Archive | March 17th, 2020

The Bengal famine: Churchill’s real darkest hour

New evidence confirms British leader’s role in murdering millions of Bengalis.

Indian author and politician Shashi Tharoor has likened Churchill to Hitler.

This article is reproduced from the South China Morning Post of 12 April 2019, with thanks.

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Soil sampling from the period of the second world war was reported in a science journal, concluding that the Bengali famine of the 1940s was caused only by ‘complete policy failure’, and it’s not the only evidence out there. But last year, a Churchill biopic glorifying the former British PM was nominated for top honours at the Oscars.

When a team of researchers in India and the US led by Professor Vimal Mishra reconstructed the soil samples for Bengal in 1943, a period in which three million Bengalis died from famine, they found moisture levels in the soil were more than the normal. For five other periods of famine, from 1870 to 2016, Mishra and his colleagues found evidence of drought in the soil samples they created, using meteorological data. But the 1943 famine was due to ‘complete policy failure’, they write.

The study conducted by the Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar, the India Meteorology Department and the University of California in Los Angeles, was published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters in February. It’s the latest evidence in a body of empirical research indicting second world war hero Sir Winston Churchill for the murder of three million Bengalis in the Indian subcontinent in 1943.

As the prime minister of Britain from 1940-45, Churchill was responsible for the administration of India, which gained freedom from the British in 1947. This means Churchill is guilty of the same crime that Adolf Hitler – his enemy in the second world war – is: genocide.

The official figure for those killed in the holocaust from 1933-45 is twelve million. Churchill presided over the deaths of at least three million in 1943. If such horrific crimes can be compared, the incidence of Churchill’s mass murder is far higher than Hitler’s.

The term genocide was coined by the Polish lawyer Raphael Lemkin, a jewish man who fled the holocaust, by combining the Greek word ‘genus’, meaning race or tribe, and the Latin word ‘cide’, meaning killing. It refers to the destruction of a nation or an ethnic group. It means targeted killing, and this is as true of Churchill as it is of Hitler, who sent jews, communists, the Roma and homosexual people to death, among others. In Churchill’s case, it was the death of Indian colonial subjects whom he did not care about

In Britain, war rations from 1940 included butter, ham and bacon, and later, tea, cheese and margarine. In Bengal, people died begging for the starch made when boiling rice. These were the stories I grew up hearing as a Bengali; these stories haunt every meal I still eat.

Before Mishra et al’s paper, there was the Nobel laureate Amartya Sen’s book, Poverty and Famines. Here, he argued that famine resulted from people not ‘getting’ enough to eat, not from not ‘having’ enough to eat. The difference between the verbs ‘get’ and ‘have’ points to the responsibility of the British colonial government.

Sen actually lived through the Bengal famine himself; he was nine years old in 1943. Poverty and Famines is the work for which he is believed to have won the Nobel prize for economics in 1998.

In 2010, journalist and writer Madhusree Mukherjee published Churchill’s Secret War, in which she provided documentary evidence pointing to Churchill’s direct culpability, using papers from the British war transport office and the diary of the former prime minister’s close friend and scientific advisor, Lord Cherwell.

The famine was caused by a policy decision, taken by the Churchill government in Britain, to stockpile grain for the British during the war. Even in 1943, the year Britain officially declared famine in India, Churchill exported 70,000 tonnes of rice to Britain, Mukherjee writes in her book. The prime minister was also told by the British secretary of state for India, Leopold Amery, that rotting corpses lined the streets of Kolkata.

“I hate Indians,” Churchill told Amery. “They are a beastly people with a beastly religion.” And at a war cabinet meeting, he said the famine was Indians’ fault for “breeding like rabbits”.

Writer, former United Nations diplomat and Indian politician Shashi Tharoor writes in his book Inglorious Empire that Churchill scribbled the words, “Why hasn’t Gandhi died yet?” on the margins of a report.

The historian Janam Mukherjee writes in his book Hungry Bengal that reports of famine from the Bengal countryside were heard from 1940 – months after Churchill took over as prime minister of Britain.

Nevertheless, Churchill made the decision to push for victory in the war with the Axis forces, not compromise. For this reason, grain and other food stocks were diverted to Britain.

Aside from the scholarly work, there is the sketchbook by the late artist Chittaprosad Bhattacharyya, also titled Hungry Bengal. This is a compilation of his impressions of rural Bengal as he travelled to see the devastation wrought by the 1943 famine.

When it was published that year, the British government seized all copies and burnt them. If anything, this is a testament to the importance of this work. In 2011, an art gallery based in Delhi located the original copy of Bhattacharyya’s work with his niece in Kolkata and put together a retrospective of his work.

Despite all this evidence – in scholarly research and in art – a film lionising Churchill was nominated for the best film prize at the 2018 Oscars. Gary Oldman won the Oscar for best actor, one of the top prizes at the Academy Awards, for his portrayal of the British war criminal. There was, in fact, another film on the mass murderer called Churchill in 2017.

The new soil science research pointing to Churchill’s culpability is welcome. It adds to the already solid body of evidence against the criminal. The question is, how much evidence will it take for the west to admit that their war hero is a mass murderer who thrilled in killing millions?

Posted in Human Rights, India, UK0 Comments

Modi playing with fire as he stokes anti-muslim and anti-Pakistan hysteria

Cow protection rather than national development seems to be the de facto policy of the profoundly anti-people BJP government.

Lalkar writers

India’s ruling BJP workers in Mumbai burn a symbolic effigy of Pakistan as part of protest against an attack on a paramilitary convoy in Kashmir, February 2019.

India is staging its latest parliamentary election in seven phases. It started on 11 April and is scheduled to finish on 23 May. In this election, 900 million people are eligible to vote.

The country is gripped by election fever, with the bourgeois parties pitching for the favour of the electorate by making all sorts of fantastic promises that they will not be able to keep – and they know it.

Electoral promises ditched; communal divisions stoked

The thoroughly sectarian and hindu fundamentalist BJP (Bharatiya Janata party) stormed to power in the general election of 2014 gaining an absolute majority on its own (something that had not happened to any party for two decades). It did so by promising to create millions of jobs each year, to modernise India’s economy, to concentrate on development, to fight corruption and to assert India’s role in the international arena.

During that election, the BJP played down its fundamentalist credentials, with leader Narendra Modi coining the slogan ‘Toilets before temples’ as he promised to clean up the dirt and filth that is such a shameful hallmark of bourgeois/landlord India. The electorate fell for these promises.

Five years on, it is clear to everyone except the blind that Mr Modi’s BJP government has failed miserably on all counts. Instead of reducing unemployment, Modi’s government has presided over its rise. Unemployment is now higher than at any time over the last four decades. Economic development is less than during the previous ten years of Congress-led government.

Instead, what this government has done is to stoke communal divisions between Indians along religious lines. It has enfranchised hindu chauvinism as never before, unleashed by its affiliates (the fascistic fundamentalists of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh [RSS] and Vishva Hindu Parishad [VHP]), who have been attacking, beating, and in some cases even killing muslims and lower-caste people suspected of slaughtering cows. It appears that cow protection, not national development, is the de facto programme of the BJP.

India is one of the world’s major beef exporting countries, exporting about $4bn worth annually. As a result of violence and intimidation by BJP zealots, these exports are down 10 percent, harming India’s economy in more than one way.

India’s cities and towns, rivers and coastline are as dirty as when the BJP came to office in 2014. The BJP can claim the distinction of presiding over India becoming the country with the ten most polluted cities in the world. Anyone who visits India cannot fail to notice that people avoid big Indian cities such as Delhi because the air is so toxic and harmful to human health.

Instead of cleaning up India, the BJP is busy propagating hate speech, re-writing history books, changing place names, and making pseudo-scientific claims at scientific conferences – turning India into a laughing stock in the international scientific community.

Modi’s party chief, Amit Shah, has threatened to throw muslim immigrants from Bangla Desh into the Bay of Bengal and to deport the 40,000 Rohingya muslims who have fled violence in Myanmar (Burma). All in all, the BJP has achieved notoriety by unconscionably polarising India along religious lines.

