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Cambodia: Striking garment workers killed in brutal repression: interview, photos

 Striking garment worker shows spent cartridges from police and military shootings the Veng Sreng Street in Phnom Penh on January 3. Photo by Malay Tim, President Cambodian Youth Network.

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Chrek Sophea, former garment worker and interim coordinator of the Worker’s Information Centre (WIC), a women garment workers' base association in Phnom Penh, interviewed by Peter Boyle

South Korea: Rail workers strike against privatisation, general strike called

Railway workers' three-week strike against privatisation garnered wide support—and government repression. Photo by DDanzi Ilbo.

By Li San

January 8, 2014 -- Labor Notes -- South Korea’s railway workers have ended a 22-day strike, the longest such stoppage in the country’s history. Though they didn’t win a clear victory, they succeeded in placing the issue of privatisation in public focus.

The government’s and management’s attack on the strike was ruthless to the point of recklessness, while the public’s solidarity and sympathy with the striking workers continued to rise.

And the full impact of the action has yet to ripple out. Amid rising political tensions, the country’s biggest union umbrella, the 700,000-strong Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), has called for a one-day general strike February 25.

Privatisation Plans Sparked Strike

About 15,000 unionists, or about 45 per cent of the workforce, of Korea Railroad Corporation (Korail) walked off the job December 9 to protest what they saw as a preliminary step to privatising rail service—a plan by management to spin off the most lucrative slice of its business.

Thailand: Yingluck sleepwalks into the trap set by anti-democratic forces

Yingluck Shinawatra (centre).

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

December 21, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her Pheu Thai government were pressurised into dissolving parliament by a nasty coalition of Sutep Tuaksuban’s Democrat Party, middle-class protesters, pro-military academics, conservative civil servants and NGO groups. This is the same coalition that supported the 2006 military coup.

Having now tasted blood, they want more. They are demanding that Yingluck resigns her position as caretaker prime minster, a role stipulated by the constitution. They want the election to be boycotted by opposition parties. They also want to postpone the general election, which is due in early February. They are justifying this by their dishonest claim to want to “reform” Thai politics before any new election.

India: Fearless freedom for women won’t be stopped by the wall of reaction

Protesters from the All India Progressive Women's Association in Delhi, December 22-23, 2012.

[For more discussion of feminism, click HERE. For more on India, click HERE.]

Editorial from the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation’s ML Update

December 16, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- “What has changed since last December?” is the question everyone is asking a year after the brutal gang rape and murder that sparked off a massive movement. After all, the number of rapes and sexual assaults are higher than ever, and women certainly don’t feel safer.

The terrible legacy of Agent Orange and dioxin

US wages chemical warfare on Vietnam.

By Coral Wynter                       

December 16, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Agent Orange was manufactured by Monsanto Corporation and Dow Chemicals to use as a herbicide and defoliant in the Vietnam War. Agent Orange is the combination of the code names for Herbicide Orange (HO) and Agent LNX.

At the famous Battle of Dien Bien Phu, North Vietnamese General Giap and the Viet Minh forces totally defeated the French army on May 7, 1954, and the French garrison surrendered. At the 1954 Geneva Conference, the French negotiated a ceasefire agreement with the Viet Minh, and its leader Ho Chi Minh, and independence was granted to Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

India: Scrap Article 377, defend LGBTI/queer rights through mass movements

The Supreme Court verdict that the colonial era Article 377 criminalising alternative sexualities is constitutional has resulted in mass protests by the LGBT community and by its supporters. December 15 was the global day of rage. This is the Kolkata protest. Photos courtesy of Kunal Chattopadhyay.

By Soma Marik

December 15, 2013 -- Radical Socialist -- In 1895, during the trial of Oscar Wilde, the German socialist Eduard Bernstein wrote a few articles in the German Social Democratic press on the issue. While confused by today’s standards, Bernstein made a few cogent points. On the view that same sex relations were unnatural, Bernstein commented:

Thailand: There is no 'crisis of succession'

 Ordinary Red Shirts struggle for democracy, dignity and social justice, while Thaksin and his political allies wage a very different campaign to regain the political influence they enjoyed before the 2006 coup d'état.

