Solidarity 308, 8 January 2014

Syrian refugee crisis grows

Published on: Wed, 08/01/2014 - 13:13

More than two million people have now fled to neighbouring countries to escape Syria’s civil war.

Many are living in camps with little protection from the cold: temperatures in the Lebanese mountains fell well below freezing in the second half of December, though they have now risen a little.

Over one million Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries are children, and more than 425,000 are under the age of five.

Within Syria, 6.5 million people are displaced.

Meanwhile, the killing in late December by a group linked to Al Qaeda of a Syrian rebel leader known as Abu Rayyan has trigged sharp

Tories bet on youth apathy

Published on: Wed, 08/01/2014 - 13:11

The Tories’ strategy is based on an assumption that young people are politically inactive, or do only sporadic actions, not week-in week-out, year-after-year organising.

The assumption seems odd. The cynical old saying goes: “Not to be a radical at twenty is proof of want of heart; to be one after thirty is proof of want of head”.

Yet the Tories have noticeably left benefits for older people relatively intact, while slashing everything else.

At the start of January David Cameron promised to continue increasing the basic state pension by at least 2.5 per cent, and in line with the higher of

Israel: African migrants strike against racism

Published on: Wed, 08/01/2014 - 13:09

Tens of thousands of African migrants have taken part in strikes and protests in Israel. The protesters rallied in Tel Aviv on the 5 January, demanding an end to harassment and deportation by the state, and for recognition of their status as refugees.

Thousands of people flee to Israel from countries such as Eritrea and Ethiopia in the hope of escaping poverty and conflict. However, many arrive only to face racism, precarious work, and the constant threat of detention and deportation.

Migrant workers have accompanied their demonstrations with strikes. Many shops and cafes rely on migrant

Tube workers gear up for jobs fight

Published on: Wed, 08/01/2014 - 13:05

London Underground workers’ ballot for strikes to stop job losses, ticket office closures, and attacks on terms and conditions will be returned on Friday 10 January.

The Rail, Maritime, and Transport workers union (RMT) is holding a mass members’ meeting at 4pm on Friday to announce the ballot result and discuss the campaign, with a public rally planned for Thursday 16 January, 6.30pm at Conway Hall.

Tube bosses want to close every ticket office on the entire network, as well as reducing station staffing levels by nearly 1,000 posts. Their plan also involves significant attacks on workers’

Fighting for secularism among London's Bengalis

Published on: Wed, 08/01/2014 - 12:54

Ansar Ahmed Ullah, an activist with the Nirmul Committee (International Forum for Secular Bangladesh), based in East London, spoke to Solidarity about the conflicts between secularists and Islamists in Bengali communities.

The issues facing Bengali people are the same social issues faced by any other community, including the white working class, living in a deprived inner-city area. Bengalis suffer from high unemployment, underachievement in education, bad health, and overcrowded housing conditions.

The political landscape of the Bengali community in London’s East End can be seen in different

The murder of Patrice Lumumba

Published on: Wed, 08/01/2014 - 12:49

“Dead, living, free, or in prison on the orders of the colonialists, it is not I who counts. It is the Congo, it is our people for whom independence has been transformed into a cage where we are regarded from the outside… History will one day have its say, but it will not be the history that Brussels, Paris, Washington, or the United Nations will teach, but that which they will teach in the countries emancipated from colonialism and its puppets... a history of glory and dignity.”

Patrice Lumumba, October 1960

“The slave went free; stood a brief moment in the sun; then moved back again toward

Collapse in Central Africa

Published on: Wed, 08/01/2014 - 12:43

The Christian majority in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, are reported to be impatient and disillusioned with the French army intervention, which at first they welcomed.

The Muslim minority are reported to be flatly hostile.

France has long had troops in the CAR, and has been the power behind CAR thrones ever since the country became formally independent from French rule in 1960. France’s decision on 5 December 2013 to send 1,600 French troops onto the streets of Bangui, together with 4,000 troops from nearby African countries (all also countries where France has heavy

“Opening and reform” in China

Published on: Wed, 08/01/2014 - 12:39

Camila Bassi concludes a series of articles looking at the recent history of China.

The post-1979 era of ”opening and reform” opened China’s economy to global capital. Since then the state has been managing this process to ensure its own political legitimacy and stability. It fuels a populist nationalism, embedded with anti-American and anti-Japanese feeling, and a neoconservative nostalgia for the past.

Moreover, although Confucianism was rejected under Mao, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has since pursued a spiritual moralisation and harmonisation programme known as “new Confucianism”, in

Join the dialogue

Published on: Wed, 08/01/2014 - 12:35

This month the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty (AWL), the organisation which publishes Solidarity, is starting a project of seeking conversations with working-class activists about what one or two demands each of them would most like to see the labour movement focused on winning from the next government after 2015.

There is widespread dissatisfaction in the labour movement with the Labour leaders’ line of continuing with cuts and a public sector pay freeze.

However, there is no focused, coherent push by the labour movement to press a compact, well-known set of positive demands on the next

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