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Bhopal: Corporate genocide, appeasement of imperialism, environmental hypocrisy

By Kavita Krishnan

July 2010 -- Liberation -- More than 25 years after the infamous Bhopal gas disaster, the verdict of a trial court in Bhopal is nothing but a cruel mockery of justice. With charges already diluted by the Supreme Court of India, the June 7 trial court verdict could only be a formal burial of justice. Not only does the verdict insult the victims of one of the world’s worst industrial disasters by letting off, either scot-free or with a ridiculously light sentence, the mighty CEOs who were the chief perpetrators, it amounts to an assurance to multinational corporations that they will enjoy total impunity in India even when their negligence and violations of regulations leads to the loss of thousands of Indian lives and injury to several thousand more.

On December 2-3, 1984, 40 tonnes of methyl isocyanate (MIC) leaked out of the Union Carbide Corporation’s pesticide plant in Bhopal, exposing more that 5,000,000 people to the toxic fumes. As many as 25,000 people have died as a result, and hundreds of thousands suffered irreversible damage to their health. The poison in the soil and water continues to affect future generations.

Asian left: `Lift the siege on Gaza! Support boycott, divestment and sanctions on apartheid Israel'

Statement by Asian left organisations

[To add your organisation’s endorsement, please email: international@socialist-alliance.org.]

June 25, 2010 -- As Israel stands increasingly isolated following its manufactured confrontation on May 31, 2010, with the peace flotilla in which nine Turkish activists on the Mavi Marmara were murdered, now is the time to increase the pressure on Israel to lift the siege of Gaza.

Israel’s criminal blockade of Gaza is aimed to collectively punish 1.5 million Gazans for their choice of government.

The attack on the flotilla was aimed at demoralising Palestinians and their supporters. But, as we've seen from the global protests – particularly in Turkey and the Arab world – it has backfired on the Netanyahu government. Turkey, once a close political and military ally, has now distanced itself from Israel and supports attempts to break the Gaza blockade.

Tariq Ali: Afghanistan -- `Obama’s war'

By Tariq Ali

[The following talk was given on April 19, 2010, to mark the 30th anniversary of the London Review of Books. It first appeared at Guernica /a magazine of art and politics. It is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Guernica's permission.]

Afghanistan now is at a critical stage. And now I’m very glad to say that the London Review of Books, whose thirtieth anniversary we are commemorating, has over the years published myself and others on this subject, taking essentially a critical stance to this war because, as many of you will recall, it became fashionable all over the world, not just in the United States, to think of Iraq and Afghanistan as two very different wars. Which of course, on one level, they are. But I mean different moral values were placed on these wars by good-thinking people. The Iraq war was a bad war, which should never have happened; that is the view of large numbers of people in the United States today, and always was the view of an overwhelming majority of Europeans.

Class and politics in Thailand

Communist Party of Thailand fighters in southern Thailand.

Below is an excerpt from Thai socialist Giles Ji Ungpakorn's latest book, Thailand’s Crisis and the Fight for Democracy. It provides an historical background to Thai politics from the pre-capitalist era, through the turmoil of the 1930s and 1970s, up to the present day. This historical understanding is important in locating the dynamics of the ruling class and the changing politics of revolt from the time of the Communist Party through to the creation of the NGOs. It has been posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Giles Ji Ungpakorn's permission.

Giles Ji Ungpakorn is a political commentator and dissident. In February 2009 he had to leave Thailand for exile in Britain because he was charged with lèse majesté for writing a book criticising the 2006 military coup. His latest book will be of interest to activists, academics and journalists who have an interest in Thai politics, democratisation and NGOs.

Appeal against repression in Thailand; จดหมายประท้วงการปราบปรามในประเทศไทย

Introduction by Danielle Sabai and Pierre Rousset

June 20, 2010 -- The crackdown on the opposition in Thailand and the abuses of the regime have not been met with the solidarity response and the international condemnation that the situation requires. The regime can thus freely operate and stifle the democratic movement.

News from Thailand is alarming: hundreds of people detained for violations of the emergency decree, including children; injured people chained to their hospital beds; several assassinations of local  leaders of the Red Shirts have taken place. The country is moving deeper into an authoritarian and military regime. The elite are even considering postponing the elections for six years, thus giving Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva the possibility of leading the country for ten years against the will of the majority of Thai citizens.

Thai society is deeply unequal in every respect. The Red Shirts have expressed loud and clear their determination to fight the injustices they suffer: they express a class movement as well as one defending regional diversity, against the establishment in Bangkok.

Philippines: The meaning of the `Noynoy' Aquino presidency

Senator Benigno Aquino III ("Noynoy" Aquino) campaigns in Manila.

By Reihana Mohideen

(Based on interviews with leaders of the Philippines left, Frank Pascual, Sonny Melencio and Ric Reyes.)

