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May Day 2010: For workers' rights and the environment, oppose racism, defend revolutions

Havana, May 1, 2010.

May 1, 2010 -- May Day -- saw millions of people mobilising around globe to oppose attacks on workers' rights, reverse the degradation of the environment, defend the rights of oppressed peoples and migrants and -- as in Nepal, Venezuela, Cuba and Bolivia -- to make, extend or defend unfolding revolutions.

In Nepal, Jed Brandt reports that between 500,000 and 1 million people flooded the streets on Kathmandu to demand the resignation of the government. The massive mobilisation -- called by the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and the Young Communist League -- is the prelude to a general strike that begins May 2.

Hundreds of thousands march in Havana.

Across Cuba, reported Prensa Latina, "millions of men, women and children packed the main squares, marched along central avenues all over the provinces and municipalities of the nation declaring their support to the revolutionary process they have freely chosen". In Havana, hundreds of thousands marched. "Along Paseo Avenue and the Revolution Square ... an almost never-ending march in front of the monument to national hero Jose Marti brought together students, workers, sportspeople, professionals, technicians and even many foreign youngsters studying in Cuba. A huge bloc of more than 10,000 women ... marched with much happiness, enthusiasm, showing an unequivocal message of their support in the historical moment Cuba is living. The common slogan in all demonstrations was unity as the only alternative to overcome hardships and to stand up to the dangers coming from abroad, especially political harassment from Washington and some European capitals with the old illusion of finishing with the Cuban revolutionary process."

Venezuelans marched on May 1 to celebrate International Worker's Day. President Hugo Chavez also implemented a 15% wage increase, and the government broadened social security entitlements. The main national march was in the capital Caracas, where people chanted, danced, waved placards and banners and played music as they marched towards the presidential palace Miraflores. While there were no official or police estimates, observers estimate that 100,000 people turned out, celebrating the achievements of the Bolivarian revolution and its promotion of wage increases, better working conditions and better life conditions for the poor majority.

In Bolivia, the government of socialist president Evo Morales nationalised a number of electricity firms. The Cuban news agency Prensa Latina reported that "a large police contingent took over the plant of Electric Company Corani S.A., located in the town of Colomi, 52 miles from Cochabamba. Another group ... intervened [at] the facilities of the Empresa de Luz y Fuerza Electrica Cochabamba S.A.... other enterprises, Guaracachi, Valle Hermoso and Transportadora de Electricidad, were also taken over by police as part of the nationalisation process decreed by the government... In previous days, the Evo Morales administration advanced its intentions of nationalising three private power enterprises, subsidiaries of French and British firms." Morales was quoted in Al Jazeera as saying, "Basic services cannot be a private business. We are recovering the energy, the light, for all Bolivians."

Photos bt ArtfulActivist

Across the United States, large rallies have been held, with opposition to attacks on immigrants being a major theme in big cities and small towns. According the Los Angeles Times, "As many as 60,000 immigrants and their supporters joined a peaceful but boisterous march through downtown to City Hall, waving flags and holding signs blasting the harsh new immigration law in Arizona." However, LA police estimated the crowd at 95,000 and organisers said it was 250,000.

In Tucson, Arizona, 15,000 protested against the racist law. Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers, said that Brewer’s signing of SB1070 had had an unintended effect: “It has brought el pueblo together, not only in Arizona, but across the nation!”

Up to 3000 protested in Washington DC. From New York City, Billy Wharton reported:

May Day is definitely back in New York City. The energy was high as around 30,000 people participated in two separate demonstrations. Many in the crowd were motivated by the recent decision in Arizona to pass harsh anti-immigrant legislation. For one day at least lower Manhattan was taken away from the yuppies and tourists who dominate it on weekends by the sheer size of the crowds.

An early march in Foley Square was organised by trade unions in New York City and more mainstream immigrant rights groups. Fifteen thousand answered this call and carried out a march around City Hall to demand real immigration reform. This demonstration followed up a well-attended rally on Wall Street on April 30 in support of financial regulation. Participants in both the April 30 and May 1 were greeted by a full lineup of official union and community spokespeople.

Things were a bit more raucous at the Union Square May Day demonstration. Speakers from several grassroots immigrants’ rights groups were backed up by hip-hop artists and spoken-word poets. Arizona was everywhere at this rally. People wore buttons urging a boycott of the state, signs demanded the repeal of the anti-immigrant law SB1070 and one handmade poster described Arizona Governor Jan Brewer as “the daughter of Hitler”...

Other marchers called for more systemic changes. “We are marching today to demand amnesty for all the undocumented”, said Kristin Schall of the Socialist Party USA, “If you live here and work here you deserve to have legal status.” Most in the march were sympathetic to this position, viewing it as an end goal for the movement.

In Turkey, Press TV reported, more than 200,000 people "gathered for the first time in 33 years in Istanbul's Taksim Square, where dozens were killed decades ago. The Taksim Square was declared off-limits after gunmen, during the 1977 May Day rally, killed 34 people in cold blood."

In Palestine, more than 4000 Palestinians held May Day demonstrations near the Erez crossing with Israel and the Rafah border with Egypt to protest at the lockdown of Gaza. Two thousand demonstrators waving red and Palestinian flags gathered near the Erez border crossing with Israel in northern Gaza in response to a call from the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and other left-wing groups. Two thousand more gathered at Rafah, while hundreds of other demonstrators took part in a sit-in against the blockade -- which causes high unemployment in the impoverished territory -- at Rafah on the border with Egypt. "We call on the world to stop the siege of Gaza and to come to the defence of Palestinian workers in all Palestinian territories", said Ramzi Rabah, a protest organiser with the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

In Auckland, New Zealand, a huge march of 50,000 turned out to march against the government's plans to allow mining in the country's national parks. While not a formal May Day march, it highlighted the fact that environmental issues, particularly climate change, are a key issue for the left and progressive movement. Greenpeace ambassador Robyn Malcolm said: "For nearly 50,000 Kiwis to turn out and be prepared to speak with one voice, must tell the government something. And that something is this: we, the people of NZ get it; we get the argument, we see what you’re up to and we won’t have it. Our land will always be more important to our identity than some extra dollars in the pockets of mining companies."

