Spring Statement and the Need for a New Authority and New Direction

Paying-the-Rich but Increasing Austerity for the People Is Not A Solution to "Cost of Living Crisis"

Chancellor Rishi Sunak presented his Spring Statement to Parliament on March 23 [1]. It was widely promoted in the media as a "mini budget", as it made significant announcements. On same day, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) gave its economic forecast.

The Chancellor presented his Statement in the context of rising inflation, particularly affecting the prices of fuel, energy and food. It was also made in a war context.

The OBR now expects inflation to reach 8.7% by the end of the year, as measured by the consumer prices index. It already reached the thirty-year high of 6.2% in February. It is almost needless to say that this is well above expected growth in average incomes.

Martin Wolf, Chief Economics Commentator for the Financial Times, points out [2] that "aggregate real household disposable incomes will decline by 2.2% in real terms between 2021-22 and 2022-23," according to the OBR. "This would be the steepest annual decline in at least 66 years. Gross domestic product per head is forecast to rise by 1.5% from 2022 to 2023," he writes.

Sunak posed the issue as being the result of external influences: the pandemic and other "global factors" now exacerbated by the war in Ukraine. "The OBR have not accounted for the full impacts of the war in Ukraine and we should be prepared for the economy and public finances to worsen - potentially significantly," he said; its "most significant impact domestically is on the cost of living."

"Covid and global factors meant goods and energy prices were already high: statistics published this morning show that inflation in February was 6.2% lower than the US and broadly in line with the Euro area. Disruptions to global supply chains and energy markets combined with the economic response to Putin's aggression mean the OBR expect inflation to rise further, averaging 7.4% this year."

Sunak of course made no reference to imperialist wars and proxies such as in Syria, Yemen and Libya. He made no reference to trade wars as precursors of hot war, particularly against China. He made no reference to embargoes and sanctions on many countries other than Russia. He also did not reference the price-fixing cartels. All these unmentioned factors take more out of the economy than is put in.

According to Wolf, things are not as they seem even on capital-centric logic: the higher-than-expected inflation gave Sunak "money to play with", he argues. "The story of this Spring Statement is how he used it."

"The actions we have taken to sanction Putin's regime are not cost-free for us at home. The invasion of Ukraine presents a risk to our recovery as it does to countries around the world," said Sunak. The outlook: to enable war, the recovery of the market dominance by the oligopoly interests he represents, increasing their profits. And the cost? From the capital-centred perspective, to eliminate the so-called "cost" of the people: the workers, pensioners, the unemployed, underemployed, migrant workers, disabled, refugees from war and other crises.

As one commentary put it: "Using the war in Ukraine to set the tone for the statement looks like the beginning of an election strategy to at least partly attribute the pain of the cost of living to the war, as a way of swerving political blame for the growth slowdown which was predicted well before Russia invaded." [3]

Under the gloomy outlook, Sunak effectively announced a programme of continuing austerity, using the well-overused language of debt and deficit:

"That's why, Mr Speaker, we have already taken difficult decisions with the public finances. And that's why we will continue to weigh carefully calls for additional public spending. More borrowing is not cost or risk free. I said it last autumn, and I say it again today: borrowing down; debt down."

The chancellor said debt service costs to the banks would rise to £83bn in the next fiscal year, the highest level on record. Public sector net debt was forecast to be 95.6% of GDP in 2021-22, and then to fall gradually to 83.1% of GDP by 2026-27.

Wolf summarises: "Cumulative borrowing from 2021-22 to 2025-26 is now forecast to be £72bn lower than in October 2021, with almost 80% of this improvement in 2021-22 alone. Public sector net debt is also forecast to fall from 96% of GDP in 2021-22 to 86% of GDP in 2025-26. In sum, Sunak plans to spend remarkably little of his windfall in the coming years: the direct effects of the government's decisions will be to raise cumulative borrowing by just £15bn over the next four financial years."

Tax changes

Despite the coverage given to Sunak's so-called tax cuts for which he sought applause, some commentators have pointed out that taxes when considered in total will actually rise.

