Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Latest report from Lalgarh

This report from Lalgarh concerns the worrying, but not surprising, news of the involvement of US “intelligence” in the armed violence against the cadres of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) and their adivasi (tribal) supporters in West Bengal.

The imperialists practice bourgeois internationalism, helping to maintain the ruling classes of capitalist states in power. The task of the working class is to practice proletarian internationalism, helping oppressed people to win liberation.

Whilst it is not clear from the article below how the revolutionary forces are dealing with the new tactics being used against them, they will no doubt be guided by the writings of Mao Zedong, and will take heart from teachings such as:

“Lifting a rock only to drop it on one’s own feet” is a Chinese folk saying to describe the behaviour of certain fools. The reactionaries in all countries are fools of this kind. In the final analysis, their persecution of the revolutionary people only serves to accelerate the people’s revolutions on a broader and more intense scale…

Weapons are an important factor in war, but not the decisive factor; it is people, not things, that are decisive. The contest of strength is not only a contest of military and economic power, but also a contest of human power and morale. Military and economic power is necessarily wielded by people.

Latest Report from Lalgarh

Amit Bhattacharyya
Dated, 28 June, 2009

The Bengali daily Sanbad Pratidin of 27 June 2009 carried a front-pagenews item which clearly shows that US intelligence agencies and the Indianspace research centre, the ISRO are very much involved in this wardeclared by the central and WB state government against the people ofLalgarh.

The report is captioned ‘Chemical dyes and foreign technologyused to locate Mao’, and written by Rajarshee Dasgupta. This is a freetranslation.

“Goaltore: A literally ‘high tech’ war has started in Lalgarh. The namesof both the US intelligence satellite and the Indian space research centre, ISRO have been tagged with this war preparation for regaining the areas held by the Maoists. On the other hand, in order to trace the Maoist guerrillas who have kept themselves mixed with the villagers, the administration has taken the help of the most modern technology.

At thebeginning of the second round of the ‘Operation Lalgarh’, the air force has dropped special chemical dyes over Murarka village adjoining theBurishol forest where 1,500 Maoist guerrillas are supposed to be holed up. In case that dye falls on the bodies of the guerrillas, that colour will last for one year. It means that after they are driven out from that area by the forces, they would take shelter in another village; it would thus be easy to identify them. As a result, the Maoists, on the one hand, would not be able to get themselves mixed up with the villagers; on the other hand, the police forces would not be accused of arresting innocent peoplewhile going for the Maoists.

The first part in this ‘high tech’ war was successful on Friday (i.e, 26 June). There will be a fresh expedition on Saturday. On that day, the administration has taken the decision to apply this special method.

For the last eight months, the police were totally in the dark about what had been taking place in the interior. It was only after decision was taken to undertake joint expedition that the state home department woke up from its slumber. They requested the central government to help them know about the whereabouts, base area, the location of the forces etc of the Maoist guerrillas inside the ‘core area’.

After a lot of discussion, it was decided that foreign technological assistance would be taken. The central home department also thought about satellite pictures. Accordingly, the government turned towards the ISRO and US technology. It was through RI Sat-2 and US intelligence satellite that areas such as Baroperlia, Kantapahari, Ramgarh, Mahultal, Kadashol, Pingboni, Goaltore on one side and Dhrampur and Jhitka on the other came under the satellite scanner.

After continuous scanning, the two institutes started sending still pictures. Then army intelligence officers were called upon to analyze the data. The army intelligence officials sat down at the eastern army headquarter at Fort William, Kolkata and noticed the movement of a massive guerrilla army inside the Kadashol forest. They could also identify the movements of armed squads in Ramgarh-Narcha region. The news of a red Maruti van being parked in Ramgarh bazaar was communicated to police officials in charge of operations. On the basis of this information, the expedition started from Goaltore towards Ramgarh.

Morecompanies of the central forces were brought in. After that, order was given to those leading police supers, deputy supers and CRPF commandants for march. Ultimately, the expedition started on Friday (i.e, 26 June). As the forces had prior knowledge about the area, the joint forces could, with ease, capture the 6-km area from Goaltore to Kadashol by overcoming the difficulty posed by 12 landmines and the Maoist guns.