According to the first capitalist press reports, in Europe hundreds of thousands took part in May 1 protests, including 300,000 in France.

Made with Slideshow Embed Tool. Photos by PRP Indonesia.

In Jakarta, Indonesia, 30,000 mobilised.

In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, more than 1000 people took part in a May Day march organised by the Malaysian Trades Union Congress and the May Day Committee. The committee includes the Oppressed People's Network (JERIT); Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram); Malaysian Youth & Student Democratic Movement; Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia and the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM). May Day marches began in 1994 and have since become an annual gathering. The themes, made crisply and vividly obvious through the chants from the protesters -- "GST: Makes Poor Poorer", "Bantah GST" (oppose GST), "Hidup rakyat" (long live the people), "Hidup pekerja (long live the workers), "Hari Pekerja, hari kami" (Labour Day is our day) and "Gaji minima" (minimum wages) could be heard as far as a mile away, reverberating along the bustling streets as the protesters headed towards the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall for a rally, reported Police tried to stop the march and arrested six people, including four PSM members.

Made with Slideshow Embed Tool. Photos by Peter Boyle.

In Sydney, 2000 marched with contingents from trade unions, left groups and supporters of liberation struggles from many countries. Supporters of Thailand's pro-democracy Red Shirts enlivened proceedings.

Two thousand took part in London on May Day 2010. Photo by HarpyMarx.



`Aotearoa is under attack' -- 50,000 march in Auckland

Sunday, May 02, 2010

This is what democracy looked like, Mayday 2010, Auckland, Aotearoa.

"Aotearoa is under attack -- STAND UP- FIGHT BACK!" echoed through Queen Street yesterday as over 50,000 people joined one of the biggest protests in New Zealand's recent history.

The National-Act-Maori Party Government wants to move the bulldozers into Schedule 4 Parks and reserves- beautiful parts of Aotearoa they want to ruin to dig up gold, silver and coal. Until now, this Government has got away with attack after attack, but the Mayday protest marks a turning point in the popular mood.

As well as the mining industry, many protesters targeted the National party's greed, and capitalism's willingness to destroy nature in pursuit of short term, shiny profits. A colourful and energetic Red Bloc led hundreds of people in explicitly anti-government, anti-capitalist chants, celebrating People Power and Democracy on the streets, and that only revolution could end this rotten system.

Without anti-capitalist, direct action politics, this huge movement of anger will be led into the dead ends of letter writing and submissions to parliamentarians. This is what happened with the movement against GE, and we should not repeat the same mistakes twice.

Strikes, mass blockades, green bans and sabotage of the bulldozers and mining equipment must be the weapons used to defend Aotearoa. The argument for where this movement goes now has begun- but it has given a huge shot of energy to people who have been fighting in the trenches of other campaigns against this rotten government.

Power to the People!

Video from Stuff HERE

Video from TV3 News HERE

May First: Kasama report from Chicago

May 2, 2010

By Enzo Rhyner, Pix by J.B. Connors

A friend and I met up and took the city bus to the rally, not really knowing what to expect. At each stop along the way more people, clearly immigrant families going to the demo, got on. Young men, women, whole extended families including grandparents and kids in strollers packed the bus.

We were 30 minutes early, but already several thousands had gathered in Union Park on Chicago’s near west side. The rally was scheduled for two hours, then a two mile march into the Loop. Thousands more flowed in during the speeches. It was a very diverse crowd– mainly Latino immigrants, especially from Mexico, but also immigrants from other countries as well. I saw contingents of immigrants from Ireland, Poland (and other eastern-European countries) and an organized group of African immigrants carrying banners proclaiming solidarity with all immigrants.

There many non-immigrant marchers as well–though they were in the minority compared to the immigrants. A sizable group of gay activists carried large rainbow flags and signs proclaiming that “No human is illegal”. There were large contingents of union members (mainly from the SEIU), catholic-organized groups from churches and local colleges, and even a contingent of mainly older sanctuary-movement activists. Many of the leftist political organizations were out in force. By the time the march departed, the crowd had swelled. It stretched for over a mile from what I could tell. An official police spokesperson said it was 8,000 people, though I thought more. In any case, it’s the largest Immigrants Rights rally since 2006 in Chicago.

I passed out hundreds of the Kasama May Day leaflet “Revolution is Happening in Nepal“. Most people clearly had never heard of the revolution there, but I noticed many standing around reading it, especially the side in Spanish.

Obviously there was lots of anger at the new Arizona law. That was clearly the reason the the larger turnout.

There were many spirited chants demanding “Justice Now” and denouncing Arizona Law and discrimination. Lots of signs and chants were demanding that Obama keep his promise to reform immigration law, and demanded an end to the deportations. Unfortunately, I don’t understand Spanish, so I missed the meaning of many of the speeches. In the crowd there was anger at being dehumanized (i.e. “we are WORKERS, Not ILLEGALS”). But there also was a festival spirit–a liberated area–where there was no fear and with people of different backgrounds and ethnicities pulling together in common support against these outrages, chanting and singing, eating snacks from the multitude of vendors.

As in earlier immigrant rights marches, there were many American flags. A number of the immigrant organizations are very “mainstream” and believers in the American dream–and emphasize what “good people” immigrants are, how much they contribute to the economy, etc. (all of which is true, of course).

I didn’t notice a lot of anger directed at the local cops. There were mounted police (as usual, for most large crowd scenes), and I noticed one small contingent of riot-equipped State troopers that seemed to be guarding the expressway, but in general there wasn’t a hug obvious clampdown-style police presence. Part is undoubtedly because in Chicago, the march is promoted by the city–it’s listed on the official website, and the Mayor (Daley) endorses it and has spoken there in past years.

More pictures from Chicago May First (from JB):








May 1: Los Angeles marches against racist Arizona Law

By Manuel Alderete

Saturday, May. 01, 2010

Over 100,000 march to protest racist Arizona "immigration" law; diverse crowd shows broad support against law.

Los Angeles Marches ...

LOS ANGELES - May 1, 2010

The air was electrified by a presence not felt since the Gran Marcha of 2006. At least 100,000 people marched through Downtown in solidarity with Arizona's victims of a new law that legalizes racial profiling. It is a law that has been denounced by President Obama, DHS Head Janet Nopalitano, the Mayor of Phoenix, the Sheriff of Pima County (Arizona), and even some Republicans who see it as draconian legislation.