"In order to repair the public finances after Covid and meet pressures for higher public spending, the government took policy measures that, according to the OBR, would have raised tax by 2.4% of GDP between 2019-20 and 2026-27 (0.9% via corporation tax, 0.6% via freezes on income tax thresholds, 0.6% via the 'health and social care levy', and the rest from other measures)," explains Wolf. "Sunak has now announced offsetting cuts of just 0.5% of GDP (0.1% via the freeze on fuel duties, 0.2% via the planned cut of 1p in the pound in the basic rate of income tax and 0.2% via the rise in thresholds on employees' national insurance contributions). Sunak, it is clear, is still a tax-raising chancellor."

Note also that the NI and tax personal allowance thresholds will remain fixed until April 2026, so will significantly reduce in real terms given the rate of inflation. (These levels usually rise with inflation annually.)

In addition, the Chancellor announced a 5-year removal of VAT on solar panels, wind and water turbines, and other energy-saving devices.

Meanwhile, the widely-criticised social care levy remains in place, which will add 1.25 percentage points to NI contributions.

Sunak also increased the small business employment allowance from £4,000 to £5,000. This was the first step in a raft of schemes demanded by business surrounding the issue of "productivity".

The government and the private interests it represents are obsessed with failure to "win" in the global markets - ultimately, the generally falling rate of return. Sunak focused a sizeable portion of his Statement on Britain's "productivity gap", which poses Britain in competition with other major economies in the global race, but which really reflects the demand of competing sections of big business to have the resources provided to them in Britain to achieve a higher return, albeit temporarily, through technological development.

In this regard, the OBR projected that the GDP would grow by 3.8% this year, 1.8% in 2023, 2.1% in 2024, 1.8% in 2025, and 1.7% in 2026. In context, it grew by 7.5% in 2021, following the historic fall of 9.4% in 2020.

Sunak therefore announced a focus on what he called "people" (meaning training and skills - "We lag international peers in adult technical skills"), "ideas" (technological innovation - "the amount businesses spend on R&D as a percentage of GDP is less than half the OECD average"), and "capital" ("Capital investment by UK businesses is considerably lower than the OECD average of 14%"). To this end, he declared that the Autumn budget will contain various tax cuts for business and other pay-the-rich schemes.

"Cost of living"

Sunak refers to the global capitalist attack on peoples' living as a "cost of living" crisis. It is nothing but open theft by the financial oligarchy, the big business elite, of which Sunak himself is one. The price-fixing cartels have boosted their multiple claims on the social product, seizing yet more of the value created by working people in the socialised economy. In doing so they eradicate the public right to a decent standard of living.

Just consider the phrase "cost of living". Any outlook that considers life a cost is profoundly anti-human. The capital-centred outlook is led to this view as an extension of its notion that work is a cost. This outlook views the capitalist as the indispensable source of wealth through their investment; work is required but the distinctive character of human labour as that which creates new value is denied. Wouldn't it be great if employees needed no pay, benefits or pensions, says the employer? The human-centred outlook recognises the source of value, and the necessary claim of the majority of the people on the value they create: the reproduced value, which is both individual and social, spanning wages, benefits, pensions, social programmes, culture, and other necessities of modern human life.

This individual and social claim on the value that working people create, the reproduced value - that which is required to maintain and reproduce this all-important human productive force - is what is relegated to the "cost of living". To call living a cost blames people for their own reduction in standards. Life is not a cost; it is social in character; it builds civilisation, the productive forces, creating all of the wealth and enhancing culture.

It is the global rich who are a "cost to living" by becoming a fetter on society. They not only directly profit from exploitation at the point of production but go on to claim over and again from people's income by price-fixing and adding to the people's burdens in the form of energy and food prices, exploiting their hard-earned and hard-fought incomes, pensions and benefits.

In reality, Sunak's mini-budget props up the falling rate of return of the super-rich by enhancing their claim on the social product, while living standards are on course to fall at the fastest rate since the mid-1950s. It offers no help from the state but is fully in line with the outlook of making people pay. It offers no assistance to the poor, the unemployed, or people who rely on Universal Credit to boost income or provide welfare benefits.

Who decides? That is crucial. Where is discussion in the polity about the need for a new direction for the economy? How can it be that one man representing private interests gets to dictate economic measures which intensify the crisis and increase austerity for working people?