In course of the expedition, time and again did debate broke out over the question of how to separate Maoists from the villagers. It was to overcome this problem that the decision to drop one particular chemical from the helicopter was taken. On Friday, it was dropped on the Maoist guerrillas on an experimental basis. On different occasions in foreign countries and in many a war, this method was applied. It is in Lalgarh that for the first time in a state-led expedition, such things were applied against the secessionists(sic!).

On the whole, it can be stated that from the satellite pictures to the dropping of helicopters—everything in the‘Operation Lalgarh’ is ‘high tech’”.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Support the Iranian people!

The ruling regime in Iran has encountered massive opposition to the fraudulent presidential elections held in June.

The street marches and demonstrations go beyond support for the reformist candidates and strike a blow at the heart of the repressive forces of the regime.

Fishing in troubled waters, the US imperialists try to contain the people’s movement, hoping to see the ousting of the anti-imperialist incumbent, Ahmadinejad and his replacement by a government headed by the “opposition” candidate Mousavi. They promote Mousavi as a candidate sympathetic to negotiating an end to Iran’s nuclear program and promise a relaxation of their economic blockade of Iran if he can replace the “hard-liners”.

In fact, these two candidates are among the four chosen by the Guardian Council of the Islamic Republic to run for the elections. Each candidate is committed to the continuation of the Islamic Republic and opposed to secular and progressive change.

The reformists held office prior to the rise of Ahmadinejad. They had the opportunity twelve years ago to legalise the right to form trade unions, but refused. They support the neo-liberal economic policies of the WTO, the IMF and the World Bank and are fully in support of the privatization of major sectors of the economy in order to attract imperialist investment.

Ahmadinejad was brought into office by the Iranian ruling class as a response to imperialist economic sanctions, sabotage and threats. He takes a militant stand against imperialism and Zionism on one hand, but on the other, refuses to mobilize the most conscious and steadfast anti-imperialist section of the Iranian people, the workers. Indeed, labour activists are tortured and jailed. This year’s May Day rallies in Teheran, Sanandaj and other cities were brutally attacked by thugs of the regime, using electric batons and pepper spray. More than 150 activists were arrested.

We must support the right of the Iranian people to struggle against the bogus elections. The fight for the overthrow of the reactionary regime of the Islamic Republic, for the right to form trade unions and to strike, for full equality between men and women, for the prohibition of child labour and for the release of all imprisoned workers and progressive peoples, is entirely just and accords with the principle of international working class solidarity.

India seethes with discontent

(Above, April 25, adivasis take their weapons to the streets of central Kolkata, the West Bengal capital. Around their necks they wear placards showing police atrocities in the Lalgarh district.)

India is a seething cauldron of people’s discontent.

Nowhere is this discontent stronger than in the adivasi areas, many of which are the strongholds of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) which has just been declared illegal by the "Left Front"

There are some 70 million adivasis in India (about 8 percent of the population). They are the traditional custodians of vast swathes of Indian territory. Like Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, they regard themselves as belonging to and responsible for the land. Their lifestyles, belief systems and cultural practices are based on the land. They are incredibly knowledgeable and skillful in their appreciation and use of tribal territory, much of which is forested or jungle.

Despite protection as Scheduled Tribes in the Indian Constitution, they suffer discrimination and poverty. Once self-governing tribes, they suffered under British colonialism through the zamindari system, according to which the British allocated adivasi lands to certain feudal lords of the Hindu upper castes for the purposes of rent and tax collection.

Right-wing Hindus often regard the adivasis with the same contempt as is shown to the dalits, or untouchables.

For a number of years, adivasi lands have been expropriated for special economic zones by the big Indian and multinational industrialists and manufacturers. Struggles around the defence of adivasi lands have provided the CPI (Maoist) with opportunities to create liberated zones through armed struggle, drawing on the great Naxalite traditions of the 1960s. Currently, such liberated zones exist in the Indian states of Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal.