Many of the protest signs carried bold statements calling the Arizona law "racist" and "Nazi"-like. There was a sense of urgency in their voices, demanding to "Boycott Arizona" and overturn Arizona's SB 1070 law on the grounds that it was racially discriminatory and unconstitutional.

Unlike other marches where several other "niche issues" are brought into the march, this May Day march was focused like a laser: Arizona's new state law is a modern-day version of legalized White Supremacy, smacking of the Nuremberg Laws in Nazi Germany and Apartheid "Pass Laws" in South Africa.

As usual, the march began at Olympic and Broadway and continued north about a dozen blocks, ending near City Hall. The crowd surged with optimism as music played and ralliers chanted to Boycott Arizona and pressure President Obama to take swift action against Arizona's legalized Apartheid.

It should also be mentioned that Los Angeles Police Department had a very light footprint at the march, with only a few officers monitoring from the sidelines. And just as well: the march was peaceful, upbeat, and a proud statement of civic resistance to "legal" fascism.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I was pleasantly surprised to see the diversity of protesters in the crowd. There was a noticeable amount of White, Chinese, and African-American protesters who all felt that they also had a reason to stand up against what SNL's Seth Myers labeled as "dry fascism" on national TV.

This is a reminder to us all that there are non-racist Whites out there who are willing to speak out against White Supremacy. They see that this is a Human Rights issue (the humanity of Mexican and "Central American" people is being totally violated) and the human part of them also feels violated by Arizona's law.

Walking to the march, I happened to get flagged down by a European-descent couple vacationing from Australia. They asked me to explain the march and the issues. We had an excellent conversation about the ongoing legacy of European colonialism and how that applied to "wild west" Arizona.

Again, I was reminded that truth and logic will prevail in this struggle. But we also have to summon the courage to demand that our rights be recognized. Those of us Mexicans and "Central Americans" are NOT immigrants to this continent. We are Indigenous (mixed and full-blood) people of this land. Our blood is native to this soil, and has been spilled over and over on it, paying for this land many times over. We absolutely cannot remain dehumanized as we have been during the last 500 years since Europeans invaded and colonized our continent. This is OUR time for CHANGE (to borrow a phrase).

More photos at

May 1: 65,000 mobilize in Milwaukee

65,000 mobilize in Milwaukee against Arizona's discriminatory legislation,
call for federal action on immigration reform

May 1, 2010
Media Contact: (414) 643-1620

A seemingly endless flow of 65,000 passionate and peaceful marchers
filled National Avenue in Milwaukee, Wisconsin today, chanting "Obama, escucha, estamos en la lucha!" (Obama, listen, we are in the struggle!) and "El pueblo callado ser? deportado" (A community that's silent will be deported).

The Wisconsin Statewide May Day March for immigration reform and workers'
rights is one of over 80 May 1 actions across the country, standing up
against Arizona's increasingly hostile policies toward immigrants which also threaten the civil rights of all its residents.

"In the same way the Wisconsin Congressman Sensenbrenner's bill HR 4437
ignited the immigrant rights movement in 2006; so today has passage of
Arizona SB 1070 awakened the nation and opened a new chapter in the civil rights
struggle of this country," said Christine-Neumann Ortiz, Executive Director
of Voces de la Frontera.

Featured speaker Rafael Reyes, an Arizona resident and member of the
National Day Labor Organizing Network, gave testimony to the current situation in Arizona after the devastating passage of SB 1070. "There is a presence of fear in Arizona, but also a presence of strength and beauty in the young people and elders who are protesting, holding vigils, fasting, and calling for SB 1070 to be defeated."

The marchers pledged to support the Resolution that will be introduced by
Alderman Witkowiak this Monday, calling for participation in the economic
boycott of Arizona; and plan for a Milwaukee protest outside the
Diamondbacks game at Miller Park in August.

Before the march, a suspicious dumpster fire billowed smoke onto the crowd
as they assembled around noon, but the marchers were not deterred by what
appeared to be an attempt at intimidation. Coordinators of the march and
local law enforcement quickly contained the situation, and the march
proceeded, even more determined to share its crucial message of dignity in the face of injustice.

National Immigrant Solidarity Network
No Immigrant Bashing! Support Immigrant Rights!
webpage: _http://www.ImmigrantSolidarity.org_
e-mail: _info@ImmigrantSolidarity.org_

May Day 2010: We Made Another History!

May Day 2010 - National Mobilization for Immigrant Workers Rights!

May Day 2010: We Made Another History!

Hundreds of Thousands Marched Across The U.S.
Against Racist AZ SB 2010 and Demands for Immigrant Workers Rights!

Today, hundreds of thousands of immigrants, activists, students and workers across the country marched at over hundred cities/communities to celebrate May Day 2010 and send unmistakable messages against Racist AZ SB 2010 and demands for immigrant workers rights! with TRUE immigration reform that will path of residency/citizenships for 12+ millions undocumented immigrants in this country.

Read the May Day 2010 Reports from Across The Country at

Immigrant rights is one of the most important struggles in the U.S. right now. With the recent passage of Arizona's anti-immigrant SB 1070 bill, many immigrants and activists are comparing this to the rebirth of Jim Crow and racial profiling. We have also seen an increase in the militarization of local police forces and of our borders in another racist effort to divide our country.

While U.S. corporate media downplaying the importance and the size of the May Day 2010 mobilizations (as usual, we're also getting many racist hate calls/e-mails threaten us), our movement cannot be silent and stop!

US Socialist Worker: ¡Todos somos Arizona!
Elizabeth Schulte reports on May Day protests around the country, which took aim at Arizona's racist anti-immigrant law that enshrines racial profiling.

WHEN TENS of thousands of immigrants and their supporters took to the streets on May 1--150,000 in Los Angeles, 65,000 in Milwaukee, 20,000 in Chicago and many more in other cities across the country--there was a common sentiment: "Todos somos Arizona."

