This AWTWNS news packet for the week of 17 November 2014 contains of 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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– Indian government steps up Operation Green Hunt
– The U.S. and Kobane
Indian government steps up Operation Green Hunt
17 November 2014. A World to Win News Service. The following article by the JNU (national university in Delhi) Forum Against the War on the People) appeared on sanhati.org on 19 October. It has been slightly edited.
Chattisgarh is a state in central India, part of a broad swath of remote forested lands running north and south in the country’s interior. The Indian government, the UPA coalition headed by the Congress Party Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, launched Operation Green Hunt against the “Naxal” (Maoist)-led insurgency in October 2009. Most of the inhabitants are tribal people (adivasis) who work as day labourers and earn much of their living from the forests – for instance, gathering and selling leaves used to make bidi cigarettes, or harvesting flowers used to make liquor. To deprive the insurgency of their support, state-organised vigilante groups and other security forces “relocated” 50,000 of these people into squalid prison-like camps near roads where the military can watch over them. Operation Green Hunt is now being intensified by the new Indian government headed by the Hindu fundamentalist Narendra Modi, who was assured of U.S. support in his September talks with President Barack Obama. The CRPF is the central police force.
In mid-October we were informed through the media of yet another “encounter” and “fierce gunbattle” in the forested tracks of Bijapur district in Chattisgarh. Three “Naxal women” were reportedly killed by the joint security forces constituting a hundred-odd CRPF and police, all of whom were left unscathed. While the truth in all such cases is always the most difficult to discern, any such instance reminds us of the horrors of the Sarkeguda (2012) and Edakmetta (2013), fake encounters of adivasi villagers in the same Bijapur district – massacres that too were initially passed on by the security forces as “fierce gunbattles with Naxalites”.
The corporate media of course parroted the same. Despite the desperate attempts on the part of the police, the CRPF and the Home Ministry to plug the loopholes, it was soon clear that on the fateful night of 28 June 2012, around 600 forces of the CRPF, CoBRA [commandos] and state police surrounded the hamlet of Sarkeguda and indiscriminately fired upon the hundreds of adivasis from the adjacent villages who had gathered to discuss the preparations for their annual seed festival. While the then-Home Minister Chidambaram claimed to have hunted down “hardcore Maoists”, according to the then-Union Tribal Affairs Minister’s own admission out of the 20 persons gunned down, half were school-going teenagers; a child who sustained injuries was just four years old; they carried no arms; and none had any criminal record.
A near exact re-enactment of the same horrific incident happened just a year later in Edakmetta village of the same Bijapur district. On 20 May 2013, in the depth of the night security forces surrounded villagers gathered to celebrate the “Beej Pondum” or seed festival and a volley of bullets was indiscriminately fired, killing eight villagers, including three children and others between the age of 28-30, all unarmed. The claims of the government soon dissipated and such has been the history of brutalities or fake encounters in the Indian state’s five-year long, ever-intensifying war on people in the name of Operation Green Hunt.
Five years since it began, the beneficiaries of this war remain the same, only its executioners have changed hands. The war on people that was flagged off by the Manmohan-Chidambaram combine in 2009 [then the Prime Minister and Home Minister, respectively], today has an even more brutal Modi-Rajnath [today’s Prime Minister and Home Minister] combine to pursue the hunt. We can recall, even after the Sarkeguda fake encounters, when all the progressive-democratic sections were outraged at such cold blooded murder, the then-Home Minister Chidambaram was categorical in his justification/support for the CRPF. He said, “The encounter for some reason is being called a fake encounter. The CRPF has said he has nothing to hide, nothing to fear. I am the home minister and the CRPF is under me. We have been absolutely candid, frank and upfront.” The present Home Minister Rajnath Singh has gone a step further saying that during his tenure as Chief Minister of the state of Uttar Pradesh, he had given a “free hand” to police officers to deal with Maoists and assured them that they would not be “hassled” by the Human Rights Commission. And with that he prepares the grounds for further fake encounters, massacres, arson, loot, torture, and rape by the security forces with the complete backing of the government. This only shows the single-mindedness with which the Indian state wishes to pursue this war.