For more on Thailand, click HERE.

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

December 14, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The hypothesis that the present long-running unrest in Thailand is primarily caused by a “crisis of succession” assumes that the Thai monarch has real power and that he has been constantly intervening in politics. That is just not the case and the real cause of the crisis lies elsewhere.

Thailand does not have an absolute monarch or North Korean-style despot in his twilight years, with factions fighting over who will be the next ruler. The Thai absolute monarchy was overthrown in the 1932 revolution, and since then, power has been shared and disputed among the military and civilian elites and the top businesspeople. For much of the time between 1932 and the mid-1980s, the elites ruled by dictatorship. But this has become harder and harder to do ever since the mass uprising against the military in 1973.

Australia’s national interest versus Timor-Leste, 1941-2006

For more on East Timor, click HERE.

By Gaetano Greco, Francesco Faraci and Michael Cooke

In our Manichaean enthusiasms we in the West made haste to dispense whenever possible with the economic, intellectual and institutional baggage of the twentieth century and encouraged others to do so likewise... Not only did we fail to learn very much from the past – this would hardly have been remarkable. But we have become stridently insistent – in our economic calculations, our political practices, our international strategies, even our educational priorities – that the past has nothing of interest to teach us. Ours, we insist, is a new world; its risks and opportunities are without precedent. -- Tony Judt[1]

Thailand: Round one to Yingluck government

For more on Thailand, click HERE.

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

December 4, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- A semblance of calm has returned to Bangkok as the royalist anti-democratic protesters were allowed to symbolically occupy Government House. They took pictures and then left. A temporary truce has occurred around the king’s birthday, December 5, since the royalists did not want to appear disrespectful to their “dear leader”.

The government also wants to show its loyalty by staging the usual ceremonies in a calm atmosphere. Thaksin Shinawatra, after all, is a royalist too.

But don’t be fooled. The aged king has no real power and he has never been brave enough to stick his neck out and do anything under his own initiative. He is the tool of the military and the elites. The real power is with the army.

So what is the score so far in the battle between the royalist conservatives and the elected government?

Nepal elections: Defeat for Maoists, gains for a united left

Despite all the ideological weaknesses, the left in Nepal remains a mass force that is not seen in any other country of the region.

By Farooq Tariq

November 28, 2013 -- Viewpoint (Pakistan) -- I was present as an International Observer to the November 19 general elections in Nepal, invited by the National Election Observation Committee (NEOC). Polling was unexpectedly peaceful. Interestingly enough only 226 out of the 601 Constituent Assembly seats are directly elected. That is, the majority of seats are elected through a proportional voting system.

More than 70 per cent of Nepal’s eligible voters participated in the November 19 vote despite an election boycott and transportation strike by a coalition of 33 parties, led by the CPN-Maoist. It is clear that the boycott strategy failed.

Just eight days after the election -- when I am writing these lines -- we can begin to view the shape of the new assembly. What is shocking is that right-wing forces have been able to advance despite the fact that three main communist parties -- Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist-Leninist, United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and CPN-Maoist -- still remain a major force in Nepal and enjoy the sympathy of the majority.

Wildcat strikes push China to write new anti-labour laws

Striking Honda workers, 2010.

By Ellen David Friedman

November 27, 2013 -- Labor Notes -- More than 30 years since China opened up to foreign investment, wildcat strikes surge month after month. They are driven by workers with no meaningful access to union representation, to a worker centre, to the media, to legal mechanisms, or to government intervention on their behalf. And yet workers in industries from electronics to health care continue to strike, impelled by low wages as low as US$2 an hour.

This raw resistance has generally gotten employers to give in to strikers’ economic demands. The typical wage is minimum wage, but overtime and the mandatory social insurances are often not properly paid, so workers’ demands are frequently just to get their legal due, which employers can easily meet.

