Round-up / FRFI 227 June/July 2012

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 227 June/July 2012

Build a new movement against war and austerity

As austerity bites deeper, we are seeing serious movements emerging in Greece and Spain – and inevitably new forces and struggles will emerge here in Britain, with 80% of cuts still to come. Every week FRFI supporters hold actions on the streets around Britain to raise awareness of the brutality of the impending cuts – contact us today to get involved.

Hands Off Somalia!

In London the Hands Off Somalia campaign (HOS), which was initiated by FRFI in January 2012, has rapidly gained support and recognition, with a representative of the campaign invited to appear on the platform at a Stop the War Coalition demonstration in May outside the US embassy – the campaign also spoke at Africa Liberation Day in May, and has spoken at local STWC meetings.

On 28 April HOS held a well-attended public meeting at Somerstown Community centre. Speakers included Somali lawyer Elmi, who spoke about the racism and criminalisation faced by Somali youth in Britain, radical poet Awoowe Hamza, who made the connection between Britain’s oppression of Ireland and its current agenda in Somalia, and FRFI activist Ithisham ul-Huq, who pointed to Britain’s history in Africa to show that the British state’s overriding priority is to suppress resistance to Britain’s plundering and looting of the continent.

David Yaffe (FRFI) spoke from the floor about the material basis for Britain’s military interventions, pointing to the way that the imperialist super-profits are used to undermine resistance to war at home, creating divisions in the working class. It follows that to be effective, campaigns against intervention must be anti-imperialist and confront the opportunism of the Labour Party and its supporters here in Britain. HOS is also organising in Liverpool, where it held a public meeting at the end of March. For more information email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit HOS website http://handsoffsomalia.co.uk.

Justice for Anthony Grainger! End police violence!

The struggles against war and austerity must necessarily confront the repressive forces of the state. In Manchester FRFI activists are part of the Justice4Grainger campaign, set up by the family and friends of Anthony Grainger, who was murdered by Greater Manchester Police on 3 March. Anthony’s partner Gail, who is leading the campaign, told FRFI:

‘I just want some answers... He was sat in his car and he got swarmed by police. They were following him for a few weeks, in which time they never saw him doing anything wrong apart from driving the car which they now say is stolen. They pre-planned it because they were already there, 16 armed officers, dedicated surveillance officers, five or six cars in the car park... it was a pre-planned execution’.

The campaign has called a vigil on 17 June to demand that the police involved are brought to justice. The campaign is keen to link with others fighting police injustice: since 2000 at least 33 people have been shot dead by British police and about 419 have died in police custody, yet not one police officer has been convicted. The campaign can be contacted via www.facebook.com/#!/groups/anthony.grainger/.

Defending Cuba – making the case for socialism

The alternative to austerity and war is socialism. Cuba is the leading example in the world today of the achievements and challenges of socialism in practice; bringing Cuba’s example into movements in Britain is an important part of FRFI’s work, conducted through our campaign Rock Around the Blockade (RATB). In April RATB organised events in London, Manchester and Newcastle to commemorate the Cuban victory at Playa Giron (the Bay of Pigs invasion), as part of the international day of action to free the Cuban 5, five men imprisoned by the US government for gathering information to prevent terrorist attacks against Cuba. In London, a street event was held at Trafalgar Square with music, speeches, petitioning and leafleting. A 15-metre banner was displayed in Trafalgar Square and later outside the Houses of Parliament.

RATB holds public meetings and screens films in order to spread information about Cuba. In London in May we showed Cuba! Africa! Revolution! – a film about the part played by Cuba in national liberation struggles in Africa. RATB comrades also introduced a discussion about the Federation of Cuban Woman at a Hands Off Somalia meeting on 15 May, highlighting the integral role of the struggle for women’s rights within the struggle for socialism, and the crucial role that women have played in anti-imperialist struggles throughout history.

Labour politicians exposed on May Day

One might hope that after 100 years of the Labour Party undermining working class struggles and defending the interests of British imperialism, it would be obvious that Labour politicians have no place on platforms for International Workers Day. But not so for the British left! In Newcastle the ‘May Day Committee’, led by Martin Levy of the Communist Party of Britain, chose Grahame Morris MP for the platform – only elected in 2010 but already distinguished by his support for the invasion of Libya.

In Nottingham the Trades Council, who local activists describe as under the influence of the Socialist Workers Party and Socialist Party, decided the headline speaker should be Sir Alan Meale MP – who has voted most actively since 1997 to support the invasions of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, for increased criminalisation of asylum seekers, for ID cards, and for ‘anti-terror’ laws.

The idea that such reactionary MPs have anything to offer the international working class is absurd. Both Morris and Meale were met with angry heckling and boos when they got up to speak in Newcastle and Nottingham, to which organisers such as Levy responded by grabbing and shoving activists, trying unsuccessfully to silence their opposition. In Manchester the presence on the platform of former Labour MP and newly elected Mayor of Salford Ian Stewart – another active supporter of the war on Iraq, criminalisation of asylum seekers, ID cards and terror laws – met similar opposition from FRFI activists.

Building a different kind of movement

FRFI supporters are trying to build alternatives to the stale, reactionary politics of the Labour Party and its allies. FRFI links the fight against Britain’s wars and imperialist plunder abroad with struggles against austerity and racism in Britain. At the end of April FRFI organised public meetings in Newcastle and Sunderland to discuss Britain’s ‘hidden wars’, exposing the material interests driving the British state’s interventions in Syria, Somalia and elsewhere. We are now producing a pamphlet and video to make the introductions given to the meeting available to a wider audience.

Long live Palestine!

The Palestinian resistance to occupation continues to be an inspiration to people struggling against imperialism around the world. Our pickets of Marks and Spencer, Britain’s biggest corporate sponsor of Israel, continue, including the weekly picket of the company’s flagship store on Oxford Street in London, now into its 12th year (see Events). In May FRFI supporters in Newcastle marked the anniversary of the Nakba, when Palestinians were driven from their homes to make way for the establishment of Israel, with a rolling picket of M&S and banks that profit from the war. In London, we joined a demonstration outside Downing Street to commemorate the Nakba and to show solidarity with the hunger strikers.

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