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Asia

Philippines: Lessons from Manila floods -- interview from the climate-change frontline

Sonny Melencio (second from left) distributes flood relief supplies.

Peter Boyle interviews Sonny Melencio

"People’s solidarity is a latent component that exists even in the capitalist system. We have to nurture it and provide an environment for it to fully develop by changing the system."

August 13, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Green Left Weekly -- While the Philippines government dithered and made excuses for its grossly inadequate response to the catastrophic floods -- which inundated 80% of the country's capital, Manila -- Sonny Melencio was leading a people's relief effort that brought the first food supplies in days to some of the poorest and most badly effected communities. Together with other activists from the Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM, Party of the Labouring Masses), Melencio went to a string of urban poor communities along the flood-breached Marikina River with supplies collected from ordinary folk, whose upsurge of solidarity was in sharp contrast to the official response.

Philippines flood disaster: A political response is urgently needed

PLM activist Sonny Melencio (right) distributes flood relief.

Statement by the Partido Lakas ng Masa 

August 11, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- While organising relief activities for communities hard hit by the devastating floods, the Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) believes that a political campaign is urgently needed, targeting the inadequacy of government preparedness and response to the flood disasters.

The emerging pattern of extreme weather conditions is related to climate change and while the solution to the climate crisis, given its global parameters, cannot rely on countries such as the Philippines, those suffering the worst impact of the crisis are again, the poor in our countries. The biggest calamity is poverty and mass poverty is the most critical and underlying issue that must be addressed in order to protect and save peoples lives.

This means, among others, the provision of secure employment and a living wage, quality and affordable housing, health and education, electrification and water. While we believe that a program of poverty eradication is the only effective climate crisis mitigation and adaptation strategy, we also put forward the following urgent and necessary measures to mobilise the PLM base communities.

Release calamity funds

New book on the history of the Tamil people's struggle for self-determination

Tamil Nation in Sri Lanka
By Ron Ridenour
New Century Book House
Chennai, India
(available from Resistance Books)

Review by Chris Slee

August 9, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Ron Ridenour‘s latest book is a very informative history of the struggle for self-determination by the Tamil people on the island of Sri Lanka. Ridenour explains the reasons why many Tamils took up arms to fight for an independent Tamil state. He shows the history of racism in Sri Lanka and the violent repression carried out by successive governments against peaceful Tamil protests. He denounces the history of mass murder of Tamils, both through government-instigated pogroms and through the bombardment of civilians by the Sri Lankan armed forces. He acknowledges that the Tamil independence fighters have also committed atrocities.

Philippines: Climate change crisis hits world's poor hardest -- again

Floods in Marikina, Manila. Photo courtesy of Dave Llavanes Jr.

By Peter Boyle

August 9, 2012 -- Green Left Weekly/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- "The situation is pretty grim", Reihana Mohideen told Green Left Weekly from the frontline of devastating floods that have submerged half of Manila over the last few days. "It's still raining hard and hard to get around."

"This is another painful reminder of the global climate change crisis and the pain is being felt most by the poor and most oppressed."

Mohideen was part of a team delivering basic supplies, collected at the Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) national office, to urban poor and working-class comunities. These include canned goods, instant noodles, milk, coffee, sugar, biscuits, bread, basic medicines and towels. The PLM is one of a number of progressive people's organisations doing relief work with very limited resources.

Sri Lanka: The politics of the Frontline Socialist Party -- interview with Premakumar Gunaratnam

Premakumar Gunaratnam. Photo by Peter Boyle.

For more coverage of Sri Lanka and the Tamil struggle, click HERE.

August 8, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Green Left Weekly -- Premakumar Gunaratnam, an ethnic Tamil from Sri Lanka, who now has Australian citizenship, returned to his home country in September 2011 to help organise the launch of a new left party, the Frontline Socialist Party (FLSP), a major breakaway from the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP, People’s Liberation Front). He had been a JVP activist for three decades and a member of its underground political bureau since 1994. In an extensive interview with Peter Boyle for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal and Green Left Weekly, Gunaratnam reported how he was abducted by a group of armed men between 4 am and 5 am on April 7, just two days before the scheduled launch of the new party.