Thailand: Behind the latest reactionary 'Yellow Shirt' protests

Thousands of crazed middle-class reactionary royalists, led by the notorious blood-stained Democrat Party, have been demonstrating in an attempt to get rid of the Yingluck Shinawatra government.

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

November 24, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The disastrous and disgraceful amnesty bill, put forward by Yingluck Shinawatra’s Pheu Thai government in early November stirred up a hornet’s nest of “Yellow-Shirt” buzzing. Thousands of middle-class royalists, led by the notorious Democrat Party, have been demonstrating in an attempt to get rid of the government and all of Thaksin’s influence. They were very upset that the amnesty bill would have allowed Thaksin Shinawatra to return. These are the people who called for and supported the 2006 military coup against Thaksin’s democratically elected government. These are also the people who supported the bloody crackdown on Red Shirt protesters in 2010. Democrat Party strongman Sutep Tueksuban, addressing a crowd of supporters, called for the “restoration of full monarchy rule”.

¡Justicia Climática Ya! ¡Salvar vidas, redistribuir alimentos, detener el saqueo económico y la destrucción del medio ambiente!

Por Partido Lakas ng Masas (Partido de las Masas Trabajadoras, PLM)

[English at http://links.org.au/node/3587]

11/11/2013 -- Partido Lakas ng Masa -- Los filipinos han sufrido el efecto devastador del que haya sido posiblemente el mayor tifón que haya azotado el país. El número de muertos aumenta rápidamente. Hay una enorme devastación.

Muchos están tratando de ponerse en contacto con sus familiares, amigos y compañeros , pero los sistemas de comunicación no funcionan en las zonas más afectadas. ¿Cómo debemos , como activistas y socialistas, hacer frente a la crisis?

(Updated Nov. 11) Philippines' Typhoon Haiyan crisis: For climate justice now! Fight, don’t be afraid! Makibaka! Huwag Matakot!

Typhoon Haiyan bears down on the Philippines.

Statement by the Partido Lakas ng Masa (Party of the Labouring Masses, PLM)

[We're turning the PLM office into a relief goods' collection office for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda, especially for Leyte and Samar victims, where we have some families, comrades and friends to assist for possible distribution. We'll also link up to appropriate relief organisations to send what we can collect. Transport lines have been opened. Please bring relief goods (water, medicines, rice, canned goods and other items) to PLM Office: 13 Rigor St., Bgy. Masagana, Project 4, Quezon City. Tel. 439-5811. Look for Ka Nelia, Van, Lara.

Brian Manning (1932-2013): Charlie India Echo Tango calling Timor Leste

On November 3, 2013, Brian Manning -- veteran Northern Territory communist, trade unionist, campaigner against racism, long-time activist for Indigenous people's rights and solidarity campaigner with the East Timorese people (among many other causes) -- died in Darwin, aged 81. Brian won enormous respect for his commitment to human rights and his unstinting dedication to changing the system.

As a tribute to Brian, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal highlights another important chapter in his inspiring political life: his important role in the building solidarity the struggle of the East Timorese people for national self-determination. (See also "Brian Manning and the Gurindji `walk offs’".)

The following chapter appeared in the 2003 book,  A Few Rough Reds: Stories of Rank and File Organising, published by the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History. This and others chapters are available at http://roughreds.com/rrone/index.html.

[Click HERE for more on Timor Leste. For more on the Communist Party of Australia, click HERE. ]

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By Brian Manning

General Vo Nguyen Giap (1911-2013): Military hero, revolutionary intellectual, environmentalist

General Vo Nguyen Giap, second from left, with Ho Chi Minh, in 1957.

By Michael Karadjis

October 24, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Few people from the 20th century can really claim to have changed history. One of them without a doubt was General Vo Nguyen Giap, who led the Vietnamese people to defeat the French and US empires.

Giap died on October 4, aged 102.

