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Malaysia: Hundreds of thousands demand democratic elections at Bersih 3.0; police attack peaceful protest


Video by Green Left TV.

April 30, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The Coalition of Free and Fair Elections (Bersih – meaning “clean” in Malay), the movement for free and fair elections in Malaysia, said that the April 28 rally was a great success, claiming that 300,000 Malaysians had joined the Bersih 3.0 rally in the capital Kuala Lumpur. Bersih called for a mass sit in on April 28 because it suspects that the country’s entrenched Barisan Nasional (BN) government is about to call a general election without addressing widespread electoral irregularities. Rallies were also held in around 85 cities around Malaysia and across the world (click HERE for reports).

Asian left parties: 'Free Somyot and all political prisoners in Thailand! End the medieval lèse majeste law!'

Joint statement

April 26, 2012 -- We, the undersigned organisations, are deeply concerned about the continuous repression against social activists under lèse majesté law in Thailand, including Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, a labour activist who has been imprisoned without bail since April 30, 2011.

We are concerned about Somyot’s continuous imprisonment, his transfer to another prison and his bail request being denied numerous times.

Somyot is known for his tireless work in the workers’ movement and to establish democratic trade unionism in Thailand. In 2007, he became editor of the Voice of Taksin magazine (now called Red Power), a political publication opposed to the military coup. Somyot is the chair of the Union of Democratic Labour Alliance and the leader of 24th June democracy group, which was formed in the aftermath of the military coup in September 2006.

Pakistan: Stop the kidnapping, forced religious conversion and forced 'marriage' of women!

April 20, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On April 17, the Sindh Progressive Committee (SPC), which brings togetther activists from the Labour Party Pakistan, Workers Party, Communist Party, Jeay Sindh Mahaz, National Party, Awami Party and Watan Dost Inquilaabi Party, held a rally outside the Hyderabad Press Club (photo above by Irfan Ali/Express Tribune) protesting against the kidnapping, forced conversion and forced marriage of young Hindu women.

The rally was violently attacked by thugs belonging to the Sunni Tehreek party. Police intervened on the side the aggressors and detained 22 SPC activists who have since been released but are still facing charges being pressed by the Sunni Tehreek.

Pakistani mainstream press reports: http://tribune.com.pk/story/366193/forced-conversions-as-leftists-protest-st-takes-offence/

http://dawn.com/2012/04/18/escalation-of-clash-between-rallies-averted

Below is a statement from Pakistani progressive organisations.

Sri Lanka: Lionel Bopage, former JVP general secretary, on new left party, Tamil rights and state repression

Lionel Bopage, former JVP general secretary.

April 17, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The Frontline Socialist Party (FSP) was launched in Colombo, Sri Lanka, amidst international media outcry about the illegal abduction of four of its activists in the lead up to the launch by security forces. Two of these abductees, Premakumar Gunaratnam (an Australian citizen) and Dimuth Atygalle (a prominent woman leader of the group) have since been released. Gunaratnam, who has been deported to Australia, says he was tortured before being released. Two other FSP activists are still being illegally detained.

Malaysian Spring: Bersih 3.0 democracy movement plans mass sit-in

By Peter Boyle

April 18, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Green Left Weekly --  The Coalition of Free and Fair Elections (called Bersih – meaning “clean” in Malay), a civil society movement for free and fair elections in Malaysia, has called for a mass sit in on April 28 because it suspects that the country’s entrenched Barisan Nasional (BN) government is about to call a general election before addressing widespread electoral irregularities confirmed by a review forced on the government by the previous Bersih 2.0 mass mobilisation on July 9, 2011.

The Bersih 2.0 mobilisation was banned by the government, which set up roadblocks around the capital Kuala Lumpur, carried out pre-emptive arrests of activists and tried to ban the wearing of yellow clothes, the colour used by the movement. Yet on the July 9 some 50,000 defied the riot squads, tear gas attacks and 1600 arrests and took to the streets.

The dirty picture of neoliberalism: India’s New Economic Policy

Wealth and poverty in India. Photo by DaveWilsonPhotography.

