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France, WSF, Korea ... International left solidarity with the Egyptian people's uprising

Melbourne solidarity celebrations, February 12, 2011. Photos by Sue Bolton, beats from Al Aqsa Intifada by Rootsman and Muslimgauze, edited by Nick Fredman.

Below are a number of statements and reports of solidarity actions around the world following the overthrow of the US-backed Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak. They include a statement from organisations attending the New Anti-Capitalist Party congress in France, solidarity from the World Social Forum in Dakar, Senegal, a statement by leaders of the Socialist Party USA and a report on trade union organised protests in South Korea. Check back for more.

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Statement from left organisations present at the New Anti-Capitalist Party congress

February 12, 2011 -- The overthrow of Ben Ali and Mubarak change the political situation not only in the Maghreb but on the international scale.

Popular revolutions which have put an end to dictatorships supported for decades by US and European imperialisms are giving back confidence to all the Arab peoples and strike a devastating blow to the imperialist and Zionist order in the region.

Jordanian, Yemenite, Iraqi, Algerian and Palestinian populations have already taken to the street to demand political changes.

These revolutions are the direct impact of the international economic crisis and of the diktats of the IMF and the World Bank which impose a radical social offensive and the impoverishment of populations already suffering from decades of policies of social injustice and corruption.

These two revolutions open the way not only to democratic demands to break with the dictatorships, but also to the questioning of capitalist economic systems which are the cause of so much injustice. Social issues were at the source of the popular insurrections.

Imperialism is going to do everything to safeguard its positions in the region and stop the anti-imperialist development of processes at work and their propagating in the region.

This means that the Tunisian and Egyptian peoples, the forces which want to open a anti-imperialist and socialist road in those countries, need the solidarity and the active support of revolutionaries of anti-imperialist movements, of social and trade union movements of the whole world.

We are committing ourselves, each and everyone of us, in our countries, our regions, to developing this solidarity especially in order to fight against the attacks which international institutions and capitalist groups are already wreaking in order to stop any social and economic furthering of these emerging revolutions, and to using this magnificent example to stimulate the mobilisations against the debt and the demands of the IMF.

Long live the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions!

International solidarity!

Note: The World Social Forum Social Movements Assembly in Dakar has launched an appeal for a worldwide day of demonstrations on March 20, 2011.

Signed by:

Argentina: MST

Australia: Socialist Alliance

Belgium: LCR/SAP

Brazil: Party of Liberation and Socialism (PSOL)

England:  Socialist Workers Party; Counterfire

Canada: Socialist caucus of the New Democratic Party

Catalonia: En Lluita

Corsica: A. Manca

Euskadi (Basque Country): Askapena

France: NPA

Greece: SEK; DEA

Indonesia: KPRM-PRD; Working People’s Association (PRP)

Iraq: Iraq Freedom Congress; Union of Communists-Iraq

Ireland: Socialist Workers Party

Italy: Sinistra Crítica

La Réunion: NPAR

Martinique: GRS

Mexico: PRT

Peru: PRT

Poland: PPP

Portugal: Bloco de Esquerda (Left Bloc)

South Korea: New Progressive Party; Institute of the 21th Century Korean Research; KDLP -- Paris Committee    

Spanish State: Izquierda Anticapitalista; POR

Sri Lanka: NSSP

Switzerland: MPS

Tunisia: Ligue de la Gauche Ouvrière Tunisienne ; Communist Workers Party of  (PCOT)

USA: International Socialist Organization

Venezuela: Marea Socialista


Made with Slideshow Embed Tool.

February 12, 2011, Sydney -- What was scheduled to be another rally in support of the Egyptian people's revolution against the hated Mubarak dictatorship turned into a spontaneous celebration after the hated dictator was toppled overnight. As one sign declared: "Congratulations Egypt -- never underestimate people power". Photos by Peter Boyle.

Socialism and the spirit of Tahrir Square

By Andrea Pason and Billy Wharton, co-chairs Socialist Party USA

Tahrir Square transformed the idea of democracy from a stale ritual that occurs every few years to an open ended struggle for freedom.

February 11, 2011 -- Socialist WebZine -- We send greetings to the working people of Egypt on the day of their victorious struggle to depose the dictator Hosni Mubarak. Their grassroots movement provides definitive proof to the world that radical political activity can change the course of history. The activities of the protesters in Tahrir Square transformed the idea of democracy from a stale ritual that occurs every few years to an open ended struggle for freedom. We are inspired by the example provided by this mass revolt of the Egyptian people.

