Friday, April 27, 2007

Kim Il Sung -- A hero to remember

by Andy Brooks

KOREAN PEOPLE on both sides of the divided peninsula and amongst the overseas Korean community paid tribute to Kim Il Sung last week on the 95th anniversary of his birth on 15th April 1912. Kim Il Sung was an outstanding communist leader and thinker who will always be remembered by working people all over the world.
The great leader, comrade Kim Il Sung, was one of the giants of communism – the man who led the people in a war of liberation from Japanese occupation and then defended that victory against invasion by the United States and its allies in 1950, using the fledgling United Nations as a puppet.
He then went on to lead his country in building its own, independent socialism, steering a careful path during the period of Sino-Soviet ideological conflict and managing to remain on good terms with both parties.
And after the demise of the Soviet Union and the loss of the eastern European socialist countries, an enormous setback for communism globally, when parties were becoming demoralised and failing around the world, Kim Il Sung stopped the rot by summoning a global conference of communist and workers’ parties in Pyongyang in 1992.
When Kim Il Sung formed the Down with Imperialism Union at the age of 14 no one, least of all the Japanese imperialists, could have dreamt that within 20 years Korea would be free.
Kim Il Sung saw the hopelessness of the sectarians, flunkeyists, dogmatists and factionalists who called themselves communists in the 1920s. So he decided to form a communist movement from the youth and the grass-roots of the villages and factories, and surprised everyone with the emergence of the mighty Korean communist movement that led the people to victory in 1945.
When Kim Il Sung gathered a small band of heroes to form the first guerrilla units to take on the Japanese Army no one could have imagined that this would become the People’s Army that brought the American imperialists to their knees begging for an armistice in 1953.
Kim Il Sung not only grasped Marxism-Leninism but he applied it to the concrete conditions of the Korean people. He knew that once the masses realised their own strength they would become unstoppable. He knew that serving the people was the be-all and end-all for the Korean communists and for the Workers’ Party of Korea that he launched in 1945. He developed Korean style socialism into the Juché idea – which elevates the philosophical principles of Marxism-Leninism as well as its economic theories – and focuses on the development of each individual worker, who can only be truly free as part of the collective will of the masses.
Kim Il Sung was born in a world of oppression and exploitation. He lived and fought to end that rotten system and he lived to see the construction of a modern socialist system in the north of Korea. But he wasn’t just a Korean communist. He was a great internationalist.
The leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea championed the struggle for colonial freedom, non-alignment and Third World co-operation. He pioneered the call for south-south co-operation which is now bearing fruit today. He sent technical and military assistance to the African and Arab peoples struggling for independence and he constantly strove to strengthen the world communist movement.
Some members of the New Communist Party, like myself, had the honour of meeting Kim Il Sung. All of us know him as a great friend and teacher. The President of the NCP, Eric Trevett, met Kim Il Sung on a number of occasions because Comrade Kim was very interested in the British communist movement. Kim drew parallels with the problems the Korean communists faced in the 1920s but always maintained that communists had to resolve their problems in their own way, based on their own conditions – like the Koreans themselves.
Today, the Workers’ Party of Korea, with Kim Jong Il at the helm, is relentlessly advancing into the future to fulfil the dream of all Koreans, the peaceful re-unification of the country.
Kim Il Sung worked tirelessly all his life to end the cruel partition of Korea but all his efforts were rebuffed by American imperialism. More than six years ago, on 15th June, Kim Jong Il signed the historic joint declaration with south Korean leader Kim Dae Jung that outlined the way forward to achieve this goal. But the forces of US imperialism have moved to stall progress and prevent the Korean people from achieving their undeniable and inalienable right to the end of partition and to reunify their country.
Democratic Korea began to develop its nuclear industry in the 1990s but agreed to suspend its programme following an agreement with the United States that was to have led to the construction of two light water reactors in the DPRK. This agreement was never honoured and it was virtually torn up by the Bush administration. The American diplomatic and economic blockade on the north since the end of the Korean War was maintained.
The DPRK was branded by the American imperialists as part of the “axis of evil”, and one of the “outposts of tyranny”, that include Cuba, Syria and Iran, and was topped by Iraq until that country was invaded by US-led imperialism in 2003. The US army and its south Korean puppets rehearse the invasion of the north in annual war-games and the south Koreans have developed a cruise missile of their own targeted on the DPRK.
In face of these renewed threats the DPRK has had no alternative but to develop a nuclear deterrent to defend its socialist system. At the same time it has pledged that it will never be the first to use nuclear weapons and it has also vowed never to threaten the use of nuclear weapons or allow the transfer of nuclear technology to other countries.
We believe that the will of the Korean masses, expressed in concrete terms by their vanguard party, the Workers’ Party of Korea, will overcome all obstacles to fulfil the revolutionary tasks that faced the Korean people when they began their long march to socialism in the struggle against Japanese imperialism.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Fighting Modern Slavery

