WDIE Masthead

Year 2005 No. 123, October 31, 2005 ARCHIVE HOME JBBOOKS SUBSCRIBE

Violence in Lozells:

Oppose All Attempts to Divide the People!

Workers' Daily Internet Edition: Article Index :

Violence in Lozells:
Oppose All Attempts to Divide the People!

The Racist Ideology behind the Policy of Division

Rape Survivors Demand Protection and Justice, Not "Summary Justice"!

From Suharto to Iraq: Nothing Has Changed

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Violence in Lozells:

Oppose All Attempts to Divide the People!

Between September 23 and 25, disturbances and inter-community violence occurred in the Lozells area of Birmingham in which two people were killed.

WDIE condemns the government which is to blame for creating an atmosphere of tension in society and inciting community against community. It is this which creates the conditions for such trouble as in Lozells.

There are various commentators pointing to the problem of deprivation in Lozells and surrounding areas. The argument is made that the "cauldron is boiling over". However, it is not the case that such trouble spontaneously arises; it is the opposite – people gravitate towards solving the problems that they are faced with unless blocked or incited and diverted.

Poverty is certainly a serious issue, the blame lying squarely with this and previous governments for not investing in social programmes, thus creating and continuing the condition of these areas. Lozells and neighbouring Handsworth have one of the highest rates of unemployment in Birmingham, with more than 30 percent of Afro-Caribbean and Asian people unemployed.

However, merely to state that poverty gives rise to such problems does not provide any real solution. Deprivation is a general problem of society in Britain, but riots are specific events, which arise from particular causes. Riots have not been seen in the Lozells area for twenty years. Poverty is an exacerbating factor, but simply to blame it does not really address the situation.

It seems as though there are two main aspects to the cause of the violence.

Firstly, there is the role of the state and the government, as well as the media.

Government policy consists of creating the atmosphere of suspicion and of diverting from the real issues facing the people. Hysteria is being whipped up by the state and the media, particularly around Muslims, along with all people of Asian origin and Asian communities. There is also the underlying racist ideology of the government, which divides the polity on the basis of so-called "British values" and "identity".

This policy and the ideology behind it lead to dividing one community from another, and incite one community against another.

Secondly, there appear to have been, in one way or another, ill-intentioned elements that have been used to ignite the violence.

The facts have yet to be established, and there is a lot of rumour and conjecture. On the one hand, the allegation has been made that an incident occurred where a teenage Jamaican girl was raped by an Asian shop-owner or group of men. On the other, the shop-owner concerned has stated that he believes the rumour was started by commercial rivals. Neither should one discount the possibility that agent-provocateurs were involved.

Whatever the case, the alleged incident has been used, adding to the incitement that has already been carried out, to spark conflict between the Afro-Caribbean and Asian communities.

Divide and rule is a tactic used by the state to achieve various objectives. The community has to remain alert to the fact there is always a possibility of a new assault on the people and so their vigilance is imperative. The reason why the state launches an attack on the minority community is to open up an attack on the whole working class and people. It is vital that people stay united in the face of the state offensive against them.

People need to combat the state and media led hysteria, which have both led to and have been further cultivated during and following the violence. People must oppose racist attacks in whatever form. Attempts to split the people will fail when people direct their anger against those that have created the divide. In particular, it is state-organised attacks and the divisive role of the government that should be condemned.

WDIE salutes all the concerned people who are getting together to sort out their problems. For example, a vigil and meeting were held in the area on October 26 to declare that We Are One Community! The people need also to be vigilant against attempts to make the issue one of law and order, when it is the state that is tearing up the rule of law.

WDIE calls on the working class and people to stand as one against all attempts to incite community against community and stir up trouble.

Stand as One in Defence of the Rights of All!

No to State-Organised Incitement and Racist Attacks!

Article Index



The Racist Ideology behind the Policy of Division

Behind the policy of creating the atmosphere of suspicion and hysteria, sowing divisions amongst the people and between communities, is the official ideological line of the government.

Ideologically, the government line is that, on the one hand, what defines people as "British" is a "shared British identity"; while on the other, people belong to their various "communities". This line divides the polity, particularly the minority sections, on the basis of what they call "inclusion".