We are all Arizona.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's signing of radically anti-immigrant legislation last week sparked defiant demonstrations for May Day, as people of all ages, races and immigration statuses came together to opposed a law that would encourage racial profiling and the harassment of anyone "suspected" of being undocumented.

Countering the divide-and-conquer mentality of Arizona legislators who pushed through SB 1070--and the right-wing immigrant bashers whose politics they mimic--solidarity was the theme of the day on May 1.

As another popular slogan went, "Nos somos ilegales." We are all illegal.

In 2006, a federal anti-immigrant proposal sponsored by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) sparked outrage and activism. Hundreds of thousands of immigrants took to the streets in March and April, leading up to the mega-marches of May 1. Immigrant workers and their families breathed new life into the international workers holiday that until then was hardly ever celebrated in the U.S., even though it was born here.

Though they weren't as large as 2006, this year's protests were bigger than the last few years, as many people heard about what happened in Arizona and said: Enough is enough.

In addition to the outrages in Arizona, many protesters had something else on their minds: foot-dragging on immigration reform in Washington. The massive march in Chicago was peppered with signs directed at President Barack Obama and Congress, such as "Obama: We Need Immigration Reform Now" or simply "Los Amigos Mantienen Las Promesas" (Friends Keep Their Promises).

Other protesters came with demands going beyond the kind of reform bills that Congress is considering, which attempt to strike a bargain by including provisions that would increase the criminalization and exploitation of immigrants through border militarization and guest-worker programs.

These protesters demanded "Deport ICE!" referring to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency--as well as "No human being is illegal" and "For a world without borders."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

-- Los Angeles had the largest turnout on May Day, with more 150,000 people gathering for the mile-long march to rally for immigration reform and workers' rights.

Families, unionists and other activists came out in solidarity with Arizona, carrying banners stating "We are all Arizona" and chanting "Aquí estamos y no nos vamos!" (We're here and we're not leaving.)

Contingents included the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which brought hundreds of their members on buses; the Southern California Immigration Coalition, which marched holding flags from various nations; and members of Filipinos for Genuine Legalization.

American Apparel workers from the nearby downtown factory marched in a contingent of over 500 and gave away shirts that read "Legalize LA Immigration Reform Now."

A lesbian, gay, bisexual and trangender (LGBT) contingent marched to demand that the federal government to grant same-sex families the same immigration rights as heterosexual couples when one member of the couple is a U.S. citizen. One marcher said that they were fighting for immigrant rights because the LGBT community "knows what it is like to be discriminated against."

At the end of the march, a speaker from the Teamsters called on union members "to stand with our brothers and sisters to fight for immigrant rights because we are the backbone of this country...we built this country."

An SEIU representative informed the crowd that Meg Whitman, who is running for governor of California, is against amnesty and immigration reform: "Racism does not stop in Arizona, it flows into our streets and schools. We have a fight in Arizona and in California, and must win immigration reform now."

Singer Gloria Estefan kicked off the march, and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Cardinal Roger Mahony were also among the speakers.

Overall, the sentiment of the day was solidarity among many different communities in a united fight for equal rights and against the racist Arizona law and lack of immigration reform promised by Obama.

-- In Milwaukee, Wis., home of anti-immigrant Rep. James Sensenbrenner, 65,000 people marched, according to organizers. Speakers warned that seven other states are considering enacting laws like the one passed in Arizona and called on everyone to stand up.

"We want to send a message of solidarity and humanity against hatred and intolerance," Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of Voces de la Frontera, told the crowd. "This has opened a new chapter in the struggle for civil rights. We will not have the forces of hate and bigotry use immigrants as scapegoats for the economy and loss of jobs."

She said that a local alderman is planning to introduce a resolution May 3 that will ask the Common Council to consider a boycott by not doing business with Arizona-based companies or attending meetings or conferences in that state in protest of the new law.

A dumpster fire, suspected to have been started by anti-immigrant bigots, interrupted the speakers, almost starting a building on fire and forcing the march to start early.

-- In Chicago, immigrants and their families were so eager to march that hundreds turned out an hour before the rally was scheduled to begin. They passed around a bullhorn and shared their stories with one another, sometimes breaking into tears--about friends and family members who have faced deportation.

After listening to speakers at Union Park, some 20,000 protesters, according to organizers, crowded into the streets and marched downtown to Daley Plaza, which was filled to capacity long before the last marcher arrived. Members of the Immigrant Youth Justice League (IYJL), who are undocumented, spoke out from the stage, as did march organizers from the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

Rev. Jesse Jackson asked protesters to boycott Arizona by not vacationing or attending conventions, and called for the state to lose the 2011 Major League All-Star game.

During the march downtown, protesters chanted, cheered, blew horns and smiled at one another as they took over the downtown streets, chanting "Sí se puede!" and waving American and Mexican flags, banners and homemade signs.

The Comité 10 de Marzo made up signs that left space at the bottom for marchers to put their own message. Some people wrote "Shame on Arizona"; others demanded "Stop breaking up our families."

Smaller contingents made up of other immigrant groups, including Poles and Africans, marched, as did trade unions such as UNITE HERE, SEIU and the Teamsters Local 743. There were contingents from LGBT organizations, like Join the Impact, underlining the importance of coming together to fight as one. IYJL marched behind a huge banner that read "Undocumented. Unafraid."

But for the most part, the march was made up of people--students, workers and families--who heard about the march word of mouth, and wanted to stand up and be counted. "I was so worried and so sad about what happened in Arizona," one man said. "Could it happen anywhere?"

-- In Seattle, chants of "Boycott Arizona!" and "Sí se puede!" carried through the crowd of almost 10,000. Everyone--from student anti-budget cuts groups to immigrant rights activists to labor unions--came together in support of immigrants rights and against the recent passage of Arizona SB 1070.

Galvanized by the legalization of racial profiling in Arizona, one group of marchers wore T-shirts that asked "Do I look illegal?" Cars honked in support as the crowd snaked through downtown.

In Yakima, in rural eastern Washington, several thousand rallied. Other small vigils and rallies were held throughout the state.

-- In Houston, Texas, police estimated that 8,000 people turned out for the May Day march for dignity and respect for all. Organizations from all over the metropolitan area united to show support for immigrants' rights.

