A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Neither Oil, Nor Soil:
Get the Occupation Forces out of Iraq
With the retreat of the Saddam Hussein regime, “Operation Iraqi Freedom” has moved into its second phase and we are now confronted with the stark reality of a barbaric American occupation of Iraq.
The war itself had failed to produce any illusion of “Iraqi freedom”. In no part of Iraq was there even a hint of a mass uprising by any section of the Iraqi population. Nor could the ‘embedded’ American media could not manufacture a single image of Iraqis welcoming American troops as their ‘cherished liberators’. Even the act of pulling down of the Saddam Hussein statue at Baghdad’s Firdous Square had to be accomplished by the American troops themselves with the help of a crane, Saddam’s face wrapped in an American flag. In a desperate bid to add a dash of frenzy to this spectacle of freedom, the American troops then organised groups of looters and arsonists to vandalise every glorious symbol of the world’s cradle of civilisation including Baghdad’s famous archeological museum and Koranic library. The only protected sites were the buildings that housed the ministries of oil and interior so that America had access to all strategic records related to oil and intelligence.
After subjecting Baghdad and other major Iraqi cities to days of systematic loot and vandalism, Washington has now got down to the business of governing Iraq. Heading the occupation regime is Mr. Jay Garner, a retired American general who is notorious for his close ties with Israel and is reportedly also the president of a company involved in the making of the patriot missile. But Garner and all his accomplices from the Pentagon and CIA have failed to discover an appropriate Karzai for Iraq. Attempts to cobble an Interim Iraqi Authority have however evoked strong opposition from within Iraq with thousands of people daily hitting the streets demanding first of all an immediate end to American occupation. Some taste of Iraqi freedom finally for the American ‘liberators’!
As for the economic component of Iraq’s reconstruction, plans had been drawn up even before the war for extensive rebuilding of post-Saddam Iraq under exclusive American tutelage. In January, while ways of ‘avoiding’ war were still being discussed at the United Nations, the American government had quietly asked companies to submit proposals for a reconstruction effort that would rival the rebuilding of Germany after the second world war in its ambition. US corporations like Haliburton and Bechtel, closely tied to the Bush presidency have secured massive contracts while America’s Agency for International Development (USAID) is seeking contractors for the running of Iraq’s seaports, international airport, clinics and schools and for revamping Iraq’s financial system, its agricultural sector and telecommunications. Needless to add, the entire ‘reconstruction’ expenses will be defrayed by Iraq. This is why George Bush has now asked the UN to lift sanctions on Iraq, so that Iraq and Iraq’s oil can be quickly integrated into the American scheme of free trade. Indeed, Iraq has been the biggest take-over target in decades for the American economy.
The importance of Iraq in the American ‘Project for a New American Century’ is of course not confined to Iraq and its fabled oil reserves. The occupation of Iraq – American troops are officially slated to stay in Iraq till the country is ready for an elected government – is meant to be merely a step towards a wider reshaping of the whole of West Asia. Pressure is already being mounted on Syria. Iran and Saudi Arabia too have been alerted about the unfolding American priorities. And the key step would possibly involve forcing Palestinians to accept a ‘solution’ of the Palestinian question on terms dictated by the US-Israel combine.
America’s war on Iraq marks a defining moment for the anti-globalisation movement. The protests that had begun as a global campaign against corporate globalisation in the latter half of the 1990s successfully snowballed in the early years of the new century into the biggest anti-war movement in history. And now as Washington vandalises and colonises Iraq, it is time for the peace marches to grow into a still more effective anti-imperialist resistance.
Kisan Panchayat in Bihar
The Bihar Pradesh Kisan Sabha (BPKS) held a Kisan Panchayat on April 17 against imperialist plunder of Indian agriculture highlighting the need to strengthen peasant movement on specific issues like better irrigation facilities, adequate prices for crops, availability of fertilizer, seeds, diesel and electricity at cheaper rates, permanent solution to the flood problem in the state and initiation of crop-based industries. More than one thousand farmers’ representatives participated in the panchayat including veterans of old Kisan Sabha and many peasant leaders from other streams. The Panchayat demanded from the government to impose monetary punishment on the American seed giant Monsanto and compensation to the corn farmers in the state who had to face crop failure owing to faulty seeds. The Kisan Panchayat also declared to hold demonstrations at all block headquarters on May 21 on these issues in solidarity with the nationwide call for a general strike given jointly by seven trade union centres and supported by the National Platform of Mass Organisations.
