Archive for the ‘Democracy movements’ Category

Marikana massacre of workers carried out by ANC government, August 16, 2012; the single most number killed by any Slouth African government in a single action since the 1960 apartheid regime massacre of black civil rights protesters at Sharpeville

Billionaire Cyril Ramaphosa has been made president of the ANC, although Jacob Zuma will continue as president of the country.

Ramaphosa says the ANC will spend 2018 reconnecting with the people and making up for its mistakes.

The idea of this super-rich capitalist reconnecting with the masses is a hoot.  Ramaphosa, who supported the massacring of mine workers just a couple of years ago, leveraged his time as a militant trade union leader to get into business and epitomises everything that went wrong with the ANC in the first place. 

by Peter Manson

Readers will know that president Jacob Zuma was replaced by Cyril Ramaphosa as leader of the African National Congress at the ANC’s elective conference in December.

Zuma will remain South African head of state, however, until a new president is elected by the national assembly following the 2019 general election – unless, of course, action is taken by the ANC and parliament to remove him earlier, which is a distinct possibility.

Just before the elective conference, commentator Peter Bruce pleaded to ANC delegates:

The fact is that policy uncertainty is crippling foreign investment … And try not to think of foreign investors as fat, white capitalists smoking cigars in a club somewhere and deciding which ideological friends to finance … They’re investing the savings and pensions of people like you … They need a return on those people’s money, just like you need a return on yours.1

Corruption

Such commentators wanted Zuma out – and were equally opposed to his replacement as ANC president by his former wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who was seen as a mere continuation of the current corrupt regime. Zuma not only stands accused of using state funds to upgrade his private residence, and of allowing the Gupta family to exert huge influence over government appointments – so-called ‘state capture’ – but he still has no fewer than 783 charges of corruption, fraud and money-laundering hanging over him. These are connected to the multi-billion-dollar arms deal finalised in 1999 just after Zuma became deputy president. His financial advisor at the time, Schabir Shaik, was jailed in 2005 for facilitating those bribes and, while Zuma faced charges too, they were conveniently dropped just after he became president in 2009.

During the pre-conference campaign Ramaphosa repeatedly insisted that all those implicated in ‘state capture’ and corruption must be (more…)

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This is the first in what will be an occasional series of articles we are running about specific revolutionary women; we say ‘occasional’ simply because they won’t be daily or weekly.  This article was not written to be part of this series; Yassamine wrote it for a different purpose, but we thought it was a fascinating article and so we’re re-blogging it to kick off the series.

by Yassamine Mather

One hundred thousand women demonstrate in Tehran against the imposition of the veil by the theocratic regime in 1979

Taher Ahmadzadeh, a veteran member of Iran’s Jebheh Melli (National Front – Mossadegh’s political coalition) and the Freedom Movement, who became briefly the governor of Khorassan province after the Iranian revolution of 1979, died on November 30 in Mashad, northern Iran. Most of the Persian language press inside and outside the country published lengthy obituaries. He had been imprisoned both during the Pahlavi period and after the Islamic Revolution and the obituaries dedicated paragraphs to his sons Massoud and Majid, founders of the Sazman-e Cherikha-ye Fadayee-ye Khalgh, OIPFG, who were executed by the Shah’s regime, and his youngest son, Mojtaba, a sympathizer of another communist organisation, who opposed armed struggle, killed at the age of 25 by the Islamic Republic.

However almost all of these obituaries failed to mention his daughter Mastoureh Ahmadzadeh, who is alive, who was a political prisoner of the Shah’s regime and became a leading figure of OIPFG, a member of its central committee. The editors, journalists and commentators who remind us everyday how they have become ‘feminists’, the very same people who complain daily about the lack of women ministers in Rouhani’s government (as if that would make any difference to a government led by a reformist Shia cleric) wrote about Taher Ahmadzadeh and his three sons but not a word about his daughter. It is almost as if she doesn’t exist.

This short piece, based on my memories of Mastoureh (comrade Azam) in Kurdistan and later in France, is to (more…)

by Yassamine Mather

There has been a considerable amount of fake news about the demonstrations that started in Mashad and other towns in Khorassan province on the 28th of December 2017. These demonstrations have continued, five days later in Tehran, as well as in many other towns and cities across the country. The protesters are angry and fearless, and their grievances are reasonably clear. What began with outrage against rising prices, unemployment and poverty has evolved into more political slogans against corruption and against the dictator, Ayatollah Khameini.

Basic food prices have sky-rocketed in the last few weeks, with the price of eggs rising by 40% in a matter of days. In some of Iran’s major cities, rents have risen by 83% in the last 3 years alone. Mass unemployment is a big issue – particularly in the provinces where the protests emerged. The rate of inflation may have fallen from 35% under the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but it remains at unsustainable levels.

Despite being controlled by the factions of the Iranian regime, the relative diversity of the media inside Iran has ensured that most Iranians are aware of, and indeed well-informed about, the multi-billion dollar corruption scandals in which all factions of the regime are implicated. Rouhani’s government, senior ayatollahs associated with more conservative factions of the regime and the former populist president Ahmadinejad (who claimed to be the defender of the disinherited) are all embroiled in corruption and embezzlement.