Central to the government’s notion of identity is its concept of values. All people in Britain, at least those that are to be considered worthy of being described as "British", are supposed to share a set of common values, through which they derive their common "British identity".

The reality is, however, that there exists no such ideal set of common values. Apart from the fact that society is divided into classes, each with its own interests, the government is faced with the contradiction that Britain consists of people of many different nationalities, each representing a particular history, common culture and so on. The government is actually imposing an official set of values, as it is doing elsewhere in the world. In Britain, it invokes its own notion of the "community", which obscures questions of nationality and culture.

The government argues that communities should contribute to "our strength" as a country, which is clearly meant to be interpreted within the context of its programme to "Make Britain Great Again". People will work together to create "leading businesses", while community groups will strengthen the sense of "belonging" and cohesion in society. The government’s vision is of "safe communities" of individuals, fortresses of official "British values", where everybody is supposed to keep an eye on what occurs within the community.

This is the way that the government sees the development of communities: if they carry out their responsibility to "Britain", embracing the notion of "inclusion", they will be "empowered". This is the carrot. The stick is that those communities that are deemed not to assimilate in this way not only face further deprivation, but are also made the object of the suspicion and hysteria that is being fostered and are subjected to harassment by the state forces.

This official line has been manifested in the manner of reporting in the media of the incidents in Birmingham, which gives a picture of two "racial" or "ethnic" communities, which has a certain tribal connotation, competing for resources. People and communities are made the problem.

The chauvinism, and outright racism, intrinsic in this official outlook is clearly apparent in the following quotes (emphasis has been added).

According to reports, Labour peer Baroness Uddin exemplified the notion of superiority as she condescendingly stated, "There is absolutely no place for minority communities in Britain fighting amongst themselves in this way. Surely, if there are criminal elements in our society, by working together you could get to the criminal much better. I think this is absolutely outrageous and unacceptable."

Supt Tom Coughlan, operations manager for Lozells, is reported saying, "The people of Birmingham have a real opportunity to prove they can live peacefully. I have been very reassured by conversations held today and yesterday with the community and I know they want to get over these problems."

According to Derek Campbell, a West Midlands "race equality" official, the Afro-Caribbean communities "see money going into Asian communities because, let's face it, the Asian communities have been good at working together to get it. Are we going to blame the Asians because they have got their act together? I think not. There are challenges that the black communities need to face up to."

In line with this kind of outlook, violence between communities is then put down to the actions of various small "extreme" elements. Peace can therefore be imposed by maintaining a heavy police presence.

The racist ideology of the government and establishment, which underlies the policy of division, needs to be opposed. The government is creating levels of the polity on the basis this ideology, of first class, second class, etc. citizens. In resisting the policy of division, people need to discuss the alternative, which is to assert that every citizen, every member of the body politic, has the inviolable right to participate in the polity, regardless of national origin, "ethnic group", or any other quality. There are no second class citizens.

Article Index



Rape Survivors Demand Protection and Justice, Not "Summary Justice"!

By English Collective of Prostitutes and Legal Action for Women, 21 October, 2005

The exclusion zone imposed on a suspected rapist of prostitute women in Birmingham is a striking example of the summary justice promoted by Tony Blair.[i] The police justify it by saying they don't have enough evidence to prosecute, even though he has been identified by four women. This excuse is no longer believable, and is not believed by local councillors and residents who have expressed concern: 1) that the women's evidence is being disregarded because they are sex workers; and 2) that public exposure may push the alleged attacker to move on to another area where he will be free to strike again.

In fact, publicly exposing a suspected rapist may end up protecting him from prosecution and sabotaging any possibility of a criminal conviction, as his defence could argue that he could not get a fair trial. As a result, this man and other violent men may be left at liberty to attack again.

We have seen over and over, how rapists and other violent men have become serial attackers and even murderers because the police did not bother to gather crucial evidence when the men were first reported – often by partners who accused them of domestic violence. To police reluctance to prioritise rape and domestic violence, we must add the sexism of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) which routinely dismisses cases of violence against women, especially if they consider the victims "unreliable witnesses" because, for example, they are sex workers.