On June 15, for example, armed units of the CPI (Maoist) near Lalgarh led thousands of adivasis to attack and burn to the ground a number of police camps, and a newly constructed two-storey house belonging to an official of the revisionist CPI (Marxist) which leads the government of West Bengal. More than 300 police fled the area.

Police have been beating and raping adivasis since last November’s road mine blast directed at the convoy of the state’s Chief Minister. He had been complicit in the expropriation of land for a 5000 acre SEZ on behalf of the Jindal company, and was hated by the adivasis.

With the support of the Maoists, the adivasis established a Peoples Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA). The committee has faced up to the challenges of poverty and backwardness around Lalgarh, building 20kms of road and repairing quite a few tube wells that supply villagers with water. It has started land distribution and created a health centre at Kataphari.

A tribute to the close integration of the Maoists with the local people was a stern warning from the West Bengal government on June 17 for the Maoists not to use “innocent villagers, especially women and children, of trouble-torn Lalgarh as human shields”.

The warning was issued by the Chief Secretary of West Bengal as the government sought to regroup police in the area so as to attack the liberated zone and crush the people’s movement.

But the PCAPA, according to the Hindustan Times, said the entire country will be in flames if the central forces entered Lalgarh.

"If the government deploys the central forces, then it will commit a blunder. The entire state, and even the country, will be in flames," said PCAPA leader Chhatradhar Mahato.
As the picture, abvove shows, specially trained anti-Maoist cobras (Combat Battalion for Resolute Action) have been deployed to the Lalgarh region and are imposing a reign of terror on the adivasi masses.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Industrial manslaughter: killers should be jailed.

Adelaide woman Andrea Madeley has called for the national adoption of industrial manslaughter laws.

This follows a $72,000 fine imposed by an Adelaide magistrate on local business Diemould Pty Ltd which had employed her teenage son Daniel until his death in their workplace on Saturday June 5, 2004.

Her call follows the state Labor government’s disgraceful attack on worker’s compensation laws last year, and the Federal Labor governments “lowest common denominator” approach to a standardised national set of worker’s compensation laws.

The teenager suffered fatal injuries when his dust coat became caught in the unguarded spinning shaft of one of the company's boring machines. He died the next day in the Flinders Medical Centre.

The boy suffered injuries to every part of his body – his brain bled severely, his spine was lacerated, his arms and legs were broken and both feet were severed – in the incident.

"I need to ask Daniel's employer these questions now,” said Andrea Madeley. “We're talking about a machine capable of tearing a human being apart - please tell me what the hell you were thinking having Daniel operating that thing alone in the factory in the middle of the night?

"It will be my life's work to hound the conscience of shoddy operations - companies that believe the bottom line is more important than the lives of their workers and their loved ones. That is the promise I made to Danny. I aim to keep it."

To keep her promise to her son, and to help the families of other victims of workplace death, Andrea established the organisation VOID (Victims Of Industrial Death) in May 2006. She is its foundation President, and maintains this website for the organisation. As recently as April 28, she addressed construction workers and others at a Victoria Square rally to commemorate workers killed on the job (below).

At the time of Daniel’s death, the maximum penalty for an employer convicted of safety breaches was $100,000. The maximum penalty for such breaches tripled to $300,000 in January 2008, three and a half years after Daniel's death.

Industrial Court Magistrate Richard Hardy said Diemould had failed to put a protective guard around the machine, failed to prevent access to it, and did not provide instruction, training or supervision for its use.

He also rebuked the company for not banning the wearing of loose fitting clothing near the machines.

(Above, Adelaide construction workers take on the ABCC which persecutes those who take a stand over safety issues - just see the Ark Tribe website for more info.)

However, despite describing Diemould as "glaringly culpable'' and saying that he found it "difficult to envisage a more aggravated offence'' of workplace safety regulations, Hardy only imposed a fine of $80,000, and then reduced that to $72,000 in recognition of the company’s guilty plea.

"This is a joke,” said Andrea Madeley. “We put people in jail for embezzling money, we put such a high priority on other issues but when it comes to the life and safety of workers, and almost all of us are working in some degree, we would like to think somebody has our back.''

