FRFI Round Up / FRFI 214 Apr / May 2010

FRFI 214 April / May 2010

Fight imperialism! Defend socialism!

Over the last two months, international responses to the devastating earthquake in Haiti have starkly demonstrated the two alternatives that face humanity – barbarism or socialism. On the one hand the US has sent in thousands of troops, using the disaster to further tighten its imperialist grip over the country; and, on the other, Cuba and other Latin American countries have sent thousands of medical personnel and supplies to join the hundreds of Cuban doctors already delivering free services in Haiti’s poorest areas.

On 24 March, London FRFI supporters joined a lively picket of the US embassy organised by the Haiti First! Haiti Now! campaign. We have held film showings and meetings around Britain to publicise the situation in Haiti and the actions of the imperialists. We are calling for real solidarity and the withdrawal of all foreign military forces, and, at our meetings and events, are collecting donations for the Cuban medical team in Haiti.

Defend asylum seekers! Fight Labour Party racism!

From 5 February to 19 March asylum-seeking women detained in Yarl’s Wood immigration prison staged a protest hunger strike (see page 16).? FRFI supporters around the country have initiated and joined solidarity actions to highlight this struggle.

In Newcastle on 27 February FRFI participated in the ‘Speak out against Racism’ event organised by Tyneside Community Action for Refugees. Street theatre, involving a cage and placards, was used to attract attention from people passing by. A lot of people stopped to help collect petition signatures and listen to speeches, including accounts from some of the women on hunger strike via mobile phone.

In Manchester on 3 March, FRFI supporters and local refugees organised a similar event in Piccadilly Gardens, speaking out against the appalling treatment of refugees in Yarl’s Wood and in Britain in general. Participants included a representative of the Lall family who have fled homophobic oppression and now face deportation to Trinidad and Tobago.

In London FRFI supporters have joined with other groups to demonstrate outside Holloway prison, following the moving of five of the Yarl’s Wood women to criminal prisons.

In Glasgow the barbarity of the asylum system was starkly demonstrated on 7 March by the tragic deaths of three Russian immigrants, who had jumped from the tower block in Red Road in which they had been housed. FRFI comrades joined the vigil on 9 March organised at the flats, where over 200 people, including asylum seekers, local residents and activists came together to remember them and condemn the Home Office’s punitive immigration policies, and on 13 March, participated in a demonstration of around 1,000 people, from Red Road to Glasgow city centre, demanding freedom and justice for asylum seekers.

Organising against racist ‘defence leagues’

Wherever we have local members, FRFI actively supports the mobilisations against the racist English and Scottish ‘Defence Leagues’. On 20 February, FRFI supporters joined the protest organised by Edinburgh Anti-Fascist Alliance (EAFA) against the Scottish Defence League (SDL). The SDL was successfully trapped in pubs and prevented from open mobilisation. State-sponsored campaign Scotland United organised a separate rally away from the conflict and tried unsuccessfully to divert  EAFA protesters away from confronting the SDL. FRFI has been active in exposing the repeated attempts of Scotland United and Unite Against Fascism (UAF) to weaken the movement in this way.

On 20 March Manchester FRFI comrades were in Bolton where the English Defence League (EDL) had mobilised for a national event. The futility of the UAF strategy of appealing to the state to ban the racist EDL from marching was clearly demonstrated when, far from doing this, the police attacked the UAF protest, arresting 55 demonstrators, including three prominent UAF leaders.

Imperialism out of the Middle East!

FRFI has repeatedly pointed to the link between racism in Britain and imperialism abroad. The vicious anti-Muslim reaction of the EDL and SDL is a reflection of the racism promoted by the Labour government to legitimise its wars of aggression in the Middle East, and its continuing support for the Zionist state of Israel. FRFI supporters are active on the streets, demanding the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. Pickets of Marks & Spencer, Britain’s biggest corporate sponsor of Israel, continue weekly in London and Newcastle.

On 20 March FRFI hosted a public meeting in Newcastle under the heading ‘Racism in Britain, Imperialism in Gaza: Globalise the Intifada!’ The meeting heard from independent journalist and activist, Jody McIntyre, who had just returned from nine months in the West Bank and Gaza (http:// jodymcintyre.wordpress.com) and Hicham Yezza, founder and editor of the magazine Ceasefire (www.ceasefiremagazine.co.uk), who was wrongly arrested under terror laws in 2008, cleared and immediately re-arrested under immigration laws, and finally won his freedom last year after five months’ imprisonment. Anti-racist and Palestine support activist Ihtisham Haque spoke on behalf of FRFI. The meeting was a valuable opportunity to discuss the tasks facing us in building a movement against racism and imperialism in Britain today. Jody spoke about the sacrifices and determination he had seen in the Palestinian village of Bil’in, which is at the forefront of the campaign against the building of the ‘apartheid wall’. He said that in Britain we could be doing much more and made a strong call for more direct non-violent tactics. Hicham said that the state depends on oppressed people relating to it as isolated individuals and argued for the importance of building political communities, solidarity and organisation to fight back. Ihtisham reported on the belated but much needed organisation of a defence and support campaign for the young, mostly Muslim, people who have been criminalised for participating in the protests against the Zionist attack on Gaza in January 2009. They are now facing punitive charges which judges have admitted are aimed at ‘setting an example to their communities’ (see page 16).

We must be clear. All state attacks on progressive forces must be met with collective solidarity. Arrested comrades must be defended and supported. Together we are stronger. Together we can win.

 

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