In 1995 we challenged CPS assumptions by bringing a private prosecution[ii] against a man who had raped at least two sex workers at knife point. The man was convicted and sentenced to 14 years (reduced to 11 on appeal) on the same evidence the CPS had dismissed as "insufficient". The case showed that if the evidence is gathered thoroughly and presented in a non-discriminatory way, juries will decide that sex workers are as entitled to protection and justice as anyone else.

But despite this precedent, the police and CPS have continued to let their sexism and other prejudices determine priorities for arrest and prosecution of those who attack women and children. As a result, the conviction for rape is down to 5.8% and women and girls continue to be the victims of rape and murder at the hands of those who have been let off for similar previous crimes. Racist crimes, which are also affected by police and CPS prejudice, also have a low prosecution and conviction rate, comparable to rape and domestic violence. Where does that leave racist sexual assault against women and girls of colour?

The Yorkshire Ripper scandal of the 1970-80s has been followed by Fred and Rosemary West, Ian Huntley, Anthony Hardy, David Atkinson and others, all of whom had been reported for violence many times before they were finally convicted.[iii]

Women Against Rape (WAR) has been raising this for years. In March 2004 WAR wrote to the Bichard Inquiry into the Soham murders asking the Inquiry to examine why Huntley was not previously convicted despite being reported nine times for rape and sexual assault. WAR's request was endorsed by 36 organisations, including ours, and prominent lawyers. More recently WAR supported the call by Jackie Valad, the mother of one of Hardy's victims, for a public inquiry to examine the lack of prosecutions for his previously reported violence. These requests have been dismissed.

Instead, justice is being replaced by extra-judicial powers – a parallel criminal system based not on women's evidence but on prejudice, hearsay and the rule of the executive over the courts. Exclusion zones imposed without a trial – through Anti Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) and anti-terrorism legislation – are now extended to other crimes.

Tony Blair has said: "We asked the police what powers they wanted and gave them to them ." But we must stress that it is not lack of police powers that stand in the way of justice for women, but the sexism, racism and other prejudices which determine the low priority accorded to crimes of violence against women, children, people of colour and others who are the target of prejudice. While attacks on women and children continue to rise, the imprisonment of women and children accused of breaching ASBOs is escalating – far from increasing protection, vulnerable women, starting with prostitute women, and children are increasingly locked up and separated from their families and peers.

Anti-trafficking powers are another example where rape and other violence against women is being used to attack women. The police are raiding massage parlours, claiming to "free" women from traffickers while locking them up in Yarl's Wood detention centre and deporting them. This has provided a cover to target premises where there is no suggestion of trafficked victims being held. 55 flats in Central London were recently raided and 70 women questioned without legal representation. Some were forced to sign cautions (an admission of guilt resulting in a criminal record). Were it not for the diversion and disinformation so-called trafficking provides, the police could not justify targeting women working independently and more safely in this way.[iv] We will not allow the pain and suffering victims go through to be used to bring in indiscriminate police powers which hide the police and CPS neglect of victims' right to justice. If we were able to bring a prosecution successfully, why wasn't the CPS? Neither the CPS nor anyone in the criminal justice system has wanted to answer this crucial question. Successive inquiries into the Soham and the Camden murders have refused to address why neither Ian Huntley nor Anthony Hardy was convicted for previous crimes.

WAR has also asked for women's sexual history not to be raised in court. This history aimed at discrediting the victim's character allows rapist after rapist to walk free. While claiming they were introducing legislation that would protect the victim, the government has insisted on keeping legal exemptions which enable the rapist to trash his victim's character.

While it promotes witch-hunts, the much-heralded sex offenders register has not protected children. Cases of widespread abuse over years, especially in institutions, continue to collapse.

We want police time and resources to prioritise crimes of violence against women and children, we do not want indiscriminate police powers. We want the CPS to do its job, not to find excuses not to prosecute. We want legislation to be used to protect the vulnerable, not to criminalise women and children. We want jury trials and convictions, not witch-hunts. We want justice not summary justice.