Interview with Muhktar Rana

On Friday 23rd March MUKHTAR RANA, a veteran Pakistani campaigner for labour and trade union rights, former member of the Pakistani parliament and former prisoner of conscience, spoke to the New Worker on the campaign against bonded labour in Pakistan and his role in launching it. He began by explaining how people come to be bonded labourers:

FAMILIES become victim to disease or famine or some other disaster and have to borrow money in order to survive. They get an agreement with big landowners or factory owners and end spending the rest of their lives working to pay off the debt.
The big landlords and factory owners use dirty tricks and fraudulent accounting to keep them always in debt; they charge too much for helping these people to survive and pay wages too low for them ever to repay the debts.
Those who work on the land are given nothing from the crops they produce and the wages they are paid are very, very low. The children of these bonded labour families are also forced to work and the women are misused for sex.
This kind of slavery is spread all over the world and, according to various international human rights bodies; there are around two million bonded peasants and labourers in Pakistan working in farms, factories and kilns. They are kept in big camps under armed guard to stop them escaping.
My first contact with bonded labourers was when I was running an educational institution called the People’s Academy in Faislabad (formerly known as Lailpur but renamed after King Faisal of Saudi Arabia after his death).
Bonded labourers working in a nearby brick kiln walked miles to my academy to see me and explain their situation.
I had also become a member of the national Parliament of Pakistan. I won the votes of the working class of Faislabad and I also chaired the People’s Party of the district of Faislabad. Under my supervision we won 90 per cent of the national and provincial MP seats because I was very popular among the workers. Even one of the very big capitalists, Saigal, was defeated in spite of tremendous support from a lot of mullahs.
After coming to know the situation of the bonded labourers working in that brick kiln I decided, along with my family, to involve the trade unions in working for the freedom of bonded labourers and the movement started to gather momentum.
But I was thrown into jail for five years for opposing the martial law imposed by the President, Mr Bhutto, because our manifesto demanded democracy. We had been demanding this in the past, throughout various periods of military rule.
Some other trade union leaders also suffered and were even thrown out of Pakistan and never allowed to come back. They took refuge mainly in Britain and Sweden.
During my imprisonment Amnesty International adopted me as a prisoner of conscience. After I had completed my term of imprisonment Mr Bhutto met me. There is a long story of how he apologised for his actions.
But during that period Bhutto again imposed another period of martial law in Karachi when the people demonstrated against the elections he had conducted – claiming they were fraudulent. I went with my family to Karachi to campaign against martial law, with a manifesto against military rule and for the restoration of democracy.
Mr Bhutto then, instead of putting me in prison, threw me out of Pakistan. It was because Swedish Amnesty International had adopted me as a prisoner of conscience. Then I had a choice of going to Sweden or Britain. I was born in the Punjab desert and I was a bit nervous about Sweden’s cold climate, and in any case I could speak English but not Swedish so I opted to come to Britain. And in London there were various committees – backed by some MPs – campaigning for me to be allowed residence in Britain. The British Library was another attraction that drew me to choose to come to London.
I walked out of London airport without much fuss; I had come on the grounds that I needed medical treatment and I had a certificate from Pakistani doctors confirming that I needed to come for treatment. I started living in London in 1977 and while I was living in sheltered accommodation as a patient I founded the Peace and Human Rights Trust. My wife Norma and her son became fellow trustees.
Our objectives were to campaign for peace and human rights. As I was well known in Pakistan, especially amongst the working class and peasants, I discussed with my fellow trustees and decided to start campaigning in Pakistan for two important goals:

1) To work for the freedom of bonded labourers and peasants;
2) To work for the establishment of a welfare state and other human rights in Pakistan.