Ahmadinejad and his close allies are currently facing criminal charges of serious (more…)

by Daphna Whitmore

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Ahed Tamimi in a military court yesterday remains in detention without legal representation or charges

So, Lorde has been invited to a meeting with the Israeli Ambassador to New Zealand after announcing she would cancel her concert in Tel Aviv. Mr Yitzhak Gerberg wants to tell Lorde that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East and to discuss the the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

Sure, Israel is a democracy of sorts for Jewish Israelis. There are anomolies, such as religious intermarriage being outlawed. This does contravene the notion of basic freedoms and resembles the old segregation seen in the Southern States of the US and the former apartheid regime in South  Africa. There are also no civil divorce rights in Israel – only religious bodies can rule on divorce – and there are numerous other democratic shortcomings, but for Jews many of the features of a democracy do exist.

For the 1.4 million Palestinian and other Arab populations in Israel, however, the democracy is very second rate. They face discrimination that is among the worst by Western standards. But all the limitations of democratic rights in Israel pale in comparison to the brutal military occupation carried out by the Israeli state for the past 50 years over the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank.

Will Ambassador Gerberg explain what sort of democracy it is that imprisons children? There are currently 400 Palestinian children in Israeli prisons. This week the case of 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi highlighted the situation when she was seized in the middle of the night by Israeli soldiers after video footage showed her slapping two Israeli solidiers who were on her family property, just hours after a 15-year-old cousin of Ahed had been shot in the head by soldiers. (more…)

The article below was written a little over nine years ago.  Since then the campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) in relation to Israel has grown significantly and caused some real headaches to the Israeli state.  Nevertheless, some on the left oppose BDS.  While this is essentially a capitulation to the pressures of imperialism, there are also some genuinely left-wing people who remain confused about the nature of the Israeli state and the political forces within it and the role of BDS.

In the article below, one of the founders of BDS, Omar Barghouti, takes up the left and liberal critics of BDS.

Since the launch of the Palestinian boycott movement a few years ago, we have experienced an awkward phenomenon that demands urgent comment. Several organizations known for years — in some cases, decades — for their tireless Palestine solidarity work stood firmly against the Palestinian civil society Call for Boycott, Divestment and SanctionsBDS, issued on 9 July 2005, for various reasons. Some said such tactics were “harmful” to the Palestinian struggle. Others opined that BDS would undermine the so-called Israeli “peace” movement. Others, still, stated that boycotting Israel would invite accusations of anti-Semitism and betrayal of the Holocaust victims, thereby setting back Palestine solidarity work in a substantial way.Many other arguments were (more…)

by Luigi Morris

4:30 a.m. The first alarm rings, then the second, and so on. Little by little the sound invades your sleep; it starts to disturb you. Not so much because of the noise, but because of what it means. A tired body, sleepy head and relaxed legs are forced to suddenly get up. First you sit up and understand little or nothing. You just realize you already have to leave and you won’t come back until the evening. One more day that slips away from you while you’re working.

Eight, 10, 12, 14 or 16 are the number of working hours that many of us have to endure in a day—multiplied by 5, 6 or 7 days, with shifts and/or rotating days off—”American Inventions” that lengthen the week, that only give you one or two days off. Overtime, forced by pressure, threats or wages that aren’t enough for anything. Awards, for production, sales or perfect punctuality, are just other means of extortion. And so it is with these different combinations that we arrive at the life of daily work in which we wage a class struggle that is silent, but no less brutal: we hate going to work. We struggle to get more minutes or seconds for rest or distraction, doing everything a little more slowly, going to the bathroom or defying the time limits of our breaks while the hours DO NOT pass. The hands on the clock are heavy; they don’t move. We can’t wait until (more…)

Pic: EPA/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA

The following is the text of a talk delivered by veteran journalist and film-maker John Pilger at the British Library in London last Saturday (Dec 9).  His talk was part of a festival called “The Power of the Documentary” organised by the Library.  The festival was held to mark its acquisition of the archive of his written work.

by John Pilger

I first understood the power of the documentary during the editing of my first film, The Quiet Mutiny. In the commentary, I make reference to a chicken, which my crew and I encountered while on patrol with American soldiers in Vietnam.

“It must be a Vietcong chicken – a communist chicken,” said the sergeant. He wrote in his report: “enemy sighted”.

The chicken moment seemed to underline the farce of the war – so I included it in the film. That may have been unwise. The regulator of commercial television in Britain – then the Independent Television Authority or ITA – had demanded to see my script. What was my source for the political affiliation of the chicken? I was asked. Was it really a communist chicken, or could it have been a pro-American chicken?

Of course, this nonsense had a serious purpose; when The Quiet Mutiny was broadcast by ITV in 1970, the US ambassador to Britain, Walter Annenberg, a personal friend of President Richard Nixon, complained to the ITA. He complained not about the chicken but about the whole film. “I intend to inform the White House,” the ambassador wrote. Gosh.

The Quiet Mutiny had revealed that the US army in Vietnam was tearing (more…)