Archive | August 10th, 2018

Toward a New Vision for the Palestine Solidarity Movement

Toward a New Vision for the Palestine Solidarity Movement
Toward a New Vision for the Palestine Solidarity Movement

By: Brandon Do

“For 70 years Israel has been the biggest purveyor of war and chaos in what colonizers termed as the “Middle East.”

May 15th, 2018, referred to as Nakba Day by the Palestinian people, marked the 70th anniversary of the ethnic cleansing of over 700,000 Palestinians from their homeland by what would become the State of Israel. In demonstration against Israel’s ongoing theft of land and systematic genocide of the Palestinian people, the Great March of Return that began on March 30th served as a testament to the native Palestinian peoples’ striving for a future without occupation, a future in which they can determine their own destiny. Israel responded by gunning down hundreds of demonstrators.

This crackdown on the Great March of Return generated international protest, most notably from the football star, Lionel Messi, who refused to compete in an exhibition match with Israel set to take place in a stadium that was built on top of a demolished Palestinian village . However, the violence of Israel was also met with overwhelming support from the United States. On May 14th, as children were being slaughtered by the Israeli state, the United States initiated the move of its embassy to Jerusalem, bringing to fruition the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 , which recognized the ancient city as the State of Israel’s capital and set aside funds for the relocation of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The Palestine Solidarity Movement: Pitfalls and Potential

In light of the United States’ key role in support of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, the Palestine solidarity movement in America has immense potential. Its young organizers possess the determination needed to wage a struggle against the causes of war and poverty, and the moral courage to stand with the world’s oppressed and exploited masses.

However, this movement all too often has divorced itself from the global struggle for peace and, to its own detriment, has yet to confront Zionism for its pivotal role in securing the interests of U.S. imperialism beyond Palestine. This was most notable when the non-profit driven sector of the Palestine solidarity movement alignedwith the interests of Israel and threw its support behind Western intervention to overthrow the Syrian government. This came at a moment when the United States was threatening to implement a no-fly zone over Syria, which aimed to provoke war with Russia and had the potential to result in a nuclear catastrophe.

“The creation of Israel was a strategic move of Western imperialism against the civilizations of Pan-Africa and Pan-Asia..”

Ending the occupation is often reduced to a question of national liberation. However, this conception of Palestine as an issue separate from the need for a world movement for peace fails to confront the foundations of Israel and its role in imperialism. Thus, it does not have the capacity to truly free Palestine and humanity as a whole, both of which are threatened daily with extinction by the American war machine.

The creation of Israel was not simply an effort to subordinate Arabs to Jews in Palestine, but, most importantly, it was a strategic move of Western imperialism against the civilizations of Pan-Africa and Pan-Asia.Theodore Herzl, the founder of Zionism, states clearly in his 1896 pamphlet , “The Jewish State”:

“Supposing His Majesty the Sultan were to give us Palestine, we could in return undertake to regulate the whole finances of Turkey. We should there form a portion of the ram­part of Europe against Asia, an outpost of civilisation as opposed to barbarism. We should, as a neutral State, remain in contact with all Europe, which would have to guarantee our existence.”

Herzl even accepted a British government proposal to settle Jews in Uganda in 1903, which was one of a number of locations—along with North Africa and Angola—that the World Zionist Organization considered for a Jewish state. After Israel was formed in Palestine, it served as “the northern flank against African liberation movements, and as a base against Soviet support to these struggles.”

Toward a New Vision for the Palestine Solidarity Movement

Zionism serves the ruling class’ interest in partitioning the continents of Africa and Asia for the exploitation of their people and theft of their resources. For 70 years Israel has been the biggest purveyor of war and chaos in what colonizers termed as the “Middle East.”

“Israel served as ‘the northern flank against African liberation movements, and as a base against Soviet support to these struggles.’”

Although ambitious campaigns have recently been launched in America in the name of Black and Palestinian solidarity, none have unveiled the true nature of the State of Israel and Palestine’s connection with the struggle of oppressed people worldwide. For this young movement to advance to a stage where it can truly threaten Israel’s foundation, it must understand Zionism for what it is—an attack on the unity of the civilizations of Asia and Africa in the interests of capitalist gain.

Operating from within the center of the global war machine, the Palestine solidarity movement in America must build principled unity with Black America and the immigrant and white working class in order to expose the lies of imperialist propaganda. By building a united front that recognizes the centrality of ideological struggle on the question of war and peace inside and outside of Palestine, the Palestine solidarity movement in America will be able to develop a greater understanding of the world in order to change it.

Ideological Clarity in the Anti-Imperialist Struggle for Peace

Political education is central in our struggle for freedom. George Habash, the founder of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), highlighted the importance of raising the Arab world’s consciousness in order to wage a united struggle against Zionism. The PFLP, a Marxist-Leninist organization, was founded in 1967 in the wake of the Six-Day War in which Israel captured the West Bank in Palestine, the Golan Heights in Syria, and the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt.

The PFLP stands today as the most ideologically clear organization in the Palestinian liberation movement. This clarity is exemplified in its rejection of the concessions made by the Arab misleadership class, which has supported so-called “peace” agreements with Israel. These agreements have allowed the forces of occupation to extend deeper into Palestine and diminished the chances of Palestinian liberation.

In his 2000 article , “Palestine Between Dreams and Reality,” Habash identified the partitioning of Asia and Africa as the driving motive behind the creation of Israel: “A Zionist state would serve colonial interests by acting as a wall dividing the Arab East on the Asian continent from the Arab west in Africa, and as a police station securing the passage to India, the pearl in the British crown.”

The PFLP’s historical materialist analysis of Israel identifies the partitioning of the Arab world as a key maneuver in the larger imperialist division scheme of Asian and African civilizations. This method of analysis also allows the organization to deliver a critique of those who obscure the reality of class contradictions within Palestine and the complicity of Palestinians who sell out their own people to Zionism. Habash and the PFLP have understood that the enemies of the people are not defined by color or nationality, but, rather, by where they stand in relation to imperialism.

“By keeping the majority of humanity partitioned into superficially independent states, European and American imperialists are able to extract surplus profits from the working people of Asia and Africa.”

Imperialism cannot be understood today without reference to what Ghanaian revolutionary Kwame Nkrumah called neo-colonialism, or imperialism’s desperate effort to “export the social conflicts of capitalist countries” to the formerly colonized world, which is now symbolically free but enslaved in reality. Neo-colonialism trades direct domination for an illusion of sovereignty while maintaining economic dominance over the world’s majority. This last and most dangerous stage of imperialism manifests itself in the form of constant warfare which aims to partition “former” colonies in order to make them subservient to the Western world. These wars have the grave potential to escalate into catastrophic war between nuclear powers.

Building on Lenin’s analysis of imperialism as the highest stage of capitalism characterized by war, economic depression, and the formation of a rich oligarchy that exerts its dominance over the economies of the non-Western world, Nkrumah traces the root of neo-colonialism to the partitioning of Asia and Africa into small states entirely dependent on the capital and resources of neo-colonial economies.

By keeping the majority of humanity partitioned into superficially independent states, European and American imperialists are able to extract surplus profits from the working people of Asia and Africa. To ideologically fortify this imperial project after the Second World War, this stolen value has been used to buy off various pockets of the working class in the form of the welfare state . While these workers are themselves dominated by capitalists, they become more likely to strike a compromise with the bosses when bribed with the fruits of imperialist profits.

Israel Is a Neo-Colonial Force Inside and Outside Palestine

By understanding Lenin’s concept of stages of capitalism, we can trace capitalism’s transformation into imperialism and imperialism’s transition to neo-colonialism as its last and most insidious stage. Created at the demise of the colonial era, Israel—itself a creation of the colonial powers—was able to leech off the legacy of colonialism and develop into a neo-colonial force in its own right.

Since its formation, Israel has taken up the task of dividing Western Asia and Northern Africa by fueling wars within the region in order to put more money into the pockets of imperialists. After Britain’s massive post-World War II debt and defeat by the Indian independence movement in 1947, the State of Israel was founded the following year in 1948. This was an attempt by the ruling class to re-consolidate colonial power after a devastating loss in India, Britain’s most prized possession. The 1949 Armistice Agreement and the Tripartite Declaration of 1950 gave the West Bank and Gaza to the British-aligned Egyptian and Jordanian governments, and allowed Palestine’s natural resources to flow freely into the hands of Israel and Europe.

Israel’s footprints of terror can be seen all over Africa and Asia. In North Africa, Israel played a key role in partitioning Sudan and encouraging Christians and Muslims to murder each other while Israeli firms smuggled gold and uranium to the occupied territories. This adds to Israel’s ongoing robbery in Africa, which was also carried out in the diamond mines of the Congo and Angola.

