Archive for the ‘Surveillance state’ Category

Launching ‘Echoes of Isolation’ in Gaza

Echoes of Isolation is the new book by imprisoned Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) general-secretary Comrade Ahmad Sa’adat and printed by Dar al-Farabi in Lebanon.  The book was launched in the Gaza Strip with a large event on November 13.

Comrade Allam Kaabi, a member of the Central Committee of the PFLP, delivered a speech on behalf of the Front. He was joined by the long-time struggler Raji Sourani, director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, and Abdel-Nasser Ferwana, a researcher on prisoners’ affairs.

Comrade Kaabi began his speech by saluting the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, the martyrs of the prisoners’ movement and the families of the prisoners, especially the family of Comrade Sa’adat.  He noted that the importance of the book stems from its basis in the reality of isolation experienced by Sa’adat from 2009 to 2012, and reviews the history of the Palestinian prisoners’ movement as well as methods of torture and policies of isolation.  Furthermore, he said, the book is distinguished because (more…)

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Balcony Over Jerusalem: A Middle East Memoir by John Lyons with Sylvie Le Clezio, HarperCollins, (2017); reviewed by Rod Such

Of all the pillars that help hold up Israel’s special type of settler-colonialism and apartheid, one of the strongest remains the role of Western media in amplifying Israeli hasbara (propaganda). That pillar, however, is beginning to crack.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the reflections of prominent Australian journalist John Lyons in his book Balcony Over Jerusalem, an account of his and his filmmaker wife Sylvie Le Clezio’s six-year stint in the city, from 2009 to 2015. There, Lyons was based as the Middle East correspondent of The Australian, one of the country’s leading newspapers.

There is much that is noteworthy in this book, such as Lyons’ detailed analysis of Israel’s various attempts at “social engineering.” This includes the multilayered, bureaucratic permit regime designed to stifle Palestinian resistance to occupation and ongoing land theft, buttressed by closed military zones and other means of land confiscation that dwarf the West Bank settlements themselves.

But what ultimately stands out in Balcony Over Jerusalem is the (more…)

by Con Karavias

For more than five years, refugees have been subjected to horror and abuse on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea. With the government’s decision to permanently close the detention centre on 31 October, the horror has descended into absolute barbarity.

Water, food and power have been cut off. More than 600 refugees have been reduced to filling bins with rainwater and mixing it with sugar and salt to sustain themselves. Sympathetic members of the local PNG community have been blocked from providing them with food. A protest sign in the centre in early November read, “If the air was in Australia’s hands it would cut it on us”.

Behrouz Boochani, an Iranian refugee on Manus, talks of “a mood of death, climate of (more…)

Liam: behind him is a newspaper from 1966 on the destruction of Nelson’s Pillar and a picture of Irish revolutionary Maud Gonne

Liam Sutcliffe, a veteran socialist-republican, died at home in Dublin last Friday.  His funeral was held on Wednesday morning (Irish time).  Liam was 84 at the time of his death.

Comrade Sutcliffe was a veteran of Operation Harvest (the “Border Campaign”) of 1956-62.

He played the key role in Operation Humpty-Dumpty, the blowing up of Nelson’s Pillar in O’Connell Street, Dublin, a stark symbol of British imperial power, in 1966.  The Pillar had dominated the city’s central boulevard for 157 years.

Liam also took part in helping organise defence of nationalist working class ghettoes in Belfast during the pogrom at the end of the 1960s.

In the early 1970s, he was a prominent member of the marxist-republican group Saor Eire.

Fellow fighters during the Border Campaign: Richard Behal, Charlie Murphy and Jim Lane, at the funeral

Hundreds of people – the Irish Times estimated 800 – attended cde Sutcliffe’s funeral.  Members of one of Ireland’s leading musical acts, The High Kings, performed several songs, including “Dublin the rare aul’ Times”.  Seven pipers played “The Dawning of the Day”.  By the grave three veterans of the struggle for Irish freedom sang “Boolavogue”, a famus ballad about the great rebellion of 1798.

Material on Liam appears over on The Irish Revolution site:

Liam Sutcliffe: a revolutionary life

Filmed interview with Liam from several years ago

There is also a good report on the funeral in the Irish Times, a paper not usually noted for being sympathetic to revolutionary republicanism – here.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the partial liberalisation of anti-gay laws in Britain.  The reform applied to England and Wales, but not Scotalnd or the part of Ireland still incorporated in the ‘United Kingdom’ – nor to the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.  The reform also did not extend to the armed forces or the merchant navy.  In the article below, a longtime British marxist and former activist in the gay liberation movement looks at the significance of the law change – then and now.  

by Mike McNair

Under the 1967 Sexual Offences Act homosexuality between consenting adult males in private was no longer an offence. ‘Adult’ was defined as someone over the age of 21; and ‘in private’ was subsequently defined by the judiciary: homosexual acts were only permitted in private property and there had to be only two people present. In a public place like a hotel it would still be an offence. Given the limits of the 1967 act, I did not expect anything like the scale of celebration there has been around its 50th anniversary.

In addition we have had a brief rush of publicity around a group of LGBT anarchists forming a fighting unit alongside the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria against Islamic State. Rather startlingly, the Daily Mail on July 25 ran the headline, “These faggots kill fascists” – a photo showed them raising the rainbow flag in Raqqa.1

This story of a very small group of volunteers has been all over the mainstream media. There has been, I think, a valid argument, presented on Al Jazeera by a Syrian-Palestinian woman activist, that this group was in substance holding up the flag in favour of the general frame of western intervention in Syria, rather than having any realistic expectation that the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) will display strong and persistent solidarity with lesbian and gay rights.2

But the coverage demonstrates that this summer’s celebration of gay rights is very broad. The story is that our modern liberal society has liberated lesbians and gay men from the chains of medieval oppression. Alongside this celebration, LGBT issues, just like women’s issues, have been made into an instrument for the justification of dropping bombs on foreign countries.

