Sunday, February 19, 2017

Anger as May reneges on promise to child refugees

by New Worker correspondent

PROTESTERS gathered in Whitehall on Friday night, 10th February and the next day Lord Alf Dubs – accompanied by a group of children and other campaigners – presented a petition to Prime Minister Theresa May after she stunned the country by reneging on Britain’s promise made last May to take in 3,000 child refugees from the informal Calais camp.
There are estimated to be around 14 million refugees from the various wars in Africa and the Middle East – mostly the result of interventions, invasions and bombings by Britain, the United States and France.
Most of these desperate people are stuck in refugee camps in the countries close to their homes. But hundreds of thousands have been arriving in Europe seeking safety, peace and stability for themselves and their children.
And most European countries have accommodated thousands of them – none more than Greece and Italy, where the refugees first arrived in Europe.
But the British government has refused to take more than a relatively tiny handful – just 3,000 of the unaccompanied children. And even that pledge had to be wrung out of the Government by an amendment formulated by Lord Dubs to a parliamentary Bill on immigration. Dubs is a veteran campaigner who first came to Britain in the 1930s as a child refugee fleeing the Nazis.
Last week Home Secretary Amber Rudd claimed that the agreement to take even this small number of child refugees would “encourage migration” – as though people fleeing wars were making an optional lifestyle choice – and that local authorities did not have the resources to accommodate them.
Hundreds of religious leaders and celebrities have joined the swelling protest at May’s cruel betrayal of very vulnerable children.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, warned that halting the initiative would see more children being trafficked, exploited and killed. He said he was "saddened and shocked" at the decision and has insisted it is "deeply unjust" to leave the burden of caring for them on Italy and Greece, where thousands of refugees and migrants arrive from the conflict-ridden Middle East and north Africa.
He said he understood Rudd's argument that British and French authorities feared the scheme was acting as a "pull factor" for children to head to the Britain, and that it provides opportunities for people-traffickers. But speaking to BBC Radio 4's World At One, he said: "Parents do not casually wake up one day and say, well the easiest thing to do is to send our children off by themselves. This is the symptom of a situation more extreme than anything that any of us can ever imagine.”
About 50,000 people signed the petition that Alf Dubs presented to Number 10 Downing Street on Saturday.
When addressing the crowd of campaigners who had gathered outside Downing Street, he repeated the words of Nicholas Winton, who organised the evacuation of hundreds of Jewish children including Dubs from Prague in 1939, saying: “If it’s not impossible, there must be a way.”
Dubs said. “It doesn’t need a whole new consultation. We are going to keep the pressure up about this. I believe that the Government decision to limit the number of children allowed in to 350 flies in the face of both parliamentary opinion and public opinion.
“I was shocked and in disbelief, I couldn’t believe the Government could back off in quite that way. We want the Government to change their minds. The Government have said they don’t want to take more than 350 in total under the amendment.
“I think that’s a very shabby cop-out. I believe that there are thousands of unaccompanied child refugees suffering greatly in Greece, Italy and some in France.
“The Government has said no more and I think that is an abdication of their responsibilities, it goes against public opinion and it goes against parliamentary opinion.”
A number of Tory MPs have also promised to fight the decision to close the Dubs scheme. On Saturday, a Conservative peer who was granted asylum in Britain after fleeing the Bosnian war urged the Prime Minister to live up to Britain’s history as a haven for refugees.
A High Court challenge to the decision to close the Dubs scheme has been pencilled in for 2–4 May. The challenge, which is being brought by the charity Help Refugees, claims that the consultation process with local authorities that led to the cap on the scheme was “fundamentally flawed”.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Day of the Shining Star

Dermot Hudson opening the KFA meeting on Saturday
 by New Worker  correspondent

Friends of the Korean revolution celebrated the 75th anniversary of the birth of dear leader Kim Jong Il at meetings across London last week, including a joint Korean Friendship Association (KFA)/Juche Study Group meeting on Saturday 11th February followed by a reception at the London embassy of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) that same evening, and a Friends of Korea meeting at the John Buckle Centre on Monday 13th February.
            Comrades joined the Korean people in celebrating  Kim Jong Il’s birthday, which has long been known as the Day of the Shining Star in the DPRK, and tributes to the Korean leader’s life and times were made at all three events.
New Communist Party leader Andy Brooks joined diplomats and many others actively involved in solidarity with Democratic Korea across the country for the reception to mark the Day of the Shining Star at the DPRK embassy in London. The new DPRK ambassador, Choe Il, paid tribute to Kim Jong Il’s the outstanding contribution to the Korean revolution and the world communist movement, and Dermot Hudson from the KFA spoke about the dear leader’s contribution to the Juche Idea.
Dermot Hudson and Choe Il at the reception
  Prof Dr Harish Gupta, the director general of the International Institute of the Juche Idea and head of the Asian Regional Institute for the Study of the Juche Idea, spoke at the KFA event and Michael Chant, the general secretary of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (ML) and John McLeod of the Socialist Labour Party both spoke highly of Kim Jong Il’s revolutionary role on Monday.
Choe Il and Michael Chant
Kim Jong Il steered the DPRK through the difficult times that followed the death of great leader Kim Il Sung in 1994. He devoted his entire life to serving the Korean people in the cause of building a human-centred society, a cause that is espoused by the democratic and anti-imperialist forces the world over. He followed the footsteps of great leader Kim Il Sung in leading the country into the 21st century and died at his post on 17th December 2011.
       Now the torch has passed to Kim Jong Un, and under his leadership the DPRK has made giant strides in science and technology over the past few weeks with the test of a thermo-nuclear bomb and the successful launch of a satellite into space.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Protesters anger at Netanyahu visit

by New Worker correspondent

MORE than 200 protesters gathered outside Downing Street on Monday 6th February to protest at the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for discussions with our Prime Minister Theresa May.
The protest was organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) and supported by many other progressive groups and trade unions who are all outraged at the ongoing Israeli efforts to eradicate Palestine both geographically and from the historical record.
The PSC issued a statement saying: “Netanyahu’s visit comes at the start of year which marks significant anniversaries in the history of the dispossession of the Palestinian people and denial of their basic rights, including:

