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Asia

April 30: Vietnam celebrates Liberation Day

By Peter Boyle

April 30, 2009 -- Action in Solidarity with Asia and the Pacific -- There are two unforgettable images of Vietnam's Liberation Day on April 30, 1975. The first is the image of liberation fighters entering the Independence Palace (now Reunification Palace) in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City). The second is the hasty evacuation by helicopter from the roof of the US embassy.

Thirty-four years later Vietnam will celebrate not just the end of a 16-year war of aggression by the US, Australia and other imperialist and pro-imperialist states but also the end of the two-decade-long economic blockade that was subsequently imposed by the US on this poor and war-ravaged nation.

Thailand: Why have NGOs sided with the royalists, against democracy and the poor?

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

April 27, 2009 -- In the present political crisis in Thailand, it is shocking that most Thai NGOs have disgraced themselves by siding with the ``Yellow Shirt'' elites or have remained silent in the face of the general attack on democracy. It is shocking because NGO activists started out by being on the side of the poor and the oppressed in society. To explain this situation, we must go beyond a simple explanation that relies on personal failings of individuals or suggestions that NGOs have “underlying bad intentions”, or that they are “agents of imperialism”.

Who are the Tamil Tigers?

By Chris Slee

April 25, 2009 -- The Sri Lankan government claims to be on the verge of totally defeating the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE — also known as the Tamil Tigers). The LTTE has fought for more than 30 years for an independent state for the Tamil people on the northern and eastern parts of the island.

The roots of the conflict lie in a long history of state-sponsored oppression of the Tamils, which eventually led some Tamil youth to take up arms. When the British granted independence to Sri Lanka in 1948, power was handed to politicians drawn mainly from the upper classes of the majority Sinhala ethnic group. These politicians used racism as a tool to divide the working class.

Second-class citizens

Tamil plantation workers were deprived of citizenship rights. Sinhalese was declared the sole official language of Sri Lanka, making Tamil language speakers second-class citizens. Knowledge of Sinhalese became necessary for public service jobs, excluding most Tamils. Discrimination was also applied in education.

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Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation manifesto for the 2009 Lok Sabha elections

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

Liberation -- The 15th Lok Sabha [April-May 2009] elections have been announced. As the country gets ready to vote for the constitution of a new Lok Sabha, dark clouds of deepening crisis overshadow our entire economy. While the rural economy had long been reeling under an acute agrarian crisis, and soaring prices had been reducing the already limited purchasing power of the masses, now jobs have started vanishing even in the so-called growth sectors and wages are going down to make survival a challenge for ever larger sections of the poor and working people. The government’s pompous rhetoric of rapid economic growth and massive investment inflow has melted into thin air, and the people have been asked to get ready for a long period of recession.

Elections in India: Asserting people’s issues above the clamour of `crorepatis', communalists and corporate media

By Kavita Krishnan

April 24, 2009 -- The media’s poll pundits have already declared that there are “no issues” in India’s 2009 parliamentary polls. At the same time, the corporate media houses have launched campaigns seeking to ``awaken’’ middle- and upper-class voters. They have been awash in self-congratulation at their success in mobilising this class of voters – the only class, they imply, which is capable of making Indian politics clean and meaningful, because it is not a ``vote bank’’. ``Slumdogs’’, they rue, are even willing to sell their kids, so their votes are suspect – while sheer wealth places corporates and crorepatis above corruption.

[India’s Lok Sabha (national lower house of parliament) polls, are being held in five phases between April 16 and May 13, 2009.]

Singapore, June 17-19, 2009: International Conference: The 1965-1966 Indonesian Killings Revisited

International Conference: The 1965-1966 Indonesian Killings Revisited              

17 Jun - 19 Jun 2009

National University of Singapore @ Kent Ridge

AS7, Shaw Foundation Building, Level 1

Seminar Room A, B & C

The Asia Research Institute will host a three-day conference on 17-19 June 2009 on the regional dynamics and lasting effects of the mass killings in Indonesia in 1965-1966. This initiative is being co-sponsored by the Asia Research Institute and the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the National University of Singapore, and has received generous support from the Australian Research Council’s Asia Pacific Futures Research Network (APFRN).

Vietnam: `Building an equitable, democratic and civilised society'

Vietnamese delegation addresses the World at a Crossroads conference. Photo by Alex Bainbridge.

By Le Vinh Thu

This is the text of the speech on behalf of Communist Party of Vietnam's delegation to the World at a Crossroads conference, organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective and Resistance, held in Sydney, April 10-12, 2009.

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Dear comrades and friends,

50 years after: The tragedy of China’s `Great Leap Forward'

By John Riddell

April 21, 2009 -- Socialist Voice -- On October 1, the People’s Republic of China will mark the 60th anniversary of its foundation. This will be an occasion to celebrate one of the most influential victories of popular struggle in our era.