By Raju J. Das

April 11, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The Bollywood movie The Dirty Picture (apparently) runs on three things: entertainment, entertainment and entertainment. The dirty picture of neoliberalism runs on three things, as well: class, class, and class. Indeed, neoliberalism must be seen as the restoration and reinforcement of class power (Harvey 2005), class power of large owners of business over the working masses.

This article makes a series of observations on the multiple aspects of neoliberalism in India as a class project. What is problematic about the “New Economic Policy” (NEP) is not this or that aspect of it (e.g. the idea that it causes an increase in the number of people below the official poverty line). The whole policy is the problem. So it requires a dialectical totalising critique, one that places its limited benefits in relation to its enormous costs, seen from multiple vantage points.

Solidarity with journalists in Sri Lanka, defend democratic rights! Protest abduction of socialists!

UPDATE: The two comrades of the Frontline Socialist Party, Premakumar Gunarathnam and Dimuthu Attygale, have both been released, on late April 9/early April 10. Gunarathnam has been deported to Australia (he is an Australian citizen). Without doubt it was the high level of international attention and the unprecedented solidarity across the political divide in Sri Lanka that secured their lives and liberty.

April 5, 2012 -- Democratic freedoms are increasingly under attack in Sri Lanka. In a climate of intense chauvinism, critics of the government and its increasingly authoritarian and repressive policies are more and more threatened. Even journalists who have already been forced into exile are targets of threats and smear campaigns. Government members have personally called for violence against media personnel that have raised criticism of the Sri Lankan government or that have drawn attention to violations of Human Rights in the country.

Indonesia explodes into protests over fuel price rise plan

One of the 1063 fuel price protests held in Indonesia in March 2012. Photo by Sari Putri.

April 4, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Green Left Weekly -- The following interview with Dominggus Oktavanius, secretary general of the Peoples Democratic Party (PRD) of Indonesia, was conducted by Peter Boyle. It follows a month of mass unrest and demonstrations all around the country during March 2012. Indonesian Police Watch (IPW) reports there were 1063 demonstrations, 16 police stations were damaged and 750 protesters were arrested just between March 23-26 . IPW was established in 2002 by the law faculty of the University of Indonesia but is now an independent monitoring organisation. All photos by Sari Putri.

Two sides to Burma's elections

Aung San Suu Kyi.

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn, Turn Left Thailand

April 3, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Elections under capitalist democracy never lead to state power changing hands because many important elements of the capitalist state are not subject to elections or even accountability. For example, we never get to elect capitalists who make important investment decisions that affect millions of peoples’ lives. In addition to this, judges, military and police commanders, top civil servants and those who control the media are never elected. But that does not mean that we should ignore elections.

Elections are important political events that can be used to advertise policies, can often give encouragement and can be used to mobilise activists outside parliament. For these reasons the elections in Burma in early April were extremely important for the democratic movement. They were an opportunity for thousands of Burmese, and other nationalities in the country, to show their dissatisfaction and opposition to the military dictatorship by voting for Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) and other opposition and ethnic parties.

Malalai Joya: Foreign troops must leave Afghanistan

Malalai Joya.

March 25, 2012 -- Green Left Weekly/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Malalai Joya, a former MP and one of Afghanistan’s best-known democratic leaders, recently survived the sixth attempt on her life. Taliban gunmen attacked her office at 3 am on March 10, wounding two of her guards. In an exclusive interview, she told Green Left Weekly/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal’s Pip Hinman that “such terrorist acts will never stop my fight for freedom, democracy and justice”.

Joya will visit Australia in April to speak at the Marxism 2012 conference in Melbourne and a Stop the War Coalition public meeting in Sydney on April 11.

* * *

Hong Kong: Socialist MP ‘Long Hair’ sentenced to prison, parliamentary seat under threat

Image 2735

Appeal for international protest messages against political persecution

By Socialist Action (CWI) reporters in Hong Kong

March 21, 2012 -- League of Social Democrats (LSD) chairperson, "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung, faces possible expulsion from Hong Kong's Legislative Council (Legco) after being sentenced to two months in jail on a spurious conviction for criminal damage and disorderly conduct. Four other protesters – Wong Yeung-tat, Tang Kin-wa, Yung Wai-tong and Chan Sin-ying – received three-week jail sentences.