Malaysia: One year after activists' release, questions remain unanswered

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

By S.Arutchelvan, secretary general, Socialist Party of Malaysia

July 29, 2012 -- Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) -- Today marks the first anniversary of the release of the PSM EO6 [Emergency Ordinance 6] who were robbed of their freedom on June 25, 2011, when they were detained with 26 others. On July 2, 2011, they were technically released but rearrested under the Emergency Ordinance. The six, M. Saraswathy, Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj,  Choo Chon Kai, Sarat Babu, M. Sukumaran and A . Letchumanan were detained for another 28 days in solitary confinement without the right to trial. Their release came about exactly one year ago, only after a massive local and international campaign which saw people from all walks of life standing together against injustice and tyranny.

As we commemorate their release one year ago, we would like to thank all those who stood in solidarity with justice, fairplay and democracy. Without the intervention of the many, their release would not have been possible.

Pakistan: Urgent action needed to stop torture of activists

STOP PRESS, July 25, 2012 -- Thanks to all who sent protest messages and got the word out quick. Baba Jan and Iftikhar Hussain have now been returned to jail after being interrogated and roughed up by the special interrogation team. But we we still must demand: Free Baba Jan and Free the Hunza Five! -- Peter Boyle

By Peter Boyle, Socialist Alliance (Australia) national co-convener

July 23, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- A leading Pakistan newspaper, Dawn, reports that Labour Party Pakistan comrades Baba Jan and Iftikhar Hussain are being tortured by special "anti-terrorist police" unit in an undisclosed location now: http://dawn.com/2012/07/23/gilgit-rights-activist-being-given-the-third-degree/

One divides into two – Nepal’s Maoists in crisis

Many fighters of the People's Liberation Army have joined the new party.

More coverage of Nepal HERE.

June 23, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, an earlier version of this article was posted at International Viewpoint – The Maoist party, the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) -- UCPN(M), has entered a crisis and has split. On June 16-18, 2012, the radical faction of the party held a national convention and decided to organise the first congress of a new revolutionary party, named CPN–Maoist, to be held on February 12, 2013. One-third of the central committee members of the UCPN(M) have joined the new party. Alex de Jong looks at the background to this development.

* * *

Pakistan: Free Baba Jan, political prisoner of the climate crisis (Green Left TV report)

June 23, 2012 -- Green Left TV/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- For nine months, Baba Jan Hunzai and four fellow activists have been languishing in Pakistan jails, charged with terrorism offences, and suffering torture. Their crime? Organising the oppressed local community to struggle for compensation, after their villages were submerged by a climate change-induced landslide. Green Left TV's Peter Boyle interviewed Labour Party of Pakistan national spokesperson Farooq Tariq.

Support Baba Jan: Protest at the Pakistan embassy in your country. Join Noam Chomsky and Tariq Ali in signing the petition to free Baba Jan and the Hunza 5 at www.ipetitions.com/petition/free-baba-jan. Follow the campaign at www.freebabajan.wordpress.com.

For details of where to send letters demanding Baba Jan's release and more background information on the case of Baba Jan and his comrades, click here and here.

Opposition to Philippines-Australia military deal; No to 'visiting forces' military pacts with US/Australia/NZ!

June 12, 2012 -- Green Left TV/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Australian mining companies are already ravaging the traditional land of Indigenous peoples in the Philippines and now they are hoping to get ratified a military agreement that will allow Australian troops to enter the Philippines for "combined training, exercises, or other activities mutually approved by the Parties".

Protests broke out in Manila on June 6, 2012, as the Philippines Senate was deliberating on the ratification of the controversial "visiting forces" military pact with the Australian government, signed by the disgraced former president Gloria Arroyo in 2007. Anti-war groups in the Philippines are seeking Australian solidarity for their campaign to block the ratification. Green Left TV spoke to Reihana Mohideen, an anti-war and socialist activist in Manila.