In this context it is worth looking a little bit further at what has been celebrated: the 1967 Act, what followed it and what went before it. As I have said, it decriminalised homosexual conduct between consenting males over the age of 21. Even though the ‘age of majority’ was reduced to 18 in 1969, as far as homosexual acts were concerned, it remained at 21 until 2000.3

The 1967 Act had an interesting consequence, in that it initially led to a substantial increase in prosecutions! Roy Walmsley, a member of the Home Office Research Unit, reported in 1978 that offences for ‘indecency between males’ recorded by the police had doubled since 1967, and the number of persons prosecuted trebled between 1967 and 1971. Most of the additional prosecutions involved two males 21 or over, so it was not primarily about consent, but about the ‘in public’ issue. In 1978 there were wide variations between police areas in respect of this.4

This is by no means the only instance of law reform leading to an increase in prosecutions. The same was true of the reforms of street prostitution (introduced under the Street Offences Act 1959), of the 1959 Obscene Publications Act, and of the 1967 Abortion Act. Nearer to the core of criminal law, it was also true of the various offences under the Theft Act 1968. The replacement of laws which are understood to be ancient, unfair, technical and difficult to understand by new legislation incentivises the police to prosecute – and makes it easier for them to do so. And it makes it easier for magistrates and juries to convict.

I might add that the ‘gross indecency’ offence, which had previously been triable by jury, became, as a result of the Act, triable before magistrates. That increased the number of prosecutions, as magistrates have always been more willing to convict than juries.

Resistance

This is not the whole story, however. There has also been a good deal of judicial and prosecutorial resistance to (more…)

People from this blog and people from AWSM (Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement) are currently working together to encourage people not to vote, and do so as a conscious political choice, in the September general election.

The facebook page will, in particular, be challenging the idea that Labour is some sort of alternative to National.  That’s the argument of the Labour hacks and the soft left outside Labour.

They want you to vote for the party that, for the past two years, has been running a racist campaign against “people with Chinese-sounding surnames” and trying to blame them for the housing crisis.

A vote for Labour is a vote for a xenophobic party.

In the 2011 and 2014 elections, Labour campaigned to raise the retirement age.

The last Labour government presided over year after year of budget surpluses, while refusing to raise social welfare benefits.

The last Labour government presided over the expansion of zero-hours contracts.

The last Labour government opposed parental leave; its leader, Helen Clark, even said paid parental leave would be introduced “over my dead body”.

The last Labour government brought in a load of repressive, anti-civil liberties legislation after 9/11.

And, not content with bringing in repressive laws, they went after left activists and attempted to frame-up a whole bunch of them on absurd “terrorism” charges.  The ‘terror raids’ saw several hundred military and armed police descend on Tuhoe country, terrorising people in and around Ruatoki.  Homes of activists across the country were also raided.

Although most of the charges were so flimsy they had to be eventually dropped, Labour’s police state raids and charges made life hell for the arrested activists for several years.  And veteran Maori activist Tame Iti and fellow activist Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara were successfully stitched up and imprisoned for several years.

A vote for Labour is a vote for that.

The last Labour government threatened to end social welfare benefits for people in areas declared “unemployment black spots” and told unemployed people in these areas to move.

A vote for Labour is a vote for that.

The last Labour government joined in the invasion of Afghanistan and sent NZ troops to Iraq just in time to met the deadline allowing NZ companies to bid for ‘reconstruction’ contracts’.

A vote for Labour is a vote for that.

While the mushy section of leftists back up the Labour Party and try to act as enablers for its xenophobic, repressive and all-round anti-working class policies, there is an alternative, an anti-capitalist alternative.

Chunks of the left are revealing themselves to be merely anti-National Party rather than anti-capitalist.  Our aim, however, is to get people to make a conscious political decision not to vote and begin the task of politicising the non-voters who already vastly outnumber the people who vote Labour.  (Indeed, in the last election, more blue-collar workers voted National than Labour, seeing National as the lesser-evil).

Support – and, even better, join in – the Not Voting is a Political Act campaign.  The facebook page is here: https://www.facebook.com/pg/NotVotingIsAPoliticalAct/

Help us promote the page.

The jury verdict in the Jobstown case is another blow to Labour, the cops and state

by Ian Ó Dálaigh (general secretary of  Éirígí, writing in a personal capacity)

On the 15th November 2014, a spontaneous protest took place in Jobstown, Tallaght, an overwhelmingly working class area in south-west Dublin.  Labour Party leader Joan Burton, who at the time was also tánaiste (26-county deputy prime minister), was delayed in a car for just over two hours by a sit-down protest.  The protest was directed against the vicious austerity measures of the Fine Gael/Labour coalition.  These measures included cuts to social welfare benefits, disability benefits, and pensions and attempts to impose a water tax.  As both minister of social protection and tanaiste, Burton played a key role in these attacks.

Nineteen of the protestors (eighteen adults and one teenager), including our own Scott Masterson, were arrested and charged with false imprisonment in the wake of this. The teenager has already been convicted.

To term a two-hour delay in a car – while surrounded by police – as (more…)