Friday, 25 November 2011

India's Growing Maoist Rebellion


In India’s rural forests, mining corporations and state militias have launched a violent assault on the Maoist guerillas and landless tribal communities.

Activist and author Arundhati Roy spent weeks with the Maoist fighters in the conflict zone and her time there is the subject of a new book called Walking with the Comrades.

It’s a first-hand account of the hidden side of the global economy and an analysis of a long-running and often misunderstood armed movement. She joins us from New York.

The above interview is about a conflict that is as important as it is ignored by the mainstream media, the Naxalite (Maoist) rebellion in India. The lack of interest in this story confuses me, its not a new story there has been a Naxalite movement in some form since 1967 with a Peasants Revolt in the village of Naxalbari (where they get there name). It also can't be that India is one of those far off and strange nations we know nothing about, India was the Crown Jewel of the British Empire until 1947 and has been a very prominent member of the Commonwealth ever since. And even if they weren't India is a fast growing economy and soon to overtake China as the most populated nation on the planet. Maybe is because the internal conflicts of India are blacked out? again no we see news reports from Kashmir and the Pakistan border with India all the time when violence flares up. Then there was the tragic Mumbai attacks which opened the door to reporting on India's religiously motivated violence a legacy not restricted to its Muslim population.

But when was the last time you saw a Maoist or any kind of "Red" news story? I can remember a couple about Nepal when they successfully entered Kathmandu and forced the government to flee but that is it. And while I don't wish to insult Nepal not all nations are equals and India is in a bigger league then Nepal so I don't see why they broke the blackout.

Maybe its because the Nepalese Maoists are a serious threat while the Indian Naxals aren't? well no because again the Naxalite movement represent a very serious threat to the Indian State just look at the below map of there strengths

Looks pretty serious to me, I wouldn't want to see that if I was in charge of India.

I think the answer is cultural. Since the end of the Cold War all those on the side of Liberal Capitalism were quite jubilant they saw not only the end of the Eastern bloc and the USSR but also all forms of organisation differing from the Western norm. They had some evidence for this, Cuba was on the verge of collapse due to losing all its main trading partners, China was of course advancing "Socialism with Chinese Characteristics"* North Korea was suffering a similar collapse to Cuba only with the added bonus of a famine. Vietnam adopted Market Socialism or "Socialism with Vietnamese characteristics" with neighbouring and oft forgotten Laos following suit. And all those nasty third world Guerilla armies where facing severe equipment shortages without there big friends support or attention, is it any wonder that Francis Fukuyama chose this period to release his most famous work "The End of History and The Last Man"?

What I'm trying to say is that after all that reassurance that Communism was dying any evidence to the contrary like a large and resilient Guerilla movement in one of the richest and most developed third world nation seems embarrassing. A News outlet is only as good as its reputation after all. I can remember watching a Channel Four news report about some developments in Zimbabwe with the on location reporter telling Mr Snow that they were awaiting Mugabe's Politburo meeting to end, Mr Snow said words to the effect of " A Politburo hey? Not to many of them around these days is there" and then they both chuckled a little. This is the same reason Communist parties in the former USSR and Eastern Bloc are constantly referred to as Pensioner social groups because those currently in power even in Russia want there past to remain in the past while they build there own new national projects.

Still I find that highly illogical, even if your some right wing Cold Warrior nut you should be very interested in the Naxalite conflict, if only to lament those damn bleeding heart Democrats in the White House.

If you do want to know more about the Naxalites and this secretive war in India I can add my personal recommendation to Arundhati Roy's Walking With the Comrades, and the Blog Naxal Revolution ran by Indian Maoists and has many updates on the struggle as well as reviews and analysis of the other books and research done on the Naxalite Movement.

* Though its a little strange that that policy involves greater market liberalisation, since modern capitalism was forced on China by European powers hoping to increase exploitation of its resources.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Tommy Robinson Quitting the EDL


"It has been a badly kept secret, but Tommy Robinson is about to announce he is leaving the EDL to join a group of fascist cranks, the British Freedom Party.

Rumour has it that on Saturday 19th December at a meeting in Birmingham, Tommy Robinson the leader of the EDL is to announce that he is leaving the EDL to join the British Freedom Party. This has generally been a poorly kept secret and has been widely discussed EDL circles."

Yep it looks like not only is the BNP circling the drain but now the EDL is also in dire straits, with its leader one Tommy Robinson AKA Stephen Yaxley Lennon AKA Unpronounceable Symbol AKA Prince, deciding its time for early retirement.

Or has he?

"After several years of denying being a fascist, he has gone and joined a party of fascist cranks, with a logo that Oswald Moseley would be proud of. Great stuff, he will fit into the political establishment perfectly as he is a bare faced liar."

