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Asia

Pakistan: Eyewitness report -- `the power of the state was helpless in front of the power of the street'

[Ammar Ali Jan, youth secretary of the Labour Party Pakistan in Lahore (LPP), 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.]

By Ammar Ali Jan

Lahore, March 16, 2009 -- Action in Solidarity with Asia and the Pacific -- We all are ecstatic about what happened in Lahore on the March 15, 2009. This day will be remembered as one where the power of the state seemed helpless in front of the power of the street. The most crucial moment during the day was the battle at the GPO that galvanised the entire city into action. The scene of almost 150 people battling a repressive police and forcing it to retreat will remain in the collective memory of our nation for a very long time to come.

First-hand report from Pakistan on the political showdown

By Ammar Jan Ali in Lahore

[Ammar Ali Jan is youth secretary of the Labour Party Pakistan in Lahore. He will be one of several international guests featured at the 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 15, 2009 -- Action in Solidarity with Asia and the Pacific -- I have been active in the lawyers' movement since it started in March 2007 against the illegal sacking of the Chief Justice. I have been participating in the movement from Lahore. I am a member of the Progressive Youth Front (PYF) as well as Student Action Committee (SAC). Through these platforms, we have been convincing young people to take part in this epic journey that can change the destination of Pakistan. Many have registered with us and we will be bringing many youngsters to the Long March on Monday, March 16.

Malaysia: Socialist Party MPs bare all

MCPX

psm declare asset 120309 jeyakumar

[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 12, 2009 -- Prior to the March 8, 2008, polls, nobody could have predicted that the then unregistered Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM, Socialist Party of Malaysia) would see two of its leaders elected to the national parliament and the Selangor state assembly respectively.

Not only were they elected, but its candidate for the Sungai Siput parliamentary seat Dr D Jeyakumar (right) had also defeated the formidable incumbent of three decades, Malaysian Indian Congress president S Samy Vellu.

Pakistan: Victory for Pakistan's Long March!

Farooq Tariq

[Farooq Tariq is a leader of the Labour Party Pakistan. A representative of the LPP will be attending the World at a Crossroads conference in Sydney, Australia, April 10-12. For more information, or to book tickets, visit http://www.worldatacrossroads.org. Below are a collection of some of Farooq's regular reports on the situation in Pakistan over the past week. Thanks to Action in Solidarity with Asia and the Pacific for making the reports available (more are available there) to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal.]

By Peter Boyle and Farooq Tariq

March 16, 2009 -- Mass resistance to the Peoples Party of Pakistan (PPP) government's attempt to suppress a massive people's movement for the restoration of deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudry appears to have triumphed after a massive showdown in the streets of Lahore yesterday.

China: `We feel like we are serving prison sentences', say factory workers for Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Lenovo, Microsoft and IBM

Workers sit on hard wooden stools without backrests 12 hours a day racing to complete 500 keyboards an hour. Each worker will complete 35,750 operations a day.

[For more discussion on China's recent economic and political developments, click HERE.]

By Charles Kernaghan

[This is an excerpt from the introduction and executive summary of a report released by the National Labor Committee in February 2009, High Tech Misery in China: The Dehumanization of Young Workers Producing Our Computer Keyboards. Click here to download the full report in PDF format.]

“I think it’s fair to say that personal computers have become the most empowering tools we’ve ever created. They’re tools of communication, they’re tools of creativity, and they can be shaped by their user...The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow.” -- Bill Gates

``We feel like we are serving prison sentences.” -- factory worker making Microsoft keyboards

The new assembly line: Making computer keyboards and other peripherals for Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Lenovo, Microsoft and IBM

Pakistan: Punjab provincial government deposed; PPP resorts to dictatorial measures

By Farooq Tariq

Lahore, February 27, 2009 -- The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leadership has a problem on its hands. There are not many ways to defend the governor of Punjab's ruling on February 25, which imposed a two-month suspension of the Punjab Assembly. The most respected and moderate leader of PPP and chairperson of the Senate, Mian Raza Rubani, justified the decision by saying that it was necessary to stop the ``prevailing state of anarchy''. He was talking to Kamran Khan on the private television channel Geo.

What was this ``prevailing state of anarchy''? A few hundred angry activists of the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) protested in cities throughout Pakistan. They were opposing the Supreme Court decision earlier to bar Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and his elder brother, PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif,  from contesting elections and holding elected offices. The three-member Supreme Court bench upheld a decision of the Lahore High Court in this regard. These judges had taken the oath of the Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) when General Musharaf announced the state of emergency on November 3, 2007. Ever since, the lawyers' movement has been demanding their removal.