In addition, Israel fuels wars throughout Western Asia and Northern Africa, and pushes the world toward a nuclear war by threatening to overthrow the government of Iran . The divide and conquer strategy of Israel is evident in its alliance with Saudi Arabia and wars against Syria , Libya, Iraq, and Lebanon. All of these actions highlight Israel’s role as a weapon of neo-colonialism, the last stage of imperialism.

“Israel’s footprints of terror can be seen all over Africa and Asia.”

George Habash stated that the true enemy of the Palestinians is not just the State of Israel, but American imperialism, whose interests are protected by Zionism. Israel’s development into a neo-colonial apparatus was exemplified in 1993 by the signing of the Oslo Accords, which created the Palestinian Authority , a crypto-Zionist front—with an Arab face—whose purpose is to carry out the work of Israel. The Oslo Accords were signed two years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the biggest supporter of the Palestinian liberation movement and, in Nkrumah’s words, the force that made it impossible for the imperialists to “enforce the full rigor of the neo-colonialist system.”

Just like neo-colonialism strengthens its ideological counterrevolution by propping up Black leaders in Africa and the United States, Israel does the same with Arab figureheads in Palestine and the Palestine solidarity movement, a move that has diminished the cohesion of the resistance among the representation-intoxicated American left. Israel directly profits from a Palestinian labor force that is maintained with the help of the Arab misleadership class. This use of identity politics allows Israel to disguise its neocolonial violence with the illusion of Arab sovereignty.

Identifying the Enemy: The Struggle for Unity Across the Color Line and the Collapse of Empire

In the United States today, we see the effects of neo-colonialism in the exploitation of immigrants as a cheap labor force. Immigrant labor is converted into profits and used to further gentrify and police poor and historically working class Black communities, such as those of North and West Philadelphia.

The use of one group of oppressed people as a weapon against another is a strategy that is implemented throughout neo-colonial states and is also used to burn bridges between the multi-racial working class in America. In Palestine, this strategy can be seen in Israel’s policy of recruiting Ethiopian migrants to fuel the occupation by joining the Israel Defense Forces.

Many immigrants flee countries whose politics and economy have been all but destroyed by imperialism and come to the United States in search of a more stable living situation. However, the anti-blackness indoctrinated into immigrants by ruling class propaganda prevents them from seeing their connection with the Black working class, the descendants of enslaved Africans whom W.E.B. Du Bois called the “foundation stone” of global capitalism. This keeps the masses fighting amongst each other and lets the capitalists who exploit both groups off the hook. Thus, the struggle of uniting across the color line to defeat racism becomes one with the struggle to defeat imperialism, whose effects are visible not only in Africa and Asia, but also in the streets of America’s collapsing Empire.

“The wealth of the imperial powers is built on the starvation of the darker peoples of the world, including the dark poor and working class in the United States.”

In his forthcoming introduction to the French translation of Huey P. Newton’s Revolutionary Suicide, Ahmad Sa’adat, the incarcerated Secretary General of the PFLP, writes :

“Today, when we look at the Black Liberation movement or the Indigenous and Native struggle in the United States and Canada, we are talking about the same camp of enemy that we confront in occupied Palestine. The bullets that assassinated Malcolm X or Fred Hampton could have been used to kill Ghassan Kanafani or Khaled Nazzal or Mahmoud Hamshari, and today we see the same tear gas and bullets shipped around the world for use against the people.”

This is not just a metaphor, but a testament to the material connection between Israel and imperialism. The wealth of the imperial powers is built on the starvation of the darker peoples of the world, including the dark poor and working class in the United States. It is no coincidence that within the same time frame of Operation Cast Lead and Operation Protective Edge, during which Israel used the world’s most advanced military weapons to murder Palestinians by the thousands, the rate of child hunger in Black North Philadelphia rose by over 300 percent . What ties humanity together in a single garment of destiny is the responsibility we have to defeat our common enemy in the struggle to free humanity as a whole.

Neo-colonialism’s search for new, more insidious ways to exploit indicates a dying system. In his 1947 book The World and Africa, Du Bois predicted that the collapse of European civilization would create the conditions for the freedom of humanity. With the chaos among European nations today, exemplified by Britain’s exit from the European Union, and the crisis facing United States imperialism under Trump, Europe’s collapse and the rise of humanity is closer than ever.

A Vision Forward: The World and Palestine, Palestine and the World

The paramount task of the Palestine solidarity movement is to unite the people under the common objective of defeating imperialism to attain world peace, which is characterized not by the absence of tension, but the presence of justice . It is about identifying the main cause of human suffering so that we can know the correct path of struggle, rather than attacking a symptom of the system at the cost of coming to a correct analysis of its root cause.

In prioritizing political education, it is also crucial to understand the purpose of miseducation: to make the people believe that their enemies are their friends, and their friends are their enemies. To accurately grasp the stage of history we are situated in today is to know our enemies and their weak points, and to know who our allies are so that we can forge a clear path forward in our struggle against the ruling class.

Ignoring Israel’s direct role in carrying out the work of the U.S. war machine will come at the cost of separating the Palestine solidarity movement from its connection with the complete liberation of humanity from imperialism. Rather than a surface-level solidarity based on an oppressed identity, we must build a unity of humankind against the forces of imperialism that seek to destroy the world’s civilizations for wealth and power.

“George Habash, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Kwame Nkrumah, who all asserted that the future of humanity ultimately rests in the hands of the darker peoples of the world.”

Immigrants in the United States who are taught to abandon their own anti-colonial struggles for assimilation into the white world must reject the American Dream and side with Black America against the capitalists who exploit them both. By doing so, they will break the psychological chains of white supremacy and overturn the system that creates the ideological conditions for Israeli neo-colonialism to thrive in America and Palestine. To do this, we cannot see Palestine as an issue unto itself. We must strive to develop a dialectical understanding of Palestine and the world, and the world and Palestine.

We can begin by anchoring ourselves in the tradition of resistance put forth by George Habash, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Kwame Nkrumah, who all asserted that the future of humanity ultimately rests in the hands of the darker peoples of the world. It is a tradition that exposes the propaganda of the ruling class that teaches young people they are powerless against the war-machine, and that their only “way out” is to exploit their brothers and sisters in the name of the American Dream rather than struggle to change society. It is the cure for the pessimism that permeates Western culture and poisons movements fighting to build a vision for humanity to overcome the “triple evils ” of poverty, racism, and war. This heroic spirit of the Palestinian and Black Radical Traditions lives on in everyday people, and we struggle to keep it alive by following their example.

By embracing our shared destiny with Black America and those living under the degradation of imperialism worldwide, the Palestine solidarity movement in the United States will say that a free Palestine is possible, and that with struggle, we can restore humanity back to its rightful place, where the civilizations of the world are once again united and no longer living under the threat of invasion, partitioning, and mass exploitation.

This tradition instills within our souls a great sense of humility and revolutionary sacrifice that is born out of an unconditional love for the people—a love that understands why people are the way they are but also realizes the potential of who they can become. We must strive to lead humanity out of the darkness of imperialism until not one child remains hungry, until not one child has to endure another war, whether that child be in North Philadelphia or Palestine.

Black Alliance for Peace Condemns Slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza

African Refugees Get No Reprieve from Israel’s Racist Rage

Freedom Rider: Israeli Meddling and Palestinian Death

If This Happened in Alabama There Would Be Uproar: In Israel, it’s the Norm

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Modi Raj Has Become Mob Rule: Save India from the Modi Mobs


On July 20, the Modi government faced its first no-confidence motion in Parliament. While the government easily won the vote with a comfortable majority, the debate left the government badly exposed. Even the voting pattern signalled an adverse realignment of forces for the Modi regime. The motion was moved by the TDP which was a major ally of the BJP till recently. Another long-standing NDA constituent, Shiv Sena, also chose to walk out, threatening to sever its ties with the NDA in the next elections. Of course, two parties that were not part of the NDA in 2014 – the JD(U) of Bihar and AIADMK of Tamil Nadu – are now with the BJP, but the latter knows it very well that both these parties are hugely discredited in their respective states and their real current electoral worth could be anybody’s guess.

Rahul Gandhi and a few other opposition speakers raised a number of important issues about the betrayal and non-performance of the regime, about the unabashed crony capitalism and exponentially increasing corruption and unemployment, about the deepening agrarian crisis and the ubiquitous lynch mobs. But the government had no answer to any of these specific issues. Taken aback by the unexpected Rahul Gandhi hug, Modi devoted much of his speech to the opposition and Rahul Gandhi, his hug and the subsequent wink, and even mimicking Sonia Gandhi’s accent, in what must be regarded as an all-time low in parliamentary debates.

Modi termed the no-confidence motion, a key instrument of debate for the opposition in a parliamentary democracy, an act of arrogance on the part of the opposition. He even prayed to God to give the opposition the strength to bring another no-confidence motion in 2024. To accuse the opposition of arrogance for doing its job of holding the government accountable is itself an unmistakable expression of arrogance. It is with this customary arrogance that Modi has never held a single press conference during his tenure so far nor has he bothered to attend and answer Parliament on important questions the country wanted an answer from him. In fact, more often than not he has bypassed the cabinet and used his own office as the sole decision-making authority even on disastrous experiments like demonetization.