The case concerned protests in September 2011 at a government organised consultation over proposals to abolish by-elections for vacant Legco seats – yet another measure to stymie anti-government protests. More than 200,000 people protested against this undemocratic government proposals on July 1, 2011. The "consultation exercise" was mere window dressing by government, to assuage negative public opinion, while it pushed ahead with a modified version of its original plan.

Discussions with the United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist): Lessons for the Philippine left

By Reihana Mohideen

[A contribution to Ang Masa (The Masses), a monthly magazine published by the Partido Lakas ng Masa (Party of the Labouring Masses), following the author’s recent visit to Nepal.]

March 20, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- While Nepal is very different from the Philippines in many key aspects of the country’s economy, society and politics, nevertheless the experience of the Maoist movement in that country holds valuable lessons for the Philippine left – both the Maoists and the non-Maoist revolutionary movements.

In Nepal we see the successful implementation of a people’s war strategy, followed by and combined with the development of an insurrectionary urban mass movement, which resulted in the overthrow of a feudal monarchy, the declaration of a federal democratic republic, the establishment of a constituent assembly and a successful intervention in elections in 2008 by the United Communist Party of Nepal – Maoist (UCPN-M).

Tamil rights: Surprise but uneven changes in voting at the UN Human Rights Council

By Ron Ridenour

March 22, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The UN Human Rights Council voted today to criticise the Sri Lankan government for “not adequately address[ing] serious allegations of violations of international law” when conducting its final phases of war against the guerrilla army Liberation Tigers for Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which ended, May 18, 2009, with massive government-caused bloodbaths.

The resolution called upon Sri Lanka to implement its own findings and recommendations made in the report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), but extended that call to “initiate credible and independent actions to ensure justice, equity, accountability and reconciliation for all Sri Lankans” (“independent action” is not defined).

Furthermore, with 24 countries in favour, 15 against and eight abstentions, the resolution “encourages” the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to offer the Sri Lanka government “advice and technical assistance” in implementing the LLRC recommendations, and to make a report on the provision at the 22nd HRC session, a year from now.

One year after Fukushima -- Japanese people appeal: 'Take action for a nuclear-free world!'

Appeals from Japan

By the All Japan 3.11 Action Committee 

March 11, 2012 -- Soon it will be one year since the 3.11 [March 11, 2011] TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor accident. Many people were forced to evacuate and still continue to live under hardship without sufficient compensation. Despite the fact that an increasing number of people (as high as 70%) in Japan now wish to put an end to nuclear power, the Japanese government is obsessively promoting nuclear power even after the Fukushima accident.

An unrealistic declaration made by Prime Minister Noda that the nuclear reactors had reached a state of cold shutdown and that this element of the power station accident had thus been brought to a conclusion; an inhuman policy which exposes children in Fukushima to the high level of 20mSV as a level for evacuation; the hiding of proceedings of initial government emergency meetings on handling the nuclear power accident; the ratification of the export of nuclear reactors through a majority vote by parliament members; and a strong push to restart nuclear power without any provision of appropriate safety measures ... Such policies are possible because “The Nuclear Village” is still holding power over nuclear policy in Japan, even after 3.11. What is at stake today is democracy in Japan.

Changed minds

China faces rural revolts

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

By Kevin Lin

March 11, 2012 -- Green Left Weekly/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Rural protests make up a large part of overall social unrest in China. But such protests had not received prominent international attention until the siege of Wukan, a village of 12,000 in Guangdong province, late last year.

Just like the strikes in Honda plants in 2010, Wukan brought to light the deep-seated grievances of villagers in a dramatic way. The revolt featured the eviction of party officials and the police, the self-management of the village by villagers, and the stand-off against armed police in a siege for more than a week.