Rather than appreciating the necessity for an alternative, the Spring Statement upheld that the established method of decision-making and control was the guarantor of freedom and liberty. Yet it is precisely this form of authority that has been completely taken over by private interests. The alternative begins with the aim of ensuring the society's and people's material and cultural needs are met. This requires a profound change in the direction of the economy, encapsulated in the calls to Stop Paying the Rich and Invest in Social Programmes and For An Anti-War Government.

Concretely, a new public authority is required that has control over wholesale prices. Its authority would be to enforce prices based on allowing a rate of return that does not cause havoc in the economy and violate the claim of the people to a decent standard of living. The monopoly right to inflate prices while suppressing what working people can claim as individual and social reproduced value would be blocked by such an authority and other such concrete arrangements of decision-making and control in the people's favour, over which they exercise direct authority.

Notes
1. For the full text of the speech, see https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/spring-statement-2022-speech
We have also used:
Daniel Harari, Lorna Booth, Matthew Keep, "Spring Statement 2022. A summary", Research Briefing, March 24, 2022
https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-9505
"Spring statement, highlights of Rishi Sunak's mini budget", The Week, March 23, 2022
https://www.theweek.co.uk/news/economy/956183/spring-statement-highlights
2.Martin Wolf, "Rishi Sunak fails to address the hit to living standards", Financial Times, March 23, 2022
https://www.ft.com/content/c1f556de-b8e9-400f-a557-c9e8f32461b5
3. Richard Partington and Jessica Elgot, "Spring statement 2022: key points at a glance", The Guardian, March 23, 2022
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2022/mar/23/spring-statement-2022-key-points-rishi-sunak-budget

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Workers' Forum

UCU Members at 27 Universities Stage Five-Day Strike

University staff at 27 universities staged a five-day walkout beginning on March 28 over cuts to pensions and deteriorating pay and conditions.

The UK-wide action started last week when staff at 40 universities downed tools for five days. This is the third round of strike action this academic year. Staff recently took up to 10 days of strike action over three weeks, from February 14 to March 2, and previously went on strike for three days in December 2021.

The UCU also warned of a staff exodus from universities in Britain after two thirds of university staff said they are considering leaving the sector. The finding comes from a new UCU report "UK Higher Education - a workforce in crisis" based on a survey of almost 7,000 university staff at over 100 institutions.

The survey found:

Last month university employers forced through USS pension cuts, which will see 35% slashed from a typical member's guaranteed retirement income. In the pension dispute, UCU is demanding that employers revoke their cuts and re-enter negotiations.

New inflation figures mean UCU estimates staff pay is now down by more than a quarter in real terms since 2009. Over 70,000 academics are employed on insecure contracts. The gender pay gap in British universities sits at 16%, whilst the disability pay gap is 9% and the race pay gap is up to 17%.

In the pay and working conditions dispute, the union is demanding: an end to race, gender and disability pay injustice; a framework to eliminate zero-hours and other insecure contracts; and meaningful action to tackle unmanageable workloads; as well as a £2.5k pay rise for all university employees.

The union said universities can more than afford to meet the demands of staff. University finance figures show total income across the sector is around £41.9bn with reserves of £46.8bn. Students have been supporting striking staff and the National Union of Students joined the previous round of action with a student strike on March 2.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: "University staff are striking over devastating pension cuts, falling pay and brutal working conditions. They have been pushed to breaking point again and again by vice chancellors and are now saying that they are ready to leave the sector entirely. This is a damning indictment of the way staff have been treated.

"If vice chancellors continue to ignore the long-standing concerns of staff, they will threaten the future of higher education in the UK. Universities generate income worth tens of billions and sit on huge reserves. They can afford to treat their staff better and would benefit their institutions by doing so.

"The toxic working culture that has been created by vice chancellors cannot be allowed to continue, which is why university staff are on picket lines yet again."

