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FRFI 210 August / September 2009

Seize the time – join our summer campaign

With the deepening economic crisis, and the political disarray within the ruling class, it is vital that socialists in Britain build on the opportunities that now exist to create a new anti-imperialist working class movement. There is real urgency: chances such as this do not come often, and we must seize them with both hands. Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! urges its readers to join with us in a summer of campaigning activity to help extend and deepen the influence of our trend, taking a stand on the streets against war in Iraq and Afghanistan, in support of socialist Cuba, in defence of the Palestinian Intifada, alongside those fighting racism and deportation or factory closures or public sector cuts. Below are details of just some of the activities we have done so far – become a part of future ones.

Fight racism!
On 13 June at Angel, London FRFI organised a Speak out against Racism and Deportations. Our message was clear: that we must stand together to fight the racist policies of the Labour government. We were joined on the demonstration by the family and friends of John Freddy Suarez, whose deportation was prevented at the last minute on 28 May when the family went en masse to the airport and protested against his deportation, and by Bolivian activists Diana and Marcelo with whom we campaigned to prevent their deportation. (For more information on both these campaigns see pages 12 and 13.) London activists have also supported the struggles of cleaning workers such as those sacked by the Mitie company after joining a union and fighting for basic working conditions, such as a living wage. The fight for decent working conditions has become intrinsically linked to the fight against Britain’s racist immigration laws. Both the Mitie workers and cleaning staff at SOAS have recently been subject to immigration raids, resulting in detentions and deportations. Their struggle continues.

On 20 June in Newcastle FRFI comrades participated in the Northern March Against Immigration Prisons organised by Tyneside Community Action for Refugees (TCAR). The march was planned to fall during Refugee Week to expose the reality of how refugees and other migrants are treated in British detention centres. However, due to the horrific attacks on peaceful hunger strikers in Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre during the previous week, the march had a specific focus of solidarity with those detainees.

Around 50 anti-racist protesters assembled in front of the Centre for Life in Newcastle, while fascists at Grey’s Monument (the destination of the rally) had assembled, kicked over a stall and tried to rip down a banner. A fascist banner read ‘Stop Immigration’. The police were aware of the likelihood of a fascist counter-demonstration. Despite this, police presence was slight and their evidence gatherers seemed more interested in filming the anti-racist protesters. The march carried on undeterred with chants of ‘Together! Together! Together we are Stronger!’

When the march reached Grey’s Monument we began the rally, inviting all anti-racists to come and speak. The fascists, who had run ahead of the march, were standing on a corner of the monument, but as more people joined us and the speeches began they soon left. Activists spoke about the government’s actions in attacking the working class and how we need to stay united to challenge this. 
Justice for immigrants! Freedom for refugees!

Victory to the Intifada!
In Manchester on 27 June, Armed Forces Day, we held a rolling picket in solidarity with the people of Palestine, who continue to suffer at the hands of a brutal Israeli state armed and supported by the British Labour government. The protest began outside the Co-operative Bank, which has colluded with the government’s policy to prevent aid being sent to the Gaza strip. We then moved on to protest outside Schuh, a shoe shop which sells Caterpillar boots – the same company which provides Israel with the bulldozers it uses to demolish Palestinian homes. The Palestinians continue to resist. They are an inspiration to us all.

Viva Cuba!
Around the country Rock around the Blockade (RATB) has held and attended meetings about Cuba, arguing in support of the socialist revolution.  We went to confront lies and distortions first at Marxism, the annual Socialist Workers’ Party conference, and then a week later in a debate with the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty. (For details see page 4.)

On 6 June in London members of Rock around the Blockade gathered outside the US embassy in London to protest at the unjust imprisonment of the Cuban 5, five political prisoners held in US gaols. The demonstration was part of an international day of action to support the five men and to demand that they be freed immediately.

In Manchester RCG activists held a stall in Hulme and Moss Side, just south of the city centre. Local people were very interested in the comparisons we were making between recession-hit Britain and socialist Cuba where the priorities of the revolution are social welfare provision and educational development.

Stop school closures!
In Glasgow on 27 June the RCG joined parents and pupils at St Gregory and Wyndford primary schools protesting against the city council’s closure of
the local schools. Parents and children occupied the school and blocked the entrance to prevent vans full of educational material leaving the premises, while in turn the council cut off gas and water supplies to those inside. The parents were militant and defiant, fighting to defend Maryhill’s working class community from the attacks of a shameless Labour council.

Throughout this summer the RCG will be working on all these issues – fighting back against state racism, supporting immigrant workers’ struggles, defending the Palestinian people, supporting the Cuban Revolution, campaigning for affordable housing, protesting against school closures, as well as denouncing the brutal occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan on the streets of Britain. Now is the time to get active, all of us have a role to play and a responsibility to act. Join us in action!