Pakistan: International week of action for the release of Baba Jan and his comrades, June 20-27, 2012

Socialist Alliance (Australia) poster demanding the release of Baba Jan and his comrades.

Readers of Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal are urged to send protest letters to Pakistan embassies and consulate in their own countries. See an example at the conclusion of this article.

By Pierre Rousset and Danielle Sabai

Hong Kong photo essay: 180,000 rally to mark Tiananmen massacre anniversary

June 4, 2012 -- Green Left Weekly -- This photo essay by Tom Grundy, an activist-journalist based in Hong Kong, shows the 180,000-strong candlelight rally held in Victoria Park, Hong Kong on June 4 to commemorate the 23rd anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre in Beijing. Green Left Weekly republished it with permission from Hong Wrong blog.

Philippines: Progressive organisations express concern over ‘Southeast Asian Sea’ tensions

[For background to the Spratly Islands issue, see "China, Vietnam and the islands dispute: What is behind the rise of Chinese nationalism?"]

United Voices of Concern (amidst the sounds of fury over the Southeast Asian Sea)

World Peace Bell, Quezon Memorial Circle, Quezon City, Philippines

May 25, 2012 -- The contending states claiming territorial jurisdiction over sections of the "Southeast Asian Sea" [Spratly Islands] are only heightening regional tensions to a frightening degree.  In particular, the contentious row between the Philippines and China is being amplified by certain quarters to a near-conflict level for seemingly nationalistic, but in fact chauvinistic reasons. And as the almost daily sounds of fury raise the stakes for the region’s masses of humanity, many more sober voices of concern must now come out to be heard and not be silenced by the sabre-rattling of a deluded few.

Socialist Party of Malaysia: Vietnam's dilemma

Will Vietnam and its people continue to be inspired by the revolution previous generations sacrificed so much for or will they be overwhelmed by market forces?

By S. Arutchelvan, secretary general, Socialist Party of Malaysia

May 12, 2012 -- Parti Sosialist Malaysia -- It was a great and emotional experience to visit Vietnam for an eight-day study tour in April 2011 as part of a seven-member Parti Sosialist Malaysia (Socialist Party of Malaysia) team. Vietnam has been the inspiration for many since the 1970s. Many activists in the world today were inspired by the great Vietnamese revolution, which ousted the victor of World War II – the United States of America. Many people in the West as well as in the Third World saw the Vietnamese victory against all odds as a new hope for humanity. Perhaps no nation in the current world has undergone such a struggle for liberation and freedom.

Many people in today’s world are inspired by Che Guevara but Che himself was inspired by Vietnam. In his great saying, Che said let's create two, three, many Vietnams. Che said in his "Message to the Tricontinental", which he wrote in Cuba in 1966 before leaving for Bolivia where he was ultimately killed:

Afghanistan: Amnesty International lauds war and occupation as 'progress' for women


The bitter reality for Afghan women: an address by Malalai Joya.

By Tim Anderson

May 20, 2012 -- Stop the War Coalition, Sydney -- Amnesty International has muddied the waters over the occupation of Afghanistan with its latest campaign urging NATO to “keep the progress going” on women’s rights. The campaign was aimed at a NATO summit in Chicago and drew on one of the few remaining arguments for continued military occupation of that war-ravaged country.

The idea that a military occupation would somehow help Afghan women was promoted by Laura Bush, wife of the former US president who ordered the October 2001 invasion. It is an argument that been rejected by the Afghan women’s group, Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) and by activist and former Afghan MP Malalai Joya (see video above). They say that the NATO occupation has simply added a third enemy, on top of the Taliban and the NATO-backed warlords.

China: 'A decade of change: The workers’ movement in China 2000-2010'

China Labour Bulletin’s interactive strike map.

May 18, 2012 -- China Labour Bulletin -- On 8 May, around 1000 shoe factory workers in Dongguan walked out in protest at management plans to cut their monthly bonus from the usual 500 yuan to just 100 yuan. Management refused to talk so one worker posted their grievances on his micro-blog.