The no-confidence motion debate happened in the shadow of a series of mob lynching episodes. In Hapur, the country had witnessed the most disturbing image of open partnership between the lynch mob and the police as farmer Mohammad Qasim was beaten to death while guarding his field and dragged along the road and stuffed in a police vehicle. In Medinipur in West Bengal, in a rally of the Prime Minister, we saw the mob beating up a policeman in uniform. And just a couple of days before the debate in Parliament, when the Supreme Court expressed grave concern over the growing incidence of lynching attacks and asked governments to stop lynching, we saw youth wing members of the ruling party beat up the octogenarian saffron clad Swami Agnivesh.

If anything, India wanted an assurance from the powers against this descent of constitutional democracy into mobocracy. But what the country got was yet another loaded whataboutery from the Union Home Minister who reminded us that mob-lynching had been happening before and that the 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom was the biggest instance of mob lynching. Earlier we saw 1984 being bracketed with Gujarat 2002 and indeed both are instances of not just lynch mob violence but of a veritable state-sponsored genocide where till date we have got almost no justice. What we are witnessing now is an epidemic, a normalisation of mob lynching as a national sport being played out round the year across the country where any citizen could be encircled and killed on any pretext, with Muslims, Dalits, poor women and known dissenting voices being the softest and most lynchable targets. And this mob is not operating in a vacuum, it is operating with full assurance of impunity for we have a government that both facilitates and felicitates lynching.

What Rajnath Singh told Parliament did not convey any assurance to stop mob lynching, rather it amounted to a spine-chilling threat where we are just expected to keep counting the lynch victims till some statistical parity is achieved with 1984. No wonder, soon after the Parliament debate we had another brutal incident of lynching in BJP-ruled Rajasthan, with Modi Minister Meghwal describing the growing incidence of lynching cases as a reaction to Modi’s increasing popularity, apparently trying to suggest that the lynching cases are being blown out of proportion to defame Modi!

Reassuringly for India and Indian democracy, the people are not taking things lying down. Even as Parliament was debating the no-confidence motion, thousands of peasants from Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana passed their own no-confidence motion against the Modi government outside on Parliament Street, calling the bluff of Modi’s MSP grandiloquence. On the same day the workers of Delhi were also on strike, marching on the streets demanding minimum wages, confirmed jobs and social security. As the stage is set for the forthcoming electoral showdown, the country must get ready to deliver another 1977-type verdict to end the disaster called the Modi regime.

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Modi Rule Is Mob Rule

Modi Rule Is Mob Rule

Union Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal said after Rakbar Khan’s lynching in Alwar in July 2018, “As Modiji becomes more popular, such incidents will take place. When Bihar elections happened, we had award wapsi… When UP elections came, mob lynching happened. Now 2019 elections are about to take place and again, something will happen. Incidents of intolerance will take place.” Meghwal’s statement underlines that the “mob” and Modi-Raj are linked to each other, and mob-lynching is not ‘anarchy’ so much as lynching planned and sponsored by the Sangh and the BJP Governments. The “mob” is not spontaneous – it is mobilised by the Sangh.

Meghwal, of course, suggests that Muslims get themselves lynched to embarrass the Modi Government, but he does indicate a fact – that lynchings intensify as elections approach, since the Sangh hopes to polarise the electorate and use anti-Muslim hate to consolidate Hindu votes for Modi and BJP.

Today, with the Modi Government in power, lynch mob killings have become a terrifying new “normal.” Every other day, there is news of people – mostly Muslims, sometimes Dalits, sometimes women or the mentally ill, sometimes a tourist or traveler who looks ‘different’, always innocents – being lynched by mobs. The pretext is ‘cow protection’, ‘love jehad’ or ‘child-lifting’. Always, the mobs have been instigated (by social media messages and hate-mongers in real life).

There is deathly silence from the Prime Minister on this spate of lynch mob murders. Not once does he use his voice or his Mann Ki Baat platform to appeal to citizens not to believe rumours instigating panic and hate, not to be part of lynch mobs; or to instruct the police to act against instigators of lynch mobs and peddlers of hateful fake news. Instead, he and his Ministers follow hate-mongers on Twitter, repeat Islamophobic lies, and garland members of lynch mobs.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh, replying to questions on lynch mobs in Parliament, said that the massacre of Sikhs in 1984 by Congress-instigated mobs was the biggest instance of mob lynching. CPI(ML) General Secretary Comrade Dipankar responded to this by spelling out the subtext of Singh’s statement: “1984 was the biggest instance of #MobLynching, but it didn’t last long and not many could participate in it. So we’ve made it a permanent pan-India tournament where every local team can display its strength without any fear.”

Supreme Court Condemns ‘Rising Intolerance’

In July 2018, the Supreme Court gave a landmark judgement ordering Governments to act to prevent incidents of mob lynching. The judgement observes that “Rising intolerance and growing polarisation expressed through spate of incidents of mob violence cannot be permitted to become the normal way of life or the normal state of law and order in the country.” When intellectuals and artists returned state awards in 2015 to protest intolerance in the wake of the Dadri lynching, Modi’s Minister Arun Jaitley had accused them of “manufactured rebellion” and “ideological intolerance against Narendra Modi” and had declared that there was no growing intolerance in India. The Government’s “pet” media channels coined #AwardWapsiGang as a term of abuse. Pro-Sangh intellectuals like Aupam Kher led marches branding the “award wapsi” intellectuals who “coined the term ‘growing intolerance’” of wanting to “defame India.” Now the Supreme Court of India by noting that “rising intolerance” is responsible for lynch mob violence, has given a moral boost to the movement against mob lynching.

The SC verdict, noting that “the State has a sacrosanct duty to protect its citizens from unruly elements and perpetrators of orchestrated lynching”, and that “inertia of the law enforcing machinery to prevent such crimes and nip them in the bud and grandstanding of the incident by the perpetrators of the crimes including in the social media aggravates the entire problem,” asked Parliament to consider enacting a law against mob lynching. While the SC is right in stating that the State squarely bears responsibility for incidents of mob violence, it is doubtful if a new law is the answer when the problem is that ruling politicians from the PM downwards patronize lynch mobs and encourage them by assuring them of total impunity from all laws.

Neither does the answer lie in a crackdown on social media, as threatened by Rajnath Singh. The BJP Government may use the spate of mob lynching incidents as an excuse to crackdown on citizens’ use of social media, which is the only antidote to the “Godi Media” cheerleaders of the Government. But the fact is that the Government chooses not only not to act against serial purveyors of hateful fake news calling for genocide of minorities, the Prime Minister himself actually patronizes these by inviting them to tea parties and following them on Twitter.

Command Hate Crimes

Harsh Mander has, rightly, described the phenomenon of lynch mobs as “command hate crime”, stressing “first, that these are hate crimes, not ordinary mob violence, as these mostly target identified minority communities and disadvantaged castes. And second, that these crimes are tacitly or openly encouraged by senior leaders of the political establishment.” The Supreme Court verdict also notes that “Hate crimes as a product of intolerance, ideological dominance and prejudice result in “a reign of terror.”

Rajnath Singh told Parliament that he had no data on lynch mob violence. Shame on his office, because the data is available and tells a disturbing story. IndiaSpend analysis of data on mob hate crimes in the name of ‘cow protection’ shows that in 2018, 93% of the victims were Muslim; in such incidents between 2010-2018, 56% victims were Muslim and 11% were Dalit, while the social profile of 20% was unknown. The data also shows that between 2010-2014 there were only stray incidents, few and far between. 97% of the incidents have taken place since the Modi Government took power. The number of such incidents are increasing at a frightening pace: there were 3 incidents, 11 victims and no deaths in 2014, 12 incidents, 48 victims and 10 deaths in 2015; 24 incidents, 58 victims and 8 deaths in 2016, 37 incidents, 152 victims and 11 deaths in 2017. Half the incidents have taken place in BJP-ruled states. This data breakup makes it clear that lynchings in the name of the cow are hate crimes targeted against Muslim minorities, as lynchings in the Jim Crow era in the US were targeted hate crimes against African American people. It also makes it clear that the Modi Government and BJP rule is the key factor in catalyzing the exponential rise in lynch mob violence.

Supreme Court Guidelines

The Supreme Court said it would not refer to any specific case since lynching “has become a sweeping phenomenon with a far-reaching impact.” It issued detailed guidelines to prevent incidents of lynchings, directing State Governments to appoint a Nodal Officer in each district “to procure intelligence reports about the people who are likely to commit such crimes or who are involved in spreading hate speeches, provocative statements and fake news” and to “make efforts to eradicate hostile environment against any community or caste which is targeted in such incidents.” It also directs Central and the State Governments to “broadcast on radio and television and other media platforms” against lynching and mob violence. It also puts the onus on the Central Government to “issue appropriate directions/advisories to the State Governments which would reflect the gravity and seriousness of the situation and the measures to be taken.”