(Report from Union News)

Article Index



P&O Mass Sackings

Protests Grow at British Ports


Demonstration against the dismissal of workers organised by the RMT

Protesters gathered in Liverpool, Dover and Hull on Saturday, March 26, as the RMT urged a stop to what it called the "P&O jobs massacre". The demonstrations came after a ship operated by the ferry firm was detained for being "unfit to sail" on Friday. The European Causeway vessel has been held at the port of Larne in Northern Ireland due to "failures on crew familiarisation, vessel documentation and crew training", the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said.

Demonstrators chanted "P&O, shame on you" as they marched along a street in Liverpool, with more than 100 turning out, according to the RMT. The union added it welcomed the detention of the European Causeway and it demanded the government "seize the entire fleet" of P&O vessels. The RMT promised "more protests, more campaigning and more political pressure".

In Dover there were similar scenes as crowds carried banners and placards calling for an end to the "P&O jobs carve up".

Protesters marching in solidarity with P&O workers in Hull blockaded the entrance to King George Dock. Marching behind a group of motorcycle outriders, the demonstration marched down Hedon Road stopping traffic and shouting slogans. Once back at the dock entrance, a human blockade stopped access onto King George Dock to delay loading the ferry, Pride of Rotterdam.

RMT Union general secretary Mick Lynch said: "All the protests today were well attended with hundreds turning out in Liverpool, Hull and Dover to support the P&O workers in their fight for justice. There will be more protests, more campaigning and more political pressure this week as we ratchet up the fight and harness the public anger at the jobs massacre on our ferries."

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) tweeted a video showing P&O dockers in Rotterdam refusing to load freight onto a ferry set for Hull "in solidarity with the 800 seafarers illegally sacked by P&O".

Irish trade union workers gathered at Dublin Port outside the P&O terminal to send support from across the Irish Sea to P&O staff. The rally, organised by trade union Siptu, was attended by the new Irish Labour Party leader Ivana Bacik, and organiser Jim McVeigh told PA news agency that the rally was intended to "send solidarity". He added: "The best thing we could do was to have a rally at Dublin Port outside P&O so they know our concerns."


Hull blockade at King George Dock. Photo: John Westmoreland

The RMT has called for a boycott of all P&O services. RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said:"From the outset the full obnoxiousness and hostility of the company towards their staff and the RMT was on display. P&O were not prepared to listen to any scenario or develop any idea that would provide a means to create a solution to the current disastrous situation." Mick Lynch added: "RMT will continue to press the government for an immediate intervention by whatever means necessary to make P&O perform a U-turn and get our members reinstated. [...] We also call on the entire labour movement, the public, the freight & logistics sector and the political community to support an immediate and total boycott of all P&O services. The people of the UK need to pull P&O to account and make sure that the law in the workplace is upheld, that British workers can have job security and decent pay, and that P&O workers get workplace justice."

P&O Ferries has rejected the Transport Secretary's demand that it reinstate the 786 seafarers sacked without notice. P&O CEO Peter Hebblethwaite has come under concerted political pressure to resign following his handling of the sackings and his assertion that the company knowingly broke the law when it laid off the staff without properly consulting unions. In the meantime, ferries belonging to P&O have been detained by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency following inspections on crew familiarisation and training in ports in Dover and Larne.

The RMT responded to a letter to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps from P&O CEO Peter Hebblethwaite on his justifications for not being able to rehire the nearly 800 sacked workers. RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: "The latest letter from Peter Hebblethwaite is a direct challenge to the legal framework and government authority in Britain. The diabolical arrogance that is on display by P&O Ferries is equivalent to highway banditry and must be opposed. This whole rotten fiasco shows why the government must step in, take over the running of P&O, and reinstate all 800 sacked staff with no loss of pay."

(The Independent, Union News, Financial Times, Counterfire, RMT)

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Workers' Movement

P&O Ferries. A Line in the Sand

Executive Summary of TUC Report, March 25, 2022


The P&O Ferries scandal shows the need for government to step in and act as the operator of last resort in the ferry industry.

As an island nation, ferry operators play a vital role in facilitating trade and prosperity in the UK, connecting Britain to business across the world. When these services breakdown, we risk supply chain disruption, shortages of essential goods and passengers left stranded.

P&O Ferries have contravened UK employment law, failing to provide any notice that redundancies were being considered. And by not consulting with the recognised trade unions: Nautilus International and RMT.

