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India’s 2009 general election: Lessons for the left


By Dipankar Bhattacharya, general secretary, Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation

May 24, 2009 -- The results of 2009 elections for the Lok Sabha elections (India’s lower house of parliament) can be described as a string of surprises, not only for many well-entrenched parties and seasoned politicians but also for a host of commonsense notions about contemporary Indian political reality. Of late, it has become customary to look at elections in India through the prism of coalition politics, caste equations and regional diversities. Verdict 2009 has given a serious jolt to this facile view and reasserted the underlying structural dynamics of Indian politics.

Tamil self-determination and the LTTE: Some lessons for the struggle

On May 23, 2009, anti-war activists joined members of Sydney's Tamil community in a march to protest the Sri Lankan government's war against the Tamil people, organised by the Stop The War Coalition.

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By Reihana Mohideen

May 21, 2009 -- “To save the lives of our people is the need of the hour. Mindful of this, we have already announced to the world our position to silence our guns to save our people", said Selvarasa Pathmanathan, the head of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam's (LTTE) International Diplomatic Relations on May 17, thus flagging the military defeat of the LTTE.

Pakistan: Appeal -- Help oppose the Taliban and government military operations

May 21, 2009 -- This is a formal appeal by the Labor Relief Campaign to help in the fight against the Taliban and the Pakistan government's military operations. The purpose is to provide immediate help to some of the more than 1.5 million internally displaced people from the Malakand Division of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) in Pakistan. This displacement has resulted from the fight between the Taliban and the Pakistani government. We also aim to publish Mazdoor Jeddojuhd in the Pushto language more frequently. At present it is published weekly in Urdu and monthly in Pushto. We want to counter the ideas both of religious fanatics and state repression. We aim to aid the labour and social movements in the province by publishing their activities and views, bringing them together to form new networks.

The situation

The Taliban have taken over parts of Pakistan. They have threatened to occupy other parts as well. To pacify them, the government went into an accord with the Taliban this April 2009, imposing a so-called Nizam Adl (system of justice) in Malakanad. The Taliban then imposed medieval laws in the areas under their control, targeting women and minorities. This accord also provided the Taliban with the opportunity to move into other areas.

CPI (ML) Liberation: A crime against humanity, not a `famous victory', in Sri Lanka

By the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation

May 21, 2009 -- According to an announcement by the Sri Lankan government, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) chief Prabhakaran is dead, killed by the Lankan Army. The LTTE is yet to confirm the death, and some sections are questioning the veracity of the claim.

The exact manner of Prabhakaran's death is clouded in suspicion. The Sri Lankan government claims he was killed when the army opened fire on a van in which he and two top aides were travelling; initially, Sri Lankan officials said the van caught fire under rocket attack and Prabhakaran's body was badly burnt. Subsequently, they claimed to have found his body, dead from a bullet, dressed in fatigues and having identification papers on him, during a combing operation. There are many unanswered questions about the manner of the death: including the suspicion that he might have been captured alive by the Lankan army, or that he might have taken his life before capture.

Malaysian socialist MP on `free market fallacies'

Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj delivers his speech. Photo by PSM.

By Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj

May 18, 2009 -- The Nut Graph -- The Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) organised a fundraising dinner at the Petaling Jaya Civic Centre on May 9, 2009, which was attended by some 600 members, friends and supporters. I was invited to give a short speech, and this is what I said:

Friends,

Humankind is facing a serious crisis. On one hand we are witnessing the unfolding of a recession many experts think will be the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Recessions are commonplace in the free-market economy. They occur once every 10 or so years.

Why Pakistan's military helped Talibanise Swat

Refugees flee the military operations in Swat Valley, Pakistan.
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By Farooq Sulehria

May 17, 2009 -- The mass exodus from Swat is making headlines globally. Over a million have been displaced. This is the worst humanitarian crisis since the Rwanda tragedy in 1990s. The explanation offered is that this is necessary to flush the Taliban out of Swat's lush, green valley in Pakistan's north. This military operation, launched in order to stabilise the US occupation of Afghanistan and its so-called "war on terror", is hardly mentioned in the corporate media. On the contrary, major US newspapers have been invoking the fear that Pakistan's nuclear weapons might fall into the hands of the Taliban. Is this a story planted by the CIA?