The verdict also outlines remedial measures in case incidents of mob violence have taken place. While the police must file an FIR and prepare a chargesheet without delay, it must also inform the Nodal Officer who must “ensure that there is no further harassment of the family members of the victim(s)” and personally monitor the investigations. The verdict also directs State Governments to “prepare a lynching/mob violence victim compensation scheme in the light of the provisions of Section 357A of CrPC within one month” from the date of the judgment. The verdict makes it clear that “In the said scheme for computation of compensation, the State Governments shall give due regard to the nature of bodily injury, psychological injury and loss of earnings including loss of opportunities of employment and education and expenses incurred on account of legal and medical expenses,” and that the scheme must have a “provision for interim relief to be paid to the victim(s) or to the next of kin of the deceased within a period of thirty days of the incident of mob violence/lynching.”

The verdict also sets down the punitive measures for authorities who fail to act against lynch mobs. If a police officer or officer of the district administration fails to comply with the verdict’s directions “to prevent and/or investigate and/or facilitate expeditious trial of any crime of mob violence and lynching,” the failure should be treated as an act of negligence and/or misconduct and punished accordingly.

Attack on Swami Agnivesh

On the very day the Supreme Court has come down strongly on the Government of India and State Governments for allowing a veritable mob lynching epidemic in India, a mob of BJP Yuva Morcha thugs attacked the 80-year-old anti-communal and human rights campaigner Swami Agnivesh in Pakur in Jharkhand.

CP Singh, a senior Minister in the BJP’s Jharkhand Government, justified the attack on Agnivesh, saying, “As far as I know, Swami Agnivesh is a person who survives on foreign donations. The saffron dress that he wears is to deceive the simple Indians. He is a fraud and not a Swami. He had himself planned this attack to gain popularity.” For BJP, saffron robes must be reserved for fascist hate-mongers and thugs, not for Swamis who speak up for peace, justice and equality! It enrages the BJP that Agnivesh wears saffron robes while being a vocal defender of human rights and secular, anti-caste values.

Meanwhile the Modi Government is proposing to prepare a cadre of 10 lakh youth in the name of having a “disciplined” and nationalist “force of youth”. Such a proposal, seen in the light of mob violence by Sangh-BJP “youth” organisations like BJP Yuva Morcha, Hindu Yuva Vahini, Bajrang Dal and the various Gau Raksha Dals, sounds ominously like the notorious fascist militias of Hitler and Mussolini.

Garlanding The Goons

In all the lynchings since 2014, a conviction was achieved only in a single case: the Ramgarh case in which Alimuddin Ansari was killed. The rare conviction was achieved when a Fast Track court convicted 11 men of the murder including a local BJP leader Nityanand Mahto. Ansari was lynched on the very day that Modi had made his only statement on lynchings, making a distinction between real and fake Gau Rakshaks.

Almost immediately after the conviction, BJP leaders swung into action to try and undo this aberrant smidgen of justice. Union Minister in the Modi Cabinet Jayant Sinha did what his J&K counterparts did to defend the rape-murder accused in the Kathua case: demand a CBI enquiry, and extend legal support. He told the media in April 2018, a couple of weeks after the men were convicted, “I firmly believe that complete justice has not been done. I am not a police officer, and I have not done a detailed inquiry, but as per my understanding, complete justice has not been done. I consulted senior lawyers and also took advice from the party (BJP) on the matter. I have decided to write to the (Jharkhand) chief minister (Raghubar Das), requesting him to recommend a CBI probe.” Jayant Sinha had competition: three former BJP MLAs and local saffron groups, seeking to win favour with party high-ups, started a dharna and ‘Tricolour Yatra’ (again, Kathua style) demanding a CBI or NIA inquiry into the Alimuddin Ansari lynching case. These men gave statements suggesting that they and not Sinha were really working to free the accused.

On July 30, a Bench of the Jharkhand High Court shockingly not only granted bail to 8 of the convicts but also suspended their sentence during the pendency of their appeal. When the 8 came out of jail, Jayant Sinha’s men made sure that none but Sinha could claim ‘credit’ for the ‘victory’: they greeted the 8 and took them straight to Sinha’s house where he posed with them, garlanding them and feeding them sweets.

When outrage broke out against this act, Sinha claimed he had just been working for ‘justice’ and ‘due process of law.’ He has, however, never met Mariam Khatoon, wife of the victim Alimuddin Ansari, even once nor expressed legal or moral support for her cause.

The convicts got bail in the HC on the grounds that they were just part of the mob. Columnist Tavleen Singh, who had sharply criticized Sinha’s move initially, tweeted “After tweeting against Jayant Sinha for garlanding a lynch mob I have come upon new information. The court order releasing the men on bail says they were in the mob but not involved in the lynching. In my view he should have stayed away in any case.” What to make of this defence of the men Sinha garlanded?

For killers, there is safety in numbers: if a mob killed a man, it is difficult to pin specific responsibility for murder on individual men, since each can claim someone else was the killer. In a court of law, they may thus escape on a technicality. But the thing about mobs is that it is those who are ‘merely present in the mob’ who actually enable the killers to kill. The mob’s menacing violence provides the “chakravyuh” (defensive formation) that traps the victim and prevents rescue. What exactly was BJP leader Nityanand Mahto doing in the mob? Sure, maybe it was not him who was up front dealing the fatal blow: as a leader he would be directing the operation and getting his minions to do the deed. Did he call the police or use his influence to try to rescue the victim? Clearly not. Morally therefore, he (and the other members of the mob) have Alimuddin Ansari’s blood on their hands. Jayant Sinha and the BJP have been saying that Ansari was killed by the police in their custody, not by the mob. In a state ruled by their own party, why then has no action been taken to identify the allegedly guilty policemen and act against them!

Leaders Who Love Lynchers

Sinha is no exception. A series of BJP leaders have taken pains to show that they stand by the lynch mobs not the victims.

Modi’s Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma paid tribute to one of the accused in the Dadri lynching (who died of kidney failure in jail) by wrapping his body in the national tricolor flag – a gesture usually reserved for soldiers or heads of state.

Rajasthan Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria accused Pehlu Khan, the 2017 Alwar lynching victim of cow smuggling and later hailed it when the six accused named by the victim were given a clean chit.

Soon after Pehlu Khan was lynched in Alwar, BJP’s three-time MLA from Ramgarh in Alwar Gyandev Ahuja (infamous for claiming to have counted 3000 condoms in JNU) declared that anyone who killed a cow would be killed. He defended the killers saying “They, like me, see the cow as their mother and they are now attacking the cow-slaughterers and cow-smugglers saying it is an order from their mother, the cow. Gau Mata Ka Aadesh Hai, they feel.” No surprise then that in July 2018, yet another man Rakbar Khan has been killed by a lynch mob on the pretext of cow protection in Alwar.

Days after Jayant Sinha garlanded the Ramgarh lynchers, another Modi Cabinet Minister Giriraj Singh met riot-accused Bajrang Dal and VHP activists in Bihar’s Nawada jail, shedding tears for them in front of media cameras saying “It is very saddening to see that the government feels that communal harmony will be there only if they suppress Hindus.”

Jharkhand Minister CP Singh claimed Swami Agnivesh orchestrated the mob attack on himself because he is “a fraud and not a Swami.”

In a speech during the 2014 Parliamentary election campaign in the Muzaffarnagar and Shamli area BJP President Amit Shah rationalised anti-Muslim riots that had taken place the previous year: “Why do riots happen? No one is fond of rioting. But when a community violates the honour of our daughters and sisters, and the administration does nothing, people are forced to riot.”

Modi himself as Gujarat CM infamously rationalised the anti-Muslim pogrom of 2002 in Newtonian terms as a ‘reaction’ (pratikriya) to ‘action’ (kriya).

How Impunity Is Nurtured

The Ramgarh conviction by a fast track court was a rare instance where a glimmer of justice flickered through the dark night of injustice. Now that verdict is on the fast track to being reversed.

In other lynching cases justice is a far cry.

Narendra Modi was sworn in as PM on 26 May 2014. Exactly a week later, on 2 June, 2014, 24-year old employee in a software firm, Mohsin Shaikh, was lynched to death in Pune while on his way back from Namaaz, by a mob of ‘Hindu Rashtra Sena’ men, who targeted him solely because he had a beard and appeared recognizably Muslim. Mohsin was the first Muslim to fall prey to the Sanghi lynch-mobs who felt emboldened and vindicated by Modi’s win.

