RELEASE THE REFUGEES! CLOSE THE DETENTION CENTRES!
FOR WORKERS LEADERSHIP!
09-04-2017 – The dead are many. Reza Berati, Hamid Khazaei, Kamil Hussain, Faysal Ishak Ahmed and Omid Masoumali are some of the recent innocents to have lost their lives in the off-shore hell-holes referred to as detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru. Countless others remain there, mentally and physically tormented by inhuman conditions. Approximately 1200 are detained off-shore, as well as around 1300 in detention on the Australian mainland. These are people who have, for whatever reason, fled their homelands and sought asylum in what they may have believed to be a fair country governed by at least the pretence of the rule of law. Once here, however, they endure hardships that are in many cases beyond human endurance, with little or no recourse to any legal redress. It may always have been a myth that Australia was built on the ethos of the “fair go”, but here we can safely say that not even this applies.
Refugees and those seeking asylum in Australia – at least when they arrive by boat – are mistreated in inhuman ways for one main reason. The Australian ruling class are acutely aware that they must divide workers against themselves to prevent them from aiming their just demands for decent working and living conditions at the place they belong – at the foot of the banks, mining and other corporations, and the governments who serve them. If Australia’s rulers, backed in no small way by the parliamentary parties, did not create an “other” (refugees, migrants, “foreigners”), they may be facing mobs of angry folk with the proverbial pitchforks. This creation of an “other” that we must hate and fear also serves a subsidiary purpose when these same rulers want to sign Australia up to yet another US led war of conquest, in Africa, the Middle East, Asia or elsewhere.
In recent years, however, some in the leadership of the refugee rights movement have been used by the very same ruling oligarchs they claim to be protesting against. Wars waged by Washington, with the backing of Canberra, against Libya, Syria, Yemen and Ukraine have created untold numbers of refugees, on top of the destruction of human lives the actual conflict ensures. Refugee Action Collectives and Coalitions (RAC) around the country have unfortunately been largely led by some left parties which have been unable to politically break from the parties and organisations of the liberal wing of capital’s rule. This has, in turn, drawn them in behind imperialist wars which threaten the very future of humanity.
US backed refugee campaigns
During the last six years, the US and their Saudi, Israeli, Turkish and Qatari allies – with the backing of Canberra – waged one of the most atrocious proxy wars in history, in an attempt at “regime change” in Syria. The fact that Russia intervened at the request of the Syrian government, and with Iranian and Hezbollah’s assistance, turned the tide against the US, and prevented their proxy ISIS/Al Qaeda barbarians from overthrowing Syria, is now a matter of historical record. Unfortunately, it is also a matter of historical record that the leaderships of the RAC organisations in this country did their utmost to bring down the Syrian state, which could have potentially launched World War III. At a certain point, this was done out of a concern for refugees fleeing from Syria. To be sure, all refugees fleeing from war zones should be welcomed to safe shores such as Australia. However, at the point when the US was extending every effort to remove the Syrian Republic, encouraging refugees to flee would have served the interests of the US backed mercenaries beheading their way across the country. More Syrian refugees fleeing from Syria would have meant an easier “victory” for the ISIS/Al Qaeda sociopaths. It was a classic case of imperialism manipulating the very real concerns that the masses have for the well-being of refugees. Chief agitators for this US backed “refugee” campaign were some of the left parties which form key parts of the leaderships of the RAC groups – Socialist Alternative (SAlt), Socialist Alliance (SAll) and Solidarity (Sol).
Washington’s latest refugee cause celebre is the plight of the Rohingya people of the Rakhine region in Myanmar, formerly Burma. While it cannot be denied that there are some serious issues affecting the Rohingya people, and consequently understandable motivation to flee, it is also the case that the US state has no scruples whatsoever in exploiting the persecution of any people for their own nefarious ends. From all appearances, what the US is attempting to do is to create an “Asian Kosovo” in the Rakhine region of Myanmar – that is, a pro-US enclave which can then be used as a staging post for the positioning of US military bases, as well as a geo-political beach head against the US’s chief rival in Asia – Red China. The Rohingya inhabited Rakhine region is strategically located on the coast, where the US and their allies could easily ship arms and other supplies to “rebels”, in the same manner in which Turkey was used as a training and provision supplying territory for the funnelling of abominable “freedom fighters” into Syria. US designs to completely militarily and geo-politically encircle China and Russia are gathering at pace, threatening a global conflagration, and the exploitation of the Rohingya cause by the US deep state is just one part of it. As if on cue, the RAC organisations around Australia, led by SAlt, SAll and Sol, leap into action, in some cases thrusting Rohingya speakers on to the platform of the Palm Sunday “peace” rallies.
