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27 February refugee camp, south-west Algeria

November 29, 2008 -- In October, a three-member delegation of Australian trade unionists visited the Saharawi (Western Saharan) refugee camps in the Hamada desert, south-west Algeria. Western Sahara has been illegally occupied by Morocco since 1975.Green Left Weekly/LinksMargarita Windisch spoke with Sid’Ahmed Tayeb, the minister of public health for the exiled Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, when she visited the 27 February refugee camp.

The Saharawi refugee camps have now existed for close to 33 years in extremely inhumane surroundings. What has led to the Saharawis becoming refugees and what are the challenges facing the Saharawi people?

First, I would like to thank you very much for your visit. It shows us that we are not alone. This is important support that international community can give us.

Cycle protesters in Penang, December 5

By Oppressed People’s Movement (Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas, Jerit)

December 6, 2008 -- The Oppressed People’s Movement (Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas, Jerit) is conducting a cycling campaign throughout Malaysia to highlight demands for workers' right, which will be presented to the prime minister of Malaysia. The campaign officially began on December 3 at Wisma Darul Aman Kedah, where 50 cyclists were flagged off. They will cycle for 16 days through Kedah, Penang, Perak and Selangor. On December 18, they will hand a memorandum to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, at the national parliament in Kuala Lumpur.

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By Fidel Castro Ruz 

December 4, 2008 -- Following Barack Obama’s speech, on May 23, 2008, to the Cuban American National Foundation established by Ronald Reagan, I wrote a reflection entitled ``The empire’s hypocritical policy''.

In that reflection I quoted his exact words to the Miami annexationists: “[…] together we will stand up for freedom in Cuba; this is my word and my commitment […] It's time to let Cuban American money make their families less dependent upon the Castro regime. […] I will maintain the embargo.”

I then offered several arguments and unethical examples of the general behaviour of the presidents who preceded the one who would be elected to that position in the November 4 elections. I wrote:

I find myself forced to raise various sensitive questions:

1. Is it right for the President of the United States to order the assassination of any one person in the world, whatever the pretext may be?

2. Is it ethical for the President of the United States to order the torture of other human beings?

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By Patrick Bond

December 4, 2008 -- Barack Obama was elected on a platform of change. Yet, his actions are pointing to more and more of the same. The question of whether Obama can possibly replace Bush as a danger to world peace is worth considering.

The president-elect’s turn to the Zionist, militarist wing of the US ruling class in recent weeks negates the interest and support he showed for the Palestinian cause while a Chicago community organiser during the 1990s and to the anti-war movement when Bush attacked Iraq five and a half years ago.

To counteract ongoing their economic and cultural decline, it appears that US imperialist managers have adopted two strategies: political revitalisation via Obama’s carefully crafted image as a non-imperialist politician with roots in African-American, Kenyan and even Indonesian traditions; and the activism anticipated through his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, a firm supporter of the US war against Iraq.

In reaction to election campaign allegations that he is a peacenik, Obama himself uttered that the ``surge'' of US troops in Iraq ``succeeded beyond our wildest dreams''.

By Netra Bikram Chand ‘Biplap’

We should say honestly that there is a difference of opinion on how to accomplish the Nepalese Revolution. Mainly, the difference of opinion is about the party line, political program and tactics in our party. This clearly justifies that a serious u-turn has occurred before the Nepalese Revolution. The responsibility of carrying the revolution ahead successfully has fallen upon the shoulders of the revolutionary communists of Nepal and the revolutionary communists of the world. We all should direct our attention to it.

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Protesting health workers in Harare, December 3. The protest was attacked by riot cops.
(See a short video of the December 3, 2008, protest HERE.)

By the National Co-Ordinating Committee, International Socialist Organisation Zimbabwe

December 2, 2008 -- The situation in Zimbabwe has reached unprecedented levels of crisis. As we have been saying for the last few years, such a crisis was climaxing and with a number of possibilities arising. First and most likely was the likelihood of the bourgeois elite politicians in [President Robert Mugabe's] Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) uniting together in an elitist government of national unity in which ZANU-PF would be the senior partner around a Western- and capitalist-supported neoliberal economic agenda. The MDC's popularity would be used to pacify the urban working people from rising up.

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Dita Sari will stand in the 2009 election

Indonesia: Tracing a path towards parliament

By Kelik Ismunanto

November 29, 2008 -- After such a long period of time in a vacuum, uncertain of how to respond to changes caused by neoliberal economic policies, little by little, democracy movement activists have been able to wrest back the political podium.

In the last few months, several national television stations provided a political stage for activists such as Dita Sari, Budiman Sujatmiko, Pius Lustrilanang and other young activists who are contesting the 2009 elections, to explain their reasons for choosing the parliamentary tactic.

Among young activists, there are opinions in favour and against this tactic.

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The `Red Shirts' have become a `genuine pro-democracy mass movement of the poor'

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn, Bangkok

December 2, 2008 -- Today the constitutional court dissolved the democratically elected governing party, the People Power Party, in Thailand for the second time, forcing the government to resign. This follows the refusal of the armed forces and the police to follow government instructions to clear the two international airports blocked by armed People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) fascists. [The constitutional court dissolved Thailand's top three ruling parties for electoral fraud in the 2007 election that brought them to power. Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat has been banned from politics for five years.]

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Jeyakumar (`Kumar') Devaraj (third from right) with PSM supporters.

By Jeyakumar Devaraj

November 8, 2008 -- Ever since the First International, building and working within coalitions with other groups has been one of the strategies used by the left to attempt to advance its political agenda. This practice has continued up until the present.

However the strategy of working in coalitions with other groups has, fairly often, led to controversy, disagreements and even acrimonious splits, both of the coalitions as well as within the left parties involved themselves.

Why does this happen? Is the strategy of coalition work worth the effort and trouble? What are the benefits of coalition building? What are measures a socialist party can take to avoid some of the negative consequences of coalition political work?