22 men were arrested and jailed for Mohsin’s murder, but now, all but two have got bail and are free. Granting bail to three of the accused in January 2017, the Bombay High Court, admitting that a speech by Hindu Rashtra Sena leader Dhananjay Desai had instigated the mob with communal sentiments, had said: “The applicants/accused otherwise had no other motive such as any personal enmity against the innocent deceased Mohsin. The fault of the deceased was only that he belonged to another religion. I consider this factor in favour of the applicants/accused. Moreover, the applicants/accused do not have a criminal record and it appears that in the name of the religion, they were provoked and have committed the murder.” This bail order suggested that killing someone simply because of their religious identity; because he is a Muslim; because of communal hatred instigated by someone, is a lesser offence than committing murder because of some other motive! It construed a Muslim’s very identity as a provocation.
Mohsin’s parents and brother still await justice in vain.

On 18 March 2016 32-year old Mazloom Ansari and 12-year old Imtiaz Khan were lynched by a mob led by local BJP man Vinod Prajapati, and hanged from a tree. Imtiaz’s father Azad Khan witnessed the killing and identified Prajapati as the prime accused, along with 12 of his associates. But Prajapati was never arrested, and managed to get anticipatory bail from the Jharkhand High Court! Mazloom’s brother Manauwar has told a reporter that Prajapati had hosted Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das at his residence, just a few days before leading the lynch mob. The case drags on, and two years on, the court has yet to manage to record all witness statements.

Since Balumath, 11 more men have been killed by lynch mobs in Jharkhand.

What about the Hapur lynching of June 18, 2018, in which Qasim was killed and Samayuddin was badly injured? The police did not record Samayuddin’s statement though he was an eyewitness, and they are trying to cover up the fact that the pretext of the lynching was “cow protection.” Instead the police and the saffron thugs are threatening Samayuddin to coerce him to support the police version. Dinesh Tomar, a friend of Samayuddin from a neighbouring village, says a police officer threatened him, Samayuddin’s brother Yasin, and Madapur village Pradhan Kamil, to write a “false” report, saying “otherwise you and your family along with Samayuddin will also be put behind bars for cow slaughter…remember whose government this is. It’s better if you stay quiet.” Samayuddin, Yasin and Tomar, with the help of Delhi advocate Vrinda Grover, recorded their statements themselves and e-mailed them to the IG (Meerut).

Meanwhile local VHP and Bajrang Dal groups held rallies demanding release of the accused. Two of the four men arrested for this crime, including the main accused, got bail in less than a month. This, in spite of Samayuddin being an eyewitness, and videos of the incident being available!

Rash of Lynchings Due To Child-Lifting Rumours

Between January 1 and July 6 2018 there have been 61 mob attacks (killing 24 people) sparked by rumours of child-lifting circulated on social media. In 2017, 11 persons were killed in eight separate such attacks.

According to IndiaSpend: “Between January 1, 2017, and July 5, 2018, 33 persons have been killed and at least 99 injured in 69 reported cases. In the first six days of July alone, there have been nine cases of mob violence over child lifting rumours and five deaths, which amounts to more than one attack recorded every day.”

Is WhatsApp the problem? Swaraj Barooah, director at the Centre for Internet and Society, a Bengaluru-based not-for-profit, told IndiaSpend that we should beware of the Government using mob lynchings and fake news to quell dissent on social media while allowing lynchings and instigation to go on unchecked: “Everyone is focusing on these being rumours – and of course the platform’s ability to exponentially magnify the speed and reach of a message being sent is very relevant – but when and why did we normalise vigilante justice in the first place? For instance, would this type of action be okay if these were not rumours, but had actually been true?”

criminologist Vijay Raghavan, dean of the social protection office at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences told IndiaSpend that the lynchings and rumours are “clearly being orchestrated by vested interests,” adding, “We need to properly investigate on a national-level who are the instigators and what are they after–merely arresting people after an incident is not enough.”

AltNews, a fact-checking platform dedicated to combating fake news, recently exposed fake news messages falsely purporting to be from police in the area, claiming armed “gangs of Rohingya Muslims” prowl at night and warning people not to open the door if they hear a child wailing. AltNews found that unlike other viral hoaxes, these messages and the “child-lifting” ruumours changed names of places and police stations depending on the area the messages were being circulated in: “If the rumour is aimed at Rajasthan, it is claimed that the message is circulated by the Rajasthan police to alert citizen of attackers on a prowl. Similarly, if the rumour is aimed at Gujarat, the message suggests Gujarat police has made the announcement.” AltNews observed that this “suggests that there’s constant human intervention in this process as the messages keep altering based on the state/locality it is being circulated in.”

Who has a vested interest in spreading rumours that fuel fear, panic, xenophobia, communal prejudice and violence? Surely the first place to begin investigating should be those who are already fuelling such sentiments with inflammatory fake news online fairly openly, using a vast and effective network – i.e the Sangh and BJP network?

Extortion not ‘Cow Smuggling’ Behind Latest Alwar Lynching

The Rajasthan, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) has found that Rakbar Khan was a victim of the growing pattern of extortion in the name of cow protection. The PUCL has stated, ““After having studied collectively with others activists, the lynchings in Mewat area of Rajasthan, it has become clear to the PUCL that Rakbar Khan who had bought two cows from village Ladpur, Ramgarh tehsil, Alwar district and was taking back the cows in the night to his own village Kol near Firozpur Jhirka, Mewat, Haryana, was killed due to extortion. He was killed in Jungle Lalawandi, Ramgarh. It is well known that extortionists under the garb of Gaurakshaks are roaming the streets looking for a prey. If those carrying cows are able to pay the sum demanded, then they are allowed to go or else fired at and killed. This time too this has been the case, as reported by activists from the ground level.”

The BJP Enjoys Mob Lynchings

What will stop this epidemic of lynching?

The Modi Government and BJP Government are not even interested in curbing the phenomenon of lynching – they thrive in the lynch-mob climate. Will they abide by the Supreme Court directives and take steps to combat lynching? Will they run ads on TV warning against fake news and hate-mongering that could lead to lynching? It is doubtful.

Last year, on Independence Day – August 15 – BJP leader Ram Madhav wrote an op-ed piece in the Indian Express in which he gleefully referenced lynch mob killings, asserting that “The mob, humble people of the country, are behind Modi. They are finally at ease with a government that looks and sounds familiar. They are enjoying it.” Only a liberal minority was unhappy or concerned about mob lynchings, he wrote.

It is for us, the people of India to prove Madhav and Modi wrong, to reject the attempts to turn us all into hate-crazed mobs, to fight the fascist and divisive forces that are cynically trying to ‘divide and rule’.

Saffronised Cops and Mobs Complement Each Other

The Rajasthan police’s treatment of Rakbar Khan, the latest victim of mob lynching in Rajasthan’s Alwar displays a chilling, casual cruelty that is perhaps the surest sign of how close India is to fascism. An NDTV reporter Harsha found that the police picked up the badly injured Rakbar but did not rush him to hospital. Instead, they kept him in their custody for 3 hours and 45 minutes as they took their time, washing mud off Rakbar, going to the house of the so-called ‘cow-protector’ who made the call to the cops, to arrange vehicles to take the seized cows to a shelter, dropping in at the police station next to the hospital, and even stopping to have a leisurely cup of tea! By the time they got him to hospital, he was dead. An eyewitness also told NDTV that she saw the police beating the injured Rakbar.

The Alwar police’s conduct clearly shows that the Hapur police’s conduct, in which cops calmly surfed their phones as they led a mob dragging the victim on the ground behind them, was no accident or aberration – it is ‘normal’, desired conduct for police in BJP-ruled states.

Racial Lynching in the US and Communal-Casteist Lynching in India

In her Written Submissions filed before the Supreme Court for the petitioner Tushar Gandhi, Senior Advocate Indira Jaising along with advocates Warisha and Sadan Farasat drew a comparison between racial lynching in the Jim Crow era in the US, and targeted lynchings of Muslims and Dalits in India today. Excerpts from that submission are below:

Between the American Civil War and the World War II, the US witnessed an era of racial subordination and segregation where thousands of African Americans were lynched on the basis of their race and color. Lynching in the US was a tool to reinforce the Jim Crow laws that enforced the principles of racial subordination and segregation by restricting civil liberties and civil rights of the African Americans which paved way for white supremacy or, in simple terms, imposed a post-slavery system of racial dominance. The lynchings in the United States can be categorized as having one or more of the following features:

a) Lynchings that resulted from a wildly distorted fear of inter-racial sex

b) Lynchings in response to casual social transgressions

c) Lynchings based on allegations of serious violence/crime

d) Public spectacle lynchings

e) Lynchings that escalated into large-scale violence targeting the entire African American community

f) Lynchings of sharecroppers, ministers, and community leaders who resisted mistreatment.