Even in the centres of imperialism, any party propagating what the BJP is saying and doing in India would be rightly condemned as xenophobic and racist.

The BJP had promised before the 2014 election to improve the lot of farmers. In practice, however, there is more economic distress among the farmers than ever, with suicides among them registering a steep rise.

It also introduced the goods and services tax (GST), the rollout of which was botched, in the process hurting millions of small businesses.

On 8 November 2016, the BJP government, all of a sudden, demonetised 87 percent of the currency in circulation, destroying in its wake millions of livelihoods in a country whose economy is so reliant on cash transactions.

The party’s ‘Make India’ programme has been a failure, with India’s share of global trade a miserable 1.7 percent.

And yet India is a country half of whose population is under 25, where 300 million people have bank accounts and more than one billion have mobile phones. The Modi government has failed abysmally to capitalise on this demographic dividend and the talents of its youth.

In the area of foreign policy, the Modi government is increasingly aligning itself with US imperialism in the latter’s crusade against Russia and China, especially the latter. Carried to its extreme, this alliance spells disaster for India.

Instead of learning its lesson from India’s 1962 war with China, the Modi government is allowing itself to be drawn into conflict on the side of US imperialism, with fearful consequences for everyone involved, especially India. The Modi government’s idea of ‘extending influence on the world stage’ boils down to enlisting India into the war plans of the US, acting as the latter’s flunkey and providing cannon fodder in the service of imperialism.

In view of the above, the BJP is seeking re-election by doing what it does best – stoking fear among the hindus of the danger posed by the Indian muslim minorities. But this is absurd, for how can 170 million muslims (making up just 15 percent of India’s population) pose a danger to India’s 965 million hindus, among whom they live?

Conflict between Pakistan and India is against the interest of the masses but promoted by imperialism and entirely necessary to Pakistan’s armed forces and Modi’s communal nutcases

The BJP has been pushing this line since 2002, when over 1,000 people, mostly muslims, were killed under Modi’s watch in Gujarat when he was the state’s chief minister. He and his party, and the plethora of lunatic fundamentalist outfits that form its base and core, have mastered the art of linking the threat of terrorism to muslims and to Pakistan. Instead of economic issues, Modi is seeking re-election on a security platform.

It is not surprising, therefore, that he seized upon the 14 February suicide attack in Pulwana (in Indian administered Kashmir), which killed 44 Indian paramilitaries. The attack was claimed by Jaish-e-Mohamed (JEM), a Pakistani terrorist outfit with close ties to the Pakistani army. This was manna from heaven for Modi. He used the occasion to address rallies with jingoistic speeches in an attempt to arouse anti-Pakistan and anti-muslim sentiment.

On 26 February, the Indian air force, on Modi’s instructions, carried out a ‘preventive’ missile strike on what it claimed was a terrorist training camp in the Bagakot area inside Pakistan, on the basis of ‘credible intelligence’ that fanatics from JEM were preparing an attack on India.

Modi and his supporters went lurid with ecstasy. But their joy did not last very long, for a day later, on 27 February, Pakistan downed an Indian MIG-21 plane, which landed on Pakistani territory, and captured its pilot, Abhinandan Varthaman.

On 28 February, in an act of statesmanship, Pakistani premier Imran Khan announced that Pakistan would return Wing Commander Abhinandan to India immediately, saying: “In our desire for peace and as a first step to open negotiations, Pakistan will be releasing the Indian air force officer in our custody.”

The Indian government’s response was to say: “If they [the Pakistanis] are serious about improving relations, we expect concrete, credible action against terrorists and terror infrastructure in Pakistan.”

The fact of the matter is that the Pakistani army does not want improved relations between India and Pakistan, for such an improvement spells death to the Pakistani army, which has ruled Pakistan directly or indirectly for most of the country’s 70-year existence. Lack of tension on the India-Pakistan border would deprive the Pakistani army of their huge military budget and opportunities for corruption and lucrative businesses.

So every time a civilian Pakistani government takes steps to improve relations with India, the Pakistani army stages a provocation through its proxy terrorist outfits to queer the pitch. This time was no different.

On becoming prime minister, Imran Khan wrote to Modi proposing comprehensive talks, saying that they owed it to “our people, especially future generations, to peacefully resolve all outstanding issues … bridge differences and achieve a mutually beneficial outcome”. Five months later, in February this year, the JEM terror group struck, killing 44 Indian paramilitaries.

Earlier, in 2014, Modi had invited Pakistan’s then prime minister Nawaz Sharif to his inauguration. Apparently they got on well with each other, and, on Christmas day 2015, Modi surprised both countries with an unplanned and unexpected visit to Mr Sharif’s home to celebrate the wedding of the latter’s granddaughter.

Just a week later, eight Indian security personnel and a civilian were killed at an air force base in Pathankot, in Indian Punjab. In 2017, the Pakistani army deposed Nawaz Sharif.

There are several other incidents in this pattern. An intelligent Indian administration should have little difficulty in understanding that the actions of the Pakistani top brass are not just aimed at India. More importantly, they are targeted at Pakistani civilian governments if they dare depart from the army’s anti-India stance.

This is a problem that the Pakistani people alone can solve. Instead of adopting a jingoistic stance, as has the Modi government and its lunatic zealots in the BJP and the hydra-headed Hindu Privar (Hindu Family), the need is to exercise patience and to explain to the Indian and Pakistani masses alike the method behind the madness of the Pakistani top military establishment and to isolate it in the eyes of the Pakistani masses.

Such a course is admittedly difficult, requiring patient strategic thinking, which the BJP government is obviously incapable of adopting.

When in 2008 the Pakistani-based terror group Lashkare Toiba (LT) staged a terror attack in Mumbai, hitting the main railway station and two luxury hotels and killing 166 people, then prime minister Manmohan Singh’s Congress-led government was under extreme pressure to hit targets in Pakistan. Wisely, it refused to go along that path. For that, Manmohan Singh was accused by the BJP of lacking courage.

Well, this time the Modi government has launched a missile attack on Pakistani soil. According to military experts, and contrary to the government’s claims, these missiles, instead of hitting terrorist training camps, fell on some barren land. The ensuing dogfight between Pakistani and Indian fighter planes resulted in the downing and capture of an Indian air force officer.

The whole scenario might have pleased the unthinking devotees of the BJP, and might even have worked, though this is doubtful, to the electoral advantage of the BJP, but beyond that it has achieved nothing. Moreover, this kind of brinkmanship carries the risk of triggering a far more serious conflict between the two countries, with fearful consequences.

Instead of branding all dissent and disagreement as a bid to weaken India, the BJP should jettison its own brand of toxic politics of dividing the Indian people along religious lines. Instead of characterising Indian muslims as ‘anti-India’, Modi and his followers need to get it into their thick skulls that India belongs just as much to muslims and other minorities as it does to the hindus. Anyone targeting India’s muslims is in essence working against the interests of India.

BJP making enemies on all sides

It is a reflection of the weakness of the communist movement in India that the BJP gets such space to practise its fundamentalist brand of divisive and poisonous politics. All the same, the BJP has, through its actions, aroused a great deal of hostility on the part of minorities, farmers and small traders.

Even big business houses who backed Modi in 2014 are unhappy at the government’s failure to privatise public assets and lack of progress in reforming labour legislation to suit the needs of the exploiting classes.

In view of all this, it is unlikely that the BJP will be returned to parliament with an overall majority. If it manages to stay in office, it will be at the head of a coalition of disparate parties. It must be the hope of every progressive Indian that this nasty outfit will be booted out of office.

Meanwhile, the problems between India and Pakistan, and within each of these countries, can only be resolved through the overthrow of the exploiting classes, and the coming to power of the proletariat. Only then will the subcontinent begin an era of fraternal cooperation, peace and prosperity. May that day soon dawn.

Let the communists in both countries devote themselves wholeheartedly to this, the most urgent task, no matter what difficulties and obstacles lie in their way.

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Surprise election win for Modi

With hindu fundamentalism on the rise and a pro-imperialist international policy, the Indian masses are in for a tough time.