While mainly remembered as a military leader, Giap was also one of Vietnam’s most significant political leaders, a revolutionary intellectual, an environmentalist and a campaigner for progressive change within his own country.

Thailand: The bloody civil war in Patani and the way to achieve peace

For more on Thailand, click HERE.

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn[1]

October 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- This article is an attempt to analyse the political situation surrounding the bloody civil war in “Patani-Southern Thailand” from the perspective of those who seek freedom, justice and self-determination. Unlike most academic papers or books on the subject, this article is not aimed at top politicians, military generals or officials of foreign powers, all of whom seek to maintain their own class interests by stressing “stability” or measures to “contain” the situation without any regard to the wishes of ordinary people.

Malaysia: PSM members win RM200,000 settlement in false imprisonment case

Celebrations following the release of the EO6. Ex-detainee Choo Chon Kai in centre. Photo by Alex Cheong.

October 8, 2013 -- From reports in the Malaysian press -- The Malaysia government has agreed to pay six Socialist Party of Malaysia (Parti Sosialis Malaysia, PSM) members RM200,000 (approx. US$63,000) following the settlement of the lawsuit filed for false imprisonment at the High Court.

The six were detained in a bus on June 25, 2011, on charges of treason and were released on July 2 when their remand period expired. They were re-arrested under the (now repealed) Emergency Ordinance (EO) and freed 27 days later on July 29.

The detentions resulted in an international solidarity campaign.The detainees became known as the EO6. The PSM credits this solidarity campaign for their comrades' release.

Prime Minister Najib Razak's government scrapped the Emergency Ordinance and other tough security laws in December 2011 following criticism that they were abused to silence dissent. 

Photo story: Awami Workers Party leads demonstration against land grabs and evictions

By Farooq Tariq

October 3, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The Awami Workers Party (AWP) organised a rally in Islamabad for land rights and against the eviction of Katchi Abadies dwellers. More than 2000 marched from Aab Para Chouck to national parliament in Islamabad, a distance of 4 kilometres.

There was great enthusiasm and a lot of revolutionary slogans were raised. More than 400 women were part of the rally and they were mostly carrying the red flags of the AWP.

The rally was led by the leadership of the AWP including Abid Hasan Minto, president; Fanoos Gujjar, chairperson; Asim Sajad Akhta, general secretary of the AWP Punjab; Dr Farzana Bari, women's secretary AWP; Alia Anir Ali, general secretary of the National Students Federation; and Farooq Tariq.

The All Pakistan Karchi Abadies Alliance was part of the rally and women, children and men came from all parts of the poor areas of Islamabad.

The rally condemned the PMLN government and demanded an end to evictions. It demanded effective land reforms and declared that they are not unIslamic. Participants demanded land rights for tenants and for the landless peasantry and raised slogans against land grabs.

It was one of the largest mobilisations of the AWP this year in Islamabad. Those in power must be very upset to see a wave of red flags in the hands of the working class.

Malaysia: Kampong Hakka -– when 100 years of community residence does not matter

By S. Arutcheclvan, general-secretary, Socialist Party of Malaysia

October 3, 2013 -- Socialist Party of Malaysia/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The first Monday of every October is designated by the United Nations as World Habitat Day. The main purpose to celebrate this date is to reflect on the basic right of all to adequate shelter. The UN has dedicated one day to highlight the plight of people fighting for shelter as it seems that the right to a home is one of the most fundamental human rights. With this, let me argue the case of kampong Hakka in Mantin, Negeri Sembilan.

When I first stepped into kampong Hakka a year ago, I was amazed that a Chinese new village complete with temple, community hall and school existed in this village and I was further shocked to learn that all the people living there have been declared illegals just because some rich company has bought their land.

When I looked at the structure of their homes and their lifestyle, I was convinced that these villagers have a history to talk about. They have lived here for many decades. Most of the villagers were elderly people as their children had left to more urban town centres. Their economic activity varies, with most of them being petty traders and self-employed.

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