Australian Tamils call for ceasefire in Sri Lanka -- sign the crisis statement

In an attempt to put an urgent stop to the humanitarian catastrophe, a group of young Tamil Australians have written a Sri Lankan Crisis Statement for the wider Australian community to sign.

From March 2, 2009, they will take it to the media and the Australian government to raise their concern for this largely unreported war.

If you want to sign this statement, please email fastuntoaction@hotmail.com as soon as possible, or visit http://fastuntoaction.wordpress.com/sri-lanka-crisis-statement-of-support

* * *

Sri Lankan Crisis Statement

We are Australian citizens who share a deep concern about the escalating civilian crisis in Sri Lanka.

We call on the Australian government to demand the Sri Lankan authorities and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam declare an immediate ceasefire.

We are deeply concerned about the lack of medical staff and aid agencies serving the estimated 250,000 civilians trapped in the conflict zone.

Economic crisis: Skyrocketing unemployment in Asia hits women and young people hardest

Unemployed workers in China at a train station, waiting to return to their rural areas. 

By Reihana Mohideen

[Reihana Mohideen 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.]

February 23, 2009 -- Recent International Labour Organisation (ILO) reports on global and regional employment trends paint a stark picture of rapidly increasing unemployment in 2008; the situation is expected to worsen in 2009 with the prediction of massive job losses. The message is clear: workers and the poor are already paying heavily for the capitalist economic crisis. Especially hard hit are working-class and poor women and young people.

A spectre haunts imperialism … a rebirth of the left

Protests in Iceland brought down the government.

By Kavita Krishnan

[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.]

February 25, 2009 -- The people of the United States (through their vote for US President Barack Obama and ``change'') and Iraqi journalist Muntadar al-Zaidi alike may have given George W. Bush (and all he stood for) the boot – but India's Congress Party wants to give Bush the Bharat Ratna![1] Congress Party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi, addressing the annual general meeting of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), declared, “Give Bharat Ratna to Bush. I don't know what the rules are but I will officially do something.”

Philippines: 'We need system change', says military rebel

Major Jason Aquino (left) and Peter Boyle in Camp Aguinaldo detention centre.

By Peter Boyle

February 19, 2009 -- Major Jason Aquino is one of the 28 officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines charged with allegedly attempting a mutiny in February 2006. Aquino was detained on February 22 that year and held incommunicado in a windowless cell for five months.

I met Major Aquino and several other detained rebel officers in Camp Aguinaldo in early February 2009. They were all outspoken against the grossly corrupt government of Philippines President Gloria Arroyo, and their years of incarceration (as yet without being convicted of a single crime) have only deepened their politicisation. But Major Aquino -- who has studied the speeches and writings of Fidel Castro and read everything he can get his hands on about the revolution in Venezuela led by Hugo Chavez -- wanted to make it clear a that he was “not a reformist”.

Philippines: Urban poor strongly represented in new socialist party

 


`We are the bat people' -- Voices of resistance by the urban poor of Manila. Photos by Peter Boyle.

[Reihana Mohideen, a representative of the Power of the Masses Party (Partido Lakas ng Masa), 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. For more information about the Partido Lakas ng Masa, click HERE.]

By Peter Boyle

Thailand: `Red Siam' manifesto

Thais donned red shirts in protest at the far-right PAD's opposition to Thailand's elected government.

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

February 9, 2009 -- The enemies of the Thai people and democracy may have their army, courts and prisons. They may have seized and rigged parliament and established the government through crimes like the blockading of the airports and other undemocratic actions by the PAD [Peoples Alliance for Democracy]. Yet those who love democracy, the Redshirts, have strength in numbers and are waking up to political realities. Disorganised and scattered, this movement of ours will be weak, but a party that is organised and self-led can create a democratic fist to smash the dictatorship.

While world leaders such as US President Obama struggle to solve the serious economic crisis, the Democrat Party government in Thailand is allowing thousands of workers to lose their jobs. The government sees its priority only in cracking down on the opposition using les majeste, it has even created a website where citizens can inform on each other. Troops have been sent into communities and villages to stifle dissent.

New left party -- Power of the Masses Party -- formed in Philippines


Part 1: Interview with Sonny Melencio, chairperson of Partido Lakas ng Masa of the Philippines. Conducted by Peter Boyle for Green Left Weekly and Links International Journal of Socialist Renewalin Manila on February 1, 2009. (Parts 2 and 3 below).
 
[Reihana Mohideen, a representative of Partido Lakas ng Masa, 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.]