Amid chants of "El pueblo unido jamás sera vencido" and "Pueblo Unete," people in the community dropped what they were doing and joined in the march. Workers at a McDonalds came out into the street to show solidarity by providing free water to protesters.

"It's encouraging to see so many people out for immigration after an increase in oppression," said protester Brendan Laws. "This shows the strength of our community."

Professor Lorenzo Cano said, "This march is necessary to fix the immigration laws and provide an opportunity to those who are undocumented in this country, who in fact are contributing to our country as they represent a solution, not a problem."

-- In San Francisco, some 6,000 people turned out for a May Day march and rally--nearly double the number many organizers had expected and far larger than last year's march.

The main demands of the march were full legalization and amnesty, money for jobs and education, not for war, taxing the rich, and no more budget cuts. Anger at Arizona's SB 1070 was high, and played a significant role in putting people back into the streets for this May Day.

The march stretched for over four city blocks, and there were many contingents representing labor, immigrant rights groups, LGBT rights coalitions, political organizations, community organizers and budget cuts activists.

A group of 12-15 racist Minuteman came to hurl insults at the marchers, but they were dwarfed by the size of the pro-immigrant rights march.

-- In New York City, more than 5,000 people rallied in Union Square and marched down Broadway to Foley Square to demand immigrant rights and stand in solidarity with their brothers and sisters in Arizona.

"We believe hate and racism should be outlawed," said one speaker. "We believe immigration reform should not be about criminalization. We believe immigration reform should not be about militarization. We believe immigration reforms should be about human rights."

The rally adopted the slogans "Boycott Arizona" and "Beat back the Arizona attack" in addition to its original demands of full legalization for all immigrants and equal rights for all workers.

Organized by the grassroots May 1st Coalition, the crowd was made up of unions, community organizations and individuals. "I was looking around online after hearing about Arizona, and I found this," said Marisol, a student at City College, "so I called up a friend, and we came out."

Emma, who heard about the rally through leaflets distributed in her neighborhood, said, "It's terrible that this happened in America. It's obvious the law is racist, how could they do this?"

Angry slogans carried the day as the crowd grew in size. Chanters alternated with speakers and radical music groups for several hours. At three, the crowd stepped off to march down Broadway and rally at Foley Square, near City Hall, where speeches and chanting continued.

"Rallies are fine, but to stop laws like Arizona, we're going to have to shut it down!" said Clarence Thomas of San Francisco's International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10 from the stage.

Felipe, a union restaurant worker and veteran of the massive 2006 protests that defeated the Sensenbrenner bill, said of the May Day strikes that year: "We don't run the country, but without us,. the country wouldn't run."

-- In Washington, D.C., a couple thousand people came out to Lafayette Park in front of the White House to rally on May 1. Standing in solidarity with people of color who will be most affected by Arizona's new law, protesters held signs that read, "Shame on Arizona."

Speakers throughout the day called on the president to fulfill his promise to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Some pointed out that, contrary to popular belief, deportations have actually increased under the Obama administration. Speakers made it clear that this is only the beginning of the fight for immigration reform.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), who has introduced the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity Act (CIR ASAP) in the House of Representatives, was one of the final speakers. Throughout his speech, he alluded to the importance of civil disobedience in the fight for civil rights, mentioning the history of women's rights, African American rights, worker's rights and all the movements in the U.S. that have fought for justice.

The rally then moved from the park to directly in front of the White House, where more than 35 people, including Gutierrez, were involved in civil disobedience by sitting in front of the fence of the White House and holding printed-out letters that spelled "Obama Stop Deporting Families." After about 30 minutes, they were arrested.

-- In Austin, Texas, thousands of protesters rallied in the sweltering heat. Republican state legislator Debbie Riddle has announced plans to propose identical legislation to Arizona's SB 1070 for Texas in 2011.

Marchers also called out the Obama administration, with chants like "Obama, escucha, estamos en la lucha!" The crowd was also heavily made up of young Latinos, and passage of the DREAM Act was a major demand. As a speaker from the front put it, "We need education, not deportation!"

-- In Rochester, N.Y., more than 100 turned out for a rally and march downtown for May Day. Planned over a month ahead of time, the march's slogans were "Bail Out Workers, Not the Banks" and "Equal Rights for All Workers." However, the events in Arizona made immigrant rights the real focus of the march's chants, signs and energy. The march was very young, with a number of Hispanic college fraternities bringing out their chapters.

Alejandro Cubria, Ben Daniels, Roger Dyer, Elizabeth Fawthrop, Brian Lenzo, Michael Schwartz, Rebecca Sun, Alex Tronolone and Brian Ward contributed to this article.

May Day Reports from Iran

May Day Reports from Iran | Protests in Tehran, Tabriz, Kurdistan, Qazvin, Mashhad, Shiraz, Isfahan ...

Statement Number Two of the Organizing Council of the International Workers' Day's Ceremony -1389

International Workers' Day, the missing element of the struggle

Workers and freedom seeking people!

It’s been eleven months since the new wave of people’s protest against the Islamic Republic of Iran’s oppressive actions, against despotism, inequality, dictatorship, oppression, poverty, corruption, ignorance, killings, imprisonment and forced exile. The struggle which seemed to have started under the pretext of protesting against the result of presidential election is rooted in the life of this establishment. From the very beginning, this establishment engaged in repression of economic and political demands and freedoms of people and workers and labour and socialist forces and other progressive groups, and used these repressive measures to plunder people’s efforts and make profits from it.

The protest against the result of the presidential election soon changed to the opposition against the entire establishment and created a setting to critique and re-examine both factions within the ruling class. Many people, quite rightfully, used the new atmosphere to raise their voices against dictatorship, religious state, poverty and inequality and the inhuman conditions which have been imposed on the people. The reformist factions of the establishment hastily called the people’s slogans “anti-system” and demanded a return to the Constitution and “Imam” ideas. The reality is that the interests and demands of the majority of people are very different from, and even contrary to, these reformists and their conservative competitors.

The lessons from these events: not only last year’s events but also thirty years of the ruling of the Islamic Republic and the 1979 people uprising, must everlastingly teach us that our economic, social and political demands will not be realized by creating illusions towards any of the factions within the capitalist system, neither a Islamic one which has emerged from theological schools nor the neo-liberal schools of thoughts from the US and the West.

