Shut Down the Manus Island and Nauru Hell Holes – Once and For All!

Shut Down the Manus Island and Nauru Hell Holes – Once and For All!

20-07-2018 – Five years ago yesterday, former Australian Labor Party (ALP) Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced that his government had come to an arrangement with the government of Papua New Guinea (PNG). All refugees and asylum seekers arriving by boat would be transferred to PNG, and would be settled in PNG or another third country, and would never be resettled in Australia ever again. This act of base inhumanity would also be arranged with Nauru.[1] The announcement was a shock for those who briefly thought that some progress was being made against the barbarous treatment of refugees over the previous 15 years. Yet in fact, the previous ALP Prime Minister Julia Gillard had begun the transferring of refugees to Manus Island in PNG, and Nauru, from the end of 2012. At the time the Australian Greens were in a coalition government federally with the ALP. Despite their strong words against offshore processing, the Greens nonetheless remained in the government which carried it out.

The Liberal Party governments of Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull have continued the barbarity, with the “Minister for Everything” Peter Dutton now displaying a cold ruthlessness which would make Howard era detention minister Philip Ruddock blush. Time and time again, bodies of the United Nations (UN) have condemned the Australian government for its illegal detention of refugees and asylum seekers – desperate people fleeing war and economic privation in countries ravaged by the imperialist powers themselves. Just last week, the UN working group on arbitrary detention condemned the Australian government for the practice of indefinite detention of refugees and asylum seekers. This working group is part of the UN Human Rights Council, which in bitter irony, Australia now sits.[2] Some refugees have been detained – without charge – since 2009. Words cannot describe the injustice perpetrated by Australia’s “leaders”, and neither can words describe the depth of the torment inflicted on innocents.

“Unionists” oppose refugee rights

Over 20 years, the refugee rights movement in this country has attempted, largely in vain, to gain Union backing over a critical social justice issue. If Union officials do not lead Unions in strong combat against racism, in whatever form, their ability to defend workers’ rights on any issue is seriously undermined. Yet time and time again, Union officials who may in some ways defend workers’ rights, also come down on the side of capital – whether politically led by the “Labor” or “Liberal” faction of the united party of the ruling class. To the dismay of refugee rights activists, at the Victorian state Australian Labor Party (ALP) conference in May earlier this year, a motion to discuss the closure of off-shore detention centres did not make it onto the agenda. Officials of the Construction Forestry Mining Maritime Energy Union (CFMMEU) joined with officials of the Australian Workers Union (AWU) to form a bloc which closed the conference early. This meant that not only a motion to close off-shore detention centres could not be discussed, but also urgency motions on gender inequality in superannuation, the right to strike, raising the rate of Newstart (unemployment benefits), live exports and the recognition of Palestine.[3] As important as the accompanying issues are, it appears the CFMMEU and AWU officials sought to squash any possibility of half-way humane refugee policy being put to ALP members.

Yet again this incident highlights the futility of workers attempting to achieve any progress through the ALP. In addition, it reveals once more the road block of the Labor Party in the struggle for basic social justice, let alone basic workers’ rights, e.g. the right to strike. ALP leader Bill Shorten has been at pains to emphasise that the Liberal Party government’s current refugee policy –  indefinite detention, off-shore hell holes – will continue if the ALP wins the next federal election. The Greens have been vocal in opposing off-shore detention, but they are not prepared to lead a struggle outside parliament for this, and neither are they willing to help organise workers in their Unions to this end. Their focus on parliament renders them a captive to the Labor and Liberal parties they otherwise rightly criticise.

Pro-refugee or anti-Trump?

In the United States of America (US), there were widespread protests against US President Trump’s practice of separating migrant families of those at the US/Mexico border, and detaining them in wire cages. The national and international outcry soon forced Trump to back down, and sign an executive order that families would now be detained, albeit together.[4] Yet the politics of the much needed actions, from all reports, were more about channeling electoral support back into the Democratic party of former President Obama and the outright war-monger Hilary Clinton. Many liberals leapt into action against Trump for deporting migrants, whereas for years they had not uttered a peep when Obama deported migrants. President Obama was the “deporter-in-Chief”, and there is no questioning his record. How many migrants were ejected from the US under Obama? Try 3.1 million.[5] Two years into his term, Trump pales in comparison.

Of course, Trump could be on track for something similar. Yet the silence of much of the left over Obama’s crimes against migrants mirrors the silence of much of the left over the imperialist wars waged by Obama – with the assistance of Hilary Clinton. Clinton and Obama did not just separate families – they bombed them to death, and otherwise organised the slaughter of them in the most vicious manner possible. In fact, the Obama administration ordered ten times the amount of drone strikes than his Republican predecessor George W Bush.[6] Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen and Afghanistan were drone bombed repeatedly. It is a matter of historical record that the US state under Obama also simultaneously armed and funded terror death squads in Libya and Syria, including ISIS.[7]

There is no doubt Trump fuels racism and energises the far-right by deporting migrants and using them as scapegoats. Yet not only did the Obama administration do the same, it launched and maintained deadly imperialist wars in the Middle East and North Africa – causing huge numbers of refugees to flee to Europe, in whichever way they could. Some of them make their way south, and end up seeking refuge in Australia. Yet much of the refugee rights movement in Australia, led by the Refugee Action Coalition or Refugee Action Collective, has in practice mobilized refugee rights supporters behind the imperialist wars waged by Obama and Clinton. This has critically undermined the refugee rights movements’ ability to actually free the refugees. One would have to break with the criminal foreign policy of Australian and US imperialism, in order to have a chance at forcing a political break with the Australian ruling class policy of psychological and physical torture through the plainly illegal detention of refugees.

Rohingyas used to derail the New Silk Road

In recent times, the respective Refugee Action Collectives/Coalitions have been willing captives of the plaintive cries to “Save the Rohingya”. Imperialism is very well versed at manipulating the first world saviour complex, and the plight of the Rohingya is yet another. What appears to be a straight forward case of a third world military junta persecuting a minority is anything but. Washington could very well be planning a “south-east Asian Kosovo”,[8] whereby an international outcry of claimed persecution is used to declare a US backed “independence”. The “independence” is then totally dependent on Washington, or London, which has its claws in its former colony.

Short of an actual military intervention by the US and UK, their aims might also be saved by the creation of violent chaos in Myanmar – which would disrupt a section of the vast infrastructure development project launched by Beijing, the New Silk Road (One Belt, One Road). In the early stages of last year, the China-Myanmar oil and gas pipeline began operation, which runs from China’s south-western province of Yunnan to the Rakhine state in Myanmar. China’s National Petroleum Corp holds a 50.9% stake, with 49.1% being owned by the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise.[9] Washington is furious with the increased cooperation and trade between Myanmar and Red China, especially considering the millions of dollars it spent funding the National League for Democracy of Aung Sung Suu Kyi, which installed her in a power sharing arrangement with the Tatmadaw (Myanmar military).

Anything which can be done to break Myanmar-China ties is thus carried out by Washington, London, and their international army of NGOs, the “human rights” industrial complex, and, waylaid refugee rights activists. When the so-called Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) launched armed attacks on Myanmar military and police installations, the Tatmadaw responded – as any national security force would do. Western backed NGOs and some refugee rights campaigners threw up their hands and shrieked in horror, at the alleged actions of the Myanmar military. ARSA claims it must take action to protect the Rohingya community, but ARSA does not represent Rohingyas per se. ARSA is the rebranded name of Harakat Al-Yaqin, which reportedly has a leadership council based in Saudi Arabia, and is funded by Saudi and Pakistani business linked to the Rohingya diaspora.[10] Even the compromised Amnesty International admits that ARSA has carried out massacres of Hindus in the region.[11] Despite ARSA claiming it has no links with Al Qaeda or ISIS, its origins are certainly similar.[12]

For an anti-imperialist refugee rights movement

Some of the Australian government’s actions rival the barbarism of Al Qaeda like execution squads. Take the example of the town of Biloela, which Tamil refugees Priya and Nades had made their home for the last four years.[13] The couple, fleeing the Sri Lankan government’s war against the Tamil minority, have had two daughters born in the central Queensland town. They are now in a Melbourne detention centre, with the father Nades likely to be deported to Sri Lanka, and hit with a $30 000 fee for “removal” – which he has to pay in order to re-enter Australia to see his family again. To forcibly traumatise a family with two daughters under the age of 3, who are seeking a safe place to live, condemns the government carrying out such depravity.

The top leadership of Australia’s Unions also share the responsibility for the ongoing international condemnation of the federal government’s abuse of refugees and asylum seekers. These highly paid Union officials have the power to mobilise workers behind the movement for humane refugee practices, but instead they value their careers and dollars in their own pocket. The foreign policy they imbue in their members unfortunately mirrors that of the left parties prominent in the Refugee Action Collectives/Coalitions who otherwise play a good organisational role in mobilising opposition to refugee and asylum seeker persecution. Namely, the two wings basically agree with the Australian ruling class that China, Russia and Iran are “our” enemies, and we have to band together against them.

Little could be more harmful to both the attempted prevention of imperialist war AND the refugee rights movement. Supposedly “liberal” allies, e.g. conservative Union officials, the Labor Party, the Greens, NGOs, etc., who all say they support refugees, are at the same time at one with the Liberal Party when it comes to imperialist war. This is why steering the refugee rights movement in their political direction, even inadvertently, cannot free the refugees. What is needed is a sharp political break with the essentially pro-war Union officials and parliamentary parties. “Unity” with such elements in practice means splitting the working class, incapacitating the refugee rights movement, and nobbling elementary working class defence. Key to building an anti-imperialist refugee rights movement is the forging of a Marxist vanguard party, which can champion refugee rights as a component part of the struggle for a workers’ republic.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO  Box  66   NUNDAH  QLD  4012

[1] https://www.refugeecouncil.org.au/getfacts/seekingsafety/asylum/offshore-processing/briefing/ (09-07-2018)

[2] https://www.msn.com/en-au/news/australia/un-body-condemns-australia-for-illegal-detention-of-asylum-seekers-and-refugees/ar-AAzJ0Vc?li=AAgfIYZ&OCID=ansmsnnews11 (09-07-2018)

[3] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/may/28/bill-shorten-defends-shutdown-of-refugee-debate-at-victorian-labor-conference (14-07-2018)

[4] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/trump-migrant-family-separation-border-executive-order-immigration-signs-a8408891.html (14-07-2018)

[5] https://www.businessinsider.com.au/whats-the-difference-between-trump-obama-immigration-orders-2017-2?r=US&IR=T (14-07-2018)

[6] https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/stories/2017-01-17/obamas-covert-drone-war-in-numbers-ten-times-more-strikes-than-bush (14-07-2018)

[7] https://medium.com/insurge-intelligence/isis-was-state-sponsored-by-us-allies-says-former-government-intelligence-analyst-exclusive-51a9e999c437 (14-07-2018)

[8] https://orientalreview.org/2015/06/09/american-plan-for-a-south-asian-kosovo-in-rohingyaland-i/ (15-07-2018)

[9] http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/business/2017-04/12/content_28886175.htm (15-07-2018)

[10] http://www.atimes.com/article/foreign-support-gives-rohingya-militants-lethal-edge/ (15-07-2018)

[11] https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/05/myanmar-new-evidence-reveals-rohingya-armed-group-massacred-scores-in-rakhine-state/ (15-07-2018)

[12] https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/arsa-linked-foreign-extremist-groups-bertil-lintner.html (15-07-2018)

[13] https://www.gladstoneobserver.com.au/news/biloela-asylum-seeker-mum-tears-ahead-life-changin/3404591/ (17-07-2018)

Image from Australian Refugee Action Network

 

Manus Island: Evacuate Now!

