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national question

Sri Lankan government's ties with Israel expose its duplicity

Donald Perera, Sri Lanka’s ambassador to Israel, in his Tel Aviv office.

By Chris Slee

August 14, 2010 -- On July 21 the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth published an interview with Donald Perera, Sri Lanka’s ambassador to Israel. Perera, the former Sri Lankan Air Force commander and Chief of Defence Staff, thanked Israel profusely for its support in the fight against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), saying: "For years Israel has aided our war on terror through the exchange of information and the sale of military technology and equipment... Our air force fleet includes 17 Kfir warplanes, and we also have Dabur patrol boats. Our pilots were trained in Israel, and we have received billions of dollars in aid over the past few years. This is why I asked to be assigned to Israel -- a country I consider a partner in the war against terror."

Ecuador: Indigenous struggle, ecology and capitalist resource extraction

Marlon Santi, Quito, July 5, 2010.

Marlon Santi interviewed by Jeffery R. Webber

July 13, 2010 -- The Bullet -- On July 5, I sat down with Marlon Santi, president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), in his office in Quito. We discussed the increasing contradictions between the demands of the Indigenous people's movement, on the one hand, around water rights and anti-mining resistance, and the positions of the government of Rafael Correa, on the other, which has labelled Indigenous resistance to large-scale mining and oil exploitation as “terrorism and sabotage”.

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Can you describe your political formation and personal political trajectory?

Behind Bangkok's war in southern Thailand

Thai police arrest a Thai Muslim.

Below is an excerpt from Thai socialist Giles Ji Ungpakorn's latest book, Thailand’s Crisis and the Fight for Democracy. It provides an historical background to Thai politics from the pre-capitalist era, through the turmoil of the 1930s and 1970s, up to the present day. It has been posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Giles Ji Ungpakorn's permission.

Giles Ji Ungpakorn is a political commentator and dissident. In February 2009 he had to leave Thailand for exile in Britain because he was charged with lèse majesté for writing a book criticising the 2006 military coup. His latest book will be of interest to activists, academics and journalists who have an interest in Thai politics, democratisation and NGOs.

Why Catalonia stood up on July 10

By Dick Nichols

July 12, 2010 -- When up to 1.5 million people flooded the streets of Barcelona on July 10, 2010, in an enormous demonstration -- behind a lead banner proclaiming, “We are a nation, we decide” -- the most optimistic forecasts were exceeded. The huge protest was against the Constitutional Court’s rejection of the  constitutionality of Catalonia’s Statute of Autonomy. Even the most conservative and Spanish-nationalist media had to admit that this was one of the biggest demonstrations since the end of the Franco dictatorship, and the most important in the history of Catalan nationalism.

The demonstration was endorsed by more than 500 groups, including the parties that make up 88% of the Catalan parliament, Catalan trade union organisations large and small, the Peasants Union,and scores of migrant, community and cultural organisations.

The only parties that opposed the demonstration were the right-wing Popular Party (PP), formerly in power in the Spanish state but only the fourth-largest parliamentary force in Catalonia, and Citizens, a movement of Castilian (Spanish) speakers resentful of pro-Catalan language policy.

Support Tamils not Sri Lanka’s war-criminal government -- Eva Golinger misinterprets solidarity

By Ron Ridenour

June 1, 2010 -- Eva Golinger is known for her analysis in the service of Venezuela’s peaceful revolution against the local oligarchy and the United States empire. She is a noted author (The Chavez Code: Cracking US intervention in Venezuela). A dual citizen of the US and Venezuela, she is an attorney, and a personal friend of President Hugo Chavez. She is a frequent contributor to left-wing media around the world, and is the English-language editor of the Venezuelan newspaper, Correo del Orinoco.

Book explores roots of Sri Lanka conflict

Sri Lanka: 60 Years of "Independence" and Beyond
Edited by Ana Pararajasingham,
Published by the Centre for Just Peace and Democracy, Switzerland 2009

Review by Chris Slee

May 30, 2010 -- This is a very useful book for those wishing to gain a thorough understanding of the history of Sri Lanka since its independence from Britain in 1948. The 27 authors in the collection are diverse in their ethnic backgrounds, including Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims from Sri Lanka, as well as outsiders. They are also diverse in their political outlook, including liberals, Marxists and Tamil nationalists.

Memories of a participant: Kent & Jackson State, 1970 -- A firestorm they could not contain

By Mike Ely

May 4, 2010 -- Kasama Project -- May 4, 1970. Forty years have passed. It is history now in the eyes of the world. But for me, and many others, it is raw and alive. It always will be.

I won’t tell the well-known details – if you don’t know them, look them up. But I will tell you what it felt like, and looked like to a teenage boy who wanted desperately to see the liberation of the Vietnamese and Black people in America.