This great uprising forged a united and independent Chinese state, freed the country from foreign domination and capitalist rule, ended landlordism, provided broad access to education and health care, and set in motion popular energies that modernised and industrialised its economy. The revolutionary triumph of 1949 laid the foundation for China’s present dynamism and influence, as well as providing an enormous impetus to anti-colonial revolution worldwide.

Yet despite these gains, the socialist movement and ideology that headed the revolution, identified with Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong, disappeared from China soon after his death in 1976. The revolution’s central leader is still revered, but his doctrines have been set aside. The country’s present leadership has promoted private capitalist accumulation, not socialist planning, as China’s chief engine of growth. Its policies have aroused much popular protest, but not a revived Maoist movement.

The Tamils need support; Sign the statement against the war on the Tamil people of Sri Lanka

8000 Australian Tamils and supporters protest in Canberra, April 18, 2009.

The following editorial appeared in Green Left Weekly issue #791, April 22, 2009.

April 18, 2009 -- One of the great crimes of modern times is occurring on the island of Sri Lanka without a word of protest from governments the world over. The Tamil people are facing genocide.

Already this year, the death toll of Tamil civilians exceeds 4000. Often dozens, and in some cases hundreds, are slaughtered in a single day in Sri Lankan Army bombings of the so-called safe zone, into which as many as 300,000 people are crowded.

Those Tamils who flee this zone are being placed into concentration camps by the Sri Lankan Army.

This brutal reality is almost entirely unreported, and not simply because the Sri Lankan government refuses to allow journalists access to the scene of its crime. Instead, the mainstream media is once again siding with the powerful.

Malaysian socialists: `Unite to turn workers’ frustration into a political struggle for socialism’

M. Saraswathy. Photo by Alex Bainbridge.

By M. Saraswathy

[M. Saraswathy is deputy chairperson of the Socialist Party of Malaysia. She was a featured guest at the World at a Crossroads conference, organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective and Resistance, and held in Sydney, Australia, April 10-12, 2009. Below is M. Saraswathy's speech to the final session of the conference: ``World at a Crossroads -- Fighting for our future''.]

Cuba si! Yankee no! Uh! Ah! Chavez no se va!

Red salute from Malaysia to all friends and comrades!

The Socialist Party of Malaysia thanks the Democratic Socialist Persective, Socialist Alliance and Resistance for inviting us to this valuable World at a Crossroads conference.

Thailand: Red Shirt democratic movement faces armed might of the ruling elites

[For the latest on developments in Thailand, please click HERE.]

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn, Turn Left Thailand

April 13, 2009 -- For the fourth time in forty years, troops have opened fire on pro-democracy demonstrators in Bangkok. Each time, the aim has been the same: to protect the interests of the conservative elites who have run Thailand for the past 70 years.

For those watching the cold-blooded murder by soldiers on the streets of Bangkok, it may be tempting just to assume that the present chaos is merely about different coloured T-shirts and supporters of different political parties, as though they were mirror images of each other. This is not the case.

Beards, Cuban and Pakistani

By Farooq Sulehria

March 30, 2009 -- Fidel Castro finds beards a practical advantage: “You don't have to shave every day. If you multiply the fifteen minutes you spend shaving every day by the number of days in a year, you'll see that you devote almost 5500 minutes to shaving. An eight-hour workday consists of 480 minutes, so if you don't shave you gain about ten days a year that you can devote to work, to reading, to sports or to whatever you like.”

But having a beard is more than saving time. Cuban revolutionaries let their beards grow out also as a symbol of the Cuban Revolution. Castro describes how it happened: “We didn't have any razor blades, or straight razors. When we found ourselves in the middle of the wilderness, up in the Sierra, everybody just let their beards and hair grow, and that turned into a kind of badge of identity. For the campesinos and everybody else, for the press, for the reporters we were ‘los barbudos’ – ‘the bearded ones.’ The positive side was that in order for a spy to infiltrate us, he had to start preparing months ahead -- he'd have to have a six-month's beard growth, you see. So the beards served as a badge of identification, and as protection, until it finally became a symbol of the guerilla fighter. Later, with the triumph of the Revolution, we kept our beards to preserve the symbolism.”

Nepal: `We call on progressive and leftist forces of the world to support us'

Rally in support of Nepal's Maoists.

Kathmandu -- On April 2, 2009, Lal Salam's Ben Peterson -- a socialist activist visiting from Australia -- had the opportunity to interview Suresh Kumar Ale Magar, who is an elected member of Nepal's Constituent Assembly and a militant of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist).

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``We see the policies and the struggle of the people in Venezuela, Bolivia and the Latin American countries against imperialism, particularly against US imperialism... I strongly believe that in the future that there could be an international anti-imperialist organisation, of which those countries would be a major part.''

So you are a member of the Constituent Assembly and the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). How long have you been part of the Maoist movement?

The Maoist movement? About 30 years, three decades.

That's a considerable amount of time. So you were with the party throughout the People's War period?

Nepal's Blue Diamond Society: Hopes high for LGBTI rights

A Blue Diamond Society pride march in Kathmandu.