Organised Labour Must Lead the Fight to Free the Refugees

01-11-2017 – As we go to press, the Papua New Guinea (PNG) Defence Force is preparing to enter the Manus Island refugee detention centre, where around 600 men remain, fearful for their safety if they are forced out.[1] Earlier this year, the PNG army fired live ammunition into the detention centre, and there have also been machete and knife attacks against the asylum seekers by some aggrieved locals. The Manus Island detention centre is being closed after a ruling from the PNG courts which found that its establishment was unconstitutional. Full responsibility for it lies with the Australian government, which has funded these hell-hole death camps on Nauru and PNG to the tune of billions of dollars.

As of today, reports indicate that electricity generators have been removed from the detention centre, which could mean that toilets and running water would cease to function. There are photos of refugees diverting rain water from building guttering into wheelie bins, so as to ensure they have some water when the cut off takes effect. This truly farcical but all too real medieval like siege is overseen by the current Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who repeatedly claim that these refugees remain the responsibility of the PNG government. Far from it. All of these refugees, who attempted to flee to Australia in fear for their lives, were unceremoniously dumped by the Australian government in what are in reality death camps, funded by private sector contracts authorised by the Australian government. To avoid mass casualties of those who have not committed any crime, the federal government must evacuate Manus Island detainees to Australia immediately.

Refugee rights at an impasse

The diabolical situation facing refugees and asylum seekers in this country is in the main the result of several interlocking factors. One is the almost criminal inaction of most Union officials. Perhaps the core reason for the unimaginable cruelty meted out to refugees and asylum seekers by the Australian government is their political need to divide the working class into an “us” and “them”. In the absence of a strong left-wing political force, this division leads to working people diverting their entirely justifiable dismay at unemployment, poverty, and the high cost of living onto refugees, almost all of whom are from countries much less wealthy than Australia, and almost all of whom are not white. This fuels and fosters extreme racism, despite the official declarations of multicultural Australia.

This racism is poison for the labour movement. The workplace is the only place in capitalist society which is truly integrated. All production depends on cooperation between workers regardless of their nationality, culture, language or religion. The Union movement simply cannot even begin to organise workers to defend themselves from the effects of the dire capitalist recession afflicting Australia, the US and Europe, unless they take action to decisively extinguish all traces of racism. While many groups and institutions in society oppose racism towards refugees from a moral, philosophical, religious or even political standpoint – such as the Greens, liberal NGOs, small businesses, church groups, social-welfare bodies – only the working class has a material interest in overcoming and defeating racist ideology and practice. This is why it is a vital necessity for the Union movement to be the leading force against the appalling abuse of refugees and asylum seekers who have made it to these shores.

Yet the question of the Union movement is the question of the leadership of the Union movement. With a few exceptions, Unions in Australia are led by conservative, well-paid officials who have little interest in risking anything to assist working people. After all, their careers can only continue if they act to restrict the workers movement to the confines of the existing system, which is based on the exploitation of wage labour. Hence, these Union officials actively inculcate working people with ideology almost identical to that of the business class. Specifically, they politically steer workers towards the very institution of the profit system – parliament – which is used to deceive working people that they have some form of “democracy”.

This is by no means done directly. Some Union officials openly back the Australian Labor Party (ALP), and urge workers in that direction. However, the ALP is itself so exposed on the question of refugee rights – it established the mandatory detention of refugees, as well as off-shore detention – that that option is often a no go. So in steps an organisation such as GetUp! – an ALP front if ever there was one. GetUp! was created in 2005, as a result of funding from some Unions. As it poses as simply an independent activist group, and initiates campaigns on popular issues – for refugee rights, against coal mining and so on – many are unaware as to its core political role. However, Liberal Party politicians are certainly aware of the overall role of GetUp! driving campaigns which easily fit into the agenda of the ALP and the Greens. They have pushed for an Australian Electoral Commission inquiry into its funding.[2] The Australian Workers Union (AWU) recently had its offices raided as a politicised action to discredit the ALP, and Opposition leader Bill Shorten specifically. While workers should resolutely condemn and oppose any raids on any Union offices, they should also seriously question why the officials of some Unions hand members money to bodies such as GetUp!

Refugee rights in the service of war

GetUp!, the labour bureaucracy and the ALP have a three way symbiotic relationship – one cannot exist without the other. GetUp! is the acceptable public face of the ALP, a Clayton’s ALP. The labour bureaucracy funds both GetUp! and the ALP, often against the express wishes of the Union members themselves. If GetUp! did not exist, the political crisis for the ALP and the labour bureaucracy would see the ALP slide further and further backwards. Some of this manoeuvring also assists the Greens, and they work together on similar campaigns. With regard to refugee rights, the rare involvement of GetUp! helps to play the role that the labour bureaucracy would themselves play if they were involved – shepherding and steering the refugee rights movement into a lobby group, begging and pleading for changes from the very politicians themselves responsible for the maltreatment of refugees.

As we have mentioned on several occasions previously, the refugee rights movement, such as it is, has a fatal flaw. It does not seek to highlight the reasons why refugees are created in the first place. Impoverished people fleeing the harsh economic conditions in the third world are one aspect. In recent years, however, a much larger proportion are fleeing the US led imperialist wars which have been waged around the world – inevitably with the backing of Canberra. Yet the activist refugee rights movement in this country is largely led by some misguided left parties which have not opposed these wars which have the potential to unleash World War III. These left parties have been some of the most vocal proponents calling for regime change in Libya and Syria – and the US/NATO juggernaut obliged. Refugees fleeing from the Middle East and North Africa were then welcomed by these refugee rights groups, the effect of which was to justify further war against sovereign countries.

It is true that these left parties were joined by others not inclined at all to socialism, but were welcomed as part of a “broad” movement. Unbeknownst to them, the labour bureaucracy via organisations such as GetUp! were ensuring that the refugee rights movement as a whole stayed well within the bounds of acceptable public discourse – nominally “anti-war”, but in practice calling for the downfall of the latest “dictator” the US had decided was the next target. In this respect, the labour bureaucracy ensured that the refugee rights movement perfectly aligned itself within the political spectrum of Australian imperialism. Despite notable exceptions from groups such as Hands Off Syria, there was little opposition to the Australian military’s role in helping the US bomb Syria under the false pretence of “fighting ISIS”.

Needless to say, with the world hurtling towards a World War III scenario, the refugee rights movement needs a clinical break from its previous practice of being manipulated by the politically savvy interests of private capital. For it was not only for the wars on Libya and Syria that the refugee rights movement was mobilised to flag wave. The US Empire is also in the throes of encircling Russia. NATO has installed 31 000 troops in Poland, has spent $3 billion on building up presence in the former Eastern bloc countries, in a “Cold War 2.0”.[3] NATO’s backing of fascists in Ukraine, sponsoring a coup, was also aimed squarely at Russia, along with the war to destroy Syria. When the former PM Tony Abbott openly blamed Russia for the shooting down of flight MH17, without a shred of evidence, the refugee rights movement – as with the liberal intelligentsia – were virtually silent. Can anyone imagine the refugees produced by a war against Russia?

Just as dangerous are the US led provocations against Red China. Furious at China’s socialist economy driving prosperity inside and outside the world’s largest country, the US ruling class knows it must act to contain China soon, or be eclipsed economically, diplomatically and politically. Too large to destroy in a one-on-one, the US deep state targets areas to break off from the People’s Republic, such as Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Tibet and islands in the South China Sea. It also actively funds “NGOs” in the countries bordering China, including Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar. It is Myanmar where the latest “humanitarian war” is being prepared, over hypocritical concern for the Rohingyas in the Rakhine state. Again, refugees will be created by the millions if a military conflict with China breaks out.

The other assault on Red China are the continual threats to its socialist neighbour, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK or “North Korea”). All that the DPRK has ever stated is that if it is attacked, it will respond. Yet the US Empire, and not only President Trump, whips up such irrational demonisation of the DPRK that millions of working people regrettably do not question the wild allegations. In the last six months there has been the very real threat of nuclear war with the DPRK – a catastrophe of unimaginable proportions. Yet, again, we have virtual silence from the refugee rights movement, and those who in the past prided themselves on their anti-war credentials. This is unfortunately not a coincidence. The refugee rights movement, to the mistaken left parties, to the labour bureaucracy, to the ALP, to the Greens, to GetUp! – all of them fall into line, some consciously, some not – behind the aims of Australian imperialism.

For labour action to free the refugees

This is why it is impossible to free the refugees on Manus Island (and Nauru) without a complete break with Australian foreign policy. This has to also mean a political break with those forces who consciously seek to impose its hegemony – parliamentarist parties, the labour bureaucracy, GetUp! etc – as well as with the waylaid left parties pulling up the rear. What is required is a direct challenge by Union members to the ideologically pro-capitalist Union officials, in the course of a struggle for a leadership which recognises no common interest between the employers and workers. This will inevitably require the forming of rank and file Union committees, which may need to be underground. Supporting these efforts must be the most keenly class aware workers, forming the basis of a Marxist vanguard party. Such a party would seek to both drive the urgently needed political action for the refugee rights movement, as part of a struggle to revive Union and class struggle for jobs, decent healthcare and education, public transport and other measures currently being eliminated by the capitalist crisis. It would also seek to mobilise workers in strident opposition to imperialist war, if need be by forming a workers government. EVACUATE MANUS ISLAND!  BRING THE REFUGEES TO THE MAINLAND!

 

WORKERS  LEAGUE

PO Box  66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

www.redfireonline.com

[1] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-01/manus-island-army-to-remove-600-men-from-closed-centre/9106700 (01-11-2017)

[2] http://www.aec.gov.au/Parties_and_Representatives/compliance/AEC_Advice/2010-nov-get-up.htm (01-11-2017)

[3] https://www.rt.com/op-edge/346825-nato-russia-cold-war-stoltenberg/ (01-11-17)

Refugees on Manus Island raise their arms crossed to symbolise their lack of freedom. Image from abc.net.au/news

Hands Off Myanmar! Western Powers Create and Fuel Chaos in Asia

Myanmar flag

The national flag of Myanmar, which was adopted in 2010.

Hands Off Myanmar! Western Powers Create and Fuel Chaos in Asia

15-09-17 – We were told there were “rebels” in Libya – but they turned out to be Al Qaeda. We were then told there were “rebels” in Syria – but they turned out to be ISIS. If we were now to believe that there are “rebels” in the Rakhine state of Myanmar, we would have very short memories indeed. And, as if on cue, Al Qaeda has now chipped in, declaring that any deaths of Rohingya Muslims will be avenged, and that the government of Myanmar will be punished.[1] The horrific imperialist game of regime change appears to be on again.

If you are thinking that all this is just a little too convenient, you are not alone. No sooner is the US Empire facing a serious defeat in Syria, it turns its attention to other countries and regions, where it has been working away behind the scenes for decades, undermining and white-anting any country perceived to be independent of them, or, worse still, engaging Red China to assist them with their trade and development. Any of the Asian nations that have the temerity to consider China a partner rather than the US, sooner or later will find chaos erupting within their borders, if not an open hybrid “humanitarian” war. The current situation in Myanmar, despite all of its unique history, is yet another case.