May Day for Bobby Seale — New Haven, 1970

On May 1 1970, I was in New Haven, Connecticut. Bobby Seale, the chairman of the Black Panther Party was facing a murder trial in New Haven. They had first bound and gagged him in the  courtroom of the Chicago 8, then shipped him to Connecticut to lock him up for life. We were determined to free him.

Students came from all over the US east coast to turn the city upside down. On my campus, we had worked day and night to explain the attack on the Black Panther Party – and to mobilise busloads to go New Haven.

Bobby Seale, chairman of the Black Panther Party.

From the civil rights movement to Barack Obama

Manning Marable.

Beyond Black & White
By Manning Marable,
Verso Press, 2009, 319 pages

Review by Malik Miah

Manning Marable’s latest book, Beyond Black & White, is an update of a valuable critique of Black and US politics first issued in 1995. He revised it last year, adding new chapters covering the period from 1995 to 2008, including an analysis of the meaning of the election of the first African-American president of the United States, Barack Obama, in November 2008.

The closing chapter, “Barack Obama, the 2008 Presidential Election and the Prospects for a ‘Post Racial Politics”, is a good place to begin reading the collection of articles and essays. Marable’s two prefaces —for the first and new edition — outline his views on “Black and white” and the evolution of how race impacts US political conversations and the failure of leadership in the Black community.

How African-American communists fought for racial equality to the US south

Februarry 16, 2010 -- NPR -- Tell Me More continues its Black History Month series of conversations with a discussion about the role of the Communist Party. It was prominent in the fight for racial equality in the south, specifically Alabama, where segregation was most oppressive. Many courageous activists were communists. Host Michel Martin speaks with historian Robin G. Kelley about his book Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists During the Great Depression about how the communist party tried to secure racial, economic, and political reforms. The transcript is available from NPR.

Québec: Why the Parti Québécois expelled SPQ Libre

By Richard Fidler

March 30, 2010 -- Life on the Left -- A five-year long attempt to reform the Parti Québécois (PQ) as an independentist and “social-democratic” party ended abruptly on March 13 when the PQ’s national executive decided not to renew recognition of its left-wing “political club” as an authorised grouping with the party. The decision, which effectively expelled Syndicalistes et Progressistes pour un Québec Libre (SPQ Libre)[1] from the party, was promptly approved by the PQ’s conference of constituency presidents.

Australia: Freedom fighter Chicka Dixon departs, his activist spirit lives on

Charles "Chicka" Dixon (top left with mouth covered) at the 1972 Aboriginal Tent Embassy, Canberra. Photo from http://indigenousrights.net.au.

By Peter Boyle, Sydney

March 31, 2010 -- Indigenous and trade union activist Chicka "The Fox" Dixon (1928-2010) was farewelled by more than a thousand people in a state funeral in Sydney Town Hall today. Chicka was from the Yuin people whose traditional lands stretch along the south coast of New South Wales, from the Shoalhaven down to the Victorian border.

Sri Lanka: Left-Tamil alliance to contest elections

Vickramabahu Karunaratne, the presidential candidate for the NSSP.

By Chris Slee

March 20, 2010 -- The Left Liberation Front (LFF) is contesting 19 seats in the April 8 parliamentary elections in Sri Lanka. The LLF, an electoral coalition comprising the Nava Sama Samaja Party (NSSP, New Socialist Party), the Tamil National Liberation Alliance (TNLA) and the Socialist Party, stands for the right of self-determination for the oppressed Tamil people of Sri Lanka, freedom for political prisoners and an end to the state of emergency.

The NSSP and the Socialist Party are Marxist parties based in the predominantly Sinhalese south of the island of Sri Lanka. The TNLA is a Tamil nationalist party based amongst the Tamil people of the north and east of the island.

Martin Luther King Jr in the age of Obama: Why we can't wait

By Billy Wharton

January 17, 2010 -- Albert Boutwell's election as Birmingham, Alabama, mayor in 1963 might have signaled the end of the modern civil rights movement. As a moderate Democrat, Boutwell promised to temper the harsh repression unleashed by the city’s notorious chief of police and his mayoral opponent Eugene “Bull” Connor. Mainstream leaders of the black community were told to wait it out –- let the storm pass and incremental changes could begin. Dr Martin Luther King Jr. refused to wait. Instead, he launched Plan “C” (confrontation), a large-scale protest campaign that broke the back of Southern segregation.

Quebec left debates independence strategy (updated December 20, 2009)

Québec solidaire's member of the Québec National Assembly, Amir Khadir, tossing a shoe at a picture of US President George Bush at a rally in Montreal in November 2008.

By Richard Fidler

December 3, 2009 -- Socialist Voice -- Québec solidaire, the left-wing party founded almost four years ago, held its fifth convention in the Montréal suburb of Laval on November 20-22, 2009. About 300 elected delegates debated and adopted resolutions on the Quebec national question, electoral reform, immigration policy and secularism.