We cannot and shall not wait for decent of an airplane or octopus like domination of any type of a leader with whichever clothing, slogan, deceit or claim. Our gaze shall be focused on organizing from below, by our own people, and based on our own economical-political and social demands. This is the great lesson which we should gain from our past and present.

International day of workers and the significance rooted in it is the key to resolving our puzzle.

The majority of people in our societies are wage and salary earners who sell their labour; these are workers, which, by performing manual or non-manual labour, produce all the wealth in our societies. Which democracy is greater and more comprehensive than a society that has enabled those who produce the riches lead the society as well?

The financial sources of capitalists were not created as the result of a sudden miracle. Without the labour power no value gets added to the capital. The existence of the capitalist system and capitalist states, whether an Islamic, liberal or monarchy, depends on its ability to continue exploitation by any means necessary. The functioning of all police, intelligence and judicial forces and war mongering is to safeguard the capitalist system and block the unity and organizing of the working class.

If all workers regardless of their trade and professions and being manual and non-manual consciously and collaboratively create their independent working class organizations the essence of the exploitative capitalist relations will be disintegrated. At the same time, the majority of members of our society, by achieving their rights and economic and political demands, will be able to create a real democracy, the ruling of the real majority.

Yes, the International Workers’ Day, and the lessons that the working class has thought us through its bloody struggles, will show us the only path to the society’s emancipation.

People’s protest against repression, inequality, poverty and despotism will have to result in the taking of power by people themselves. The formation of working class independent organizations is the only way to ensure that people’s efforts and struggles would not lead to the empowerment of another capitalist faction. The only guarantee for the establishment of freedom and democracy is the creation of independent worker organizations in all trades and professions, an all-inclusive, powerful and united force that will defy any offensive against people’s desires and demands.

Workers in factories, service workers, wage earners in companies and foundations, nurses, teachers, students, they all should form their independent organizations and the public at large needs to organize neighbourhood councils. The power within the unity of these organizations is a bullet that simultaneously aims two targets: It will dismantle the exploitative and tyrannical establishment; and it will not allow the power to be high-jacked by another regime; instead people’s organized power will take over.

International day of workers contains all these lessons and solutions. For years, workers have been raising their Red flag and vociferously crying the meaning of this puzzle. International day of workers in 2010 has coincided with people’s general tumult against oppression, tyranny, and dictatorship. Year 2010 is pregnant with possibilities for immense mass protests and workers' strikes. Elimination of subsidies, translates into elimination of people’s livelihood and basic economic capacities. The revenues accumulated through elimination of subsidies, will be spent to prop up the dominant militarism, and pay back shameful loans of World Bank and IMF.

Loans that have become expenses for Capitalists have lead to economic growth of repressive military forces such as Guardians’ Corps, and Basij militias, and an intensification of class differences, making very few extremely wealthy, using peoples’ pockets to pay back their loans.

Even now there are signs of protests against elimination of subsidies, starting with non-payment of water, electricity, gas…bills

This year, workers’ minimum wage approved by Supreme Labour Council (SLC) is 303,000 toman (about $300.00) a month, which is a third of estimates for line of poverty, all based on regime’s own estimate. SLC is composed of employers representatives (who set the levels for lowest wages), state’s representative (who support Capitalists, and are themselves a major employer) and representatives from "Workers' House" and Islamic Labour Councils (which are totally anti-worker creations of the state). Even if genuine workers' representatives participate in SLC, they still would have only a minority in SLC and unable to stop states and employers' votes. In fact in this system (tripartism) workers don’t even have an opportunity to price the commodity they’re selling, their labour, whereas wages shall be determined by autonomous workers' organizations.

In such times, people and workers are asked to “double their efforts!” Demands are made from workers who cannot even work their own long hours, and after working two or three jobs, still can’t manage to pay their bills.

In another attempt to attack people’s basic liberties, and instituting an atmosphere of fear and intimidation they implement the project for “social security”. We believe freedom is one's attire, and people’s relations are basic parts of a decent life and human rights.

The best reaction to such aggressions towards people's lives and assets, and their meagre earnings, are organized protests, through peoples' and workers' created organizations Within the labour movement efforts to create autonomous organizations has been under way for some years now. It is precisely for this reason that Capitalist system of the Islamic Republic are attacking labour activists and leaders. A great number of labour activists and leaders in the past few years have been the target of anti-worker Islamic Capitalism, including Mahmoud Salehi (in Saghez), Ebrahim Madadi and Mansour Osanloo (The Syndicate of Vahed Workers) and their colleagues, Ali Nejati and his other co-workers (of the Haft Tapeh Workers' Syndicate) and many other labour activists and teachers ... but such attacks have not stopped the movement.

Because of all the reasons mentioned above on May 1st, 2010 (Saturday 11th of Ordibehesht 1389) most important goals and demands of people and especially the workers will be expressed in our slogans everywhere. The aim of us, the workers, shall be to project and struggle for these goals and demands not only on May 1st but on all occasions through an indefatigable effort.

1 – We demand the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners (including worker prisoners and teachers, students, child rights activists, journalists) and all prisoners of conscience and as well as those imprisoned following recent events. Protest and freedom of expression are among the basic and inalienable rights of the people. All judicial sentences for political-social activists and workers are to be cancelled and prosecution against them ceased.

2 – Freedom to form independent working class organizations and parties, freedom of association, and right to protest, strike and freedom of press and expression and thought are our absolute human rights. We will not stop our struggles for the freedom to exercise these rights.

3 – The determination of 303,000 tomans as a minimum wage by the Supreme Council of the labour, when the poverty line as announced by several official institutions is 900,000 tomans, is a sign of the endless thirst of a capitalist system to exploit more workers and wage earners to maximize profit. We want the minimum wage to be announced by the representatives of independent worker organizations and their independent organizations based on a dignified and humanitarian life.

4 – We go up against anti-human, barbaric and profit-based plan of the removal of subsidies ( targeting the goods' subsidies) that is nothing but complaisance to serve the interests of domestic and global capitalism. We will not stop any strike and protest and are inviting the public to widely protest against these anti-people action.