Aung San Suu Kyi/NLD a product of Western funding

Unlike in Syria, where the Syrian government was regarded by the US as an opponent going back to the 1950s, the National League for Democracy (NLD) government led by Aung Sung Suu Kyi was a product of US and UK backed NGOs over some decades. The “Land Destroyer” blog site reveals that the US and UK have spent tens of millions of dollars creating the NLD/Suu Kyi led government in Myanmar, filtered through liberal para-state “civil society” organisations. The notoriously misnamed “National Endowment for Democracy” (NED) is in on the act, as is the infamous Open Society Institute (OSI) of colour revolution specialist and billionaire financier George Soros. The US funded broadcaster Voice of America (VOA) beams in disguised pro-Western propaganda three times a day, while the Orwellian named Radio Free Asia (RFA) pumps Myanmar with pro-capitalist missives through a two hour “news service” every day.[2] The “Burma (the previous name of Myanmar) Campaign UK” group openly chastise the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) for a lack of funding and backing for “democracy promotion”.[3] It would be funny if it wasn’t so serious. By “democracy” these apologists for US/British imperialism mean a government which will do the bidding of Washington and London, rather than exerting any shred of independence from them.

As recently as 2012, Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honour the US Congress can award.[4] To give you an idea of just how comfortable Aung San Suu Kyi was with the inner sanctum of the US Empire, she welcomed a visit from Hilary “Destroyer of Worlds” Clinton in 2015, at the peak of her powers before later being defeated by Trump in 2016.[5] So if Suu Kyi was the apple of the eye of Uncle Sam as little as a year ago, why is she now targeted by the Empire’s vassal NGOs, and is being asked to hand back her Nobel Peace Prize?

Attempts to disrupt the New Silk Road

In a word, the New Silk Road. The New Silk Road, or One Belt One Road initiative led by the People’s Republic of China, is an infrastructure and economic growth building plan, reported to be seven times larger than the US sponsored Marshall Plan for Europe after the destruction of the Second World War. 1.3 trillion dollars of projects have been announced so far, with more to come. Amongst other things, it seeks to link China’s western provinces to South East Asia, Africa, Central Asia and Europe, reviving the Silk Road trade routes of ancient times[6], but using China’s well renowned modern state owned railway and port projects. Aung San Suu Kyi was one of the 29 world leaders who attended the launch of the mega- project in Beijing in May of this year,[7] signing up Myanmar as a founding member. This appears to have been the final straw for the Wall Street. Already reeling from the rise of China, losing influence amongst South East Asia to socialist China was too much to take. As little as a few months later, a crisis emerges for the Rohingya people of the Rakhine state in Myanmar.

To be sure, the history of tensions between the Muslim people of the coastal Rakhine state in Myanmar and the majority Buddhist population goes back some years before the launch of the New Silk Road. But now outside forces, who bear no relation to the Rohingyas themselves, have an opportunity to sow chaos and disorder, which at the least, can disrupt the greater economic ties between Myanmar and China. At most, it could provide a beachhead for the entry of US troops, or their proxy forces, in yet another “humanitarian war”. This beachhead could then be a part of the real aim of the US “pivot to Asia” – the military encirclement of Red China; which is the 21st century version of “containing and rolling back communism”.

Working people need to be clear. China overturned capitalism via its victorious socialist revolution in 1949. Therefore, the Chinese economy today does not operate primarily on the basis of production for private profit. Its expanding foreign investments do not take place in order to maximise profit, but in order to secure resources for its own economic development. As a quid-pro-quo, China’s non-exploitative development projects in other countries also offer the opportunity for much need economic growth, especially in the Third World. This is because roads, ports, railways etc. – inevitably lead to increased commerce. In fact, some of the First World economies can also benefit from these projects, given that they are in a dire capitalist fuelled recession of their own. Thus, despite ties to the US, the Australian government felt compelled to send a delegation to Beijing for the launch of the New Silk Road. The comparison is stark – socialist China offers Asian, African and European countries opportunities for mutually beneficial development; while the US Empire offers nothing but plunder and war. And if it looks like you are a friendly neighbour to China – as Myanmar is – be prepared for chaos to be unleashed.

Rohingya “Army” appears

The history of the tensions of the Rohingyas and the Buddhists in Myanmar requires a separate study, and certainly does predate China’s New Silk Road mega-projects. Yet it is extremely suspicious when the so-called Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) makes a spectre-like appearance, armed to the hilt, and then begins armed attacks on the Tatmadaw – the armed forces of Myanmar. Suspicions are confirmed when it becomes known that ARSA – formerly known as Harakat al Yaqin (HaY) – is being funnelled cash and weapons from Malaysia, Pakistan and..wait for it…Saudi Arabia. The Rohingya diaspora has led to large Rohingya populations being established in Malaysia and Pakistan, and the ARSA even has a leadership council based in Saudi Arabia.[8] With US state support, Saudi Arabia was one of the strongest backers of the genocidal Wahabist “rebels” in Syria, which at great cost were defeated by the Syrian government with the assistance of Russia. Now in Myanmar, we see the same playbook being rolled out again. Yet, as in Syria, the Saudi armed Rohingyan “rebels” no more represent the Rohingyan people, or Muslims, any more than Al Qaeda and ISIS “represented” Muslims in Syria.

Nor does the “Buddhist Bin Laden”, monk Ashin Wirathu, leader of the ultra-nationalist 969 group in Myanmar represent all Buddhists. The 969 group are said to have been behind a wave of sectarian anti-Muslim riots which have killed scores since 2012.[9] More than this, these “monks” were the most active in organising vigorous protests against the Myanmar government’s move to give hundreds of thousands of stateless Rohingyas citizenship. These protagonists of the “Saffron Revolution” are in fact ultra-violent, bigoted and racist in a way which would rival the Ku Klux Klan in the US.[10] Yet this is part of the support base for Aung San Suu Kyi, and are thus presented to unsuspecting Westerners as liberal pro-democracy activists! Once again, the Western media and Western funded NGOs have covered for the real aims of the US Empire – the installation of a subservient pro-Western government, regardless of who their domestic allies may be. Whether the allies be ultra-violent Buddhist nationalists in Myanmar, Nazis and fascists in Ukraine, ISIS in Syria and the Philippines, or Al Qaeda arming the Rohingyas – the corporate media will portray them as “rebels” or their actions as a “democratic uprising” !

Left parties take the bait

Unfortunately, some Australian left parties appear to have repeated their error-ridden actions from the wars on Libya and Syria, where they backed “rebels” even when it became clear that the “rebels” were in fact genocidal Al Qaeda linked mercenaries. Already the Al Qaeda link to the Rohingya “rebels” has emerged in Myanmar, but this seems to have been overlooked by the Socialist Alliance[11], Socialist Alternative[12], and Solidarity[13].  There are some indications that the Communist Party of Australia, which at best offered only lukewarm opposition to the US led wars on Libya and Syria, have followed suit.[14] Despite their anti-war credos, these organisations are lining up with the decidedly pro-war NGOs in Myanmar, as they did in Libya and Syria. The lessons haven’t been learnt. The whole raison d’etre for these para-state NGOs (Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International) is not to advocate “human  rights” and “democracy”, but the very aims of the US Empire itself. In the case of Myanmar, it is currently about creating chaos in the Rakhine state, fostering armed extremism (yet again), disrupting China’s New Silk Road, bringing Aung San Suu Kyi and the Myanmar government to heel, and extending and consolidating the military encirclement of Red China. Chaos and war on China’s southern flank can only benefit Wall Street, and, combined with the provocations in the South China Sea, the threat of nuclear war against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), the backing of anti-socialist jihadists in Xinjiang, the Lamas in Tibet and the never-ending war on Afghanistan, the picture comes into sharp relief.

For an anti-imperialist anti-war movement

Workers desperately need an anti-imperialist anti-war movement, to lead a struggle against the endless machinations and regime change wars being prepared against China and Russia, and any country that even has thoughts of independence from the US Empire. In the case of Myanmar today, while not offering political support to the NLD government or its supporters, working people should defend the right of Myanmar to determine its own affairs without interference from US state and para-state actors, up to and including the right to complete trade and investment opportunities with China. After all, China is a next door neighbour. Without Western meddling, it is likely that the 135 ethnic minorities which make up Myanmar would co-exist, as they did for decades previously. Despite the grim scenarios, we should be confident that the overwhelming majority of working people here and internationally are opposed to a world war, and would be prepared to take action to prevent it. What is currently absent is the leadership of a workers vanguard party. Such a party could lead working people in a struggle to eliminate the source of imperialist war – the decaying capitalist system – by fighting for a workers’ republic, linking with the vast proletariat in Asia to aim for an internationally planned economy. HANDS OFF MYANMAR!

 

WORKERS  LEAGUE

PO Box 66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

www.redfireonline.com

[1] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-09-14/al-qaeda-urges-muslims-globally-to-aid-rohingya-in-myanmar/8946390 (15-09-17)

[2] http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com.au/2017/09/myanmar-gasoline-and-fire-not-good-vs.html (16-09-17)

[3] http://burmacampaign.org.uk/images/uploads/DFIDReview.pdf (16-09-17)

[4] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/sep/20/aung-san-suu-kyi-medal (16-09-17)

[5] http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/icons-bid-for-power-aung-suu-kyi-and-hillary-clinton-are-facing-a-huge-task-10185813.html (16-09-17)

[6] http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2017/05/16/chinas-one-belt-one-road-plan-explained (16-09-17)

[7] http://www.globalnewlightofmyanmar.com/daw-aung-san-suu-kyi-arrives-in-beijing-to-attend-belt-and-road-forum-for-international-cooperation/ (16-09-17)

[8] http://www.atimes.com/article/foreign-support-gives-rohingya-militants-lethal-edge/ (17-09-17)

[9] http://www.latimes.com/world/asia/la-fg-ff-myanmar-monk-20150524-story.html (17-09-17)

[10] https://journal-neo.org/2015/03/05/myanmar-meet-aung-san-suu-kyi-s-saffron-mobs/ (17-09-17)

[11] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/myanmar-all-out-war-rohingya (17-09-17)

 

[12] https://redflag.org.au/node/6014  (17-09-17)

 

[13] https://www.solidarity.net.au/mag/back/2017/99/new-evidence-ethnic-cleansing-rohingya-burma/ (17-09-17)

 

[14] http://www.cpa.org.au/guardian/2017/1793/18-region-briefs.html (17-09-17)

 

For Full Citizenship Rights! Defend Refugees by Opposing War!

For Full Citizenship Rights!  Defend Refugees by Opposing War!

24-06-2017 – Imagine living in limbo for four years, only to be told that you have four months to lodge an application for asylum, or face being deported. This is what faces thousands of refugees currently in Australia, following the latest move by Immigration Minister Peter Dutton. Liberal National Party (LNP) Minister Dutton has now given a deadline of October 1 to fill out a complex and involved application, for people who may be either illiterate, may not have English speaking ability, and may not be able to access any legal representation. This deadline refers to 30 500 people who arrived in Australia by boat between August 13, 2012, when the then Australian Labor Party (ALP) suspended processing of claims from “illegal maritime arrivals”, and January 1, 2014 – when those arriving were either turned back at sea or sent to offshore detention centres.[1]

These people have in some cases been waiting for four years to apply for asylum. Now they face somehow having to complete a 60 page application, full of dense legal definitions, comprising of over 100 questions. Kon Karapanagiotidis, of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, has stated that even experienced lawyers not trained in refugee law are not able to complete the applications. Experienced lawyers who are trained in refugee law can take up to eight hours to complete them. Hiring a private lawyer can cost $5000, a cost that is obviously unaffordable for asylum seekers trying to survive on welfare payments. Mr Karapanagiotidis claims that the government is trying to scare asylum seekers into completing the forms without any legal assistance, as the government is well aware that bodies that assist refugees and asylum seekers do not have the resources to even attempt this task.[2]

“Citizenship Test”

These measures contain a level of racism barely able to be conceived, but official government racism against those predominantly originating from less developed countries, does not stop there. The Federal Liberal government has proposed absurd levels of testing about so-called “Australian Values” for those applying for citizenship here. Instead of a one year waiting period, they are pushing for four years. Those applying will likely undergo strict English language tests, to a level which many Australian born residents would probably fail. On social media, some mocked and ridiculed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, suggesting “Australian values” includes: telling others where speed cameras are, destroying 200 indigenous languages and then imposing your own, English being the 5th or 6th language of some indigenous people, and scoffing a kebab while complaining about Muslim immigrants.[3]

Some of the proposed questions are deliberately targeted to inflame anti-Islam hysteria, as if there wasn’t already enough. For example, questions such as: do you support female genital mutilation? And: Under what circumstances is it permissible for someone to strike their spouse within the confines of their own home?  – are clearly hostile provocations against those whose religious beliefs may be Islamic. For centuries, people holding the Islamic religion have co-existed amongst Australian settlers, and amongst Australia’s indigenous people. All this changed after the misnamed “war on terror” began in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York in 2001. The Islamic – real or not – entity was the new bogeyman which the West conjured to replace the decades of Cold War anti-communism. Today, the atrocious wars of regime change in the Middle East by the Western powers and their allies, has once again incited extreme Islamophobia, even while the Western powers themselves arm, fund and train the terrorists they claim to be fighting.

