|Volume 53 Number 15, May 21, 2023
Significant Anniversaries in May
75th Anniversary of the Nakba - May 15, 1948
Workers' Weekly Internet Edition: Article Index : ShareThis
43rd Anniversary of Kwangju People's Uprising:
Legacy of Kwangju Uprising Demands that US Be Driven Out of Korea
133rd Anniversary of the Birth of Ho Chi Minh - May 19, 1890:
Ho Chi Minh - Historic Leader of the Vietnamese People and Founder of Modern Vietnam
Hail African Liberation Day!:
Victory to the Fighting Peoples of Africa! Imperialism, Out of Africa!
75th Anniversary of the Nakba - May 15, 1948
May 15 is the day we commemorate Al Nakba - the Catastrophe - a day marking a "continuous journey of pain, loss and injustice" for the Palestinian people. It marks the day that some 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes during the 1948 war. Palestinians were forced from their lands and homes due to military attacks by Zionist forces, supported by the British and U.S. governments. The Israeli Zionist forces attacked 774 cities and villages, and occupied 80 per cent of the Palestinian soil after killing nearly 15,000 Muslim and Christian civilians. Those who survived were forced to migrate to the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and neighbouring countries, such as Syria, Jordan and Lebanon.
The ethnic cleansing and forced expulsion of Palestinians by Israel on May 15, 1948, are not things of the past but are also of the present, because of the green light given by the big powers to the crime of genocide being committed by the occupier of Palestinian lands and homes.
May 15, Al Nakba Day, is living memory of these crimes, crimes which set the scene for today's conditions where out of the global population of 14 million Palestinians, more than seven million live in exile, while two million live in the Gaza Strip, the world's largest open-air prison, and another three million live in the occupied West Bank. Israeli occupation authorities are currently detaining about 4,900 Palestinian prisoners, including 160 children and 31 women. As of April this year alone, more than 2,200 Palestinians have been arrested and at least 84 were killed by Israeli occupation forces. In the same period last year, 22 Palestinians had been killed by occupation forces.
We condemn the relentless expansion of illegal settlements that continue the dispossession of the Palestinians begun in 1948, the attacks on the Al-Aqsa mosque, and the collective punishment of the Gaza Strip. This includes most recently the five consecutive days of Israeli air strikes from May 9 to 14, in which 33 Palestinians were killed, while 60 housing units - homes to 400 people - were destroyed.
Actions world-wide have been condemning the violence and brutal attacks of the occupation forces and the crimes committed against the Palestinian people which the world is witnessing.
We salute the Palestinian people's unrelenting resistance and stand with them as the struggle for liberation continues.
Long Live the Palestinian Resistance!
Uphold the Palestinian People's Right of Return!
Nakba 75 - Palestinian Mission to the UK event
Francesca Albanese, the United Nations Special Rapporteur for the occupied Palestinian Territory, addressed the Palestinian Mission to the UK's event commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba in London, speaking on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967.
The event took place on Friday, May 12, at Central Hall in Westminster, London, where the United Nations General Assembly held its first meeting in January 1946.
Albanese reminded politicians in attendance, which included members of parliament from across the house, of Britain's ongoing complicity in Israel's crimes against the Palestinian people.
See the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1rT7BmdwRo
Republic of Korea soldiers confronting students at Chonnam National University, May 18, 1980
The Kwangju People's Uprising took place in the city of that name in the south-west of the Republic of Korea (ROK) May 18-28, 1980. It was a glorious revolutionary initiative undertaken by the students, workers, women and youth to affirm their right to govern their own country. They were rising up against the US domination of Korea and the Chun Doo-hwan military dictatorship that represented it. From the time it forcefully divided Korea at the 38th parallel following the surrender of Japan in 1945, the US imperialists strove to maintain this division by force, including launching the Korean War on June 25, 1950, in which close to four million Korean men, women and children perished.
Thus, the Korean people, whose contribution to the victory of the Allies in the Second World War was second to none, were criminally deprived of their right to self-determination. Instead, a US-style anti-communist government serving US monopolies and Korean landlords and capitalists was imposed in the south in 1948, in the name of democracy, freedom and human rights. This is the same self-serving drivel the Biden administration is peddling now to maintain a military grip on Korea and to justify further militarising and integrating the ROK into the US war machine.