5 – We emphasize the necessity of providing retirees with the basic needs for a dignified life, and want the elimination of all modern slavery systems and its methods, including the signing of blank contracts and temporary contracts.

6 – We want all members of society to benefit from free education, health care and public services.

7 – Other social movements like women’s and children’s rights movements and the student movement are our allies, and we consider any offense towards them, an attack towards workers' movement and an invasion of human dignity of the majority of our society.

8 – We support migrant workers, including Afghan immigrants in Iran , and count ourselves in the international fight in support of the needs and demands of all workers of the world. We also demands that May 1st be recognized as a national holiday without restriction on ceremonies of all kind on this day.

Long live international solidarity of the working class


The Organizing Council of the International Workers' Day's Ceremony -1389

( April 28th.2010

The Organizing Council of the International Workers' Day's Ceremony of 1389 (2010) taking into consideration various times and locations, while inviting other individuals and groups whom had suggested other places due to delay in announcing the program and lack of cohesion for a predetermined program, announces that we workers, independent of any demands and programs affiliated with any political group will come together with our slogans on Saturday, May 1st, and shout our demands, including the above eight demands).

International Workers’ Day celebration: Tehran, 5 pm, Freedom Street, in front of the Ministry of Labour, followed by a march towards Revolution Square, (crossing Khosh St., Rudaki St., Navab St., Eskandari St., Jamalzadeh St. and the Revolution Square) and in other cities in front of the Ministry of labour offices or other places and times determined by workers themselves.


May Day Reports from Iran | Protests in Tehran, Tabriz, Kurdistan, Qazvin, Mashhad, Shiraz, Isfahan

Written by Saeed Valadbaygi, May 1, 2010

High Volume of Security in Tehran for International Worker’s Day

Received reports indicate that in accordance with International Worker’s Day (that is recognized on May 1st) a high volume of security is apparent in Tehran, especially in the central region.

Military and disciplinary officers are concentrated in Enghelab Square until near Azadi Square. [Government-operated] vans are stationed around Enghelab Square.

The Kaleme website reports that the security agents are concentrated outside the Ministry of Labour and Laborer’s House (on Azadi Street). The area has been reported to look like a military zone.

There are also reports from Fatemeh Square of security agents based across the Ministry of Interior Affairs.

A number of Iranian employers have threatened their staff with termination from their position if they decide to act in protest for International Worker’s Day.

Workers Gather in Protest after Labour Minister Speech in Mashad

Yesterday in Mashad, on the first national conference for the day of labour mobilization and celebration of worker martyrs, Abdolreza Sheikholeslami, Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, analyzed the third verse of Surat Al-Baqarah from the Qur’an and then interpreted the concept of absence of the Imam and faith. Since the conference was supposed to be held on May Day and he did not mention the situation of workers in Iran,

a group of workers gathered after his speech in the Ayeha building to protest the minister’s talk.

One of the workers said, “We expected the minister to say better words on the improvement of workers situation, but he did not even mention workers.”

Another worker said, “When the Health or Education Minister talks, part of the speech focuses on congratulating nurses and teachers, but the Labour Minister spoke and didn’t say a word about workers.”

A worker Mohammad Karimi said, “The minimum we expected from the Labour Minister was that after he analyzed the Qur’an, he would talk about problems pertaining to workers and also provide solutions.”

He added, “Unfortunately, in our country, there is no value for workers. The proof of this is all the letters and correspondence I had with the Ministry of Labour since March 2009 that have gone nowhere.”

Buses Filled with Workers Stopped By Regime Forces, Man Badly Beaten

Despite the strong security atmosphere, a gathering began in front of the Ministry of Labour. Currently a crowd has gathered in Azadi and Enghelab Squares. Some people are holding flowers to commemorate May Day.

Between Enghelab and Azadi Squares, undeclared martial law continues. INA correspondent reports three buses full of workers coming from Varamin was stopped by police.

The forces acknowledged that the workers were on their way to the demonstration, but did not allow them to proceed. One worker was badly beaten and left there in his blood.

May Day Protest Gathering in Shiraz

Workers in Shiraz organized a protest gathering on the occasion of International Worker’s Day (I.e. May Day).

The gathering took place in front of Shiraz’s Azadi Avenue in the province of Fars. Demonstrators held banners that read: “Expelling workers will bring them a black destiny.” Another banner read: “Workers, congratulations on your day of employment, we won’t sit down until we get what is ours.”

One of the workers at the gathering said that in the last few months he has been expelled from the Gooshe Fars industrial complex and has not been paid his wages for seven months. The annonymous worker explained that Gooshte Fars Industrial Complex has been shut down for over two months and close to 1,200 workers are now unemployed.

Workers from the Gooshte Fars factory also protested their situation in March and April 2010.

Several Hundred Protesters Gather in Tabriz for May Day

Several hundred workers in Tabriz gathered in front of the Labour Department to celebrate International Worker’s Day

Based on reports recieved by Human Rights and Democracy Activists in Iran (HRDAI), several hundred workers and citizens gathered in front of the Labour Department on Khomeini Street in Tabriz and protested against massive expulsions, unemployment, and poverty.

The protests began at 11:00am (Tehran time) and hundreds of people continue to protest [as evening approaches]. The gatherings have taken place despite the vast presence of oppressive forces.

Eyewitnesses have reported over 40 cars belonging to regime agents stationed at the scene of protest. Also, a large number of baton-wielding motorcyclists are patrolling the streets. Plainclothes forces from the Ministry of Intelligence and the Revolutionary Guards are present in strong numbers as well.

Heavy security presence in Tehran and other major cities

According to eye witness reports, there were heavy security presence in Tehran and some other major cities of the country on International Worker’s Day.

Kaleme website reports on the large security and plain cities militia presence in the central areas of the Tehran and near Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare Organization.

Based on this report there have been gatherings and heavy security presence in other major cities of Iran including, Tabriz, Shiraz and Qazvin; in these gatherings workers by holding signs in their hands stressed that layoffs will bring the workers “Black fate” and some other signs read: “Worker, congratulation on your Unemployment Day” and “We will not give up until we gain our rights”.

There have also been some unconfirmed reports of clashes between protesters and security forces.