While I'm surprised to hear that the leader of EDL is quitting I'm not surprised to hear that the problems with the group have gotten so bad, its been going that way for a while. Nearly every march (every march the group put a lot of stock into anyway) has been met with counter demonstrations outnumbering them with the bulk of the representations being from the local communities were the march was to take place. Membership has been haemorrhaging for a while compounded by several "regional" groups splitting off altogether perhaps most (in)famous of these are the North West Infidels but there far from the only ones.

The reasons for the splitting are actually quite varied, some have accused him and the rest of the "leadership" of siphoning funds from the group I don't know how true that allegation is but it certainly wouldn't surprise me given the EDL's confirmed fraudulent actions in regards to fund-raising (see below).

A few others are fed up with the duel nature of the group,
"Large sections of the EDL’s membership are also angry with the Leaders’ ‘softly-softly’ approach. They don’t want a group which claims to be pro-multicultural, anti-racist, and pro-Israel. They don’t want a series of big demos with police kettles. They want to do what they did before they got ‘respectable’ after mainstream TV coverage – i.e. bricking Asian shops (Luton) and knifing them in alleys (Bolton)."

Still others are annoyed by Robinson's Irish ancestry, yes really. When the EDL was a new organisation he deflected allegations of racism and that they had links to rump Unionist terror groups in Ulster by telling everyone he was of Irish descent. This did not go over very well with British Nationalists since the Irish are seen by British Nationalists to be like Palestinians from the point of view of the IDF(a bunch of weak sneaky terrorist barbarians) so he has been denying that his Irish ever since, unfortunately he was stupid enough to film himself saying he was of Irish descent as you can see below.

Warning though this video is by an actual disaffected EDL member so its a bit different from the other vids I post.

As an aside while I do think its worth pointing out that Tommy is Irish descended given that he is obviously lying now in a pathetic attempt at damage control its a bit a stupid to keep refereeing back to it, hell it isn't even the worse charge against Tommy in the video.

But then its not really surprising that a group spawned out of a network of old firms* is splintering I mean if they have no problems physically fighting one another because there 2 nil down at half time why not have a go when the boss fails to deliver?

Still it could be worse at least the EDL are still around unlike there brothers in the "Welsh" Defence League see below.

* Slang term for groups of football hooligans.
Photo source.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Read the Morning Star (Lyrical Version)

Been awhile since we had a good song to listen to. Tommy Reckless has been could enough to record a short song about why the Morning Star is great and all the other British papers are anything but.

Enjoy it, and I'll just live this link to the Morning Star website here.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Thai officials fiddle while Bangkok Drowns

As is probably well known Thailand is suffering under very severe flooding with the capital itself is under threat. The banks have been bursting for over three months now with no sign that they'll be dissipating any time soon. The death toll has been placed at around 530 and Thai industries (including hard drive manufacture) and agriculture have been gutted.

However despite this quite severe crisis Thailand's Administration have some how managed to schedule some time for the important work of tightening up its anti-criticism (read pro-censorship laws) to protect its beloved Monarch (and the system he props up) from hearing negative words, by trying an independent journalist and blogger Chiranuch Premchaiporn for a maximum sentence of 20 years because someone left a comment on one of her web site that prosecutors believed to be critical of the Monarchy.

Yes you read that right at a time of national disaster Thai authorities are wasting time trying a women for something someone else did. Sadly this kind of asinine censorship exists even in this country as these twoposts make clear. But in the British examples the worst punishment possible was a fine and a mandated grovelling apology, still stupid and out of line and a graphic illustration of why the UK needs to reform are Libel laws.

But any jail time at all because someone else posted something on your site, that is ridiculous. Its bad enough Thailand has a law against criticising anyone in power but to enforce that with a hefty prison sentence is just overkill. It also brings into question the claim that the King is universally popular in Thailand (I have no doubt he is popular with large sections of the population as it isn't hard to have a positive image when every time your mentioned in the media its to get credit) but if his as beloved as the government would have you believe then surely the law is a complete waste of ink and paper.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Putin versus the Communist Party

From Mondays Morning Star

"Russian police seized a lorry in Moscow on Saturday containing Communist Party election material to an industrial region as part of its parliamentary election campaign.

A month-long campaign season for the December 4 poll officially began on Saturday.

A local representative of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) said that police had swooped on the lorry as it set off for Tula loaded with 84,000 copies of a newspaper outlining the party's electoral platform.