Addressing the participating peasants CPI(ML) Bihar State Secretary Comrade Ramjatan Sharma made a strong attack on BJP-led central government’s New Agriculture Policy in his inaugural speech and termed it anti-peasant and anti-poor. He said that the Atal government is acting at the behest of imperialist countries and multinational corporations. While this alliance with multinationals is only benefitting the few big farmers in the country, the latter is given privilege to sell their produce at support/remunerative prices at government procurement centers while small and middle peasants are compelled to sell their produce at throw away prices to local vendors forcing them towards penury. He called upon to take bigger initiatives and to organise the peasants into a strong anti-imperialist farmers’ movement to oust the govt. in the centre.
The Panchayat was conducted by a three member elected presidium which included State President of the BPKS Rajaram Singh, State Vice-President Amar Nath Yadav and peasant leader from Kaimur Vijay Yadav.
Speakers also condemned the US-led war on Iraq and termed it an attempt to hegemonise the world, particularly the poor countries of the third world. The Bihar govt was strongly criticized for not reviving old irrigation facilities, and for inoperative tube-wells and rampant corruption and scams in Sone canal project. Speakers from different regions of Bihar raised various issues pertaining to growers of sugar cane, milk, potato, vegetables and other specific produce of their regions. The Kisan Panchayat resolved to raise these specific demands also. Earlier BPKS had successfully conducted movements for sugarcane, milk and beetle producers in many districts of Bihar. As a result of the movement milk producers are now getting higher prices, state govt. had to declare crop compensation to beetle growers against damage of crops during cold wave.
The event was attended by peasant activists and leaders from almost all districts of Bihar including Bhojpur, Patna, Buxar, East and West Champaran, Siwan, Darbhanga, Vaishali, and Samastipur. The veteran peasant leader Paramhans Tiwary also addressed the Panchayat.
It was resolved to hold a massive Kisan Rally in the coming month of October.
Powerloom Workers’ Agitation in Varanasi
Imposition of 11.2% Excise Duty on powerloom products has left Varanasi Saari industry in doldrums which was already under attack by central govt.’s economic policies and depression. Now the Saari industry workers are at the brink of starvation and on April 15 a women worker facing starvation even tried to commit suicide. Weavers in the region are demanding to withdraw the Excise duty and almost daily there are demonstration by thousands on this issue. The Bunkar Mahasabha affiliated to AICCTU have launched an agitation with the demands to repeal the Excise and to guarantee the employment and lives of the workers by immediately issuing red cards. It held a ten day dharna at district headquarters in Sonbhadra from April 2-10 on these demands and burnt the effigy of the govt. on April 14.
Party School in Karbi-Anglong
A Party School was organised in Diphu from April 4-6 which was attended by all district and area committee members and branch secretaries of Karbi-Anglong and NC Hills. The main speaker of the school was comrade Arindam Sen who spoke on Basics of Marxism, Parliamentary struggle and Nationality Movement. Comrades Rubul Sarma and Jayanta Rongpi also spoke on the occasion.
AIPWA Protest in Muzaffarpur
AIPWA held a dharna in front of Muzaffarpur District Magistrate to protest the brutal beating of a pregnent women by a ward member of Rohua panchayat who plays in the hands of feudal goons of the village. This particular incident was aimed at terrorising the masses in order to prevent them from joining the CPI(ML). The local unit of the Party and AIPWA have announced to intensify the struggle against the goons and demanded their immediate arrest.
Contract Workers Meet
A meeting of contract workers’ unions affiliated to CITU and AICCTU in Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Karnataka and Kerala was held at Pondicherry. The meeting decided to participate in May 21 All India General Strike and to support pending wage issues of Individual unit workers.
CPI(ML) Observed Anti-Imperialist Day in West Bengal
The West Bengal Unit of CPI(ML) observed Anti-Imperialist day on April 17 throughout the state against US occupation of Iraq and campaigned for boycott of US brands by picketing outside many MNC offices. In Kolkata, a picketing was organised at Standard Chartered Bank near Binoy Badal Dinesh Bagh which continued for hours. Basudeb Bose, Jayatu Deshmukh and Amit Dasgupta spoke on the occasion. In Barasat of 24 Paraganas district a protest meeting was organised to oppose and condemn the hegemonic intentions and occupation on Iraq by US. This was addressed by Meena Pal and Nirmal Ghosh. Similar programmes were held in Nadia and Siliguri districts. In Siliguri, an anti-Pepsi and Coke demonstration was held at a Pepsi Bottling Plant in Raninagar where party activists appealed to the workers of the Plant to join in protest against US imperialism. Several other programmes were undertaken at other important centers elsewhere in the state.