The Kwangju People's Uprising was a collective response to martial law imposed by the Chun dictatorship in May 1980. Chun had come to power in a coup engineered by the US Carter administration after the assassination of President Park Chung-hee, the pro-US anti-communist military dictator who ruled the ROK with an iron fist from 1963 until his death in 1979. Chun imposed martial law in an attempt to subdue popular actions by the south Korean people demanding democracy and a civilian government.
According to various news and eyewitness reports, the Kwangju People's Uprising was triggered by student demonstrations on the morning of May 18 when some 600 students gathered at Chonnam National University to defy the new military edict shutting down the universities and stifling any political dissent. The police were unable to hold the organised resistance of people so a Special Forces unit trained for assault missions was dispatched to quell the uprising. The Special Forces used tear gas, batons and rubber bullets which served to widen the resistance as workers, shopkeepers, and parents took to the streets to defend the youth. The soldiers then opened fire, killing some 200 people and wounding hundreds more.
On May 20, some 10,000 people demonstrated against this terror and violence. Due to the widespread militarisation of the society, most major workplaces in south Korea held caches of weapons. Protesters seized these and commandeered buses, taxis and even armoured personnel carriers, forming armed militias to fight the army. A student-produced daily newspaper called Militants' Bulletin kept everyone informed against the disinformation of the mass media aimed at criminalising the rebellion and splitting their ranks. In the face of determined armed opposition of the people, the Special Forces were forced to withdraw.
The next five days were unprecedented in ROK history. The people organised a Citizen's Settlement Committee and a Students' Settlement Committee which worked to organise the people and ensure the well-being of everyone. Food, medical and transportation systems were organised and lively political discussions took place where the people gathered to discuss and plan their opposition and continued resistance.
On May 24, 15,000 people attended a memorial service in honour of those who died at the beginning of the uprising at the hands of the Special Forces. On May 25, about 50,000 people gathered for a rally in Kwangju and adopted a resolution calling for the abolition of martial law and the release of political prisoner Kim Dae-jung, who would eventually be elected the eighth President of the ROK .
As the people in Kwangju continued to assert their political demands, US President Jimmy Carter, who had campaigned on a platform for a "human rights foreign policy", intervened directly to crush what was perceived as a threat to US strategic interests in the region. The US National Security Council met at the White House on May 24 to plan a response. Subsequently, US General John A Wickham Jr, Commander of the US-ROK Combined Forces Command, ordered General Chun Doo-hwan to redeploy the ROK army's 20th Division from the De-Militarised Zone (DMZ) separating the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the ROK, to Kwangju to crush the uprising. This plan was delayed three days while a US navy flotilla led by the aircraft carrier USS Midway was deployed to Korean waters just in case reinforcements were necessary .
On May 27, at 3:30 am, the ROK army attacked Kwangju in Operation Fascinating Vacations. The people of Kwangju resisted courageously against the US-directed military assault against them. In the ensuing battle, thousands of civilians were killed and close to 15,000 people were injured. More than 1,500 people were taken into custody and countless others were tortured and summarily executed. Dozens of other activists were arrested, tried and executed and others were thrown into prison. Within a year, General Chun had proclaimed himself President of the ROK, and began a campaign of terror against the communists, socialists, leftists and any other progressive forces that would challenge his US-sanctioned military rule. However, the workers and people of the ROK continued their organised opposition to US imperialism and their local puppets, and eventually ended the military dictatorships in the ROK by the end of 1990.
On the 43rd anniversary of the Kwangju People's Uprising, we call on everyone to intensify their support for the heroic Korean people in their just struggle to end the US military occupation of south Korea, to resolutely oppose the US nuclear blackmail and military provocations against the DPRK and to vigorously support their more than 70-year struggle to realise the independent and peaceful reunification of their divided nation and affirm their right to be.
Hail the Historic Legacy of the Kwangju Uprising!
US Troops Out of Korea!
Korea Is One!