This is the fourth time in less than three years that the Swat area has been subjected to a military operation. However the latest offensive is of a different character.

Sri Lankan socialists call for self-determination for Tamils

Sydney, May 1, 2009. Photo by Peter Boyle.

May 13, 2009 -- The statement below was presented at a press conference by Vickramabahu Karunarathne (``Bahu''), general secretary of the Nava Sama Samaaja Party (NSSP, New Socialist Party). It was first published at Liam Macuaid's blog. Below the statement is a document that outlines the NSSP's position on Tamil national self-determination.

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There is an international commotion about the bloodbath and the human disaster in Lanka. It can lead eventually to an international intervention that could enslave everybody. We called this press conference to make everybody aware of the developing situation.

Who is endangering civil peace in Nepal?

The Analytical Monthly Review, published in Kharagpur, West Bengal, India, is a sister edition of the United States-based Marxist journal Monthly Review. The May 2009 issue featured this editorial.

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By Analytical Monthly Review (India)

May 2009 -- Few familiar with recent events in Nepal would dispute that there is a serious threat to the civil peace, whose origin dates from the unilateral ceasefire obeyed by the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) from the start of Dasain 2005. [Dasain is the 10-day rice-harvest festival, held around September-October and observed in Nepal, Sikkim and Darjeeling in India, and in Bhutan.]

Indian communists: India must end support for genocide in Sri Lanka and the elite coup in Nepal

By Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation

May 11, 2009 -- A shameful spectacle of opportunism is being played out in Indian politics even as Sri Lanka is waging a chilling ``final solution'' to its Tamil national question. In the name of a war to eliminate the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Mahinda Rajapakse's regime in Sri Lanka is waging war on the Tamil people. Independent observers, international rights groups and even journalists have been prohibited from covering the reality of the war. Conservative estimates, trickling through, put civilian deaths at a minimum of 5000, including at least 500 children, since January. At least 100,000 civilians are estimated wounded. The Sri Lankan army is using cluster bombs and chemical warfare in blatant violation of the Geneva Conventions. Tens of thousands of innocent Tamils are caught up in the war zone, starved of food, water and medicine. Some 100,000 others, fleeing in desperation are being rounded up behind barbed wire fences in ``camps'', where by all accounts they will be kept under detention for three years. Sri Lankan journalists questioning their government's brutal policy have been silenced by assassination and arrest. International journalists reporting on the detention camps for Tamil civilians have been detained and deported.

Solidarity from Timor Leste: `Support the people and legitimate government of Nepal!'

Solidarity message for the people and legitimate government of Nepal, by Luta Hamutuk, Timor Leste

Dili, Timor Leste, May 13, 2009 -- The legitimate government of Nepal was formed as a result of a very democratic process in Nepal.This government came about from the struggle of a people, full of the spirit of self-reliance, which was fighting against all forms of feudal, imperialist and neoliberal oppression.

However, now the agents of the oppressors are beginning to engage in sabotage against this legitimate and democratic government, efforts which are especially driven by the military forces of the oppressors.

Based on these facts, Luta Hamutuk -- an organisation in Timor Leste that is also fighting for economic justice and self-reliance, that is against all forms of imperialist oppression -- would like to state our full support for the people and democratic government of Nepal and demand as follows:

Philippines socialists on Nepal: `We stand in solidarity with this mass movement fighting for the people’s interests'

May 14, 2009 -- The Partido Lakas ng Masa of the Philippines has attempted to follow the developments in Nepal over the recent period. We welcomed the ouster of the monarchy achieved by the people’s struggle and the mass movement, the unity of the main left forces, the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist Leninist), and the elections which gave the left control of the government. We welcomed as a victory for the left and progressive movement worldwide the election of a left government led by the UCPN (M), along with the CPN (UML).