The convention clarified the party’s position on some important questions at the heart of its strategic orientation that had been left unresolved at its founding.

Québec solidaire is the product of a fusion process lasting several years among various organisations and left-wing groups that had developed in the context of major actions by the women’s, student, global justice and antiwar movements in the 1990s and the early years of this decade. But the party has faced many obstacles as it struggled to establish a visible presence in Quebec’s political landscape.[1]

Cuba and ALBA let down Sri Lanka’s Tamils

By Ron Ridenour

"Those who are exploited are our compatriots all over the world; and the exploiters all over the world are our enemies… Our country is really the whole world, and all the revolutionaries of the world are our brothers." -- Fidel Castro.[1]

“The revolutionary [is] the ideological motor force of the revolution…if he forgets his proletarian internationalism, the revolution which he leads will cease to be an inspiring force and he will sink into a comfortable lethargy, which imperialism, our irreconcilable enemy, will utilize well. Proletarian internationalism is a duty, but it is also a revolutionary necessity. So we educate our people.” -- Che Guevara.[2]

November 14, 2009 -- I think that the governments of Cuba, Bolivia and Nicaragua let down the entire Tamil population in the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, as well as “proletarian internationalism” and the “exploited”, by extending unconditional support to Sri Lanka’s racist government.

Canada/Quebec: Québécois denounce Supreme Court attack on language rights

By Richard Fidler

November 9, 2009 -- The October 22 ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada overturning yet another section of Quebec’s Charter of the French Language (CFL) has been met with angry protests by a broad range of opinion in the French-speaking province.

The court declared unconstitutional a law adopted unanimously by Quebec’s National Assembly in 2002 that closed a loophole in the charter being used to circumvent the requirement that Quebec students attend French-language schools. In effect, the judgment restores free choice of language of elementary schooling for parents rich enough to send their kids for a few years to private schools not funded by the Quebec government before enrolling them in English public schools.

Ireland: Political murals of West Belfast

By Lauren Carrol Harris

November 9, 2009 -- Belfast -- Though Northern Ireland has slipped from the nightly news, "the troubles", including ongoing deep sectarian divisions and low-level violence, are a daily reality for Irish republicans. Just one reminder of the struggle for a united Ireland, and example of the Irish people's creative resistance, is the multitude of political murals that smother the walls of West Belfast, a republican stronghold. Many commemorate the activists and civilians whose lives were taken in the struggle. But the murals don't just discuss Irish politics -- on these walls are messages of international solidarity for other peoples' movements for change and self-determination. Above are just a few.

United States: `Birthers', `deathers' and haters -- Right-wing populism and liberal retreat

 

By Malik Miah, San Francisco

October 11, 2009 — The heat is on the administration of US President Barack Obama. The energised conservative base has taken over town hall meetings on health care. There are “birthers” (those who claim Obama is not a US citizen and ineligible to be president), “deathers” (those who claim Obama’s health care reform is a plan to kill old people) and just pure haters. Obama has been personally attacked as a racist, socialist, communist, Stalinist, fascist, Nazi, Pol Potist, foreigner and every other name the right finds in its vocabulary.

When Obama led the US delegation to Copenhagen to get his home town of Chicago the 2016 Olympics — and failed — he was attacked as “out of touch” by the right. When Chicago was knocked out in the first round of voting, the right gleefully cheered! The “country first” crowd forgot that a Chicago Olympics would be in the United States, not “Obama Land”.

Britain’s conquest of Quebec: 250 years later, a continuing debate on how the French colonisers became colonised

By Richard Fidler

September 13, 2009 -- Life on the Left -- Colonisation. Conquest. Words that even today evoke widely varying historical memories.

Just last year Quebec City staged an elaborate round of events to celebrate the 400th anniversary of its founding as the colonial capital of New France. No expense was spared as federal and provincial governments alike poured money into the city’s coffers. Capping the ceremonies were massively attended concerts by Québécoise singer Céline Dion and former Beatle Paul McCartney — apparently deemed emblematic descendants of the French and British “founding peoples” of present-day Canada. It seemed to be one great love-in of all those involved.

(Lost in all the self-congratulatory rhetoric, of course, was any recognition that the city’s site had in fact been occupied by its Indigenous inhabitants for many centuries prior to the arrival of the Europeans.)

Paul Robeson: `The artist must elect to fight for freedom or slavery'

Peekskill outrage, September 4, 1949.

[See below for a four-part documentary on Paul Robeson's life.]

By Harry Targ

On September 4, 1949, an angry crowd surrounded the 20,000 friends of Paul Robeson who had come to hear him in an open-air concert at Peekskill, New York. After the event right-wing, anti-communist inspired mobs attacked supporters who were leaving the event. These attacks included smashing the windows of Pete Seeger’s automobile with several family members inside. Sixty years later we remember the great progressive Paul Robeson, his struggles for justice, and his refusal to bow to the politics of reaction.

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