This AWTWNS news packet for the week of 11 January 2016 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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– German reaction to assaults on women: Don’t touch our property
– India: Continued persecution of political prisoner Saibaba and criminalisation of his defence
German reaction to assaults on women: Don’t touch our property
11 January 2016. A World to Win News Service. On New Year’s Eve the central train station in Cologne, Germany, was a horrendous place to be for women. That is an understatement. More than 600 women have come forward to detail how they were surrounded by groups of dozens of men, unable to leave. The men ripped their clothes, groping them between their legs and down their shirts, leaving bruises on their breasts and buttocks. There were some instances of rape and many robberies. Similar assaults on a smaller scale took place in Hamburg, Stuttgart and Berlin.
The assaults were reportedly committed by groups of young men mainly of North African and other foreign origin. A demonstration called by the far right a few days later demanded an end to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s refugee policy that has allowed in more than a million people fleeing war in Syria, Afghanistan and other countries. In a counter-demonstration, hundreds of women and men came to the train station with banners saying no to sexism and no to racism.
These horrendous New Year’s Eve acts fuelled an already intense debate raging throughout German society from top to bottom and spreading across Europe. Merkel argues that accepting certain refugees is an opportunity for Germany to increase its population, expand its home economy and further strengthen its position as the leading power in a strong European Union. The governments of Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic delighted in this Cologne outrage and self-righteously insisted that is why they refused to submit to German pressure to accept more migrants. They often claim an influx of people who profess the Islamic religion will lead to a collapse of culture and civilization in Europe.
The racist and fascistic far right (the anti-Islamic Pegida and right-wing populist party Alternative for Germany-AfD) are calling for an end to the migrant influx and for Merkel’s head. One comment on the blog Politically Incorrect encapsulates the vicious turn this debate has taken: “The crazy chancellor has allowed millions of male, sexually starved, asocial illegals from the Middle East and Africa to come to Germany. Blond German women are, according to the Koran, ‘prey-women’ who can be abused according to your whims or enslaved.” The real meaning of this insane rant is that the manhandling of German women should be reserved for German men.
Spurred by this outlook, a “manhunt for foreigners” has already resulted in attacks on six Pakistanis and a Syrian man on 10 January by small groups in front of Cologne’s train station.
These attacks on women have lead to an uproar, creating major havoc for German imperialism. Whether they can control the political situation remains to be seen as Merkel tries to assuage the German right wing while insisting that EU members fall in line with German interests. Formerly seeking to play the compassion card, now she is calling for the deportation of asylum seekers and those who already have refugee status if they are convicted of any crime, regardless of whether they are sentenced to prison. This implicitly accepts the far right’s arguments.
Migrants, both newly arrived and others, correctly insist these rotten acts do not represent who they are. They are deeply worried how the acts of a few will bring new destruction in their already precarious lives. Driven from their home countries by wars and invasions conducted or spawned by the US and its European partners, they have no place safe to go.
The deplorable statement by the female mayor of Cologne that women should keep strange men |at “arm’s length” implies that women are complicit in the sexually aggressive behaviour of men. Some progressive, courageous German women and men outraged by these events nonetheless have been hesitant to take a position on these attacks because they understand the backlash against foreigners, given the bloodthirsty mood in Germany today. They want to reach out to refugees as human beings while at the same time fight against the oppression of women. They cite the amount of sexual violence that existed in Germany long before refugees arrived, and the hypocritical concerns for women now that the blame is being directed at refugees.
The New Year’s Eve assaults went on for hours with the police watching. The initial police report the following day stated that the evening had passed uneventfully. It seems that the authorities saw nothing wrong with boys “having a little fun” on their night out until women’s outrage put them in an embarrassing position.
Sexual assaults can occur not only by intimate partners, or on a lonely, desolate street, but also at clubs, stadium games, on women’s evenings out and especially at Oktoberfest, Germany’s annual beer bacchanalia. “The way to the toilet alone is like running the gauntlet: within 50 feet, you can be sure to tally three hugs from drunken strangers, two pats on the ass, someone looking up your dirndl, and some beer purposely splashed right down your cleavage,” wrote Karoline Beisel and Beate Wild in 2011, in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. An average of ten reported rapes take place each year at Oktoberfest while the estimated number of unreported cases is 200.