Ferries need a high level of competence and care in their operation. Without these, the consequences can be tragic. P&O Ferries have replaced skilled and experienced crew with low-paid, inexperienced workers unfamiliar with the ferries they are manning, at significant risk to passenger safety.

P&O Ferries' reliance on recruiting agency workers well below the minimum wage in order to operate demonstrates it is not a viable or sustainable financial operation.

This is a watershed moment for the UK shipping industry and for workers' rights in Britain. Ministers must be prepared to step in to run services if a "fit and proper" operator cannot be found quickly to replace P&O Ferries.

Key issues of concern

TUC recommendations for action

1. P&O Ferries must reinstate all 800 staff and enter discussion with their trade unions.

If they fail to do this:

2. Government must be ready to run ferry services as the operator of last resort, if a "fit and proper" operator cannot be found.

The government should also take action to:

3. Remove DP World's licence to operate in the UK and they must be expelled from all free ports

4. Remove DP World from its Transport Advisory Group - and any other government advisory groups.

5. Bring forward an employment bill to ban exploitative working practices and increase penalties for breaking employment law.

Article Index



Royal Visit to the Caribbean

Caribbean Peoples Take a Stand against the Legacy of Colonial Rule and Demand Reparations for Crimes against Humanity

The aim of the recent royal visit to bolster aspects of Britain's colonial rule over parts of the Caribbean appear to have ended in abject failure and it is widely viewed as a disaster for the monarchy. Campaigners in Jamaica, The Bahamas and Belize issued a joint statement explaining, "We stand united in rejecting the so-called charm offensive tour of the Caribbean undertaken by William and Catherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, which is in sharp opposition to the needs and aspirations of indigenous peoples and people of African descent in the Caribbean."

It concluded: "We stand united in condemning Britain's savagery in enslaving our ancestors, the coarse indecency of colonial exploitation, the brutality of its enforcers, and the enduring legacies of impoverishment and colonial-era ideologies that have damaged and continue to damage our people, our society and our economy.

"Going forward, we will stand stronger, united in our call for reparatory justice and in supporting the roadmap for redress laid out by the CARICOM Reparations Commission. We will stand strong, united in our celebration of the resilience of Caribbean people who have accomplished much since our independence, against the odds, and we commit to continuing in this tradition in tackling contemporary challenges, rooting out all vestiges of our post-colonial past and empowering our people to achieve more."

Both Jamaica and Belize have signalled their intention to remove Britain's monarch as head of state and to become republics in the near future. The example of Barbados, which became a republic just last year, appears to have acted as some encouragement to others.

The government of Jamaica has already begun taking measures in this direction, even before the recent visit of William Windsor. During the latter's visit, Prime Minister of Jamaica Andrew Holness openly told the royal party, "Jamaica is, as you can see, a country that is very proud of its history, very proud of what we have achieved and we are moving on and we intend to attain, in short order, our developing goals and to fulfil our true ambitions... as an independent, developed, prosperous country." Holness also referred to some of the protests that greeted the visit explaining that in regard to Britain's responsibility to make reparation for past crimes against humanity such as human trafficking and colonial rule. He said, "There are issues here which are, as you would know, unresolved, but your presence gives an opportunity for these issues to be placed in context, put front and centre and to be addressed as best we can."

There were protests against the monarchy and demands for reparations throughout the royal trip which had been especially organised to bolster the role of the monarch in former colonies in the Caribbean. But the old arrangements are beyond repair. Protests against the "colonial legacy of theft" even prevented the Windsors from landing in one part of Belize, while in Jamaica over 300 people protested at British High Commission on their arrival. Many carried placards with slogans objecting to the visit, such as "Kings, Queens and Princesses and Princes belong in fairytales... not in Jamaica" and "We demand apologies and reparations". An Open Letter of Protest signed by a hundred prominent Jamaicans from various fields was also presented to the High Commission for the Windsors.

