Sunday, 30 October 2011

Afghanistan in the 1970's

I thought this old documentary though blatantly biased and short would be of interest to some who have been appalled by Afghanistan's bloody recent history. Its from 1973 and aside from an outdated pronunciation of the Pashtun Tribes is an interesting look into a time when Afghanistan was relatively speaking at peace* and was slowly building its way to modernity.

Prince Daoud the establisher of Afghanistan's Republican days came to power in a coup aided the Afghan Army Officer Corps and by the Pro-Soviet Communist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) specifically the Parcham faction. And whilst officially improving Soviet-Afghan relations Daoud was not above getting funding from other quarters. Afghanistan had since the establishment of the USSR been considered like Eastern Europe to be client state of Moscow by the West, since it shared a direct land border with the USSR trying to force the issue wasn't really an option if the West wished the Cold War to remain Cold. However Daoud soon lost interest in his Parcham friends and isolated them from government, he also allowed himself to be courted by Saudi Arabia and Pakistan perhaps the most Anti Soviet nations in the Middle East at the time. Indicating to Moscow that he wished to break from the Soviet Union and embrace other hostile powers.

Happily for the Soviet Union the issue resolved itself in April 78 when Daoud tried to mobilise the Army to destroy the PDPA and secure the home front. This backfired for two reasons, 1) the PDPA's other faction Khalq lead by future Presidents Taraki and Amin had been hard at work recruiting military units to there cause as they'd been expecting a crackdown for sometime.
2) Even the Military Officers and units who hadn't been recruited by Khalq were as the documentary makes clear trained in the Soviet Union meaning they either where sympathetic to the PDPA or thought a close alliance to the USSR must be maintained so rebelled and by the 27th of April stormed the Presidential palace and killed him.

That event became known as the Saur Revolution and heralded the rise of the PDPA and the establishment of the Democratic People's Republic of Afghanistan. A year later Islamist groups threatened by the DRA's modernisation drives (the first time Soviet forces engaged the "Mujihadeen" once in retaliation for a riot in Herat that involved the butchering of two hundred civilian technical advisers and was sparked by the governments announcement that females were to be taught in schools too) would cause so much trouble for the DRA that the Soviet Union believed the only way to prevent its total disintegration and threaten its own Asian Soviet Socialist Republics was to intervene directly in December of 79.

The rest as they say is history.

Video download link

* Afghanistan has never really enjoyed complete peace, due to both the broken up terrain lack of roads and vibrant and diverse ethnic framework ensured even during the times free of major military campaigns there were always banditry, and clashes with remote tribes.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Miss K!m

Good day everyone, you remember an earlier blog post about a documentary about the Occupy movement needing funding? well good news it reached its target and filming has begun you can see a few snippets of there activities here.

Anyway I've found another project that I think is worthy of contributing towards and thought I'd try and spread the word a little. And even better news this time its a play! and an autobiographical one too. The video above was produced to explain the project in detail and the projects page. In short its the very.... disquieting retelling of the plays Korean American creator and star Gina Kim's sad history of sexual abuse, by her Uncle no less. To make the matter worse her family were aware and dismissed and covered up the whole thing. The play has been created with the intention of not only letting Miss Kim come to terms with her past but also explore the complexities of the issue and raise awareness of the unpleasant reality of familial sexual abuse.

The sites project page lists of the following disturbing fact.

"FACT: 90% cases of sexual abuse are committed by someone the survivor knows personally."

Of course most people and children are aware of the danger of trusting dodgy strangers, (though in school they never bothered to tell us perhaps wisely what a stranger would want with a kid leaving us with the idea they wanted to kidnap us for money) but the disturbing issue of abuse within the family or at least from people close to the family is often left unspoken. Of course no one with a family wants to think about it since you would be holding those you love and trust but we should at least be capable of keeping an open mind should the possibility occur and not just keep silent.

That is why I've pledged money towards the project and why I think its important others do. I know there has been a long standing con routine involving fake projects ; we just have to watch the original Producers film to et an idea of just how old. But thanks to Kickstarters rather smart set up the risk of funding a project are small, you contribute as much or as little as you wish, the transfer doesn't activate until the deadline is reached and the project has reached its estimate and most projects over a number of rewards (usually credits) for those willing to give the project ago.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

RIP Ka Roger

Committed Revolutionary Gregorio "Ka Roger"* Rosal died aged 64 after a series of heart attacks.

It was announced a few days ago (October 15th) in the Philippines that spokesman and senior member of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)and its armed wing the New Peoples Army (NPA) Gregorio "Ka Roger" Rosal had passed away aftering a series of Heart attacks. The announcement was itself delayed (He died on 22 June 2011) to allow time for the CPP (an outlawed political party) to contact his daughters and break the news to them before public announcements.

Ka Rogers demise has received outpourings of grieve from many in the Philippines. The National Democratic Front of the Philippines(a coalition of left wing parties, unions, progressive churches and civil rights groups) released a statement which can be read in full here.

"The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) renders the highest tribute to Ka Roger, who loved and served the masses for more than forty years. The NDFP conveys its most heartfelt condolences to his children, his siblings, and other members of his family, and to his many comrades and friends."