Raiganj unit of the Party held demonstrations at several places in the district on April 16 on the same issue. A big protest demonstration was also organised at a Pepsi bottling plant at Kamalgaji on April 13 which was addressed by Kalyan Mukherjee, Ashok Dasgupta, Dilip Roy besides many other political and cultural personalities. An anti-imperialist demonstration was also taken out in Gariahat in South Kolkata.
At Muzaffarpur in Bihar Revolutionary Youth Association hanged the effigy of Bush and later burnt it and broke the bottles of Pepsi and other American brands in protest on April 6.
AICCTU Conference in Andamans
The 3rd State Conference of AICCTU in Andaman and Nicobar Islands was held on April 13 which was attended by 91 delegates from important sectors like power, forest, agriculture, civil supply, etc. The delegates came from the far off places in the islands took part in a lively discussion on the report tabled by the Secretary centering around massive corruption, privatisation, and rise in contract and casual labourers in various departments. The Conference was inaugurated by AICCTU General Secretary Swapan Mukherjee. The open session was also addressed by Stephen Fernandes, leader from Post and Telegraph, U. V. Das of Non-gazetted Employees Union and Mr. Saleem, a veteral journalist.
The Conference passed resolutions against the US occupation of Iraq, to make the May 21 General Strike a success and for a popular elected Assembly in the islands removing the bureaucratic administrative system through Lt. Governor appointed by Delhi.
A 35 member state council was elected by the Conference with M. Sadasivan as President and N. K. P. Nair as Secretary.
An impressive Anti-War march and mass meeting was held in Port Blair after the Conference which was addressed by Swapan Mukherjee, N. K. P. Nair and Arvind Rai Sharma of RYA.
On April 14 and 15, activist meets and mass meetings were held at many places in the island including Rangat and Dighipur where a large number of Bengali speaking refugees are settled who are now facing threats of eviction by forest officials.
AICCTU Conference in Uttar Predesh
In Uttar Pradesh, AICCTU’s third state conference was held on April 12-13 at Renukut (Sonbhadra). Main issues discussed in the conference remained war on Iraq, all out attack on working class by the new economic policies, attack by communal fascist forces on the rights of the workers and the struggle for the development and democracy. The Conference was inaugurated by UP State Secretary of the CPI(ML) Akhilendra Pratap Singh while AICCTU’s central office secretary Rajiv Dimri and Editor of Shramik Solidarity Pradip Jha were the guest speakers. Representatives from sectors like spinning, fertilizer, textile, Rail and insurance took part besides a good number from unorganised sector. A 23 member Council and 11 member Executive was elected by the Conference with Comrade Hari Singh as President and Dinkar Kapoor as Secretary.
The open session of the Conference was addressed by AITUC state President Dwarika Singh, Secretary of the Hindalco Workers’ Union Brijraj Ram, Secretary of Unpara power plant Ranjan Prasad, Union leader from Railways R. P. Ram and Khaderu Ram of Ambedkar Mahasabha, while CITU State President Daulat Ram sent his solidarity message to the Conference.
The venue of the Conference was named after adivasi rebellion leader Tilaka Manjhi and the Conference Hall after comrade Bihari Thakur, a popular leader of Hindalco workers.
Attempt to Foment Communal Trouble in Sonebhadra opposed
Instead of bringing to the fore the historical relevance and elegance of Vijaygarh of Chandrakanta fame and its role in the freedom struggle, VHP and Hindu Jagran Manch leaders raked up the issue of annual Urs held at Dargah (shrine) of Shaheed Baba Meeran Shah situated in Vijaygarh Fort in Sonebhadra district of eastern U.P. to foment communal trouble. Worth mentioning is the fact that Baba Meeran Shah was the general of Vijaygarh Fort who embraced martyrdom while fighting against Warren Hastings’ forces to let King Chet Singh escape from the Fort. Thus the Urs of Meeran Shah is celebrated not only as a symbol of Hindu Muslim unity but also represents people’s tradition of honouring the martyrs. In order to cover their own role of betrayal of freedom struggle the Sangh Parivar called upon Hindus to take up arms to usurp the shrine and thus egged them to destroy such symbols of communal harmony and anti-imperialist struggle while spewing out venom against the minority community.