Citizenship rights torn to shreds

While the politicians cynically try to create an “Australian” us and a threatening “them”, basic civil liberties and democratic rights for those already citizens are being incinerated in the “fight against terrorism” – in a security scare which inevitably sweeps up refugees and asylum seekers. No matter how many times these same politicians and other liberals decry “totalitarian” Russia or China, totalitarianism here in Australia is reaching unprecedented levels. The right to free speech, the right to assembly, the right to form political organisations, the right not to be arbitrarily detained, the right to private communication – all of these and more are being ripped up before our very eyes. Edward Snowden and Julian Assange have risked their lives to inform us of the extent to which we can be monitored by “our own” spy agencies. For example, the National Security Legislation Amendment Bill (No.1) 2014, allows the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) to collect intelligence on Australian citizens, to enable ASIS to cooperate with the ASIO without ministerial authorisation, and allows ASIO to cooperate with the private sector.[4]

Even data stored on your own personal computer is effectively no longer yours. Laws have been enacted which redefines a “computer” as a network, or one or more systems, or one or more computers.[5] The entire internet connections of everyone in the country could be described as a “network”. And police would then only require one warrant to potentially hack into, or seize, any computer anywhere in the country. All in the name of security against “terrorism”. Almost anything can, and has, been justified by raising the word “terrorism”. This ties into the question of refugee and asylum seeker rights, because it is often directly raised in terms of a refugee being a potential “terrorist”.

The Australian government has some hide accusing refugees and others of being potential “terrorists”. From practical experience over the last six years, it is this gang which has demonstrated not only that it does not “fight” terrorism, but in practice aids, assists, and works alongside actual terrorists. The Australian government politically backed NATO in its destruction of Libya, in which terrorists armed by the US and the UK were proxies using violence to bring down the former Libyan government headed by Colonel Gaddafi. In Syria, the Australian government has sent fighter jets and troops to materially aid the US, the UK, France, Saudi Arabia and Israel in their desperate attempt at regime change. To do so, the Australian military forces, working under US tutelage, cleared the way for the genocidal ISIS and Al Qaeda terrorists to slaughter untold numbers of innocents. These appalling wars caused thousands to flee as refugees, to Europe, Asia and Australia. This is one reason why working people should not accord this Australian state the right to decide who, and who is not, a citizen. We need to fight for full citizenship rights for all those who have made it to these shores. That is, the right to safe haven, as well as the right to work, medical and welfare benefits, housing, and the right to apply for citizenship if that is what is desired.

For independent politics

The atrocious detention of innocent refugees and asylum seekers is linked to the abominable wars for Empire in which the Australian state is enmeshed. This is one reason why the refugee rights movement here must fully break from the domestic and foreign policy of Canberra. Thus far, however, in the main the refugee rights movement has sought a break with the domestic policies of the federal government, but has not attempted to break with the foreign policy of the national politicians, despite their claims. Hence, while groups such as the Refugee Action Collective (RAC), and the left parties which underpin it (such as Solidarity, Socialist Alternative and Socialist Alliance) correctly make efforts to force the government to close the Manus Island and Nauru detention centres, at the same time they endorse, or at least fall silent, when the Australian state wages refugee-creating wars in the Middle East and North Africa. Nor do they speak out when the US Empire, currently in the persona of Donald Trump, threatens to blow the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, or “North Korea”) off the face of the planet, threatening the world with nuclear war – and making potentially millions of refugees.

RAC and their constituent left parties put forward the demand “Sack Peter Dutton”. No doubt the current Immigration Minister displays virulently anti-human capacities. However, the entire ruling and political establishment are a part of the same system. This demand, essentially a demand for the ruling class to shuffle around their personnel, also ties the refugee rights movement ever closer to the Australian state. The persecution of refugees is ultimately aimed at dividing workers against themselves, let alone it being draconian and unjust. It is thus in the interests of working people to strongly oppose these practices. However, by guiding the refugee rights movement politically towards the very politicians who enable this barbarism, RAC and some left parties turn those most abhorred by these practices back into the arms of those we should be campaigning against. In short, the politics becomes dependent on the political arms of the profit system. What is needed for refugee rights, and also for defending basic living and working conditions, is independent working class politics.

This is the polar opposite of the “broad front” politics practiced by RAC and the left parties which drive it. They seek the broadest possible of fronts on the issue of refugee rights – which pushes them into forming alliances with the very forces which produce refugees in the first place. Even though the Australian Greens, for example, speak out against the abuse of refugees from the parliamentary benches, they are not about to do anything to jeopardise these cushioned seats. Rarely, there are some Australian Labor Party (ALP) politicians prepared to (timidly) oppose the detention of asylum seekers – but these are sought after as “broad” allies. NGOs such as GetUp! wage online campaigns for refugees, but their campaigns invariably target only Liberal ministers, giving the game away as to who they really work for. And while many church groups genuinely contribute valuable work towards refugee rights campaigns, in the end the limitations of their politics becomes one more conservative bloc which limits the “broad front” from taking the action which is most needed. Moreover, all of these political forces do not oppose, or actually endorse, the wars engendered by the capitalist West’s economic crisis, be it against Libya, Syria, Ukraine or the DPRK.

Defend refugees by opposing war

We need all hands on deck to win basic rights for refugees, so of course no one should be “kicked out” of actions in defence of refugee rights. At the same time, there does need to be a political split with the current leadership of the refugee rights movement, as their politics can ultimately only prevent, not enable, victory. The politics that can win is one which seeks primarily to mobilise a united front of the working class, which can then draw in students, artists, musicians, churches and even some community groups in behind. It is only the collective workers who have the power to end abuse of refugees due to their strategic class position, which drives the accumulation of wealth. Politicians, NGOs and similar elements cannot do this, as they are tied politically to the profit system.

The key obstacle to mobilising the working class is the conservative Union bureaucracy, tied also by a thousand threads to the system which provides them well-paid careers. From this materially privileged position, Union officials not only refuse to assist the refugee rights struggle, but tie their members and the workers generally into Canberra’s foreign policy – which is in turn tied into the US war machine. This war machine is currently threatening the world with nuclear war. It is not only in Syria and the DPRK where Wall Street seeks regime change – the ultimate targets are Russia and China. Working people cannot allow this catastrophic course to go unchallenged.

It is the decaying capitalist system which delivers permanent war, horrific abuse of refugees, poverty, unemployment, ecological collapse, and much more. These crises nonetheless present an opportunity for workers’ party to point the way forward to an internationally planned economy, where the prosperity of society will leave no one behind, where all will work in common and have sufficient time to develop whichever skills they possess. The Workers League holds these aims and more – join us!

WORKERS LEAGUE

PO  BOX  66   NUNDAH  QLD   4012

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

www.redfireonline.com

 

[1] https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/politics/2017/05/27/peter-duttons-asylum-seeker-deadline/14958072004703 (14-06-2017)

[2] http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2017/02/27/government-threatens-to-cut-off-asylum-seeker-visas-within-30-da_a_21722259/ (14-06-2017)

[3] http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2017/04/20/social-media-asks-what-australianvalues-are-pms-new-citizenship-test (17-06-17)

[4] https://newmatilda.com/2014/09/23/abbotts-anti-terror-laws-are-real-danger-australia/ (17-06-17)

[5] http://theconversation.com/sweeping-security-law-would-have-computer-users-surrender-privacy-30041 (17-06-17)

The Manus Island detention centre will close, after being ruled illegal by a Papua New Guinea court. Image from http://www.cnn.com

 

Release the Refugees! Close the Detention Centres! For Workers Leadership!

Manus Island detainees plead for release. http://www.masalai.wordpress.com

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.[1] 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[2] – 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.[3] 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.”[4]  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.

WORKERS LEAGUE

PO BOX 66 NUNDAH QLD 4012

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

http://www.redfireonline.com

[1] http://www.asyluminsight.com/statistics/#.WOH5JKIlGUk (03-04-17)

[2] http://orientalreview.org/2015/06/09/american-plan-for-a-south-asian-kosovo-in-rohingyaland-i/ (04-04-17)

[3] http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/obamas-deportation-policy-numbers/story?id=41715661 (04-04-17)

[4] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/hard-truths-about-obamas-deportation-priorities_us_58b3c9e7e4b0658fc20f979e (04-04-17)

You Can’t Fight Trump and Turnbull with Shorten and Di Natale! Defend Refugees by Opposing Imperialist War!

11-02-2017 – Selective outrage is flavour of the week. In the wake of US President Donald Trump’s executive order banning the entry of people from 7 Middle Eastern and African Muslim majority countries, protests have materialised at US airports and other locations around the world. Claiming to oppose racism and Islamophobia, these actions have focused attention on the first weeks of the Trump Administration. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s phone call to the US President, where presumably the PM attempted to get Trump to honour the deal he signed with Obama to take refugees from Manus Island and Nauru, turned into a running joke.[1] One could argue that if President Trump refuses the sordid deal, more pressure can be placed on the Turnbull government, to bring the refugees, who are enduring unbearable suffering, to the Australian mainland.

Yet, as US comedian Jimmy Dore noted, why is it ok to bomb the seven Muslim majority countries, but it’s not ok to ban them from entering the country?[2]  Where were these people – who are now protesting the ban on some Muslim immigration – when Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton were either bombing or arming and funding “Islamic” mercenaries in an open war for regime change in the seven proscribed countries – Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen? Why is it fine to send drone bombs, as well as high technology “ordinary” bombs, and to arm ISIS and Al Qaeda, and funnel them into an overseas country to overthrow their government and behead innocent men, women and children – yet to ban refugees fleeing from those same countries is somehow beyond the pale? Murder, torture, slaughter – no problem. Not stamping passports? That’s outrageous!

Behold the logic of the liberal. Any crime, no matter how heinous, can be excused, justified, or even lauded, if it is carried out by the liberal side of capitalist politics. When the conservative side of capitalist politics does exactly the same, the liberals throw up their hands and shriek in horror. The hypocrisy is limitless. Especially considering the work of Seth Frantzman, who found that, in fact, there was a “Muslim ban” before the 2017 “Muslim ban”. The Trump executive order does not mention six of the seven countries – it only specifically mentions Syria. The other six countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen – were selected by the previous Obama administration. The “Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015”, was signed into law by the US Congress on December 18, 2015, as part of the Omnibus Appropriations Act of FY (Fiscal Year) 2016.[3] The only reason why this two year old law was not fully enacted was that it was attached as a rider to the spending bill. Yet, the list was drawn up, and placed in the drawer, by the Democrats, led by Obama, with Hilary Clinton at his side, two years beforehand. All Trump did was to add Syria, and voila!