It is particularly important to recognise the central contribution made by the working class to the defeat of the dictator. While the occupation of the square and the street demonstrations in several cities galvanised the resistance, it was the mass strikes carried out by the workers that broke the back of the regime. On February 9 thousands of workers demonstrated the ability to shutdown the entire society and economy until their demands were met. After these mass strikes, the regime understood that surrender was its only option.

The victory of Tahrir Square need not be an isolated one – limited only to the removal of one dictatorial regime. The revolt was as much about the conditions imposed on Egyptians by capitalism – the lack of food, the unemployment, the poor housing, the declining environment – as it was about Mubarak. We can all join in the spirit of struggle initiated in Cairo by demanding a democratic socialist society where the needs of human beings are placed ahead of those of corporations.

See Tahrir Square for what it is – an open-ended struggle for freedom. And what the dissident voices in Egypt and many others parts of world are demanding are things that capitalism cannot deliver. In Egypt, the reorganisation of an independent trade union movement, the experiences of direct democracy in the protests and the revitalisation of a socialist left in the country offer greatest hope for advancing the political agenda for economic freedom developed in Tahrir Square.

As socialists located in the United Staes, we pledge to continue to do our part in the international struggle for socialism. We see our own political activity as a part of the larger international movement for jobs, peace and freedom. As a part of a Socialism for the 21st Century!

South Korean support for the Egyptian revolution

February 8, 2011, Korean Confederation of Trade Unions-organised protest outside the Egyptian embassy in Seoul.

By Roddy Quines

February 13, 2011 -- On February 8 the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) held a protest in front of the Egyptian embassy in Seoul to as part of the “International Day of Solidarity Action”. The KCTU expressed its support for the Egyptian protesters and its solidarity with the newly established Egyptian Federation of Trade Unions.

Speakers at the rally drew parallels between the struggle in Egypt and South Korea’s struggle for democracy in the 1980s, in which militant unions and radical students were at the forefront of the struggle against military rule.

“The struggle of Egyptian people reminded me the June Struggle for Democracy in 1987. The people who have suffered from the dictatorship for 30 years is now crying for freedom, rights to work and democracy. KCTU is standing by workers and people in Egypt. We will use every endeavour to support the courageous struggle” commented Jeong Ui-heon, first vice-president of the KCTU.

After speeches were made, Jeong Ui-heon tried to enter the embassy to give a protest letter to the Egyptian ambassador. However, police blocked the entrance of the embassy and the embassy also refused to accept the letter. In response to this Jeong ripped up the letter and threw it over the wall of the building.

On February 11, a crowd of Koreans and Egyptians gathered in front of the Egyptian embassy in Seoul for one more protest against the Mubarak regime. There were speakers in English, Arabic and Korean. As the protesters called for Mubarak to step down, little did they know that within hours their dreams of freedom for Egypt would come true.

Above and below: February 11 protest in solidarity with Egypt. Source: www.left21.com.

 

Above: Flyer for the February 11 protest in solidarity with Egypt. Source: www.left21.com.

Egyptian people’s struggle is right!

Korean Confederation of Trade Unions

February 8, 2011 – The KCTU fully supports the protest of workers and people of Egypt!

The Egyptian peoples struggle against the 30 year of pro-US dictatorship has been continuing for more than 15 days. On February 8, the day which has been decided as a “Day of Solidarity Action for Egyptian People” by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), its affiliates in 151 countries start their solidarity action including presenting protest letters to the Egyptian embassies. KCTU welcomes the ITUC’s decision and will use every endeavour.

The claims of Egyptian people are right. Their demand for a minimum wage and the right to work is the same as the demand of the KCTU and Korean workers, and Korean people, who have experienced the series of military dictatorships of Park Jung-hee, Chun Du-hwan and Roh Tae-woo, fully sympathise with their demand for an abolition of the emergency laws. The international community already turned its back on the rule by the iron fist of Mubarak and is urging his resignation and transition to the democracy. The United States, which has stood by the anti-democracy of Egyptian governments for the sake of its hegemony, is at a loss which way to go. 