Since 1977 I had been going back to Pakistan to campaign against corruption but in 2003 I went to Pakistan and we held our first seminar on the issue of bonded labour, including in the bangle-manufacturing industry, for a welfare state and for the abolition of Bhatta (the form of bonded labour imposed on brick kiln workers). Various political leaders, human rights activists, representatives of labourers and peasants and journalists took part in the seminar. To the good luck of the trust it was very well reported and an office of the PHRT was formed in Pakistan.
To our pleasant surprise similar seminars were held in almost every province and the issues of bonded labour and a welfare state were brought into focus. But the most active and physical response was reserved for Hyderabad, the capital of Sindh province. The journalists, lawyers and human rights activists in Hyderabad responded enthusiastically and we formed a trust unit for Sindh.
After the creation of that unit and various conferences the issue of bonded peasants and labourers started whipping up. To our surprise the office of the chief minister of Sindh made a very wrong claim that there were no bonded labourers in Sindh. But to our greater and pleasant surprise the provincial minister for the interior came to our support. He said the Sindh government claim was wrong and that there were two million bonded labourers and peasants in Sindh. And he supported the campaign of the trust for their liberation.
As a matter of fact the cruelty of the big feudal landlords of the Sindh was so well known for such a long time that various peasant groups have been formed for the rights of peasants and tenants. One of the best known was the Hari (peasant) Committee.
Some of the bureaucrats favourable to the cause of the Haries had written very good reports about the problem.
Bhutto was from Sindh and for a while he was President, chief minister responsible for administration, Prime Minister and chair of the People’s Party. Part of the manifesto of the People’s Party was for the freedom of bonded labourers and peasants but the problem continued under his rule and still continues today. After him his daughter also became president of Pakistan twice.
They also made a law for the abolition of bonded labour and the constitution of Pakistan bans any kind of forced labour.
There have been various High Court decisions and precedents in place banning bonded labour and freeing the peasants and labourers. And there are various human rights organisations all over Pakistan working for the freedom of bonded labourers and peasants.
But in spite of all this today according to the human rights groups and the International Labour Organisation there are still an estimated two million bonded labourers and slaves in Pakistan. Because the big landlords rule the politics, hand-in-hand with the military. They have control over the government and politics.
But good things have been happening. For example a young minister of labour in the central province – a friend of mine and the son of another friend of mine – got deeply involved in the movement for the freedom of bonded labourers and peasants.
He succeeded in getting thousands freed and rehabilitated in spite of serious opposition from a corrupt administration and cruel landlords.
According to Sajjad Ali Shah, a former chief justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, a young labour minister was targeted and killed. Police claimed he had committed suicide. The workers and peasants of Sindh loved the young central minister and do not believe he committed suicide. They are indebted to the help he gave.
Soon our trust workers and leaders succeeded getting bonded labourers and peasants released with the help of lawyers, courts and the media.
To our happiness both the judges and the media have played a very big role in this and in getting the issue whipped up nationally.
There is a significant case of a bonded labour family that raised the issue throughout the nation.
Munoo Bheel is the head of the family; about nine years ago because of international pressure the landlord, Abdur Rehman Murri, was forced to release them. But shortly after that the landlords sent his armed guards and got the family re-abducted. They did not get Munoo Bheel himself because he was not at home when they came. But Murri and six other men were identified by witnesses as being responsible for abducting the family and the case was registered with the local police but they have taken no action yet to release the family or bring the kidnappers to justice.
Human rights org-anisations from Sweden and Pakistan were campaigning for the freedom of the Munoo Bheel family but the big landowner is so powerful that for years Munoo Bheel could not get his family released. We joined the campaign for his release and to our very pleasant surprise we found an ally in the Pakistan Chief of Justice, Mr Iftikhar Mohammed Choudry – the one who has been arrested and detained recently by the dictator General Perves Musharraf because of his actions to defend human rights.
In the Supreme Court, Choudry brought a “suo moto” (self-motivated by the court) case and ordered that the Munoo Bheel family should be released. But the police have been playing tricks and the family has not yet been released so far.
But the cause of this family is getting support from the trust and from the very highest court in Pakistan. The campaigning goes on.
In order to satisfy the Supreme Court, they sent the inspector general of police for Sindh, saying that anyone who gave information that led to the whereabouts and release of the Munoo Bheer family would get millions of rupees reward. But so far there has been no response because the chief minister of Sindh and his colleagues are refusing to cooperate with the Supreme Court.
Not only that; although the big landlord Murri had been imprisoned for abducting the family and not releasing them, his friends have been threatening our trust coordinator in Pakistan. They said that if the trust did not stop pleading to keep Murri in prison the coordinator would be killed. So far he has survived and our representations in court have succeeded in stopping attempts by Murri to get bail. We are determined that the Munoo Bheer family will be found.
And we will keep on with the campaign for the freedom of bonded labourers until every labourer who is a bonded slave is freed unconditionally.
To focus attention on the campaign in Britain we are having a gathering on Sunday 8th April on my birthday at the Bakehouse in Blackheath, which will celebrate the release of 3,000 bonded labourers.
We need to raise fund because once these bonded labourers and peasants are freed they have no home and no job. We need to build accommodation for them and to provide them with food and clean water. In the Sindh there is a problem with salt water; clean water has to be transported over long distances. We have taken out bank loans to set up camps to provide accommodation and we are getting support from NGOs (non-government organisations).
We prefer to raise funds from the working class and there has been a response. One small landlord who is sympathetic has given 50 acres to the trust to provide accommodation for freed bonded labourers. And recently some other small landlords have offered a car for communications. More and more political and human rights workers and social workers are offering cooperation.
But the process has been stopped because of the presidential attack on Choudry and now the progressive campaigners in Pakistan are having to fight to get justice for the Chief Justice.
Anti-Slavery International are supporting us and their director has promised to come to Pakistan and to provide more funds for legal and political work.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Soviet National Anthem

