On 10 July, Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! organised a lively and well attended dayschool in Glasgow city centre under the title ‘Voices of resistance: fighting imperialism across the world’. The meeting saw over 60 people attend throughout the day, with FRFI members and supporters from Glasgow, Dundee, Newcastle, Sunderland and Manchester. There were also representatives from various Irish republican organisations, people from the Basque country and individuals from as far a field as Germany and Latvia as well as many local people met on the streets of Govanhill and elsewhere. Members of Republican Sinn Fein provided security in the wake of loyalist threats against comrades leafleting in the run-up to the meeting.
The meeting was introduced by a local FRFI member who stated that “there should be no doubt that voices of resistance today need to be heard.” Recent weeks in Glasgow had seen Armed Forces Day and mass orange walks celebrate the worst traditions of British imperialism and triumphalism. “The fact that these two events were given free reign of the city, while progressive political activism is being attacked, is a reminder that those in power are clear as to who serves their interests.” This was confirmed subsequent to the meeting, on 13 July, when police in Govanhill illegally confiscated a stall and copies of FRFI from activists on the streets. The dayschool was organised as an open reminder that anti-imperialist and class struggle politics are still very much alive. As the working-class faces savage cuts, the choice now is between anger or resignation, resistance or acceptance.
In the first session – entitled Europe’s Dirty Wars – FRFI’s Paul Mallon discussed the latest situation in Ireland, with the recent publication of the Saville Enquiry into the Bloody Sunday massacre in Derry in 1972, pointing out the purpose of the enquiry was to absolve the British state of responsibility. The speaker stated that Ireland always has been and continues to be a military experiment for the British state to crush progressive movements both abroad and here in Britain. The comrade pointed out that the recent actions of the nationalist youth across the north in opposing the supremacist loyalist parades were a significant contribution in the fight against the normalisation of British rule in Ireland.
Basque comrades then spoke from the platform, and took questions following their introduction which outlined the extent of Spain’s dirty war against the Basque people. The comrades stated that human rights abuses were widespread, and in that respect had adopted many of the methods used by Britain in Ireland, from low grade harassment to the use of shoot to kill. The comrades pointed out that the same repressive laws adopted by Spain to outlaw Basque groups have recently been adopted by the Turkish state to be used against moderate Kurdish parties. As it stands today, there are over 700 Basque political prisoners being held in jails across Spain and France: support for these prisoners remains a crucial point of struggle.
The second session – Anti-imperialist revolution in Latin America – saw FRFI activist Sam McGill give a wide-ranging report on her recent experiences living and working on literacy and community projects in Venezuela and Cuba. She set the revolutionary movements on the continent in the context of a world where billions live in dire poverty, lacking clean water, basic nutrition or any political representation: the true face of imperialism. The extraordinary efforts of the Bolivarian Alternative for Our Americas (ALBA) in breaking the grip of the United States over Latin America was made clear, as too was the intensifying class struggles underway as Hugo Chavez and the Venezuelan masses fight for socialism. In one barrio, Sam told the audience, she met a woman in her 60s who learned to read and write through a programme of the revolution. Such was her passion and thirst for knowledge, “she was like a mini-Chavez”, embodying the spirit of the Bolivarian struggle.
After the meeting, people went down to the recently restored ‘La Pasionaria’ monument on Clyde Street. The monument was built to “pay tribute to the brave men and women who went to Spain to fight fascism 1936-1939. 2,100 volunteers went from Britain; 534 were killed, 65 of whom came from Glasgow.” Stephen Coyle, of the Scottish National Party, read a speech sent by Prof. Willy Maley, whose father James Maley went from the Calton, Glasgow as an International Brigadier and fought in the civil war. A comrade from FRFI laid flowers in commemoration. In spite of the pouring rain, it was a fitting end to the meeting; the memory of those brave working-class volunteers still inspiring us today.
Up the rebels!