Archive for the ‘State repression’ Category

Aretha in 1973; pic by AP.

by The Spark

Tributes are pouring in for the late legendary singer Aretha Franklin. Many certainly came from those in official positions and celebrities, but most came from people she grew up with and from all of the neighborhoods around the country. The strength of people’s feelings stems from the fact Aretha expressed, not only through her music but also through what she stood for politically, their feelings at a time of engagement and determination to fight for social change in the social movements of the 1960s and 1970s.

Aretha’s first hit single, her remake of Otis Redding’s song, “Respect,” hit the charts almost simultaneously with the eruption of the urban rebellion that occurred in Detroit in 1967. Like several of her records, “Respect”became an anthem, for black people and for women. Aretha transformed the point of view of Redding’s lyrics about a man expecting respect from his wife to that of a woman demanding respect from her man. Aretha’s spelling out of “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” and insistent phrases like “Give me my propers!” reflected women’s growing militancy and, beyond it, the attitudes of the larger community demanding change.

Similarly, her hit “Think!,” was direct and to the point “You’d better think, about what you’re trying to do to me,” ending in a chorus of  (more…)

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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…)

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…)

PEDRO MERA / GETTY IMAGES Photo: Pedro Mera

by Jimena Vergara

Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) crushed the other candidates in the July 1 Mexican presidential election, winning over 50% of the votes – twice as much as his nearest opponent.

The international press, with good reason, has described the election as historic because of the massive level of voter participation. In the last elections, 63% of the electorate voted, and in this one, 78% took to the polls.

The international and national press is filled with headlines about the “leftist” who won the presidency. AMLO is, in fact, a center-left politician whose election represents deep discontent with the political establishment. The masses invested their aspirations in his candidacy as a product of their deep resentment against the parties that have governed Mexico for the last century.

A historic election

AMLO, part of the political party MORENA (which stands for National Regeneration Movement in Spanish), won (more…)

Lutte Ouvriere’s 2018 fete

The piece below is the July 2 editorial from the national network of workplace bulletins produced all over France every week by the revolutionary workers’ current Lutte Ouvriere.The bulletins are read by hundreds of thousands of workers. On one side of the leaflet is an editorial – the same for all leaflets – presenting Lutte Ouvrière’s position on current political issues. The other side has short articles – they change from company to company – written by members of Lutte Ouvrière workplace groups and that focus on working and living conditions inside the company. The leaflets are free but collections are regularly organized to help finance them.

European heads of state and government recently gathered in Brussels with a view to finding a solution to the so-called “migrant crisis”. An agreement was reached, but it only confirmed the measures that have already brought shame on the Europe of the rich. This agreement is designed to force migrants to stay in the poorest countries of the world and to ensure that women, children and men who try to escape misery and war continue to be treated like criminals.

Governments hosting far-right ministers went home triumphant from the summit. But what about the political leaders who, like Macron, claim to defend a European ideal? Their hypocrisy is despicable! They make resounding speeches exposing the dangers of nationalism and xenophobia but the words they use to justify their rejection of migrants are the words of the far right.

For instance, Macron refuses to open French harbors to NGO-sponsored rescue ships. He claims that the NGOs which look after migrants are (more…)

Last month Palestinian journalist, editor and author Ramzy Baroud spoke at meetings around New Zealand, talking about the current situation in Palestine and promoting his new book  (see here).  Below is an article he wrote last month, highlighting that the problem is not the Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza but the entire apparatus of the Zionist state, in ‘Israel’ as well.  Here we reprint a recent article of his.

by Ramzy Baroud

June 5, 2018, marked the 51st anniversary of the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.

But, unlike the massive popular mobilization that preceded the anniversary of the Nakba – the catastrophic destruction of Palestine in 1948 – on 15 May, the anniversary of the occupation is hardly generating equal mobilization.

The unsurprising death of the ‘peace process’ and the inevitable demise of the ‘two-state solution’ has shifted the focus from ending the occupation per se to the larger, and more encompassing, problem of Israel’s colonialism throughout Palestine.

Grassroots mobilization in Gaza and the West Bank, and among Palestinian Bedouin communities in the Naqab Desert, are, once more, widening the Palestinian people’s sense of national aspirations. Thanks to the limited vision of the Palestinian leadership those aspirations have, for decades, been confined to Gaza and the West Bank.

In some sense, the ‘Israeli occupation’ is no longer an occupation as per international standards and definitions. It is merely a phase of the Zionist (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…)