June 13, 2010 -- On June 9 Senator Benigno Aquino III ("Noynoy" Aquino) of the Liberal Party, the son of former President Cory Aqunio, was proclaimed president by the Philippines Congress. Noynoy was a former senator “with little legislative record to speak of”, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper, which nevertheless campaigned hard for Noynoy Aquino’s presidency, soon after Cory Aquino’s death in August 2009.

Paradoxically, with the restoration of the Aquinos to the presidency, the elections have also resulted in the restoration of the Marcoses to national politics, with the former dictator's son Bongbong Marcos being elected to the Senate, Imelda Marcos winning a seat in Congress and her daughter Imee Marcos winning the governorship of their political bailiwick, the province of Ilocos Norte.

Filipinas: apuntes sobre las elecciones del pasado 10 de mayo

Nuestro amigo Sonny Melencio, histórico dirigente de la izquierda socialista filipina, hace un agudo balance analítico de la situación política del país asiático. 

13 junio 2010 -- www.sinpermiso.info -- De las elecciones del 10 de mayo de 2010 se han dicho que han sido las más limpias y pacíficas desde la restauración de este ejercicio tras la caída de la dictadura de Marcos en 1986. Y ello debido a la informatización del recuento de votos, que por su rapidez ha impedido que haya el suficiente tiempo como para que cualquiera de los trapo (políticos tradicionales) amañe las urnas.  

New book: `Thailand’s Crisis and the Fight for Democracy'

UPDATE by Giles Ji Ungpakorn

January 18, 2011 -- After struggling to read my book for more than a year, the Thai police have finally banned Thailand's Crisis and the fight for Democracy. No one is allowed to import it. But I have nearly sold out! What is even more amusing is that there is a Thai version which is available on the internet to download for free.

Anyone who wants a copy of the Thai version can just e-mail me at ji.ungpakorn@gmail.com, or read or download at http://links.org.au/node/2105.

You can also read excerpt's from Thailand's Crisis and the fight for Democracy at http://links.org.au/node/1792 ("Behind Bangkok's war in southern Thailand") and http://links.org.au/node/1754 ("Class and Politics in Thailand).

* * *

`People's Daily' columnist -- `Time to defend Chinese workers' rights'

Honda factory in China.

By Li Hong

June 7, 2010 -- People's Daily -- Wherever exists exploitation and suppression, rebellion erupts. If the exploited are a majority of the society, the revolt draws even nearer and comes with a louder bout. For the past 30 years witnessing China's meteoric rise, multinationals and upstart home tycoons have rammed up their wealth making use of China's favourable economic policies as well as oversight loopholes. In sharp contrast, tens of millions of Chinese blue-collar workers who have genuinely generated the wealth and created the prosperity have been left far behind.

Malaysia: PSM congress debates relationship with opposition Pakatan Rakyat

June 9, 2010 -- The Socialist Party of Malaysia's 12th Congress was held in Kuala Lumpur on June 5-6, 2010. Three hundred delegates from nine states, and allied organisationd and grassroots committees, attended. The congress was officiated by the PSM’s national chairperson Comrade Nasir Hashim. Three papers were presented on the environmental crisis facing the world, leadership transition in PSM and the Malaysian governments economic policies. Resolutions (see below) were debated on the second day touching on idelogical questions, local government elections and the PSM's relationship with the opposition Pakatan Rakyat.

PSM's 12th Congress resolutions

Indonesian solidarity with the people of Palestine


Protest in solidarity with the Gaza Freedom Flotilla and the people of Palestine, outside the US embassy, Jakarta, Indonesia, on June 7, 2010. Organised by the Working People's Association (Perhimpunan Rakyat Pekerja). Made with Slideshow Embed Tool.

Support Tamils not Sri Lanka’s war-criminal government -- Eva Golinger misinterprets solidarity

By Ron Ridenour

June 1, 2010 -- Eva Golinger is known for her analysis in the service of Venezuela’s peaceful revolution against the local oligarchy and the United States empire. She is a noted author (The Chavez Code: Cracking US intervention in Venezuela). A dual citizen of the US and Venezuela, she is an attorney, and a personal friend of President Hugo Chavez. She is a frequent contributor to left-wing media around the world, and is the English-language editor of the Venezuelan newspaper, Correo del Orinoco.

Walden Bello on Thailand: `A class war with Thai characteristics'

By Walden Bello

May 25, 2010 -- Nearly a week after the event, Thailand is still stunned by the military assault on the Red Shirt encampment in the tourist centre of the capital city of Bangkok on May 19. The Thai government is treating captured Red Shirt leaders and militants like they're from an occupied country. No doubt about it: A state of civil war exists in this country, and civil wars are never pretty.

The last few weeks have hardened the Bangkok middle class in its view that the Red Shirts are "terrorists" in the pocket of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. At the same time, they have convinced the lower classes that their electoral majority counts for nothing. "Pro-Thaksin" versus "Anti-Thaksin": This simplified discourse actually veils what is — to borrow Mao's words — a class war with Thai characteristics.