International Worker’s Day celebration in Saqez, Kurdistan

On may 1, 2010, at approximately 5:30am, a large number of workers moved toward Jaghal Mountain, a leisure hanging place for the citizens of Saqez (a city in the province of Kurdistan).

Around 8:00am, a large number of people also gathered at the mountain to celebrate International Worker’s Day.

First a moment of silence was held for those killed for the freedom of the working class. After, everyone stood up and a poem was read to break the silence.

Activist Mahmood Salehi addressed the crowd for Worker’s Day. An article was read by another activist, followed by a poem titled, “I am a worker.”

A student present at the gathering also gave a speech.

At the end, a nationwide resolution was read and then the people, in an organized manner, returned back to the city.

Coordinating Committee for the Formation of Worker’s Organizations

Sources: HRANA , Kalameh , Human Rights and Democracy Activists in Iran (HRDAI) , Street Journalist

Translations by

Workers, don’t stop the fight! Ali Nejati’s message from prison for the International Labors’ Day

Ali Nejati, the President of the board of directors of the Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Company Workers’ Syndicate has been in prison since NOvember 2009. On the occasion of May 1st-Saturday, International Workers' Day- sends a message from Dezful Prison for all workers:

To all Workers in Iran and Worldwide
I congratulate you and your families for May 1st, the International Workers’ Day.

This day is the token of solidarity and unity of all the workers throughout the world and it is necessary to realize that in order to achieve our goals and demands, we have no other choice but to unite and come together. Workers without their independent organizations cannot achieve their demands singlehandedly. My colleagues and I were tried and thrown in jail because we wanted to create a Trade Union Syndicate in Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Company. However, we, the workers, should never stop fighting for our demands and creating our own independent associations and organizations.

I hope for workers to be successful and proud wherever they are, with their unity and organizations to defend their rights and demands.
Long live International Solidarity of Workers

Ali Nejati
President of the board of directors of the Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Company Workers’ Syndicate
May 1, 2010 – Ordibehesht 11, 1389- Dezful Prison

Translated by St. Journalist

Ali Nejati summoned back to court when on the verge of his release

According to recent news, Ali Nejati, the Chairman of the board of directors of the Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Company Workers’ Syndicate who was sentenced to six months imprisonment in Dezfool Prison for soliciting and defending the workers’ rights of Haft Tapeh Laborers, was served with a legal summon to attend Branch 2 of the Revolutionary Court of Shoosh.
Ali Nejati will be finishing his six months sentence on the 12th of May and will be freed but he had been summoned to court on May 19th.
Nejati and his other colleagues, Fereydoun Nikoufard, Jalil Ahmadi, Ghorban Alipour and Mohamad Heydari Mehr, were all detained for propaganda against the regime, spreading false accusations and so on. However, Nejati has to report to court again for the same accusations and defend himself. This means that Nejati has to defend himself again for the same charges although he had already served imprisonment terms accordingly.

Translated by St. Journalist

Mahmood Salehi and Mohamad Abdipour were summoned by the Intelligence Security Forces

According to the reported received today dated May 1st, 2010, Mahmoud Salehi and Mohammad Abdipour were charged with participating in International Labours’s Day ceremony and detained by the Intelligence Security Forces at 11am with an order from the Saghez’s Prosecutor and were held till 3pm.
It should be noted that they asked these two labour activists to pledge not to participate in the Workers' Day Ceremony. However, they refused to make such pledged and the authorities finally had to them by 3pm.

Translated by St. Journalist

Three Labour activists arrested in Sanandaj

Two members of The Free Union of Workers in Iran, members of this organization have been harassed and interrogated by the agents of intelligence ministry. They have been threatened to stop planning and participating at May Day events and to dissolve their organization. Mr. Sedigh Karimi, a member of The Free union of Workers in Iran's executive board and Mr. Fayegh Keykhosravi, another member in city of Sanandaj, and a labour activist named Foad Shabakeh Far, member of the Coordinating Committee to Help Form Workers' Organizations, have been incarcerated since May Day events in the City of Sanandaj. As of this report, they have not been released yet.

SMS with subjects of teachers, instructors and professors being filtered in Iran

Following the arrest of Teachers’ Trade Association Officials in recent days, SMS messages with subjects related to teachers, instructors and professors joined the filtered list of country’s SMS network. In threshold of Teachers Day, intelligent forces and telecommunication authorities are concerned with regard to use of SMS as a tool to send invitations for gatherings to express teacher’s dissatisfaction. Therefore SMS filtering has been added to their agenda.
According to our correspondents on Saturday May 1st, the country’s telecommunication system using imported software is censuring all SMS related to Teachers’ Day, with or without political themes and contents. These censures include SMS’s related to congratulating Teachers’ Day.
Meanwhile, the official media as opposed to years ago, is not mentioning the Teachers’ Day as much. The detention of the officials of Teachers’ Trade Association and Organizations had a widespread reflection among this stratum of society.

Translated by St. Journalist

For more information/action on workers' struggles in Iran, contact:

International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran (IASWI);

Eye of The Beholder

I will tell you what I have seen these last few days I saw our beloved Stars and Stripes flag, the flag from Mexico and some flags from other countries. I saw children, parents and grand parents together in solidarity, my people the working class, they may not be sophisticated but they got the message heard. From publish reports the demonstrations included both US citizens and undocumented workers. This brought me a smile because I always enjoy seeing brothers helping brothers.

This reminds me of a parable from the good book where a Levite and Priest come upon a man who fell among thieves and they both individually passed by and didn't stop to help him. Finally a man of another race came by, he got down from his beast, decided not to be compassionate by proxy and got down with the injured man, administered first aid, and helped the man in need. Jesus ended up saying, this was the good man, this was the great man, because he had the capacity to project the "I" into the "thou," and to be concerned about his brother.

You see, the Levite and the Priest were afraid, they asked themselves, "If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?"

But then the Good Samaritan came by. And he reversed the question: "If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?"

As I see it, we should stand-up against a law is passed in anger and is against our Constitution/ Bill of Rights/ Declaration of Independence and is targets a specific group.

God bless all my brothers and sister that stood side by side with our brothers and sisters in need. When our judgment comes I know God will not discriminate by country of origin as men do.

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