By Peter Boyle

Sri Lanka: Genocide of the Tamil minority

Tamil refugees who fled from Sri Lankan military operation in Vanni

By Brian Senewiratne

January 23, 2009 -- There is a humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka, where the Tamil minority in the island’s north and east are facing annihilation at the hands of the Sinhalese-dominated government. 

This article will deal with the current crisis, with the more fundamental problem of the legacy left by colonial British rule (1796-1948) dealt with in later articles. These colonial administrative structures will need to be reversed of there is ever to be peace or prosperity in Sri Lanka.

I am a Sinhalese, from the majority community, not from the brutalised Tamil minority. I quit Sri Lanka in 1976.

Who runs that country is of no concern to me, as long as it is run without serious violations of human rights. Sri Lanka was tossed out of the UN Human Rights Council in May last year due to its human rights record, and the drift of a democracy to a fascist politico-military dictatorship, none of which have been publicised internationally.

Current problem

Sri Lanka: Behind the genocidal war against the Tamils

By Tony Iltis

January 17, 2009 -- The January 14 announcement by the Sri Lankan government that its forces had completed the capture of the Jaffna Peninsular, effectively bringing all of the historic Tamil nation in Sri Lanka’s north-east under military occupation, was a grim reminder that the Israeli assault on the Gaza ghetto is not the only holocaust at the start of the new year.

The Tamil people have been fighting for independence from Sri Lanka since 1983 when an island-wide pogrom (the most violent of several that had regularly occurred since 1956) convinced Tamils that they would not attain equality or security under the Sinhala-chauvinist state that has ruled Sri Lanka since independence in 1948.

Sinhala is the first language of 74% of Sri Lankans. Most of the remainder are Tamil-speaking. Tamils form the majority in the north and east of the island (Tamil Eelam).

While the government has declared that the group leading the armed resistance, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), is finished as a military force, this is not the first time their demise has been announced. However, it has undoubtedly suffered a serious setback as a result of the sustained military offensive by the Sri Lankan army.

Thailand: Activist Giles Ji Ungpakorn charged with `insulting' monarchy

[Please sign the petition HERE against the attack on freedom of speech in Thailand, which the use of lese majeste represents.]

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

January 20, 2009 -- Today, the police informed me that I have been charged with lese majeste because of eight paragraphs in Chapter 1 of my book A Coup for the Rich. The paragraphs are listed below.

According to the police charge sheet, the charges arise from the fact that the director of Chulalongkorn University bookshop decided to inform the police Special Branch that my book "insulted the Monarchy". The bookshop is managed by the academic management of the university. So much for academic freedom!

Paragraphs from A Coup for the Rich that are deemed to have "insulted the Monarchy":

Thailand: Petition for freedom of speech; Interview with Giles Ji Ungpakorn on the use of `lese majeste' laws

Please sign the petition (below the videos) and ask others to sign.

Thailand: Activist Giles Ji Ungpakorn faces arrest for `insulting' monarchy (now with excerpts from Coup for the Rich)

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

Readers of Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal are urged to send letters of protest and calling for all charges against Giles Ji Ungpakorn to be dropped. Send them to the Thailand's Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva at Government House, Bangkok, Thailand,  fax number +66 (0) 29727751. Please also write letters of protest to the ambassador of the Royal Thai embassy in your own country.

By John Berthelsen

Asia Sentinel -- January 12, 2009 -- Giles Ji Ungpakorn, a political science professor at Thailand's Chulalongkorn University and a well-known socialist activist, has been ordered to appear at a Bangkok police station to be charged under the country's stiff lèse majesté laws for insulting the country's monarchy.

Malaysian police detain anti-war protesters; PSM slams minister’s ‘double standards’

Malaysiakini -- January 10, 2009 -- The police have arrested 21 people, including member of parliament for Klang MP Charles Santiago and several top leaders of the Socialist Party of Malaysia (Parti Sosialis Malaysia -- PSM, at an anti-war vigil at Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur. The vigil was organised by Anti-War Coalition to show support to the victims of war and aggression in Palestine and Sri Lanka.

About 200 people had gathered at about 8pm for the vigil, which was declared illegal by the police who were also present at the venue. About 100 light strike force personnel were on hand to control and disperse the crowd.

The crowd was ordered to disperse and the 21 were arrested for their failure to leave the area. They were then taken to the Dang Wangi district police headquarters. They are still being held at the police station.

Among those held were Parti Sosialis Malaysia leaders Dr Nasir Hashim and S. Arutchelvan, PKR’s Kuala Langat MP Abdullah Sani and several activists from Suaram and Jerit. Nasir is also the Kota Damansara state assemblyperson.

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