The KCTU, which has its root in the Gwang-ju People’s Uprising in 1980 and the June struggle for democracy and following great struggle of workers in 1987, is paying special attention to the Egyptian Federation for Independent Unions, which has been newly established against the government’s national centre. The federation has led the general strike and struggled strongly together with other organisations, including the April 6 Youth Movement, and was launched in the middle of the ongoing struggle. The federation is determined to fight to the end despite the ruling class’s suppression. Its demand for the right to work, a minimum wage, free education and unemployment compensation, which meet the people’s basic demand for livelihood, is absolutely supported by the people.

Egypt is attracting the world’s attention. We firmly believe that the workers and people in Egypt will win the victory despite of the merciless oppression and sabotage of the Mubarak regime and the manipulation of the United State. The KCTU states its solidarity and support with the Egyptian people’s struggle by joining the international day of action of the ITUC and will continue until the people win a final victory.       

“Transition now, respect the will of the people!”

Thousands pledge support for people of Egypt and Tunisia

By Thandi Winston, Dakar

February11, 2011 – TerraViva – Delegates attending the World Social Forum in Dakar have affirmed their support and active solidarity with the people of Tunisia, Egypt and the Arab world. The social movement assembly of the World Social Forum adopted a declaration that said “the Arab world has risen up to the demand a true democracy and build the people’s power."

“Their struggles are lighting the path to another world, free from oppression and exploitation”, the statement reads. “Inspired by the struggles of the peoples of Tunisia and Egypt, we call for March 20th to be made a day of international solidarity with the uprisings of the Arab and African people, whose advance supports the struggles of all peoples.”

Thousands of delegates attended the assembly at the main venue at Cheikh Anta Diop University. Loud applause broke out as the statement was read out. Some delegates had expressed concerned that the events in North Africa were not granted enough time for discussion time at the forum. Others said the assembly’s statement goes a long way in showing solidarity to the people of Tunisia and Egypt.

Following the reading out of the statement, Mamdouh Habashi, an Egyptian activist who had spent several days at the focal point of the Egyptian protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square just before coming to Dakar, addressed the assembly.

“The revolution is not yet over. Mubarak is still in power”, he said. Habashi said the “people of Egypt are at war with the imperialists and need the support of the African people and the world”. Change in Egypt, he said, is an earthquake taking place that will change the world. He underlined that pressure must be put on countries that still supported Mubarak.

Picking up the theme, Habashi’s fellow Egyptian and activist, the public intellectual Samir Amin, echoed these sentiments but urged activists to find ways to offer effective solidarity.

“It is not enough to show solidarity with the people of Egypt, we have to also change the U.S. and other powers. It is only through doing this that we can truly help the people of Egypt.”

When she took the floor, feminist and activist Pumi Mtetwa said the social movements of South Africa and Southern Africa also support the people of Egypt and Tunisia.

“Unity in struggle and struggle in unity,” she declared. “We pledge our solidarity to the people and support the assembly’s declaration”.

Habiya Sheg from Algeria said, “The people of Egypt have taken the decision [to resist] and will not go back and this is about political sovereignty.”

Thousands of delegates have been urged to support a march on the Egyptian embassy in Dakar at the end of the WSF’s final proceedings.

 

Comments

Salute to the victorious people power uprising in Egypt

February 12, 2011

Renato Magtubo
Chair, Partido ng Manggagawa [Labor Party-Philippines]

We salute the victorious people power uprising in Egypt against the Mubarak dictatorship. It is high time that the last pharaoh is buried in the desert. But the Egyptian people must not repeat the original sin of people power in the Philippines. They must not stop at simply changing the faces of the person in power but must continue on to changing the system that breeds poverty and unemployment.

The resignation of Murabak is only the first act of the drama that will play out in Egypt. It is game over for the dictator but with the military taking power, nobody knows how the game of the generals will play out. A civilian government ruling over a democratic and secular Egypt is still uncertain. The struggle of the courageous people and workers of Egypt for “tahrir” is unfinished.

Nonetheless we welcome the rebirth of an independent workers movement in Egypt. While evidently it was the youth of Egypt that sparked and led the uprising, the workers and their strikes later sustained and strengthened the uprising. The role of social media tools like Facebook and Twitter have been highlighted but in the background the strike movement of Egyptian workers since 2008 prepared the way and propelled the uprising to its victory.