Proletarian writers

Somewhat surprisingly in view of its government’s appalling economic record, Narendra Modi’s BJP has won India’s recent parliamentary election, not just winning but also gaining an overall majority, which nobody expected.

With the BJP’s continual attacks on muslims and on people of the lower hindu castes – both of which are substantial minorities in India – the election result is more than surprising and can really only be explained by the fact that not only is the Congress party’s record in government less than inspiring but also its leadership is uncharismatic and frankly dull.

Nevertheless, the re-election of the Modi government is likely to prove bad for India, as it vies to spread hindu fundamentalism and communal strife among the Indian people, while at the same time shamelessly allying itself with US imperialism.

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Indian people rise up against communalist legislation

The reaction of the masses gives hope that Modi’s dreams of a theocratic hindu state are on the way to being smashed.

Lalkar writers

Has prime minister Narendra Modi shot himself in the foot in his pursuit of a sectarian hindhu state in India? In inadvertenty targeting poor hindhus as well as muslims, he has inflamed the anger of wide swathes of the population, a miscalculation that may finally put an end to his fascistic progress.

When Indian parliamentary elections first brought the currently ruling BJP government to power, it was because of a belief that the party’s leader, Narendra Modi, was a good manager of the economy and would thus bring prosperity to India.

In this, however, he has signally failed, adopting policies such as the sudden demonetarisation of 500 and 1,000 rupee notes, which caused economic chaos particularly harmful to poorer people, while economic growth has been falling steadily for the past six years.

To shore up his waning popularity, therefore, prime minister Modi has increasingly been appealing to religious chauvinism among India’s 80 percent majority hindu population by endorsing the aim of making India a hindu rashtra – a hindu nation. It was this that enabled his government to be re-elected last year despite its dismal economic performance.

And it is continuing dismal economic performance that is egging Modi on to further fan the flames of communalism, particularly anti-muslim communalism, muslims constituting 14 percent of India’s population. This means that they number over 200 million, slightly more even than in Pakistan.

“Activists say it’s just the latest move in the BJP’s broader agenda of creating a ‘hindu nation’, with the government’s recent revocation of the special status of the muslim-majority state of Jammu and Kashmir and plan to build a hindu temple at the site of a mosque demolished by a hindu nationalist mob in 1992.” (‘This is not just a muslim fight.’ Inside the anti-Citizenship Act protests rocking India, Time magazine, 16 December 2019)

The Citizenship Amendment Act

This is the context surrounding the mass demonstrations that have been taking place against the Citizenship Amendment Act passed by the Modi government on 12 December 2019.

According to this legislation, India will be prepared to fast track the granting of citizenship to refugees fleeing from Pakistan, Bangla Desh and Afghanistan provided they are hindus, sikhs, buddhists, jain, parsi or christians – ie, they are not muslims (jews, agnostics and atheists are also excluded but this is only incidental).

This act flies in the face not only of India’s secular constitution, which prohibits unequal treatment on the basis of religious affiliation, but also of international law on refugees, which requires asylum be given not on the basis of religious affiliation but on the basis of whether the claimant has suffered or is likely to suffer persecution.

If non-muslims can face persecution in Pakistan, for example, so can members of islamic sects such as the Ahmadis and the shias, yet India would refuse to even consider their cases.

Citizen registration

What adds gravity to the matter, however, is that this citizenship law is being introduced in tandem with a process of citizen registration that has already been implemented in Assam, a state in the far north-east of India, where 34 percent of the population is muslim as against 61 percent hindus.

Assam has 27 districts, out of which nine have a majority muslim population. This experiment in citizen registration has been nothing short of a disaster. Nearly 2 million people out of a total population of 33 million have been left off the register, some of them members of the same family as persons who had been registered.

Theoretically, the purpose of the register was to exclude people who had immigrated illegally from Bangla Desh after 1971 (and their descendants, even when born in India), but it was up to the applicant for registration to prove they had been resident since before that time, and many of them simply did not have any documentation.

Munoth, a lawyer, told CNN most exclusions from the National Register of Citizens (NRC) happened because people simply didn’t have the documentation.

“It’s just unthinkable. If I was asked to prove my citizenship, I would be at pains to find a document that says my ancestors came to India before 1947, and this is me with my class and caste privilege and education. You can only imagine what a daily wage labourer would go through,” she said. (1.9 million excluded from Indian citizenship list in Assam state by Helen Regan and Manveena Suri, 31 August 2019)

“If the government were to hold the national register today, [many muslims] would stand to become stateless. Forget the complicated documents they will require. They do not even have basics such as birth certificates, and their situation is replicated across the country.

“For poor Indians, floods, fires, riots and the constant movement from one state to another in search of work … mean papers get lost. Shiny filing cabinets filled with neatly classified folders do not feature in their lives.

“A few … have voter cards and the official ID card known as aadhaar. But if the register recently conducted in the northeastern state of Assam is anything to go by, these papers will count for nothing. There, claimants were required to provide documents proving their links to ancestors going back decades. Some 1.9 million were left off the list.

“They are now effectively illegal immigrants, with nowhere to go. Some 3,000 will be housed in a detention centre currently being built, the first of ten planned in the state …

“‘They don’t have anything we can begin with,’ … ‘They have nothing. For the most basic official document, you need proof of residence, you need a utility bill in your name. No one in a slum has any of these.’

“[One lady] said: ‘When floods in Bihar washed away my home and cattle in 2008, I tried to stay alive and save my children, not my papers.’ Later she shows the pitiful hut she calls home, covered with stitched together hessian sacks next to an open drain …

“Nadia Hussain, 43, who also fled to Delhi after floods in Bihar, tried to get some official documents but found the first obstacle insuperable. ‘My landlord refused to give me proof of residence because he doesn’t want to pay tax on his rental income,’ she said …

“Even if muslims have some official papers, they are bound to contain discrepancies and misspellings in names and addresses.

“It is a national idiosyncrasy to be cavalier about spellings and accuracy. The common name Chatterjee, for example, can also be spelt Chatterjea, Chatarji, Chatterji or Chaterjee. The name Mohammed can be spelt umpteen ways. Ages can be off by a few years. No one is bothered. Now this carelessness could mean the destruction of the rights of hundreds of millions.” (India’s citizenship test unleashes muslim despair and fury by Amrit Dhillon, The Times, 20 December 2019)

No papers to prove citizenship, even if actual detention is avoided (which can’t be guaranteed) means no work and no money on which to live.

Although those left off the register have a right of appeal, for poor people this is no right at all as they would not have the means to pay for professional assistance, meaning that their appeals would be unlikely to succeed. Nor can many even travel to courts that can be 50km away.

The citizen registration exercise in Assam clearly failed to identify illegal immigrants from Bangla Desh, since half of those left off the register were hindus and not muslims at all. An earlier draft of the register was particularly embarrassing:

“The first draft list drawn up by the National Register of Citizens put almost 4 million people in Assam at risk of statelessness.

“Somewhat undermining the BJP’s anti-muslim agenda, the list embarrassingly included hindu political leaders and government employees, including one person whose job it was to compile the NRC. While a revised list brought the numbers down to just below 2 million people, to the BJP’s dismay this still included a substantial number of hindus.” (Narendra Modi’s anti-muslim bill risks carnage in Assam by Champa Patel, The Sunday Times, 15 December 2019)

In these circumstances, Modi came up with the Citizenship Amendment Act wheeze, which would enable the authorities to grant citizenship to non-muslims left off the register.

Resistance

The Citizenship Amendment Act has given rise to massive demonstrations all over India.

In Assam, the population is furious because it is seen as giving the green light to mass immigration of Bengali hindus from Bangla Desh, whom the Assamese see as a threat because of the general lack of resources in their extremely poor state.

Elsewhere, there is outrage at the assault on India’s secular constitution and the kick in the teeth delivered to poor people, overwhelmingly, though not exclusively, muslim.

Most of the people adversely affected by the act have never known any other country but India. Most of them were born in India, often several decades ago, some of them even in pre-partition India, yet are suddenly to be declared not to be Indian at all. There is no wonder that millions of people are up in arms.

