Mar 23 2002

War against terrorism and the threat to freedom of expression

Category: Emancipation & Liberation,Issue 01RCN @ 7:40 pm

Steve Kaczynski highlights the Blair government’s further attacks on our civil liberties

Since September 11, 2001, the bourgeois democratic mask of respecting rights has been slipping. In December, a car bringing the left-wing Turkish language weekly magazine Yasadigimiz Vatan (The homeland we live in) was stopped by British police at Dover, and two issues of the magazine impounded under the Terrorism Act.

The magazine has been transported into Britain regularly in this way for some time. The British, and sometimes the French police or customs, frequently stopped the car bringing the magazines in, holding it up for varying lengths of time and questioning the driver before allowing him and the vehicle to proceed.

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Mar 23 2002

An eye for an eye?: justice USA style

Category: Issue 01RCN @ 7:34 pm

It is already clear that the number of civilian dead from the bombing vastly exceeds the estimated 500 killed by US air strikes during the 78-day Kosovo war, and may also be higher than the 3,200 Iraqi civilians believed killed during the Gulf war. A lot of civilians are clearly being killed or injured. It’s definitely in the four figures, says a UN source. A senior Médecins Sans Frontières worker, who has been in Afghanistan for five years, estimates the number of civilian dead at between 2,000 and 3,000, based on reports from hospitals and field workers around the country.

Some analysts say more than 60 Afghan civilians are being killed daily on average since the bombing began on October 7. A European de-mining expert in Kabul who works closely with the Pentagon reckons that up to 8,000 civilians have been killed. Professor Marc Herold of the University of New Hampshire puts the number of civilian casualties at least 4,000. Prof Herold, a left-wing anti-war activist, is one of the few seeking to establish the death toll, tabulating it daily from media reports. It’s a good first go, says Sam Zarifi of Human Rights Watch in New York, which had two researchers on the Pakistani-Afghan border for 11 weeks trying to get a picture of the toll. It has a database of 300 strikes it wants to investigate for civilian casualties.

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Mar 23 2002

War Against Terrorism?

Category: Issue 01RCN @ 7:29 pm

A symbol of massacre, rape and pillage

It is, of course, richly ironic that the first achievement of the war on terrorism has been to install in Kabul the Northern Alliance, for whom terrorism has been the entire line of business and way of life for more than 20 years.

But it remains a fact that from 1992 to 1996, the Northern Alliance was a symbol of massacre, systematic rape and pillage. Which is why we – and I include the US State Department – welcomed the Taliban when they arrived in Kabul. The Northern Alliance left the city in 1996 with 50,000 dead behind it. Now its members are our foot soldiers. Better than Mr Bin Laden, to be sure. But what – in God’s name- are they going to do in our name?

Why, I wonder, do we always have this ambiguous, dangerous relationship with our allies? For decades, we accepted the received wisdom that the B specials were a vital security arm of the Northern Ireland authorities on the grounds that they knew the territory just as, I fear, we rely upon the Northern Alliance because it knows the land.

Taken from the website of the Revolutionary Association of Afghan Women based on reports for The Guardian and The Independent, 14 November 2001

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Mar 23 2002

Afghanistan Solidarity Appeal

Category: Issue 01RCN @ 7:25 pm

The LPP, in close association with the ALRO, has decided to launch the Afghan Workers Solidarity Campaign. The idea to start this campaign was discussed during the recent visit of Alan McCombes (editor, Scottish Socialist Voice). Writing from Peshawar, Alan described the conditions the ALRO face:

The activists I met live in grinding poverty, often eating nothing but potatoes for days at a time. They have no money for leaflets and newspapers. Even if they had they could not distribute them, because they live under a permanent death sentence.

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Mar 23 2002

We are fighting a dual war

Category: Emancipation & Liberation,Issue 01RCN @ 7:20 pm

Adel is the central leader of the Afghan Revolutionary Labour Organisation. Shoaib Bhatti, editor of the Weekly Mazdoor Jeddojuhd (Workers Struggle) interviewed him on 11th November in Lahore, before the fall of Kabul.

Why were Osama and the Taliban held responsible immediately after the 11th terrorist attacks?

Osama bin Laden was wanted by America for his involvement in the Tanzanian killings [the bombing of the US embassy – editor]. While he was already considered responsible for terrorist attacks in America. Under the same allegations America and the UN had imposed economic sanctions to pressurise the Taliban to arrest Osama. And to put pressure on Pakistan’s government economic aid was linked with the arrest of Osama and creation of a broad based government in Afghanistan. Because of this economic sanction and with the efforts of the Pakistani government there were three distinct groups among the Taliban. But due to the superiority in numbers of armed men belonging to Al-Qaida and Al-Qaida economic support for the Taliban, they were reluctant to kick Osama out of Afghanistan. The killing of Ahmad Shah Masood on September 9th by two Arab militants was also linked to Al-Qaida. Ahmad Shah Masood was the only war lord who could have helped the Americans very effectively in their attack on the Taliban after the September 11th attacks.

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Mar 23 2002

Why Emancipation And Liberation

Category: Emancipation & Liberation,Issue 01RCN @ 7:12 pm

Emancipation and Liberation are heady words. Yet it is vital that we give serious consideration to what we stand for – not merely what we are against.

The left is best known for being anti – anti-cuts, anti-poll tax, anti-Nazi, anti-fascist, anti-war, anti-imperialist, anti-globalisation or anti-capitalist. Some will argue that as long as we stand as socialists or communists then it will be clear that we also offer a positive alternative. Unfortunately both words have become tarnished. Socialism has been used to describe a variety of states from National Socialist Germany to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics; a whole host of authoritarian populist regimes in Africa, Asia and Latin America; and the now much diminished and compromised forces of social democracy. Communism became synonymous in many people’s minds with such brutal tyrannies as those led by Stalin, Hoxha, Kim Il-Sung and Pol Pot or the dull grey bureaucracies led by Honecker in East Germany and Husak in Czechoslovakia.

Since September 11th, Bush and Blair have raised the political stakes considerably by invoking the defence of civilisation and enduring freedom. Without offering this positive vision, these politicians would find it far harder to legitimise their new-found crusade – the Coalition Against Terror. If they confined themselves to being merely against terrorism, it certainly wouldn’t take long to expose their hypocrisy. It is indeed a strange Coalition Against Terror which includes the USA, Russia, China, Israel, Turkey, Pakistan and the Northern Alliance!

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