Misguided opposition to the Trump Administration
RAC and its guiding left parties have also led those motivated by genuine disgust at the Australian government’s abuse of refugees into the politically misguided “Fight Trump” movement. While it is of course true that US President Trump opportunistically uses fear of refugees, Muslims and migrants to bolster his rule, the previous Obama/Clinton Administration carried out the same policies, but with different rhetoric. It is now well known that the Obama Administration deported more people from the US than any other Administration in history, and also more people in total than all US Presidents in the 20th Century. A report from the Huffington Post, speaking in relation to recent US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids, where suspected “illegal” migrants are detained and often later deported, remarked that “….the recent ICE raids under Trump were significant and alarming, but hundreds of such arrests happened every week under Obama.” The RAC organisations, led by SAlt, SAll and Sol, allow their pathological hatred of Trump to obscure their political judgement – which has led them into the camp of the Democrats, the CIA and the US Security Agencies. This camp is straining at the leash to replace or impeach Trump, or at least tame him, so that he does not carry out his election rhetoric of a rapprochement with Russia against ISIS – the creation of US deep state agencies themselves.
The Democrats/CIA are apoplectic that the Obama/Clinton position of confrontation, if not outright war, against Russia, now seems to be off the cards. It seems needless to say that a war against Russia would be a world war – a war that would drown large portions of the globe in blood. NATO has encircled Russia to an extent not seen since the hey-day of the original Cold War. RAC and their leading left parties highlight the backward immigration positions of the Trump Administration, but they are seemingly unaware of being used in the process to ramp up extreme Russophobia – today’s anti-communism. Moreover, they may well find themselves in a bind if they continue with the “Fight Trump” angst, while at the same time continuing their vitriol against China, Iran and the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic). Trump has threatened each of these countries, with either sanctions and/or invasion and war. As we have previously stated, a refugee rights movement which does not oppose imperialist war cannot be a refugee rights movement.
Who should lead the refugee rights movement?
This year marks 100 years since the triumph of the October Revolution in Russia, which led to the world’s first workers state, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). During that history making struggle, it was the Menshevik opponents of the successful Bolshevik party which always fought for an approach where the liberal bourgeoisie would lead the struggle for socialism, and it was the task of the workers parties to follow them. Granted, there is currently no revolutionary struggle amongst workers in Australia. However, we see an echo of the Mensheviks mistaken tactics reflected in political struggles here today, including within the refugee rights movement. The RAC groups, led by some left parties, argue for and enforce liberal political leadership. Consciously or unconsciously, they consistently seek to put the Labor Party, the Greens, NGOs, lawyers, do-nothing Union officials and others at the forefront. They have also shamelessly promoted spokespersons for the Syrian “opposition” , i.e. barbarous mercenaries linked to Al Qaeda, as “refugee activists” !! They want the “stars” to feature, as if prominent personalities and/or celebrities are more important than “ordinary” workers.
What this practice does is steer the politics of the refugee rights movement into a politically conservative dead end. Organisations such as GetUp!, and lobbyist NGOs may oppose the mistreatment of refugees in words, but they have no intention, and will actively seek to block, the one political strategy which can free the refugees – independent working class action. In fact, organisations such as GetUp! already see themselves as the police of the refugee rights movements, and often bully anyone who challenges their political strategy of endless appeals to the parliamentary circus. In fact, it is suspected that GetUp! has political, organisational and financial links to the ALP.
In recent years, the RAC groups have taken over Palm Sunday, which was formerly an anti-war peace rally. In doing so, the RAC groups and their leading left parties allow various church congregations and church Ministers to lead the Palm Sunday refugee rights rallies. In Brisbane, the march is even planned to end at St John’s Cathedral ! SAlt, SAll and Sol should know that over 150 years ago, Marxism began as a criticism of religion. It then moved to a political strategy for the emancipation of the working class. Left parties today, should not be leading us back into the churches. The Workers League warns of the dangers of allowing the churches to lead political struggles over any issue, including that for refugee rights. For one thing, liberal operatives of the ruling class – reactionary Union officials amongst them – know very well, and are very skilled, at using “respect” for religion, and the churches themselves, for politically crippling social movements, and thereby bolstering and fortifying the rule of capital over labour. Witness how they have promoted the Christian based Love Makes A Way organisation.
If it is not against the “morality” of the Australian ruling class to torture refugees on remote Pacific islands, they will not be swayed by pleas from churches to review the morality of their actions. Socialists are not opposed to church members and leaders taking part in important political struggles. At the same time, left parties should seek to ensure that it is the working class which leads these struggles, not liberal NGOs, self-serving Union officials or religious organisations, no matter how well-intentioned. The refugee rights movement, led by some left parties, has endlessly appealed to everyone, regardless of class, regardless of business ownership, regardless of political connections, to all “come together” and lobby the very same politicians who enable refugee abuse. This strategy has been implemented now for nearly 20 years and it is not working. It won’t work because it can’t work.
Freeing the refugees, and improving the lot of working people, is linked. It is only the independent intervention of the working class which has the possibility of extracting concessions from those in power – whether it is retaining penalty rates for workers, for example, or ending barbarous treatment of asylum seekers – the overwhelming majority of whom are working people seeking a better life. To do this requires a political break from those forces who in turn refuse to break from the operatives of the liberal intelligentsia. In order to challenge the class collaboration of most “left” parties and the majority of the Union officials, a workers’ party based on class struggle will need to be forged. Such a party would at all times fight for a workers government, in the process of aiding struggles to release refugees, restore basic Union rights, for jobs, education, healthcare and a livable society.
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