She said the Industrial Court had delivered her the "final blow'' by not enforcing its maximum penalty of $100,000 on Diemould.

"I was so sure the Industrial Court understood the severity of this and I am sorry but $80,000 doesn't come close.

"If he is saying there are worse (safety breaches) out there then there should be a jail cell.

"You cannot just exploit these young lives and walk away with such a pitiful fine.''

(Perth construction workers take on Worksafe, a government agency which fails to secure work place safety.)

Madeley will now pursue the company for compensation in the civil court.

In a 2007 submission on the Workcover Corporation as President of VOID, Madeley had earlier described how “one of the most delicate issues that arises from this claims process is the overwhelming feeling of shame that comes with confronting the idea of compensation.”

“Financial matters are not an immediate priority, because the ability to focus on such matters is over shadowed by pain.

“By far the vast majority of the general public in this State would be unaware that in many cases, a death in the workplace can result in no compensation to family, even though the worker was clearly going about his work – and even though there is evidence of neglect where the death could have been avoided. It appears to not matter how little regard the employer had to OHS - the point is mute. The employer has no obligation to compensate irrespective of the seriousness of the neglect.”

Injured workers must have the common law right to sue employers for negligence.

The crime of industrial manslaughter must be introduced with a jail term and substantial fines as penalties.

Fresh Water Embassy opened at Clayton

Two hundred and fifty Lower Lakes and Coorong residents have opened a Fresh Water Embassy at Clayton in South Australia.

The purpose of the Embassy is to provide a profile for protest against the State Government’s plans to place an earthern water flow “regulator” from Kumarangk (Hindmarsh Island) to Clayton in order to cut off fresh water flow into Lake Alexandrina from the Finniss River and Currency Creek.

Other regulators and a weir are planned to completely seal off both Lakes Albert and Alexandrina.
(Kumurangk in the background. A house boat sits high and dry. To the right, bulldozers wait for use in building a 400 metre wide "regulator" across the water to Clayton).

The Government claims that such measures are necessary following the drastic decline in water levels of both lakes and the need to manage the emerging problem of exposed acid sulphate soils and sediments. The Government intends to raise the water levels in the lakes by flooding them with salt water, although this will kill off their freshwater ecosystems.

The Government claims that engineering solutions are necessary to manage the ongoing effects of drought and climate change. These are both contributors to the plight of the lower sections of the River Murray.

However, the more significant factor in the water crisis affecting the Murray-Darling Basin is the privatization of what should be protected as a common good - water.

The establishment of a water market carries forward the criminal neo-liberal, free market fantasies of the Bush and Howard eras and is the real reason for the destruction wrought on the Lower Lakes and Coorong.

Maude Barlow, Senior Advisor on Water Issues to the UN General Assembly, claims that “Commercial water takings have decimated water systems in Australia and around the world.”

“Water markets are a terrible idea. They separate water from the very watersheds we need for survival and sell upward towards money, not need.

“They will also open up Australia’s water resources to foreign investors.”

The state Government has been forced to act like kiddies playing with Tonka toys in a sandpit because neither they nor the Federal government will take back water from the private market they have established.

They treat private profit as holy and betray the sacred trust of the environment and the people.

The opening of the Fresh Water Embassy was preceded by a Ngarrindjeri smoking ceremony carried out by Elder Major “Moogie” Sumner. The Ngarrindjeri people are the traditional custodians of the lands and waters of our Lower Lakes and Coorong.

(From right: Diane Bell, Major Sumner, Tom Trevorrow)

Ngarrindjeri Elder Tom Trevorrow in a circulated statement said that “we support an holistic approach to the problems occurring in the River, Lower Lakes and Coorong due to over allocation of water…(the) regulators will cut up our country and waters.”

“As traditional owners, we have an inherited sacred responsibility to care for the country.

“Our teaching is that all things are connected.”

Then anthropologist Prof. Diane Bell spoke about the issues behind the protest and declared the Embassy open. She relayed a message of greetings and support from Maude Barlow.

The Australian, Ngarrindjeri and Murray River flags flew overhead.