It is not just another example of liberal logic – it is a spin-off of what we have experienced here for some time – a pro-war refugee rights movement. Of course this is a direct contradiction in terms. Yet this is what has occurred. Some left parties – such as Socialist Alternative (SAlt), Socialist Alliance (SAll) and Solidarity (Sol), which have been behind the “fight Trump” actions thus far, have also helped organise the refugee rights movement – while at the same time standing strongly behind the imperialist wars which have created the current refugee crisis. Unfortunately, some in the Refugee Action Collective have fallen in with the pro-war “left”, and have joined in the calls for regime change – in Libya and Syria – alongside Canberra, which is responsible for the detention and torture of refugees in off-shore prison camps. As we have stated previously, it is impossible to defend refugees without opposing the imperialist wars which create them.

No to war on Iran, Russia, China

To be sure, there is plenty about the first two weeks of the Trump administration that working people should oppose. For example, on February 3, Trump’s National Security Advisor Michael Flynn announced new sanctions on Iran, targeting 25 individuals, in response to a ballistic missile test carried out by Tehran.[4] Also, the new US Ambassador to the United Nations (UN), Nikki Haley, asserted that US sanctions on Russia will remain until Crimea is returned to Kiev.[5] The fact that over 95% of Crimeans voted to re-join Russia after the US and NATO powers helped install a fascist backed coup government in Kiev in early 2014, doesn’t seem to enter the equation. These moves counter Trump’s campaign rhetoric, where he gave every indication he would work with Russia to fight ISIS in Syria, and maintain peace generally. In addition, Trump’s newly sworn in Secretary of State and recently retired Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, made provocative statements about not only attempting to stop China “building islands” in the South China Sea, but also blocking China’s access to them.[6]

Any of these actions could precipitate the unthinkable – war against Iran, Russia and China. In effect, this will be a third world war. World War III – one would think that not only left parties, but the entire liberal intelligentsia and their organisations – such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Get Up! etc., would step up and speak out against such potentially civilisation-threatening conflagrations. One might expect this – if one forgets the liberal compendium. Contained within it are strict allegiances to the wars of the US Empire, especially against those nations which have been, or are, anti-imperialist. Iran, Russia and China are demonised by the entire Western ruling classes for this reason. Liberals, from Amnesty International through to Medicines Sans Frontiers through to some left parties, cannot be relied upon to oppose such wars. In fact, they may well be their loudest backers.

In the same way in which working people in the US cannot “fight Trump” using the Democrats and the Green Party, working people in Australia cannot “fight Turnbull” using the Labor Party and the Greens. Why? Because whatever disagreements the Liberal, Labor and Greens parties have, these parties represent and speak for the same class interest – that of the ruling class. This is why, despite whatever noises the Australian Greens make crying foul over the mistreatment of refugees, they do not desire, for example, working people led by Unions taking concerted action to end this horror. This could lead on to other areas of serious class struggle, which could shake the capitalist system. This type of action is the only one which can end the torture of refugees – not the making of fine arguments in favour of “human rights” or “decency”. Labor’s Bill Shorten and the Greens’ Richard Di Natale, despite whatever consoling words they may offer, remain part of the system which incarcerates refugees. The refugee rights movement generally recognise that the Labor Party cannot be an ally. Yet many of them still hold on to vague hopes that the Greens can fill the void. This is mistaken.

Many refugee rights supporters imagine that liberalism in general stands for fair treatment of people, and that “at least” they are not conservatives. Yet liberalism is just one part of the whole of capitalist imperialism – so it includes backing of wars, poverty, spying on citizens, the shredding of even basic democratic rights, capital’s relentless assault on jobs and working conditions, and everything else. This is one reason why we can expect that the entirety of the liberal establishment – from liberal corporate media such as the Sydney Morning Herald, through to Amnesty International, to Get Up!, to Oxfam, right through to left parties such as Socialist Alternative – will not oppose the imperialist war designs of the Trump administration against Iran, Russia (despite Trump’s pre-election words), or China. They may well be – as was the case during the wars of regime change against Libya and Syria –  ground troops for organising support for these wars – perhaps under the guise of “refugee rights”. Why? Because all liberals agree with conservatives that Iran, Russia and China are “repressive regimes”.

The Socialist Alliance brandish placards which state: “Resist Trump’s Agenda”.[7]  Yet the fact that they, along with the liberal establishment, agree with the Labor Party and the Greens when it comes to Iran, Russia and China, lets the cat out of the bag. To “fight Trump”, and to “fight Turnbull”, in any sense, requires a break with both the liberal and conservative wings of Washington and Canberra. This is the case for refugee rights as much as all of the other important issues the working class faces in 2017 – ironically the centenary of the world shattering event which was in the interest of the working class – the October Revolution in Russia in 1917. We state again, refugee rights will remain in the service of the US Empire, unless it opposes all of the wars, and potential wars, which the US Empire threatens. Further, it is axiomatic that those who came behind the wars of the Obama Administration cannot lead the fight against the wars of the Trump Administration. Nor can they lead a refugee rights movement.

For a class struggle against war and for refugee rights

Of course, the current predicament is not due solely to the misleadership of parties which call themselves socialist. A much, much larger slab of the blame falls on the top Union officials, from the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), down to the branch secretaries and other officials of localised Unions. To our knowledge, not one Union official has spoken out, let alone organised, any opposition to the refugee creating wars in Northern Africa and the Middle East over the last five years. This is to say nothing of actually organising workers, or even calling a meeting of Union members, to discuss and decide what to do about the world imploding. Nor did any Union official speak out when the Australian military admitted, on September 19 last year, that they were part of a bombing raid in Syria on the town of Deir Ez-Zor, which slaughtered at least 60 Syrian soldiers. Unfortunately, the top officials of the Union bureaucracy are solidly behind the foreign policy of Australian imperialism. So too are the liberal intelligentsia, and bringing up the rear are the opportunist “socialist” parties. The way we are trending, Trump could launch a war on Iran, and be applauded by the “left”, and by Union officials, for taking down a “totalitarian regime” !!!

Humanity is running out of time. It faces the imminent threat not only of nuclear war, but the potential termination of at least large slabs of civilisation through ecological collapse and runaway climate failure. Working people cannot afford being herded, once again, back into the arms of the liberal wing of what passes for politics under the corrupt influence of corporate-run “democracy” – whether that be the Democrats in the US, or Labor and the Greens in Australia. What is desperately needed is a class struggle fight against imperialist war and for the rights of refugees, in the course of leading the workers in a battle for their liberation. This entails a split with all liberal forces, not unification with them.

Working people should be clear of their role in the event of war being triggered by US recklessness, driven by the faltering economies of the West. If the US Empire starts such a war, working people would have a military brief with the anti-imperialist axis – Iran, Russia and China – but without writing a political blank cheque for the leaderships of such states. Of these states, only one – China – remains a workers state. The US Empire and its bloc, on the other hand, including the governments of the UK, France, Germany, Japan, Canada, Australia, as well as its Gulf allies such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, constitute the obstacle that working people must rid themselves of to eliminate the threat of war and to ensure decent living and working conditions for refugees worldwide.

For refugee rights, as for other issues facing working people, the key is to politically break from all liberal institutions. Rather than more Greens or Independents, what is required is a party composed of, and committed to, the workers of all lands. Such a party would use class struggle methods – large meetings, strikes, demonstrations and other forms of mass action, to empower working people themselves and build the class solidarity which can cut out the roots of the dire politics which produces the Trumps of this world. Such a party could not be formed without a series of battles with the well-paid Union officials who grow rich through preventing the rising of the workers. Refugees especially, cannot wait any longer. DEFEND REFUGEES BY OPPOSING IMPERIALIST WAR!

WORKERS  LEAGUE

PO  BOX  66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

http://www.redfireonline.com

[1] http://www.news.com.au/world/north-america/american-comedy-shows-having-a-field-day-with-trumpturnbull-phone-call/news-story/9a6e48a56ae11550437871095eeca2ad (04-02-2017)

[2] http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/46349.htm (04-02-2017)

[3] https://sethfrantzman.com/2017/01/28/obamas-administration-made-the-muslim-ban-possible-and-the-media-wont-tell-you/ (04-02-2017)

[4] http://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-usa-idUSKBN15H253 (04-02-2017)

[5] https://news.tj/en/news/world/20170203/236299 (04-02-2017)

[6] https://www.desmogblog.com/2017/02/02/rex-tillerson-south-china-sea-exxon-russia-offshore-oil-gas (04-02-2017)

[7] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/brisbane-rallies-against-trump (05-02-2017)

Shut down Nauru! For an Anti-Empire Refugee Rights Movement!

30-10-2016 – The United Nations (UN) refers to it as abuse. Amnesty International refers to it as torture. Others believe there are no words to describe the inhumanity dealt out to asylum seekers on the Australian run detention centre on the remote island of Nauru. The latest report from the UN’s Committee on the Rights of the Child highlights the “inhuman and degrading treatment, including physical, psychological and sexual abuse against asylum seeking and refugee children living in the Regional Processing Centres.”[1] The report also notes the concern that visas for journalists travelling to Nauru are now charged a non-refundable fee of approximately $10 000. A more blatant attempt at a cover up could scarcely be imagined.

Amnesty International’s report, titled Island of Despair, is even more damning. Amnesty researches interviewed detainees on Nauru and found a common tale of incredible mental assault, with any number of horrific practices being frequently used to deliberately break men, women and children, causing physical and emotional scars that will barely ever heal. Inside or outside the detention centre, Nauru is simply not safe for refugees and asylum seekers, and this is known to Broadspectrum (formerly Transfield), and the Australian Government. In fact, the report emphasises that it is the Australian state, not the Nauruan state, which is responsible for the detention centres. Amnesty concludes that “The conditions on Nauru – refugees severe mental anguish, the intentional nature of the system, and the fact that the goal of offshore processing is to intimidate or coerce people to achieve a specific outcome – amounts to torture.”[2]

The United Nations and Amnesty International, on these occasions, appear to be offering global humanity a service, in seeking to expose the virtually satanic aims of imperial powers such as the Australian capitalist state. Yet this view would be far too superficial. Institutions ranging from bodies such as the United Nations down to NGOs such as Amnesty International are decisively not opposed to the system which produces vast numbers of refugees – the global imperialist order. Therefore, working people must be on their guard when responding to any call to action by such bodies.

The “humanitarian” wing of the Empire

For example, both the United Nations and Amnesty International, for all of the laudable work exposing the crimes of the Australian government’s nefarious actions on Nauru, have at the same time facilitated  some of the very reasons why refugees have been created in the first place. UN Human Rights Chief Zeid Raad Al Hussein recently chimed in on the Aleppo situation, claiming it was a “slaughterhouse”. Trying to appear even handed, he condemned the firing of mortars by “armed opposition groups” into other parts of Aleppo, while claiming that indiscriminate bombing by the Syrian government and their allies was responsible for the majority of civilian casualties.[3] This is a barely concealed call for the West to hurry up and overthrow the Syrian Arab Republic. The fact that the West has attempted this for at least five years by arming, training and funding world history’s most barbarous mercenaries and sending them into Syria doesn’t rate on their moral spectrum. In a similar vein, in August Amnesty International claimed that 18 000 people have died in Syrian state jails since 2011.[4]  How the Syrian state could organise this, while simultaneously pushing itself to breaking point resisting arguably the worst dirty war waged by the West over the last 100 years, is anyone’s guess.