While the popular uprisings in the Arab countries are directed at corrupt dictatorships, the underlying causes are the pervasive dissatisfaction at the lack of jobs and opportunities primarily among the youth but also among workers and even the middle class. Globalization has ravaged the Arab region as much as the Philippines. Unemployment, contractualization, retrenchment, rising prices and stagnant wages are also the norm in Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Jordan and Yemen. Everywhere the masses have become poorer while only the elite have become richer under globalization.

In fact, unrest may break out in the Philippines similar to Arab uprisings due to the rising prices of food and oil combined with worsening unemployment and poverty. Nobody was able to predict the explosion in the Arab region and nobody can discount unrest in the Philippines due to similar conditions of widespread desperation especially among the youth.

The prices of rice, bread, sugar, oil and gas together with transport fares and even toll fees are increasing thus squeezing the stagnant wages and incomes of workers and the poor. Today the unrest is expressed in the resistance of Philippine Airlines (PAL) workers against layoff and outsourcing. Tomorrow who knows if the struggle becomes generalized with high prices and food crisis making the lack of jobs and stagnant incomes unbearable?

Hail to the Egyptian People

We stand in awe and admiration at your historic victory, as you removed one of the world’s worst U.S.-sponsored dictators. You liberated yourselves and at the same time liberated the imagination of ordinary working people around the world.

We just have a few requests.

As you know better than anyone, the corrupt elite enriched themselves at the expense of the Egyptian people. As they got richer, the poor got poorer. Please do not let them keep this wealth. The poor deserve relief from the grinding poverty they were forced to endure so that the rich could become ever richer. These trends were not coincidental; wealth was transferred from the poor to the elite to enhance their opulence. By redistributing the wealth downwards, a little justice will be achieved.

The inequalities in wealth soared during the past decade. Yet great inequalities are like a cancer: they undermine a sense of community and a sense of the common good; they breed corruption; and they cripple the economy since they suppress demand, removing an incentive for businesses to expand. We know all this from our own first-hand experience.

We assume that you will allow the elite to participate in the democratic process of creating a new state. We can assure you, they will use their ample wealth to bend the political process in their favor. They have vested interests they will want to protect. So this is another reason why they should not be allowed to keep their wealth. They will use it to obstruct your historic advance.

For all of the workers who went on strike and thereby tipped the scales of the revolution in favor of victory, do not revert back to the old ways. Keep yourselves organized and demand veto power over the operations of the companies or institutions you work for. After all, you are the majority, and this was a democratic revolution. The interests of the majority should prevail. And the working people of Egypt, like working people around the world, want a better life for themselves, their family, and their friends. Corporations are not in business to improve the life of their workers; they worship only profits. And gains for those who work must be extracted at the expense of profits. These two poles stand diametrically opposed.

Your employers will insist that in order for the company to remain competitive and survive, you must accept less. Insist in return to look at their books. You decide if sacrifice is indeed necessary. And if so, ask the rich to sacrifice even more. They can afford to. There will be no real democracy unless it penetrates every aspect of life. They want to restrict your democracy to the empty ritual of voting for one of their candidates every four or six years.

Again, we salute you! Your victory will send convulsions not only throughout the Middle East and North Africa, but the entire world. We can’t wait for them to arrive here.

NEHAWU celebrates Egyptian revolution

Sizwe Pamla, NEHAWU Media Liaison Officer, 12 February 2011

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (NEHAWU) of South Africa congratulates the heroic people of Egypt for toppling the autocratic regime of Hosni Mubarak and also commend the military for demonstrating what it means to be patriotic and to serve the country not individuals. This is an opportunity for Egyptians to put in place a social system that does not allow exploitation of man by another and be wary of allowing the intelligentsia to hijack a spontaneous working class revolution.

The Tunisian and Egyptian working class has proved that freedom and democracy comes from within and that with unity and perseverance nothing is impossible. We reiterate our message to the oppressed people of the world that where anarchy is law revolution is in order.

We call on South Africans to continue to support the struggles of the working class around the world especially the oppressed people of Swaziland, Palestine and Western Sahara in their fight against the brutal and oppressive regimes. The determination shown by the Egyptians and the sacrifices made by the people of South Sudan need to inspire and bring hope to all those who are fighting tyranny.

The union also calls on our government to side with those who are fighting for justice and learn from all those regimes who have found themselves on the wrong side of history by propping up dictatorships. The opponents of the working class are not invincible! Invincible are the people who know how to fight for their rights.

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