China Labour Bulletin contacted the worker and posted an account of the strike on our microblog. This story was then retweeted more than 50 times within the hour and soon five reporters had gathered outside the factory gate demanding to know what was going on. They were refused entry but the very next day the management, under pressure from local government officials to make the story go away, agreed to increase the workers’ bonus to 300 yuan and the strikers returned to work.

While the international media in the last few months has been understandably focused on Wang Lijun, Bo Xilai and Chen Guangcheng, the Chinese media continues to cover the burgeoning workers’ movement in China. And this media attention itself is helping to drive the movement.

Thailand: Who killed Aa-Kong (Ah Kong)?

The arrest of Aa-Kong.

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

May 9, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The death in prison of the poor odd-job man Aa-Kong (also known as Ah Kong) is an outrage and it is yet another indication of the barbarity of the lèse majesté law, the injustice of the Thai legal system and the brutality of the Thai ruling class. The fact that he was refused bail to get medical treatment, and the fact that the prison authorities waited three days after he became ill before sending him to the prison clinic, is an indication of the terrible conditions in Thai prisons. He was convicted of lèse majesté for supposedly sending an SMS message to ex-prime minister Abhisit’s personal secretary. The evidence given by the state proved nothing.

In Thailand, generals and politicians who ordered repeated killings of unarmed demonstrators on five occasions since 1973 have never been charged and never been punished. But criticising the ruling class is considered to be a “grave offence”. Long prison sentences are handed down for lèse majesté.

Can Asia save global capitalism?

Protesters rally, coinciding with the 45th annual meeting of the board of governors of the Asian Development Bank. May 2, 2012, in Manila, Philippines.

By Reihana Mohideen

May 4, 2012 -- Socialist Feminist, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission of the author -- The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has just held its annual board meeting in Manila, accompanied by much publicity and fanfare about "sustainable and socially inclusive development". A key framework document presented is entitled How Can Asia Respond to Global Economic Crisis and Transformation. The paper was prepared by a team of ADB technocrats and other leading gurus of neoliberal economic dogma, such as Jeffrey Sachs. There are some key underlying themes that ran through the document, reflected in the major conference sessions:

Pakistan: Protest torture of Baba Jan, 'prisoner of climate change'

May 3, 2012 -- The following letter to protest the beating and continued detention of Baba Jan (pictured speaking above), Waqar and other activists was sent to Pakistan's High Commissioner (ambassador) to Australia by the Socialist Alliance. Readers of Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal are urged to send similar letters to Pakistan embassies and consulate in their own countries.

* * *

Last year, after devastating floods swept the Atta Abad Lakes region of Pakistan, police opened fire on a demonstration of people demanding compensation. Two people were killed.

Baba Jan. a federal committee member of the Labour Party Pakistan (LPP), was among the first to raise the issue of Atta Abad Lake flood victims. He toured Pakistan in 2011 to organise rallies and demonstrations to highlight the plight of villagers who have lost their homes to this newly formed lake caused by deforestation, soil erosion and climate change. He spoke to the national media in press conferences held in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad.

Bersih 3.0: Najib fears Merdeka Square could become Malaysia's 'Tahrir', says socialist leader

PSM leader S. Arutchelvan ( with microphone) at Bersih 3.0 rally on April 28. Photo by Choo Chon Kai/PSM.

By Peter Boyle

May 1, 2012 -- Green Left Weekly/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- S. Arutchelvan, secretary general of the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM), is a veteran of many demonstrations. But the Bersih 3.0 mobilisation, which he estimates was between 100,000 -150,000-strong, was the biggest he's been a part of yet in the country. “It was a huge success”, he told Green Left Weekly, “and it terrified the Barisan Nasional [BN] government.”

“The BN government sees Merdeka Square as its Tahrir Square. They do not want to see – and for the public and the world to see – images of it being occupied by democratic movement. It is their political survival. Since 2011 PM Najib [Razak] has been worrying about the Arab Spring spreading to Malaysia. He said his government would not let it happen. So on April 28, the riot police was used to prevent the people from getting to Merdeka Square at any cost.

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