There are many reasons why millions become refugees, poverty and political persecution among them. But the primary reason in the last period is the wars of regime change which have been waged by the US, with the support of Britain, France, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Israel (with the support of Australia) against Libya and Syria. Their proxy war in Syria is now presenting the world with imminent danger, as Russia’s efforts to defend Syria against annihilation have led to fury on the part of a US ruling class used to getting its way. World War is not an unlikely scenario, but the provocateur exemplar is the one and only Empire, led by the US ruling class.

This ruling class, backed by Canberra, London, Paris, Riyadh and Tel Aviv, has learnt how to manipulate basic human emotions such as compassion and solidarity for those in distress. It has artfully used this wicked skill to prosecute its imperialist wars, dragging in many which opposed previous imperialist wars, such as that against Iraq in 2003. Willingly signing up to do the propaganda ground work for the empire are organisations such as the UN, and a host of NGO’s such as Amnesty International, Save the Children, Medicines Sans Frontiers, AVAAZ and others. These organisations wax lyrical about “human rights” and saving refugees, while simultaneously issuing open calls for regime change in Syria – an effort which could very easily spark nuclear war. What we are presented with in fact is a pro-war refugee rights movement. Consciously or unconsciously, on our shores we find the Refugee Action Collective as an active protagonist.

The Imperial Left

To be sure, the Refugee Action Collective (RAC) contains many individuals who are genuinely horrified by the abuse of refugees – humans seeking a safe place to live – and are also bitterly opposed to war. Yet these individuals are led down a garden path into the parlour of the Empire by left parties which dominate RAC. All three, Solidarity (Sol), Socialist Alternative (SAlt) and Socialist Alliance (SAll) have been front and centre in efforts to rally those who support humane treatment of refugees behind the nefarious aims of the Empire, earning them the collective nickname of  the “Imperial Left”. They are backed by a certain constituency which, while justifiably enraged at the mistreatment of innocent people fleeing for their lives, see these as mistaken policies, rather than inherent workings of a profit gouging system based on the exploitation of wage labour.

The latest article on the war on Syria in Green Left Weekly, the newspaper of the Socialist Alliance, fails to oppose Australian involvement in the bombing of Deir ez-Zor, despite the Australian government immediately admitting it was involved. Despite evidence presented by Russia to the contrary, SAll go on to state that Russia was the most likely culprit of the bombing of an aid convoy in country west of Aleppo two days afterwards! [5] Despite backing away in recent years from their more open calls for the overthrow of Syria, the emphasising of Russia’s “crimes” pushes them and their supporters inexorably into the web of the US war machine.

SAlt has no such qualms – it has remained forthright in its calls for regime change in Syria from day one. It is at least honest, despite being on the wrong side. SAlt leader Corey Oakley’s latest article in Socialist Alternative’s paper Red Flag is explicit – in black and white it claims the three main parties to blame are Syria, Iran and Russia.[6] It goes on to urge people not to remain wedded to the “old” anti-imperialist position of “just” opposing the US Empire. This appears to be a clear call for active opposition to be directed at those who resist US plunder, i.e., Syria, Russia, Iran, China, etc.

Solidarity, to give them some credit, at least in words opposes Australian involvement in the war on Syria. Yet they also call for opposition for all “outside intervention” in Syria, seeking to portray their position as anti-war.[7] The clear difference, though, is that Russia, Iran and Hezbollah have either been invited into Syria by the Syrian government, and/or,  are co-ordinating their military operations with the Syrian armed forces. Sol also claims that the Iranian forces are “Shia-jihadist” as opposed to “Sunni-jihadist” – referring to the throat cutting mercenaries they call “rebels”.  If the Iranian forces are waging a “jihad”, it is against the US Empire. And the Iranians above all are aware of just how evil this Empire can be.

Refugee rights in the service of Empire

Is all this relevant to RAC called actions to close down the Nauru detention centre? If prosecuting imperialist wars of regime change, on either Iran or Syria, and closing down Nauru could be separated, this would assist immensely. However, this is not the case. At the RAC organised rally in Brisbane today, a keynote speaker is one Mojgan Shamsalipoor, who allegedly fled Iran and ended up in detention in Brisbane, after being taken from Yeronga High School. Ms Shamsalipoor is of the Baha’i faith, which claims to be persecuted in Iran. The Iranian government, for their part, regard the Baha’i as “Zionist spies”. Is this unfounded? Not when you consider that the Baha’i’s spiritual and actual head, the Universal House of Justice (UHJ) is located in Haifa, Israel. Despite this, the Baha’i are actually banned in Israel, as they are in Iran, and many other countries. Why? They have principles which hardly any country could accept as being promulgated, such as: ending national sovereignty, world government, universal currency, universal language, world tribunal, anti-communism, retention of constitutional monarchy, the abolition of non-Baha’i legal systems, the retention of a class system, the abolition of tariffs and an international police force![8]  With political principles such as these, it is a wonder that any country would allow the Baha’i to operate freely. Even so, in Iran, Baha’i are permitted to practice their religion amongst themselves. Yet why do Baha’i claim they are persecuted in Iran, but not in Israel, when in fact open Baha’i practice is banned in both countries?

Regardless of the circumstances of Ms Shamsalipoor, the imperial left parties, dragging RAC in its wake, pounced on the “Free Mojgan” campaign as a means by which to ramp up imperialist pressure on Iran – which is constantly targeted by the US for regime change, ever since its Islamic Revolution in 1979. It dovetails nicely into their five year agitation for US led regime change in Syria, which, if achieved, will almost certainly morph into a war for regime change on Iran. That is, if a nuclear war against Russia, provoked by US belligerence, does not finish us off first.

Break with the Empire!

It is not only the imperial left who shepherd workers back into the fold of their own oppressors. With a few exceptions, all of the liberal intelligentsia and “civil society” stand behind the Australian ruling class, and by extension, the US Empire, in its drive to war. For working people crucially, so does the Union officialdom. We do not know of one Union official, in any capacity, which has even spoken out against the war on Libya or Syria, or the war preparations by the West and NATO against Russia and China, let alone attempt to organise opposition to war amongst Union members and workers generally. With only a few exceptions, neither have any Union officials attempted to mobilise workers to defend refugees in any serious way. This is one of the Union leadership’s key betrayals – for if workers cannot defeat attempts to divide them, either by nationality or racism or refugee status – workers will not be able to defend themselves against the encroachments of capital.

Refugees on Australia’s borders do not fall from the sky – they are yet another symptom of capitalist class society in extreme crisis. It is intricately linked to the unbearable cost of living for working people, relentless assaults on Union organising in workplaces, the desecration of the natural environment – and most especially the wars for regime change being waged by the US Empire – inevitably backed by Canberra. These wars threaten to break out into an open war by the US Empire (US, Britain, France, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Israel and their allies) against those resisting imperialist domination, which are arguably preventing World War III – Russia, China, Iran, Syria and their allies. Working people have a military side with the anti-imperialist bloc. Politically, working people must push forward their own agenda of ending the basis for capitalist war – class struggle, ultimately leading to the workers replacing the capitalist state with their own socialist state. The conditions will then be created for the rational and humane treatment of refugees and asylum seekers, and indeed rational treatment of working people themselves. SHUT DOWN NAURU!

Workers League

PO BOX 66   NUNDAH  QLD  4012

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

www.redfireonline.com

[1] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-10-07/un-slams-nauru-treatment-of-refugee-children/7914132 (27-10-2016)

[2] https://newmatilda.com/2016/10/18/australia-tortures-asylum-seekers-the-gut-wrenching-details-of-amnestys-trip-nauru-report/ (27-10-2016)

[3] http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-37727800 (28-10-2016)

[4] http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-37113748 (28-10-2016)

[5] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/syria-new-horrors-outside-powers-worsen-crisis (28-11-2016)

[6] https://redflag.org.au/node/5559 (28-10-2016)

[7] http://www.solidarity.net.au/mag/current/95/bombing-wont-end-war-syria/ (28-11-2016)

[8] https://thebahaiinsider.com/tag/uhj/ (28-10-2016)

No to Refoulement, No deportations! For the liberation of Tamil Eelam!

12-11-2016 – Refoulement – literally, the return of refugees and asylum seekers to a country where they are likely to be persecuted, or even executed – is illegal under international law. As is well known, however, real violations of international law have rarely in the past prevented the Australian government from carrying them out. The return of Tamil asylum seekers by Australian government authorities, sometimes while at sea, plumbs new depths of inhumanity. Tamil asylum seekers are likely to be arrested, or tortured or killed, or all three, at the hands of the Western backed Sri Lankan government now headed by President Maithripala Sirisena, if they are forcibly returned. The numbers are staggering. Since October 2012, the Australian government has forcibly returned 1248 Tamil asylum seekers.[1] Not that this is a concern for the Australian ruling class, who are hell bent on producing ever more scapegoats in an attempt to deflect working people’s attention away from the collapse in living standards, crumbling infrastructure, vanishing public services and rising unemployment.

Sri Lanka’s history is one of rule by not one but three colonialist powers – Portugal, Holland and Britain. But it was British rule which largely laid out the conditions for the horrific oppression of the Tamil people, which used the Roman-like adage of “divide and rule”. This history requires a separate study. One key factor was the “Sinhala Only” Act in 1956,[2] introduced by the Sri Lankan Freedom Party(SLFP), some years after formal independence from Britain, which made Sinhalese the sole language in the country. This had the effect of driving out Tamils from the public service, depriving many of a living and institutionalising discrimination against them. Later, in 1971, the government introduced the so-called “Standardisation” policy, which in effect made it extremely difficult for Tamil students to be accepted into Universities.

These discriminatory policies, and other exclusion measures, whipped up several racist mass riots against the Tamils in 1956, 1958 and 1977. Young Tamils began to think of how this severe repression could be fought against and overcome. It was possible that the course they could have chosen would be that of class struggle socialism. However, an epic betrayal by two self-proclaimed socialist parties, one “Trotskyist” and the other “Stalinist”, probably pushed Tamils seeking justice onto the path of nationalism. The Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) and the Communist Party (CP) had some influence amongst a country where socialist ideas are generally popular. However, in 1964 both the LSSP and the CP joined with the SLFP led capitalist government, and some took ministerial posts! That is, they joined with the same party in government, which had initiated the “Sinhala Only” Act. This treacherous act condemned the “socialists” in the eyes of Tamils struggling to free their people.

The betrayal of the “left”, combined with the conservative parliamentarism of such groups as the All Ceylon Tamil Congress, seems to have convinced Tamil militants to take up arms. This perspective was even further ingrained after yet another appalling pogrom in 1983, during which around 3000 Tamils were slain by rampaging Sinhala mobs, often led by Buddhist monks. So, under the leadership of V Prabakaran, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) emerged. Within a few years, they had assembled a formidable fighting force of armed guerrillas. While the LTTE were nationalist, rather than socialist, they nevertheless carried out a just struggle against a US backed Colombo elite which used savage racism to maintain themselves in power.

Military defeat of the LTTE

For the five months preceding the final military defeat of the Tamil Tigers in May 2009, the Sri Lankan military slaughtered between seven and 20 000 Tamils, who were indiscriminately bombed to death in LTTE held areas. The LTTE previously had won a series of battles with the Sri Lankan military, despite being vastly outgunned. The Colombo elite has been militarily and politically backed by the United States and Israel, and politically aided by Canberra, for decades. So what factors enabled the Sri Lankan military to defeat the LTTE in 2009? There were several factors, but a key one was the banning of the LTTE as a “terrorist” organisation along with the anti-democratic “anti-terror” laws imposed by many Western countries in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centre in the US. These laws, or their equivalent, enacted by the US, Canada, Britain, Australia, India and the EU in 2005, severely restricted financial and other support to the LTTE from the large Tamil diaspora. Also critical was the defection of Colonel Karuna to the Sri Lankan government, who reportedly took a section of the Tigers with him, and began supplying information on LTTE positions and practices. Another factor was the Indian state funnelling intelligence from the US to the Sri Lankan government. These and other aspects created a vast advantage for the notorious Sri Lankan military.

