Archive for the ‘Democracy movements’ Category

Below is a statement by Dr Swee Ang, who was the medical doctor on the al-Awda, the freedom flotilla ship delivering medical supplies to the besieged people of Gaza; among those assaulted and tasered was Mike Treen, the national director of Unite trade union in NZ and a veteran activist in progressive causes from opposition to the Vietnam War to anti-apartheid activities and support for the Palestinian cause.

The statement, made on August 4, has appeared in a number of places; we took it from the blog of veteran British anti-imperialist and socialist activist Tony Greenstein.  We’ve added subheads to break up the text a bit more.

by Dr Swee Ang

The last leg of the journey of al-Awda (the boat of return) was scheduled to reach Gaza on 29 July 2018. We were on target to reach Gaza that evening. There are 22 on board including crew with USD15,000 of antibiotics and bandages for Gaza. At 12.31 pm we received a missed call from a number beginning with +81… Mikkel was steering the boat at that time. The phone rang again with the message that we were trespassing into Israeli waters. Mikkel replied that we were in International waters and had right of innocent passage according to maritime laws. The accusation of trespassing was repeated again and again with Mikkel repeating the message that we were sailing in international waters. This carried on for about half an hour, while Awda was 42 nautical miles from the coast of Gaza.

Prior to the beginning of this last leg, we had spent 2 days learning non-violent actions and had prepared ourselves in anticipation of Israeli invasion of our boat. Vulnerable individuals especially those with medical conditions were to sit at the rear of the top deck with their hands on the deck table. The leader of this group was Gerd, a 75 year old elite Norwegian athlete and she had the help of Lucia a Spanish nurse in her group.

The people who were to provide non-violent barrier to the Israelis coming on deck and taking over the boat formed 3 rows – two rows of threes and the third row of 2 persons blocking the wheel house door to protect the wheel house for as long as possible. There were runners between the wheel house and the rear of the deck. The leader of the boat Zohar and I were at the two ends of the toilets corridor where we looked out at the horizon and inform all of any sightings of armed boats. I laughed at Zohar and said we are the Toilet Brigade, but I think Zohar did not find it very funny. It was probably bad taste under the circumstances. I also would be able to help as a runner and will have accessibility to all parts of the deck in view of being the doctor on board.

The attack begins

Soon we saw at least three large Israeli warships on the horizon with 5 or more speed boats (zodiacs) zooming towards us. As the Zodiacs approached I saw that they carried soldiers with machine guns and there was on board the boats large machine guns mounted on a stand pointing at our boat. From my lookout point the first Israeli soldier climbed on board to the cabin level and climbed up the boat ladder to the top deck. His face was masked with a white cloth and following him were many others, all masked. They were all armed with machine guns and small cameras on their chests.

Tasered

They immediately made to the wheel house overcoming the first row by twisting the arms of the participants, lifting Sarah up and throwing her away.  Joergen the chef was large to be manhandled so he was tasered before being (more…)

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by Don Franks

Former National leader Don Brash, invited to address a Massey university student club, was stopped by vice-chancellor Jan Thomas.  She canned the event after club members voiced concerns about safety. The university considered putting on extra security, then decided the risk of harm to students, staff and the public was too high.

Really?

Were anti-Brash protesters going to rock up with guns? (more…)

global_perspectiverThe following interview was first published in English on leftwingbooks.net, see here.

This is the English version of an interview with Torkil Lauesen that Gabriel Kuhn conducted for the German daily junge Welt. Torkil Lauesen is a Danish anti-imperialist whose book The Global Perspective: Reflections on Imperialism and Resistance has recently been published by Kersplebedeb. In 1991, Lauesen was sentenced to ten years in prison for his involvement in the so-called Blekingegade Group whose activities have been featured in the PM/Kersplebedeb release Turning Money into Rebellion: The Unlikely Story of Denmark’s Revolutionary Bank Robbers. (The book can be bought here)

In 1991, you were sentenced to ten years in prison because of your anti-imperialist activities. Now, 25 years later, you have written a book titled The Global Perspective: Reflections on Imperialism and Resistance. Has nothing changed?

Everything has changed in order to stay the same: The industrialization of the Global South and the global chains of production have intensified imperialism. Superprofits for capital have increased, while the prices for consumer goods in the Global North have decreased. U.S. hegemony has declined. We now live in a multipolar world with new powers emerging. So-called real socialism no longer exists, and national liberation movements have all but disappeared.

At the end of the 1980s, antiimperialism pretty much vanished from the left’s radar. Why?

National liberation struggles in the Global South subsided and neoliberalism ushered in a golden capitalist era. Furthermore, the talk about globalization concealed the ongoing reality of imperialism.

Was there no globalization?