Alexandrina Council Mayor Kym McHugh opened “relations” between the 1800 square kilometer Council and the Embassy, declaring that “We are resolute in our resolve to have a fresh water solution.”
Peter Laffan, spokesperson for the Friends of Gulf St. Vincent and the anti-desalination plant Save Our Gulf Coalition, conveyed greetings from the "salt water creatures of the Gulf to the freshwater creatures of the Lakes and rivers."
His presence symbolised the growing unity of purpose between various action groups that have developed in response to the water crisis in South Australia.

Local residents placed core flutes carrying their slogans around the flagpoles.

The Council has given permission for the Embassy to be housed in a shelter shed nearby for the duration of the “regulator” construction, and volunteers have posters and leaflets about the issue to hand to the public.

For further information see http://www.hurrysavethemurray.com/ and

For Matt Walker's much better photos, go to http://www.mattwalkerphotography.com/stoptheweir/stotheweir.html

Monday, June 08, 2009

Hundreds rally for Ark Tribe

Hundreds of South Australian unionists rallied outside the Elizabeth Magistrates Court this morning in support of construction worker Ark Tribe (above).

When Ark appeared in a closed court, the magistrate adjourned the case until August 11.

Ark has been charged with refusing to attend an interview with the Australian Building and Construction Commission, the so-called building industry watchdog set up by the conservative former government of John Howard.
Despite being put into office by the Australian working class on an electoral platform of workplace fairness, the Labor government of Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard has continued with the ABCC and is now set to preside over the 6-month jailing of an ordinary worker.

Gillard has even gone so far as to boast that Labor is "keeping the cop on the beat"!
Outside the Elizabeth Magistrates Court this morning, construction workers taking their RDOs (rostered days off) were joined by members of the Transport Workers Union, the LHMU, both education unions (public education's Australian Education Union and private education's Independent Education Union), the Nurses' Federation, and the Australian Metal Workers Union.

Construction union (CFMEU) State Secretary Martin O'Malley addressed the gathering, warning that the powers of the ABCC were a danger to all working people.

The ABCC has the right to interrogate anyone about the conduct of union meetings, or any other matter related to the construction industry. People who refuse to attend interviews with the ABCC (as Ark is alleged to have done), or who refuse to answer questions, or who tell any other person about their interrogation (spouse, children, workmates, union officials etc) face 6 months in jail and fines of up to $22,000.

"There's one set of laws for workers in the construction industry, and one set for everyone else," observed O'Malley.

"They say they've drawn a circle around our industry, but the circle can be widened at any time to include other groups of workers. This is what happened in Nazi Germany in the 1930s," he said.

He then introduced Tribe, describing him as "just a construction worker who wants to go to work each day and do his job."

State Secretary of SA Unions, Janet Giles congratulated Ark on the stand he was taking, adding "and I promise you we will be with you all the way."
She related how Ark and other workers on a construction site at Flinders University had met to discuss workplace safety violations. "Workplace SA (the state government's workplace safety regulator) subsequently visited the site and served two notices on the employer," she said.

"Months later, Ark was told he had to attend an interview with the ABCC over the meeting."

As Ark stood waiting to go into court, O'Malley invited those present to sign a Eureka flag with messages of support for Ark, and then the whole assembly recited the Eureka Oath, first sworn at Ballarat in 1854 by miners who took up arms against the British colonial oppressors: "We swear by the Southern Cross to stand truly by each other to defend our rights and liberties!"

Those present them formed an arch of honour with Eureka flags and union flags fluttering above Ark as he walked to applause into the courtroom.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Howard's laws in Gillard's name - support Ark Tribe

South Australian construction worker and CFMEU member Ark Tribe is facing six months in jail for refusing to answer questions about a union meeting.

Is this Iran, the Philippines, Pakistan?

To even ask the question is to believe in the theory of exceptionalism - that the Australian ruling class is an exception to general ruling class hatred of workers, an exception to the general tendency of ruling classes everywhere to fall back on outright force and violence when other methods of intimidating and controlling the working class have failed.

Here's Ark's story, on video.

Liberal, Labor - both the same:
Howard's laws in Gillard's name!