Patriarchy: women’s oppression and the link between rape and prostitution
Patriarchal societies worldwide came into being with the advent of private property and the resulting need to establish inheritance. The domination of women by men was established. With the rise of capitalism, relations of patriarchy and male supremacy, along with other oppressive social relations, became deeply ingrained in this exploitative economic system, a global system in which today a handful of countries fatten on the world’s peoples.
Today women’s oppression exists throughout the world, whether in the developed world of Europe, the U.S. and Japan or countries of the South, in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. What is particular to the different countries and regions are the forms of oppression, subtle and not so subtle, that are a consequence of patriarchal society. In the so-called modern world women are surrounded by a putrid culture and society that uses, abuses and degrades women whether at home or in the streets on a daily basis. Women are trafficked to Europe and North America from all parts of the globe. Male supremacist patriarchal society also exists in the Middle East with its own ugly methods of the oppression of women. All the major religions of the world uphold patriarchy and the social relations that come with it.
According to the UK Telegraph: “People think Amsterdam is the prostitution capital of Europe but Germany has more prostitutes per capita than any other country in the continent, more even than Thailand: 400,000 at the last count, serving 1.2 million men every day. Those figures were released a decade ago, soon after Germany made buying sex, selling sex, pimping and brothel-keeping legal in 2002. Two years later, prostitution in Germany was thought to be worth 6 billion euros – roughly the same as Porsche or Adidas that year. It’s now estimated to be 15 billion euros.” (http://s.telegraph.co.uk/graphics/projects/welcome-to-paradise/)
Prostitution and also pornography are only one step removed from rape. They are all pillars of a rapacious culture in which a woman’s body is a man’s entitlement, to be used and abused, bought or sold in any way they see fit, from sex shops to the trafficking of women to aspects of “normal” relationships and marriage deeply marked by male supremacy and the imprisonment of women in the roles of providers of sex and breeders of children.
In Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, Frederick Engels writes about how capitalist society reflects the power relations of men over women that can be undone only with the elimination of capitalist society and its economic and social relations and deeply inculcated ideas: “What we can now conjecture about the way in which sexual relations will be ordered after the impending overthrow of capitalist production is mainly of a negative character, limited for the most part to what will disappear. But what will there be new? That will be answered when a new generation has grown up, [including] a generation of men who never in their lives have known what it is to buy a woman’s surrender with money or any other social instrument of power.”
The refugee crisis and the oppression of women in society both arise from the insidious domination, oppression, exploitation and ways of thinking that are deeply embedded in capitalist-imperialist society. With revolutionary political power that can end this system and its rule of profit, women and men will be able to play an increasingly conscious, active role in the process of uprooting today’s economic and social relations and criticising the traditional ideas – “modern” and ancient – that are generated by them and reinforce them. Overnight rape and sexual assault, anti-immigrant attacks and other violent acts against the people will not be tolerated and a new liberating morality forged, one that instead of preaching resignation and surrender will value the struggle to liberate women as a motor in further revolutionizing all social relationships for the interests of all humanity.
People who hate the world as it is need to step forward and join with others to bring this new society into being.
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India: Continued persecution of political prisoner Saibaba and criminalisation of his defence
11 January 2016. A World to Win News Service. The following is excerpted from a press release by the Committee for the Defence and Release of Dr G N Saibaba and the Delhi University Teachers’ Association that appeared in Economic and Political Weekly. For more on Saibaba’s arrest see awtwns140526.
We, the Committee for the Defence and Release of G N Saibaba, along with the Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA), held a protest in association with more than 40 organisations from all over Delhi and other states condemning the rearrest of Saibaba and the charge of contempt of court on Arundhati Roy. Saibaba is a professor of English in Ram Lal Anand College of Delhi University and a democratic rights activist who has spoken for the rights of Dalits [so-called “Untouchables”], Adivasis [tribal people] and oppressed masses for over 20 years and led a campaign against the state-sponsored war code-named Operation Green Hunt in Central India.