·                  100 years since the Balfour declaration when Britain promised the land of Palestine to another people
·                  70 years since the UN partition Plan and the beginning of the Nakba, which saw 750,000 Palestinians driven into exile and nearly 500 Palestinian villages and towns wiped from the map
·                  50 years since Israel’s illegal occupation of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem
·                  10 years since the imposition of the siege of Gaza

“These anniversaries highlight Britain’s complicit role in Palestinian dispossession. It also highlights our continuing responsibility to act in accordance with international law, in order to support the rights of Palestinian people to justice and equality and to help secure a lasting peace.”
The protesters called on Theresa May to make Netanyahu aware that Britain was serious when it supported UN resolution 2334. The resolution confirmed the illegality of Israel’s occupation, and condemned settlement building as illegal and an obstacle to peace.
Netanyahu has made it clear that he will ignore the resolution. Theresa May was urged to make clear that Britain will follow up its words with actions, which included:
·                  Announce a review of all of Britain’s financial relationships with settlements and exclude all settlement goods from British markets.
·                  End any talk of a British trade deal with Israel unless Israel complies with international law.
·                  Suspend military relations with Israel – British arms exports to Israel violate the international Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).
Theresa May claimed on the eve of her meeting with Donald Trump that she would not be afraid to tell the heads of other governments when they were doing things that were unacceptable – but she failed to respond to Trump’s announcement of a ban on Syrian refugees and Muslims from seven different countries travelling to the USA.
Netanyahu came to try to involve May and the British government in a new aggression against Iran. Trump has indicated that he is ready to tear up the 2015 peace treaty between the United States and Iran, negotiated with the Obama government. The Iranians are learning yet again, like the Native Americans before them, that treaties signed by Washington are worthless.
Netanyahu said that he wants to “tighten” relations with Britain in the face of the “extraordinary aggression” from Iran after the Islamic Republic tested a ballistic missile over the weekend. Tehran denies the test was in breach of the 2015 nuclear deal.
But many suspect he is trying to divert attention from Israel’s new aggression against Palestine with another wave of Israeli settlements on their territory.
A Downing Street spokesperson said that May was expected to raise concerns about illegal settlement building but it would only form a small part of their discussions.
Netanyahu’s visit comes six weeks after Britain assisted in the passage of a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel’s illegal settlements in the West Bank as a “flagrant violation under international law”.
The resolution was able to pass because the United States made the unusual choice not to exercise its veto power.
Britain played a key role in brokering the resolution, according to the Guardian, which claimed the Foreign Office did not deny that it had been involved in the drafting process. Netanyahu reacted furiously to UNSC resolution 2334, reserving his strongest condemnation for outgoing US President Barack Obama.
In a sign of frustration with London, Netanyahu summoned Britain’s ambassador on Christmas Day for a telling-off. Nine other ambassadors were also summoned by the Israeli prime minister, including the US ambassador.

Stop Trump's Muslim Ban!

by New Worker correspondent

Anger at Donald Trump’s Muslim ban erupted on the streets of London last week when thousands rallied outside the American embassy in Grosvenor Square to protest at the new US president’s racist travel ban, which is now being challenged in the American courts.
Called by the Stop the War Coalition, Stand Up to Racism, the Muslim Association of Britain, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and a number of other anti-racists movements, the demonstrators then marched to Downing Street to call on the Prime Minister, Theresa May, to cancel the proposed state visit of the American president. A petition calling on the government to withdraw the invitation to President Trump because it would cause "embarrassment" to the Queen has received more than 1.8 million signatures.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

The lessons of history

the standard bearers leading the procession
by New Worker correspondent
New Communist Party leader Andy Brooks joined comrades, war veterans, diplomats and anti-fascists at the annual Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration in London last week. On 27th January 1945 the Red Army liberated Auschwitz, the largest death camp in the Third Reich, and every year on that day the millions of victims of the Nazi Holocaust are remembered at the Imperial War Museum and the nearby Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park.
            The solemn events began with a ceremony in the museum cinema that recalled the Nazi extermination of Jews, Soviet prisoners-of-war, gays, Roma and the mentally ill during the Second World War. 
Andy Brooks lays the NCP floral tribute
Opened by the Mayor of Southwark, Kath Whittam, the programme included musical and literary tributes to the victims, and speakers including Helen Hayes, the Labour MP for Dulwich and West Norwood, as well as an interview with Holocaust survivor Helen Aronson.
            Rabbi Dr Moshe Freedman led the Memorial Prayer and Kaddish, and four memorial candles were lit whilst the standard-bearers, mainly veterans from the Second World War, led the procession into the grounds for the wreath-laying ceremony at the Holocaust Memorial Tree and the Soviet War Memorial.
            Philip Matthews, the Chair of the Soviet Memorial Trust Fund, opened the Act of Remembrance, which was followed by the laying of wreaths and floral tributes by the company that included military veteran organisations, representatives of the embassies of the Russian Federation and Belarus, the NCP, the Communist Party of Britain and the Marx Memorial Library along, with members of London’s Jewish and Russian communities.
            It closed, as always, with a two-minute silence and the Last Post.