Of course there have been drastic changes in capitalism in the last thirty years: innovations in transport and communications have altered the entire system of production and distribution. But very few people have (more…)

US-armed Saudi troops in Yemen

by Yassamine Mather

During the last few days the port of Hudaydah in Yemen has been the scene of fierce battles between a Saudi-led coalition and Houthi forces – the latest phase in a bitter civil war. Hudaydah, a city of 600,000 people, has been the only major port controlled by the Houthi rebels and its proximity to the capital, Sana’a, makes it a strategic asset. Seventy percent of the country’s imports pass through it.

The attack on the port is said to be part of a cynical plot to stop discussions of a peace plan prepared by UN envoy Martin Griffiths. He had warned that an attack on Hudaydah would “take peace off the table in a single stroke”.1Naturally, the Trump administration denies egging on the attempt to capture Hudaydah – despite being challenged by US senators, including those worrying over continuing arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Last week, in a show of concern, acting assistant secretary of state for near east affairs David Satterfield gave specific information about the location of targets that should be avoided, based on satellite data.

Not a Sunni-Shi’a conflict

However, on June 15 the US and the UK opposed Sweden’s attempt to (more…)

Veteran social justice activist Maire Leadbeater’s latest book is a meticulously-researched work on the attitudes of successive New Zealand governments, both Labour and National, in relation to the independence struggle in West Papua.

In the 1950s, New Zealand supported independence for the former Dutch colony, but this changed in the early 1960s.  Since then governments here have pursued policies which have put their relationships with Indonesian regimes, including the vicious Suharto dictatorship, ahead of the right of the people of West Papua to freedom.

Maire has previously exposed NZ government collusion, by both Labour and National, with the Indonesian dictatorship’s murderous invasion and occupation of Timor Leste (formerly East Timor).  Her work around the cause of the people there led to her being awarded the Order of Timor Leste by the Timorese government last year.

Today, the ‘democratic’ regime in Jakarta pursues murderous policies in West Papua, policies about which we hear very little in New Zealand.

Maire’s new book See No Evil: New Zealand’s betrayal of the people of West Papua, published by Otago University Press, is an important breach in the wall of silence in this country around (more…)

by Daphna Whitmore

This deceptively slim book covers a lot of ground. The author, Ilan Pappe, is a well-known expatriate Israeli historian, critic and social activist. He is one of the ‘new historians’ arising in Israel who have challenged the official Zionist version of Israel’s history.  As the name suggests Ten Myths is divided into sections which saves it from becoming a heavy treatise on the making of Israel.

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Ilan Pappe

Pappe takes apart the myth of Palestine being an empty land and shows how the displacement of the indigenous people was a part of early Zionist ideology. Pappe challenges Israel’s claim to represent all Jews,  and presents Zionism as  settler colonialism and the Palestinian national movement as an anti-colonial movement. 

Zionism  sought to transform a religion into nationalism at a time when the formation of nations was on the rise, particularly in Europe. Then after World War 2, when colonialism was being rejected by the civilised world, Zionism was supported in becoming a colonialist project “because the creation of a Jewish state offered Europe, and West Germany in particular, an easy way out of the worst excesses of anti-Semitism ever seen. Israel was the first to declare its recognition of ‘a new Germany’—in return it received a lot of money, but also, far more importantly a carte blanche to turn the whole of Palestine into Israel. Zionism offered itself as the solution to anti-Semitism, but became the main reason for its continued presence.” (more…)

Public beheadings take place each year by the score, frequently for taking part in political protests

by Lutte Ouvriere

For more than two and a half years, Saudi Arabia has been waging a war on Yemen that has already caused 10,000 deaths. Bombing has hit hospitals, schools and military positions indiscriminately. On January 1, 2018, a gas station in the marketplace of Al Hudayadh in West Yemen was hit, killing at least 20 people. According to the Red Cross, the cholera epidemic that is a direct result of the war has affected a million people since March 2017. Due to the embargo imposed by the Saudi regime, famine now threatens 70% of the Yemeni population of 27.5 million.

NZ prime minister John Key visiting Saudi Arabia 2015; what’s a few score of public beheadings a year between friends? Photo: Radio NZ/Kim Baker Wilson

Led by the US, imperialist powers gave their go-ahead, and the Saudis launched Operation Decisive Storm on March 25, 2015. The UN Security Council immediately approved. Great Britain, France and the U.S. supplied arms and military intelligence and continue to do so, ignoring the catastrophic effect on the Yemeni people. Saudi Arabia is now bogged down in this endless conflict.

The Saudi ambassador to the US, Adel al-Jubeir, declared, “We’re doing this to protect Yemen.” Saudi Arabia has interfered in the region for decades, but its aim has never been to protect the population – it has always been to protect its own interests and prove itself a faithful ally of U.S. imperialism. Its role of “gendarme” for imperialism, together with its regional ambitions and the instability of its regime, are the ingredients of (more…)