He also has 90 percent physical disability and moves in a wheelchair. Despite this, the Maharashtra state police has charged him under various sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), declared him a “dreaded Maoist”, and held him in the anda [isolation] cell of the Nagpur Central Prison for 14 months. During this time, it was not able to prove any of the charges against him. He was released on interim bail by the Bombay High Court in May 2015 on medical grounds as his health deteriorated rapidly inside the jail.
However, while he was undergoing treatment for life-threatening ailments, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court cancelled his bail and alleged a “conspiracy” to establish medical grounds in its order of 23 December 2015. He was remanded back to the Nagpur Central Prison within 48 hours (when the courts were on winter vacation), so that he would not be able to challenge the order. This single bench judgement also charged writer and activist Arundhati Roy with contempt of court for writing an article titled “Professor, P.O.W” in Outlook magazine in May 2015 seeking Saibaba’s release.
The united protest in Jantar Mantar on 2 January witnessed participation of parliamentarians, intellectuals, professors, students, cultural activists, workers, advocates, film-makers and democratic rights activists from across political orientations.
The novelist, essayist and activist Arundhati Roy addressed Indian public opinion in a May 2015 article “Professor P.O.W.” contrasting the relentless persecution of political prisoner G N Saibaba with the Indian ruling party’s generosity toward convicted murders associated with Prime Minister Narendra Modhi and the massacres of Muslims that marked his rise to power. She has been charged with contempt of court for for writing it and is scheduled to appear in court on 25 January. The following is an excerpt. For the full article go to www.outlookindia.com/article/professor-pow/294265.
No matter what the charges against him are, should Professor Saibaba get bail? Here’s a list of a few well-known public figures and government servants who have been given bail.
On 23 April, 2015, Babu Bajrangi, convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for his role in the 2002 Naroda Patiya massacre in which 97 people were murdered in broad daylight, was released on bail by the Gujarat High Court for an “urgent eye operation”. This is Babu Bajrangi in his own words speaking about the crime he committed: “We didn’t spare a single Muslim shop, we set everything on fire, we set them on fire and killed them – hacked, burnt, set on fire…. We believe in setting them on fire because these bastards don’t want to be cremated. They’re afraid of it.”
On 30 July, 2014, Maya Kodnani, a former minister of the Modi government in Gujarat, convicted and serving a 28-year sentence for being the ‘kingpin’ of that same Naroda Patiya massacre, was granted bail by the Gujarat High Court. Kodnani is a medical doctor and says she suffers from intestinal tuberculosis, a heart condition, clinical depression and a spinal problem. Her sentence has been suspended.
Amit Shah, also a former minister in the Modi government in Gujarat, was arrested in July 2010, accused of ordering the extrajudicial killing of three people – Sohrabuddin Sheikh, his wife Kausar Bi and Tulsiram Prajapati. The CBI produced phone records showing that Shah was in constant touch with the police officials who held the victims in illegal custody before they were murdered, and that the number of phone calls between him and those police officials spiked sharply during those days. Amit Shah was released on bail three months after his arrest. (Subsequently, after a series of disturbing and mysterious events, he has been let off altogether.) He is currently the president of the BJP [India’s governing party], and the right hand man of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
On 22 May, 1987, 42 Muslim men rounded up in a truck by the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) were shot dead in cold blood on the outskirts of Hashimpura and their bodies were dumped in a canal. Nineteen members of the PAC were accused in the case. All of them were allowed to continue in service, receiving their promotions and bonuses like everybody else. Thirteen years later, in the year 2000, 16 of them surrendered (three had died). They were released on bail immediately. A few weeks ago, in March 2015, all 16 were acquitted for lack of evidence.
Hany Babu, a teacher in Delhi University and a member of the Committee for the Defence and Release of Saibaba, was recently able to meet Dr Saibaba for a few minutes in hospital. At a press conference on 23 April 2015 that went more or less unreported, Hany Babu described the circumstances of the meeting: Dr Saibaba, on a saline drip, sat up in bed and spoke to him. A security guard stood over him with an AK-47 pointed at his head. It was his duty to make sure the prisoner did not run away on his paralysed legs.
Will Dr Saibaba come out of the Nagpur central jail alive? Do they want him to? There is much to suggest they do not.