Massive demonstrations have been taking place in 56 cities in 24 states all over India on a daily basis since the act became law on 12 December.

These have been met with savage repression by the police, using tear gas and brute force against defenceless protesters, and by emergency laws banning gatherings of more than five people with the excuse that some violent acts have been committed by those protesting.

Even the internet has been closed down for several hours. What is not mentioned is the provocation on the part of the government forces that has given rise to counter-violence.

According to Time magazine: “It was at two historically muslim universities, Aligharh Muslim university and Jamia Millia Islamia university, where the police response was most violent – firing tear gas and beating students …

“Abdulla, who was beaten by police in a video that went viral, is a student at Jamia Millia Islamia. Ladeeda Farzana, a muslim from the state of Kerala and fellow student, was one of several women who formed a human shield around him … Farzana says she was struck on her back when shielding Abdulla. It still hurts. ‘I feel pain but it’s fine,’ she says.

“Delhi police maintain that they used ‘maximum restraint, minimum force’ while responding to protests at Jamia.

“But Mohammad Mustafa, a student there, said … he was studying in the library when police beat him until he fell unconscious. ‘I don’t have anything to do with the protest. I’m just here to study,’ he recalls telling them. Mustafa says both his arms were fractured and that police deliberately broke his laptop …

“During the crackdown at Aligarh university, police allegedly shouted ‘Jai Shree Ram’ – a hindu slogan meaning ‘Victory for Ram’ – while beating students. The phrase has frequently been used by the BJP and its supporters.

“Mohammad Minhajuddin, another student at Jamia, said he was studying in the university’s central library when he was beaten so badly by the police that he was left blinded in one eye and may soon lose visibility in the other … He tried to protect himself by putting his hand to his face; two of his fingers were fractured.

“Several women were also attacked during the protests. Saima Anjum, a second-year law student at Jamia, tells Time that she and many other students on campus were beaten by police.

“She recalls seeking shelter in the university’s reading room from the tense protests with other students. They bolted the doors and sat under tables before officers in blue uniforms burst through the door, she says. ‘They started beating all of us,’ she says. ‘Five to six policemen were beating one single student. They dragged me also.’

“One officer started hitting her when another interjected, saying: ‘Leave it, leave it, she’s a girl, let her go.’ She watched as one of her friends was beaten brutally before he ran away and sheltered himself in a mosque …

“A lawyer who appeared to be representing some Jamia students detained after the protests alleged in a statement that police sexually assaulted students at Jamia, switching off the lights so as not to be caught on CCTV.

“Police also stormed the university’s library, firing tear gas at students barricaded inside. Some students hid in the women’s bathrooms, and police entered, began beating people and broke the mirrors, students said. ‘Students were lying bleeding inside the washroom,’ one student who was present told Time.

“No deaths have been confirmed at the protests at universities around the country. But many students are missing. More than a dozen students from Aligarh Muslim university are still unaccounted for after police cracked down on protests there, leaving more than 100 reportedly injured.” (Op cit)

It is not only muslims, however, who are resisting the act. Virtually all major Indian political parties other than the BJP and Shiv Sena are supporting the demonstrators.

“Almost the entire top left leaders, including Sitaram Yechury [general secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), D Raja [general secretary of the Communist Party of India] and Prakash Karat [previous general secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)], were detained here along with the Delhi Congress leaders Ajay Maken and Sandeep Dikshit during the left-sponsored anti-CCA protest near Mandi House and Jantar Mantar area that saw an impressive turnout.” (All-India protests against Citizenship Act, Economic Times, 20 December 2019)

Prakash Karat’s wife Brinda was also detained.

Many well-known Bollywood actors have joined the protests as have some distinguished academics. “In a statement released by her publisher, Arundhati Roy, one of India’s most famous writers, compared the Citizenship Amendment Act and NRC to the Nazis’ 1935 Nuremberg laws, which blocked jews from German citizenship.” (Time magazine, op cit)

Non-muslim students have formed human chains around their muslim fellow students in order to protect them from police violence.

Moreover, several state governments have pledged not to proceed with the registration exercise at all. For instance:

“In West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, the chief minister, has led several huge marches against the citizenship law and register. She has said that they will be introduced ‘over my dead body’.

“Ms Banerjee said that she wanted to know how many detention camps Mr Shah would have to build to house alleged non-Indians.” (Opposition to India’s citizenship law has become a national crisis by Amrit Dhillon, The Times, 20 December 2019)

For the moment it is not known what will be the fate of the millions of people adversely affected by the Citizenship Amendment Act, other than that they will become stateless.

Are they all to be rounded up and deported? If so would the destination countries accept them? What about their property rights? Are they to lose their right to residence in India, and/or their right to work?

That this has not been spelt out suggests that the Modi government is waiting to see how much it is likely to be able to get away with in its vendetta against non-hindus. The reaction of the masses of people in India, however, does give hope that dreams of a theocratic hindu state are on the way to being comprehensively smashed.

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Palestine: Nazi to Track all cell phones over CV19

Police State Crackdown: Israel to Track all cell phones over CV19

VIDEO (35:00) BioWeapon Unleashed on China by Zionists? – Veterans Today | Military Foreign Affairs Policy Journal for Clandestine Services

The Nazi Cabinet approved a measure that will allow the Nazi Security Agency, or Shin Bet, to track the cell phones of Israelis who are infected with coronavirus.

The agency would not require a court order to perform the surveillance and it will be limited in the scope of information it can collect, who would have access to it, and what it can be used for, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.

After approval of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Subcommittee on the Secret Services, the authorization would be valid for 30 days.

Under the authorization, the agency would be allowed to use cell towers to track the movements of those infected with the coronavirus and who they came in contact with before going into quarantine. Anyone who came within about six feet of an infected person for more than ten minutes would receive a message telling them to self-quarantine, the Times of Nazi reported.

The decision prompted criticism that the measure would infringe on civil liberties.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI0 Comments

The Jallianwala Bagh (Amritsar) massacre

The imperialist crime that put the final nail in the coffin of British rule in India one hundred years ago.

Lalkar writers

The thirteenth of April this year marks the 100th anniversary of the Jallianwala Bagh (Amritsar) massacre. To understand, and appreciate, its significance in the struggle of the Indian people for liberation from British colonial rule, it is important to put it in the context of the first imperialist world war, fought between two coalitions of imperialist bloodsuckers to redivide the world.

Euphemistically referred to as the Great War by imperialist statesmen and historians alike, it was the first industrial-scale slaughter of tens of millions of workers in order to decide which of the bandit gentries would have what share of the booty – of markets, resources, avenues for investment and colonial slaves.

On 4 August 1914, Britain entered the war against the German-led coalition. Simultaneously, Lord Hardinge, Viceroy of India, made a declaration of India’s entry into the war on Britain’s side. The Indian people were neither consulted nor had any interest, any more than did the workers elsewhere, in participating in the imperialist carnage into which, as subjugated people, they were dropped willy-nilly, and for which they paid a high price in blood and treasure.

By the end of the war, 1.4 million Indians had been enlisted to serve. Of these, 74,000 were not to return. Indian servicemen, like servicemen from other colonies of Britain, had to fight in harsh and unfamiliar conditions in Europe. As Britain did not have sufficient soldiers to fight in both Europe and the middle east, Indian soldiers were deployed in large numbers in the middle-eastern theatre of war.

On 1 May 1915, sikhs and Gurkhas of the 29th Infantry Brigade landed on the Gallipoli peninsula to join British, Australian and New Zealand troops in what was to turn out to be an ill-fated operation to gain control of the Dardanelles strait, capture Istanbul and drive Turkey out of the war. On 4 June, their comrades of the 14th Sikhs were virtually annihilated.

If Gallipoli was a serious defeat, Britain’s other campaign against the Turks in Mesopotamia (now Iraq) was to turn into a calamity – the battle of Kutt, where General Charles Townshend’s army was encircled by the Turks. On 29 April 2016, with relief failing to materialise and his supplies exhausted, Townshend surrendered his 13,000 men into bitter captivity. It was the worst military disaster to befall the British empire since the 1842 retreat from Kabul.

