This AWTWNS news packet for the week of 14 September 2015 contains two articles. They may be reproduced or used in any way, in whole or in part, as long as they are credited.
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- “No to fortress Europe” – European demonstrators march to support immigrants
- March 8 Women’s Organization on the 27th anniversary of the massacre of political prisoners in Iran
“No to fortress Europe” –
European demonstrators march to support immigrants
14 September 2015. A World to Win News Service. As European Union politicians manoeuvred and bickered about how to keep out the hundreds of thousands of people seeking refuge, or make political use of them, demonstrators throughout the continent and the UK marched in solidarity to welcome them. In some cases they supported their governments, perceiving them as reacting humanely. In others, they opposed their governments’ openly anti-immigrant efforts and the monstrous arguments used to justify them.
The earliest rallies were in Paris and other French cities on 5 September, in protest of the Socialist government’s refusal to crack open the country’s borders. In Gothenberg, Sweden’s second-largest city, 10,000 people attended a 9 September rally to proclaim, “Refugees Welcome.” A smaller gathering 5 September in Stockholm was addressed by the country’s prime minister the week before, and the weekend after many thousands came out to greet refugees coming to Sweden through Denmark. In Aarhus, Denmark’s second largest city, thousands of people braved heavy rain to take a stand against their government’s hard-line anti-immigrant position. A smaller rally took place in Copenhagen. Munich and other German cities saw innumerable expressions of support for incoming foreigners, including at football games in Munich and Hamburg.
On Saturday 12 September, demonstrations demanding that borders be opened were held in Madrid, Lisbon, Krakow (Poland) and Romania. Several hundred people came out in Budapest in opposition to the Hungarian government.
In the UK, whose government has deliberately put itself at the forefront of anti-foreigner hysteria, marches were organized in numerous cities throughout England (including Brighton, Manchester and York), Scotland (Glasgow), Wales (Cardiff) and Northern Ireland (Belfast). In a London demonstration whose size exceeded anyone’s expectations, friend or foe alike, as many as 100,000 people flooded the streets, bringing the city centre to a halt for several hours as the protestors marched to Downing Street, the prime minister’s residence, shouting, “Cameron – Shame on you!”
One group of youth chanted, “David Cameron, hey, hey, how many kids did you drown today,” evoking the death of three-year-old Alan Kurdi, who drowned along with his brother and mother as his family tried to cross the Mediterranean. Cameron is notorious for arguing that immigrants should not be rescued at sea, because that would encourage others to make the journey. A home-made sign carried by an anarchist proclaimed, “Hey Dave, we’re your swarm,” a response to Cameron’s speech where he referred to refugees and migrants as a “swarm”, as if they were locusts.
The diverse crowd included people from all walks of life, pregnant women, families with small babies, single mothers, men and women in wheelchairs, from very young to elderly. British and non-British-born people participated, including thousands of present and former refugees.
The march was organized mainly by anti-war, anti-racist coalitions and organisations as well as refugee support groups, with the official slogan “Refugees Welcome Here” a deliberate and sharp rebuke to Cameron’s premeditated hostility to newcomers. Many of the participating groups and individuals came with their own handwritten placards and slogans like “No borders”, “Smash the borders” and “Be human”.
A notable number of people influenced by the recent desperate exodus adopted more radical positions, extending their opposition to include not only the Tory government’s immigration policies but more broadly the sources of the suffering of the people who have been forced to flee their home. They raised slogans such as “Don’t bomb Syria”, “They are not refugees, they are the victims of our bombs” and “They are not chasing our benefits, they are fleeing our bombs.” This was especially appropriate at a moment when Cameron announced that his government’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis, for which the UK is in no small part responsible after a century of British imperialist interference in the Middle East, now once again accelerating, would be to step up the bombing of Syria. Whatever the results of the current Syrian situation, the UK wants to see its own interests served.
There were contradictory currents in the march, including among Syrians and many other people of Middle Eastern origin. For instance, a small group carried a very large banner asking the UK and other imperialist countries to use their militaries to “Stop Assad’s killing machine”. Although they were ignored by the majority of the people except media outlets such as BBC, this showed the crucial need for clarity on the root causes of the Syrian civil war in the functioning of the imperialist system as well as the policies of particular great power governments. There was a general problem in understanding how imperialist attacks fuel Islamic fundamentalism, in Syria and elsewhere, and more generally the dynamics of conflict yet mutual support between imperialism and Islamic fundamentalism.
The biggest challenge facing those who want genuine radical change, including in the situation of the millions of the world’s refugees, was also reflected in the protest. A months-long campaign for the leadership of the Labour Party came to an end Saturday, with the results announced right before the march set off. The winner was Jeremy Corbyn, who is broadly seen as a veteran “hard left” Labour MP with a programme roughly along the lines of Greece’s Syriza or Spain’s Podemos. There was euphoric celebration among a large section of the demonstration, and Corbyn’s first act as new Labour Party leader was to give a major address at the rally.