But alongside the brutality of this single-mindedness, what this also serves to show is a desperation of the Indian state. The big corporates, multinational corporations and Indian monopolists like Tata, Birla, Ambani, Adani and Mittal, at whose behest the UPA had declared this war to facilitate the indiscriminate looting, plunder and sale of trillions of dollars worth of natural resources in the central and eastern adivasi heartland of India, are today ever more hungry for profits. With hundreds of government-corporate agreements to mine, extract and sell at pittance now stuck in the pipeline, they are ever more eager to crush the resistance of the people struggling to defend their life, livelihood and dignity against the model of death, destruction and displacement that is being championed by the state in the name of “development” or “progress”.
This was evident in the virulent corporate backing behind Modi’s campaign in which he promised to deliver on his promises of a more “iron-handed” approach (than the erstwhile UPA regime) in steamrolling all “obstacles” to the path of “nation’s development” (read the path of unbridled looting of resources). Delivering on the above promises, and to the delight of big business, right after coming to power Modi has shoved aside all environment/forest/wildlife regulations in his blitzkrieg of clearances. In about a month’s time, the government gave the go-ahead for a record 175 projects. Doing away with the independent experts, Modi “streamlined” the National Board for Wildlife to make it more “investment friendly”, which then, in a record sweep, cleared 133 of the 160 waiting projects in two days! Making a mockery of the so-called transparency of public institutions, none of the details of these lightening clearances are being made public so as to avoid widespread protests and outrage.
Taking Chidambaram’s project to its logical culmination, the plan is to overhaul the already weakened environmental laws; distort the environmental impact assessment rules; restructure the National Green Tribunal; allow coal mining without any public hearing; and also take away the right of the gram sabhas [local councils] to oppose any project in adivasi land. What is in store is a pro-corporate and anti-people drive of genocidal proportions.
The carrying out of the above goals entails the further intensification of Green Hunt to brutally crush all resistance from the people to save their lands, livelihoods and resources (said to threaten the “investment climate”/”development”). After assuming office, Modi has already added 10 more CRPF battalions to the lethal arsenal of the state comprising various security forces and commandos with support from the Army and the Air Force, along with Israeli drones – and private militias. Out of the total 36 battalions of central forces in the state, 29 were deployed in Bastar alone. Now, with the 10 additional battalions deployed again in Bastar, this adds up to 39 battalions with nearly 30,000 paramilitary personnel in this district, making it one of the most militarized regions of the subcontinent. As the head of Bastar Modi also has appointed the infamous Kalluri, the man who was held responsible by the democratic rights activists across the country for the burning down of 300 adivasi houses in Tadmetla and Morapalli in 2011.
The witch-hunting voices of opposition to Greenhunt is just an another extension of Operation Green Hunt: In October, several democratic groups intended to organise a meeting in Vishakapatnam to expose the state’s brutalities in Operation Green Hunt and mobilize opinion against it. But, to ensure that no news of the state’s war on the people reaches the urban centres, several civil liberties and political activists were taken into preventive custody to disallow the meeting. Arrests, suppression and gagging of democratic voices against Green Hunt has been a central feature of this war since it began in 2009 – be it Dr Binayak Sen, Sudhir Dhawale, Sachin Mali, Hem Mishra and countless other people’s activists and organizations. A few months back, professor G.N. Saibaba, one of the conveners of the Forum against War on People in Delhi, was similarly hunted down, abducted and charged with a plethora of false cases by the state.
But as the state escalates this war on the most oppressed adivasi and dalit [so-called “untouchables”] people of the country to usurp their land and resources, the progressive democratic section must unite and build a most resilient movement standing in solidarity with their struggle for their forests and livelihood and demanding an immediate end to Operation Green Hunt.
The U.S. and Kobane
Activists in several countries have been making use of the 10 November AWTWNS article “The U.S. back in Baghdad”. Given the urgency of the situation and the watershed character of the political debate about how to defend Kobane, we are providing the following short version appropriate for leafleting.
What is the U.S. ruling class fighting for with its “coalition” against Daesh (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria? More people need to be asking themselves this question.
Attention has deservedly been focused on Kobane, where men and women Kurdish fighters are resisting a Daesh encirclement that, should it succeed, could lead to a horrendous massacre. How can you not hold your breath? In that light, people of good will in many countries have tended to see the stepped-up U.S. intervention as part of what they consider a “united front” to “save Kobane”, to see American actions in Syria and Iraq as positive – and even to demand more intervention by Western powers that have held back so far, like France. The call for a 1 November “Global Rally Against ISIS – for Kobane, for Humanity”, signed by a long list of internationally prestigious progressive personalities, urged the “global players” in “the so-called international coalition against ISIS” to fulfil “their real international legal obligations.” This means they want “the so-called international coalition” to become a real coalition and take more action.