The report of the commission of enquiry into the Kutt defeat, published in 1917, was so scathing that the secretary of state for India, Conservative Austen Chamberlain, resigned and was replaced by Edwin Montagu.

By 1916, the middle east had become the Indian army’s principal theatre of operations. The campaign that took Baghdad on 11 March 1917 and then advanced to Mosul and Kirkuk would not have been feasible without Indian troops. So, too, Sir Edmund Allenby’s advance into Palestine and Syria in 1918.

On top of the losses of life, India’s material contribution to the war effort was colossal.

That alleged apostle of non-violence, Mahatma Gandhi, when he arrived in London on 5 August 1914, immediately set about establishing an Indian ambulance corps. Bal Gangadhar Tilk, the scourge of the British Raj, newly released from six years’ imprisonment in Mandalay, pledged support for the British government, as did the Indian National Congress at its sessions in 1914 and 1915.

The rulers of the princely states, ever the flunkeys of the Raj, were likewise more than willing to render generous support. Many of them, to express their loyalty, sailed to the fighting fronts, including the European theatre. The Maharaja of Patiala, Bhupinder Singh, had been made an honorary Major General by the end of the war.

India’s reward

At the Paris peace conference India was represented by Lord Montagu and the Maharaja of Bikaner, who signed the Versailles Treaty on its behalf.

The war, however, had radicalised politics everywhere, India included. The ripples of the earth-shaking Russian revolution were spreading around the world. Indians expected to be rewarded for their war effort.

On 20 August 1917, Montagu made stated in the British parliament that the government’s policy was “the progressive realisation of responsible government in India as an integral part of the British empire”. What did this mean? Montagu toured India in the winter of 1917-18, and it fell to him and the viceroy, Lord Chelmsford, to meet Indian expectations.

The report that embodied the conclusions of the secretary of state was made public on 8 July 1918. It proposed a new legislative assembly of 100 members, two-thirds of them to be elected, but endowed with no real powers. The crux of the scheme was a new arrangement for the provinces that went by the name of dyarchy or dual government, whereby the British would retain certain functions, with elected Indian ministers allotted some authority over others.

The report, which disappointed all sections of public opinion, was a slap in the face to India after all her sacrifices in the war effort on Britain’s behalf – an effort allegedly in defence of British liberties while Britain was denying the most elementary freedoms to the Indian people.

More than that. During the war, colonial rule had been challenged by revolutionary movements in Punjab (the Ghadarites) and Bengal, delivering a blow to the confidence of the alien rulers.

The British had managed cruelly to suppress these through the draconian provisions of the 1915 Defence of India Act, which was set to expire at the end of the war. However, a committee under the chairmanship of Justice Sydney Rowlatt in 1918 recommended the extension of this repressive legislation into peacetime.

It was an outrage to public opinion in India that the only reward for the country’s sacrifices was to be further repression.

Amritsar massacre

It is in this context that the Amritsar massacre must be viewed. At its December 1918 session, the Indian National Congress (INC) not only rejected the Rowlatt report, but also dismissed the Montagu-Chelmsford report as unsatisfactory. The 1918 session of the INC, held in Delhi, also decided that its next annual session would be held in Punjab.

As the Punjab was the largest source of recruits for the British imperial army, the British authorities were determined to prevent the state’s politicisation, especially in view of the rising nationalist sentiment among the population and sections of the army. On no account would the authorities tolerate any activity that might undermine their recruitment activities. Consequently, they determined to prevent the Congress session from being held in Punjab.

Dr Saifuddin Kitchlew, a prominent advocate in Amritsar (a Punjabi city and the holy centre of Sikhism), and Dr Satpal, a medical practitioner in Lahore (the capital of all Punjab before the partition of India), took up the challenge and began organising the Congress session, to which the authorities took serious exception.

The Freedom movement, inspired by the activities of the Ghadar party (born in the US and Canada, principally thanks to immigrant sikh workers in 1913-14), and outraged by the brutal repression visited on the Ghadarites by the British authorities, had struck deep roots in Punjab.

At the same time, the authorities introduced the draconian Rowlatt legislation, which gave power to a court of three judges to punish those involved in revolutionary activities, with no right of appeal. Anyone even suspected of involvement with the Freedom movement was liable to be detained under its provisions.

Gandhi called for a protest, to be staged on 30 March 1919. On this day, the police fired on protesters in Delhi, killing five people and injuring several hundreds – an action which sparked countrywide protests and demonstrations.

These protests notwithstanding, the authorities doubled down on their policy of repression. They arrested Dr Kitchlew and Dr Satpal and whisked them away to some unknown destination on 10 April. This in turn gave rise to fierce and angry protests, with a large crowd heading in the direction of the office of the district magistrate in Amritsar demanding the release of their detained leaders. Once again, the police wantonly opened fire on the crowd, killing several people.

Not unexpectedly, the outraged crowd targeted officers and official buildings alike. The situation got so out of hand that the authorities, unable to handle the protests, handed over Amritsar, and soon after the whole of Punjab, to the military, instituting a de facto martial law.

It was against this backdrop that a large public gathering was arranged in Jallianwala Bagh, with prior notice. Approximately 20,000 men, women and children who were in Amritsar for the major Baisakhi festival arrived for a peaceful meeting.

As the meeting got under way, suddenly, as if out of nowhere, British General Reginald Dyer entered the arena, blocked the only exit route, and gave the order to his men to fire. The shooting only stopped when the troops ran out of ammunition, having fired 1,600 rounds.

According to official estimates, this wanton act of brutality resulted in 400 deaths and in injuries to more than 2,000 people. A more correct estimate, however, was produced by the independent commission of enquiry appointed by the INC. This commission furnished documentary evidence which made it clear that more than 1,000 people had been murdered while another several thousand were injured consequent upon the firing by General Dyer’s mercenary assassins.

Dyer’s cynical defence of his brutality

Following a public outcry, the British government appointed the Hunter committee to enquire into the shooting, while at the same time continuing with its terrorisation of the population, cutting off the water and electricity supplies to the town and publicly flogging anyone perceived to be sympathetic to the victims of the massacre.

Far from showing any remorse, General Dyer, in his deposition to the Hunter committee, justified the massacre of peaceful innocent people, admitting that he had ordered the shooting without warning to the crowd to disperse. In his report to the General Staff Division on 25 August 1919, he stated:

“I fired and continued to fire till the crowd dispersed, and I considered that this is the least amount of firing which would produce the necessary moral and widespread effect it was my duty to produce if I was to justify my action. If more troops had been at hand the casualties would have been greater in proportion. It was no longer a question of merely dispersing the crowd but one of producing a sufficient moral effect, on those who were present, but more especially throughout the Punjab. There could be no question of undue severity.”

Dyer stated that he intended “to strike terror into the whole of Punjab. I had made up my mind that I would do all men to death if they were going to continue the meeting.”

A final nail into the coffin of the British Raj

During their 190 years of rule in India, the British committed countless massacres and perpetrated unheard of infamies and cruelties, especially during the course of suppressing the First War of Independence in 1857-59.

During British rule, more than 30 million Indians died in largely manmade famines, including the notorious Bengal famine during the second world war, which claimed the lives of between three and five million people.

But the Amritsar massacre, because of its timing and circumstances, electrified the Indian people and became a turning point in the long struggle of the Indian people for liberation.

Not just Punjab but the whole of India was in uproar. The authorities were unable to block the Congress session from being held in Amritsar, from where Gandhi launched the first of his disobedience movements.

The brutality unleashed by the government only served to strengthen the unity of the Indian people and their determination to free India from the clutches of the hated British rulers. No amount of repression, brutality and bestiality could deter them any longer.

It is no exaggeration to say that the Amritsar massacre drove the final nail into the coffin of British imperialist rule in India.

Tagore renounces knighthood

Rabindranath Tagore, the country’s most famous writer, poet and a foremost intellectual, who had earlier entertained illusions about the benign intentions of the British, had his eyes opened. He renounced the knighthood conferred on him by the British monarch.