Thus the LTTE on its own may well have been able to stand its ground, and hold the 15 000 odd square kilometres it controlled. However, some of the world’s strongest imperialist powers combined to back Sri Lanka in Eelam War IV. Not only that, at the time the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution at the height of the war, supporting Sri Lanka’s conduct!  Unfortunately, voting for this resolution were also several fellow Third World countries such as Ghana and Nigeria, as well as some socialist states such as Cuba, Vietnam and China. The respective leaderships of the socialist states, via their interpretation of the theory of “peaceful coexistence” often lend themselves to betrayal in favour of seeking friendly relations with capitalist states – which often means turning a huge blind eye to manifold crimes within those countries. Alas, the Latin American countries which are supposed to bring to life “21st century socialism”, such as Evo Morales’ Bolivia, Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela and Daniel Ortega’s Nicaragua also backed the Sri Lankan government, due to a similar standpoint.

At the time, and continuing today, Washington, London, Canberra, New Delhi – with the support of Tel Aviv, all act to back Colombo, and repress the Tamil liberation struggle. These imperialist powers, at all costs, wish to prevent the Tamil and Sinhala workers joining together to challenge Sri Lankan capitalism. The natural deep water port of Trincomalee is what they consider a strategic asset, and indeed Sri Lanka is bypassed by vast amounts of trade sailing from West to East. It is the jewel of the Indian Ocean. With this in mind, the Tamil solidarity movement internationally, as well as the refugee rights movement here, needs to take account of just who will be allies in this struggle and who will be enemies.

Refugee rights in the Asia-Pacific

The refugee rights movement in Australia is now facing the incredible possibility of the federal Liberal government permanently banning refugees imprisoned on Manus Island or Nauru from ever entering Australia, even on a tourist visa, for the rest of their lives.[3] Despite the refugee rights movement being very active over many years, and despite winning some minor reforms, overall it is still being forced back. While this has been happening, Tamil asylum seekers are being deported to almost certain death in Sri Lanka.

In recent years, the refugee rights movement has largely been held in thrall to the vagaries of the imperialist powers, despite its intentions. The last five years have seen two savage imperialist wars which have caused tens of thousands of refugees to flood into Europe, and indeed to other parts of the world including ultimately, Australia. These have been the wars of regime change, first against Libya, and then against Syria. In both cases, some of the same war machines which backed the genocidal Rajapaksa government, armed and funded barbaric mercenaries which were sent into Libya and Syria to lay the unspeakable foundations for the West to step in as “saviour”. This included the US, the UK, Israel – all backed politically by Canberra. Yet what we have experienced is a refugee rights movement which did not oppose these wars, but sung praise about mythical “revolutions”. The refugee rights movement largely came behind sustained Western corporate propaganda, which claimed that Colonel Gaddafi and Bashar Al-Assad were “dictators”. They even switched to call for Syrian refugees to be accepted into Australia – which in practice makes it much easier for the Syrian government to be overthrown. We had, in effect, a pro-war refugee rights movement.

While the refugee rights movement appears to be “putting pressure” on the Australian government to release and humanely treat refugees and asylum seekers coming to this country, in fact they are strengthening the very forces they believe they are protesting against. This is due to the fact that the demands are always placed on the government, rather than against the government. No amount of pleading for human rights, for compassion or for due process, will override the needs of the Australian ruling class to seek and punish innocent scapegoats. The Australian “captains of industry” need to foster and foment extreme racism and nationalism amongst Australian workers in order for them to divert their anger over economic recession and declining living standards from the ones responsible – the corporate and financial elite.

The Tamil solidarity movement, and the refugee rights movement, thus need to turn to the one force which does have the power, and the interest, to win real justice. That force is the working class, here and overseas. To unleash their power requires a political struggle against the Union officials, which, almost universally line their own pockets by steering workers into backing US/AUST imperialism in the Asia-Pacific. This will more than likely require a split in both the refugee rights movement and the Tamil solidarity movement, into pro and anti-worker divisions. By limiting itself to nationalism the Tamil struggle eventually fell, despite remarkable courage, dedication and self-sacrifice. Similarly, by limiting itself to pleading with the Australian rulers, the refugee rights movement here repeatedly takes blows from which it has to repeatedly recover. The bottom line is that the enemy for Tamils and refugees and asylum seekers are the forces and allies of the US Empire, from Washington, to London to Canberra to Colombo. The only ally which can win are the workers themselves, mobilised in opposition to the “masters of war”. NO TO REFOULEMENT!  LIBERATION FOR TAMIL EELAM!

Workers League

PO  BOX  66   NUNDAH  QLD  4012

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

http://www.redfireonline.com

[1] http://nswlegalnetwork.wixsite.com/ainswlegalnetwork/single-post/2016/06/08/Discrimination-against-Refugees-Expulsion-of-SriLankan-Tamil-asylum-seekers-arriving-in-Australia-by-boat (07-11-2016)

[2] https://www.britannica.com/event/Sinhala-Only-Bill (07-11-2016)

[3] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-10-30/manus-nauru-refugees-asylum-seekers-to-be-banned-turnbull-says/7978228

Shut down Don Dale! Release the Aboriginal, Youth and Refugee Detainees!

29-03-2016 – In scenes reminiscent of the notorious Abu Graib prison during the US/UK/AUST imperialist war on Iraq from 2003, the ABC’s 4 Corners program last Monday night broadcast horrific images of Northern Territory “correctional” guards torturing youth detainees at the equally notorious Don Dale Youth Detention Centre. Although one of the detainees shown being shackled and hooded to a chair was white (Dylon Voller), the overwhelming majority of inmates are indigenous. Aboriginal people represent but 3% of the national population, but fill out 28% of the prison population.[1] Pushing the bounds of reality, a staggering 97% of youth detainees in the Northern Territory are of Aboriginal heritage.[2]

The images shown by the 4 Corners report show detainees being tear gassed, beaten, stripped naked, hog tied and hooded, causing untold psychological and physical trauma, in actions which are clearly criminal, according to any definition of the term. Some indigenous leaders are now calling for the Northern Territory government to be sacked or dissolved, saying the gross mistreatment of youth in detention should result in a forfeit of a right to govern.[3] The Federal Government’s response has been to call a Royal Commission, in a well-worn path of attempting to divert mounting anger into long drawn-out and ultimately fruitless channels. The last Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in custody in 1987, as is widely known, handed down 330 recommendations – virtually all of which have never been implemented. It was a classic whitewash, as will be the latest one. Ultimately, there will be no change when the capitalist state investigates itself – in the same way that police cannot independently investigate police.

Both the Federal Government and the Northern Territory government cannot now claim to be shocked as to the latest events to be revealed. For at least 5 years, the abuse of detainees at Don Dale has been known to all levels of government, regardless of which parliamentary party sat on the benches of government. In fact, repeated incidents of abuse at Don Dale were reported between 2010 and 2012, when it was not a Liberal National Coalition government, but one formed by the Australian Labor Party and the Australian Greens. All parties, both Federal and Northern Territory governments, the police and the “corrective services” management knew of gross maltreatment of those supposedly in their care, yet did nothing.

The fact that Aboriginal and non-indigenous youth have carried out petty crimes and crimes against property and end up in detention, is ultimately an end result of the vicious cycle of poverty, underdevelopment and unemployment. There literally is little future in a society which offers them no or low-paying jobs, an unaffordable cost of living, disintegrating public services and crumbling public infrastructure. Amongst this dire outlook, the marginalisation of Aboriginal people and those from lower socio-economic backgrounds is yet another damning indictment of a society which subordinates almost all human endeavour to the accumulation of capital into the hands of a numerically insignificant but obscenely wealthy minority.

There are striking parallels between the torture meted out to the detainees at Don Dale and that imposed on innocent human beings seeking asylum and a safe place to live in Australia. Australia has the ignominious distinction to now be known worldwide for clearly illegal and inhumane treatment of refugees who are more often than not fleeing the very wars which Canberra has waged alongside Washington in the Middle East and elsewhere. In both cases, at Don Dale and refugee detention centres either on the mainland or off-shore in Nauru and Manus Island, the unfortunate people are treated as less than human, as something to be denied humanity, dignity and physical and mental health. The further the system of private profit declines, the worse the treatment of its victims.

The repression is creeping into society as a whole. Catch a train or walk down a city centre, and you are likely to cross the path or be accosted by heavily armed police, or public transport guards who have the power to detain, beat and/or prosecute you. It is in public, not just behind the walls of detention centres, that indigenous people, youth, people of colour, Muslims or anyone deemed to be an “other”, can be targeted for state sponsored repression. The increase of repression and the falling rate of profit are directly linked. The ruling classes are aware that their system is on the ropes, and are preparing to prevent a large scale fight back. This is precisely what working people and their supporters need to organise.

Despite the horrors we see almost on a daily basis, there is no need for despair. The crisis presents an opportunity to fight, push through, and win the deep changes for which working people are crying out. Political strategy is crucial. While indigenous people suffer the worst effects of oppression in capitalist Australia, their oppression is linked to the oppression of working people. Thus it is imperative that Indigenous activists and their supporters look towards efforts to win over people as workers and draw them in to political action which engages in a class struggle against the source of both Aboriginal and worker misfortune – the ruling class and its state apparatus.

The main block to mobilising people as workers is the ideologically pro-capitalist Union bureaucracy, which seeks to restrict industrial action to that which is acceptable to the corporate magnates. The battle to replace the conservative careerists at the head of almost all Unions with a leadership committed to the needs of workers and the oppressed is bound up with the struggle to forge a multi-racial revolutionary workers’ party. Such a party would seek to assist all efforts to end indigenous disadvantage with the same vigour as it would defend the interests of working people.

While every effort should be made to end the horror of Don Dale, those struggling for justice would do well to recognise that indigenous oppression is common only to those countries where capital rules. Countries which have established workers’ rule – China, the DPRK, Vietnam, Laos and Cuba – do not and cannot oppress their own indigenous people. Indeed, through the mechanism of their respective workers’ states, often the indigenous people are heading up and leading these countries’ path towards socialism. Release the Aboriginal, youth and refugee detainees!

Workers League
PO Box 66 NUNDAH QLD 4012

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

http://www.redfireonline.com

[1] https://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/law/aboriginal-prison-rates (27-07-2016)

[2] http://www.sbs.com.au/news/thefeed/article/2016/07/26/facts-about-indigenous-youth-detention-australia (27-07-2016)

[3] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-07-26/indigenous-leaders-call-for-nt-government-to-be-sacked/7662150 (27-07-2016)

Shut down Nauru! No wars of “regime change”! Full citizenship rights for refugees and migrants!

27-08-2016 – The Nauru files, a cache of 2000 reports totalling over 8000 pages, present yet more overwhelming evidence of worsening mental, physical and sexual abuse of refugees on the Australian run detention centre on Nauru. Around half of the files present evidence of serious harm to children. Refugees, who have committed no crime, are being subjected to grossly inhumane conditions which amount to nothing less than torture. The files are replete with stories of guards asking for sexual favours from female asylum seekers, beating children and dehumanising the detainees daily.[1] The files are reportedly grim reading for anyone with a shred of humanity.