Epic tragedy

Book explores roots of Sri Lanka conflict

Sri Lanka: 60 Years of "Independence" and Beyond
Edited by Ana Pararajasingham,
Published by the Centre for Just Peace and Democracy, Switzerland 2009

Review by Chris Slee

May 30, 2010 -- This is a very useful book for those wishing to gain a thorough understanding of the history of Sri Lanka since its independence from Britain in 1948. The 27 authors in the collection are diverse in their ethnic backgrounds, including Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims from Sri Lanka, as well as outsiders. They are also diverse in their political outlook, including liberals, Marxists and Tamil nationalists.

Thailand: The end of the Red Shirts?

By Justin Alick, Bangkok

May 27, 2010 -- On March 3, 2010, the red-shirted leaders of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) held a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand to outline the details of the coming mass rally to be held in Bangkok. The purpose of the rally, they said, was to force an army-backed government to make a choice: to embrace democracy and hold general elections, or to embrace authoritarianism and kill its own citizens. When asked by one journalist how the UDD would respond in the case of the government choosing the latter, the answer from Red Shirt leader Jaran Ditthapichai sent a palpable chill across the room: “We may see Thailand descend into civil war.”

Nepal: Maoist leader on next steps in breaking the constitutional deadlock

STOP PRESS: Nepal PM agrees to step down May 30, 2010 -- Morning Star -- Nepal's three main parties have held talks to try to hammer out a new coalition government after the prime minister finally agreed to resign to avert a political crisis.

Madhav Kumar Nepal of the Communist Party of Nepal -- Unified Marxist-Leninist (CPN-UML) said that he would step down in a last-minute bid to secure the support of Maoist MPs for a government Bill to extend parliament's term.

It was due to end on May 28, which would have left the country without a functioning legislature.

The Unified Communist Party of Nepal -- Maoist (UCPN-M) and its supporters have been protesting both in parliament and on the street for months to press Mr Nepal to go The UCPN-M controls most seats in the assembly and their support was required to get the two-thirds majority to pass the Bill.

CPN-UML leader Pradeep Gyawali said: "Leaders of the Nepali Congress, the CPN-UML and the Maoists are now in deep discussions on how to take Friday's agreement forward."

Thailand: Giles Ji Ungpakorn -- `A full-blown military dictatorship' + interview

Bangkok, May 21, 2010. Photo by Chaiwat Subprasom.

[For earlier coverage of the Thai democracy struggle, please click HERE.] 

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

May 26, 2010 -- Make no mistake. We have a full military junta in Thailand with Abhisit Vejjajiva acting as a “democratic” mask. The repression and censorship is worse than even after the October 6, 1976 coup. More people have been killed by the army than in any previous repression. It is worse than during the Sarit dictatorship era in the 1960s and the reason is that the regime is trying desperately to suppress the biggest mass movement for democracy in Thai history. Hundreds are being rounded up. There is widespread censorship. The regime is increasingly looking like China, Burma or North Korea.

Thailand: After the bloodbath

[For earlier coverage of the Thai democracy struggle, please click HERE.]

By Danielle Sabaï

May 24, 2010 -- Asian Left Observer -- On Wednesday May 19, 2010, the government of Abhisit Vejjajiva finally launched an assault on the Red Shirt camp in the neighbourhood of Rachaprasong. Television stations from around the world broadcast brutal images of assault tanks destroying the bamboo and tyre barricades and soldiers armed with rifles firing live ammunition at demonstrators. The disproportion between the images of war and the faces of the demonstrators, mostly peasants and urban workers, was striking.

Thailand: Past the point of no return

By Danielle Sabai

[This article was written before the Thai government's crushing of the Red Shirts' protest site in Bangkok on May 19, 2010. However, it provides important background to the events. This article first appeared at Danielle Sabai's Asian Left Observer.]

May 17, 2010 -- The political crisis engulfing Thailand is not a clap of thunder in an otherwise calm sky. The discourse about a country where “everyone lives in harmony and where there is no class struggle but a people united behind its adored sovereign” has nothing to do with reality. For several decades, the Thai people have been subjected to authoritarian regimes or dictatorships and a king in their service. The Thai élites have however not succeeded in preventing regular uprisings against the established order, including those in 1973, 1976 and 1992, all repressed by bloodbaths.

Philippines: The May 10 elections and the left

By Sonny Melencio, Manila

May 17, 2010 – The May 10, 2010, election has been bandied about as the cleanest and the most peaceful since the restoration of this exercise after the fall of the Marcos dictatorship in 1986. This is attributed to the computerised election which ensured the quick counting of votes so that there would not be sufficient time for any of the trapo (traditional politician) to cheat.

However, there have been many reported election irregularities according to independent organisations that observed the elections. These include the distribution of “faulty” compact flash (CF) cards, which delayed the voting and transmission of results; the failure of several Board of Election inspectors to use ultraviolet lamps to verify the authenticity of the ballots; the actual number of disenfranchised voters (from 2.5 million to 5 million mostly first-time voters according to the watchdog Kontra Daya); and the many reports of malfunctioning precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines.

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