Amongst other things it pointed out: "We see no reason to celebrate 70 years of the ascension of your grandmother to the British throne because her leadership, and that of her predecessors, have perpetuated the greatest human rights tragedy in the history of humankind. Her ascension to the throne, in February 1952, took place 14 years after the 1938 labour uprisings against inhumane working/living conditions and treatment of workers; painful legacies of plantation slavery, which persist today.

"During her 70 years on the throne, your grandmother has done nothing to redress and atone for the suffering of our ancestors that took place during her reign and/or during the entire period of British trafficking of Africans, enslavement, indentureship and colonialisation."

Other campaigners in Jamaica are demanding that the country withdraw from the jurisdiction of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, which acts as the country's court of last resort, even before becoming a republic. In Belize following the visit, a new body, the People's Constitutional Commission, has been established that will begin a nationwide consultation campaign regarding Belize's becoming a republic.

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Martyrdom of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev, March 23, 1931

Honour the Memory of Revolutionary Indian Youth Executed by British Colonialists

In the dead of night of March 23, 1931, Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev were executed by the British colonial rulers of the British Raj at the Lahore jail. Many others were taken to the gallows, many like them in their early twenties. One by one the revolutionary youths, workers and peasants saw their heroes martyred - yet the cry for the freedom of their people, which they sang of even while being led to the gallows, still moves the spirits of the Indian revolutionaries today.

Mahatma Ghandi, contrary to all the myths about him, played a despicable role. Right at the time the British rulers were imprisoning Indian revolutionaries and sending them to the gallows, he signed a deal with the British which gave the British the green light to execute the revolutionaries. On March 5, 1931, after prolonged talks between Gandhi and Lord Irwin, Viceroy of India, the Gandhi-Irwin Agreement was signed. The pact stated that "those political prisoners will be released who are undergoing imprisonment in connection with the civil disobedience movement for offences which did not involve violence... or incitement to such violence." As a result of this agreement, the greatest heroes of the Indian people were to be slaughtered by the British executioners, while the followers of Gandhi were set free.

At his trial Bhagat Singh declared:

"None whose heart bleeds for those who give their life-blood in silence to the building up of the economic structure of the exploiter, of whom the government happens to be the biggest in this country, could repress the cry of the soul in agonizing anguish... Others have as keenly felt as we have done and from under the seeming serenity of the sea of Indian humanity a veritable storm is about to break out. We have only hoisted the danger signal to warn those who are speeding along without heeding the grave dangers. We have only marked the end of the era of the utopian non-violence of whose futility the rising generation has been convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt. Revolution is the inalienable right of mankind. Freedom is the imprescriptible birthright of all. The labourer is the real sustainer of society. The sovereignty of the people is the ultimate destiny of workers. For these ideals and for this faith we shall welcome any suffering to which we may be condemned. To the altar o f revolution we have brought our youth as incense, for no sacrifice is too great for so magnificent a cause. We are content. We await the advent of the Revolution. Inquilab Zindabad!"

It was the Indian martyrs who by their sacrifice immortalised the progressive and patriotic ideals of the Indian people, and today their spirit calls upon the people to carry the struggle through to the end.

Hardial Bains, founder and leader of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist), dedicated an entire book to the Call of the Martyrs [1}] in 1985 when he wrote on The Crisis in India and the Situation in Punjab at that time. An excerpt of Part III of this book follows.

***


The Call of the Martyrs

Shaheed Bhagat Singh, the brave and honoured martyr of the Indian people, in his statements to the British colonial court that condemned him to death, pointed out with the true feelings and insight of a real patriot: "India's struggle shall continue as long as a handful of men in power continue to exploit the labour of the common people for their own ends. Whether the exploiters are Indian, or British, or both in alliance, nothing shall halt the struggle..."

These prophetic words of the Indian patriot have been proven true by history hundreds and thousands of times over. The struggle he talked about with deep conviction and courage is still raging today - whether the exploiters be Indian or foreign or "both in alliance", as is the case today, "nothing shall halt the struggle..."

The Indian people have deep love for Shaheed Bhagat Singh and for his comrades, Raj Guru and Sukhdev, who kissed the rope of the hangman with him for the real liberation of India. Attempting to cloak themselves in patriotic colours, the exploiters also speak of him. All the political parties of the big landlords and big capitalists evoke his name. They use the name of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, but they do not uphold what he fought for. Indeed, they vainly attempt to use his name in order to give their barbaric system credence. But nothing can justify the capitalist system, the foreign dependence, the remnants of feudalism and the exploitation and oppression that prevail today.