A Paul Robeson classic

Monday, April 02, 2007

No to the New Anti-Cuba Manoeuvres of the EU

Joint Appeal of Communist & Workers' Parties of Europe

We, the undersigned parties, vehemently condemn the intensification of the anti-Cuba campaign being carried out by the EU, especially its intent to pass a “mid-term and long-term strategy on Cuba” at the next summit of the European Council.

With this document, the EU aligns itself completely with the policies and plans of the U.S.A. for a strike against the Cuban revolution, in complete contradiction with the powerful sentiments of friendship and solidarity for Cuba, held by the people of Europe.

For the first time ever, the EU will publicly reveal a joint strategy against another country of the world. It is assuming an active role in the imperialist, anti-Cuba campaign, in complete accord with the so-called “Bush Plan” and is striving to actively enlist the EU member countries in the interventionist plans against Cuba.

It intensifies the regime of outrageous discriminatory practices, pressures and intervention that was launched in 1996 with the so-called “common position”. This development constitutes yet another dangerous step towards convergence with the policies of the U.S.A. It reaffirms the hostile stance of the EU towards the ideas of national independence and sovereignty.

It is particularly objectionable that this new anti-Cuba campaign, under the pretext of supporting “human rights” and “democracy”, is being primarily instigated by champion anti-communist, anti-democratic governments who promote the most reactionary anti-people measures in their own countries: those of the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Lithuania, and others.

The EU has neither the right nor the moral stature to impose terms on Cuba in regards to its relations with other countries.

We demand that our governments reject the “mid-term and long-term strategy on Cuba” in the European Council.

We demand the abolition of the “common position” and the development of relations with Cuba based on equality and the principles of international justice.

We call upon the working people, the youth, women and the peoples’ movements, as well as, every progressive and democratic-thinking person in Europe to express their opposition to these anti-Cuba maneuvers.

To reject and refute the reactionary propagandistic campaign, to isolate the political forces that support it.

To defend the right of the peoples to resist and determine their own fate.

To strengthen their solidarity with socialist Cuba and her people.

The Parties

Communist Party of Albania
Workers' Party of Belgium
Communist Party of Britain
New Communist Party of Britain
Socialist Workers' Party of Croatia
Communist Party of Bohemia & Moravia
Communist Party in Denmark
Communist Party of Finland
Unified Communist Party of Georgia
German Communist Party
Communist Party of Greece
Hungarian Communist Workers’ Party
Communist Party of Ireland
Workers’ Party of Ireland
Party of the Italian Communists
Socialist Party of Latvia
Communist Party of Luxembourg
Communist Party of Malta
Communist Party of Macedonia
Communist Party of Norway
Communist Party of Poland
Portuguese Communist Party
Romanian Communist Party
Socialist Alliance Party, Romania
Communist Party of Russian Federation
Communist Workers Party of Russia - Party of Communists of Russia
New Communist Party of Yugoslavia
Communist Party of Slovakia
Communist Party of Peoples of Spain
Communist Party of Spain
Communist Party of Sweden
Communist Party of Turkey
Labour Party of Turkey (EMEP)
South African Communist Party