Our Party sensed their design and took the initiative. In a press conference held on 26 March we announced our determination to foil the Sangh design to make Sonebhadra a laboratory of communal politics. On 31 March a procession was taken out in Robertsganj to maintain communal harmony and a mass meeting was held at District Court, where the historical facts regarding Baba Meeran Shah were presented. A memorandum was sent to the Chief Minister. This compelled other political parties to speak on this issue and the intellectuals, social activists and historians came up siding with our struggle. The administration had to call an all-party meeting on 4 April and had to assure the trouble-free conduct of Urs. CPI(ML) leaders demanded ban on the entry of Praveen Togadia and Mahanta Adityanath in Sonebhadra to ensure peace in the district. An appeal for communal harmony was drafted by the Party and widely circulated among the masses. On the day of Urs, Party and RYA activists remained present at the shrine in Vijaygarh Fort as well as the district collectorate.
May Day 2003
The aggressive arrogant American imperialism has become the number one enemy of the people of the world. The people of the world dream with the Urdu poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz - “When will the crown be removed? When will the thrones be destroyed?” They have started dreaming. Their dreams will come true sooner or later. The sooner the better.
US imperialism is using war as a means of establishing its political economic hegemony. A war waged as much with the help of weapons of mass destruction as with weapons of mass deception, the imperialist media. The US is striving for a unipolar world with Britain and ‘new Europe’ as its vicious tail. There is a crack in the imperialist alliance with “old Europe” not joining the “coalition of the willing”. The differences continue on post-war reconstruction of Iraq as well. They are waging this war not just with their weapons of mass destruction, they have also got their “weapons of mass deception”,
Baghdad has been bombed and pillaged. But in spite of all its ‘smart’ bombing the US could neither shock nor awe the Iraqi people. The starving people don’t want American pizzas and hot dogs. They have refused to quench their thirst with the coke and pepsi from US. They have served a clear message: “US occupation forces should get out and get out fast.” The US might have won the battle for Baghdad. But it has started losing its war for hegemony for the overwhelming majority of the people of the world have started seeing through the American design.
The military might of the US has succeeded in bringing about a change of regime. The US may go on adding new names to its list of targets. But it cannot silence the voices for freedom and democracy. The people will carry on their fight against these “liberators”.
The fundamental contradiction between imperialism and the third world is very much a live contradiction. That is why the US has come down heavily on Iraq. It is not only for oil. It is also for suppressing any dissent. The contradiction among imperialist powers has come again into the open. The contradiction between wage labour and capital in the imperialist countries is also growing by the day.
The world public opinion against war will soon turn against imperialism. Imperialism cannot remain crisis-free, friction-free. History has not come to an end.
Imperialist globalisation is causing havoc to the whole world, more particularly the third world. The imperilaist powers are transferring crisis to the developing countries and they are tightening the noose. Third world countries like India are low-cost centers for them. Just the other day their financial service companies have decided to transfer about 356 billion dollars worth of operations and two million jobs offshore which will intensify the exploitation of developing countries and reduce the costs for the imperialist economies.
They have hit the world with IMF, WB, and WTO. Now as their crisis becomes more acute, we have got a war.
What is happening in the Indian subcontinent is a crying shame and a treachery to the glorious freedom struggle. The rulers of India and Pakistan are calling for US pre-emptive strikes on the other side of the border. Capitulation has reached such abysmal levels. The portraits of the traitors to the freedom struggle are donning the walls of Indian Parliament today. Tomorrow there is every likelihood of their calling for US “assistance” to tackle domestic unrest and people’s struggles.
The pro-imperialist policies of the communal fascist rulers of India have yielded a rich harvest of genocide, starvation deaths, fake encounters, destruction of secularism, public sector, public distribution system and loss of employment and livelihood to the teeming millions of India.
The Sangh Parivar has vulgarised patriotism as anti-Pakistanism. Anti-imperialist patriotism is the need of the hour. Any attack on US imperialism will remain incomplete without targeting its Indian political agents and the Indian ruling classes. Mass anger and mass resentment will have to be channalised into powerful mass movements which will boldly take on the US imperialists and their Indian lackeys.
The dreams of the May Day martyrs, the dreams of Bhagat Singh, will be fulfilled only by developing a powerful red resistance of the toiling people.
Let the May 21 strike by the Indian working class serve as a warning to the rulers of India and their imperialist masters.
The world has witnessed recurring capitalist crises and wars. The world will also be witness to resistance and revolutions.
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