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[i] "We asked the police what powers they wanted and gave them to them. . . Summary justice through on-the-spot fines, seizure of drug dealers' assets, closure of pubs, clubs and houses that are the centre of drug use or disorder, naming and shaming of persistent ASB offenders, interim ASBO's, will be rolled out. Organised criminals will face not just the pre-emptive seizure of their assets, but will be forced to co-operate with investigations and will face trial without jury where there is any suggestion of intimidation of jurors. Abuse of court procedures, endless trial delays, the misuse of legal aid will no longer be tolerated. The purpose of the CJS reforms is to re-balance the system radically in favour of the victim, protecting the innocent but ensuring the guilty know the odds have changed." Tony Blair, 19 July 2005

[ii] Legal Action for Women, working with the English Collective of Prostitutes and Women Against Rape, co-ordinated the private prosecution brought by two sex workers attacked by the same man in similar circumstances. For an account see Some Mother's Daughter – the hidden movement of prostitute women against violence by the International Prostitutes Collective, and visit www.allwomencount.net

[iii] Dr Shipman, the biggest mass murderer we know of, benefited from widespread bias in favour of those in caring professions against mainly elderly women patients. Thus he was allowed to continue and not reported to the police despite irregularities and suspicion by the families of some of his victims as well as some of his colleagues. Hundreds died as a result.

[iv] On 6 October 55 flats in Baker Street and the surrounding area were raided by police and immigration officials and over 70 women questioned for up to five hours.

Article Index



From Suharto to Iraq: Nothing Has Changed

By John Pilger*, New Statesman, 14 October, 2005

"The propagandist's purpose," wrote Aldous Huxley, "is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human." The British, who invented modern war propaganda and inspired Joseph Goebbels, were specialists in the field. At the height of the slaughter known as the First World War, the prime minister, David Lloyd George, confided to C P Scott, editor of the Manchester Guardian: "If people really knew [the truth], the war would be stopped tomorrow. But of course they don't know, and can't know."

What has changed?

"If we had all known then what we know now," said the New York Times on 24 August, "the invasion [of Iraq] would have been stopped by a popular outcry." The admission was saying, in effect, that powerful newspapers, like powerful broadcasting organisations, had betrayed their readers and viewers and listeners by not finding out - by amplifying the lies of Bush and Blair instead of challenging and exposing them. The direct consequences were a criminal invasion called "Shock and Awe" and the dehumanising of a whole nation.

This remains largely an unspoken shame in Britain, especially at the BBC, which continues to boast about its rigour and objectivity while echoing a corrupt and lying government, as it did before the invasion. For evidence of this, there are two academic studies available - though the capitulation of broadcast journalism ought to be obvious to any discerning viewer, night after night, as "embedded" reporting justifies murderous attacks on Iraqi towns and villages as "rooting out insurgents" and swallows British army propaganda designed to distract from its disaster, while preparing us for attacks on Iran and Syria. Like the New York Times and most of the American media, had the BBC done its job, many thousands of innocent people almost certainly would be alive today.

When will important journalists cease to be establishment managers and analyse and confront the critical part they play in the violence of rapacious governments? An anniversary provides an opportunity. Forty years ago this month, Major General Suharto began a seizure of power in Indonesia by unleashing a wave of killings that the CIA described as "the worst mass murders of the second half of the 20th century". Much of this episode was never reported and remains secret. None of the reports of recent terror attacks against tourists in Bali mentioned the fact that near the major hotels were the mass graves of some of an estimated 80,000 people killed by mobs orchestrated by Suharto and backed by the American and British governments.

Indeed, the collaboration of western governments, together with the role of western business, laid the pattern for subsequent Anglo-American violence across the world: such as Chile in 1973, when Augusto Pinochet's bloody coup was backed in Washington and London; the arming of the shah of Iran and the creation of his secret police; and the lavish and meticulous backing of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, including black propaganda by the Foreign Office which sought to discredit press reports that he had used nerve gas against the Kurdish village of Halabja.

In 1965, in Indonesia, the American embassy furnished General Suharto with roughly 5,000 names. These were people for assassination, and a senior American diplomat checked off the names as they were killed or captured. Most were members of the PKI, the Indonesian Communist Party. Having already armed and equipped Suharto's army, Washington secretly flew in state-of-the-art communication equipment whose high frequencies were known to the CIA and the National Security Council advising the president, Lyndon B Johnson. Not only did this allow Suharto's generals to co-ordinate the massacres, it meant that the highest echelons of the US administration were listening in.