We therefore consider the forced resignation of this government as a result of the refusal of the pro-elite Nepalese military hierarchy and the president, backed by the country’s elite, to follow the directives of a democratically elected government carrying out the platform that it was elected upon, as detrimental to the people’s interest and only serving the interests of the Nepalese elite.

Malaysian socialists: `In defence of the revolution and democracy in Nepal'

Solidarity message to the revolutionary masses of Nepal

Statement by the Socialist Party of Malaysia

May 12, 2009.

1. The Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) would like to express our greatest concern over the current political developments and intensifying social struggles in the newly born Republic of Nepal.

2. The political and military elites have once again revealed their true nature when the president, who is from the conservative Nepali Congress party, overrode the decision of Prime Minister Prachanda from the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (UCPN-M) to sack Chief of Army Staff Katawal. Some opportunist sections of the coalition government, like the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) (CPN-UML) also turned to the right by opposing the UCPN (M) move.

3. The army high command has refused to obey instructions from the elected civilian government as well as refused to implement key parts of 2006 peace accords which included the integration of UCPN (M)-led People’s Liberation Army (PLA) into the current army forces. Sections of the high command in the current Nepalese army committed serious human rights violations during the armed conflict with PLA and continue to enjoy impunity, and even planned to stage a military coup against the elected government.

CPI (ML) Liberation: Indian government must stop intervening in Nepal

By the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation

May 5, 2009 -- The fledgling republic of Nepal seems to be standing on the verge of a new phase of civil war. Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) Rookmangud Katawal had been asked by the civilian government to explain why he had continued military recruitment despite the government's halt order and reinstated eight brigadier-generals who had been retired by the defence ministry. Backed by its foreign patrons and right-wing parties in the country, the military high command openly defied the authority of the elected government. The government responded by removing General Katawal, who refused to accept this and the government’s decision was then illegally overturned by President Ram Baran Yadav, of Nepalese Congress party. With its coalition partners in government refusing to support the United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) [UCPN (M)], Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal (Prachanda) announced that he had no choice but to resign.

Nepal: The people resist elite coup

May Day rally in Kathmandu, May 1, 2009.

By Stuart Munckton

May 9, 2009 -- “This is not just a Maoist movement”, said Green Left Weekly’s correspondent in Kathmandu, Ben Peterson. “This is threatening to become a new people’s movement, like the one that swept away the monarchy.” 

Peterson was commenting on the large number of daily demonstrations across the country to demand respect for the people’s will. They have come in the aftermath of the May 3 resignation of Prime Minister Prachanda and other members of the government belonging to the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M).

Peterson described the events as a “soft coup”.

The resignations were forced by the insubordination by the military high command, backed by the president and sections the coalition government. The UCPN (M), which had led the coalition government until its members walked out on May 3, had tried to use constitutional means to sack the chief of the army, General Kul Bahadur Katwal.

Brian Senewiratne: Genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka while Australia looks on

A Tamil community protest in Sydney,April 27, 2009. Photo by Jamie Kim.

Sign open letter in support of Tamil rights in Sri Lanka. Go to http://fastuntoaction.wordpress.com/sri-lanka-crisis-statement-of-support

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Dr Brian Senewiratne

May 7, 2009 -- Socialist Alliance (Australia) -- I am a Sinhalese from the majority community in Sri Lanka, not from the brutalised Tamil community. I have campaigned for some five decades for the right of the Tamils to live with equality, dignity and safety in the country of their birth.

I am releasing this media briefing as a concerned Australian (here for 32 years), and as a member of the Socialist Alliance, the only non-Tamil organisation [in Australia] to support the struggle of the Tamils for justice.

Indonesian leftists: Support democracy in Nepal, support Nepalese people's struggle against neoliberal imperialism!

From Berdikari, publication of Papernas (National Liberation Party of Unity), Indonesia

Jakarta, May 6, 2009 -- Neoliberal imperialism has put the Indonesian people under siege. But that does not mean that the Indonesian people will be absent in giving support and solidarity to the global people's struggle against neoliberal imperialism.