"I think they are looking for an excuse to exclude us from these elections," the activist said.
Tula police official Andrei Yartsev said that the incident may have had something to do with allegations that the CPRF has made false accusations against Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's United Russia.
Another official who declined to give his name suggested that the CPRF may have committed a crime by seeking to deliver election material to Tula.
"We are now studying whether the Communists had the right to bring in this literature," the unnamed local official declared.
On the same day that the lorry was seized a squad of policemen toting machine guns broke up an impromptu CPRF open-air public meeting in central Moscow.
Security personnel barged in minutes after CPRF first secretary Gennady Zyuganov had begun addressing hundreds of citizens.
"They accused us of staging a demonstration," Mr Zyuganov said afterwards.
"This was no demonstration - we were handing out literature and material to all our country's citizens."
Russia's seven registered political parties - including the ruling United Russia, the Communist Party and Liberal Democratic Party - will be granted free air time on each of the main television channels and radio stations as part of the official campaign season.

However United Russia is expected to triumph in the State Duma elections for the third time running.

Polls suggest that the Communist Party is on track to gain about 13-17 per cent of the vote, cementing its position as the main opposition party.

Its campaign platform includes improved welfare services, intensified industrialisation efforts and a progressive revision of the tax system.

It is standing 595 candidates, 116 of whom are women. Sixty-nine of them are under 30 years old."*

I'm reposting this article as I think this story best illustrates a point I've been wanting to make for a long time. A lot of people on the left mostly but not exclusively younger progressives seem to have forgotten what the word Imperialism mean. If you follow a few blogs, BBS and comment threads you'll often see someone criticising western usually American (though to be fair other Western nations flex there muscle from time to time) domination and then equate that with all forms of Imperialism to the point where any nation group or political entity that opposes the west must be "Anti-Imperialist".

That is of course nonsense Empires often squabble with each other over access to client states all the time just look at the period of 1870-1918 in Europe if you need a graphic illustration. Anti Imperialism means you oppose all forms of Imperialism not just Imperialism from one nation or nations, thats actually closer to a form of intellectual racism, "its ok for x and y to do something so long as it stops z from taking part". Nations that I've seen time and again given the "anti-imperialist" title include Iran( lets forget the sponsorship of all those paramilitaries/Terrorist groups in Arab states that are hostile to it) China (because they ain't bullying there smaller Asian neighbours at all and have never invaded another nation purely to get what they want) and the Russian Federation (lets ignore the bloody war in Chechnya, or the repression in Dagestan to give two examples) What makes this even more stupid is that the Russian Federation justifies its hard line to rebellion as a crusade against Muslim flavoured terrorism, now where have we heard that before? try G.W. Bush the "arch Imperialist". Why is it when Americans invade territories and kill people including civilians in the War on Terror its ok and principled to jump down there throats for it but no one seems that interested in calling out Moscow for the same behaviour which is arguably worse?

The answer is it isn't ok its thoroughly reprehensible and is the kind of double think acceptable to "race realist" loonies. If you've ever praised Putin the RF China or any other nation for resisting Western interests solely because they wish to advance there own interests instead then unless your some sort of anti Yankee racist your extremely confused and need to get better heroes.

* You might be wondering why the paper chose to end the article on that little statistical titbit, well its because the Russian government and many former Soviet governments main attempts to dismiss or deride Communist parties in there nations is to claim there historical artefacts of little relevance to the new generation of nationals. Just watch a story on Russia Today that features the CPRF someone who smugly assert that its an old mans club.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Galloway on the UNESCO Controversy

If you read this blog you might be wondering if my sense of priorities are a bit unorthodox, for example why would a man who supports justice for the Palestinians at the time of an historic milestone on that journey (UNESCO membership) would I instead make a post about an infamous but no longer relevant Paramilitary group that arguably set back the Palestine Liberation movement? well two reasons really first I was genuinely pleasantly surprised at how good that documentary was in investigation and explanation, and I know that there are a lot of other bloggers out there whom can give a more informed or passionate account then I can and I don't really want to be repetitive.

Anyway George is one of those people whom has done a better job of explaining the UNESCO situation and since I like his radio show (a lot hence his own tag) and its been a while I thought this would be good opportunity to share.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Nicaragua vs Honduras

Nicaragua's Elections expected to grant the Sandinista party Leader Daniel Ortega a renewed mandate to Govern.

FSRN's coverage of the upcoming elections and the parties election platforms.

Yes Nicaragua has come along way since the 1980's. Though defying the powerful alliance of the United States Honduras and Iran(!) assorted drug cartels and random mercenary groups coalescing into the "Contra's" (No relation to the video game) was no easy task. But now in the aftermath of the Cold War and new spirit of independence sweeping Latin America Nicaragua has prospered by electing the Sandinista's back into power.

Meanwhile over the border in neighbouring "democratic" Honduras that enjoys a very close relationship to United States things aren't quite so inspiring.