Similarly in India, the suspicious circumstances of murders/killings of the numerous citizens in Indian belonging to the minority community (Muslims/Dalits) involve one or more of the following features:

a) False pretext of carrying/possessing cow for slaughter/ eating beef

b) On the basis of the apparel, which may include either a kurta or a prayer cap ‘taqiyah’

c) On the basis of their appearance, including keeping a beard.

The two incidents (lynchings of Qasim at Hapur and Afrazul at Rajsamand) are gruesome and prove that lynching of Muslim in India have become a badge of honour for the perpetrators.

Similarly, in the United States, between the 1880s and the 1960s, the lynchings of African Americans was legitimized by the society. Burnt, mutilated, injured bodies of lynched African Americans were photographed and converted into postcards which were sent to family and friends along with cheerful messages. Some of these postcards also contained the confident poses struck by the lynchers as a mark of victory and of the bystanders. The fact that these lynchers and bystanders took pride after lynching an African American only showed that lynchings were perceived to a legitimate action and not a crime as the perpetrators did not feel the need to hide their identities. (Submissions of this paragraph are heavily drawn from: Equal Justice Initiative, ‘Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror, Second Edition, 2015)

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Profits over People: Infant Formula Industry vs Breast Milk


— Padma

How many babies need to die before they are allowed their mothers’ milk?

Bob Dylan the well known singer and song writer wrote ‘Blowing in the Wind’ in 1962 a hard hitting song about war and peace and human rights during the civil rights movement in the United States. One line in that song goes like this: Yes, ‘n’ how many years can some people exist, Before they’re allowed to be free? Another line in the same song: Yes, ‘n’ how many deaths will it take till he knows

That too many people have died?

The recent scandal surrounding the U.S. administration’s attempts to derail a resolution to promote breast feeding of infants evidently in favour of infant formula manufacturers brings to mind Bob Dylan’s powerful song.

The United Nations-affiliated World Health Assembly held a meeting in May 2018 in Geneva. Delegates representing many countries had gathered to pass a resolution to promote and encourage breast feeding. The member countries expected a swift passage of the resolution. The U.S. delegation in a shocking turn of events initially pushed to remove a phrase from the draft text that would ask governments to “protect, promote and support breast-feeding”. NY Times reported that Ecuador was threatened with aid cuts and punitive trade measures if it went ahead with the resolution. President Trump has denied this in a tweet.

Russia had to intervene and the resolution promoting breast feeding passed, the U.S. also had to vote for the resolution in the face of a huge outrage on the national and international front.

The Health Advantages to Breast Feeding

In a detailed article published in the leading medical journal The Lancet in January 2016, key messages were that children who were breastfed for long periods had lower rates of respiratory, intestinal and ear infections, had higher intelligence, and fewer dental problems. Breast feeding it appears may protect children from obesity and diabetes in the future. Breast feeding may also lower risk of ovarian cancer in women. There is evidence to support lower incidence of breast cancer in women who have breastfed their infants.

The researchers in The Lancet argued that increasing breastfeeding practices to almost universal levels and for up to 2 years can prevent 823000 annual deaths of children younger than 2 years.

They also estimated that rates of breastfeeding they observed during their research period prevented 20000 annual deaths from breast cancer.

A 2016 Harvard study found that 3,340 annual premature deaths in the U.S. and $3 billion in medical costs were associated with suboptimal breastfeeding. Optimal breastfeeding is exclusive breastfeeding for six months with continued breastfeeding for one year.

Global Infant Formula Industry

The major global infant formula producing companies are the British Mead Johnson (now Reckitt Benckiser), Swiss Nestle, French Danone, and the U.S. Abbott.

In 2015, retail sales were $ 53.3 billion and are projected to increase to $ 76 billion by 2021. Abbott an American company spent 790,000 dollars on lobbying efforts in 2018. It also contributed a significant amount to Trump’s campaign during the 2017 elections.

In 1974 an organization called War on Want published The Baby Killer exposing Nestle company’s aggressive marketing measures in developing countries influencing healthcare workers and encouraging women to use infant formula rather than breastfeed. This sparked a widespread movement to boycott Nestle in the 1970s.

In 1981 the World Health Organization (WHO) implemented an international code banning the advertisement of infant milk products as being comparable to breastmilk. The global infant formula companies have been accused of continuing to violate the code.

Changing Markets Foundation’s new report has found that Nestlé marketed its infant milk formulas as “closest to”, “inspired by” and “following the example of” human breastmilk in several countries, which is in violation of the WHO code of 1981.

The study analyzed over 70 Nestle baby milk products in 40 countries. In South Africa, the firm used sucrose in infant milk formulas, in Brazilian and Hong Kong they reported their products were free of sucrose “for baby’s good health”.

A Guardian/Save the Children investigation published in February 2018 revealed that in some areas of the Philippines Nestlé and other companies were bribing doctors and other health care workers with free trips to conferences and other entertainments in violation of Philippine law.

Targeting the Developing World

More and more women are breastfeeding in the U.S. In 2004 ,42% of babies were being breastfed at 6 months and in 2014, 55% of babies are being breastfed. The global infant formula makers are pushing their products on the developing world where breastfeeding was previously the norm. WHO report from 2015 showed an average of 28% babies breastfed between 2007 and 2014 globally. Aggressive advertising from infant formula companies has played an important role in China having one of the lowest rates of breastfeeding in the world. An interesting analogy is with the Big Tobacco companies which have been aggressively promoting their products in the developing countries as smoking rates have declined in the Western countries.

India enacted a legislation – Infant Milk Substitutes, Feeding Bottles and Infant Foods (Regulation of Production, Supply and Distribution) called IMS Act after the World Health Assembly urged member states to introduce laws on advertisements of infant foods.

“India has one of the most comprehensive laws in the world when it comes to outlawing the promotion of formula milk and infant foods for children below two years old,” said Dr. Arun Gupta, International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) Asia coordinator. “But 21 years since it was enacted, it is clear that the law is being blatantly violated by big corporates who are misleading mothers.”

India ranks low on breastfeeding practices based on a report by WHO and UNICEF, exclusive breastfeeding in the 1st 6 months is at 55%.

Cuba: Setting High Standards

99% of Cuban babies were delivered in hospitals or other health institutions in 2016. 57 of the country’s maternity hospitals have been UNICEF-accredited ‘Mother-And-Baby-Friendly,’ wherein a high percentage of mothers successfully breastfeed when they leave the hospital.


In most countries in the world women have inflexible work conditions and hours, a lack of privacy for breastfeeding, they are unable to find crèches at or near the workplace, have job insecurity, and limited maternity leave. Passing a resolution to encourage breastfeeding is only the first step, women will need structural support. And after that it is up to the individual woman to make an informed decision as to breastfeed or use an alternative for her infant.

U.S. and European imperialism have many manifestations, the most obvious being military interventions to overthrow independent governments who do not toe the line. Transnational corporations based in imperial countries, given their meager growth in North America and Europe, are aggressively focusing on developing countries at the serious detriment of peoples’ health and well being. This can be defeated only by strong grassroots movements to protect public health in the short term. The bigger challenge for humanity is to defeat the underlying twin evils of capitalism and imperialism.

UN Endangers Affordable TB Medication

(Courtesy, The Wire, 21/Jul/2018)

According to a report by Anoo Bhuyan in The Wire, the text of the final declaration which is due to be released at the first-ever UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on Ending Tuberculosis in September this year has, under US pressure, “completely dropped critical language which developing countries were fighting for – language that would protect the rights of these developing countries to access affordable medicines via TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) flexibilities.”

A press release from Medecins Sans Frontières said, “The U.S. is exerting extreme pressure on other negotiators by refusing to sign the declaration at the U.N. General Assembly in September if language such as paragraph (PP19) that “recognizes the importance of affordable medicines” and “urges countries to enforce intellectual property rules in ways that promote access” is included.”

“We’re appealing to all countries, including those in the Group of 77, and Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, that have a high burden of TB, to urgently stand up right now against bullying that aims to keep medicines out of the hands of your people who need treatment,” said Leena Menghaney, South Asia head of MSF’s access campaign.

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Nazi regime approves Apartheid law, global Jewish groups back BDS



BY: John Phoenix

Nazi Parliament, the Knesset, approved the controversial nationality bill on July 19 declaring ‘Israel’ a nation-state for the Jewish people and downgrading the status of Arabic from official language to “special status”, TeleSUR English reported. Arabs make up 21% of Israel’s population.

The basic law, approved with 62 votes in favour and 55 against, recognises the Jewish people in ‘Israel’ “have an exclusive right to national self-determination”. It also includes the declaration of a “united Jerusalem” as the capital of Israel, despite the fact that East Jerusalem is internationally recognised as being under Israeli occupation.

Furthermore, the law affirms “the state sees the development of Jewish Nazi illegal settlement as a national value and will act to encourage and promote its establishment and consolidation”.

Legislator Nazi Avi Dichter of the ruling Likud party, who also sponsored the bill, explained: “We are enshrining this important bill into a law today to prevent even the slightest thought, let alone attempt, to transform Israel to a country of all its citizens.”