Here are excerpts from his letter of 31 May 1919 to the viceroy:

“The disproportionate severity of the punishments inflicted upon the unfortunate people and the methods of carrying them out, we are convinced, are without parallel in the history of civilised governments …

“The accounts of the insults and sufferings undergone by our brothers in the Punjab have trickled through the gagged silence, reaching every corner of India and the universal agony of indignation roused in the hearts of our people has been ignored by our rulers – possibly congratulating themselves for what they imagine as salutary lessons …

“The very least I can do for my country is to take all consequences upon myself in giving voice to the protest of the millions of my countrymen, surprised into a dumb anguish of terror. The time has come when badges of honour make our shame glaring in the incongruous context of humiliation, and I for my part wish to stand shorn of all special distinctions, by the side of those of my countrymen who, for their so-called insignificance, are liable to suffer degradation not fit for human beings.”

Udham Singh avenges the massacre

It was to avenge the Amritsar massacre that, 21 years later, Udham Singh, who as a 15-year-old orphan had witnessed the carnage, shot dead on 13 March 1940 Sir Michael O’Dwyer who at the time of the slaughter in Amritsar had been Lt Governor of Punjab (General Dyer had already died in 1927). The shots that rang out at Caxton Hall, London, brought joy to the Indian masses, but not to that apostle of non-violence Gandhi, who condemned Udham Singh’s actions as that of a madman.

Appearing in court, charged with the murder of Sir Michael O’Dwyer, Udham Singh gave his name as Ram Muhammad Singh Azad, thus emphasising the unbreakable bonds of unity between the people of India – hindu, sikh and muslim. Frankly admitting to the murder of Sir Michael, Udham Singh made a statement in court in which he said:

“I did it because I had a grudge against him. He deserved it. He was the real culprit; he wanted to crush the spirit of my people, so I have crushed him. For a full 21 years I have been trying to wreak vengeance. I am happy I have done the job. I am not afraid of death.

“I am dying for my country. I have seen my people starving in India under the British rule. I have protested against this. It was my duty. What greater honour could be bestowed on me than death for the sake of my motherland?”

In another section of his statement, Udham Singh made clear that he had nothing against the British people, only against their ruling class.

These are not the words of a madman, but those of a passionate patriot and an internationalist.

On 31 July 1940, Udham Singh was hanged at Pentonville prison in London. His remains are preserved at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar and visited by tens of thousands of people every year.

The great revolutionary and internationalist Bhagat Singh, too, visited the site of the massacre in Amritsar, which made a lasting impression on him and on a whole generation of revolutionaries, whose contribution to the freedom struggle of the Indian people continues to be ignored by the despicable ruling classes of India for the simple reason that Bhagat Singh and his fellow revolutionaries wanted an India free not just from the British rulers but also from all exploitation of man by man.

This is not a message that suits the present-day rulers of India, but it does resonate with the vast masses of workers and peasants, the downtrodden and the destitute, who continue to draw inspiration from these heroes of Indian freedom, and for whom the Jallianwala Bagh continues to be a symbol of resistance against all oppression and a pledge of a brighter future.

On the 100th anniversary of this heinous act perpetrated by British imperialism, we salute in respectful homage all those who have shed their lives in the struggle to free India from foreign rule as well as from all exploitation. At the same time, we condemn most resolutely the author of this tragedy – British imperialism.

It has ever since been the demand of the Indian people, as well as of progressive opinion everywhere, that the British government must offer an official apology for this slaughter of innocent peaceful protesters on that fateful day in 1919. Even if belated, such an apology would go some way towards assuaging the feelings of bitterness felt by the Indian masses.

Posted in India0 Comments

The IRA plan to kill Michael O’Dwyer

Irish national archives releases letter showing the close fraternal links between the Irish and Indian liberation movements.

Lalkar writers

Letter addressed to IRA chief of staff written in 1923 by an IRA man named Darley seeking approval to take action against Michael O’Dwyer, the inspirer of the Amritsar massacre.

The anti-imperialist and revolutionary sentiments of the Irish people were on display in April when Ireland’s national archives published online a letter from an IRA man named Darley addressed to the IRA chief of staff in 1923.

The letter asks for approval to take action against Michael O’Dwyer, the inspirer of the Amritsar massacre (Jallianwala Bagh). The National Archives of the Irish republic released a photograph of the letter to mark the 100th anniversary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, stating that the letter had recently been donated to the archives.

A notice on the archives’ website read: “Early in 1919 the Rowlatt Act extended emergency measures introduced in India during the first world war which included incarceration without trial. As a result tensions ran high in the Punjab and serious rioting had left several Europeans dead, banks and public buildings looted and burned and a female missionary seriously injured.

“On 13 April 1919, General Dyer, the acting military commander at Amritsar, ordered troops under his command to fire indiscriminately into a large crowd attending an illegal demonstration at Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar, killing hundreds and injuring over one thousand. Dyer claimed he was quashing a potential rebellion.

“Sir Michael achieved notoriety through supporting General Dyer’s actions. A subsequent enquiry into the events unanimously condemned Dyer. He was relieved of his command and he died in England in 1927.

“O’Dwyer, Dyer and the Punjab itself had close Irish associations. Michael O’Dwyer came from a large and moderately nationalist family at Barranstown in Tipperary. He joined the Indian civil service in 1885 and, through his own natural abilities, rose to the highest ranks of the British administration in India.

“He was a great supporter of the co-operative credit movement in India which helped free peasants from the yoke of moneylenders and he also supported peasant ownership of land. He was appointed lieutenant general of the Punjab in 1912.

“A man of many contradictions, Sir Michael was an unashamed imperialist but later published, in his retirement, a history of the O’Dwyer family extolling their resistance to British aggression in Ireland over many centuries.

“Reginald Dyer had been born in India in 1864 but was sent, at the age of 11, to Midleton College [a boarding school] in County Cork and later briefly studied medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin.

“In 1913 emigrants from the Punjab to the United States were heavily involved in establishing the Ghadar Party, an Indian revolutionary organisation based in San Francisco which had, as its object, the overthrow of British colonial authority in India by armed revolution.

“It was quite similar to the Fenian movement established by Irish emigrants in the United States in the 1850s and it received the support of Irish republicans in America who assisted the Ghadars in an abortive attempt to send arms to India during the first world war, to precipitate an uprising there – part of the so called Hindu-German conspiracy.

“The IRA did not act on Darley’s recommendation. When the letter was written the organisation was in turmoil. It had been engaged in a bitter civil war with the Free State army for over a year and the chief of staff, Frank Aiken, declared a ceasefire in April 1923 and ordered the dumping of arms the following month.

“While Sir Michael O’Dwyer survived the Irish Republican Army, he was assassinated in London in 1940 by Udham Singh, a member of the Ghadar movement who reportedly had been present at Jallianwala Bagh on that fateful day in 1919.”

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The Irish electorate cry out against austerity and bring reunification closer

The future is bright; the future is green.

Lalkar writers

Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald celebrates in Dublin after coming top of the polls. Sinn Féin won 37 of the 42 seats it contested, and gained the highest share of the overall vote.

On Saturday 8 February, a general election took place in Eire (the Irish republic) and brought forth a quite amazing result.

Sinn Féin, standing in just 42 of the 159 Dáil Éireann (Irish parliament) seats being openly contested (the 160th goes to the speaker automatically), won 37 of them. This put the party in second place to Fianna Fáil (FF), which got 38, and ahead of Fine Gael (FG), which only got 35.

The Irish Labour party sank almost without trace with six seats, and can no longer consider itself the third party in Irish politics.

Anger against austerity in the south

Sinn Féin campaigned to “give the people a break” from the austerity drive that is being thrust on them by their ruling class (this battle is being carried on in all corners of the globe) and attracted support from voters across the board because rents have soared, property ownership has plummeted and the scourge of homelessness has nearly quadrupled in the past five years.

A few months ago, there was a photograph of a little Irish boy eating his dinner off a piece of cardboard on a Dublin street that rightly caused widespread outrage. The Irish people are not impressed by figures telling them that the economy is fine when their own eyes show them such things.