The first problem with this idea is that it was the U.S., UK and France that raised the banner of “international legal obligations” (including what France pioneered in calling the “duty to intervene to protect people”) and used it to attack or invade Afghanistan, Libya and Iraq (among other places). This banner cannot be used against them, because it can only mean more intervention.
Second, why has the U.S. bombed Daesh in Kobane and taken on Daesh in Iraq? Is it true that world public opinion has forced them to do so despite themselves, as argued by people who claim, “The U.S. supports the Saudis and the Saudis have supported Daesh, so resisting Daesh means hitting the U.S.”? That argument oversimplifies some truths (in the first two points) to construct an untruth. The situation is full of contradictions and the imperialists like to have as many cards in their hands as they can. But the U.S. certainly wants to defeat Daesh, which has emerged as the major challenge to the regional domination without which the U.S. cannot long maintain its dominant status among the imperialist powers. These are the same motives that have led it to push against the Iranian and Syrian regimes, and make support for Israel an essential and irreplaceable component of its power projection in the Middle East.
It is not true that the U.S. created Daesh or other Islamist forces, although Washington and its allies did much to encourage their growth, especially earlier, when that suited their interests. Islamic fundamentalism has become a force in its own right, with its own independent and highly reactionary aims. What is true is that the explosive expansion of these forces would be inconceivable without the actions of the U.S. and its allies in the region. That means their barbaric crimes (the Daesh core emerged from the U.S. Abu Ghraib torture centre, and its Iraqi social base is especially strong where the U.S. inflicted large-scale atrocities, such as in Fallujah), and their sweeping away of old power structures in a failed attempt to build new regimes the U.S. could better rely on. More important than the many U.S., Israeli and Saudi plots are the enormous economic and social changes as the region became increasingly caught in the web of international capital. (For instance, the catastrophic collapse of much of Syrian rural society following Assad’s opening to international markets provided a vital component of a suddenly-expanding social base for the previously more limited Islamist forces).
How, truthfully, can anyone say “if the world wants democracy in the Middle East it should support the Kurdish resistance in Kobane”, as the 1 November call does, when clearly that is not what the rulers of this world or any of the other major “players” are doing? How can more U.S. intervention have anything but negative results, in terms of the interests of humanity?
Just look at what the U.S. and Turkey have done so far to “save” Kobane. Turkey and the U.S. have clashing interests and aims at the moment, but neither Obama nor Erdogan want to see Syrian Kurdish PYD party and its YPG militia emerge as a force beyond their control, and this guides their actions. That should be obvious in the joint decision, no matter how much arm-twisting it took to achieve it, to “help” Kobane by sending troops from the Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq rather than better arm the YPG. These peshmerga reinforcements are supposed to stay in their own units under KRG command and keep their rockets and heavy artillery under their own control.
Both Ankara and Washington strongly prefer the KRG, dominated by the feudally-rooted Barzani and Talabani clans whose rise in the world is made possible by their willingness to bend to Turkey (their main trade partner) and the U.S (which brought them to power). Relying on American and Turkish aid to save Kobane or echoing Obama’s call for a global coalition against Daesh is not just “tactics” – it means following those same politics.
Even if Daesh pressure on Kobane is reduced by American-led bombing raids, what solution to Kurdish oppression is sought by the leaders of the Syrian YPG – and the PKK in Turkey they are associated with? And what will be the overall effects of U.S. intervention for the region and world? While anyone in a desperate battle would of course welcome any relief they can get, in a tactical sense, if the defence of Kobane is the signboard under which the U.S.’s overall efforts and project in the region are legitimized and welcomed, that is very bad. Calling for an international united front or coalition to save Kobane is not anti-imperialist but being fooled by the imperialists.
How can anyone seriously argue that sending more U.S. forces to Iraq will be anything but a murderfest? But that is the logic of calling for an anti-Daesh coalition.
Those who hope that somehow Islamist fundamentalism can be stopped with help from U.S. warplanes and guns should think about the effect if Daesh is allowed to hold the banner of resistance to the U.S. and secular forces drop it. That is what is at stake in Kobane.
Full article: aworldtowinns.co.uk
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