Arab lawmakers protested the bill’s approval said it codified apartheid, ripping it up in a symbolic gesture that prompted Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein to remove them from the plenum.

Legislators Ahmad Tibi and Ayeda Touma-Souliman yelled at Naziyahu: “You passed an apartheid law, a racist law.”

Lawmaker Ayman Odeh, chairman of the Joint List, released a statement saying that ‘Israel’ “passed a law of Jewish supremacy and told us that we will always be second-class citizens”.

Jewish peace activists also protested the bill by unfurling a large black flag in the Knesset.

Global Jewish groups endorse BDS

An unprecedented joint statement has been issued by dozens of Jewish groups in several countries offering their support to the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israel, TeleSUR English said on July 18.

“As social justice organisations from around the world, we write this letter with growing alarm regarding the targeting of organizations that support Palestinian rights in general and the nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, in particular,” the letter began.

“These attacks too often take the form of cynical and false accusations of anti-Semitism that dangerously conflate anti-Jewish racism with opposition to Israel’s policies and system of occupation and apartheid.”

The Jewish-based solidarity campaign was initiated by the Jewish Voice for Peace, a US-based group, along with 36 Jewish groups in 15 different countries, including South Africa, Brazil and Germany, according to The New Arab.

Activists and supporters of the BDS movement have taken inspiration from the boycott and sanctions campaign undertaken in the 1980s that helped end apartheid in South Africa.

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International Solidarity: People’s Resistances Across the Globe


— Arun Kumar

In the month of July, people’s movements and organisations across the globe remember Frantz Fanon, a revolutionary author and journalist, whose work inspired numerous anti-colonial and anti-imperialism struggles across the world, and continue to do so. His classical work, The Wretched of the Earth analyses the dehumanizing effect of colonisation and looks at it through the perspective of the colonised. Many considered it as the Communist Manifesto of the anti-colonial movements dwelling into the emotional aspect behind revolution. He writes, “When we revolt it’s not for a particular culture. We revolt simply because, for many reasons, we can no longer breathe.”

Resistance and revolt against the oppression and injustice continue to grow across the globe as we witness a rise in neoliberalism and right wing populist onslaught on the people. Various unions and movements from India, Cambodia, South Korea, Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, and Asian countries are meeting in Bangkok to form a regional strategy against the proposed mega free trade agreement (FTA), Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). These trade unions, farmers’ movements and other people’s organisations are opposing Asia’s biggest FTA, which will deal a blow to the poor and least developed countries in the region. The agreement will impact half of the world’s population including 420 million small family farms that produce 80 % of Asia’s food. In India, which is witnessing a rise in the number of farmer suicides, the RCEP will lead to free access to foreign corporate giants like New Zealand’s Fonterra – the world’s biggest dairy exporter. This would adversely affect the dairy corporates and farmers in India.

While at a global level, the mainstream media is going gaga around Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos being declared as the ‘richest man in modern history’, his employees continue to struggle against poor and hazardous working conditions in the company. Across Europe, Amazon workers went on strike on the Amazon Prime Day (July 10-16) demanding better conditions, pay, and health benefits. In Spain, Amazon workers on strike were beaten up and met with police brutality.

In Swaziland, hundreds of workers at the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) were attacked by the police on June 29 as they marched to the office of the Vice President to hand over a petition against various anti-working class policies and the corruption under the government of King Mswati III. The East African country is an absolute monarchy where all political parties are banned.

Speaking to the international media organisation, Peoples Dispatch, Muzi Mhlanga, Acting General Secretary of TUCOSWA, said “the workers demanded that minimum wage be increased from the current E600 (Swazi emalangeni) a month (for a skilled worker). The minimum wages were last raised in 2011.”

TUCOSWA is demanding a minimum wage of E3,500 a month so as to meet the cost of living in the country. The protesters are also demanding an elderly pension of E1500.

Condemning the increasing attack on the working class, the petition demanded overtime payment for 12 hours of work, the reinstatement of long service benefits, the scrapping of taxes on benefits and an end to the influence of labour brokers (contractors/middlemen).

Speaking about millions of dollars spent on the King’s lavish birthday party, allegedly from pension funding, the workers are demanding an investigation into the corruption. The Communist Party of Swaziland, which is in exile in South Africa, in a statement said that “about 70 percent of the people of Swaziland survive on less than US$2 a day, but on 19 April 2018, they were forced to pay over E1 billion (about US$75 million) to finance Mswati’s birthday party.”

On June 26, thousands of people took to the streets in Casablanca in Morocco against the jailing of four leaders of the Riff movement. The Riff movement began in 2016 and witnessed thousands rising in protest against the killing of a fish vendor, Mohcen Fikri, in a garbage compactor in the city of Houcemia. As the movement grew demanding justice for Mohcen and social rights (constructions of hospitals, employment, schools), the country’s authority unleashed a huge crackdown arresting thousands of people.

This region in northern Morocco has for long been a source of inspiration to emancipation movements in the country and across the world. The Riff was the site of one of the first anti-colonial wars in the 19th century against the the French and the Spanish.
The protesters sloganeering and singing demanded freedom for political prisoners and said: “The regime came into its end… our struggle has just started”

Meanwhile in United Kingdom, massive protest programs were organised against the visit of United States President Donald Trump. On his arrival on July 12, he met with protests outside the US embassy with more than a lakh protesters exclaiming ‘bigot go home’. The South Asia Solidarity Group (SASG) joined the protests with placards against the fascist partnership between Trump and Modi. In Brighton, over 500 anti-fascists marched, singing and chanting, “Brighton united, we’ll never be defeated” and “Say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here.”

45 years after the murder of iconic Chilean folk singer and revolutionary Victor Jara, nine military officers who organised his assassination were finally convicted. Jara, a member of the Communist Party of Chile was assassinated on September 15, 1973 in the Chile Stadium, 4 days after a US orchestrated military coup that overthrew socialist president Salvador Allende.

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Image result for VIETNAM WAR PHOTOS



On this day in 1964, Congress passed the “Gulf of Tonkin Resolution” which began massive escalation of the US war and occupation of Viet Nam.

This is a bit slow moving video, but stick with it.

It’s full of gems:

1. The “incident” never happened and at least one of the radar man on duty knew and reported it (“Radar men” were later blamed for the false report.”
2. The Gulf of Tonkin resolution and all the immediate retaliatory actions after the “incident” had to have been planned weeks if not months in advance of August 4th.
3. We were lied into the Vietnam War with a faked incident attributed to North Vietnam – a classic false flag operation.

In 1964, Lyndon Johnson ran and won the presidency on a campaign of “No War in Vietnam.”

Then “something” happened on the night of August 4th in the Gulf of Tonkin (after a previous incident on August 7th) in international waters off of Vietnam.

Just six days later, the normally slow-moving Congress passed the infamous Gulf of Tonkin Resolution which formed the basis for military action in Vietnam.

It was all based on a deliberate fraud as this former active duty Navy lieutenant explains.

One two US Senators opposed the resolution: Senators Wayne Morse (D-OR) and Ernest Gruening (D-AK).

Senator Gruening objected to “sending our American boys into combat in a war in which we have no business, which is not our war, into which we have been misguidedly drawn, which is steadily being escalated”.

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The Holocaust and its deniers

Holocaust and its deniers

Gilad Atzmon writes:

In the aftermath of the holocaust some Jewish intellectuals and humanists expressed the thought that “after Auschwitz Jews have to locate themselves at the forefront of the battle for humanity and against all forms of oppression”.

This is a principled and heroic ideal, but the reality on the ground has been somewhat different. Just three years after the liberation of Auschwitz, the Jewish State ethnically cleansed the vast majority of indigenous Palestinians. Two years later, in 1950, Israel’s Knesset passed the Law of Return, a racist law that distinguishes between Jews who have the right to ‘return’ to someone else’s land and the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees that were expelled by force from their villages and cities.

In the seven decades since, the Jewish State has committed every possible human rights abuse. It made Gaza into the biggest open-air prison in human history and has repeatedly dropped bombs on the most over-populated place on earth. Recently the Jewish State deployed hundreds of snipers against unarmed Gazans who were protesting at the border. Israel killed dozens and wounded more than 13,000 Palestinians, the majority severely, with over 1,400 struck by three to five bullets.

If the holocaust left Jews with a mission to fix the world, the Jewish State has done the opposite. Its crimes against humanity can be seen as a complete denial of the holocaust’s message.

Some Jews who survived the holocaust did dedicate their lives to a universal battle for a better world. Among these heroes was Hajo Meyer, a Dutch Auschwitz survivor who, for obvious reasons, saw the similarities between his own suffering and the Palestinian plight.