One of the country whose people are rising up courageously to fight neoliberal imperialism is Nepal. In that country, the oligarchy of landlords and local elites, supported by international capitalism, has been overthrown by the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M) supported by the people. The CPN-M took power through a democratic election. But since its victory, the oligarchy has always tried to destabilise the CPN-M led government.

A few days ago, the conflict reached its peak as the military command -- which received support from the old forces (landlords and local elites) refused to abide by the CPN-M led civilian government. In response to this subversion, the civilian government decided to discharge the armed forces chief of staff, General Katawal, legally and constitutionally. General Katawal refused to step down and instead allied himself with the right-wing parties and conservative opposition.

Malaysia: Dozens detained as cops block protests over BN takeover of state parliament

Dr D. Jeyakumar.

By Peter Boyle

May 8, 2009 -- Action in Solidarity with Asia and the Pacific -- Police detained dozens of opposition activists, lawyers and legislators on May 6-7 as protests erupted around Malaysia's ruling National Front's (Barisan Nasional -- BN) removal of the opposition People’s Alliance (Pakatan Rakyat) state government of Perak, one of five states won by the opposition in the March 2008 general elections. Among those arrested was Dr D. Jeyakumar, the federal MP of the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM).

Earlier this year, the BN induced three opposition state assembly members to turn "independent" and support the BN to take over the Perak state government. May 7 was the first day of sitting of the state assembly since the BN power grab. The opposition has called for new elections to the state assembly and opinion polls indicate taht the opposition could win a bigger majority if new elections were called.

Support democracy in Nepal! Support the Nepalese people!

Democratic Socialist Perspective

May 5, 2009 -- All supporters of democracy and social justice have reason to be concerned by the recent events in the republic of Nepal. The military high command, backed by right-wing parties tied to the country’s elite, has openly defied the authority of the elected civilian government, led by the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M).

In response, the government sought to remove army chief of staff General Katawal, via legal and constitutional means. Katawal refused to accept his removal and the government’s decision was illegally overturned by President Ram Baran Yadav from the conservative Nepalese Congress party, whose position under the interim constitution is largely ceremonial.

With their coalition partners in government refusing to support the UCPN-M, Nepal’s prime minister and UCPN-M leader Prachanda announced on May 3 that the Maoists had no choice but to resign and leave government.

The removal of the Maoists from government is nothing less than a coup. It reveals the real situation in Nepal — that despite its democratic mandate for change, the Maoist-led government is being prevented by the old elite from implementing such change.

The Maoists are working to mobilise their large base of support among the poor majority for street demonstrations against this coup.

Former elite resists the `New Nepal'

Supporters of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) demand the sacking of army chief of staff Rookmangud Katawal on April 28.

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STOP PRESS -- Ben Peterson from Kathmandu reports on May 3, 2009, at 3pm:

This morning the Maoists in government made the decision to remove General Katawal from his position of chief of army staff after his repeated political insubordination. This follows 10 days of trying to reach consensus with the other political parties, up until a final cross-party meeting this morning. Failing to achieve consenus, the goverment ordered Katawal's retirement.

Malaysian socialists' clenched-fist logo approved

April 29, 2009 -- Malaysiakini -- The Socialist Party of Malaysia (Parti Sosialis Malaysia, PSM), having recently won a decade-long battle for recognition from Malaysia's Registrar of Societies, today announced another victory: that its logo has been approved by the Election Commission (EC).

The EC had previously rejected the logo -- a white clenched fist against a red backdrop -- as it was found to have “connotations of violence” and was “morally unsuitable”.

The PSM announced that the EC had given the green light for the party to use the logo in a letter dated April 20. This means the party can use its own logo in the next general election and any future by-elections which it wants to contest.

The commission had not given any reason for their change in mind in approving the logo, said PSM officials at a press conference held in the party headquarters in Brickfields this morning.

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