Lenin points out that [2]:

"During the lifetime of great revolutionaries, the oppressing classes constantly hounded them, received their theories with the most savage malice, the most furious hatred and the most unscrupulous campaigns of lies and slander. After their death, attempts are made to convert them into harmless icons, to canonize them, so to say, and to hallow their names to a certain extent for the 'consolation' of the oppressed classes and with the object of duping the latter, while at the same time robbing the revolutionary theory of its substance, blunting its revolutionary edge and vulgarising it." [2]

All the revolutionary personalities, the true patriots who fought for the liberation of the peoples, had the overall aim of uniting the Indian people irrespective of their religious background, language, regional origin or gender. Indian political and social literature from the time of the invasion of Mohammed Bin Kassem is filled with calls for the unity of the people. One of the leaders of the First War of Independence called upon the people to "sink your petty differences and join hands... Rush to the battlefield, fight under one flag and with the free flow of your blood wash away the stigma of the English domination over Hindustan". After the liberation of Delhi on May 16, 1857, Bahadar Shah Zafar proclaimed: "It is therefore absolutely essential that Hindus and Muslims should unite, work and fight not only to win wars but also to maintain peace and order on the home front... The contentment of the poor must also be secured."

The revolutionaries who fought from abroad for the true liberation and independence of India, organising themselves in 1913 into the Hindustani Ghadar Party, are referred to with deep love and respect as Ghadri Babas. They also fought for the unity of the people irrespective of religious or language, racial, caste or regional differences. They established Sikh Temples in Vancouver and other places not for the promotion of the aims of this or that religion or sect, but with the aim of the unity of all peoples irrespective of their religion in the sacred struggle for the liberation of India.

Shaheed Mewa Singh, who was executed by the Canadian bourgeoisie in Vancouver, and Shaheed Udham Singh, executed by the British colonialists in London, did not have religious aims. They fought for the true liberation of their brethren living in foreign lands. Not a single martyr fought for the supremacy of religion. Only the agents of the foreign and native exploiters have advanced sectarian and communal aims; their purpose is to destroy the unity of the people in their struggle to win complete liberation. In the past, the incitement of communal violence was the work of the British colonialists and their collaborators, and today it is the work of the reactionary Indian bourgeoisie and the US, British and other foreign imperialists, including the Soviet social-imperialists. The scale on which the Canadian bourgeoisie is deploying its resources to convince the people that India is divided among groups of warring fanatics is known to all. But the struggle is not and has never been for this or that religion, or for this or that religious aim. The struggle is for the complete liberation of India. The martyrs fought for the unity of the people to accomplish this goal and this goal alone. The enemies of the Indian people have always tried to impose other goals and to use religion to divide people, so as to divert and liquidate their struggle for real liberation. [...]

What shines like a beacon throughout the history of the Indian people is that regardless of religious and other differences, they have always found the strength and unity to carry forward the struggle for national and social emancipation. It is this historical tradition which the enemies seek to distort, blaming the people for the very communalist crimes which they themselves have committed.

The heroic uprising of the masses over the centuries has shaped the psychology of the Indian people, a psychology of revolt against all forms of enslavement, domination, exploitation, oppression, backwardness and ignorance. History has shown that this aspiration for freedom, independence and social progress is inextinguishable; it has withstood the assaults of the most formidable invaders and their native collaborators.

Note
1. (Excerpt from Part III, The Call of the Martyrs - The Crisis in India and the Present Situation in the Punjab, Hardial Bains, Toronto, Canada, 1985)
2. Vladimir Lenin, The State and Revolution, Chapter 1.

Article Index



46th Anniversary of Palestinian Land Day

Uphold Palestinian Right of Return! Support Palestinian Resistance!


Badia national festival marking Land Day 2022 in Gaza

This year marks the 46th anniversary of Land Day, which commemorates the events of March 30, 1976, when six Palestinians from Arab villages inside the Green Line were shot and killed by Israeli forces while protesting the confiscation of 5,500 acres of land from the Galilee. Since then, Land Day has been commemorated by Palestinians inside Israel as well as in the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem and around the world.