As the Irish Times columnist Fintan O’Toole pointed out, it’s still “the economy stupid” that matters in politics, but “what people mean by ‘the economy’ has altered”.

Voters care less about unemployment figures or gross domestic product (GDP) than they do about having a place of their own to live in, a degree of job security and access to good healthcare for all.

It remains to be seen exactly what a new coalition government arising from this election will look like, but, whether inside it or as an opposition to it, Sinn Féin is expected to carry on fighting against austerity and for the raft of left-leaning/environmentally friendly policies on which it fought the election, while both the big parties (FF and FG) and the smaller Greens (who have previously played ‘little brother’ in austerity-led governments) are expected to see their support bases crumble.

Momentum towards unity in the north

Another consideration that cannot ever be left out of Irish politics is the six counties in the occupied north of Ireland.

The restoration of power sharing in Stormont shows that in London the British government recognises Sinn Féin as a major power in the north. This reveals quite clearly to the people of the south that a real possibility exists of a truly all-Irish political movement that could solve problems of national interest.

The British people’s vote for Brexit, which was reiterated in both the European election of 2019 and the general election of the same year, has left the unionist parties of northern Ireland in a terrible quandary.

Farmers, landowners and the northern Irish bourgeoisie very much wanted to stay in the European Union and to carry on collecting whatever subsidies and bonuses they could get from that body, and they had to a large extent convinced many working people that their best interests also lay in this direction.

Now that Brexit of some sort is a reality, future ‘independent’ trade with the EU will be possible only in line with an as-yet-unfinalised agreement between Britain and the EU. As the fluidity of the border between the republic and northern Ireland is threatened by UK-EU spats, there is a growing realisation that abandoning Britain and falling in line behind the campaign for the reunification of Ireland led by Sinn Féin on both sides of the border is a real option that will give the Irish what some of them think they need/want, ie, remaining in the EU.

It must be said, of course, that a united Ireland inside the EU would be far preferable to a disunited Ireland half in and half out. In any case, should the Irish people achieve a united Ireland then questions of affiliation to other bodies would be questions for them and them alone.

Reunification would give the Irish people so much more than the membership of the EU dreamed of by some northern bourgeois power players, including the chance to rebuild their whole nation in the form that the majority want and releasing them from the ancient yoke of British imperialism that has weighed so heavily on the majority of them throughout their history.

It is interesting that Jonathan Powell, who once served as Tony Blair’s chief of staff, and who helped with the drawing up the Good Friday peace agreement, is on record after the 2020 Irish general election telling the BBC that he believed a united Ireland was “getting more likely all the time”.

According to a poll last September, carried out by Lord Ashcroft, there is now a small majority north of the border in favour of leaving the United Kingdom and joining the republic. This may not yet be a consistent and unstoppable movement towards a united republican Ireland but there is definitely movement.

Even former northern Ireland secretary Lord Mandelson under Tony Blair’s government has recognised what he calls the “economic gravitational pull southwards”, which he admits is only likely to grow over time. “At the heart of all this is identity,” he said, adding: “The effect of the Brexit deal is to strengthen economic links to the south and loosen political ties to Britain.”

In short, as Brexit pushes the northern Irish towards unity and therefore towards Sinn Féin, so the excellent struggle against austerity led by Sinn Féin in the south brings the masses there towards the party, too.

To paraphrase an old advert: ‘The future is bright; the future is green.’

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The anti-China coronavirus panic

What is really behind the media hysteria over Covid-19? And what can the virus tell us about the state of our NHS?

Lalkar writers

For useful context, see updated visualistions of the statistics of the Covid-19 virus on the Information is Beautiful website.

*****

A well-established feature of the influenza virus is that it mutates, and that its mutations sometimes enable it to leap from one species to another. This is something humanity has always lived with, cursed at the inconvenience, mourned the victims who die before their time and struggled manfully to find a cure for.

Until a few years ago, this was all done without panic. And until this year it was done without resorting to sheer hysteria. But times, it seems, have now changed.

Everybody is going around in facemasks, if indeed they go out at all. Shops have run out of sanitising hand gel. Schools have closed. Public gatherings, festivals and events of every kind have been cancelled, as well as people’s weddings and family holidays.

The distribution of commodities has been seriously hampered. Stock exchanges have plummeted. Businesses have gone bankrupt and their workers been made redundant. And so on and so forth.

In other words, the effects of the panic have had severe further consequences, which for very many people are far worse than catching the disease, whose death rate has been calculated at around 2 percent. The black death it is not.

For those who do catch the virus, death rates are very much lower among the healthy young and middle-aged, as the graph above shows.

Looked at soberly, one has to conclude that even of those aged 80+ who catch the disease, the overwhelming majority, 85 percent, will survive the experience.

There is, therefore, really no cause for panic. Professor Michel Chossudovsky has crunched the numbers:

“The world population is of the order of 7.8 billion.

“The population of China is of the order of 1.4 billion.

“The world population minus China is of the order of 6.4 billion.

“4,691 confirmed cases and 67 reported deaths (outside China) out of a population of 6.4 billion does not constitute a pandemic. 4,691/6,400,000,000 = 0.00000073 = 0.000073 percent.

“64 cases in the US, which has a population of approximately 330 million is not a pandemic. (Feb 28 data): 64/330,000,000 = 0.00000019 = 0.000019 percent.” (Covid-19 coronavirus: a fake pandemic? Who’s behind it? Global economic, social and geopolitical destabilisation, Global Research, 1 March 2020)

It has to be admitted that each of the confirmed cases is likely to have infected other people, who in turn will infect others, so that, just as is the case with every flu outbreak, a whole lot of people will be ill – but the vast majority will recover and, as with other types of flu, most will not require any medical treatment, except perhaps paracetamol to reduce their temperature, and will sit at home for a week or two at most to sweat it out.

However, as with other types of flu, some people will be more seriously affected and will require medical intervention, even hospitalisation. These are likely to be fewer in number than those requiring medical intervention as a result of having caught the ordinary seasonal flu – but they will of course put pressure on hospitals whose budgets have been slashed to the bone, as is the case with the NHS hospitals in Britain.

Statistics from 72,000 cases in China indicate that there is “a spectrum of disease among those infected with 14 percent severe, and 5 percent who are critically ill and need intensive care and usually mechanical ventilation.

“We have no reason to think it will be different from China in western countries.”

But the Sunday Times of 1 March 2020 which supplies these figures then goes on to add its tuppence-worth to the atmosphere of panic: “If 14 percent of those infected here develop severe disease and 5 percent of them have critical illness, this is a massive threat.” (Will I die from coronavirus?)

Of course, this depends on how many people do catch the disease, and the figures from China suggest, for example, that only 2 percent of persons aged under 40 do so. If most under-40s are not susceptible, it does indicate that even those older than that will not necessarily catch the disease, or will not catch it noticeably, even if they do come into contact with it.

In fact, in Hubei, China, where the outbreak started and is far worse than anywhere else, only one person in every 1,000 has so far caught the virus, despite the fact that it obviously emerged before any precautionary measures could be put in place.

If one person in a thousand in Britain caught it, that would amount to 60,000. Fourteen percent of these would be an extra 8,400 above the norm who would need hospital treatment.

Of course, they would not all be ill at the same time, nor would they all present themselves at the same hospital, but it is nevertheless somewhat worrying that, because of the cuts to the NHS’s clinical budget, there is a danger there will be a shortage of equipment, beds and staff to assist those who will need them.

The data from China has not prevented British health secretary Matt Hancock leaping on the scaremongers’ bandwagon and estimating, off the top of his head no doubt, that up to 80 percent of the British population could become infected! (Coronavirus updates: Infections approach 90,000 as US scrambles to slow spread, New York Times, 2 March 2020)

What could be his motivation?

In Wuhan in China, where the outbreak started, two new hospitals with 2,500 beds between them were erected from scratch in a matter of days, and army doctors were rushed in to help out the overworked locals. Unfortunately, it is difficult to imagine any country outside China, even the rich imperialist countries, being able, or even willing, to respond with the same admirable efficiency to such an emergency, were it to arise.