Corruption and violence have boomed, Peasants are once again being driven off there lands and the suppression of independent media are common place. And this all started when former President Zelaya simply suggested the possibility of a referendum reforming Presidential term limits. A constitution I should add that was drafted by the countries old military Junta whom like many of there counterparts in the Continent saw that there time was fast running out and tried to ensure as much of the old ways of business were entrenched as possible. One Term Presidents in the long run benefit the wealthy whom can afford to bankroll several candidates and sustain a long term campaign strategy more then the urban poor and rural Campesinos.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Haitian Cholera Epidemic Worsens

Sadly despite it being nearly two years since the devastating earthquake collapsed what passed for infrastructure in Haiti -after decades of Dictatorial nepotism under Papa Doc and Baby Doc and Western friendly economic "restructuring" gutted everything-, and yet sadly Haitians are still suffering one calamity after another. Cholera a water-borne infection has been plaguing the survivors since the tremors subsided, and has occasionally flared up over the year but since late October it seems to have flared to epidemic proportions.

From Medicins Sans Frontiers (Doctors without Borders)

"Since the first cases of cholera were identified in October 2010, more than 465,000 Haitians have fallen ill and more than 6,500 people have died, according to Haiti’s Ministry of Health. While the ongoing rainy season is facilitating the further spread of the disease, international organizations involved in health care, water provision, and sanitation services are withdrawing from the fight against cholera in Haiti, despite the significant and urgent needs."

Part of the reason why international aid organisations despite undertaking a serious commitment to Haiti in terms of money resources and manpower is that once again due to the downtrodden relationship Haiti has with its rich neighbours (USA, and Canada) and old "friend" France means that very little has been done to build a more robust state on the ruins of the old regime capable of looking after its own citizens.

"While ensuring that Haitians’ urgent needs for cholera care are adequately met, international aid agencies should do more to assist the Haitian government in rapidly integrating proper cholera treatment into healthcare facilities and in implementing prevention plans. MSF has been working to transfer management of the healthcare facilities it has been supporting back to the Ministry of Health."

MSF donation page

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

A History of Black September and Palestinian Paramilitary groups

The Film Archive has posted up another excellent documentary from the 1970's this time detailing the history of the Palestinian terrorist group Black September, its foundation its structure its aims (if it has any) and its relations with other Palestinian liberation groups. Despite the emotive issue being discussed and the graphic nature of some of the imagery the reporter keeps a cool head and does his best to investigate the flesh and bones of the group and the issue that it spawned.

It starts off discussing the 1970 plane hijackings by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) in Dawson's field Jordan and how that act despite being bloodless proved to be one challenge to many to the Jordanian Monarchy. In response Martial law was declared and bloody campaign against not just the PFLP but all Palestinians living in Jordan gave rise to an even more radicalised group of Palestinians which eventually coalesced into Black September.

Then of course it recaps all the attacks which Black September claimed responsibility for including the infamous Munich Olympics siege in 1974 and its bloody aftermath. What I found very interesting is rather then just stick with visceral scenes of blood and explosions the program expands the topic. At the 11 minute mark It asks Palestinians themselves what they think groups like Black September mean to them and what they will accomplish, and he gets a varied and interesting response.

One of the scholars interviewed makes the point that the reason why terrorism is perceived as an attractive option for Palestinians is that back when Palestine was still a British mandate Jewish liberation groups such as the "Lehi" or Stern gang and developed terrorist tactics and too great effect. What does the reporter do when he hears this? instead of dismissing it like I think many reporters would do today, he investigates it gets in touch with former members of the Jewish terrorist groups and at 13 minutes in asks them questions. At first I assumed the interview would be the usual journalist asks questions that imply hypocrisy and the interviewee gets emotional and believes its different when "they" do it. But no the first speaker a former Leader of Stern fully admits what he did was terrorism, that the nature of the conflict between Palestine and Israel is the same as the one he fought against the British, and that yes Palestinian terrorist groups lead at least a few of there tactics from copying earlier Jewish terror groups. He also says that Golda Meier at the time Israel's Prime Minister is wrong in her assertions that there is no such thing as a Palestinian, because the British said the same thing about the Israeli's when the issue of the Palestinian mandate was debated. He is however very keen to stress that he doesn't approve of terrorism against civilians, but we should ask why was he part of a group that among other things blew up hotels and train stations. The second Israeli talked sadly is very much in the typical "it isn't comparable, we were right they are wrong" mould.

It then wraps up describing the then current rocky situation in neighbouring Lebanon where many Palestinians found sanctuary after being expelled from Jordan. All in all this 20 minute documentary is a high watermark in journalism and is a fascinating insight into a turbulent chapter in this sadly ongoing struggle between two entrenched peoples.

The above is a wanted poster given out by British police in the 1940's for Jewish terrorists guilty of murder.

Video Download Link.

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