The detention centre on Nauru is wholly the responsibility of the Australian government. Nauru is the world’s smallest island state, with a population of around 10 000 people. Although the Nauruan government signed the deal, it is not in a position to bargain equally with Australia, which has the world’s 13th largest economy. If the Nauruan government said no to the Australian government run detention centre, the Australian government could easily withhold much needed trade and basic supplies. The refugee rights movement is correct to point the finger directly at the Australian state.

While the refugee rights movement in this country is to be commended for its relentless activity and commitment, which has given the opportunity for those opposed to inhuman behaviour against innocents to mobilise, it also needs to take stock. The refugee rights movement has won some minor gains, but overall the situation remains dire. The Australian government has repeatedly given every indication that no amount of exposure of its crimes against human beings, no amount of damage to the international reputation of the country, and no domestic or international law will deter it from administering unparalleled brutality against those who are its convenient scapegoats. The Australian government rules for the interest of capitalism internationally. It considers that one of the most important duties it must carry out is to actively prevent workers from binding together against the “market forces” which are denying workers here a decent standard of living. If keeping working people blaming “refugees”, “migrants” and other “others” for their own misfortune means carrying out appalling human rights abuses against asylum seekers, then this is what they will do.

For this reason, if no other, the refugee rights movement will either move forward together with the labour movement, or they will fall back separately. It is in the direct interests of the workers to end the vicious mistreatment of refugees, so they can also fight back against their own mistreatment in the workplace, a direct product of the ongoing capitalist economic crisis. The refugee rights movement therefore needs to strategically orient to the labour movement, and seek to encourage it to enter the field of class struggle. It is noted that this is extremely difficult, as the major block towards mobilising workers in their own interests, as well as for basic humanity, is the ideologically pro-capitalist Union officialdom, which, with a few exceptions, so thoroughly integrates itself into the capitalist state that it virtually functions as an arm of the government. In an effort to overcome this, the refugee rights movement should at the least raise demands and slogans aimed towards workers as workers. There are many ways to formulate such demands, but one could be: Workers Demand – Shut Down Nauru!

Against War

The refugee rights movement as it stands carries out numerous actions in which working people and supporters of humane treatment of asylum seekers can be a part of. Groups such as the Refugee Action Collective are to be applauded for the organisational work they ceaselessly engage in. At the same time, there are severe political limitations which hamper its impact. For one thing, the Refugee Action Collective (RAC) – and the left parties which underpin it, such as Solidarity (SOL), Socialist Alternative (SALT) and Socialist Alliance (SALL) – make little or no attempt to explain one of the major drivers for the refugee exodus from the Middle East and North Africa – the US led wars for regime change in Libya and Syria. This is for very good reason – these left parties, to the last letter, have not opposed these wars, but backed them. This then flows on as the defacto position of RAC. In this, they are joined by the more mainstream Australian Greens, the labour bureaucracy sitting atop the Unions, and the Australian Labor Party (ALP) front groups such as GetUp! and “Love Makes a Way”. Despite their differences, all of these groups and left parties, RAC, the ALP, the Greens and conservative Union officials line up with the foreign policy of Canberra – tied as it is by a thousand threads to that of the US behemoth.

Make no mistake, the US led war for regime change in Syria has been perhaps the most dishonest of dirty wars ever waged in history. Professor Tim Anderson’s book on the subject has the apt title “The Dirty War on Syria”. The US Empire has been unequalled in the savage barbarism it unleashed in the form of “ISIS” and at least 20 other “Islamic” mercenary terrorist groups. It is an open secret that ISIS and all “opposition” groups in Syria was armed, and/or funded with aid from the governments of the US, France, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and Jordan, with assistance from Israel.[2] US Special Forces have entered Syria, and recently pictures emerged of British Special Forces on the ground in Syria.[3] The notion that the US and British troops are there to fight “against” ISIS is patently absurd. It is much more likely that they are in the process of securing patches of Syria as “ISIS-free zones” in order to occupy them themselves and thus facilitate the break-up of the Syrian Arab Republic. For years, Western governments have chanted in unison “Assad must go”, while arming the most reprehensible misanthropes in an effort to do just that.

The wholesale slaughter of men, women and children across Syria has necessarily forced some to flee the country, some becoming refugees within Europe, others fleeing further, including to Australia. At a certain point, imperialism itself used the refugee crisis to further its war agenda. Witness the outcry over the pictures showing a Syrian boy of Kurdish background being washed up after drowning trying to cross with his family from Turkey into Greece in early September 2015.[4] At that moment, groups such as GetUp! and RAC took the bait, and took the streets to demand “action” in Syria. Though unstated, the “action” they demanded was an outright imperialist war of conquest. Many genuine people were thus mobilised for a cataclysmic war, under the guise of concern for refugees.

It was soon after this that Russia finally drew the conclusion that if the US was to overthrow Syria, not only the Middle East, but the entire region could descend further into a conflagration which would almost certainly reach their doorstep. Thus on September 30 2015 Russia, at the invitation of the Syrian government, began a military campaign to eliminate ISIS and all mercenary terrorist groups seeking to overthrow the Syrian state.[5] The military campaign has been devastatingly effective in a military and political sense. Militarily, it has finally turned the tables decisively in the interests of the sovereignty of Syria. Politically, it has exposed the US role as the benefactors of ISIS and other terrorist groups, for the US did not want to harm its investments in Syria. Russia has also been joined by Iran, the Lebanese Hezbollah and most recently, China.[6] We should be clear, the intervention of Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and China on the side of Syria has dealt a decisive setback to the aims of US imperialism, and thus these actions can only be supported by working people worldwide. This does not necessarily imply, however, political support for the governments involved.

Furthermore, the turning of the war against US imperialism can only improve the drastic situation for refugees, for now some Syrian refugees are already seeking to return to their home. For with the military might of Russia behind it, it is more unlikely that the Syrian government will be dislodged. It should also be noted that in practice the call to welcome Syrian refugees to Australia was deeply reactionary, in that the draining of the Syrian population from Syria can only ease the conditions for an ISIS victory. But this is precisely what RAC, its constituent left parties, and GetUp! et al overtly spruiked. It is a subtle call for the overthrow of the Syrian government – their aim all along. All of these groups, especially SOL, SALT and SALL, bizarrely refer to US armed mercenaries in Syria beheading their way across that country as “revolutionaries” – without ever being able to name a single group or individual. Thus, while refugee rights supporters should not oppose Syrian refugees coming to Australia, neither should we call specifically for it.

It would be remiss of refugee rights supporters to ignore the role of Canberra in the war for regime change in Syria. In fact, the former Liberal government dispatched Australian troops to Syria, along with six fighter jets, and claimed to be bombing ISIS targets. This has to be taken with a large grain of salt. The Australian ruling class is lockstep with Washington, whose aim has always been regime change. It is more likely that any such bombing clears the way for ISIS. However, this facet of the war became moot when Russia entered the war at the request of the Syrians. The Australian jets soon had to turn tail and run, lest they come up against the far superior Russian jet fighters.[7] Australia, however, still maintains its hardware and troops in Iraq and Syria. This does not assist anything except creating more war and thus more refugees. The refugee rights movement and working people here need to loudly demand: Australian Troops: Out of Iraq and Syria!

Link the refugee rights struggle to standards of living

One reason why the Federal Government’s deplorable treatment of refugees does not immediately provoke mass outrage is the deteriorating living standards which the recession prone capitalist economy has been imposing on Australian working people for at least the last 30 years. It is all too easy, in an economic environment where unemployment is rampant, housing virtually unaffordable, and health and education costs, together with basic services such as electricity and water are skyrocketing, to blame an “other” – in this case refugees. To cut against this, the refugee rights movement needs to link the efforts for humane treatment of those seeking asylum to the struggle to maintain decent living standards for working people. This way, workers can see that there is no contradiction between assisting refugees and asylum seekers, and improving living conditions for everyone here. For example, the refugee rights movement could demand that a job, a Union, housing, health, education and welfare services are entitlements of everyone living here, including refugees and asylum seekers. To undercut any concern about a lack of jobs to go around for Australians and refugees, the Union movement should demand and fight for a drastic reduction in the working week with no loss in pay, to share around the available work and allow all to take part in their communities. It should also demand automatic wage indexation to offset inflation. If the Unions could lead a determined struggle for these demands for all workers, angst towards refugees is likely to fade away.

Despite their pro-war stance, to their credit RAC demands permanent visas, instead of the agony of temporary visas, which allow refugees and asylum seekers to be deported at the whim of the government at any time. However, the refugee rights movement should go further and demand full citizenship rights for all refugees and migrants. There is no more basic right than to be acknowledged as a citizen, and thus have the right to access jobs, housing, healthcare, education, pensions, join a Union, apply for jobs in the public service, and so on. The ruling class does not have the right to decide who can be, and who cannot be, a citizen. To our knowledge, throughout history it is only social revolution which has won this simple democratic right. The first time was during the French Revolution of 1789, the second time was during the Paris Commune of 1871, and the third time was during the October Revolution in Russia in 1917. At that time, the new Soviet government made it clear that any working person, regardless of nationality, resident within the area covered by the victorious revolutionary forces would be welcomed. Before our movement reaches such heights, we need to demand full citizenship rights for all those who have made it to these shores.

 

Unfortunately, the depth of the economic recession has, in the absence of a strong left-wing alternative, produced ultra-right wing political excrescences such as One Nation, Reclaim Australia and the United Patriots Front. Mistakenly associating ISIS with Islam, these fascistic goons also blame refugees for the failures of “free enterprise”. The environment of war combined with the “war on terror” propaganda has resulted in some street attacks on those identifiable as “Islamic”. In response, we call for integrated workers defence guards, both to defend refugees and those who follow the Islamic faith, in order to secure peaceful communities for working people to live. At the same time, we give no endorsement of any religious views, recognising that these should remain a private matter.

We should be aware that even if we are able to win humane treatment of refugees here, the world’s refugee crisis will not be solved while capitalism rules five-sixths of the world. The global capitalist economic crisis generates ever more reckless imperialist wars, and flirts with world war against Russia and China. The vast inequalities created by “free markets” cause massive poverty as a matter of course, forcing people to flee in search of a better life. And this is to say nothing of the potential incineration of humanity via runaway climate change, which has already caused its own flow of refugees. The only hope for working people here, and not only to solve the refugee crisis, is to fight for a Socialist Republic of Australia, which can then link up with the existing socialist states in the Asia-Pacific, and reach out to the hundreds of millions of workers in Indonesia and Japan. This task requires the formation of a workers’ vanguard party, which is bound up with efforts to win a class struggle leadership of the Trade Unions. Shut Down Nauru!

Workers League

PO Box 66 Nundah QLD 4012

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

www.redfireonline.com

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/aug/10/the-nauru-files-2000-leaked-reports-reveal-scale-of-abuse-of-children-in-australian-offshore-detention (21-08-16)

[2] http://www.globalresearch.ca/logistics-101-where-does-isis-get-its-guns/5454726 (22-08-16)

[3] https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/aug/09/pictures-appear-to-show-british-special-forces-on-syrian-front-line (22-08-16)

[4] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/aylan-kurdi-s-story-how-a-small-syrian-child-came-to-be-washed-up-on-a-beach-in-turkey-10484588.html (22-08-16)

[5] http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-russia-idUSKCN0RU0MG20150930 (22-08-16)

[6] https://southfront.org/chinese-military-to-provide-aid-training-to-syria/ (22-08-16)

[7] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/oct/07/australian-airstrikes-in-syria-on-hold-as-russias-entry-complicates-mission (22-08-16)