Understanding the problems of dealing with a sudden onrush of flu cases requiring medical attention and hospitalisation, China has taken the most drastic steps to contain the epidemic, all of which has bought time for preparations to be made to deal with the problem as and when it arises.

China has gone well above and beyond the call of duty in this respect, in particular by putting the city of Wuhan under lockdown, cancelling Chinese New Year celebrations, cutting back flights to and from Wuhan, and publishing the full genome of the new virus online to help scientists from around the world should they wish to work on developing a vaccine.

None of this can stop the virus spreading, but it can, and it has, slow down the process. The number of new cases in China has been falling steadily since mid-February.

The scaremongering is all the more incomprehensible when one considers the high number of casualties of seasonal flu that arise every winter without exciting the least interest, let alone sign of panic, in the media.

Michaela Fleming of ContagionLive.com notes: “The US centres for disease control and prevention (CDC) estimates that there have been 29 million influenza cases in the United States in the 2019-20 season …

“According to the latest FluView data, there have been 280,000 hospitalisations for influenza recorded as of 15 February 2020. This figure is consistent with hospitalisation rates at this point in time during recent seasons; however, hospitalisation rates among children and young adults are considered higher than in recent seasons.

“The CDC also indicates that mortality related to pneumonia and influenza has been low during this respiratory virus season. So far, there have been 16,000 flu-related deaths documented during the US influenza season. Of these, there have been 105 influenza-associated deaths among children.”

Sixteen thousand flu related deaths is considered ‘low’, yet there is a major panic over 67 coronavirus deaths, even though the coronavirus appears mostly to be attacking the elderly and leaving children alone.

China-bashing

The major reason for the scaremongering is the opportunity it affords to imperialism to demonise China.

In spite of China’s heroic efforts to halt the spread of the virus, all the bourgeois media are unanimous in condemning China for the very fact that it has arisen in that country. It is all because they eat wild animals, we are told – but the Chinese have been doing this for years and it has not previously had the effect of releasing mutated viruses.

Then it is claimed the Wuhan authorities failed to act promptly when warned by one doctor that an epidemic could ensue. This may possibly be true, but any authority anywhere in the world would take a cautious approach before taking the radical steps that were in the event taken very shortly afterwards.

When steps were taken, however, they were much more radical than would have been taken anywhere else in the world.

However, the imperialist countries of the US, the European Union and Japan, buffeted by a general crisis of overproduction that periodically breaks out into catastrophic financial crises, desperately want to suppress the rise of China, which is threatening to defeat them in the battle of competition as a result of their having for decades, in pursuit of maximum profit, exported so much of their capital to low-cost countries and allowed their own productive economies to be neglected.

China’s competitiveness is a severe threat to what remains of the imperialists’ home industry, and to maintain their domination and privilege in the world it is becoming more and more urgent that China should be quashed.

Hence the rush to take advantage of the golden opportunity offered by the happenstance of a new flu virus emerging in China.

Hence the complete lack of any gratitude for the huge sacrifices China has made and continues to make to try to contain the virus as much as possible and limit its spread out of the country.

Making a killing

Meanwhile, the billionaires are minting it.

Michel Chossudovsky considers that not only is coronavirus being used as an instrument for China-bashing, but also that it is being deliberately played up in order to manipulate investment markets in such a way as to enable the rich and powerful to enrich themselves further at the expense of smaller investors and pension funds.

He has drawn attention to some very curious facts.

“On 18 October 2019, the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, Baltimore undertook a carefully designed simulation of a coronavirus epidemic entitled nCoV-2019 …

“In the Event 201 Simulation of a Coronavirus Pandemic, a 15 percent collapse of financial markets had been ‘simulated’. It was not ‘predicted’ according to the organisers and sponsors of the event, which included the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as well as the World Economic Forum.

“The simulation conducted in October entitled nCoV-2019 was undertaken barely two months before the outbreak of Covid-19.

“The John Hopkins pandemic exercise simulated a stock market decline of ‘15 percent or more’ … which largely corresponds to the real market decline registered in late February 2020.

“Many features of the ‘simulation exercise’ do in fact correspond to what actually happened when the World Health Organisation (WHO) director general launched a global public health emergency on 30 January 2020.

“What must be understood is that the sponsors of the John Hopkins ‘simulation exercise’ are powerful and knowledgeable actors respectively in the areas of ‘global health’ (B and M Gates Foundation) and ‘global economy’ (WEF).

“Forearmed with the knowledge of the outcome of the ‘simulation’, the hedge funds in the know are in a position to make some real money:

“It’s a bonanza for institutional speculators, including corporate hedge funds. The financial meltdown has led to sizeable transfers of money wealth into the pockets of a handful of financial institutions …

“The market was carefully manipulated by powerful actors using speculative instruments in the market for derivatives, including ‘short-selling’.

“The unspoken objective is the concentration of wealth. It was a financial bonanza for those who had ‘inside information’ or ‘foreknowledge’.” (Op cit)

Sober precautions

In the meantime, although panic should be avoided, it is undoubtedly the case that the new coronavirus is more dangerous than normal seasonal flu, and it makes sense to take reasonable precautions to limit its spread, such as frequent handwashing and avoiding touching one’s face.

People who have cold or flu-like symptoms that would not normally have prevented them from going to work should stay at home to avoid sharing their germs with others as they might have done in the past, as also should the people who share their home.

This will mean quite severe economic dislocation, meaning that there will be a slowdown in the production and distribution of commodities, including the most necessary ones, and no doubt price rises all round.

However, this economic dislocation will obviously be infinitely worse if perfectly healthy people are too frightened to go to work as a result of exaggerated panic.

Therefore, in the interests of society at large, people should Keep Calm and Carry On in accordance with the best British tradition, and rally around to use their best endeavours to ensure that as far as possible Britain remains open for business as usual.

However, they are bound to take account of certain lessons that are screaming out loud as a result of this experience.

The first is to note how the creeping privatisation of the National Health Service is putting lives at risk.

The second is how a country like China, which still maintains a powerful public sector despite the plethora of privatisations associated with ‘reform and opening up’, is able to take timely and sweeping measures to protect the public, including the building and staffing of two huge hospitals in the space of a fortnight.

The third is how contrary to the public interest are the privatisations taking place in capitalist countries like Britain, which benefit billionaires at the expense of ordinary people.

The drive towards privatisation of public services in capitalist countries is the result of the generalised crisis of capitalism, in which those who control capital find it difficult to find profitable avenues of investment and therefore demand the opening up to their depredations of services that are more effectively provided by the public sector.

All this amounts to a call to the workers of every country to fulfil their historic mission of overthrowing the capitalist system so that a rational system of central economic planning for the maximisation of benefit to the masses of the people can take over at long last.

Posted in China, Health0 Comments

Syria: New Russian base equivalent to Hmeimim Airport

A military base equivalent to the Hmeimim Airbase in northeastern Syria has been revealed by satellite images, the Russian aviation publication Avia.Pro reported.

“Russia has begun to establish in Syria its largest new military air base, which is said to be equipped no less than the Hmeimim Airport, and this has already been confirmed by satellite imagery,” Avia.Pro reported after posting a picture of the Qamishli Airport.

Avia Pro

According to Avia.Pro, the Russian military is converting the Qamishli Airport in northeastern Syria as their main installation in that part of the country.

“According to information sources, the latest Russian military airbase in the city of Qamishli, located in the northern part of Syria, has already been prepared for the reception of combat aircraft and helicopters. At the present, Pantsir-S modern air defense systems are located here, capable of repulsing not only airstrikes, but also cruise missile attacks, and it was also reported that Tor air defense systems were deployed here, which indicates that Russia was prepared in case any attack from outside,” they continued.

AVia.

“In the satellite images presented, which are for the first time showing the VKS military base, you can see that at least four military helicopters currently located at Qamishli Airport, although earlier Su-25 attack aircraft and Il-76 military transport aircraft were landing here,” Avia.Pro added.

The Russian military was given control of the Qamishli Airport by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) after an agreement was made with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to give them access to several areas in northeastern Syria.

Posted in Russia, Syria0 Comments

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