March 17, 2009 -- Kathmandu -- Lal Salam's Ben Peterson interviewed Subash Pokharel, coordinator of Nepal's Blue Diamond Society. The Blue Diamond Society is the largest LGBTI (lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender and intergender people) rights organisation in Nepal. The interview, slightly abridged, is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.

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Ben Peterson: I have read a lot about Nepal and it is clear that Hinduism, and in particular an orthodox form of Hinduism, plays a big role in society here. Is that something that has been of a concern for people of sexual minorities?

Sydney, April 10-12, 2009: `World at a Crossroads' 21st century socialism conference day-by-day agenda

 

World at a Crossroads: Fighting for socialism in the 21st Century
Easter 2009, April 10-12, Sydney

Venue: Sydney Girls High School

World At A Crossroads is a conference that brings together hundreds of socialists, progressive activists and Marxist thinkers from around Australia, Latin America, Asia-Pacific and North America in dozens of panel presentations and workshops dealing with the urgent questions that confront us all: war, imperialism, food security, racism, workers' rights, sexism, the media and culture. Feature sessions and streams will include:

Eyewitness reports from the Nepal's revolution

By Ben Peterson

[The following are a series first-hand reports from Nepal, by Australian socialist activist Ben Peterson, a member of the Democratic Socialist Perspective and the socialist youth organisation Resistance, both affiliated to the Socialist Alliance. They first appeared at Ben's blog, Lal Salam, and are posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with his permission.]

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First impressions and adventures in Nepal

March 6, 2009 -- And here I am. After too long speculating from the sidelines (and sidelines 10,000 kilometres away) I have finally arrived in the land of Mountains and Maoists. On Tuesday night at about 10 pm, I landed in Kathmandu to see with my own eyes the processes unfolding here.

This is less of an in-depth analysis and more of a account of my personal experiences so far, which have been really intense.

Thailand: Class war for democracy

Pro-democracy protesters wear red in a Bangkok stadium, December 13, 2008.

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

March 21, 2009 -- The current dispensation in Thailand is based on a political reaction to stem and reverse some of the populist measures of the deposed prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, who himself was a neoliberal with a few pro-poor schemes. Even this was unacceptable to the elites who used the courts, the military and the monarchy to depose him and institute an anti-democratic constitution which protects their privileges. But now that Thaksin is gone, a grassroots movement of the poor is emerging to challenge the hold of the elites, the military and the monarchy over Thailand.

Malaysian socialists' logo deemed ‘violent’, PSM warns of return to Mahathir-style repression

[M. Sarawathy, a representative of the Socialist Party of Malaysia, will be attending the World at a Crossroads conference in Sydney, Australia, April 10-12, 2009. For more information, or to book tickets, visit http://www.worldatacrossroads.org.]

March 19, 2009 -- Malaysiakini -- Poor PSM (Parti Sosialis Malaysia, Malaysian Socialist Party)! Obstacles after obstacles the Parti Socialis Malaysia has had to face before it could be officially recognised as a political party.

The latest hitch is expected to make its recognition more elusive -- the authorities are now saying that the party’s logo, a white-coloured clenched fist against a red backdrop, has “connotations of violence” and is “morally unsuitable”.

This issue of a ``violent logo'' has never been brought up in the PSM's decade-long tussle for registraion with Registrar of Societies (ROS). Prior to this, the PSM was also denied registration from 1998 to 2008 as it was regarded as a threat to ``national security''.

India needs a genuine Third Front, not an opportunist alliance

CPI (ML) Liberation activists. Photo by Satya.

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

[CPI (ML) Liberation representative Kavita Krishnan will be a featured guest at the World at a Crossroads conference, to be held in Sydney, Australia, on April 10-12, 2009, organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective, Resistance and Green Left Weekly. Visit http://www.worldATACrossroads.org for full agenda and to book your tickets.]

March 17, 2009 -- On the eve of the Lok Sabha (national lower house of parliament) polls, which will be held in five phases between April 16 and May 13, the launch of a ``Third Front'' spearheaded by the efforts of the Communist Party of India (CPI) and CPI (M) (the Communist Party of India-Marxist) has been announced. The front, it is claimed, is a non-Congress party, non-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) front committed to ``alternate policies''.

LPP: 'A new Pakistan is emerging'

Statement issued by Labour Party Pakistan (LPP) at a press conference in Lahore addressed by LPP spokesperson Farooq Tariq, in the company of Ammar Ali Jan, LPP Lahore youth secretary, secretary LPP Punjab Imtiaz Choudry, Lahore LPP committee member Rana Ashraf, secretary Carpet Workers' Union Niaz Khan and Kashif Aslam of the Progressive Youth Front. Thanks to Action in Solidarity with Asia and the Pacific for this article. Ammar Ali Jan will be one of several international guests at the the World at a Crossroads conference in Sydney, Australia, April 10-12. For more information, or to book tickets, visit http://www.worldatacrossroads.org.

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