In Palestine, rallies and marches mark Land Day. In the towns where the six martyrs were killed 46 years ago, Palestinians lay wreaths at their graves.

Actions in support of Palestine are all the more important at this time when Zionists, aided and abetted by the US imperialists and their allies such as Britain, continue their violations of international law and the human rights of the Palestinians as part of an overall programme of dispossession and genocide.

This year on the occasion of Land Day, Dr Ola Awad, President of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), issued a statement in which she noted that Israel's continuous confiscation of land from the Palestinians has resulted in Israeli control of 85 per cent of the total area of the lands of the historical Palestine. She also pointed out that the expansion of illegal settlements in Palestinian lands is accompanied by a growing number of violent attacks to displace the Palestinians. In 2021, 1,621 such attacks were recorded, up 49 per cent from 2020. The attacks included the uprooting, destroying and burning of 19,000 trees, 76 shootings, 30 levelling operations of citizens' lands and burning, destroying or damaging cars and vehicles of 450 Palestinian citizens. She pointed out that since the beginning of 2021, settlers have established 10 new outposts for the seizure and control of Palestinian lands. The settlers carry out these attacks under the protection of the Israe li military.

Dr Awad pointed to the occupation's ongoing practice of expanding settlements and demolishing Palestinian buildings under various pretexts, noting: "During 2021, the Israeli occupation authorities approved the construction of more than 12,000 settlement units, most of them in Jerusalem, at a time that the Israeli occupation authorities demolished more than 300 buildings and issued demolition orders for more than 200 Palestinian buildings... During 2021, the Israeli occupation demolished 1,058 buildings in Palestine (353 residential buildings and 705 establishments), in which 93 of them were self-demolition located mostly in Jerusalem governorate.

"Israeli occupation authorities during the year 2021, issued 875 orders associated with demolishing, construction and land reclamation halt in the West Bank and Jerusalem, of which 22 per cent [were] in Nablus Governorate, 15 per cent in Tubas and Northern Valley Governorate, and 14 per cent in Jerusalem Governorate, in addition to the destruction of many infrastructure sites that serve the Palestinians, including roads, water and sanitation networks."

During the first eight months of 2021, Israeli authorities demolished 666 Palestinian homes and other structures in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, displacing 958 people, a 38 percent increase compared to the same period in 2020, according to the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Most buildings were demolished because they lacked building permits, which authorities make nearly impossible for Palestinians in these areas to obtain. In July, Israeli authorities razed, for the sixth time in less than a year, the homes of most residents of the Palestinian community of Khirbet Humsah in the Jordan Valley for being in a designated "firing zone", displacing 70 people, 35 of them children.

Israeli authorities in late 2021 designated six prominent Palestinian civil society organisations as "terrorist" and "illegal". These moves permit closing their offices, seizing their assets, and jailing their staff and supporters.

Meanwhile, the massive numbers of injuries, detentions and deaths due to the occupation and violent expansion of settlements continues to grow. The PCBS informs: "The number of Palestinian and Arab martyrs killed since the Nakba in 1948 and until [Land Day 2022] (inside and outside Palestine) reached about 100,000 martyrs. Moreover, the number of martyrs killed in Al-Aqsa Intifada between September 29, 2000, and December 31, 2021, was 11,310. It is said that the bloodiest year was 2014 with 2,240 Palestinian martyrs, 2,181 of them were from Gaza Strip during the war on Gaza. During 2021, the number of Palestinian martyrs reached 341, 87 of whom were children and 48 women, while the number of wounded Palestinians during the year 2020 reached about 12,500 in 2021." By September 2021, there were 4,650 Palestinian detainees in the Israeli occupation prisons, 200 of them children and 40 women.

On the occasion of Land Day 2022, Workers' Weekly salutes the Palestinian people and their courage, resourcefulness and steadfast resistance to defend their right to be, and calls on the working class and people to step up their efforts to stand with Palestine.

Long Live the Just Struggle of the Palestinian People!

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