The Americans worked closely with the British. The British ambassador in Jakarta, Sir Andrew Gilchrist, cabled the Foreign Office: "I have never concealed from you my belief that a little shooting in Indonesia would be an essential preliminary to effective change." The "little shooting" saw off between half a million and a million people.

However, it was in the field of propaganda, of "managing" the media and eradicating the victims from people's memory in the west, that the British shone. British intelligence officers outlined how the British press and the BBC could be manipulated. "Treatment will need to be subtle," they wrote, "e.g., a) all activities should be strictly unattributable, b) British [government] participation or co-operation should be carefully concealed." To achieve this, the Foreign Office opened a branch of its Information Research Department (IRD) in Singapore.

The IRD was a top-secret, cold war propaganda unit headed by Norman Reddaway, one of Her Majesty's most experienced liars. Reddaway and his colleagues manipulated the "embedded" press and the BBC so expertly that he boasted to Gilchrist in a secret message that the fake story he had promoted - that a communist takeover was imminent in Indonesia - "went all over the world and back again". He described how an experienced Sunday newspaper journalist agreed "to give exactly your angle on events in his article... i.e., that this was a kid-glove coup without butchery".

These lies, bragged Reddaway, could be "put almost instantly back to Indonesia via the BBC". Prevented from entering Indonesia, Roland Challis, the BBC's south-east Asia correspondent, was unaware of the slaughter. "My British sources purported not to know what was going on," Challis told me, "but they knew what the American plan was. There were bodies being washed up on the lawns of the British consulate in Surabaya, and British warships escorted a ship full of Indonesian troops down the Malacca Straits so that they could take part in this terrible holocaust. It was only later that we learned that the American embassy was supplying names and ticking them off as they were killed. There was a deal, you see. In establishing the Suharto regime, the involvement of the IMF and the World Bank was part of it... Suharto would bring them back. That was the deal."

The bloodbath was ignored almost entirely by the BBC and the rest of the western media. The headline news was that "communism" had been overthrown in Indonesia, which, Time reported, "is the west's best news in Asia". In November 1967, at a conference in Geneva overseen by the billionaire banker David Rockefeller, the booty was handed out. All the corporate giants were represented, from General Motors, Chase Manhattan Bank and US Steel to ICI and British American Tobacco. With Suharto's connivance, the natural riches of his country were carved up.

Suharto's cut was considerable. When he was finally overthrown in 1998, it was estimated that he had up to 10 billion dollars in foreign banks, or more than 10 per cent of Indonesia’s foreign debt. When I was last in Jakarta, I walked to the end of his leafy street and caught sight of the mansion where the mass murderer now lives in luxury. As Saddam Hussein heads for his own show trial on 19 October, he must ask himself where he went wrong. Compared with Suharto's crimes, Saddam's seem second-division.

With British-supplied Hawk jets and machine-guns, Suharto's army went on to crush the life out of a quarter of the population of East Timor: 200,000 people. Using the same Hawk jets and machine-guns, the same genocidal army is now attempting to crush the life out of the resistance movement in West Papua and protect the Freeport company, which is mining a mountain of copper in the province. (Henry Kissinger is "director emeritus".) Some 100,000 Papuans, 18 per cent of the population, have been killed; yet this British-backed "project", as new Labour likes to say, is almost never reported.

What happened in Indonesia, and continues to happen, is almost a mirror image of the attack on Iraq. Both countries have riches coveted by the west; both had dictators installed by the west to facilitate the passage of their resources; and in both countries, blood-drenched Anglo-American actions have been disguised by propaganda willingly provided by journalists prepared to draw the necessary distinctions between Saddam's regime ("monstrous") and Suharto's ("moderate" and "stable").

Since the invasion of Iraq, I have spoken to a number of principled journalists working in the pro-war media, including the BBC, who say that they and many others "lie awake at night" and want to speak out and resume being real journalists. I suggest now is the time.

* John Pilger's book Tell Me No Lies: investigative journalism and its triumphs is published in paperback by Vintage. To contact the Free West Papua Campaign, email samoxen@aol.com or phone 01865 241 1200.

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