1. As President of the ROK from 1998 to 2003, Kim Dae-jung was instrumental in co-operating with the leader of the DPRK Kim Jong Il, to strengthen inter-Korean relations, which led to the signing of the historic June 15 North-South Joint Declaration in Pyongyang in 2000, opening up a bold new chapter in the struggle of the Korean people for peace and reunification. Kim was also responsible for ensuring that the victims of US-sponsored state violence and terror in Kwangju were honoured. He inaugurated annual memorial events for the victims beginning in 1997 and established the graveyard in Kwangju where hundreds of the victims are buried as the National Cemetery for the May 18 Democratic Uprising.
2. Online database of the 4,000 declassified US government documents on the US role in the Kwangju Uprising of 1980.
Statue of Ho Chi Minh outside Ho Chi Minh City Hall
May 19 marks the 133rd anniversary of the birth of Ho Chi Minh, historic leader of the Vietnamese people and founder of modern Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh is celebrated not only by the Vietnamese people, communists and revolutionaries, but by all thinking, enlightened people the world over for his historic contributions to the destiny of the Vietnamese people as well as that of all humanity.
In 1987 the General Conference of the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) formally recognised Ho Chi Minh as one of the "great personalities who have left an imprint on the development of humanity". UNESCO acknowledged Ho Chi Minh as a "Vietnamese hero of national liberation", "a great man of culture" and "an outstanding symbol of national affirmation". Ho Chi Minh "devoted his whole life to the national liberation of the Vietnamese people, contributing to the common struggle of peoples for peace, national independence, democracy and social progress," UNESCO said. It encouraged member states of the United Nations to join in the commemoration of his birth "in order to spread knowledge of the greatness of his ideals and of his work for national liberation".
Many things have been written praising the deeds and works of Ho Chi Minh. In his own words it is the founding of the Communist Party of Vietnam on February 3, 1930, which was the decisive instrument of the Vietnamese people's national liberation struggle against French, Japanese and US imperialism. To this day, Vietnam's nation-building is led by the party founded by Ho Chi Minh.
The Socialist Republic of Vietnam today remains steadfast to the teachings, leadership and legacy of Ho Chi Minh. Under its seasoned and tested leadership, the country has successfully dealt with the external challenges in the world, the rivalry of big powers, the present all-sided crisis of the neo-liberal order, the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to bring Vietnam on a par with the requirements of the digital, scientific, technological revolution and so much more. Vietnam has taken its place in the world as a highly respected nation which is a force for peace, freedom and democracy at home and internationally.
This is the legacy of President Ho Chi Minh, whose life and work takes on more significance and splendour with the passing of time. In today's world, in our estimation, Vietnam contributes significantly to the right of all countries to their own chosen path of social development, and to building a world where all nations and peoples can live in peace and solidarity with each other.
Long Live the Life and Work of Ho Chi Minh!
May 25 of this year is the 60th anniversary of African Liberation Day. It marks a historic convergence of the peoples of Africa to have their sovereign nation-building projects and exercise decision-making based on their own experience and thought material, and to rid themselves once and for all of the enslavement, colonialism and imperialism of foreign powers.
African Liberation Day was born out of the consciousness of the peoples of Africa that their liberation was their own act and part of the worldwide struggle against imperialism and of the united front of the working class and peoples to end the exploitation of persons by persons. It was initiated at the first Conference of Independent African States held in Accra, Ghana, on April 15, 1958, and attended by eight independent African heads of states . That day was declared "Africa Freedom Day" to mark the ongoing progress of the liberation movement.
This conference was significant in that it represented the first Pan-African Conference held on African soil. It was also significant in that it represented the collective expression of African People's disgust with the system of colonialism and imperialism, which brought so much suffering to African People. Further, it represented the collective will to see the system of colonialism permanently done away with. The Talking Drum states about this conference:
"After 500 years of the most brutal suffering known to humanity, the rape of Africa and the subsequent slave trade, which cost Africa in excess of 100,000,000 of her children, the masses of African People singularly, separately, individually, in small disconnected groupings for centuries had said, 'enough'! But in 1958, at the Accra Conference, it was being said in ways that emphasised joint, co-ordinated and unified action.
"This conference gave sharp clarity and definition to Pan-Africanism for the total liberation and unification of Africa. It also laid the foundation and the strategy for the further intensification and coordination of the next stage of the African Revolution, for the liberation of the rest of Africa, and eventual and complete unification."
In 1960, seventeen African states gained their sovereignty marking it as the "Year of Africa".
