Solidarity 583, 24 February 2021

Drop charges against Hong Kong rebels!

On 16 February, the trial started of seven democracy leaders in Hong Kong. Two others pleaded guilty. They are accused of organising an unauthorised assembly on 18 August 2019, when the Civil Front called a rally of 1.7 million people. Among the accused are Hong Kong trade union leader Lee Cheuk Yan, General Secretary of the HKCTU (Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions); other left wing activists such as Leung Kwok Hung (“Long Hair”); and “pan-democratic” veterans such as the 82 year old Martin Lee. The charges, unconnected with the new National Security Law (NSL) and relying instead on old...

Myanmar: general strike against the coup!

At least two people were killed by Myanmar’s military over the weekend of 20 February, as it was confronted by fresh mass protests to overturn the coup it launched on 1 February. There is now a steady flow of confirmed killings, as well as unconfirmed reports of significantly larger numbers of deaths. The army’s claims that it is only using rubber bullets have been categorically disproved. The two latest dead are a young man and a teenage boy. Half of Myanmar’s population are under 25 (three quarters under 40) and the protests seem dominated by young people. The regime’s attitude is surely...

Swawkbox returns a favour

Skwawkbox is one of several “alt left” websites to have emerged over the past decade. During Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party, their declared aim was to defend him against the relentless attacks of the “MSM” (mainstream media). Skwawkbox distinguished itself by apparently having insider access to both Corbyn’s office and to the leadership of Unite. Or, to put it another way, it appeared to be the chosen mouthpiece of the pro-Brexit “Four M’s” faction (Karie Murphy, Seumas Milne, Andrew Murray and Len McCluskey) in Corbyn’s inner sanctum. The source of many of Skwawkbox’s...

Court case opens space for Indian women

A former Indian minister has lost a defamation case against a journalist, in a ruling with huge implications for the country’s #MeToo movement. Indian journalist Priya Ramani had faced up to two years in jail for criminal defamation over an article she had written accusing Mobashar Jawed Akbar of sexual assault. Akbar is a newspaper editor, government minister 2016-18, MP for the ruling BJP, and formerly an MP for the Congress party. After Ramani named Akbar, over 20 other women came forward with allegations against Akbar, ranging from rape and assault to systematically using his senior...

Activist agenda: Safe and Equal, Free Our Unions, Neurodivergent Labour, Poplar 100

Safe and Equal is pursuing its drive for full isolation pay for all with systematic phoning-round of its hundreds of contacts, demands for information from councils and from the NHS Test and Trace operators, and an appeal to other groups for a united front on the issue. Momentum Internationalists has given support; a good informal response from Don’t Leave Organise, but no formal answer yet. Free Our Unions has a Zoom meeting on anti-union laws, Tuesday 2 March, 6:30 pm. Speakers include Gerry Carroll MLA on the Trade Union Freedom Bill in the Northern Ireland Assembly, Mark Porter, Unite...

Singapore Airlines and "just transition"

In its recent Budget, the Singapore government announced plans to give $870 million to the aviation industry in an attempt to rescue it. Yet, in the third quarter of last year alone, Singapore Airlines — the national carrier — reported a net loss of $142 million. So, a whopping $870 million is not likely to go very far, especially if travel takes time to pick up after the pandemic. Singapore Airlines laid off 4,300 workers last year while its CEO continued to draw an annual salary of around $5 million, causing outrage on social media. At the beginning of the pandemic, flight attendants had...

Left unity essential after protests, say Russia's socialists

Loretta Marie Perera reports from Moscow. The first two months of 2021 in Russia have been outlined by protest, police brutality, arrests, a fight for justice, and more. Centred around the return, arrest, and imprisonment of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, massive country-wide protests transformed the streets of Russia, both in central Moscow and far beyond. On 23 and 31 January, and following Navalny’s sentencing on 2 February, protestors took to the streets by the thousands. As the protests grew, so did police presence, and along with it violence on the streets that was both live-streamed...

Karen Lewis lit the spark

Karen Lewis, leader of the 2012 Chicago teachers’ strike, died of cancer on 7 February 2021. An obituary in Labor Notes here describes her role in building a rank-and-file caucus in the Chicago Teachers’ Union and then leading the CTU.

India: building new solidarities

Despite aggressive propaganda against them, harsh repression and an uphill struggle, India’s farmers’ protests are not fading away. They seem to be gaining momentum and taking on characteristics of a deep-going challenge to the Modi regime. In September the Hindu-nationalist-dominated Indian Parliament passed three laws deregulating the prices, sale and storage of agricultural produce. These laws push towards eliminating the system of minimum prices for farmers and of state-regulated marketplaces (mandis), further empowering corporations and placing the already highly precarious livelihoods of...

Break this new "tradition" now!

A new “tradition” is being developed in the Labour Party, of activists being suspended and fobbed off without due process, presumably in the hope that we will give up. An analysis by John Stewart in early February counted 56 CLP (Constituency Labour Party) officers suspended. 91 CLPs had passed motions which might have flouted the bans issued by General Secretary David Evans against discussion of Jeremy Corbyn’s and other suspensions, and 29 had had officers suspended. That may not be all, and probably hundreds of members were suspended earlier in 2020. We are told that the National...

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