In 2003 Meyer wrote The End of Judaism, accusing Israel of usurping the holocaust to justify its crimes against the Arabs. He participated in the 2011 “Never Again – For Anyone” tour. He correctly argued that Zionism predated fascism, and he also reiterated that Zionists and fascists had a history of collaboration.

Meyer exemplified the Jewish post-shoah [holocaust] humanist promise. After Auschwitz he located himself at the forefront of the fight against oppression. He fought Israel.

On “Holocaust Memorial Day” 2010, Meyer was invited to an event at the British Parliament which included MP Jeremy Corbyn. At the event Meyer compared Israeli racial policy to the Nuremberg laws. At the same event, Haidar Eid, a Palestinian academic from Gaza, pointed out that “the world was absolutely wrong to think that Nazism was defeated in 1945. Nazism has won because it has finally managed to Nazify the consciousness of its own victims.”

Eid didn’t ‘compare’ Zionism with Nazism; he described an ideological continuum between Nazi ideology and Israeli policy. He maintained that the racial discriminatory ideology of the Nazis was picked up by the Jewish State and has been rife in the Jewish State ever since.

Recently Jeremy Corbyn was attacked by the Jewish lobby for being present at that meeting that explored these universal ethical positions. Our Labour candidate for prime minister anemically recalled that at the event in question views were expressed which he did not “accept or condone”. Corbyn even apologised “for the concerns and anxiety that this has caused”. I wonder why my preferred candidate has to express regret for being in the presence of a humanist exchange. I wonder why our next prime minister feels the need to disassociate himself from people who advocate ‘for the many, not the few.’

The message for the rest of us is devastating. The battle for a better world can’t be left to Corbyn alone. Needless to say, the Jewish State and its lobby haven’t located themselves at the forefront of humanity. It is actually the Palestinians who have been pushed to the front of that frustrating struggle. Not to see that is to deny their holocaust.

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Pakistan elections: what change?

Awami Workers Party election rally

The general elections in Pakistan have brought Imran Kahn to power with the slogan “a new Pakistan”. Farooq Tariq, a leading member of the Awami Workers Party, explains that little will change as the military and the IMF still have their hands around the necks of the people of Pakistan.

After his election victory on 26 July 2018, Imran Khan gave a sober speech contrary to his very violent language used throughout the election campaign. He had “won” 116 seats out of the 342 seats National Assembly, of which 278 seats are contested directly on First Past The Post (FPTP) system. He is short of the 137 seats needed for the majority in the parliament. However, there are plenty of parliamentarians elected as “independents” who will either join his party or vote for him.

Demonstrations in several cities are taking place against the post poll rigging. Several dozen candidates turned into minority votes overnight by “unknown hands”. These “unknowns” are known to everyone but if you publish their name, you may disappear for this crime. Almost all the commercial media is under control by these “unknowns”.

The media is instructed on daily basis by these “unknowns” to get a favourable mandate for their loved one, “the great Imran Khan”, who once was the captain of the most popular game in Pakistan, cricket, and won a world cup for the country in 1992. Imran Khan is a conservative politician, who has developed in recent years a magic love for army generals and a kind heart for religious fanatics.

These were the most rigged elections in the history of Pakistan. From the pre-poll period until the 28th July, all efforts were made for Imran Khan to get a simple majority. Prior to the elections, there were consistent attacks by the judiciary in the name of accountability on the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN), the former ruling party.

The PMLN fell out with the military and the judicial establishment on mainly two issues. The most important was the supremacy of civilians over the military. The second was the relationship with India. The PMLN wanted more trade with India and no war.

Mian Nawaz Sharif, the former prime minister and a right wing politician, is paying a heavy price for his insistence that as PM, he rules Pakistan and not the army. He was ousted by the Supreme Court, disqualified for life and is now serving a ten years sentence along with his daughter at a Rawalpindi jail.

When the dates of the elections were announced, the media portrayed Imran Khan as the cleanest politician with a plan to curtail corruption. His main election slogans were “change” and “a new Pakistan”. The billionaire members of his party spent their wealth on advertising. The rich always smell the changing directions of power and they accordingly change their political affiliations. Most of these politicians are called “electable” as they can spend billions on elections to buy votes. Imran Khan’s Party, the Pakistan Tehreek Insaaf (PTI – Justice Movement), saw an influx of these “electable” who moved from PNLN to PTI without a hint of shame. They always do the same at the election times.

When the PMLN gave tickets (nominations) to their probable candidates, phone calls were made by these “unknowns” to those nominated and were asked to return the tickets at the eleventh hour and contest elections as independent. Those who refused were physically beaten up in their offices and homes. Threats and intimidations worked, and around 40 of those who were nominated by PMLN returned their tickets and announced that they would stand as independent.

During the election campaign, several PMLN nominees were arrested and some disqualified for life and sent to jail on the pretext of corruption. All these measures gave a general impression that the military and the judicial establishment want Imran Khan to win the general elections at any cost. Imran Khan has already created a myth among the youth that we need a change and a government free of corruption. There was euphoria among a large section of youth in Pakistan that Imran Khan is not corrupt and that he needs “electables” to win an overall majority.

The two banned outfits of religious fanatics were allowed to contest elections by the Election Commission. The strategy was if the extreme right would contest elections, they would reduce the PMLN votes that was favoured by these religious groups in the past. One religious group, the Tehreek Labaik, became the third largest party in terms of numbers candidates, after PTI and PMLN, that stood all around Pakistan.

Over 300,000 military men were deployed in all the polling stations with judicial power given to military officers at the “request” of the Election Commission to ensure complete security. This was aided by the religious terrorists who carried out suicide attacks on public meetings during election campaign, killing hundreds including some candidates. In one unfortunate incident, over 150, including the candidate, were killed in the Mastung district of Balochistan province.

Most of the human rights groups in Pakistan, including Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), criticized this gross pre-poll rigging in press conferences and characterised these as extraordinary measures to favour a certain political party.

On the Election Day, polling went smoothly and military presence was everywhere. However the rigging started after 10 pm, four hours after the counting started. Suddenly most of the count in constituencies where the difference was between 1000-5000 votes was stopped. Then, there was an almost blackout of the counting, which started again early in the morning. Those winning elections during the night were the PTI candidates. The final results were delayed for over 72 hours, never earlier.

The results showed the PTI with 116 seats, PMLN 63 and PPP with 43 seats in the national parliament. The PPP, under the young leadership of Bilawel Bhutto, improved from its previous devastating results of 28 seats. The PPP kept control of Sindh assembly with more seats than previously, Khaiber Pukhton Khwa saw the PTI “land slide”. In Punjab, the PMLN kept its majority with a drastic reduction of seats but the PTI is now vowing to form the government in that province with the help of the elected “independents”.

The two religious fanatic groups who contested failed to win any seat in the national assembly, but one of them, the Tehreek Labaik, got two Sindh assembly seats. They did not do badly as in almost every constituency, they got between 1 per cent and 10 per cent of the votes, and in some they got over 20 per cent votes. This is a quite alarming situation.

The Left contested almost 50 national and provincial seats all over Pakistan. However. Wazeer Ali from The Struggle group, which is part of Left Democratic Front, won a national assembly seat in the former federally administered area called FATA, an area dominated by religious fanatics.

Ali Wazeer’s comfortable majority of 16,000 votes has given a hope to the forces of the Left in Pakistan. Ali Wazeer stood as an independent candidate. He was leader of the Pashtun Tahafaz Movement which has organized this year mass public rallies across Pakistan for compensation of the victims of the “war on terror”.

In my home constituency of Toba Tek Singh, where I contested elections for Punjab Assembly in 2013 elections, the AWP candidate Mohammed Zubair came in third position with 4,586 votes ahead of the candidates of the religious fanatic parties and the Pakistan People’s Party.

Almost all political parties, except the PTI, have said this general election is the one with the most rigging, and have rejected the results. The PTI, which launched a three year long movement after the rigging during 2013 elections, was the only party to describe this election as the most free and fair in the history of Pakistan.

It is quite obvious that Imran Khan will become the prime minister of the new government. This new government will be a weak one and will have to face a severe economic crisis. The designated finance minister of the PTI has already hinted that he would approach the IMF for a new loan. One of the main issues that the PTI campaigned was the massive foreign loans from China obtained during the PMLN government. Now they have no shame to say even before taking power that they will turn to the IMF.

The government will try to improve the tax base in the initial period and that will bring them into contradiction with the strong traders lobby, which does not pay taxes. Imran Khan hinted at having friendly relationship with India, but without the open support of the army generals, it is out of question that there will be improved relationship between Pakistan and India.

Religious fundamentalism will grow in the next period as Imran Khan has already pledged to “negotiate” with Taliban and he has always had a soft attitude towards religious fanatics. He has supported some Madrasas known to be associated with Taliban with state subsidies while he controlled Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial government during 2013-18.

The opposition parties have announced agitation against the election results and have demanded fresh elections, but are unlikely to succeed. Interesting times ahead.

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