What does Corbyn’s victory herald? Is it really possible to conceive a solution to the crises convulsing the world coming from the Labour Party, with 100 years of proven unrelenting service on behalf of British imperialism, including presiding over the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq under Tony Blair – a fact perhaps ironically recognized by the marcher whose sign read, “No human being is illegal – except Tony Blair”.
People showed once again there is a great potential for international solidarity and internationalism, but also that the fight must continue to further deepen and strengthen this solidarity by exposing the ruling classes, their deceptions and intrigues, and their system itself.
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March 8 Women’s Organization on the 27th anniversary of the massacre of political prisoners in Iran –
“The life-and-death message of thousands of political prisoners of the 1980s:
Revolutionary overthrow of the oppressive Islamic Republic regime!”
14 September 2015. A World to Win News Service. The following is by the March 8 Women’s Organization (Iran-Afghanstan).
The oppressive anti-women regime of the Islamic Republic has executed more than 1,900 prisoners, including political prisoners since 2014. Once more they have retained the number one position on a world scale! In the past six months, 570 prisoners have been hung!
Since Rohani’s presidency and the Iranian regime’s efforts to convince the U.S. and European imperialists that they can be relied on as a “legitimate” and powerful state in helping them to come out of the capitalist and Middle East crisis, the regime has intensified the arrests and executions of their opponents. In turn the imperialist powers, in order to get out of the swamps of the Middle East crisis they are facing, and in order to recover from their capitalist crisis, shut their eyes and silently endorse the executions, the intensification of the subordination of women, the imprisonment of the opposition, the repression and imprisonment of workers and toiling people by the Islamic state, as they have done throughout the past 37 years since the Islamic Regime came to power – and especially the massacre of political prisoners in the 1980s and particularly in the summer of 1988.
From when the Islamic regime first came to power, they announced that women must wear the hijab, the symbol of slavery, and enforced their barbaric and reactionary laws against women. They enforced organised patriarchal violence at home, work and in the society, and when they banned all the revolutionary and militant parties, and under the name of the “Islamic Culture revolution” attacked the universities, and when they were arresting and imprisoning the revolutionary youth… they told the masses of people that the subjugation of women, oppression, torture and execution are all an inseparable part of their identity. And only through these means have they been able to continue their filthy existence.
Twenty-seven years have passed since these most horrific events in contemporary Iran. During these events, thousands of political prisoners were executed in less than two months. The best sons and daughters of the people were secretly hung or otherwise executed behind prison walls. The extent of the regime’s crimes was so enormous that in order to hide any evidence, the executed prisoners were buried in mass graves under the cover of night. The regime hoped that by physically eliminating thousands of political prisoners, they could eliminate them from historical memory and hide from the new generation the prisoners’ goal of building a world without oppression and exploitation. They laid down their lives in struggle to achieve this goal.
But the regime was not able to hide such a horrific crime from the people. Constant exposures by revolutionary and militant forces as well as the struggle of the families of the executed prisoners did not allow this crime to be forgotten. Revealing this crime became another powerful reason for the masses to understand the anti-people and anti-women nature of this oppressive regime and to expose them even more.
A large portion of these political prisoners were women who rebelled against the rotten ruling anti-women system. These women were prosecuted not only for fighting against oppression and exploitation, but they were also tortured and sexually violated, because they were women, with the aim of teaching reactionary lessons to women in the society as a whole. But militant and revolutionary women turned the prison into a battle ground against the religious reactionary rulers. Torture, rape and execution could not make them surrender.
In the past 17 years since the decade-long massacres, we were able to establish the slogan of “We will neither forgive nor forget” as a naked truth against those who deliberately tried hard to make this horrific crime of the Islamic Republic regime of Iran be forgotten. It was our organisation that first put this slogan into the political arena of Iran, and since then, the activists of our organisation have been severely attacked by the reformist trend, because these reformists know very well that this slogan leaves no room for compromise with the criminal regime of the Islamic Republic. The presentation of this slogan by revolutionary and radical women expresses this undeniable truth, that the women can and must raise the flag of radical and fundamental change in the society, and the fulfilment of this slogan must remain as one of the most important demands of women and all the people of Iran.
We women, by continuing our struggle, will show that we will not forget nor forgive the brutal massacre of thousands of women political prisoners who were representatives of rebellion and fought for the emancipation of women. This commitment demands that thousands upon thousands of rebellious women who have had enough of the current situation step forward and ask, “Why did you execute our sisters?”! If demanding emancipation and rebelling against the most barbaric regime of our time is a “crime”, therefore all of us women are “criminals”, because all of us demand emancipation and want to rebel against outmoded, backward and barbaric regimes such as the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Today women and revolutionary militants, particularly the youth, not only value the message of life and death of these thousands of political prisoners, but they are also committed to the realisation of this slogan. Along this path, we cannot forget the massacre of the political prisoners nor forgive those who are responsible for such a crime.
The new generation of fighters can become flag bearers of the anger and hatred of the people against the Islamic Republic regime, and like the martyrs of the 1980s, will accept nothing less than the revolutionary overthrow of the entire anti-women Islamic Republic regime of Iran.
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