Ka was imprisoned by the hated Marcos Dictatorship in 1973, and was after he and nine other prisoners escaped from prison that he made his way to the countryside to join up with the Guerrilla army of the NPA (established in 1969) which following the Sino-Soviet split had broken from the old Moscow aligned Communist party and had begun implementing Maoist ideology** whilst at the same time building a Peoples Army against the oppressions of the pro Washington government in Manila

"After his incarceration under the Marcos dictatorship in 1973 and his daring escape together with nine other comrades later that year, Ka Roger joined the revolutionary armed struggle and became an organizer of various guerilla fronts in the Southern Tagalog Region and also part of the Bicol region."

In 1993 he became the official Spokesperson of the CPP essentially making him the parties foreign affairs correspondent as well. There were several quite important shifts in position during his time as spokesman, in 1995 the CPP publicly supported same sex relationships and in 2002 the NPA had its first same sex marriage between members. Beating the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell in America by Six years.

Though the NPA peaked in the 1980s both it, the CPP and the NDFP continue to be a large thorn in the side of the government (regardless who gets to be its official "leader") and as a result like all threats to Washington aligned governments have been added to the dreaded list of Foreign Terrorist Organisations (currently number 9 below ETA but above Continuity IRA) this is despite two quite important factors; one the NDFP of which the CPP and NPA are members implements the Geneva convention. And two as that article states the government of Philippines is guilty of gross human rights abuses and war crimes.

"The International Committee of the Red Cross, the Amnesty International, the International Commission of Jurists and other respected international human rights organizations have extensively documented since the 1970s the gross human rights violations perpetrated by the military, police and paramilitary forces of the GRP and involving the forced displacement of millions of people, ethnocide against minorities, indiscriminate bombardments and strafing, massacres, assassinations, summary executions, torture, illegal detention of tens of thousands of people and wanton destruction of property and the people's livelihood. In the human rights class suit against the Marcos estate in the US Federal District Court in Hawaii, there is the documentation of at least 10,000 victims of torture, murder and involuntary disappearance."

And then there was the recent use of IED's by the Philippine military.

Its a shame Georgio Rosal passed away before he got to see the Philippines he fought so hard for but in the end I'm sure he could take solace in the knowledge that through his efforts and the hard work of the CPP and New Peoples Army prevented the corrupt government of the Philippines from having its way, and just maybe there sacrifices will pay off in the near future.

* Sometimes spelt Ka Rodger.
** For the uninitiated Maoist parties differed from the Soviet Communists in that they were more interested in the rural peasantry, more open to Guerilla warfare and completely against any relations
 with the West.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Time to Turn up the Pressure

You've probably heard about the impending implosion of the Master races vanguard party in Britain,what with there impending bankruptcy*. And the problem with creditors has now been exacerbated with allegations form former Party members (some of which where higher ups) revealing that the party was illegally siphoning funds from there elected positions into the party coffers, and erroneously claiming to have paid off some of there debts.

The allegations are being investigated by both the Met and the European Union (looks like the cash cow still has horns), however there is one other appropriate overseeing body that has not yet begun an investigation, and that's the electoral commission. Of course my personal views on the matter mean I'd gladly cheer on more investigations into the BNP's rotten internal workings, but from a purely objective view given that the allegations are substantive enough to provoke two separate investigations and that some of the alleged illegal practices relate to the parties dealings with the Electoral Commission itself it would be a very good idea for the organisation to conduct its own investigation in conjunction with the other two groups. Hope not Hate an anti right wing extremist pressure groups is currently running a campaign to encourage the Electoral Commission to do just that.

As someone who has been apart of local election campaigns I know that failure to comply with the Electoral Commission's guidelines are very serious, as it should be since it is the Commission that safeguards our democratic process (flawed though it maybe) from abuse by private interests. So in short, if you care about democracy and wish to see parties (any party) held to account for failing to comply with electoral law then please take a few minutes out to back the campaign.

* Of particular joy for me was seeing that the stupid "spoof" of Marmite cost them £170,000

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Generals and Labourers

Since Mubarak was toppled the Egyptian Militaries Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has been in difficult balancing act, on the one hand it wants to maintain as much of the old regime as possible (since you know it the days of corruption and Dictatorship where good for them) whilst giving the protesters, activists and Revolutionaries just enough reform to placate them enough to peel away there support and let fatigue take care of the more motivated rump.

Fortunately that plan seems to have come a cropper as they say recently. Protests have not only continued but increase and have in fact widened in scope I'm sure we all remember the recent diplomatic embarrassment for SCAF as it was forced to strain its ties with Israel and by extension Washington, but even that concession wasn't strong enough to prevent the Egyptian populations long simmering anger over the alliance of convenience between Cairo Tel-Aviv and Washington and their actions have forced the situation to deteriorate even further. The deal started by Sadat and strengthened under his successor Mubarak has not only meant that the noose was tightened on the Palestinian people, it also meant that Egypt formally an independent regional power became subservient to the United States global strategies.

Elsewhere in Egypt opposition to the Junta's domestic polices remain strong. Currnetly Egypts trade unions whom still face discrimination and oppression from the security services have kicked off a wave of strikes to force to the government to recognise there organisations and address there grievances. Labour Start (a partner of the Industrial Workers World)has a campaign on to pressure the Egyptian government -whom lets remember are desperate for some good press to encourage tourism and trade- to create a law(s) to acknowledge and protect workers rights. It can be found here.

Egyptian workers campaign for change in minimum wage.

Students demonstrate to dissolve appointed student bodies and an end to government informants spying on young activists and free debate.

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