The Wukan protest was triggered by the local government's land expropriation without adequate compensation to the affected villagers. It was escalated by the death of a protest leader in police custody.

The villagers showed remarkable courage in occupying their own village against predictable state repression.

Malaysian socialists on IWD: For women's liberation, equality and freedom

By Nazreen Nizam, PSM women's desk coordinator

March 8, 2012 -- In conjunction with International Women’s Day 2012, Parti Sosialis Malaysia [PSM, the Socialist Party of Malaysia] would like to commemorate women’s pursuit of liberation, real justice, equality and freedom.

This year is the 101st year we are celebrating International Women’s Day. Thanks to our leftist and progressive comrades who proposed such an idea, back in 1910. The United Nations theme for the Women’s Day celebration this year is "Empower rural women – End hunger and poverty’.

While it is true that majority of our rural women, especially in East Malaysia, are living in poverty, the urban women too are deeply distressed with their low income jobs, lack of social security, discrimination at the workplace and home, long work hours, lack of child-care facilities at the workplace, and the list could go on. The women are further burdened with the government’s neoliberal policies which led to privatisation of all basic needs that keeps the cost of living high. There are still many girls and women out there, both in rural and urban areas, who are illiterate.

No doubt, there has been much remarkable progress among Malaysian women in self-advancement and capitalism did contribute to that, but as a working class, we are still the oppressed class.

International Women’s Day 2012: Women march against US military expansion in the Philippines and the Pacific

Unity statement by women in the Philippines

March 8, 2012 -- On the occasion of the International Women’s Day 2012, we, Filipino women declare in strongest terms possible, our opposition not only to increased presence but to US military presence per se on Philippines soil.

The United States is increasing its military presence in Asia-Pacific, in particular in the Philippines, and the Philippine government is showing no qualms in allowing this to happen.

A news account recently reported on the United States' plan to increase its military aid to “boost” Philippine defence; the promised aid will amount to US$144 million, reflecting an increase of more than $20 million on the previous amount. In another earlier news article, US ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas was quoted as saying his government had spent US$50 million for the upgrading of Philippine military facilities.

The Washington Post in January 2012 also reported that Philippine officials were in the United States to conduct initial talks with representatives of the Obama government "about expanding the American military presence in the island nation". More high-level and intense discussions will take place this March.

China: 'A sixteen-point proposal on China's reform'

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

March 2, 2012 -- Reports from the Economic Front -- China is widely celebrated as an economic success story. And it is as far as GDP, investment and export growth is concerned. However, as we know well from our experience in the United States, such economic indicators often reveal little about the reality of people’s lives. In China workers are subject to intense working conditions with a disproportionate share of the benefits of production going to a top few. For example, as Bloomberg News notes:

The richest 70 members of China’s legislature added more to their wealth last year than the combined net worth of all 535 members of the U.S. Congress, the president and his Cabinet, and the nine Supreme Court justices.

UN will deny Tamils justice

Tamils protest in London, April 2009, during the Sri Lankan government's brutal war to crush the Tamil movement for national rights.

By Ron Ridenour

February 20, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Brace yourselves Tamils in and from Sri Lanka! The United Nations Human Rights Council will not grant you justice at its 19th session, on February 27-March 23, 2012 or, perhaps, in any foreseeable future.

Until the past few weeks it looked as though the “international community” (US, UK-Europe, Canada, Australia, Japan), the east (Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Iran), the Middle East-Libya/Africa and the progressive global South (Cuba-ALBA+, South Africa) were content with ignoring Sri Lanka’s war crimes and crimes against humanity.

China: Elite rule faces rising social and working-class struggles

Strikes by workers are growing across China. Photo from KasamaProject.org.

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

By Kevin Lin

February 11, 2012 -- Green Left Weekly/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- China’s transition to state-led capitalism over the past three decades has generated numerous social struggles against the state and capital. With China’s ascent in the capitalist world economy, the social struggles inside China not only have a significant domestic impact, but increasingly international ramifications.

As China celebrates the Year of the Dragon, it is an opportune time to critically review the situation for social struggles and their prospects for the future.

State and elite politics

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