On May 25, 1963, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was founded in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with more than 1,100 people representing 31 African states, 21 African liberation movements and hundreds of supporters and observers in attendance . The OAU (today known as the African Union) proclaimed that May 25 would from then on be celebrated annually as "African Liberation Day". Up to the present, African Liberation Day is an occasion to highlight and carry forward the aspirations of the peoples of Africa for freedom, sovereignty and a new society.
Today, while nearly every country in Africa has nominally achieved its independence, the peoples' fight to block imperialist dictate and ongoing exploitation of their countries' human and natural resources continues. Not a year goes by without the revanchism of the imperialist powers and powers of old Europe rearing its ugly head. Britain, France and the US are increasing their aggressive military operations throughout the continent, particularly in north, east, west and central Africa.
As of November 2021, the U.S. Defence Department says it has 6,000 troops, Defence Department civilians and contractors in nearly 30 bases across Africa. The British Army states that its largest deployments are currently training or on operations in Africa, without giving a figure. British troops are based in Djibouti, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Somalia. There are five bases in Kenya. The British Army is conducting "training" in 22 African countries. France had 4,500 troops in West Africa, in Mali, Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso and Mauritania until recently. The current government of Mali rejected the presence of French troops, which withdrew in February 2022, reducing French troops in Africa by half. Other non-African governments have troop operations in African states such as Tunisia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Niger, and the Republic of South Sudan.
A heinous example is that of the destruction of Libya, whose government was overthrown by the US-led aggressive military alliance NATO and its proxy forces in 2011. This was the most cynical revenge by the imperialists against the Libyan people and their leadership which fought to defend Libya's interests and would not kowtow to imperialism. One particular consequence of the NATO bombing campaign was the racist terror inflicted on Libyans of Sub-Saharan African origin, many of whom were killed brutally and whole towns such as Tawergha were emptied. The NATO powers and their monopoly media went to great efforts to spread lies of "African mercenaries" specifically targeting Black Libyans for attack.
The aftermath of "regime change" in Libya widened instability, lawlessness and terrorism not only in that country but throughout north Africa and West Asia. The countries responsible include all the old colonial powers and others. These countries must be held to account and reparations made for this crime and all the historical crimes and those of the present against African peoples. The US and NATO are planning more such tragedies which must not be permitted to pass.
In the countries of southern Africa, many of which waged glorious and heroic Liberation struggles throughout the 1960s to 1980s against the colonial powers and racist apartheid rule, the people are displaying the same heroism as they confront the problems of nation-building today. A major problem they are confronting is the continued control of important sectors of the economy by racist monopoly capital, whether foreign or coming from the legacy of racist minority rule. The peoples of countries such as Zimbabwe, South Africa and Angola which delivered strong blows against imperialism have worked staunchly to ensure that this legacy does not have the upper hand.
The question of the land and its historic theft from the peoples remains of utmost importance and land reforms and redistribution have been an historic step to ensure the people have an economic base which can guarantee their livelihood and development.
The British working class and people must oppose and condemn the British government for its participation in imperialist aggression against African countries, and demand that foreign relations be based on mutual respect and benefit with the countries of Africa. They must stand as one with the peoples of Africa and support their struggles, rejecting all attempts to justify Britain's colonialist legacy and its Commonwealth and Empire. A completely new chapter is required, which is favourable not only to the peoples of Africa and their projects in building their future free of imperialist intervention, but favours also the working class and people of Britain. The day will come when those today who continue the colonialist and imperialist legacy, and continue to commit crimes against the peoples of Africa are charged and punished for these crimes. Let us further inform ourselves and others regarding the developments taking place throughout Africa today. The exploitative relations and intervention in the affairs of Africa and its peoples must be ended.
On the occasion of African Liberation Day, Workers' Weekly sends militant revolutionary greetings to all the peoples of Africa fighting to exercise control over their lives, countries and economies so as to guarantee a bright future for themselves and their children. We salute their achievements and contributions to the worldwide movement for national liberation which are second to none and that have uplifted all of humanity.
Long Live African Liberation Day!
1. It was attended by representatives of the governments of Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia, the United Arab Republic (which was the federation of Egypt and Syria) and representatives of the National Liberation Front of Algeria and the Union of Cameroonian Peoples
2. By then more than two thirds of the continent had achieved independence from colonial rule.
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